On Being Done, though Unfinished

Self-observation does not come easy for me. I’m about as self-aware as a golden retriever. My situation is beginning to sink in.

I’ve been sick with this blood cancer for about five years. My physicality has diminished, quickly at first, then gradually since. I really am quite incapable of more than minimal physical activity, and even that makes me shot for the rest of the day. I have already outlived the doctor’s expectations. Thus, I have sunk into more of a mental existence, of necessity.

This sinking is as frustrating for me as it is for those who love me. Yet, I cannot avoid it and must accept it, as must they.

I have fancied myself something of a conscience for the church in my little corner of the world. I have tried to be prophetic in the true sense of the word. I have tried to learn to be a faithful interpreter of scripture and have tried to use that interpretation in practical directions. I have, in the past, been modestly influential in the thinking of a handful of church leaders.

I now realize, as part of this painful analysis that I am unwillingly participating in, that I have no further standing for being influential in any corner of the church other than the one in my own head. I no longer deserve to be heard. My thoughts are no longer worthy of sharing.

Thus, I have determined to discontinue any posting that has the purpose of influencing the church and its people in how to behave and in how to think about behavior. Ethics is theology. That is, how we live is based on how we truly think about God.

But I’ll be leaving the job of “conscience” to those younger and more physically well than I. And to the Holy Spirit, so far as he is allowed to work in the church.

King David, Modern Moral Failures, & How the Church Should Respond: Tremper Longman (an interview) – Overthinking Christian

One thing that is clear and which separates him from Saul is that when he is confronted after he sins, he repents. That is what makes him a king after God’s own heart and that is why he is a poor comparison with Trump or Zacharias, neither of whom as far as I know repented of their sins.

I do find unsettling what we are talking about here; that is, the uncritical loyalty shown to compromised leaders. I in particular find unsettling the uncritical loyalty shown to the former president that stems from an erroneous Christian nationalism. What I find hopeful are people like former Governor of Ohio John Kasich, Senator Ben Sasse, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, and other Christian politicians who stand up against this madness at personal cost. The same is true for others: thinking of people like Peter Wehner (New York Times; The Atlantic) and David French (The Dispatch).

— Read on overthinkingchristian.com/2021/02/19/king-david-modern-moral-failures-how-the-church-should-respond-tremper-longman-an-interview/

Can God do good things through bad men? | Psephizo

And another article dealing with the same thing. It’s almost too heavy for me to bear.

But there are key questions to ask about the culture of organisations which allow the abuse of power by ‘celebrity’ individuals—something that is hardly limited to one tradition in the church, and which we have seen all across society. The issues seem to me to cluster around three key questions:

1. Why do we allow individuals to be put on pedestals where they appear to be above question or contradiction?
2. What happened to proper process of accountability and transparency?
3. Why is there a lack of honesty, particularly in relation to questions of relationships and sex?
— Read on www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/can-god-do-good-things-through-bad-men/

The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall: The Plague of Celebrity Culture Infecting Modern Evangelicalism – Overthinking Christian

Here is more on the celebrity culture that is spoiling the church. Celebrity culture is both a spot and a wrinkle.

There are three big names that have been creating online buzz since this past summer: Carl Lentz for his casual affair; Ravi Zacharias for his prolonged and predatory sexual abuse of women; and celebrity pastor John MacArthur and his mishandling of and irresponsible reaction to COVID– related to that would be McArthur’s attack on churches and pastors who are complying with government orders.
— Read on overthinkingchristian.com/2021/02/14/the-bigger-they-are-the-harder-they-fall-the-plague-of-celebrity-culture-infecting-modern-evangelicalism/

Responding | Michael Bird

Michael Bird has some great advice for how the church should respond to the increasingly disturbing phenomenon of abuse and misconduct by supposedly Christian leaders. I don’t know about you, but this situation is really troubling me and I believe it is almost a follow-on of the desire to build huge churches and organizations. Lord, help us.

What is more, this happened – this keeps happening – because of (1) Evangelical celebrity culture; (2) Big platforms with big donors and a fear of it all disappearing; (3) A lack of oversight and accountability; and (4) A refusal to take women’s accusations seriously.

So what is to be done?

# 1. For men involved in ministry, don’t be a sleaze bag. Don’t become the very thing that you should have learned to fear becoming and despise when you encountered it. Remember, it is always easier to sin the second time. Whether that’s looking at porn on a computer screen or thinking about how to manipulate a vulnerable woman. Your sins will always find you out and the sin is never worth it. Oh, and read some 1 Corinthians 3 to put the fear of God into you!

# 2. Para-church ministries need independent boards not sycophants. What is more, boards need genuine gender balance and people from outside the circle of the leader’s influence.

# 3. The only place for a prima donna is the New York Ballet. Seriously, if your “star” speaker/pastor starts to get a god-complex, better to commit deicide now than stand in front of a camera later explaining why you never spoke up.

# 4. Take all allegations seriously, investigate all allegations independently, and release all findings publicly.

# 5. Do not allow your church, college, institute, ministry to become a place where predators feel safe and victims feel afraid to speak up. If anything, heed the exhortation of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8:

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
— Read on www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2021/02/responding-to-the-ravi-zacharias-sexual-abuse-revelations/

Hope on the Lord’s Day

Perhaps you have pinned your hopes on politics, on politicians, or on the political process. Perhaps you have been deceived by proclamations of a modern day American messiah. Perhaps you are disillusion, or perhaps you are buttressed in your hope.

One thing the past week has taught me is that hope in politics is misaimed. Such hope can only lead to confusion, destruction, and chaos.

I choose to place my hope in Christ alone. He’s the only one providing good news instead of bad. I will follow him in trust and obedience, until he returns or calls me home.

This is an invitation to leave false and misaimed hope and enter the hope that God himself provides. Please join me.

Leave a comment if you want to discuss it.