The judgenotters! That is the affectionate nickname I’ve given to those people who use Matthew 7:1 to attempt to manipulate bible believers into absolute tolerance of sin. You can listen to the teaching below.
What do Mentos, Diet Coke and the Bible have in common? More than you may think.
The topic of Mentos and Diet Coke came up tonight. I recalled a teaching I did one summer in regard to this experiment. As most people know, there’s a way to make Diet Coke explode by dropping Mentos into it. The science behind it is actually remarkable, and I learned and showed experimentally that it does not work with fruity Mentos. A quick internet search will yield plentiful results.
So I took everyone outside and I had a bottle of pop and I let a kid drop a pack of mentos into the 2 liter. It erupted and everyone was like, wow.
Then I took another bottle of pop-colored-liquid, and let the kids drop mentos in again. This time nothing happened. Boo Hoo.
Then I took everyone inside and I explained what had happened.
First, consider James 1:14-15
ESV 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
I explained that one of the bottles had pop in it, and the other bottle had colored water. I explained how in each case, the pop looked similar externally, the same outside agent was added, but in the latter case – the substance, or the makeup of what was inside the bottle was not such that it would react with an eruption with the very same external stimulant.
I then related this to our sin, particularly anger. I pointed out that we cannot blame others when we sin because we are tempted, but rather, as James says, we are lured and enticed by our own desires.
So it is possible for someone to have outside stimulants which are introduced into their lives – and regardless of the outside influence – men will either sin or not sin, erupt in anger or remain in control – based on what is in them, not what is introduced from the outside.
Now, I don’t like to present people with a problem and no solution. So I then offered Psalms 19:12
ESV 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
I suggested to everyone there that they pray to the Lord to help them with their hidden sin of their heart. The sin they would only be aware of if they had opportunity introduced which evoked the sin. But our God is merciful and Good. We shall not even know in this life the number of times He protected us from our own evil before we had opportunity. But praise to Him for this wonderful gift.
To understand this post, you first need to watch this video
and you need to read Fred Butler’s post concerning the above video.
It has taken me a few weeks to get to this due to general business, and I wanted to give it the attention I feel like it deserves. I am going to disagree with you and your commenters (generally speaking), and I have seen too many comment threads degenerate quickly so I wanted to formulate my thoughts and share them in a compassionate yet bold and I hope persuasive way. I trust you will read my entire response and evaluate each of the things I say on their own merit, not based on your poor opinion of an earlier statement I make or my inability to properly and lovingly communicate.
I’m going to start by looking at the things you said in your blog. Then I will offer my own interpretation of the video followed by a bit of disclosure.
As far as your point #1 goes, I agree. “I do not have a problem with the use of drama to illustrate spiritual truth.” I believe this is the crux of the issue. I surmise that you do not believe the “Everything” skit met these criteria: “I, however, am fine with drama as long as it does not detract from the centrality of the word being taught from the pulpit and the skits performed are theologically accurate, biblical, and tastefully done.” I will argue later that this video meets the criteria sufficiently.
Your point #2 made an odd comparison which, assuming you are correct about the futility of the video would be a valid point. My personal offense comes as I probably cry or weep 75% of the time I’ve watched the video. I found it sad, assuming I’m just a weaker brother that you would be appalled, rather than, at the least, have pity on me.
#3 was entertaining and brought back memories of my own junior high school and high school experiences. Wit is one of your strong suits and you usually use it effectively for God.
Point #4 has truth to it. But how many videos did you watch? In my internet search for more information about the skit, I was actually a bit surprised to find that there have been groups that have performed this skit with a male, as you suggest. There was thoughtful conversation about how to modify it to make it make sense in that context. In fact, I was pleased to see that the “dancing” was changed in those cases. Dancing between a man and a woman makes sense and is done tastefully in this case, in my opinion. There is nothing sensual or sexual, just fellowship. In fact, when I first read your point #4, all I could think is how much you would have had an even bigger problem if they had actually had a man dancing with Jesus.
I don’t think the fact that this particular youth group used a young woman in the skit should have any bearing on one’s judgment of the skit’s merit. In fact, I would question a youth group skit where the main character wasn’t a youth. I would find that odd. Whether less attractive or less nymph-like ladies were rejected, I don’t know. I thought the girl did a fine job in the role she was asked to play, so her relative nymph-i-ness seems to only be a stumbling block to you.
I wonder if it bothered you that Kirk Cameron was a good looking guy in Fireproof. Maybe they should get actors that look more like you and me and see how many people attend movies. 🙂
Your point #5, I believe is accurate and misplaced and incomplete.
I’ll stipulate that you will agree with me that your point is accurate. We become sober minded and more aware of sin – often at differing paces. In your case, you were saved from false conversion and had immediate knowledge of much of the things of God. People I’ve met like this seem to immediately see the error of so many of their ways and quickly understand concepts like Lordship. It seems, in many ways, that is the main thing you (false converts who get saved) lacked. You run from the “Jesus is my buddy mindset,” but I would argue that is more a reaction to the extreme of your past than a directed holiness.
I believe your point is misplaced, because, as I will show, I do not believe the girl gets saved in the song in the beginning as you seem to believe. I believe she is saved AFTER the point where the Jesus figure in the story takes on her sin and defeats it and she realized this. And frankly, I have no problem with the initial reaction of someone realizing God’s amazing love for them to be enraptured with Jesus and his friend-li-ness toward them. Jesus did, in fact, become my BEST FRIEND the day I was saved and I do not regret that fact, nor am I ashamed of it. I do not thing His love toward a believer and the believer’s desire and obligation to find joy in that love actually detracts from neither His Lordship nor holiness. I think you may be picking up on the fact that that is the only thing portrayed here, so if you want to say it is in some way an incomplete message, I won’t argue with that. But most messages are incomplete in some way, due to time limitations. The Sermon on the Mount isn’t the best explanation of the book of Esther – and that’s ok.
So your criticism is incomplete because you focus on only what is missing from the skit, rather than commending the truth and goodness portrayed. The fact that this skit didn’t represent your experience of salvation doesn’t make it inaccurate. It should be judged on its own merit and by the standard you set above: “theologically accurate, biblical, and tastefully done.”
#6 – I’d agree with you if I believed that this was a story of a sinning child of God. I do not. I believe this is a story of a person redeemed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and, like the woman caught in adultery in John 8, is not condemned for her sin, just as no child of God is under condemnation according to Romans 8:1.
Now, hopefully you are not offended. I did not mean to be rude or harsh and I am open to correction. In cases where I judged you unrighteously, please forgive me and correct my opinions. I do not want you to think I’m attacking you, just having a conversation (in large chunks).
Here is my interpretation –
The video starts with the young lady wearing a black shirt. This is very important. The black shirt represents the stain of original sin. She spends the first minute and 27 seconds of the song being given life by the one who gives life, Jesus. She enjoys the wondrous beauty of the world He’s created as He provides movement, flowers, food and even some knowledge of Himself which all nonbelievers have. I would contend that she doesn’t truly feel grateful for God like it says in Romans 1:21.
Then at the minute and 27 seconds point in the song a young man representing sin enters. He represents lust and separates her from God even more tangibly. From this point there is a dramatic representation of many of the temptations that we encounter. A love for money, a desire for debauchery and drunkenness, the self-centered sin of comparing ourselves to others’ outsides leading to bulimia in order to be attractive to others. Finally, a demonic force enters and puts it on her mind to begin cutting. So many of these things are common to youth. I suppose sins like lying and stealing and disobedience could be portrayed as well with some creative choreography.
Ultimately, the weight of the sin drives this girl to simply want to die. By God’s grace, she hates her life so much that she can’t imagine living any longer in this way. It is the ultimate act of God hating though, to take one’s own life it to put oneself in the place of God and commit murder.
Now, at the moment of deepest despair, this lost and weary sinner remembers that there is a God who cares. She might not know much about Him, but she throws down the gun to look for him. It is at this point that the skit is unfortunately zoomed in. In my Calvinistic mind, I imagine Jesus calling her before she starts to run toward him. This is at the 3:48 mark. And you can see from that point that the Jesus figure is pulling her. She isn’t fighting by her own power. Her own will would have kept her in sin or killed herself. No, by His irresistible grace, Jesus pulls her to Him.
But her flesh and her sin will not let that happen easily. As much as she strives to reach God by her own strength, she cannot do it. Then at 4:32, the Jesus figure throws down the invisible rope he was using to pull her toward Himself and simply steps in and takes on all of her sin.
But it is not without a battle. The sin pounds on him and attacks him for 20 seconds of the song. You can see Him taking it all on and it has no power to even touch her anymore. At this point, you will notice a change. She is wearing a white garment. NOW, she’s been washed clean by Christ’s substitution. She is NOW a new creature and, methinks, realizing the depth of the sin from which she was saved, she reacts the way the Bible says she will react, with love toward the One who bought her with His own blood. There is a sense that I get from the video that once Jesus takes on and pays for your sin, it is dead!
This babe in Christ then shows him the proper gratitude and enjoys sweet fellowship with Him. I would propose to you that this interpretation is valid and meets the criteria you provided sufficiently. I think it tells a salvation story and does it well enough. I think if it is the only gospel someone hears…it would be insufficient, but for in and of itself, it does very well.
Finally, I will disclose that this video was effectively the first date of my bride and me. The day we met “on the phone,” we watching this video together. I reacted much like you, thinking it strange. I didn’t like a person portraying Jesus (which I now don’t believe he is). But my new girlfriend liked it, so I watched it a little. It grew on me and I came to like it, particularly because she enjoyed it with me. So I have some emotional attachment which I believe doesn’t taint my evaluation of the content.
Ultimately, I do not believe that the video is sinful, nor do I believe that it would cause someone to sin. I find it to be accurate enough to be considered a good representation of a biblical principle. I would not recommend it as an evangelistic tool, but for Christians who are saved to see a drama reminding them of the great salvation they’ve received through faith in Christ.
“Respect” is a term commonly thrown around family circles, churches, ministries, businesses and the political realm. Check out this blog post which asks and answers some good questions about the reality of respect. Rather than post my own blog; I am encouraging you to read this one and check out the comments where I add my own insight to the ordeal.
He compared a Starbucks boycott due to the executive public proclamation that Starbucks generally supported gay marriage to the meat sacrificed to idols concept from Paul’s writings.
Let us note that Starbucks as an organization through their actions, the verbage on their cups, their advertising and even their logo has always made it clear through their actions where they stand on religious and social issues. The only difference has been the recent public proclamation by a single individual (to my knowledge) concerning tradition and homosexual marriage.
Here are my comments below that I left on the blog.
With all due respect, if I understand the context correctly – the food sacrificed to idols ‘controversy’ was about whether it was ok to even eat the food because it had been sacrificed to idols, NOT whether it was OK to support the sellers of the food.
The idea being that it was irrelevant whether purchasing the meat supported the false religious system of the day. But what was relevant were these facts:
- God declared all food clean.
- Therefore, it cannot be said to be sin for any man to eat that meat (in and of itself).
- But some men, WEAKER of faith, who do not understand this have been instructed not to violate their own conscience by eating the meat.
- Therefore, stronger brothers ought to also abstain out of love for the weaker (at times).
At no time was boycotting the industry altogether part of the discussion.
The essential component of the conscience-driven argument is that it must be said that the act is NOT inherently sinful. No Christian would allow another Christian to lie or practice sexual immorality under the guise that the believer’s conscience was OK with it. Do you see that? You can’t simply declare that something doesn’t violate your conscience and then do it. First of all, you are in effect calling anyone who believes it to be sin weaker. Secondly, maybe it is your conscience which doesn’t happen to be sensitive enough to sin and you are not rightly judging yourself and your actions! The first step is to search the scriptures and rightly interpret them to determine what is and what is not sin. What is free and what is not freedom. Then you must formulate your doctrine concerning the act. Why do you believe the act is sinful or why not based on the bible? That is the key.
So the question is – Is purchasing coffee at Starbucks in this context actually sinful? Can it be said that in light of what we know that it is an evil act to continue to support this organization? Or is Starbucks like any other organization which buys and sells and provides services.
Would you say it was OK for me to go to a Planned Parenthood in my town which does perform abortions if they also provided great man care at a good price? I could use the money I save going there to support a missionary.
Or what if Starbucks came out and said, “If you will not deny Christ, do not buy our coffee.” Would that be outrageous enough? Ought a Christian feel his conscience pricked by that? What if they just said, “Deny Christ and receive 50% off.” Would it be wise to do that in order to save money and give to a Xian cause?
Maybe it cannot said to be sin if someone doesn’t participate in the same boycotts. But Christians may do well to consider how to be wise when distributing the money God has given them.
Just some food for thought. What do you think?
I was privileged to see a preview of the soon to be public movie, Home Run. For those of you who are considering seeing it, I offer my review. I promise, NO SPOILERS.
I will proceed with the same three measuring sticks I have used in the past to try to judge the merit of this movie. Ultimately, the question is, should you spend the resources God has provided you with to see this flick? Or would your money be better spent elsewhere…there is certainly need all around us.
I offer the three criteria I will use to discern the worth of Home Run in order of importance.
- Is God glorified?
- Will the movie tempt someone to sin?
- Is there a practical application to the lessons learned within?
I will consider them in reverse order:
Is there a practical application to the lessons learned within?
Home Run is the story of a professional baseball player whose life is obviously in a downward spiral thanks to his alcohol addiction. This story really hit home with me as I abused alcohol for several years. I found myself relating to the main character on many occasions in his struggle.
The main character, Cory, played by Scott Elrod is a stereo-typical irresponsible early 20-something, with a smile that you don’t think you could ever be mad at. Regardless of his alcohol use, he seems to be one of those guys who functions well at his job. A public incident early in the movie forces him to his small hometown where he must take over the coaching duties for his the little league team his brother had coached. Credit Vivica A. Fox for being a good agent.
Throughout the story, relationships develop, decades old secrets are revealed, and Cory finds out that even little people in little small towns have big problems to deal with as well. As is typical in a “recovery/addiction” movie (or real life), Cory has ups and downs to varying degrees.
Enter J.T., played by Robert Peters. J.T. is a friendly Christian man who heads up the local Christian recovery group. Cory is sentenced to attend these meetings and his apprehension is abundantly clear. The ultimate theme of the movie is a story of redemption and freedom from addiction and the healing that people can find in their relationships.
Will the movie tempt someone to sin?
Now we all have different sin-tendencies, I know, but I can only speak of a few of the more obvious ones. The sin of drunkenness which is depicted is never glorified, even though some pretty intense scenes must be developed to be true to the story. A person who is struggling or has ever struggles with substance abuse may find Cory to be a character to which people can relate. But if there is particular weakness in the area of alcohol, the movie may be best avoided.
In general, the story is very germane, but there are a few scenes where the female actresses show more skin than necessary for a movie billed as a Christian movie. As above, a weaker brother probably ought to stay away for now, but most people won’t even notice.
Is God glorified?
This is a tough one to answer fairly. I do not want to trash Home Run, but at the same time, I found this movie lacking in a few key areas.
I do not recall any mention of sin in the movie. If it was mentioned, it was in passing. In the movie, professions of faith in Christ are made, but the profession is no more than, “I’m a Christian.” Home Run lacks the things that I think would truly make a movie Christian – a reference to the gospel itself (including man’s sinfulness and God’s holiness and the redemptive work of Christ) or an overt depiction of godly or biblical events (see my review of Hosea).
The power of God is never truly put on display.
And even worse, the power of the support group mentality IS put on display. The program called Celebrate Recovery is really what gets the glory in this movie. To a non Christian, this will look not much different than an AA meeting. To be certain, the movie makers had a chance to do this right: present a clear gospel, and they chose not to. I can only assume it is because they eithe do not know the gospel or understand its power or they simply wanted to be able to entertain a larger viewing audience, but still try to get Christians to pay for tickets and form action squads.
In conclusion, you are safe to spend a few dollars for the entertainment value of Home Run. But if you are like my wife and me and wish to see the opportunity to share the life-saving gospel in a movie labeled Christian, you will walk away sorely disappointed. If you have non Christian friends you were hoping to invite, come prepared to lead them further toward God than the movie will.