Monday, January 12, 2009


Click on this posts title to read a NY Times article about the conservative evangelical ministry du jour. Now, the title of the article asks a rhetorical question which the glib person in me wants to say: "That jackass". But, again, that's the glib answer. Being Lutheran, I'm not too fond of Calvinism. I don't like the doctrine of predestination -- double or otherwise. But what really galls me is that this hyper-macho brand of Christianity is just another gimmick. The proponents use the term "ministry" but what they really mean is "marketing". They are doing what they decry the mainline evangelical movement of doing -- selling out.

More importantly, if the article accurately characterizes the power structure of Mars Hill, then it's fallen into the trap of power as idol:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deut. 5:8-10)

In the case of Mars Hill, as in other evangelical churches, the focus of worship is ostensibly God, but in reality it's the guy up on stage. Not the guy on the cross (or his ministry either). To the extent that the Mars Hill ministry welcomes those who society shuns then so much the better.

But the kick-ass method of ministry of Mr. Driscoll is antithetical to the ministry of the man he preaches about. If Jesus where really as kick-ass as Driscoll is, then he never would have allowed himself to be crucified. He would have, well, kick Jewish and Roman ass and made himself ruler. This was precisely what he was tempeted with after his baptism that we celebrated yesterday. But that is not the way of the cross. The way of the cross is sacrifice for others. To offer the left check after having the right slapped. To give your cloak and coat too. To give to others first just has God has given to us.

As the article seems to allude: this too shall pass as another fad in the long running list of fads that characterize the conservative evangelical church (and other denominations I know). Only time will tell how God uses this for his good purposes. But I'm confident he will.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Prayer for the New Year

Recently I received a copy of the Moravian Churches yearly prayer book call "Daily Texts". Not generally my style but you never know what God will use to teach so I accepted. And in the beginning of every month there is a section titled "Prayer List for ..." where, presumably, one writes in prayers that one will say during that month. However, January has an extra page that I think is quite interesting and worth sharing. This page is titled "Prayer Journal" and says that St. Ignatius asked his students these questions. They are:

  1. What is your greatest hope for this year? (CONSOLATION)
  2. What is your greatest fear? (DESOLATION)
  3. Write a prayer of thanks that combines both your fear and your hope.

See? You never know what you will find.

So, I have thought about this and I'll share:

CONSOLATION: My greatest hope for this year is that 2009 be the start of a new spirit of cooperation that can overcome the numerous and well publicized divisions in our Church and our society such that real cooperation and reconciliation can happen.

DESOLATION: My greatest fear is that both society and the Church, will fragment even more on issues that generate a lot of heat and not much light and that good of both will again be set back while we argue and bicker.

PRAYER: Almighty Father, through your gracious love for humanity you gave us Jesus, who in word and deed showed your abundant love for the world. By his ministry we know your will; by his suffering we know the depths of your love; by his resurrection we know the good news that death has no power over us and that eternal life awaits us at the end; through your Holy Spirit we know the transformational power of your Word. Bless this new year for us. Where there is division, heal; where there is anger, show love; where there is strife, let there be peace. Instill in us a sense of sacrifice for others even as your Son sacrificed for us. Instill in us a sense of love even as you loved and love us that you gave your only begotten Son for our redemption. Send your Holy Spirit on us and empower us for the year ahead that it may be pleasing to you and further your kingdom. In the name of the one in whom we live and move and have our being . Amen.