On living for God's glory

Daniel J. Sparks

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Clowns and Other Ecclesiastical Things

I’ve heard of “clown ministry” before but the so-called “Clown Eucharist” takes the cake. No, I have no problem with clowns doing shows for children, giving out candy, and sharing Bible stories. Yes, I have a serious problem with clowns and mimes making a mockery of the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.On Trinity Sunday–a day for commemorating the sacred Godhead–Trinity Church (Wall Street) decided to engage in a revolting display of human ignominy. The point? To be, in the words of the rector, the “circus that came to town.” The idea was to be “fools for Christ.” Well, the whole shebang was certainly foolish but I’m not certain it brought any acclaim to Christ.

Several blogs had things to say about these shenanigans, including Midwest Conservative Journal (and again), Rich Anglican Fudge (with Nuts), Expagan, Apostolicity, and TexAnglican.

And, if you enjoyed the Clown Eucharist, you will certainly enjoy the video of the dancing procession. Where do people come up with these ideas?

In other old news, Kenneth Tanner at Mere Comments remarked on the church in the Internet age; Expagan also offers remarks. The church in question is in Wales and the pastor is encouraging the use of electronic devices–in the church. The congregation installed a wireless network to facilitate folks who, presumably, are bored with the preaching. This, of course, begs the question: why come to church if I’m going to just sit and use my computer? No word at this time whether there will be blogging from the pulpit.

If these weren’t enough, try drive-through church services.

This article is part 1 of 12 in the series Ugly Church Stuff.

Episcopal clowns

In an effort to grow the Episcopal Church (ECUSA), the Diocese of Southwest Florida recently held an event called “Beyond Telepathy.”

Here’s the archdeacon at the non-telepathetic conference:

Don’t worry about the archdeacon being reprimanded for clowning around in church. You haven’t seen what the bishops were doing!

If I ever see a procession like this at my church, I’m processing myself right out the back door.

And people complain about TBN!

Does anyone still wonder why ECUSA is sinking like the Titanic? Maybe this will help…

This article is part 2 of 12 in the series Ugly Church Stuff.

How many reprobates does it take to screw in a light bulb?

My subscription to Charisma magazine lapsed some time back. I wish it weren’t so. If for no other reason, Charisma makes for good reading because of the level-headed, critical look at the charismatic world that editor J. Lee Grady provides in his monthly editorial columns. And if that’s not enough to pay for a subscription, you can buy it to weep over the foolishness of the preposterous advertising.

Something I read this morning sent me off to read recent columns by Grady. Apparently, he posts one online each week.

The first column (select 11-04-05 article from archives) was about the alleged moral lapses of “Archbishop” Earl Paulk, Jr. Paulk is infamous now for at least twenty years worth (as I understand it) of alleged sexual harrassment and abuse–legal cases that usually end up being settled out of court. Apparently, his problems go back to 45 years ago when he was first accused of adultery. Imagine that! Grady writes:

Most pastors in the Atlanta area kept quiet, and national Christian leaders didn’t get involved in what they viewed as a local problem. No church court investigated the charges, mainly because Paulk’s ministry has been independent of denominational accountability since he left the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) more than 40 years ago.

But bishops in a loosely controlled network Paulk has led since 1982, the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC), asked Paulk to step down from his post as archbishop last month. And earlier this week a group of pastors in the Atlanta area broke their silence by issuing a statement of apology for alleged abuses of power at Paulk’s church.

Will someone please explain why it took forty years for discipline to be employed against this man? The leaders of the ICCC have had over twenty years now to examine his character. And why does the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) put this man on the air? (I don’t know if he has a show on TBN these days but I did see him on several months back with Juanita Bynum placing a tallit on his neck and “prophesying” over him. Juanita Bynum is another story of herself. And why I was even watching TBN is yet another story.)

Sadly, some people don’t care. Some time back, after I informed a lady of the horrible reputation of sexual misconduct that Paulk has, she stated that she couldn’t think bad about him because she loved his preaching so much. I wonder if she might care a little more if her daughter had been sexually abused by the preacher.

If Paulk is guilty of doing even one of the things that he has been accused of, he should be drummed out of the pulpit. Better yet, he should be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Forty years of abuse is too long! One case of abuse is too many! When will church leaders wake up? A couple is going ahead with a lawsuit against Paulk–he will finally be held responsible in the City of Man; if he is guilty of these things, a more severe judgement waits in the City of God.

Now that I’ve raised my blood pressure a few notches, let me move on to Grady’s other column (select 11-11-05 from archives). In this column, he discusses the wacko “revelations” and activities of some ministers. Included items:

  • At one charismatic megachurch, staff pastors successfully convinced all their wives and female staff members to get breast implants. (I wonder: Was this discussed at a staff meeting?)
  • A church in California (known for its revival meetings and prophetic ministry) recently imploded after members learned that several men in the church had been having homosexual affairs with the pastor, who was married.
  • A leader with an international following (who wears the label of “apostle”) recently informed his leaders that men of God who reach his level of anointing are allowed to have more than one sexual partner. Then his own son offered his wife to his father out of a sense of spiritual obligation.

It hasn’t been that long ago that Charisma ran the story that pastor Roberts Liardon had engaged in a homosexual “relationship” with his youth pastor. After three months, he was back in the pulpit (the youth pastor fled to Guatemala).

Another example of the collective idiocy of immorality:

In 2000 Charisma reported that charismatic preacher Clarence McClendon had divorced his wife of 16 years, Tammera McClendon, and married another woman after only seven days. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Earl Paulk, founder of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Atlanta. Several prominent ministers attended the wedding, lending their endorsement to McClendon’s actions.

Tammera McClendon later informed Charisma that Clarence had told her while they were married that God had already shown him the woman who would replace her as his wife.

McClendon left his denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, after his divorce became public. He began a new church, Full Harvest International Church, which currently meets in Gardena, California. His preaching is aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and he was a featured guest on TBN’s “Praise the Lord” program last week.

In fact, McClendon collected the offering during the network’s annual telethon. When I turned on the program and saw him raising money, I stared in disbelief.

I think Grady gets it right when he writes the following:

When the apostle Paul learned that a man was living in an immoral relationship with his father’s wife, he tore into the situation with a vengeance. He said: “Are you not to judge those inside [the church]? Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Those are not politically correct words, but they were spoken by a true apostle. If we want a restoration of genuine, apostolic Christianity in our generation, we need to dispense with the craziness and initiate some apostolic confrontation.

We are all imperfect but if we let sexual abuse, harrassment, and abuse of power run rampant in the Church, we are violating the sacred trust of pastoral care God has placed in us. No amount of counselling and restoration processes can restore the trust of those who have been violated by reprobates in the pulpit.

Repentance is great–and will be more believeable if the contrite heart is seen.

This article is part 3 of 12 in the series Ugly Church Stuff.

Speaking of shenanigans…

Amongst my reading this morning, I ran across a video clip of Suzanne Hinn, wife of (infamous) pastor Benny Hinn. This video is apparently from 1999 but this was the first I had seen of it.

In the video clip, Mrs. Hinn runs from side to side on a stage, yelling into a microphone. She says that if you aren’t revved up like she is, “you need a Holy Ghost enema right up your rear end”.

From here, she goes on to call folks “butt-kissers”; takes off her shoe and waves it around; and then, in a screaming fit, falls on the floor.

I’m not sure what this ridiculous garbage is supposed to accomplish but I’m certain that it doesn’t bring any acclaim to Christ.

This article is part 4 of 12 in the series Ugly Church Stuff.

Does it ever end?

As I was digging around Charisma magazine’s website, I found yet another possible clergy ethics scandal from August:

PASTOR PLANS TO RETURN TO PULPIT AFTER REHAB.

An Arlington, Texas, pastor is expected to return to the pulpit of his church after his June release from a second drug-treatment facility. Charged in March with drug possession and sexually assaulting three church members, Bishop Terry Hornbuckle was reinstated as pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship in April after a six-week suspension, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.

So, a “bishop” checks himself into a (second) drug rehab center in June and returns to his pulpit in August! After being charged with sexual assault, he is returned to the pulpit, presumably before enough time has passed for him to be found innocent of the charge!

A few years ago, in my hometown, there was a pastor arrested for drug trafficking–along with other members of his church. It’s nice to know that at least the police will put a man in jail for a crime even when the Church turns a blind eye.

Lord have mercy upon us all.

This article is part 5 of 12 in the series Ugly Church Stuff.
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