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Slice of Laodicea Jumps the Shark

John on June 19, 2006 at 9:41 am

Last week, Slice of Laodicea wrote a post comparing the Catholic church to the “beast” of revelation. Andy Jackson of SmartChristian sent out an e-mail notifying a few bloggers about this and asking them to comment. Tim Challies wrote a post which essentially argued there may be something to this claim. In response, I and several others including Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost responded that this was ridiculous.

Slice of Laodicea followed up their Catholic Beast post with one stating that the beast could just as likely be the evangelical church. Then Ingrid (the main writer at Slice of L) went a step further and actually put out a call for stories bashing Rick Warren and his ministry. Staring today, we have the fruit of that effort. Ingrid is posting the responses she’s received. As expected, the individuals who have complaints about Warren sound more than a bit flaky. Frankly, so does Ingrid, who begins her post today with this comparison:

The most powerful history I ever read was an account of Stalinist Russia. Rather than an academic look at this period, it was an oral history of what happened, told through the voices of those who lived through the purges. Oral accounts are powerful and for this reason, I am letting those who have left Purpose Driven churches speak for themselves.

Purpose Driven churches are like Stalinist Russia? Good lord, woman. Stalinist Russia was officially atheist. To be caught reading the bible meant a trip to the gulag. Is this really an appropriate comparison for Rick Warren’s minsitry? The letter Ingrid posts also has problems:

I am from a very small community – population 2500. Before our vivacious young Pastor came we averaged 80 people on a Sunday. Numbers now approach 250. 10% of the population is pretty good – or is it?

Well, for the 170 people who are now going to church, I’d say that’s good. In fact, I’d say they appear to be obeying Jesus great commision…or ARE THEY?!

Of course we progressed through PDC and its multiple stages. Now we use an openly announced “centering hymn” and the children’s sessions are closed with “Get into your prayer positions”. We do more and more lauding of individuals and their accomplishments and less and less worship.

I guess “centering hymn” is supposed to imply that this church was secretly introducing yoga or something. This is confirmed by the reference to “prayer positions.” At this point, I’d like to know what the hymn was. Are we talking Ravi Shankar? As for prayer positions, I’d like to recall C.S. Lewis observation that the attitude of the body can affect the attitude of the heart. The writer’s vague generalizations about “more lauding of individuals…and less worship” makes little sense. Who is being lauded? Why? She becomes more specific in the next paragraph:

If anyone were to ask what one descretion disturbs me most, I would answer: “Lack of reverence for our Lord.” Jesus is now our best buddy, and God the Father is Daddy. We sing repetitions of shallow praise songs and show far more sincerity in the lauding of people than in the worship of God.

I don’t know what a “descretion” is. Is that meant to be “desecration?” Who knows? But as you can see the real problem is that “Jesus is now our best buddy, and God the Father is Daddy.” Um…okay.

Perhaps Ingrid should be letting this confused woman know that God himself called us “friends.” James 2:23 which says “Abraham believed God…and he was called God’s friend.” For those with a study Bible this is a reference to Isaiah 41:8 where God says “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend.” So, God the father who calls the father of Israel “friend.” But, still, “God is their Daddy?” That can’t be right!

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

Matthew Henry’s commentary says of this verse:

Abba is a Syriac word signifying father or my father; pater, a Greek word; and why both, Abba, Father? Because Christ said so in prayer (Mk. 14:36), Abba, Father: and we have received the Spirit of the Son. It denotes an affectionate endearing importunity, and a believing stress laid upon the relation. Little children, begging of their parents, can say little but Father, Father, and that is rhetoric enough.

So the correct answer to the question “Whose your daddy?” is God the father.

In addition to these confusions, the author of the letter has a distaste for praise choruses. Presumably, she would be more comfortable singing hymns. Fine! But rather than find a church that still uses hymnals, where she can feel comfortable worshiping, the author has abandoned fellowship all togehter.

I have left the church, and all organized religiosity. I have been unable to find a church that has not accepted the PDC tenents. Instead, my time is spent in study and prayer. I have grown closer to and more dependent upon the Lord, but ever so far from organized religion.

I hate to burst her bubble, but there is no Chrstianity apart from the local body of believers, the ekklesia. There are no spiritual “lone rangers.” Ingrid presumably has enough theological education to know this (Heb. 10:25), but is happy to overlook it in order to further her attack on Rick Warren. Something is very wrong here.

I wish the author of the letter (and Ingrid) could mature to the point where differences over music style are not the end of fellowship. Just because they can’t worship God to praise choruses, doesn’t mean no one else can. That said:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1)

We need to look out for the interest of the weaker brothers and sisters among us. But those of us who understand that meat sacrificed to idols can do us no harm, should continue to enjoy freedom in Christ. Not for license, but to do “good works which God prepared in advance for us.” (Eph. 2:10) Ultimately, when visiting Slice of Laodicea, it’s good to recall this verse, which puts most of their issues in the proper context:

To the pure, all things are pure ( TItus 1:15)

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