Paula White Blames God for Her Divorce

September 22, 2007

When she went on Carman’s TV show on TBN (Sept. 12, 2007 episode), Paula White gave no hint whatsoever of taking personal responsibility for her divorce. Instead, everything she said made it clear that she believes that her divorce is nothing but a trial that God has brought into her life, totally beyond her own control, and for which she bares no blame.

She was very careful to spin her words so as to avoid any discussion of the wrongness of divorce, or of she and Randy’s personal responsibility for making an unbiblical decision. Instead, she only discussed her divorce as a trial which she cannot control or correct, which is what she is biblically bound to do through restoration and reconciliation with Randy. The reality of divorce being a personal decision that is in violation of Scripture and that can be repented of, does not enter the discussion.

Here are the statements she made that clearly reveal her attitude, taken from a transcript of the interview:

“I embrace the concept that I would not let my trial be wasted in life,”

“I often say ‘I didn’t write the script, but I’m learning to live it out with the best of my ability for the honor of God, with dignity, with grace, with favor, embracing His word.”

“Some of the greatest development in the men and women of God … were those in adverse situation, those in opposition. But it pulled out because you had that decision. You can either gravitate and put your hand to the plow and say, ‘Okay, God, I don’t get this one; I don’t even like this one. But still what do You have to say to me? I will not be moved.'”

“Because when you know who you are and whose you are, I believe it gives you that inner fortitude and that strength to face whatever life situation you may have to go through,”

“When I don’t understand life, I’m not going to draw back. I have decided to do one thing even my mind doesn’t comprehend it – draw nigh,”

“I believe when people can find out who they are, then you can be equipped to handle life’s situations.”

Many of the things she says are true statements WHEN they are in reference to trials and circumstances beyond our control, such as sicknesses, death of a loved one, natural disasters, etc. But it is presumptuous and arrogant to say these things in reference to sinful personal choices she and Randy have made.

She is excusing what she is doing. She is absolving herself of any personal responsibility for bringing this “trial” to pass herself, or for fulfilling the duty to stop the divorce and reconcile with her husband, and in the process is making God out to be the cause of this divorce. That is blatant arrogance and an act of being self-willed. She is spinning the rhetoric to make herself look good.

Carman, being aware of the critics of Paula, had the arrogance to say that people who don’t have the “wherewithal” to assess the situation should not judge Paula or “open that person up to look,” as he put it.

Who would that be Carman? Anyone who would dare criticize Paula? Listen, Randy and Paula promote themselves as ministers of Christ, and they do so very publicly. Anyone with a clear understanding of the Biblical teaching on divorce does in fact have the “wherewithal” to comment on the situation by calling them to repent of their now-public sin, their continued denial of personal responsibility, and their God-blaming. Shame on you Carman for tolerating her self-justifying and God-blaming comments on your show and then chiding those of us who would seek to call her to repentance and obedience to Scripture.

She is not the helpless victim she is making herself out to be. She shares responsibility with Randy to seek reconciliation. She needs to shut her mouth about how much this is a God-sent trial. It isn’t, it was brought upon them by themselves, and it is correctable if they’ll only heed Biblical counsel and submit to the Word of God. She needs to quit deceiving herself that God is going to bless her for her response in this situation. He won’t do that until her response is to obey His clearly revealed will regarding divorce and marriage, which is plainly spelled out in His Word. So far, she and Randy have ignored it.

Paula seems too caught up in staying on top of her game, being famous, being the life coach to the stars, and keeping the large donations coming in to be Biblical. Her words continue to reveal that it really is all about her. That’s the core of the prosperity message she champions. Being broken publicly and confessing her sin with humility seems to be the furthest thing from her mind. Her willful disobedience to Scripture and her presumptuous defense of herself is a dishonor to Christ, His Word, and His church.

(HT: to Nathan Williams for the pointer to the article)

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Nebraska Democrat Sues God

September 17, 2007

This is just too good to pass up. Nebraska Democratic Senator Ernie Chambers has filed a suit against God.

Why?

His lawsuit states that he wants God (the defendant) to stop natural disasters from occurring on earth.

In it he says that the “defendant directly and proximately has caused, inter alia [that is, among other things], fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornados, pestilential plagues…”

But wait a minute, methinks I smell a contradiction here. For years Rabbi Kushner’s (author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People) notions about the relationship between God’s love and power have prevailed among many liberals. Namely, that since God is a loving God he would never allow these kinds of evils, if only He were able to prevent them. But alas, He is simply not that omnipotent or sovereign. He has to make the best of bad things just like we do.

So which is it Senator? Does He cause them or is He unable prevent them?

And furthermore, if you really do think God is capable of causing them, then do you not have enough sense (reverence) to refrain from accusing such a God – even if only to make a political point? And if you don’t think God is powerful enough to sovereignly control such things, then this silly lawsuit that dares to accuse Almighty God is “exhibit A” that good sense escapes you indeed!


Why Christians Won’t Kill Kathy Griffin

September 15, 2007

(This is posted in contrast to the previous post)

In her acceptance speech for an Emmy award Saturday night, comedian Kathy Griffin said the following (censored) remarks:

“A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.”

Then she went on to say:

“Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now.”

She was probably just trying to be funny, but who doubts that she made those remarks without an ounce of concern for Christians who might be offended by them? Because those remarks DO offend and insult Christians, simply because they insult the honor of Jesus Christ.

I wonder if they offend Muslims too. I wonder if they offend Extreme Muslims – the kind who are now offering a $100,000 reward for the murder of the Danish cartoonist that depicted Mohammed in a way they deemed insulting. Something tells me that they won’t even blink an eye – even though they consider Jesus to be one of their prophets.

This is one example that shows the vast difference between the attitude of extreme Muslims and that of Christians. Extreme Muslims react with anger that gives way to murderous intentions. Christians are called to love and forgive – just like Christ Himself did when He was insulted and murdered.

This is also an example of the vast difference between those who claim to be tolerant people in our culture and those who really are. Sure, Christians will be angry and offended, no doubt, but Kathy Griffin won’t have to fear for her life like she would if she’d said that about Mohammed. She’s taking advantage of the grace that Christians will afford her, the forgiveness they will have toward her, and the spirit of tolerance they will have toward her. Too bad she didn’t have any of that grace or tolerance toward Christians or the Savior they love.

You don’t have to like Christians or even agree with them, in fact you may outright hate them, but you don’t have to worry about being assassinated for slandering Jesus. And while we may stand up for His honor and defend Him verbally, we know that in the final day, He will defend Himself far better than we could ever do. So we know that it is not our place to carry out final justice against such people. It’s His. He’s big enough and powerful enough and wise enough to right all wrongs. We believe that when it’s all said and done, the Judge of all the earth will do right.

While I may be speaking for many Christians in what I say here, I can only hope that Christians will indeed display the grace of God in such a way that even people like Kathy Griffin see it and realize how needy they are of the same Jesus they have scorned – just like the rest of us.


Extreme Islamic “Generosity”

September 15, 2007

This is appalling. The leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq has called for the murder of the Danish cartoonist, and his editor, who “insulted” Mohammed by depicting him in a cartoon. (Story here).

“We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet, peace be upon him, and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan of $100,000 for the one who kills this criminal.”

How generous!

How generous toward this cartoonist.

It gets better. He upped the reward to $150,000 if the cartoonist was “slaughtered like a lamb.”

That’s even more generous.

So, peace be upon Mohammed, but slaughter be upon Vilks, because Vilks “insulted” them. How generous of them! My, how they value peace!

The cartoonist is a “criminal,” but they are justice-seeking and “peace” loving? …over an insult? So, insults are worthy of death? What rank hypocrisy and quintessential evil this is!

These extremists are a frightening reminder of how dark the human heart really is at the core – what it is capable of. Hatred, deep pride, and murder – over a cartoon, over a percieved insult, out of fanatical defensiveness of a “prophet” that depends on his followers to go to even murderous extremes to defend his “honor.”

Christ is so very different from the god and prophet of Islam. While being immeasurably dishonored, insulted and unjustly murdered, He loved and prayed for his killers to be forgiven: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Too bad there are extremists like this in Islam that are so insecure over Mohammed’s “honor” that they think they have the obligation to kill those who don’t revere him like they do. It doesn’t compel other people to love their god or their prophets very much does it? That’s why theirs will remain a religion of force and not of desire. There’s no motivation to love their god, only fear to “respect” him. Yes, Christianity has had it’s extremists too. They are to be denounced just the same.

I’m so glad that Christ has died for me, even though I have dishonored him in countless ways. That’s why I love Him and long to live in obedience to him. I’m motivated by gratitude and love, not guilt or fear. He loved me first, despite my sins and insults against him. Grace is an amazing thing.

Christ captures the heart with His forgiving love and then transforms it, something Mohammed can never do.


Can Christians Enjoy Secular Music? – Part 3

September 14, 2007

Recently over on the Reformation 21 blog, Carl Trueman mentioned his excitement over an upcoming reunion concert of the 3 remaining members of Led Zeppelin. Those who keep up with his blog know that as an Englishman he has an affinity for several of the big British bands that helped define rock music as we know it.

Well, someone has, in an irenic spirit, questioned Carl’s ability as a believer to legitimately justify his indulgence into such worldly music. And Carl has given the same set of answers I have tried to give here and here.

Here’s the summary of each of his points:

1.  There is the general question of Christianity and non-Christian culture. I think that the Bible certainly seems to grant non-Christian culture a legitimacy…most [of] us just enjoy certain things and that, in principle, is not sinful. I would see it as part of God’s goodness, part of `common grace.’

2.  Next, there is the question of music. Again, I don’t think that music which is not specifically sacred is necessarily sinful.

3. Then there is the question of rock music…consistency really requires a rejection of all non-Christian culture, from cooking recipes to cars — for anything produced by someone in rebellion against God.

4.  This brings me to the specific case of LZ. The case against them would be that their music promotes anti-Christian values. This again is complicated…Now, I don’t want to make out that LZ are believers or that there work is biblical in the strict sense; but the music and lyrics are not, on the whole, the moral nightmare which critics think.

I hope that this teases you enough to go read the whole thing and get the full explanation. He does a good job.


Pragmatism: One Way Evangelicals Fail to Value Poetry and Fictional Literature

September 6, 2007

I’ve noted previously (here and here) that Evangelicals are generally poorly adept to both appreciating and producing good art, be it literary, musical, performing, or what have you. There are many reasons why this is true, of which I am only beginning to scratch the surface in my own thinking. This is a new frontier of discovery for me, and much of my motivation for exploring the “why’s” is to try to figure out the reasons why I have been guilty of such neglect of these things in my own life.

Yet, I have awakened to art and literature, and I am convinced of it’s value. But it’s value is not so much pragmatic as it is aesthetic. Christians usually don’t give much consideration to the value of aesthetics, precisely because it isn’t pragmatic. We are children of our culture in this regard. It has to be useful – utilitarian – to be truly good. And literature has to be propositional – evangelistic, apologetic, polemic, etc. – in order to be considered useful and therefore good.

But God built beauty into creation – beauty that isn’t necessarily useful, only aesthetic: varieties of colors, flavors, shapes, sizes, etc. Then God called the things He made with those primarily aesthetic qualities “very good” (Gen. 1). But Christians don’t really think beautiful or imaginative things are good if they don’t possess a perceivably utilitarian means to an end.

This may be why when Christians sit down to write fiction or poetry, they feel bound to write something that isn’t too subtle in it’s expressions of Christian doctrines. It appears that Christians feel compelled to write things that are explicit expressions of Christianity, else it wouldn’t pass muster for being good, or pleasing to God. To simply portray real-life reality and weave a biblical worldview into the undercurrent of the story (or song) without being explicitly Christian seems to somehow be a betrayal of Christ to many.

This should not be so. We need to learn to overcome our bondage to pragmatism (The church growth culture isn’t helping in this regard is it? It seems that churches are the worst about being thoroughly pragmatic in their thinking and methodology. In fact, many church leaders only serve to deepen our bondage to pragmatism.). We need to recapture our appreciation for beauty and aesthetics. We need to realize that to do so is thoroughly theological and biblical and Christian.

So, one of the ways Evangelicals fail to value things like art and poetry and fiction, is because we are too pragmatic and utilitarian in our thinking, and we are not well-taught or well-practiced at the task of ENJOYING beauty where we find it. That failure, in turn, leads to a failure to MAKE beautiful art and write interesting and enriching books and poems.

So, to help us along in our thinking and in being set free from our suffocating utilitarianism in our artistic expressions, I offer here some quotes from another blogger on this very subject. These comments helped me see this problem in my own thinking, and put me on the path toward a proper perspective. Abraham Piper (son of John) crystalizes these important issues when he writes:

“One of the less obvious ways that our artistic utilitarianism shows itself is the impulse to reduce art to propositions about art. This is the only way that many people know how to interact with art—or at least the only way they trust. If we can say what a story means, for instance, and we’ve summed up this meaning in a statement about truth that we agree with, then we think it’s a good story—good art. And if a story resists summary or does not distill into a statement we believe, then we have no use for it—it’s bad art.”

He quotes Flannery O’Connor as saying: “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in a story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate.”

Piper continues, “Fiction and poetry provide authors a unique way to glorify Christ that more overtly intellectual genres, like theology, simply can’t. These genres that aim directly for the heart and soul—rather than aiming at the heart through the mind—do not argue for belief, they show what it looks like and make you feel it.”

Ah, that is what is precisely more difficult for us, I think. It’s easier to give a defense of our Christian beliefs in forthright statements. It’s much harder for us to show what it looks like in a real-life (even though fictionalized) setting without a bunch of propositions. It is much more utilitarian to spread of our beliefs by making statements. It is much more experiential and aesthetic to tell it in a story without preaching.

I must confess that this is more true of me than I would like it to be, since I am a preacher, but knowing it helps me see a way out toward more aesthetic means of communicating great and small truths. I’m not as creative as I’d like to be, but I think I’m beginning to see ways to change that in my own life, ministry and writing. At least I hope so. I’m starting to realize that I’ve got a lot to overcome in my own thinking and a lot to learn about the creative process, especially since I live and move in a church culture that isn’t conducive to either task.


Authenticity and Innovations in Church: Jared Wilson

September 6, 2007

I’ve been reading Jared Wilson’s Gospel-Driven Church blog  for a few weeks now, and I’ve got to say that I think I am a kindred spirit with this guy. I love his rants. Every time he writes one, I just resonate with him. Here are a few choice quotes from 3 different posts on his blog:

Authenticity: A Mini-Rant:

If you’re going to exert copious amounts of energy and resources to bedazzle and impress with lights and loud music and elaborate sets and flashing video and fog machines and glossy promos and Guy Smiley spokespeople and performed sermons, if you’re going to usher people into a showy atmosphere of spiritual entertainment, how dare you then tell them to put down their guard, “open up,” share their hearts. If you’re going to create a culture of impressive facades, how dare you request their “authenticity.”

From A Gospel Rant, where he is commenting on these videos:

This pitting of “real” against “lame” ones is spiritually bankrupt dreck from the pit of hell. The guy on the right calls himself “authentic,” and the people who made these clearly have no clue what “authentic” means. For them, as for most pomo em-church poseurs, it means “cool.” Do you see what they’re doing here? They are saying the “authentic” Christian is the cool one. That’s why the dude on the left has on a nerdy suit and has limp hair.

They could have made a statement about grace vs. works, and under the idiocy, I suppose it might be there, but what they are really doing is mocking fellow believers. We are the cool ones, we are the ones who have it figured out. Plus we have product in our hair.
This has got to stop. This cult of the cool in the church must stop. This fetishizing of hipness must stop. It is idolatry.

And the reality of it is, when you walk into one of these so-called “authentic” churches, you just get the same ol’ works religion. Look at the sermon titles and message points. It’s all about principles and steps and tips to what-not and hoo-ha. It’s just the same behavioristic gospel . . . only cooler.
That’s not authentic. That’s works religion.

This is reverse pharisaism. It really is. “I thank you God that I’m not like that lame, religious retard over there.”
This is just symptomatic of the consumerist, self-centered, behavioristic, culture-driven lunacy passing for ministry today. It is an anti-gospel, and it is the spirit of the anti-christ at work.

11 Innovations for your Church:

This stuff is really innovative! It is completely “outside the box”! Implementing some of these radical approaches to church ministry and programming may be risky and controversial, but they may just revolutionize the spirit of your congregation and take your ministry to the next level.

1. Sing hymns.

2. Preach through a book of the Bible.

3. Talk about sin.

4. Celebrate the Lord’s Supper more frequently.

5. Have a Scripture reading in the service.

6. Transition creative content from aping popular commercials and other media to creating your own, wholly original content.

7. Read, study, and teach theology.

8. Put as much effort and resources into men’s ministry as you do women’s. On the flipside, pair up younger women with wise, older women in mentoring relationships with the same conviction you have about men being in accountability and mentoring partnerships.

9. Hire from within.

10. In promotional material, use actual photos of actual people in your community.

11. Preach the Gospel.

Amen Jared. Amen.