Hero Worship in Christianity: A Bane to Critical Thinking

A few weeks ago, I taught a lesson at our Wednesday college large group meeting focusing on 1 Cor. 1:10-31 while also referring to 1 Cor. 3.  In both passages, Paul addresses how the Corinthians are arguing amongst each other under the banner of names, such as Paul, Apollos, or Cephas (Peter).  It is amusing, and concerning, that 2000 years later, the church still has this problem of basically reducing people’s faith to hero worship of individuals other than Jesus Christ.

And boy, are there many heroes.  Heck, we even have nicknames for them.  For those dogged defenders of John MacArthur, we call them “MacArthurites,” people who cannot dream that good ol’ J-Mac can be wrong about something.  For those who adore John Piper, I’ve heard them referred to as “Pipettes,” just like the little children who followed the Pied Piper.  Even for those here at the seminary I just graduated from who hold our president, Dr. Paige Patterson, as the wise Baptist sage of his generation, they are called “Pattersonites.”  There are others who people follow:  Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, and Timothy Keller are among the many famous pastors or speakers these days for whom many Christians fall over themselves to hear speak.  Heck, such heroes may not even be alive anymore, such as Calvin, Augustine, Luther, Aquinas, Wesley, etc.

Continue reading

Sexual Impurity and the Restoration of the Gospel

I came across a blog post by a professor at Abilene Christian University recently on Facebook, which discusses the plight of Elizabeth Smart and the problem of the so-called “Christian purity culture” of the church.  As many know, Elizabeth Smart was abducted as a girl and sexually abused by her kidnapper, and many people wondered why she did not scream, flee, or otherwise call for help during this time even though she seemed to have ample opportunity to do so (some people even deemed it necessary to poke fun at her for it, making jabs at her lack of action and her last name being “Smart”).  As she explains in her book, though, Smart stayed with her abductor because, in part, she“felt so dirty and so filthy” to the point that she felt that she could not return to the outside world; after all, she would just come back as “damaged goods,” especially in her Christian culture, and no good Christian guy is going to want to touch that.  What did it matter if she escaped?  She was like a piece of a gum, because after she was chewed up and enjoyed, she had no value.  No one wants to chew gum after someone else, so the only place for her was the trash (apparently, this metaphor was given to her by a lecture on abstinence).

“Permanent” Impurity

The article continues on to identify the problem here as one of classification:  The author argues that it is wrong to put sexual sins into their own class where people think there is something very “impure” about it.  He describes a fascinating study about the psychology of purity:

Continue reading

Translating Christian Jargon

Many people from both in and out of the church have complained that Christians use too much of their own jargon, sometimes referred to as “Christianese,” when speaking, making it unclear what exactly they are saying.  Since I am a pastor’s kid who has grown up in church, I will provide a guide here as to what Christians normally mean when they use certain words or phrases.  I hope this is helpful.

Continue reading

An Old Post on Alcohol

Back in July of 2006 (a long time ago, I know), I wrote a blog post on the biblical view on alcohol.  It was right before a mission trip to Russia and before my junior year in college.  A long time has passed since then, obviously, but it was interesting to see how my views on it have remained rather consistent (because, well, I don’t think the Bible changed its mind on it 😉 ).  The post is rather long and mostly interacts with an article written by some ultraconservative Church of Christ author, who believed that Christians should not drink alcohol at all.  I will not repost the whole thing, but I will quote the last, concluding parts of the post.  I’m a bit more abrasive in my tone than I typically am now, but hey, I was young then :).

So here is what 20 year old Isak thought about drinking:

Continue reading