Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Satire and (hopefully false!) Prediction

We were talking about the excesses of commercialized, market-driven worship fads this evening. After everything I've personally seen and had the misfortune of hearing about, there remains one thing that a church has not done (to my knowledge). Should this happen, I would have to say that I would be surprised, shocked, and disappointed.

Anything short of this satirical prediction no longer phases me.

Let me know when a church...

...follows in the footsteps of major league ball parks and discovers that they can get a much larger worship center if they get a big sponsor to pay for the structure in exchange for naming rights. Examples could include:

1. Minute Maid® Temple
2. Pepsi Cola® Community Church
3. Our Lady of Hanes® Her Way™
4. Christ Is Our Nike® Tabernacle (I'm seeing a really nice logo with a cross and a swoosh)

...I will admit that these are probably unlikely--at least initially. We'll have to build up to Minute Maid® Temple. It is probably more likely that they will find pious companies to do business with before they do open business with the world. We will probably see one of the following first:

1. Christ's Church for Light and Inspiration (CCLI™)
2. First Lutheran Church and Free Methodist Credit Union
3. Christianity Today® Community Church

I hope I haven't just triggered any search committees or capital campaigns.

Is There A Spiritual Gift More Agonizing than Discernment?

I am starting to wonder if Job is the archetype of suffering... or was it Jeremiah? I'm not even really that good at discernment and the small bit of it that I have does nothing but assault my senses on a regular basis. In the case of most worship services, ignorance is truly bliss.

Discernment basically prevents you from having any fun at all in the popular church services of your day. It also causes you to be the wet blanket of the faithful that takes every lofty opinion and crushes it in the hands of its originator with pesky things like Scripture passages and plain reason. It makes you sound like Chris Rosebrough.

It's not something you get to turn off either. It causes you to appear ill in your pew (chair, theater seat, etc) and it forces you to involuntarily make disapproving faces when everyone else is waving their hands and blubbering with joy. It causes you to spend a great deal of time praying for patience and causes all of your friends to spend all their free time praying that your pessimism would be mercifully removed from your cold, spiritually-dead heart.

It causes you to say obnoxious things like, "I don't know why you liked that sermon so much. It turned me back to myself to fix my own problems. Where was Christ? Where was the atonement for sin on the cross? Where was the imputed righteousness and grace?"

This last Sunday I experienced a service that I am now calling "Heresy Week". This may seem harsh, but it is the best construction that I have been able to find thus far. My previous names for it were not so charitable.

We had a praise song that explicitly promoted the synergistic errors of Arminianism ("when you and I embrace surrender, when you and I choose to believe, then you and I will see...") This is no surprise since they announced the upcoming "revival" that they will be holding.

We had another praise song that was written by a trio of anti-trinitarian modalists (Phillips, Craig & Dean). I had a discussion about this before the service with one of the musicians. His comments proved that he is on the fence about the whole "a Christian has to espouse the Trinitarian dogma" thing. To add another twist to the knife, he is a self-identified Lutheran.

There was a baptism planned for the service, but there was a baptismal font malfunction. Can you imagine the headache of executing a full immersion baptism in a middle eastern desert during combat operations? Not fun. Everyone bemoaned that the baptism couldn't take place. I grabbed a 1 Liter bottle of drinking water and said, "Here let's use this, it's room temp. It worked in 100 A.D. Problem solved." ...the problem was not solved apparently. Anabaptists. Sheesh. :P

What is so ironic about this situation is that just a day prior everyone was gathered and talking about how "cool" it would be to do a baptism by water balloon. My solution was just as "cool" as that, but without the wacky party atmosphere. I was still shot down. My mode just wasn't relevant enough (even if it was practical, scriptural, apostolic, and feasible given our predicament.) As an aside: Someone got the tank to work (their irreverent phrase not mine), so the ceremonial ordinance could take place as scheduled.

But my personal favorite was when the preacher declared that God had to come down and become man so that He could understand what we were going through. It was so cumbersome in delivery that the conclusion that was inadvertently created was: "Is God's omniscience so limited that He could not understand the plight of His creation prior to the incarnation?"

There were other issues with the service, but--to be honest--I engaged my doctrinal autopilot after these were dropped in my lap. I only vaguely remember other things that made me wince and do not care to enumerate them ever again. Needless to say, people have stopped asking me what I thought of the service whenever we head out the door.

Yup. I'm a nit-picky jerk.

P.S. ...now that I look at that Chris Tomlin song, I'm starting to think that it's leaning more towards Pelagian heresy rather than Ariminian heresy. I say this because the song clearly places the Holy Spirit's calling and operation after "when you and I choose to believe". Only then "you and I will see who we were meant to be." It's confused because verse 2 seems to be a little more orthodox in its presentation... nevermind. I'm just going to drop it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thank You, Dr. Freude

A Freudian slip occurred at a memorialist version of the Lord's Supper. As the chaplain fumbled through the words of institution, he accidentally said:

"And our Lord took the juice after supper..."

You could tell by the look on his face that he was deeply embarrassed when he caught the error.

He tried to recover by making some vague reference to the fruit of the vine, but my grin of vindication was already too pronounced to hide. His slip had illustrated just how far from those words of institution his heterodox practice had taken him. There he stood with a plastic shot glass filled with grape juice that was nothing more than a shot glass full of grape juice. Was this really what Christ had instituted when he said "This is my body... this is my blood..."?

No. Because Christ did not take "the juice after supper..." That's just something that some people are doing in recent years as a novel bad practice. It stands against scripture's clear language and teaching. It isn't juice. It is "the cup of blessing" which truly is a "participation (koinonia) in the blood of Christ." [1 Cor 10:6].