Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Star Wars Denominations

Here's a cute essay that I stumbled across on the blog of a guy who describes himself as an "ecclesiastical anarchist" (

It started by me observing: Lutheran and Reformed are like Obi-Wan and Darth Vader--they're both really cool and have the Force, but the Reformed have to be all sinister and scary about it. Then people wanted to know what the rest of the sects would be:

The Baptists are Han Solo. They're pretty cool I guess, but no Force powers and lose my interest fast.

Liberals (PCUSA, United Methodists, ELCA) are Jar Jar Binks. They somehow escaped from a cartoon and are in our universe. Go away.

Arminians are C-3P0. I don't think it needs too much explanation.

Charismatics are R2D2. They live in their own universe, no one understands anything they say, and they hang out with the Arminians a lot.

Anglicans are Lando Calrissian. You're not sure whose side they're playing for, but when they get their act together, they usually come out with the good guys.

The Catholics are the Storm Troopers because there are basically eight quadrillion of them, so you really can't ignore them. The Pope is the Emperor.

The Orthodox are the Ewoks. They're really weird and do weird things, no one really knows much about them, but you gotta love 'em because those hats are just so cute. And the Storm Troopers tried to kill them once.

Oh yeah...and the megachurches are the Trade Federation from Episode I. They're huge, there are a lot of them, but man, they're just not that cool and you wonder why they even got written into the plot at all because the Storm Troopers are way cooler.

Televangelism is Jabba the Hutt.

I totally forgot the Independent Fundamental Born-Again Separated KJV-Only Baptists. They can be that sleazy little flying alien running the used podracer parts shop in Episode I. I can't stand that guy. Or better yet, Anakin Skywalker from the same movie. Eh, just make any of the annoying characters (other than Jar Jar) the Fundies.

So, which Star Wars character would the Vineyard be (and why)?

A Religious Spirit

I went to a prophetic conference recently and had a great time. We are commanded in scripture to test the prophetic, so I tried to be open to the Holy Spirit but also discerning (in the sense of examining things in the light of scripture).

Lots of goofy stuff took place; fun worship, excited young believers, bad theology (and good), scripture taken out of context or mis-quoted, earnest adoration of Jesus, humor that at times was brilliant and at times bordered on offensive - in other words, a mixed bag. All was justified in the name of freedom and grace. That's ok by me; none of us have it all together - we all see through a glass darkly. I can swallow the meat and spit out the bones and know that I have my own foibles and blind spots.

At a certain point however (if I recall it was while people were being instructed to write their most pernicious sin on a balloon and then pop it with a pin), the pastor of the hosting church begain talking about "the religious spirit". Essentially, his point was that if you were uncomfortable or critical or in disagreement with anything that was taking place, you had a "religious spirit".

My thought was, "Wow, how nifty! A preemptive defense mechanism!" Anyone who might have concerns about what you do or teach (even if they can back it up with scripture) is obviously under the influence of a "religious spirit" and can therefore be summarily dismissed; their concerns unanswered. After all, who are we to question someone's doctrinal teaching, right Paul? Paul?

I've looked through my Bible and can find nothing there regarding a "religious spirit" (although I must consider the possibility that I have a "religious spirit" which is preventing me from seeing it in scripture).

Since I couldn't find anything in the Bible, I tried the Internet. Low and behold, Google came up with over 17,000 hits when I searched for "religious spirit". I learned that the "religious spirit" is actually roomates with the "Jezebel spirit" (another one that I can't find in scripture).

Most of the chatter on the web regarding the "religious spirit" is from various charismatic groups accusing each other of having one. They do all seem to agree with one-another though when it comes to the Baptists having one!

I started to wonder, in Galatians when Paul recounts the story of how he publicly rebuked Peter, did Peter have a "religious spirit" and, if so, why didn't Paul say so? Or maybe, it was Paul who had the "religious spirit" for openly criticizing an Apostle of the Lord! I don't know.

I'm being somewhat tongue-in-cheek here, but there are some serious underlying issues of manipulation and accusation. It seems to me that levelling the charge of "having a religious spirit" against someone is accusatory, manipulative and an attempt to maintain control through guilt and intimidation. I know who the father of that stuff is, and it ain't our Father in heaven!

Do you disagree with me? Well, maybe you have a ...

Monday, April 19, 2004

G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton was a British journalist, theologian, philosopher who died in 1936. C.S. Lewis considered Chesterton to be his spiritual father. Here are a few selected quotes from Chesterton's book, "Orthodoxy":

On his journey to Christian orthodoxy:
"I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before...I tried to be ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it."

On Symbols:
"...the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms forever without altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its center, it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travellers."

On "Believing in yourself":
"The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums...Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one's self is a hysterical and superstitious belief."

On Rationalism vs. Mysticism:
"Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom...Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets."

"The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason."

"The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility. Detached intellectualism is (in the exact sense of a popular phrase) all moonshine; for it is light without heat, and it is secondary light, reflected from a dead world. ...That transcendentalism by which all men live has primarily much the position of the sun in the sky. We are conscious of it as of a kind of splendid confusion; it is something both shining and shapeless, at once a blaze and a blur. But the circle of the moon is as clear and unmistakable, as recurrent and inevitable, as the circle of Euclid on a blackboard. For the moon is utterly reasonable; and the moon is the mother of lunatics and has given to them all her name."