Top Ten Posts in 2015

The ten top posts during 2015 are as follows with the most popular first:
1. Open Letter to Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris from a Former Member of Mars Hill Church – This was posted on November 2, 2014 but remained popular throughout 2015. Driscoll recently joined Jimmy Evans as a director to form The Trinity Church in Phoenix.
2. Former Chief Financial Officer at Turning Point Claims David Jeremiah Used Questionable Methods to Secure a Spot on Best Seller Lists – This story about David Jeremiah’s questionable tactics from a former insider was a scoop but not one which stuck to Jeremiah like  a similar scandal did to Mark Driscoll.
3. Hillsong’s Brian Houston Interviewed Mark and Grace Driscoll After All (VIDEO) (AUDIO) – First, he said he would interview Driscoll, then he said he wouldn’t, then Brian Houston aired an interview with Mark and Grace Driscoll. It was great theatre but didn’t draw good reviews from former Mars Hill leavers.
4. A major study of child abuse and homosexuality revisited – This post from 2009 is one of the most popular articles in the history of the blog. In it, I demonstrate a key mistake in a journal article often used to link homosexuality and child abuse.
5. Southern Baptists Say Enough to Perry Noble and NewSpring Church – I am surprised that this post got so much attention.
6. Gospel for Asia Faces Allegations of Misconduct; GFA Board Investigation Found No Wrongdoing – The GFA story received the most attention from me this year.
7. Pastor of Willow Creek Presbyterian Says Church Reaction to Hiring Tullian Tchividjian is “Overwhelmingly Positive” – I briefly covered Tullian Tchividjian’s comeback as a development minister at a PCA church in FL.
8. A Few Thoughts on The Village Church Controversy – Village Church’s leadership apologized for their response to a young woman who sought a divorce from her husband who had admitted having child porn.
9. Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Issues Statement On Mark Driscoll at the Hillsong 2015 Conference – Mark Driscoll’s return to the spotlight garnered much reader attention.
10. Gospel for Asia’s K.P. Yohannan and the Ring Kissing Ritual – While the financial scandals were of interest to readers, this article ranked higher than the money problems.
To fully capture activity on the blog, one should consider the Gospel for Asia scandals (Patheos considered my coverage as a part of one of their top ten Evangelical stories of 2015).
It has been a good year and I thank my readers and those who support the blog with their comments and regular visits.

Judge Who Sent KY Clerk Kim Davis to Jail was Appointed by G.W. Bush and Disagreed with Supreme Court Decision on Marriage

David Bunning, the judge who sent KY clerk Kim Davis to federal custody is a Republican son of a Republican former Senator and according to his mother did not agree with the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.
Bunning’s dad was popular baseball player and Senator Jim Bunning. He is known as a careful jurist and conservative person who jailed Davis because she would likely be able to pay her fines with supporters’ money.
Davis was jailed earlier today because she refuses to issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Religious right political figures have come to her defense, saying she is suffering for her faith. I think she is getting bad advice from her handlers. I don’t see how every county official’s religious beliefs can be accommodated in such matters. Presumably, if consistent, Davis does not believe in believers and unbelievers being married. Would her supporters advocate for her right to refuse a license to religiously mixed marriages?
According to local media coverage, Bunning raised his own religious beliefs in court:

Bunning said he’s Catholic and the Catholic church says you must have an annulment before you can get remarried. He asked: What would prevent a Catholic clerk from not issuing a marriage license to a divorced person?

Exactly.
We are not governed by sectarian interpretations of any Scripture.
 

Glenn Beck Does Double Take as David Barton Says Third Great Awakening Has Started

According to David Barton, the Third Great Awakening has started.
At Glenn Beck’s website, we learn that Beck and Barton talked after Glenn Beck’s Restoring Unity Rally on Saturday about the GA3.

GLENN: I think this is — I think we’re at the beginning. I flew back with David Barton yesterday. And David said, just matter-of-factly, he said, we’re in the awakening. And I said, I leaned up and I said, hold on. What did you just say. And he said, we’re in the awakening. And I said, the third great awakening? And he said, oh, yeah. I truly believe it’s happening now. That’s great that’s great. He’s the one that told me about the great awakening. He’s like, we need the great awakening to happen. And we had people of all different faiths walking together.

I am not a Great Awakening scholar but I am pretty sure you don’t get to declare the beginning of a great historical movement like that.
I am also pretty sure David Barton’s declaration that GA3 is here is a good sign it isn’t.
 
 
 
 

Christianity Today on Whistleblowing Blogs

This month marks 10 years of blogging. Nice to start the month with some favorable press over at Christianity Today.
Michelle Van Loon and Marlena Graves link to this blog in their story on whistleblower and watchdog blogs. In addition to this blog, they link to Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, Recovering Grace, and the blog of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).*
Van Loon speaks from personal experience of dealing with a cover up in a church. She sees the benefits of confronting obvious problems when others want to pretend nothing is wrong. Leader worship is a prominent aspect of why people in the pews don’t reflect more on the truth of the messages being delivered. Van Loon says:

When I see someone suggest those harboring hurt or suspicion toward the church are in sin, or that fellow believers would do best to ignore whistleblowers, my internal alarm sounds. Unquestioning allegiance to any earthly leader, even in the church, has proven in many cases hurtful rather than helpful.

Graves follow by highlighting the cost of speaking up.

When working for a Christian organization that many saw going in a troubling direction, we said something. We submitted our criticism, attended meetings, and talked to leaders at each level. Initially, we trusted the proper protocols and official channels set up to give and receive feedback. But not only did those in charge fail to address our concerns, they began enacting policies to punish those who spoke up.

Currently, insiders at Gospel for Asia are telling me that leaders are ordering the students and staff not to read my blog. Mark Driscoll called the blog information “shenanigans” and some Mars Hill leaders discouraged blog reading. David Barton regularly misrepresents me and my motivations to his audience. One mark of an insecure, and often controlling, organization is the use of sanctions to block members from learning opposing views.
In the cases of Mars Hill and GFA, those injunctions from leaders triggered many to read the blog anyway. Some stay away out of fear, but others find information that is being obscured from stakeholders/members by their leaders. For this reason alone, many bloggers perform a valuable function for the organization’s members.
* There are other blogs I would add to this list, particular this one: Wenatchee the Hatchet.

Which Same-Sex Marriage Related Action is Lawless?

The Supreme Court last week ruled 5-4 that the 14th Amendment required the states to recognize same-sex unions as legal marriages.
Today, the Family Research Council released the following press release:

Family Research Council Commends Texas Officials for Declining to Blindly Follow Five Justices
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement calling the U.S. Supreme Court ruling an act of “lawlessness” and provided guidance that “county clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued the following statement in response:
“I find it refreshing and encouraging that state officials are declining to blindly follow five justices who have redefined society’s most fundamental institution — marriage. The Court got it wrong in their ruling and they got it wrong in thinking their edict would force Americans to accept same-sex ‘marriage’ and the corresponding loss of their most basic freedoms. States must ensure the government does not use this ruling to discriminate against those who continue to believe in natural marriage,” concluded Perkins.

The effect of the AG’s opinion appears to be to allow a clerk to avoid doing their duty while referring it to someone who doesn’t mind doing it, analogous to a pharmacist who doesn’t want to fill a script for a drug that might cause an abortion.
Paxton says the Supreme Court ruling was lawless, then he tells the clerks they may not have to comply.
I wonder if the Texas clerks who are fundamentalist Christians explore the sexual morality of the straight couples who request a license before issuing it. If licenses are issued to those who meet the various clerks’ standards, then I suppose Texas could have a hodgepodge of standards which vary from clerk to clerk. Surely, if the clerks’ religious beliefs about same-sex marriage can be honored then a clerk who believes people of different religions shouldn’t marry could decline to issue a license.
There is a word for when government officials decide to do what they want to do instead of what the law requires.
A.G. Paxton, what is that word?

Univision to Donald Trump and Miss Universe Organization: "You're Fired!"

Subtitle: Esta es la razón por Donald Trump nunca será presidente
His swaggy speech announcing his run for president included some offensive remarks about Mexicans and so Univision said,”you’re fired” to Trump and his Miss USA pageant. They aren’t going to carry the broadcast slated for July 12.
“Estás despedido!”
Press release from Univision:

English version
Today the entertainment division of Univision Communications Inc. announced that it is ending the Company’s business relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, which is part-owned by Donald J. Trump, based on his recent, insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants.
At Univision we see first-hand the work ethic, love for family, strong religious values and the important role Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans have had and will continue to have in building the future of our country. We will not be airing the Miss USA pageant on July 12th or working on any other projects tied to the Trump Organization.
Univision News and the local news division will continue to provide comprehensive coverage of all candidates, including Mr. Trump, to ensure our audience continues to have access to all points of view.
©Univision.com

Shorter Ann Coulter: Screw Africa (and everybody else 'cept 'merica)

Subtitle: Screw the Great Commission too.
Coulter rants in Human Events today about Dr. Kent Brantly, the doctor with the Ebola virus flown to the United States for treatment:

There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?

Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”

Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?

It gets worse. Coulter spews:

Which explains why American Christians go on “mission trips” to disease-ridden cesspools. They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream. America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment. If America falls, it will be a thousand years of darkness for the entire planet.Not only that, but it’s our country. Your country is like your family. We’re supposed to take care of our own first. The same Bible that commands us to “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel” also says: ”For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”

Theological genius that she is, Coulter counters a command of Jesus with a completely compatible injunction from Deuteronomy. False dilemma much?

Without any awareness of the irony, Coulter ends:

There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.

Yes, Ann, there is reason for annoyance at your “Christian” narcissism.

Duck Dynasty to Leave A&E?

Sounds like that could be the result of talks with A&E after the network put Phil Robertson on hiatus. The Robertson family issued the following statement tonight via their Duck Commander website:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

I wondered what the rest of the clan would do. I suspect they will hold out for A&E to allow Phil to return to the show. If not, this may be the last season.
See also:
Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson On Hiatus Over Sexual Orientation Remarks

Weekend Roundup – Tanks, Government Lies, Anti-Gay Pride, Christian Persecution, Government Shut Down

These are some items of interest that I either didn’t get to or need no additional noise from me.
David Barton: Tanks A Lot – David Barton told his Wallbuilders audience that private citizens should be allowed to have whatever weapons the government has – tanks, fighter jets, whatever. Just like the founders had.
How Do You Know When The Government Is Lying? – That’s the burning question Michael Peroutka asks on his IOTC website. He claims that the government and the media conspire together ” to endanger you, impoverish you or otherwise to harm you.” I also learned that the media hyped up the dangers of Swine Flu in 2009 to “provide cover” for the government to meddle in health care.
Scott Lively and Bryan Fischer Celebrate Anti-Gay Pride –  At 10:25, Lively calls his indirect influence on Russia’s anti-gay law “one of the proudest achievements of my career.” Guess it is all downhill from there.
Christians are under attack all over the world and the Church seems silent – Kirsten Powers’ thought provoking editorial provoked me. I will return to this issue next week. My initial view is that most Christians in the pew are praying but don’t know what else to do. Our evangelical leaders are consumed with Values Voting and Culture Warring and Taking The Country Back.
Oh, and the government might shut down…

Today is a Good Day to Remember Jackie Robinson

branch-rickey4If alive, Jackie Robinson would be celebrating his 94th birthday today. The man who broke baseball’s racial barriers has a unique place in the nation’s history.
Branch Rickey was the baseball executive who signed Robinson. I wrote about the role Rickey’s religious beliefs played in his decision to sign Robinson in 2011.
The diamond in the picture above is Branch Rickey Park in Portsmouth, Ohio, my home town. Rickey was also from the Portsmouth area.  In that Crosswalk article, I wrote:

To me, Branch Rickey’s role in this story is sweet irony. Race relations were tense in my hometown, at times erupting into violence. For most of my life there, African-Americans were segregated into neighborhoods surrounding a large public housing project. There was tangible prejudice and discrimination, even among Christians. I can recall times when my African-American friends were denied services. And yet, from this milieu, Branch Rickey emerged as a key player in a drama which has had a profound positive effect on American racial attitudes, far beyond the playing field.