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Watching a Tennis Match

What a strange bunch of contrasts.

We took my youngest to the hospital for grunting-while-breathing, and within 24-hours after the IV antibiotics he was playing “Punch Out” with the Get Well balloon my parents brought him.

That hospital trip — like any other, I’m sure — moved from soul-sucking boredom to tearful panic. And during that ebb and flow, I got two emails. One explained what a rapturous “blessing” it was that God took me away from BJU since I could no longer ruin young lives like I had so clearly done for years. :/ The other email described an actual blessing — how God is using Elise’s little cherry dress to show a young, nearly-forgotten girl how much He loved her.

A lengthy conversation with a young man wrestling with his fundamentalist upbringing made me realize that fundamentalism doesn’t teach progressive justification (like Roman Catholicism). Nor does it teach progressive sanctification (which it ironically calls “perfectionism). It teaches a kind of perpetual justification. That you have to continually beg for salvation or risk certain doom.

I found last year’s Opening Evangelistic Service from BJU. Go listen to it. It’s a perfect encapsulation of everything Grant and I stood up against and were forced to resign over. It’s all right there. Nothing’s changed. I’m told that the dorm room leaders had to do damage control for months after that sermon.

And while I was still reeling over that slipshod retelling of the Prodigal Son parable, an old friend pointed me to WorldMag’s recent podcast on the same parable — “Becoming the Third Brother.” Listen to Marvin Olasky’s description of the Elder Brother in the second part. Sound familiar?

Of course, BJU got a mention in Forbes list of best colleges based on student satisfaction. #279. North Greenville is #154 and has record enrollment this year in this economy! GQ listed BJU, too, but for a more dubious honor.

I found this little chestnut — Stuff Fundies Like. Every post is brilliant and therapeutic and hilarious. I bet you can’t read just one!

I made a Facebook quiz “How Fundamentalist Are You?” I’m told it’s too feminine, and that’s probably true. It has one (pretty negative) review. Check it out too.

I’m on my second read through Steve Brown’s Scandalous Freedom. Here are the most important chapters for recovering fundamentalists. Take a look. And if listening is more your cup of tea, here are the podcasts. Just listen to the first one, if nothing else.

Yes, Steve Brown is the hero to every one of us still struggling in recovery. And then he goes and does something like this and shoves us into joyful and raucous laughter!


Steve Brown? You rock. Really. Thank you!


13 thoughts on “Watching a Tennis Match

  1. I have to second what you said about Stuff Fundies Like – VERY therapeutic (and you can’t beat free therapy!). I, too, also recently Scandalous Freedom and found it extremely helpful in rethinking those lingering bits of fundamentalist teaching that are still floating around my mind. Excellent book.

  2. I’m always eager to watch or play tennis matches. Just not this kind, as I don’t envy your week at all. But Steve Brown? Granted, I’m only 6 lectures in, but I love what I’m hearing.

  3. That BJU evangelistic service sermon: I just can’t listen. It’s like the severe allergy your IU classmate’s wife developed to latex over time due to repeated exposure. Just the sound of his voice and knowing what’s coming makes my soul gag and retch.


  4. And as for your first idiot correspondent,

    Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have found that people who respond to irritating, high-stress situations with some righteous anger maintain lower blood pressure and secrete less cortisol, known as the stress hormone, than people who respond with fear or bottle up their feelings.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1210341/Being-bad-good-Playing-blaring-rock-music-skipping-housework-actually-boost-health.html#ixzz0Px2vIUVg

    We’ll all have a good laugh when he strokes out.

    1. Hey Grant, thanks for posting that inciteful link! I just looked it up. It is really very interesting. I’m thinking about the therapeutic effects of journalling, which, Camille’s Ebenezers, are really a wonderful example of. Writing the story, telling the story, getting things off one’s chest,even the most painful ones,putting them onto paper, and expressing those deep feelings and emotions that, in the past, we may been been told, indirectly, or subtly, that’we shouldn’t feel’ like that, or ‘christans should never be angry.If we do not express our anger in a healthy, non destructive way, ‘where’ does that unexpressed anger go? I do not know where I would be today, without the wonderful gift of journalling! One of the best pastors I ever had, encouraged me to journal. And taking up journalling was one of the best things I have ever done to empower myself to tell myself the truth, and to hear from God. As for that sermon I tortured myself by listening to….just thinking about it, challenges me to want to know God better, love God more, love people more, learn more about His Grace, live in his Grace more, and never ever put heavy burdens on people by things I might say. And to avoid such false messages ‘like the plague!’ Words can heal or hurt. How we have learned that with so much pain. Thank God, He gave us the Grace to ‘not let the awful things’ that happened to us, destroy us. But that we let God by His Grace, change us into even better, nicer, and kinder people, than we were before we were so hurt. You and Camille are an inspiration to so many. The world is a better place because you two are in it, and because you love God like as you do. God Bless. p.s. I have recovered from the mental torture of listening to that sermon!

  5. I am listening to a few minutes of that service and I am recoiling at it, also. This may be judging but I hear such arrogance in his tone. I suppose I really don’t know what he is feeling in his heart, but it just sounds that way to me.

  6. I only made it through 20 minutes of the sermon- I used to have stomach problems during those opening two nights at school each year and during the whole week of Bible conference. The very thought of it coming made me tear up for weeks prior to returning to school. Wow. Salvation is about looking to Christ. Not about looking within- if we were good enough He wouldn’t have had to die. Life in Christ is not about avoiding sin- it’s about resting in His love- which will lead us away from sin- but avoiding sin isn’t an end in itself. that just leads to legalism. Goodness- I’m so glad I never have to attend another service from there ever again!! And- you did not ruin any students lives~ as an RPA major~ I can say hands down you were my favorite teacher:)

  7. Just listened to the first eleven minutes of the ‘evangelistic sermon?’ Couldn’t take any more but will return for more purgatorial mental torture! The ‘never ending introduction’!!! Enthusiasm is a fine thing. A man’s heart- felt desires to serve God and encourage students to clearly think about the true condition of their moral / spiritual life, and actual quality of their relationship with God. A good idea. But exactly ‘how’ a preacher goes about communicating such a challenge to a congregation, can either help or hinder. A good thing to think about one’s spirituality. But not a good thing to be ‘forced’ to do this, under pressure from the power of a negative pulpit!’. The ‘way’ a preacher goes about doing this, the ‘why’ and the possibly ‘sneaky’ intentions ( hidden motives of manipulation, manipulation practiced by those who believe they are practicing the leading of God’s spirit…) of the preacher… all pose the question to my mind and thinking, which are far from as renewed as God would want them to be…..”does the preacher ‘really’ listen to God for the sermon talk? Or does he listen merely ‘to his own soul and imagination, to himself?” Because his ‘never-ending-introduction’ is full of someone and something, and it’s ‘not’ Jesus, and it’s ‘not’ New life or edifying inspiration! It sounds like religious verbal dhiareah to me! A well meaning preacher can be filled with whomever ‘he’ is really sold out to, which may actually be ‘himself’, his relious ‘system’ and to ‘whatever!’ If he is sold out to the mental slavery of fundamentalism,and the arrogance of BJU / IFB separation and perfectionism, is he really his own man,or God’s man, or fundamentalism’s ‘handy-preacher-man’. Sounds like ‘a nice guy’ who the students may be inclined to trust and believe the best of, as they all patiently wait for him to, get to the point. Listening to this man’s “BAFFLE-GAB” is so tiresome and boring. But these students are ‘forced’ to listen to him, as for any of them to leave the service, demerit points would be sure to follow. And this is only the ‘beginning’ of the year of their mental imprisonment in religion’s famous BJU Gulag. Enthusiasm is one thing, but where is there ANY INTELLIGENT CONTENT in the first eleven minutes of the ‘never-ending-introduction?’ Most of those in the chapel audience, are ‘kids’! They enrolled in BJU because they wanted to follow Jesus and serve God in a future ministry or career. Why does an evangelist need to do a magnifying check up on them, to get them to look for ‘possible dirt and imperfections’ in their lives? Why can’t the man simply affirm them in God’s love, and tell them, that God loves them just as they are? How can such a forensic introspective hyper critical approach possibly release any positive empowerment in the students’lives? Manipulating the young people to perhaps ‘doubt’ the sincerity of their own christianity? That really angers me! Is ‘that’ a work of the Spirit of Grace? Or the carnal, opinionated work of a religious man from fundy-land? To impose such a a perfectionistic man-made ‘spot-check’ on how good or not good these students are to God, if they ‘are’ good enough at all to God, the suggestion is that’ underlying false belief that they keep having to ‘do’ something, ‘do, do, do, work, work, work, work harder,’ to get God to love them be pleased with them, to accept them, to approve of them, and be appeased by their endlessly impossible fruitless human efforts that they are being instructed to practice. What kind of a self-imposed guilt position are the students being ‘forced by manipulation’ into? A highly enthusiastic baffle-gab rapid peach talk of subtle guilt mongering, all slicked up with ‘enticing religion! ‘And I’ve only listened to eleven minutes of it! When Grant wrote “I know what’s coming”, and he can’t listen to any more,Grant is speaking from paifully real personal history. Something that I would ‘never’ minimize or invalidate. When my family and I couldn’t take pastor so and so at a certain parish any longer, we just migrated over to another parish. And then to another newer one to become founding members. But doing that migration is not so simple or practical a thing to do in fundamentalism. Leaving a local parish in fundamentalism, without the main reason of moving away, would always be seen as ‘suspect.’ Because fundy members are so brainwashed into snap judge thinking and believing the worst of people, who do anything that fundy land beliefs ‘do not approve of!’ I so admire the courage of those who get out, leave, and refrain from becoming bitter. It shows the Godliness of their character. I really have so much admiration for ex fundies who keep the faith. They are truly courageous. They replace the distorted concept of Grace they were taught, with the right one, they come to know. The true Grace that Jesus came to give to people. ” And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ( and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father, ) full of Grace and truth.” John 1: 14 .It took me so many years to finally completely forgive that difficult pastor, but I finally forgave the man. I can talk about him now without sinful expressions!!! Look, I am not perfect! I can converse objectively about someone I have forgiven, and acknowledge that what someone said and did was simply not right, withouhg practicing sin. Some christians don’t believe that. They bring up the guilt card ‘have you forgiven?’ They like to do that, because it gives them a false sense of power and religiosity about themselves, and because they take offense at anyone talking about something that they don’t like or approve of, anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Look, if we never talked about anything that we have felt uncomfortable about , none of us could ever possibly heal, could we! Anyway,’how’ could this UN sermon possibly get any worse????!!!!! I think I just invented a new phrase! The UN sermon! The man sounds like a good saleman. He would make a good auctioneer. But ‘what’ exactly is he selling????? I don’t know if I want to listen any further ‘to find out!’ But my curiosity is getting the better of me. Thanks for posting this. It sure stimulates the grey matter.

  8. I’m up to eighteen minutes now on the evangelistic sermon. The preacher is giving the students ‘so much’to deal with, that they have to do and remember’. It’s really a heavy burdens over load that he’s giving them. Didn’t Jesus say, “Come unto me all ye that are heavy burdened and I will give you rest!?” I need a rest after trying to listen to this man for just a few minutes ! I just watched and listened to a litle this preacher on uTube ! He talks so fast that it’s almost confusing, if not a little hypnotic. America’s sweetheart histric revisionist, does that too, the little darling. “And then there was David Barton!” A baffle gab guru on reworked histry generously spiced with fiction! preacher at BJU seems like a nice person, and I believe he really loves God. But ‘who’ on earth would ever ‘mentor a prospective preacher’ to talk so fast that he sounds like he’s on a mega coffee caffeine high? He tells the srudents ‘too much’! And to think these students had an entire university year to stomache after hearing this chapel speech. they must have been ‘speechified.’ New language again. I’m not mystified I’m ‘confusified.’ These wonderful young peope who graduate out or get kicked out. I tip my hat to them all. I just could not take one day of that place, let alone four years! “The power of what you, God, desire to do in us”? HUH! I thought the right and true power, was about God’s Divine Love, God’s Divine Nature, God’s trustworthy Character,and the Divine Power of God’s Holy Spirit. <<>>>YIKES! Where does he get these strange concepts? Is God now, a divine intellectual power hovering over people’s brains to zap them with His divine desires, so that we will ‘desire, them too? Am I ever glad the God that I love who first loved me, isn’t like that! and now for further torture to hear more of this stimulating sermon1

  9. I just finished listening to the rest of this unbearable ‘blech sermon’. I feel so drained by religion, temporarily of course! I think I will run a funny BBC comedy show, to laugh a little. like “Have You Been Served?” Hilarious!! I wonder how well the students slept that night? So much burden, performance, and have to’s to do, do, do, and keep trying harder, harder and harder. We are so blessed to have this gift of freedom. We are so blessed. I think I will be thanking God a lot more every day,for his Grace, after hearing this sermon. Once we have drunk this sweet drink from the fountain of true Grace, Jesus, nothing else could ever satisfy us or take its place again. “Thank you Jesus for all the free ex fundies out there, who are reading wonderful blogs like this one. I know you are watching over all of them. I know you are calling those not yet free, to start thinking of coming out. I know you will protect them. There is so much freedom that you offer everyone every day. You are so good. God you are so good.” And now for a few laughs to regain my sanity!p.s. I did not like the preacher knocking Joel Olsteen! Olsteen preached a taching on the dangers of the critical spirit and the lessings for those who refuse to fall into it. it was one of the best teachings on the subject I think I have ever heard and Olsteen really loves people.

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