Thursday, February 25, 2010

Skeptic Month

For the month of March, I'll be taking on the mindset of the skeptic, consider this a lame attempt at reverse psychology.

Lately I’ve been considering some of the strongest and most legitimate criticisms of Christianity and the Bible. I believe that truth has nothing to fear and will overcome any serious test. The only thing that can give truth a run for its money is a really good deception . . . and even that will fall eventually.

I think something like this must have been on John Stott's mind when he wrote the following:

The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh Biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform.

My intention this month is to not answer the criticisms, but to simply present them. I’ve tried to weed through the easily dismissed objections and pull out the heavy-hitters, so be warned – these are some of the most challenging objections I’ve found. Many of these claims I'd never heard before, and some I'd casually dismissed as the reckless musings of the damned (sorry for that last comment, but hey, I was raised Southern Baptist - it's in my blood!), but now that I'm no longer dependent upon the church's teat for my sustenance, I feel free to examine these things honestly.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Reaction to Tiger's Apology

Over the years, I’ve come to recognize that I’m a sucker for three things:

  • Movies about cute-but-mischievous family pets that die.
  • Songs featuring an acoustic guitar and harmonica.
  • Sincere apologies.

I believed Tiger Woods when he spoke to the media for the first time in nearly three months.

I’m not a golf fan, and I’m certainly not a Tiger Woods fan. In fact, for years I’ve been somewhat of a Tiger Woods critic, mainly because I knew it was irritating to family members who greeted every mention of his name with a fawning, doe-eyed expression (yeah, I can be a real jerk like that!). And along with everybody else in America I was disgusted by the continual revelations of his many revelries.

But the way many in the media are attacking his apology can only be described as arrogant and disgraceful.

Here’s the video of his mea culpa:

Religious issues aside, here are the most vociferous complaints I’ve heard so far:

  • He’s a control freak. People are upset at the way the whole thing was staged, but I think I understand that this was a sensitive moment that affected a lot of people. It needed to be controlled. And I’m not sure how much of this was Tiger and how much of it was his PR and legal team.
  • He didn’t take any questions. The questioning could quickly get out of hand and be damaging. Could he really risk taking questions from a sensationalist media? How long before he was asked about whether or not Elin beat the bejesus out of him with a golf club? How long before someone asked him to verify the rumors of threesomes? Or foursomes? Multisomes?
  • He wasn’t sincere. How do you know? Seriously, how can you tell? His mettle will be tested and proved over time, but I’m not comfortable judging his sincerity based on a 15 minute speech. To me he appeared broken and contrite.
  • He seemed so robotic. This is Tiger. I don’t know the guy, but I’ve always heard that this is his strong point. Cut the guy some slack, this was without question the most difficult thing he’s ever done in his life.
  • I wasn’t impressed. Ooooh, touch you! So, at his lowest point as he comes before the world to flay himself, he gets a demerit because he didn’t impress you! Wow, his PR team should’ve done more research into what it would take to impress you. This is the arrogance that prompted this rant.

Was it perfect? No. But I saw a man defending his wife against accusations of domestic abuse, blasting himself for being spoiled and feeling entitiled, and taking full responsibility for his actions.

I think that's a pretty good start.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Following Pastor Ed Young's Money Trail

The latest mega-pastor to come under fire is Ed Young, pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. Here's a quote from WFAA News 8 in Dallas/Fort Worth:

Not long ago, the Fellowship Church in Grapevine was one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the nation.

Its pastor, Ed Young, was making national headlines by encouraging married couples to have more sex.

But since that time, sources say membership has waned and some say Pastor Young may have lost his way — putting himself and secrecy over God. …

One former staff member who says he was close to Young but wishes not to be identified, described it this way: “The lack of accountability. The lavish lifestyle that keeps increasing, while the attendance keeps decreasing.”

Here's the video from that report:

And here is Pastor Young's address to his congregation on the matter (WARNING: it's rather lengthy):

There are several things that I'd like to comment on, and I'll try to do so in a rather succinct manner:
  1. I don't trust mega-pastors.
  2. I don't trust people who accuse mega-pastors while wearing creepy hoods and having their voices distorted like Darth Vader.
  3. I believe those are good men who serve on Fellowship Church's board of Directors (they close out video #2).
  4. I believe good men are trusting by nature, and can be duped.
  5. I don't like the flippant way Pastor Young tried to dismiss the allegations.
  6. I believe there's more to come.