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Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog and Commentary

Dr. James Emery White

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Might Be A Bad Day"

When James “Jimmy” Epting became president of North Greenville College in 1991, enrollment at the two-year college had dropped to 329 students and the school’s finances were on shaky ground. There was even fear the school would have to close for good.

Yet under Epting’s leadership, the Southern Baptist college began to flourish. He raised nearly $50 million through capital campaigns, led it to become a four-year university, and added more than 2,000 students to its annual roster.

“The chair of the trustee board called Epting’s first 23 years a season of miracles, making Epting a beloved figure—complete with a statue of him at prayer near the campus center.”

But then his son, armed with a cell-phone camera, caught his father in the middle of a tryst with a school administrator. He started the two-minute clip by saying, “Here we go … might be a bad day.”

Then he went into the house where he suspected his father was engaged in illicit activity, discovered him with the woman and said, “It’s over, Dad.”

It’s devastating to watch.

Perhaps even more so when coupled with the recent leak of account holders on the adultery matchmaking website Ashley Madison, many of whom were trusted Christian leaders. 

The most recent?

R.C. Sproul, Jr., who admitted to visiting the site in a “moment of weakness” but contended that he did not interact with any clients.

Ligonier was founded by his father, popular author and theologian R. C. Sproul Sr., who still serves as board chair. His son is one of the ministry’s teaching fellows, and is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at the ministry’s Reformation Bible College. He had earlier edited the ministry’s magazine, Tabletalk.

Ligonier Ministries has suspended him until July of 2016.

My friend Ed Stetzer has suggested that as many as 400 Christian leaders could be resigning their churches this weekend alone due to the Ashley Madison leak.

Epting’s son was right.

This could be a very bad day.

James Emery White

 

Sources

Exposing Jimmy Epting,” YouTube.

“A Christian College President Falls,” by Bob Smietana, Christianity Today, August 31, 2015, read online.

“Ligonier Suspends R.C. Sproul Jr. Over Ashley Madison Visit," by Timothy C. Morgan, Christianity Today, August 31, 2015, read online.

“My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List,” by Ed Setzer, Christianity Today, August 27, 2015, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

I’ve seldom met a church leader who didn’t think themselves up on culture. This despite the plethora of culturally outdated approaches to ministry littering the landscape like discarded 8 track tape players.

So how about you?

Would you pass a cultural literacy test?

Let’s find out, courtesy of the latest edition of Wired magazine. Eight questions, four choices per question, answers at the end (but no peeking).

1.       What is Synbio?

A.  Where you put the really naughty stuff in your Facebook profile
B.  Tricking yeast into belching out stuff like morphine
C.  A new mobile game where you control ribosomes and Golgi apparatuses
D.  The name of Kanye and Kim’s forthcoming second child

2.       Who is Christopher Soghoian?

A.  The ACLU’s tech guru
B.  The left-hand fern on Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns
C.  The target of an FBI investigation
D.  The birth name of Ronan the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy

3.       What is Cli-Fi?

A.  Syfy’s new spinoff network that features nothing but clip art
B.  “Click financing,” in which new-media employees get loans based on site traffic
C.  A nickname for Clint Fisticuffs, Andreessen Horowitz’s new bulldog mascot
D.  Climate-disaster fiction, a new genre that’s showing us our terrible future

4.       What or who is Thundercat?

A.  A new strain of ultra-powerful weed that’s testing the limits of legalization laws
B.  One of a team of alien cat-people from the planet Thunderchunk
C.  The genius who helped make Kendrick Lamar’s most recent album a masterpiece
D.  The right-hand fern on Zach Galifiankis’ Between Two Ferns

5.       What is an Oculus Rift?

A.  The ultimate stripper move in next year’s Magic Mike 3: Sniffin’ the Rift
B.  Rapper Riff Raff’s new lazy-eyed sidekick
C.  A gap between dark matter particles with the potential to swallow the universe
D.  The VR headset that is creating an entirely new lexicon of storytelling

6.       How will you drive your next BMW?

A.  Feed $20 bills directly into the steering column and bark at it like a valet
B.  Send brain waves via bespoke herringbone electrodes
C.  Wave and point wildly like a drunk air-traffic controller
D.  Just tell the driver where you want to go

7.       What is a blockchain?

A.  That hot new boy band with the hit song “Anonymously Yours”
B.  A superstrong alloy that enables lightning-fast construction of skyscrapers
C.  A crypto-authentication system that may be key to preventing digital fraud
D.  A secret cell of assassins on next season’s Game of Thrones

8.       What uses 13 tera-electronvolts?

A.  The Apple Watch
B.  The Ecto-1 from Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot
C.  The revamped Large Hadron Collider
D.  Elon Musk’s soon-to-be-unveiled Tesla Zamboni

 Answers

1. B     2. A & C     3. D     4. C     5. D     6. C     7. C     8. C

Now, be honest.

How up on culture are you … really?

James Emery White

 

Sources

Robert Capps, “The Wired Quiz: How Culturally Literate Are You?,” Wired, September 2015, p. 108.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

After France lost the battle of Rossbach in 1757, the mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, attempted to comfort the King by saying, “Après nous, le deluge.”

“After us, the deluge.”

[Or, if Louis XV said it himself, as some contend, it would be “Après moi, le deluge.”] 

The idea was that it mattered little what had happened. After all, it could flood tomorrow and all will be gone. So eat, drink and be merry. An alternate reading of the phrase is even more telling. “After this, the flood will come.”

Either reading would make the observation prescient.

Louis XV is widely credited for the severe weakening – internally and externally – of France. And then, fifteen years after his death, the devastation of the French Revolution broke out.

Like many, I have been stunned by the rapidly changing moral landscape; the floodgates that have opened through our culture’s recent moral freefall from earlier understandings of right and wrong, particularly of a sexual nature. And not even of right and wrong, but the obliteration of even the most basic of sexual constraints.

This is more than the legalization of gay marriage or the onslaught of “call me Cait.” Consider those symptoms of a much larger, and more deeply rooted, disease.

Consider the influential statements by outspoken celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevingne. For example, Stewart, when asked about her sexuality in an interview said:

“I think in three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing.”

And from Miley Cyrus:

“[I don’t] relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”

And they are not alone.

For example, a recent U.K. study revealed that nearly half of all young people don’t think they are exclusively heterosexual. The YouGov survey revealed that 49% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 identified as something other than 100% heterosexual. This despite the repeated findings that only about 4% of the entire adult population are actually homosexual.

What is being revealed is an increasing “sexual fluidity” that refuses either the homosexual or heterosexual label. The idea is that both labels are repressive. Sexuality should be set free of any and all restrictions and allowed to follow its desire, moment by moment.

This isn’t a slippery slope. It’s something more substantive, more …

… frightening.

I cannot help but think of the telling phrase cited not once, not twice, but three times in Paul’s opening manifesto to the church at Rome. In speaking of, and to, the depravity of humanity, Paul’s prophetic words thundered:

“Therefore God gave them over” (Romans 1:24, NIV).

“Because of this, God gave them over” (Romans 1:26, NIV).

“… since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over …” (Romans 1:28, NIV).

Three times the idea was reiterated: God gave them over.

And to what did God give them over to?

It was the same in each instance:

“… [to] the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Romans 1:24, NIV).

“… to shameful lusts” (Romans 1:26, NIV).

“… to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28, NIV).

In other words, God turned them over to their sin, letting their choice for sin run its natural course as an act of judgment.

Many look at the cultural landscape of the West and either call for, or fear, God’s judgment. But what would the nature of such judgment be? Perhaps it will be nothing more, but nothing less, than being given over to our own choices.

As C.S. Lewis once observed, in the end, there will only be two verdicts: Men and women who said to God, “Thy will be done.” Or men and women hearing from that same God, “Thy will be done.”

“Après nous, le deluge.”

Perhaps that is the greatest judgment of all.

James Emery White

 

Sources

“Nearly half of young people don’t think they are heterosexual,” by Helena Horton, The Telegraph, August 17, 2015, read online.

“Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus and the Rise of Sexual Fluidity,” by Eric Sasson, The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2015, read online.

 

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

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