Friday, December 18, 2009

Paul Proctor Pulls No Punches: "Our Churches Are Dead"

In the December 16, 2009 NewsWithViews column by Paul Proctor, Southern Baptists are taken to task for our churches being "dead." Paul is a resident of Tennessee and seasoned veteran of the country music industry. He retired from show business in the late 1990's and has dedicated himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. Paul builds his article around a statement made this past week by Franklin Graham, "Our churches are dead." I'm not sure I agree with the basic premise of Graham's declaration or Paul Proctor editorialization (see article below). Paul places Franklin Graham and Rick Warren as polar opposites in the article and suggests that Warren's theology is the antitheses of the Franklin's. I know both men, and I'm not sure I agree. Further, Paul criticizes both Rick Warren and Franklin Graham in the article for the methods of ministry they use without recognizing the enormous good that comes from both ministries. Yet, in spite of Paul criticizing these men by name, as well as all SBC churches, I think there are some points he makes that are worthy of our discussion. I also happen to not agree with Paul that all SBC churches are dead (he obviously hasn't visited our church), but again, I do think he makes some arguments that should at least get our attention as Southern Baptists. Mr. Proctor begins his article by mentioning the interview he read involving Franklin Graham.

(Beginning of Article)

"I read an interesting article/interview with Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist, Billy Graham, in a publication called The Gathering where he not only expressed the importance of sharing the gospel, but also some less than flattering comments about today’s churches and pastors “going directions Jesus never told us to go into,” referencing the new “liberal” evangelical emphasis on “social justice” and “Christianizing” the culture.

Of course, I can’t speak for Franklin Graham, but it sure sounded like a slap in the face of Rick Warren with his Global Peace Plan. Certainly, there are many who have made the social gospel job one, but none more notable than the Purpose Driven pastor from Saddleback Church.

Unfortunately, Graham didn’t name names, an all too common practice among clergy today, which leaves many vulnerable to “Christian” celebrities who put people-pleasing programs and global agendas over and above the Word of God and the call to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. If Mr. Graham believes certain pastors are out there leading others astray with a false gospel, he has a duty to warn them, not just make vague references that will go in one ear and out the other as if who’s doing it doesn’t really matter. Souls are at stake here.

But, in spite of this, he made some important points in the Q&A session that need to be mentioned:

TG: The next generation of believers seems to be making social justice issues such as poverty, disease, orphans, clean water, etc. a real priority. What do you think about that?

Graham: None of that is our mandate. Jesus never said, "I want you to go out and alleviate the poor in the world." ...So many churches and so many pastors today are going directions Jesus never told us to go into. He said, "you'll always have the poor with you."

TG: Do you see those works as a door to sharing the gospel and making disciples?

Graham: That's the if. If they do it, sure. My grandparents were missionaries to China. They took modern medicine to China. Why? Because the Chinese people had no medicine. My grandfather, a surgeon, saved people's lives so that he could preach the gospel. If the social program comes first and then if you can, you try to work the gospel wedge into it, that won't work. It has to be the gospel first. You go, why? Because Christ died on the cross. He shed His blood on the cross, and that's why I'm going. And by the way, if I see somebody hungry, I'm going to try to feed them. If I see somebody that needs some medicine, I'm going to give them that. If I meet somebody who just needs an arm around them, I'll hug them and tell them God loves them. But I'm going because Christ told me to go into the world and make disciples. He never told me to go feed people. He never told me to go try to make people feel better. He told me to preach the gospel.

TG: To what extent do you think Christians should be involved in helping to usher in the kingdom of Heaven now, on Earth? Should we be trying to redeem our culture?

Graham: First of all, the Bible didn't tell me to do that. I can't Christianize this culture. The god of this world is Satan - this is his culture. He is the god of this age. I'm to preach the gospel. .... God is calling a people for Himself. I don't know whom He's calling, I just have to be faithful and preach.

Later in the article, Graham stated, point blank: “We need revival. Our churches are dead.” I think most Christians who regularly read this column already know that, but it was important to hear him say it.

After having visited many such churches in and around the very home of the Southern Baptist Convention here in Nashville, Tennessee over the last ten years, I couldn’t agree more. And, I don’t say that with any presumed piety, personal innocence or lofty, Mr. Know-it-all kind of attitude. I say it with a deep sadness, frustration and desire to wake up sleepy, jaded and distracted Christians and their pastors who apparently don’t recognize the seriousness of the situation or the urgency of the hour.

One evangelical tactic addressed in the article that I vigorously disagree with concerning both the Billy Graham Association and Franklin Graham, is the blatant use of popular music styles (and celebrities, I might add) in their crusades to help draw crowds. Samaritan’s Purse also hands out church-donated toys at Christmas to appeal to children and their parents on the mission field as a way to gain their favor and make them more receptive to the gospel.

Jesus never did either of these things and neither should we. Although He fed the masses on more than one occasion to demonstrate God’s love and power, there’s no biblical record of the Lord using food or anything else of a carnal nature to lure people in to hear Him preach. In my view, these pragmatic and people-pleasing practices are just another form of religious bribery that has now become the modus operandi of most churches today, which I believe, in no small part, set the stage for the whole seeker-sensitive church growth movement that has successfully undermined the gospel and steered the Church at large toward evangetainment as its thrust instead of God’s Word and, in the process, shipwrecked the fragile, unfed and undisciplined faith of many by teaching them to do the same.

My wife and I visited a typical SBC church not long ago where the orchestra kicked off the Sunday morning service with something that sounded more like a television talk show theme than a call to worship. I’m sorry – I don’t care what your tastes in music are – that can’t be justified. Whether Christians realize it or not, synthesizing the sacred with the secular promotes confusion and a compromised worship atmosphere.

In all fairness though, the music minister is a very nice young man with a wonderful voice who usually leads a blended mix of traditional and contemporary selections in an attempt to offer a little something for everyone in attendance – a common practice among Southern Baptists and others which, in my view, only leaves the congregation divided, with everyone impatiently waiting for their music to be played so they can get in their three minutes of worship and praise before the next genre is covered that appeals to someone else’s palate and turns our stomach.

How anyone stays focused on God and His Word jumping from traditional hymns to funky blues tunes to rock guitar solos to jazzy Jesus numbers is beyond me. But, this is the kind of conflict being created by well-meaning church leaders today acting on group consensus rather than godly conviction. If we don’t do that with our theology, why are we doing it with our music?

We then went to an adult Sunday school class where the Word of God was set aside for the entire hour in order to fill out a lengthy church survey on personal preferences followed by a touchy discussion on the same – this after a half-hour or more of pre-class chitchat, pastries and coffee which concluded with an array of suggested entertainment-oriented social activities and restaurants to meet at for informal class get-togethers and what-evers during the week, which was apparently difficult for many due to all of the other regularly scheduled activities already committed to with family.

Friends, this is what the Church in America has become in the 21st century: Christians trying to figure out where to go and what to do with themselves in this great big amusement park we call America!

But, all of this, I sincerely believe is going to change dramatically – and very soon. And, though there will be a lot of suffering and hardship in the coming years, and especially in the Church, I am convinced that when people eventually lose everything worldly and superficial that has, up to now, seemed so important to them, the faith of some will come alive as never before while others will continue to seek the flesh in one form or another, following whoever offers the most gratification for the least amount of suffering and sacrifice.

If you want to properly prepare for dire days ahead, prepare for this. When fear, violence, suffering and uncertainty become the order of the day, there may be no better time in our nation’s history to share the good news of Jesus Christ and be the kind of witness for Him that we should have been all along."

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15

(End of Article)


Bob Cleveland said...

First, I've always heard that all generalizations are false (including this one). His generalization that all churches are dead certainly is false, and that always makes me doubt his whole premise, as the tendency is to simply try to justify it.

It seems to me that the purpose of the pastor and the teacher is to build up the Ekklesia, the church, for the work of service. God said that, in fact:

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up"(Ephesians 4:11-12, NIV)

If that is referring to a big church, and all the works of service are supposed to be inside it, that's one thing. Maybe that's what he thinks. But if it's to be outside .. telling people about Jesus .. giving the cup of cold water .. going into all the nations, then the task of the pastors and teachers cannot be simple preaching Jesus. That would never equip the saints for any work other than preaching or teaching. So, to me, it must include bringing out the gifts of the members, encouraging them, and equipping them to live the consecrated Christian life out there among their neighbors. If that'd been the emphasis in the churches, maybe an overwhelming majority of Baptists wouldn't have checked out and gone home, which seems to be the case.

Dead? Lots are, many aren't. But to me, his measuring stick is all wrong.

believer333 said...

He has one good point. Many churches today are "dead" and dry. And many of those that are, are Baptist. They are fine for new Christians, perhaps because it is all new. But the growth potential is limited, just as every church service is limiting the Holy Spirit.

The 'Seeker' paradigm is part of the problem. While it does help to bring in new believers, there is no place to grow them up effectively. Somehow, IMO we need to take the good elements from the seeker paradigm and blend them in with the body of Christ becoming the church of the Scriptures.... 1 Cor. 14 ... member participation to a much greater degree, yet orderly.

Unknown said...

Paul Proctor says “Our Churches are Dead”…

I’m not sure I would say that they are “Dead”… … … Sadly, “Sterile, and Dying” is probably a more accurate description of far too many Baptist Congregations who have failed to reach the next generation of believers that are necessary to keep any Church alive from one generation to the next.

For many of these Congregations the hand writing is on the wall and time is running out, but as long as there is breath there is hope. I have seen God do some pretty remarkable things in bringing a dying church back to life. But all too often this is not the case, and where it is, it is only accomplished after the passing of one generation of leadership has made way for a new beginning in the life of the Church.

As new churches are being birthed and old churches are sadly dying, I suspect this “cycle of life” is a part of God’s plan. But that may just be my Calvinist convictions concerning the sovereignty of God in all things coming out in me. :-)

Grace Always,

B Nettles said...

It's interesting to me that Proctor chides Graham for not naming people in his "social gospel" statements, then fails to name the church that he believes is muddying the music and Sunday School waters. Looks like he pulled a punch there.

Christiane said...

Why is the social gospel seen as 'something new' ?

Unknown said...

We cannot tell from one article all that a person believes, so I'll simply say I assume Brother Proctor's beliefs are not fully represented here. Yet, it seems to me that his views in this brief article don't line up with Galatians 2:10, "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along." Remembering the poor is as important as (but not more important than) getting the gospel right, and proclaiming it to all people everywhere, according to this passage. A few verses later, Paul rebukes Peter because his prejudice and disassociation with the Gentiles was "not acting in line with the truth of the gospel" (2:14). There are other ways to not live in line with the truth of the gospel. The gospel-driven life seems a bit more comprehensive than Brother Proctor conveys. And then we have Jesus' words in Matthew 25 that tell us the sheep and the goats are distinguished by how we treat those in need. There are many other such scriptures.

I believe the gospel has the power to make a difference in a culture as it transforms numerous people's hearts and lives. And surely Jesus words about being salt and light mean something, but I don't see that truth clearly reflected in Brother Proctor's article. He has rightly identified some serious and significant errors, but I wonder if he sees his own errors.

All Christians, including me, can lose focus, or be off the mark in our living. It just seems there's more to our calling than this article reflects.

Also, I wonder if Brother Proctor knows many of the hymns he likes were simply the contemporary music of previous generations?

Ok, let me go pull some logs out of my eye now.

Tim G said...

I wonder when we will stop complaining about churches and start being the church? I hope SOON!

Lydia said...

Franklin Graham can start here for some credibility:

He lays off folks while making over a million. Both his wife and son are on the payroll, too.

Proctor is right about one the money dries up, we are going to see who the real Christians are. Perhaps Graham was stocking up for that day is coming.

(BTW: I am a captialist and could care less what folks make when they do not live off donor money preach giving/tithing all the time)

Ramesh said...

What does one mean when they say "Our Churches are dead"?

Does it mean:

1. The Holy Spirit is not present within the Church?

2. A Church is not growing? Or younger people are not part of the Church?

3. The Fruits of The Spirit are not present within a Church?

4. The Gospel is not being preached and proclaimed?

5. Missionary spirit is missing within a Church?

6. Are members not being led to "maturity"?

7. The World has moved into the Church?

Lydia said...

Rick Warren tells 8000 Muslims:

“You know as an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ,” Warren stated. “But you also need to know that I am committed not just to what I call the good news, but I am committed to the common good.”

Sounds good. Sounds nice. But the Gospel is for the common good. It is the ONLY thing for the common good. What else is there?

Rick Warren at Synagogue 2000 from the Jewish Journal:

He and Synagogue 2000 co-founder Larry Hoffman resolved to bring the first Synagogue 2000 conference to see Warren.

"We wanted the people in the synagogue world to learn what we had discovered -- how religious organizations were responding to the new great awakening in religious life," Wolfson said.

Oh and his cozy little PR visit with President Assad of Syria telling us that Christians are not persecuted in Syria. (Nevermind their 'dhimmi' status)

Oh, and my personal favorite: The President (on youtube) of Rwanda telling folks that Warren's book, PDL, healed his nation. Nevermind the Word of God.

And there is always more where Warren is concerned...

I find Warren very dangerous and selling another 'gospel'. I personally think PDL is another Gospel but that is for another time. Bob Dewaay has done an excellent work analyzing the biblical problems with PDL and I recommend reading his indepth series:

linda said...

Lydia, you are soooo right in your post.

I would have to agree with Paul Proctor about the money.

In fact, my husband and I have made the decision that if nothing changes by January, we will be leaving evangelical worship for liturgical.

Why? Because in our town you have the choice of ultra-and-I-do-mean-ultra fundamentalist theology and traditional music and format, or a variety of rock and roll entertainment, eyes closed-hands
up-body swaying churches.

Or you go liturgical. We found a liturgical that is Reformed.

The plain sad thing is we go to church to worship, not be entertained.

Steven Stark said...

It's an interesting article by a person who lists off several matters of taste and then treats his opinion as a matter of fact. While I don't enjoy most contemporary services, I got a particular kick out of his statements about music.

Also interesting that he concludes by quoting Mark 16:15, a verse which is part of the "longer ending" of Mark that is very likely a later addition to the book.

Unknown said...

"None of that is our mandate. Jesus never said, 'I want you to go out and alleviate the poor in the world.' ...So many churches and so many pastors today are going directions Jesus never told us to go into."

Dr. Graham seems to have forgotten about Matthew 25:31-45.

Scott said...

Care for the widow.

Feed the hungry.

Clothe the naked.

Yep, the poor get the boot.

Jesus obviously wants us to ignore the poor.

Jayflm said...

The referenced article puts on display what I believe was/is a major reason for the 'conservative resurgence'. People with an apostolic/missionary spiritual gift judging and condemning others who do not share their burning passion. Those with a strong pastoral/teaching gift are ridiculed for everything from being soft on sin to caring more about the liberal agenda. Oh that all would do what God lays upon their own heart, and let others answer to their Master.

Ramesh said...

My thinking is that our Source is Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word is the spiritual food. But The Holy Spirit "compels" believers to help Christian Brothers and Sisters in need. And also the poor of the world. But this helping is the effect. The cause being The Holy Spirit that motivates us to help the poor and in need. Lot of times, the poor and broken are not in a place and position to comprehend and receive The Gospel, for they are hungry or thirsty or in need of medical help. Once the basic needs are met, then the poor in both material needs and spiritual needs then will be receptive to The Gospel.

Ramesh said...

I would like to add that for true healing to take place for the broken, only Our Lord is the True Balm. Physical needs that are immediately met are only temporary. Spiritual healing that comes about due to the pouring of The Grace of Our Lord is permanent or long lasting.

Rex Ray said...

On the subject of churches dying, maybe it’s because they’re dying from the top down.

The latest Gallup pole said American’s views of the honesty and ethics of clergypersons have dropped to a three-decade low.

The only reply to this article on the Baptist Standard Blog is:

“Preaching is the art of making a sermon and delivering it. Why no, that is not preaching.
Preaching is the art of making a preacher, and delivering that. Preaching is the out rush of soul in speech. Therefore, the elemental business in preaching is not with the preaching but with the preacher. It is no trouble to preach, but a vast trouble to construct a preacher. What then, in the light of this is the task of a preacher? (Or of anyone sharing his or her faith.) Mainly this, the amassing of a great soul so as to have something worthwhile to give. The sermon is the preacher up to date.” Bishop Alfred Quayle, American Methodist Bishop, (1860-1925)

Maybe the drop in respect for preachers if they tell from the pulpit as pastors their struggles with sin: pornography, anger, steeling, and the list goes on.

I believe if any pastor wants to air his dirty laundry; it should not be from the pulpit.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a cafeteria of subjects from which to fill my belly this time around...

Proctor is some right and some wrong. Graham (as was his father) is some right and some wrong.

Social Gospel vs. Saving Gospel??? Yes. We need both.

I am of the opinion that God, in His common goodness, uses His Church to restrain sin. Giving a cup of cold water in His name not only nourishes, but also glorifies the Son of Man.

The Grahams are notorious Arminians. While much fruit comes from their ministries, their primary goal is conversion counting. While Billy Graham was eventually considered a liberal for his association with "modernists" by folks such as "The Evangelist John R. Rice", and the Jack Hyles's and Frank Norris's of the day, he was also greatly influenced by their method of evangelization. The key was numbers for the kingdom--that is the kingdom to come. Never mind discipling them for the kingdom here and now.

I take issue where there is blatant heresy being spewed such as at Lakewood Church, The Potter's House, The Crenshaw Center, and Benny Hinn Crusades, but to be so utterly ignorant as to denigrate the fruit of the BGEA, Samaritan’s Purse, Purpose-Driven/P.E.A.C.E. ministries, and the Tea Parties (hehe) is to really have too much time on the hands.


Ramesh said...

I truly understand that churches where there are authoritative pastors and leaders who think they are "serving", but instead they are "ruling", their churches are dying.


FBC Jax Watchdog > "Rage at the Spring" - Another Blogger/Church Scandal.

Christiane said...

I don't see the Church 'dying' at all.
There is a struggle, yes, but I think this struggle may be better explained as the continued throes of 'birth pangs': as its members
are moving from lack of commitment
to something much, much more recognizably 'of Christ' than ever before.
Why? Because WE have such great need of Him. Including the ones who sit in Church and 'are saved'.
All of us, regardless of who we are, NEED HIM.

Take the issue of ABORTION currently raging in the Church.
The Church is beginning to undestand that it cannot 'legislate' abortion away.
We, ourselves, might actually have to do something to bring about change.

It was SO EASY to rail against those who have abortions, do nothing productive, and feel justified before the Lord.

For some, it was just as easy to get mad at the ones who railed against abortion, and did nothing productive to stop it.

What is NOT easy, though,
is usually the path we need to examine more as a Christian people: how have we ‘contributed’ to the problem?
By being judgmental, and therely becoming something that others readily dismiss as insincere hypocrites?
By failing to see the ‘Abortion’ problem in its larger context and taking productive and positive action to help young women in trouble?
What is not easy: instead of the ‘quicky attitude that we feel absolves US of responsibility by distancing ourselves as a Christian community ‘from the sin and the sinners’, THERE IS ANOTHER WAY: born of something that judges not, prays much, and offers a helping hand in a thousand ways needed to save a child’s life.
Not easy, not ‘managable’, no ‘guarantees’, difficult commitment obligations, expenses, time-consuming, and born of unrelenting compassion fueled by the love of Christ.
Oh, and probably only a few ’small victories’: little infants born that might not have been unless we cared.

We keep looking for short-cuts, but they are not to be had.
If the Church is not to be ‘aborted’, we must let Christ be born anew in our hearts each day by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only then can the Church be kept strong and defended in battle, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Be peaceful.
Love, L's

Steve said...

Hereabouts I have seen one church that definitely fits the attention-seeking writer's complaint, and a few that are anything but. Like a smart man said, all generalizations are false. When Jesus is honestly professed and presented, and the choice to the people is made clear, the services do what they need to. The churches (& groups of churches)that decline do so for the simplest of reasons: to reduce conflict power-seekers are accomodated in a most worldly manner.

Greetings from Hoptown, Ky!

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

Paul Proctor was the person who announced that God killed Pastor Kyle Lake because Pastor Lake was part of the emerging church movement.

Anonymous said...

Whoa Nellie hold the reins!!!

Actually whoa L's,

No one is backing down from the abortion issue where it comes to making it illegal. We must restrain heinous crimes. Abortion is murder. To attract the issue from another angle is to stop flagrant sexual encounters. The church cannot step into your bedroom, but we can step into the halls of justice---AND SO WE MUST!

I agree we need a better approach to helping women keep their babies, which are a treasure form the Lord., but if we give up in Washington, Christ will have no glory there.

Don't worry though folks. The Patriots are coming. The Patriots are coming. Your government will soon be cut down to size and criminals like Frau Pelosi and Herr's Reed and Obama will be jailed for "Crimes Against Liberties."

Tom Parker said...


You said--"Don't worry though folks. The Patriots are coming. The Patriots are coming. Your government will soon be cut down to size and criminals like Frau Pelosi and Herr's Reed and Obama will be jailed for "Crimes Against Liberties."

We will have to first jail GWB and Dick Cheney for their crimes against humanity.

Come one KMC your are better than this!

Christiane said...

Changing the laws is not changing minds and hearts.
Nothing wrong with working to change a law, but the real work of Christianity should go much deeper than that: it should engage Christian commitment fully, in ways that reach out to people who are troubled, not just on the 'abortion' issue, but on all fronts.

Christian commitment needs to go a lot deeper than just 'talk' and 'judgment', because these are the held very cheap, if there is no visible 'giving of ourselves' as a Christian people.

In a way, the lack of total Christian commitment, coupled with the judgmental contempt and self-righteous distain for troubled people, may do more harm than good, in the eyes of those in our country who witness it.

We can change a law. And it can be changed back again. A law 'allows' abortions, but the law is not the only reason people get those abortions. We need to address those reasons at their heart.

Love, L's

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...


We are having a civil discussion. And I'm enjoying it.

Love, L's

Gene S said...

How do you really define "DEAD?"

For the worshiper seeking a thrill from music / hand clapping / jumping up and down--dead means "not lively enough."

For the worshiper seeking stately hymns / robed clergy / liturgy / the NC Symphony at Christmas accompanying the choir----dead means "not classy enough."

For the ill tempered enjoyer of issues and the preacher always railing aginst homosexuality / abortion / Hollywood free love / the lacivious nature of the Belks underware ad-----dead means "not jumping on anyone's bones today."

I could go on, but you get the point. Today, most people are going to church asking, not "What can I give," BUT "What can I get."

A quick look back at Jesus tells us some things:

(1) He despised moneychangers at the Temple and beat the crap out of them = church is not for making money off poor people trying to earn their salvation!

(2) He suffered the little children to come unto him = church is a welcome lap to sit in and snuggle with Jesus. There are both physical children and spiritual children. Either one is welcome for a personal touch.

(3) Jesus went about teaching and doing good = he was going and not expecting them to come to him. He was telling of a right relationship to God and how to find it spiritually so that all things fall into place. He actively DID something rather than just say, "I'll pray for you."

(4) Jesus was fully man while being fully God = he did not pretent to be human, he WAS human which means, without sin (separation from others/God/what God meant for us to be--not a bunch of picky little rules) Jesus was the real deal living in a real working world. He had nothing for those in long black Pharisee robs looking good, but doing nothing except sponging off the fears of people trying to find God.

I don't think Jesus was seeking popularity as his main goal----which is the problem of both Franklin Graham and Rick Warren. Everything has to be big to get their attention.

Jesus said, "A little leven will leven the whold loaf of bread." This means to me that little things done and said in the right spirit or love and peace could be the very answer people are looking for!

I think more churches are doing it right than the big boys from the "church of the big show" want to admit. By making our little shows of regular church appear to be dead in their eyes, they are just trying to get more people to come to their "lively" way of doing church.

Isn't it amazing Jesus never had a praise chior / A-C / large windowless auditorium / great sound system / special steps straight from the Preacher's Office to the Pulpit---yet he impacted a spiritually dead world full of churches and church activity, but devoid of a loving and forgiving heart among its participants!!!!!

It is the little things like a heart beating, lungs breathing, eyes open, mouth smiling and speaking kindly working all together to make each of us authentic and caring humans!

I think our churches are more distracted than dead. Get back to Jesus' simple way of love and healing.

Jeff Rogers said...

Graham: "First of all, the Bible didn't tell me to do that. I can't Christianize this culture. The god of this world is Satan - this is his culture. He is the god of this age. I'm to preach the gospel. .... God is calling a people for Himself. I don't know whom He's calling, I just have to be faithful and preach."

Franklin Graham's error, I believe, is a flawed eschatology. Jesus indeed told his disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom. If doing so will not usher in the kingdom, then what is the point.

Graham proclaims that this culture and world belongs to Satan. That flies in the face of the clear statements of Jesus... who came to destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil. (1 John 3:8).

"But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME UNTO YOU. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." (Matthew 12:28-29)

Jesus bound and spoiled that strong man (Satan) because Jesus is the stronger man.

"Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." (John 12:31).

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).

"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." (Romans 16:20).

So clearly the bible teaches that this world (as a result of Christs work on the cross) belongs to Christ and not Satan. What a defeatist attitude. We in Jesus have VICTORY...the church with Graham has defeat.

"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." (Romans 12:20).

"Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do." (Galatians 2:10).

"And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:16).

Clearly we are commanded to meet the needs of the poor. This is a part of the gospel. The salvation of souls is still the end goal, but since that result is in God's hands and not our own, it behooves us to do both.

This mentality of Graham is no different than the teaching of J. Vernon McGee when he said: "Why polish the brass on a sinking ship?" If the church is dead, it is dead because it has a dead faith. James writes of a faith that works and the teaching of Graham and McGee and many pulpits of our day is that your works are irrelevant if you just have faith...that my friends is a dead faith and Jesus will say to those who live in that way...

"I never knew you, depart from me, ye who work iniquity."

Jeff Rogers
Colorado Springs

Tom Parker said...

Joe B:

You said--"And obviously, the above does not apply to cases of rape, incest, or a situation where the life of the mother is threatened."

How kind of you to make exceptions.
You do realize making these exceptions will make you a LIBERAL IN SOME CONSERVATIVE CORNERS.
You have to be 100% against abortion to qualify as one of them.

Lydia said...

Graham: "First of all, the Bible didn't tell me to do that. I can't Christianize this culture. The god of this world is Satan - this is his culture. He is the god of this age. I'm to preach the gospel. .... God is calling a people for Himself. I don't know whom He's calling, I just have to be faithful and preach."

And Graham is part of the culture of amassing great wealth for themselves....From ministry. While they lay people off. He is part of the problem.

Joe Blackmon said...
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Jonquil said...

This statement: "Jesus never said, "I want you to go out and alleviate the poor in the world." ...So many churches and so many pastors today are going directions Jesus never told us to go into. He said, "you'll always have the poor with you."

horrifies me completely.

What about Matthew 19:21? And Luke 12:33? "For the poor you have with you always" does not stand alone; it continues "and whenever you will you may do them good: but me you have not always."

Anonymous said...

"Come one KMC your are better than this!"

I agree. ;)

"Changing the laws is not changing minds and hearts."

I agree.

Just call me the unifier!

Love you both, Merry Christmas!

Off to a wedding, wishing it was mine. Oops, just broke the 10th commandment. :)


Anonymous said...

Gene S: "How do you really define "DEAD?""

Depends on which kind of dead you mean. In the immortal words of Miracle Max: "There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do...Go through his clothes and look for loose change."

Sorry; couldn't resist! ;)

John Fariss said...
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John Fariss said...


I don't know who/what you intended to model when you said, "If Sheniqua and Jamari, both 16, decide to put on a little Fiddy-cent and 'get jiggy wid it, yo' and Sheniqua ends up preggers." But I can tell you what it sounds like. It sounds like you are representing two young African-American females. The names: Sheniqua and Jamari are sterrotyped African-American names. The venacular: "get jiggy wid it" again is sterrotyped African-American ghetto language. In all honesty, Joe, it sounds like something I might have said when I was 16 or 17 and wore a "(George) Wallace" sticker on my logging helmet, or when, a year or two later, I became incensed that the dispatcher at the nearest Alabama State Trooper headquarters started giving discriptions as "a black male or female," and I vowed as long as I was dispatcher at the local police department, I would continue to use the tried and true and racist "colored male or female."

Let me tell you what changed me Joe: Jesus came into my life. Subsequent to that, the Holy Spirit beat me up one side and down the other. He convicted me--not all at once mind you, but over time. And I am so glad He did. Now I understand how demeaning that sort of thing is--not that it demeans my African-American brothers and sisters exactly, but that it demeans me.

Joe, you are better than that. drop the sterrotyped and thinly veiled racist language (even if you do not recognize it as racist or did not mean it as racist). Talk about people's actions if you need to, but be respectful of them as persons, and don't give any nonsense about "that's how they talk about themselves" or "I used that language in front of my black/African-American/colored friends and they aren't offended." Are they really "friends," with whom you relax in your home or theirs, and socialiuze with, or are they just work aquaintances? Maybe they are friends to some degree, and just won't tell you what they really think--some people won't until you get really close. Or maybe they are a modern-day Uncle Tom or Stepin' Fetchit. You know, Jesus wasn't a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed northern European. How would you describe him? Do I sound angry? Offended? Yes, I am, and what hurts worse is you are better than that. I know you are from the civil exchanges we have had.

And as to the specific issue of the article Wade quotes: if a social and justice component is not part of the Good News of Jesus Christ, why did God allow the message of prophets like Amos to be part of the Bible? Why did Jesus utter what He said in Matthew 25, o ye of little faith?


Gene S said...


I was pondering your question and then looked below it to what John said----THERE IS THE ANSWER!!!!

John is, in a kind way, getting onto the commentator using "afro-talk." He speaks of being a genuine Alabama red neck (I was a GA redneck) following the culture with discrimination. John became a State Trooper, then felt his call from God and was changed.

John was dead to a higher calling and going along with the crowd. Now he is alive to love and sharing of the Gospel. He works in the Metro area of DC in a small church---which I bet you, is as loving and caring a bunch of people you will ever meet because their Pastor is "the real deal."

I love your metaphore of the last act when one is really dead being to take all the change out of his pocket!

Now, Graham and Warren have plenty of change in their pockets. Right now, with a bad economy and doing 30% of what my tree company did 3 years ago, I have $3 in my pocket, just enought fuel in the truck to get to where I would work if anyone bought tree removal for Christmas, my auto insurance canceled because I could not beat the check to the bank, every tag on my equipment is expired because NC has ungodly charges for weighted tags. Diesel fuel everywhere is 30% overpriced.

I am the suffering average small businessman these days. I bet if John were in the NCHP uniform today and caught me, he would try to do something to minimize my fines if he knew I was telling him the truth about my current plight.

In my opinion---John isn't dead---Rick and Franklin just might be!!


They put out the cheap shot at anything other than them. It could be very bad when a corpse is calling live small church preachers and churches "DEAD" just because they aren't big and on TV nor making a 3-figure income.

You reckon the moneychangers at the Temple tried to accuse Jesus of killing them---and that he should be dead instead of beating up on poor innocent changers of money---getting rich off sincere religious people just trying to find God???

Gene S said...

Maybe we should add Joel Osteen to the commentators on how "dead churches are!"

Give me a break boys of the rich big church!!! I wish I could go to DC today and worship with John!

Joe Blackmon said...
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Gene S said...


Thank God!!!! We have finally found something we can agree on---rap music sucks for me.

My son went through that phase with a big sub-woffer thumping in his Jeep. I had a talk with him and his buddies about how filthy the lyrics were.

I told them, "Boys, I used to work beside a brick mason crew, and on Mondays they were talking this filth and enjoying the bad words. It's nothing but FILTH!!"

"Why you stupid white boys would pay good money so they can ride around in Bentleys with gold watches and chains around their necks, is beyond me. You just aren't very smart in my opinion."

In due time (as the Bible would say) they went on to much better: good old Country Music!!

Give me "Alabama" or Colin Ray anytime. By the way, has anyone noticed the significance of the song "It Wasn't His Child?"

Even in Country music we find the message!!! The Mega-church can't hold a candle to the significant religious message of many Country singers these days!

Church is not dead nor doeth it sleep!!!! It is alive if you are helping someone this Christmas in this bad economy.

Bill said...

When Paul Proctor takes a break from pronouncing God's killing of emerging church pastors and preaches the Gospel to even 1% of the people Graham and Warren have preached to, then he will be better able to sit in judgement of them. Warren is concerned with social issues, but he also has spent his life pastoring and preaching the Gospel. He's not perfect and his methods sometimes open to criticism, but whose aren't? What exactly does Paul Proctor do?

As for Operation Christmas Child, I very much doubt that any one in that organization would say that they are giving presents to poor children to gain they or their parents favor. Is that why you give presents to your own children? Good grief. Our church is a proud supporter of OCC and will continue to be.

John Fariss said...

What I said Joe, was that you have used sterrotyped names, i.e., a white guy's understanding of a typical young black person's name. But don't get hung up on whether the names are "real" or made-up, that is not my point. The point is that you have used these "names" in a racist, sterrotyped way, which I find both offensive and below what I know you are capable of.

And I am sure you have heard hip-hop blasting from the car radio's of white kids, so have I, and I don't care for it either (although I have heard Christian rap, which I can appreciate, if not like, just as I can appreciate grand opera even though I prefer the Grand Ole' Opry). But you can't wiggle out of it that way, unless now you are going to claim that "Sheniqua and Jamari" are a couple of white kids. Are you going to try that one? Why not just admit that you let your passion for making a point get ahead of your good sense and Christian values, like any of us can at times.

And thanks Gene for the kind words.


Christiane said...

The absolutely radiant civility being expressed must be in honor of the Sabbath Peace.

I hope it lasts into Christmas, and beyond. :)

Joe Blackmon said...
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Joe Blackmon said...
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Gene S said...

Slips of the tongue ALWAYS have subconscious motivation--applies to slips of the computer keys too.

I think John gottcha!

Gene S said...

When L's notices "NICE" we must be getting some real Peace on Earth spirit.

Maybe, it's John's Santa Clause suit or---

Maybe, we will agree to disagree without being disagreeable!!!

Gene S said...

As we consider the possibility of churches being dead---let me add the wonderful poem, "To a Contemporary Bunkshooter" which Carl Sandburg wrote years ago from his cottage near Henderson, NC, in the mountains:

You come along. . . tearing your shirt. . . yelling about
Where do you get that stuff?
What do you know about Jesus?
Jesus had a way of talking soft and outside of a few
bankers and higher-ups among the con men of Jerusalem
everybody liked to have this Jesus around because
he never made any fake passes and everything
he said went and he helped the sick and gave the
people hope.

You come along squirting words at us, shaking your fist
and calling us all d*** fools so fierce the froth slobbers
over your lips. . . always blabbing we're all
going to hell straight off and you know all about it.

I've read Jesus' words. I know what he said. You don't
throw any scare into me. I've got your number. I
know how much you know about Jesus.
He never came near clean people or dirty people but
they felt cleaner because he came along. It was your
crowd of bankers and business men and lawyers
hired the sluggers and murderers who put Jesus out
of the running.

I say the same bunch backing you nailed the nails into
the hands of this Jesus of Nazareth. He had lined
up against him the same crooks and strong-arm men
now lined up with you paying your way.

This Jesus was good to look at, smelled good, listened
good. He threw out something fresh and beautiful
from the skin of his body and the touch of his hands
wherever he passed along.
You slimy bunkshooter, you put a smut on every human
blossom in reach of your rotten breath belching
about hell-fire and hiccupping about this Man who
lived a clean life in Galilee.

When are you going to quit making the carpenters build
emergency hospitals for women and girls driven
crazy with wrecked nerves from your gibberish about
Jesus--I put it to you again: Where do you get that
stuff; what do you know about Jesus?

Go ahead and bust all the chairs you want to. Smash
a whole wagon load of furniture at every performance.
Turn sixty somersaults and stand on your
nutty head. If it wasn't for the way you scare the
women and kids I'd feel sorry for you and pass the hat.
I like to watch a good four-flusher work, but not when
he starts people p**ing and calling for the doctors.
I like a man that's got nerve and can pull off a great
original performance, but you--you're only a bug-
house peddler of second-hand gospel--you're only
shoving out a phoney imitation of the goods this
Jesus wanted free as air and sunlight.

Gene S said...

(cont.) "To A Contemporary Bunkshooter:"

You tell people living in shanties Jesus is going to fix it
up all right with them by giving them mansions in
the skies after they're dead and the worms have
eaten 'em.
You tell $6 a week department store girls all they need
is Jesus; you take a steel trust wop, dead without
having lived, gray and shrunken at forty years of
age, and you tell him to look at Jesus on the cross
and he'll be all right.
You tell poor people they don't need any more money
on pay day and even if it's fierce to be out of a job,
Jesus'll fix that up all right, all right--all they gotta
do is take Jesus the way you say.
I'm telling you Jesus wouldn't stand for the stuff you're
handing out. Jesus played it different. The bankers
and lawyers of Jerusalem got their sluggers and
murderers to go after Jesus just because Jesus
wouldn't play their game. He didn't sit in with
the big thieves.

I don't want a lot of gab from a bunkshooter in my religion.
I won't take my religion from any man who never works
except with his mouth and never cherishes any memory
except the face of the woman on the American
silver dollar.

I ask you to come through and show me where you're
pouring out the blood of your life.

I've been to this suburb of Jerusalem they call Golgotha,
where they nailed Him, and I know if the story is
straight it was real blood ran from His hands and
the nail-holes, and it was real blood spurted in red
drops where the spear of the Roman soldier rammed
in between the ribs of this Jesus of Nazareth.

Craig said...

I would just like to repeat what has already been said... Paul Proctor pronounced that God killed a pastor for being a part of the "emerging church."

There are some people who hold quirky views about certain things who nevertheless are articulate and bright enough to be judged for their entire body of work. Some beliefs,though, such as Proctor's belief that God killed Kyle Lake, is one of those that should necessarily disqualify any of his subsequent statements from receiving any kind of attention at all. It is shocking that anyone is still giving this bastard any kind of forum to spew his unChristian hate and self-righteousness.

nanc said...

I disagree wholeheartedly with you, Craig - I've never found Proctor to be in err in his take on the Emergent Church.

If you are a Christian, surely you believe everything happens for good reason? Scripture tells us that. Emergent churchers do not like having the truth pointed out to them, much to their peril.