Thoughts on The Satan Debate

March 30, 2009 at 6:53 am

ntl_faceoff2_satan_090312_mnjpgjpegLast night my wife and I finally had a chance to sit down and watch Nightline’s recent “Satan debate” (if you haven’t had a chance to watch it, you can see the entire debate here). Arguing for the existence of Satan were Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and Annie Lobert, founder of the ministry “Hookers for Jesus.” Arguing against the existence of Satan were Deepak Chopra, and “Bishop” Carlton Pearson. Though I’d like to do a more in-depth analysis of the debate, here are some initial thoughts:

Neither Pearson or Chopra had any sort of consistent argument and both came dangerously close to going so far as to say that evil does not exist. Chopra articulated this a bit more clearly than did Pearson by saying that everything is a continuum and/or there are competing forces, “creative evolution” and “entropy” that need each other to keep existence in balance. No, it doesn’t make sense.

Chopra made the audacious claim that “All belief is a cover-up for insecurity.” An astute audience member pointed out that this was simply Chopra’s belief and therefore subject to the same critique. Chopra tried to weasel his way out of this by saying that if something is true, then we don’t need to believe in it. The problem, of course, is that Chopra has no ground except for personal perception to say what is and what isn’t true. Couple this with his idea of “enlightened consciousness” versus “primitive beliefs” and your left with nothing more than subjective picking and choosing. Pearson said: “When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.” For both Pearson and Chopra, man is the arbiter of reality.

Both Pearson and Chopra undermined the idea of any objective truth, continually saying things like “that’s true for you,” that’s “your truth,” etc. I believe it was Pearson who said “perception is the ultimate reality” and Chopra said “God is as you are.” It doesn’t take a theologian to realize that both Chopra and Pearson hold everything up to themselves. It is the height of hubris. Man is the yardstick, nothing/no one else. For Chopra, this means there is no such thing as “salvation” as most of us understand the term, for Pearson, it seems to mean that everyone will be saved.

Being consistent with this approach (we determine what is best for us and is therefore “true,” Pearson picks and chooses Scriptures by his own admission. Rather than standing under the authority of the Bible, Pearson has placed himself in the position to choose what to believe and what to reject. One of the many problems with this, of course, is that Pearson himself does not understand Scripture. As Pastor Driscoll pointed out, Pearson does not understand the Bible’s depiction of Satan. Even after being corrected by Driscoll, Pearson continued to present Satan as the mirror image of God, omnipresent and even omniscient. This is not how Scripture presents Satan.

Unwittingly, Chopra himself confirmed Scripture and the evil nature of our unsaved souls. He said: “I don’t trust my mind. My mind is full of contradictions . . . but I do trust my spirit” Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Ultimately, the debate was as much about God, specifically about Jesus as it was about Satan. While Satan was the entry point of the discussion, the true nature of the debate was about the authority and reality of the Bible and the nature of God. Driscoll highlighted this by beginning and ending with Jesus.

Though I am only in the candidate phase, I am humbled to be a part of Acts 29 and stand beside men like Mark Driscoll, proclaiming Jesus at every chance.

The Weekly Town Crier

March 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

towncrierIf this is a link dump, we’re garbage pickers.

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Browse the “5 P’s of Twitter.”

Read as CNet News “Dials in” on iPhone’s OS 3.0.

Read about Ticketmaster’s Phish Phiasco.

Read Rolling Stone’s coverage of Janes Addiction’s SXSW performance.

Read about Indiana dropping its ban on God.

Read about the CA court denying recognition to a Christian student group.

Check out these tips for memorizing Scripture.

Read about Time nominating at Ryan Schreiber, founder of Pitchfork as one of the 100 most influential people.

Watch The Parable of the Sea.

See the Nano, world’s cheapest car, debuting in India.

See the Papyrus Fail Blog, to see the many, many, far-too-many ways that the Papyrus font simply fails.

Find out
about 10 ways to truly help the homeless.

Read about whether or not Steve Ballmer is conceding defeat to Linux-based laptops.

Read Pitchfork‘s less-than-favorable review of the new one from The Decemberists, and read Colin Meloy’s ensuing call for a mass “e-mooning” of Pitchfork.

some very cool Moleskine sketches.

Browse more Moleskine art.

Browse this list of Moleskine hacks.

Read about the baggy-pantsed teen who was fined.

Read as Christianity Today argues that: “When science is made ‘apolitical’ and ‘unencumbered by religion,’ it’s usually to hyper-politicize and hyper-sacralize it.”

Browse Rolling Stone’s top SXSW moments.

Read another obiturary for major record labels.

Read this interview with instrumental duo Ratatatat.

Browse this collection of the 15 coolest bookshelves.

Read this interview with Rhett Miller, frontman for Old 97′s.

Read GQ‘s interview with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.

Read as “Relevant” wonders about the “Late Night Shuffle:” “Conan’s replacing Leno, Fallon’s replacing Conan and Ferguson is beating them all. Why?”

Read about the new robot fish.

Read about Colbert conquering space.

Read Mark Driscoll’s sermon notes addressing men on the topic of marriage.

Read about the Coen Brothers remaking John Wayn’es True Grit.

Read about Ben Folds’ a capella album.

See the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are.

Read as Scot McKnight considers 8 traits of a “robust” gospel.

Browse this list of the unhealthiest restaurants in America.

See these logo parodies.

In case you haven’t seen it, watch the Nightline debate on the existence of Satan featuring Deepak Chopra, Mark Driscoll and others. And read The Resurgence’s list of 8 Things You Should Know About the Debate.

Watch The View joining in on the Satan debate.

Read as Justin Taylor remind us of the enigma that was Flannery O’Connor.

Read Mark Driscoll’s high remarks for John MacArthur despite what MacArthur’s camp has said in the other direction.

Music Friday

March 27, 2009 at 7:08 am

Here is Jon Foreman, of Switchfoot, performing “Lord, Save Me From Myself:”

Here is the Robbie Seay Band singing “Song of Hope,” live, acoustic:

Here’s “January, 1979″ from mewithoutyou:

And, last, but certainly not least is The Welcome Wagon performing “Up On A Mountain:”

Overcoming Personal Preferences With Missionality

March 23, 2009 at 11:46 am

1049886_together_3We are in the middle of a four-week sermon series at Church of the Cross called “SENT: We’re All Missionaries Now” examining the commissions of Jesus. The rough outline was borrows from Ed Stetzer’s book Breaking the Missional Code and goes something like this:

  • We Are Sent (John 20:19-21)
  • . . . To All Kinds of People (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • . . . With A Message (Luke 24:46-48)
  • . . . Empowered By The Spirit (Acts 1:8)

As a new church, it is important that we understand that “missions” is not something that begins “over there” but at our doorsteps (or even in our homes if we live with unbelievers). “Missions” is a mindset of seeing ourselves as missioanries and adopting a missionary posture in all of life.

What I mean is that, when a missionary goes to a foreign country, they prepare. They study the culture, the customs, the hows and the whys and then they seek the most culturally appropriate ways to transform that culture from within with the Gospel. Missions lays the groundwork for evangelism, the actual act of sharing the Gospel. Missions helps us evangelize more effectively. Why aren’t American Christians living this way?

As a new church, we have to wrestle through some things in a way that other churches might not. Other churches have established “personalities,” the way they do things, music style, attire (casual, formal, etc). A new church is seeking to establish this identity while wading through the traditions that others bring to the table.

But if we are truly trying to be good missionaries, even in Peoria, AZ, we may buck some established church traditions. Peoria is a very casual city. I could preach in a suit and tie, but I need to realize that I’m positioning myself as a bit unnecessarily removed from the culture if I do so. So, I run the risk as being seen as “irreverent” by those who come with this preconceived notion.

This, of course, has caused me to wrestle through the many preferences that we bring to “church.” We have had many people come visit and not come back. This in and of itself is fine. I understand that not every church is necessarily the best fit for every person. But more often than not, the people who have visited and not returned are Christians with preconceived notions of what church should “look like” and apparently, we don’t fit those personal preferences.

That’s why it’s so important to realize that the church as a whole is called to this missionary way of thinking and living, not just certain individuals. How is it that we’ve come to believe that committing to a local body of Believers is akin to shopping?

The Jews were called to accept that even the Samaritans could be part of the Kingdom and we’re ready to jump ship when we don’t “like” the music style or the way the people dress? My heart is continually broken for American Christians in particular. Everything in our culture tells us its about our personal preferences while the Gospel screams that it’s not about us.

The Gospel demands that we consider others as more significant than ourselves and it should scare us that church preferences is one of the places this most rarely happens.

Please pray for us at Church of the Cross that we would find that balance of being culturally appropriate (I hesitate to use the word “relevant”) to our surroundings and biblically faithful.

  • Read Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer and Davit Putnam

The Weekly Town Crier

March 20, 2009 at 7:02 am

town-crierHello. I know you’ve had a long, hard week. After all, who hasn’t? Has the economy “hit bottom,” hasn’t it, who knows and how can you tell? But don’t fret. There’s always the Weekly Town Crier and the cries he crieth within. Welcome. This is where I gather and you browse and we all remind ourselves that just because I link something here doesn’t necessarily mean I endorse what’s there.

Be my friend on Facebook.

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And while you’re out there scouring the world-wide-web, you’ll need some good music. Join eMusic, we both get free music and everyone wins.

Is Apple TV gearing up for games?

Compare the Pitchfork logos, old and new.

Download videos of Tim Keller in London at Newfrontiers.

Read as Johnny Marr interviews the Pet Shop Boys.

Browse the Guardian‘s list of 1,000 songs everyone should hear.

See the office made of cardboard.

Read 9 Marks’ review of Thom Rainer’s Simple Church.

Read about Mark Driscoll’s debate with Deeprak Chopra on the existence of Satan.

Read as Christianity Today discusses reducing abortions for real.

Read as Christianity Today responds to the current talk of the demise of evangelicalism.

Read as PopMatters examines the rumors surrounding the new album from Bob Dylan, Together Through Life, due at the end of April.

Read as Alan Moore says of The Watchmen movie, “this is not the culture I signed up for.”

Read as Pitchfork reports on Bob Dylan’s port-a-potty.

Find out everything you need to know about iPhone OS 3.0.

Read about Chuck Norris suing Penquin Publishing because, his tears, cannot in fact cure cancer.

Read as “Relevant” reviews the new television series based on King David, Kings.

Read as “Relevant” throws in their review of the newest Red Hot compilation Dark Was the Night.

Read as Christianity Today considers “the abyss” of Peter Singer’s “ethics.”

Browse this list of 99 essential Twitter tools.

Don’t pull a “Cisco Fatty” and Twitter yourself right out of a job.

Browse Mark Dever’s list of things, that, as a pastor, he can and cannot live with.

Read Christianity Today’s review of the new album from Superdrag, “Industry Giants.”

Browse this compilation of the top 30 best-designed indie band websites.

Read as Justin Taylor points to a great resource for understanding criticism in light of the Cross.

about the new service Contxts that allows users to exchange contact information via SMS. Is this the beginning of the end of the business card?

Read about Brian McLaren and Marcus Borg discussing “new ways of being church.”

Visit the Sovereign Grace Ministries blog, where C.J. Mahaney interviews David Powilson, Wayne Grudem, John Piper and others.

Browse this list of famous concert screw-ups.

Read about AT&T selling the iPhone with no 2-year contract.

Read and read about the Acts 29 pastor in N.H. facing public outcry for taking a convicted child killer into his home.

Read Paste‘s review of the new album from Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Beware.

Read as the Dallas Morning News profiles the Christian Book Awards winner of book of the year, the ESV Study Bible.

Is Paedobaptism a sin? Mark Dever says yes, and Mike Bird “wants to slap him in the face with a soggy fish, calling this statement “theologically irresponsible, pastorally insensitive, and ecclesially arrogant.”

Music Friday

March 20, 2009 at 7:01 am

Last week I posted the hymns project by a group going by Page CXVI. Several of you asked who was behind that project. The best that I can tell, it’s a band called The Autumn Film. Here is The Autumn Film performing their song “Enough.” See if you think it’s the same band:

Here is the band performing a track called “Because We Are:”

Veggie Tales St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2009 at 9:23 am

This is a family favorite around our house. We watch it every St. Patrick’s Day, originally included on the Veggie Tales, “Sumo of the Opera” disc.