Archives For Evangelicalism

Jamie Pierre, 250 Foot Cliff Jump, Grand Targhee Backcountry, WYFor many who live in high alpine terrain, mountain sports like skiing are a way of life. As with any such sport, carnage comes with the territory. On one particular occasion, I watched a friend missile himself off a 60 foot cliff on a day which skiers would label the snow conditions as “boiler-plate” (referring to the penetrability of the snow). When he finally landed, the boiler-plate-like snow gave 4 inches (though he stopped, his skis continued airborne without him for another quarter of a mile). By the numbers, he was going about 40mph, landed, came to a complete stop in a fraction of a second, with only 4 inches of snow-cushion. That’s probably less forgiveness than landing on hot asphalt. Needless to say, he compacted a few vertebrae and was laid up for a month. And once it was clear he was still alive, the stunt provided for a powerfully learning experience as one might imagine: among other things, don’t imitate Eddy the Eagle on boiler-plate snow conditions.

unforgivingThe falls and mishaps of others are never occasion for juicy gloating though they must be for humbly learning. At our local resort, you’re the mountain chump if you chuckle at a big fall. But you’re also the mountain fool if you fail to learn from them.

As normal for any era between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, these past few months have seen a far share of ministry falls, scandals, apology-kind-of-things, disqualifications, and hard-to-name-types-of-things. As the church, this provides opportune learning occaions for us to understand the times and know what to do.

This is by no means exhaustive, but here are 7 suggestions in light of recent events:

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The Noah movie was released, and by all accounts (or by all discerning accounts) was a complete mash-up of gnosticism, mysticism, kabbalah, with an unhealthy dash of environmentalism. It has certainly brought out the worst in the quasi-evangelical community, who produced all sorts of reviews showing their earnestness to engage with popular culture (“it may have promoted devil worship, but the CGI was awesome!!!), whereas others seemed to try really hard to justify all those buses they rented to take their congregations to Christian screenings.

Anyway, Trevin Wax helpfully put many of the best (and worst) reviews in one place. Some of the highlights:

This review shows how the movie is essentially warmed up gnosticism.  Al Mohler’s makes the same point. If you might actually want to see the movie, then Denny Burk gives you a review without spoilers. Meanwhile, Ken Ham does what Ken Ham does.

Today on Cripplegate, Tom Patton (a pastor at Grace Church in Los Angeles, and also a literal acting coach!) gives his meticulous review as well.

As for me, I strongly recommend you read Lyndon’s review. If you don’t know why people care about this movie, then read Lyndon’s review. If you think the movie was fun to watch, then read Lyndon’s review. If you are sick and tired of reading people who say things like “blah blah, at least it will help you talk about God more, blah blah” then read Lyndon’s review. Lyndon does not mix words, tells you all you need to know about the movie, and writes exceptionally well. Plus you will get a picture of Eddie VanHalen eating a McMuffin. If it doesn’t instantly become one of your favorite movie reviews, then let me know, and I will gladly refund your money.

This review is written by Tom Patton, Pastor of Congregational Care at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles.

Last Friday movie theaters all around the nation opened their doors to invite the viewing public in to watch Russell Crowe take on his newest role; the epic character of Noah. Isn’t it interesting how just the mention of one of the Scripture’s most well-known characters in the same sentence as one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors can create an odd blend of curiosity and dread in most Bible-believing Christians? The two just don’t seem to go together. I remember the first time I saw the massive publicity poster hanging from the walls of my local cinema before the film’s release. There right before me hung a larger-than-life portrait of a grizzly bear of a man with a full beard, drenched with water, sporting what seemed to be a biker crew cut and wrapped in a battle worn leather garment more reminiscent of Harley-Davidson performance gear than Antediluvian dress. It was Noah meets Gladiator; Maximus meets Genesis; Hollywood meets the Ark.

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Last weeks gay-marriage flop-flip with World Vision did not come out of left field. (Monday they announced that a monogamous homosexual relationship was in-step with Christian faithfulness, and on Wednesday they said ‘ummm…nevermind; sorry about that’).  But this was a schisim that was a long time coming, and illustrates a profound danger inherent in mercy ministries that are not built upon a theological foundation.

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Have you ever wondered why religious bookstores, Christian schools, and other religious organizations are allowed to discriminate based on religion in their hiring? Why is it legal for a radio station, or a charity, or a halal butcher to only employ those of like faith? The answer goes back to a legal right enshrined by World Vision, and a right that World Vision last week considered leveraging to advance the same-sex agenda in the United States.

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It was dark in the wee morning hours of Feb 4, 1999. Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, was standing outside his low-income apartment building on Wheeler Avenue in the South Bronx. The neighborhood was ear-marked for surveillance by a special police unit in an effort to curb drug related crime.

smoking gunDiallo was not typically considered to have a threatening presence. He was a short, light-weight man with an unassuming demeanor, and a shyness stemming from a severe stutter. But on that fateful night, his loitering attracted the suspicion of four police officers in an unmarked car. Spotting the halted car, Diallo’s curiosity was piqued enough to look around for what might be holding their attention. When he realized he was the object of their scrutiny, he became nervous and quickly retreated into the shadows. The cops interpreted this as the skittishness of a lookout abetting a crime.

Two of them, wearing civilian clothes, concealed bullet-proof vests, and not-so-concealed sidearms, ominously approached him. They asked if they could have a word. Apparently the fearful guy’s stutter prevented him from answering. Diallo freaked out and instinctively darted to his apartment door. He grabbed the doorknob with his left hand and started digging frantically in his pocket with his right. One policeman shouted “Show me your hands!” but Diallo turned his body and crouched low in what appeared to be a classic close-combat tactical stance—one the police were familiar with from their own training. Suddenly he presented a black, rectangular object and proffered it to his presumed assailants.

“Gun!” shouted one officer and drew his weapon. A shot rang out.

Startled, the other cop retreated, clumsily falling backward and in panic also discharged his weapon. Instantaneously the other two policemen appeared in the mêlée of crackling gunfire. Seeing one colleague on the floor and the other shooting, they joined the fray.

The whole incident was over in a few seconds. In that time 41 shots were fired. When the smoke cleared they found bullet-ridden Amadou Diallo’s body, with an outstretched hand, clutching a black wallet.

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