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Sunday, August 26, 2012

On Cyber-apologetics

"We all want something; its the essential truth of who we are."

--a man in the commercial for ABC's upcoming series, 666 Park Avenue

In the commercial, the video in the commercial gives you the feeling that this phrase is to be taken sexually, and I almost assuredly will not be tuning in to actually find out, mainly because one of my personal weirdnesses is rarely watching dramas or movies. I meant to watch Ben Stein's "Expelled", but wouldn't pay the price to go to the theater, and never ran into a dvd, although once or twice I actually looked for it. Maybe someday. If you write and tell me that it isn't worth seeing, I won't be surprised.

One thing I don't want is trouble, but to be a believer in Jesus sometimes brings it. Earlier this week, I received an email from someone I didn't know. It came through an internet prayer site, which somehow connected with me via Facebook. I open it up, and find someone sent me a link to an American Indian religion site that maintained that Christian "conversion" is a mind control and persuation technique created in the 1800's. Since this was supposed to be a Christian site, I posted a short rebuttal in part based on my own testimony, in which the Holy Spirit spoke into me while I was mowing the lawn and thinking about what I saw on the news. I later wrote a person whom I thought was the site moderator. Shortly, I found out she wasn't the moderator, and was in agreement with the posting being highly inappropriate. This morning, I was told the person with the posting just was attempting to post the weirdest thing she could without getting kicked off the site.

A little more serious was something I ran into just a short bit later this week. Facebook has this interesting feature of emailing one of all your "friends" who have birthdays this week. One person is a man who was a youth pastor at a church I went to about a decade ago. He was a bar band drummer for about 20 years when, one evening after work, i.e. about 3 or 4 in the morning, he turned on tv, saw a tv evangelist who, at the end of the program, offered a Bible training course. For some reason, he had an urge to order it, and when it came, he studied it, and eventually came to faith in Jesus. He started going to a certain denominational church (which one doesn't matter), ran into their particular odd interpretation, moved to the church I would later be at, and after a few weeks, told the pastor he was called to ministry. The pastor began giving him something, then later something greater to do, until he eventually became youth pastor. My wife and I assisted him with the youth group. Sometimes, he did and said things that I wouldn't have, but we are all unique individuals. He sometimes showed a lack of training, but I also recognized that the head guy didn't have formal training, either. Actually, the leadership was sufficiently weak that I would have left, but I thought my wife liked being there. I later learned my wife wasn't happy there, but thought I was.

Over time, something happened sufficient that we left, and lost track of the person whom this is actually about. We moved to another state, and after a few years, I started playing with Facebook--the game: "Who can I find that I remember?" This man's name came up, and he was there. The notation was that he now pastored a church in that town. I have no clue how big, and it is in the normal for western culture form of a building, titles, and I imagine he speaks every week. Anyway, Facebook let me know that, earlier this week, his birthday was this week, so I figured to type in "Happy Birthday." Since I really haven't spoken to him in years, there wasn't much more to say. That is, until I see a posting that his church was celebrating one year of having moved their services to Saturday, which is an idea he got after reading in the Old Testament about the Sabbath. I thought for a couple of days about whether to respond, and how. This morning, I decided to ask him how he would explain Acts 15:28-29, where the elders of Jerusalem state what of the Old Testament Law should carry over to New Covenant believers, which is to refrain from sexual immorality and some things about eating meat offered to idols. I typed in my response, which immediately wiped out (whether that was my incorrectly using Facebook's functions or how he has things set up, I don't know). Then I see another person asking him, "Are you now KJV only?" to which he replied "Come to our service and find out." Somehow, this rings quite similar to the Joseph Prince comment that I wrote about two weeks or so ago.

On Sunday, at my church, Andrew Sullivan's Newsweek article from last April got brought up. I had not read it, but I was more familiar with Andrew Sullivan's previous work than the two persons who had read it. If you have not, on the April 9, 2012 issue, the cover picture is of a man who looks like the typical picture of Jesus, long hair, beard, mustach, crown of thorns, looking upward, but wearing modern American casual clothing--jean jacket, blue checked casual collared shirt, with the title, "Forget the Church, Follow Jesus." While those of us in the SC/HC flavor of following Jesus would agree with the title sentiment, that it is followed by "by Andrew Sullivan" might give rise to going in a different direction. For those who don't know, Andrew Sullivan, who has done political commentary for a number of different sources, is the prototypical "gay Republican", extremely liberal on social issues, conservative on money issue, and popular to quote in that his perspective is, might we say, catchy and unique. To summarize in a way Sullivan might consider unfair, he starts with Thomas Jefferson cutting up the Bible down to just the phrases he liked, and taking off with a "Jesus" of his own sociopolitical creation. The article doesn't give any reason to use Jefferson as an authority, and is Sullivan opinion from there. I'm not sending Sullivan an email, and, by now, I am certain he has received some from Christians who have put together well thought responses, and some less so.

I really never wanted to take a stand of faith via writing on the net, as their is no way to indicate by tone of voice, inflection, and other methods of communication other than words whether I am speaking in a loving, or on the opposite, accusitory, mean manner. That such a thing come up twice in the same week is unfortunate and slightly unnerving. Now, I have never met Andrew Sullivan, but I could sit down and speak in private, that might be a different story.

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