Monthly Archives: July 2012

Hate the Sinner, Love the Sin

A while ago I came across this video of Tim Keller answering a question about homosexuality to a non-Christian audience. I thought it was disappointingly weak and shallow, and I came up with lots of things to criticize about it. However, there was one thing that stood out to me as particularly bothersome. So I thought that instead of taking the time to polish and publish a full critique of the video, I would just offer a response to this one statement.

It’s the part where Keller is talking about the so-called “golden mean” that Christians should be striving for with regard to how they treat their “gay neighbor.” He says that some churches have taken seriously what the Bible says about homosexuality while failing to love their gay neighbor (whatever that exactly means in Tim Keller’s mind), but other churches have ignored what the Bible says about the sin “in order to love their gay neighbor.”

Immediately, I wanted to say, “Um… no?” Because here’s the thing: If you are ignoring what the Bible says about sin, you are not showing love to the sinner. You are showing love for the sin. But not the sinner. The Jen Hatmakers and Rachel Held Evanses of the world who talk about an “underground” of peace, luv and fluffy bunnies where gay people are “accepted and loved” are simply accepting and loving the sin. And that is death to the sinner, not life.

Every time I read a story about somebody who grew up believing their same-sex attraction was broken and sinful but changed their minds later in life, it reminds me of the power of the flesh. It’s the same story every time: “I used to think the Bible said this and this, but then I started to re-evaluate and re-examine these passages, and I eventually decided my sin was okay.” These people are so desperate to find some excuse for continuing to hold on to their sin that they will jump at the chance to twist Scripture, or accept someone else’s twisting of Scripture. Those who aid and abet them are encouraging them in that act of self-love, that act of holding on to a part of themselves that they are unwilling to crucify and bury. And the Bible tells us that he who saves his own life shall lose it.

So no, Tim Keller, I don’t think you can say with accuracy that the churches who are ignoring the biblical definitions of marriage and sexuality are doing so “in order to love their gay neighbors.” Quite the opposite, in fact.

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Monday Morning Humor: Chick-Fil-A

I thought this would be a timely kick-off to the new series. Tim Hawkins has actually written two parody tunes about Chick-Fil-A, one of them a take-off on the Beatles’ “Yesterday” and one of them a take-off on “God Bless the U.S.A.” We present them both for your enjoyment:

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The Week in Review (7/28): Shafts of Grace in Aurora, Chick-Fil-A Controversy, NQC/Singing News Awards Buildup, and More…

This will be rather thrown together and incomplete. I apologize. My excuse is that I’ve had a traumatic week with my computer. Here is what my family and I are now spreading far and wide: If you have a problem with your computer, whatever you do, DON’T TAKE IT TO THE GEEK SQUAD. We took mine in for a minor hardware issue with the sound last week. Not only did they not fix the actual problem, but in the process of removing some “malware” (which my Symantec Anti-Virus software never notified me of as a threat) they did something to screw up the system files so that when we came to pick it up, it wouldn’t boot up after being turned off. It requires an arduous, highly technical emergency procedure to wake it back up after being put to sleep that we aren’t equipped to do. We eventually brought it home “awake,” and I am now in the process of backing up all my data and shifting to a new computer since the “old” one is, for all intents and purposes, unreliable. My story is not unique—just google “Geek Squad” and “reviews” and you’ll find many a one-star rating. Spread the word.

On the faith and/or culture front:

*As Aurora, Colorado recovers from its horrible mass murder, some crumbs of grace can still be found. In a very classy gesture, Christian Bale himself paid a personal visit to Aurora with his wife, spending time with surviving victims (including one who had tweeted, “Shot in the leg at Batman. Where is he when you need him?”) and participating in the funerals for the dead. There were also some uplifting stories from the shooting itself, including one about a woman who took a bullet to the brain that amazingly missed all vital areas. Here’s another story about four young men who died protecting their girlfriends from bullets.

In the meantime, I have been collecting some thoughts on the different reactions people are having to this event, which should hopefully coalesce into a blog post at some point in the not-too-distant future.

*Perhaps you’ve heard of the brouhaha over Chick-Fil-A and gay rights activists. It’s pretty scary to read what the mayors of Boston and Chicago were saying, but for the moment it’s unclear what they could, legally, have actually done had they really tried to enforce their haughty statements with actions. For the nonce, they appear to have backed down. Meanwhile, gay activists are still calling for boycotts, and worse, “kiss-ins.” Can you imagine… on second thought, let’s not even try. Meanwhile, I’m not sure why Denny Burk and others have gone out of their way to stress that Cathy’s remarks are being exaggerated and taken out of context, since Cathy obviously made it clear he was against gay marriage even though he didn’t use that exact phrase. And frankly, there would have been nothing wrong with his using that exact phrase. If I were Cathy, my feeling at this point would be, “So maybe they cobbled together some things I said from various different interviews, and maybe they placed some words in my mouth. But they’ve got the gist of it. Excellent.”

On the Southern Gospel front:

*The final ballots are in for both the NQC Music Awards and the Singing News Fan Awards. David Bruce Murray has a side-by-side comparison of the finalists with commentary here.

*Beyond the Ashes lead singer Casey Rivers is leaving on pleasant terms. He has a growing family and has decided coming off the road would be best for them. He states, “For more than three years now I have been blessed to be one of those three singers that make up what many have come to know as Beyond The Ashes. Saying goodbye to family, and all I’ve grown accustomed to, is not an easy thing, but nevertheless, a new season has come for BTA and for me. I am 100% supportive of my brothers, and I know they are of me, as we all begin this new journey we’re embarking upon.” New lead singer TBA.

*Much more mysterious is the unannounced departure of Brandon Barry from the Mike Lefevre Quartet, news of which has managed to leak out anyway. I don’t know what the deal is, except that there seems to be quite a lot of unsubstantiated whispering and rumoring going around. I’m with DBM on this one. We’re not “afraid” to touch this—some of us only just found out what was going on!

*Legacy Five relates the saga of Scott Fowler, Trey Ivey, and The Mouse On the Bus. Not to be missed.

On the blog front:

*Starting next Monday I’m hoping to inaugurate a tradition I’m stealing (borrowing) from Kevin DeYoung’s blog: Monday Morning Humor. The aim is to provide Youtube clips that are a) clean and b) legitimately hilarious to start your week off with something cheerful. Comedians, TV shows, parodies, commercials… all are fair game, with the important caveat that my featuring a clean clip from someone or something does NOT constitute an endorsement of everything from that source. E.g. Monty Python is fertile ground for funnies, but not all of their material is family appropriate.

Open thread. Discuss away.

 

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Cameras, Concerts, and Missing the Moment

When I went to the Signature Sound/Collingsworth family concert in Shipshewana this summer (for which a review IS forthcoming, I promise), I brought a camera, as I do for every concert. Unfortunately, the Blue Gate Theater doesn’t have the greatest lighting conditions for hopeful photographers, and my view of the stage for the entire first half of the concert was dodgy and intermittent. So while I did manage against all odds to capture a few middling decent shots, I didn’t bring home a particularly spectacular crop (pun not intended).

There was one moment in particular where I really wished in hindsight I had put the camera down. On “Glory to God In the Highest,” Signature Sound had Phil Collingsworth Sr. join them for the “moves.” I thought, “Now that would be a great moment to catch on camera!” So I raised the camera in anticipation of the moment… and I couldn’t focus properly. It looked like a blur. And by the time I lowered it, the moment was gone. I had missed it. I never actually saw Phil Collingsworth dancing with Signature Sound, because I was so busy trying to pin it down and CATCH it that I lost my opportunity to simply ENJOY it.

I read a good article by Tim Challies recently that explores this very phenomenon. We live in a world of “capturing” gizmos. Everyone is always trying to record the moments around them. But really, a recorded moment isn’t going to be the same as a moment enjoyed in full when it’s actually happening. Your iphone will jiggle. Your camera will suffer from bad lighting. Color and detail will be fuzzed out. Audio will be sub-par. Yes, you’ll be able to go back and relive a recorded moment, but which is better? Having a cruddy recording of a moment you never got to enjoy properly, or having a great memory of a moment you did stop to enjoy properly?

Now of course, if nobody brought cameras to their concerts, there’d be no pictures or videos for the rest of us to enjoy (we’re thinking of you, Diana!) But I for one am thinking that I may start leaving mine home a little more often. What about you? Do you always carry a camera to every concert you attend?

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The Week in Review (7/20): Wilson and Held Evans Go At It, Obama Puts His Foot In It Again, Booth Brothers Prepare New Gaither Releases, and More…

On the Southern Gospel front
*The Booth Brothers are preparing to release a Gaither Best of CD/DVD combo in conjunction with a brand-new CD of Gaither covers. Pre-order now and you can get a great deal on all three. Here is a video promo.

*DBM figured out how to get rid of the big MusicScribe logo on his site, and after a brief flirtation with a black background (which most of us vehemently objected to), I think he’s settled on a really nice look.

*Steve Eaton has Round 2 of the NQC giveaway up. He’s already covered 20 of the biggest names in gospel music while saying repetition is unlikely, leaving some of us wondering just how tough the going will be in Round 6!

*Here’s a recent interview with the Mark Trammell Quartet. It’s completely hilarious—not your typical interview. These guys are funny. HT View From the Pew. Hard to pick a favorite moment, but I’d have to say my absolute favorite was when Mark Trammell was explaining (totally deadpan) the Christian way of dealing with people who pull in front of your 45,000 pound bus expecting you to stop right away: “You just scream ‘LOSER’ real loud. They can’t hear you, but it makes you feel better.”

On the faith and/or culture front

*Most of you have probably heard about the shooting in Colorado at a Dark Knight Rises midnight premiere. Victims included a 3-month-old and a 6-year-old. What?? Come again? What kind of a world do we live in where 2-year-olds know all the words to “Moves Like Jagger” and 6-year-olds are at a midnight premiere of a Dark Knight movie? Okay, I realize that’s a bad comparison artistically, but surely my point is clear. And I literally saw someone expressing dismay that this should happen somewhere he thought would have been the LAST PLACE for an act of violence. Really? Amazingly, some people still don’t see the irony of the fact that this guy identified himself as the Joker (villain of the last Batman installment) or that the audience literally didn’t realize what was happening at first because they thought it might just be part of the “movie experience.”

*Rachel Held Evans and Doug Wilson recently had a huge debate that was triggered by a post on The Gospel Coalition (which has since been removed) about the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. Jared Wilson quoted a passage from a book by Doug to help illustrate a point about the perversion that results when true masculinity and femininity are polluted. Although Doug makes a couple rhetorical missteps in that passage that do sort of jump out as odd, I completely agree with his overall point. You can read his summary of the debate here. What’s amazing is that it should have sparked such a firestorm of angry responses from Held Evans and her ilk, who apparently think this perverse literature is less of a threat to women than the people who are roundly condemning it as violent and abusive. Go figure. Anyway, I really enjoyed seeing Doug Wilson’s daughter Bekah chime in with a glorious rant after my own heart. I wonder if we were separated at birth. [Note: This debate involves some issues that are inappropriate for non-adult readers.]

*This week I did a post rather provocatively titled “What Can Conservative Christians Learn From Westboro Baptist?” In hindsight, particularly after reader Lydia provided some additional info on WBC, I admit I’m second-guessing the wisdom of that title a bit, even though I still think I was trying to make a valid point in the post. Continue reading

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What Can Christian Conservatives Learn From Westboro Baptist?

I don’t know if any of you follow the Stuff Christians Like blog, but it’s a site I can sometimes get into for light reading and some genuinely funny Christian satire. The proprietor, Jon Acuff, is sort of like a Mark Lowry for young evangelicals. One thing I like about Jon’s style is that he more or less avoids writing on politics and sticks with non-controversial topics everyone can laugh about. However, judging by who he hangs out with and counts among his friends (Rachel Held Evans, Jesus Needs New PR and co.), I’ve suspected that he’s a useful idiot for the left.

My suspicion was confirmed recently when Jon made a few posts about the fact that the Westboro Baptist crowd decided to picket his church, Crosspoint, this week. Although I can’t find a page for the church that states clearly what their policies are with regard to homosexuality, I gather they’re “seeker-friendly,” and according to a statement from the pastor, Westboro “disagrees with their approach to handling sin.” We can fill in the rest. Jon’s own thoughts were fairly mild-mannered (he’s a mild-mannered guy), but the comments threads were revealing. Some of his readers were saying outright that they didn’t even think homosexuality was sinful.

One reader provided a link to the WBC website, so I amusedly decided to take a glance at it.

What I found was bizarre. Sometimes it was unintentionally funny. More than anything, it gave me acute political and religious whiplash. Continue reading

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A Standing-O for Artistry

In gospel music, the surest way to get a standing-O is to make it big, make it long, and make it loud. Here I must hastily interject that this is not a knock on big endings and the standing-Os they generate (I’ve cheerfully joined in many a one myself), merely an observation of a fact.

But how many times have you seen a standing-O that had no root in emotion or message—the kind that’s offered purely for the skill and technique of the artists? Continue reading

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The Week in Review (7/14): Farewell To Glenn Dustin, BFA Releases New CD, SG Back Row Kicks Off NQC Webcast Giveaway, and More…

*Ernie Haase put up two more videos with more samples from his upcoming solo collection. I dislike some aspects of the videos’ format, but I found the spoken interview snippets really interesting. I wonder where they come from. They provide some neat insight into his solo career that I’d never heard before. Especially interesting is his discussion of Petra cover “Grave Robber” in the final video. People think of EHSS as edgy and progressive, but Ernie reveals that he’s always liked that kind of music and had been looking for a way to channel that into ministry for a long time. The last video also covers my favorite solo song of his, “An Unexpected Cross.”

*Brian Free & Assurance have officially released Nothing But Love on their website. The album will be available from regular retail outlets a bit later. Go get it.

*Southern Gospel Back Row has kicked off its yearly NQC webcast giveaway with Round 1 of a series of “guess the artist” montages. This round is easy, but they will get progressively harder. Head on over to play, and e-mail Steve your answers by next Tuesday!

*First glimpse at a not yet finalized album cover for the GVB’s upcoming acoustic release.

*The big turnover news of the week was Glenn Dustin leaving Legacy Five. I’ve gotten a huge number of hits on my news post, so it’s obvious that he will be greatly missed. His humor and personality formed an integral part of the group’s appeal. Here’s one of the group’s most popular routines that really allowed him to shine:

Fans have shared ideas around the blogosphere for who might replace Glenn that range from Randy Byrd to Gene McDonald to young talent nobody’s ever heard of! Who would you like to see take his place?

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Glenn Dustin Leaves Legacy Five

The changes just keep coming! Glenn Dustin has just announced his resignation from Legacy Five, and Scott Fowler says they have already begun the search process for a new bass singer. Those interested should e-mail an mp3 to Scott. Here are a few words from Glenn:

Dear Legacy Five Family,
If you know me at all, you know I am a man of few words, so I’ll be brief.
It is with much regret that I am announcing my resignation.  Effective immediately, I will no longer be traveling and singing with Legacy Five.  I have had the time of my life, traveling the highways with L5, getting to meet so many wonderful people.  However, nothing lasts forever.  I have been honored to see so many things that I would have never had the opportunity to, apart from L5.  I have so many wonderful memories, and I will miss so many people.
Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers, and continue to pray for and encourage L5.  I will miss those men, and I doubt there will be a day that passes where I don’t think of them.  I have so many wonderful memories.
In His Grip,
Glenn “Cuz” Dustin

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Major Changes For the Browns, Mark Trammell Quartet

The Browns family announced on Facebook today that Jessica and her husband Nick will be leaving the group. The couple has a new baby, Tessa, and Jessica is coming off the road to be at home with her. At the same time, Nick Trammell is replacing Dustin Sweatman as lead singer in the Mark Trammell Quartet. Dustin will be accepting a position as Renaissance Program Director of Choirs at Bethel University. It sounds like an offer he couldn’t turn down, and we wish both him and Nick all the best! This is very exciting news for fans of the Mark Trammell Quartet. Sweatman is an excellent singer, but the new father/son dynamic created by Mark and Nick in the same group can only improve the group’s blend and chemistry. Furthermore, the official announcement reveals that the group will be adding a full-time traveling pianist after NQC (where they will debut their new recording).

Some might argue that with Nick coming on board, and with Eric Phillips having returned to take up the tenor position, the lineup of this group as it now stands could not possibly be improved. Would you agree? Oh yes, and any thoughts as to who the new pianist might be?

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