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RGR: The New Atheists: Broken by the church?

On Today’s show we’re continuing the theme of “Broken by the church” by talking about today’s so Called “new atheists”. The profile is simple. Many of them are outcasts from the church at large, and not church body or denomination is exempt from being the culprits here. We’ve done this. We created the situation where all these people have given up on the church and many times on Christ himself.

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Desperate Hearts do Desperate Things

The other day after I posted about “why Radical Grace Matters”, I noticed just how desperate I seemed in the post. Even though I was venting, it wasn’t doing me any good to rant about the bad preaching of John MacArthur or how most of the preaching today is shoddy, vapid and shallow. Even though, like most people, I love pointing out the faults of the people around me, it was doing nothing for me with regards to addressing the problem.

But I want to address this tendency of ours to lash out at the ones who we believe have harmed us. It’s a sinful act that we get into, oh yes. I don’t think I need to put up the scriptures where Jesus calls this lashing out sin. He was well aware of the hatred that rises up in us when we are feeling betrayed or trampled on, and even more so when the slings and arrows are real rather than imagined. Like children we react to provocations from all sides, finding in us either a stifled emotion that only leads us silent disdain, or leading us into acts of so desperate that eventually they disturb even our nearest acquaintances, and eventually us too.

For whatever reason, we just don’t actually grow up. Oh, we put on a good show after we learn how act in polite society, but always bubbling under the surface is the tendency to hate. We already know that our hearts are “wicked and deceitful above all things”, but no matter how much we take this into consideration, we still run afoul of God’s law.

That’s why our hearts, indeed our fleshly hearts, are so desperate to impress God. We all know we’ve done something wrong, in fact, many things wrong. We already sense that we need to try and be reconciled with God and we’re constantly coming up with ways we hope will some how make the cut, desperately hoping against hope that something will finally atone for all the sin we’ve accomplished in our lives. But all the while this is happening, someone we hold in high esteem, usually a pastor (but increasingly our own well meaning brothers and sisters), is hammering us with everything that THEY think will be what atones for our sins.

So imagine how much more desperate we are when we are broken by God’s law, and given no recourse; no Gospel to console us. Imagine a heart that’s already broken, not only by God’s law, but a pervasive sense that God is totally against us. We look around at our lives; where we are daily facing financial ruin either due to job losses or medical emergencies and the like. We look at how things are going for us and we imagine that God is against us AND that there is no way to change his mind on the subject. Desperately we cling to the hope that somehow, somehow… we’ll find something.

So I’m reminded again of Elijah in 1 Kings chapter 19. I’ve often said, “I feel like Elijah under the broom tree”, because there are times when I’ve had the snot kicked out of me by all the doings of this world. I say, agreeing with him, “I have had enough! Take my life Lord! I am no better than my fathers!”. And indeed, even though God’s still, small voice comes to me each week through right preaching of God’s word, and I am fed by Jesus’ body and blood, I often continue to complain “I have been zealous for you Lord… but now they are trying to kill me too”.

But what I have in Christ is so vividly captured in the Theophany that is displayed here. Eventually, this broken man called Elijah, who was at the end so broken that he could only rely on God to get him through much traveling, was taken home in a chariot up into the heavens. And one day, I will meet my Lord and Savior in much the same way! Elijah was raised up into Heaven! Jesus will raise me up in the Last day!

Now, if that is true, then what are the implications of that with regard to how I perceive God’s attitude towards me? Is God against me if His promise to me is that I will be with him in paradise? And since it is true that He is for me, then that means even though they may be trying to kill me in many ways and diverse manners, it doesn’t matter! God is for me!

Who can be against me?

Why does “Radical Grace” matter?

I recently received one of those innocuous notification from a friend on Youtube stating that said friend had “favorited” a video, one featuring popular evangelical preacher John MacArthur. I had never heard this man preach before, and the friend who favorited the video is a Lutheran, so I figured I’d give it a listen.

Now, before I go any further, let me just say this. I had my guard down for this listen. I have a few people who I let my guard down when they preach. One, of course, is when Pastor Gary Held, my cohort on Radical Grace Radio, is preaching. It’s likely that I’d also let my guard down for a sermon by Greg LeSieur as well… but for this John MacArthur sermon, I had my guard down because it came from the favorites list of a Lutheran.

I’ll never make that mistake again. John MacArthur’s sermon nearly killed my faith. I’m dead serious. His sermon was filled with everything from Lordship salvation to works righteousness. He claims that, yes, Christians sin, but if you have a pattern of sin in your life, you need to “check your foundation” before it’s too late.

Now, I’m not trying to be too thoughtful here. I’m not interested in talking points, or well crafted prose. What I am interested in is expressing how angry I was with this man. I told Pastor Gary the other day “How dare this man try to take the grace and mercy of God away from me!” I was furious! I wanted to have John MacArthur in my studio for a few minutes, just long enough to ask him this: have you sinned today sir? If so, do you think your going to sin tomorrow? How about the next day? Yes to all? Do we see a pattern here yet? Is there now a discernible pattern of sin emerging?

So back to the point of the day. “Why does Radical Grace matter?” It’s simple, yet so difficult for people to grasp: Because we need the Radical Grace of God to match the Radical nature of our sinful condition. We are, as a matter of course, so sinful at any given moment that even if someone were to administer several CCs of curare and render you in a state of coma, the doing of passing out itself would be tainted by sin. The depravity of our existence knows no bounds. That’s literal. No pulling punches.

If people are only marginally sinful, then some form of mild grace from God would be sufficient. But the fact is, our sinful nature is matched only by one possible Godly response and that is the immeasurable grace and mercy of our Lord.

Radical Grace matters because it shoots for the dark recesses of our lives and fills up those lives with Christ. You all remember, I’m sure, of that description of the “God-shaped hole” that was a prominent evangelistic analogy for many years. Radical Grace tells us that there is a “sin shaped hole” in our lives that can only be filled with Christ!

I’ll be doing more posts on this as time goes by. I have to. It’s all I have.

How to fill your spiritual needs

Recognizing God’s blessings

On the way up to the station today, we we’re delayed due to two accidents on I95, involving what looked like ten vehicles. Praise God it looked like no one was seriously hurt in either accident, but it sparked a conversation that we had on the air… About how God blesses us even when things don’t go like we planned, and how our physical and spiritual needs are met.

We were going to have a conversation about online church, but all the show prep went out the window when we were delayed. We’ll have the conversation next week.

To listen to the show you can click on the play button or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.

How to fill your spiritual needs

ELCA decides: Abandon God’s Word

The ELCA turns it back on God

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the most liberal Lutheran Church Body in the United States, has voted to abandon the Word of God and support both Same Sex Marriage and Rostered Gay Clergy. In this edition of Radical Grace Race, we talk about the ramifications of this move, about how the media has portrayed Lutherans during this point in history, and how an incident with a Tornado that struck the Convention Center where the ELCA were meeting to discuss these issues may have been a sign from God…

There is a definite sense of pain and anguish over watching this happen. How can we even begin to understand what has happened?

To listen to the show you can click on the play button or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.

You’ve heard it said…

Magical Spiritual Poofle Dust

In this edition of Radical Grace Radio, Pastor Gary Held talks about how the idea of Christians being at war is misused by some Christians, for instance, how the idea of us being Christian Soldiers fighting against the culture is bolstered by the misapplication of certain Scripture.

We also begin what we hope will be a weekly segment, “You have heard it said”, where we take some statements of popular teaching of Christian Teachers today, and do what Jesus did with them on the sermon on the mount. This week it’s Pastor Michael Youssef and what he believes is the Gospel, and how “if you believe with all your heart, God can do great things”.

To listen to the show you can click on the play button or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.

Episode 89: Listener Emails and Seminary Experiences

Is Jesus merely a condiment on the burger of world religion?

In this Edition of Radical Grace Radio we go over some listener emails, and Pastor Greg LeSeiur Tells about his days at ELCA Seminary in Gettysburg… Where apparently he learned the Jesus is reduced to being a condiment on the burger of World Religion. Apparently other religions are just fine, but they are better if you add Jesus… We know, it’s bad.
Larry in KY Writes

Something Matt mentioned in the last was the first time Iâd heard
someone else really articulate it, someone whoâd been there once and
that is the spirit of antichrist wafting in the protestant church. I
use to tell my wife back during my struggles with âwas Christ really
for meâ, that dark, dark, dark time, âI believe more deception and
covering up of Christ occurs not so much overtly but under the guise of
âniceâ and smiles and from well meaning fellows and pastors. Not the
kind of guys youâd label, âthatâs my enemyâ.â Iâve told her, ââI think
weâve been tainted by dispensationalism and Hollywoodâwe think
antichrist and Pharisees are these âdark smoking back room hand
wringing plottersâ, or the church Lady on SNL a few years back.

Iâm beginning to think thatâs a fake or rouse to keep us from looking
at the real antichristic spirit of our age, even in the protestant
church. For the real Christ and him crucified cover uppersare not at all like that. In a sense that would be obvious and EASY
to avoidâlike a thief coming at you a mile away with his gun drawn. No
now days itâs sold to you under nice things and generally morals we all
want. Christ is covered up more there than anywhere so that either you
end up overly proud of yourself that you are doing it OR you end up in
despair thinking, âIâm lost for sureâ.â If youâve been in that you
know what that is like and its hard to uncover. In a sense a Hollywood
Pharisee would be refreshingly easy to refute!

You all have done a WONDERFUL job of reorienting what antichrist and
all involved is. It donned on me the other day listening that it makes
sense â the deception even of dispensationalism. If the devil can get
the church laity to be looking for the boogy man in some political
figure, he can then sneak in under the radar under morals and things
whether from Rome or within the protestant church itself in general and
REALLY cover up Christ. Because we can unite with Rome around a moral
issue but at the price of the Gospel itself.

Great, great, great work brothersâkeep it up you have no idea how much you feed us!


Josh writes…

I heard the “water valve” illustration and find it to be compelling.
However, I feel that illustration still places a burden on the PERSON
and not on GOD because the person can close the valve. In working with
this illustration, we all close the valve all the time. So, how does
the valve stay open for some even when they try to close it and for
some it closes. If election is truly based solely on God, then he must
choose whose valve opens and whose valve closes at the end of their
life. I don’t see how you can get around the fact that God elects for
salvation and selects some for condemnation. If condemnation is based
on something in us denying God’s offer of salvation then, by default,
salvation is also based on the lack of that same thing IN US. I don’t
believe you can have election for salvation from God without selection for condemnation by God as well.


Jason writes…

I am listening to the program on “The United States of the Beast”.
Didn’t Luther, Calvin, and all the Reformers point to the dynasty of
the Popes as the beast of Revelation? It seems to fit to me. Maybe I
am getting ahead of myself because I didn’t get to the end yet. Some
Lutherans sound really anti-Calvinist. Am I damned for being
Calvinist? If so let me know why before it’s too late. I love
Lutherans no matter what they say. Martin Luther rocks. In Christ,
(unless Calvinists are damned)


Just heard the end. I agree with Luther. Luther rocks!

To listen to the show you can click on the play button or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.

Episode 82: Rick Warren’s Folly

Putting God in a Box

On the one hand people want us to stop putting God in a Box, but on the other hand they put God in a box by trying to hold some doctrine over God’s head as though God can be held accountable to a doctrine. Also Rick Warren and his own words about hos Jesus makes up the difference between my good works and the perfection I need to stand before God’s judgment.

To listen to the show you can click on the play button or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.