Halo, Welcome to our Church!

This is from the NY Times:

Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.

The latest iteration of the immensely popular space epic, Halo 3, was released nearly two weeks ago by Microsoft and has already passed $300 million in sales.

Those buying it must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out. Continued…

So this is the latest method for getting kids to come to youth group. What do you think? Are violent video games appropriate? Your thoughts.

Star Bucks and Soteriology

Have you heard about these churches that have java cafes right in the worship center (a trendy word for sanctuary)? Yeah, apparently you can get coffee and a donut and whatever else during the service, come and go as you please, and are encouraged to do so. Well I’ve been to one, and here are some thoughts.

First off, let me say that in no way am I bashing this particular church. I only speak about it because it was a personal experience. The place was super modern and trendy, and they fostered what was less like a “come as you are” atmosphere and more like a “come any way you dang well please” one. Perhaps that’s a big negative, but even the guy playing the guitar up front during the singing was doing so without shoes. Without shoes I tells ya’!

Seriously though, the place was relaxed to the max. Super trendy; super cool; super laid back; and, dare I say, super….shallow*? I really went in with a good attitude. I sang the songs (which were way too loud) and tried not to be critical but rather appreciate what was good about the experience. There’s no doubt this church is meeting some sort of need for someone, but I ask myself, “at what expense?”

Ask the typical critic of so-called “traditional” churches and you will almost ALWAYS hear them say that it’s too boring. Sadly, there’s a lot of truth to that. I mean, I don’t care what style you choose, it doesn’t have to be boring. But I fear that as a reaction to boringness the tendency has been to swing too far the other direction at the expense of what truly makes the corporate Christian experience what it should be.

What kind of sign is being presented by Star Bucks Christianity? Should church be like your order at Burger King (have it your way)? Not at the expense of truth, mystery, and depth is what I say. But maybe I’m just whacked.

I know some of you disagree with me. I’m not interested in a debate, but in dialogue. Help me to see the benefits of such an ultra laid back approach to church. Make a case that American Star Bucks Christianity isn’t selfish individualism’s logical expression.

Please.

*On a side note, the pastor during his sermon (50 minutes, mind you) referred to the Holy Spirit as “it”. He said, “One disciple said to the other, ‘Holy Spirit, what’s that?’ The other disciple replied, ‘I don’t know, but we’ll know when it happens.'” Pardon me, I just vomited in my mouth. Once again, in the attempt to “dumb down” and be funny he has committed heresy and depersonalized the third Person of the Trinity to 50 people. But that’s just a side note….

P.S. This post is coming across way more negative than I mean for it to. I really do have a smile on my face right now. You just can’t see it.

Questionable Advertising

A New York storage company called Manhattan Mini Storage is known for using liberal messages in its advertising billboards. Previous catch phrases like “The Democrats Cleaned The House … Now It’s Your Turn,” superimposed over an elephant carrying a suitcase and “Your Closet’s Scarier Than Bush’s Agenda,” appearing on a confidential document are both fairly witty and can dislodge a giggle even from the most loyal conservative (after all, I even chuckled).

Their latest billboard (see the picture to the right) features a pro-abortion message that even made the Drudge Report this morning, and it has me wondering… Does this new ad cross the line? Is it smart advertising, or just bad taste? Should such a controversial issue be used to sell products and services? Does it bother you that everything has a political agenda behind it? What do you think?

Read.

Time for Intellectual Excellence

Life as a seminary student can sometimes be overwhelming. Trying to balance family life, work, and graduate school can undoubtedly be a daunting challenge. Every now and then, I need to be reminded of just why I put myself through the challenges, frustrations, and difficulties.

It’s in times like these that I turn to nothing other than…the Internet. For you see, it is on the Internet that I am reminded of why seminaries even exist. Allow me to demonstrate.

On a popular Christian web forum, I asked the following two questions:

1. What is the Trinity?
2. How does your answer to question number 1 affect how you live your life on a day-to-day basis?

Below are a few of my personal favorite answers.

zinthos answered,

The trinity is not biblical. it doesnt make sense and started in Babylon.

JustVisiting answered,

1. The Trinity is a purely man-made concept that never has, never does, and never will be supported by Scripture and is simply a way for Christians to justify calling Yeshua Hashem without actually saying it.

2. Well, it affects my life quite well because I worship One G-d, not three in one. And its a comforting thing, to me.

Swinny89 answered,

1. the trinity is an attempt to understand the connection between God the father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

2. it has no affect, because i have no strong opinions about it.

These are just a few samples of what the answers are like. They come from the minds of normal every day Christians, generally youth. To me they represent a growing problem throughout the life of American Christianity and are a vivid example of why the church needs people who can think rightly now more than ever.

But do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that only seminarians can think rightly. I am only speaking from my own context. The point I am trying to make is that we need to be intellectually sharp in this sad day of theological, biblical, and moral ‘illiteracy.’ I say “sad” because it is sad indeed when the Trinity is regarded as unbiblical and irrelevant for Christian life. What should be central has been moved even beyond the margins into the realm of unnecessary man-made conjecture.

Will you commit with me to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind? Will you seek to know Him as He has revealed Himself? And will you seek to be a beacon of intellectual excellence no matter what level of education you are at in this point of your life?

The church needs you.

The world needs you.

Happy Fourth

I would like to wish my readers a Happy Independence Day. And I would like to say that I am a Christian who loves my country which I believe was established by the providential guidance of God. Despite its imperfections, no other country in the history of the world has produced more opportunity for the Gospel to abound than this one. I am not ashamed of that, and I celebrate this day in light of what God has done, is doing, and is going to do.

Is Barney the Antichrist?

We all know and love America’s favorite dinosaur. But few know of his secret Romanian heritage, multi-lingual skills, and massive investments in the rebuilding of the city of Babylon in modern day Iraq. Is it possible that Barney is the Antichrist? Take a look at the following proof and you just might be convinced…

Given: Barney is a CUTE PURPLE DINOSAUR
Prove: Barney is the Antichrist

The Romans had no letter ‘U’, and used ‘V’ instead for printing, meaning the Roman representation would for Barney would be:
CVTE PVRPLE DINOSAVR

CVTE PVRPLE DINOSAVR – Extracting the Roman numerals, we have:
CV &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp V &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp L &nbsp&nbsp DI &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp V

And their decimal equivalents are:
100 5 5 50 500 1 5

Adding those numbers produces: 666.

666 is the number of the Beast.

Proved: BARNEY IS THE ANTICHRIST!

Didn’t think I could do it, did you?

(I don’t know who to credit for this since you can find it on about a billion sites on Google, so whoever is responsible for it, thank you.)

Activists Want Chimp Declared a ‘Person’

I find this incredibly hard to believe, and yet I don’t. I can almost not even bring myself to type such an absurdity.

Check it out for yourself here.

Can a chimp be a “person”? If the answer to this question is yes, then what makes me not a chimp? This is nothing more than the inverted logic of Darwinism. The natural end of Darwinian evolution is that I am nothing more than an animal. Apparently the flip side to this is that animals are persons. Either way you look at it, there is nothing unique to human kind. The result is that you have chimps watching television and elementary kids committing suicide.

Oh God save us!

Second "Life"?

Got a sin to confess? Do it online.

Are you kidding me?

Now some of you might recoil at one aspect of this idea, and some of you might recoil at another. The first group hears the word “confession” and immediately thinks “Catholic.” Of course! Only Catholics do confession, right? And if Catholics do it, it’s gotta be wrong, right? WRONG. In fact, I would like to say that at least Catholics do something in regards to confession! I mean, the Protestant version of confession is nothing more than to whisper a quick “sorry” to God (if anything at all) and trust that we’ve been forgiven. That’s stupid.

I think I fit with the second group, the one that hears “online” and is horrified. The World Wide Web is a glorious thing. I love it. I spend hours and hours on it. I have even become somewhat dependent on it (for news, keeping in touch with distant friends, entertainment, etc.). But there is one aspect of the Web that scares the living be-daylights out of me — virtual life.

It started with chat rooms. Then it moved to IM, blogs (like the incredible one you’re visiting right now), message boards, etc. — anywhere that you can “interact” with other people under a virtual name. Now we’re seeing the introduction of what’s called “Web 3.0” – a 3D virtual world where you can be someone totally different than who you really are.

Take Second Life, for instance. The name says it all. You can live a completely other life than what is real. It is mass escapism to the extreme!

What does this have to do with online confessions? Simply this: The Web is not reality. It can never, and I repeat NEVER, be the real world. Online confessions? How depersonalizing is that? So what if the world reads it? What bearing does that have on you personally? The truth is, it doesn’t. You cannot fully be a person on the Internet.

The world wants to know what it means to be a person. Is the church answering this fundamental question, or is the Web?

Your thoughts?