“These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
I just realized that my blog has been pretty quiet since that flurry of Christmas posts I wrote awhile back (at Christmas time…). The reason has more to do with laziness than a lack of material. In fact, for an evangelical Christian who is embarrassed to be one (and there are many of us), 2012 has provided an avalanche of craziness that must make all thoughtful Christians either laugh out loud or cringe with horror. Or, like me, both.
The circus is in town and here are just some of the latest clown acts, in no particular order, that have helped make the church a laughingstock. (Warning: turn off your creep-o-meters — danger of overload.)
Ed Young, founder of a large church in Dallas, joined his wife in bed so they could publicly discuss the joys of married sex. The promotion consisted of 24 hours of live internet streaming while together in their bed which had been placed on the roof of their church. Unfortunately Mr. Young hadn’t considered that the sun is bright and hot in Texas (!), especially when you’re in bed with your wife on an unshaded roof (!!) and so he had to end things prematurely (!!!!!). Fortunately some volunteers took their place (did they change the sheets?) and the whole sordid act was eventually concluded and hopefully erased from the congregation’s memories.
Or how about Brian Thomas, science writer for the Institute for Creation Research, who attacked toy maker Ideal (of Rubik’s Cube fame) for promoting a Noah’s Ark board game for preschoolers that “misrepresents the Ark to such a degree that it undermines the feasibility of Scripture’s account of the Flood.” Apparently the packaging was too cute and colorful and didn’t show an historically accurate ark. Thank goodness that, in a world of starvation, abuse, addiction, slavery, war and brokenness there are still people who find time to fight for biblical literacy and board game accuracy!
Richard Roberts was arrested for drinking and driving. Richard is the son of Oral Roberts (now deceased evangelist and possessor of huge ear lobes). Richard was the former president of his dad’s university (called, what else, Oral Roberts University), who was asked to resign following investigations into financial irregularities. He currently hosts a variety of health and wealth ministries that represent considerable income to him. My guess is that he was drowning his sorrow after the announcement of his gay nephew’s nationwide “Gay Agenda Tour”. That whole family is entertaining in a car-wreck sort of way.
Okay, enough absurdity, let’s get on to something truly important – Justin Bieber’s tattoo of Jesus on the back of his leg. The ‘beebs’ is obviously a wise and godly man boy. He doesn’t actually belong with this crowd and I really kind of like him, but if I could say anything to him it would simply be, “Hey Justin, love God, stay humble, and your pants are too big.”
And then, as if God isn’t busy enough, he has apparently told Pat Robertson who is going to win the upcoming presidential election; only problem is, Pat’s going to keep it a secret. Besides the obvious win/win of not sharing his prediction until after the fact, Pat’s uncharacteristic silence suggests the revelation included an Obama victory.
Okay, follow this closely. So, Paula White is the new senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC) in spite of the public protests from parishioners and the threatened lawsuit from the ex-wife of the deceased former pastor who claims that the church is her “heritage and legacy”. (I thought these ministries belonged to God…) Anyway, White is the controversial ex-wife of controversial pastor Randy White and co-founded the Without Walls International Church (WWIC) with him. Anyway, Randy resigned from that church to pursue other ministry opportunities farther away from federal authorities… Anyway, she is a friend of faith healer Benny Hinn and the two have been known to spend quite a bit of quality time together ever since Hinn’s recent separation and impending divorce from his wife Suzanne… Anyway, enough about the Whites and their churches with unpronounceable acronyms (or as I refer to it, AEAWTCWUA). Whew!
Oh, and Ted Haggard, disgraced former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAC), co-star with Gary Busey on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, and all-around creepy guy, has been asked to plant a new church in Colorado Springs to show that “resurrection power is for today”. How sad is it that Gary Busey has stooped this low?
And if that’s not enough, ‘Bishop’ Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (NBMBC) and accused molester of boys/young men, was literally wrapped in a Torah scroll after which he was placed on a ‘throne’ and lifted up and carried around the stage while being proclaimed king. Admittedly Long looked a bit dazed (yeah, it’s on You Tube) but I’m not sure if it was a look of prophetic ‘humility’ or simple embarrassment.
As they say, “You can’t make this stuff up, folks”. If writers could think this stuff up, soap operas would never be cancelled and Victor Newman could continue acting until he is about 1,000 years old.
Let me be clear. Even as I make fun of the clowns (and these aren’t even the worst ones), I am stifling an anger that rises from somewhere deep, deep inside. It’s an anger that resents those who belittle, degrade and insult the humble life, sacrificial death and freeing Resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God whom they falsely proclaim. Their religion is un-christian. Their religion is anti-christian. Christian power seekers are faithless and blind and their blind, faithless followers give them permission by handing them power and money. They are embarrassing and bloodying the very things that I would die for. They in no way represent what the Bible says; in fact, it warns against people like them. They remind me strongly of New Testament Pharisees.
“Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” 2 Peter 2:2-3
In the end, I really shouldn’t judge but they make it so easy. Yes, we all struggle with hypocrisy, myself included, but at least people of faith wrestle and grow. As I’ve said in other places, the power of the Gospel is humility, sacrifice, holiness. God seems to love the poor, meek, weak and powerless because they seem to have eyes that see and ears that hear and hearts that find place in his kingdom.
The good news is that I know hundreds, probably thousands, of good Christian people who are righteous and godly and hard working and bless the world around them as they live simple lives. They worship in small churches and homes every week and give their money where it is needed. Their marriages are healthy and their children respect them and they love life. And their hearts are pure. They are the true church; the kingdom of God in the world. And there are millions more like them.
I am entertained by the circus, but I hope and pray that it soon leaves town.