Saturday, June 02, 2012

Fighting for the Faith changes its tune about Mark Driscoll

No longer Frankie Goes to the Hollywood bellowing within a narrow melodic range about two tribes going to war.  Now we get the incontestably cooler and better rock song "Cult of Personality" by Living Color.

So the tune associated with Driscoll discussions is new.

The new song is a more apt thematic association and the song just rocks harder (which is both to say that it rocks more than Frankie Goes to Hollywood by orders of magnitude and to say, perhaps a bit more modestly, that it actually rocks at all (which Frankie Goes to Hollywood does not)).  Good choice. :)

I admit the title was a gotcha to see how lazy you are, dear reader.  You didn't really think Chris was going to say Driscoll's all above board on all doctrinal points, did you?

City of God: Sausage returns

Kinnon TV: Nick Bulbeck responds to Scott M.

Bill Kinnon has said several times that Driscoll seems to be a man who was never adequately discipled early in his Christian life, a flaw that plays itself out in myriad ways from the pulpit. Driscoll has pleaded guilty as charged as of a year or two before Kinnon made the observation.  

But the sticky wicket here is that not everyone who pleads guilty is really remorseful about how things went. As with a certain other fornicating guy engaged to a pastor's daughter it could be asserted that "mere confession" is not repentance.  Driscoll may have conceded that he wasn't really discipled early on; he can say that if he could go back and do things again he would do things differently; but this simply does not constitute demonstrable proof that he's improved in his weak spots. 

Accordingly, I don't think Kinnon's observations are ultimately unfair.  

Some people, however, felt differently.  Scott M., for instance. 
Scott M.

Wow. What a very arrogant thing to say. Like SilverStar, I also think that you’re attacking Driscoll in a very unfair manner and in an obviously biased manner. I listened to the interview as well and people like you and the interviewier are trying to attribute more negitivity and hostility to Driscoll than what’s really there. And you call yourself a Christian? Attacking a fellow brother in Christ in this manner? And why am I not surprised all the people here agreeing with you who have no idea what mission God has called Driscoll to preach in. I don’t go to Mars Hill Church but I do live in Seattle and all I have to say is if Driscoll used the “limp-wristed flower holding” language all of you people seem to be used to hearing the gospel of Christ preached Mars Hills would have folded up shop years ago.
All you people live in your perfect suburban bubbles and no nothing of reaching out to people who want nothing to do with you or the gospel of Christ.
You have zero right and absolutely no authority to come against a pastor like this and the fact that you think you do goes to show how full of yourselves you really are. You can tell a lot about a pastor by the fruit that he bears and the company he keeps. And last I checked 12,000 people and pastors like Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, DA Carson, Francis Chan, John Piper, etc looks like Kingdom winning fruit and fantastic company.
I always find the people who are the most critical the most jealous and envious.
Shame on all of you.

Scott doesn't seem to have noticed Driscoll pulling out of the Gospel Coalition since the whole affair of shaking hands with T. D. Jakes or in the wake of Don Carson pointing out that Driscoll's observations to Brierley suggest that Driscoll is a bit of an ignorant troll on British evangelicalism or that sheer numbers do not indicate fidelity to the Gospel.  
One of the problems with this sort of Driscoll defender is they are too lazy and ignorant to even keep up with recent events.  It makes their defense of Driscoll, too often predicated on lazy research and a big dollop of both the sunk cost fallacy and the halo effect, a bit embarrassing.  To be sure, however, I've seen that problem at work in a lot of Driscoll critics, too.  There are plenty of people who want to cling to the idea that Driscoll said Ted Haggard's wife let herself go. He never said that and what he said is actually crazier and more terrible if you read it in 2006 and can now consider it in light of the confessions of Real Marriage in 2012.  But that's just my take on it. 

As a former member of Mars Hill I can say that Nick Bulbeck's initial observation is more than right.  Scott doesn't know or care that the "perfect little suburban bubble" is where the Driscoll family lives.  A pastor who can mention from the pulpit that he's got three Tivos and two home theaters is just possibly not living in the hood if you know what I mean.  If word that the Driscolls nest in Haller Lake is still accurate Haller Lake is not exactly the ghetto. Church plants in Orange County aren't exactly staying outside the perfect suburban bubble, either. Mars Hill Ranier Valley?  Okay, I'll grant that's more downscale a neighborhood but I'm pretty sure Scott knows jack about even that.  

Nick Bulbeck, he who described Driscoll memorably as a man who can transform the Bible into a sock puppet that always agrees with him, responded. It's a response worth considering.

Scott – I am an occasional visitor to this blog, which I came across while researching Mark Driscoll for reasons I’ll come to in just a moment. You may have a point; and incidentally, Bill, if I may humbly say so, your apology might have been better if addressed to SilverStar directly (though I concede that his/her addressing you as “Kinnon” was not exactly courteous). But I stray. Scott, your response to Bill contains several broad and generalised accusations for which I doubt very much you have evidence. If your correcting of “all the people agreeing with [Bill]” is coming from a position of greater love and Christian maturity, then you haven’t shown it here.

Anyway: my interest in Mark Driscoll. It began with a friend who was then a new Christian, who was frustrated by the lack of teaching in his local congregation, had come across Driscoll and was very strongly influenced by him. This friend asked us to join him and his wife in listening through to a series of Driscoll podcasts (on 1 Corinthians and spiritual gifts, in fact) and get together to compare notes. At the time, I was more than glad to do this  because I’d heard nothing but good about Mr. Driscoll. But as I listened over several weeks, I went from being nonplussed, to surprised, to disappointed, to exasperated by what I heard. Namely, teaching that was riddled with errors, verses quoted incompletely or out of context, texts forced into highly questionable interpretations, and even (in once case) an extraordinary crass mis-quotation of a verse that would otherwise have undermined Driscoll’s teaching. 

It’s unimportant that I don’t agree with all of Driscoll’s theology; I don’t disagree with all of it either. I have stated in this very blog that his rejection of “gentle Jesus: geek, and child” is something that we in the UK should pay earnest attention to. And anyway, who appointed me as Pope? I don’t own the Bible. My concern is that Driscoll acts and speaks as though, in his opinion, he does. And that is an attitude, and character, that I do not want to see reproduced in my brothers in Christ close to me.

In saying this, I am not “coming against a pastor”. What Driscoll gets up to within Mars Hill is a matter for himself, the other elders and (ultimately) the assembly of believers there. But he actively occupies a much higher and more prominent platform than that; he writes books and preaches sermons that dictate doctrine to the wider church both collectively and, as seen in That Interview, to individuals with whom he has no relationship and over whom he has never been appointed as an elder. His attempt to judge Brierley’s theology and even the way he expressed it (what does “you sound like a coward” mean?) was clearly an attempt to take authority; but he will not submit to it himself. Rather, he dismisses those who call him to account using ad hominem arguments, ridicule or accusation.

So no, I’m not coming against a pastor, but against the immaturity of a believer attempting to call the shots where he is not in leadership, and to make authoritative pronouncements for which he has no right and zero authority.

I have my doubts Scott M will care much about Bulbeck's points.  If Driscoll stuck to his own steadily expanding empire and didn't remark on other pastors or constantly expand his network to include the likes of T. D Jakes, Steven Furtick and others then Driscoll could do his preaching via video and be a slightly more conservative Baptist streak of people preaching via TV screens we have for decades in the form of Paul Crouch or Pat Robertson.  

But Driscoll seems to believe his own hype and his hype is that what he's doing is different and "real" and that this entitles him to sound off on things that he is increasingly showing he has lacked the study, learning and patience for.  Don Carson's gentle rebuke toward Driscoll's public demonstration if ignorant trolling was, if I may be so bold, a bit too gentle.  Driscoll's confession that Grace became his "functional pastor" makes Driscoll's treatment of Brierley more rather than less insipid, hypocritical, and self-serving.  At least Brierley's man enough to admit his wife is his pastor, eh? Driscoll's problem may be spun as thinking the problem isn't that Brierley's wife is a functional pastor to Justin Brierley but that she's actually taken seriously as having a pastoral role for other men, too.  

Driscoll's complaints about Brierley seem too much like the pot calling the kettle black.  Maybe the pot thinks of itself as tupperware or something.

But Bulbeck has another point that won't be easily spotted, which he expanded on at From Bitter Waters to Sweet, the sobering thing about watching a guy like Driscoll buy into his own hype is that it's no less easy for any of us to fall into the same kind of trap.  As an ex-Martian I can say I know what he means and not merely from some abstracted or hypothetical things. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

WSJ: "Locks are on doors only to keep honest people honest.

Not too long ago, one of my students, named Peter, told me a story that captures rather nicely our society's misguided efforts to deal with dishonesty. One day, Peter locked himself out of his house. After a spell, the locksmith pulled up in his truck and picked the lock in about a minute.

"I was amazed at how quickly and easily this guy was able to open the door," Peter said. The locksmith told him that locks are on doors only to keep honest people honest. One percent of people will always be honest and never steal. Another 1% will always be dishonest and always try to pick your lock and steal your television; locks won't do much to protect you from the hardened thieves, who can get into your house if they really want to. The purpose of locks, the locksmith said, is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.

That's a fantastic lead for this article and warrants its own post.  :)

A hardened thief will find a way to steal whatever he or she wants.  The lock keeps the honest people honest.  That seems counterintuitive, doesn't it?  How many preachers and politicians have said that there was a time when people didn't lock their doors?  Well, let's rephrase this observation, how many of those doors back then tended to still be closed?  

Big lies or little lies, which are more dangerous? Which are more common?

All of this means that, although it is obviously important to pay attention to flagrant misbehaviors, it is probably even more important to discourage the small and more ubiquitous forms of dishonesty—the misbehavior that affects all of us, as both perpetrators and victims. This is especially true given what we know about the contagious nature of cheating and the way that small transgressions can grease the psychological skids to larger ones.

We want to install locks to stop the next Bernie Madoff, the next Enron, the next steroid-enhanced all-star, the next serial plagiarist, the next self-dealing political miscreant. But locking our doors against the dishonest monsters will not keep them out; they will always cheat their way in. It is the woman down the hallway—the sweet one who could not even carry away your flat-screen TV if she wanted to—who needs to be reminded constantly that, even if the door is open, she cannot just walk in and "borrow" a cup of sugar without asking.

A culture of deception that traffics in little lies and misrepresentations can become the garden in which the  big liars have room to spin their yarns. Some people have told me I'm honest to a fault and I don't know if I should believe them.  I worry that if I delude myself about something how could I possibly avoid misrepresenting reality to others?  What some people may consider a lack of confidence I would consider a desire to be honest.

At You Are Not So Smart there's a recent podcast that discusses the "illusion of knowledge".  This is an illusion that builds up from a plethora of impressive-sounding but ultimately meaningless or obfuscating details that are delivered in a confident way.  If someone declares something confidently enough you trust the person is telling the truth even if they're lying.  They may be lying about just a few small details but those lies will be enough to convince you they actually know what they're talking about.

The big lie about something that's false is often not where the most deadly and pervasive deception is. The  big lie is a lifestyle of tiny self-justifying lies.  The curious thing about both the serpent and a Berean is that we could say they both have the question, "Did God really say ... ?"

Tim Challies apologizes for something

I did poorly here and I can see that I need to grow in my ability to critique the ideas in a book even while being kind and loving to its author. There was reason for the shame I felt when I saw that name in my inbox. I had put effort into reading the book and understanding and critiquing it, but no real effort into showing love and respect for the author. I had assumed poor motives and in arrogance and thoughtlessness had squelched useful discussion of the book’s strengths and weaknesses.

I probably didn't even need to tell you what for if you're reading Christian blogs regularly, did I? I found out courtesy of Phoenix Preacher and decided to quote from this little segment. Assuming poor motives and, in arrogance and thoughtlessness, posting something ... that happens.  It's been a problem I've often had over the years and I dare suggest it's a spiritual discipline to assume the best about even people you sincerely believe are a bit off.

There's probably no shortage of neo-Reformed types who want any element of the actually erotic removed from spiritual experience even as so many of the most prominent sorts insist that marriage somehow "mirrors" the Trinity.  Yet the sexual bond, which would arguably the single most unique element of "oneness" somehow can never be invoked as an analogy for a sense of communion with God. The wedding supper of the Lamb can't progress to the honeymoon in the five star hotel room or anything. Metaphors are limited, as metaphors always will be, but a sheepishness amongst the blogging or preaching neo-Reformed sheep and shepherds about this point suggests that they're loathe to go along with stuff the actual Puritans (as opposed to, it seems, some "neo-Puritans") were okay with.

I'm not saying Challies couldn't have any points but one of his worries about the fusion of erotic imagery and spirituality highlights something about some of the newer Calvinist types that seems odd.  Maybe they don't really want to invoke or evoke the husband and wife metaphor nearly as much as they think they want to?

Challies' entry is worth noting briefly because new Calvinist or Reformed bloggers are not really famous for apologies of any sort.  We're a lot better at issuing retractions that aren't really retractions and clarifications that explain why we haven't changed our minds or said anything much amiss.

Reminds me of a church I used to go to ... but as Conan O'Brien put it, of course, I'm speaking generally. ;-)

new look

not that this isn't obvious already but I decided to go for black text on white background for higher contrast and, I hope, easier reading.  That means a few color choices from earlier posts might have to get some editing ... later.

Matthew Paul Turner: iHate: Why are we so mean online?

Some people are mean online because of anonymity and because they don't use their real names.  This is a popular explanation for why people say terrible things and make terrible claims on the internet but even when we account for internet trolls and anonymity the vitriol of an internet troll and the anger of someone who joins a lynch mob may not be that different in terms of sociological or emotional dynamics.  If you combine the anonymity of the internet with a diffusion of responsibility and a setting in which people don't conduct themselves as they would if they knew people what you see on the internet is probably not that different from herd behavior in other settings.

So, yes, we're all capable of being that mean but many of us get embarrassed being that mean in more direct and personal relationships.

Some have camped on the observation that we're meaner in anonymous and on-line settings than in real life.  Well, maybe, but some people are pretty much the same in an on-line or public persona as they are in face-to-face contact.

In ancient Roman society there was the spectacle of gladitorial combat for amusement.  Now the gladitorial combat may not involve bloodletting but things like MMA and online battles may play the same sort of role.  Some people get a visceral thrill watching people physically fight, others get that visceral thrill in more abstract gladitorial combat.

Matthew Yglesias: There is no Tech Industry

The way Amazon works is that users visit their website, select stuff to buy, and then Amazon delivers it to your house. Papa John's website also does this.

Facebook runs a website that people read, and then it sells ads to firms looking to market products to Facebook's audience. The New York Times also has this business model.
So what's tech got to do with it?

Anyone who worked for even a few months at Amazon will know that the tech has never been the real defining mission or business model of the company. I, uh, know someone who worked there for a few short months about fourteen years ago.  Supervisors there would say the real deal was not the selection on-line that they had, it was that the ordering process was secure and that the ordered products would ship out as fast as possible.  In the early internet days what provided was not the best selection but the most secure on-line ordering and the fastest and most reliable delivery possible.  That was enough to persuade me that these people in this dot com had an actual business model and an actual plan when I heard about that.  It has not surprised me that has stuck around when many other online retailers and start ups have long since foundered in the subsequent decade and a half.

In other words has just been either a variant of a brick and mortar bookstore or, as Yglesias makes the comparison, a kind of on-line Target.  I would suggest the book selections at are substantially better and more varied than those at Target, though. 

Practical Theology for Women: Post Mother's Day Reflections on Imperfect Affirmations

As usual Wendy writes so eloquently for herself I have nothing I can think to add beyond merely linking to her work.

Well, okay, maybe I might add a point or two, though not about Wendy's observations of her own life.  In the last month or so I came across the podcast of sermons from a pastor I used to know twenty years ago. He was preaching a sermon in which he discussed, as an aside, labels that are given to us or that we take up for ourselves. He has come to observe over the last twenty years that one of his struggles is that he can often be discontent.  If you got a B why didn't you get an A? If you got an A why did you get an A minus instead of a regular A? If you got an A you could have gotten an A+.  And so on.

It may be hard to overstate the significance of the apostolic advice that godliness with contentment is great gain.  I admit that I don't feel like a bastion of godliness or contentment much of the time. There are people I have known who I would say are godly but they are discontent and this discontentment may ultimately prove the great fountain of fractures in their godliness.  Giving thanks to God in everything sure doesn't feel like something worth doing if there are so many things you don't have that you wish you had. Some people find it tough to be thankful to God because they don't have a spouse.  In an economy and time such as this I actually do thank God I don't have a wife or children. It's not that I wouldn't ever want to be married one day ... I think ... maybe ... it's that at this stage in my life being discontent about being unmarried is something that would have to be cultivated.  There's a difference between wishing you had something and being upset that you don't have it.  In the last few years I have not been nearly as unhappy that I haven't had a girlfriend as that I haven't had a steady job.  I assure you one of these has been substantially more important to me than the other!  But things change.  Too bad they often seem to change for the worse.

And at the same time contentment isn't something cultivated in ideal circumstances, is it?  It can be but the reality is that a person can be discontent in even the most perfect of circumstances.  A person may be discontent because everything is too perfect and there are no more challenges, it seems, to be provided by life.  Some people are genuinely only happy if they are fighting or struggling with or against something.  Others are discontent because until they get the thing they want they are unhappy.  Then they get what they want and it turns out to not satisfy them.  Go back and read a few interviews with John Lennon.  He got what he wanted early in life (he didn't live that long before he got killed, let's remember) and that dream come true turned out to not be what it was cracked up to be.

See, I managed to write a bit but it was not to add things to Wendy's own thoughts. :-)  Go read them for yourself. These are just my own thoughts by way of a rambling introduction to her thoughts.

Batman: The Agony of Loss and the Madness of Desire Part 5a has gone up on Mockingbird

For those following this lengthy series the first part has just gone up this morning.  More parts to follow, though given the mercurial publishing schedule the series has had (which I'm certain is more due to the writer than publisher) we might see a gap between Part 5b and subsequent parts of Part 5. :-)

Ridley Scott, Prometheus, and horror

So Ridley Scott has returned to the sci-fi and horror genre that made him famous in the late 1970s fiilm Alien.  This should at least be interesting. The original film, as anyone who has seen it will have probably observed, played a lot with the subtext of rape and bodily invasion. The alien could be scary because the nature and shape of the alien continually shifted and changed throughout the original film.  By James Cameron's sequel the monsters were scary in numbers and in terms of sheer size. If Scott's film could be considered high gothic in execution, if not in concept, then Cameron's film was low gothic where we were shown more and more monsters until we got to the queen herself.

Prometheus does not look like it's going to go in that direction.  Scott has indicated the original alien no longer has the power to scare people because after thirty years it is just too well known.  Instead the teasers and trailers make much of how the search for our beginnings could be our end.  The questions of who we are and where we have come from will get asked, if not answered in any ultimately significant way.  The specifics of the answer within that narrative universe may not matter so much as a general observation about horror as a genre.

Steven Grant has made two observations that seem salient at this point. The definition of tragedy, he wrote, was not that evil triumphs over good but that a tragic hero chooses a lesser good over a greater good in a battle of competing legitimate goods.  Grant, if memory serves, is an atheist or agnostic but a Christian cannot afford to be too dismissive of this observation about tragedy. It is the Christian understanding, in essence, of the human condition and our place in it within the cosmos.  The world did not stop being full of the glory, grandeur and love of God after the Fall since life and beauty do exist ... but the world and the humans within it are broken. This is a tragedy but not a horror.

Steven Grant's observation about horror was, if memory serves, that the evil and misery in the cosmos that we observe, the evil and misery we observe in humans or in ourselves, that is inherent to its nature.  To put it in theological terms horror is the running with the most literal embodiment of the idea that we, as humans, reflect the divine image and to consider that if we are but dim reflections or copies of the divine image how awful and malignant must that divine being or beings actually be?

This is, unsurprisingly, why many Christians would not like horror, will not like horror, or may choose to deliberately interpret horror in ways that fit traditional Christian ethical ideas.  And it's not difficult to do that if you observe that Jason Voorhees (sic) kills fornicators, by and large.  But in the first movie Jason's mother (not Jason) killed pretty indiscriminately.

A Christian who avoids the realization that this world full of death, murder and misery is permitted to exist by a god we recognize as loving, powerful, knowledgeable and good is avoiding something that is unavoidable.  The book of Job addresses this misery head on and concedes there is no direct answer. The answers to the nature and source of human cruelty are not as mysterious as we might like to think they are.  Psychologist Roy Baumeister went so far as to propose that the temptations and incentives to cruelty are all too easily understood and that the question we must ask about what theologians have called moral evil is not why there is so much of it in the human condition but why there isn't more of it. His answer was that the pre-emptive power of guilt to restrain us and the empathy that lets us imagine how others may be feeling are big reasons more evil is not committed.

Well, in a horror story it's not uncommon for empathy to be seen as a weakness by the monster or the cruel.  In many cases the monster, the shape, the thing, or the killer has no motive.  This plays into the myth of pure evil and while some people think evil is more scary if it has no motive this is not really the case.  Evil has a motive because actions are never unmotivated.  We know in the final analysis that what is senseless to us, even horrifying, is neither unmotivated nor inexplicable.  As the Joker tells Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, nobody gets too upset if things go according to plan even if the plan is horrifying.  If soldiers die nobody [except the relatives and lovers and friends] gets upset because it's all part of the plan. Soldiers know the risks they take.

And that is where horror makes its bed in our hearts about plans, that the horror is that if there is a plan it is a plan that has no regard for our dignity, our lives, our loves, our talents, our hopes, our dreams, or ourselves.  Job's comforters could be said, to borrow a few lines from Heath Ledger's Joker, to have told Job that everything was all part of the plan and they had figured out what that plan was.  Horror proposes that, as I think Baudelaire is said to have put it, that if there is a god he is the devil. Once one knows this general theme in horror many plot points for movies stop being mysterious even before the movies are released.  Don't take that as a sign that I'm not going to watch the film.  I'm curious enough to see it.  A cast that includes Fassbender and Theron that is directed by Ridley Scott should at least be watchable, I hope.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Phoenix Preacher: Glut

Michael writes about a glut of sports news and coverage. I admit that with eyes like mine sports never interested me at all.  For me the magical stuff was music.  The older I get the more I find myself frustrated or bored by the oceans of music around me in any given setting.  I could hang out with my brother or other relatives in a mall or a restaurant and that background music that others ignore or find soothing I find slightly or highly annoying.  Or I tune it out.  I wouldn't have guessed that over the course of twenty years I would feel more and more like measuring out music with an eyedropper rather than a bucket.

Triablogue's Steve Hays notes the irony of R. C. Sproul Jr. blogging about the evils of bloggers
Steve Hays writes on the following article published by R. C. Sproul Jr.

Hays opens with, "I’m afraid this is one of those pious-sounding bromides that doesn’t make much sense."

He could have left things at that but this is Steve Hays, so he has more to say.  As a Steve Hays post goes, however, this one is uncharacteristically short.  

"Blogging about the evils of blogging about the evils of ..." is one of the best titles for a post Steve has come up with.  I've always been bad at coming up with titles so I can admire a fine title for something when I see it. 

Matthew Paul Turner is not authorized to see Pastor Mark's Twitter

Matthew Paul Turner is now blocked from Driscoll's twitter feed.  Matthew Paul Turner was the blogger who broke Andrew's story of church discipline to the internet.

This doesn't change the fact that some of the biggest clues to the identities of people involved in Andrew's case aren't still sitting in plain sight in Driscoll sermons.  The biggest clues are in Andrew's story but the next biggest clues are in Driscoll sermons and sources independent of Mars Hill.

Mark Driscoll needs to consider the possibility that God providentially got the escalation letter into the hands of Andrew and that though Turner is a blogger he just delivers the mail.  Didn't Mark Driscoll make a point of saying, that, "I just deliver the mail"?

Still, even though it may be a pointless rearguard action by now it makes a kind of emotional sense. Even Turner gets it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sutton Turner explains why people shouldn't show partiality against the rich and quotes James

Sutton Turner is an executive pastor at Mars Hill. Partiality against rich and poor is bad but it's apparent which kind of partiality James was explicitly writing against ,partiality toward the rich.  Turner has to subject the text and its broader context to a few contortions to get to the point of saying that Christians shouldn't be mistrustful toward the rich.  It's not that a case couldn't be made to not be skeptical about the rich.

Our prejudices against the rich ultimately amount to poverty theology, as though our righteousness depends on Jesus plus how little is in our bank account.

Turner seems determined to point out that a lot of Christians are inclined to use James' epistle as a polemic against the wealthy.  I wonder why that might be?

James 1: 9-11
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

James 2:1-12
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”  have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?  But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.  But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

James 5:1-6
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.  Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.  You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

Maybe Turner just forgot that the reason people tend to read the epistle of James as levelling trenchant criticisms on favoritism toward the wealthy and about the conduct of the wealthy because that's the plainest reading of the text.

Then again, the executive elder who had the kingly role before Sutton Turner doesn't have a whole lot of sermons you can download.  The role doesn't really require a man with any demonstrable skill or history in exegesis or hermeneutics.

Resurgence Evolution Article, Place Your Ad Here

The article itself is neither here nor there for me.  Will Little has written a piece that may already interest you or not.  But over at Phoenix Preacher this got a link and someone pointed out something over there in the comments that caught my eye.

Check out the upper right quadrant there. 

"Advertise here"

Advertise with who?

Top Square - Every Page 260 x 260 Top Right
260,000 Est.Impressions
3 of 3 Available
$1,295 per 30 days

Mid Banner A - Every Page 200 x 125 Middle Right
260,000 Est.Impressions
2 of 3 Available
$995 per 30 days

Both are limited time introductory rates.

Beacon Ads LLC has a copyright listing 2007 -2012
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Beacon Ads has the most skeletal and uninformative "About/Overview" section I've ever seen for a website.  You can't find any information on who owns the firm, who the team is or much beyond this:
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