God, Gays, and the Gilded Age: First Baptist Church of Dallas and the New Satanism

First Baptist Church Dallas

Exterior view of the proposed facade of First Baptist Church, Dallas.

This morning I felt like I got sucker-punched in the soul when a friend in Dallas emailed me this article from Dallas Business Journal:

First Baptist Dallas announced plans Sunday for a $130 million capital campaign that would pay for what it claims will be the largest church construction project in U.S. history. Plans call for a state-of-the-art campus in the heart of downtown. [...]

Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, told church members that prior to the Sunday launch of the capital campaign the church already had secured $62 million in pledges from donors—nearly half of what is needed to complete the project.

Plans call for a new 3,000-seat worship center complete with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, a fountain plaza with a highly visible cross at the center of a cascading fountain, a sixth-floor education building, two gymnasiums, an outdoor patio, green areas and a skywalk connecting the campus’ buildings.

Other facets of the project include a new parking garage with more than 500 additional spaces, a roof-top green area for outside concerts and events and a transparent glass-design that will illuminate the church’s various walkways and the historic First Baptist Church sanctuary. That worship area will remain standing and in full view of members walking inside the church as well as to downtown visitors who are driving past the campus.

Pastor Robert Jeffress, First Baptist Church, Dallas

Pastor Robert Jeffress, First Baptist Church, Dallas

Has your head exploded yet?  It gets so much worse:

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, a member of the congregation, started Sunday services with a prayer session. During a press conference after the service, Leppert told members of the media the church is an integral part of the city’s plan to rejuvenate downtown Dallas.

Wait, what?!  The MAYOR?!!

“This is an important investment in downtown Dallas,” Leppert said. “It will be part of what we are trying to accomplish in creating an urban setting.”

During Sunday’s services, Jeffress highlighted the benefits of building a significant structure in a down economy. Pricing in the current economy is attractive, he indicated, with the church estimating that for every $1 spent it will be getting $1.30 in construction value.

Oh Jesus.  Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.

Emily Pothast - Instant Values! 2

Emily Pothast. Instant Values! 2 (detail). Collage on paper, 2006.

My experience with Robert Jeffress began almost two decades ago.  He was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas where my family moved from rural Iowa when I was eleven years old.  One year for Christmas, someone gave us tickets to a performance of The Living Christmas Tree, a pageant that was staged annually by the church.  Young, naïve, and accustomed to the austere, wood-paneled interiors of midwestern Lutheran churches, I was shocked and fascinated by the extravagance of the building. There was a bowling alley in the basement.  The sanctuary itself was enormous and adorned with a half-dozen or so chandeliers that would make Liberace blush.  The pastor was a slight, folksy little man with a crisp suit and a sharp, effeminate Texas accent that may well have served as the model for South Park‘s Mr. Garrison. (Lots of video here.)

“Oh wow, the minister is gay!” my mother whispered, impressed.  “How progressive!”

As it turned out, Dr. Jeffress is not only <ahem> NOT gay, he really really really hates it that other people get to be gay.  In 1998, our town made national headlines when he stole two books from the public library aimed at helping children with gay parents feel better about their families—Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate. The ensuing controversy exposed the political faultlines between my family and many of our friends that had previously been unspoken, foreshadowing the evangelical polarization that came to the forefront of American politics in the years that followed.  In the early 2000s, a close friend of mine was asked to step down from his role in the music ministry at the church when he came out as a homosexual.

Since moving to Dallas in 2007, Jeffress’s anti-gay flame has only grown…more flaming.  In 2008, a series of sermons titled “Why Gay is Not OK” prompted protests and more national headlines.

First Baptist Church - Why Gay is Not OK

Sign outside of First Baptist Church, Nov. 2008. Photo via Dallas Voice.

Over the past eighteen years I have watched Pastor Robert Jeffress rise from a small-town irritant to an enviable position of national prominence primarily through his controversial gay-hating shenanigans.  He has, in recent months, made numerous appearances on Fox News where his opinions on religion and politics are clearly an invaluable asset in the campaign to keep the Republican base fired up against the rest of us.  He also has an internationally syndicated TV show and a growing catalog of bestselling books to help fan the flames.

Which brings us back to the big money.  Not surprisingly, given his position of prominence within the conservative evangelical movement, Jeffress seems to have no shortage of outrageously wealthy donors lined up to shell out millions of dollars to buttress his gilded empire.  Prior to his move to Dallas, he presided over a small but similar multi-million dollar expansion project at First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls.  The guy is a fundraising machine.

First Baptist Church Wichita Falls, Tex

Sanctuary of First Baptist Church Wichita Falls, Texas. Photo via Acoustic Dimensions.

So let’s talk about megachurches for a moment:  A couple months ago, I wrote a blog post called Created in Our Image: The Making of an American Idol in which I traced the tradition of uniquely American representations of Christ, paradoxically, to the iconoclasm of the Puritans and Protestants who dominated the scene in the early days of American Christianity.  At the time, I almost included something about the architecture of megachurches, but I figured that was enough information for its own post.

In a nutshell: The early Puritan and Protestant settlers in the New World—disgusted by the decadent displays of wealth that characterize the visual culture of Catholicism in Europe—created new, stripped-down forms of religious architecture that focused on the utility of the spaces, the ethics of democracy, and the virtue of the common good (typified by the colonial Meeting Houses of New England).  But as the asceticism of the early colonists gave way to the emergent mythology of the capitalist market, Americans gradually grew increasingly comfortable with opulent displays of wealth in their places of worship. Rather than raid the gothic dustheap of European history for design ideas, American Christians gave birth to an innovative new category of architectural forms dictated by an increasing reliance on technology and mass media to simulate the power and glory of God.

Lakewood Church - megachurch

Interior view of Lakewood Church, Houston. Photo by Paul Duron, via Panaramio.com

Today’s archetypal American megachurch bears more resemblance to a commercial sports stadium or supermall than anything out of the history of sacred architecture.  (Lakewood Church in Houston, home to the incomparably creepy Joel Osteen, is a former basketball arena.) Religious emblems are absent or played down.  In their place is a conspicuously costly abundance of cutting edge media technology, stage lights, sound systems, and the capacity to seat tens of thousands of “worshipers.”

Anyone who’s been to the Vatican can tell you, of course, that there is nothing new about grandiose church architecture.  But there are some key distinctions that make the American megachurch a relatively recent evolutionary development.  Unlike Old World houses of worship, which were by and large designed to create a consecrated environment worlds away from everyday concerns, megachurches conjure their power by simply magnifying the intensity and scale of the secular experiences of the marketplace.  As a result, the object of reflection is not the aesthetic world of evocative beauty nor the invisible world of the interior soul (or even the projection of the soul onto the personality of Christ or the Bible, for that matter).

Crystal Cathedral

Interior view of Crystal Cathedral, Orange County, CA.

At a megachurch, the primary object of reflection is the impressiveness of the show.  The charismatic celebrity of the pastor.  The vindicating affirmation that materialism, capitalism and the American way of life are not just permissible, they are virtues worthy of worship.

Of course, Robert Jeffress would say no, the object of reflection is the Bible, which is taken literally.  Again, this is a whole other post, but for our purposes I will simply point out that nothing about political conservatism or megachurch culture follows necessarily from the study of the Bible.  If it did, we would not expect to see the diversity that exists within Christianity, even among literalists.

If I thought he had any capacity for spiritual insight and I had the power to do so, I would encourage Jeffress to re-read the parts of the Bible with Jesus in them, particularly his advice to a rich man (Mark 10:17-25), his attack on the money-changers in the temple (John 2:13-16) and the episode where he is tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) which ends like so:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

What if we were to replace “all the kingdoms of the world” with “state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, a fountain plaza and two gymnasiums”?  Couldn’t we very easily draw the comparison—with no trace of irony!—between the worldly lure of the megachurch and the Satan of Matthew 4?

Duccio di Buoninsegna - Temptation on the Mount

Duccio di Buoninsegna. Temptation on the Mount. Tempera on wood, 1308-1311.

Now, I’m not suggesting that spending $130 million on a church is Satanic, at least not in and of itself.  But the act of taking one’s own darkest, most shadowy urges—fear and hatred, greed, lust for power (in the guise of “winning souls”)—projecting them onto an idol and bowing down before it and enticing those around you to follow suit?!

That, my friends, is the very essence of Satanism.

In summary: it is my sincere and humble opinion, based on almost two decades of observing Robert Jeffress’s career and evaluating it in the context of the whole history of human religious behavior, that the deity worshiped by the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas is none other than the dark Lord Satan himself, the sworn enemy of all that is decent, insightful, and holy.

Satan

"Satan" by Nicholas Kalmakoff, 1923. Proposed mural for the interior of the new First Baptist Church of Dallas. (Proposed by me. As satire. Duh. But seriously...wouldn't it look badass next to the fountain?)

No one’s point of view is objective, but over the years of pursuing an avid, albeit amateur interest in spirituality, I have arrived at a simple set of criteria I tend to rely upon when assessing the relative “goodness” of an organized religion.  For these purposes, I define “goodness” as the degree to which a religious body fosters those near-universal moral imperatives collectively described by a good many saints and scholars as the Perennial Philosophy, and my criteria are as follows:

1. Does this religion foster a sense of awe, wonder, and appreciation of the sheer amazingness of existence?

2. Does this religion foster a sense of interconnectedness and interdependence between all beings, both living and non-living?

3. Does this religion place a premium on love or compassion as its highest virtue?

For what it’s worth, the megachurch movement—as does the majority of evangelical American Christianity—fails the Perennial Philosophy test miserably.  Although the rhetoric of these denominations is cloaked in the idea of “community,” in practice they define their identity from an us-vs-them exclusion of outsiders (gays! liberals! non-Christians!)  Add to this the fact that the political ends they support often have the effect of encouraging environmental destruction and enforcing an economic system that helps the wealthiest among us accumulate more wealth at the expense of the poorest, both violations of criteria (2) and (3).

So what have we got?  Given its failure to meet at least two of the three above criteria, I think it’s a stretch to even call this game a religion at all.  Let’s call a spade a spade.  What we have here is a political and economic movement that has cloaked itself in the language of righteousness and manipulated its members by appealing to their basest, most profane instincts for the cynical purpose of the accumulation of power.

(But you can call it Satanism for short.)

Artemio Rodriguez - Avaricia 2

Artemio Rodriguez. Avaricia 2. Silkscreen, 2005. Image via Davidson Galleries.

Thanks to Brandon Drake for identifying the previously uncredited Nicholas Kalmakoff work.

~ by emilypothast on November 3, 2009.

20 Responses to “God, Gays, and the Gilded Age: First Baptist Church of Dallas and the New Satanism”

  1. Thanks for articulating all of this, Emily. It is NO STRETCH of the imagination to call this movement “Satanism” when you look at the motivating forces behind it: fear and hatred (as you point out). These brainwashed people are sad and scary.

  2. I have never seen the inside of a mega-church before. The pictures you show are frightening! As a former Medieval art historian, I have always been awed by and have great respect for the power of church architecture and it’s aim to raise one’s soul to the awe and glory that is “god” – any religious house of worship of every flavor attempts to do this. These mega-churches do not reveal a god of love, kindness, connection to nature, humbleness, gentleness, or the beauty of the soul within. When I look at these images I see a soulless, heartless god that purports greed, destruction, superficiality, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.

    Thank you Emily for this post. Thank you for taking a stand and calling a spade a spade.

  3. I ran across this blog post googling the Crystal Cathedral – I don’t agree with a couple of points – you seem to think gay is ok – the Bible DOES condemn it – and not sure I’d go so far to say these churches are worshipping Satan, but I have disdain for mega churches, and wonder what God thinks of these kind of churches. My church has a nursery and a school – nothing fancy or extra – churches shouldn’t have to have tons of bells and whistes to draw people in – we are to worship there, not browse in the bookstore or bowl in the basement – I did enjoy reading your post, even though I didn’t agree 100% with it :-)

  4. Dear Mark,

    Thank you for reading the post and for taking the time to write a respectful response. Yes, I believe “gay is OK,” and I do think the case that the Bible condemns it is pretty weak.

    I am familiar with the conservative Christian position. The Bible verses most often cited as evidence of the condemnation of homosexuality are Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, as well as a couple of passages in Paul’s letters to the Romans and Corinthians. The passages in Leviticus are presented in the context of a litany of “purity laws” imposed by YHVH on the children of Israel, which also forbids tattoos, shellfish, and clothing woven from more than two kinds of cloth. Contemporary Christians almost never follow these rules to the letter, and in fact there are quotes in the New Testament that support the idea that the New Covenant of Christ makes the laws of the OT obsolete.

    As far as Paul’s opinions about homosexuality, I’m sure you are familiar with the fact that a great many scholars have argued quite convincingly that Paul’s opinions about women and sexuality were rooted in his own troubled relationship to his own libido. Bishop John Shelby Spong summarizes the well-worn case for Paul’s latent homosexuality in “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism” http://tinyurl.com/ydt2zku.

    Jesus himself does not put forth any opinions on homosexuality.

    Since the beginning of Christianity, the Bible has been used to justify all sorts of prejudices. Select verses do apparently endorse everything from slavery to the murder of unfaithful women, and yet no one insists that our society enforce those values. The decision of what to choose to actively enforce—even within the context of a “Biblical basis”—is actually a political and social one.

    I know you’ve probably heard all this before, and that I’m not going to change your mind, since there is no incentive from the social group from which you inherited this opinion to do so. I do, however, think it’s always a good idea for us to be aware that our personal prejudices are just that, and to try to avoid projecting them onto the God of the Universe.

    For me, the bottom line is that there is a growing body of evidence that homosexuality has at least some biological basis. I won’t presume to speak for your God, but I’m not inclined to believe that my God makes mistakes. ;)

  5. Emily – nah, you’re not going to change my mind – I actually think the arguments for pro-gay theology are pretty week – I struggle with same-sex attractions, and wish it were ok, but I cannot come to that conclusion. Not out to argue with you, but here is some food for thought: There are several sexual practices the Bible condemns – sex outside of marriege between men & women, incest, bestiality, homosexuality – if the others are still wrong – and I believe they are – and I imagine you do also – then why is homosexuality the exception? Why are Christians wrong on that one sexual practice?

    Just because society approves of something, does not make it right – society in general ok’s it now – years ago, even non-Christians felt it was wrong and abnormal – does public opinion suddenly make it right?

    Anyway, you don’t have to publish this comment, and I am not trying to argue, but I have thought about it a lot and researched it a lot, and I am still overwhelmingly convinced that sex between two people of the same sex is wrong – just as incest, bestiality is still wrong.

    If public opinion suddenly ok’s incest and bestiality, would it be ok with God? No – and it could happen. Even thirty years ago, people never would have dreamed how much homosexuality would be accepted, that churches would accept it – so in a world as such we live, where each generation seems to get more evil and sinful, anything is possible.

    God bless

  6. Mark, let me flip your question around on you here. Just because society disapproves of something, does that mean it’s wrong? That is, you seem to assume that society is always changing in the same way, toward sin and away from God. I submit that reality is far more complex than that. It used to be OK to own slaves, for example, or have multiple wives, and in fact supporters of these things used the Bible to support their position. There are plenty of reasons why bestiality or incest or pedophilia are NOT ok, and we don’t need to use the Bible to show why: all of these situations involve exploitation of a vulnerable party. Gay marriage – between consenting adults – does not change WHO gets to participate; theoretically, all parties can already consent to a lifelong covenant of commitment. It merely allows people to choose the other (adult, consenting) person they love most as their partner. It does not open any other doors in the way you suggest.

  7. True on your first point there. And somewhat on your second. :-) – the incest though, it isn’t always non-consensual – it can and often is adults – brothers & sisters, or even brother and brother.
    I enjoy discussing thins, and hope you don’t take me as just argumentive. :-) – but you did not repspond to my one point… The Bible definitely says sex outside of marriage – and those other sexual practices are wrong, along with homosexuality. Unwilling participants and children aside…… why and how can we say the Bible is being interpreted wrong on homosexuality – I think it is pretty plain what the Bible says about it – and say we are interpreting it correctly on the other sexual practices.

    And yes, I do belive sex outside of marriage between a man and woman is wrong and sin – another example of society and the church both becoming more accepting of a sin. I think you’d agree that at one time people who had sex outside of marriage were looked down on by even the world – unfortbately, it seemed the women were looked down on more – something even I as a guy think is wrong and unfair, but I digress.

    Yes, Christians had slaves – and I think that is wrong, and wonder how they got around it, but as proved with homosexuality and other issues, people can get around anything they want badly enough in the Bible and make it say whatever they want.

    I am not trying to be rude, but I have read and read many times, the pro-gay theology – and it doesn’t hold water. For example, Lot and Sodom – they would rather believe a city was destroyed because of inhospitality than a deviant sexual practice? Come on, that is absurd! And maybe you don’t believe that, but that is thrown out there a lot to explain the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. Odd that the word sodomy comes from there…..

    I have been around the gay lifestyle – and in and out of it for years, and it does not satisfy. The amount of monogamous relationships are few and far between – and yeah, a lot of heterosexuals are the same way, but worse for gay ones. I can’t tell you the amount of guys I ran across who either were cheating on their boyfriend/lover, or the couple had to have guys in for three-somes – many, many. And one big reason for that, I believe, is because it isn’t natural. Not normal, and definitely sin.

    I firmly believe I have the struggles I have because of things that happened in my life – I was bullied and picked on a lot by other kids, due to not being good at sports – never had a good relationship with my dad, and always had poor self worth – I wasn’t gay at birth – I can look back and see in my teens when I started being attracted to guys – and I believe it is for the reasons I mentioned.

    I do not believe it is a choice – and you and I probably agree on that part, and anyone who thinks so is an outright idiot – but I do not believe people are born this way.

    Again, I am honestly not trying to argue with you, and hope I have not seemed harsh or argumentive

  8. Emily and David, thanks for this. I really appreciate your ongoing willingness to engage with people about this.

    Mark, hi. I’m not trying to be confrontational necessarily, but just want to share a few points.

    – There are lots of gay couples who practice monogamy with more longevity and success than many straight couples.

    – In most cities, you could talk to a confidential, free (if you can’t afford it) counselor to talk about sexual identity issues. (Outside the church, of course.) Try Googling “your city + GLBT support + counseling.” Or, a PFLAG group would know where to direct you.

    – If you are truly a Christian, then ask yourself in all sincerity: what would Jesus do. My guess is that he would want you to walk the rest of your days on earth (remember, they’re numbered!) happy and in love, not with your nose stuck in Leviticus.

  9. Mark, Thank you so much for opening up in this forum with your story and your struggle. It reminds me, of course, of the struggle that many of my friends went through before coming out, including the one I mentioned in the blog post who was asked to step down from his music ministry position at Robert Jeffress’s church.

    And Susanna speaks with some authority and experience, being in a happy, committed relationship with her wife Anna (and their beautiful son Asher!)

    As for the infidelities you describe, there is scientific reason to believe that in general, testosterone levels and other biological factors lead to men (gay or straight) being less faithful sexual partners than women overall. Divorce, infidelities, and even “swinging” are, of course, prevalent in both gay and straight populations. In all of these cases, if you’re doing something that your partner deserves to know about but aren’t telling him/her, then your sin is dishonesty.

    I don’t know the specifics of your life, but the things you describe about your upbringing (being picked on, negative relationship with father, etc.) isn’t stuff that can make you gay. It does, however, sound like the kind of stuff that could make you end up with self-esteem issues and not know whether you are worthy of being loved. In that case, you could be choosing to interpret the Bible in this way in order to enforce a negative self-image. Believe it or not, you’re actually taking the easy road here. After all…if you can’t allow yourself to be happy, you can tell yourself it’s because the BIBLE won’t let you…not because YOU haven’t come to terms with your own identity and learned to love yourself!

    To paraphrase St. Augustine, “If you think you have God figured out, that’s not God.” Human conceptions of God can’t help but be reflections of ourselves, and that includes any and all interpretations of the Bible. I’m here to tell you that you ARE worthy of happiness, and of being loved. If your conception of God doesn’t love you completely, fully and honestly, that’s NOT God.

    If you’d like to continue this conversation, I’m here, but I do think Susanna’s right when she suggests that you find a counselor who knows about this stuff and can be a much better resource.

    As for the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, that’s a whole other can of worms. The word “Sodom” means scorched, referring to the city’s destruction by fire. Why was the city named after the all-consuming fire it was destroyed by if it hadn’t been destroyed yet? Why, indeed. IT’S A MYTH, MARK. A spiritual metaphor whose point is to be missed completely if taken literally.

    Imagine you were in an English class that was being taught by a professor who insisted that Animal Farm was literally about some talking pigs. And if you said, “But wait! There’s a deeper story in here! It’s actually about politics and greed and human nature and so forth!” And the teacher called you a heretic. Maybe even burned you at the stake. It’s ridiculous, and yet that’s what literalists do to Christianity. Not only does it hurt your life and your happiness, it prevents you from reaching the REAL story, the mystery that lies beneath the surface of the obvious, superficial reading.

    Myth is what interests me. I’ve been studying it my whole life, too. Not just Christian myth, but the whole history of human storytelling and spiritual ideas. If you’re interested in this subject, I can provide specific links and a reading list about how the Bible was written and what it’s made of.

    Good luck and God bless!

  10. On the subject of Sodom:

    Ezekiel 16:49 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

    Even the Bible says that the destruction of Sodom had nothing to do with homosexuality!

  11. I read this after looking up something on the megachurches. I like Mark do feel the Bible does condemn the idea of homosexuality. I say feel, but I know it is not right and it is a perverse sin, just the same as lust and porn. I don’t say that to be arrogant, but if I don’t know right or wrong well then I can’t really be convicted of something then can I. Anyways, I agree the mega church is a perversion, while they may not worship satan directly I know that they can easily fall victom to self worship and giving that control to satan. You can’t judge them all but I would prefer a small loving church than a big insane show. I am a conservative and I believe conservatism is the greatest form of economy there is, that is not to say I don’t want to help the poor. I do have a hard time with compassion for them, as the majority of lower class peoples create themselves, there are those who can’t help it, but be honest many are underachieving. Now I still agree they need help, but the idea of welfare is theft, to demand I give money to them is wrong and is done wrongly. However, it is the churches job as a people to reach out to those in need, and this is where the failure comes in. I have no problem with ambitious people becoming richer, if that is what they want to do, I don’t believe we as a society can damper that is it is not our right. But I do believe many churches fail to help those less fortunate and to get out the proper message on homosexuality. It is a sin, most definately, not even debatable. Should we hate them though? No absolutely not. Is it a choice? Yes. I do believe some people can be born with a tendency to be attracted to same sex. As mark said up there he struggled with it, just like I would say I struggle with porn, but do I let myself do it, no its a lustful flesh desire. And it cannot control anyone. But I do not believe anyone is just absolutely born gay, and lets face it most gay people have chosen it. I can’t stand the people who isolate them with hate and the signs that say God hates fags. Makes everything I believe in look evil, makes God look evil. He doesn’t hate them, but I do not believe he condones it. I did like this post, had good points and interesting ideas to think about, but my one biggest question was wondering if you were in fact a Christ follower? Really I guess I just wondered about your beliefs. Too many people out there profess it but I don’t believe are saved. I think I saw part of it as being written by someone who grew up in church and fell out of line with God because of some Christian’s views… Just wondering.

  12. Interesting! Actually, am an architect, so my primary interest in this post was the mega churches. I believe that architecture represents the people and times in which they live. So i would not too quickly judge the mega churches, but i would say that if the mega churches – being churches [houses of gathering for believers and those who are looking for hope] do deal with real issues that were close to Jesus’ heart,then the structure should be no problem. Just to speak about the architecture, i think the structures have their wow factor [which is our generation's drive for many things], and do get used for the purpose for which they have been built or transformed. Churches in my opinion should be a place where all people can come to to find others that will love them and share with them the good news and their lives. So seeing as the temples of old had places for fountains [water drinking points, inside courts etc], i have no problem with them having bowling alleys, restaurants and swimming pools. What better and more relaxed way in this generation to share Christ than in those environments. Hmmmmm. So if we would like to know if the mega churches are effective in bringing people to know God and love one another, then maybe we need to interview some members or try being a ‘member’ for a while.

    On the other hand, i was interested in the comments because am a believer in Jesus [read Christian]who has over the years gotten to understand, and is still getting to know more about God’s abundant love for me and fellow man.

    God does not send anyone to hell. It is a choice one makes by refusing ‘the Christ’- savior i.e. Jesus who came to save us from hell, but more so, to bring the message of hope and love from a God whose way of expressing it was to let his only son [in essence himself] come and show us -through life on earth, sharing the things closest to his heart and then death on a cross, by the very ones he came to save.

    Ok- now about sin [all of it - mentioned in posts above or not], God hates. About the sinner, God loves, and wants him/her to change their status through his son. And Christians are not called saints because they do no wrong, no, its because they have taken on the new name and identity of jesus who died in their place. And our sin, has been washed away by him, past present and future. Does that mean we should continue to sin? no, God forbid, and hopefully through a one on one with God, each one will learn to let go of all manner of sin that robs us of happiness and a fulfilled life the way God sees it. Of course in our minds as humans, we justify many things, but God knows our weaknesses and that no one can save themselves, so that’s why he sent Jesus to do it for us. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And God will sort everyone out, whether in this life or in heaven. Some things we may never understand now, but the bottom line, do not waste too much time worrying about life. Live life, learn along the way, and chose to sit at Jesus’ feet [read the bible], ask for the Holy Spirit to teach you and each one of us will surely get a revelation of what to do, and what not to do.

    Once again, great post – it has generated great views.
    Continue!
    Cheers!

  13. [...] I have mentioned previously on this blog—in a piece heralded by the Fort Worth Weekly as “pure brilliance”—the [...]

  14. Please look at our you tube channel Serephim9. We talk of this alot and have tried gain public awareness to this huge political game.

  15. Why do you hate God, churches and Christians so much?

  16. LOL. If I hate “God, churches and Christians,” it must be in the same way Freud hated sex….

  17. Just a few quick responses. I appreciate the frank and respectful conversation here for the most part, especially on the part of the person who said he struggled with same sex attraction but resisted that because he accepts the biblical injunctions against that. I don’t think anyone would argue that just because someone has an urge to do something or has an inclination towards some sort of lifestyle that this in itself says anything about its “rightness”. Serial killers, kleptos, adulterers, murderers, materialists, thieves, gossipers–we all have what Christians would call “temptations” to do things which are not good, not for the overall well-being of society, not in keeping with long-standing human values or with God’s standard–however you want to look at it.
    To give a little perspective on the $130m building campaign, realize that it is much more than a church building in the limited sense that people often define it. The church (the body of believers there) is owns and operates a school, a college, several radio stations, and Dallas Life, a mission for the homeless. But even if it were only for the typical church activities, this would amount to $13,000 per member which, considering that memberships at some golf clubs run between $10k and $25k per year, is not that outlandish. People are not alarmed when individuals, say a double income family, spends 20 to 50 times that amount just on themselves for a home! A traditional church of 400 members would spend about $7500 per member on a new church building (based on stats in our local neighbourhood). Half that, BUT those churches are not homeless shelters, radio stations, colleges, and schools as well. So it is very reasonable to see this expenditure as a very financially responsible and effective way to spend $130m. Any one of those institutions in the secular context would not raise any eyebrows if it spent this amount of money just for itself.
    Materialism can be a problem for sure, but that’s a matter of the heart: what is the object of our worship. Listen to this message on that. http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/this-man-jesus/id391093348?i=112923959
    Let’s be honest. If 10 families got together to build a suitable home for themselves, would it or could it be more lavish than what one family could possibly do for itself? Of course! So let’s face it, Christians are on to something by being united in a common cause of faithfulness to God’s Word (whether we like it or not) and to the common good of mankind.

  18. [...] her blog Translinguistic Other, Seattle musician and visual artist Emily Pothast offers a hilarious and surprisingly well-reasoned [...]

  19. Romans 1: 18-31

  20. I was born and raised in Wichita Falls and moved to Fort Worth, TX at 19. I couldn’t agree with you more on your points related to Dr. Jeffress specifically. I know people who “drank his kool-aid” so to speak, and are STILL talking about what a great man he is. I personally, am not a fan.

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