I’m not sure how I got on Pastor Matt’s email list. I have no memory of signing up; nevertheless, on the list I am. His church seems to be like so many I’ve seen of late. From what I can see and find on the internet it’s a mostly young congregation staffed by mostly young people. According to the church website if you show up as a newbie you can expect some handshakes, “some songs about God,” and some “teaching about Jesus and how He is relevant to our lives today.” From what I can deduce from pictures posted on the website and Facebook page it looks like Pastor Matt and his church are faring pretty well.
I have some reservations and doubts about Pastor Matt upon reading his blog and checking out his websites. I know this will seem like I’m unfairly picking on the pastor and his church but the content of the blog I’m about to critique is something I’ve heard from others as well. I’m sure Pastor Matt is a nice man and beloved by his congregants. However, he is sending his message out via email therefore it seems fair to publicly respond.
When I got the email that his latest blog had been posted I immediately saw a list of the 5 most recent posts. Here they are from oldest to the newest:
- The Best Way To Create A Family Friendly Church Service Is To Stop Having A Biblically Committed One
- 7 Reasons Evangelicals Must Become The Most Tolerant Group In Culture
- Dear Church, We’re REALLY REALLY Leaving You Because You’re Too Sinful And Not Worthy Of Our Grace
- Decapitating Jesus
- Boycotts, Persecution and Embracing Our Christian Exile
Needless to say, Pastor Matt believes in sensationalism. I’m wondering if that has become the real draw to his church. I suppose I shouldn’t say anything negative about his church since Jesus is listed as the “Senior Pastor.” That kind of short circuits any criticism, right?
I hope I don’t burn for this but…I’ve got to challenge Pastor Matt on his latest blog offering “Boycotts, Persecution and Embracing Our Christian Exile.”
In this piece, Pastor Matt wants to offer an explanation for American Christianity’s loss of cultural influence. He begins by suggesting that when Christianity was in a place of prominence in the culture it “was not particularly gospel oriented or even biblically saturated.” I guess Pastor Matt is either too young or doesn’t know anything about Billy Graham. You could go back a little further to Billy Sunday. Graham’s son Franklin isn’t doing too shabby a job today in being in front of the country and is pretty “gospel oriented” if you ask me.
But I’m sure Pastor Matt, in saying that when Christianity was prominent it wasn’t biblical, is just overgeneralizing (grossly and embarrassingly so) because his target of specificity is zeroed in on Christian activists:
…the moral expectations flowed at times from biblical passages, but the means and spirit in which they were communicated were guilty of a pretext without a context. With the regularity of a high-fiber diet, a new protest, petition or picket would be announced to drive back the intruding woes of society. For as soon as a group or corporation would push Christian boundaries, the work “boycott” would bellow from the religious empowered like a Christianized Bat-Signal; threatening financial penalty toward any entity that did not keep their whitewashed tombs looking white. Never mind if the immoral were going to hell just so long as they embraced our façade of ethical propriety.
“Our façade”? I hardly know where to begin after that venomous tirade against Christian activism.
First, he’s general enough to sound highfalutin but not specific enough to make any sense. It may sound highly intellectual to say that moral expectations from biblical passages flowed from the activists who were “guilty of a pretext without context” but what exactly does he mean? Which context for sin doesn’t demand a moral expectation from a biblical passage?
Let’s talk Christian activism for a moment. I’ve got two grown children and two teens. I know what its like to be sitting in front of the television watching something as innocuous as Wheel of Fortune and have to be confronted with an erectile dysfunction commercial warning users to go to the emergency room for an erection that lasts longer than four hours with my 17 year old daughter and 14 year old son sitting feet away from me. What exactly is Pastor Matt’s solution to that?
Several years ago when my son was only 6 or 7 I remember Saturday morning cartoons were on at 8:00 in the morning. He’s watching cartoons and I’m cooking breakfast. Commercial time. A commercial advertising adult movies, books, and sex toys at a porno shop called “Fantasyland” burst forth from the television. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing advertised on a Saturday morning on a channel specifically programming for children. Was my call to the cable company demanding an explanation and the threat of causing a public stink “a pretext without a context”? Was my anger a “façade of ethical propriety”?
Oh, I know all about the “turn it off if you don’t like it” response. That’s like saying “don’t look at it if you don’t like it” while driving down a pretty country road where someone has used the side of the road as their personal trash can. If I live on that road, Pastor Matt, I’m going to make a point of finding out who’s throwing out their trash in the road and do whatever is legal and necessary to make them stop.
This is my country and my culture too. You may believe that singing some songs about God and teaching a little about Jesus is all that’s required of you but I find that, and something more is required of me. It is precisely because the immoral are going to hell that the Christian activist is doing all he/she can to put some brakes on immorality and cultural decay. Over 50 million unborn children have suffered cruel and painful deaths because Christians have turned their backs on the issue of abortion and sexual immorality choosing to sing songs about God and do some teaching about Jesus on Sundays and calling it a day.
Homosexual activists have found inroads into schools and curriculum and have successfully turned a sexual vice into a virtue. What have you and yours done to stem the tide? Sung songs about God? A little teaching about how Jesus is relevant today?
Let it be said that Pastor Matt does indeed have a solution to today’s spiritual and moral issues that are normalizing all forms of sexual immorality, relativizing truth, and minimizing the entire issue of sin.
What our world needs to see, and will find hard to reject in the long game, is a people un-phased (sic) by the ebb and flow of shifting norms. People who embrace biblical convictions so deeply, they graciously live above the turbulence brought on by media, rhetoric, and misguided reforms.
Too bad the Apostle Paul didn’t get that memo. He didn’t seem to be too “un-phased” (sic) by the sins in Corinth that were leaking into the church there. Neither did Jesus seem too “un-phased”(sic) about the sin in the church of Thyatira where the notion of sexual immorality was being legitimized.
Now I get it. Just live above it all. When little Mikey comes home from school with a reading assignment from a book called My Aunt Has A Wife, just live above the turbulence in little Mikey’s mind. When you walk into little Darla’s room and Sex Box is on her television just live above the turbulence. Embrace your biblical convictions and live above the turbulence.
And then there is this. I notice that Pastor Matt’s church meets in a high school for Sunday morning worship. In case Pastor Matt and his congregation don’t know it the days of church’s meeting in state or government owned property are numbered. His church will soon find out that religious meetings on government property are getting to be more and more of a big no-no in this culture. What then, Pastor Matt?
Live above it and “embrace our exile”? That’s what Pastor Matt suggests today’s Christian do about the wanton lust, the racial animus, the spread of Islam with its wake of murdered and decapitated bodies, and the loss of religious freedoms occurring on an almost daily basis?
That’s alright Pastor Matt. You keep on singing songs to God and teaching about Jesus (do you include the parts where Jesus speaks about repentance?) and those crummy activists who are guilty of delivering a pretext without a context will continue to do the heavy lifting of addressing sin and evil in culture. Pray for us Pastor Matt. Maybe if we succeed you’ll get to keep worshipping in that high school you’re in.