Posts Tagged ‘John Sexton’

OD Today: 21 January 2009 (late edition)

January 21, 2009

Catching up and catching up.

  1. I totally missed this when I did my big “mark all as read,” but not only did Herescope beat me to the Rick Warren tax deduction story, but they picked it up from The Revealer and mentioned Jeff Sharlet‘s book. Unfortunately they then tie the whole thing back into their “three-legged stool” framework, and go on to suggest a connection between Warren and The Family that I’m not sure is warranted.
  2. Mike Ratliff issues a call to resistance (and subsequent suffering) and evokes the Roman Empire. “I have absolutely no problem with an Afro-American being President of the United States. That is not the issue. The issue for me is that this man is being worshipped and treated as if he is the messiah. … However, let us not forget that the New Testament Church was born in the period of the pagan Roman Empire that was opposed to it in nearly every area. Did our Lord and the Apostles become rebels in an attempt to overthrow the oppressive government? No!” I’d love to know where the “Obama as false Messiah” theme started. It didn’t really start with The One, did it?
  3. Frank Turk reviews Rick Warren’s prayer, admits some ambivalence about doing so, and asks “is it a legitimate thing to pray to God that we as a nation be united by anything other than the cross of Christ?”
  4. La Shawn Barber weighs in on the Obama inauguration. “During the campaign, Obama said one of the first things he’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. Since he thinks women have a right to commit infanticide, I believe him. Then again, he’ll be so busy dealing with friends and foes trying to cash in favors, he might forget.”
  5. Timmy Brister takes on the question of single pastors. “So how does one answer Scott’s question?  If single men are not allowed to pastor or plant churches today, would we exclude many if not most of the men who planted and pastored in the early church?”
  6. Blogger thatmom observes the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. “Jeannie was like most of the women I have talked with who carry the secret of a past abortion. As a Christian, she felt unusable in the body of Christ. Self-condemnation and overwhelming regret visited her daily leaving her unable to live a full and abundant life in Jesus Christ.”
  7. John Sexton compares the Bush-Obama transition to the Clinton-Bush transition. “They were thankful for a system that allows a smooth transfer of power, even when that transfer didn’t go their way. That kind of maturity seems to be in shorter supply on the left.”
  8. Ken Silva does not like the Emergent Church.
  9. Ingrid Schlueter calls out Cornerstone Church, Chander, Arizona, for cancelling its evening service on Super Bowl Sunday.
  10. Israel discovers a vast natural gas deposit off the coast near Haifa. Was it Tim LaHaye that first predicted that Israel would end up in political trouble because of its natural resources? I don’t remember.
  11. Ingrid Schlueter observes the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. “All I could see and hear were the broken bodies and stifled screams of millions upon millions of human beings whose cries ascend night and day before God’s throne. I am the friend of no man who will perpetuate the slaughter. I am the enemy of anyone who is the enemy of life.”
  12. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds highlights the same sections of various inaugural speeches and prayers Miriam Franklin did yesterday, says the stage has been set for the Antichrist.
  13. There have been several stories about Portland, Oregon mayor Sam Adams in the last few days; here’s a link to one of them. “Adams, as “one of the leaders of the gay community,” said that he also wanted to apologize to them “for embarrassing them.” … While the mayor has so far said that he does not intend to resign, he has admitted, “If it were no longer in the city’s best interests that I stay, yes, I would resign.””
  14. Ingrid Schlueter calls out Mark Driscoll for praising Rick Warren. “That Mark Driscoll couldn’t discern the problem with praying God’s blessing on our death-promoting President should not register as a surprise.”
  15. Ingrid Schlueter comments on the response to a Doubletree Hotel cancelling accomodations for Mid-America Leathers Maneuvers. One of many articles by Peter LaBarbera is here;  a confirming article regarding the cancellation by a lesbian blogger, with comments, is here. Warning: articles include graphic descriptions of sexual acts, etc. along with terms that may not be safe for reading at work.
  16. Job at Jesus Christology parses Joe Lowery’s inagural prayer, ending in “when white will embrace what is right.”
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OD Today: 20 January 2009 (late edition)

January 20, 2009

Same day, same issues, more or less: lots of reaction to the Obama inaugural. I’m facing a long night, so I’m posting a short update here.

  1. Ingrid Schlueter quotes Albert Mohler on American religion, meaning (more or less) Christianity as it is filtered through American values. “As much as Christians in this blessed nation should respect and cherish our democratic ideals and system of government, we must keep ever in mind that the Kingdom of God is ruled by a higher and infinitely more perfect law and system of governance. Be warned: God is not running for office, and heaven is not a democracy.”
  2. Tim Challies offers links a la carte as he does most every day; a couple of them are “1.20.09” related, including John Piper‘s advice on being pro-life under a pro-choice president (circa 1992).
  3. Lighthouse Trails excerpts an article by Berit Kjos warning against creeping Socialism. Kjos connects a number of dots (Hitler, Stalin, Rick Warren, and Barack Obama), but mostly warns against (if I am reading her correctly) the quest for solidarity and common ground as ingredients in a recipe for totalitarianism.
  4. Terry Mattingly parses some numbers regarding the popularity of Barack Obama’s decision to invite Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration. “By the way, did I read that right? Did a higher percentage of DEMOCRATS favor the Warren choice than Republicans?”
  5. Confessing Lutheran Mollie Hemingway offers yet another take on more or less the same story we’ve seen in the 2004 Cathleen Falsani interview with Barack Obama and related articles. “The ultimate civil religion president, perhaps?”
  6. Desert Pastor recaps, comments on Rick Warren’s prayer. “Good ending by concluding in the name of Jesus (and the inclusion of the Muslim, Spanish, and Hebrew variations of Jesus). I am just afraid that this man has chosen to misrepresent the true nature of God and His Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!”
  7. Ken Silva puts Queermergent into context within his ongoing study of Phyllis Tickle and the Emergent Church, also mentions Peter Rollins and Adele Sakler.
  8. John Sexton excerpts Barack Obama’s inaugural address. “Will he deliver [safety] or will he make the same mistakes previous Democratic Presidents have made? With Gaza in flames and Iran on the verge of constructing its first nukes, I think we’ll know soon enough.”
  9. Terry Mattingly catches ABC News fumbling a Rick Warren reference to a “great cloud of witnesses” as being a reference to Martin Luther King Jr.
  10. Rich at Take Up Your Cross offers a term for a religion with Barack Obama as its Messiah: “Obamianity.” “In the minds of many people, our new President has been elevated to an almost Messiah-like status.”
  11. Christine at Talk Wisdom takes up the question of Bible Codes referring to the new President. I’d completely forgotten about Bible Codes. Completely.

Why didn’t somebody at one of the the various conservative news sources dig up the Falsani interview in (say) September 2008?

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OD Today: 3 January 2009 (late edition)

January 3, 2009

Some backing and filling, some stray links.

  1. Bruce Prescott, liberal Baptist, on Southern Baptist families and divorce. “SBC leaders leaders still think the solution to the problem of divorce is to tell wives to “submit” to their husbands. “Submissive” wives don’t question their husband’s directions and they hold their tongues when they know their husband is leading the family astray.”
  2. A transcript of Paris Reidhead‘s sermon Ten Shekels and A Shirt.
  3. Orrin Judd links to a Jerusalem Post article on the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, thanking George W. Bush for his support.
  4. Orrin Judd excerpts a couple of articles, one suggesting that reason is insufficient as a basis of government, the other on results from a recent Harris poll regarding American attitudes toward abortion.
  5. Henry Neufield on the case of Keith John Sampson, a student and janitor at IUPUI found guilty of racial harassment for reading Todd Tucker’s book Notre Dame vs. The Klan (see als0).
  6. Michael Davis on Muslim unrest in Rosengård, Sweden. “The problem is that those in the West fail to understand that Islam is far from being just another religion–it is at its core a way of life. A way of life which is in many ways at odds with much of the free societies that it is transplanted in.”
  7. David Hocking relays talking points regarding Israel and Hamas from Shimon Erem of Israel Christian Nexus. “The Consulate General of Israel has asked me to convey some basic points to help you better understand the facts of the current military operation in Gaza. We hope they will assist you in communications with your congregation and others with whom you are in contact.”
  8. Christine at Talk Wisdom links to Mike Rucker’s comments on Israel/Hamas, offers her own comments. “I have often believed that Israel needs a strong leader again. They need a man like Benjamin Netanyahu.”
  9. Howard Fisher on Muslim perspectives on Jesus. “To be honest, I have to wonder if the Muslim mind is able to grasp that Jesus had a purpose which required far more cunning and wisdom than man would ever conceive.”
  10. Chris Rosebrough shares video clips from Patricia King and Joshua Mills regarding “transports in the Spirit,” in this case to China; she also plugs something called the Extreme Plunge Volunteer Program.
  11. John Sexton plugs a Fox News program on Mosab Hassan Yousef.
  12. Kit passes on links to claims that Keith Green was murdered by Catholics.
  13. Ingrid Schlueter, this time at her personal weblog, discusses outrages regarding sexuality and femininity in America. “I recently watched a program on EWTN, the Catholic TV channel. While I disagree on some things, their teachings on family and God’s plan for motherhood is beautiful and helpful, and is utterly absent in freak show evangelical television.

We’d like to wish Ingrid Schlueter and her baby good health.

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OD Today: 3 January 2009 (early edition)

January 3, 2009

Because of the large number of links left from yesterday, and the fact that it’s probably difficult to read or even scan a list of thirty-plus links, I’m going to try breaking today’s posts into two or more pieces.

  1. Crosstalk America’s podcast is updating a couple of days at a time. Part of yesterday’s episode is Paris Reidhead‘s sermon “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” (SermonIndex.net). He contrasts 19th-century liberalism/humanism and Fundamentalism, and calls both selfishness and not Christianity. He also calls Fundamentalism “Utilitarian Christianity.” “If all you repented for was to stay out of hell, all you are is a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt.”
  2. Kit continue dealing with the movie Zeitgeist, links to an article from Always Be Ready that aggregates the responses from various theologians.
  3. David Hocking updates the Israel/Hamas conflict, including the death of Nizar Rayyan.
  4. La Shawn Barber talks about a draft bill in South Carolina that would give women seeking an abortion the option of seeing a free ultrasound first.
  5. Underdog Theology gives Donald Whitney’s definition of the term “evangelical.”
  6. Michael Davis notes the Gideons‘ 100th anniversary: “1.5 billion scriptures in 187 different countries and in 85 languages, including 76.8 million distributions last year alone.”
  7. Defending Contending links to a Wolf Blitzer/CNN interview with Charles Barkley; story with summary here. In this interview, from February 2008, Barkley says the Republican Party is full of “fake Christians.”
  8. Ken Silva presents the first in what he promises will be a series of responses to a letter to one of his readers from Margaret Manning (of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) regarding Henri Nouwen.
  9. Miriam Franklin opens a can of worms regarding what some people call “eternal security” and others “once saved, always saved.”
  10. Underdog Theology links to Donald Whitney’s paper on the boundaries of Evangelical Spirituality regarding spiritual disciplines.
  11. Chris Rosebrough calls Tadd Grandstaff (Pine Ridge Church)’s Christmas sermon the worst Christmas sermon of 2008. Be warned that the embedded video starts automatically.
  12. Brian Thornton says Rick Warren should plead for mercy on behalf of the nation during the Obama inaugural invocation. “IF the gospel is true, and faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ, then the ONLY loving thing Rick Warren should do in his invocation is to plead with God to save Barack Obama and all others who have not been born again to a living hope.”
  13. Cindy Kunsman asks if spiritual abuse is biblical, gives two summaries, from Ron Henzel and David Henke.
  14. Miriam Franklin parses Rick Joyner‘s teaching that 2008 was the beginning of the Church of the Last Days.
  15. Orrin Judd links to an article by Roger Scruton on the New Atheists and the strength of their arguments. “But what exactly does modern science tell us, and just where does it conflict with the premises of religious belief?”
  16. Dwayna Litz comments on the death of Jett Travolta, and links to an older article on Scientology.
  17. The latest installment of Fighting For The Faith Radio is available; I haven’t heard it and can’t comment beyond what’s in the show notes.
  18. John Sexton says Newsweek has Bush Derangement Syndrome on the basis of a sidebar ad.
  19. The latest episode of The Dividing Line is available for download.
  20. James White shares a letter from a Mormon convert to Christianity. “Sometime after that, after I had determined that the LDS church was false, I had become saved through reading some Josh McDowell materials.” The author also has some kind words for White.
  21. John Kubicek shares a Henry Lamb column from World Net Daily regarding a United Nations sustainable development initiative called Agenda 21. “We don’ t have much time left, folks. Barack Obama will be going right along with Agenda 21, and I’m pretty sure he’ll get it started as soon as he can eliminate the 1st and 2nd Amendments.”
  22. Phil Naessens shares the video for the Brian McLaren appearance on the Bleeding Purple podcast, in which McLaren says the doctrine of hell flies in the face of the Gospel. Note: the video is just the podcast audio plus still photos.
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OD Today: 2 January 2009

January 1, 2009

Today the new year begins in earnest; let’s hope we’re done with recaps, resolutions, and top ten lists.

  1. Kat summarizes New Age perspectives on the Rapture.
  2. Wendy at Joyfully Growing in Grace takes on the question of interpreting Paul’s writings, particularly Romans 14, using the Torah within the Hebrew Roots Movement. “t’s become clear that the concept is not uncommon among several facets in the Law-keeping community, including but not limited to those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, “Messianics”, Seventh Day Adventism, and Church of God sects.”
  3. Kit shares a link to The Keith Green Story.
  4. Dwayna Litz connects the dots between the New Age group The Fellowship of Friends and contemplative prayer. She also links to an older article where she calls out J. P. Moreland for his endorsement of spiritual disciplines. “Isn’t it clear that ‘practicing the presence’ is for those who are not indwelt with the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit? There is no need to ‘practice’ a ‘presence’ when the perfect God of the universe dwells within you in all of His perfection.” Her discussion of this issue is as clear and succinct in its elaboration of ODMs objections to contemplation as I’ve seen.
  5. Ken Silva calls out Focus on the Family for recommending The Message via its brio magazine.
  6. Dwayna Litz shares verses for confronting New Agers. “A typical “spiritual” seeker of “esoteric Christianity” would read what he or she likes and not read the verses that convict of sin and tell of the depravity of people apart from Jesus.”
  7. James Swan responds to Patrick Madrid (Catholic Answers Live)’s interpretation of the woman “clothed in the sun” in Revelation 12 as being Mary, the mother of Jesus. “This is a striking example of private interpretation. Rome’s apologists may claim to be part of a monolithic church in which all her devoted apologists are on the same page, but when one surveys their writings it becomes quite obvious such is not the case.”
  8. James White takes on the question of whether Mormonism is Christian; his primary thesis is that Mormonism is polytheistic and Christianity is monotheistic (YouTube).
  9. John Kubicek links to The Farahness Doctrine, Joseph Farah’s Christian Libertarian manifesto.
  10. John Kubicek picks up the story of Igor Panarin and his prediction of the breakup of the United States in 2010 (Wall Street Journal).
  11. John Kubicek picks up the story of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, two Border Patrol agents George W. Bush has declined to pardon (World Net Daily).
  12. Dorothy Anderson asks what hyper-preterists do with the Devil. “The question is – who or what is/was Satan? Is he still active today? How do they define him/it?”
  13. Dorothy Anderson asks what creeds hyper-preterists can affirm. “What has happened in hyper-preterism is their eschatological (end times) position requires them to redefine, or at best reschedule the resurrection and after 25+ years, they still have no unified solution to offer.”
  14. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds links to an article about the difference between a recession and a depression, and the question of which describes the current economic climate (Economist).
  15. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds links to a couple of Gaza-related articles: one on dangers to Israeli nuclear plants, another on Hamas battle plans. With lots of links.
  16. Miriam Franklin summarizes the return of Todd Bentley.
  17. Michael Newnham asks, among other things, why conservative Christian supporters of Israel don’t demand Israel change its religious policies. “Do we deny a part of our faith by not demanding the freedom to proclaim Christ?”
  18. La Shawn Barber parses this news story, regarding a gang-rape. “Then it dawned on me. The races of the gang-raping thugs: three hispanic and one black. I’d venture a guess that the victim is white.”
  19. Cindy Kunsman offers a glossary regarding cults, cultism, and cultic groups.
  20. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds links to a story claiming Republican National Committee members are considering accusing the outgoing President of socialism.
  21. Mike Ratliff offers an article by Arthur Pink on Present-Day Evangelism.
  22. Watcher’s Lamp links to a document from the Vatican titled “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace,” comments: “Looks like America’s Pastor, Rick Warren, has been echoing the message from the Vatican…” and another article on the head of the Roman Catholic Church offering a prayer to Mary, the mother of Jesus, on behalf of the global economy.
  23. Ingrid Schlueter links to this Yahoo article on inaugural prayers, repeats that the Obama inauguration story is about abortion: “Will God be moved if Rick Warren mouths the name of Jesus while asking for the blessing on America’s radical, pro-death President? What a farce this is.”
  24. Ingrid Schlueter passes on a picture of a large pro-life billboard in San Francisco.
  25. James Hutchens on Israel, Hamas, and proportionate force.
  26. Christine at Talk Wisdom offers a long article by Susan Smith of Life in Israel – One Body. “Because I am convinced the one Church body and Israel are one and the same, spiritually speaking, I changed the name to “Life in Israel-One Body.”
  27. John Sexton parses a Newsweek article on recent relations between the United States and Iran. “I predict that within a year this same idiot will cheer Obama on when we give Israel the go-ahead for preemptive strikes on Iran’s nuke capability. Wait and see. The rules are different for Democrats.”
  28. Bill Wilson on media coverage of Israel/Hamas. “While the news media is clamoring about how Israel is targeting civilians, the story of why some homes are targeted is totally missed. Hamas and the Palestinians house their weapons, command centers and leaders in civilian communities for two reasons…”
  29. Joel Rosenberg on the range of Hamas missiles. “There were growing fears in Israel last night that Hamas missiles could threaten its top-secret nuclear facility at Dimona.”
  30. Ken Silva links to a two-part teaching from John MacArthur on the sufficiency of Scripture.
  31. Chris Lyons comments on recent focus in Online Discernment on Universalism/Christian Universalism.
  32. La Shawn Barber on the Word of Promise Next Generation audio New Testament: “I just find it…wild, weird, and smart!”
  33. James Thomas on Ted Haggard and true repentance. “If we Mis-Represent the work and power of God through true Repentance then we His Church on earth will become the cause of shipwrecking the faith of many of His people, and even worse, lead the lost into the deepest and darkest pit that we ourselves are destine to fall in as we ourselves temble in right beside them.”
  34. Kit offers a response to the Zeitgeist movie.

And finally, another post from Rod Dreher on Arab reactions and rhetoric in Florida to the situation in Gaza. “Thus does jihadism manifest itself (once again) in America, despite the denial of bien-pensants.”

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Church foreclosures

December 30, 2008

By now everyone’s seen the New York Times article by Louise Story; it talks about church foreclosures in general, and uses the story of Seabreeze Church in Huntington Beach, California to hold the piece together. The bigger story, about church foreclosures generally, is compelling because it suggests that a church is just another business, and it flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that religious people are more generous when times are tough, rather than less. The smaller story, about Seabreeze Church is compelling in some circles because of doctrinal differences, or because the church had help in the past from Saddleback Community Church, home of Rick Warren.

Unfortunately, according to John Sexton the connection between Seabreeze and the current economic climate doesn’t make sense: he says Seabreeze is in trouble because of pastoral malfeasance:

  • In the first of two articles yesterday he places the blame squarely on pastor Bevan Unrau, for his authoritarian teaching and management style, for firing staff who disagreed with him and for driving away people who attended (and we assume gave money to) the church.
  • In the second article he takes issue with an article in the Orange County Register by Anne Burris, questioning the way the financial numbers are presented in the article.

At the heart of Sexton’s contentions in the second article is a claim that attendance at the church fell from 850 people to current levels of about 700; Sexton says that on the way attendance reached 1050; if true this supports his claim that some event inside the church caused a growing church to stop growing and contract.

Also mentioned in the story is the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, which according to the article wrote Seabreeze’s original mortgage and arranged for emergency refinancing when Seabreeze couldn’t meet its obligations under the original loan. They are probably an important player to watch as the larger story progresses, as they likely have many church mortgages on their books.

Which brings us back to the larger story: given the current recession, and the fact that it is about a year old, shouldn’t we see lots of church foreclosures in the news? Here’s what I found online:

  • May 2008: Blessed Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in South Memphis, a tiny church with 30 in attendance at their last Sunday service, is sold at auction as part of foreclosure proceedings arising from an $85,000 mortgage.
  • January 2007: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on the foreclosure by BB&T on Cathedral at Chapel Hill for debts of “about $1 million.” At the heart of the foreclosure is pastoral misbehavior: Earl Paulk’s attorney admits Paulk had a sexual relationship with church member Monica Brewer.
  • November 2004: New Life Worship Center, North Little Rock, Arkansas defaults; no details.
  • Yesterday: Our Father’s House Baptist Church, Disney Oklahoma, faces foreclosure owing $400,000 on a construction loan; fire destroyed their former building two years ago. No other details appear to be available, so we can’t sensibly ask financial questions about e.g. insurance.
  • November 2008: Without Walls International Church defaults on a $12 million mortgage, again written by Evangelical Christian Credit Union. Weblog posts here and here. This is one of the ministries being investigated by Charles Grassley, Senator from Iowa, and pastors Randy White and Paula White announced their divorce last year.

And finally, Suzanne Sataline of the Wall Street Journal offers an omnibus article on church foreclosures; here are the highlights:

  • St. Andrew Anglican Church, Easton, Maryland. Also covered in Louise Story’s article above; a congregation of fifty people, they borrowed $850,000 in 2005 to buy a building as part of the ongoing Anglican/Episcopal conservative/liberal breakup.
  • Evangelical Christian Credit Union has begun foreclosure proceedings against 7 of its 2000 member churches this year; Mark Holbrook, President and CEO of ECCU expects to foreclose on two more next year. Had foreclosed on two churches in the previous 45 years.
  • Church Mortgage & Loan Corporation has foreclosed on 10 churches in the past couple of years; unable to liquidate the properties, it filed Chapter 11 this year.
  • Strongtower Financial says 2 of its 300 evangelical church borrowers are in default, compared with only one in the previous 15 years.
  • “Dozens more churches are listed as delinquent on their loans, according to a search of county court records nationwide.” This is kind of soft; I wish Sataline had given a number here.
  • Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida, borrowed about $2.6 million in 2002 for “an education wing, a reflecting pool, and a tower.” It filed for bankruptcy protection this year to avoid a $3.3 million foreclosure judgment.

Of the six churches we can find here where the foreclosure took place during the current recession (since December 2007), two are tiny churches, one had a fire, one has a Senator asking questions about their finances (and the pastor has divorced), one had a shortfall of $1 million in pledged donations, and the sixth is Seabreeze. There’s no clear pattern here, and we don’t know much about the 21 churches in the bullets above, but it might be reasonable to suggest that the current recession has had an impact on small churches, which are especially vulnerable if an economic downturn reduces the giving ability of a handful of donors, but the larger churches seem to be more susceptible to questionable judgment on the part of their leaders.

Update 1: April 2008: Ambassador Family Church, Oceanside, California: Evangelical Christian Credit Union also involved, terms not disclosed. Church peaked at 800 people, fell to 200. Building delays were blamed, as was the pastor, Barry Cook. He and his wife Terri separated in 2006, divorced in 2007.

Update 2: I did some more digging and found this article at Street Prophets/Daily Kos. I can’t figure out who the author is; the author link dangles. The author mostly summarizes Sataline’s article and forecasts a radical shift in how Americans go to church. I might humbly suggest that forty foreclosures in a nation with several hundred thousand churches does not yet justify that prediction.

This begs the question, though: how many churches have mortgages or building loans? Nobody seems to know: both of the articles from the major news sources talk about foreclosure counts and how many churches there are in America, but neither of them puts the foreclosure number in the context that would be helpful: if every church in the country defaulted on its mortgage, how many churches would that be?

Update 3: See also my later post here for more details and analysis.

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OD Today: 30 December 2008

December 30, 2008

It’s New Years Eve Eve, and everybody’s either still on vacation or catching up after vacation. Here are today’s links, some of them a day old:

  1. La Shawn Barber comments on a story from World Net Daily about Jesse Kilgore, a 22-year-old man who killed himself after reading Richard Dawkins‘s book The God Delusion. “First, I take a hard stand when it comes to suicide. It’s the work of inconsiderate and self-centered cowards, whatever the reason.”
  2. Ingrid Schlueter picks up the Drew Zahn article on Focus on the Family pulling their Glenn Beck article; apparently misses the fact that World Net Daily is selling the same book on their website.
  3. Watcher’s Lamp collects links and briefly comments on the story of Gianna Talone Sullivan, who has visions of Mary, the mother of Jesus. “The foreboding messages from the Mary of Maryland resemble the end of days described in the Bible. However, the solution for global peace offered by the apparitions are not Biblical.”
  4. Defending Contending picks up the story of Jonathan Gagne and six other students in Granby, Quebec, who have been suspended for refusing to attend a mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course.
  5. Defending Contending picks up Ingrid Schlueter’s comments on Franklin Graham’s comments on Rick Warren regarding his appearance at the Barack Obama inauguration, also takes a swipe at Billy Graham.
  6. John Baker picks up the story of Focus on the Family dropping their article pushing Glenn Beck’s book; comments on James Dobson: “its founder has a fallen Humanist view of what Faith in Christ is! He has a degree in and accepts atheist humanist explanations for peoples actions.”
  7. La Shawn Barber picks up the story of Herman Rosenblat, author of Angel at the Fence, a “true story” of love during the Holocaust that turned out to be fiction.
  8. Defending Contending shares a YouTube video of girls dancing to N*Sync, with links to two other cases of people dancing to pop music in a church sanctuary. “Ichabod!”
  9. James Thomas offers an “Appeal to Spirit-Filled Ministers.”
  10. Christian Research Network awards a “Political Correctness Award” to Rick Warren, citing this article from One News Now. I’m guessing no actual award will be presented.
  11. James White pushes a cruise; guest speakers include White, David Wheaton, Gary Demar, and Marshall Foster.
  12. Desert Pastor comments on the ongoing bombing of Gaza. Defending Contending links. “Americans would be crying for blood and the obliteration of whatever country desired to harm us on a daily basis.”
  13. John Robbins comments on Michael Horton’s recent interview with novelist Anne Rice. “He gave her a big platform to tout her garbage without any rebuttal, clarification, or warning.”
  14. Ken Silva offers more comments on contemplative and centering prayer; Silva’s argument is that because they originated with the Desert Fathers and not Jesus or His disciples it isn’t biblical: “This is where the antibiblical practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer originated; it was not practiced or taught by Jesus Christ nor His Apostles, and it has no place in the life of the Christian.”
  15. Sam Guzmán links to this video sermon by South African pastor Keith Daniel: A Warning to America (76 minutes).
  16. John Sexton links to an article from the Orange County Register regarding Seabreeze Church, offers numerous comments. “Note: Giving dropped and no one is specifying why. The reader is left to assume it was the bad economy. It wasn’t.” “they took a $200K personal loan from a member (they took a couple actually, but one in particular came from someone who left the church two months later). The church has refused to repay the money after multiple requests.”
  17. Cindy Kunsman connects Geoffrey Botkin to Great Commission Ministries, with a timeline.
  18. Lighthouse Trails offers a Top 10 articles list.
  19. Orrin Judd links and offers comments on Barack Obama’s choices regarding church attendance: “After all, Christ only came on a donkey, the One rides a unicorn.” The Chicago Tribune article he links to offers some perspective, with a rundown of the church attendance habits of the previous four Presidents.
  20. Four Pointer does not like Coexist bumper stickers.
  21. Watcher’s Lamp offers two articles about Israel’s shelling of Gaza: one on Hamas shelling Israel, and another on Iran’s reaction and Egypt’s reaction, with related links.
  22. John Baker quotes and links an article from Right Side News by Caroline Glick regarding Hamas imposition of sharia law, including provisions for crucifixion of  “Christians, Jews and anyone else who does not conform to their ideology.”
  23. Michael Davis links and comments regarding a One News Now article on a lawsuit by Illinois pharmacists challenging an executive order by the governor, Rod Blagojevich, requiring them to sell “morning-after pills.” Davis’s comments: “Freedom of religion and conscience is at issue and many want to disregard the rights of individuals in favor of commerce. Throw in a progressive agenda that liberal politicians buy in to and you have the beginnings of oppression and persecution.”
  24. Ken Silva calls out Charles Stanley for recommending meditation.
  25. John Baker links and cites an article from Arabian Business regarding an agreement among five Arab nations (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates) to move to a single common currency.
  26. Ingrid Schlueter comments on an article from Yahoo! News about teens breaking virginity pledges: “Outside of the power of Christ in our lives, most of our vows against sin fall by the wayside. Our flesh is powerful and the culture around us is constantly parading around the supposed rewards of sin. Scripture tells us that the way that seems right to us, however, leads to death. Only when we are truly born again can we have the power of God in us to resist temptation.”
  27. Gay Christian Movement Watch comments on Gene Robinson‘s disappointment in Rick Warren’s invitation to give the invocation at the Barack Obama inauguration: “I should name this the battle of the false prophets.”
  28. Ed Stetzer on bearing false witness: “The same goes for people as diverse as Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren, and Jeremiah Wright. Regardless of how much we disagree and how passionate we feel, in all cases, people should be spoken of truthfully, even when we are disagreeing with them.We cannot not let a passion for the truth make it OK to not speak truthfully. God is never honored when we defend His truth by speaking falsely.”
  29. Ken Silva offers a quote from a book co-edited by Richard Foster regarding Thomas Merton.
  30. Orrin Judd shares some analysis on the current Israel/Hamas flareup.
  31. Scott McClare offers among other things a review of Francis Schaeffer’s book The Church At the End of the 20th Century.
  32. Herescope/Discernment Research Group shares a section of Jeremiah Burroughs’s book Exposition on the Prophecy of Hosea, particularly as a warning to an apostate church. I have to admit that I’m puzzled how the book of Hosea could be considered “the meat of the Word” for an evangelical Christian, and doubly puzzled that anyone from a Protestant tradition would consider “the Church our mother.”
  33. John Baker shares an editorial from the Boston Globe concerning human rights violations perpertrated by Hamas inside the Palestinian territories. “In direct contravention of international law, Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, utilizing homes, schools and community centers as launching pads, content in the knowledge that if innocent Palestinian civilians are caught in the cross-fire, it will be Israel that is criticized.”
  34. Ken Silva shares a letter from Margaret Manning, currently of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Silva, in his introductory notes, focuses mostly on Nouwen and a quote from his book Sabbatical Journey; Manning mentions Nouwen only once in a response that appeals mostly to Augustine and Luther: “We quote from Nietzsche and Ghandi – and yet no one is accusing us of being atheist or Hindu supporters. We quote from Oscar Wilde – and yet we are not being accused of supporting debauchery or supporting the homosexual lifestyle. Why is it then, if we quote from Henri Nouwen, or Richard Foster, for example, are we being accused of being in cahoots with ‘contemplative spirituality?'” This is a great question, and I’m looking forward to Silva’s answer.
  35. Lighthouse Trails shares another Top 10 list: their ten favorite articles by other authors this year. And another, their ten favorite articles from other ministries.

And in cult news, Wayne Bent of the Lord Our Righteousness Church has been sentenced to ten years in prison.

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OD Today: 29 December 2008

December 29, 2008

I’m still trying to do some backing and filling on the KJV Only movement, so a couple of today’s links are fairly old. I’m still looking for Pro-KJV-Only weblogs and/or YouTube streams; most everything seems to be from KJV-Only detractors.

  • YouTube user TellittoJesus takes on KJV Only, particularly Bill Bradley’s book Purified Seven Times. He considers the KJV Only Movement “the spirit of the Antichrist.”
  • Jerry at CRN.Info quotes from this article by William Murchison asking if looking to older stages in a particular Christian tradition is helpful if that tradition doesn’t faithfully represent Jesus and His teachings. Some coarse language due to a quote from a book by Robert Penn Warren.
  • Blogger KittyKit quotes this article by Thomas Horn: “As a Christian researcher and author of two books on the New Age, I find the increasing regularity of UFO sightings prophetically intriguing,” and in another post quotes this older editorial on Anne Rice and vampires.
  • John Baker quotes without comment this article from CNS News about 2009 being a crucial year in the debate about homosexuality and human rights. “Homosexuality is not a human right, [Gary] Bauer said.”
  • John Baker links with scripture verses but no additional comments to this response by someone referred to only by the initials “S.S.” to this announcement of an Assemblies of God missions drive called Invasion of America with the Gospel. The original announcement by Zollie Smith Jr, Executive Director of Missions for the Assemblies of God, includes the sentence “No one deserves to spend eternity in the lake of fire.” I’m not going to try to parse all the buzzwords and name-calling here to figure out if this is a sign of creeping Universalism or just a poor choice of words.
  • Dwayna Litz links to Nicholas Jackson’s column at News With Views with a suggested prayer for Rick Warren to pray at Barack Obama‘s inauguration.
  • Dwayna Litz offers links for people who are witnessing to cultists: Witnesses for Jesus, Inc. and Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet.
  • Brian Thornton congratulates Focus on the Family for pulling its CitizenLink article promoting Glenn Beck’s book The Christmas Sweater, links to this Drew Zahn article at World Net Daily. Zahn’s piece does a poor job of explaining the differences between Mormon and evangelical Christian theology, summarizes Beck’s book, quotes Joel Campbell of the Mormon Times, and notes that World Net Daily is selling Beck’s book. I’m going to pass on the chance to say World Net Daily is “promoting Mormonism,” but that looks like profiteering to me.
  • Dwayna Litz recommends Jeff Sharlet‘s book The Family, and says she’s ordering a copy tonight. Jeff Sharlet has written several long-form pieces on the Religious Right, all of which merit reading. He’s one of the few mainstream journalists I’ve found who seems to speak the language, but he’s not personally a conservative Christian and his objections to what he’s seeing and reporting can be a bit difficult to tease out from time to time. His primary Web outlet is The Revealer.
  • ODM detractor Jerry at CRN.Info engages in the first part of a discussion with Jesus Wants To Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden.
  • Brian Thornton comments on Rick Warren’s “gay partnership” comment, calls it heresy.
  • James White shares a video from Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, where he responds to Bart Ehrman and John Dominic Crossans, and their claims that Mark and Luke present substantially different accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion. The video is forty-three minutes long, and I have to admit I haven’t watched it all. The direct link to the YouTube video is here.
  • Lighthouse Trails comments on a Christianity Today interview with Franklin Graham regarding Rick Warren’s opportunity to pray at the Barack Obama inauguration. “We present this article as an example of how Christian leaders (such as Graham) are not warning the body of Christ about Rick Warren’s teachings and beliefs that include a three-legged global peace plan and the new reformation/new spirituality.”
  • John Sexton picks up the Seabreeze Church financial situation. He attended this church and was part of the building search committee, and he fills in details missing from the Times story; he blames the pastor, Bevan Unrau: “The senior pastor (forlorn man) spent four months at the end of 2007 talking about his authority. We heard about it at a men’s retreat, then in sermons, then in leadership meetings. He made it clear to everyone that he was the sole decision maker for the church. Then he preceded to fire the church secretary, the youth pastor and the worship pastor. I quit shortly thereafter. Other quit too. About 150 people left the church over the next three months. And, surprise, the church began to struggle financially.” For the record, I don’t think there is enough of this sort of name-naming when a church is in trouble: Sexton relates fact claims that can be verified or falsified, and that puts his account head and shoulders above most of the troubled-church narratives I’ve read and heard.
  • Sharon Lindbloom suggests that the LDS Church is mixing Joseph Smith into their Christmas observance, in a role that is similar to the way Santa Claus is mixed into Christmas observance in the broader culture.
  • John Baker quotes an article from the Pak Tribune that claims Prince Charles of England says the “clash of civilizations could be averted by following the teaching of Islam and Quran.” For the record, the article is not a direct quote. In the comments there’s this link with comment by Tony Blair: “‘In the first place, you understand what it means to believe. What you often find is that you immediately have something in common with another person of faith, even if he belongs to a different religion. As well as that, one is interested in other religions. One’s motivation is greater. I regularly read the Koran, practically every day,’ Blair told the interviewer. He said the Prophet Mohammed had been ‘an enormously civilizing force.'”
  • Michael Davis links and comments regarding a One News Now story regarding an ACLU lawsuit over explicitly Christian prayers at the Forsythe County, North Carolina board meetings. Davis appeals to the example of the framers of the Constitution: “Apparently, those who wrote the Constitution in the first place did not think that prayer was a violation of their efforts and many but not all of the prayers did reference Jesus.”
  • fourpointer at Defending Contending offers the twenty-second article in a series of fifty responses to Mormon questions, regarding whether Mormons are monotheistic, polytheistic, or as fourpointer states, henotheistic.
  • John Baker copies an article from Berit Kjos, relating Robert Muller’s World Peace Plan 2010. The original appears to be here.
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OD Today: 27 December 2008

December 27, 2008

Today should be a slow news day, but there’s still lots to talk about regarding stories that surfaced over the holiday.

  • Dwayna Litz comments on the Ahmadinejad Christmas message, but stops just short of calling the Emerging Church anti-Semitic.
  • John Baker comments on Melissa Etheridge’s comments regarding Rick Warren, accuses Warren of double-dealing: “This is a game that Rick Warren constantly plays. He speaks one false message to the Non-Christian World, and speaks another one filled with half-Truths to those Christians who follower after him!”
  • Orrin Judd parses Moby-Dick as a metaphor for the United States and its current situation.
  • Ken Silva attacks Henri Nouwen as being “quasi-Buddhist,” mostly via his interpretation of Wil Hernandez’s book Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection. He repeatedly refers to Hernandez as “Fernandez.”
  • Orrin Judd says good-bye to Harold Pinter. “Any enemy of America was a friend of his. Do we really need to know any more?”
  • Ingrid Schlueter criticizes Franklin Graham for his comments on Rick Warren’s critics regarding his decision to give the invocation at the Obama inauguration. “As Joseph Farah put it, God isn’t going to bless that no matter what Warren intones at the inauguration. The Graham family has made a practice of speaking smooth, silky, easy messages to U.S. Presidents.”
  • Ingrid Schlueter picks up a One News Now story regarding Rick Warren’s support of “gay partnerships.” I think this means he supports civil unions.
  • John Sexton links to an article in the Telegraph (UK) by Nile Gardiner at the Heritage Foundation praising George W. Bush and saying history will be kinder to him than we are now.
  • Howard Fisher reviews the novel House, by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker; says he prefers the movies Signs and Unbreakable.
  • Charismania picks up the story of the pseudonymous “Living Word Church,” republishes this comment about Bob Mumford by Cindy K, both about how the pastor of a cultic church controls an inner circle. For the record, I don’t give stories that use pseudonyms much credit; they don’t and can’t rise to the “two or three witnesses” standard. On the other hand, as she notes in the comment, Cindy Kunsman names names. Bravo for Cindy!
  • Gay Christian Movement Watch calls out Candace Chellew-Hodge for using foul language on her weblog.
  • Brian Thornton links to this article about churches in foreclosure and behind on mortgage payments, asks if churches should be “cash only.”
  • Thomas Turner, one of those Emergent Church types, on the centrality of Scripture in the liturgy: “Christ is Lord of all, and he stands in the center of all as the Word of God enfleshed as Jesus of Nazareth and ever-present before us through his Spirit.” 

OT Today: 23 December 2008

December 23, 2008

Here are the online discernment links for December 23, 2008:

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