30 January, 2008

Forty-Seven Church Splits Finally Brings Doctrinal Perfection

Centerville, Ga - The small community of Centerville has a population of just over 5000 people. But with a total of 48 Presbyterian Churches, they also hold the record for the most number of Presbyterian Churches in a small town.  The high number of churches has to do with multiple splits that have taken place over the years because of one issue or another.  Originally, in 1899, only one Presbyterian church existed, simply known as "Centerville Presbyterian Church."  With about 20 families, the church was, at that time, the largest in the Centerville area. 

By 1911 the church had grown to almost 150 members, a considerably large church at that time. But a dispute had arisen within the congregation over whether or not the offering should be taken before or after the sermon.  Thus the first split took place, with the dissenting congregation forming "Centerville Reformed Presbyterian Church."

In 1915 a dispute arose amongst the members of Centerville Reformed Presbyterian Church over the issue of the regulative principle of worship.  It seems that some members of CRPC liked the idea of having flowers in the sanctuary, while others objected.  As a result CRPC split and Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church of Centerville was organized with 25 members.

Several more splits took place over various issues between the years 1915 and 1929.  It was in 1931 that another dispute arose amongst the members of Seventh Presbyterian Reformed Covenantal Church of Centerville over an issue that no one can seem to remember, nor do any records indicate.  Suffice it to say, that approximately half the congregation split away, and 9 people formed Third Westminster Trinity Covenant Presbyterian Reformed Church of Centerville.

Again, more splits took place between 1931 and 1975 when a major split took place within the PCUS denomination over the issue of merging with the more liberal PCUSA.  At that time Eleventh Westminster Covenant Presbyterian Church of Centerville voted to remain in the PCUS with the merger.  Fifteen members broke off and formed St. John's Presbyterian Church. One week later, St. John's Presbyterian Church split over the choice of name for the church as several members objected to using the word "Saint" in the name of a Reformed Church.

Since 1975 several more splits have happened with the most recent occurring this past weekend, when a dispute arose amongst the members of Second Street First Ninth Westminster Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church over the issue of the observance of the Lord's Day.  The issue in question was whether or not it was acceptable for someone to check their email on the Sabbath.  Those who objected have now split off and have formed "The Presbyterian Totally Reformed Covenantal Westminsterian Sabbatarian Regulative Credo-Communionist A Millennial Presuppositional Church of Centerville.  

"I think we've finally got it right now" said Paul Davis, teaching Elder at PTRCWSRCCAPCC.  "We now have a church with 100% doctrinal purity."

PTRCWSRCCAPCC is hoping to grow and help reach out to the community.

"We're up to 6 people on Sundays now" said Davis.  "I know that numbers are not important, but we're hoping to grow a little more."

28 January, 2008

Just Divided Over What They "Just" Want God to Do

Macon, Ga - It is a typical Sunday morning at Temple Baptist Church in Macon. Sunday School has just started when Andrew Carney, the teacher of the Pioneers adult class stands up to take prayer requests. After a few minutes of taking requests he says "Brother Henderson, would you open our time of prayer, and after a few minutes or so, I'll close us."

Over the next ten or so minutes the class members pray, "Lord, just help us to grow...Lord, we just want to worship you today...we just want to reach out to the community more," etc. As the time of prayer closes uneasiness amongst the members sets in. One can easily tell that there is some kind of tension in the room.

What is happening these days at Temple Baptist is a phenomenon that is beginning to show up in many other places in Evangelical America. For years now, people have been asking God to "just" do this or to "just" do that, and now tensions are beginning to arise among church members about what they think God should "just" be doing.

"When I pray I ask him to 'just bless us,'" said Dianne Boutwell, a member of Temple. "I think that covers everything. We don't need to be limiting him in any other way."
But some disagree.

"Since it's obvious that God only does one thing at a time, I think it's important that we ask him to 'just help us evangelize more'" said Ronnie Williams, another member. "But it's hard to pray that when all these other people are praying against me with all of these other requests."

Indeed at Temple Baptist on any given Sunday one can hear over 100 different 'just' requests. Some pray "just grow us," while others pray "just lead us." Other requests include "just make us more mindful of the needs of others" and "just help us to remember who we are." The disagreements have become so severe now that the church is in danger of splitting in different directions.

"We at a critical point here" said Pastor Perry Adkins. "I for one pray that we would 'just be united' but I know that there are those who disagree with me. If we're going to survive we need to come together as one on what we think God ought to be doing right now. I know he's just waiting for us to tell him, but he's getting all of these different requests."

The church plans to hold a special congregational meeting this upcoming Sunday evening to discuss the issue. Adkins went on to comment, "Right now I'm praying that things will just go well. In fact, I've heard several other people pray the same thing lately, so maybe we're getting on track here."

25 January, 2008

This Week in Photos 1/24/08

North Korean Leader Kim Il Sung, pauses for a moment 
to consider whether he is supra or infralapsarian 
and which group he should imprison.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair tries
to avoid questions about his converting to 
Catholicism by pretending to eat a large 
imaginary cabbage.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the company's
plans to begin releasing Bible versions this fall.
The first, known as the "Lion of Judah" version,
has been revised with much more "stable" theology
and "nifty little spaces" that keep verses in
organized piles.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
becomes furious when accused of
holding to Pauline New Perspective
theology responding with "What
you talking about N.T. Wright?!"

Catholic faithful were amused when Pope 
Benedict XVI began mass with "Here is
ze church, here is ze steeple, open ze door
und here are ze people!"

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates explains the differences
between conditional and unconditional election to
students at Liberty University.  Gates told the 
students, "Arminianism is by far the best system
of theology out there.  It works just as well and as 
smoothly as Vista."

23 January, 2008

Crystal Cathedral Tries "Naked Artwork", Concedes It's a "Bad Idea"

Garden Grove, CA - Those who have traveled abroad, especially those who may have toured some of the great cathedrals of Europe, have most likely encountered various paintings, statues and possibly carvings of different stories from the Bible. But all too often, it seems, many of these works depict the characters from the stories either unclothed or practically unclothed.

"It's bizarre" said Bill Christopher, an American who recently toured Europe with his wife. "I don't know where all of these artists down through the centuries got the idea that everyone ran around naked in the Bible."

Indeed famous works have depicted people going out to get baptized by John the Baptist, naked. There are paintings of the last judgment, and often the various subjects in the paintings are naked. Even, perhaps, one of the most famous of all, Michaelangelo's statue of "David" depicts the King of Israel in the nude.

"I just don't understand what the significance is" stated Elizabeth Harden, another recent visitor to Rome. "The only time the subject of naked appears in the Bible, it's often in a bad context."

But still, despite objections, cathedrals throughout the world are still adorned with nudity. And recently this inspired another modern "cathedral" to give it a try. Robert Schuller, founder of the "Hour of Power" and the ministry of the Crystal Cathedral, came to the realization that his "cathedral" was lacking something.

"We have a truly magnificent structure here" stated Schuller, "and we began to think that perhaps we were missing something. As we looked around, we noticed we had no statues and no magnificent works of art. So we began to investigate this further."

After several months of deliberation, Schuller decided the church should be adorned with artwork. The church enlisted the help of a team of five famous contemporary artists from around the world.

"We told them to make our cathedral glorious like those around the world" said Schuller. "We asked them to fill our church with artwork depicting the founding of this ministry and the work we have done here."

Thus, the work began. Statues were carved, paintings were painted, carvings were made and tapestries were woven. Then came the day of unveiling. The artists set up all of the works in the cathedral late one Saturday night to be revealed the next morning during a special commemoration service for the artwork.

The service was filled with much pomp and majesty. The choir sang a number of selections including portions of Handel's Messiah. One of the artist who designed many of the statues for the cathedral, Hiliuajana Rotherovraza, spoke during the service on the nature of the project. At last the moment to reveal all of the works of art came. The orchestra began to play as the lights dimmed. The drums rolled and the sheets were pulled away. In a matter of seconds the sanctuary filled with gasps and sounds of shock. Even Schuller himself stood aghast for a moment. There before the watching eyes of everyone in the congregation were works of art depicting the history of The Crystal Cathedral with every subject in the paintings completely unclothed.

"It was quite disturbing" said one congregation member, Ellis Hathaway. "There were pictures and statues everywhere of Dr. Schuller. In some he was preaching, in another he was shown breaking ground on the Cathedral when it was built. But in every last picture or statue he was as bare as the day he was born."

From that point on in the service Schuller tried to recover some sense of order. Many congregation members left. Others laughed, while still others became ill. Schuller hesitantly thanked the five proud artists who were present and quickly pronounced a benediction of sorts, exiting the stage before anyone could stop him for questioning. All of the works of art were removed later the same day.

"I think, looking back, it was a bad idea" said Schuller. "Perhaps we should have defined a little more clearly what we wanted or at least been more involved in the process."

Schuller went on to state that the Crystal Cathedral has no further plans to add any more artwork or statuary to their church.

16 January, 2008

Church Adds "i" in Front of Everything, Attendance Skyrockets

Northfolk, Indiana - "Welcome to iChurch," so the greeting goes on a typical Sunday morning for the worshipers of iBaptist in Northfolk. Sitting amongst the congregation it is hard to imagine that just 7 months ago this now thriving congregation was on the brink of closing her doors. But out of a deacon's meeting back in June of 2007 came a revitalization campaign that in less than a year has turned the church into one of the fastest growing churches in the state of Indiana.  

The concept of "iChurch" was proposed by 35 year-old pastor Steve Works.  During the meeting Works spoke to his fellow deacons about the need for change.
"The meeting was getting tense" said Works.  "We had been discussing for a long time how we could revive the church.  Attendance had been dropping for over ten years, and if the trend continued we were going to have to close our doors before long.  So I spoke up in the meeting and said 'Brother's, church has become complicated.  We're not very user friendly anymore. We have so many complicated committees, programs, so many decorations all around the church, etc.  It's high time we got back to the basics.'"

The Deacons listened intently as Works shared his vision for the congregation.
"Walk through our town and what do you see?" asked Works.  "You see a vista of Church spires, large beautiful buildings, and ours in among them, but things are so complicated in those churches.  Congregations are breaking down and freezing up in their callings.  Sometimes people aren't compatible, and  ministerial staffs are having to spend countless hours trying to resolve problems.  We need a program here that works, somethings that's simple and clean."

Works continued to speak for over an hour, and at the end of the meeting the deacons unanimously voted to adopt Works' plan of action.  Over the course of a month, changes were made throughout the church.  The congregation voted to rename itself simply "iBaptist."  Next they removed their steeple and painted the entire church, both inside and out in basic black, white, grey and light blue colors.  Pews were replaced with sleek rounded metal chairs.  A simple white podium replaced the pulpit.  The stain glass windows were replaced with plain clear glass, and any and all pictures and images were removed from the iSanctuary.  

"The change to our name and our physical facilities alone brought a sudden sharp increase in our attendance" said Works.  "Two months after we implemented the iChurch program we had almost 75 new people attending."

But the changes did not stop there.  The church eliminated all committees, and replaced them with iGroups.  The Sunday School Program was renamed iSunday, and was restructured into three basic programs, iShufflers for children 1 and younger, iNanos for children between the ages of 2 and 16, and iClassics, divided into two sub-groups of 16 - 40 and 60 - 120.  

Next, the worship service was revamped completely.  On a typical Sunday morning now the iChoir will sing an iAnthem and the congregation will sing 3-4 iHymns.  Pastor Works prays iPrayers and preaches an iSermon during which he wows the congregation by using a large HD display screen installed behind him to 'introduce new and exciting truths.'

"We just love it" said new member Barry Clemens.  "Things are so simple and user friendly.  There are less distractions, and things are clean and stable."

"The program has worked" said Works.  "In just seven months iBaptist has grown from 54 people to almost 700 on a typical Sunday.  We are also excited because in just a few months we're going to upgrade our iWorship to a new level we call 'Lion and Lamb.'  It's going to make the whole worship experience even more powerful and easier to use."

14 January, 2008

Frustrated Monsters Everywhere Join the "Emerging Lurch" Movement

They might be "creepy" and "kooky, mysterious and spooky," but lately they've been frustrated and discouraged. Recently a growing number of monsters all around the world have become increasingly dissatisfied with traditional monsterdom and have begun to look elsewhere to discover more about themselves and who they are.

The trend began about five years ago when Lurch, best known for his portrayal of the character "Lurch" on the Addams Family TV show, emerged stating that he was "tired" of playing the traditional roll of a monster in today's postmodern and changing world.

"Traditional monsterdom has got to change" said Lurch. "We're tired of being told what a monster should be like. Maybe I don't want to walk around all stiff-necked, grunting all the time. Maybe I'm tired of scaring little kids to death, or creeping out the neighbors. I know that those have been the traditional views of what a monster should be, but I don't think it can be that black and white anymore. It's time to start challenging these views. Conversation needs to start in these areas."

When Lurch made his feelings public he had no idea the stir that they would cause. Soon, several hundred monsters came out in support of Lurch's movement, then several thousand. Now tens of thousands of monsters have joined what has become known as "The Emerging Lurch Movement."

"We meet wherever and whenever we can now" said Lockhart Schmidt, a zombie from Tennessee. "It used to be that we'd always have to meet out in the woods somewhere in the middle of the night with a full moon and fog and all that jazz. Now a group of us will get together on a Friday night at Starbucks or a local pub and have a beer or two...or five while we talk about what it means to be a follower of monsterdom."

"The whole point of this is that each of us must figure out for his or her or its self what it means to be a monster" said Lurch. "We don't try to give all of the answers. Each one must find his or her or its own path, and come to his or her or its own conclusions. Is that messy thinking? Absolutely, but we cherish the messiness. Doing monstrology is messy business. I don't think we can simply systematize a whole philosophy like some try to do."

As the movement spreads, groups plan to hold various activities to attract more participants from the monster world.

"We're trying to reach out to those who have been possibly hurt by traditional monster groups" said Lurch. "We want to help them break free of the mold. We want to setup meditation seminars, and possibly build some labyrinths for people to walk, or even bring in some Gurus to do Yoga or something. We are encouraging monsters everywhere to explore their own paths as followers of monsterdom."

11 January, 2008

Top Republican Candidates Speak Out on Religious Views

On Wednesday TBNN was proud to bring you exclusive statements from the top two Democratic candidates for President, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. Today we now turn our attention to the Republican side of the aisle. But in the case of the Republican candidates, we have more to read about. Thus far, four main candidates are are showing a strong running to win the nomination for their party, Senator John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Their statements are presented as follows in no particular order.

Mitt Romney:

"It's time to set the record straight about who I am and my faith. Yes, I am a Mormon, and proud to be. My faith to me is very important. It is the driving force in my life. But being a Mormon in American is difficult at times. We have suffered persecution and misunderstanding. Since announcing I would run for president I have had questions asked to me 'So Mitt, if elected would you wear your holy undies in the oval office?' and jokes like 'So, I guess there'll be no coffee or tea at the cabinet meetings' and my favorite 'So, are we going to change the name of Camp David to Camp Joseph Smith?' But I take all of these things in stride and with a grain of salt realizing that most people are just ignorant of what we really believe. And what do we really believe? We believe the same things you do. Mormonism is really no different from the Reformed Faith. We basically believe the same thing. And that's my encouragement to you. Don't let my Mormonism be a hindrance for you. Other than things like the Trinity, salvation by faith alone, baptism for the dead, etc. we really just believe the same things."

John McCain:

"Okay, I know what you're thinking. 'John McCain, what kind of Republican is he going to be? He's Episcopalian for crying out loud.' And believe me, I completely understand. Me and the other 17 Republicans in the Episcopal church often get together and discuss whether or not we should switch to another denomination or not, but it just always gets too complicated. But in all honesty, let me set your minds at ease. Although I'm an Episcopalian, I'm still a Republican and still a conservative. I don't know a lot about Reformed theology, but I've known a couple of Presbyterians in my life and they've all been really nice people on the whole, with the exception of this one old elder I knew who was always really grumpy. But that's beside the fact. The point is, um, well, I forgot the point. Just trust me. Vote for me. You won't regret it."

Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani:

"Dear Reformed People. I thank you for this opportunity to share with you my views on religion. I grew up Roman Catholic and almost, at one time, entered the priesthood. But, as you all know, that never materialized, and so law and politics became my pursuits. But I want you to know that despite the fact that I support abortion and gay marriage that Pat Robertson has endorsed me. That's right folks, Pat endorses me. So if you're questioning whether or not I should be your next President, just say to yourself, "Well, Pat supports him, he must be okay.'"

Mike Huckabee:

"As most of you already know, I'm a Baptist. I have pastored churches in the past, and have been a member of the Southern Baptist convention almost all my life. While I realize that The SBC is not the friendliest place in the world to Calvinists, I can assure you with all honesty that I will be a president for all peoples, for Calvinists and Arminians. Under my administration, Calvinists will be welcomed and affirmed. I even have hopes for putting some Calvinists on my staff once in office. So fear not to vote for old Mike. Who knows, if I'm predestined to win (ha, ha ha,) it's going to happen right?"

09 January, 2008

Top Democratic Candidates Speak Out on Religious Views

Note: On Friday's edition of TBNN we will present the views of the top Republican candidates.

It is no secret who the top to contenders are for the Democratic nomination. Since the beginning of the Presidential campaign, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama have dominated the news. For both candidates, a White House win would mean a history-making first for the United States, Clinton being the first woman president, Obama being the first African-American to hold the office. Current polls show both candidates running neck-in-neck with one another, and both candidates are realizing that in order to win the nomination they are going to have to "beef up" their campains.

We here at TBNN, in order to help our readers be more informed during this election campaign time have asked both Senators to make brief statements regarding their religious views. They are as follows,

Senator Clinton:

"My fellow Calvinists, it was the great Puritan theologian John Owen who said 'Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.' How true those words are. How important it is for us to root out those things in our lives which so easily beset us that we may continue to fight the good fight.

I want you to know, especially this election season, that I stand for you, the Reformed community. Though I grew up in the Methodist tradition, I am proud to have known several Calvinists growing up. I'll never forget our neighbor down the street, a kind and gentle old lady every simply called 'Aunt Lola.' She went to a Presbyterian church, and she would always bring us chicken soup if she heard that one of us were sick. Though I never talked about theology with her, you could see her Calvinism pouring off of here, and though my theology might not necessarily be "Reformed" per se, I have always believed that I am a Calvinist in spirit.

With that in mind, I want to encourage you to "choose" me. I'll admit that I want to laugh a little bit when I say that because I know that Calvinists believe that everything has already been planned and ordained. So I then encourage you to simply participate in what has already been predestined to happen, that is my election as President of the United States. Thank you for your time, and support. By Grace, Hillary Clinton

Barak Obama:

"We live in an important time, at this juncture in our history. We find ourselves at the threshold looking outward to that which is greener and brighter. And so, it is imperative that we listen and function within that framework of livelihood and exuberance. Vitality is the key. Let us now grow weary, but labor on in the methods taught us. Let us fly forward to new heights of achievement and grace in our lives.

It was my grandmother who said to me, "Barak, there's no one who can say that." I remember those words. They were instilled in me at a young age, and I've tried to live by them every day. And I can tell you that with all honesty they have truly affected my life. I find comfort and peace daily. And we as Americans, as Christians, who hold dear that to which we have been holding find more than enough. Yes, more than enough that we should cherish those same ideals.

So I ask you, is not the choice clear? Seize that which is of essence and walk through the tunnel to its end. Sincerely, Barak Obama."

07 January, 2008

"Trick" Sinner's Prayer "Saving" People by the Millions

It's been called "the greatest soul-winning development since the invention of the bus." Churches all around America have recently seen sharp increases in their "conversion" numbers because of it. Some have surmised that it might be the very thing that saves every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. What is it? It's the new "Trick Sinner's Prayer."

The prayer was first conceived about this time a year ago when a number of fundamentalist leaders got together to discuss the problem of soul-winning in America taking too long. Pastors from all over the country including Indiana, Texas and Florida met together in Missouri to come up with a solution of the problem.

"This whole soul-winning business it taking way to long" said Bro. Jimmy Burnside of Crossroads Baptist Church, Hurley, Indiana. "Some of our sister churches had soul-winning numbers as low as 3,500 last year. That's just downright pathetic. We're just not getting enough people saved and fast enough."

All of the pastors echoed Burnside's sentiments with similar comments.

"We're maxed out" said Bro. Jimmy Green of Shortview Baptist Church, Shortview, Texas. "We're running the buses every chance we get. We've got every preacher boy working shifts sometimes as long as 24 hours. Yet last year we only had 8,746 professions and baptisms."

Different possibilities were discussed as to how professions could be increased until finally one pastor pointed out a harsh but obvious truth.

"Some people just don't want to be saved" said Bro. Jimmy Everett, pastor of Sweet Beulah Land Baptist Church in Penallas Park, Florida. "It's these people who won't even talk to us that are standing in the way of our numbers. If we are to succeed in our mission we must find a way to get these people."

Everett went on to present his solution, the "Trick Sinner's Prayer."

The prayer is designed so that if anyone reads it unsuspectingly he or she will assume it is a senseless stream of short sentences, but in actually he or she will be saying a "sinner's prayer." The "prayer" is as follows,

"I know Imma. Send her. I can fuss. I need four. Give Ness. Irene Pent and Bea leave. Common tomb. I hurt."

"Brilliance, sheer brilliance" said Bro. Jimmy Liddle, another pastor who attended the conference. "All we got to do is figure out a way to get people to say this and, bang, we got them!"

Several of the churches have already begun using the prayer. Green's church, Shortview Baptist, rented out a local indoor pool just last week during the Christmas holidays and offered "free swimming" to the community for anyone who wanted to come. The only "catch" was that upon entry they had to "say this silly little paragraph" to "join the club."

"We had over 2500 people show up during the week" said Green. "It was the most soul-winningest week we have ever had. When they'd come in we'd get them saved with the prayer and then immediately get them baptized in the pool."

Several of the other churches used the same idea, and other churches have different ideas for the "prayer."

"We're going to try to get some hip boy band to make it into a song or something, that way all these young folks will be singing it and not even knowing that they're getting saved in the process" said Liddle. "There are other avenues like advertising and Starbucks Cups."

04 January, 2008

Don't Miss The "Amazing Air-Gun"!!!!

You've heard him rant against Calvinisim. You've seen him tasered live on stage. Now see the amazing Air-Gun Caner like you've never seen him before! You'll not want to miss "The Amazing Air-Gun and His Traveling Arminian Circus!"

Watch and listen in awe and wonder as The Amazing Air-Gun makes profound theological points and backs them up with the most amazing illustrations out there today! You'll not want to miss the amazing feats such as...

-Bungee jumping over a pit of live alligators (illustrating the virgin birth)
-Setting himself on fire (illustrating the perils of Calvinisim)
-Being sawed in half (illustrating the rapture)
-Being buried alive beneath an ant bed while covered in honey (illustrating the parable of the Sower and the Seed)
-Making himself float (illustrating the parting of the Red Sea)

Also watch in amazement as The Amazing Air-Gun makes the collected works of John Owen disappear live on stage!

And you want want to miss his grand finale when he offers an invitation by being fired out of a cannon through five rings of fire into a tank of piranhas.

Be sure not to miss the Biblical exposition of a lifetime. When "The Amazing Air-Gun and His Traveling Arminian Circus" comes to town!