Religion’s Downfall

According to some the rapture is at hand, so this may be our last podcast. But Wayne and Brad share a conversation about how the priorities of religion separate people instead of unifying them in the love of Christ. A recent interview with Eugene Peterson about the conflict he has suffered since writing an endorsement for Love Wins, and and excerpt from Robert Farrar Campon's book about The Parables of Grace provide the backdrop to discuss why religion is such a force humanity and how easily it draws our hearts away from things of first importance. The power of religion collapses in the human heart when we are settled in the love God has for us.

Podcast Links:
Eugene Peterson Interview, Would Jesus Condemn Rob Bell?
Robert Farrar Capon's The Parables of Grace. You can read just the excerpt here.
Orphanage Relocation in Kenya


  1. This is the topic that makes my husband think that Christians are NUTS! Guys like you two make me hopeful. As I share some of your podcast with him, he laughs with you and I pray he sees that it’s not the Lord that acts nutty. I deeply desire my husband to rekindle a relationship with Father that he had in his youth, but lost through wounds in church via hypocrisy, and lack of love shown by those who professed Him.
    Blessings Brothers! I appreciate you!

  2. Great discussion…

    Looking forward to the podcast next week…not the rapture on Saturday!


  3. Thanks for your work – it is refreshing in this world of Pharisaical Legalism.

    I want to note what appears to be an error on this webpage. Your reference link to Capon’s book is for “The Parables of Grace” but the excerpt link is to “Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus”

    Also, in the podcast you comment on your surprise at Capon being an Episcopal priest. You may also like to read N.T. Wright’s book, “Surprised by Hope”. N.T. Wright was Bishop of Durham in the Anglican Church for several years. Now he teaches at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. I find it interesting that the Episcopal Church is the American sister to the Anglican Church in Britain, and both seem to be producing some very Non-dogmatic, relationship rooted, true theologians. I suggest this may be evidence of the breadth and depth of the scholarly epistemology that is characteristic in those traditions. Thanks!

  4. I agree with this podcast. Thank God someone makes sense these days! 🙂

  5. Cliff, actually the link still gives the excerpt. Parables of Grace is a book drawn from “Kingdom, Grace and Judgment.” And I’ve read lots of NT Wright and enjoy him much as well.

  6. Thank you for correcting me Wayne. I thought it was two separate books – didn’t know one was drawn from the other. By the way, I think you would find it interesting how Father lead me to The Shack, to Paul Young, to N.T. Wright, to Capon, and now to you. I’d love to share it with you some day. It is amazing how none of these great men of God know me, but they minister to me daily through their work as they each live out their “God Journey” and that in turn helps me live out mine! Thank you. I am on my 7th or so iteration of the Transition series – Great stuff!

    Regarding the rapture, the pastor of the “gathering of Christians” of which I have been a member now for about 5 years, recently showed his true colors on this subject. When I became a member I told him my views on eschatology. I even shared a book with him on the subject that I hoped would help him to question his beliefs as a pre-millennial rapture dispensationalist. He read the book – told me why he felt it was historically but not spiritually accurate and we both agreed to disagree regarding eschatology. From that point on, as my family and I became more and more closely knit to this “gathering”, the pastor, encouraged and supported by the “pillars” of this gathering, proceeded to indoctrinate us with rigid, dogmatic legalism filled with covenants and hierarchies and what he calls God’s divine order. (this was prior to reading The Shack) Anyway, I became quite a good Pharisee (to use your old moniker). Then, as I sought a deeper understanding of who God is, and tried to reconcile the contradicting personifications of God that I saw in scripture, I read The Shack. Holy Spirit has since lead me to you and the other men of God I mentioned above into my Journey, I think the pastor saw this change in my views – and I don’t think he liked it. So what does all this have to do with the Rapture. – This pastor’s theme for this year is “Get out the Levin as we leave out for heaven in 2011”. When I heard the theme I knew we were headed for trouble. Finally, in a home group meeting (which is really an excuse for him not to have to preach on Sunday nights and a way to get a free meal!), as we were discussing the morning’s sermon, he proceeded to pull out his copy of the Textus Receptus, singled me out in the group and began to assail me with legal and etymological reasons why the rapture has to be truth and challenging me to debate him on it. I said nothing. For the whole 15 to 20 minutes of bashing – I said nothing. Needless to say, that was my last home group meeting. We still attend this “gathering” because our kids like it and their uncle is the youth minister! My wife wants to switch, but we are not in the same place in our journeys, so we just wait! Please pray for us and that Father’s endearing essence will heal the brokenness in my wife that is keeping her from embracing this journey with Him!

  7. As most of us now know, Harold Camping’s rapture did not come. I’ve read many of the responses trashing him and his followers. To me, it has been very sad. His followers were most likely genuine, and probably even Harold himself was genuine, and will now most likely be genuinely crushed, maybe even tempted to deny their faith entirely. I stumbled across a letter to Harold and his followers tonight that was written by a brother in Christ, and I was moved greatly by the loving grace that he wrote to them with. I highly recommend reading it if you get a chance. It reflects, what I believe, to be the character of our God exactly, and how he is responding to His children in this situation.

  8. Woke up, brushed my teeth, drank some coffee, read the newspaper, looked up into the sky. Went shopping, came home, had a bite to eat, looked up into the sky, watched something on Netflix and went to bed. I don’t know if I should really be saying this, but Rapture/Judgement day was ….well….kind of boring. Oh there was one weird thing that happened, my goldfish seem to be missing

  9. @Erkki- Thank you Erkki for that link. After reading it I can appreciate the graciousness of the person extending his thoughts and concerns for the people who would be left devastated. Without an opportunity for me to share my thoughts w/ anyone on this whole “rapture” episode…it’s refreshing to find a response that echoes much of what I was thinking. My concern was that people would translate their disappointment into their relp w/ God rather than seeing the human error. When I hear people’s gracious responses to the pain of people who were left disillusioned…there’s a little bit of the love of Father than comes through.

  10. Everyone is quick in pointing out where Camping has erred. And then turn around and question the motives of those who point out where Bell might have erred. What is the difference? Is it because we agree with one more than the other?
    I think as we point people to Jesus we must also lovingly be against false doctrine whether it occurs from people like Camping or someone whom we might really look up to. Otherwise, “the body will be telling lies about it’s Head”, as Schaeffer put it.
    Doesn’t Bell’s book require the same examining that Eugene Peterson thinks “the people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything.”
    Eugene Peterson said “I wrote the endorsement because I would like people to listen to him. He may not be right. But he’s doing something worth doing. There’s so much polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal.”
    Maybe I’m just crazy, but I wouldn’t tell people to listen to someone whom I thought “may not be right.” I agree that polarization in the church is truly scandalous, but does Bell’s book help bridge the gap or widen it. Why put into a book, that he wants to use to help people know the love of God, something that he admits is speculation, and something he should of known that would create more and not less polarization?

    I noticed that when the shack had reviewers claim doctrinal problems with the shack, Wayne met them head on and explained why those critics had misunderstood what had been written. I don’t remember him resorting to name calling and questioning their relationship with God as Eugene did when he said “There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.”

    I’m sorry for the tirade, but hypocrisy, in the church or out, bothers me.

  11. Thanks, Sue. I too imagine that many of his followers, and maybe Harold too, will be feeling rather hopeless today, maybe even like God abandoned them. I only hope that they might see this brokenness as a blessing rather than a curse. The answer to their predicament, I believe, is not to further rub in the obvious but rather to point them to the God who was Himself known as the Man of Sorrows, rejected by men, who knows their pain and loves them right where they are, as they are.

  12. I love Wayne’s comments on “The Parables of Grace”, they reminded me of a song a friend of mind wrote several years ago. It’s called “I love You in the Lord, But I Hate You in Me”. I’m not sure I really understood it until now. Thanks Wayne. Wonderful podcast.

  13. You know we were just that close (I am making a gesture like say the size of a fish someone caught) to Rapture/Judgement Day this past weekend and I’m sure judgement was on many people’s minds. I know I have posted this elsewhere but here it goes again. Regarding IU (inverse universalism) theory and burnt toast, I’ve recently been pumping sunshine up people’s butts about Brad Jersak’s awesome book “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut, Hope, Hell and the New Jerusalem”.

    An excerpt from this book (Chapter 1) is available (free) in PDF form at Greg Albrecht’s PTM website for anyone who is interested. (You can make out faint haunting sounds of my ha ha ha ha – Note: these are evil ha ha’s with tons of cheap 1950s reverb).

  14. Did God, in the record of the Old Testament, show his love for us by protecting His plan to bring Messiah and salvation to earth? He did things that were systematic of a father protecting His present and future children from an enemy that, without His intervention, strived to prevented our redemption. I believe satan is a real enemy, I can accept that (it) was trying to contaminate the bloodline of Christ. Once Jesus came, the same stern measures were no longer necessary nor did He deal have to deal with Israel as the vehicle of salvation. His love now may be seen more clearly (merciful) now but that doesn’t mean His love or He has changed. It was all love directed towards us.

  15. John,
    I too have thought often of why God’s “modes operandi” appeared to make such a radical shift from Malachi to Matthew. I think your point of Father projecting the bloodline of Christ definitely was part of God’s redemptive plan to heal His creation, but I want to suggest that when we see God directly intervening to protect Israel (or the bloodline) what we are seeing is the WRATH of God. Wayne taught us in the Transition series that God’s wrath is defined as “the fullness of His being coming against that which would threaten or destroy the object of His affection”. Now, to understand why His wrath appeared more dramatic and direct in the OT, I further suggest you consider the parable of the strong man in Matthew 12:22-30. Jesus has been casting out demons and the Pharisees him of being from Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Jesus tells them you can’t plunder the strong man’s house until you bind the strong man. Jesus goes on to say “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” My reading here is that in the OT, Satan was loose and free on the earth, which explains the wickedness, death and depravity of most of creation at that time (Israel also had their times of depravity, but much less that the rest of the world). The antithesis of Satan’s destruction was the direct and often equally destructive force of God’s wrath. Then, when God’s plan for redemption was inaugurated in Christ, the strong man was bound, and the Kingdom of God came upon us! The obvious question: if the Kingdom of God has come, then why is there still so much wickedness and depravity in the earth? Answer: Our enemy is not just Satan, it also includes the world and the flesh. Our’s is still a damaged and fallen creation and healing is not yet complete. We were all born with original sin and this is a real enemy. To take this a step further, let me answer the question with another question: If God were running this show what would it look like? Again, I suggest the Kingdom of God has come, it just didn’t look like we thought it would – and it is continuing toward it’s complete consummation at the Parousia.

  16. Hi, folks. I just listened to this podcast today, a bit later than most, perhaps. I had only vaguely heard that someone was predicting the end of the world, again, but it seems it must have been a bigger deal in the USA.

    I very much enjoyed the excerpt you read from Father Capone. I understand your surprise about such ideas coming from an Episcopal priest, but really we shouldn’t be surprised. We do have very precious brothers and sisters from all over the religious spectrum, and some who are not considered religious at all.

    “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” —Mother Teresa

    “Today God loves the world so much that He gives you, He gives me, to love the world, to be His love, His compassion. It is such a beautiful thought for us—and a conviction—that you and I can be that love and compassion.” — Mother Teresa

    I cannot bear with laws for the interpretation of the word of God, since the word of God, which teaches liberty in all other things, ought not to be bound. – Martin Luther

    The need of the World is to listen to God. –Albert Einstein

    I only trace the lines that flow from God. –Albert Einstein

    “In sacred deed, we echo God’s suppressed chant; in loving we intone God’s unfinished song. No image of the Supreme may be fashioned, save one: our own life as an image of His will.” – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

    We can never approach the Bible alone. It is to man with God that the Bible opens itself. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

    Thank God that His influence in the earth is much bigger than we can know or imagine!

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