Thursday, July 29, 2010 | By: Zachary Bartels

If...

If a man set up a meeting with me in my study at church....

...and if that man showed up with charts and graphs and powerpoint presentations, offering me access to a program by which I would be guaranteed to quadruple attendance, membership, and involvement at our church, all within six months...

...if he had iron-clad documentation showing that, should my church not grow to 3,000 members within a year of implementing the program, he would cut us a check for $10,000 (because he’s just that sure about his methodology)...

...if the fee to be involved in said program was absolutely zero—free as the air...

...and if a lawyer whom I trusted intrisically was there to verify that everything was above-board and on the level...

...well, I'd be interested. I'd ask what the program entailed.

And if the man explained that his program involved de-emphasizing the cross of Jesus Christ (which is a stumbling block and foolishness to those who are perishing) and instead emphasizing how God can help you live an exciting, “extreme” life of faith; how God can improve your ho-hum sex life; how God can show you the best ways to financial security and the quickest way to professional fulfillment...

...if it meant looking at what the lost people in our area would like to see in a weekly Sunday meeting and hear in a “sermon” and then implementing those things in order to pack the house...

...if it meant moving the Lord’s Supper to a secondary mid-week service so it wouldn’t creep out “seekers...”

...in short, if it meant transitioning to a purpose-driven, seeker-driven, pragmatism-driven, felt-needs model of church and leadership...

...I'd laugh in the guy’s face and tell him, “No thanks, and here’s the door.”

And if he persisted and tried to hard-sell me, I’d say these words:

“Get behind me, Satan. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man.”

Why, you ask? Wouldn’t it be better to at least get a whole bunch of people in the front door?

No. Not like that.

There are some cases in which the difference between perishing and parishing is negligible.
 

11 reader comments:

Frank Turk said...

Indeed: what now, Bartels?

ZSB said...

Now, I keep preaching the Gospel every Lord's Day. No news reporters cover it because I'm not giving away cars and Word and Sacrament are hardly newsworthy from the world's perspective. The Kingdom grows with tares mixed in with the wheat as always. And God gets the glory. Not sexy, I know. But I'll take it any day.

Erin said...

I love your labels on this post. :)

But mostly I love the content--your passion and persistence.

Pete Scribner said...

Amen and amen! May the the cross always be at the center of our message.

And by the way, nice turn of phrase with perishing/parishing!

ZSB said...

We Baptist ministers are MASTERS of the bad pun. It's how we dealt with our sufferings at the hands of the Puritans.

chamblee54 said...

Blogger just ate my first comment. I made a copy of this, before blogger ate it.
Your post is a lot of doubletalk. Like Anne Rice, saying she wants to keep Christ, and throw out Christians.
If this salesman came to you, he would know a bit about you. He would use Bible verses to describe his plan. He would pray with you. You don't give the hucksters of the world enough credit. Of course, they say you can't con a con man...
And what is the difference between the things of G-d and the things of man? If G-d lives in your heart, what is the difference? And is it not men that you are trying to minister to? Maybe you should care what man thinks.
Calling this non existent salesman the devil is a cheap stunt.

ZSB said...

Well, Chamblee, the words, “Get behind me, Satan. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man” were first spoken by the Lord Jesus while walking on the road with His disciples. Jesus spoke them to his closest friend because, at that moment, Peter was putting the praise and validation of men before the cross of Christ. (The point of my post is, of course, that this continues to be a common problem).

Call me crazy, but when forced to choose between the opinion of a random blog commenter/sometimes-troll who won't even explain quite what he believes, on one hand; and the words of the Son of God, who was and is and is to come, who was dead and behold he is alive forever more, who holds the keys to death and hades in his hand, on the other hand...well, I'm gonna go with the latter. Every time.

And the idea that this post has anything in common with Anne Rice's Christ/Christians statement is absurd non-sequitur at best and pure folly at worst.

All the best,
Zach

chamblee54 said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate the courtesy of being allowed to comment here.
Now, I did not ask you to choose between my opinions, and the thoughts of Jesus.
I will say this. My opinions come to you direct, in real time. I type my thoughts in the little box, hit enter, and they are on the way. These opinions are written in a language that both of us speak. The same is true for your reply.
The words of Jesus, on the other hand, were recorded by scribes after his ministry was conducted. They were written in Greek, after being spoken in Aramaic. They were hand written, and probably copied by hand. There are chances for simple mistakes at all of these stages, which could possibly be a matter of one anonymous scribe misunderstanding the sloppy penmanship of the scribe ahead of him in the chain.
These texts went to a Catholic conference, where they were assembled into a church canon. There are reports of editing and censorship.
This church canon has been translated into English. This makes a minimum of two translations and three languages, from Aramaic to Greek to English. You can claim that this text you depend on to know what Jesus said is the "inerrant" word of G-d. I choose to disagree with this claim, for a number of reasons.
I have a few issues with what I call the "belief paradigm", the idea the G-d can be known through belief. ( This is in response to your claim that I will not say what I believe.) However, one thing is certain to me...G-d does not write books. The Bible was written, copied, edited, and translated by man. When you say the Bible is "the word of G-d", you are, in effect, making a G-d out of a book. This is a violation of the First commandment, and quite possibly the Second.
But the bottom line is, when comparing what I say now, to what Jesus said in 33 ad +-, requires much less faith. ( we are not even sure of the exact date for Jesus, while I can say with great precision that it is 07-31-2010 9:25 edt)
As for Anne Rice, I have commented on her at http://chamblee54.wordpress.com. My first two words were "who cares".

ZSB said...

Wow. Quite a mess you've got here.

I've gotta say I feel a bit like a doctor must feel when someone waltzes into the clinic with some pages printed off of Web MD and Wikipedia and starts telling the doctor "how things are."

All the same, since I have multiple degrees in these areas, I feel obligated to help correct some of your misunderstandings.


The words of Jesus, on the other hand, were recorded by scribes after his ministry was conducted.
Wrong. Neither Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John was a scribe. Matthew was a publican by trade, Luke a physician, John a fisherman, and Mark was probably young enough where missionary/adventurer was his first occupation. The words of Christ were recorded by two of Jesus' twelve disciples and two of Paul's disicples. Of course these autographs were reproduced by scribes, but that doesn't negate Scripture any more than it negates every single document written before the advent of the printing press.

They were written in Greek, after being spoken in Aramaic.
Written in Greek, yes. Spoken in Aramaic? Mmmmm, possibly.

These texts went to a Catholic conference, where they were assembled into a church canon. There are reports of editing and censorship.
I don't even know where to begin addressing all the misunderstandings present in this anachronistic, Dan-Brown version of events.

This church canon has been translated into English. This makes a minimum of two translations and three languages, from Aramaic to Greek to English.
Actually, the words of Christ were recorded by two of his disciples (and by two others who interviewed eye witnesses, etc. [see Luke 1]) in Greek. I read these words every day in Greek. Therefore, no "telephone game" style hijinks involved.

However, one thing is certain to me...G-d does not write books.
Certain, eh? Maybe in a world where bald assertion = established fact.

When you say the Bible is "the word of G-d", you are, in effect, making a G-d out of a book.
Ah, the good old fallacy of equivocation. It's been a while since I've seen it applied so poorly...

I'd work (a lot) on that arm chair theologizing before I took it on the road. A good place to start would be some primary sources in the area of the canon and its formation.

All the best,
Zach

chamblee54 said...

You have not refuted my basic contention.
Our conversation is direct. We speak the same language. There is no translation involved, except for the computer business of converting this text into zeros and ones.
The Bible is thousands of years old. There are translations involved, as well as handwritten texts copied by hand. To believe what is said in the Bible requires an act of faith.

ZSB said...

To believe what is said in the Bible requires an act of faith.
Of course that's true. I'm a Christian minister; why would I want to “refute that contention?”