Friday, July 31, 2009

...entertainment ministry is no laughing matter

This is not a joke--however much I wish it was. A gentleman by the name of Rusty Walker has now introduced the church and the world to the: I Love Lucy Bible Study.

*Thanks to Sparks and Littlegal on this blog for the following link and information. It is apparent that Mr. Walker is not the prime instigator of "Scripture by Sitcom", but a gentleman in Nashville, TN named Stephen Skelton. His bio says: "Stephen Skelton serves as founder of The Entertainment Ministry. Previously, he has served as a writer-producer for Dick Clark Productions and later as host and writer for The Mayberry, Beverly Hillbillies, Van Dyke Show, Bonanza, Super Man and Lucy Show Bible studies. As a Christian in the entertainment industry, Stephen seeks to identify God's purposes in popular entertainment. To fulfill this mission, The Entertainment Ministry joins ministry and media to impact Christians in their everyday lives. Stephen lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and their two children."

You need to check out his Entertainment Ministry website. In addition to I Love Lucy, it features Bible studies on (r u ready for this?): Andy of Mayberry; Dick Van Dyke; SuperMan; Bonanza; and my favorite, The Beverly Hillbillies. I'm not joking - sadly neither is he. Stephen seems to have a sincere motive for using this kind of approach to "reach people" for the Lord. But as always, it lacks biblical foundation, teeth and ends up dumbing-down the gospel that men like Stephen long to proclaim to others. This is Arminianism on steroids. For example: on the front page of his website you'll read the following: To teach a lesson, Jesus often used a parable - an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Our Lord knew everything about the wonderful power of storytelling. Is that really how Jesus used parables and storytelling?

In Matthew 13:10-15a we read the following:
"Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
"'You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
As you can plainly see from our Lord's words above, that parables were used by Him to prohibit the message from those whose hearts were hard and unbelieving--not as a means to reveal truth to all unbelievers. Once again, in someone's zeal and desire to communicate the gospel to unbelievers, they actually dumb-down the very message that is motivating their hearts in serving the Lord. IOW, this may play well with Dick Clark Productions, but not with biblical ministry.

Whatever Happened to Teaching the Word Without Gimmicks?
I used to love these shows as a kid. My two favorites were Lucy having to mash grapes into wine with her feet; and her and Ethel working in a candy factory. (A bit of I Love Lucy trivia, "Little Ricky," as some of you may know, became the drummer for David and the Giants and is a brother in the Lord.) However, not knowing nor impugning Mr. Walkers motives (I could find nothing more about him from his website) it is painful to see these great sitcoms (Andy of Mayberry included) used in such a ridiculous manner to create "relatable icebreakers" that will spark the attention of people in studying the Bible and applying its lessons to their everyday lives. What ever happened to loving His Word, reading it, obeying it, teaching it, sharing it, meditating on it, craving it, hiding deep within our hearts, etc. for no other reason than just because it is God's Word? It alone is "truth"; "forever settled in heaven"; "perfect"; and "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword..." It needs no assistance - not even from the queen of comedy, Lucille Ball.

Here is the implausible, quintessential example that "Bible studies" have dramatically moved away from sola scriptura, to what Luther obviously missed as a key issue in the reformation: "sola sitcoma."

First off, here is what it will cost you (always follow the money folks):
Full Set- Eight Episodes for $179 +$8 = $187.00

Volume 1- Four Episodes for $99 +$8 = $107

Volume 2- Four Episodes for $99 +$8 = $107

Secondly, here are some frequently asked questions from Mr. Walker's own words.
Does it work for youth?
This program was written for adults and young adults. Though I have teachers successfully teaching 5th & 6th graders with this, that is the exception- not the rule. Please don't try it and get frustrated. The questions are written for more mature persons.

I have many senior high youth programs using it and it works very well. -recommended

Do not use this for a group of adults that have been studying the ancient pottery making techniques during the time of Christ. This is written to develop and grow newer groups. It is designed to reach those that have been on the "fringe" and not wanting to attend group studies. This gives them an excuse to show up. Get them to show up and they are hooked! -recommended

Does it come with the tapes?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I know I say it comes with the tapes all over the web site but that is still the second most-asked question I receive by email. Yes it comes with all the VHS tapes you need for the lessons. They are in the American NTSC format and are not available in PAL.

Does it have a teacher's guide?
Do you mean does it have the answers to the group questions? No it doesn't because it is a discussion starter type of program. There are no 'right' answers. (emphasis mine; this is postmodern at its finest)

It does have a teacher's guide that talks about how to approach this (or any) group study. It is called the "Teachers Guide to Great Group Studies"- written by your's truly.

Can I order by Check instead of online?
Sure. Half sets are 107 dollars and whole sets are 187 dollars. Send your check to Rusty Walker, c/o F WALKER Architects, 3451A Washington Avenue, Gulfport, MS 39507.

Do you sell Lucy Tapes by themselves?
We just are looking for those episodes and can't find them.

These tapes are discontinued and I get lots of questions asking for them. I bought out all that CBS had when they were discontinued so I am set for another year and a half. But not for just selling the tapes alone. If you happen to be missing one of these as the only one missing from your 179 episode set, call me- I might sell one for about $25. This is not what I do though. I don't sell tapes. Cathy's Closet does though and you can get there from the link below. She also sells all kinds of other COOL Lucy stuff. You should buy something from there and give it away as a door prize for your first lesson!

Thirdly, here is a sample lesson to give you an idea of how using "Lucy" can "energize" your Bible study:

Lucy Tells the Truth
(This hilarious episode was first released November 9, 1953)

Points Covered:
Honesty and White Lies
Ricky makes a bet with Lucy that she can't tell the truth for 24 hours. She can't even tell an exaggeration.

Betting and Worldliness
The fun starts immediately when Lucy hosts a friendly game of bridge with her friends. Ethel, in on the bet of course, eggs on their friends to ask Lucy questions about her age, weight, and natural hair color to name a few things. Laughter erupts when Lucy's brutally honest answers surprise and shock everyone involved.

Humility and Friendship
Later, Lucy's honesty lands her a show-biz job as an assistant to a knife thrower! Ricky eventually lets her out of the bet so things can get back to normal- but not before you're left on the floor rolling with laughter.

Fourthly, and in closing
Not much commentary is needed here as you can see. This was a real lesson in restraint for me... Only God's grace has kept me from expressing in this article numerous puns, quips and irreverent sarcasm that could have been poignantly used to most of the above. But his is no laughing matter--this is tragic. Sadly, this is how dumbed-down evangelicalism has become. Does anyone still question the need for reformation within the church today?

Keep Pounding on Wittenberg's Door
SJ Camp
2 Cor. 4:5-7

This has been an encore presentation


Jeremy Weaver said...

"Points Covered:
Honesty and White Lies
Betting and Worldliness
Humility and Friendship"

I've got to say, having seen several 'I Love Lucy' episodes, I think those will be the same three points covered in evry episode.

"to what Luther obviously missed as a key issue in the reformation: "sola sitcoma.""

The church sits in a coma to allow this to happen.

littlegal_66 said...

You're probably also aware that this same company has developed Bible studies from "Bonanza," "The Beverly Hillbillies," and "Dick Van Dyke," as well. (Sidebar: I can't even watch The Beverly Hillbillies anymore, as an adult).

"The Entertainment Ministry," ( is the company who produces this series
("Entertainment Ministry"--now there's an oxymoron for you).

Here's a quote from the ad copy for the I Love Lucy study: "Why do we love Lucy?
Because no matter how much trouble she got into, she always wound up
on top by grace!
(Aren't they using the term, "grace," just a tad loosely?)

littlegal_66 said...

And the NY Times Magazine had this to say about the entire series: "Using episodes of 'Mayberry' and 'Hillbillies' to teach the Word of God, classes are doubling
attendance at weekly Bible studies. Churches teaching by the blue glow of these shows now number in the thousands."

Aha! The almighty attendance quotient once again rears its head!

You said: "'What works' is the accepted plumb-line of the day."
If you'll allow me to quote Lennon, the mentality seems to be: "Whatever gets you thru your life, it's alright, it's alright
Do it wrong or do it right, it's alright, it's alright."
P.S. In regards to Keith (not even going to attempt to spell that last name ; ) I've had the opportunity to visit with him and his wife briefly on several occasions-seems like a sweet Christian brother.

ajlin said...

No one ever answered Ray's question on the last post about who the quote at the beginning of the post is from. I would also like to know.

Terry Rayburn said...

The line that most strikes me is, "There are no right answers".

Jesus being the Truth, He Himself said, " will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32) People don't realize what bondage there is in "group therapy" Bible studies with no one "apt to teach". (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 1:9)

The worst kind of "Bible Study" is the "What does this passage mean to YOU? And YOU?" kind.

Personally, I'm not crazy about a Bible study using ANY man-written book as an anchor, but there are so few teachers who can go through a Bible book expositorally that it's become the norm to use a book.

I am working on a new Bible study series, however, called "Pithy Biblical Discussion Points from Sponge-Bob". I'll let you know when it comes out :)


Bhedr said...

>What ever happened to loving His Word, reading it, obeying it, teaching it, sharing it, meditating on it, craving it, hiding deep within our hearts, etc. for no other reason than just because it is God's Word?<

I just don't know. Jeremiah 2:13

Denise said...

Don't forget the new "Gospel According to the Simpsons" found here:

The forward is by none other than Tony Campolo.

Sadly even in Reformed circles, folks, Christians think that this is not all that bad whatsover--that such books make some good points---even the Harry Potter series has "God" in it.

Friends, I have found in the last two years that true circle of true biblical, sound Christians is smaller than we all even think (if you already think its small---its smaller than that).

Next up: The gospel according to Star Trek, The Munsters, and Roseanne. *gag*

Sparks said...

So maybe my idea of doing a study of women in the Bible using "Sex and the City" as the basis isn't so far fetched? (JUST KIDDING!)

Thank John Eldredge and his followers for opening up the door to teaching Biblical principles through worldly entertainment.

Sparks said...

From the website:
"Stephen Skelton serves as founder of The Entertainment Ministry. Previously, he has served as a writer-producer for Dick Clark Productions and later as host and writer for The Mayberry, Beverly Hillbillies, Van Dyke Show, Bonanza, Super Man and Lucy Show Bible studies. As a Christian in the entertainment industry, Stephen seeks to identify God's purposes in popular entertainment. To fulfill this mission, The Entertainment Ministry joins ministry and media to impact Christians in their everyday lives. Stephen lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and their two children."

Oh church...when will you seek God's purpose through His Word?

littlegal_66 said...

Sparks- You beat me to the punch--I was just about to add the Music City connection, which I discovered after I returned to The Entertainment Ministry" website. My very own Nashville......this bastion of Christian merchandising, the nation's capital city of gospel retailing. (Surprise, surprise, surprise! [thank you, Gomer Pyle]).

SJ Camp said...

Thank you Sparks and Littlegal for the Entertainment Ministry link. I am going to update the Lucy Article to reflect this "new" information.

Thank you...

littlegal_66 said...


Just working overtime to earn my degree from the Camp Institute for Advanced Reformed Studies. :-)
(After graduation, I'm hoping to qualify for the coveted "honorary internet research internship" position here at COT. I'll keep an eye out for my ID badge in the mail. ; )

Seriously--always happy to help out.

Mike Perrigoue said...

Oh the humanity!

littlegal_66 said...

One more comment, and then I guess I'm going to have to break my typing fingers to give some other bloggers a chance (Sorry I've monopolized, but this has really piqued my interest today).....

If you visit The Entertainment Ministry site, be sure and click on the SuperMan synopsis-he maintains that Superman is a Savior and a Christ Figure. The SuperMan study's ad copy reads: "He alone will sacrifice his life in order to bring a better way to the oppressed and afflicted in all of humanity!" (so is this sola SuperMan?)

Mr. Skelton is also available for live lecture presentations on what he calls "The Gospel of Hollywood."
Yeah, I know, I know, "Star Wars" can be paralleled because it is "good triumphing over evil," "ET" can be paralleled because he was not of this world, came to live among humans, died & came back to life, had the power to heal, and when he left he promised to return some day, blah blah blah. I've heard the "movie parallel" rhetoric from other sources for at least 15 years, and I consider the ET parallel bordering on blasphemy.

I'll be in prayer for Mr. Skelton. I believe, as Campi said, that his motives are sincere.......albeit misguided.

Sparks said...

It just gets better and better...
Question to Mr. Skelton: "Could you please show me in the Bible where the Lord uses entertainment as a source to preach the Gospel?"

Mr. Skelton's response: "I hope your question is sincere because the answer certainly is. Let me give you a few scriptures to look at.

In 1 Corinthians 15:33, when Paul says "Bad company corrupts good character," he is quoting a line of dialog from a pagan comedic theater play. The play is called Thais. The pagan writer is Menander. A good study Bible will tell you a little, but for a real surprise, hit the history books and find out more of the context of the play. (I won't spoil it here.)

In Acts 17:28, Paul quotes from two different pagan entertainment sources: "For in him we live and move and have our being" comes from the Cretica by Epimenides and "We are his offspring" comes from A Hymn to Zeus by Cleanthes. Both of these works celebrate the divinity of Zeus. (But Paul did not let that stop him from using them in the service of the Lord!)

In Matthew 13:34, we read that Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables. Even a casual glance will reveal that the parables are largely secular stories in which the parable characters do not proclaim the Good News; that was the genius of Christ, to use a secular story to reveal spiritual truth. In fact, it was a recent surprise to me to learn that not all of the parables were original with Jesus.

In Matthew 13:44, when Christ tells the story of the man who found a treasure hidden in a field, he is re-telling a story that existed earlier in Jewish writings to talk about property rights (how much should the field be worth, how much should the treasure be worth, who does the treasure rightfully belong to, etc). What Christ did was take an old story and bring a new revelation. Much the same as taking Andy Griffith and revealing spiritual truth.

Hope this helps!"

So, let me see if I can get this straight...God had to borrow words from pagan sources to make points in His inspired Word? Would that mean that the Scripture is not really inspired by God, but that He has to resort to using the words of pagan entertainment?

I guess if you can believe this, then anything in today's culture developed by man can be used by God to make a point, thus all man-inspired writings are useful for God to help us understand Him today. I guess I need to start tuning into more worldly entertainment so that I can get a better grasp on Godly thinking. Can't believe I've wasted so much time trying with sola Scripture! Where's my remote?

ColinM said...

Got a question: what drove the comment about the SBC seminary in Texas?

pilgrim said...

"There are no right answers"

Should this not be a red flag?
It's one thing to use a pop culture reference here or there to illustrate a point, but it's another to use it as the basis of the teaching.

I have nothing against a Christian watching these shows with others and if it opens discussion on the Bible, the gospel, etc--great. We are to be ready in season & out of season. We are to offer answers.
But as an actual study?
It does seem to cheapen God's Word.

But then I'm not so pragmatic.

SJ Camp said...

The SBC has championed pragmatism more than any other denomination these past several years. That coupled with the fact that they are primarily Ariminian, and therefore, anthropocentric in its view of grace, the nature of saving faith, the nature of man, depravity, regeneration (synergism vs. monergism), pragmatism, political reconstructionism, etc. - it seemed that this kind of "tool" by Entertainment Ministry would be welcomed with opened arms by them. Biblical truth is not the key focus here; "what works" is.

Seeing they have two prominent seminaries in Texas that has embraced this kind of thing in the past, it was not a stretch to posit the question, "would they recommend this to their prospective pastors as a tool for discipleship and evangelism?" If given the opportunity, the answer is lucid: YES!

I must say that this is confusing to many of us, since in the past, SBC leadership have championed the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture when the denomination was drifting to liberalism. We thank them and honor them for their correct and unwavering stance on the authority of God's Wrod. But, where are those same voices now that are equally as concerned for this drifting to pragmatism and Arminianism that also seeks to undermine the authority of Scripture?

The greatest example of this would be the wholesale embracing of The Purpose Driven Life materials; and the opening of the door by some to Emergent Church views for readdressing local church function and ministry. It is no secret that some of the SBC's largest congregations are unapologetic as being seeker-friendly churches (an emphasis on felt needs or cultural issues over the teaching of sound doctrine).

These views contribute to the status quo effecting SBC pastors focus and training to preach the Word; instruct in sound doctrine, including systematic theology and/or canonical biblical theology to its congregations. Most SBC sermons being churned out each week by their leading voices are not expositional nor exegetical in nature, but more experiential. Their standard formula for "biblical preaching" would be: one verse proof-texted plus three points plus ten illustrations equals a fine sermon.

In addition, the current leading voices within the SBC have without equivocation written and spoken in vitriolic, militant tones, as to the wholesale rejection of the doctrines of grace and labeling their own pastors within the SBC who embrace Calvinism as "those who have crept in unawares" - comparing them to the apostates in Jude. Unthinkable!

This joined with a continued embracing of Finneyesque evangelistic methods, including a weak emphasis on repentance, sola fide, and the Lordship of Christ (if not absent altogether) in their presentations of the gospel, remains a concern for many of us.

Hope this helps clarify.
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Jabbok said...

I just want to know:

1. How did Andy's wife die?


2. Why didn't Barney marry Thelma Lou?

cyd said...

Steve --

Thank you for giving such a deep, clear answer here; I really appreciate your knowledge, seriousness and discernment.


Bhedr said...

Yes Cyd i second that! Ya gotta nip it in the bud!

ColinM said...

Brother, I have had only 1 professor in my 2 years speak of Rick Warren positively. In fact, I know no professor outside the evangelism department that recommends his teaching. Those are also the ones that happen to be Arminian.

I agree that there are strands of liberalism still present, but MOST of the young men on fire for God there reject this teaching! 85% of the professors I have had are not Arminians! Dr. Patterson welcomes us who tend toward the reformed doctrines with open arms, and recognizes its broadening influence. It is not as harsh as you make it out to be.

Your apparent nemesis Patterson affirms your description of an exegetical sermon, and calls all others (like the one you described) as not any sermon at all! He rejects topical sermons outright.

I enjoy your blogs, but posts like this make me wonder how much bias exists in your other posts. You have wrongly characterized SWBTS, and are grossly unaware of the present movement of revival (that driven by the reformed influences) that is taking place. So what is the practical implication of these careless words? Those influenced by you here will look at a resume of a potential pastor for their church, a man after God's own heart, and see "MDIV, SWBTS" on there, thinking, "This man must be a pragmatist," completely ignorant of the type of people who are now flooding that seminary, and dismiss him WRONGLY!

It was a stretch to make the connection you made. Target the sepcific professors by name, or even the president. Target ministries, but not the seminary which is made up of students called of God and driven, like myself, by reformed and God-centered influences. Heed the impact of your careless words. We ourselves decry these influences within our own seminary, but are praising GOD EVERYDAY WHO HAS ALLOWED US TO BE THERE LEARNING WHAT HE HAS FOR US! Praise God I am not in a country without this opportunity, but GOd has entrusted me with a greater responsibility! My advice, humble because you know quite a bit, but with an edge because you have stepped on toes that agree with you, is to stick to what you know instead of accusations that are patently, and provably, false.

Colin McGahey
MDIV student, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TExas

SJ Camp said...

Dear Colin:

Thank you for your email. i am not trying to characterize all people at SWBTS or within the SBC denomination patently. But it is without question that the SBC in general (not every church or every professor or every student or every congregate) has gone seeker-friendly and embraces a pragmatism in ministry.

I know that there are wonderful professors such as Greg Welty that are reformed, serious Bible students and very capable exegetes. I have read many papers that Greg has written and though he and I disagree on some things, I have a deep respect for him.

BUT, Rick Warren, who is SBC, owns the store on pragmatic ministry these days. In saying that, it doesn't discredit all of his writings--but they should be approached by a word of caution.

I don't think it was a stretch to make this connection at all considering the overall tenor of the SBC aversion to the doctrines of grace and their propensity towards a felt-needs approach to ministry. Again, to clarify for you, of course that doesn't represent every single individual within the SBC or studying such as you are at SWBTS. So much of seminary training depends on the individual man, their theological leanings, dedication, call from God to the ministry, their love of theology, sound doctrine, and commitment to being a faithful exegete, doesn't it?

One question for you, and I am happy to be proven wrong on this, you say that Mr. Patterson is an expositor and affirms exegetical sermons. If that is true, and at this juncture I will concede that to you, why does he write with such venom and with out-right maliciousness against anyone within the SBC that affirms the doctrines of grace in salvation? Biblical, orthodox, Christianity is contained within the TULIP and the five solas--but yet he rejects them in a wholesale categorical manner and refers to those SBC pastors who embrace those doctrines as having "crept in unawares" - taken from Jude referring to apostates worthy only of damnation.

Where is your same scrutiny of his words on those points? I have referred to him and other leaders within the SBC as being Arminian, because by their own words, that's what they are.

I do thank you for your post and your comments are always welcome here. I am glad that you are a man of God who believes in these doctrines--can you show me proof where the SBC/SWBTS rejects Warren's materials; felt needs; Arminianism and a seeker-friendly approach to ministry and conversely affirms the biblical gospel of sola fide within the context of the doctrines of grace?

I appreciate you Colin.

I remain,
Yours for the Master's use,
Steve Camp
2 Cor. 4:5-7

SJ Camp said...

Dear Colin:

You wrote: Dr. Patterson welcomes us who tend toward the reformed doctrines with open arms, and recognizes its broadening influence.

In regards to your statement, I have a follow up question for you (and I am asking this sincerely): If Mr. Patterson is as welcoming and tolerant of those of the reformed faith as you say he is, why then does he speak against them with such vitriol and derisiveness? Have you read his article, "Crept In Unawares"?

Any clarification you might have would be helpful.

Thank you in advance,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Bhedr said...

Brother Colinm,

I am SBC as well. There has been a reform in our body, but please consider the Apostle Paul who as diligent as he was did not consider himself to have arrived. We must be careful when we seek to verify ourselves. It is the mark of you know who. Jesus told us to say at the end of our works that we are wicked and unprofitable servants. When critique comes we should embrace it and seek to follow Yeshua and his truth with all of our hearts. Remember He chastens those he loves. Let us not faint at the rebuke Steve offers here. The things he writes should concern us all.

ColinM said...

Bhedr: I don't quite understand your point. I agree with you on how we should take rebuke, and I am the first to admit that I immediately become defensive...but Steve wasn't rebuking me.

I very much appreciate your intensity. That is why I spend time here. I cannot stand lukewarm Christianity, and this place is far from that.

I defend SWBTS against moderate baptists who say we are all Patterson clones. So, as you can see, we get it from both ends. I am not a Patterson apologist. I disagree with much of his theology, not that I am an expert on that either. Case in point- I have never heard of "Crept In Unawares." It does not surprise me. But, my comments are based on a chapel service he gave last semester, recognizing the many reformed theologians in the audience (of students). He then recited all ourt favorite verses...all the Arminians favorite verses...and told all of us not to be overly dogmatic, as there is much neither party will fully understand.

I have had three professors just this semester laugh off Rick Warren and his seeker sensitive garbage. Most students will laugh him off...I mean, most students who have a fervor and zeal you would be encouraged by.

It isn't that I don't care what Patterson believes, but that it doesn't affect me too much except that I grieve over those who receive seeker-sensitive doctrine. I don't know that he does- you may. I do know that he has hired professors that are Calvinists.

My point is this- do not disparage the seminary name, precisely because those who whole-heartedly agree with you will be attached to that place by name (on their diploma) when we leave. We want churches out their to know we are on the way, and we are intent on REFORMATION! We don't want to be labelled as seeker-sensitive pragmatists right out of the gate, because that is in no manner consistent with the entire student body-- granted some, yes; granted the president- maybe, you would know better- granted many professors still, but they get more and more student opposition.

On the SBC and SWBTS officially- they in no way reject Rick Warren, seeker-sensitive doctrines, etc. Just look at lifeway, that STILL has Elderidge's "Wild at HEart" heresy on the front shelves. I am in full agreement that the entire SBC (and many IN THE seminaries) need reformation...and many students at SWBTS agree also.

Thanks all for your wise counsel these many days:

grace and peace,


SJ Camp said...

Thank you Colin...

I appreciate you very much and your dedication to the Word of God. Beneficial was also hearing of the Mr. Patterson's chapel service you referred to--that is very encouraging.

You sincerely have our support and prayers from COT and may the Lord continue to honor your faithfulness to Christ and His Word.

Keep on dear brother and keep on posting here - your voice is needed and it personally challenges me as well in the faith.

Yours for the Master's use,
Steve Camp
Psalm 138:2

Bhedr said...

You said> but Steve wasn't rebuking me.<

No he wasn't and that was my point. I identified with you as an SBCer. It seems we take it personally when things are brought to light, whether it be the SBC and Patterson, Calvin and Calvinism, Wesleyism and Finneyism. Our goal should always be truth not institutions or men, but it seems we have the tendancy to feel that Yeshua's truth must be harmonized with questionable things or these mens practices we find along the way.IOW these men seem to take a front seat in our apologetics while God takes a back seat. I don't understand why we feel so driven to identify with other men. I believe it makes dull the whole counsel of God. When men come along to help us with our blind spots we out to step out of the box and examine objectively. Oh well I'm not going to get anymore into it. I too am glad that you are concerned about the things you are. I encourage you to focus as much as you can on Yeshua.

Denise said...

Hi Sparks,

Welcome to the Emergent Church/Post-Modern Movement. Relating to and being relevant with this pagan culture is where its at! There is no right way to interpret Scripture, so we can find truth in just about anything, as well as redefine anything we want.

See? Its as clear mud. Can't we all just get along and be relevant? ; )

Denise said...

Re: Colin's comment:"Your apparent nemesis Patterson affirms your description of an exegetical sermon, and calls all others (like the one you described) as not any sermon at all! He rejects topical sermons outright."

It seems to me that if a teacher/pastor endorses exegetical preaching, then he would as a result of it, see clearly the Doctrines of Grace in Scripture. I think many give lip service to the importance of exegetical preaching, but when it comes down to it, its not held closely because it brings one directly face to face with the doctrines of God's Sovereign Grace. There is no escaping these when one goes verse by verse, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Bhedr said...

Jesus said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees *and* Herod. Both are of equal distaste to God and ironicaly it seems that each fuel one another although they have a distaste for one another. Selah

Stephen A Morse said...

Colin, I appreciate your concern for the connection between the theology of the Seminary and the identification of the graduates.
I am graduating from Southern in December. I have crammed 3 years into 7 and look forward to finishing this step in my education.
As far as your concern for prospective pastors being identified negatively by their schools... I think that is valid but...
It has always amazed me that during the height of the liberal occupation at Southern Seminary an individual received academic honors as he pursued his MDIN and PHD there... WHo was it?
Dr. Mohler!
That shocked me and made me reconsider how I look at people.
We all need to be careful of how we represent or misrepresent SBC institutions.
Steve... Thanks for your blog!

Melissa J said...

I know I'm coming to this discussion late, and I don't know that I really have anything of depth to add, but...
my husband and I both grew up in SBC churches. We met at Moody Bible Institute, and then I spent the first 6 months of our married life with my husband while he finished up the last of his 3 years at NOBTS (New Orleans Bapt. Theol. Seminary). I have read the Baptist Faith and Message - the statement of faith - and it's Calvinistic in it's doctrine. I know MBI is Calvinist - we had a good friend who was a fellow student and by his own admission he was the "heretic" because he was Arminian in his theology. I understand that the different seminaries are more liberal or more conservative than others - in 1990, that's precisely why my husband chose NOBTS as opposed to Southern or several of the other SBC schools...esp. when he said he'd NEVER go to New Orleans. (Just proves that God has a sense of humor)....
We just left an SBC church after 7 years, and for the first time since we were Moody students, have joined a non-SBC church. I guess for a lot of people, that's no big deal. But for us, it was. Our former church has gotten caught up in the Emergent church stuff, the whole Rick Warren took awhile for us to realize what was happening and how it was changing. But when the pastor started regularly reading from Dr. Seuss (I can no longer stomach "Yertle the Turtle"), and using video clips from movies like Liar Liar, we began searching for something else. But this problem is NOT confined to just the SBC. (In fact, I did not know until I read the comments that Rick Warren was SBC - my husband knew, but somehow that escaped my notice). I don't think we can lay the blame completely at their feet - Willow Creek is not SBC, and Bill Hybels has certainly had a huge influence on that whole movement. (I noticed and am glad that over the last few years MBI seems to have distanced themselves from that ministry, and alot of our fellow students who were on staff there after we graduated left, along with several that were attending...for alot of the same reasons we left our church).

But there are ALOT of people in the SBC churches and seminaries who are NOT into all that, and are NOT Arminian or whatever. There are many who are on fire for God and who do preach expositionally, and DO preach the WHOLE Word of God.

We now are members of a small (40 people) non-denominational church. The pastor is an MBI evening school grad who was asked to leave his former church (where he was ass't pastor) precisely because they were into the whole Willow Creek thing, and after 2 years, he was questioning it and disagreeing with it. The church was started by 6 families who left that church because of the lack of Biblical teaching, and wanted someone who would preach the Word - and he is as expositional as you can get. (it took them 18 months to get through the book of Hebrews...we just started I even want to know how long that will take? *grin* And I don't think our pastor could preach a 3 point sermon if his life depended on it...his notes alone are usually at least 2 pages...)
I do find it interesting that now that we have finally left the SBC, my husband has finally found a pastor who does not think that at the ripe old age of 38 he is too old to be a youth pastor, nor does he look at his 20 years+ of volunteer work with youth and say "sorry, you don't have paid experience, therefore, you aren't qualified." He looked at my husband's testimony, his doctrinal stand, and his HEART, and said - go for it. It's been a huge healing for us to be in a church that actually affirms the calling we both knew he has...

I don't really know where I was going with this. I was just taken off guard by the SBC comments. I think it's because each SBC church works autonomously from the others, and there are so many who are just as doctrinally sound now as they were 50 years ago, and wouldn't know Purpose-Driven if it ran naked across their pulpits (or should I say, tried to lead them in Yoga?)

I have always appreciated your ministry Steve - I have only ever seen you in concert once, way back in 90 or 91, when you were in Ft Wayne, while I was a student at what was then Summit Christian College. But you've always spoken the truth, and if it has hurt, it has also made one think. I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago, and I am glad for it.

cyshift said...

Your article brought a couple of things to mind.

I have a friend who is a movie producer. He is a Christian and we used to play in a Christian band back in the 70s. He has put out many good Christian movies and animations in the past. But he is now making a film that has some Christian overtones but is primarily blatant humanism. When I questioned him about it, he said that this movie was not targeted to Christians and that they were attempting to be "salt and light" behind the scenes in the movie industry. Sounds very similar to alot of what we hear from Christian "cross over" artists today...sigh...

It also made me think about an event I went to recently dubbed the "Feel Good Christian Music Festival!" I did a little write-up about it and did a little tongue-in-cheek audio file that summed up my impression of it. You can listen to it on my website at

Timotheos said...

Does this mean that in a few years, we will have bible studies regarding 'Desperate Housewives?'

Berean777 said...

I see that what we need is to go back to biblical times. Turn off the lights, give up the tvs, cars, and soft drinks. Live in adobe huts and live like Jesus did. Literally and in every respect. We all know that anything of the world is evil and has the earmarks of Satan on it, we can never let ourselves be tainted by them. Burn any pastor at the stake who references in a semon a news article, or book that isnt the Bible.They are heretics and should be expunged. In fact, any word not found in the Bible should be banned and anyone using them should have their tongues cut out! GET A LIFE YOU LOSERS!!!

Berean777 said...

You toss about words like Arminianism. Yet the context shows you have no real understanding of what it is. Unless you are a Calvinist, then I can understand your derision and need to lie and distort the true words of Wesley and Arminius.

Grace Assembly said...

You guys are totally missing the point, and probably all the opportunities God has given you to reach out to lost souls. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one for dampening down the bible, nor am I seeker sensitive, but these types of studies really do help if taught by the right person. The church isn't going to hell because it uses I Love Lucy to teach a point.

The people that made reference to 'Sex in the city' have just totally lost me!! I Love Lucy was a family show that let's face it even the most legalistic of us would say it would be ok to watch. Sex and the city should not even be used in the same sentence.

Didn't the apostle Paul once write, to the Gentile I am a Gentile and to the Jew I behave like a Jew. If this opens the door to people studying the bible and being open to God change their lives, then it must be good.

I had entertainment in church, but I love tools that help people understand and apply the bible to their lives. Being a Pastor and having used a lot of different resources to teach bible classes I've come to realize the message is the only thing that is important and sacred. We as church folk just hold on to our method a little too long until it becomes sacred!

John said...

I'm a pastor in the SBC and a graduate of SWBTS and NOBTS and I thought your comments were spot on.
I cannot believe what comes out in the name of preaching in our convention. Early on I committed to preach book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse and word by word.
I've been re-reading Knowing God by Packer. Those who want to use video, etc would do well to read the fourth chapter The Only True God.
I'm reformed and will pay a price for it in the least for another 5-10 years. Once the old guard is gone this won't be a problem.
Thanks for your blog and your commitment to the truth.