Sorry folks; I have no idea. I had never heard of Chris Swan [link] until search terms started leading people here.
Mars Hill/Acts 29 is a big organization, and any organization of a certain size has people joining and leaving in much the same way breath enters and leaves a body. Perhaps his transition is just as ordinary.
I honestly had no idea Joyce Meyer had written so many books, let alone that anyone in Santa Fe would be reading them and donating them to the public library.
Let’s just take it as read that I’ve seen this five-minute clip:
Because I have; and I owe Michael Newnham [link] the usual debt of gratitude.
I’m reserving judgment until I can see the clip in context; it’s five minutes from an unknown source. It looks like it was shot with a single stationary camera, and Driscoll was speaking to a small audience; I couldn’t even tell you what his source text was. So until I can see the source (hour? half-hour? whatever) I’m going to reserve judgment.
Well mostly. I am a pretty poor New Testament scholar, but I couldn’t identify which of the Pauline gifts Driscoll is referring to here. Surely he’s not going off-text and inventing a gift out of his own experience, etc.
I am still looking for someone who can explain the ongoing unrest in Mexico in terms that make sense to me. Because Michael Newham thinks so highly of Charles Bowden, and on the basis of a couple of things I’d read by Bowden, I thought he might be that guy.
I heard an excerpt of the presentation above on an ABC Radio National podcast first [link], and if I heard him correctly he said some pretty sensible things (e.g. there are things about the dominant media messages about the Mexican Drug War that don’t make much sense; the narrative in the right-leaning press that people entering the US from Mexico on foot are vectors for drugs and violence doesn’t make much sense; etc.).
Unfortunately he also seems to talk about the social cost of alcohol and the imagined social cost of legal marijuana as if they were the same thing, and he talks about the legalization of drugs generally as being the solution to the Mexican Drug war without dealing with any differences between the legalization of marijuana (which, I understand, isn’t really the drug being sold by Mexican drug lords anyway) and the legalization of heroin (which, I understand, is). If he really doesn’t personally make these distinctions, and he’s not just saying these things because they make for stronger talking points, I have to wonder (wait for it) what he’s been smoking.
I’m looking for Ryan Ellsworth, former assistant pastor at Calvary Santa Fe. I have heard that he has started a new church in the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area, but I’ve had no luck finding any clues as to where it is or when it meets. Any information appreciated, etc.
Yes, Dave Bruskas, now-former pastor of City On A Hill (now Mars Hill Albuquerque) has apparently [link] left Mars Hill Albuquerque for a position in the Seattle area [link]. The transition was apparently an amicable one [link], although I have not seen an official announcement for those of us outside the Mars Hill Church circle of light, etc. We wish the Bruskas family all the best in their new situation.
As a point of entry into Fisher Humphreys’s 1994 book The Way We Were: How Southern Baptist Theology has Changed and What it Means to Us All it is important to note two things:
- He’s in the group that lost out during the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention in the Eighties; there are several of these groups, and they overlap, but based on my reading I think it might be fairest to refer to him as a “progressive,” meaning that he favors the ordination of women, critical biblical studies, academic freedom in seminaries, and ecumenicism.
- He considers the early English Baptists, the original dissenters from the Anglican Church with their believers baptism and their local government of churches, to be normative and later Baptists, including but not limited to Landmarkists and Fundamentalists, to be deviant.
It might fairly and humbly be asked why Humphreys would stake out this particular territory to defend, especially the second point, and at least one other blogger (Greg Gibert at 9Marks [link]) has asked pretty much this question. In his case he asks why it would matter that John Smyth and Thomas Helwys were anti-Calvinist (his term).
I guess I’d have to put these two points together the way I have here and ask why someone who believes seminaries should be havens of academic freedom and Baptist churches not places where the opinions of the English Baptists could be disregarded. Of course, I haven’t read them, so I can’t say what their opinions would be regarding the ordination of women and inerrancy.
Congratulations on local pastor Carlos Montoya for getting his blog article “Real Men Repent” distributed on the Mars Hill website [link].
Carlos was the youngest pastor at Calvary (Chapel) Santa Fe back in 2001-2002 when everything came unwound, and I’m happy for him that he’s managed to stay in the ministry and find another church organization to be part of; that being said, I have to hope that picture of him is meant to be ironic; he just doesn’t look right in a plaid shirt and a Mark Driscoll haircut.
Speaking of real men repenting: did Driscoll ever apologize for his “most effeminate worship leader” gaffe? I’ve been out of circulation for a while, so he may have and I may have missed it.
I spent last week in upstate New York on business, staying in a middling chain hotel where the cable offering included only major network affiliates and a cable-company-produced news channel. The cable company which shall remain nameless offered only EWTN and TBN as religious channels, and I lost all of Sunday to travel, so I had almost no chance to catch any off-brand Christian television on this trip.
I did however catch a couple of TV preachers in the cheap time slots: 3AM, 4AM, 5AM on a weekday on the sort of minor-league cable offerings, opposite the workout videos and the debt-into-wealth real estate/investing programs. In particular, I managed to catch Peter Popoff and Mike Murdock. I had no idea Peter Popoff was still a going concern. I really thought he got out of the business after James Randi exposed him in the late Eighties [link]. He’s still around, though, and his hair is shall we say unnaturally black and immobile.
Mike Murdock of Wisdom Center fame [link] was winding down a half-hour when I caught him, and he was doing a by-the-numbers seed-faith bit. The basic bit is to suggest that if you give a small amount of money to the Man of God then God will give you a large amount of money, provided you have faith. I’ve rarely seen it done as close to the formula as Murdock was doing it; apart from referring to the amount I’m supposed to give him as a “seed” it was as free of pretense and metaphor as I’ve ever seen it. The other distinguishing characteristic was that Murdock was asking for a thousand dollars.
Even in these days of market volatility and sub rosa inflation a thousand dollars is a lot of money; that’s about three and a half weeks’ gross pay at the current minimum wage. I don’t personally have a thousand dollars just lying around. How about you?
Murdock was going further in pressing for money than I’ve ever seen: he actually leaned in toward the camera and said that even if you’re facing bankruptcy and having trouble paying your credit card bill you should still call his toll-free number and give him a thousand dollars. Operators are standing by and all that.
So I went to Google and did a little research and stumbled onto the new book by Trey Smith, Thieves: One Dirty TV Pastor and the Man Who Robbed Him [link]. It’s overpriced at $9.99, but I bought it anyway.
I’m about halfway through it; it moves pretty quickly, it needs editing, and it tells a pretty unpleasant tale. There’s rough language and scenes that are appropriate for a rock-and-roll memoir (I’m thinking Hammer of the Gods here, but only because I’m years out of date regarding the genre) but will offend anyone who reads a steady diet of say Karen Kingsbury. It portrays Murdock as a thief (hence the plural in the title) who exploits employees, women, viewers, family, just about anybody. And it portrays his son Jason Murdock as a hard-partying drug-using Gen X atheist.
He goes into detail about Murdock’s greed, adultery, etc. No drinking or drug use so far, and just the occasional passage referring to inexplicable personality quirks. I’m tempted to measure the portrayal of Murdock against the portrayal of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker in various accounts in the Eighties; I’d argue that the accounts are commensurate, but Murdock comes off as thoroughly and intentionally evil, where the Bakkers came off as more bewildered and overwhelmed.
I can’t say I recommend this book; it’s too poorly written and the material, while germane to the story, is presented in a way that to my ear sounds calculated as much to titillate as to inform. Still, it stands apart from a lot of TV-preacher exposes in that there’s no political angle and the author does at least suggest that there’s a moral standard that he (the narrator) and Murdock fall short of. So I’d recommend elements of it against say Rob Boston’s book on Pat Robertson.
As careful long-time readers of this blog know, I come from a fundamentalist background, and attended several churches that formed as splits off Southern Baptist churches in the Fifties and Sixties in central Virginia, just prior to the conservative resurgence within the SBC. Not all of my family made the jump; some of them had made the jump from the United Methodist Church to the SBC twenty or thirty years earlier, and were disinclined to leave churches where the extended family had become fairly deeply entrenched, where they were serving as deacons and Sunday School teachers, and where they had already purchased plots in the church cemetery. So as a result part of my family watched the SBC gyrations of the last thirty years from inside the SBC, while others watched from outside.
Regardless, we were on balance in agreement with the conservatives within the SBC; we believed that they had a higher regard for Scripture than the old guard they were replacing, and we expected that all sorts of evil would be avoided by the SBC’s move to the right. In particular, I think we assumed that the creeping secularism and liberalism we saw in other similar churches (read: the United Methodist Church) would be avoided if we conservatives took back the SBC.
I suppose in retrospect that we were right to a degree. I don’t know how I would measure something like that. I can say with some confidence that if I visit a local SBC church today it bears a closer resemblance to the independent Baptist churches I grew up in than does say a local UMC church, in both good ways and bad. On the other hand, the path the SBC has taken in the last thirty years has had its own difficulties, only some of which it would have encountered had it stayed the course in the Seventies. For example, I suspect the SBC would still have become richer and more suburban and some of its churches would still be megachurches if the conservatives hadn’t taken over.
Fisher Humphreys was one of the losers in the SBC internecine conflict; he is a self-avowed progressive, and he lost his position at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary during a purge of liberals. I’m not sure when; details are sketchy.
His 1994 book The Way We Were: How Southern Baptist Theology has Changed and What it Means to Us All [link] is an attempt to put some of the disagreement between the two sides (the conservatives or fundamentalists on one side; everyone else on the other) in some sort of a historical theological context. If I understand him correctly he is making the argument that there is, always has been, and always will be, a mainstream of Baptist-ness within the SBC, and an assortment of minority views and voices that are not part of that mainstream, and the fundamentalists are not in the historical mainstream of the SBC. Along the way he more or less lays out the case of the Mainstream Baptists [link, link].
I have been carrying this book around with me for more than a month, trying to decide whether to blog about it and if so what angle to take. I think it is helpful to go back and read the perspectives of people like Humphreys who were both part of the history and who bothered to put pen to paper talking about it later. I have to admit I am mostly accustomed to hearing his views represented from a fundamentalist perspective, and I thought it was helpful to hear what he and people like him think of the changes in the SBC, even if at times I can’t figure how what he’s saying corresponds to what I thought were the issues at the time.