Jesus Junk

I’ve come full circle.

Back in 1999, I was working with a family who had lost a daughter in the Columbine massacre here in Littleton, Colorado. We were working to put a small-cast play in publication so youth groups could use the story in their local churches to make a positive impact. While in production, a Christian retailing chain came out with a line of merchandise with the martyred girl’s final words of faith spelled out in motto form. In the front page of the catalog, quotes were given from the parents that appeared to be an endorsement. The family couldn’t
have been more irate. I saw their anger and picked up the phone. I talked to the WWJD guy, and within a few weeks we formed a line of stuff that the family approved of and had control over.

I would do things differently today. While I believe that some Christian products serve a good purpose, most Christian merchandising, or Jesus Junk, cheapens the very faith we seek to proclaim. I’m not against all use of Scripture or Christian lingo on products. I just think I’m against most of them.

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The Importance of Separation

In The Nick Of TimeOne occasionally hears the wry observation that fundamentalists believe in all the fundamentals—including separation. The force of this remark is to imply that fundamentalists separate, not only from people who deny the fundamentals, but also from genuine Christians who believe all the fundamentals but who do not separate. The remark is usually meant to be a reduction ad absurdum of fundamentalism, leaving the impression that a fundamentalist is a Christian who separates from everyone indiscriminately.

Of course, separation can be, and sometimes is, practiced divisively and schismatically. Nevertheless, not every separation—not even every separation from a believer—is a schism. The New Testament requires at least some separations between Christians, such as when a believer rejects church authority (Matt.18:15‐17), engages in scandalous conduct (1 Cor. 5:11), or trifles with apostolic teaching (2 Thess. 3:6, 14‐15). Admittedly, Christians raise many questions about the application of these passages (What issues qualify for separation? What levels of fellowship are affected?). No one can deny, however, that some separations between believers are authorized and even required. The question is whether a refusal to separate is ever serious enough to qualify for one of the passages that require separation from other Christians.

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Beauty and the Best (Part 2 of 2)

Toward the Development of Christian Aesthetics in Music

While the Bible never specifically connects music with beauty, it does connect worship with beauty in several Old Testament passages. Consider these verses (with emphasis added):

1 Chronicles 16:29–Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

2 Chronicles 20:21–And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 27:4–One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 29:2–Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Psalm 96:6–Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Psalm 96:9–O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

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"In my mind, neither evangelicalism nor fundamentalism needs a voice in the wider culture. Pursuing that voice has been the root of most of the church's problems."

Dave Doran in the comments of Nate Busenitz’s post “We Do Believe in Separation”

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Beauty and the Best (Part 1 of 2)

Toward the Development of Christian Aesthetics in Music

For centuries, economists struggled to answer the seeming disparity between the value of diamonds and the value of water. This paradox was discussed by great thinkers such as Copernicus, Locke, and Smith. Water is essential for life and has many purposes but is far less valuable than diamonds which are mostly appreciated for their beauty alone. Shouldn’t water carry the greater value?

In time, two theories developed in an attempt to answer this elusive question. The first dealt with the intrinsic value of the two items. Diamonds are more valuable then because they require great labor in mining and refining and cutting and polishing. Water can simply be brought to the surface of a well through a single bucket. The second theory, proposed by Englishman William Jevons and Austrian Carl Menger, became known as marginal utility and answered the question subjectively. If a man in a desert is dying of dehydration and is offered either water or diamonds, which do you imagine he will choose?

Suppose the rich hymns of Isaac Watts, one of my favorite composers, were represented by the diamond while the water was reflective of the music of Chris Tomlin, a prominent Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) artist. Could there indeed be a time when one type of music is more valuable than the other? Is musical discernment largely a subjective, utilitarian pursuit, or are there inherent qualities built into music that render a composition valuable or valueless?

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"How could different fundamentalist leaders, all of whom held the same doctrinal convictions (the fundamentals), respond so differently to the question of ecclesiastical separation?"

Nate Busentiz has an interesting post on “History’s Blurred Line of Separation”

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Unity Is Fundamental

Of all the issues I have come across, possibly the most difficult in which to determine my position is the belief in personal and ecclesiastical separation. Having spent more than a full year on SharperIron, I have concluded that I am not the only one with questions in these areas. But I think perhaps my confusion stems from a misunderstanding of the doctrine of unity. Many of us are familiar with passages like Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 12, but have we thoroughly considered them in regard to unity? It seems that when the fundamentals of biblical Christianity are discussed, one very prominent idea is left out. It is this principle of unity in the body of Christ.

Let’s take a brief look at two passages (I am quoting from the English Standard Version throughout):

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