Thursday, February 2, 2012

The whole flock won't survive 'jumping the shark'



Dear reader, your first reaction to the above image may be the result of a generational divide in Lutherdom. Some may first notice a Lutheran church promoting itself with the image of a 'Sacred Heart' of Jesus. Others may notice it's merely a figurine caricature. Others still may recognize the image as "Buddy Jesus" most often used as an internet meme to mock Jesus Christ and His Church.

The card itself (the obverse and reverse shown above) was conspicuously left in a business waiting area. When I first glanced at it from a distance, I recognized the posture of "Buddy" Jesus and assumed it was an atheist/anti-Christian screed. I picked it up intending only to throw it in the trash — just like I'd have done with Watchtower or LDS tracts —, to protect tender Christians who may be stumbled by whatever text would accompany the current favored meme to ridicule Jesus on the fallen world's internet.

The caricature originates in the movie "Dogma" starring George Carlin. Suffice to say, the movie is not an apologetic for sound Christian doctrine. In the movie, a church decides the usual picture of Christ — slain for our sins, dead on the Cross — is too off-putting to get people to come to church. So the priest decides to make up his own Jesus based on what he wants Jesus to be. The script-writers (thinking themselves clever) aren't mocking the Christian Church, but unwittingly, just the Church Growth Movement.

The Northern Wisconsin District convenes in June leaving four months for laity (half of the Voters assembling) to contemplate a few questions. Whether Mittelding (aka "Adiaphora") really means 1) purposefully grinding the Lutheran school bus along the guardrail overlooking the rocky precipice while enthusiastically shouting, "As long as we don't actually drive off the cliff, we're just fine!"; or 2) safely keeping the flock on the well-worn path toward the verdant pastures. Similarly, is it scripturally defensible to seek numerical and spiritual growth by fertilizing our doctrine with practices from Zondervan Publishing's Augean stable of heretics like Rick Warren or Craig Groeschel?

Despite a half-millennium of sound, encyclopedic Lutheran exposition, who in our Synod teaches that mocking Jesus, "as long as it draws a crowd", is an adiaphoron? I'd like a name.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is the statement "Parables you wish I had told" on the original card as well?

David Brandt

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

From the CORE calendar:

Parables You Wish I'd Told: The Samaritan Who Walked By (Jan. 8)
Parables You Wish I'd Told: The Rich Man & Lazarus (Jan. 15)
Parables You Wish I'd Told: My Talents, My Decision (Jan. 22)
Parables You Wish I'd Told: The Safe Sheep (Jan. 29)
Parables You Wish I'd Told: There Will Always Be Time To Party (Feb. 5)

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Ughh. Puke. Using "Buddy Jesus" from Dogma has got to be one of the poorest decisions since abandoning the gold standard. I would say that the portrayal of the movie containing that image as described above is rather mild. It has Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Jay and Silent Bob, and features Alannis Morisette as God. It is irreverent in so many ways it is hard to keep track. I'm not saying I didn't watch it twice or actually laugh during it as the concept of two angels banished from heaven and having to suffer eternity in Wisconsin has a certain appeal but the movie does push the limit on discernment. However, associating the prime image representing that movie to a Sermon Series is somewhat appalling.

**sigh**

Tim Niedfeldt

Brian G. Heyer said...

Mr. Brandt,

No text was added to the scan of the card.

Anonymous said...

What would St. Paul make of it?:

"We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God" 2 Corinthians 4:2

- Rev. James Schulz

Anonymous said...

The WELS Conference of Presidents had better get moving. Here's a bullet point summary of activity from its last meeting:

"A lengthy workshop discussion on philosophy of ministry and how we can best walk together in evaluating and providing evangelical guidance when it comes to differing practices among us."

http://www.wels.net/news-events/conference-presidents-winter-meeting

- Rev. James Schulz

Anonymous said...

My opinion: Nothing will happen.

If the CoP doesn't care about excommunications then they won't care about this.

Mitch Forte

Brian G. Heyer said...

Mr. Niedfeldt,
Any mention of the Gold Standard deserves a round of applause. I expect next year the Lawful Money crowd will have to organize a 'Cent-tennial' for the 1913 founding of the organization of the banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve System. It's a 'Cent-tennial' because a dollar they started to manage in 1913 is worth less than a penny today.

Thank you for the additional synopsis of the movie. That's worse than I remember. George Carlin came to mind in my article because I'd recently seen a Youtube clip of his astute political observations: "The Owners of the country have a big CLUB. And you are NOT a member. By the way, it's the same club they use to beat you over the head with all day long on what to think and what to buy so that you just sit at the kitchen table and accept things they way they are."

The "Buddy Jesus" or "Got Your Back Jesus" is also in use among homosexual advocates to attempt to illustrate that Christians are entirely misunderstanding "Kumbaya-Jesus Loves Everyone Without Criticism Where Ever They Are In Life." If the homosexuals embrace Rob "there is no hell" Bell (also from Zondervan!) for his false teaching, what would Confessional Lutherans hope to glean from the mountain of chaff?

Anonymous said...

I think the guardrail burst, and the bus is driving off the cliff.

Jerod Butt

Daniel Baker said...

I have come to expect things like the "buddy Jesus" image from the CORE, so nothing too surprising there. But the idea of "Parables you wish I had told" - as if the leaders at the CORE are about to one-up our Lord with their sermon series - is a bit much even for them. The arrogance knows no bounds, apparently.

In any case, Mr. Forte is spot-on the money. We cannot rely on our Synod's leaders to do anything about this (or any other problem), since those who do care on some level apparently have little or no power to effect any meaningful change.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, that was my initial reaction too. That's why I asked (and hoped) that it was a photoshop. After Pastor Rydecki posted the series, I think I know what the approach is and it doesn't bother me as much.
My guess is that the point they are making is that people would prefer if Jesus had said things differently than he did (You wish Jesus had said the good Samaritan walked by on the other side of the road, but...) then explain why Jesus said what he did.
Maybe it's along the lines of when Jesus said, "You have heard it said...but I say to you..." You wish Jesus' parable said...but what it reallly says is...

That's my best construction on the series. I have no "best construction" for the goofy looking buddy Jesus.

David Brandt

Joel said...

*Sigh*

The point of the series is that the parables that Jesus told have messaged that call us to repentance. They are uncomfortable to the sinful human nature. Therefore, it follows, our sinful human nature wishes that Jesus had told parables that told us we are all right in our thoughts, words, and actions. Our sinful human nature wishes that Jesus were more like the "Buddy Jesus" -- winking at sins and letting us excuse them.

The main point of the series is that Jesus DOES show us our sins in these parables and that he DOES call us to repentance.

The use of the image on their bulletin cover is a bit provocative, but it was properly explained in the services and made those who attended think about their sins and Jesus' forgiveness of those sins.

Please, when you have something on here that is critical of a particular ministry, DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST! It would save us all a little headache.

--Joel Lillo

Anonymous said...

All, I think it is all about personal accountability. We can look at this or that and recognize the sin that is in the world, and that is good, but beyond that I recommend we all daily remove the plank from our own eye before moving on to the next guy's speck.

I could spend a lifetime criticizing all the bad decisions made even in my own congregation, but the real question is... in the end, will that glorify God?

As far as trying to get Synod or any "political" body (and yes there are the politics of compromise going on there) to effect change, well it aint gonna happ'n cap'n. The only meaningful change will be effected through God's Word and Grace alone as they are read, heard and applied to ourselves and shared by us to those we come into direct contact with.

We are all so quick to look for someone besides our self to account for the state of things in our life, family, church, state, country or world etc, that we fail to see the reason staring at us in the mirror each day, our own sinful flesh is an plentiful contributor to all the ills of this world. Let's recognize that and move on.

- John Koslowski

Joel said...

Very well said, John.

PCXIAN said...

Since the first message of The Core's "Parables You Wish I Had Told" sermon series has not yet been presented or published, I think it is a little premature to ding them.

Every pastor uses examples, incidents, short stories, commentary, and/or parables during each week's service to explain or bring into a more modern focus the inspired spiritual point they are presenting, just as Jesus did while he was here on earth.

Perhaps as David Brandt says above that is what The Core's latest sermon series will also be doing. David is correct. Let's put the best construction on this series until proven otherwise. In the meantime, prayers for The Core should, perhaps, be your (our) focus.

P. C. Christian

Joel said...

P.C.,

Double check the dates. All of the sermons from the series have been preached except the last one. You can listen to the sermons if you go to www.gotocore.com

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Paul C. Christian,

As Pr. Lillo noted, the first sermon was preached on Jan. 8. I listened to it several days ago. They're all available on iTunes, except the last one which will be delivered this Sunday. As is very evident from the titles of the sermons, they are extremely heavy on the Law, and even the short time spent on the Gospel is only a rest stop so that we can get back to the really important part of how we are supposed to act as Christians.

When sectarian models for preaching are utilized, it should hardly be surprising that man's works become the focus of the sermon.

PCXIAN said...

My bust on the dates. Thanks for pointing that out. My computer is to slow to download the sermons so I'll just keep The Core in my prayers.

PC

Anonymous said...

Across our synod, examples abound of a growing irreverence toward an almighty God. The mantra increasingly is "whatever it takes".

One comment in response to this post indicates that the point of the series is, in fact, faithful to God's Word. Even if it is the case, the means by which one would have gotten to hear the message is by trickery and disrespect of an almighty God. Where is the love and humility and honesty in that approach? How is God glorified through trickery and disrespect?

2 Corinthians 4:2 is not being practiced here. Thank you Pastor Schulz for pointing out the scripture reference.

Vernon

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating. I find the card cheesy. (Although, this is in the heartland of Wisconsin.) But some of the responses on here are just so disheartening.

To assume that the producers of this card are mocking Jesus is to take things in the worst possible sense. Given the speech bubble, you can sort of tell that the point is that the world wants Jesus to be one way - carefree, easy-breezy, anything goes - but in reality he is quite different.

To assume that the producers of this card saying that they have something BETTER than Jesus' actual parables... new stories of sorts... wow... I just don't even follow that logic. Again, that's taking your neighbor's words in absolute worst possible sense.

I'm not saying it isn't cheesy. I'm not going to debate whether the card is sectarian or not, because you know more about that than I do. And the discussion about the quality of the sermons, that's always valid to have. So slice and dice those apart, if you will. But the conclusions were so quickly drawn.

Maybe now I'M not taking people's words in the kindest possible sense. If so, I apologize. But if I'm reading some of those initial comments correctly, some of you owe the Core an apology. That certainly goes for Mr. Heyer.

Daniel Kastens

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the "jumping the shark" comparison.
From Wikipedia:

Jumping the shark is an idiom used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery. It is synonymous with the phrase, "the beginning of the end." It also means and/or is often signified by a particular scene/episode/aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of "gimmick" in a desperate attempt to keep viewers' interest.

The card is a "gimmick" not in keeping with the spirit of preaching the gospel. What's next when that approach fails to get attention? Will CORE need to be more provocative/cheesy? It's like the latest controversy surrounding the TV program "Fear Factor" which had an episode so offensive it was yanked out off the air.

There is a limit and the philosophy of ministry that CORE has embraced has crossed the line. The CORE approach to preaching the gospel is not in keeping with the spirit of the gospel. It is not a "possible means" (1 Corinthians 9:22).

- Rev. James Schulz

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professor J. P. Meyer has something to say about this, too:

"The Gospel is the word of Truth. To resort to ruses in proclaiming it, even though with the best of intentions, is heaping shame on the Truth. Not only are the truth and lures incompatible in their nature, but to use lures in connection with the Gospel ministry treats the Truth, the eternal Truth of God, as though it were inefficient, not attractive enough in itself." Ministers of Christ, A Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, p. 62. 2 Corinthians 4:2.

- Rev. James Schulz

AP said...

Of all the issues going on in the Appleton area, this has got to be the least of them. I'm far more concerned that St. Peter / The Core has excommunicated members for no just cause and that the district has done nothing to correct the injustice. This whole things strikes me as just a minor symptom of a much deeper problem. Perhaps we should spend more time focusing on the root problems--the breakdown of properly applied church discipline in this Appleton district being one of them. Seriously, where are the leaders of the synod? What are they doing about any of these things? It is really hard not to grow increasingly frustrated as a confessional Lutheran and WELS member these days.

Anonymous said...

Yes, AP! I agree. What is going on?! When will these issues be dealt with? The CoP is swift in excommunicating Techlin but not dealing with Time of Grace with its RSO status. Again, what is going on?! I'm sick of hearing, "we're working on it" when these things are pretty cut and dry in my opinion.

Mitch Forte

Daniel Baker said...

After reading the list of sermon themes that Pr. Rydecki provided, it occurred to me that the sermon series was likely as Mr. Brandt described above. I was out the door at the time and didn't have a chance to amend my initial thoughts.

That aside, I can understand Mr. Kastens' concern that we have not considered the CORE's actions in the kindest possible way, and certainly apologize for initially misconstruing the misleading thought bubble over a semi-blasphemous image of my Lord and Savior. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that many of us have had plenty of first-hand experience with the CORE, both in-person, over sermon podcasts, and via the second-hand accounts of pseudo-excommunicated laymen. Based on these sources, my initial misconstruction would still not be overly surprising.

In any case, Dr. Palmer has hit the nail on the head. I second his comments, particularly those of frustration.

Anonymous said...

Why would I owe St.Peter/Core an apology? I can send you to another blog showing the pastor in blue jeans in front of a praise band. Both are sectarian worship practices as shown here on Intrepid Lutherans. After seeing that, I don't even need to hear a word out of his mouth.
Perhaps one of the reasons the WELS is in this situation is we spend too much time worrying to whom to apologize, and not enough time being INTREPID. As I've said before, the 8th Commandment does not require you to bury your head in the sand.
Make that a third on Dr. Palmer's and Daniel Baker's comments.

Scott E. Jungen

Pastor Spencer said...

I know I and others have referred to the following quote before on Intrepid Lutherans, but once again it bears repeating and emphasizing -

"284] All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it." (Luther's Large Catechism, 8th Commandment)

Putting the "best construction" on something does NOT apply to what is clearly and manifestly wrong and done openly and in the public eye. The issue is not what might have been intended, or the content of the sermons, or even the implication of being able to improve on Jesus' parables. That was not the point of the complaint by Mr. Heyer. The point was certainly impudence, irreverence, if not sheer blasphemy. Two errors are combined - the false theology behind the concept of the so-called "Sacred Heart of Jesus," and the wrongfulness of using an image so closely connected with the clearly blasphemous content of the movie "Dogma." As was pointed out, the issue is the seemingly complete lack of spiritual discernment on the part of the shepherds of The CORE. Their choice of advertising material is more than just irreverent, it is offensive to their brothers and sisters throughout the WELS. It is they who need to apologize. That's the issue. Again, it is NOT a matter of putting some manner of kind interpretation on the ad. It is what it is - and what it is, is wrong. Period!

Pastor Spencer

Benjamin Tomczak said...

To the Time of Grace RSO issue, according to our District and Synod President at our last Pastor-Teacher-Delegate Conference the issue has come down to one of terminology and practice.

LC-MS hander-outers of RSO status have claimed in the past that what it says on paper (RSO status means affirming and following LCMS doctrine and practice) is just on paper. It doesn't really mean that, and they hand out RSO's without regard for that little codicil and don't require what it says.

On the other hand, the new president of the Missouri Synod, Pr. Matthew Harrison, seems interested in making what's written on paper and done start to jive. In other words, if it says that an RSO affirms and practices LC-MS doctrine, than that's what is supposed to happen.

This seems to have become the crux of the Time of Grace issue. The presidents of both Synods are being asked to meet to discuss this.

Here's a quote from the Minutes of our PTD meeting:

"The progress of the “Time of Grace” situation (point 10 in Pres. Glaeske’s report). Pres. Glaeske reported that the real meaning of RSO, that is, what it means to the LC-MS (officially and unofficially) is a major point to be figured out. On paper it says, “RSO’s must conform to the LC-MS constitution and doctrine and practice.” But that has not always been upheld. New leadership in Missouri (Pres. Harrison) seems to be going back in the direction of doing what is written on paper, which may mean RSO does imply a fellowship relationship."

Grace and peace,
Ben

Anonymous said...

Ben, the problem isn't with the LC-MS's interpretation of Church Fellowship as it relates to RSO status, the problem is with WELS interpretation of Church Fellowship and its relation to RSO status. The WELS is ultra sensitive to and has finely defined what Church Fellowship is/isn't. Seems like a major shift in Church Fellowship doctrine and practice for WELS to say, "We'll allow the LC-MS to grant Time of Grace RSO status because they don't really mean that Time of Grace has to conform to LC-MS doctrine and practice."

- Rev. James Schulz

Anonymous said...

"Dear reader, your first reaction to the above image may be the result of a generational divide in Lutherdom. Some may first notice a Lutheran church promoting itself with the image of a 'Sacred Heart' of Jesus. Others may notice it's merely a figurine caricature. Others still may recognize the image as "Buddy Jesus" most often used as an internet meme to mock Jesus Christ and His Church."

To the first paragraph, just by looking at the card how would one know this is a Lutheran Church's promotion?

I sometimes get the feeling we are ashamed to be Lutheran's, to teach our children to be Lutheran's.

Why is that so?

Being a confessional Lutheran should be something we take pride in and teach our children to take pride in.

Lee Liermann

Joel said...

I am not a "proud" confessional Lutheran.

I'm a proud father.

I'm a proud trivia master.

I'm a proud MSTie.

I'm GRATEFUL to be a confessional Lutheran because this church has brought me the message of Christ.

It seems to me that there is a little too much boasting in the WELS (and Intrepid Lutherans) about BEING confessional Lutherans (bordering on work righteousness) and a far too little humble gratitude for what God has done for us through the teaching of the Lutheran church.

Just my two cents.

--Joel Lillo

Anonymous said...

Pastor Lillo -

Pride can take many forms.

It can be boastful, in your face arrogant. Any professional sporting event will give you numerous examples of this pride.

It can be misplaced - such as the Pharisee's of Jesus's day who prided themselves on being The Children of Abraham, thinking that alone would save them.

Pride can also lead to overreach or intransigence in the face of changing circumstances.

Pride indeed can be dangerous and sinful.

But a humble pride in being a Child of God, in the every day service we perform out of grateful love and humble gratitude for the free gift of salvation God has given us. Work Righteousness would be anathema and rightly condemned, but faithful service to the best of the abilities God has blessed us with to faithfully proclaim the Good News of Christ Crucified is not work righteousness but humble service.

The Church Catholic contains many members who are not Confessional Lutheran's, but Confessional Lutheranism, which is grounded in the Word of God, (and I struggle here for the right expression), is a faithful successor of the Apostles in proclaiming the Gospel to the World.

Should we be ashamed of being Confessional Lutheran's? Should we lump ourselves together with anyone who calls themselves a Christian? No,we should acknowledge that we are heirs of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. We should take pride in being His faithful servants and humbly serve.

Lee Liermann

Anonymous said...

Joel said, "It seems to me that there is a little too much boasting in the WELS (and Intrepid Lutherans) about BEING confessional Lutherans (bordering on work righteousness) and a far too little humble gratitude for what God has done for us through the teaching of the Lutheran church."

You'll need to back that up with some proof, Joel. You are making some serious accusations: "bordering on work righteousness"? Back it up with specifics!

- Rev. James Schulz

vdma said...

This is the sort of thing that I would routinely ignore at St. Peter.

Nonetheless, it would be good if the leadership of St. Peter Congregation would cite their sources so that we would not be surprised at where these images and ideas are coming from. I had not heard of 'Buddy Jesus' before. They should be forthright, and say: this is an image from the movie "Dogma," a movie which mocks the crucified Savior. Then they should openly defend its use as an exercise of Christian freedom.

The defense would probably say that using this image is akin to eating meat sacrificed to idols. (1 Corinthians 10:23-30). However this is a case, not of an individual eating meat from the market, but rather of a church using an idol. Paul said it was no sin to eat meat, but did he also say it was no sin for a congregation to use the images of false gods and false christs? Paul thanked God for meat because meat is a gift from God. (Genesis 9:3). But do we thank God for "Buddy Jesus"? Is an image that mocks Christ a gift from God to be used without attribution or explanation on advertisements for worship distributed throughout the Fox Valley?

I would welcome an honest and forthright face-to-face discussion. But I wonder, how many years will we have to wait for that? This District needs new leadership.

Rick Techlin

Joel said...

Jim Schulz said:
"You'll need to back that up with some proof, Joel. You are making some serious accusations: "bordering on work righteousness"? Back it up with specifics!"

When I said "bordering on" I meant "bordering on." It probably would be more accurate for me to say that I've seen more self righteousness than work righteousness here. (Yes, there is a difference.)

I do see a self-righteeous (maybe "holier than thou" would be and even more accurate way of putting it) attitude on these pages. These things are never said explicitly, but they sure are implied: "We're better than others in this synod because WE... offer the Lord's Supper (or Mass) every Sunday... use the common cup rather than individual cups... would never dream of having a projection screen in our church... use only the correct forms of worship... etc."

There is a LOT of pride on this site; and it ain't the good kind of pride, either.

Anonymous said...

I agree Mr. Techlin. Without solid leadership and the clearing of house nothing will be done. There may be members, like you, who want change. This won't happen unless the "good ol' boy" club recognizes that the church isn't about being a fraternity but upholding God's Word -- whether it be God's Law or God's Gospel. The CoP seems too afraid to use God's Law because it may upset people, cause a loss of membership, and therefore offering money.

If I am wrong then prove me wrong. But in my opinion, this seems to be the case. How is what the CORE does abide with what our doctrine (the Book of Concord) says is the ruled norm? The BoC says not to abolish the Mass and not to yield in cases of adiaphora (the ordinaries) because we're always in a state of confession. It seems like churches who follow the CORES suit abolish the Mass with its oridinaries and set up a new liturgy that looks just like our advasaries (the same thing happened with Melanchthon. He yeilded to the Papacy in regards to adiaphora. He accept their worship practices. But because Doctrine and PRACTICE are linked, he was condemned by the Concordists for yeilding in this regard. In my opinion, the same thing is true today. How can we worship like Baptists, etc. but not eventually agree with their doctrine. They worship the way they do BECAUSE it refelects their doctrine. Orthodox Lutherans worship the way we do BECAUSE it reflects our doctrine.) This practice, in my opinion, which is of course open to rebuttal, rejects the FC and Ep on adiaphora and what the BoC says on election.

Mitch Forte

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree, Mr. Lillo. If you want to call it a "holier-than-thou" pride then you are charging our Confessors of the same kind of pride.

We merely state what our Confessions state. If the church waivers from the Confessions we'll lovingly remind those of what our ruled norm for doctrine AND practice are. Sorry if it comes off as arrogant.

Mitch Forte

Anonymous said...

Joel, isn't it a "holier than thou" attitude to accuse someone of being "holier than thou"?

- Rev. James Schulz

Anonymous said...

Pastor Lillo,

Since pride and proud carries so many negative connotations, perhaps the better descriptive I was looking for was confident. We should be confident Confessional Lutherans.

We should certainly not be ashamed of our faith. Nor should we just lump Confessional Lutheranism in as one of many Christian denominations with no special place. I have seen in my own extended family how that works and what you get in the end is nothing.

So let us be confident in our faith and in our Confessional Lutheran heritage, not because of tradition or who our fathers were and what they believed. Rather let us be confident and bold because we have tested what Confessional Lutheranism preaches and confesses against scripture and found it faithful to God's Word.

Lee Liermann

Anonymous said...

Pr. Lillo said,

"I do see a self-righteeous (maybe "holier than thou" would be and even more accurate way of putting it) attitude on these pages. These things are never said explicitly, but they sure are implied: "We're better than others in this synod because WE... offer the Lord's Supper (or Mass) every Sunday... use the common cup rather than individual cups... would never dream of having a projection screen in our church... use only the correct forms of worship... etc."

Pr. Lillo,

I don't believe these things have been implied, I think they have been inferred. In other words, I don't believe they are in the minds of the speakers (or writers), but that the perception is there in the mind of the reader. I've not seen anyone say that "we're better because we do this..." What I have seen is people say, "It is better to do this..." There is a HUGE difference. When the Holy Spirit tells us that "not all things are beneficial," he is expecting us to make a decision - to pass a judgment - on practices. Even though they may not be expressly commanded or forbidden, some are better than others. Some are beneficial, some are not. By definition, that makes some practices "better" than others.

But calling some practices "better" than others is NOT the same as calling the other practice sinful or wrong, as some infer. And calling some practices "better" than others is not the same as saying that we are "better" than others because we follow those practices, as you apparently infer. We are all beggars.

I think that the Pharisaism with which this blog is sometimes charged is inferred, rather than implied - in the mind of the hearer/reader, not the speaker/writer. It is a perception taken, not a perception given. And that makes these types of discussions very difficult, because when one person tries to assert the "better"-ness of a practice, he is immediately met with charges of self-righteousness and legalism because he dared to judge one practice as "better" than another. But what he never claimed (at least, I have never seen it), is that HE is "better" than another. We need to stop making that giant leap.

Rik Krahn

Anonymous said...

Pastor Lillo,
I'm just going to lighten things up for a moment. It's great to see another MSTie!

Scott E. Jungen

Joel Lillo said...

Just in case anyone is wondering...

A MSTie is a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000... AKA MST3K... AKA The. Best. Show. Ever.

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