31 March 2011

The Elephant Room, Follow-up

I was able to listen to about 15 minutes of The Elephant Room conference today over lunch. I heard some good things, and I heard some not-so-good things. I heard Perry Noble defend his decision to open his 2010 Easter service with the worship band playing AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." I heard James MacDonald and others say, in essence, "No, we disagree. It shouldn't have been done." (Note, that's not an exact quote). I heard Perry Noble say, and this I do quote, "We redeemed 'Highway to Hell,'" and again, I heard the others disagree. I also heard Perry Noble use a cuss word with ease, and I heard nothing from the others--nobody rebuked him for his filthy language.

Let me back up for a moment. Perry Noble believes that his church "redeemed" a disrespectful (to say the least) secular song. Huh? Does playing filthy, secular music in church suddenly "redeem" that music? Let me ask it this way: does praying to Satan inside of a church suddenly "redeem" the prayer for God instead? NO. Why do purpose-driven "pastors" feel such a need to "redeem" the culture? We are not called to look like the culture, we are called to be set apart. We are not called to redeem the culture, we are called to preach the Gospel so that individuals may be saved and redeemed by the power of the Holy Spirit! But a misunderstanding of this concept is to be expected when one has a poor interpretation of Scripture, which Noble clearly does. This was evident when he said something to the effect that Jesus became like the culture because he ate with sinners. Um, he ate with them, Perry, he didn't act like them and talk like them and cuss like them and sin like them!

As you can imagine, since I was only able to listen for such a short time, Perry Noble and this controversy were kind of at center stage during that time, so I can't provide much more insight. This website provides some notes and quotes from the conference, but unfortunately they are without the greater context of the conversation, so it's difficult sometimes to determine the true tone with which the line was delivered.

After about 15 minutes of viewing, the speakers paused for a short break, and the live feed ended, showing this message:
This wasn't before they reminded those attending live, though, that books by each of the speakers were for sale in the bookstore (which is of course to be expected at a conference). The two they recommended were James MacDonald's Downpour and...Steven Furtick's Sun Stand Still. Ugh. It was so disappointing and disheartening to hear that endorsement. By the way, did you know that Steven Furtick is slated to speak at Bill Hybels' Global Leadership Summit later this year? I'll let you draw your own conclusion...

In short, I don't think this conference was a complete waste of time. I also don't think that it ultimately will prove to be fruitful. It's good that certain controversies were put on the table (regardless of whether or not we agree with how Driscoll and MacDonald handled them as the moderators. I do have to give credit where credit is due, though, and they did push back at the very least on the Perry Noble issue). In the end, though, what is going to become of these "conversations?" Is anything going to change? I doubt it. So what is our response? Same as always...keep preaching the Gospel, because fewer and fewer pastors are proclaiming it without compromise these days!
[P]reach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

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