30 November, 2007

Taking a Short Break

Dr. Tom is at a conference for the weekend, and he doesn't have internet access, so I'm here to tell you the sad news that there is no story for today, Friday, November 30, 2007. Not to fear, he will have returned in time to continue his regularly scheduled writing for Monday.

--Tom's Wife

28 November, 2007

Pat Robertson Endorses Satan's Candidacy for Republican Nomination

New York, New York - In a recent development that is shocking millions of Americans, presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani announced on Tuesday evening that he was abandoning his bid for President.

"I'm dropping out of this race for personal reasons I do not wish to discuss" said Giuliani to a crowd of stunned supporters at a fund raising dinner Tuesday night in New York. "I wish I could say more now, and perhaps in the near future I will be able to explain my reasons, but I simply cannot go into further detail at this time."

After the speech Giuliani left the stage, and left many of his supporters struggling to find answers. One supporter in particular was left with a particular dilemma. The Reverend Pat Robertson had only several weeks ago, amid much controversy, voiced his support for Giuliani's campaign. But before the night was out a new runner in the presidential race emerged that quickly won the support of Robertson. The candidate? None other than the Devil himself.

The crowd remained at the fund raiser and continued with the evening's dinner, but before the night was out The Prince of the Power of the Air appeared on stage to announce his candidacy for President.

"I'm sad that we lost Rudy" said The Father of Lies, appearing as an angel of light. "But I feel this nation is at a critical point in history. Our boarders are not secure, and terrorism affects us from every side. I ought to know, because hey, I'm working in the hearts of the terrorists! So it is with great joy that I announce my bid for the office of the President of the United States."

After the speech some cheered, some fled screaming from the building, and some passed out, but all were surprised when Robertson, who had showed up at the event to support Guiliani, took the stand to voice his support for The Old Serpent.

"We have been on an emotional roller coaster this evening" said Robertson. "We all watched and listened with shock as Rudy dropped out of the campaign, but here at the end of the evening a glimmer of hope has appeared. I know that many might question my support of Beelzebub for president on the Republican ticket, but as he said we are indeed at a critical point in our nation's history. Issues such as terrorism and securing our boarders are more pressing right now than anything, and who better to take care of the problem than the guy who's causing it all? So this year, my vote goes for Lucifer. After all, he's the best chance the Republicans have for a victory."

Many applauded after Robertson's speech, but a number of Republicans are now expressing concerns over The Evil One's run for President.

"I'm not sure this is such a good idea" said former Guiliani supporter Robert Lendle. "I just don't think I can support such a candidate."

But other's were heartily ready to support The Deceiver.

"Look he's running on the Republican ticket, and he's the best chance we have for a winner" said supporter Ingrid Philman. "Yes, I'm a Christian, but the most important thing is for the Republicans to win, no matter who's running in the top spot. Yes, I suppose I could vote for one of the more conservative candidates who actually believed and supported agendas more in line with Christian beliefs, but I would only be throwing away my vote."

Satan plans to hit the campaign trail this week with stops scheduled in Iowa and Florida.

26 November, 2007

"Preacher Hero" Hits Stores Just in Time for the Holidays

Tokyo, Japan - Given the high degree of success of Sony's Guitar Hero for their Play Station game systems, the company announced the release of a new similar game just in time for the holiday rush. In the new game entitled Preacher Hero players get the chance to "out preach" some of the most famous preachers in the world today.

"Given the infatuation with television preachers, we feel this game will be very popular" said Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer. "Now kids can test their preaching skills against some of the most famous television preachers in the world today."

The game can be played in one of two ways. The game comes with a special microphone which the player plugs into the console. Texts from sermons move across the screen while the player screams into the microphone. The player can also play with the controller and attempt to animate his or her favorite preacher as he or she preaches. Players also get extra points for performing a healing or for speaking in tongues.

The game will include some of today's most famous preachers including,

  • Bishop T.D. Jakes
  • Joel Osteen
  • Benny Hinn
  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
  • Dr. Joyce Myers
  • Robert Schuller
  • Jan and Paul Crouch
  • Creflo Dollar
  • And Randy and Paula White
The game hits the shelves at stores this Wednesday with a price tag of $69.95.

24 November, 2007

Teacher-of-the-Year Reveals Methods

Wagner, WV-- A math teacher at Wagner High was recently awarded the title of Teacher-of-the-Year by the Academy of Evolutionary Sciences for exemplary teaching methods. During the last five years Horton Lou has taken 116 students who were previously failing math and turned them into A students. After using a series of simple steps, 97.41% of the students not only passed math, but also scored A's as long as Mr. Lou remained their teacher.

Mr. Lou never bombards the students with paper and pencil to test their understanding. Instead he writes out long, complex math problems with solutions covering almost the entire chalk board. With the problems and solutions clearly visible for the students to see, Mr. Lou simply asks the students to raise a hand if they really really want to know how to earn an A.

"The first time I did it, the response was amazing," said Mr. Lou. "Over 50% of the students in the class had a hand raised on the very first day. The failing students did not really want to fail."

On that first day, Mr. Lou asked all of those who really wanted an A to form a line down the center aisle of the classroom. He worked with each student individually, asking, "Do you believe the answer I have presented on the board is the correct answer?" If the student said "Yes," then Mr. Lou continued with, "Repeat after me:

"I know I didn't know the answer before. I have been a failure. I realize I had no clue and was lost for a solution. Recognizing that I did not know, I now admit that the answer is before me. I believe the answer on the board is correct. I truly accept the answer on the board as the correct answer."

"That's all I did," said Mr. Lou. "Hallelujah! Eventually 97.41% of the students who were failing math now believe the correct answers. Since their statements, I have to trust that 97.41% of the previously failing students now understand math completely. "

"The reason for the 2.69% who are still failing is due to the sad fact that some students would not follow through with publicly acknowledging belief in the problem by placing a checkmark by the answer and dipping and rinsing their hands in the nearby basin," said Mr. Lou.

"Without boldly professing their belief in the answer on the board, they will not receive an A," said Mr. Lou. Mr. Lou told them they did not have to have a great understanding to receive an A, just a public confessing that the answer on the board was correct. "Those 2.69% have not yet followed through."

Roger Bankston, a previously failing 10th grader maybe said it best, "The method is so simple. It's as easy as A, B, C, D: Admit, Believe, Check, Dip. If you can remember A, B, C, D, you don't need to worry about the F!"

A student first admits he has not previously understood. Second, he must believe the correct answer is on the board. Third, he needs to place a check by the answer, as a public confession that he believes the answer. Fourth, he must dip his chalky fingers in the basin because Mr. Lou's the teacher and that's his fourth requirement.

Mr. Lou has had some students who he felt truly believed they understood the problems on the board and followed the ABCD plan. But they did not appear to be living like they believed the problems. Mr. Lou did not suggest that they complete the full ABCD's again. He just asked them to rededicate themselves to the math truths by walking the aisle again and placing a checkmark by the correct answer again. They were not asked to dip their fingers in the basin a second time.

Mr. Lou has also had a student every now and then who later admits that he did not really believe the first time he lined up in the center aisle. "I don't take away their A's on the old report cards, but they will only receive F's unless they follow the proper steps in their entirety."

Mr. Lou also had an awkward situation where a student wanted to walk straight over and wash his hands in the basin, without confessing the problem to be correct or placing a checkmark by the answer on the board. That student was not given an A.

In celebration of their A's, all A math students were given a pizza-bite party with grape Kool-aid. The purpose of the pizza-bite party and the Kool-aid is to give the students a reminder that they truly have sufficient math understanding. "Anytime someone tries to tell you that you don't understand math, you remember this moment," says Mr. Lou. "You remember that you lined up in the center aisle, placed a check by the problem on the board, and washed your hands of the chalk."

The pizza-bite and Kool-aid party really helped to encourage the non-party-ing kids to decide to choose to get an A in math. The partiers told their friends, and that's why the initial 50% numbers jumped to 97.41%.

TBNN did ask how the students performed on Stanford Achievement Tests given nationwide. We were warned that the SAT's were not accurately assessing the mathematical achievement of Mr. Lou's A students. "This points to a major problem with so-called 'standards of truth,'" said Mr. Lou. He argues that we must reconsider the national standards. "There are obviously local differences in math understanding that standardized exams are not picking up. Math in Ohio is not always the same as math in West Virginia. The local math understanding is more important in the daily life of kids than a so called 'standard of truth' nationally. My students are A students, regardless of what the national tests show."

23 November, 2007

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22 November, 2007

Thanksgiving for Perfect Doctrine

NASHVILLE, TN – On this day of giving thanks, TBNN has learned that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is giving thanks to God for its “perfect doctrine.”

Pastor Davis Wallace, of FBC-Tyler (TX), explained, “We at the SBC are so grateful to God for blessing us with perfect doctrine. We know this is by His grace. We do not deserve perfectly biblical doctrine, but that is what the Lord has given us nonetheless. Do we have any right to correct knowledge of doctrines such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the incarnation, soteriology, ecclesiology, and salvation itself? No, we do not. Do we have any right to our perfect understanding of how God's sovereignty does not infringe upon man's free will? No, we don't. We give all thanks to God for His perfect blessings.”

TBNN has obtained an advance copy of a ½ page statement that the SBC will be placing in the major newspapers of 24 U.S. cities on Thanksgiving Day. Along with a statement of thanks, the SBC is, somewhat surprisingly, publishing its latest rankings for its “Denominational Likelihood of Salvation Scale.” On this scale, the SBC ranks numerous denominations, based upon their doctrine, on the chances of their members actually being saved.

The scale is based upon the idea that Southern Baptists have a 100% chance of being saved based upon their doctrine. The scale does not indicate that all members of SBC churches are saved (we all know that’s not the case). The scale, therefore, is based on doctrinal purity, not on whether or not the people actually believe it.

Denominational Likelihood of Salvation Scale:
Southern Baptist 100%

Independent Baptist 83%
Free Will Baptist 77%
American Baptist 62%

Presbyterian (PCA) 57%
Presbyterian (PC-USA) 41%

Lutheran 55%

United Methodist 52%
Free Methodist 48%
Wesleyan 47%

Disciples of Christ 43%

Church of God 39%
Assemblies of God 39%
Pentecostal 39%

African-Methodist-Episcopal 36%

Episcopal 21%

Greek Orthodox 11%
Russian Orthodox 11%

Roman Catholic 9%

7th Day Adventist 2%
Unitarian-Universalist 1.5%
Mormon 1%
Moonies 0.5 %
Jehovah’s Witness 0%

As we would expect, leaders of other denominations are not exactly pleased about this scale. Dr. Norma Simpson, representing the United Methodist Church, told TBNN, “We just do not understand the need for this scale. The SBC has been putting this out for years, and it doesn’t do anything other than make them seem elitist, and drive a deeper wedge between our denominations.”

Rev. John Reese, of the PCA, told TBNN, “I just don’t understand the reasoning of the SBC. Our main disagreements are on secondary issues such as baptism and church polity. We may be more Reformed than they are, but does that mean that we only have a 57% chance of being saved?”

In response to Dr. Simpson’s and Mr. Reese’s comments, Pastor Henry Pullen (FBC-Pascagoula, MS) said, “The truth sometimes hurts. Some people don’t want to hear it. We have nothing against other denominations such as the UMC or the PCA. If they would just change and believe exactly what we believe, then I’m sure everything would be hunky-dory. We’re not claiming that the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 came down from heaven on golden plates, but it may have been something like that.”

21 November, 2007

TBNN Interviews The Reverend Fred Phelps

Topeka, Kansas - We here at TBNN had the great privilege of sitting down recently with the controversial Rev. Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. Phelps and his congregation have recently been thrust in the public eye for protesting the funerals of fallen United States soldiers, equating the defense of America with a defense of homosexuality. During the interview TBNN was able to get to the real issues that are important to Phelps.

TBNN: "Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to grant this interview, Reverend. May I call you Fred?"

Phelps: "You can call me whatever you want."

TBNN: "Great! Thanks Freddie. Let me get straight to the point here, you're obviously not concerned with whether or not people like you, so what is your ultimate goal in holding these protests and pickets."

Phelps: "Our goal?"

TBNN: "Yes, what is your aim?"

Phelps: "Our aim is to tell these rotten horse droppings that they're going to hell and that there's nothing they can do about it."

TBNN: "So, you tell them that they're going to hell, and you stop right there?"

Phelps: "Of course, braino! What else are we supposed to say?"

TBNN: "So when you tell someone that they're going to hell, do you consider that to be 'preaching the gospel'?"

Phelps: [laughs] "Look, I can see where this is going. You're just like everyone else who thinks God loves everyone, and that all we have to do is tell everyone how much God loves them and they'll just accept him. But the gospel is telling people that God hates them and they can't do anything about it and that they're going to hell when they die!"

TBNN: "Well, actually as a Calvinist myself I don't believe exactly as you say, but that aside, doesn't the word 'gospel' mean 'good news?'"

Phelps: "What are you getting at braino?"

TBNN: "Well, Phelpsy, Scripture seems to indicate that 'preaching the gospel' involves both a presentation of one's sin and his standing before God and also the hope that may be found in Jesus Christ. Come to think of it, I've rarely ever heard you mention Jesus in any of your 'sermons'. Isn't the gospel supposed to be the 'good news of Jesus Christ?'"

Phelps: [laughs] "You sound just like one of those namby-pamby kissy-poo preachers always talking about mercy, grace, salvation and Jesus. When we tell someone that they're going to hell and that there's nothing they can do to stop it, it is good news, good news to us! You just don't get it do you? Have you ever read Jonathan Edward's Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God braino?"

TBNN: "Actually I have Fredrika. I like it and agree with it. Have you ever read his sermon Pardon for the Greatest of Sinners?"

Phelps: [laughs] "You imbecile, he didn't write any other sermons!"

TBNN: "Um, actually he did. He preached hundreds of sermons. Now he believed in being blunt with people about sin and the need for repentance, but he also told people about Christ. And he was a Calvinist too."

Phelps: "You're a lying son of Belial!"

TBNN: "It's true, look it up."

Phelps: "What church do you go to?"

TBNN: "Me, well I'm a member of a Presbyterian church, PCA."

Phelps: "You bunch of paedo-baptists, you're all going to hell!"

TBNN: "So you're saying a paedo-baptist cannot be saved Freddy man?"

Phelps: "Absolutely! There's no place in heaven for anyone who believes any point of doctrine other than what we believe here at Westboro Baptist Church."

TBNN: "Well that presents a problem then because Jonathan Edwards was a paedo-baptist, and another preacher whom you often quote, Spurgeon, actually believed that Arminian brothers and sisters in Christ would go to heaven."


Thus my interview with the Rev. Phelps came to a close. Unfortunately I never got to ask him about Ezekiel 33:11.

20 November, 2007

The Sovereignty of Global Warming

We at TBNN are big readers of great books such as A. W. Pink's The Sovereignty of God. We are Reformed, and thus believe that God is in literal control of all things - including salvation (click here to read a bit of Pink's classic work).

All within the Christian community are not convinced that God is sovereign. Most mainline denominations are at least leaning towards Arminianism if not openly embracing it. Some denominations with Reformed history and traditions (such as Southern Baptists) now by and large reject Reformed theology. Increasing numbers of many types of different churches are accepting open theism as truth.

TBNN has discovered that there are even a few churches who believe something else is truly sovereign over all things: global warming.

Now that the United Nations has released a "definitive report" on global warming, some groups of believers are bowing to the ultimate control of the environment. Pastor Nancy Franklin of Portland (OR) Church of Christ informed us, "We see more and more examples of the control of the environment over our lives. Just look at our world today. The tsunami of 2004 may have been the first sign. Then there was Hurricane Katrina. This year alone we have had the wildfires in California, drought in the Southeast, and now this terrible cyclone hitting Bangladesh. The worst tragedy of all was the recent oil spill in San Francisco Bay. Some locations in our world are getting snow, others are getting no snow. Some places are getting rain, while others are not. Some places are windy, and others are calm. It all comes straight from global warming."

In light of the control that global warming now appears to be exerting over all facets of life, several different groups have joined together in writing a new set of commandments to live by. These groups include the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian-Universalists, Greenpeace, and the San Francisco City Council. They insist on a literal interpretation of these commandments.

The Global Warming 10 Commandments are as follows (environment speaking):

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make an image out of any piece of wood.
3. You shall not speak out against environmental causes.
4. Rest weekly from your use of the environment.
5. Honor your Father Sky and Mother Earth.
6. You shall not murder any tree.
7. You shall not burn any fires with passion.
8. You shall not take resources such as trees or water.
9. You shall not say anything falsely against the defenders of Mother Earth.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's SUV.

The above groups reportedly hope to appease "Mother Nature" enough to quiet her recent wrath.

Pastor Franklin summed up their cause, "We now realize that the environment really is sovereign over all we do. If we will just deny ourselves, and submit to her Lordship, then we will be saved from the coming judgment."

19 November, 2007

Sermon Writers Guild Goes on Strike: Churchgoers Face Sermon Repeats

New York, New York - Pastors across the country suddenly found themselves in a bit of a predicament this past weekend as Sunday morning quickly approached. The trouble began Saturday afternoon when word began spreading that the Sermon Writers Guild was going on strike on the grounds that they were not being paid enough for their work.

The Sermon Writers Guild has, for the most part, been a secret to the church-going public. Founded in 1977, the organization started out as a small group of theologians and laypersons who were "gifted and creative in the art of preaching" but lacked the charisma necessary to pastor and lead a congregation. When the group was formed they began offering sermon writing services for "witty pastors who lacked scholarly abilities" and who were "less than studious" for a fee of only $20 per sermon. Over the years the guild expanded to over 1500 "ghost preachers" who have written sermons for some of the most famous pastors in the country.

While the price of the sermon service has risen over the past thirty years to $75, many members of the guild have felt an increasing frustration towards many of the pastors for whom they write sermons.

"We put a lot of time and effort into our work to produce a good sermon, custom written according to the specs of the pastors" said Allen O'Brian, a twenty-year member of the guild. "We do it all, hell-fire-and-brimstone, touchy-feely social gospel, health-wealth-and-prosperity, ultra-liberal to ultra-conservative, and we're still only getting paid $75 per message. When we try to raise the price all we get is complaints. Some of these pastors are making more than CEOs of major companies. I know they can afford to pay us more."

For obvious reasons, few pastors were willing to talk with TBNN about the current strike. But one pastor, who asked only to be identified as "Pastor O," was willing to be questioned.

"I've been using the Sermon Writers Guild since I started out preaching," said Pastor O. "My daddy used them before I did. I don't really think it's wrong because I do actually tell the writers the themes and the ideas that I want in the sermons, and hey, presidents do this kind of thing too. But now with the strike on it's going to be really tough for a while. I haven't actually written a sermon in...well...I suppose I've never actually written a sermon. But I've had to recycle some old ones."

And "recycle" was the decision that most pastors made this past Sunday. As it turns out, most pastors who regularly use the Sermon Writers Guild normally put in their requests Saturday evening. When word of the strike came Saturday afternoon most found themselves within 15 hours of Sunday morning services with nothing to preach.

"I pulled out an old one from about 5 years ago," said Pastor O. "I was hoping no one would notice, but we have a really large church. I'm afraid that someone has probably caught on already. Not to mention that we're on television, and no doubt someone has picked up that something isn't just right. I don't know if I can afford for this to go on too long."

But at this point in time no one knows exactly how long the strike will continue, and churchgoers may be faced with "rerun sermons" for some time to come.

"We feel like it's time to move from a per-sermon fee to a more commission based fee, especially for the larger churches" said O'Brian. "If such-and-such pastor is racking in $100 million a year for his sermons then I think %5 of that would be more than fair."

"We made it through one Sunday" said Pastor O, "but I'm already worried about next. I don't think we're going to get this resolved before then. I've looked into hiring non-union writers, but I'm just not sure of the quality I'll get. I'd take a shot at preparing my own sermon, but I'm not sure where I'd begin."

17 November, 2007

Church Splits Over Robert's Rules 10th Edition

Glendell, MS – Pastor Honus Johnson confessed to TBNN Thursday, November 15th that, “Yes, Daleside Baptist Church has apparently split.” According to SBC reports prior to the split, this 287-member congregation averaged 48 attendees during Sunday morning services during the September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007 church year. The Sunday School average was a respectable 30, or 62.5% of the church attendees. “We used to get along so well,” said a dejected Pastor Johnson.

However, on Sunday, November 4th at the regular business meeting scheduled for the 1st Sunday of each month, there was great division among the 26 voting members (those present who were 12 and over and have been baptized since walking the aisle for real). The division was centered around which version of Robert’s Rules of Order is authoritative.

At the November 4th meeting, there were those who were adamant about the 1915 4th edition and took the side of Dale Williams. “We have been using Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, 4th Edition since this church was founded in 1916,” said Dale Williams, Head Deacon. “I have NEVER and will NEVER belong to a church that does not adhere to these old doctrinal truths! I will stand on these promises! Give me Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, 4th Edition, or give me death!”

Others took the side of Lane Steve, Jr., the song leader’s son who came home for the weekend from his studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary. This semester, Steve Jr. dropped his elective evangelism and discipleship classes, but has continued to take the mandatory class on Conflict Resolution. Steve Jr. recently learned that Robert’s Rules of Order had been revised 6 times since 1915, and the current update is now the 10th Edition.

Having been placed on Daleside's Constitution & Bylaws Revision Committee during the summer, Steve Jr. felt it his duty to suggest that Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, 10th edition become the new rule for business meetings. In a special called meeting of the Constitution and Bylaws Revision Committee on Friday, November 2nd, the revision committee voted unanimously to change the authoritative edition from the 4th to the 10th edition.

“The old edition just doesn’t make sense in so many ways,” said Steve Jr. “That’s why the Contitution and Bylaws Revision Committee brought the suggested change before the church on November 4th. I had no idea that Deacon Williams was married to the 4th edition.”

Although no other business was conducted on the 4th, after proper discussion and after a proper call for the vote (which is consistent with the rules of either edition) the new 10th edition was approved by a vote of 14 to 12.

At the end of the night, Head Deacon Williams vowed never to return to Daleside. Over the next 10 days or so, Pastor Johnson discovered that Deacon Williams had convinced all 11 other “no” votes plus a 5 member family that had voted for the new 10th edition to stop attending Daleside and begin attending First Baptist Glendell. First Baptist Glendell still lists Robert’s Rules of Order, 3rd Edition from 1893 as its authority in its Constitution & Bylaws. “I’d rather stick with the 4th edition, but if I can’t, I’ll take a more conservative edition than one of these new-fangled books,” said Williams.

Just before printing this article, TBNN researchers discovered an interesting fact. Archive records of First Baptist from the early 1900's are still stored in filing cabinets in the Middle Adult Sunday School class. It appears First Baptist split in 1916 after Garland Williams, the grandfather of Dale Williams, motioned to adopt the new Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, 4th Edition of 1915. The motion was defeated and Daleside was formed the next year.

16 November, 2007

Zondervan Launches the "Whatever Bible"

Grand Rapids, Michigan - Zondervan Publishing announced on Thursday the release of their latest "Bible version" called the "Whatever Bible." The Whatever Bible is unique in that it is not really a "Bible" at all in the strictest sense. Rather, it is a leather-bound collection of 500 blank pages upon which one can write whatever he or shee believes to be true. Zondervan will custom print a title on the front of the "Bible" for no extra charge.

"We believe this will open the Bible market out there to people who wouldn't traditionally be attracted to reading the Bible" said Kurt James, the editor for the project. "Instead of trying to bind people to one belief system, we believe it is important for people to come up with their own thoughts for their faith journey."

According to Zondervan, the Whatever Bible will allow each person who buys it to essentially "write their own" Bible, putting down on paper what they think is most important. This might include passages from the Christian Bible, the Koran or quotes from Buddha. One may also choose to write their own interpretive passages.

Thus far the idea is being received with much acclaim.

"This is what we've been waiting for!" said the Rev. Jacob Edmund, pastor of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Grand Rapids. "My partner and I who co-pastor the church have always encouraged our members to think freely. Some bring the Bible to church but are not happy with all of it. Some bring the Koran, and other's bring Henry David Thoreau. But now people can write whatever they want into the book and it becomes their personal spiritual guide."

"I've already got mine ordered" said Tara Lynn Penter, member of All Souls United Church of Christ in Grand Rapids. "I can't wait to get it. I'm going to put some Bible quotes in there, but only those happy ones, none of that 'slay the wicked' business. And of course some Koran, got to keep Muhammad happy these days you know. And I've got some quotes from Highschool Musical and Sleepless in Seattle that I know will really inspire me when I read them for years to come."

The Whatever Bible comes in brown or black leather at a cost of $49.95.

15 November, 2007

The Family Disintegrated Church

HARTFORD, CT – Much attention has been made of late about Family Integrated Churches (FIC). In this model, families remain together whenever the church gathers. Regardless of occasion, there is no splitting up of the families for any reason. The FIC model even has its own spokesman in Voddie Baucham.

Many see the FIC model as just a different way to do church. However, others see it as an affront to what the church is trying to accomplish. Pastor Lew Matthews of Corinth Presbyterian (PC-USA) Church told TBNN, “People of all different ages have diverse types of needs as far as discipleship and ministry are concerned. For example, children learn far differently than their parents do. Because of this, they need varied types of instruction. To think that keeping everyone together would benefit anyone is simply silly.”

Assistant Pastor Nelson Wills proudly informed us that the Corinth model is entitled, “The Family Disintegrated Church (FDC).” According to Wills, "We base our model on I Corinthians 13:11, where Paul writes, 'When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.' Also, one of the prophets wrote, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder.'"

Pastor Matthews and the other leaders at Corinth Presbyterian have taken their beliefs about church to new levels. A Sunday morning at Corinth goes something like this: When a family arrives at the church building, they are greeted by FDC “facilitators.” These folks promptly give everyone a color-coded badge based upon their age groupings. Sunday School age breakdowns are birth-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, 15-16, 17-18, 19-22, 23-25, 26-30, 31-33, 34-36, 37-39, 40-43, 44-46, 47-49, 50-53, 54-56, 57-59, 60-63, 64-66, 67-69, 70-73, 74-76, 77-79, 80-83, 84-86, 87-89, and 90-death.

The FDC facilitators immediately assist the different family members to their various Sunday School classes. Infants and toddlers are taken from their parents in the parking lot, placed in a church stroller, and transported to the nursery building. Older children, youth, and adults all stream out in numerous directions to different class rooms in the other three buildings on campus.

After Sunday School, the different pastors move into position to lead their own services. Seven worship services take place at the 11 o’clock hour. “Giggle Church” fills the needs of the birth-five age range. For kids 6-11, “Fun Time” fits the bill. The youth (ages 12-18) meet in their own building to worship in song and drama. They simply refer to this service as “Word.”

Corinth offers adults 4 different services based upon their ages. Members in their 20s-30s attend “Not Enough Time.” Folks in their 40s-50s go to “Empty Nest.” If you are in your 60s-70s you attend “Nearing the End.” For those in their 80s and above, the service is entitled “Take Me Home.”

After the services conclude at noon, family members meet in a large central area between the church buildings named the “Rendezvous.” When parents arrive, FDC facilitators have their infants, toddlers, and older children waiting for them. Youth gradually migrate from “Word” toward the reassembly point. After the family is all joined back together, they are off to the restaurant.

Pastor Matthews summed it all up, “We strive to meet the needs of all our members. We believe this is done best by meeting them at their age level. We also believe that people who are trained to deal with the needs of specific age groupings are far more successful in both instruction and ministry than parents ever could be. I mean, can you imagine if parents tried to teach their teens about the bible? We know that’s not going to happen. By disintegrating the family for a few hours on Sunday mornings, we ultimately do our families a great deal of good. We are all about family here at Corinth Presbyterian.”

14 November, 2007

Unitarians Welcome "Naked Prophets"

Fort Worth, Texas - The Unitarian Universalist Church has come under fire in the last few decades from most mainline conservatives for what they consider to be "an unwillingness to be remotely Biblical." Recently in an effort to seem more tolerant and open to Biblical Christianity the UUC released a statement saying that they were "making efforts to appear more Scriptural in certain areas." But their latest effort, while supposedly "biblical" is still expected to upset many. The church declared on Tuesday that they would now welcome into their midst, without question, all self-proclaimed "naked prophets."

"We too believe there's a place for Scripture in spirituality" said Rev. Dorris Pinchner. "And when I read Scripture I see two places where prophets went naked."

Pincher is referring to 1 Samuel 19:24 where Saul is said to have stripped off his clothes and prophesied naked, and Isaiah 20:2 where the prophet Isaiah was told to go "naked and barefoot" for three years. While many conservative Christian theologians argue that the word "naked" in these passages probably refers to the removal of only the outer official garments that a king and a prophet would have worn, Pinchner and other's from the UUC beg to differ.

"No, if they want us to obey the Bible, then we're going to do it literally" said Pinchner. "If a naked prophet wants to join our church, then who are we to stop them. The parts of the Bible that we choose to believe, we are going to do so in a very straightforward manner."

While some in Pinchner's congregation have their doubts, most received the news with gladly.

"I hope this will silence our critics out there that are constantly accusing us of not ever being Biblical" said member Judith Zale. "And I think in some ways we'll even be more Biblical than those fundamentalists who are always criticizing us. I mean really how many Southern Baptist churches out there allow naked prophets? Why don't they follow the Bible more literally, huh? Tell me that now!"

"I'm not too sure about this" said another member, Trevor Lake. "I mean, I want to be careful here not to be too critical if this is someone's calling, but I'm not so sure I want someone coming to our church and standing up to prophesy naked. I mean, we've got children in our church for crying out loud."

Still, Pinchner and the other members of the church's leadership are eager to begin this new phase of "Biblicalness" in their church.

"We don't know what's going to happen in the weeks and months and years to come" said Pinchner. "But we are looking forward to the day when a naked prophet will finally feel led to join us. Then people will look at us and say 'Now there's a church that's really following the Bible.'"

13 November, 2007

SBC Celebrates “Real Christian Sunday”

NASHVILLE, TN – Most evangelicals in America do not realize that this past Sunday (11/11) was Southern Baptists’ annual celebration of “Real Christian Sunday.”

“Not many people know about this,” reported Morris Chapman, head of the SBC’s Executive Committee. “Actually, it’s kind of embarrassing so we don’t announce it much outside of Southern Baptist circles.”

What is “Real Christian Sunday”? It is the Sunday of the year when the highest percentage of truly saved people attend SBC churches.

TBNN has discovered that the reasons for this are a bit involved, but still understandable. It all begins with “Homecoming.” Homecoming is an annual celebration in most SBC churches. It is when everyone who used to be a member of the church is invited back for a big Sunday celebration. Despite the fact that there is no biblical evidence to support the existence of this festival, it still takes place (click here for more info). However, very few former members actually return to the church. What really happens is that all the members who hardly ever come to church show up on Homecoming Sunday.

In order to make sure that lots of people show up at Homecoming, it is usually scheduled for the Sunday that we roll our clocks back. This gives the folks an extra hour of sleep before they have to get up and go to church. That is why most Homecoming celebrations were scheduled for Sunday November 4th of this year.

In addition, many churches promote Homecoming Sunday as being “High Attendance Sunday.” Members are encouraged to bring anyone, including relatives who are members at other churches, with them on Homecoming. This has caused Homecoming Sunday to be the most well-attended day of the year, surpassing even Easter and the Sunday before Christmas.

Rev. Devin Boyles, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Knoxville, TN, told TBNN, “Homecoming should really be renamed ‘Slacker Member Sunday,’ because that is when all of the slackers who usually stay home show up at church. I don’t know half their names because they never come otherwise.”

There is a silver lining, however, to Homecoming: the next Sunday none of the slackers feel a need to show up for church. Therefore, only the truly saved members attend. Pastor Wilson Parks, of Grace Baptist Fellowship (Albany, GA), informed us, “We wanted to name the Sunday after Homecoming ‘Regenerate Church Member Sunday’ because that is when only the real Christians in our church show up. Unfortunately, no one could understand what ‘regenerate’ meant. That’s why all the SBC churches just refer to it as ‘Real Christian Sunday.’”

Many pastors secretly look forward to the Sunday after Homecoming as their favorite Sunday of the year. Rev. Boyles said, “I can’t say this in my church, but I just love Real Christian Sunday. When only the regenerate members attend, we don’t have to deal with all of the gossip, back-biting, arguments over money, and focus on college football that we normally have to deal with. There is such a sweet spirit when the wheat gathers without all of the tares. The only downside was that only three of my twelve deacons bothered to attend on Real Christian Sunday.”

12 November, 2007

Graduation Day

From the Office of the President. The Team Tominthebox News Network College of Theological Satire Bloggery. Dr. Tom Presiding.

Well the time has come to name the new Doctor of Theological Satire Bloggery from our esteemed university. The decision was very difficult. So many of the submissions and stories were good. Some submitted good stories yet didn't even have blogs, which, of course disqualifies you from receiving the coveted award. But I encourage you to get a blog. Some of you had great stories but apparently had trouble recalling that 8-10 sentences was the requirement for the length. But the stories were still cute.

This degree will be conferred occasionally at providential times (random times, for you Arminians) when a particular blog catches our notice here. If you want your blog to be noticed then send us an email, or simply start making comments.

So without further delay the degree goes to...

You can find Lance's site at http://nhoriginal.blogspot.com/.

Congratulations Dr. King. We look forward to your guest article on Monday, December 3rd. Please submit it to us here.

And now, Dr. King, here is the coveted high-quality JPEG image you can proudly display on your blogsite for all to see...Enjoy!

09 November, 2007

Yahoo Accused of Giving PCC Administration Information on Calvinist Dissidents

Sunnyvale, California - The Internet "giant" Yahoo has recently come under fire by former Pensacola Christian College students who say they were "turned in" to the school's administration for maintaining an online forum which discussed and supported Reformed doctrine.

"We feel betrayed" said former student Mark Hudson.

Hudson, along with seven other students were recently asked to leave the school after the administration discovered that they were secretly maintaining the web forum. The site, called "The Calvinist Underground" was frequented by a number of "closet Calvinists" at many Independent Fundamentalist Schools around the country. The site often contained frustrations expressed by the students that if their true beliefs were to be expressed they would be pressured to leave their respective schools.

When Hudson and the other students were called into the Vice President's office, they had no idea what they had done.

"We thought maybe we were in trouble for walking on the grass or something" said Hudson. "We were prepared to take the punishment, but suddenly we were confronted with the question 'Gentlemen, is this your website?' We were shocked, because online we only used aliases. We didn't know it at the time, but they had been informed."

Since the students have left the school, they have since discovered that the school's administration was able to obtain their information through Yahoo.

"We don't know exactly how they did it, but they were able to contact Yahoo and get our real names" said Hudson. "We feel that this is a serious breach of privacy."

Hudson now fears for the other students that frequented the board.

"We had students from Liberty University, Hyles-Anderson College, and Baptist Bible College" said Hudson. "We don't know if their schools will simply be able to do the same thing and find out who these poor students are and they will get in trouble."

TBNN tried repeatedly to contact Yahoo, but no one was available for comment.

08 November, 2007

24 Hour Invitation Leads to Many Souls Won

RALEIGH, NC - At some Baptist churches, there is no invitation. At other Baptist churches, it lasts for about two verses of "Just As I Am." At a majority of Baptist churches, the invitation drags on through about a hymn and a half while a few regulars "rededicate their lives to the Lord." But at Bible Gospel Baptist Church (BGBC), a new record now stands.

TBNN has learned that this past weekend, starting at 7PM on Saturday night, the BGBC pastors and deacons offered a non-stop, 24 hour invitation. Senior Pastor William Hughes explained, "We normally offer an invitation at every service. The problem is that a normal invitation just does not give people enough time to make a decision for Christ. The Holy Spirit has to work on them. They might need to get emotional about it. A normal six minute invitation is simply not enough time. We don't want to be eternally responsible for someone not getting saved."

Deacon Billy Alderman showed us the biblical basis for the marathon invitation. According to Alderman, "We used two verses to support what we did on the weekend. First, Luke 14:23 says: And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.' The second verse is Revelation 3:20. Jesus says: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.'"

Between 7PM and 10PM on Saturday night, eight people showed up at the church. The problem for the pastors was that it was just some of the deacons' wives bringing in casseroles, coffee, and sweet tea to help the men stay awake all night. Nothing much at all happened between 10PM and 9AM. There was some sleep and lots of silly stories about the good old days back at seminary.

Things began to pick up when Sunday School started. Pastor Hughes told us, "As people were coming into the church, a young couple came forward. There was no service going on yet. They said they had already given their hearts to the Lord, but they just wanted to 'nail it down.' That was good enough for us. So by the start of the morning worship service, two people had gotten saved."

Throughout the service, at least three or four deacons were standing down front ready to accept anyone who came forward. In between every announcement, song, drama piece, and scripture reading, the pastors reminded everyone that they, "desperately needed to get saved because Jesus does not want to live without you." The sermon topic was a warning from Genesis about the fate of the Sodomites.

At the conclusion of the service, Pastor Hughes ordered the organist to play through "Amazing Grace" four times. Several people sat down. Three walked out. One old man came forward, but he was just confused about how to get to the bathroom. The service concluded with disappointed pastors and deacons - only two people saved so far.

During the afternoon, the church leaders watched the Patriots-Colts game at church. No one came, so they just enjoyed the game.

They were determined, however, to make something happen at the evening gathering. Thirty-nine people came for the 7PM time of worship. Although an invitation was given throughout the music, offering, and sermon, no one came forward. That's when, according to eye witnesses, "the Holy Spirit really began to move on people's hearts."

Deacon Alderman recounts the scene, "It was a miracle. The organist began to play 'Just As I Am,' and Pastor Hughes told the folks that no one was leaving until they were sure that everyone was saved. I will never forget what happened next. First a few went forward, then it turned into an avalanche. Of the thirty-nine folks there, thirty-seven of them went forward to give their lives to Jesus. I was surprised because I thought some of those folks had been saved. The only people who didn't go to the altar were the Walters. They are old and can't hear anymore. Anyway, what a move of God!"

TBNN has also learned that everyone cleared out of the church very quickly at 8PM. Baptisms are scheduled for next Sunday at BGBC, where a total of thirty-nine souls were won to the Lord.

07 November, 2007

Get Your Honorary Doctorate Today!

Have you always wanted to add the title "Doctor" to your name but didn't want to go through all of the schooling and studying to get there? Now here's your chance. Welcome one and all to the Team Tominthebox News Network College of Theological Bloggery.*

As President of the college, I Tom hereby declare the first order of business to be the bestowal of the title of "Doctor of Theological Satire Bloggery (D. TSaB)"* upon myself and our other distinguished authors, Brother Slawson and Elder Eric. From this point forward I shall be known as Dr. Tom, D.TSaB.

And today here's your chance to receive an honorary doctorate from TBNNCTB, plus become a guest writer for a day. Here's how.

1. Simply post a comment in response to this post with your best one-paragraph theological satire news brief (a paragraph constitutes 8-10 sentences). Be sure to include a catchy title for your article. Posts must be made before 12AM CST November 11, 2007
2. Be sure to include a link to your blogsite. All comment posting rules apply. On Monday, November 12th the new "Doctor of Theological Satire Bloggery"* will be named, and a date will be set for you to submit your article for posting. You'll also get a nifty little JPEG image of your "diploma" that you can put up on your blogsite for all to see and be in awe of.

Also, with your honorary doctorate you can proudly refer to yourself as "Doctor" with all of the rights and privileges hitherto pertaining thereof and forthwith unto.*

That's it. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Tom Slawson, D.TSaB

*The Team Tominthebox New Network College of Theological Bloggery is not an accredited institution in any way shape or form. It's actually not even an institution. The degree of "Honorary Doctorate" does not entitle you to any federal, civil or legal benefits of any kind. The nifty little JPEG you will receive if you win will not be a legal document. Upon receiving the "degree," refer to yourself as "Doctor" at your own risk. Your "Honorary Doctorate" will have about as much value as an "Honorary Doctorate" from Hyles-Anderson College or Texas Baptist College.

06 November, 2007

"Bring a Visitor - Reduce Your Tithe!"

ELMIRA, NY - At most churches, members have to put up with the pastor routinely asking for more money. As if that wasn't bad enough, he usually resorts to guilt tactics. "Remember that God loves a cheerful giver." "Remember the widow giving her last two mites." "Jesus himself said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." "We really need money to build a new building for the youth."

Most people are just tired of all this. That is what inspired the new giving/church growth program at River's Edge Community Church (RECC). Pastor Wayne Erving explains, "Our folks were just tired of us asking for money all the time. They weren't giving, and we weren't growing in number either. Then the pastoral staff had a brainstorm. It was like a light bulb just came on for all of us at the same time. We told our people that if they would bring visitors, then they would get an automatic tithe discount. You wouldn't believe the response."

Member Phyllis Sams told TBNN, "I hadn't invited anyone new to church in a long time. It just never occurred to me. But now with the new program in place, I've brought five new people to River's Edge in the last three weeks. And by the way, the tithe discount program is awesome!"

The pastoral staff at RECC agreed to share the details of the new program with TBNN. The official title is "Bring a Visitor - Reduce Your Tithe!" This is how it works: every time a church member brings someone to church with them, they get an automatic four month discount in their tithe rate. For example, if Phyllis Sams (see above) brings one visitor to church, then her tithe rate drops 1/2 of a percentage point. This lasts four months. For a further breakdown, see below:

-A new visitor = 1/2 percentage point drop in tithe
-A repeat visitor = 1/2 percentage point drop
-A visitor who becomes a member = 1 full percentage point drop
-A visitor who becomes a member who tithes = 3 full percentage points drop
-A visitor who agrees to serve in the nursery = 1/2 percentage point drop
-A visitor who speaks in tongues = 2 full percentage points increase in tithe

Jimmy Reese, also a member of RECC, said, "Before this new program, I had never even mentioned to the other guys I work with that I go to church. Now I have invited them all. Seven have even come, and two joined the church. Right now my tithe percentage has dropped from 10 percent to 4.5 percent. We just got a few new employees down at the shop. I'm going to invite them tomorrow. My goal, all for the glory of the Lord, is to go all the way down to zero percent. The less I give, the more God is honored."

Pastor Erving gushed about the success of the program. "It is amazing. God is really blessing us. Our membership is climbing each week. In the last two months we have seen 66 people join the church. Each week we have at least 80-90 visitors. And because of all the new people, the giving has gone up, too. We are now operating in the black. It is wonderful - no more guilt, more members, and more money. What more could we ask for?"

05 November, 2007

Man's Birthright Fetches $49.95 on Ebay

Boonville, Arkansas - What do you do when you're out of work, low on cash and have a computer? If you're Prentiss Fullman, you sell your "birthright" on Ebay.

Fullman, 34, who lives with his parents, recently took the "drastic measures" because of a recent confrontation he had had with them. It seems that Fullman's parents, Bobby John and Helen, finally gave their son an ultimatum, "get a job, or get out of the trailer." When they told him this he argued with his parents that he was unable to work because of his "disability."

"We really got into it one night" said Fullman. "I was playing Halo 3 in my room when dad busted in and started yelling and me about being lazy. I've been trying to find a job now for the last 10 years, just nothing in management will ever open up for me. And I can't do hard work on account of my disability."

"He is as lazy as the day is long" said Bobby John Fullman. "He sleeps in till 2 in the afternoon every day, walks around the house in boxers and eats us out of house and home. He's got a bunch of bum friends who are always over playing them stupid video games. We just couldn't take it anymore."

When the argument finally ended an ultimatum was issued to Fullman. His parent's gave him one month to find a job and get out of the house. Fullman actually spent two days looking for employment before deciding that he had enough.

"I'm just not cut out for hard work" stated Fullman. "Some people think that means I'm lazy, but I think it's just not where my talents lie."

But one night about 2AM Fullman caught an idea that he thought would be the answer to all of his problems.

"I was watching this television preacher late one night" said Fullman. "I can't remember what his name was, but I always like to watch him cause he starts hooting and hollering all around the stage and knocking people on the ground and stuff. Well, he started talking about in the Bible when this guy Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. I got to thinking real hard about that idea and it started looking real good."

The next day when Fullman woke up he went to his parents and asked about his place in the family will. Fullman's father told him a list of the things he would receive when he and his mother died. The list included,

  • The Fullman's 3 bedroom 1 1/2 bath trailer.
  • One 12-gauge shotgun
  • The family dog "Booger"
  • Uncle Frank's ashes
  • An Arkansas State spit cup
After confirming the list with his father Fullman proceeded to go online and list his "birthright" on Ebay, hoping to make enough money to move out and get his own place.

"I started the listing at $.99 with no reserve price" said Fullman. "I listed the items and posted some pictures for people to see, and set the auction for 7 days."

Fullman anxiously waited and watched to see if anyone would bid on the items, but after seven days, when the auction ended he managed to only get $49.95.

"I don't know what I'm going to do now" said Fullman. "Now I ain't got nothing. What am I gonna do with fifty dollars? That'll buy me two nights at a Motel 6, but what about after that?"

According to Fullman's parents they have honored the agreement of the Ebay sale and have replaced their son's name in the will with that of the winning bidder. They admit to feeling sorry for their son not receiving more, but they still plan to hold to their original agreement.

"He's got two weeks left before he's out" said Bobby John Fullman. "It's ashame this happened, but he's got to learn to be a man now."

"I'm not giving up yet" said Fullman. "I've been watching that preacher to see if I can get anymore ideas. There might still be another way."

03 November, 2007

The Peace of Fleece

Have a lot of questions in your life? Got a very hard decision to make in the near future? Who to marry? Which job to take? Should you sell that stock? What about some less important decisions? Which route to take to work? How much money to give to church? Which church to attend? Which socks to wear? Which dishwasher to buy?

Why base your decision on random chance? How would you like a solid peace about your decision?

Well, you deserve a real peace from something very powerful, yet very soft. At the same time, your decision should be based on the scripture. But why spend hours and hours in Biblical study that can leave you with severe eye strain? Why spend days and days in prayer? Why bother the spiritually mature counselors in your life with your tedious questions that they answer so quickly, leaving you embarrassed for your lack of maturity?

What you need is a Peace of Fleece®. “My Peace of Fleece® surpasses anything I’ve ever understood before,” said Nicky Miles from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “The peace I feel is indescribable. The peace from knowing my decisions are scriptural, without a lot of time consuming painful soul searching… is so… is so… well… it’s wonderful.”

Everyone can rest assured that any decision based upon using the Peace of Fleece® is 100% scriptural. “In the Bible, Gideon wanted to make a decision. What did he do? He used a fleece,” said Lesley Sabene, Peace of Fleece® creator from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, answering her own question. “Since the Bible reports that Gideon used a fleece, it should be something we all do before making decisions. Using a Peace of Fleece® guarantees the correct Biblical path for your life without any additional prayer, Bible evaluation, or counselor interrogation.

There are endless ways to use the Peace of Fleece® for peaceful, scriptural decision making. Here are some ideas.

* Top or Bottom: Let the sides of the Peace of Fleece® represent “yes” and “no”. Ask a question. Throw the Peace of Fleece® high in the air. See which side faces up.

* Quick Coffee House Advice Fleece: Set the Fleece in a high traffic area near your table. Wait for the first person who comments on the fleece. Ask the person your question. Give him/her 20 seconds to answer the first thing on his/her mind. A blank stare should be taken as a “no.”

* Two Fleece Toss: Buy two. Let each Peace of Fleece® represent an outcome. Determine a starting line. Toss both Peace of Fleece® as far as you can over the line. See which fleece goes the greatest distance.

* Fall Leaf Fleece: Buy any number Peace of Fleece®-- one for each possible outcome (e.g., buy 5 fleece for 5 different refrigerator brands; 4 for 4 sets of relatives to visit on Christmas; 3 for 3 potential husbands, etc.) Place the Peace of Fleece® around a tree one evening during the Fall. The next day, see which Peace of Fleece® has accumulated the most leaves.

Available for $19.95 at most Lifeway stores. No animals were harmed during the writing of this advertisement.

02 November, 2007

Serious Post: Time to Clear the Air About Halloween

I'm going to do something very rare here at TBNN. Today there will be no new satire. It appears that the recent post made by Brother Slawson entitled "Confessions of a Former Druid" has ruffled feathers ever since it was posted last Saturday. Since it was posted the comments and email have been pouring in from all sides, and I, Tom, have remained rather silent. So it's time to speak.

First of all, let me remind everyone about the nature of the Team Tominthebox News Network. This is a site that takes serious points in the religious world out there and attempts to treat them in a satirical way. There are three main authors here at this site. First there is Tom, that's me, the original founder of the site. The second person to join was my brother, Carlos Slawson, better known as Brother Slawson, who happens to be my real live brother, not merely my alter ego. And finally Eric Carpenter, better known as Elder Eric, joined the crew, posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All three of us consider ourselves to be conservative, Reformed Christians. Thus, very often our writings are directed at those outside of that particular circle. But to be fair, occasionally we must hold the mirror up to our own faces and take a look, and to be honest friends, even we in the world of Reformed Christians have a lot of hairs out of place and a lot of spots on our faces that need to be washed.

While each of us here at TBNN shares a common belief in the Reformed Faith, there are definitely differences of opinions among us, and we try to hold them with a sense of respect. I'm sure I've posted things before that either Brother Slawson or Elder Eric have not completely agreed with.

So you're asking (ala Mr. T) "Cut the jibber-jabber, where do you stand Tom?" Let me respond here in two main points.

First, I'll admit, don't completely see eye-to-eye with my brother on the issue of Halloween. But I believe we disagree respectfully. I grew up trick-or-treating too, and do not begrudge my parents or my family one bit. I also agree with my brother that when we were children it was indeed for us childlike and innocent. Our main objective was to get candy and to play. But my views towards the holiday changed as I got older and moved away from home. Quite honestly, there was a time when I reexamined every so-called holiday, as to whether or not I should celebrate any of them. In the end, Halloween didn't make the cut.

Before my wife and I married we decided that we would not celebrate Halloween in our family nor Mardi Gras, and that we would try to be very explicit and purposeful in our celebration of any "holiday". We made this decision about Halloween for ourselves because, knowing what we knew about the holiday our consciences would always be affected. We felt like the Holiday had never really shaken its pagan roots off. To me, it simply seemed like they were "innocentized" (I know that's not a real word but permit me) over the years. The too much lingered of the old meaning. What about dressing up? Well I have no problem with that in theory, but dress up like what? A ghost, a monster, etc? Well, I thought to myself "Would I let my kid dress up like Hitler or Stalin even if it was just for fun? Of course, my son isn't going to turn into a Nazi if I let him. But if I won't let him playfully dress up like those guys why then would I let them dress up like figures from the occult or participate in a practice in which other people do, no matter how innocent?" Now mind you, these are my convictions and the convictions of my wife. As far as I can remember, the issue has never come up around the Thanksgiving table. We respect the consciences and decisions of our extended family, and they respect ours. But, we as a family turned our attention not to some "alternate holiday" or "harvest festival" but a real event that really happened on October 31st, worthy of celebration, that is, the start of the Protestant Reformation.

When it comes to Christianity and celebrating a holiday, any holiday, much wisdom must be sought. The only "holiday" we are commanded to celebrate in Scripture is the resurrection of our Lord and in reality we are supposed to celebrate it every Sunday, not just once a year. Now, do I necessarily think there's anything wrong with taking a special time to celebrate Christ's birth and resurrection? No, I believe I have the freedom to do that. Do I think that there's anything wrong with staying up till midnight in a good and wholesome way on December 31st to ring in the new year? No. I could go on and on. What about Valentines day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc? Wisdom must be used. Growing up in Southeast Louisiana we dealt with the issue of Mardi Gras. Can a Christian celebrate that holiday? Some could argue that there are good, family oriented parades that one can attend for pure enjoyment. Other's would say no, absolutely not, there's too much negative connotation.

That all being said, now for my second point. I think many people who commented misunderstood the point of the article that was being made. As I said earlier, it is important for us to even examine ourselves sometimes. I do not believe the point of the story was "Don't be such a prude. Go ahead and celebrate Halloween and ease up a little." As we hold the mirror up to our own faces in the world of Reformed Christianity I think one thing we do too often is get a particular issue under our skin and rave about it as if nothing else matters for a season. It becomes the soapbox issue during this or that particular time of year and sometimes becomes a litmus test for Orthodoxy by which the rest of a person's spirituality is judged. Thus Halloween rolls around and a person who has otherwise been silent year-round about it decides that it's time to make a point that "Ahem...we don't do such a thing in our home, we're Christians!"

I think the main point of the article was that we as believers must take care in how we approach these issues with both believers and unbelievers. It is absolutely true that the majority of America sees Halloween as simply an fun time for kids to get free candy. So, if one is going to object to it he needs to do it in a way that makes clear his reasons why. Simply turning off your porch light and not answering the door when your neighbors knock is probably not going to make sense to them. If you decide to spout off to your neighbor that "Halloween is nothing more than a pagan idolatrous day of wickedness and satanic demon worship." be prepared from some strange looks.

I will end with thoughts for the pro-Halloween and the anti-Halloween Christian.

Pro-Halloween - If you feel it is fine to celebrate this holiday with your family, then that is between you and the Lord. Make sure your conscience is clean before Him. We are told to do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Make sure you can say with a clear conscience "We are doing this to the glory of God." Don't be pragmatic.

Anti-Halloween - Be gentle in your approach. If you feel the need to engage in conversation about your reasons for being against the holiday, then be prepared to speak from Scripture, not emotion. Don't judge a man's heart by a pumpkin on his front porch. Also be prepared to explain your own celebrations. Do you put up a Christmas tree? Have you ever said "bless you" after someone sneezed? Remember, remove logs before you take on specks.

Okay, I've said enough. I can't do this serious business very often. The issue of Halloween is now closed for this website. For those of you who still need your satire fix for today, might I suggest a past favorite of mine.

Fundamentalists Hope New "ePhod" Will Be A Hit

01 November, 2007

Halloween Knocks Easter into 3rd Place

For as long as holiday polls have been taken, Christmas has come out on top. This is especially the case with children. No matter how the questions are asked, kids always say that they like Christmas the best.

Ever since the Barna Group began taking its "Favorite Holiday Poll" in 1967, second place has also been very stable - until this year. Easter had held down kids' number 2 spot every year since '67. However, this year a shocking change took place. Halloween supplanted Easter to take over second place.

According to Chandler Davis (age 9), of Cheyenne, WY, "Christmas will always be the best. That's when I take my biggest haul of the year. No other time comes close. Easter used to be my second favorite because of the Easter basket. But this year my mom got me a Nintendo DS Lite for Halloween. That plus all the candy pushes Halloween into my second spot."

Halloween has made an enormous rise within the last ten years. According to Barna, in 1997 Halloween came in 7th place in this poll. The order that year was Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, St. Patrick's Day, and then Halloween.

Since that time, however, Halloween has rocketed into second place. Two factors appear to have combined to bring about this change. First, parents and others now appear to be giving gifts for Halloween. Ashlyn Pool (age 10), of San Jose, CA, told TBNN, "I was so surprised this year when my mom gave me a new iPod nano. I was not expecting that at all. Trick-or-treating used to be the best part about Halloween, but now I'm looking forward to getting stuff each year, too. This has to push Halloween past Easter for me. I mean, really, how much fun is the Easter Bunny?"

The second factor in Halloween's upward move seems to be the current Harry Potter fascination. Ever since the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was released in 1998, Halloween has risen in this poll. What is the reason for this? No one can be sure, but similarities between the Harry Potter books and Halloween are certainly apparent.

For example, in the Potter books, author J. K. Rowling focuses on witchcraft, divination, and sorcery. Halloween, obviously, is the holiday when these same practices are championed in American society. Also, in both the Potter books and on Halloween, the above acts are portrayed in a fun, almost childlike light.

McKenzie Smith (age 8), of Lexington, KY, said, "Christmas has to still be number 1. But Halloween is catching up. This year, as I was about to go outside dressed as a vampire, my mom gave me a DVD set of the first 4 Harry Potter movies. I looked it up later on Amazon.com. It cost 54 bucks!"

TBNN has also learned the following: after the Barna Group closely analyzed all of the poll data, they discovered that no significant difference exists between Christian and non-Christian children when it comes to favorite holidays.