In Other News, PCUSA is Still Liberal (RE: “In Christ Alone”)

So, did you hear the one about PCUSA and “In Christ Alone”? Apparently someone got his knickers in a knot over the phrase “The wrath of God was satisfied,” wanting it changed to “The love of God was magnified.” When the writers said no, the Committee voted to exclude the song from its new hymnal. I know, right? I mean, who would ever expect PCUSA to do something like that?

Seriously, while the song is not a personal favorite and has its technical faults, both lyrical and musical, theology is certainly not its problem, and it’s a very bad sign for that to be chosen as the reason for its exclusion. As I saw one wag put it, it’s a wonder they didn’t balk at the “In Christ alone” part. Interestingly, the piece I linked recalls a quote about God’s wrath by Brennan Manning which I referred to as well when I wrote a cautionary piece about him after his death. It’s the one where he basically says he just can’t imagine  a wrathful God who punishes his own Son in substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world (gulp), because that would just be too mean. While the precise details of how the atonement accomplished its redeeming work are a rich vein for theological debate, the core truth that it was necessary to satisfy the wrath of the Father on our behalf is gospel, period.

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A Prayer Request From Legacy 5

The other day I received an e-mail notification from Legacy 5 with some news about their friend Patty and her little girl, Hannah, whom fans will recognize as the inspiration behind the song “Ask Me Why.” (For those unfamiliar with the story, briefly, Legacy 5 was involved in helping both of them convert from Islam to Christianity.) The father remained Muslim and divorced the mother, which under the circumstances seemed like one of the less disastrous things that could have happened. However, he is now suing for full custody of the little girl. The hearing is on August 1st. Hannah wants to continue living with her mom and is horrified at the prospect of being forced to live with her father. For those of us who are familiar with Muslim culture, we know this could be a very bad situation for Hannah if her father has his way.

I was recently in some correspondence with Gus Gaches, who told me that his family is flying out so his wife can testify on Hannah’s behalf. He would appreciate your prayers for their safe travel, and I’m sure L5 would appreciate your prayers for Hannah and her mother. Hannah is 13 years old, which may mean that she has more of a say in deciding her own fate. Her mother also has legal precedent on her side, as it’s atypical for a man to get full custody of the children in a divorce suit.

Gaither’s New Women of Homecoming Ventures Outside SG

Here’s a promo trailer for the upcoming “Women of Homecoming” DVDs from Gaither. Reader Josh VanKlomp has already noted the inclusion of new CCM singer Jamie Grace on the roster, but I’m also seeing other faces like Amy Grant and Kristyn Getty who are outside the realm of southern gospel. This wouldn’t be the first time a Homecoming has included a CCM singer (Avalon performed on a Billy Graham tribute, Natalie Grant has performed on one before, and I believe she is featured here again). However, I feel it’s especially odd to include Jamie Grace, since a) This particular video doesn’t have connections to some personality outside southern gospel, like Billy Graham, and b) Jamie has no connections to southern music and hasn’t even performed a song covered by southern gospel artists (like Kristyn Getty, whose voice introduced the world to “In Christ Alone”). Not only that, but the song she performs (“Hold Me”) has got to be one of the most pathetic offerings of Christian radio in recent years. I can’t for the life of me figure out what she’s doing here. She seems like a pretty girl with a nice voice, and I wish her all the best of luck, but this just isn’t the proper venue for her.

George Zimmerman, Justice and the Church

George Zimmerman--I Am a Man

Last year I thought about saying something about the Trayvon Martin case. But then I thought it would be best to wait. The media was generating so much more heat than light, and besides, racial tension is one of those issues one is always reluctant to talk about if one’s opinion strays from the popular narrative. Now that an official verdict has been handed down from our justice system, and George Zimmerman has been declared not guilty, I would like to address some of the appallingly irresponsible reactions I am seeing from the leaders of the evangelical community in the wake of this decision. I don’t mind saying that I am equal parts disheartened, angered, yet depressingly un-surprised to see how thoughtlessly they have, collectively, abandoned George Zimmerman. And I am not the only one.

Let’s begin with this fact, which precisely zero evangelical “voices” have acknowledged: This is a case that should never even have gone to trial. Continue reading “George Zimmerman, Justice and the Church”

The Marriage Debate: Not Just About Marriage (or, Should Christians Be “Anti-Gay?”)

Last week, I posted some helpful responses to the court’s recent disastrous decisions on gay “marriage.” Unfortunately, I’ve also heard reactions from people who still think of themselves as coming down on the conservative side that could stand to be refined. What I specifically want to focus on today is the notion that we conservatives need to be super-careful to separate our opposition to gay “marriage” from being generally “anti-gay” (whatever this means, exactly). The idea is that it’s “unhelpful” and/or “divisive” to zoom out of this very narrow focus and begin addressing the larger sexual issues surrounding the marriage debate. I’m going to argue that this is pretty much impossible.

This is not just about gay “marriage.” This is about everything that constitutes “being gay” in the popularly understood sense of the word. Continue reading “The Marriage Debate: Not Just About Marriage (or, Should Christians Be “Anti-Gay?”)”

Watch the Ball Brothers on Wretched TV

For those of you who aren’t familiar with “Wretched,” it’s a Christian talk show that looks at faith, culture and everything else through a humorous, but very theologically conservative lens. Todd Friel, the host, is a former stand-up comedian who brings his unique, sarcastic style to each fresh issue. They are die-hard Calvinists, but we can forgive them. For all things Wretched, go here. To browse Wretched TV clips in a handy Youtube playlist, go here. Be warned: I’ve found it rather addictive.

I did not know this, but apparently Todd became a fan of the Ball Brothers about a year ago. They’ve been featured twice on the show. In this older clip you can see him raving about their theologically substantial lyrics, as compared with typical CCM radio fare. (Although, funnily enough, Todd doesn’t seem aware that the song they performed here was originally a CCM song by GoFish! Though I guess the Ball Brothers did make the second verse a bit more theological.)

This is a recent appearance with their two new members:

The Booth Brothers Bring Back Two Older Videos

The Booth Brothers pulled two older DVDs from retail a while ago. They were An Evening With the Booth Brothers (2005) and Live! In Lakeland (2003). However, by popular demand (ahem) both videos are now back in the store. I knew that Booth Brothers fans would be pleased, especially if they didn’t already own either video. Both are well worth adding to your collection. You can buy them here.

Can You Explain Why Homosexuality is Wrong?

Orthodox Christians are in agreement that homosexual behavior is wrong and homosexual attraction is a tragic result of the fall. But if we had to articulate clearly why it was wrong in conversation with a homosexual, what might that look like? I want to thank J.D. Greear, Voddie Baucham and Russell Moore for weighing in clearly on this issue in a recent roundtable discussion. (I was annoyed by some other things Moore said in reaction to DOMA, but he brought his good side to this discussion and contributed thoughtful ideas.) All three had pertinent things to say, but I think my favorite is Baucham. Baucham is one of the sanest, sharpest, most clear-eyed pastors in The Gospel Coalition, and he’s great at getting right to the heart of the matter.

One thing he said in this video, which I think isn’t being said enough, is that the people who judge evangelicals for not caring about divorce while speaking against same-sex “marriage” are lying, pure and simple. Orthodox evangelicals have been concerned about the growing divorce culture within the church for a long, long time. Baucham also nailed it when talking about the zero-sum game in the culture war, without using that exact phrase. We’ve seen over and over again that all hope of a “grand compromise” where everyone tolerates everyone else is a hopeless fantasy. Like it or not, this is a culture war where one winner must take all in the public square. This is not (just) about “what people choose to do in their bedrooms.” The very explosion of the “marriage” debate is proof that this is a highly public issue that will not go away until every demand of the homosexual agenda has been granted.

Another good aspect of this discussion was the role of the state in marriage. Some folks of a libertarian bent (hi Kyle!) would argue that the state shouldn’t have anything to do with regulating marriage at all. Greear, Baucham and Moore unpack why that simply isn’t true, or practically feasible.

Finally, all three rightly pointed out that not only does homosexuality in fact harm many people, including the homosexuals themselves, but “hurting someone else” isn’t the only benchmark of sin. A man could cheat on his wife and keep it a secret from her, but clearly he is still committing adultery. Homosexuality is a crime against the natural order in and of itself, and that alone is enough to make it a sin.

Those are just a few things I really liked, but the whole conversation is well worth watching.