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68 Responses

  1. Duane Arnold says:

    The homily of the priest for his son’s funeral is solid gold…

  2. Michael says:


    I concur…an amazing statement of faith…

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I always like everything that Michael Spencer wrote, so imagine my surprise at being confused by this article – “How we sound to the unbeliever”

    He begins saying that he is in a christian church (chapel) listening to a christian preacher giving some type of a christian message, and perhaps like John the Divine, he goes into the spirit and begins listening as an unbeliever would listen. The remainder of the article is about how poorly the unbeliever would receive such a message.
    Here is where I break from the original IMonk – church and a christian message is never for the unbeliever – it is God’s word to the saints sitting right there to nourish their soul. The unbeliever? he gets handled in a totally different manner at a different time.

    So from IMonk articles I have read, 500 thumbs up – 1 thumbs down.

  4. Michael says:

    I agree…church is for believers…

  5. Josh says:

    I think Imonk was grumpy when he walked in that church. Who doesn’t appreciate a good object lesson? Jesus himself used them to teach.

    I HATE the video about the Lifeway store closings. Why the emotional manipulation? Just tell the facts – online options have made it unaffordable to run the brick and mortar stores. Everyone would understand. The sappy music and propaganda-style graphics make me very suspicious.

    The Orthodox funeral link was too painful.

  6. Xenia says:

    The Orthodox funeral…

    Fr. Kimel has been leaning towards universalism, and you can see hints of it in his sermon. I wonder if the death of his son was so painful that he cannot consider the possibility of eternal hell. Who blames him.

    Well, we Orthodox do pray for the souls of the dead, and I do believe they are efficacious, although I don’t know how it works.

  7. Duane Arnold says:


    “…although I don’t know how it works.”
    None of us do, but, as the kids would say, we lean in… to the mercy of God.

  8. Eric says:

    The content of the iMonk article had a lot of stuff that sounds bad to Christians too. But that aside…

    I tend to think that church gatherings, while primarily for Christians, could be for those interested in the faith. For many people, attending worship services has been a major part of their journey to faith. Yes, they know they’re in a space that assumes the authority of the bible, there’s assumed knowledge, they don’t take communion. But just like our kids grow in faith by being in the Christian community, that can happen for others too.

  9. Jerod says:

    Guns are inherently metal. Unless guns are loaded by inherently fallen humans, guns are inherently inert. Guns are not sentient beings and therefore incapable of doing evil. Therefore if you even want to scrape the surface of sense-making, you should ask if bullets are inherently evil (which they aren’t), since the gun only points, but the bullet does the damage. Maybe in a slightly more insane world, you could charge the non sentient bullet and gun with murder and accessory to murder, while committing the human actor to counseling for being used as a pawn by the gun in its evil schemes.

  10. Jerod says:

    Well, for my money, iMonk nailed it. He approaches the subject wearing the world loving, Christian-gimmick-weary glasses of the unbeliever. I’ve heard the very same things from unbelievers in my life while doing the very same thing he pointed out, “If I didn’t already know the New Testament I would have no clue what the hell just happened in there.”

    “I think we just saw a snuff film”.

    “Of course I love you!”
    – What’s your proof?
    “I went to church, the pastor said I needed to evangelize more, and now I’m telling you that you more Jesus and you are pissed of by it [which obviously makes me kind of a martyr].”
    – Well, shucks, I’m touched. Really.

    MLD is right of course. The butts in the seats are supposed to be butts sealed by the Holy Spirit, butts set start for good works. And the sermon fitted to that flock of woolly butts.

    But as Spencer (et al here) have pointed out: Ah, yes, but the butts in the seats are the butts the pastor has spent a wad on marketing to, sending Easter mailers to, scoring free advertising on bumper stickers – unbelieving butts attracted to bright lights, music, fog machines, Steven Furtick, and well, nothing else happening on a Friday night in August. Might as well go watch the clowns feed the goats.

    It is the lack of gumption in the pews which raises the clownish spectre of the shaman upon whom we confer the authoritative title “Pastor” who evangelizes EVERY. FLIPPIN. SUNDAY

    by cartoonish object lesson, no less. I have felt, as a Christian even,

    Though not for the past year or so,

    that I had gone to church to watch cartoons stepping off the Acme screen. If you think the unbeliever we market this schtick to doesn’t realize that our worship sets resemble a hot date from Roger Rabbit, we are sadly mistaken. It’s nauseating.

    Good for the crabby monk guy.

  11. Jerod says:

    And referring to things in biblical history as CE or BCE. That’s just being a pander-bear.

  12. Jean says:

    I think the major point MLD is making is that if a church makes Sunday morning service about or for an unbeliever, then there is a rationale and temptation to change the liturgy, change the vocabulary, change the furnishings, etc., in an effort to “meet the needs” of the unbeliever, who may not get the furnishings, liturgy, vocabulary, etc. This then becomes what is known as “seeker sensitive.” But in the process, the believers must give up the heritage of the church.

    So, a different method would be to catechize unbelievers into the genre of historic Christianity, rather than change historic Christianity into the genre of contemporary secular symbols and practices.

  13. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jerod, all I know, and I can speak only for my church, is we are a gathering of believers celebrating our Lord, a man who was once dead and now rules the universe – a pretty narrow “purpose driven group.”

    We do this by participating in his very word, his very body and his blood. If unbelievers don’t understand this (or if Steve Furtick doesn’t understand) then perhaps they should attend one of our 15 week adult information classes, because as much as the beloved Imonk wants, we ain’t changing our message.

  14. Jerod says:

    MLD and Jean
    you’re right. But the insult is also real. They are marketed to one thing, and given another. It reminds me of So I Married An Axe Murderer.

    I didn’t see a blatant call to change the message, but to change the approach to it. You can tell someone the truth in a lot of ways. Some appropriate and some inappropriate. Some authentic and some pretentious.

    Some pastors that met to have a problem with anger, or that they have to be careful when they use the computer.

    Others will be quite ready to admit that their biggest problem is with doughnuts. One will draw from this admission that their marriage, their finances, their friendships another moral and spiritual issues are all under control.

    I don’t think Spencer goes far enough. After the service what is the outward expression of faith that the unbeliever witnesses from us pew-sitters?

    If we in the pews would change our living from nod-along-hypocrisy to the greater reality of living according to how the Holy Spirit probably is begging most of us to live in this world the message would change accordingly because we would no longer put up with the bs we nod along to. We don’t evangelize, we talk

  15. Jerod says:

    Ignore the last sentence (it was going to be another run on). It would have made less sense than the other stuff.

  16. Jerod says:

    “”if a church makes Sunday morning service about or for an unbeliever, then there is a rationale and temptation to change the liturgy, change the vocabulary, change the furnishings, etc., in an effort to “meet the needs” of the unbeliever, who may not get the furnishings, liturgy, vocabulary, etc. This then becomes what is known as “seeker sensitive.” “”

    If you reread the article, I don’t think that’s what he’s getting at.

  17. Jerod says:

    How is it churches in Iran, China, etc are growing and attracting unbelievers

    who are ready to believe?

    Is there something about those cultures that burns of the layer of schmaltzy shamanism?

    (come to church with me so you can hear the gospel from this person rather than me) (don’t look at my unholiness listen to this guy talk about holiness)

    The devil does church better if our church is not holy in the pews. If it’s not holy in the pews it won’t be effective from the pulpit.

    So Spencer is nearly correct.

  18. Jean says:


    I read the article and to be honest I am not sure I understood Spencer’s specific concern. He seemed to talk in generalizations without give specific examples. My comment which you quoted is the best I could correlate to from my experiences. You’re probably right that Spencer was getting at something different.

  19. Jerod says:


    Frankly when you replied with what you did I realized I had only read 3/4 of the article and that I’d probably missed something 😀

    Spencer really got my gears turning with that post.

  20. Jtk says:

    That infant baptism post struck as much a chord with me as Calvin’s last chapter of Institutes: I just scratched my head and didn’t see it that way.

    He makes some decent points about evangelical US kids raised in faith, but completely failed to persuade.

    I don’t know what to tell you.

    MLD, what did you think?

  21. Jtk says:

    The last chapter of Calvin’s Institutes was on infant baptism.

  22. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jtk, you’re going to make me read Calvin? Oy vey! I will need to search it out. I don’t remember it being the last chapter – I have a memory (that fast fades these days) that it was chapter 6 in an earlier Institue book. I will check it out later.

    I thought the article was good – it’s old, I remember reading it a few years ago. I would lead with what he says but then give a homework assignment. Get a concordance and look up various forms of the word baptism, baptizing etc. To my recollection there are something like 217 references, OT & NT.

    Some are just neutral, that the word passes in conversation. Most are indirect, implied references to the saving value of baptism and many are direct. My big point is that no one can go to a single baptism verse to make the case that baptism is not efficacious in it’s saving work. To do so, folks must go to verses that do not deal with baptism, which to me does not make sense.

    One other thing about infant baptism is that it is a great sign in it’s own work to show salvation is all of God and not based on my ascent.

    I will look at Calvin, but he is not similar to the Lutheran view.

  23. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jerk, I found my Calvin books among those I segregate as dangerous, for reference only.
    Book 4 chapter 16.

    Before I read it – probably tomorrow, was there something in particular about Calvin on infant baptism that more than others bothered or confused you?

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Oops! Jtk translates to jerk in auto correct. – sorry.

  25. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jerrod, an unbeliever can come to church and understand the gospel just as it is preached to the old member who has been there 40 years.
    My objection is Spencer seems to be advocating that the language and message be changed to suit the unbeliever, but then the message will not make sense to the believer.

    If the unbeliever is confused, let him be catechized in class – not the worship service.

  26. Jerod says:

    Seemed to me he was advocating to at least stop insulting their intelligence. Maybe that looks like we stop marketing to them.

  27. Jtk says:

    I meant to say just to read the article. Not Calvin. I wondered if the article reflected others’ positions on pedobaptism.

    Steve Martin
    The Jerk

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jtk, I think he represents the position why we baptize infants pretty well. I don’t think he is a Lutheran as he sounds a bit covenental – but that does not matter as the thrust of his article is why you don’t baptize, and there I think he hits the nail on the head.

    The difference for me is those who do not baptize babies think a person needs to be converted and work towards that conversion. We as Lutherans (I won’t speak to others) think babies need “the washing of regeneration” – as all do – Titus 3:5 – Acts 22:16

    Probably more than you asked for. 🙂

  29. Jean says:

    Baptism is portrayed in the Bible grammatically as delivering promises of the Gospel to the baptized (follow who the subject of the verbs is). Here are a couple examples:

    “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

    And to the Colossians:

    “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

    The actor is Baptism, grammatically speaking, is God in these verses. That is the first and IMO essential questions that readers of the NT must contend with when it comes to baptism. The second question follows from the first: If God is acting, then does He act in vain? In other words, can and should a baptized person trust that God accomplished anything when He baptized him or her? The third question is: Does God put any age limits on His promises? If the actor is God and the promises are also His, then do they depend on the age or IQ of the baptized? If a baby can’t be baptized, what about a mentally disabled person (what is the IQ or other cognitive threshold that should apply to baptism)?

  30. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    When I said earlier that no one can find a verse that denies baptismal regeneration I meant it. I love this OT passage about the saving power water baptism. Ezekiel 36:22-27 – in one move (water baptism) God says he will cleanse away you sin and idolatry, he will give you a new heart – removing the heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh and give you a new spirit – which would be his spirit, the Holy Spirit. And get this, he is not asking them to walk the aisle first.

    “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

    So why not baptize your babies?

  31. Josh says:

    These arguments are so riddled with holes, that you guys already know the holes are there. I’m not even going to tell you the OBVIOUS inconsistencies. You already know. Your loud insistence on this being the “one way” betrays that you know the problems, but don’t want to deal with them.

  32. Jean says:

    I tell you what, Josh, I have no ideas what the holes are that you refer to. Please take the two verses I quoted above, and show us the holes. If, as you say, they are obvious, then it shouldn’t take you long at all. Then, I promise to deal with the holes.

  33. Josh says:

    Good act, Jean. Fake it til you make it.

  34. Em says:

    If one concludes that the sacrament of baptism (or communion table) are in and of themselves efficacious, then baptize your babies…. but, if the recipient’s mind and heart (soul) response are critical, then one reaches a different conclusion entirely
    Count me in the latter company. ?

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, I thought the Ezekiel passage was clear and to the point for what God said he will do in water baptism.
    Care to point out the holes?

  36. Josh says:

    I will allow you to do so, If you’ll allow yourself an honest moment.

  37. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Probably the biggest hole the Lutheran has in our baptismal theology compared to the Baptistic types is we take the doctrine of Original Sin very seriously and that even the youngest and smallest need to be freed of it the way God proclaims – even in an OT book like Ezekiel.

  38. Michael says:

    The Lutheran view above is wholly orthodox and has significant scriptural support.

    It is one view…there are others that fall within orthodoxy as well.

    As an Anglican I can say there is variation within the communion… you won’t find a purely Baptistic view among us, though there may be new Anglicans who continue to hold to it after coming from evangelicalism.

  39. Jean says:

one Baptism 
    – Nicene Creed

    I would argue that the Baptistic view of Baptism is not orthodox. But that is not to say that one holding that view does not hold other orthodox doctrines. Thus, I am not calling one who holds a Baptisic view of Baptism a heretic or unsaved person.

  40. Josh says:

    And the Lutheran view just makes zero sense. Orthodox, perhaps. Tenable, not close.

  41. Josh says:

    And I apologize for saying that, though it is true. These discussion discourage others, so I won’t engage that way.

  42. Michael says:


    You obviously have strong feelings on the subject…flesh out your objections.

  43. Josh says:

    I do have strong feelings, and that’s why I’ll hold off saying much else.

    Those who find a home and have to swallow this idea hook, line , and sinker. I understand and do not begrudge you.

  44. Michael says:


    A couple things…

    I don’t have to swallow anything in my tradition…variations are allowed. I think the case made by paedo baptists has merit.

    Second, historically, the vast majority of the church practices infant baptism. That holds some water with me as well…

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    To be clear – Lutherans do not practice infant baptism — we practice baptism. Trinitarian baptism in water that applies to everyone alike.

  46. Duane Arnold says:


    I won’t contribute to the “pile on”. I hold to infant baptism, albeit with certain reservations.

    First, I won’t proof text a New Testament action using the OT – I don’t think that all OT prophecy is linear.
    Secondly, I think you have to “stretch” NT texts to get them to say “infant baptism”. It may (repeat, “may”) be inferred, but you could look at the same texts in a different manner.
    Thirdly, if I look at the archeological evidence, it’s clear that there was adult baptism taking place, although that does not mean that infant baptism was not also taking place.

    What does seem clear, is that by the beginning of the second century, infant baptism, if not wholly normative, is becoming so in most churches. Now, that’s an argument based on tradition and the development of doctrine, but we also have to admit that by the third century (if not before) it was the universal practice of the Church. So, for me at least, the question is, “Did they all get it wrong?”

  47. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, my use of the Ezekiel passage was not to proof text a NT action but to perhaps “proof text” my challenge that you cannot find a baptism passage that denies the salvation efficacy of baptism.
    God is crystal clear with Ezekiel that Israel, whoever they are in this conversation, and at whatever point in God’s redemptive history, somehow will be saved through water baptism.

  48. Duane Arnold says:


    You see it that way looking back from the NT (as I would as a Christian). There are also other ways of looking at this passage that are not about baptism…

  49. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, there may be other ways to look at it, but in normal circle they are called ‘the wrong way’. Just because some one has a thought or writes a paper, doesn’t make it valid or acceptable – it just makes it wrong.

    Hey, water, cleansing, the giving of a new heart and not only a new spirit, but the Father’s spirit – which would be the Holy Spirit.

  50. Duane Arnold says:


    Certain Rabbis might disagree with you… and they have a history of interpretation as well.

  51. Jean says:

    Who cares what the non-Christian Jewish Rabbis say? They missed the Christ altogether in the OT. They’re interpretations concerning the fulfillment of OT prophesies were and are dead wrong.

  52. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well Jean hit that one out of the park.

  53. Em says:

    A long time ago someone here said that baptizing (in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) of our babies has replaced the circumcision of O.T. … They overlooked one little thing ?
    There are just too many aspects of the act to think that it can be done by proxy…. unless, of course, you are an LDS.

  54. Duane Arnold says:


    An ignorant and, almost bigoted, response . The Alexandrian school honored Jewish scholarship. I don’t, however, expect you to know that…

  55. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, it’s not done by proxy – the darn kid is right there in the midst of the action. Have you ever been to a baptism where the subject was not present?

    I gotta hear this.

  56. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Heck, even Jesus didn’t like the way the Jews handled the Bible.

  57. Duane Arnold says:

    Spoken like a disciple of Martin Luther…

  58. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well you know, he was always going around correcting them. you know that murder / hate thing — the Adultery lust thing.
    Hey, the modern Jew today has Psalm 22 wrong – Isaiah 53 wrong – like Jean said, they missed the whole Jesus thing.

    I hope you weren’t calling me anti Semitic.

  59. Michael says:

    So…I just opened up Logos and Accordance to check my commentaries on the passage in question.
    Not one so far draws a direct line between the passage and baptism.
    Not one.
    The NASC actually cautions against it.
    Thus, all my commentaries are so far, wrong, according to our esteemed Lutherans .
    I think I’ll keep them anyway…

  60. Duane Arnold says:

    If one would bother to read the Jewish commentaries, before passing judgement….

  61. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It’s quite distressing that in the Anglo world all views are equally valid and acceptable…except if a Lutheran puts forth one.
    A couple of points –
    1.) Dr Duane acknowledged that my view was correct in reading looking back from the NT.
    2.) Dr Duane acknowledged that he too would read it that way.
    3.) At 12:45 I made the point that I was not proof texting baptism by using that passage in Ezekiel, but backing up what I said about no verse in the Bible, of the 217 OT & NT, using baptismal language can be found denying the salvation efficacy.
    4.) I also pointed out that who God is speaking of and what period of time is determintive of how this plays out.
    5.) I would hope we can agree that we are in the part of Ezekiel where Israel is in a future realm and being dealt with in a manner to be “saved” I’m not convinced of the details here, but if it is post-cross, we are in the church era and the 3 things mentioned (cleansing, being given a new heart and receiving the Holy Spirit) come through the very first thing mentioned – water.

    Deny it all you want, but you aren’t protecting Dr Duane – he already agreed with me at 12:50. Knock yourself out.

  62. Michael says:

    I don’t need to defend Duane.

    What I can’t abide is the Lutheran declaration that everyone else is wrong about every Christian doctrine.
    There are a variety of positions on almost every doctrine of the church and most have something to commend them to our attention.

    I allowed that your position was orthodox and worthy of note…right up to the point where you declared everything else wrong.

    I won’t stand for that crap anymore.


  63. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I didn’t declare anyone else wrong – I stated my position about the passage and rejected any notion that I should take a rabbi’s contrary opinion about the passage.

  64. Michael says:

    “Just because some one has a thought or writes a paper, doesn’t make it valid or acceptable – it just makes it wrong.”


  65. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    How could I be disagreeing with everyone if Duane is agreeing with me?

  66. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    But there I was disagreeing with Jews and other non Christians.

  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I also take note that it is implied that I am anti Semitic like my buddy Luther when I speak of Jewish scholarship and that is received to not be disturbing here.
    But I have been called worse.

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