Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Christocentric Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic and “Touchdown Jesus”

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 30, 2016

OHMONjesus1_lintelmanOriginally posted February 19, 2013

When you are Reformed, you have to get to heaven by faith alone. It’s easy being saved by faith alone, but how do you live the Christian life by faith alone? It would seem that there is stuff in the Bible that God tells us to do. But if we obey, that’s works salvation. What to do?

So the Reformers came up with a way to get to heaven by faith alone via being continually/perpetually saved by faith alone. Hence, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Self-serve perpetual salvation. So, that necessitated making the whole Bible about salvation. Instead of reading the Bible for instruction on kingdom living, the Bible became a way to live by the same gospel that saves us until the end.

How do we pull that off? Well, we make every verse in the Bible about Jesus’ “personhood.” Hence, “He’s not a precept, He’s a person.” “It’s His-story.” “It’s not about what we do—it’s about what Jesus has done” etc. So, how do we make every verse in the Bible about Jesus? Just “look to Jesus.” There is no better example of how this works than the infamous “Touchdown Jesus.” I explain in another article:

The Bible is full of symbolism and rich imagery—more so than most literature. And that presents a grave danger. We don’t have the liberty to go into the Bible with the bull of our imagination in a china shop. Imagery and ambiguous verbiage can become idols that are a god of our own making because variances of interpretations are myriad. You merely pick the one of your own imagination and preference, or the same from the musings of others. So here is the point: we can make passages like Exodus 25-27 a tool for creating truth of our own making. In fact, whole denominations are formed based on interpretations of the imagery in these chapters.

What better example than the infamous “Touchdown Jesus” that was an icon of a church in Monroe, Ohio. The statue of Jesus was 60ft. high and was merely a couple of hundred ft. from I-75. That is, until it was struck by lightning. The flames could be seen for miles in the night and the pictures thereof can be best described as apocalyptic. The next day, it was the talk of the nation. But telling was the hundreds of testimonies recorded on the news and in newspapers; i.e., “what the image meant to me.” Yikes! The hundreds of different interpretations were staggering, and the statue never spoke one word! Most interesting was a comment by an unbeliever who worked in the Monroe area: “Obviously, God did it.” Often, there is a disconnect between the secular mindset and the Christian mindset which involves the disintegration of common sense that is a natural endowment; mysticism often abandons the matter and faith becomes a license for mindlessness.

The appeal of idols is the supposed objective prism that leads to subjective “truth.” That’s the appeal; we can make idols speak the truth of our own preference. When a verse of Scripture has to be about Jesus, whatever our imagination comes up with is correct because it’s about Jesus, and if it’s about Jesus, a Jesus outcome must be correct.

It’s a Touchdown Jesus approach, and is the taking away and adding to the word of God on steroids. Good luck to those who propagate it.

paul

Darlene Bishop and the King

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 23, 2010

I thought I did my duty by writing at least one post about the Touchdown Jesus (statue) burning down . But I was eating breakfast while reading the newspaper this morning and observed an article entitled, “Solid Rock pastors: ‘Let not your heart be troubled.’” This is the apparent title of the sermon “pastor” Darlene Bishop and her co-pastor husband will preach tomorrow morning to encourage those who are discouraged about the tragic event. The article also mentioned the website address of their church, “Solid Rock” (SRC). Between the article and the website, I discovered that my initial report concerning the height of the statue only took the torso into account; if you include the fingertips of its raised arms, we’re taking about a 62-foot-high statue. Information on their website also confirmed the claim that people have been saved by viewing the former image as they drove past on I-75, while others were given hope when all else seemed lost. The website did not display any of these testimonials, but that’s quit alright, such subjects are never lacking in rich material.

 

Yes, a crises has occurred in the lives of many because a 62-foot-high styrofoam Jesus no longer stands. Pastor Darlene is quoted as saying (in the same Dayton Daily News article) that she wants to assure the multitudes that this is only temporary; apparently, the sanctifying power of this image will soon be restored. Though just an image, in both the article and the website, Pastor Darlene claims the image projects the following messages to people: Christ is alive, there is hope, Jesus cares about you, Jesus died for your sins, and rose again three days later, and you will be saved if you believe that. Hmmmm, pretty impressive. Other messages projected by the image to people and reported directly to me are as follows: “it’s cartoonish,” “it’s the most retarded thing I have ever seen in my life,” “it makes Christians look foolish,” it’s racist,” “it’s a freak show,” “couldn’t the money have been used for something more worthy?”

That’s the problem with images, they project ambiguity; and worse yet, they often project whatever people want them to project. It is often the same reason we prefer pets over people: “You wuv me soooo much don’t you Sparky? Ya you do, ya you do. Isn’t my girlfriend soooo stupid? Ya, you know, don’t you Sparky?” Of course, dogs always reply with a smile, hanging tongue, and wagging tale. Pets would be far-less popular if they could argue with us. In the same way, many prefer gods of their own making (symbolized by idols) that never correct us. Images of God presented by us tell God that we accept him as our friend, but on our own terms. However, if you are a friend of God, It is on His terms, Scripture makes this absolutely certain. In fact, images are often reflective of outright rebellion against God:

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

 

Likewise, the Bishops call the image “King of Kings,” but it is more like Burger King, where you can always have it your way. Therefore, when it’s convenient, the Bishops quote Scripture. According to Darlene (as quoted in the same article), the Bible says that Christians are supposed to always make good things out of bad, so therefore, since the lightning strike was a bad thing, SRC must turn that situation into good by rebuilding the statue. Actually, the verse of Scripture she is referring to says that it is God who “works all things for the good of those who love Him,” not us, but the larger issue at hand is the fact that the second commandment in Exodus, chapter 20, strictly forbids making an image of “anything in heaven.” Bottom line: the image is a blatant affront to Scripture, and this couple could care less. In fact, they state on the website that rebuilding the image is a mission assigned to them by God. This, of course, is a lie, but yet another indication of why we like pets so much: “ya Sparky, Sparky, you want mommy to rebuild the statue don’t you? Suuuuure you do, give mommy a kiss.” But, also, according to pastor D, a breed among humans known as “Homo thinking sapiens” are strongly suggesting to her that God struck the image with lightning because He didn’t like it. Her answer to that was more-or-less: then why did He wait seven years to do it? Darla, Darla, Darla, hellooooooo, He waited much longer than that to torch Sodom and Gomorrah. He also struck your statue as opposed to the porno superstore right across the highway! And I might mention my point about the porno store was suggested to me by a person who would not profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, I have had several “unbelievers” mention to me in a nonchalant way that, “obviously, God did it.”

Furthermore, the title of the message scheduled for tomorrow is taken from the words of Christ while He encouraged His disciples to stand strong during the paramount event of all universal history. She will use these same words to preach a message about a styrofoam statue. Apparently, they also have a message on their sign in front of the church that says, “He will return,” likening the rebuilding of the statue to the second coming of Jesus Christ. God told Jeremiah that His word is a “consuming fire,” and in light of that, such flippancy toward God’s word is ill-advised to say the least, especially in the same area where God has recently made a statement with a few million volts.

But I must say, a profound thought was suggested to me in all of this. Maybe the statue is important to the pastors of SRC as a “filter.” Yes, maybe the pastors want to draw those who are strongly persuaded by subjective images, dreams, anything that well-dressed people say, and other such nebulous venues, while driving away Homo thinking sapiens. Hmmm, interesting thought.

paul

When God Adds an Exclamation Point to Life

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 18, 2010

Located between Cincinnati, Ohio, and my hometown of Dayton, Ohio is the small town of Monroe. This small town boasts big things, and displays them prominently at the corners of its main drag where it crosses I-75, the highway that connects our countries north and south borders from Florida to Michigan. Specifically, on the edges of this super-highway, we have a statue ( representing an imaginative likeness of Jesus Christ) built by Solid Rock Church that towers some forty-feet high, the equivalent to a four-story building. I have worked on the exterior of four-story buildings; trust me, that’s a big  Jesus statue. The statue has invoked  all kinds of responses over the years from satire to admiration, and even claims of spiritual transformation upon the gazing thereof. In the same area, and inescapable as well from anybodies notice at 65 miles per hour, or more, is one of the largest flea markets in the world. Cattycorner to the flea market is Larry Flint’s Hustler Magazine superstore. Surely, no other town in the USA can wow so many people three times in less than fifteen seconds. “Wow mom! `Look at that big Jesus, is that what He really looked like?” Wow mom! Look at that big yellow shopping mall! Hey mom! What’s that?”

Well, you probably heard; the statue depicting Jesus, also sarcastically referred to as the “Touchdown Jesus” and “Butterball Jesus,” was recently struck by lightening and burned with a very impressive inferno against the night sky. Due to the flammable materials used to build the structure, the flames were of, well, biblical proportions. It almost goes without saying that the response to this event has been huge. Pagans are probably proclaiming a new holiday, celebrating the day that Zeus supposedly dissed Jesus, while atheist couldn’t wait to get to work the next day to taunt their Christian coworkers. Christians who loved the statue blame Satan, while Christians who despised the structure give God Himself all the credit, claiming that He destroyed what amounted to a detestable graven image. Others joyfully refer to the remaining metal frame as the “praying mantis.”

For sure, two facts clearly illustrate that God was somehow involved. First, the Bible makes it clear that God is in total control of all lightning:

Job 36:32
He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.
Job 37:11
He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them.
Job 37:15
Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
Job 38:35
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?

Secondly, a reliable source has informed me that the statue, and adjacent building were properly grounded, making the strike a significant anomaly.

So, why would God strike this structure with lightning and burn it to the ground? And if He did it because He didn’t like the image, why wouldn’t He just strike everything else with lightning that He doesn’t like, such as the Hustler superstore on the other side of the highway?

To answer the first question, one reason is that Jesus doesn’t care if people know what He looks like or not, but He is very particular about people learning about what he “say[s]” and applying it to their life. In times past, God spoke to us (humanity) through prophets and other means, but we are in an age (time period) that the Bible refers to as the last days, and in these last days, God speaks only through His Son:

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1,2).

Furthermore, Christ made it clear that He speaks to us through His truth as documented in the Bible, and other truth spoken and demonstrated by God in the past, and also documented in the Scriptures:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5: 17-19).

In addition, it’s true, Christ is our savior (John 3:16), but the following is also true: Christ is also Lord, and those who belong to Him must believe in Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord:

Luke 6:46
Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
Matthew 7:21
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Christ also said:

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Bottom line: Christ is concerned that people live according to what He says objectively, not according to subjective images. Even suppositional images of Jesus, do not convey life:

John 17:17
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Images do not sanctify, this should be apparent by the obvious fact that Jesus did not see fit to leave behind His image, but only His words as documented and superintended in the Bible. Leaving behind His image is hardly a feat that would be beyond His capabilities. In fact, images that distract from the objective, life-giving truth of Scripture has been a huge problem throughout redemptive history, and is the subject of the second commandment:

Exodus 20:4
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Seems pretty clear, does it not? A giant statue of Jesus is obviously an image of one who dwells in heaven. Why would you spend $250,000 (the reported cost to build the statue) dollars to break the second commandment? But throughout Scripture, God not only tells us not to do certain things, but tells us why. And again, images have always been a huge problem. When Moses died, Michael the Arch Angel had to contend with Satan to retrieve Moses’ body (Jude 9). Why? Because Satan wanted to set it up as an image for the Israelites to worship, that’s why.

Ok, so why wouldn’t God do this sort of thing all of the time? I don’t know for sure, but this I do know: God adds exclamatory events in the milieu of life to kind-of remind people that He is not a God to be trifled with. Though He is very patient (unlike us, imagine if we could call down lightning on things that displease us!), He sees fit to apply attitudinal tune-ups from time to time. We have an example of this in Acts 5:1-11. Things where going great for the first century church, but apparently, God wanted to make a statement; so, two Christians who merely partook in an act of exaggeration (which unfortunately is sin) where struck dead on the spot. Ouch. Sort-of makes us all want to keep a leery eye towards the sky, but here is what the result of God‘s action was:

Acts 5:11
Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

I imagine. Did the first century church develop an unhealthy fearlessness toward God? If they did, the exclamation point added by God cured the problem.

But what about our last question? Why hasn’t God struck the Hustler superstore with lightning?; or my personal preference, a F-5 tornado? This is probably the easiest question to answer. The Hustler superstore is less of a threat to spiritual wellbeing because it doesn’t feign godliness. Pretty cut and dry on that side of the highway; fairly black and white for most Christians. Besides, judgment begins in the house of  God:

1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? [Pagans, atheist, and other naysayers, please note the last fragment of this verse].

I have some advice for the church leaders at Solid Rock Church. If you are going to rebuild the statue, build a statue that emphasis what Jesus says rather than what he looks like. Build an image of an open Bible 65-feet wide and 40-feet high, the same dimensions of the old statue. Then, in big letters on the inside of the open part, inscribe the following: “Why do you call me Lord, and do not what I say?” I  am positive that image will not be struck by lightning. In fact, maybe the next bolt will strike on the other side of the highway. But does lightning strike twice in the same place? It does if God wants it to.

paul

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