Rap That Showtime Religion

Can the church fight apathy and materialism by feeding people’s appetite for entertainment? Evidently many in the church believe the answer is yes, as church after church jumps on the show-business bandwagon. It is a troubling trend that is luring many otherwise orthodox churches away from biblical priorities.

Church buildings are being constructed like theaters. Instead of a pulpit, the focus is a stage. Some feature massive platforms that revolve or raise and lower, with colored lights and huge sound boards. Shepherds are giving way to media specialists, programming consultants, stage directors, special effects experts, and choreographers.

The idea is to give the audience what they want. Tailor the church service to whatever will draw a crowd. As a result, pastors are more like politicians than shepherds, looking to appeal to the public rather than leading and building the flock God gave them. The congregation is served a slick, professional show, where drama, pop music, and maybe a soft-sell sermon constitute the worship service. But the emphasis isn’t on worship, it’s on entertainment.

Underlying this trend is the notion that the church must sell the gospel to unbelievers. Churches thus compete for the consumer on the same level as the latest TV reality show or a major motion picture. More and more churches are relying on marketing strategy to sell the church.

That philosophy is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved. The whole approach is rooted in Arminian theology. It views conversion as fundamentally dependent on an act of the human will. Its goal is an instantaneous, superficial decision rather than a radical change of the heart.

Moreover, this whole Madison-Avenue corruption of Christianity presumes that church services are primarily for recruiting unbelievers. Many have abandoned worship as such. Others have relegated conventional preaching to some small-group setting on a weeknight. But that misses the point of Hebrews 10:24-25: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together.”

Acts 2:42 shows us the pattern the early church followed when they met: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Note that the early church’s priorities clearly were to worship God and to edify the brethren. The church came together for worship and edification; it scattered to evangelize the world.

Our Lord commissioned His disciples for evangelism in this way: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). Christ makes it clear that the church is not to wait for or invite the world to come to its meetings, but to GO to the world. That is a responsibility for every believer. I fear that an approach emphasizing a palatable gospel presentation within the walls of the church excuses the individual believer from his personal obligation to be a light in the world (Matt. 5:16).

We have a society filled with people who want what they want when they want it. They are into their own lifestyle, recreation, and entertainment. When churches appeal to those selfish desires, they only fuel that fire and hinder true godliness. Some of these churches are growing exponentially while others that don’t entertain are struggling. Many church leaders want numerical growth in their churches, so they are buying into the entertainment-first philosophy.

Consider what this philosophy does to the gospel message itself. Some will maintain that if biblical principles are presented, the medium doesn’t matter. That is nonsense. Why not have a real carnival? A tattooed knife thrower who juggles chain saws could do his thing while a barker shouts Bible verses. That would draw a crowd. It’s a bizarre scenario, but one that illustrates how the medium can cheapen and corrupt the message.

And sadly, it’s not terribly different from what is actually being done in some churches. Punk-rockers, ventriloquists’ dummies, clowns, magicians, and show-business celebrities have taken the place of the preacher–and they are depreciating the gospel. I do believe we can be innovative and creative in how we present the gospel, but we have to be careful to harmonize our methods with the profound spiritual truth we are trying to convey. It is too easy to trivialize the sacred message.

Don’t be quick to embrace the trends of the high-tech super-churches. And don’t sneer at conventional worship and preaching. We don’t need clever approaches to get people saved (1 Cor. 1:21). We simply need to get back to preaching the truth and planting the seed. If we’re faithful in that, the soil God has prepared will bear fruit.

by John MacArthur

Gimme That Showtime Religion (2004)

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To Judge or Not Be Judged

By Ray Yungen

With regard to the current spiritual deception coming into the church, let us ask two questions:

  • Is it right to judge? And do all paths lead to God?

Jesus Christ foretold in Matthew 7:22-23

Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

I find it most interesting that people who were doing “many wonderful works” or miraculous works in His name were, in reality, working “iniquity” or evil. This leads me to believe that a great deception is occurring.

These verses also tell me that all paths do not lead to God and, because they do not, one had better judge which path is correct. Many people, of course, counter with, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” However, taken in context, this verse (Matthew 7:1) is talking about hypocrisy in human behavior and not about withholding critical examination of spiritual teachings. Galatians 1:8 bears out the necessity to evaluate spiritual teaching with proper discernment. Paul warns:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

And II John 1:9-11 says:

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

And again in Ephesians 5:11, “…have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

How may we reprove something if we don’t determine whether or not it fits the bill of “unfruitful works?” In II Timothy 3:16-17, we read:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished [fully equipped] unto all good works.

For more on this area: “For Many Shall Come in My Name” by Ray Yungen.

Article received and posted courtesy of Lighthouse Trails Research.

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Male Priests Marry in Anglican Church First Gay ‘Wedding’

Male Priests Marry in Anglican Gay Wedding

Two male priests exchanged vows and rings in a ceremony that was conducted using one of the church’s most traditional wedding rites – a decision seen as blasphemous by conservatives.

The ceremony broke Church of England guidelines and was carried out last month in defiance of the Bishop of London, in whose diocese it took place. News of the “wedding” emerged days before a crucial summit of the Anglican Church’s conservative bishops and archbishops, who are threatening to split the worldwide Church over the issue of homosexual clergy.

Although some liberal clergy have carried out “blessing ceremonies” for homosexual couples in the past, this is the first time a vicar has performed a “wedding ceremony”, using a traditional marriage liturgy, with readings, hymns and a ­Eucharist.

Both the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican communion expressed shock last night.

The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was “blasphemous.” He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to “disintegrate”. Archbishop Orombi added: “What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us.

“The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching.”

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester – a powerful conservative figure – said that the service represented a wedding “in all but name”. He said: “Strictly speaking it is not a marriage, but the language is clearly modelled on the marriage service and the occasion is modelled on the marriage service. This clearly flouts Church guidelines and will exacerbate divisions within the Anglican Communion.”

The bishop said that it was up to the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, to act, adding that it would become a high-profile test case of Church authority.

“Can we stand for the clear teaching of the Church of England or are we powerless in the face of these actions, which I regret enormously have taken place,” he said.

The service was held at St Bartholomew the Great in London – one of England’s oldest churches, which featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral – and was conducted by the parish rector, the Rev Martin Dudley.

The couple, the Rev Peter Cowell, who is a cleric at one of the Queen’s churches, and the Rev Dr David Lord, had registered their civil partnership before the ceremony.

Mr Dudley opened the service by saying: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join these men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity. Such a covenant shows us the mystery of the union between God and God’s people and between Christ and the Church.” In the vows, Mr Cowell and Dr Lord pledged to “hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part”.

Mr Dudley blessed the union with the words: “As David and Jonathan’s souls were knit together, so these men may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made.”

Leading church figures expressed astonishment at the language and grandeur of the service, claiming that it was a highly provocative act. Although, the use of such a traditional ceremony does not constitute a marriage in the eyes of the law, Church figures on all sides said the event went further than any gay blessing ceremonies that had gone before.

The “marriage” will revive the war over homosexual clergy that has engulfed the Church since 2003 when Gene Robinson was made Bishop of New Hampshire and Jeffrey John, another gay cleric, who was about to become Bishop of Reading, was made to step down.

It is likely to embolden liberal clergy who have been reluctant to offer a full “wedding service” and will open the floodgates to other homosexuals who want a traditional ceremony.

Mr Dudley agreed to conduct the service despite Bishop Chartres warning that Church guidelines – drawn up when the Civil Partnerships Act was introduced – do not allow formal blessings of gay relationships. He argued that it was not a wedding but a blessing and that he was not “offering” blessing services, but responding to personal requests from friends. “I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I see nothing wrong with blessing a couple who want to make a life-long commitment to one another.”

A Church of England spokesman said: “Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances. But the House of Bishops affirmed that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.”

by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

June 14, 2008

Source The Sunday Telegraph

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Lesbian Suffragan Bishop Rev Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool

Revd Canon Mary Glasspool

A controversial priest who has a lesbian partner has so far received more than half the votes she needs to be consecrated as an assistant bishop.

And the 120-day consent process began just a month ago.

The Rev Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool has 29 consents to become bishop suffragan, according to a recent report by the Diocese of Los Angeles. She needs 56 to be confirmed as the second openly homosexual bishop in The Episcopal Church.

“Throughout her 30 years of ordained ministry, the Rev Mary Glasspool has been faithful and consistent to the ministry, doctrine and teaching of the Episcopal Church,” Bishop Nathan Baxter of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania wrote in a pastoral letter indicating his consent.

“On the matter of her sexuality and life-style, the Rev Glasspool is faithful to the spirit and prayerfully determined direction of our church,” he noted. “For 18 years, she and her partner have lived in witness to the marks the church has expected of all persons in committed intimate relationships (including traditional marriage): fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and holy love.”

Glasspool has been with her partner, Becki Sander, since 1988. Her election in December to the office of bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles has caused another uproar across The Episcopal Church, six years after it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The election came just months after The Episcopal Church’s top legislative body approved a resolution declaring the denomination’s ordination process open to all individuals, which some say includes practicing homosexuals.

Glasspool, who first came out to the national body 30 years ago, says “it’s time for our wonderful church to move on and be the inclusive Church we say we are.”

But conservative Anglicans say giving consent to her election would confirm that The Episcopal Church has abandoned biblically-based Christianity. Others who advocate for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians, meanwhile, are choosing to withhold their approval.

The Rev Herman Hollerith IV, bishop of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, announced his decision to deny consent to the election of Glasspool.

Though he acknowledges her as an experienced, faithful priest with strong leadership skills, Hollerith believes her ordination would have “a serious negative impact on our relationship with the wider Anglican Communion.”

In fact, her ordination “may very well strain – to the breaking point – those bonds of affection which we have come to value with others, even with those who may agree with us”, he stated.

Sometimes, he said, “it is necessary to practice restraint for the sake of preserving and maintaining relationships.”

Since the 2003 consecration of Robinson, relationships between The Episcopal Church and much of the Anglican Communion have been strained or impaired, in some cases. Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who is considered the spiritual leader of the worldwide communion, on Tuesday appealed for Anglicans to resolve divisions over homosexuality, noting that they were causing “chaos.”

Anglican bishops throughout the global body have reaffirmed a moratorium on the consecration of bishops living in a same gender union. Just after Glasspool’s election, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion called for “gracious restraint in respect of actions that endanger the unity” of the global body.

by Lillie Kwon

February 14, 2010

Christian Post

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