Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

While the evangelical world is no doubt gasping in horror at the expose that the mass baptisms at Elevation Church have been engineered (who could have seen that one coming?) in a way that would leave Charles Finney drooling at the anxious bench, it is worth remembering that us paedobaptists are in on the game too.  My friend and seeker-sensitive megachurch reformed man, the Rev. Digby St.John-Crimond, of the Re:Tribution (formerly St Olaf the Sublime), used to build his brand loyalty and pull off his part in God's miracle by planting 15 or 20 young, energetic couples in the congregation, armed with realistic plastic toy dolls.  At the key moment, he would call out for those who wanted to come forward and the plants would make their move.  After Digby baptized the dolls, the couples would be pushed towards the video crew who would mine them for great stories.  Sadly, it all went wrong one day when, after an incredible revival moment when Digby had baptized 27 dolls, his hands got wet, he dropped one on the floor, it bounced and the robotic voice jammed in repeating 'Mama mama mama' over and over again. The game, as they say, was up.

Except it wasn't.  Thankfully, being shown to be a complete fraud did not affect Digby's ministry one little bit.  He declared that 'mistakes had been made,' the money keeps rolling in to this day, his books get polite reviews on orthodox websites, and he is still sneakily admired as the greatest visionary for God out there.  After all, he tells a lot of people about Jesus.

Lookie here: I feel a revival coming on!

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Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Some months ago, Peter Leithart declared that it was time Protestantism came to an end.  In a fine response, Fred Sanders offered a trenchant critique of the article.   Then, two weeks ago, Fred contacted me to ask if I would be willing to be part of a debate on the future of Protestantism with himself and Dr.Leithart at Biola University.    Now that, I thought, is one three-way gentlemanly cage-fight I'd like to tell my grandchildren about.

Not sure how it will go down.  I am just a historian, up against two sharp theological and philosophical minds. But, like Fred, I believe Protestantism is worth defending, though I suspect our respective visions of how that should be done will be, like our theologies, somewhat different.  In the meantime, I'm getting fitted for a stetson.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Reading Todd's last post, I am shocked to see yet another apparent act of megachurch pastor plagiarism, or, to give it the modern technical name, 'mistakes that have been made.'   It seems that the Sunday School material he posts is based upon the syllabus we use at my church.  Judge for yourselves -- here is one of the pictures we have the children colour on a Sunday.  Just a simple scene of me humbly loving the people, leading in worship, and inspiring the congregation to higher and higher levels of unity, devotion, and faith:
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Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Elevation Church for their statement of faith, or, to use the modern idiom, "core values." Or, as they put it in their uber-cool but perhaps a bit creepy way at EC, 'The Code'......

Perhaps the Puppetmaster might offer a prize to anyone who can explain what core value 7 means.  It makes the debates in later Lutheran orthodoxy over the communication of properties look like exercises in limpid prose and clear communication:

7: We will continually increase our capacity by structuring for where we want to go, not where we are. We will remain on the edge of our momentum by overreacting to harness strategic momentum initiatives.

Quite.   Though I would advise you not to try to stay on the edge of your momentum at home.molesworth_reasonably_small.jpg It can lead to serious injury and even death. EC Strategic Momentum Initiators are trained professionals who understand the physical risks involved and use specialised equipment in a controlled environment.

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

For those who still write to me every now and then congratulating me on my greatest comicMolesworth crystal ball.jpg creation, Paul Morgan Lewellyn Ap-Levy, there is finally proof of his independent existence.  For some years, I have thought of him as my sole ally in the never-ending war against the aristos of the parachurch reformed evangelical world.  But now it appears he has gone to Versailles to be interviewed, along with Dave Strain. 

While the present Mrs T is not happy with M. Levy for the comments made about Scotland, the interview is well-worth listening to.  Paul and Dave extol the beauties of Presbyterian worship, church and evangelism, morning and evening services, and the Lord's Day.   Music to my ears, even as the sell-out goes down.  It also contains a sober warning to any young woman tempted to learn the Shorter Catechism.  It can lead to unexpected consequences and take a terrible, terrible toll.
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Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Regular MoS listeners will know that, with the addition of Aimee, we have made the transitionniceville (180x135).jpg from being' not nice' to being 'nice.'  That's what having a Housewife Theologian's touch has done for us, as she has laid down the law on a number of fronts: no more dirty laundry left on the studio floor ("Come on guys, your mothers wouldn't stand for this....), no more late nights hanging out  with TeamPyro ("They are a bad influence, naughty boys, layabouts, not very nice at all!"), and no more pipe smoking ("What a filthy habit!  Stop it now!") in the vicinity of the Underground Bunker (that last prohibition is a heavy, heavy blow to Todd). 

Anyway, in this week's podcast, we think we have taken things to a new level and actually tried to go from being 'useless' to being 'useful' by talking about the anarchy that is sexual morality and sexual identity in the current climate. The MoS teams hopes that this interview might at least help some to think more clearly about the issues.

In the meantime, the team is preparing for another marathon recording session in two weeks, under the cold, hard, all-seeing eye of the Puppetmaster, the Napoleon of Spin, the Moriarty of Mortification.
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Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

While it may be good news for those suffering from coulrophobia, reports are coming out in the national press that America may be facing a critical shortage of clowns in the very nearclown.jpg future.  One may scoff at such news but when one remembers how many sectors of the economy depend upon a thriving clown population -- makers of baldy man wigs, water pistol bow ties, oversize shoes, garish boxer shorts, and indeed much of the European and American automobile industry -- this is no laughing matter.

The reasons for the decline in the clown population seem complex.  Increasing levels of good taste, higher literacy rates, and increasing self-respect in many parts of society have probably taken their toll on clowning communities.  Indeed, why would anyone want to be a clown when the same skill set makes politics an easier and more lucrative option? 

Still, there is no need to despair.  There are always some willing to take a brave stand against good taste, intelligence, and sophistication.  Thus, the church is mounting an impressive, if a little belated, fightback. Coulrophobes beware: Ref21 predicts that the era of the clown is not over just yet.

Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

It is true.  When it comes to the 'criticism sandwich' of my sermons, the present Mrs T is on what I can only with some charity describe as a no-carb diet.  Nevertheless, I wonder if some of the Pope of Ealing's ex cathedra criticism of my book plug is rooted in the fact that he has his own indulgence-like trade in 'Married for Ministry Seminars' which he and the present Mrs L run from the Ealing Vatican.  As I always say to the students in my history classes -- 'Follow the money...':
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Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

A couple of cheery things to note.  Over at First Thoughts I reveal the secret of a long and happy marriage, at least as proposed by American psychologists.  Here, meanwhile, I am happy to bring your attention to a cheerful little book spotted yesterday by Mark McDowell: Calvin, The Psychopath by Rear Admiral Joseph H. Miller.  I believe it is part of a projected series which will include Augustine, The Serial Killer, Thomas Aquinas, The Genocidal Maniac, Gregory of Rimini, The War Criminal, and John Owen, The King of Disco.   As you can see, Aimee Byrd (she's the nice one) was very unhappy to realise that her reputation for being very nice might well be compromised by her not very nice soteriological-podcastical connections. aimee.jpg

Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

At a Monday meeting to talk about future strategy and the forthcoming Ref21 makeover with the Puppetmaster,seventh seal.jpg I was able to hold him at bay on the chessboard and thus postpone him taking Mortification of Spin off the air.  It was particularly encouraging to hear that people thought the podcast had become 'nicer' since the arrival of Aimee on the scene.  Indeed, Aimee is so flattered that, if she finds out the name and address of those who made that comment, she will be be thanking them in person with a couple of swift nunchuck manoeuvres.

old school.jpgAnyway, as we enter the second year of our ongoing pea-under-the mattress rebellion against the hegemony of thoseaimee bear.jpg very important Top Men, we start with a Bully Pulpit discussing a recent article by Jonathan Storment over at Jesus Creed on the church's obsession with youth.  As miserable, middle-aged balding types, Todd and I have a particularly intense dislike of young people, mainly on the grounds that they are young people and we are old, old school, and proud of it.  In our opinion, young people should be banned or at least not encouraged.  Aimee probably disagrees.  But then, as the vox populi has declared, she is nice.  Real nice.  Sweet, cuddly, and, above all, very, very nice.

In other news, I had the chance this week to give Todd and Aimee first-hand experience of my church growth strategy.  I call it 'Highways and Byways'. It is most effective, as you can see.
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