Thursday, April 5, 2012

When Harold Camping made his statement of repentance earlier this year and promised that he would make no more end-of-days predictions, a little voice told me this was going to be big.   It was my wife, Jasmine’s.  “Woody,” she said, “This is going to be big.  You just watch—You’ll see.”

Jasmine was right.  It may be pure coincidence, but it seems to the untrained observer that Camping’s actions have occasioned a “season of repentance” in contemporary evangelicalism.  The statements have come one after the other in rapid succession; some of us can hardly believe their content—let alone who has been making them.  Here’s the story:

(1) Robert Schuller
  The 85-year-old veteran seeker-driver and positive thinker released a statement directly to the Steam Tunnel, along with 142 other news outlets, both Christian and secular.  He included a photo.

Hi, I’m Robert Schuller and as you can see from my photograph, I am sad and befuddled. 

The last few years have brought me a long way from my positive-thinking days—especially this last year. You probably heard that things haven’t been going over so positively with the church and the family.   We ended up having to sell Crystal Cathedral to the Catholics.  Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that, of course.  They’re very positive people.  But the kids have been getting a bit ornery, and I don’t think Thanksgiving at the Schuller home will be a big hit this year.

As I approach the exit ramp of life, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking—and not all of it so positive.  I think I may have gone a little over the edge with this positive thinking stuff.  You know, a long time ago, I used to actually read the Bible.  But after a while, when all the Norman Vincent Peale material set in, it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.    The Bible can be a real drag sometimes.  All that talk about sin, repentence, Hell.  Not the kind of stuff that brings in the crowds and keeps flowing the kind of donations we needed to pay for all that crystal.

About twenty years ago, I did a radio interview with a cocky young Reformed kid and his in-studio cronies.  I’ve never been able to forget it.  Something that transpired in that interview just wouldn’t leave me alone.   Michael Horton—I think that was the kid’s name—was quoting the Apostle Paul to me, and I interrupted him and said, “I hope you don’t preach that from the pulpit, young man.”

I didn’t realize it right away, but a few years later, it dawned on me that he was actually quoting the Bible, and that it probably would be okay for him to preach, you know, the Bible, from the pulpit.   As the years went by and Crystal Cathedral went south, I realized that he should have kicked me out of the studio and declared me a heretic right then and there.  But some of those Reformed guys are actually pretty polite, it turns out.  Who knew? 

So I just want to say I apologize to Michael Horton and his radio pals.  I think you were right, young fella.  They tell me that young man went on to write a number of books.  That’s nice.  I, on the other hand—well, I wrote some books, too.  And I preached a number of sermons, as it happens.  And I got Billy Graham to crack.  But I think I took this positive thinking thing too far.  I thought self-esteem was going to be the new Reformation.  I was wrong.  Now everybody thinks there should be a new Reformation for this, that, and the other thing.  Self-esteem.  Positive thinking.   Maybe there should be a Gospel Reformation.  Now there’s a positive idea!

(2) Mark Driscoll
  Seattle’s finest and best known straight-talking, tough-guy pastor set off premature celebrations among his critics when he announced that he was stepping down from leadership at the Acts 29 network and handing over the reins to Matt Chandler.  Chris Rosebrough, on his podcast Fighting for the Faith, cynically declared Driscoll's new status as "a promotion."  Driscoll, who holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Washington State University and actually worked--professionally--as a journalist, went back on The View to try to set things right.  Here's an excerpt of that interview.

BARBARA WALTERS:  Mark Driscoll, welcome back to The View.

MARK DRISCOLL:  Thanks, Barbara.

BARBARA WALTERS:  Now you asked to come back on the show because you had an announcement to make.

JOY BEHAR:  I hope it’s to announce that gay sex is okay.

BARBARA WALTERS:  Joy, please.

JOY BEHAR:  Sorry.

MARK DRISCOLL:  No, Joy, that’s not why.  And I’m not sorry.  I am, however, stepping down from leadership at Acts 29 Network.

JOY BEHAR:  So what does that mean?

SHERRI SHEPHERD:  Yeah, I’m a Christian and I don’t know what it means.

MARK DRISCOLL:  Well, let me explain, then.  Recently, I sensed that not all was well in Acts 29. As my concerns grew, I recently resumed the presidency of Acts 29 to work directly with our network captains, most influential pastors, and staff.  It seemed to me that some of our relationships, board size and structure, communication, systems, and such were not as effective as we needed, which is to be expected to some degree in a large, complex, fast-growing entrepreneurial network such as ours.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG:   What the hell does that mean?

(uproar from co-hosts and studio audience)

BARBARA WALTERS:  Whoopi, please.  You’re talking to a reverend here; you can’t use language like that.  

WHOOPI GOLDBERG:  Well what he just said makes no sense at all.

JOY BEHAR:  Yeah -- and you know what?  I’m not even Christian.  I’m Jewish.  Actually, I’m not even really Jewish, but that’s another story.  And you know what?  I don’t really understand what he’s saying?  But it smells like bulls--- (bleeped out) to me.  Okay? (applause).  And it smells all the worse because he’s supposed to be a reverend. (more applause).

WHOOPI GOLDBERG:  Preach it, sister.

BARBARA WALTERS:   All right, calm down everybody.  Whoopi, Joy: if you had any inkling to walk off the set the way you did during the Bill O’Reilly interview, now would be a good time.

JOY BEHAR:  No thanks.  We’ll stay.


MARK DRISCOLL:   Ladies, if I may, what I mean give you the Cliff Note’s version--I’m sure you made ample use of Cliff’s Notes when you went to college (gasp from the audience).  Look, bottom line: things aren’t right, and I’m stepping back.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK:  But you’re not stepping down.

MARK DRISCOLL:   Down?  No, no: I’m not stepping down. 

ELISABETH HASSELBECK:   No, of course not.

MARK DRISCOLL:  What’s that supposed to mean?

BARBARA WALTERS:  Yes, Elisabeth:  What’s gotten into you?

ELISABETH HASSELBECK:  Well, I’ve been looking into the “situation” at his church ever since he was on the show with his wife last month (and no, I wasn’t on the show that day).  It just seems to me that there’s a lot of “bad juju” circulating in this guy’s congregation.  So this talk about “stepping back” seems a bit hollow, to say the least.

MARK DRISCOLL:  I’m not sure what you mean, Elisabeth.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK:  Actually, I think you do.  I mean, there are entire web sites devoted to telling the stories of refugees from your church -- people who are telling the most appalling stories of ministerial abuse.  Do you really expect us to believe you don’t know about them?

MARK DRISCOLL:  Well, of course I know about them, but you can’t believe everything you read, now can you?

SHERRI SHEPHERD:    Of course not.  I read your book, for example (laughs from the audience).  And I thought it was crap.  (more laughs from the audience).

BARBARA WALTERS:  People, please….

ELISABETH HASSELBECK:  These are not wackos, mind you, or people looking for fame and fortune.  Most of their stories seem awfully credible, Mark.  Do you think these are just a bunch of liars, motivated by Satan, who are just out to bring you down?

MARK DRISCOLL:   I, uh, I really don’t know what to think.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK:   Well maybe you should take some time off to think about what you should, you know, think about it.  (applause from the audience

MARK DRISCOLL:  You’re not telling me I should step down or something, are you?


MARK DRISCOLL:  You know, maybe that’s not such a bad idea.  Hmmm.  You know, maybe I’ll do that (audience gasps, then applauds).  

SHERRI SHEPHERD:  Nice, job Elizabeth.  (more applause from audience).

MARK DRISCOLL:  Yeah, that was pretty good for a girl.

BARBARA WALTERS:   We’ll be right back.

(3) T.D. Jakes
The next Billy Graham -- or the Black Billy Graham -- or whatever you want to call him (“heretic,” for example), has apparently come to his senses.  Unsure of whether to retrace his steps to Chicago, where the infamous Elephant Room 2 was held, or to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he appeared at Streven Furtick’s Code Orange Revival, the Dallas-based mega pastor decided to split the difference and make a statement from roughly the halfway point: Pikeville, Kentucky.  He appeared at the church of evangelist Henry Mahan, and made this statement.

First off, I just want to say, I’m not just here because I’m black.  This isn’t an affirmative action appointment.  I really messed up--and it didn’t have anything to do with the color of my skin.  Well, the particular means of error might have taken root more readily in the milieu of the contemporary Black Church, but I’ll leave that for Anthony Bradley and the historical theologians to sort out.   

As long as I can remember, I just wanted to help people and serve the Lord.  I guess, in retrospect, I should have thought a little more carefully about who that Lord was and what particular form He takes, but I just didn’t think it through properly.  And things just took off.  Before I knew it, we were moving to Dallas, the church was thriving, and I got to wear all these cool clothes.  From there, it was hard to stop. 

So I’m going to shut up for a while.  Those of you who know T.D. Jakes know how hard this will be for T.D. Jakes, but the Lord is good—in whatever particular manifestation he happens to take at the time.  Oops, I guess I really said that, didn’t I?  Well, old habits die hard--no pun intended, ’cause I’m a bishop, you see.   I’ll be turning over my miter for a while and getting myself some tutelage in basic, systematic theology.   I won’t be speaking at any conferences for a while.  And the book-and-DVD pipeline will be down for maintenance.  I will, however, continue to wear all these cool clothes.  After all, you can take the man out of the bishop(ric), but you can’t take the bishop out the man.  Or his clothes.  Well, you know what I mean.

(4) Rob Bell

“Farewell, Rob Bell.”  So tweeted John Piper, at the publication of Bell’s Hell-denying Book, Love Wins.   In at least one sense, Piper’s tweet was prophetic—if you can excuse the notion of a “prophetic tweet,” that is.  In any case, Rob Bell did indeed bid his Mars Hill congregation farewell, and split for sunny California.  There, he intended to take up a life of writing, speaking, contemplating, and Hell-denying.  But things didn’t go according to script.  While strolling down the boardwalk at Long Beach, the Emergent guru came across a different type of “bullhorn guy” in the form of street preacher Tony Miano.  You’ll recall that Bell inveighed against a certain bullhorn guy in one of his hip, high-production-value videos.  That bullhorn guy was a drag.  He talked about Hell and judgment.  Tony Miano did the same, but this time, something clicked in Rob Bell’s soul.  So moved was Mr. Love Wins, that he asked Miano if he could take over the bullhorn.  What followed might be second only to the Damascus conversion of the Apostle Paul.  

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank my new friend Tony Miano for lending me this bullhorn, and I also want to thank him for loving me—and you—enough to stand out here day after day and preach Christ crucified.  He could not possibly have been doing this for fun.  I see the reactions he gets day after day, as I’ve been watching him for a while now.   I’ve been at leisure to do this because I’ve made a ton of money from my book, Love Wins.  I now think that book was a big mistake. 

“I have essentially denied the Christian doctrine of Hell, and I did so under the cover of being a so-called ‘minister of the Gospel.’  I was nothing of the sort.  Whether I knew the Gospel or not—at one time I may have. I don’t even know anymore.  I do know, however, that I’ve done a great deal of harm.  And I am using this bullhorn—an instrument I have despised and degraded as it has been used by others—to stand before you, to repent, and to ask forgiveness, with all the volume this thing can muster.

The 46-year-old author of Your Best Life Now and other, assorted theological fluff recently went back on Piers Morgan Tonight to set the record straight with Piers, Elton John, and the viewing public.
“There is a Hell, ladies and gentlemen.  I have denied this vigorously in my book.  And now I am denying my denial.  That I have minimized—and in some cases outright denied—the central importance of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name—and the place of Hell as the default destination for all of human kind that does not repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness of sin—is a terrible burden that will be with me my whole life.  I intend to spend all my remaining days making up for this egregious mistake.  I will be purchasing my own bullhorn, and placing myself under Tony’s authority while I undergo this season of repentance and restitution.  Ultimately I will write another book, recanting what I wrote in Love Wins and other works of theological poison.  But for now, I ask your forgiveness.  And for those of you who have yet to do this, I urge you:

Repent and believe, my friends.” 

(5) Joel Osteen

The 49-year-old author of Your Best Life Now and other, assorted theological fluff  recently went back on Piers Morgan Tonight to set the record straight with Piers, Elton John, and the viewing public.

PIERS MORGAN:  Joel Osteen, welcome back to Piers Morgan Tonight.

JOEL OSTEEN: Thank you, Pierce.

PIERS MORGAN:  Now did you come back to talk about homosexuality?

JOEL OSTEEN:  No, not really Pierce.  That’s not my main thrust tonight, though I will be happy to get into that later if we have time.


PIERS MORGAN:  So what is your main thrust tonight, then?

JOEL OSTEEN:  I just feel Pierce, that I need to announce that I have come to the conclusion that I have been on a wrong path and that I’m repenting and stepping down.

PIERS MORGAN:  Wrong path?  What are you talking about?  You have the largest church in the country.

JOEL OSTEEN:  Well, you know, I don’t tend to get all caught up in all that numbers stuff, Pierce—but yes, yes I do.  I do have the largest church in the country.  So, yes.

PIERS MORGAN:  So how could you be on the wrong path?  What’s all this about “repent?”

JOEL OSTEEN:  Well, Pierce, having the largest church in the country, as I have come to understand it, does not mean that you are successful.  Or that you’re on the right path.

PIERS MORGAN:  What do you mean?

JOEL OSTEEN:  Well, what I mean is, that it can be real, real easy to just tell people what they want to hear.

PIERS MORGAN:  Yes, but you’re very good at it. 

JOEL OSTEEN:   Well that may be true, Pierce, but…

PIERS MORGAN:  Wait, can I just jump in for a second?  It’s “Piers,” not “Pierce.”  “Piers,” with a ‘zed’ sound.

JOEL OSTEEN:  Piers.  Right.  Piers.  I am truly sorry.

PIERS MORGAN:  No problem.  But what I think I hear you saying is, that’s not all you’re sorry about.

JOEL OSTEEN:  No, not at all.

PIERS MORGAN:  So what else?  What else are you sorry about?

JOEL OSTEEN:  I’ve been preaching a false Gospel.  In fact, I’ve been preaching no Gospel at all.

PIERS MORGAN:  How do you mean?

JOEL OSTEEN:  Well, Piers, last time I was here you very accurately pointed out that you don’t hear me talk much about sin.

PIERS MORGAN:  That’s right, I remember that.

JOEL OSTEEN:  Well there’s a reason for that.


JOEL OSTEEN:  Because I don’t.

PIERS MORGAN:  Talk about sin?


PIERS MORGAN:  Well, come on, Joel, you can’t think that's a problem.  I mean, let’s face it: there are plenty of your colleagues out there preaching about sin all the time.  That’s all they do.

JOEL OSTEEN:   Really?  They do?

PIERS MORGAN:  Sure.   I hear them all the time on the radio. See them on the telly.

JOEL OSTEEN:  Well, I’ve come to realize that you can’t really preach the Gospel without talking about sin. 

PIERS MORGAN: All right, then.  Anything else you’re sorry about, now that we’re in the confessional? 

JOEL OSTEEN:  Yes.  I’ve been preaching a prosperity Gospel, and I need to repent of that.

PIERS MORGAN:  I thought you just said you’re not preaching the Gospel.

JOEL OSTEEN:   That’s right.

PIERS MORGAN:  So how can you be preaching the prosperity Gospel if you’re not preaching the Gospel?  Wait—don’t answer that.  We’re running out of time.  I need to ask you, since you’ve been telling us what you’re sorry about.  Are you sorry about preaching that homosexuality is a sin?

JOEL OSTEEN:  No.  That I am not sorry for.  In fact, that may be the one thing I actually got right in my years of so-called ministry.

PIERS MORGAN:  Well, I’ve got to tell you, Joel.  I told Elton John that you were coming on tonight and he and his partner David Furnish are up watching the show along with their adopted baby who was born on Christmas Day of the year before last, and he’s gonna be pretty angry when he hears this.

JOEL OSTEEN:  Yeah well right now, Piers, I have the anger of a Holy, Righteous God to worry about and I don’t answer to Elton John; sorry.  And I mean, who is Elton John anyway?  Goodness—it’s not as if Bernie Taupin were angry with me.

PIERS MORGAN:  We'll be right back.

(6) Benny Hinn

At a recent fundraiser and prayer meeting broadcast live on Trinity Broadcast Network, long-time evangelist, faith-healer, and prosperity Gospel advocate Benny Hinn looked straight into the camera and let it fly.  Control Room producers were uncertain whether to cut him off or not.

Most of you are probably wondering why I’m here and not Paul Crouch.  After all, he started this whole thing!  Hey—I’m from Israel, man! And we step in where needed!  Paul isn’t doing so well at the moment; they’ve been having a rough time with the books ever since they hired that niece of theirs with her fancy-schmancy M.B.A.  I warned them about nepotism! 

Well look, let’s face it: I was fundamental (excuse the expression) in making TBN what it is. Paul Crouch?  Pat Robertson?  Nothing without me.   Secondly, I conduct fake healing crusades.  The people who Joel Osteen catches in his web are basically just positive-thinking junkies (blame Schuller for them).  But the people who come to my crusades are genuinely sick, disabled, and could have risen to a level of Christian maturity that very few people reach (just ask Joni Eareckson Tada).  But they lacked solid teaching.   And I made sure they never got it.

How could things have gone so very wrong?

I hate to admit it, but the thing that put me over the top were these cool clothes I get to wear.  Custom made!  After all, who else wears this stuff?  I actually got the idea for all this from watching the Seinfeld episode where Frank Costanza’s lawyer wears a cape. “Who wears a cape?” asked Estelle Costanza.  Great stuff, I thought; I wanna be like that.  I wanna be that man.  I want to wear a cape.

A few years ago, I was interviewed by the Washington Posts’s Sally Quinn, for a series she was doing called, “Divine Impulses.”   She asked me the final question she asks all of her guests: “What to you is the divine?”  My answer was pretty good.  I said, “To me the divine is the person of Jesus Christ. He is the beginning; He is the end; He is the source of life and sadly some of his representatives have not presented him as He is.”  

Well, it recently occurred to me that my answer was complete hogwash in the sense that I realized I was much closer to being one of the representatives who have misrepresented Jesus Christ than I was to being someone who actually believed the statement I made.  So I’m going to do something I never thought I could do.  I’m going to make myself scarce.  And to the extent that I do appear above the radar, it will be with the purpose of making restitution.  And I’m getting started right away.  Well, as soon as Paul and Jan get back.  I can’t abandon the studio in their time of need.  Hey—I’m from Israel, man!
(7) Rick Warren

In his latest video address to Saddleback parishioners and other supporters, Rick Warren made some comments many of his critics thought they would never hear.
As you will recall from my last video message, I’ve been very busy lately.  Actually I’ve been a busy guy for a really long time now--years, in fact.  I’ve been flying around the world, doing conferences, consulting with world leaders, and I even checked in at John Piper’s Desiring God Conference a few years ago.  And with all that busyness I still have time to read the complete works of a major theologian every year.  Did you know that I’ve read the complete works of Jonathan Edwards -- in order?   Let me tell you that was no picnic. 

Despite my constant busyness and theological reading, I have had some time to think -- to reflect upon recent events, and on my responses to them.  I’ve noticed a tendency to blame outside forces for much of the criticism I’ve received.  I really hadn’t considered the possibility that there might even be such a thing as godly critique—at least not where my ministry was concerned.  I mean, I’m America’s Pastor, for cryin’ out loud!

But I’m looking at things from a slightly different perspective now.   I think I may have reached a point where I became unteachable.  Maybe even unentreatable!  In fact, in that regard, I may have become worse than C.J. Mahaney!  Okay, maybe not that bad.

But look, the point is: there are some things I need to be taking responsibility for.  I may not have actually said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but I certainly created a doctrinal environment in which a reasonable person -- a Chrisitan believer -- would have cause to question whether I really believed that.

The Daniel Plan may not have been all that bad a plan, but I shouldn’t have used it to make common cause with New Agers and folks who don’t really believe in authentic, Biblical Christian doctrine.  

So I’ve decided to take a sabbatical.  Mine will be longer than John Piper’s!  And I promise not to write any books or speak at any conferences.  I am going to keep up on my reading, though.  Good stuff, only. And this time, I promise to read through Edwards without any big black redaction pens.

(8) Pope Benedict XVI

National Catholic Reporter senior correspondent John L. Allen had no words to describe the events he witnessed at the Vatican.  Instead, he chose simply to report the words of another: in this case, Pope Benedict XVI.

In my first papal encyclical, Deus et Caritas, I wrote passionately about the Christian life, which consists essentially in “charity and the preaching of which is called the Gospel of peace.”  But for seven years as pope, and for twenty-five additional years as chief doctrinal enforcer, I presided over a religious system that promoted nothing of the sort. In fact, I promoted a Gospel that brings peace to no one—and that, therefore, is no Gospel. 

By the Grace of God, I have enjoyed greater health than did my predecessor, who, by the time he was my age, was dead.  More significantly, though, God has granted me the blessing of living to see the error of my ways, and He has granted me repentance.  Accordingly, I will become the first Pope since Celestine V to resign his duties as pontiff, a resignation which is effective immediately. But I’m going to do Celestine one better: I am becoming a Biblical Christian.

My journey to this moment began nearly twenty years ago.  The 1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together declaration in the United States both excited and concerned me.   I was supposed to be the Panzer Cardinal, you see, and it’s tough to maintain that kind of position without raising an eyebrow over something called “ECT,” whatever it was supposed to be. What are those protestants up to?  I wondered.

As top doctrinal watchdog, I had access to some of the Vatican’s best toys.  This is before the internet, mind you, so the idea of “downloading” your favorite radio show was not even on the radar screen, so to speak.  Anyway I liked listening to a radio drama called Unshackled on shortwave.  Many of the stories touched me deeply; a few even made me cry.  I couldn’t stand that one guy’s voice, though.  I mean, who even says, “How do you do” anymore? The life stories I heard dramatized on that program—and the Biblical doctrine that undergirded those life transformations—nagged at me all these years.  But then they elected me Pope in 2005.  What was I to do?  Well after about five years of being Pope, I realized it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  I saw how correct I had been to pray that the Lord not burden me with that assignment.  Ultimately, however, I came to understand that this assignment, and the organization over which that assignment called me to to preside, was not of the Lord, but of another source. 

As I said, by the time my predecessor was my age, he was dead.  I’m probably not long for this world either.  I’m afraid the stress of this event will prevent me from walking this Earth much longer.  But at least I can approach my death knowing—not hoping—that I will have eternal life becauseand only because —of the death of Jesus Christ and nothing elsecertainly not anything I have done, for I have come to understand that I contribute nothing to my own salvation other than my sin.  For what little time I have left, I am putting myself under the spiritual authority of former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett of Berean Beacon Ministies in Texas, in the United States.  I remember Richard, or “Father Richard,” as he then was, when he refused to come out and greet my predecessor John Paul II on a trip to Trinidad in the early 1980s.  That really stuck in my craw.  How dare he, I thought.

And so I step aside.  I will take your questions, but not here and not today.  I want to divest myself of all this gear first.  And no more of this “Holy Father” stuff, okay?  There’s only one of those and He is in heaven.  Oh, and one more thing: I want everybody to call me “Joe” from now on.


Covering this story has been a real wild ride for this reporter. Friday morning, I received an urgent call on my cell phone while working out at the gym.  The caller was Sergius Martin-George, Editor in Charge of Editing Operations for the Steam Tunnel.  Serge instructed me to get down to Denver as quickly as I could. A 1:30 p.m. press conference was scheduled, he told me, and I was to cover it.  Serge assured me that this press conference would be crit-ical to putting all these crazy events into perspec-tive.  “And you’ll never guess who the speaker will be,” he told me.  He was right. 

  (9) Ann B. Davis
as Alice

Into Conference Room D at the Renaissance Denver Hotel strode 85-year-old Ann Bradford Davis, best known to two-plus generations of TV-watching Americans as Alice from The Brady Bunch.  She looked good.

Good morning (laughs, applause). Bet you weren’t expecting to see me, here, huh?  I know, I know: a lot of you thought I was dead.  (more laughs)  Ha ha!  I live!  Alice lives! (laughs, applause, standing ovationYes, I’m still alive, and in fact, I have been doing my living in this area almost since the Brady Bunch ended, having been part of an Episcopalian religious community here in Colorado since 1974.  How many of you knew that?

And I’m a woman!  Don’t see too many of those at these theological conferences, do ya?  Unless they're "women's conferences" (Ms. Davis makes "quote hands").  And, as I look above, below, and to my left and right, I notice I’m the only woman in this grid! 

Well, let's get down to business, shall we?  As an Episcopalian, I’m no stranger to religious controversy.  As a woman, I am perhaps uniquely positioned to cap off this crazy "festival of repentance," if you like (ooh, I sound like Carl Trueman, there, don't I? [laughs]).

I’ve been approached by an ad hoc coalition of pastors, Christian scholars and theologians.  It is bi-partisan in the sense that it includes both leaders who consider themselves complementarian and those who consider themselves egalitarian. We still have a “woman” problem in the church and these leaders, who are anonymous for now but who will be coming forth shortly, desire to resolve some things.  God knows, we've had our share of "declarations" in the Christian world these past few years, haven't we? (groans from the crowd).  So what harm can one more do, right?  Oops, did I just use a minced oath? Sorry about that.  You know us Episcopalians! (laughs).

As Ms. Davis continued her address, I was having a hard time concentrating.  Glad I had my hand-held digital recorder, quite frankly.  There was suddenly a strong smell of coffee in the conference room -- even though the coffee station was probably 50 yards away from where I was seated.  And as Alice -- I mean Ann -- spoke on, her voice was gradually competing with what sounded like an out-of-countrol sound speaker from an adjoining conference room.  And through that speaker,  I heard my own name.  “Woody, Woody.” The smell of coffee got stronger, the voice calling my name over the loudspeaker got louder, and then it started to sound like my wife’s voice.  “Woody, Woody.  You’ll be late.   Here’s some coffee.”  Then I felt the guy sitting next to me body-check me, but it was really Jasmine, shaking me awake, and the conference room was no more.

Oh well.

Usually I have my April Fool’s dreams a little earlier.  But maybe it’s better this way.  One can still dream.  And it’s not too late.

In his latest video address to his Saddleback parishioners and other supporters, Rick Warren made some comments many of critics thought they would never hear.

No comments:

Post a Comment