The CRC Erie Canal District Meeting

The Erie Canal district of the Charismatic Renewal Church (CRC) was meeting for one of their twice yearly district conclaves. One of the items on the docket was to ordain a youth minister for the “Flowing River of the Spirit Church.” The “Flowing River of the Spirit Church” was one of the flagship churches for the CRC in the Erie Canal district. Ezekiel L. Bolton was the Pastor of the “Flowing River of the Spirit” Church. Old Zeke, as he was affectionately called, was one of the old war horses of the CRC and generally Old Zeke got what he wanted because people didn’t like to cross Old Zeke because Zeke had a way of making life miserable for those who crossed him.

Because of this everyone believed that the ordination of Zeke’s new Youth Pastor was a foregone conclusion. The ordination process was supposed to consist of the usual softball questions that one finds in Pentecostal denominations where experience, emotion, and the “feeling of the Spirit,” was more important than articulated doctrine.

However, this ordination was to be different. One of the members of the district who had been an outlaw since his arrival had determined that there had been far too many non-Pentecostals sliding into the denomination. Carl Davidson had converted to Pentecostal theology from dishwater Baptist 25 years ago and he was one of the few true believers in the Erie Canal district. Carl had, for years, been seeing the District ordain non-Pentecostals posing as Pentecostals. He had tried to hint at this problem by asking questions of candidates that exposed their lack of understanding of glorious Pentecostalism in hopes that some of the other Pentecostals might see the problem. This tactic hadn’t worked and Carl was becoming convinced that not even the Pentecostal ministers of Erie Canal District cared about Pentecostalism.

Carl decided to ask the candidate the most rudimentary question of Pentecostal belief. When the proper time came Carl rose on the floor and asked the earnest young candidate, ”Could you elaborate for us the three different works of grace that the Charismatic Renewal Church looks for in people?”

The whole reason for the existence of the CRC was to insist upon this doctrine in distinction from other denominations that did not hold to it. Carl believed that if a candidate for ordination unto the least of all offices in the CRC could not answer this most basic of questions to the life of the denomination then it would be clear that there were clearly problems in the District.

The candidate looked like he had been just asked to undress in public.

His first search for time tactic was to ask for the question again. The second delay tactic was to try to get Carl to give him hints. The third avoidance tactic came from the floor as a murmur of ministers began to audibly complain about how unfair it was of Carl to ask this question of such a young minister when they themselves didn’t know the answer.

The candidate, to his credit, eventually dove into the answer giving a fairly involved and complex answer to a question that had nothing to do with what Carl asked. Instead of giving the simple answer of “the work of grace in salvation, the work of grace in cleansing, and the work of grace in empowerment, “ instead the candidate went into a long monologue on the three persons of the Trinity.

The candidate was then excused so that executive session could be held to discuss whether or not the candidate should be ordained.

Carl was on his feet immediately, observing that while he wouldn’t vote against this candidate he was hopeful that somebody at Old Zeke’s Church would mentor Clay (the candidate) in the basic doctrines of the Charismatic Renewal Church. Carl also mentioned that he believed that the Erie Canal District was getting loose on the exam process for all candidates, allowing non Pentecostals into the denomination.

No sooner did Carl sit down then “Old Zeke” was on his feet. Ezekiel had been a mover and shaker in the CRC for decades and he did not appreciate someone exposing the soft under-belly of his low standards as Carl had done with his question. Zeke began to lecture Carl but he learned again, what he should have already known, and that was that Carl was nonplussed over Zeke’s huffing and puffing. Zeke went on and on about how unfair the question was. Zeke insisted that 50% of the ministers who belonged to the district couldn’t answer Carl’s question. Zeke said that this wasn’t about whether there were two works of grace or three works of grace. What Zeke seemed to be intimating is that this ordination process was about getting his youth director confirmed so that Clay could lead the youth in pizza parties and fun vacations that could be sold as “mission trips” to the unsuspecting parents.

Finally, the vote was called for and Clay was confirmed unanimously as a Minister associate, but Carl, with his question, had once again left a bad taste in the mouth of the fellow ministers in the denomination who thought that Carl was far too theologically oriented to be any good to the Christian faith. “Why couldn’t Carl learn,” the thinking seemed to be, “that Christianity was just about getting people to get along, and not about centuries of theology for which the saints had bled and died.”

And Naturally Carl believed that these fellow ministers practiced Christianity the same way that a tailor practices sewing who has no idea what needle and thread are.

Slipping from the odd into the surreal

Miller had just finished a long day of ministry that ended with him having to referee between a couple of the Church 8 year olds acting like 8 year olds towards one another. He left his study and told the Church secretary that he was going to the area Starbucks to get a cup of his favorite stress breaker — steamed milk with a hazelnut mist.

While Miller was standing in line he recognized a couple of the other area Pastor’s chatting it up. He was about to join in the bonhomie when he was stopped short by over-hearing Pastor Justin say,

“A couple of lesbian couples might be coming to our church. I think they will find overall acceptance with my people although their might be some family’s who feel it necessary to ‘take a stand for righteousness.'”

Miller didn’t know whether to swoon or to suppress a laugh. It wasn’t just the bald statement from pastor Justin but it was the surreal irony that Rev. Koinema spoke in such a way as to suggest that he was practicing great tolerance with those families who “felt it necessary to take a stand for righteousness.”

Miller, at that point, reckoned that his participation and influence in the area Pastor’s fellowship was not as fruitful as he had hoped. Still, Miller wondered about the children of the Lesbian couple that would be attending River Sonshine Community Church. Shouldn’t Miller be glad that the children of the Lesbian couple might be exposed to the Gospel even if their two Mommies knew that they were rebelling against God’s standard? And Miller mused, perhaps the all the Mommies of all the children might possibly be reintroduced to Jesus again via all that “overall acceptance” that Rev. Koinema mentioned.

“Hmmm,” Miller thought, “and yet what Jesus will all these Lesbian people be introduced to at River Sonshine Community Church? Will they be introduced to the Jesus who sets the captive free or will they be introduced to the Jesus who makes the captive comfortable with their bondage?”

Miller ordered his steamed milk with a hazelnut mist and sat down to find that he had more stress to deal with than when he first entered the Starbucks.

———–

The essence of the story is true. Details have been changed to make sure nobody can figure out who or where I’m talking about.

Chekist Letter

Dear Slugbottom,

Sulfurious greetings from the pleasant realm of the damned. I am taking a break from my usual “work” of wreaking emotional torture and enlarging eternal regret upon the formerly living meat that now inhabit our fair land. I often find it incredible that they pay me to do what I love.

However, I have also to attend to the responsibility of being your guide in matters concerning affairs of state. The chain of command has a push on right now for the claiming of meat and should I, through my various underlings, reach and exceed the goals set for me at the beginning of this meat cycle, I shall hit a multiplier that will result in a promotion for me.

As such, I want to write you with some contrary advice that has been received by those I am competing with for this promotion. That blistering Screwtape has written his nephew Wormwood advising that he keep his college charges out of church. You can find his advice here,

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/08/25/a-lost-letter-to-wormwood/

This advice is good for me but bad for the company. It is good for me because such advice is sure to insure that I get that promotion over Screwtape. It is bad for the company because it is more likely that his assigned meat will be won over by our enemy in heaven should they stay out of church.

You see, dear Slugbottom, what Screwtape has failed to take into account is that we now own the Churches in the West. Oh, yes … there are a few here or there who are holdouts against our affections but by and large the Church in Lansing Michigan, and throughout the West is ours. As such, the thing I want you most to do is to make sure your East Lansing University Charges end up in Church. By all that is hot and horrid I charge you, upon threat of loss of your recently gained position, to do all you can to get our meat to Church on Sundays.

We have little fear of those few remaining Churches that are faithful for they are typically so few in number and so opposed to the culture that we have breathed to life that we are confident that any young person concerned about making their way in the world, as a success, will not have anything to do with these churches. What 18-25 year old desires to be counter cultural to the point of being socially ostracized?

No, Church is where we want our meat, for in Church they will typically receive just enough of a bastardized version of the enemies message to insure that they will be inoculated against the real thing. Also, by being in Church they will receive the baptized version of King Lucifer’s thinking. We have so infiltrated the Churches near University campuses that they no longer oppose those things that would be real trouble for us. They no longer officially oppose our schools that we run. They no longer officially oppose the notion that King Lucifer’s Marxism is inconsistent with our enemies theology. They no longer officially oppose evolution, choosing to baptize it as “theistic.” The examples that could be brought forward Slugbottom are endless.

This plan, to infiltrate the Churches and to force them to chocolate coat King Lucifer’s thinking with the title of Christianity, was developed by our Father below and has been pursued for years, and through this plan we have taken the fairest of things, like abortion, homosexuality, government schools, hatred of one’s own people, and have persuaded the Church to likewise count them as fair things and to call these things “Christian.”

Now, there are certain dangers to this advice, as their are dangers present everywhere in guiding meat to hell. There will be times, when, even in our Churches, that hateful theme of the Cross will arise. At such times the best thing to do is make sure your meat is thinking that the Cross only has the effect that the meat gives to it. As long as the meat believes that he makes our enemies work effectual he will never be in danger of abandoning our cause. Whatever you do, make sure that the meat does not start thinking that the mountebank enemy of ours is the one who determines the effectiveness of the Cross. Thoughts, on the part of your meat, that tend in that direction will find you under my discipline and the thoughts of the last time that happened should be enough to motivate you.

So, once again my charge to you is to get the meat in Church. If done artfully and successfully it will anesthetize the meat by making them think well of themselves when in fact they are being put in the chute to our tropical regions.

More might be said Slugbottom, but this is enough for your limited capacity. I expect a report on your progress with your assigned College Meat four weeks into the fall semester.

I will be watching,

Chekist

Everyday People

Note to reader — This is a slightly embellished form of a set of events that happened to me last week.

Lee had finished helping his widowed mother with pruning and yard upkeep and rolled into his Toyota Camry to go home. One block from his mom’s place he noticed his car was on empty and so he pulled on into the local convenience store in order to fill up. He was in a upper middle class part of Holland, Michigan.

Upon getting out of his car he bumped into the 60 year old lady who was filling up her mini SUV. Lee couldn’t help notice that this 60 year old SUV lady was wearing a turquoise halter top with mini-skirt jeans. He figured that a 60 year old lady wearing a turquoise halter top w/ mini skirt jeans intended to be noticed.

Still, Lee managed to top off the tank and went in the store to pay the clerk. Lee waited in line behind the 60 year old SUV lady wearing a turquoise halter top with mini-skirt jeans and a gentleman wearing shin length “shorts” and a muscle man shirt. The waist of the “shorts” fit snugly around the lower half of his buttocks. Lee hadn’t realized they made the Boxer shorts beneath the “shorts” in such dynamic colors. Lee thought to himself, “I need to see if I can find me a pair of those.” On the upper bicep of “shorts” man was tattooed a huge map of Michigan, while just below the elbow daintily rested a artfully tattooed “Grateful Dead” skull logo. In “shorts” man’s right ear hung what looked to be a mid sized nut and bolt earring dangling from his pierced lobe. Lee stared at the nut and bolt wondering how the ear lobe could handle such a constant strain from the weight of the hardware.

Eventually Lee made his way to the Convenience store clerk to pay for his petrol. Across the counter from him stood a young lady with a name tag that spelled, “Shytillequi.” She sported Rastafarian dreadlocks and her first language was definitely Ebonics. Lee had never met a Rastafarian Ebonics speaking “Shytillequi” before but after meeting the turquoise lady and the tattoo-shorts-piercing man he was ready to meet just about anybody.

And anybody is who he bumped into next on his way back to his Toyota Camry. There waiting for him at his car was a Jesus thump-er, complete with handy dandy “Jesus loves you” salvation tracts and a ready explanation on how the rapture was certainly to take place any day now. Lee, not wanting to be rude, spoke with the Jesus man for a few minutes and managed to convince the Jesus man that his own soul was safe and that he might better spend his time speaking to either the 60 year old SUV lady wearing a turquoise halter top with mini-skirt jeans, or the tattoo-“shorts”-piercing guy or the Rastafarian Ebonics speaking Shytillequi. The Jesus man, upon hearing of such a target rich environment looked like a blue tick coon dog about to tree his first coon.

Lee was tempted to stick around the convenience store, if only for the entertainment value he was confident that the conversations of the Jesus man with the 60 year old SUV lady wearing a turquoise halter top mini-skirt jeans, or of the Jesus man with the tattoo-“shorts”-piercing guy or of the Jesus man with the Rastafarian Ebonics speaking Shytillequi would soon create, but Lee had already had enough exposure to the sublime and surreal for the next week and so he clicked his heels three times, hopped into his Toyota and prayed to God that he could find his way back to his Kansas.

McAtee meets C. S. Lewis & Lances Judge Walker & Proposition 8 Ruling

Pluralism Fails to Make Critical Distinctions. In his short story, ―A Progressive’s Regress, Bret McAtee tells an allegorical story about being confronted with “the ruling spirit of the age” (zeitgeist).

At breakfast, McAtee’s protagonist commented to the Judge (who served as a picture of how the zeitgeist legislates from the bench) how good the eggs were and the Judge would respond that “Poppy” was eating the menstruum of a verminous fowl, or Poppy would comment on how delicious his milk tasted and the judge said it was only the secretion of a cow and not different from any other emission such as urine. McAtee’s protagonist (Poppy) cries out, and we pick up the conversation,

Poppy: “Thank heaven! Now at last I know that you are talking nonsense.”

Judge: “What do you mean?” said the Judge, wheeling around upon him.”

Poppy: “You are trying to pretend that unlike things are like. You are trying to make us think that milk is the same sort of thing as sweat or dung.”

Judge: “And pray, what difference is there except by custom?”

Poppy: “Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no difference between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores as food?”

At another point in the story the Judge discourses w/ Poppy on the nature of marriage after Poppy inadvertently makes mention of his longing for his wife, and we pick up the conversation,

Judge: “Why not take a prison wife, there are many children and men who would be happy to give you companionship.

Poppy: “That would be a perversion.”

Judge: “If you decide it is not a perversion why would it be a perversion? Why, I have ruled in such a way that marriage means whatever I choose it to mean. You will never leave here until you learn that just as milk might legitimately be considered cow urine and eggs are fowl menstruum so marriage might be considered whatever we name it to be.”

Poppy began to protest but the Judge viciously brought his gavel down across Poppy’s jaw. Teeth flew.

Judge: There now, we will have none of that arguing here.

The Judge turned to his jury members — a jury of Poppy’s peers — and in a catechitical fashion grilled them asking,

Judge: “Now tell me, members of the jury, what is argument.”

The members of the jury, responding as the moral zombies they had become through their judicial indoctrination, replied in unison,

Jury: “Argument is the attempted rationalization of the arguer’s subjective desires, this and nothing more.”

Judge: “What is the proper answer to an argument that doesn’t conform to Lord Zeitgeist?”

Jury: “The proper answer is, ‘you argue as you do because you are either a religious fundamentalist or a white racist, or a capitalist, or a lover of Western Christendom.'”

Judge: “Just so. Now, one more for today. How do you answer an argument turning on the belief that five plus five equals Ten?”

Jury: “The answer is, ‘you say that only because you are a mathematician. Were you a business owner making change from a ten while trying to cheat somebody you would say something else.'”

Poppy said he began to despair until Reason came riding up on a white horse, scooped him up, and saved him. ―You lie, Poppy said to the Judge; ―You lie. You fail to understand what God meant for nourishment and what God meant for garbage. Milk is the same as cow urine the same way that perversion is equal to Marriage. Meaning is not what you legislate no matter how many times you bang your gavel.