“God’s Not Dead” and the Angry Atheist Professor

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Over at Christ and Pop Culture, James Hoskins shares his personal story being a philosophy student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and how the portrayal of an atheist professor in “God’s Not Dead”  is nothing like his experience.

God’s Not Dead and the Angry Atheist Professor: That Was Not My Experience

I couldn’t agree more, thanks James for the story and observations. When I was in college the philosophy professors were some of the coolest faculty (same with Religious Studies teachers, even though none of the professors were Christians in either department, except one). They were always gracious and definitely pushed your beliefs, but also made for the best and least polarizing conversation.

My favorite Religious Studies teacher was married to the head of the Philosophy Department and they were both Buddhist-Catholics, or Catholic-Buddhist, I can’t remember how they described themselves. She loved my obsession with Jonathan Edwards and pushed for me to study his theology. Even though we reached different conclusions on his theology (with which she largely disagreed) she spurred on my investigation of his writings when I was a brand new Christian. She might have pushed me to go to Union Seminary (being a liberal and all) and I might have constantly told her to listen to John Piper (she never did), but we had dialogue that was nothing like the movie portrays.

My problem with this film is that it seems to depict more of how Christians should respond to opposition and caricaturing people of other belief systems (Atheists, Muslims) as blind, mis-led goats that are hostile to Christians and our walk of faith. What it doesn’t do is portray those people as people who need to hear the message, but as the instruments of opposition that stand in the way of us following God. It comes off as just another grenade to lob over our foxhole at those sinful and mean-spirited God deniers and make sure to give us a pat on the back for being right about the existence of God.

We would be much better off serving our neighbors and meeting them where they are at, instead of lining up our next shot in the ever-so-annoying culture wars.  God’s true mission was condescending into history through Jesus Christ and sending us out, as Jesus did (and Paul, Peter, etc.), to tell his true story (the gospel) as we mix and mingled with those who did not believe what we did.  One of the last things Jesus would want is for those who follow him to uncharitably character smear those who oppose us and then high five each other like a bunch of frat bros because we showed them who’s the boss.

There, my rant is over.  I’m gonna go eat lunch.  Or maybe watch “Who’s the Boss.”

 

 

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A Deluge of Information: Two Podcasts Worth Checking Out on the Noah Movie

Maximus is Noah

 

It kills me that I still haven’t seen this movie.  I have ingested so much information on Aronofsky’s Noah that I certainly already know what happens, but I still want to see it.  What does one do when you have four kids, a full-time job, and a church planting internship?  Wait until it is released for everyday consumption…Oh well.

Any who, I spent a couple hours with two fantastic podcasts on the Noah movie, and the discussion was fascinating and the opinions varied.  I wish I could add my two cents, but it seems silly since I haven’t seen this film yet.  However, if you have seen the movie or just want to know more, check out these two podcasts to get your fill of Aronofsky’s newest film.

Reel World Theology – Noah and a Flood of Biblical Interpretation – If you are looking for some great discussion from a purely Christian perspective, this is fantastic.  I especially enjoyed Elijah Lovejoy’s critical take on Aronofsky’s Noah versus the Christian Noah.  Honestly, the label “Christian” Noah are not his words, but is really a look at how Noah is pictured by the New Testament authors, specifically Paul and Peter.

This is my go-to podcast for things theology and movies.  Mr. Fissell (nicknamed Fizz) and I share the common catalyst/influencer of the Harlemanic himself, James Harleman, and his podcasts are worth the hour plus to get a great take on film and theology.  I have spent many a nights doing the dishes and listening.

Storymen Podcast – The NOAH Movie – For a slightly more encompassing look at the Noah movie, check out the podcast from the Storymen.  They invite an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, Rabbi Eliyahu Fink to join their discussion and offer a Jewish and Christian perspective on the movie.  Mikey Fissell from the Real World Theology podcast joins them, as well, so you got a two for one in this post.

I found this to be a challenge intellectually and theologically, which is why I liked it so much.  It took me out of my comfort zone to hear a Rabbi’s perspective on the film and to hear the commonalities and how much more of Aronofsky’s Noah was a Jewish film than a Christian one.  It’s too easy for us to forget that Christian’s aren’t the only ones that subscribe to the diluvian narrative of Noah.  I highly recommend this podcast for an intellectual challenge and to help see things from a different perspective if you are a Christian.

As a bonus, the Storymen came back with an extra half hour specifically looking at the Noah movie and the accusations/commendations for this movie being pro-environment or having a tree-hugging hippie/vegetarian vibe.  NOAH and Ecology explores that with the same guests of Fizz and Rabbi Fink.

Consarnit I want to see this movie!

Sounding Board : Ask, Seek, Knock

Appleton Gospel

It is rare that I want to share the sermons that I preach.  Martin Lloyd-Jones famously said he wouldn’t cross the street to hear himself preach.  If you know MLJ, you know people would beat up their grandmas to hear him preach back in the day.

However, I actually was disciplined (and properly handcuffed) and listened to my sermon in full and thought it would be worth sharing to get your encouragement, feedback, comments, insults, and/or death threats.

It’s about forty minutes, so if you have the time to burn, your listening would be mightily appreciated.   Click the vocabulary word below to get to Appleton Gospel’s link of my sermon.

Loquacious – [low-kwey-shus s] adjective – talking or tending to talk much or freely; talkative; chattering; babbling

Why Plant Churches? John Wesley and Foundations of Church Planting in the United States

John-Wesley

 

I want the whole Christ for my Saviour, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.
– John Wesley

In my previous post, I addressed some of the biblical moorings for church planting, specifically pointing out the Bible “case study” of Paul instructing his disciple, Titus, on planting church bodies on the island of Crete.  I also mashed fast-forward and looked at some of the current day strategic necessity of church planting in our American context.  There is a great need for more churches today, not only in other countries, but even right here at home.  

However, the strategic necessity of church planting has always been of importance. It is not something that the church has discovered for the first time in the 20th and 21st centuries, but church planting is a tried and true methodology for the proliferation of the gospel and the growing of the Church. Here in America the foundations of our most long-standing denominations have their roots in church planting movements.


The story of Jonathan Wesley and Methodism is a story that many of you will be familiar with. He was a large part of the “pietist” movement among frontier and colonial churches in America in the 18th century. However, it was his “circuit riding” and his titanic efforts to spread the Word of God on the American frontier that are legendary. He is said to have ridden thousands of miles every year, in whatever weather, until he was seventy years old. His goal, along with other Methodist and Baptist itinerant preachers, was the conversion of lost souls and the starting of new congregations in each town they went to. These men, long before the term was coined, were frontier church planters taking the good news to the people of America.


In 1820, even after Methodism and Baptists had taken root, there was one Christian church for every 875 U.S. residents. But through the efforts of Protestant church planters, that ratio by the start of WWI was just 1 church for every 430 persons. The church planting pace was so rapid, that in the late 1800s Methodist churches were averaging one new church per day. Despite that pace decelerating and church ratios having declined since then, what we can learn from Wesley’s and other’s efforts are that church planting is not some new fancy way for some guy to start a “new thing”, but is a tried and true historical method for the proliferation of the gospel and the continuation of God’s mission to save lost souls and make disciples of all nations.

“You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most it is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.”
– John Wesley

I am praying for the fire and passion of Wesley as we gear up to plant, and also I am praying for you and others in America to obtain that same fiery passion for Jesus Christ and a love for the souls of those in our neighborhoods, cities, and nations around the world.