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Celebrity Christianity Is Not Real Christianity

Posted by admin in March 18th, 2021 | 5 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

In a March 3, 2021, interview with ChurchLeaders.com, (see link below), Tim Keller said, “I personally don’t think same-sex marriage is a good idea.”

Really? Not a good idea? Uh…How about it being sin?!? I think it’s always a bad idea to sin, but calling sin “not a good idea,” especially for a Bible teacher, well that’s just odd.

Keller goes on to say that Christians have been kicked out of government positions, university teaching jobs, and removed from any influence in the public square due to our own unkindness and brutal responses to the LGBTQ community. His words, “We brought it on ourselves.” He later says, “Why couldn’t we just love them the way Jesus did?”

Do evangelicals love the homosexual community? I think they do! Does Jesus love the homosexual community? Yes! Absolutely! He loves all of us just as He finds us, but He transforms us into new creatures who follow Him in obedience to His Word. And for evangelicals to speak out and say to the LGBTQ community, “This is wrong,” well, that’s still an act of love. In fact, warning a person of danger can be the greatest love—it’s life-saving love.

As to offending people, in Luke 11:45, just after Jesus explained to the crowd they were wrong and that sin was killing them, a man replied, “Teacher, when you say these things you insult us.” Jesus was speaking the Truth to them and they were offended. I think Keller misunderstands that people being offended is often part and parcel of them hearing a Truth they simply don’t like. In fact, the Church has a 2000-year history of offending people. Anyone remember John the Baptist? But according to Keller’s podcast, evangelicals are simply reaping the consequences of our own actions because we spoke out against the LGBTQ agenda and therefore brought persecution on ourselves. Then he says, “Stop being such cry babies about it.” And if you say, as a Christian, “I think America was destined for better than this.” Keller will call you a Christian nationalist—and that’s a bad thing, but don’t be offended.

Celebrity Christians—whether it’s Beth Moore telling us we aren’t woke enough (like her) to be good Christians, or John Piper telling us that all evil is God’s will and we should just embrace “spectacular sins” or Mark Driscoll and James McDonald telling us that plagiarism, bullying, and financial corruption are only wrong for the masses, but for celebrity Christians like them, it’s quite all right—have quite an impact on the Church, and not necessarily for good.

I feel passionately that Truth matters and celebrity Christians, like Tim Keller, are deceiving the Church with false doctrines (Liberation Theology), heart-string philosophies (Critical Race Theory), and unbiblical approaches to the world around us.

Whether it is Bill Hybels, Ravi Zacharias, or any of the Name It and Claim It prosperity message preachers – celebrity Christianity has taken a toll on mainline Christianity here in America. And sadly, what happens here, usually finds its way around the globe.

Celebrity Christians are often preaching what Paul calls, “another gospel.”

And don’t be surprised to see celebrity Christians destroying traditional biblical doctrines one-by-one. I told my sister recently, “There are three things celebrity Christians crave: fame, money, and popularity.” These remind me of the three deadly sins: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—all of which stem from pride and pride after all, is the original sin. It was the sin of Satan, the sin of Adam and Eve, the sin we all struggle with in our carnal natures.

I guess the first celebrity Christian in modern America would be Kathrine Kuhlman. She was quite a showman in her long white gowns with butterfly sleeves and her flair for the dramatic. People flocked to gigantic arenas and theaters to see her. I remember watching a video of Kuhlman interviewing Corrie ten Boom on the first television Christian talk show. Kuhlman hated when the camera left her, and she constantly interrupted Corrie to insert some theological insight or to retell a Corrie ten Boom story – even though Corrie was quite capable of telling her own story. It was creepy. It was celebrity.

There were other celebrity Christians like Oral Roberts who was a pioneer in “televangelism.” But what really elevated the celebrity Christian was cable TV – people like Paul and Jan Crouch and their TBN, or Jim and Tammy Baker and their PTL network, and of course, Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. These folks, and others that followed in their wake, became millionaires and rode celebrity each day into people’s lives. By the 1980s you were a nobody unless you could get a place on one of these shows and tell your testimony, sell your book, or promote your unique and God-anointed ministry.

Big ministries held big conferences and had big speakers to help folks see how big God wanted them to be! Ten Keys to prosperity, Seven Steps to powerful living, Eight principles for a better life – they were not just hawking the prosperity message, they were telling us how we could be rich, famous, and popular too and it was all perfectly okay because it was for Jesus. Jesus wanted us to be rich, famous, and popular – just like them.

I fell for it. I know a lot of people did. We ran hither and thither and yon looking for the next move of the Spirit, searching for our big break, hoping and believing that God would elevate us to our proper place in the Kingdom. James Robison, Bill Gotthard, Mike Warnke, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland—all held these massive conferences with professional music, motivational messages, and the promise that we could live our best lives as we defined them.

They sold books, CDs, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and precious refrigerator magnets to remind us all of our life-transforming weekend. They jetted off to the next big city and we all returned home unable to explain exactly what it was that we learned that weekend. They made a fortune and we helped them do it.

When Christians decided that the prosperity message was bad, we looked for new heroes – of the intellectual sort. Men who could open up new insights to the Bible and makes us scratch our heads and say, “Hmmm…” We liked them just as much as we liked the Name It and Claim It folks. They made us feel smart and we bought their books, even if we didn’t read them. We went to their conferences and we watched their TV shows and we rushed to buy whatever they were selling.

Why are evangelicals like that? Why do we need superheroes? We’ve done it with Beth Moore, Tim Keller, John Piper, and Max Lucado just to name a few. Think about the global empire Bill Hybels built on the seeker sensitive principle!

Yep! We can’t wait to fawn over the NEXT BIG THING! Buying their books, listening to their podcasts, quoting them as if they were Moses! Without a doubt these celebrity Christians have got our attention. And as a result, we have a Church that is anemic, confused, weak, and more divided than the only pumpkin pie at a Thanksgiving dinner.

Tim Keller’s March 10 podcast states “the Christian nationalists” have brought us to defeat and we have brought this persecution on ourselves. It’s our own fault. And so, he holds on to popularity, as does Max Lucado who just apologized for speaking out against homosexuality.  “I’m sorry for all those I have offended,” declared Lucado.

And perhaps Beth Moore, who left the Southern Baptists this week because their “legalism” was getting just too much for her. Uh—do you mean their strong stance against sin and their pro biblical Truth? She did a lot of damage before she left. I’ll wager she’s going to open up about being pro-gay in the next week or two. Wait for it…and there will be a book, no doubt.

Let me close with a very long quote from Rod Dreher’s book, Live Not By Lies. It comes from his last chapter titled “See, Judge, Act.” Dreher has presented to the Church a well-written, well-researched warning. His words pierced me, but in a good way.

 

“A time of painful testing, even persecution, is coming. Lukewarm or shallow Christians will not come through with their faith intact. Christians today must dig deep into the Bible and church tradition and teach themselves how and why today’s post-Christian world, with its self-centeredness, its quest for happiness and rejection of sacred order and transcendent values is a rival religion to authentic Christianity. We should also see how many of the world’s values have been absorbed into Christian life and practice.

“Then we must judge how the ways of the world, and its demands, conflict with what Christ requires of his disciples. Are we admirers or followers? How will we know?

“We will know when we act—or fail to act—as Christians when to be faithful costs us something. It may be a small thing at first—a place on a sports team because we won’t play on Sunday mornings, or the respect of our peers when we will not march in a parade for a social cause. But the demands made on us will grow greater and the consequences for failing to submit to the world’s demand will grow more severe.

“We serve a God who created all things for a purpose. He has shown us in the Bible, especially the Gospels, who we are and how we are to live to be in harmony with the sacred order he created. He does not want admirers; he wants followers. As Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God suffered with humanity to redeem humanity. He calls us to share in his Passion, for our sake and the sake of the world. He promises us nothing but the Cross. Not happiness but the joy of blessedness. Not material wealth but richness of spirit. Not sexual freedom as erotic abandon but sexual freedom within loving, mutually sacrificial commitment. Not power, but love; not self-sovereignty but obedience.

“This is the uncompromising rival religion that the post-Christian world will no longer tolerate.

“IF YOU ARE NOT ROCK SOLID IN YOUR COMMITMENT TO TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY, THEN THE WORLD WILL BREAK YOU. But if you are, then this is the solid rock upon which that world will be broken. And if those solid rocks are joined together, they form a wall of solidarity that is very hard for the enemy to breach,” (2020, pgs 162-163). Peace.

To hear the podcast: Timothy Keller: How to Know if You Are a Christian Nationalist – YouTube

And here’s a blog I posted last year on Keller’s affection for democratic socialism and Liberation Theology: Tim Keller’s Ungenerous Justice: Cultural Marxism and the New Branding of Liberation Theology | terimccarthyblahblahblog

The Tale of Two Pastors

Posted by admin in February 12th, 2021 | 11 comments 
Published in Blessings, faith, Uncategorized

In the 1930s, China experienced a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. Often referred to as Asia Harvest or the Shantung Revival, thousands of Chinese gave their hearts to Christ and thousands of Believers were endowed with Holy Ghost power. It was a remarkable time to be serving as a missionary in China! Over 10,000 missionaries joined together across the nation in a concentrated and focused prayer time asking God to bring the Chinese to Jesus. And God answered their prayers. But for some missionaries, it wasn’t exactly what they expected. Church groups were divided on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit—some Western missionary leaders did not believe in the Gifts of the Spirit—especially speaking in tongues. Yet others preached strongly not to quench the Spirit and to let God move as He wished. So, groups were split, young converts confused, and missionary leaders had to decide which camp they fell in. Some went with the Gifts of the Spirit and some did not.

 

In this mix, was an American eye-surgeon named Dr. R.G. Fitz. He was called by God to be a missionary to China at the age of eight. He worked his way through college and after finishing medical […] Continue Reading…

On The Other Hand with Jamie – A Response to Nice Is Not A Virtue

Posted by admin in February 9th, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Blessings, faith, obedience

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I’ve invited Jamie McCarthy to do a counterpoint to my posts – to give readers a different perspective and to illustrate that we don’t have to think exactly alike to love one another and to enjoy each other. Today’s post you’ll see why I asked Jamie to do this. You’re going to love her post! I certainly do! Great job Jamie!
After reading your article about Gladys Aylward I think my counterpoint question boils down to one.

Should Gladys have responded differently when Ingrid Bergman was so compelled by her life story that she asked to meet her?

 I think Gladys was a very powerful instrument in the kingdom of God. Knowing what we know about her she seems like a woman who had extremely strong convictions and faith.

On some level I can understand why this type of person is compelling. There is something beautiful and challenging about someone who is so deeply convicted they let their faith dictate every decision of their life. That is beautiful. However, my experience with people who are never in doubt about what they think, feel, or believe is that they carry a great deal of that […] Continue Reading…

Nice Is Not a Virtue

Posted by admin in February 8th, 2021 | 2 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

My friend, Dr. Thane Hutcherson Ury, posted a meme recently on Facebook. The words caught me off guard, like when you know what someone is going to say and you are about to finish their sentence, and then at the very end they surprise you and suddenly you realize you had no idea where they were going.

 

His meme was like that for me.

 

He quotes Charles Spurgeon, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” BOOM! And there it is.

 

“There is a way that seems right…” Proverbs 14:12.

 

In my opinion, I think that’s what the Church is lacking today—the ability to discern good from better.

 

In my last post, I share Dr. Ury’s piece on Gladys Aylward. She was a close personal friend of his family. The Ury family served in Taiwan where Gladys moved after the communist took over mainland China. Many Chinese and missionaries fled to the small island to escape the violent communist regime.

 

From her story, we can see a strong, determined, principled woman. She was a giant of the faith, though small in stature. Dr. Ury describes her, “4’10” […] Continue Reading…

Introducing Point/Counter Point

Posted by admin in February 6th, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I’d like to introduce Jamie McCarthy. Yes. We are related. Jamie, as a wife, full-time working mother of three and a medical professional, brings a unique perspective to the world around her and the community in which she lives. Jamie is a follower of Jesus. She’s also a millennial, though no label is sufficient to describe her. I’ve invited Jamie to participate in my blogs as a kind of “counter point” perspective. She’s graciously agreed to do so – and let me give you a heads up – that might be the only thing you’ll see us agree on. (That’s tongue-in-cheek of course). Jamie and I wanted to let readers see that people in the Body of Christ, people in the same families, people coming from different backgrounds can see the world differently and that’s okay. Hopefully, prayerfully, Jamie and I will live out the idea that Christians can truly disagree agreeably.

Jamie’s first “Counter Point” perspective is on my Super Bowl post from February 3, 2021. Here’s a link: http://terimccarthyblahblahblog.com/god-and-the-super-bowl/

I like the way Jamie said, “Some of your readers might have questions and are too afraid of you to ask.” Thanks Jamie, for being a voice for them.

ON THE OTHERHAND […] Continue Reading…

The Small Woman

Posted by admin in February 6th, 2021 | 2 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

She was 4’10” on the outside, but 9’7” and 375 pounds of raging obedience on the inside!
by Thane Hutcherson Ury, PhD
 

Most missionaries must endure demanding training, be backed by a bona fide mission agency, and do rigorous fund-raising before going to the mission field. For many, this means years of preparation, and also (sadly) the winnowing by which some never make it to the field.

 

But Lady Aylward broke the mold. China Inland Mission rejected her. Surprising, since CIM was long-known for seeing hidden potential in candidates that other agencies missed. It’s hard to imagine someone saying to Gladys, “We don’t believe you are capable of learning Chinese. We’re so sorry.” But in typical Gladys fashion, she not only learned to speak Mandarin, but learned to read and write the difficult language as well.

 

The way I see it, she was 4’10” on the outside, but 9’7”, 375 pounds of outrageous potential on the inside!

 

Another missions expert looked Gladys in the eye, and said she was unqualified and had “no specific abilities to commend her for missionary work.” But through perseverance and pursuit of an opening, Jeannie Lawson gave the small woman a chance and told Gladys, “We can use you in China…if you can […] Continue Reading…

God and the Super Bowl

Posted by admin in February 3rd, 2021 | 10 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Every year I have to face this battle. Naively, I thought this year would be different. Because of all we’ve faced in 2020, including the outcome of this year’s election, I thought the Church would be seeking God and revival more than anytime before in my life. I thought the wake up call had come and we were jolted out of our slumber. But I was wrong. The battle against churches showing the Super Bowl in the sanctuary is still raging on. Sadly, it feels like a losing one.

I read a great article recently in which a pastor explains why the Super Bowl has no place in the church on Sunday (or any day for that matter). Pastor David Richmon writes, “I see many churches trying to tap into a cultural event to draw in crowds. First of all, the crowds aren’t coming, but secondly, there’s something bigger happening here. What you reach them with is what you’ll keep them with.”

In other words, bait and switch simply doesn’t work. We’re not Amway salesmen after all! Richmon explains that this type of evangelism isn’t effective simply because it’s not based on reality. The church delivers a Sunday service that is […] Continue Reading…

Simple Obedience is Never Simple

Posted by admin in February 2nd, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Daryl and I watched “Chariots of Fire” Sunday night. It’s been 20 years since we’ve seen this Academy-Award winning film. The film poignantly tells of the life and faith of Scotsman Eric Liddell, once deemed the fastest man on earth. Liddell qualified for the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Born in China to missionary parents, he explained to his family, “God made me fast and when I run I feel His good pleasure.” All the world’s eyes were on the Olympics that summer and Liddell was a guaranteed gold medalist for every event he was entered in. He held the world record for each. The French scheduled the events and Eric’s strongest race was scheduled on a Sunday. After wrestling and agonizing over his decision, Liddell told the British Olympic committee that he could not and would not run on a Sunday. “I must keep the Sabbath Day holy. It is the Lord’s Day and I will not run.” Even the Prince of Wales called him into a private meeting and pressured young Eric to run, “For king and country.” Eric explained that God was above kings and that God’s Law was above man. He refused to run. Eric did […] Continue Reading…

I Will Sing of the Goodness of the Lord Forever

Posted by admin in January 25th, 2021 | 7 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

In 1998, I returned to China to live one semester without Daryl in order to finish my PhD research. South China was a dark place. It was nothing like the old Manchuria where I’d lived years before. China was changing rapidly and all the things I’d loved and admired about its people had been replaced with a cold consumerism and lust for money. Deng Xiao Ping had declared to his people, “To get rich is glorious.” It was tough! I was homesick every single day and the heat and humidity were like a thick, sticky blanket suffocating me. Daily I was ready to quit and run back home. I hated it. Every morning it was so hard to just get out of bed and move. Heavy oppression, fear of failure, longing for home, and self-doubt were overwhelming. One morning, early, before 5, my friend Margaret called me all the way from Missouri. The Holy Spirit woke her in the night to pray for me. She phoned to say to me, “You’ve got to praise your way out of that darkness! You’ve got to take authority over the oppression. The Lord has given you the tools to do this.” I […] Continue Reading…

Living Out Faith in the New Normal

Posted by admin in January 21st, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

SO, WHAT DOES this new normal look like? Well, it won’t look like North Korea, if you are worried about that. But it will look like every failing socialist country across Europe.

 

Think about Holland, for example–legalized drugs; legalized prostitution, even for 12-year-old children; legalized euthanasia for the elderly, new born, and terminally ill. Immigration for all and for all immigrants, social services. Free education for all paid for by working citizens. Income taxes will rise to around 65% of your income and every hardworking citizen will carry a credit card debt just for necessities (ask the folks in Finland about this). Prices will skyrocket–food, fuel, building materials, vehicles. Guns will be confiscated and prohibitive gun laws will be enforced. Hate speech will be strictly regulated and churches will lose their tax exempt status. There will be no homeschooling (check out the EU’s laws concerning this; the US will follow suit). The economy will plod along and we’ll help bail out nations who couldn’t make it on their own – even those nations that hate us. Our relationship with Israel will be like that of a disliked “in-law”–despised, but tolerated. The changes will come. Some will come quickly and […] Continue Reading…

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