Topless Baristas & The Modern Gospel vs. Historic Christianity — A Conversation

Out on the West Coast, in Spokane, Washington topless women are serving up Coffee and breasts as the Nightline report above exposes. This reality drove a late night conversation between myself, a friend, and your garden variety Evangelical (minister?) who “leans Calvinist.” I post it here to demonstrate an apologetic encounter and to demonstrate where much of the contemporary Evangelical Church is today. Names have been changed to protect the identity of Zombies.

Dan Brannan

Being paid for sexual acts/displays is not the description of a barista. It is the description of a prostitute.

Christian Toddson

Just curious why you think (at least your comment appears as such) that serving coffee or pretty much doing anything in a bikini is prostitution? Is modeling prostitution? Is going to a pool, ocean, lake, river, etc… in a bikini, prostitution?

Dan Brannan

Yes, if a girl dresses in bikini (essentially underwear) for money, she is engaged in prostitution. A woman selling her body, and performing sexual exhibitionism is a prostitute.

On the other hand, a woman who dons a bikini (underwear) in public without pay, is not a prostitute. She’s merely a harlot.

Christian Toddson

Wow, Dan. Really? This is what you truly believe 100% dogmatically? Clearly your position is rooted in your religious faith. I’m Christian myself, though I don’t ascribe to legalism, but rather lean more heavily on grace and don’t judge by appearances I’d rather face God directly than anyone rooted in legalism on any issue. I would venture to say that at the deepest root of your aversion to bikinis and such, it has more to do with your own personal struggles rather than being substantiated in Christian doctrine.

Really? Prostitute? Wearing a bikini (or anything else, even being nude) selling coffee or anything else for that matter other than sex doesn’t define being a prostitute. Nor does it have anything to do with association to harlotry… other than perhaps within your own mental videos.

Dan Brannan

Christian, your mush-mouthed dissembling embarrasses me. You know that the whole motive of bikini baristas is sexual voyeurism and exhibitionism. And you know that by definition, paying for sex acts is prostitution.

Dan Brannan

Lying to yourself only tarnishes your witness.

Christian Toddson

Dan, though admittedly I say this somewhat with sarcasm, perhaps it would serve your legalistic leaning to relocate to an Islamic country where prescribing what females can wear is a culturally accepted practice?

The motive of having a coffee stand with bikini baristas is nothing more than a common marketing strategy. It is something entirely acceptable within our culture. Anyone who takes issue with it is expecting that all America (if not the globe) ought to conform with your perspective of Scripture. And that’s very unrealistic. It is fine for you to hold your position (though I would encourage you do some deeper study rooted in grace and choice), but to imagine that it’s acceptable to dictate what may be done by and for others based upon doctrine is highly problematic.

Perhaps you may take it upon yourself to visit these type of bikini coffee stands if you truly believe what you’ve shared here, and pass out Bible tracts and attempt to share the Gospel?

But I wouldn’t suggest you carry signs that say anything such as “God Hates Prostitutes!!”, or “Harlots Are Going To Hell!!.” You won’t make much impact other than defamation to Biblical Christianity, and give justifiable cause to most everyone who already despises institutionalized religion and it’s blind adherents.

Dan Brannan

Your doctrine, Christian, is “Do as thou wilt be the whole of the law.” That is the explicit plausibility structure  of Satanism. You cannot hold that view and be a Christian. What’s more, I think you know that.

Dan Brannan

Christian, you  wrote,

“The motive of having a coffee stand with bikini baristas is nothing more than a common marketing strategy. It is something entirely acceptable within our culture.”

^This is an admission that you simply don’t care about the reality of the matter. You want your titillation no matter what God’s word and the common definitions of words mean.

Dan Brannan

That ‘common marketing strategy’ you mention is selling sex. Which is to say, PROSTITUTION.

Christian Toddson

We live within a framework of ‘culture’ and within any such framework, the role of a Christian at best is to pray for your concerns, love others (not judge), and graciously, compassionately seek to build a bridge between the perceived “sinners” and the heart of Christ.  Your label slinging falls awfully short of those goals. You can go unto all the world sharing the good news, but when it’s done in a spirit of judgmental legalism rather than love, then your just clanging cymbals, Dan.

Dan Brannan

You’re peddling Satanism in the name of Christianity, Mr. Toddson.

You apparently don’t know the definition of legalism either. Legalism is defined as,

1) the belief that fallen men can be saved by perfectly keeping the law, or
2) that you are at liberty to add to or change the law.

By the second definition, it is you who are the legalist, not I.

Further Christian, the scripture nowhere instructs Christians not to judge. Matthew 7 instructs us to judge righteously. And St. Paul assures us that we must “judge all things” as we will even judge angels.

Christian Toddson,

Your label slinging falls awfully short of those goals. You can go unto all the world sharing the good news, but when it’s done in a spirit of judgmental legalism rather than love, then your just clanging cymbals, Dan. Sorry you see it that way, Dan. Though nothing of the sort. Your highly judgmental. Grace, Dan. Lack of Grace is what comes through loud and clear in what you’ve expressed. It would serve much of modern day Christendom well to devote itself to Grace, as Christ intended, rather than the legalism that He expended such great energy to rebuke.

Dan Brannan — You have no idea what you’re talking about.

Christian Toddson,

Dan, in my legalistic season, I utilized the very scriptures about ‘judging’ as you have demonstrated yourself here.

Dan Brannan

Stop judging me, Christian.

You say Christians aren’t to judge, so, I’m asking you to be true to that Satanic standard and desist judging me.

Christian Toddson,

Ok ok… Dan is right. Christians, Go ahead and smite the coffee stands with fire and brimstone, and stone the bikini donning, satan worshipping, “prostitute” and “harlot” baristas to death.

Dan Brannan

You can’t convince people that they need grace unless they know they are sinners. And we aren’t at liberty to revoke God’s standards.

Christian Toddson,

Teach Grace and the purpose of Grace, and your nets will catch more ‘fish’. Try it.

Dan Brannan — Grace is incommunicable without Law.  Please, give coherence a chance.

Bret L. McAtee

Christian is a legalist. He is insisting that his law that insists upon legalized voyeurism be forced upon all those who would rather not their sons and daughters be lured into this lifestyle and Christian does this all in the name of “grace.” Of course this is grace redefined as license.

Then what Christian does is to turn around and label Dan Brannan a “legalist” because Dan has a right understanding of the law that isn’t consistent with Christian’s own legalism.

Fascinating how the Libertarian are confused with Christians.

Christian Toddson,

Dan, Bret – You two ought to know that it ‘s of far greater appeal to share with “sinners” that God is for them and that He loves them, than to judge them harshly, condemn them, and tell them they are going to Hell. You will not scare any one into Heaven. Jesus didn’t approach the unknowing sinful that way, nor make appeal to you to do such a thing; so why are you?

Dan Brannan Just because your false gospel is more appealing to the world than the actual gospel, is no reason to abandon the genuine article, Christian.

Bret L. McAtee

How can I tell sinners (i.e. those in rebellion to Christ) that “God loves them,” when Scripture expressly teaches that “God hates workers of iniquity”? (Psalm 5:5)

Bret L. McAtee — And secondly, how dare you judge me Mr. Toddson. Where is the appeal in that?

Bret L. McAtee — Christian, I suggest you might read Romans 1 to see how God challenges recalcitrant sinners.

Dan Brannan

If you preach a form of grace that knows no law, you aren’t teaching grace at all, but as Bret said, you are teaching license and licentiousness.

Christian Toddson,

Dan, you said that, “Grace is incommunicable without Law.”

That’s a terribly sad way to think.

A very simple and endearing book about Grace is Chuck Smith’s 1994 book, “Why Grace Changes Everything”

You need to share an appealing message with those you feel are “sinners.” Not express condemnation. Introduce the sinner to Jesus… how about that?

Bret L. McAtee — Chuck Smith was a Heretic

Dan Brannan

When Paul asks rhetorically, “shall we sin the more that grace may abound?” he answers, “may it never be.” But you say of Paul’s argument that “that’s a terribly sad way to think.”

If you are introducing sinners to an antinomian Jesus, you are introducing them to a false Christ. Jesus kept the law perfectly and commanded men to repent.

Bret L. McAtee

And our Lord Christ said that he had not come to condemn the law but to fulfill it. Further, the Lord Christ told the Pharisees that they should have kept the slightest of the law found in tithing mint, dill, and cummin.

Dan Brannan

Right. Christ condemned the pharisees for neglecting God’s law and making up new laws in its place — just what Christian is doing.

Bret L. McAtee — Hence, proving, as I said, that Christian is the legalist here.

Christian Toddson

Do you guys wear Tefillins on your heads?

Carry a Torah attached to the end of a battle club, and mock Jesus with things like “He saved others, but He can’t save himself!” ?

Dan Brannan — No, we say that YOU should stop doing those sort of things.

Bret L. McAtee

Ephesians 4:17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Christian Toddson

Bret, when the individuals you and Dan are judging are the bikini baristas, are you assuming they’re Christians or unsaved sinners?

If unsaved and ignorant of God’s grace, ‘sinners’ – are you at all concerned with making a compassionate, loving appeal t
o them as befits Christ? Or condemnation?

To the Christian we can speak in different terms than the unsaved.

You two come across as highly judgmental, un-compassionate, lacking love, very unappealing fundamentalists.

John Kevan,

Bottom line, if you think girls selling coffee in bikinis is wrong, then don’t go to that coffee stand — there are plenty of places to get coffee that don’t feature bikini clad baristas – – but there is most certainly no legitimate justification for government restrictions on such business.

Bret L. McAtee,

Mr. Toddson, the best thing I can do for the bikini baristas and all those who are in rebellion to God is to inform them that if they do not repent God may well turn them over to their rebellion. I also tell them that God has provided mercy in Christ upon repentance.

It would be sheer hatred for me to do anything else.

I find your judgmentalism against me very disconcerting. You are demonstrating a lack of love for me and are obviously unconcerned with the prospects of hurting my feelings. This makes me cry.

Bret L. McAtee

John, God’s law strikes me as a legitimate foundation for government restriction.

Libertarians … what a confused bunch.

Christian Toddson,

I see a clear, near identical likeness between the Statist and Institutionalized Christian. Statism is a religion, and Institutionalized Christianity is a law imposing, judgmental, condemnatory, punishment driven system of intimidation.

Dan Brannan … quoth Lucifer.

Bret L. McAtee

You’re the one doing all the condemning here partner.

And all States … All States codify their religion into law. Especially Libertarians.

Dan Brannan Yes, Libertarians believe in a Libertarian god, and they institute the law of Liber., and they do so rigidly.

John Kevan,

Bret, the only legitimate reason for government restriction is if I am doing something that harms another; it is legitimate for the government to restrict me from stealing from you or injuring or killing you. A girl selling coffee while wearing a bikini is harming nobody.

Dan Brannan — Wrong. Such prostitutes strike at the whole society.

Bret L. McAtee

John, the Libertarian Non Aggression Principle (NAP) is a myth.

Only God and His Law Word can provide the standard for what does and does not constitute aggression.

Dan Brannan — Amen.

Bret L. McAtee

NAP = Libertinism.

NAP = drug dealing Crack houses, whore houses, wife swapping, legalized sodomy … all because none of it is putatively “hurting anybody.”

Dan Brannan — NAP = open borders, predatory capitalism, etc., etc., etc.

The NAP is a Trojan horse which allows predatory forces to dismantle every aspect of genuine law and right from within our own gates.

Christian Toddson,

Dan, Bret – Between yourselves and me, who do you suppose could best build a bridge for the bikini baristas (if they don’t already know Him) to Jesus? You guys and your hell fire “repent or die!” approach, or my compassion driven, love based, appeal by Grace?

Of course all of it is the work of God, but what approach did you see Jesus take with the prostitute as opposed to those who were condemning her?

Dan Brannan — The trouble is, Christian, the bridge you’re trying to build leads not to Jesus, but to hell.

Bret L. McAtee

Psst … there is no building bridges to those who are dead dead dead in their sins. You act as if you’re just nice enough a dead person will respond. Dead people don’t respond Christian.

You’re a functional Arminian.

Second, when I see someone convicted of their sin, like “the prostitute” you mention it is obvious at that point that the law has already done its work and needs not to be stated again.

You have no idea what evangelism is Christian. Evangelism requires the soul shattering work of the law’s condemnation.

Christian Toddson

That’s an ignorant comment, Dan. You don’t know me. Nor have I anyplace here in our dialogue given free license to sin. I know that love is of far greater appeal than fear, and wins every time.

Dan Brannan

Jesus commanded that prostitutes and publicans must repent, Mr. Toddson. Your spewing B.S. Anti-Christ nonsense, Mr. Toddson.

Bret L. McAtee

Christian, are you actually trying to compare the repentant prostitute who wiped the feet of our Lord Christ with tears with the brazen bikini baristas in the video above? You’re not a wise man in the least.

Christian Toddson,

Dan, you noted that, “Jesus commanded that prostitutes and publicans must repent, Christian.”

I say to that Dan that, Jesus commanded that every one must repent.

Dan Brannan —  That’s the FIRST correct thing you’ve said so far, Christian.

Christian Toddson —  You guys need to abandon your love of law for the love of Christ, and for the sinner.

Bret L. McAtee,

Do you suppose that the brazen bikini baristas will agree that they must repent Christian?

I do agree that I need to repent and that my repentance even needs repenting over, inadequate as  it is.

Dan Brannan — and back you go to your anti-Christ schtick Christian

Bret L. McAtee,

You are the one who is hateful of the bikini baristas Mr. Toddson. You are a eminent hater by your theology as seen in your unwillingness to plead God’s Holiness.

Christian Toddson,

Bret – they won’t agree that they need to repent if they hear the message delivered with your tone and swagger.

Dan Brannan LOL.

Bret L. McAtee,

I can’t separate Christ from God’s law since Christ was the very incarnation of God’s law.

And I continue to see your Arminianism Christian. If I speak just the right nice way they will come to Jesus but if I tell them the truth they won’t. Is that it Christian?

Christian Toddson — Christ is the fulfillment of the law, Bret. Not you, not Dan, not me.

Bret L. McAtee,

Right Christian, and we are His champions and so we must set forth His legal character and let the law do its convicting work before we apply the balm of grace. To do what your advocating would damn the souls that, in love and compassion, we are seeking to woo.

Christian Toddson — I lean Calvinist actually, Bret.

Dan Brannan — No you don’t.

Bret L. McAtee — No you don’t. You’re a functional Arminian, and probably a Seminary grad to boot.

Christian Toddson — You are the two who speak in a manner demonstrating a works oriented salvation.

Dan Brannan — Exactly the opposite of the case.

Christian Toddson  — It’s true, Bret.  I’m dead on, Dan.

Bret L. McAtee

Nuh Uh. Neener neener neeener. I’m rubber. you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces of me and sticks on to you.

Dan Brannan

Mr. Toddson, far from the doctrines of grace, you preach licentiousness based upon Satanist nomology. Further,   you preach a works righteousness of “niceness” rather than grace.

Christian Toddson

Bret – how many churches have you left?

How many have you been asked to leave or told to leave?

Bret L. McAtee,

Zero and Zero.  How about you?

Besides being asked to leave a Church in this current zeitgeist is, more often then not, a badge of honor, Christian

Christian Toddson — Dan, I see you enjoy the pet usage of satan, and nomology. Neither of which I find value with.

Dan Brannan — And yet, you preach him.

Christian Toddson — Did Jesus condemn? If so, Who?

Bret L. McAtee — Jesus condemned people like you who were exercising their self righteousness.

Christian Toddson  — No self righteousness here guys. That would be ignorant.

Dan Brannan,

Christian, the Lord repetitiously condemned those doing as you are, Christian. Because you refuse His Lordship, and prefer to make up your own law to impose upon Him.

Christian Toddson,

Dan, He fulfilled the law for me, for you, for Bret, for all of us. It’s the two of you who are seeking to impose it.

Dan Brannan — We seek to obey Him. But you say obeying Him is the greatest crime.

Bret L. McAtee,

There is no way we can know that Christ fulfilled the law for those who refuse Christ. That is Arminian again.

Christian Toddson,

I would venture to say that Jesus is more concerned with how the two of you are behaving in His name than with the bikini baristas.

Bret L. McAtee — Of course you would say that. So say all Luciferians.

Dan Brannan — Because you hate His law and reject His Lordship.

Christian Toddson — That is a terribly condemnatory thing to say Bret.

Bret L. McAtee — Just how I would expect a Luciferian to respond.

Christian Toddson

No Dan, I abhor Pharisaical self righteousness and law imposing condemnation as Jesus Himself did.

Christian Toddson — That’s quite childish, Bret.

Bret L. McAtee,

And yet here you are condemning us with every post because we are not keeping your law. Talk about childish.

Christian Toddson —   Think of it more like a rebuke.

Bret L. McAtee — Psst …. its not working.

Christian Toddson — It will.

Bret L. McAtee — says you.

Dan Brannan — You’re rebuking Christ’s Lordship, Mr. Toddson. Anathema.

Christian Toddson —  Geez guys. do you two have any idea, even the least bit, how unappealing you make Christ and His message? What a repellent that you are?

There is no (expressed) love at all in you two and that concerns me both for the salvation of yourselves, and the damage you no doubt cause to the appeal of God for the unbelieving who already have plenty of reasons to despise institutionalized religion.

Dan Brannan,

^And thus they called for Him to be crucified. Jesus was not murdered for being a winsome lounge lizard.

Bret L. McAtee,

Christian, first off, I suspect your definition of love is not my definition of love. If Christ is the incarnation of God’s law then God’s law is also Love.

Second, you appeal to the idea of a Gospel that is appealing to sinners. Would you mind too terribly explaining by what standard you adjudicate a proper appeal?

Third, you’re actually surprised that people who hate Christ find plenty of reasons to despise the institutional religions that bears Christ’s name to the world?

Fourth, it is you who are doing the damage by condemning the use of God’s law that is intended to expose sin.

Bret L. McAtee — Christian, I have to ask. Are you a minister?

Bret L. McAtee

Christian, Is there a reason that Scriptures say that the Message is a stone that makes men stumble and a rock that makes men fall?

For Christian is seems the message is a bikini that makes men horny and a coffee that tastes good.

Dan Brannan — And God’s ethics are such a bummer, man.

Christian Toddson

Sure Bret, because the Jews couldn’t accept justification by faith, but believed it necessary for laboring at the works of the law. Jesus was/is their stumbling block.

A bit like you two… No?

Christian Toddson,  Dan – Your equating doing of the law, with ethics, or Godly principals?

Bret L. McAtee So you’re actually telling me that “justification by faith alone” obviates the causal connection with good works in relation to sanctification?

Antinomianism anyone?

Christ has set me free from the condemnation of the Law. I am not free to be disobedient Mr. Toddson.

Christian … are you a minister?

Dan Brannan

Jesus called the Pharisees to repent of their law and return to God’s Law … which presupposed from the beginning the atoning work of Christ and establishes the ethics of His universe.

Christian Toddson

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”

Dan Brannan — Now just let that sink in, Christian.

Bret L. McAtee — Christian, are you a minister?

Christian Toddson — It’s sunken deep, Dan.

Dan Brannan — A sinister minister.

Bret L. McAtee — Shall we go on sinning that grace may abound Christian?  God forbid.

Bret L. McAtee

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you say unto them, “Depart in peace; be ye warmed and filled,” without giving them those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, “Thou hast faith, and I have works.” Show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well. The devils also believe — and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Christian Toddson  — Of course, Bret.

Bret L. McAtee — 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, 13 looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Christian Toddson,

As regards the bikini baristas (back on point), What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church (if in fact they are)?

Bret L. McAtee  –Christian, are you a minister?

Christian Toddson — Bret, Aren’t we all?

Bret L. McAtee — No, we are not.

Christian Toddson — 1 Cor. 3

Bret L. McAtee — James 3:1

Bret L. McAtee,

Why did Paul judge the Athenians at Mars Hill since they were outside the Church? (Acts 17)

Dan Brannan,

Why does the 10 commandment insist that the covenant people impose God’s law on the stranger within thy gates?

How does the assumption that those outside the church need the gospel not amount to a judgment upon them?

Christian Toddson,

Bret, Why did Paul write the letters/epistles to the Corinthians? 1 Cor. 5:12?

Dan Brannan — To assume unbelievers need saving is to judge them.
Unlike · 2 · 8 hrs

Christian Toddson,

No Dan, we know that everyone needs saving. And that “there is none righteous, no, not one”, is a universal indictment.

Dan Brannan — Then you admit to judging unbelievers.

Christian Toddson,

No Dan. I mostly rest in not judging so that I won’t be judged, as per Matt. 7 Judging is not fun, nor is being judged. We humans are very very poor at it.

Dan Brannan — That’s a lie. You just issued judgement over unbelievers. That they are sinners and need salvation.

Bret L. McAtee — Yet here you are judging us all over the place Christian. Contradictions anyone?

Bret L. McAtee,


Paul judged the unbelievers at Athens.

I Cor. 5 is in the context of Church discipline. The Church can’t bring discipline against those who have not closed with Christ. However, the Church must have the law do its work with those who are in rebellion against Christ.

Christian Toddson,  Bret – Paul made a bad decision in Athens and because of it, saw little success there.

Bret L. McAtee — LOL ^

Bret L. McAtee — ROFLOL ^

Dan Brannan — WTH?

Bret L. McAtee — ROFLMAO

Dan Brannan  — Now you’re judging Paul!

Bret L. McAtee — I’m sitting here falling off my chair cracking up

Dan Brannan — Same here.

Christian Toddson,

Paul gave it up as a bad job with regard to his approach with the Athenians. How is it you don’t know that?

Bret L. McAtee — I guessed I missed that day when they taught that in Sunday School.

Christian Toddson — You must have…. or else went to a poorly teaching church.

Dan Brannan — That must be in the Devil’s Bible I’ve heard so much about.

Bret L. McAtee,

So … Christian … do tell please. What other parts of the Bible are considered failures where not expressly pointed out in the text.

Bret L. McAtee,


Seriously. Out of a compassion for you I plead with you to trust Christ and repent of your making a false Christ in your image to worship.

Dan Brannan.

Just to make sure I’m following … are you really judging Paul because he judged the athenians as a proof that we shouldn’t judge?

Bret L. McAtee — LOL ^

Christian Toddson,

Paul avoided mention of the cross in Athens, and the result was a meager harvest. After continuing on to Corinth is when he emphasized that he “resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Have you never read that, or was it never taught to you?

It’s not a secret that many have considered Paul to have been disappointed with his message in Athens.

After all, how many were saved in Athens?

Dan Brannan — So, your are judging Paul for judging the Athenians. How is this level of hypocrisy possible?

Bret L. McAtee,

Paul preaching at Athens Christian,

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to to all by raising him from the dead.”

Now, how could have Christ had been resurrected if Christ had not been dead and buried?

Sounds like the Cross is clearly implied in Athens Christian.

Christian Toddson,

 Dan, Paul omitted mention of the cross to the Athenians and one woman was saved as a result of his message to the crowd. Then he placed heavy emphasis on the cross in Corinth and many were saved. Paul didn’t use the philosophical approach again after Athens.
Bret L. McAtee,

Are you ever going to quit digging that hole your standing in and let us help you out Christian?

All of this “failure of Paul in Athens” is clear only to you Christian. No orthodox Christian would ever say what your saying about Acts 17. In point of fact, two of the greatest Christian minds of the 20th century (Van Til and Bahnsen) both insisted that Acts 17 was a template for doing Evangelism and Apologetics.  — Van Til’s treatment of Acts 17 — Partial look at Bahnsen’s work on Acts 17

Christian Toddson,

Folks – Paul left Athens disappointed, that is clear enough. His message to them wasn’t a “success” in terms of his listeners coming to salvation. He lost their ear, he left. He never taught in such a manner again.

Bret L. McAtee Folks,

Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit as He was, did not fail in Athens. The idea that you can measure the success of the message by counting the converts is heretical nonsense and the fact that Christian holds this demonstrates, perhaps better then anything else he has said, that his Gospel is pure existential pragmatism and not the Gospel belonging to Christianity.

Dan Brannan,

Yes. The notion that the divinely-enabled preaching of Paul could be condemned by Christians because it doesn’t fit the “church growth model” of emergent churchianity is a level of pharisaism unknown to me till tonight.

Further, I find the idea that Paul could be judged by modern apostates as a pretext to create a new law against judging people according to law absolutely hysterical.

To judge those who judge (even those divinely guided) according to a law which forbids law. New Age churchianity is like a giant web of zen koans — all self-contradictory.

Morning Prayer

Benevolent Father who has revealed to each and all of your elect their brokenness, sin, and guilt and yet has clothed us in the Righteousness of Christ and as birthed us anew into your new creation, grant us grace to continue to reflect the beautiful reign of God in our lives, so that our ruin may be put off and your great Glory demonstrated in the renewing of a once broken people now healing in light of your tender care and mercy.

As citizens of your Kingdom grant us grace to be zealous for you, determined to defend your honor, and to be champions of your cause. Grant us the ability to rejoice knowing what we’ve been rescued from and delivered too. Give us love and tenderness for all the Saints and give us the capacity to make them know they are welcome in the Household of God.

Despite and through our weakness, Triune God, advertise and make known your fame.

The God Of Death

Amos 3:6 Or shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people be not afraid? or shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

For a short season of my life I worked for a Funeral Home in Charlotte. I did it to earn a little extra cash on the side. The people in the Funeral Home were pleasant people but I eventually had to quit because the Funeral Sermons I was hearing in the Churches were so hopeless. There was the time when a Pastor quoted John 14,

2 In my Father’s house are many dwelling places: if it were not so, I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there may ye be also.

At this point the Pastor referred to the deceased and began to talk about how the many dwelling places was a metaphor for the deceased’s many interests. With that lead in he began to talk about the many hats the deceased person wore. A third time was a high Eastern Orthodox funeral service. There was so much smoke from the burning incense and so much water being splashed around from all the sprinkling I began to wonder if I would die of smoke inhalation first or of drowning. At another time the Pastor spent the Funeral sermon talking about the deceased’s interest in Rush Limbaugh. One would have thought that Limbaugh had died. What all the Funeral sermons had in common was the lack of Christ in the message.

One particular Funeral sermon however took the first place award in the, “I can’t believe the Pastor just said that” awards. This Funeral was a situation where the deceased had perished in a particularly violent auto accident. That kind of death can be hard on the loved ones that remains because it so sudden and so violent. No time to say good byes. No time to make amends for harsh words perhaps recently said.

At this particular service the Pastor mounted the pulpit and the first words out of his mouth were,

“I want everyone here to know that God had nothing to do with this. This was not God’s will.”

I was so shocked that I instinctively was looking for a rewind button so as to replay what I just heard to confirm I had indeed heard it. Later I did confirm it with my co-workers. All these years later I still can’t believe the Pastor actually said that.

Of course the Pastor was (I think) trying to defend God. (As if God needs defense.) And the Pastor was probably trying to bring some kind of comfort to the family in the thought that a loving God would never have anything to do with such a tragic happening. Maybe the Pastor reasoned that as Jesus came to defeat death, death was not God’s will?

But really, if you think about it, where was the comfort in being told that God had nothing to do with the auto accident? Will the family leave comforted knowing that God didn’t want that accident and death to happen, but darn it, there is only so much a Deity can do. After all, God can’t always get what He wants. Where is the comfort in knowing that there are some matters that God is not sovereign over and so we are left to … to what exactly?
When deaths happen that God doesn’t will does that mean when it comes to death we are up against time plus chance plus circumstance instead? When deaths happen that God doesn’t will does that mean when it comes to death we are up against the sovereignty of King Devil? Where is the comfort in knowing that tragic death visits us for no reason or for unknowable mystery as opposed to being confident that even tragic death is the will of a Sovereign and merciful God who is working out His all knowing purpose and plan?

And if you think about it, since the death of the Lord Christ was about as tragic and undeserved as is possible to arrive at are we to conclude that the death of the Lord Christ wasn’t the will of the Father either? I wonder how it is that we can talk about God’s will in the death of the Lord Christ and comfort ourselves with the knowledge that the death of the innocent Lord Christ was a part of God’s plan and not at the same time comfort ourselves in the face of other less tragic deaths with the thought that God never willed it and had nothing to do with it?

I know the death of loved ones is difficult but I would suggest that we only make it more difficult when we tell people “it wasn’t God’s will.”

As a minister I’ve conducted services for death by suicide. I’ve conducted service for babies who were battered or shaken to death. I’ve conducted services for those who have died of grisly and long wasting cancers. I’ve conducted services of those who have died in accidents. Speaking only of myself, I am certain I could not have ever had the composure to conduct those services if I did not believe behind each of them and all of them there ran the inscrutable will of a God who, as Job teaches us, has reasons that cannot be demanded of us in all He does.

As a minister, I understand, that some truths need to be delivered at their appropriate times. I understand that for those who are grieving it is probably not best to go into a long explanation on the decretive will of God. I understand that when folks are drowned in grief for a loved one that it isn’t perhaps the time to cheerily put forth how “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” People need time to grieve. They need time even perhaps to be angry with God. They need time to sort out their flooding emotions.

However, something else they don’t need is for members of the clergy to tell them, “God had nothing to do with this. This was not God’s will.” We must keep before ourselves as Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that which we intone at every graveside service,

“The Lord Giveth, The Lord Taketh Away, Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord.”

Top 11 Reasons To Read

Top Ten Reasons I Like Dr. D. Gnostic Hart and his blog,

11.) A constant reminder to be gentle and tender towards and with women who are on their cycle

10.) Every Holmes needs a Moriarty to bring out the best in him. Still looking for my Moriarty.

9.) My home-run totals are at “Hall of Fame” proportions because they let the guy with the “hanging curve-ball” play

8.) Never a need to worry about losing my Muse

7.) Everybody needs a living “Wizard of Oz” to remind him of the principle of impotent men with large egos

6.) Allows me to practice receiving him that is weak in the faith and to bear the faults of one another

5.) Every day is a new day to Praise God that I escaped being lobotomized

4.) How could the virtue of compassion be cultivated if there were not some people to pity?

3.) The constant living reminder why it was a good idea NOT to go for the Ph.D since Ph.D. programs have been so terribly dumbed-down

2.) Reminds me to pray for the Church which is by schisms rent asunder, and by heresies distressed.

And the number 1 reason why I like Dr. D. Gnostic Hart and his blog,

1.) Provides a daily reminder that old heresies like Gnosticism are constantly reinvented

What They Didn’t Tell Me In Seminary

This post is inspired by a column I read today at,

The chap there (Rev. Storms) has been in the Ministry for nearly 40 years. I’ve only been in this calling for 25. So, with 15 fewer years, take this for what it is worth.

1.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary how to help someone die. There has been nothing more difficult in the 25 years I’ve been in the ministry then to minister to the dying. No matter how often I step into this role as a midwife of the soul’s entry into the presence of God I always walk away from the committal service wondering if I had read enough scripture with the now deceased. Had I given enough comfort to them? Had I prayed long enough with them? Had I laughed enough with them or played enough of their favorite games with them on their good days? Had I pointed them towards Christ enough?

There is nothing more humbling about the ministry then the sense of inadequacy that washes over a minister after the time worn gruel of seeing death have its short term victory. Seldom has faith had to so tenaciously engage then upon the long jagged death of a well loved parishioner. I can only hope to die as well as those I’ve been honored to shepherd.

2.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary how much fighting would have to be done for orthodoxy. Maybe they didn’t know. Maybe it is not seemly for a Seminary Professor to talk about how the life of a minister who cares would be characterized by one conflict after another in the setting of local Church, the denomination, the refereeing of congregational family dust ups, or local meetings among the clergy in the community where one is ministering. Maybe Seminary Professors had themselves learned that it is better to go along to get along and so figured that they would, by their silence, teach us to go along to get along as well. They didn’t tell me in Seminary how the Church is the problem as much as it is the solution.

3.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary how to deal with the sense of betrayal that arises when people, who you’ve long been close to, leave the Church. They didn’t teach me how to put off the bitterness and hurt. They didn’t teach how to fake before everyone else in the Church and act like the departure of loved people doesn’t hurt. All this said, quite admitting that when people leave they leave for reasons they believe to be absolutely legitimate.

4.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary how ill equipped any man is to be a minister of the Gospel. It would have been good for us to have drilled in our heads how the position of Minister is way beyond the capacity of any one man. They should have told us that a sense of inadequacy is a something that a minister daily lives with and they should have told us that the constant sense of inadequacy would be better for us to live with then the sense of thinking ourselves perfectly adequate unto the position.

5.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary how strange I am and neither did they tell me in Seminary how strange other people were becoming. My Father-in-law entered the ministry in 1956. He used to tell me, when he was winding down from the ministry in the late 90’s, how odd people had become compared to when he first started. Twenty-five years later for me now, I can say that people are odder now then they were when I started. Worldviews have consequences and the stranger a culture becomes in its worldview, the odder the individuals in that culture become. In Seminary I graduated with an emphasis on Culture. We examined cultures and probed as to how they worked. Nothing though could have prepared me for how strange our own culture has become.

6.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary that Ministers should not take themselves too seriously. Ministers, like myself, have a terrible habit of self-importance. We would have been well served to have been told early on to get over ourselves.

7.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary that it was acceptable as a minister to just blow people off when they need to be blown off. If we are not supposed to take ourselves too seriously then it is perfectly acceptable not to take non serious people seriously. Ministers have a tendency to want to please and satisfy people, (it’s part of the reason why they went into ministry) and as such Ministers tend to compromise themselves by trying to satisfy people who should not be satisfied.

8.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary that it was alright to be a failure, or at least they didn’t tell me how to properly measure failure and success.

9.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary how it is normal for most church people, in our accelerated culture, to not have time to meditate, to read, and to think. Of course as people don’t have time for this it makes it next to impossible for a Minister to really help people on a deep permanent level. As such, much of the ministry is, at best, a triage and band-aid routine.

10.) They didn’t tell me in Seminary how generous and kind many people could be. Of course that is something that is easy to learn and appreciate after the fact. It is amazing how the Lord Christ, after some “people encounter gone sour,” will bring into the Minister’s life people who are kind beyond measure.

It is amazing how many of the people I have served over the years have had the virtue of kindness and generosity.