Caricatures and Realities: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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125 Responses

  1. Josh says:

    This is wonderful, exciting news!

  2. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Scripture never admonishes us to be concerned in this area – not at all. So why are we bewitched at the altar of Pew?

    We are to scatter seed, water and harvest whatever bounty God provides.

    You mention what you consider ‘hot’ issues which center around politics, and culture. Out of 330 million folks in America, a few thousand are influenced by this Jeffries guy ( I would assume that a single Kardashian influences many more millions.)

    What kills the church is the lack of preaching the gospel and the exclusivity of Jesus.
    Confusion is killing the church!! Heck, the church can’t even decide if there is a hell anymore (which I find disgusting) – that kind of teaching is killing the church, NOT what to do with LGBT people.

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Jeffress is an example… one among many. Nevertheless, good to know that the sun is always shining in your world…

  4. Michael says:

    Scripture never admonishes us to change the oil in the car either.
    Whether anyone likes it or not (I certainly don’t) the church is in crisis.
    I do believe there will be backlash from the evangelical foray in politics and issues like the LGBT controversies are impacting it like few other things in my lifetime.
    I haven’t run into many that deny the existence of hell…a few outliers aren’t our problem.

  5. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    If we want to look back to what you probably consider a more “golden age” of church life, I would point to all churches preaching the law, the gospel, the reward of heaven and the consequence of an eternal hell.
    The churches filled up (I don’t know how many were actually Christians, but they did self identify as such)
    Today the church is afraid to hurt feelings – so instead of preaching Christ they preach the Christian.
    After a generation of this crap, people aren’t buying it anymore — and I don’t blame them.

  6. Michael says:


    The LCMS isn’t doing any of that…and it’s shrinking too.
    The cliches about how bad the teaching is these days isn’t helpful when those churches that are orthodox are shrinking too.

    I would also add that the weight of scandal is crushing the life out of the church as well…

  7. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    As an example, after returning from dropping my wife in California this weekend, I plopped in front of the TV. It was on the AZ public station and a church program was on. A pleasant enough young buck pastor.
    His who talk was a point’s on Growing Up. I am sure it was tied to a Scripture passage but I must have missed it.
    The 30 minutes was 8 point’s to Growing Up. It was all about me, not Jesus.
    Would I want to join up? Probably not – but if I did I don’t know if that would have led me to self identify as a Christian.

  8. Josh says:

    While I believe the numbers that have been reported, I do not believe that the church is in crises. This is a wonderful opportunity. We are being purified by the refining fire.

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – the bad teaching in the churches I am talking about affects even the good ones.

    My point is that I offered practical solutions – and it was scoffed at as “sunshine”.
    So what do you suggest? I can go out and do my suggestion today – no big project or mystery.

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, it may be a “blessing in disguise”, but, as Churchill would say, “it’s very, very well disguised”.

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    See, Josh understands.

  12. Josh says:

    I don’t think it is in disguise at all. The mission field has come to our front door!

  13. Duane Arnold says:


    I think the mission field has always been at our front door…

  14. Michael says:

    I’m in a unique position…I pastor a small church and I hear from dozens of people a month via phone and email because of the blog.
    What I hear from them is what Duane and I have been saying…and I’ve heard it for a long time.
    I don’t think either one of us are interested in going around about this again…the doctrinal problems are secondary to the relational ones…the numbers don’t lie.

  15. Xenia says:

    I suggest the following course of action and then let the chips fall where they may:

    1. Do not be embarrassed about what true Christianity teaches when you are out in public. Don’t soft-peddle homosexual issues, for example, if asked. Don’t deny any of the cardinal doctrines of the faith for the sake of having unbelievers think well of you. Be more afraid of God than of the unbelievers.

    2. Pick a church and stick with it unless something really dire comes to light, and it probably won’t because most churches, despite what you read, are godly places, even if the theology isn’t perfect. Don’t be an offense and don’t be offended. Choose a level of participation that is right for your family and be faithful to it without grumbling.. Pray for your pastor and the people in your church daily, by name. You should have more people on your parish prayer list than on your internet prayer list.

    3. Be charitable. Love your neighbor, pray for your neighbor, help your neighbor. Ask Jesus to tell you who is your neighbor and don’t be surprised if His answer is not what you wanted to hear.

    4. Don’t spend too much time reading about church scandals. Stay “lightly” informed but don’t dwell on problems. Problems make the headlines. One can curate one’s Twitter and FB feeds so that’s all one reads. Stop that. Rather, join in with the thousands of Christians who are doing good work all over the world, country, and town. You can find them in your own town if you look.

    5. Pray without ceasing. Don’t neglect regular prayer.

    6. You might as well involve yourself in Bible study, but this is not the most important thing, although it is important. But memorizing the salient points of Romans is worthless if you do not have love for your neighbor.

    7. In short, let’s stop wringing our hands and continue to live our lives in Christ without apology.


  16. Duane Arnold says:


    That would make a start… and, it starts local, not global…

  17. Xenia says:

    Duane, as local as our very own hearts.

  18. Duane Arnold says:



  19. David P says:

    “What concerns me the most, however, is that there is no easy solution to what we are witnessing.”

    To me, this will be the important thing to remember — mostly because a lot of people are going to be selling magic bullets in the coming years: Revival, more revival, liturgy, postmodernism, anti-postmodernism, conferences, more conferences, 24/7 prayer movements, isolation, relevance, holiness, progressive theology…everything’s going to be thrown at the wall to see what sticks.

    And not that some of these are bad by themselves, but if they are presented as the stop-gap to get the church back to its glory days or back to a place of dominance, forget it.

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    By the way, in terms of perception, it is also sobering to realize that Millennials will, in the next ten years, become increasingly influential in mainstream media. It will be a very different approach to reporting on church related issues.

  21. Duane Arnold says:

    David P

    Absolutely correct.

  22. Jean says:

    I was doing some work over the weekend on Jesus’ promise:

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    The word “church” in the Greek is ekklēsía. That word comes from two Greek words, ek, “out from and to,” and kaléō, “to call.” Thus, the church are people called out from the world and to God.

    As I reflect on the challenges facing my church (and church body), we, who would be considered theologically conservative, even so have not focused very well on the “called out from the world” part of being church.

    The result is, for example, families with children not staying committed after confirmation, the under appreciation of blessing of marriage and children, and living by biblical hierarchy in our various stations in life.

    As a consequence, we are not baptizing as many children as in past decades, nor are we retaining as high a percentage of our baptized members after confirmation (or high school/college) as we did in prior decades.

    We are now seeing the consequences of our lack of focus which occurred beginning perhaps 60 years ago.

  23. Xenia says:

    The only solution is for individual Christians to live out their lives in Christ with all their beings.

    This will look different for each Christian.

    Have faith in God.

  24. Duane Arnold says:


    I think this is at least part of the story from every church… whether conservative or not. In many quarters we have forgotten what it means to be “Church”…

  25. Michael says:

    My concern is for those who have left the church (but not necessarily have left Jesus) and those around Trey’s age who have no interest in church, but abundant scorn for what they believe we do…

  26. Randy Davis says:

    I don’t think any of this is new. We’ve known that no more than 10-17% of communities attended church. This has been true across the south for decades. The difference today is they no longer pretend to be a Christian or to be a member of a church, except for politicians durning elections.

    Years ago, I was sitting in a doctors waiting room waiting my turn. I sat by a guy I knew. I had been in his home. But he did not know who I was! He told me he was a member of Trinity Baptist Church. I had never seen him there, even for a funeral. But because he had been baptized as a child and had joined the church, he convinced himself that he was a church member and a Christian when he had never shown fruit of either.

    In SBC churches, one half of the church membership cannot be found. Of that known half, only half of them will attend church more than a few times a year. ( Christmas and Easter). One half of that quarter will actually be active in church.

    SBC has claimed up to 16 million members. But on any given Sunday only 5 million will attend church. This number has been steady for at least 30 years. The numbers of the past were lies, at best exaggerations. I have been in meeting year after year and hear a pastor brag about 65-70 baptisms per year but their building did not hold more than 100 people and they never had to expand.

    I think the first part to understanding the decline is to understand the lie.

    I have more but I will hold my tongue for a while.

  27. Josh says:

    Randy is right on.

    Someone explain for me ina couple of sentences why this is a problem. I’m not getting it.

  28. Randy Davis says:

    Josh. Ego, and the desire for power.

  29. Michael says:


    Loosen your tongue… 🙂
    It’s helpful..

  30. Josh says:

    Oh, no. Randy, I got what you were saying and agree totally.

    Why are the falling numbers a problem?

  31. Randy Davis says:

    Josh. Many churches will cease to exist. The remaining churches are weakened. Funding falls, so does influence. But, that never stops God from acting.

  32. Josh says:

    We’ve been railing against churches on here for over ten years. Why did we want them to grow?

    If God is at work, the church will continue. If people do the work of evangelism the church will flourish. I couldn’t tell you how many new church plants pop up per year in my small town.

    The church is not shrinking, she is being purified. It is God’s work, and it is good work.

  33. Xenia says:

    I would rather a town have three small churches full of true believers, actively living out their lives in Christ, than 20 churches in town full of nominal Christians. If the local liberal nature-worshiping homosexual-affirming God-denying establishments fail, let them. I will not mourn their demise.

  34. Josh says:

    Me too, Xenia. And if the Trump worshiping churches fail to reach the next generation and go under, Praise the Lord!

    This is all good stuff.

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I said earlier “We are to scatter seed, water and harvest whatever bounty God provides.” Satan on the other hand would prefer that we refine our methods – this is terrible.

    We need to remember (or for some think for the first time) – the only thing that is keeping people out of the church (or chasing away those who casually stopped by) is the word of God.

  36. Josh says:

    Many of the “churches” we are talking about wouldn’t know the word of God from the Encyclopedia Brittanica, to be honest.

  37. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – and if the word was ever preached, most would empty.
    Joel Osteen has a church of 40,000 fat and happy people. Take Joel Osteen out and put one of our pastors in who would preach the truth, preach the law and preach the gospel – preach the rewards of heaven and the consequences of a literal, eternal damnation in hell and watch them empty out. 🙂

    So I don’t know if I even trust the Pew polls – when someone identifies as “christian”, perhaps (and more likely) they are more likely just “churched” and may already have one foot out the door.

  38. Michael says:

    “We need to remember (or for some think for the first time) – the only thing that is keeping people out of the church (or chasing away those who casually stopped by) is the word of God.”

    That’s nonsense, but you’re convinced.

  39. Michael says:

    We know that tens of thousands of children have been abused in churches around the world.
    We know that other forms of spiritual abuse are epidemics well.

    We live in an age when information and misinformation spread around the world in seconds.

    The things we took for granted are not things that taken for granted by young people…and we often don’t engage with ideas in a way that promote discussion or understanding.

    I don’t believe the issue is simply “god haters”…I believe the issues are many and deep and we need to address what we can.

  40. pstrmike says:

    “Certainly, all these statements may contain elements of truth, but they are also often used to blind ourselves to present realities. ”

    Great point here, Duane. We tell ourselves things are horrible or things are great, neither of which is completely true or false. But as you observed, that often becomes the extent of our analysis rather than seeking God’s face and asking Him how we should circumnavigate our present circumstances, either in our present context of on a macro scheme.

  41. Josh says:

    “We know that tens of thousands of children have been abused in churches around the world.”

    Again, why are we upset that these churches are not growing?

  42. Xenia says:

    It is my opinion that most people either never go to church or fall away from church because they do not agree with the basic Christian message, which is: We are sinners and if we don’t repent and follow Christ, we will spend eternity in Hell. There’s a lot in that basic message that rubs modern man the wrong way:

    “I am not really a sinner, I just made a few mistakes, just like everyone does.”
    “I don’t have anything to repent of, I am a good person.”
    “Jesus, if He really existed, was good guy and all but there are many paths to God.”
    “I do not believe that God, if He exists, would send anyone to Hell.”

    So basically, people do not want to admit they are sinners who need a Savior. They prefer darkness to the Light. Before, people could pretend they were Christians but now it is OK to be an atheist so no more pretending is needed. I am often the only Christian in several of the academic gatherings I participate in. They all believe they are very good people who recycle and adopt rescue dogs and are quite offended by the basics of the Gospel message.

    Yes, I am sure some people don’t attend church because of abuses. This is not the case of the non-Christians/ former Christians that I know. One says she won’t attend church because of no female pastors [yet she could easily find one that has them] and another is says the church is homophobic [yet again, she could easily find a “church” w/ a rainbow banner out front.] <— So these are just excuses. The fact is, they do not believe and they do not want to believe. They enjoy their lives the way they are without a pesky God's interference with His insistence that we pursue holiness.

    This is how it's always been; it is not new. What is new recently is there is no more need to pretend.

  43. Michael says:


    The point is that all these scandals affect the whole church, including those we would all approve of.
    The fact that no one is held accountable until the law steps in causes additional problems.

  44. Josh says:

    In the case of something like child-sex abuse, the law is absolutely the right organization to handle the issue.

    And, of course, Xenia is right again.

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It will be interesting to see Michael jump in, call Xenia’s comment nonsense, and blow her off as “convinced” – as she took a paragraph to say what I said in a sentence.

  46. Josh says:

    And I’m not trying to be funny. I truly see this as a good thing. Jesus is with the minorities, the oppressed, and the persecuted. The lazy majority have the luxury to be apathetic about a great many important things. Not the beaten-down remnant. “To live is Christ, to die is gain”, I think a great man once said.

  47. Michael says:

    Xenia is right about some of the unchurched.
    I know hundreds that it doesn’t apply to.

  48. Michael says:

    “Jesus is with the minorities, the oppressed, and the persecuted. ”
    Jesus is, but 80% of voting evangelicals are with Trump…

  49. Michael says:

    I don’t care who says what.
    If people here don’t believe that the church bears some of the fault for the current situation, then I believe they’re wrong…dangerously wrong.

  50. Josh says:

    “Jesus is, but 80% of voting evangelicals are with Trump…”

    And, as evidenced by the numbers in this post…those churches are dying. That’s good, right?

  51. Michael says:


    I’m not engaging with you any more on this.

    The point is that all these matters affect the once churched, the unchurched, and especially the young who are making up their minds about their spiritual lives.
    Many of those churches are actually thriving…numerically.
    If you can’t see that, we have nothing to converse about.

  52. Xenia says:

    I personally experienced several horrible experiences in church throughout my six decades of church attendance. I never talk about them here because I have forgiven the offenders and put them behind me. I’m a forward-looking kinda person.

    (Neither of these episodes involved my former Calvary Chapel.)

  53. Josh says:

    I’m sorry. I’m trying to understand the issue but just don’t get it.

    These churches are shrinking, according to the article…and that is somehow bad. This isn’t the Christianity we want to present to young people! Let it die, I say. If it dies, it wasn’t real anyway.

  54. Michael says:


    I’m glad you were able to overcome what you’ve been through.
    I spend most of my offline time dealing with the stories of 75 young people who may or may not overcome what has happened to them.
    I’ve had thousands just like them over the last 18 years…

  55. Josh says:

    Give them Jesus. The rise or fall of national church attendance numbers probably won’t bother them one way or the other.

  56. Jean says:

    Since church authority is diffused, we can all acknowledge the corruption in various churches, as described by both Duane and Michael (they emphasize different issues), but no one, (except those inside their own church) can make a different regarding anyone else’s church.

    So, the most that can be said (without despairing) is to recognize these problems in other churches, and watch and beware that those problems don’t infect our own churches, and deal with them faithfully when any problem arises. But, if we can’t impact the macro-church, we shouldn’t get worked up about it either. Our influence is local and denominational (or not).

  57. Michael says:


    What you don’t seem to be grasping is that good churches and solid congregations are all affected by the current situation.
    I talk to pastors every other day who talk about their churches aging out and how fragile the remnant is.
    You are free to reject all this, but it won’t change the reality on the ground.

  58. Randy Davis says:

    Josh, the decline of the church can be compared to Israel and Judah. They failed to keep faith with God. They even bragged about their wealth as a blessing from God even though their wealth was their idol. But God judged them, even those who remained righteous. God did not weed them out or purify them, etc. he judged them. That is what I think is going on. I don’t think we can be faithless and not expect judgment. And like the righteous ones, the “good” churches go down in judgment just as well. Whatever a good church is.

  59. Michael says:

    “Give them Jesus”
    Any other cliches I should deliver?
    Many of them know Jesus…He isn’t the issue.
    Many of them also now have horribly broken trust toward the institution and those who have represented it to them.

  60. Duane Arnold says:

    Well, if the failing of churches and the falling of numbers brings a “purified church”, we should have loads of great purified churches by now. These are just the latest numbers and do not represent what has happened over the last 40 years. Moreover, I’m not sure that I wish to be too cavalier about small struggling churches that seek to be faithful, week by week, but that are also affected by these national trends. And, by the way, we are all affected…

  61. Josh says:

    If Jesus is just another cliche to you, then give them nothing. I wasn’t being funny.

    Maybe you guys don’t know where I’ve been serving for the past 15 years?

  62. Duane Arnold says:

    So, there is a church (UMC) here in town. It’s an aging congregation with 90% in their late 60s, 70s and 80s. They number about 25. They cannot afford a full-time pastor, so the denomination provides a lay elder most, but not all, Sundays. They have a food pantry for those in need. They have spent through tens of thousands of dollars through the years on all the programs, signage, etc., recommended for growth by the denomination. They are conservative in their theology, but certainly not MAGA in terms of politics. They have been, and currently are, affected by the decline they have witnessed for themselves that we see in these statistics.

    What should they do? Disband? Die?

    By the way, this is just one of thousands of churches in similar circumstances, reaching across all denominations and non-denominations as well. I hesitate to be too off-hand with such people.

  63. Duane Arnold says:

    As to the comment on Pew Surveys… “Pew’s analysis is based on aggregated data from 88 telephone surveys with 168,890 U.S. adults on various issues between 2009 and 2019. The research organization also conducted two large-scale surveys of the U.S. religious landscape in 2007 and 2014, each with more than 35,000 respondents who answered detailed questions about their religious beliefs and practices.”

  64. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, yes they should disband and die. What is wrong with that?
    Churches birth, live and die.

  65. Duane Arnold says:

    Pastoral concern at its best…

  66. Josh says:

    They need a guy like me. Those are the types of churches I serve.

  67. Duane Arnold says:


    As I said, there are literally thousands like that…

  68. Xenia says:

    What should happen, is rather than young whippersnappers “planting” new churches so they can have their own Popsicle stands, they should go and join these older family churches, fill them up with people of all ages, and return them to vitality. But no, people don’t want to go to established churches, they want to be the pastor of their own churches.

    I ran into an old coworker the other day, and she was bubbling over with enthusiasm because her 30 year old son, completely untrained in the ministry, started up his own church with some kind of ridiculous name, can’t remember what it was. She was so thrilled: her son the pastor. I was so angry… but of course, I kept it to myself. This is on the heels of another similar start up church in the area (among many) that lasted about six months. This is one place where young Christian men are squandering their energy when they could be helping the old folks at the Baptist church on the corner. If enough young people came, it wouldn’t be just old folks anymore.

    So young men and your wives: Get over the idea the you need to start up your own churches in a town full of churches. Yes, I know you want to be ‘Pastor Joe” and you can play the guitar. Lose the pride and go help people who could use your help, like the church Duane is talking about.

  69. Xenia says:

    Be like Josh. 🙂

  70. Michael says:

    “If Jesus is just another cliche to you, then give them nothing.”
    Ok, we’re done now.

    I get it that you’re here now to be the orthodox answer to the resident heretic, but I’m not going to be insulted on my own blog.
    “Give them Jesus” is just another cliche devoid of either real meaning or action…to suggest that I find my Lord to be a cliche is both ungracious and unneccesary…and I won’t tolerate either anymore.

  71. Xenia says:

    A few years ago two Bright Young Men appeared at my door with flyers. They were starting up a new Baptist Church in town! I said: “There are already eleven Baptist churches in this small town. Why don’t you go help one of them out?” No, they had something fresh to offer. I thought “Baloney” but said “No thanks.”

  72. Jean says:

    What is a pastor charged to give the people he is called to serve, especially the wounded?

  73. Duane Arnold says:


    “But no, people don’t want to go to established churches, they want to be the pastor of their own churches.”

    With a group such as I described, you actually have to “be a pastor”… not just be “called pastor”. As you know, there is a distance between the two.

  74. Michael says:


    Im sure in your construction the correct answer is “the Word of God”…which is partially true and completely lacking in nuance or actual actions.
    So far, I haven’t found doing nothing but reading selected Scriptures to people to be a real effective counseling mechanism.

  75. Michael says:


    That’s the entrepreneurial model in action…happens a lot in CC’s as well…

  76. Jean says:

    Not a test. A question in a (non-defensive) conversation.

  77. Duane Arnold says:


    We could start with, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

  78. Jean says:

    Yes, Duane. Agree. That is a charge to all believers.

  79. Duane Arnold says:


    If it is not a test… there is a whole range of pastoral care, something lacking in many quarters these days.

  80. Michael says:


    “We could start with, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
    Yes, then a commitment to give the time and space to work through whatever happened.
    There is no formula…

  81. Duane Arnold says:


    Agreed (I think we crossed!)

  82. Jean says:

    Yes, Duane. I agree. The issues of anger and sin and forgiveness are within the wheelhouse of pastoral care. All centered and flowing from Jesus.

  83. Jim says:

    I really agree with Xenia’s 2:28 comment. I know a local young guy who did exactly that.

  84. Eric says:

    It seems like a number of Duane’s pieces have begun with statistics illustrating the Church’s decline. I’m a stats guy and this is my recent contribution to the genre:
    with links to a version with lots of fancy charts, as that’s what I do.

    The reason I care about numbers in churches dropping is that despite many of the churches being dodgy, it still indicates a decline in the number of people following Jesus. I’m less worried about the numbers of nominal Christians being in freefall and “No Religion” gaining a percentage point every year.

    Fortunately the kind of scandals reported on here don’t seem to be rife in my country, but we have hundreds of historical sex abuse cases, the nation’s top Catholic leader is in prison for one of them, the Anglican dioceses have had such big penalties to pay that many buildings have been sold and the newer churches are not exempt either (in fact the churches together have set up a redress scheme – ecumenism is alive and well).

  85. Michael says:

    Interesting how those stats aren’t much different than ours…

  86. filbertz says:

    There are ways a dying assembly can live on, like donating the facility to a non-profit group that will continue to do good work in the neighborhood. One of the greatest tragedies is to see a building boarded up & in disrepair when it could continue to be used in neighborhoods of great need. Assemblies do age and die off. Others rise up in their places. Legacy is what I’m driving at.

    on the other hand, I think a lot of seed was sown which wasn’t gospel in the first place, never germinated, and hence, hasn’t produced any fruit. That is why few(er) should entertain being teachers of the Bible as they will, indeed, incur a stricter judgment.


  87. Josh says:

    Why is “Give them Jesus” a cliche worthy of scorn? That’s insane. Gives those poor hurting folks Jesus. That’s what they need. That’s all that will help. If they already know Jesus, they will be more than happy to receive His love again and again. This isn’t any kind of fight. This is just basic stuff.

    I don’t have a clue why this would be intolerable here.

  88. Jean says:


    There is a basic dichotomy between Jesus and the world, and it’s a constant battle within the Christian, as He said to Peter: “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

    There is power in the things of God, but the power is of a different sort than the power of man; it is not of this world. It is power in weakness and dying to live. All this comes from above; it is faith; a gift of God.

    If the church simply plays by the rules of the world, Satan has won. So, yes, we need Jesus. He is the resurrection and the life. Had you been asked, you could have unpacked that quintessential truth. Give us Jesus.

    The world runs by the law. Let the law do its work on offenders. Let doctors and psychologists do their work. But God help us if the Church does not give the medicine of immortality to the hurting and the broken.

  89. Em says:

    If one thinks through the points Xenia has made on this thread, it will be clear what tack the individual who has found their redemption in Christ should take…. IMHO, of course… ?

  90. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – “I don’t have a clue why this would be intolerable here.”
    It’s not intolerable in my quarters – I agree with you 100%.
    Some folks think church abuse is new and needs new methods to be overcome. This is not like the golden age of church when church authorities would drown their members for holding different beliefs, have them walk around with the Scarlet A or put their members in public stocks to coerce a change in attitude or theology.

    Anyone who says “give them Jesus” is deficient and not the first line of the church is sadly deceived.
    As I said earlier – coming up with new methods is the work of the devil.

  91. Michael says:


    I explained myself clearly at 2:31.
    What’s intolerable are the insults…

  92. Michael says:

    “Anyone who says “give them Jesus” is deficient and not the first line of the church is sadly deceived.”

    Anyone who uses cliches without the addition of actual descriptions of what they mean isn’t helping anyone.

  93. Josh says:

    I didn’t insult you. You ridiculed my response of “Give them Jesus” for some reason. It was the right answer.

  94. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I was in Huntington Beach this weekend to watch my granddaughter play softball. Afterwards I ran over to the HB Pier to see Ray Comfort do his open air preaching. The guy is amazing if for no other reason than watching the crowd. You have a clear devastating proclamation of the law and the revelation of the one and only cure – Jesus. He doesn’t dig in deep to their “church hurts” – he knows their hurts – they are law breakers.
    Then you watch the crowd – it is clear who may have interest and who has none.

    You work with the ones who show interest – those who Jesus is calling at that moment – you give them Jesus.

  95. Josh says:

    Wow. I try to help people everyday. It’s what I do with my life. But if I say “Give them Jesus”, it should be judged otherwise. This place has gotten weird.

  96. Michael says:

    “You ridiculed my response of “Give them Jesus” for some reason. It was the right answer.”
    What does it mean?
    Should I just tell people they need “more Jesus” and everything will be ok?

  97. Josh says:

    I didn’t say ‘tell them Jesus’. I said give them Jesus.

    Duane said weep with those who weep. Sometimes, that would be giving them Jesus. Sometimes, it might mean giving them a hug. It might mean listening. It might mean telling them the truth about their sin. It might mean preaching the gospel. Give them Jesus.

    But I’m glad you got the insults out of your system so you could ask me what I meant.

  98. Michael says:

    This place has gotten “weird”.
    I no longer get any joy out of it and we now have a weekly cycle of Duane posting an article and the Lutherans attacking it and Josh attacking me when ever I move.
    Duane is doing us a favor by sharing with us and we have people that would like to participate without all the rancor.
    I am now a heretic for reading a non approved book.
    I’m done.
    This ends today.

  99. Josh says:

    Find one thing I said today that was attacking you. I don’t know why you think I attack you? You took exception to me saying give them jesus. That was not at all an attack on you.

  100. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I didn’t attack Duane’s article – I made comment and I offered solutions to the problems he listed. (go back and read)

    The attack came from Duane in his rebuttal to my comment – “Nevertheless, good to know that the sun is always shining in your world…”

  101. Jean says:

    Duane, do you feel I attacked your article?

  102. Michael says:


    You and your LCMS posse have been attacking since the universalism thread.
    God appointed you to keep my lurkers from thinking for themselves.
    I was leading folks astray…

    You guys had your say, you hit me hard, and now we’re done.
    I have been supportive of you for years…and I got my usual reward.

    The blog will stay up…but I’m done dreading every day it is.

  103. Michael says:

    Duane writes to help me …he knows what my life looks like and how hard it is to get good content.
    This is a disservice to him.

  104. Josh says:

    “You and your LCMS posse have been attacking since the universalism thread.
    God appointed you to keep my lurkers from thinking for themselves.
    I was leading folks astray…”

    Well, at least we know that YOU are still upset about the Universalism conversation. I haven’t thought about it at all. I’m sorry you are harboring such anger against me. I have not attacked in this thread at all, though I have been insulted over and over.

  105. Michael says:


    Not anger.
    Really deeply hurt.
    I expect such from the other two…you surprised me.
    I have enough of that in real life, I don’t need it online.
    Now, I’m cutting it off.
    There is no further need for discussion.
    There are Lutheran and Baptist blogs galore where you three will be commended for your works.
    Leave me the hell alone.

  106. Josh says:

    Duane – were my comments a disservice to your article? I interacted. Disagreed a little, but certainly was not insulting in any way.

    I don’t know what Michael is reading.

  107. Xenia says:

    When you read stories about early Christians, or even medieval monastics and missionaries, you find that nothing dissuades them from following Christ and serving the Church. They cannot be offended, they refuse to be offended. They are willing to give up anything and everything for Christ. These people are my heroes and heroines and while I am not strong enough to do what they have done, I can use what strength God has given me to live out my life in Christ in the modern world.

  108. Josh says:

    Geez man. All this because I don’t agree with universalism? Really? Is that worth severing a friendship?

  109. Michael says:


    You severed it when you made one accusation after another…without even asking a single question about what I believed or why.
    You had to save the lurkers and stand on the Word…while running over me with the bible bus.
    You still don’t know what I believe or why…but I’m sure that the Baptists lurkers were well pleased.

    They didn’t stay behind to clean up the mess…

  110. Michael says:


    It’s more complex than that.
    Your impact has gone far beyond your locale…you’re easily the person I get the most positive email about.

  111. Josh says:

    I didn’t make any accusation. You apparently took something very personally that was not intended that way. I’m sorry that happened, but it is too far removed now for me to explain whatever was misunderstood.

    I argued against “universaism” generically. Certainly not against “Michael, the universalist”. I did not believe you to be a universalist, so didn’t expect it to be taken that way.

  112. Josh says:

    Well, I’ll give one last comment here, then honor Michael’s wishes.

    This is not the first article about declining church attendance there have been several over the last decade and I have always responded in much the same way I did today. You can look up it up here on the blog. I say that to let Duane and Michael know that know attack was intended, and certainly not based on the universalism conversation that took place.

    Michael, I have spoken to you since that conversation privately and thought that we were good. Thinking you a friend, I shared some very personal information with you that I now regret. I promise to leave you alone, but ask you not to use that info against me. That will hurt more people than you could know. I will be very appreciative for that, if you will grant it.

    To everybody else, look me up on facebook if you like. Josh Hamrick is my name.


  113. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I tried to engage. I offered suggestions to what people need. Before 9am Duane mocked and you scoffed.
    I posted this before 9am asking what you would suggest we the church could do?

    “My point is that I offered practical solutions – and it was scoffed at as “sunshine”.
    So what do you suggest? I can go out and do my suggestion today – no big project or mystery.” (I walk almost 3 hours every morning – I probable speak to 50 people about life, love, Jesus, church, baseball etc. I speak to 4 pairs of JWs every morning.)

    I have a plan and I work my plan.

    And you?

    Like I said, I can put my plan into action right away – you and Duane offer nothing.

  114. Michael says:

    “Thinking you a friend, I shared some very personal information with you that I now regret. I promise to leave you alone, but ask you not to use that info against me.”

    You really don’t know me or maybe this is a last passive aggressive shot.
    I will die with more secrets than you will ever know…and I’ve never used confidential talks to hurt anyone…not even people who deserved it.
    You’re safe.

  115. Michael says:


    I’m done.
    Take your last shots and move on.

  116. JesusFreak says:

    Honest question: what did Jeffress say?

    I’m probably out of touch with popular/Christian culture and I feel like I missed something.

  117. Michael says:


    He endorsed Paula Whites book because politics is thicker than doctrine…

  118. Duane Arnold says:

    Firstly, I am not offended. Secondly, I write here at Michael’s invitation. I am, so to speak, in his house. As such, I treat my host with the honor and courtesy which is his due. He provides the venue for these discussions. It does upset me when instead of asking questions, only assertions are made, oftentimes ignoring what others have said or written. Moreover, it upsets me when mere ideas cannot be expressed in a reasonable environment without fear. Michael has attempted to provide such an environment. I trust him to want the best for active participants as well as for those who merely read the articles and the comments. For me, calling Michael “my brother” is not a courtesy… it is the statement of a reality.

  119. Michael says:

    Thank you, my friend…my reality is likewise.
    This was a noble experiment for a long time…

  120. The New Victor says:

    I recently reconnected with one of my cousins on Facebook. She has a DDiv (from a college in a Dutch Reformed community). She recently posted happy pictures of her son’s marriage to another man. I’m not sure what to make of it other than that’s family.

    My kids haven’t asked yet, but I’ll have to answer it at some point.

    Speaking to Hispanics in the article, the kids born here of my ex-laws don’t consider themselves RCC. The 27 year old saddened his mom by not going to confirmation nor will he likely marry in the RCC. I think he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite. I’ll give him credit for being cold rather than lukewarm.

  121. JesusFreak says:

    Thanks, Michael. I did some digging and found the link below. Looks like a number of prominent folks got caught up in that one.

  122. Jtk says:

    We had someone who left come back in 2019. Oh what a joy!

    They didn’t just stop attending our church, they didn’t go ANYWHERE.

    I did the same throughout high school and early college.

    The huge mystery to me is how FEW ever come back. That I actually see. Even within a couple of decades.

    I see lost people come in regularly.
    And if we preach the Gospel, they will come.

    But the prodigals…

    And to Josh:
    If ANY company had “failure rates” like the church has, as measured by college students dropping out of ALL churches (isn’t it close to 85%?!), if that many of the widgets coming off an assembly line failed, they would close down the factory until they figured out what in world was going on.

  123. MM says:

    “ There is a basic dichotomy between Jesus and the world, and it’s a constant battle within the Christian, as He said to Peter: “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””

    What then are the two things that differentiate between Jesus’ world and the human defined one?

    My answer is this, one thinks about themselves the other considers the value of those standing next to them. One is concerned more about their next meal, where they will sleep and how they will be clothed and the other knows the one next to them has the same issues.

    And finally one is concerned about their salvation and what it takes to avoid hell and get to heaven, while the other considers the same thing about the one they stand next to.

    Michael, thank you for Getting Duane to write these articles.

  124. pam deam says:

    Catholic churches are full….Oh my gosh !!! silly me …I almost forgot Catholics are not Christian

  125. Duane Arnold says:

    pam deam

    Actually, the Roman Catholic Church has dropped by 3 million just in the last decade… and, indeed, they are our Christian brothers and sisters…

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