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Showing posts from September, 2006

God Bless America -- in Lompoc?

I hope that the debate will soon be over, but the dispute over the God Bless America poster continues unabated. So, this morning I published in the Lompoc Record my take on this issue. Remember, people are watching us! To see the column, click on the title and it will take you to the archived copy.

Posters in Lompoc

On Sunday I'll have published, in the Lompoc Record, a response to the recent furor in Lompoc, CA (where I pastor) over the decision to remove a poster. The poster was a non-authorized (by the Postal Service) poster that had a flag and the words God Bless America. A local advocate of church-state separation requested its removal, first from the supervisor and then from the post master. It appears that the post master justified its removal on the basis that any poster in the P.O. must be authorized by the Postal Service, and this wasn't. Well it has caused a nation-wide uproar, with Christian activists and conservative ones as well, calling for it to be restored.

What is interesting about this whole affair is that it has such long legs. Daily letters to the editor write overwhelmingly against the person who started this thing. What is scary about this is the venomous nature of many of the letters. I plan to throw some Jesus at them, but I'm not sure it'll take. Jesus has…

God and Riches

Two recent articles, one in Time and one in the Los Angeles Times raise interesting questions. The Time article has already received much attention because it raises the question of God's provisions for humanity. Prosperity teachers are nothing new. Reverend Ike was an early purveyor of such ideas. Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, and others have been preaching a "name it and claim it" doctrine for years. It has been a popular though at times controversial component of some forms of Pentecostalism that affirms God's provisions of healing and blessing. The Foursquare Gospel of Aimee Semple McPherson put healing front and center.

So, does God want us to be rich? Or perhaps better put, does God want us to be prosperous and happy, which is the message of the most recent purveyor of prosperity doctrines, Joel Osteen. Osteen is the son of John Osteen, a Baptist turned Pentecostal, who has transformed a former basketball arena into a mega church. His message is p…

September 11th, a Memory

In September 2001 I was pastor of First Christian Church of Santa Barbara and served as president of the Greater Santa Barbara Clergy Association. In that capacity I wrote an op-ed piece for the Santa Barbara News Press commenting on the event and inviting the community to come together in prayer. We had a very well attended and powerful vigil on the night of September 16, 2001. We had a Rabbi, an Imam, and a a Protestant clergywoman as speakers. I must say it was one of the most moving events I've every been involved with. I grieve that in the years since that day we as a nation have become increasingly polarized along ideological lines. I offer this column as a memorial. In addition, if you click the title of today's post you will find the column I published a year ago in the Lompoc Record.An Editorial
Tuesday's tragic events have shaken the foundations of our lives. We feel pangs of grief and anger. For those in our community who had co-workers, friends, or relatives on …

The Church in Danger!!

Back in the 18th century conservative Anglicans flew the bloody flag and cried out that the church was in danger. Dangerous liberals like Gilbert Burnet and John Tillotson, both bishops within the Anglican church, threatened the church from the inside with dangerous ideas -- such as the king didn't rule by divine right. But that's another story.

Recently I started reading about a new crisis. The National Association of Evangelicals and others have begun to warn that hedonistic American culture is threatening to destroy the church (evangelical church that is). Using culture war lingo, they warn that whereras 34% of adult Americans are Evangelical, the coming generation will likely be 4% evangelical. Now such predictions are notoriously unreliable, but the "problem" is interesting. It has been said that the reason why evangelical churches, unlike the graying mainline, has grown is that they have kept their youth. Well it seems that they are likely to loose their youth. …

Father, Son and Holy Rift

This morning's LA Times features a fascinating front page essay on the rift between the well known founder of Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith, and his son, Chuck Smith, Jr. The father is best known for being the father figure of the Jesus Movement that erupted in the late 1960s. His church was the model for the contemporary worship and music movements. From the church emerged a major music industry -- Maranatha Music. Praise music has its origins in his church. Music groups like Love Song, The Way, Mustard Seed Faith, and many more were sent forth across the country spreading the word that Jesus is coming back soon.

The Chuck Smith featured in the article is that, but he's also a classic Fundamentalist, who rails against the sin of homosexuality, preaches hell fire and brimstone sermons and is sure that Jesus is coming back soon. This is a preacher who has no doubts and sees no ambiguities in life.

The son is very different. Until recently a pastor in his father's network of chu…