Holy Ghost?

Shock Sermon Statements: The Worst Is Yet To Come

There is a disturbing trend in the Protestant world.  The use of obscene and near obscene words in order to provoke praises from the congregation.  For your viewing “pleasure,” I submit the following videos (please be seated and try to restrain yourself from throwing something at the monitor):

The Eddie Long (yes, that Eddie Long) clip is the oldest of the three.  The other two are recent and the one from Dr. Jamal Bryant I just saw today.

I am not sure if this is anything new.  Perhaps there have always been ministers who have tried to push the envelope of what could and could not be said from the pulpit. But, back then there were church elders, deacons, and denominational authorities who were not afraid to correct such foolishness.  Back then, there were preachers who were humble enough to admit their fault and not repeat it.  I am afraid those days are over as we have a Christian culture which rejects tradition (don’t nobody want to hear them old songs anymore).  Older members and those who hold to the idea that some things ought not be said from the sacred desk (Plexiglas) are written off as followers of man’s tradition and not the “Holy Spirit.”

Indeed, to criticize such antics is an invitation to be deemed as “quenching the Spirit.”  This is especially true if the preacher is popular and is well educated (Dr. Jamal Bryant), has a prominent title (Bishop Eddie Long), or  a female (you just hatin’ on Pastor Leondra Johnson because she is a “mighty woman of God”).  In the current Christian culture where the “Spirit” is measured by how many people are excited in worship, any rules of humility, decency, and respect can be thrown out of the window.  In the small, rural Baptist church I used to serve, I was approached by my elders for saying “darn” and “funky.”  While I did preach a series of sermons on sex, I first warned the congregation that I was going to do it a week ahead of time and I carefully wrote out the manuscripts to make sure my wording was respectful of the house of God.

But in churches where there are few elders and the ones that are there have no backbone to take a stand, a preacher can say whatever he wishes and say that it was the Holy Ghost that moved him to say it.  He will call it “Preaching the truth without any sugar-coating.”  By claiming the words came from the Holy Ghost, no one can hold him accountable.  In our church history, we respect “no sugar-coating” preachers.  Thus, the same words heard in dance clubs are heard in modern churches.  And as secular culture becomes more tolerant of profanity and nudity, I shudder to think of what we will see and hear in the too near future.

Shock brings in ratings.  Over-the-top words and statements attract listeners not so much because they agree with the speaker.  But, because they want to see and hear how far he will push the envelope.  This is true in comedy, music, political punditry, and other media.  Protestantism (and maybe Catholicism and Orthodoxy) is not immune.  With liturgical and well-structured denominations, this problem may not be quite as evident.  But in the many “non-denominations,” this is a major threat and present danger.  The preachers want notoriety to gain members.  Some will do this honestly by serving with sincerity.  Others will feel the pressure to get more people to follow them and will resort to low methods to do so.  These videos ae bad enough.  I believe the worst is yet to come.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  (2 Timothy 4:3)

John the Baptist (Coptic). Pray for us.

Are You Sure The Holy Ghost Is Leading You? Christian Life Coaches

First, I want to thank those of you who have suffered through the first installment of this series.  No, there are just some things you can’t make up (nor would I want to).  Some of you have suggested that I make comments about greedy, self-serving ministers.  Perhaps I will take on an example or two of that misbehavior (which shouldn’t be too hard to find).  But, I really want to address a means of ministry that fell right on my Facebook page.

Growing up, coaches were for sports.  They were demanding, pushy, and sometimes vulgar.  Their task was to instruct and inspire athletes to win contest by any legal means.  Christian life was handled by … Christians.  They were (and still are) people who strive to be patient, humble, compassionate, and loving.  Like Jesus, they were (are) there to guide whosoever will follow. 

So, you can imagine that I find the idea of a “Christian Life Coach” as odd as anchovy ice cream.  Not that a good priest, pastor, deaconess, or … REAL FRIEND doesn’t coach us from time to time in the ways of our Lord and Savior.  But, the coaching that is done by these people is part of the whole of who they are and not the definition of what they do.  And maybe that is why one of the world’s best coaches, Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, is just a coach.  The man knows the game of football (soccer) like few others.  But, he is an awfully arrogant man (“I am a European Champion.  I am a Special One).  Christians can be highly knowledgeable in any field or discipline the Lord allows us to enter.  But we cannot be boastful, impatient, cruel, or have other characteristics many secular coaches have been and are. 

In the Orthodox world, believers sought (and still seek) out monastics and read the ancient fathers for guidance.  I was brought up in a small Baptist church where we all knew and looked out for each other’s best interest.  In any religious tradition, there are wise mothers and fathers, elders, and good friends available to walk this Christian journey with.  Has our modern, self-absorbed, me-and-my-Bible society grown so cold and isolated that the office of “Christian Life Coach” is a viable option for believers?  Are we to recruit and hire such coaches based on winning percentages and how well they recruit new talent?  It is bad enough that we are tempted to put priest, pastors, and musicians on pedestals.  What coach doesn’t want to be known for greatness?

I am not going to accuse everyone in this “Christian Life Coach” movement of being corrupt.  I know of a couple of well-meaning people who are involved in this.  In my opinion, we need more real friends than coaches.  We need more people who we can be honest and open with and will lovingly tell us when we are on the right path and where we are messing things up.  Besides, coaches look to make money from coaching.  Real friends are friends because they love you.

Then again, coaches don’t let players on the court, field, or pitch without the right uniform.  So if  Minister LaTacha Emanuel had a “Christian Life Coach,” she wouldn’t have exposed herself so awfully in the videos I wrote about last time.

Are You Sure The Holy Ghost Is Leading You?: How About Some Modesty?

This is my first installment of a series of foolishness so far out of left field that I can’t believe these people are calling themselves Christian.  I started to call it “Stupid Sola Scriptura Tricks.”  I guess I can call it a number of things.  But, what I will present with each article is a shameful representation of what happens when Christian ministers invent doctrines and practices that aren’t even in line with acceptable African-American Protestantism (yes, I am still Baptist), much less Eastern Orthodoxy.  These things may not be happening in everyone’s town or in churches you may personally know of.  But, unless we put the brakes on “do-it-yourself” doctrines, these things will eventually come to a church near you.

Let me first give credit to the video blogger Tommy Sotomayor (before he curses me out for not revealing my sources) for posting and offering commentary on this topic.  In the video of her ministry, LaTascha Emanuel is preaching wearing a dress that not only reveals far too much cleavage, it is cut low enough to expose a portion of both of her nipples. (No, I am not posting a link to the video.  This is way to unbelieveable).  Now, my Orthodox friends will immediately question the role of women as ministers.  I am not ready to get into that discussion.  But, no matter what religious tradition one comes from (Christian or not), we can all agree that a woman should dress modestly.  Mrs. Emanuel (and there is a video of her wearing this “dress” and her husband with her) is clearly NOT being modest about her body.  No, a woman need not be covered head to foot as in extremist Islamic communities.  Nor does she necessarily have to wear a robe or clergy shirt when doing the Lord’s work.  But, I think we can all agree that we all should be aware that our clothing can send the wrong signals.  Mrs. Emanuel’s message was sincere and based on the scriptures.  Had she wore something that covered her breast and I let my mind wander and fantasize about her physique that she covered up, I would have been the lustful pervert.  She is not covering up much of anything .  It’s as if she wants viewers to see her breast.  So even if her words are on the up-and-up, a man’s attention will be drawn to her body.  We aren’t supposed to lust.  And here she is presenting herself as an object to be lusted over. 

Visiting her website, “The Gospel From The Stripper’s Pole,” I guess she took a hint and took her videos down.  Yet, she has two problems.  First, whatever you post online, stays online.  Tommy Sotomayor (and you should only watch his vids if you have a high tolerance for profanity), the blogger Keith-Harris.com (who doesn’t see anything wrong with it), and at least one other person on You Tube still has them up.  Her second problem is further on her website where she has a couple of photos of her that still show enough cleavage to invite a man to think wrong.  Now, we Protestants tend to interpret differently the passages of scripture that denounces women preaching.  But, since Mrs. Emanuel wants to teach the Bible, perhaps she should begin with herself from I Timothy 2:9:

in like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation

To Mrs. Emanuel and other ladies who think it is fine to serve God dressed like that, no it is not.  How a woman dresses in her home with her husband is her business.  I don’t expect a woman to wear a winter weight sweat suit on a hot summer day at the beach or pool.  But, cover your body when you come to serve the body of Christ.  If you are posting yourself as a woman of God, dress like it.  You don’t have to dress like a nun.  Women have a plethora of styles and colors to choose from to look feminine and still cover up.  Please Christian ladies, dress accordingly.