September 23, 2011
While IÂ wouldÂ commend Roger for being candid and self-aware, his broad-brush description of mega-churchesÂ seemsÂ to indicate a lack of awareness about many of them. Â It would be like me saying I have no use for small churches with their somber pastors, and that I think what happens there is too detached from the real world and real life issues. Â My description is accurate in some, few cases, as is his. ButÂ neitherÂ is really fair. Â Directing a prayer toward heaven today on behalf of Roger's health. Â Blessings to him.
How stubborn can our pride and will be and what must God do to bring us to the point that we will accept grace? Roger was raised hearing the Gospel as a young man, he knows the sacrifice that the Father made to restore us. The Holy Spirit has presented the offer to him countless times, he has spent most of his life pondering the human condition through film, seen his film critic partner die, and finally, out of desperation, God now brings him to the point of death to reveal his own precarious predicament. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. However, the temptation is to refuse help, to echo Frank Sinatra and say â€œI did it my wayâ€, to stand in the gale force winds of life and declare our own self-sufficiency and honor.<br><br>Still Roger says, â€œ â€œI have no interest in being instructed in what I must do to be saved.â€ He will accept the teachings of Jesus to a point, loving his neighbor as himself, yet He will not acknowledge Godâ€™s sovereignty and holiness. â€œâ€œI am not a believer, not an atheist, not an agnostic,â€ he writes. â€œI am more content with questions than with answers.â€ I sincerely hope that Roger accepts the free offer of grace through Jesus before he passes into eternity. I join you henbeatsfox, I am praying for him today too. I have always enjoyed his insightful film reviews and he seems like a genuinely nice guy.
Rick--If Ebert's cancer is, as you say, God's revelation to him, then I doubtÂ the latterÂ would view the offer of grace as free.
I should have written former.
Roger Ebert has the quiet acceptance of someone who has seen the veiled edge of his own mortality, where the human words we use to couch our dogmatic diatribes become no more than dust and cobwebs on the bright edge of eternal life. May God's Grace bring you peace Roger.
It's exciting to see Cathleen Falsani here. I recognized her name immediately, remembering when she was first launched to national fame and recognition after the iconic interview with the <i>Wittenburg Door</i>, whose founding editor, Mike Yaconelli, was also memorialized at this very site. (Ironically, some other contributor mischaracterized the magazine as lampooning everything Christian.)<br><br>I too have no wish to be told what I must do to be saved. There are Roman Catholic formulas, which he is familiar with from his upbringing. There are various Protestant rote formulas, which I have heard, at churches I visited, at a church I belong to, on TV out of the mouth of Billy Graham. All these formulas are fine if they bring the one who utters them closer to God. Some people need the words, like others need the rosary. But Ebert can believe without a rote formula, and recognize the essence of the Reformation: we each have our own direct line to God, without need of an earthly mediator. Long may he live to do the work he was called to.
Nothing is free in that sense, neither in the hearing nor in the receiving.
I suppose his broad-brush description of mega-churches and your reaction to it is an example of the old maxim "Every generalization is false, including this one." Everyone who is drawn to a mega-church can't be the spawn of Satan or a bunch of dumb sheep... but that institutional pattern has a sordid reputation, for good reason. My pastor used to say that anytime he couldn't recognize everyone in the congregation by name, the assistant pastor was going to take "half of y'all" and go start another church. That's not a bad paradigm -- and it need not prevent the two daughter churches from fellowshipping, exchanging, having joint events, or swapping pastors.
Churches of all sizes have a sordid reputation in one circle or another, and for good reasons. If you were looking for an institutional pattern free of flaws, you may have been born into the wrong species.
Add your comment to join the discussion!