KDs are designed/developed/inspired/mused/auto-suggested/indigested to make folks think; an especially uncommon experience among Democrats, Republicans, and jingoistic mainline denominationalists who continue to discourage dissent with their ever-threatening thought police.
proverbial founder of the Confessing Church Movement, has often said the major
problem in churches is the Bible is no longer the God-breathed authority
for faith and morality in churches.
speculate) churches no longer consider the Bible to be divine
revelation without parallel; but rather a witness among many to what, uh,
maybe, uh, could be, uh, never really know for sure, is divine revelation for
faith and morality.
Maclaine? Osteen? Philistine? You pick!
speculate) churches think anybody's word is as good as anybody else's
word on any subject: "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say buuuuuuut I think."
So that's why
there's so much theological/spiritual confusion reigning in many/most (you
With no absolute standard
for faith and morality, there's no, uh, absolute standard for faith and
Hence, there are
very few standards left in many/most (you speculate) churches.
speculate) churches operate like D.C.
chained to emotion, exigency, and existential appeal.
William Hendricks have written one of the best guides for devotional Bible
reading that has ever hit my desk: Living
by the Book.
It's a how-to get
the most out of reading the Bible.
Sure as heaven
They have a chart
on page 208 titled "What Does the Bible Really Say?"
illustrate the aforementioned: "Nearly every major heresy begins with a
misreading of the Biblical text. Here are a handful of common
misstatements, as well as what the Bible says."
"What Some People Say" to "What the Bible Says."
"Money is the root of all evil."
love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).
"Jesus never claimed to be God."
and the Father are one" (John 10:30).
religions lead to the same end. No one religion is right."
"There is salvation in no one else" (Acts 4:12).
Now go back to
the proverbial founder of the CCM.
"Marriage is between two people."
you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and
female...Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to
his wife..." (Matthew 19:3ff).
Did you know that
when our government and even
some mainline denominations deliberate on the meaning of marriage,
they don't just read what the Bible says about it?
Did you know that
when the current Governor of Illinois celebrated an extra-non-Biblical meaning
of marriage that had just become law that he quoted 1 Corinthians 13 out of
context to pretend a fashionably popular and contemporary prejudice about
marriage is somehow consistent with Biblical revelation?
first tee with my favorite Special Olympics world golf champion, I was already
A text reached me
just after slipping on my plastic cleats that another storm was brewing back at
This one could
boil over at any moment and fill up my calendar with my least favorite
ministry: damage control.
Of course, being
a presbyter in the PCUSA, I'm used to damage control.
It happens after
every GA meeting.
Be that as it is, back to
Help me, Jesus!
disinterest in trinkets, relics, brass plaques, and other stuff related to the
first few of the big ten along with my continuing obsession with Matthew 15 and
23 have made it really, really, really easy for me to moderate hotly contested
meetings on such non-kingdom-rising-and-falling matters, folks are often trying
to suck me into such encounters and convince me that I should care about
I think of the
dear friend who made an appointment to see me about the changing of the
big people's choir's name from chancel to adult.
"You want to talk with me about that? O.K., I love you; so I'll
listen. Buuuuuuut ya
gotta know that while I love and care about you, I just can't work up any
emotional energy, physical strength, intellectual curiosity, or spiritual
sensitivity to deal with that. Ya see, and if you don't, I'll try to
help, my plate is kinda full with people in hospice and nursing homes and
facing serious surgeries. I'm counseling fractured families and marriages
and... Then there's our denomination. It's in so much conflict these days
and I'm getting pressured from folks who are elated by what's going on and
those who wanna exit faithfully from what's going on as I try to convince 'em
that it's more Biblical and incumbent upon sacrificially suffering servants to
remain faithfully like Wallace, Hamilton, Luther, Calvin, Bonhoeffer, King,
and... Besides that, my youngest needs wheels and I need new shoes for my
pony and my wife is ticked because I don't spend enough time at home already
and there are these two football players that I've been counseling
Are you beginning to catch my drift,
Wonder of wonders, miracle of...
We'll see about
BTW, Billy is my
therapist as well as golfing buddy.
He told me to
focus on the game and stop thinking so much about...
Shot my best
round of the year...even without yellow balls.
Think about it...
Jesus didn't like
clergy who were spent sooooooo
much time on such inconsequential stuff at the expense of "the
weightier matters" of faith.
Annnnnnnd I've been
wondering why we/I/they do?
Here's my guess.
I may be wrong.
I think we spend
so much time on such ___ because we lack the emotional energy, intellectual
curiosity, physical strength, and spiritual sensitivity to engage in 'em.
everything and everyone are sooooooo
out of control in our world, America, churches, schools, market,
families, marriages, and all of the below that we, uh, satisfy, uh, gratify,
uh, concentrate, uh, pleasure ourselves on such ___.
I may be wrong.
Maybe that's why
it's easier to be embrace or accommodate/enable apostasies in mainline
denominations and America.
Maybe that's why
it's easier to exit from 'em and join another ecclesiastical franchise or
renounce citizenship and move to...
It's much harder
to remain and resist faithfully.
That's what I
I may be wrong.
Tony once told me
that one of his favorite things in life is to listen to smart people say stupid
Some of the
aforementioned and not-mentioned-but-on-the-tip-of-cognizance come to mind.
Buuuuuuut maybe, and I may
be wrong, smart people spend sooooooo
much time on stupid things because they feel sooooooo impotent when
encountering those "weightier" matters.
It's kinda like
rooting for the Cubs or a Republican in Illinois.
All I know is
it's easier to spend time on the inconsequential...or...elate...or...exit...
Maybe it's just
because we're really not thaaaaaaat
photographers don't believe me when I first tell 'em, "I have no
rules. It's not my wedding and I'm not paying you. The bride makes
the rules; but if I were you, I'd also check with the bride's mom."
Some wisdom comes
wedding photographers have collided with too many clergywomen/men with
excessive, unreasonable, myopic, picayune, egotistical, and traditional more
than theological control needs over the years.
Matthew 15 and 23
keep coming to mind.
never forget one of my first session meetings in McMurray, Pennsylvania.
church lady with a hairstyle appropriate for the 40s and reeking of perfume
that could knock over a bull at 40 paces tilted her head and said with a nauseatingly saccharine
smile of insincerity, "We know you have your first wedding here on
Saturday, Dr. Kopp, and it's important for you to know we do not allow flash
pictures during the service. We expect you, before the service begins, to
announce that to everyone."
Amused more than
surprised, for I'd been around long enough to know how the idolatrously inane
often inhibits the Christocentrically important according to the book in most
of today's churches, I responded with an equally nauseatingly saccharine
smile of insincerity, "I don't recall reading anything from our Lord in
the Bible about flash photography; sooooooo
I guess it's more a matter of our personal prejudices than
Christian principles. As your undershepherd
to the Good Shepherd, my responsibility is to differentiate between our
personal prejudices and God's will as personified in Jesus and prescribed in
Holy Scripture. While I see no Biblical principles at play here apart
from some hyperbolic understanding of decorum and reverence that, again, seem
more personally prejudicial than Biblical and
feel, from my own personally prejudicial perspective, some would
consider me to be rude to commence such a festive occasion with such a
pejorative rubric, I acknowledge your concern and, if it is the will of the session, I will
introduce you or another elder before the call to worship to make that
response probably concluded any chumminess avec that elder, she dropped her
head without comment; and, without any additional commentary on the topic that
could hardly be considered consequential to the rise or fall of the kingdom, we
moved to the next item on the docket.
My daddy provided
this counsel years before: "You must learn how to tell people to go to
hell in a way that they're looking forward to the trip."
C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce:
"Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil
but from other good."
"I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue
consists in being put back on the right road. A wrong sum can be put
right; but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh
from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it
cannot 'develop' into good. Time does not heal it."
"It is still 'either-or.' If we insist on keeping hell...we shall
not see heaven. If we accept heaven, we shall not be able to retain even
the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of hell."
Matthew 15 and 23
keep coming to mind.
denominations along with most sideline ones are "irretrievably
apostate under current management."
Again, and I may
be wrong, there are three ways to respond.
An elated embrace of the
apostasies by those who never really wanted to follow Jesus by the book.
faithfully by those who want to follow Jesus by the book.
faithfully as part of the faithful remnant by those who want to follow Jesus by
the book and have not given up the fight in a Wallace, Hamilton, Luther,
Calvin, Bonhoeffer, King, and...kinda way.
pictures are we presenting/taking?
ministries about prejudices or principles?
How do we respond
Are we elated,
exiting, or remaining?
Did Jesus ever
embrace wrong/bad/evil with elation...or even accommodation which is kinda
the same thing in a results kinda way?
Did Jesus ever
exit or back away from collisions with wrong/bad/evil?
Way back in the
early 80s, Tony, a sociologist by profession and motivational speaker by
reputation, observed, "Denominations are done."
If you look at
the stats, denominations are dying if not done.
While I may be
wrong, I know, for example, on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere,
Illinois that maybe a
handful of people really care about "our" denomination and maybe 40% of our
membership even know we're in one and
they'd have to be reminded!
I was talking
with one of the brightest presbyters in my franchise at a judicatory meeting
not too long ago.
He said, "A
college student asked, 'Is Westminster Presbyterian Church a part of
Christianity or some other religion?'"
Think about it.
Sounds like a
virus from Capron, Illinois.
Every young pastor of every vital and growing
church that I know either isn't part of any denomination or puts their
affiliation in the smallest font possible in their literature.
Tony was right
way back in the 80s.
Sadly, too many
older pastors like moi and denominational jingoists/idolaters have their own
Jeffersonian Bibles that have omitted what Jesus said about new wineskins and
continue to long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.
That's why their
churches, to borrow metaphors from the 7 letters of Revelation, are morgues
with steeples at best and lampstandless
Don't get me
I'm all into 1
kinda gatekeeping and accountability, you'd have churches using Joel Osteen
books for CC classes.
in the mainliners, there's only minimal Biblical, confessional, constitutional,
historical, traditional, and common sense gatekeeping and accountability.
If you're not under God as best
exemplified in Jesus and explained by the book, you're like American morality
captive to the latest popularity polls.
Faith, for them,
is all about feelings and opinions and desires and...
that's what Jesus and the Bible say; but
Truth is there's
more gatekeeping and accountability going on in networks of Biblical remnant
churches that are under God
as best exemplified in Jesus and explained by the book.
need anyone/anything other than Jesus by the book for gatekeeping and
developing networks of gatekeeping and accountability that are far more
faithful to Jesus by the book than those formerly faithful mainline
Eugene put it
this way for me back in October 2011: "Motivational speaking is often a
sly way of manipulating. You don't have to motivate Christians."
believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and only Jesus is Lord and Savior
and behave like they believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and only Jesus is Lord
and Savior by the book.
That's the only
gatekeeping and accountability that matters to Christians.
All I'm saying is
denominations, especially the mainline ones, have no credibility to claim
gatekeeping and accountability raison d'etre because
they have made up definitions of gatekeeping and accountability apart from
Jesus by the book.
They may be nice
organizations; but any connection between 'em and Jesus by the book is
Satan likes to quote the book every now and then to score points among the
"You've been saying the PCUSA and other mainline denominations are
'irretrievably apostate under current management.' What do you mean by
mean mainline denominations that have moved to the sidelines of American
cultural relevancy have so distanced themselves from former fidelities that
their leadership, especially clergy, will have to be born anothen in a John 3 kinda
way before they can ever turn around and back to Jesus by the book. Annnnnnnd byyyyyyy the waaaaaaay, this
ain't really anything new. Remember, it was clergy who conspired with an
accommodating secularist and ignorant laity, Greek synonym being idiotes, to murder
"But what about lay leaders? Don't they have any responsibility for
what's gone wrong?"
"Shepherds don't follow sheep! One of the great bastardizations of
the leadership charisma in
too many of today's churches is thinking/acting as if everybody's called
in allegiance to the Good Shepherd and that anybody's word is as good as
anybody else's word or any subject. It's like Macleod always told us,
'I'm going to have a layman preach on Layman's Sunday when they have Layman's
Sunday at Mt. Sinai Hospital and I get to do brain surgery!' Barth said,
'It's not a matter of whether one wants to preach. It's whether one can.' Frankly,
designations and wall hangings mean nothing. Vanities! John
Robertson once told me, 'Too many clergy separate themselves from God by degrees.' I know
people who have no degrees or designations or wall hangings who are much better
preachers and gospelers and disciplers than the ones wearing those fancy robes
sporting fancy titles that Jesus didn't like either. So, yeah, I blame it
on the clergy more than anybody else. Read Matthew 23 for more on
"You've been quoted for years as saying you will not leave 'one stinking
denomination for another stinking denomination.' But isn't there
something that could push you over the top and cause you to join one that,
maybe, stinks less than yours?"
"While I may be wrong, I think I'll be forced out first for not affirming
or accommodating or paying for and participating in their apostasies; or,
at least, not looking the other way. And if you've been reading anything that
I've written over three decades, you know I'm up with that in the Biblical
tradition of remaining faithfully a la Hamilton and Luther and Bonhoeffer
and...Jesus! I've written and said enough about that. If you don't
get it by now, either you're really thick or don't wanna get it. But,
yeah, if I'm not forced out but they make it mandatory for me to pay for and
participate in anything that contradicts Christianity as personified in Jesus,
prescribed in Holy Scripture, and upheld by over 2K years of Biblical,
confessional, constitutional, traditional, historical, and common sense
Christianity, I'll just ask our leadership and membership to ignore 'em,
network with other parts of the faithful remnant, and pray and try to be
faithful to Jesus by the book. No splash. No dash. Just, uh,
praying and trying to be faithful. But I sure as heaven won't exchange
one set of ecclesiastical chains for another set; especially 'cause the old
denominational wineskin's dead anyway. I remember Tony telling me back in
Really, it's not
It's only hard to
figure out what it means to follow Lord and Savior Jesus by the book if you don't really wanna follow Jesus
by the book but wanna make it seem like you're following Jesus by the book by
making up stuff that kinda seems like it might be somewhere near Jesus by
Getting back to
Eugene, I remember sitting next to him on his back porch at Flathead Lake in
Montana and thinking, "He is a man of primary source."
That's why he
That's why he
breathes common sense.
That's why he
He just explains
what's there in Jesus by the book.
He doesn't make
up stuff apart from Jesus by the book.
That's why he
keeps saying it's simple.
That's why he's
not into reams and reams and reams of paper/overtures/declarations trying to
explain what's in the book.
All ya gotta do
is read the book...over and over and over and...until ya get it/Him.
I may be wrong,
and I am always eager to be corrected and will confess publicly and pray and
try to repent fully, but I am convinced, until proven otherwise, that all of
this denominational talk - elating or exiting or remaining - is symptomatic of
the disease of just not following Jesus by the book.
No meetings after
meetings after meetings after...
Just Jesus by the
Sooooooo as long as I have
the freedom to follow Jesus by the book and not waste my time on..., I'm
remaining, with prayers and energies, faithfully.
If that freedom
is taken away from me, I'll be forced out or...
Did you hear
about the church in Texas that paid millions to get out of the PCUSA?
Talk about blood
really wanted out.
wanted to get out sooooooo badly
that they're willing to pay the salaries of people who will make people twice
as fit for hell as they are themselves for
years and years and years and...
I wonder how they
I preached there
Long time ago
when I was an important pastor with lots of $ at my disposal.
That was kinda
fun; 'cause I was invited to lots of stuff by people who wanted some of that $.
comes to mind.
Not to mention
some really nice private CCs.
it...until God started plaguing me with, uh, a, uh,...conscience.
Be that as it was, I wish
I had that kinda money now.
I'd buy a new car
for my wife and take her on a nice vacation to Hawaii or something...like my
buddies who are still holed up in those high steeples as long as they, you
know, don't, you know, preach about, you know, taking Jesus, you know, that...
I'd do for my
kids what I can't do because I didn't/couldn't/can't/won't, you know, play the
I'd even have
money for yellow golf balls!
I don't regret
it profit a man to...?"
people who really believe in eternity don't trade it - prostitute themselves -
Anyway, I may be
wrong, but I think there are three reasons why that church paid so much
blood $ that will enable apostasy for years and years and years while
they insulate themselves from it for three reasons: (1) They could; (2)
They're used to separating themselves from people different from
them because really rich churches are often as segregated as CCs; and
(3) They think they're better for it in some kinda delusional
some-ecclesiastical-clubs-don't-stink-as-much-as-others-do kinda way.
BTW, if I had
that kinda money, there would be no homeless or hungry children of God in
Hey, fat cats in
Texas, test me!!!!!!!
I'm getting lots
of texts, e-mails, and snail mails about my insistence on remaining
faithfully as part of the Biblical witness/cooperation/call to remnant.
I don't do
Facebook; so I don't know what good, bad, and ugly things have been...
I've heard I've
avoided some buckets of ice; and while I've got some people who are really,
really, really mad at me for my stubbornness about not doing Facebook, I
stopped as soon as someone from the past...
You know what I
Getting back to
the contacts, this letter kinda saddened/sobered/challenged/chastened me in a
confirming kinda way:
I've been angry with you ever since
you left us. You came as a very young and bright preacher who was much
more conservative than Dr. ___. You turned our church around to your way
of thinking in less than two years and we were growing so quickly. Then
you left for an even bigger church in the South. Nobody
is perfect. But I want you to know that much of what you did has
been undone by preachers who followed you. This church could have really
been something. But you left for something that you thought was
better. I do not really know where you are right now. I have
never visited that part of Illinois. I just hope you stay. I read
about what you are doing now in our church in The Layman. Then I started
reading your blog. I just hope you stay with it this time. I know
some of your friends have left. Have you ever asked them why they stay in
America? America is worse than our church! If they have so much
courage to quit the church, why don't they quit America? Why don't they
move to another country? Why do they still pay taxes? How
courageous is their faith? I applaud what you are trying to do. I
just hope you stay with it this time. You were a good pastor to my family
and me. You were always there for us in the hospital and always made time
for us. I just wish you cared about us enough to stay with us. I
hope you don't mind me telling you what I think. I know you always
listened to me. I just wondered why you would not stay. Was it your
ego? Did you think you could do more for the Lord in a bigger
church? I know your people will be blessed as long as you stay. We
were sorry to see you go. I still remember the woman from New Jersey who
came to your reception when you came. She said, "Love him while you
have him because he will be gone before you know it." Some
anger grows in me again about you leaving. I will stop now. I just
can't stop from thanking God for what you did but did not finish.
With more good memories than bad,
Jeff and I are
the geezers in our covenant group.
We often talk of
the old days when we really looked forward to going to presbytery meetings for substantive
reports and debates; and really liked each other even across the aisles.
We get wistful.
members, who say they never recall such times, just shake their heads at us.
Jeff and I know
it's not a matter of if but
At the last
presbytery meeting, a friend said to me, "Oh, great to see they haven't
kicked you out yet!"
If Jesus remains
right, it won't be long before...