The Sermon on the Mount Is an Ideology?

The right-wing Christian Post picked up on the Dallas youth pastor fight club silliness, and did a follow-up interview with the Keysi Fighting Method instructor, Jeff McKissack.  CP picks up on my blog post,* then gets this odd defense from McKissack:

“Over the years I have encountered truly sincere people who believe we
should always ‘turn the other cheek’ … at all costs. The problem with
that ideology lies in the fact that it does not only foster martyrs,
but victims as well,” he argues.

Let’s think about that for a minute.  The Sermon on the Mount is an ideology?  I suppose that, as defined, “turn the other cheek” and the other exhortations in the Sermon on the Mount could be considered a “doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group.” 

But let’s be honest.  McKissack is using “ideology” in a pejorative sense, implying that an overarching commitment to non-violence trumps common sense.  He appeals (surprise, surprise!) to Jesus’ post-Last Supper statement in Luke 22 to the disciples, “and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”

So here’s where, as usual, hermeneutics comes in. I realize that some readers will argue that every jot of scripture is equal to every other tittle.  Leviticus = John = Ephesians = Amos.

Well, if common sense is at issue, is it really commonsensical to argue that Jesus’ remark about swords is equivalent to the Sermon on the Mount?

Of course not.

*Christian Post didn’t give me the benefit of an inbound link, so I’m not linking to them either.  Yes, that’s how I roll.  :-)

Comment of the Day

Drew Tatusko drops a very thoughtful comment Re: Mark Driscoll.

Postmodern and post-structuralism aside (since this will sound to some
like that but is not), gender is different than sex due to its
psycho-social construction. Since it is this, anyone can assert a
different gender construction from within a existing frame that is at
odds with another frame (see David Martin’s definition of this picked
up by Charles Taylor). Thus, Driscoll asserts his own construction of
gender in a way that is offensive to many. I frankly have no
over-arching issue with that. People are free to be misogynistic and
loaded with machismo as they wish. I can stay away from those
constructions and find comfort in other social frames more like “me.”

[Read more...]

Youth Pastor Fight Club!

In Dallas, youth pastors are being trained in street fighting techniques in order to, um, “take care of their flock.” 

McKissack is spreading the Batman gospel to youth pastors in Dallas and
across the country. He hopes to convert them into followers of the
Keysi Fighting Method, the street fighting style used in recent
cinematic blockbusters.

McKissack figures that pastors
who know how to defend themselves against thugs can help protect the
children they lead at church – or on field trips to amusement parks or
on mission travels.

“It’s a sign of the times,” he said

Because, as the youth pastor says, “you never know what’s going to happen when you take the kids out of these four walls.” 

OK, first of all, I was a youth pastor for 20 years, taking kids to some pretty sketchy places like Lima, Peru and Juarez, Mexico.  And, while I occasionally felt that we were threatened, never once would the Keysi bob-and-weave have come in handy.

Secondly, I think we can safely say that teenagers are often just as threatened within the four walls as without.

The erstwhile youth pastor goes on to say, “I don’t think as Christians that we’re meant to be just stomped on.


(Jesus: “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.“)

Read the story and watch the video.

Comment of the Day

Brian has a warning for Mark Driscoll and other expanding evangelical ministries:

Thanks for this post. This is depressing news. I don’t mean any
disrespect to these folks personally. I know they can be very kind,
good people in person. So I will offer my critique in the form of their
teachings. I think the teachings of people like Mark Driscoll and Hank
Hanegraaff are dangerous. They argue that there is one Truth in world
and they know it. According to them, their own interpretations, ideas,
and politics are the only right, Biblical, and godly ones. This makes
ONE perspective into THE perspective – and that in turn makes ONE
perspective into THE Truth. And they often use the language of battle
to talk about protecting “the Truth.”

Let me speak at a member of the Mainline Church. We thought we were
going to take over the world for Christ. We thought we were going to
spread democracy, fight poverty, convert non-believers, etc. throughout
the earth. Our magazine, “The Christian Century,” even reflects this
overly optimistic idea that our century was going to be THE Christian
century. We were the rock stars. But then World War II shook us from
our Enlightenment dream. Plus, we finally began to see that it was our
personal ideals and agendas we were spreading throughout the world as
much as it was Christianity. In fact, we caused much pain in our march
to mission. We colonized African villages. We burned people we labeled
as witches in America. We contributed to the Antisemitism that lead to
the rationalization of the Holocaust in Germany. The list could go on
and on.

[Read more...]

The Death of Preaching?

Mark Driscoll watchdog, Bob Hyatt, has some concerns about a possible Mars Hill franchise coming to Portland.

Please understand- If you want to listen to Mark’s podcast/watch his vodcast, I think you should go for it- I
subscribe to his podcast for crying out loud. But where we’re going
with this is eventually a Mark Driscoll, Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr,
Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, et al Video Franchise in every major city,
the further Wal-Martization of the church and, I kid you not- the death
of preaching.
Think that’s hyperbole? 

Stay tuned.

More on (Virtual) Community

If you haven’t been following along there’s a great comment string under Monday’s post, Is Virtual Community True Community?, then you’re missing out.

Particularly interesting, IMHO, are the comments from stay-at-home-moms Julie and Kristi about the great value of virtual community in their lives.

Meanwhile, Zach Lind interviews Shane and gives Shane the chance to clarify his definition of “community”:

Shane Hipps and Zach Lind Discuss Virtual Community. from Zach Lind on Vimeo.

Pope Barack?

That’s the dream of none other than esteemed Catholic theologian, Hans Kung.  At Religion Dispatches, Rosemary Ganley reports,

To get right to the point, Kung in his article
on February 3, wished Barack Obama were Pope. “The mood in the church
is oppressive, reforms are paralyzed, and the church in crisis,” he
says. “Benedict is unteachable in matters of birth control and
abortion, arrogant and without transparency and restrictive of freedom
and human rights.”

For Kung, Benedict should act as Obama has
done, declaring a crisis, identifying the problems, proclaiming a
vision of hope, revitalizing ecumenism, gathering competent colleagues
of either gender, and using the power of his executive office to issue
decrees (unhindered by such institutions as a democratically-elected
Congress or a Supreme Court.)

But no, “the Pope is reorienting
himself backward, inspired by the ideal of the medieval church, looking
toward the Council of 1870, not the one of 1965.”

Can the Roman
Church, he asks, give birth to an episcopacy which does not conceal its
manifest problems, theologians not afraid to speak out and a climate to
encourage women leaders? Kung is playful: “Yes, we can,” he writes.

Churches Behaving Badly

Help add to Brandon’s list of crazy stuff you’ve heard around church.  My faves:

1. Your message was good. You didn’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit or anything.

2. What is the deal with your weight?

9. Don’t you think your secretary is too attractive?

14. You should warn people first before you show pictures of snakes in your sermons.

Can Theology Transform the Church?

Yes. Theologian-Scientist-Believer Philip Clayton answers that question, and has some hard words for pastors.  He and I tend to agree that theology is latent in all human endeavors (see chapter 4, “The Theology, Stupid!”).

Tony & Tripp Want You!

Tripp Fuller and I are recruiting YOU to ask your biggest question about God via YouTube to some of the top theologians in the world.

See the list of theologians who will attempt to answer your questions.