The Three Keys for a Successful Independent Ministry

We’ve all been disgruntled with church leadership from time and time. And despite the nagging desire to hightail it out of God’s remnant people we know that leaving church is not the best way to fix it.

Enter the “Independent Ministry”: the only theologically and ecclesiastically acceptable way to separate from the 90% of the Church that refuses to see and do things our way without losing our membership. Not only can we reform the church from the inside out like the Jesuits of old, but having an Independent Ministry offers other benefits such as:

1. Not “knowingly” collecting tithe dollars

2. Avoiding pesky peer reviews that would dare shed the light of scholarship on your unique truths

3. Being part of the remnant within the remnant

But how does a  non-credentialed, non-recognized expert with a personality disorder and a bee in their bonnet accomplish such a tremendous feat? I offer these Three Keys for Success:

Key One: Find a Common Item Everyone Uses and Link it to the Catholic Church

Many Protestants, including Adventists, panic whenever they find out something is linked to Catholicism therefore inadvertently making them members of the “Mother Church” every time they use it. Just think of the terror that will ensure when people find out that the following items/activities make them pals of the Papacy:

1. Shopping at Walmart

2. Butter

3. Spoons

4. Steering Wheels

5. Reading Email Fwds

People will cry out as they realize their deception and wonder why their church never told them about such dangers, making you the real handler of truth instead of their church with all its fancy schmancy preachers, institutions, and credibility. They will realize that  their church has been infiltrated and compromised since they use things–and even distribute things–like spoons and butter. And didn’t the Conference President have a steering wheel in HIS car? And I think my pastor bought something at Walmart, and…congratulations you have now discredited the church without saying a word so you can’t be indicted. Start “unknowingly” collecting those tithe dollars…but not before Key Two.

Key Number Two: Spend 5 minutes Linking the Catholic Church to Paganism


Protestants worth their salt already know this, so you shouldn’t belabor the point. Just talk about how weird all the “smells, bells, and chants” are in Catholicism and then mention that modern witchcraft uses a chalice in their services, and that the Catholic Eucharist does too which makes them one in the same. This almost guarantees you support since not only is your audiences’ church Catholic but now pagan–so any time, talent, or money should really be sent to your ministry since its the only Christian one around and maybe, just maybe, they can play a part in bringing their old church in line with your view…I mean…the Gospel. Now for the trickiest part, Key Three.

Key Three: Use an Old Typewriter to Write “Testimonies” to be Handed Out Covertly in Church Lobbies When the Pastor Isn’t Looking

The internet can be traced and DVDs and CDs are expensive to produce with any kind of quality. They will come later as you build your army of truth bearers, but for now you want to use the information superhighway within church lobbies. Stealthily hand out typewritten copies of your findings with a nameless address people can write to recieve a booklet you have produced for $1.00. After a few hundred sales then you can start lecturing at small churches and taking up freewill offerings, which will lead to better materials in the form of various media. It won’t take long for your street cred to build since many small churches don’t see their pastors every week and will gladly take a complete stranger’s word over theirs. In 6 months minimum you should start seeing and being a profit.

Good luck you and all your endeavors!


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The Right Coast of Adventism Extends Right Hand to Left Coast in Gross Ecumenism

It has finally happened.

In perhaps the most vulgar display of ecumenism ever recorded, Adventists residing on the East Coast have reached out to their so-called “brothers and sisters” residing on the Western Sea Board in order to “work together” to “finish the work.” And by “finish the work” they no doubt mean the placing the final piece of Papal allegiance into place. God help us all.

It is no secret that the usage of drums and allowing women behind pulpits originated in California. It is also no hidden matter that states such as Pennsylvania have been rigidly opposed to such aberrations. However in a secret meeting in Silver Springs Maryland, reports one insider, “conference officials have agreed to put away differences and just focus on the Gospel regardless of how it is presented.” And just how will it be presented?

“Without truth!” lamented Barney Scheierman—a lay leader in upstate New York. Scheierman first heard about the meeting when a conference administrator accidently sent him confidential email instead of the pastor.  When asked what kind of truth will be missing from the new Gospel scheduled to hit churches spring 2011, Scheierman replied, “The truth as it is in Jesus.” When pressed to define what he meant, Mr. Scheierman simply winked, nodded, and made a foreboding moan and told us “guess”—which we did. We were wrong each time and each time the foreboding moan increased in vibrato.

Whatever Barney is getting at we are frightened. And you should be to. The New Gospel is coming and only the most spiritual among us will be able to detect its errors. In the meantime we have decided to work on developing a foreboding moan with corresponding vibrato to help us warn the masses. Please help us spread fear and panic by adopting your own eschatological intonation and enhancing it with hasty generalizations, knowing nods, and asking questions that only you know that answer to but won’t speak it out loud until the person you’ve cornered in the church lobby does first.

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Sky Angel/Angel Dish Gets HBO!

“It’s a miracle!” exclaimed Marva Lee Wolstad of Minnesota. “One minute I was watching The Micheff Sisters and the next I was enjoying the latest episode of Real Sports: With Bryant Gumble! Now I can have the best of both worlds for one low price!”

For years Adventists have offered their channels on various dish networks, and offered those delicious dishes for one low, one-time, price. Now it appears that they are adding a little “spice” to the mix as more and more elderly subscribers—initially intimidated by remote control—have ventured beyond Hope Channel and 3ABN to see “what else is out there.” They have found a digital treasure trove of tasty television shows ranging from Big Love [a timeless tale of polygamy] to True Blood [vampire series that you can sink your teeth into].

A spokesperson for 3ABN confirmed the rumor to be true and suggested that “this may be the incarnational ministry opportunity that we have been looking for. People need to be met where they are at and where they are at is HBO, Cinemax, and Fox.”  While there is some concern that broadcasts like Amazing Facts will lose out to Amazing Race the general feeling remains positive as Adventists can move away from being the “true” church to being the “fun” church which in turn will lead people to the truth.

This line of reasoning is universally condemned by conservatives but their opinion are not being considered as most of them don’t own televisions and are therefore simply illustrating that old adage that “we fear what we don’t understand.” One optimistic executive from Hope Channel said “if we get enough subscribers we may be able to bring the cost of the dish [currently $249] down to cost of parts and shipping [somewhere around $37.50]. Don’t pass up this powerful outreach opportunity!

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Poll: 80% of Adventists Still Uncertain of When to Clap.

We’ve all been there. On a rare Sabbath morning a competent musician delivers an awe-inspiring rendition of a spiritual song ushering the congregation into the presence of God. And upon their conclusion the congregation enters into the valley of wide-eyed uncertainty and indecision.

To clap or not to clap? THAT is the question.

Gratitude is not something commonly expressed in Adventist congregations. Taking a dutiful approach to ministry it is expected that you share your gifts on demand because God—or the Nominating Committee—says so. Your thanks is the warm feeling produced by hours of last minute frenetic practice mixed with anxiety percolating in the pit of your stomach.

“I just freeze up” said one rural church member after a traveling musician stopped on their way through town for church. “I was so moved inside, yet my outside was paralyzed. I heard one or two people give a couple token claps, but when I didn’t hear a third or fourth join in I… I just couldn’t go through with it.”

He went on to say that their previous pastor once vigorously clapped after a performance and three months later found himself in a new district. “They can’t fire me as a church member for clapping” added the church member. Then ominously concluded with “…but they have other ways of making you comply.” I tried to find out who “they” were but he only shook his head.

I have attempted more interviews with indecisive clappers but they were as reluctant with their speech as they were with their hands. One stalwart defender of traditional church, however, did step up to the challenge and clarified, “It’s not that I don’t appreciate musicians, it’s just that clapping worships the person not God. I prefer a hearty amen to clapping.” When asked if he ever said louder “amens” for some performances than others he made no reply.

One pro-clapper came forward and suggested Psalm 47 as supporting the clapping platform. The text says, “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” [Psalm 47:1, KJV]. “So you see, it’s a biblical MANDATE that we clap” she said triumphantly.

Since she was a women—known for a hermeneutics of sentimentalism and not cold logic—we confirmed this position with a man and it is indeed true that this is a “proof-text” in the pro-clapping camp.

As I’ve surveyed other Midwestern churches, another member offered an answer to the Psalm 47 conundrum via a website he had googled. The site explains that the “fact that hand clapping was commanded in Old Testament worship does not authorize it in New Testament worship any more than the fact that the burning of incense and the offering of animal sacrifices in Old Testament worship gives authority for them in New Testament worship” [http://www.tftw2.org/Tracts/handclapping.html].

Excited by this revelation I quickly asked what anti-type fulfilled the practice of clapping in the New Testament? The obvious answer is “the cross” stated the first elder of the no-clap congregation. He stated “Jesus’ hands were nailed making it impossible to clap.”

 Touché.

 However one impertinent youth piped up that in Ellen White’s six volume biography written by her grandson she states, at a Campmeeting, “I was stopped several times with clapping of hands and stomping of feet. I never had a more signal victory” [Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1984,) vol. 3, p. 46.]. This proved an horrific turn of events for the first elder who said he knew nothing of that quote and since it was in a biography it most likely fell under the category of hearsay from a grandson with a faulty memory.

Further complicating the issue is Pope Benedict the XVI’s statement in The Spirit of Liturgy where he states, “Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” [p. 198]. This sets up a tricky dynamic for those who agree with traditional worship practices but also hold to the traditional position of disagreeing with whatever the Pope says.

The issue doesn’t appear to have any sign of abating.

Until then we are forced to endure the bold claps of the few, the timid claps of the indecisive, and the scowls of those whose hands rest firmly in the lap during service—save when for reasons unexplained waves of applause make their way through church service once or twice a year. Factors currently believed to contribute to widespread clapping are persistent efforts of the 10% who do know when to clap influencing the 10% waiting for the first 10% to clap, the visible clapping of leaders on the platform, and verbal cues from the pastor such as “let us clap.”

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State of the Dead: Adventism’s Sexiest Doctrine

I see you were disturbed enough by my title to take a peek at my latest heresy. No this is not about necrophilia and no this isn’t going to water down one of Seventh-day Adventists distinctive doctrines…its just going to give it some sex appeal.

Adventists are one of the few branches of Christianity that believe in the non-immortality of the soul, meaning that when we read Genesis 2:7 we read it literally when it states that man was made a “living creature” [ESV], or a “living soul” [KJV]. Based on the Hebrew word “nephesh” we see this text describing a living–not immortal–entity. The word “nephesh” is used interchangeably with “breath and spirit”. It is the “life force” [for lack of a better term] that God animates humanity with. When we die the “nephesh” goes back to God and the individuals personality/existence is in God’s memory banks sort of speak, until the resurrection when they are raised to meet Jesus at the 2nd Coming.   Scripture says Jesus is the “only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” [1 Timothy 6:15-16, ESV]. This isnt to say humans won’t experience eternity–but we understand that it is not “inheritant” but rather “given” to us by Jesus when He comes again.  Our immortality is “conditional” on our acceptance and dependance on Him. Okay, thanks Pastor for the trite and familiar SDA study, where’s the sex? Hang on to your hormones my titilated reader–we’re getting there…

Jewish Scholar Martin Goodman says, “Incorporation of the Greek notion of the immortal soul was as partial and sporadic among Jews in the late Second Temple period…In the Hebrew Bible man was concieved  as an animated body rather than an incarnated soul. According to to the narrative in Genesis [quotes 2:7]…Most of the authors of the biblical books seem to envisiaged the ‘nefesh’ [see Adventists didn't make this up] as the vital principle which gives life to the body without imagining it as something which could survive seperation from the flesh. For most biblical writers, an individual did not have a body. He or she was a body, animated by the life principle.” [Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations, 2007.]

The above quote is not from an Adventist–or a Christian for that matter. In essence he echoes what Adventists have said for many many years. The Jewish community, and later Christian community, were influenced by Greek Dualism–a philosophy that makes a distinction bewteen the “spiritual” [immortal soul] and the “material” [physical body]. As a result of this influence sexuality became something attributed to the “flesh” or “material body.” Sex gradually became something dirty, worldly, and at its very best a neccessary evil reserved for procreation.

Take a look at some quick facts from Christian history brought to you by the view that we possess an “immortal soul” that is stuck in a body:

1. John Harvey Kellogg [the man responsible for Rice Crispies and an Adventist for many years] wrote an influential book  entitled Plain Facts that that influenced views on sex in the 19th and 20th centuries…even today in some places. Here is some stuff from the 1882 edition:

“Sexual life begins with puberty and in the female ends at about the age of forty five years the period known as the menopause or turn of life. At this period according to the plainest indications of nature all functional activity should cease If this law is disregarded disease premature decay possibly local degenerations will be sure to result Nature cannot be abused with impunity The generative power of the male is retained somewhat longer than that of the female and by stimulation may be indulged at quite an advanced age but only at the expense of shortening life and running the risk of sudden death” ~Plain Facts, 123

“The general law that the reproductive act is performed only when desired by the female is sufficient ground for supposing that such should be the case with the human species also…thought parties engaged…the very lively solicitations which spring from the genital sense have no other end than to insure the perpetuity of the race.” ~ 223

 “As soon as they are wedded intercourse is indulged in night after night having any idea that these repeated are excesses which the system of neither and which to the man at least are The practice is continued till health is impaired sometimes permanently…”~226

Wow, sex is detimental to health.

2. Sylvester Graham, a contemporary of Kellogg and inventor of the Graham Cracker in Lectures to Young Men on Chastity 1854:

“But between the husband and wife where there is a proper degree of chastity all these causes either entirely lose or are exceedingly diminished in their effect They become accustomed to each other’s body and their parts no longer excite an impure imagination and when the dietetic and other habits are such as they should be this intercourse is very seldom” pg. 7-8

            “Beyond all question an immeasurable amount of evil results to the human family from sexual excess within the precincts of wedlock …muscular relaxation general debility and heaviness depression of spirits loss of appetite indigestion faintness and sinking at the pit of the stomach…feebleness of circulation, chilliness, headache, melancholy, hypochondria, impaired vision, loss of sight, weakness of the lungs, nervous cough…weakness of the brain, loss of memory, epilepsy, insanity…abortions, premature births, and extreme feebleness…and early death of offspring…are among the too common evils which are caused by sexual excesses between husband and wife.”—79

3. In the Victorian era it was considerded noble for women to suffer from gynecological disorders rather than seek treatment [Sex in History, Reay Tannahill].

What about the book Song of Solomon? Shouldn’t that be enough to convince Christians that sex is good? Look at some quick facts at the history of its interpretation as Rabbis tried to figure out what to do with such a brazenly romantic book in sacred scripture…

1. Rabbi Akiba “he who trills his voice in the chanting of the Song of Songs and treats it as a secular love song has no share in the world to come.” ~90 A.D.  Oh, and no one under the age of 30 was allowed to read it.

2. Christian allegorists came along, influenced by pagan philosophers of Greek Dualism who believed purity involved renouncing all bodily pleasure including sexual expression as evil. All erotic imagery had to do with the yearning of the soul for Union with God or as an expression of God’s love for His Church, for Jews it was about God’s presence with His people throughout history and a looking forward to the Messiah.

Origin, 3rd century, is notorious for negatively influencing the study of scripture with his “allegorical method” which rejected the plain meaning of scripture in light of finding the deep hidden spiritual meaning [Dualism]. Wrote a commentary “I advise and counsel everyone who is not yet rid of the vexation of flesh and blood and has not ceased to feel the passion of his bodily nature to refrain completely from reading this little book…they must not take anything of what has been said with reference to bodily functions…”

Some of the more delightful allegories are the breasts of the Shulamite woman representing Moses and Aaron…I bet they would appreciate being likened to a couple of boobs.

3.  John Wesley, founder of Methodism, “the description…could not with decency be used or meant concerning Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter…if applied to them would be absurd and monstrous…it follows that this book must be understood allegorically…”~1765

4. According to Richard Davidson in his massive book on sex, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, “For fifteen centuries the allegorical method held sway in the Christian church, and the Song of Songs became “the favorite book of the ascetics and monastics who found in it, and in expansive commentaries on it, the means to rise above earthly and fleshly desire to the pure platonic love of the virgin soul or God.” [p. 548].  He goes on to point out that only one man Theodore of Mopsuestia asserted the book should be understood literally. His student Bishop Theodoret told on him and said his literal intrepretation was “not even fitting in the mouth of a crazy woman.” The 2nd Council of Constantinople [553] anathematized [proclaim a formal curse] Theodore and condemned his views.

5. The Westminster Assembly in the 17th century stated, cursed Presbyterians who “recieved it [the song of solomon] as a hot carnal pamphlet from some loose Apollo or Cupid.”

The lists can  go on, people are generally familiar with either a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ approach to sex in the church. At Golden Hills we just completed a series on sexuality and not only did attendance increased but people transferred memberships and expressed desires to become members. Some just because we were talking about sex in a postive way. But for a churh that believes in the State of the Dead doctrine–the idea that the “soul/spirit/nephesh” is “asleep” in the words of Jesus until the resurrection this should be commonplace.

Adventists, because of their holisitc understanding of the soul and body–they can’ t be seperated–above all other Christians should have the healthiest sexual theology and appreciation for it. Adventists understand that sexuality is a part of humanity–we can honestly say we are sexual beings whereas–if they follow their Greek Dualism influenced theology–other Christians cannot make that statement. For them, sex is a part of their body not a part of their spirit. Adventists should, within biblical boundaries, feel the mose free to express sexuality and enjoy it.

So, there you have it, the reason that the State of the Dead is Adventism’s “sexiest” doctrine.

Thoughts?

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Theological Disorders, a.k.a. ‘Lazy Makes Crazy’.

A few months ago I picked up the book Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People who Drain You Dry by Albert Bernstein as an introduction to learnin about personality disorders. The book is is well written and entertaining and I am now searching for some more scholarly sources on various types of personality disorders because I have this thought that people in our churches–especially “problem people”–are not only drawn to certain beliefs, but create certain beliefs based on personality.

For example, one of the “emotional vampires” discussed in the book is the Obsessive Compulsive Personality. The author suggests that these people have an acute sense of their tendency towards violence, sex, selfishness etc [feelings we all have] . They feel chaotic inside and so they compensate by having rigid rules to keep themselves in order. These people feel a constant frustration because almost nobody keeps the rules as well as they do. The author says these people “sigh and shake their head a lot”.  Bernstein also points out an interesting paradox that they “keep themselves from sin so they can cast the first stone” meaning they get to indulge that negative behavior they work so hard to repress guised under righteous indignation. They tend to overcorrect people and seem harsh as a result. There is much more but this was enough to send my mind whirling as well as conjuring up people I have met and know in church.

And I wonder if theologies that are very concerned with perfectionism draw these kinds of people? I also wonder if one of the reasons we see such extreme pendulum swings in conversion experiences of truly “worldly people” who then become the most conservative of Christians. They have experienced and know their temptations all too well and need those rigid structures to keep them from losing control. They don’t do well in setting where people have difefrent styles of worship, viewpoints, and don’t tolerate ambuguity very well. They are overwhelmed by details and so they tend to have a very “black and white” world view and detest gray areas.

Another kind of personality discussed was the paranoid vampire. If the OCD is overwhelmed by details, then the paranoid “organizes them into one big picture”. These “vampires” also do not tolerate ambiguity, and are very sensitive to small details and gestures.  They need answers where their are none, they constantly “conect the dots” and then take things personally or transform them into “conspiracy theories”. Conspiracies are a great past time for Adventists, particularly when they involve the Catholic Church, Jesuits, and Freemasonry. Adventists are distant cousins of Dan Brown…or not so distant. Whether its the conference out to get the small churches, new age worship styles constantly “creeping” [there are a lot of things that creep in the church--including these sneaky people who hand out "testimonies" in church lobbies] into the church. They are suspicious by nature.

There are a great deal more personality types, and countless illustrations I could provide for the above two types–but for now I want to know if there is any sort of connection between personality disorders and what I call “theological disorders” –namely theologies that are extensions of personality rather than study of scripture.

Then there is the flipside. I think under the right circumstances and the right topic any on of us can be paranoid, OCD, narcissisitc, etc. The letter called Hebrews in the Bible tells people not to “forsake the assembling together as some are in the habit of doing” and I have begun to wonder if one of the key reasons for this is to keep our personalities in check.  Proverbs says the interaction of people is like “iron sharpening iron” [27:17]. While people are certainly irritating at times, we all have the potential to be irritating as well if we are left in isolation for too long.

At Golden Hills a couple members came up with the phrase “lazy makes crazy”. This little proverb came out of a discussion of what happens to people when they are not gainfully employed or have meaningful relationships for an extended amount of time. There is no one to temper their thoughts or extremes and they begin to formulate strange ideas…Youtube is littered with them.

Anyways, these are ramblings, and Im curious to hear what you think….

Blessings,

PSP

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Adventist

So its been awhile since I updated–mostly because I have been thinking. I still have some Top Ten lists and such, but I want to have bigger discussions and explore some things.

I am also, it seems, perpetually waffling between book projects. I have several and they all revolve around Adventist subculture/history/eschatology/theology etc. So, in order to see [as my current Professor would say] if these ideas “have legs” I am going to start posting questions and snippets for my new book for your consideration.

I am open to links/articles/book recommendations from you in order to aid in this quest to explore the following questions from a young adult/academic perspective:

1. What is an Adventist?
2. Why should a person be an Adventist?
3. Why are people crazy?
4. Where is Adventism heading?
5. Does it matter?
6. Where do you see the worst theology in Adventism?
7. What is the best theology Adventism has?
8. Why are people crazy?
9. What are the real pillars of Adventist faith and which ones are merely decorative?
10. Ellenology and why its worthy of study?

There, so I guess thats a top ten to get us started. I will post things as I think of them, see them, and ask for input. Hopefully this stuff will get published–in the mean time go buy my books at the ABC or Amazon.com :)

Oh, and I have been asked to speak for 15 minutes on the Gospel at General Conference Session and I have until March 1 to decide. On Facebook a couple people suggested doing it as a top ten list–an intriguing idea.

I did come up with a number 10 as it were, something to think about…

10. “We cannot know the truth.” If you believe this statement is true–then it isn’t.

Blessings,
PSP

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