A Brief Commentary on the Absurdity of it All

I don’t have a lot to say about these things. In a kind of dark and twisty way, most of it basically speaks for itself.

1. The Future of the Church

The future is ACTS 29. – Michael Spencer

  • The future of the church will not be found where artificial barriers to the kingdom still exist.
  • It will not be among church-planting networks focused on reformed doctrine dressed in cultural relevance.
  • The future of the church will not be among the next newest-latest-greatest movement.

It will be found among local communities of believers who grasp the vision of being outposts of the kingdom and who go about the task of loving others and making disciples with faithful dedication.

2. Calamity and Judgement

The Bible is a scary book. And the future that is coming on unbelievers is scary beyond anything any preacher could conjure up.
John Piper on David Wilkerson

If I have any reason to continue blogging, it is to paint a picture of God that counters statements like this. The Bible is an amazingly beautiful book, and our God is not waiting with anticipation and anger to pour down punishment. He so loved the world that He sent His Son as the plan for its ultimate salvation. As we experience whatever calamity there is in this fallen condition, He is our hope as we eagerly await His redemption and the return of this world to the way it was intended to be.

3. The Bentley Saga
It will be interesting, in a tragic way, to see what these guys do next. Someone commented that Joyner’s weekly episodes of Todd’s Journey to Restoration are like bad reality TV. I hope they can come up with a title that hasn’t been used yet — American Idol, The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser, Dancing With The Stars, Survivor, Temptation Island, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Wife Swap…

For guys like Bentley and Haggard, detox includes withdrawal from addiction to the platform. Very few guys go through that kind of withdrawal willingly. Usually you see them out looking for their latest fix.

I am very much for Todd’s restoration to faith and fellowship, but hopefully we will never see him in a public pulpit again. Perhaps someday Todd will be free of the system that brought him so much fame, fortune, and failure.

In the meantime, we can all look forward to the weekly spin to be aired by Rick Joyner. Rick’s statements to Grady are sadly revealing of his self-perception and the delusion that would lead to unflinchingly exposing his elevated attitude to this degree.

I’ve already written plenty about this topic – Healing Revival, Apostolic Bullshit, Extreme Charismatic Makeover, Afraid of Missing God, and oddly or not the Lessons From the Ted Haggard Story are applicable also.

4. Perry Noble Unleashed
Maybe someone ought to leash this guy. It looks to me like Perry has taken a chapter out of Dricoll’s book on How To Get Attention. Whatever! His comments might have been credible if they actually reflected either missional or emerging thought.

I should probably go back to not saying anything. :)

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13 comments

  1. “She is a mystery, isn’t she? Still going after all this time. After the Crusades and the Inquisition and Christian cable television. Still going. And there continue to be people like me who believe she is one of the best ideas ever. In spite of all the ways she has veered off track. In spite of all the people who have actually turned away from God because of what they experienced in church…But she will live on. She’s indestructible. When she dies in one part of the world, she explodes in another. She’s global. She’s universal. She’s everywhere. And while she’s fragile, she’s going to endure. In every generation there will be those who see her beauty and give their lives to see her shine. Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against her. That’s strong language. And its’ true. She will continue to roll across the ages, serving and giving and connecting people with God and each other. And people will abuse her and manipulate her and try to control her, but they’ll pass on. And she will keep going…”

    – Rob Bell

    Grace and Peace,
    Raffi

  2. nice post. some stuff i noticed over the past few days.

  3. Grace, Thanks for saying this.

    Raffi, great Rob Bell quote! Thanks for that.

    Andrew, we’re reading the same stuff then, as usual ;-)

    BTW – Does anyone see the irony in Piper saying “The Bible is a scary book” and the famous Tony Jones quote: “I think the Bible is a f***ing scary book”?

    Here’s the source for the Tony quote, BTW:

    http://churchandpomo.typepad.com/conversation/2007/03/why_is_the_emer.html

  4. “Perhaps someday Todd will be free of the system that brought him so much fame, fortune, and failure.” Let’s hope so.

    What’s been kind of discouraging is that in the wake of all the failures of the platform/celebrity/big show system – many are just trying to keep it propped up and alive. I’ve really been wondering how this can happen. I guess that’s part of the tragedy. The pride and arrogance that the “Christian celebrity” scene engenders must have a blinding affect.

  5. No. Don’t go back to not saying anything. There needs to be an alternative. There needs to be a choice. There needs to be people who want to make a real difference. Driscoll’s call for 900 church planting men is serious. He will do it. And I hope more people like you remain an alternative and grow the alternative. Hope that makes sense. :)

  6. [from the previous Absurdity Abounds discussion]:

    joseph,
    I’ll be expecting more from you after you’ve had a few drinks. It’s happy hour here.

    Now that I have mixed myself a wonderful Whiskey Sour (Makers Mark, simple syrup, fresh squeezed lemon+lime juice & maraschino cherry) I think I am fortified enough to add my $0.02 worth…

    I happen to keep up with the crazy goings-on of the extreme-prophetic types as well as the more newsworthy stuff like David Wilkerson’s pronouncement of doom+gloom. Once you peruse a few sites & read the posts of some very sincere people it becomes quickly apparent that there are supporters/believers of Todd Bentley’s divine ministerial destiny or Rick Joyner’s effective restoration oversight or David Wilkerson’s dire warnings due to his less flamboyant (conservative Protestant) prophetic mantle. After venting on a few of these sites & reading the additional posts that do ignore my more cautionary tone (hee-hee ;) ), I have concluded that there are many people gung-ho about the make-believe world of the extreme prophetic/apostolic type. They have a deep desire to experience the signs+wonders that are undeniable proof of heaven on earth. They want their theological claims validated & the Shekinah Glory of God to smote saint, sinner & skeptic alike! They do want gold teeth. They do want gemstones falling from the sky. They want angel feathers gently swirling down upon them. Glitter. Oil. Stigmata. All the strange manifestations that are meant to be unconventional because, well, God is not happy just being the miracle performing deity of the past. Hell no. He is new & improved! A bit playful & just kooky enough to throw us a manifestation curve ball now & then…

    If that were not enough, there are the David Wilkerson’s of the church proclaiming that yes Virginia, there is an angry deity up there just itching to smite the earth with horrendous calamities due to the unchecked heathen antics of this once ‘Christian’ nation. God is pissed. Really, really mad. Red-faced, neck vein bulging mad! And woe to you sinner & any skeptical saint that ends up being collateral damage! It is your own fault you did not heed the warnings of God’s mouthpiece today…

    And what can be said about a Perry Noble attempt to expose every heretical flaw of those church expressions that do not fit into his rigid guidelines of uber-orthodoxy?

    Whether you believe me or not, I am quite calm about it. I can accept the fact that there are numerous kooks for Jesus of every stripe peddling their version of Apocalypse, Armageddon, Anointing, Atonement, Apostles/Athanasian Creed, Augsburg Confession, Amillennialism, etc. I am convinced any attempt to agree on the important doctrinal issues really not possible. There cannot be civil agreement to disagree amicably in this very disparate grouping categorized as “The Body of Christ”. The lines are not only drawn, they are etched in foundational bedrock of every Christian faith expression that claims to be the most accurate one peddled. And the miracle of the internet displays it all in Technicolor & sound bites for the world to see…

    I don’t care anymore. Be a kook for Jesus. Be a crazy conspiracy freak diagramming the end of the world as we know it (que R.E.M. soundtrack). Hunker in a bunker. Go see your Miracle Idol do his thing upon the stage at the next official outpouring. Send your hard earned dollars to the televangelist of your choice. Pay for the books, CDs, seminar/conference gigs, training & anointment appointments guaranteeing a front-row peek into the heavenlies. Just keep your retorts to yourself when the world shakes their head in mild amusement at your supra-natural antics supposedly God sourced. Is it any wonder they remain unconvinced of Christianity’s news? From their perspective it is anything but ‘good’… :(

  7. RE; Todd
    I met Todd years ago before the fame thing began. He was very young and just beginning to speak in churches. He was to speak to our youth one evening.
    I was headed for home having just finished worship practice at church, and when I opened the door to go outside there was Todd. He said a friendly hello and immediately asked me what he might expect with regard to numbers that evening. The conversation went like this;

    Todd; “so how many people go to this church!? How many seats?”

    Me; “I don’t know…”

    Todd; “well how many youth do you have?”

    Me; “Well I don’t know exact numbers.”

    Todd;” Well does it ever get like really packed? Or…”

    Me; “ packed?, I don’t know”

    Todd; “Well what do you think like 50? 100 at a conference?”

    Me; “I’ve never counted heads”

    Todd; “Well how many…….. Etc….etc………”

    I wasn’t giving him the answers he was looking for and so he said good-bye, very friendly, very excited. I didn’t go to the meetings.
    I was very disturbed by that conversation.

    What Todd didn’t know was I had worked as a singer in a couple of rock bands and our conversation had sparked a few memories for me…
    When we would enter a new venue to set up our gear for the night, we would enquire of any staff member available about what to expect. We would ask “Is Saturday the busiest night? …or is it Friday?”
    “How many seats in the house?”

    This matters because you arrange your set list accordingly. You get an idea of what kind of energy (from the room) you will have to work with. An empty room is harder.
    You’re also aware that selling allot of beer on the slowest night looks real good and bar managers like that; you’ll get hired back :)
    Whatever the reasons, knowing what to expect as far as numbers go is helpful.

    What I’m saying is this; Todd’s concern for numbers felt strongly and strangely similar to that of an entertainer.
    That was many years ago and since then all I kept hearing was how gifted by God Todd was … but references to the gifting overshadowed references to the Giver in the dialog…always. Even if Todds intentions were right, the atmosphere in the church was not ultra reverent toward God in that it didn’t matter much, or was not discussed much who got the glory… even when we all shouted “Glory to God!”… people like Todd got more attention than Christ. It was and is plain as day, that much of the church is spellbound by power. Not much has changed since Jesus came.

    It seems to me that when many of us got saved and left our favorite entertainers and showmen behind we simply collected new ones. For example, I may no longer go to an Ani Defranco concert (shame) but I’ll listen to the inappropriate ramblings of an ‘elite’ as he/she tells me how I can get the best seat in heaven, because it’s not enough to just get there :/
    That particular kind of filthy talk is acceptable and worth the cash it costs to hear it?
    We are still crying out for a king and we keep getting what we ask for. I realize I am generalizing.

    I know that God is God, that only He can fix it. But I will do what I can. First by keeping my focus on Christ and by continuing to ask all the wrong questions in all the wrong places,like pot-lucks, conferences and church picnics whenever the subject of ‘falling ministers’ and ‘miracles, signs and wonders’ arises. (And it always does)

    And the next time I meet a young Todd, I won’t let him leave until I tell him the truth. I’ll stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong and risk injury :)

    Anyway… I love Jesus. I love it when He heals people and I don’t doubt that miracles happened at Lakeland (see Leap of Faith). But the miracle Maker is our best friend and I am saddened at our inability to stop making idols of our Todd’s. We do them a great injustice and more so, we break the heart of Him who loves us in spite of it all.

    I pray that Todd’s restorative process goes well in that it accomplishes what Jesus wants it to. I pray that Todd is never again ‘made use of’ by anyone. I pray he experiences the beauty of simply being His son, without the attention of man; You can lay your hands on people and see them healed…and tell no one. That sounds like something Jesus would do;)

    I pray that Jesus is enough for us, His people and that no other name is elevated above His again, now THAT is a miracle I would line up to see.

    End rant :)

  8. Grace,
    One of my favourite Bruce Cockburn line’s (which I believe U2 quotes) is “You’ve got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.” Keep kicking grace-filled sister, keep kicking. (I actually prefer BNL’s version, actually.)

  9. “actually, actually” I need to write a little more or not at all.

  10. Beautiful quote Raffi! Thanks for sharing it here.

    andrew,
    Be sure to catch Bill’s latest post.

    steve,
    Interesting and ironic.
    I agree that the Bible itself is powerfully challenging, but I have trouble with the concept of an intimidating Father.

    sarah,
    There is a sense of vulgarity about the entire system and public show. I hope that people will step back and see that God is not glorified in any of this.

    Thanks shawn, there will be an alternative. I have no doubt that God is up to something really small and amazing.

    joseph,
    You are right. The world is not impressed. Maybe it’s time we get a clue.

    hunnybee,
    That is a miracle that I would line up to see also.

    bill,
    You definitely need to write more (but get your work done too).

  11. Thanks, Mom. I’m doing my best. (Kidding aside, I do really appreciate your concern – as well as the kind words about the post. Even if I respond to a cheap shot with a cheap shot at the end.)

  12. A friend sent me an email about the Joyner love-fest video for Bentley.. I watched and had a few questions for him.. haven’t heard back yet.

    I read the Grady article and the Joyner rebut.. this opening excerpt from Joyner says it all for me..

    “Lee, I think what you call “the Lakeland disaster” would be disputed by multitudes of people who got healed or touched there. If you are such judge of this what gives you the credentials? What moves of God have you led? What have you built?”

    Talk about religious ego.. yikes.. did Joyner really say that Grady does not have the religious cred to call out Joyner for unbiblical behavior -wow! Sad that Joyner simply does not respond to this part of Grady’s column:

    “First of all, it is outrageous that Shonnah Bentley, Todd’s first wife, does not seem to be an issue in the current discussion. Her name is never mentioned in Joyner’s statement—while Todd is mentioned 18 times. We are never told how Shonnah is handling the divorce. How will she manage to care for the three children she and Todd share? She and the kids seem invisible in this process. Yet if anyone needs healing and restoration, is it not the other half of this broken family?”

    Here is one of the comments that I noted about the whole thing:

    “Dear Joyner,
    You sir, are the one who lacks credibility. You stood on stage with Bentley on June 23rd, 2008 along with other false apostles and prophets and not one of you had the discernment to see that Bentley was living in flagrant sin. Drinking excessively in public, ministering in public with his mistress beside him, telling the world he was happily married – showing off his wife and kids then dumping them weeks later. Not ONE of you so-called “apostles” has one whit of discernment.”

    And the beat goes on..

  13. hopesome · · Reply

    The Church is being turned into one big soap opera, with the likes of the profits looking for profits

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