Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Lamest "God Told Me"

This weekend there's a conference in Houston that I would have loved to attend, but will be unable to. The theme of the Sufficient Fire conference is the sufficiency of the Word of God, which stands in stark contrast to the constant barrage of "God told me" theology plaguing evangelicalism. But just because I can't go doesn't mean I can't participate my own unique way - by compiling the lamest examples of someone playing the "God told me" card anywhere on the internet.

I'm not looking for the usual suspects and low-hanging fruit. I mean, any day now Pat Robertson will come down from the mountain with prophecies God gave him for 2015 (much like last year, and every year). We're only a few weeks removed from Perry Noble claiming God told him to preach a sermon against the Ten Commandments and the gospel. That stuff - it's just too easy and obvious, and far better people write far better responses to it.

No, the niche I'm going for here is the utterly lame. The times when someone claims "God told me" or "God is leading me to", and you just can't believe they would waste such a trump card on something so incredibly trivial or stupid. For example:

About ten years ago I was leading a Bible study for my church's singles group. My friend Mitch, the leader of the group as a whole, had been trying to get his old friend Jon to come, and one week he finally agreed. Jon missed that study, and the next time we saw him, we asked what happened.
"Well, I was planning on going to Bible study, but God told me not to."
Oh really?
"Yeah, I was going to go, but I heard God say, 'Jon, I want you to go to the video store instead.'"
Oh, I bet. So what did the Almighty tell you to get a the video store, pray tell?
"A History of Violence. Don't ever watch that, it was awful!"

There you have it. A guy claimed God told him to skip Bible study to rent an awful movie. But at least we were warned not to see a movie we already had no intention of watching!

I would like to think it can't get any lamer than that. But this is your chance to prove me wrong. Put your examples of the most ridiculously pathetic times someone has thrown out a "God told me" around you. And then we can all thank God for the Bible, so we don't need to engage in such nonsense.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Bad Malarkey Puns

Unless you only get your news exclusively from official Southern Baptist sources or Charisma Magazine, you've probably heard that Alex Malarkey, the boy whose 'visit to heaven' was chronicled in the book "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven", has finally gotten word out that the book is his father's embellishing of stories he told to get attention. In other words, he never went to heaven (duh), told some wild stories, his dad turned them into a book and made off with loads of cash. Also, we found out that the publishers and bookstores knew this years ago, but continued to peddle it for filthy lucre.

Many pixels have been and will continue to be darkened over this saga, and frankly there will be better places to get news and commentary than here. My main contribution here will be to clarify one talking point and preemptively shoot down another that's sure to come out.

1) The publishers/bookstores just found out this was a fraud. I've already linked Phil Johnson's documentation showing that Tyndale House knew that Alex disputed the book as far back as 2011, despite their claims that they just found out last week. But that's not what I mean here.

I mean that they knew it was a complete load of garbage the instant they saw a manuscript, or even heard a pitch for the book. Seriously, this isn't Discernment 101, this is like the intro to the syllabus for Remedial Discernment.

Did Alex Malarkey die, go to heaven, and come back with a report for us? No. Did Colton Burpo or Don Piper? No. Did the next person to make this claim, or the next, or the next? No, no, and no. And so on.

They didn't just find out this was a fraud. They just found out (in 2011) that Alex was recanting his story. But they should have known all along this story was a bucket of horse manure. (On the bookstore side, the SBC officially condemns this type of book as heretical nonsense, yet their bookstore chain (Lifeway) continues to sell them. This is one of the major driving forces of #the15, a push to call elites to account for things like peddling heresy for profit.)

2) Unbelievers are slandering the church because of this. I have seen this lament, due to how many news and faux-news organizations are covering this and how the reprobate are openly mocking. But what I anticipate - I'm surprised I haven't seen it yet - is that this will be thrown at #the15 and the like. That is, they will say that the reason people are mocking Christ and his church is that they pushed to get the truth and make it known. If we had been content to leave things be, they would have no cause to mock.

I would suggest they take it back a step further - the cause for mocking here isn't that the truth came out, it's that the book was produced at all, then peddled and bought en masse. The problem isn't that Pulpit and Pen got the backstory to the book, it's that Tyndale House published it as if it were a Christian book at all. The problem isn't that people pushed Lifeway to discontinue the book, but that they ever sold it in the first place.

My crazy idea is that there would be less to mock if Christian publishers and bookstores showed as much discernment as a moldy tangerine, and reject obviously anti-Christian books like this outright. People aren't mocking because we've spoken when we should be silent, but because they were silent when they needed to speak.