Sunday, June 29, 2014

Irenaeus 1-3: Valentinians

Irenaeus preaches against the most common heresy that creeped into the church early on: gnosticism.  There are many forms of gnosticism, but the one Irenaeus decries is the Valentinian kind.  These people follow Valentinus.

Let me say, it is confusing, but I'll try to explain it.

In the highest heavens there is the most excellent being.  These days he is called Bythus, but he has other names.  Bythus had a wife named Sige.  They begat male and female pairs of twins.  There are 15 pairs and together they are called the Ogdoad.  All the individuals are called Aeons.

Aeons wish to honor Bythus, so they make their own aeon pairs.  This group of thirty aeons is also called a Pleroma.

For 30 years, Jesus the Savior kept silent while these aeons ruled the world.  Jesus is also called Monogenes, and he sprang from Bythus unknown to all except for the aeon Nous.  Ultimately, one of the youngest aeons, Sophia, tried to create a child with Bythus.  She wanted passion apart from her twin aeon.  Because of this she fell from heaven and somehow had Jesus.

These people also consider Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to be aeon twins.

Somewhere in there, matter is also evil, and it was created through Monogenes who was the product of Sophia and Bythus.  He is the evil Demiurge who is God of the Old Testament, and Jesus came to save the world and the aeons from him.

So basically, 1. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are less than God.
2. God the father is a demiurge
3. How did Jesus get here again?  I'm confused.
4. How insulting to say that all the matter and the universe around you with its beauty is an evil gift from the OT God!
5.  This is not Christianity but its ideas crept into the church teaching the way they do today.

This lives on today.  All the names are changed and might even be real people from time to time.  But if you are in a place where Jesus is merely God's power and not God, then you are drinking the Valentinian Gnostic kool-aid.  If the God of the OT and Jesus are separate beings, you might be a gnostic.

Do not be deceived.  God created a good world.  Man corrupted it with Sin.  God sent his Son Jesus as a gracious gift to save the whole planet and redeem his people back to him again.  It's like night and day different from Gnosticism.  Matter is not the problem.  God did not cause evil.  We caused it by disobeying God.  Now he sent Jesus not accidentally but planned it from before creation to save humans and matter from the evil of treason against our Creator.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Irenaeus: intro

I started reading the ancient church fathers on CCEL again.  I got out of the habit and want to come back.

I return with someone I can relate to.  Irenaeus is best known for his polemics: Against All Heresies.  I need to read this work because of my desire to steer people away from lies that are dressed up in cute tuxes and dresses for Sunday.

After reading the intro, two things stuck in my mind.

1) To quote Wayne Rogers, the devil is not going to be dressed up in a red suit and parading down Bourbon Street.  He's going to wear an adorable tux and walk through the church doors like a cute young man younger than five. 

"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself."

It will come disguised as someone who cares for the poor, children, the marginalized.  They sing good music and have good speeches.  They are absolutely affectionate with you.  But inside they deny the possibility of eternal damnation or they deny the deity of Christ.  Or they decide that all that isn't important, that all religions are equally valid.

Or sometimes they do have all the good theology but they use it to tell people that they can use God as a vending machine to get healings, a good job, a good marriage, money, and all the comforts that Jesus never had.  They have no sight of the invisible world that is more permanent, making all our gains here worthless in comparison.

2) Irenaeus was a relatively uneducated man, so his words will be more raw and uncultured than most people.  He's not the slick professor on NPR.  He's the southern guy next door with all the unconventional wisdom.

"Thou wilt not expect from me, who am resident among the Keltæ, and am accustomed for the most part to use a barbarous dialect, any display of rhetoric, which I have never learned, or any excellence of composition, which I have never practised, or any beauty and persuasiveness of style, to which I make no pretensions."

It's funny, I've never really had an opinion on Duck Dynasty.  All I know is I work at LifeWay and we sell their products.  And some people like them and some people despise them.  Both sides come into the store in South Atlanta and they come in all races on both sides.  I don't know if they're becoming more of a cult classic among the younger boys around there, but they are picking up attention.  They became more controversial last December with Phil's interview that got him suspended from the A & E network.

I'm sure they are nice moral people, but I always got the idea that their Christianity was more part of their Southern Culture then part of them.  I'm glad they support Republicans and the 2nd Amendment, but y'all, there's more to conservatism than that.

I imagine Irenaeus being kind of like those guys but his Christianity is more than culture.  It's a part of him.  He may be unrefined and crude, but he does cuss and use anatomical language like Phil did, causing me to not really take a side in that debate.  But just the same, I do side with right theology and rightly loving Jesus and being content with where God has placed you and how he's made you.  I look forward to seeing what he says real soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The List: 6-17-14

Here is some notable music that matches the neighborhood of Cleveland Avenue and is superb.  LifeWay should pay attention to these people.

First is Je'Kob.  He has a song called "I Believe"

Notice how he makes a huge stand for believing in creation and not evolution.

This next group is an anomaly: the Walls Group

I haven't heard such Jesus-centered lyrics in a long time.  I don't know many people in South Atlanta who enter a church who can say, if I never get that house or that car or no one knows my names, but I have Jesus I'm alright.  Really, what if you have nothing other than Jesus.  You already have heaven.  What more do you need?  People, listen to the Walls Group.  Calvin would give a thumbs up.

Compilations: Gotee Records turns 20

Gotee Records, the record label founded by TobyMac in 1994 has been around for 20 years.  It has produced successful singers and albums and now celebrates with an album.

I remember my favorite singer being Jennifer Knapp.  I remember the long hiatus and wondering in 2010 what she was doing know.  I still grieve over the lifestyle decision she has made.  She took on the lesbian lifestyle and still tries to insist that it is consistent with Christianity.  Believe me, I've been to the point of loneliness and ennui of following God's Word and then feeling alone and needing love.  I've known what that community thinks is a call to the gay lifestyle.  But it's not.  It's a call to cling tighter to Jesus, ask him to pull you out of this mess, and to love him more than your circumstances.  This is also a time to practice purity and enjoy being single until God finally sends someone for you to marry.  At the same time we should love our friends, but that should not lead to sex.  It should lead to glorifying God.

But this is not about Jennifer Knapp, or gay people.  I still really love her songs which are truly gospel songs.  I hope one day God leads her back to his fold to solid teachers who can better serve her as a single woman and to show her where to put her passion.

This is about Gotee, however.  All of Gotee's current artists: there are four of them according to Wikipedia, and others no longer with them came together and sang some of the most successful songs from Gotee's label.  Two of them are by Jennifer Knapp.

I did not know before that Relient K was ever on Gotee.  I did not know that Out of Eden was the first band signed on it.  I knew about GRITS and John Reuben and other people.  I know about Jamie Grace now.  But I did listen to bands I didn't know before yesterday.

I think first place goes to House of Heroes singing "Stereo."  I didn't hear them sing it but I heard them.  It just shows that after tolerating rap and enjoying the CCM movement, I still love some good rock.  House of Heroes provided that.

Second place is Stephanie Smith.  She has the same name as my mom, but sings music mom would never listen to.  It's good rock music that still sounds like music.  She really reminded me of Paramore. 

And finally, third place goes to Paul Wright.

I think I remember this song from Trevecca days.  It has a good sound.  As far as familiar songs go, it should be the winner.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Compilations: Gotta Have Gospel Classics

At first, I hesitated to listen to this because it seemed like it had the same music as the last compilation that I reviewed.  They both start with "Shackles" by Mary Mary.

However, I enjoyed most of the album.  There is already a series of Gotta Have Gospel albums.  This one features older songs.  Again, I got to listen to singers that I sell at LifeWay that I never listened to before.  In a world where there are singers on Christian labels, this album features true Christians that sing about the true Gospel.

Yolanda Adams is my first winner with "The Battle is the Lord's."  This is an utterly Reformed song that encourages listeners to stop trying to improve their own lives.  God is in control, not me.

 Second place is Donnie McClurkin with "I Call you Faithful."  It starts out using the same lyrics but changing one word with the next verse: I call you holy, I call you faithful, etc.  Then it goes into a different part and is completely focused on Jesus.

Third place is one of my all-time favorites from Israel Houghton, "Again I say Rejoice."  It makes me think of my time at Trevecca when I would sing with the Treble Tones led by DeLise who had kids in the music industry.  It also reminded me of singing in the gospel choir for Trevecca's TNT, our week of PR for teenagers who compete in various contests.  It even reminded me of the church in Franklin, Bethel World Outreach Center, where Israel leads worship.  Many musicians in the Nashville area attend that church.  For a young girl still looking for fame, this song reminds me of good times.  I still love it because it's Scripture and focused on Jesus.  I don't agree with a lot of the things Bethel teaches (they are a more charismatic bunch), but Israel's songs are truly Christian.

The List: 6-10-14

It looks like last week, I reviewed all the new music that will come out next week: the 17th.  Charmaine, Mali Music, and Chanel from Trin-i-tee 5:7 have new music next week. 

The only band that really stood out to me that puts out new music today is the Michael James Band.  Their songs are catchy, have good lyrics, and the guys are very young.  I would recommend them more for teens and college people.

Last week, an EP came out from Archers Rise.  I thought they were intriguing.  They are another rock band with guys who have no full album from what I can tell.  Everything on YouTube is just an EP.
I think it's time for a full album.  You guys are good enough.

In two weeks, Anita Wilson comes out with an album.  She has had a single out, and people already ask about her.  Two weeks from now.  It's all I can say.

The next band coming out on the 24th is Rekoncyle.  Their name is spelled like a rapper, but they are a rock band that I really enjoy.  They have cool guitar licks that will remind people of PFR, and their songs rock enough to be cool, but are light enough that grandma can enjoy them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The List: 6-3-14

Because I couldn't get it onto the manager's desk.  It's suggestions that people either ask about or ones that I think LifeWay should get.

First are two acts both myself and the customers ask for.
Th'isl, another amazingly lyrically theological rapper who has a new album called Fallen King
Jesus Culture also has a new album.  I can't remember is name.  We do have their CDs on the shelf.  Just not this one.

New for next Tuesday the 10th: the only things that really caught my attention were the Michael James Band and Holly Starr.  They were good, but not really my thing and not a match for Cleveland Avenue.

June 17 is when all the acts come out that are both appealing to me and the LifeWay neighborhood.
Charmaine has an EP.  It's not a full album, but I enjoyed the song "Love Somebody."  Everything featured on claims to be Christian.  There wasn't anything specifically Christian about her songs, but "Love Somebody" is one I'd like to sing all day at the register.

Jordan Lara is another rapper to watch for.  His EP will come out, meaning later, he will have a full-length album.  He's also a rapper I enjoyed.

Mali Music sounded like a good reggae sound that you'd like to listen to at night driving through the city.

Chanel Haynes from the group Trin-i-tee 5:7 has an album coming.  I liked her music as much as Erica Campbell.  I like Erica better, but Chanel was good.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Compilations: Gospel Praise Duets

This compilation became available last Tuesday.  It seems to have a loose definition of duets as people who normally sing together, such as Mary Mary are considered a duet.  JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise are a duet even though they are always together.  I picked four winners from this album.

First one is "Bless the Lord" by Tye Tribbett and GA

It impressed me because normally I'm not impressed with Tye Tribbett.  However, this song is truly about the Lord and he sings most of the time.  I liked the first two songs on this album.  "Shackles" by Mary Mary is overplayed, but since I enjoy Erica Campbell's album, I listened to more of their songs.  "How I Got over" by Vicki Winans and Tim Bowman was fun and enjoyable.  However, it was more about myself rather than relying on the Lord.  Jesus entered this song very little.  Tye Tribbett's contribution is a breath of fresh air that is about Jesus and his worthiness.

Tamela and David Mann had a beautiful love song called "Heaven."

It's mostly about the married couple's love for each other.  Is it about Jesus?  People don't really understand until they are married how much more tangible Jesus's love becomes when you can focus your love on your spouse.  I'm not perfect.  My husband is not perfect.  We still love each other even through misunderstandings and we bring each other closer to the Lord.  Jesus loves me despite all I've done to him.  And I love that he maid marriage to give us a picture of his love for the Church.

The next winner is "The Victor" by JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise:

I hear the name "Victor" and think of Keith Green's song about the resurrection.  Hairston's song did not disappoint me.  I felt like it was an extension of the previous song.  It was about Jesus and how he over comes not just our situations but ourselves.

Finally, I enjoyed "Yes Lord" by Jonathan Nelson and Purpose featuring John McClure.

It's catchy.  It's about Jesus.  It lifts my spirits.  It places my hope on the right place: on Jesus.