Monday, January 29, 2007

Cum Tacent Clamant

This link to this song is part of my attempt to figure out how to get my music online. This song was recorded on my Mac through the ONYX board with its cool new firewire interface we have down at The Vault. I just threw it together really quick to get it in the hands of some friends who need to hear it so they can be my backup musicians for a show I'm planning for February 25th.

Okay having said that, here's the real point. If you can figure out the riddle of this tune, you get one of those big link thingies I do for winners on my blog. So it's time for:

"The Strongest Link"

The first person to figure out who "she" is in this song is the next winner of The Strongest Link. Okay now I know a few of you already have heard this song and know the answer. You are immediately disqualified. Mike, and Mike, and maybe Carl (actually I'm not sure if Carl knows the answer to this or not) you may not spoil the fun here. I'll post the lyrics in the next post if you end up needing to see them.

So click on the title, or follow this link to hear my hastily thrown together mp3 of Cum Tacent Clamant

Hints? Okay just one. Cum Tacent Clamant is Latin, but that won't help you too much.

Oh, by the way, that's me and a guy named Daffyd at a castle named Dolwyddelan in North Wales. Cool, huh?

Words to the Song:

Cum Tacent Clamant

She smiles
down on us
and the mystery of her ugliness hides beneath the dust
the years
pass by with out a care
as the suffering of humanity lies black upon her hair
it's said
stones cry out in praise to God
but her gaping jaws stay silent above the awestruck mob
I feel
secrets hid beneath her gaze
and a history that scares me not written on the page

Cum Tacent Clamant
Cum Tacent Clamant
Cum Tacent Clamant
Cum Tacent Clamant

Is her smile just a hoax?
an unblinking laugh at us poor folk?
what stories does she veil?
of champions and of rogues?

She scoffs
at princes and and at popes
and sees them all as common men parading in fine robes
they came
seekers of fortunes and of fame
they passed beneath her walls and have died all the same

Cum Tacent Clamant
Cum Tacent Clamant
Cum Tacent Clamant
Cum Tacent Clamant

Is her smile just a hoax?
an unblinking laugh at us poor folk?
what stories does she veil?
of champions and of rogues?


You riddle guessers need some help! I guess I've got you stumped.
Hint #1 - first & second line - "she smiles down on us" She must be in a place which forces an individual to look up.
Hint #2 - the chorus is in Latin - She is found where Latin has been common, even after the language died.
Hint #3 - "unblinking laugh" - she can not close her eyes, they are always open.
Hint #4 & #5 - so far: she is up high and looking down, she is found in a place Latin has been recently spoken, she can not close her eyes - hint #4 - "the mystery of her ugliness" She has mysterious side to her. Her story, her reasons for being are unknown to us, and #5 she is ugly - I mean UGLY!
Hint #6 - "the stones cry out in praise to God, but..." She is made of stone.
Hint #7 - "her gaping jaws stay silent" - it is not unlikely to find her with gaping toothy jaws looking down at you from the high walls --> "they passed beneath her walls"


Sunday, January 28, 2007

SynchroBlog 3 - Monday, February 12th

For SynchroBlog 3 the Subject is love, because Valentine's Day is so close to our release date. Most Synchies will be discussing love as relates to missiology, but there will be few notable exceptions - like Matt the Aussie who wants to mature his ratings with a little Song of Solomon writing. Woo-Hoo! Go Matt!

In the right hand column of this blog you will find a list of SynchroBloggers. Many of them will be releasing a post about the subject of love on the same day - thus the name SynchroBlog.

If you would like to become one of the synchroblog team let me know, and I will hook you up to the appropriate channels for becoming one of the gang who seeks to take over the world with our cool thoughts. Okay we really are just spouting off, but hey! what's the difference in the blog world?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Witches in Ditches: Superstition continuing even with Christian influence

In Papua New Guinea fear concerning wtichcraft has been around for centuries. People have lost their lives for being involved with Witchcraft and/or allegedly cursing people. Curses from Witches are blamed for the occurence of HIV, and other diseases.

4 women were found in a ditch, and had been there for awhile. Their death was attributed to murder for the crime of being Witches. Supposedly they were blamed for a vehicle running off the road. Why have the old and powerless been the individuals persecuted for crimes such as this? Is the fact that they behave a little differently, and do things which may not make sense to others. Is it because they have more time on their hands, and appear to be gathering in their familiar little cliques, or is it that our superstitions simply find the easiest to blame?

I am not sure we are significantly different in America today. I think that perhaps we simply have laws which keep us from killing people we are afraid of.

I still wonder why we pick upon the poor, the old, the physically and mentally disabled, and the socially inept to direct our fear towards. This seems to be the opposite of Kingdom living, and loving.

Related News Story

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Did Jesus get it Backwards?

Jesus embraced the sinner, and rebuked the righteous. What is up with that? Doesn't He know that He could have had His ministry fully supported by the church structures of his day, if He had been more politically savvy? He might have had a place to lay His head in every city, and the opportunity to speak in every synangogue.

Why would He cut off His opportunities like this?

I wonder who would be the Pharisees today?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Scott McKnight Defines Emergent Church for Us

Scott McKnight, the self professed emerging theologian from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago writes a good definition for the North American wing of the emerging church movement in Christianity Today. Click on the title of this blog to get there.

He outlines five streams of the movement. Prophetic/Provocative, Postmodern, Praxis Oriented, and Political. (Although, I must say that's a typical modern outline of this postmodern reconsideration of Christianity.) ;-)

I would have to say that I find myself in the Prophetic camp, and Provocative is most likely the better term, having been recently provoked by a nearly criminal element within institutional Chrstianity.

So take a read, and let me know if you fit into one of these definitions, and if so, which one.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Brian McLaren, Arminius and What I'm Reading, and Why

I have not posted anything about my reading since beginning my blog, but I thought I'd go ahead and do so. I know boring, boring, boring, but then again people who read blogs are readers, and a glimpse into the reading records of another person is a glimpse into the workings of their mind.

So here is what I am reading at this moment, and why.

I am reading Brian McLaren's book "The Secret Message of Jesus." I am reading it, because I thought that since I am putting a book proposal together, I should keep up with the popular writings in the Emergent Church. That was the only reason I bought the book. Dang, that's real redemptive ain't it? I have read through to the end of the 8th chapter. It's been slow going - not because the book is a difficult read, but because I just couldn't get into it. I got to chapter 7, and 8. I read those last night, and got out the underlining pen. When I get out the underlining pen that's huge. I usually reserve the underlining for writers like Chesterton.

Brian McLaren presents some thoughts in chapter 7 and 8 which speak to my question to Tony Jones the other day about how Pentecostals and Emergent folk could fit together. Not that the answer is practically solved, but the theological considerations are in place through these chapters - well, I think they are. More reading to go. Maybe I'll say more later.

I am also slowly plucking my way through the writings of Arminius. Why? Because everyone reading theology reads Calvin. After reading Calvin, they feel that they have a lot to say about the Calvinist/Arminian debate, but I've never heard that they read Arminius. So I am at the 4th Oration of the first Volume of the Works of Arminius. I am reading them online at - which if you do not know about, you do now, and you should go there to read classics for free at least once a month - so methinks.

I generally dislike reading passages of scripture strung together to create something like a Systematic Theology, but this is the first time I have ever been impressed by a theologian's ability to connect sciptures together in a readable and dynamic fashion. Whatever you think about Arminian doctrine as it is presented today, this guy is worth a read if you enjoy the dryness of theology.

I only read one thing I would disagree with, that would have to do with my view of the voice of God speaking to humanity today. I am more of a mystic than Arminius I suppose.

Okay, that's it for now. What are you reading? and why do you think I should I read it? or avoid reading it?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Shah Shanked Seeks Redemption -

My friend Shah Afshar has started his blog, and is trying to figure his way around blogland. Visit his page on blogspot at ShahShankedRedemption.

Leave a comment to welcome him to blogland.

Shah will most definitely have something to say, and he will rock some big boats methinks.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tony Jones, Wales, and Final Thoughts on Boston Emergent Coven, uhm I mean Cohort

Okay, I did not remember to ask the question last night, but I asked by e-mail today, and yes, Tony is of Welsh heritage. Duh - Jones. My gosh, his great-grandfather was a Welsh Presbyterian Minister, and his tombstone in Minnesota is inscribed in Welsh. Dang, my Welshness is so far back, it almost connects to Llewelyn ap Gruffydd.

So Tony has one up on me there. but I speak some broken Welsh, and he doesn't know lick of it, so I've got one up on him there. I am waiting to hear his Welsh stories he is going to tell me someday, and discover how deep is his hiraeth. Then we'll bust out a pint and shout "IECHYD DA!"

Apart from that I had a great time with the Emergent Coven of 13 in Boston last night, and I will be posting some thoughts on Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Emergent. Marieke got me going on this track.

Competition Time!

The first person to tell me the most recent Prince of Wales gets a special monster link to their blog site. Hint: the answer is quite nationalistic.

13 and one half hours after posting:
Marieke from Raining Grace came up with the correct answer: Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, although she also came up with the acceptable second answer: Owain Glyndwr

Marieke is a friend of the Cymry!

Tony Jones, Emergent, Republicans, and Pentecostals

So, last night I gathered with the Boston Emergent Cohort. Cohort is a cool word, but it has a sense of irony. Are we a unit of the Roman Legion? That doesn't quite feel Emergent to me. Perhaps we are fish spawning up stream. That might be a better analogy, but not exactly a picture I want to perpetuate. Maybe we are a study group of people going through the same experiences. Hmmmmmm...that's just too laboratory sounding. Anyway the Cohort gathered because Tony Jones was in town.

It was a discussion around a table with beer, and soda. There were 13 of us I believe. Cooooool - we could have used the other C word - Coven. We even discussed using that word for the Boston group, and nobody counted to see we had the perfect coven number at the group last night. But Cohort it is.

So we discussed a number of things like liberation theology (and Carlos was there, who is finishing up his doctoral thesis on Latin America, and he's darn smart about liberation theology, because of it, but he stayed pretty quiet on that point), and we talked about how Emergent started, which I didn't know, but it made sense that it was just a group of people who got together and had the similar thoughts about how evangelical Christianity seemed kinda messed up.

A few of us asked questions, so at some point I asked mine.

The first was how Emergent and Pentecostals fit together. I know a number of Emergent leaning Pente's, and they often have a difficult time in their denominations. We, like most of the Emergent gang make fun of TV evangelism, and guys like Benny Hinn, but often with less aggression. I have wondered why we can rip on Benny as Emergents, but not on John MacArthur and his criticisms of everybody under the sun, but himself. They seem to be the same in terms of bringing unhealthy elements of Christian behavior to the church. Personally I'd rather not rip on anyone though, but if we will be fair, we should rip on 'em all.

So back to the point of the question - is there a place for Emergent and Pentecostals to meet, and fellowship? Tony's answer: "I'd be open for being part of a dialogue concerning that issue." (rough translation of actual words.)

He compared it to the dialogue with Emergent and the Traditional churches. Fair comparison, but not nearly as challenging methinks. Tony mentioned his approach to the Traditional churches was to challenge them on their authoritarian governmental structures, and the need to move toward an egalitarian balance in the church. With Pentecostalism this same challenge would be presented, and compounded by the potentially more challenging difficulty of worshiping together with the far more demonstrative style of Pentecostals, whereas the Emergent church has adapted many ancient faith elements already found in some form in Traditional settings.

My second question was similar: Is the Emergent Tent large enough to include Republicans. Tony's answer was more affirmative in this question. (I don't mean to say that the question about Pentecostals was not positive, just that it did not appear to be somehting which has as much thought, and experience behind it as this political issue.) He apparently is one of the more moderate leaning guys in Emergent, as an Independent. Everyone else who helped kick this thing off apparently was registered Democrat. Tony saw a place for Conservatives in Emergent - so James and I rubbed our little gray goatees together in a symbol of solidarity between leftist commies, and republican nazis, and that sealed the felowship of the evening. Well, except for the fact the guys went out and smoked some Nat Sherman's afterward.

Now I've got a new question. Can you be Emergent if you don't smoke?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tagging? Isn't this what they do to bridges?

Jamie from More Than Stone tagged me with a question for which I will not have a sufficient answer.

What are my 5 favorite contemporary theology books? Darn I don't have 5 favorite contemporary theology books. Unless anything in the 20th century counts - maybe even the 19th century. Despite the fact I'm reading Armenius right now, here's my response which will probably only get to three:

"The Openness of God" by Clark Pinnock
"Four Views of God and Time" edited by Gregory Ganssle (and you have to read anything about God and Time by William Lane Craig)
"A Generous Orthodoxy" everybody is listing this one so do I have to name the author
"How (not) to Speak of God" by Pete Rollins

Sorry I only got to Four. I don't have a fifth in my head.

I think instead everybody ought to read "Orthodoxy" by Chesterton, and the works of Francis Schaeffer.

How's that for divergent reading?! Pinnock to Pink! Okay, Pink isn't in there, but Schaeffer, and Craig are.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Death of Hitchhiking, the Death of Trust?

In the short time of twenty-five years an entire cultural phenomenon has disappeared in America. I grew up seeing hitchhikers on the road in California. I'm not old enough to be a real hippie, I didn't graduate from High School until 9 years after the "Summer of Love," but still in 1976 I could stick my thumb out, and hitch a ride to the beach.

I didn't begin to attend church for another 4 years. When I did attend church I remember discussions with friends who felt guilty for not picking up hitchhikers. This was fairly common to talk about after a church service, and in fact in came up in an occasional sermon late as the early 80's.

How is it that a culture which once freely offered rides with little fear and great hospitality lost the institution of hitchhiking in a short 25 years?

People say that this is due to society growing more dangerous. I am not sure that people are significantly more dangerous than they were in 1967, 1976, or 1980. Perhaps the release of the HBO series The Hitchhiker shown from 1983 to 1991 was instrumental in creating fear through its chilling tales, as well as the 1986 movie The Hitcher. Maybe a few real life examples like the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders, or a few urban myths about hitchhikers (like the hairy armed hitchhiker) helped kill the practice of standing by the roadside, and thumbing a ride.

I for one am saddened by the loss of this simple, and noble institution of the Hitchhiker. He has gone the way of the Hobos who ran the rails from one side of the country to the other.

At some point hitchhiking became an anti-social behavior, and consequently most of the hitchhikers were anti-social individuals. Has it therefore become a self-fulfilling prophecy that hitchhiking has become more dangerous?

I wonder what hope such a fearful society has in passing love from person to person. The 60's brought freedom and the "Summer of Love." How is it that since then society has grown more sexual, less loving, and less trusting?

My desire to share God's love means I need to find a way to develop relationships of trust in a society of growing mistrust. Have I got my thumb in wrong place thinking that it might still be possible?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Spiritual Warfare and the Desert Fathers by Shahrokh Afshar

Shah is a buddy of mine. He's the guy on the right. We entered our former denomination within about a year of one another, and exited within about a year of each other. He used to work in the Missions Dept. as head of Middle East Missions. This guy is cool, and he wanted to send a spiritual warfare post So this is it. I have told him to get his own blog. So hey Shah - time to open a blog and join the ranting with us bro. He has tons of good things to say, so here is the first installment of much more to come.

Spiritual Warfare and the Desert Fathers

As a Pentecostal, I was taught that spiritual warfare was directly related to the binding and loosing of Matthew 16:19 where Jesus said:

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

As Christians, I was told, in Christ’s name we have the power to come against Satan and bind him and all his demons preventing them from operating in some particular circumstances. And by the same token, we had the power to loose the power of the Holy Spirit to operate in the said circumstances. So, you put on the full armor of Ephesians Chapter Six and off you went to bind Satan and his cohorts.

Like many, for years I followed this formula. However after a while I came to the conclusion that, like the many other formulas my mentors had taught me, this one didn’t work either. I was perplexed by the fact that if indeed this verse is referring to binding Satan, then why is it that as much as we have bound him, he is still running around freely and creating so much misery in this world? And if this is not the way to do spiritual warfare, then how does a follower of Christ conduct such warfare?

The answer came to me over ten years ago while sitting in my Early Church History class at Fuller Seminary. Quite in passing, my professor, Mel Robeck, mentioned something about the Desert Fathers, “who went out to do spiritual warfare, but not the way we do it today.” That certainly caught my attention and I began to study the so-called Desert Fathers and Mothers.

Around the end of the third century, when Rome was becoming Christianized and the Church was becoming more and more Hellenized, a group of godly men and women said, “now that the world is no longer persecuting and waging war against us, WE are going out to wage war against the world or the spiritual darkness”. Having believed that Jesus faced Satan in the desert, they also went to the desert to face the enemy, thus the title, Desert Fathers.

If I was to ask a room full of Christians, “how did Jesus over come Satan?” the majority would say, “by the word of God”. Yet, we all know that we can quote the scriptures till the cows come home and still give into whatever temptations we face. Which brings me to the conclusion that the word was only a tool and not the means by which Jesus defeated Satan. Jesus defeated Satan by defeating temptation.

But where do temptations originate? Our thoughts. No man wakes up one morning and says to himself, “today I am going to commit adultery.” No, the act was the end result of something that had started with a simple thought long before the action took place.

So, these men and women of God came to the conclusion that in order to defeat Satan, one has to overcome temptation in himself. And in order to overcome temptation one has to control his thoughts or as Paul says, “bringing them into captivity”. For the Desert Fathers, the spiritual warfare was an ongoing inward discipline and not something that is accomplished by yelling at Satan and attempting to bind him.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pagans, Witches, and Spiritual Warfare

Today is SynchroBlog 2 Day. There are thirteen of us who are blogging on the subject of spiritual warfare. Whoa - maybe I should have found another person. Thirteen is the complete number of a coven, and it is a demonically empowered evil number. Okay I'm being silly, and I am pressing your superstition buttons, so let's forget that and move on to the real blog.

I developed, and run a discussion list between Born-again Christians and Pagans of various types called Circle and Cross Talk.

In preparation for SynchroBlog 2 I asked the list what they thought about the subject of spiritual warfare. I wondered whether it was a subject they were familiar with, and if so what they thought that it was. Some of the Neo-Pagans on the list (these are people who are Witches, Druids, Shaman, and such) responded, and I wanted to let you see what Witches think of when they hear the term "spiritual warfare."

Before passing these thoughts from my Pagan friends on to you I should give you a definition of Spiritual Warfare. Spiritual Warfare is a term which has its primary Biblical source from Ephesians 6, where reference is made to a battle "not against flesh and blood...but against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places." There are other verses which are used to create the theology which swirls around the subject, but here are some basic thoughts: Spiritual Warfare is occuring because demonic forces are battling for control of human hearts. Temptation is a primary tool of Satan and His hordes, and the thought life is a place where the battle is waged. There are other views of Spiritual Warfare which consider issues such as demonic possession, and this possession is sometimes even considered to be something Christians and non-Christians might experience. This last view is held by more extreme groups. Often those involved in the occult are viewed as pawns of these dark forces, and it is believed by many that they do his bidding to call curses upon Christians. Praying against the forces of darkness is a common practice in many Pentecostal Circles. Most often this is benign toward individuals, but sometimes it becomes more aggressive, and people doing things which do not fit Christian ethical and moral views are prayed against. Generally the more aggressive views of Spiritual Warfare are rejected, but these practices can rise up due to fear and superstition among well meaning Christians. Spiritual Warfare is traditionally understood to be a battle against unseen forces. The Twentieth Century has seen a rise in this terminology greatly due to the influence of Jesse Penn Lewis' book War on the Saints, by the fictional work of Frank Peretti This Present Darkness, and by the influence of C. Peter Wagner.

Having set the stage, here is how my friends from another worldview see this topic Spiritual Warfare, and its impact upon their own lives, or society at large:

It was seen as a political rallying point for Paula a Jewish Wiccan:

"Interesting you should ask because I was doing research on this all day yesterday. I was researching something I read about "fear based persuasion"....Terminology like "spiritual warfare" and others like that seem to originate with the evangelical Christian movement. Ralph Reed (who took a big fall from grace for his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal) was known to have used just this sort of terminology in his political lobbying."

Furthermore she stated:

"American political leaders with religious agendas who promote theocracy emotionally stoke the fires with rhetoric that uses fear based persuation in order to get the American public to suspend their disbelief. And then one by one, for our own good, they take away constitutional rights in the name of a "war" on whatever they want to declare war on. Terror, abortion, illegal immigration....In order for there to be a war on anything there has to be an enemy. This is how leaders create a mob mentality. This is how Hitler managed to murder 6 million Jews.

At another point she questions the rhetoric "spiritual warfare" and asks:

"Look at the two words together.


Thinking critically, what do the two words have in common? How does one word change the context of the other word? Do these words really belong together? Why would anyone want you to connect the two words and what contexct are they wanting you to see those two words together for? If rhetoric is the art of persuation, what might the creator of the term "spiritual warfare" be wanting to persuade you to believe or think? And is there another way to convey the message without combining two rhetoical and emotionally charged words?"

Mike a Shaman weighed in with some experiences, and a balanced approach to Christians who had not been kind to him:

"Well undoubtedly I have been the target of some peoples idea of spiritual warfare. Needless to say (or IS IT?) I took the opportunity to explore Ephesians 6 with those who were engaged in said activity. Sadly, without any success in some cases. :( I also have no doubt that there are some Christians who pray that I will be freed of the demons that keep me from meeting Christ. I don't actually have a problem with that. If that is what they believe and they're not attacking me then that's ok."

Mike also referred to Christians who take actions against professional Pagan leaders:

"But there are other activities some 'Christians' feel come under the heading of spiritual warfare. Activities that include interfering with peoples capacity to obtain a livelihood because those 'Christians' deem the spiritual path others are on to be demonically inspired."

Joseph chimed in with concerns which made him nervous:

" I was listening to National Public Radio last week, and there was a journalist who had been speaking with fundamentalist Christian groups who believed that "demons could jump into your body" if you went to places like New York City - regardless of "how good" one was, this was the justification used to explain Ted Haggard's sexual activities - this brought home the whole idea of how much fear, intolerance and hate, in my opinion, drive this idea that one is surrounded by forces of evil that are malevolent and set on doing harm to human beings. This whole concept is so strange to me - I understand that not all Christians invest in this philosophy - but I can't help but feel very anxious when I hear people talking about spiritual warfare - I find myself conjuring images of intense human suffering such as the Salem Witch Trials, The Holocaust, Pogroms, ethnic cleansing, persecution of different faith systems by other faiths, The Crusades and profound social injustice - all justified under that banner of God, all justified by the claim that the "causes" were a manifestation of "spiritual warfare"."

I hope these three views from some friends of mine in the Neo-Pagan world give you an insight to how the term, and practices of spiritual warfare look to those looking in at Christianity from the outside. It causes me to rethink the terminology I use, and the prayers I make for other people. Hearing what those outside the church think of what we do gives us a new perspective, and hopefully one we can learn from.

May God grant you peace my peacemakers.

Pastor Phil

Below are my fellow SynchroBloggers who are discussing the topic today. We are not a group who all believe the same thing, we are simply a group who are challenging conventional church life, and looking for a better way to live like Jesus. The opinions below may vary, and that's part of the fun.

John Smulo - Portraits of Spiritual Warfare
Mike Crockett - Sufism: How the Inner Jihad relates to Christian Spiritual Warfare
Steve Hayes - Thoughts on Spiritual Warfare
Marieke Schwartz - Grace in War
Cindy Harvey - Spiritual Warfare. (?)
Jenelle D'Alessandro (with one L!)- The Militancy of Worship
Mike Bursell - Spiritual Warfare: a liberal looking inwards
David Fisher - Spiritual Warfare: Does it have to be loud and wacky?
Brian Heasley - Something from Ibiza via Ireland
Webb Kline - Webb Kline's Blog
Sally Coleman - Sally Coleman's Blog
Mike Murrow - Mike Murrow's Blog

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tagged Again?! SenseBlogger Gets me.

Okay here I am to answer some questions from Steve Sensenig of He tagged me, and told me I was it. Last time JJ the Smu got me. This time it's Sensablogger.

So here the info:

1) What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? (two sentences max)

Plant a church in Salem, MA. You just gotta visit us during Halloween to catch us at our busiest, and find out why it so fun.

2) A. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? (one sentence max)
B. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off? (one sentence max)

A. spend a week a year in Manti, Utah surrounded by thousands of Mormons, and a handful of polygamists.
B. Go to France.

3) A. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? (two sentences max)
B. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? (two more sentences, max)

A. Cymraeg (Welsh language) I have a four year plan to be fluent, because I love Wales. I want to ride a Street Luge too.
B. Welsh language immersion classes at Nant Gwrtheyrn.

4) A. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?
B. Now list two more words you wish described you…

A. I dunno. Crazy, Stubborn, Impetuous
B. Wise and Fool ;-) can you guess why?

5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes– three sentences max)

1. God and God stuff
2. Bev and Fam
3. People on the Edge

6) Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max)

Why did you tag me?
Because the guy who tagged me threatened me with the Curse of Tutankhanem if I didn't tag someone else.

Tagged, and being watched for their responses by the UN commission on internet tagging are the following bloggers:

John Webb Kline
Cindy Harvey"
James Wilcox
JJ the Smu - Ha, ha now I got you!
John Morehead

Friday, January 05, 2007

John MacArthur and the Emergent Critique Won't Go Away For a Long Time

Dave Moorhead (Shiloh Guy) made me consider John MacArthur the other day in a response to the post on synchro-blogging.

For a couple weeks now one of the things which comes up on my Emergent Village RSS updates through Bloglines is the question of whether the Emergent conversation should respond to John MacArthur's critiques of the Emergent Church/conversation/movement/whatever the involved parties call themselves.

Having been Foursquare until recently, and having been involved with Vineyard people over the years, and having lived only about an hour away from John MacArthur most of my life, and through 14 years of my pastoral ministry, I thought, "darn, I guess I'll weigh in. John boy has had something to say about every group I've been connected with."

To put this connection in perspective - I am not sure how emergent I am. I have been reconsidering church life, and mission for 20 years. Many things in the emergent conversation fit my worldview and my missional framework. Some things do not fit my theological framework, and many things do not fit my politics. I tend to see the emergent conversation as a fairly large tent, and hope that it is large enough for a fairly conservative Republican raised in Southern California to find shelter under. I hope that my leanings away from reformed theology, and toward a theology of freedom (or is that free-will-dom?) still make me okay, and I think I'm okay being a Pentecostal/New Mystic kind of guy in the Emergent circles.

My involvement with Emergent is based around my passion for mission in the First World where I live.

So getting back to John MacArthur: Should I/we respond? If so, how? and why? and what are the missional parameters by which we determine the need for responding to these developing critiques. This is not going away. His book is not yet on the shelves. We are not yet smelling the popular response which will occur when we face the fan.

My thoughts are simple. I will throw them out there for consideration, and dialogue. I will not beat around the bush. You may find one of my comments to be quite strong. So get ready. I hope your laptop came with seatbelts.

1. (the easy one to swallow) I believe that our critiques should be based around missional considerations. I follow Jesus as my model in this. His stiffest comments and deepest critiques were against a group of people with whom he had perhaps the closest theological identity. His beliefs were more like those of the Pharisees, than they were the tax collectors and prostitutes. Because this is so, I must believe that there was other criteria besides theology for the stand He took against their system.

Jesus said to them, "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." I make the assumption from this and other sayings that Jesus' primary beef with the Pharisees was an evangelistic consideration. They developed a culture, and with it specific detail around their theological construction which kept people from experiencing God. If I should find this problem in the church today, I believe I am called to respond. I also see this issue as a primary reason for the emergence of the Emergent conversation. Many of us have seen good people turned away from Christianity, because of the restrictions or offenses created by peculiar behavior, or hateful theology.

Is this a valid point of view? Does this apply to John MacArthur's attack upon the Emergent movement. Has he developed a far too narrow theology, and a Christian culture which is keeping many people (though certainly not all) from a legitimate experience with God? I'm not sure yet, but this is the first point which would give me freedom to respond critically to his critique - perhaps even necessitate my response.

2. (seatbelt time) As a preface to this point - remember, although I have never identified with popular Pentecostalism, some form of Pentecostal theology has been mine for over 20 years.

Greed, deception, and taking advantage of good, God-loving, church people are reasons for responding, and critiquing ministers today. On that I believe we can just about unanimously agree.

John MacArthur's books have often been critical examinations of significant church developments. The writings are popular rants against popular or growing groups, and theologies - from his critique of decisional regeneration through Lordship Salvation theology in The Gospel According to Jesus, or his blast on Charismatics in Charismatic Chaos. Could it be that good Christians have been led down the path of dissension against other believers, and that they have purchased books and tapes by the millions to learn how to dissent better?

If so, how dare we make fun of Benny Hinn, or Pat Robertson and not do the same toward John MacArthur! I do not often critique these Charismatic famous fellows myself - maybe because I am too whimpy having been considered someone who was theologically in bed with them (though my theology is not much like theirs). But if we can berate Benny's money dealings which are made off the sweat of hopeful individuals desiring healing from Jesus, why do we not berate a man whose writings gravitate toward dissecting, and perhaps hoping to destroy popular and growing church movements? and doing so at the expense of good Christians whose sole desire is to please God, and find fulfillment in serving him with sound doctrine?

If taking advantage of God's people is part of my grid for determining when I can get mad, is this time to get mad? For me the jury is still out, but the consideration is being made.

Well, that was long. So I will leave off with links to more sensible discussions on this subject, but let me know what you think, and rebuke me in capital letters if you like. ;-)

  • Emergent Village asks us how we should respond.

  • Michael Touhey wonders why more don't respond, and has all the links to MacArthur's blogs on the subject.

  • Steven Shields weighs in too.
  • Tall Skinny Kiwi has some thoughts on this, and his thoughts are always good.

  • Shiloh Guy Dave Moorhead responds
  • to this post.

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Befriending witches is a problem in Salem, Mass.

    For those of you who have not read this article from the front page of the Wall Street Journal on October 31st, 2006 I am posting it here. Tomorrow I will post an article written by the Salem News.

    Befriending witches is a problem in Salem, Mass.

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    By Suzanne Sataline, The Wall Street Journal

    SALEM, Mass. -- The Rev. Phil Wyman presides over a small evangelical church here that befriends local pagans and folks who call themselves witches. It's an odd mission, even in Salem, a city where tourism capitalizes on infamy -- the mass hysteria of 1692 in which 20 men and women were executed for practicing witchcraft.

    Salem (pop. 40,000) is home to hundreds of professed witches, psychic readers, potion brewers, mystics and Wiccans, a group that practices a nature-based faith. In 1999, Mr. Wyman, his wife and two friends set out to minister to them, hoping to convert some to Christianity.

    Last year, local ministers began saying that Mr. Wyman was getting too close to the witches. They pointed to his friendships, his Web site's links to pagan sites, and a photograph that seemed to show him kissing a witch's hand. Mr. Wyman's denomination accused him of aberrance, revoked his ordination and expelled him. One letter to him said he had strayed from Christian teachings and was disobedient.

    In recent days, as tens of thousands of tourists have flocked to Salem's leafy streets in anticipation of Halloween, Mr. Wyman has been hustling to keep his 35-member church going. He denies violating Christian precepts and says he himself is the victim of a witch hunt.

    "I can imagine the Salem witch trials were not much different from this: It starts with a rumor and escalates to a trial," says Mr. Wyman.

    Mr. Wyman's fans say he has helped bridge divides. "He's actively changed the dynamic between witches and Christians in this town," says Christian Day, a member of the witch community. But some pastors say Mr. Wyman's alliances have tainted him. "There's a fear mentality, if you hang out with members of the witchcraft community, you will come under the influence of the darkness," says Scott Smith, a minister for the Assemblies of God.

    Mr. Wyman, 47, and his wife, Beverly, were members of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal Christian denomination whose adherents speak in tongues and believe in miracles. Foursquare, based in Los Angeles, was founded by famed revivalist Aimee Semple McPherson in 1927. It claims 4.5 million members world-wide.

    Mr. Wyman joined Foursquare in his 20s when he was playing guitar in Southern California. Yet he liked the intellectual challenge of talking with nonbelievers. He was drawn, he says, to those following pre-Christian traditions. Once in Salem, he volunteered to work with the city's biggest event, the annual Halloween festival.

    Many evangelicals consider Halloween and witchcraft to be Satan's work and have persuaded some schools around the country to drop Halloween parties. Many Pentecostals believe that angels and demons are waging an active spiritual battle, and Halloween is a sign of Satan, says Matthew Sutton, professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., who has written about Ms. McPherson.

    Mr. Wyman, hoping to get Salem's pagans to open up to him, tried neighborliness. Christians and witches debated the difference between magic and miracles at his Thursday night Circle and Cross Talk. He chatted with people at Salem's witchcraft shops, and he was shown how tarot cards are read. Some witches sought him out for counseling. Eva Porcello, a potion mixer, joined his church, saying Mr. Wyman didn't dictate beliefs. "He lets people figure out their own spirituality," she says.

    Despite his friendships, Mr. Wyman says he has always been careful to observe, not join, pagan rituals. "It's their worship, not mine," he says.

    On October weekends, Salem's Essex Street teems with folk musicians, candy-apple sellers, and caped tour guides. Mr. Wyman's church, called the Gathering, provides a stage, sound equipment, live music and hot chocolate.

    He also provides Christian-tinged theater. Near the stage, people lined up this year for dream interpretations and "psalm readings," in which volunteers proffered their advice through scriptural passages. In another tent, redolent of incense, James Wilcox, a friend of Mr. Wyman's, was dressed in a monk's cowl as he confessed the "sins of the church," dating all the way back to the Crusades. Mr. Day said some of his witch friends were moved when they heard a Christian admit the church has wronged people. "Sure, he wants to convert people," he says about Mr. Wyman. "But he does it in a way that respects you."

    At first, Mr. Wyman's supervisors seemed pleased with his work in Salem, according to other Foursquare pastors and leaders. Mr. Wyman's district supervisor, John Hatcher, lauded him at a convention last fall before dozens of ministers, two pastors said.

    Jack Hayford, Foursquare's president, didn't return phone calls, and other church leaders declined to comment. Mr. Hatcher said only: "Phil had a strategy and methodology that was significantly different from how we perceive church life."

    In September 2005, four local evangelical clergymen told Mr. Wyman they were concerned about a picture on a witch's Web site of Mr. Wyman bending as if to kiss the hand of Melantha Blackthorne, a Canadian horror-movie actress who appears at the Salem vampire ball as Countess Bathoria.

    Mr. Wyman appeared "too familiar, too cozy, too amicable with that community," said the Rev. Kenneth Steigler, a United Methodist Church pastor.

    Mr. Wyman said he was playacting, didn't kiss Ms. Blackthorne's hand, and didn't know that Mr. Day had posted the photo online. The photo was removed right away. But Mr. Wyman's superior, Mr. Hatcher, wrote to him several days later saying he was discomfited by local pastors' concerns and Web links connecting the Gathering's Internet site to those run by pagans -- people whose views oppose that of Christians, he wrote.

    "I feel you are not seeing the vulnerability you are opening up to regarding demonic activity," Mr. Hatcher wrote. "It is my judgment ... that you are crossing the line into the aberrant."

    Mr. Wyman, his associate pastor, Jeff Menasco, and their wives were summoned to a hearing in October last year at Mr. Hatcher's church in Weymouth, Mass., before several Foursquare leaders. They grilled the two couples as to how a Christian could be friends with witches.

    A few weeks before the meeting, Mr. Wyman got word that an application he had made for a grant from the church-funded Foursquare Foundation had been approved, awarding him $84,000 to teach evangelizing techniques. Mr. Wyman pressed Mr. Hatcher for another meeting, saying he had not been given a fair hearing. Mr. Hatcher refused. In March, Foursquare's board expelled Mr. Wyman.

    Mr. Wyman has been using some of the grant money to pay church rent and bills. Once it's gone, Mr. Wyman says he may weld or give guitar lessons to keep his church afloat.

    Synchro-Bloggers Unite!

    A group of us are going to be doing a sychronized blog on Wednesday the 10th. The subject will be spiritual warfare. We are looking for interested bloglodytes to join the fray, and make the synch-hole larger. Contact me if interested.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Everything but the Garlic

    A few years ago five of us from the leadership of The Gathering were at a large church conference in Philadelphia. During the conference our Southern New England District had a meeting in a restaurant near the hotel convention center.

    We sat at a table with a lady pastor, and her husband. They also were attending with a couple who were in the leadership of their church. We small talked about church life, and what was happening in our congregations. Their church was fairly active in community outreach, and so we had this element in common. So we thought.

    We discussed upcoming events surrounding the Halloween season in Salem, and how we were organizing our stage, our free hot cocoa booth, and our outreach counseling tents. At some point during the conversation things turned remarkably surrealistic.

    I think the room suddenly turned to black and white like an old silent horror movie. Okay not really, but it should have.

    At the mention of Halloween, the lady pastor and her husband suddenly formed a cross with their fingers, leaned forward to threateningly brandish their spiritual weapons at in our faces, and hissed. I thought to myself, "Wow, this is like a bad vampire flick." I probably laughed, which would not have helped defuse the moment, but that is usually how I respond to bizarre circumstances such as this. Heck, they had everthing arranged for warding off evil except the garlic garland around the neck.

    Do pastors actually teach their congregations to behave in this manner?

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Spiritual Warfare Starts with Me

    "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
    Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (James 1:12-18)

    This was the text for the morning service at The Gathering. We considered a new year of living with God, and placed this text dealing with the temptations of this life into the context of our struggle for relationship with God.

    I believe this is the beginning point of the struggle which we have called spiritual warfare in Pentecostal and evangelical circles. My greatest enemy is myself. My thoughts, my philosophy of living, my passions, my desires, my anger, my impatience, my fears, and my greeds are the frontline struggle in my life. If I can overcome these things, any other enemy will be comparatively far weaker than the enemy which is myself.

    I do believe there is a personage called Satan. I do believe that there are demons of varying degrees of power and influence in this world who are fighting against those who love God. I do not believe that I need to know their names, figure out their strategic plans before I can be an overcomer, or that I should spend a significant amount of time considering the works of these dark angels.

    My first task in following God, and living for him is to "keep my heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."

    This is true in respect to how I think of my own life, and in how I treat other people. If I have lost the struggle of living for God in personal life, and in respect to my social interactions, then I am losing this spiritual warfare, and any amount of rebuking, binding, and loosing will be worse than empty efforts, they will be utilized to further the cause of my impotent Christianity.

    That's my cursory thinking on this subject. What do you think?