-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Last week someone tweeted how upset they were with the Southern Baptist Convention, and they were done. Not with their Church, but with the SBC.
I pretended to write, “But how can you be done and still stay in the church?”
I got to the point where I was just about to click, “Reply” before I backed out and away.
Last week there were multiple people out for Mark Driscoll. He has abused systems and women. He needs to go.
As I write about all these leaders right now. It’s the theology, not the people leading it. You get rid of the person and the same voice takes his place with a different face.
Therefore, I’m choosing a new target: the theology. Sometimes it’s difficult to disassociate the people from their words. I have no such problem. I’ve chosen a rather easy target for the next few weeks.
Right From the Heart is a ministry started by Pastor Bryant Wright. He is the founding pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, located outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I’m sure Wright is a great guy who I would personally enjoy spending an hour talking over coffee. His theology, on the other hand, is very dangerous. I hope, over the next few weeks, you hear me out as I take some of their meditations and show you what I mean
The Incredible Hope
Take a moment and watch this video.
It is important to realize, all of this sounds really good at face value. Even the thought of attacking this video can immediately paint me as the “bad guy.” That’s by design. This theology only works on a personal level, and to the person’s immediate community. Anything beyond that frays and falls apart.
Finding Our Base
[Everything I’m saying is coming from me. Just know- I’ve been very guarded sharing this information because I’ve gone viral and saw it amount to nothing. I’ve had ideas stolen and sold for money. Please cite me with a link if you are going to write any of what is written below.]
Here’s the dealio. Everything you believe builds itself up. You have a base belief. Let’s call it, “Your greatest want.” This “want” is not going to be anything fleshed out. It’s going to be primal. Simple.
For most of the United States I believe our greatest want is to exist. Therefore, if you want to exist, you need to eat, have a safe place to reside, and be healthy. There will be things that will keep us from reaching those needs. It doesn’t take long to see it’s impossible to be sure about any of those things. (Especially after Covid.)
WARNING! I’m about to go into DEEP waters. I want you to read, but here’s your life raft if you are not used to deep faith: “I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I proclaim him Lord and Savior of my life.” I believe this. I also believe everything I’m about to write. You can have faith in something bigger than what our senses pick up and believe what I believe.
When we cannot fulfill our needs to meet our greatest want, we either change our greatest want, or change our needs. It will always be easier to change our needs. As adults, our greatest want, our base, is cemented down. When life is a horrible reality, it’s easier to throw our greatest want ahead to beyond life. A greatest want becomes, “I hope for an existence beyond this world.” When the needs fill in, the person is doing things to secure life.
That’s not to say everyone’s greatest want is to exist. There are many out there that just want to be comfortable. Anything that questions that comfort is dangerous. There are still others who just want it to be easy. For others the word is “power.”
No matter what your greatest want is, if you are unaware of its name, you can be taken advantage of. This is even more true if someone else can figure out your greatest want before you know it yourself. I knew someone who’s greatest want was comfort. She was manipulated into doing something she later regretted, because others knew what she really wanted. I can’t be angry at her even though that action directly hurt me. I can be angry at the people who knew what they were doing, and chose to do it anyway.
Once you know what you're looking for, it’s pretty darn easy to find other’s greatest wants.
The Chicken and an Egg story of Faith and Works.
Faith is when we trust a system/person/religion enough to act without personal knowledge.
True faith will replace our greatest want, whatever it is, with God.
Fake faith will suggest belief will get you your greatest want.
This is the real problem with Bryant Wright’s hope.
Replacing your greatest want with God is one of the biggest leaps of faith you can take. It has far reaching ramifications to how you act and interact with the world. Hope is always an indicator of where you are headed. Hope that is only headed towards existence or comfort is empty. Where can you possibly go? It is a sign of stagnation. Stagnation is something that happens in a bog. The water can’t move, or it’s moving way too slowly, and everything gets mucky.
Consider this: “God will give me comfort,” is saying what you really want is comfort, and your belief in God is based on that want.
Going back to a previous topic, this is really where Ravi Zacharias is truly seen as the emperor without any clothes. His whole systematic theology (meaning how his religion connects together) is built on an idea that everyone’s base is a desire for comfort and existence. Which I believe whole-heartedly that was his base; his greatest want. He then packaged it up as Truth™ and sold it to us at the discounted price of $9.99.
I believe a group of individuals used his words to hijack a faith tradition and have been at it for about 40 years. Wright’s view on hope is that theology continued.
What does it mean to make God your greatest want?
There have been moments when I’ve had a choice. Sometimes that choice is easy, and sometimes it’s not so easy, but it always pits a base want against the truth. Zacharias’ truth was that everything that brings us comfort is of God. The real truth is that the path of God is often filled with uncomfortable, and unforgiving moments. Oftentimes, we are pushed out of our comfort zone by God, because comfort can lead to stagnation, and then we have that bog again.
Wright’s hope is underpants gnomes. I’m going to share the link, but it’s very crude and from South Park, so feel free to ignore it, and read my basic description. The boys follow gnomes under the city of South Park, and discover they are stealing everyone’s underpants. The boys ask what they are doing, and they say they are stealing underpants to make a profit. Only, they have no idea what they are going to do to turn underpants into profit. Step 1: Steal underpants. Step 2: ? Step 3: Profit.
Wright’s hope is Step 1: Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Step 2: Works. What works? ??? Step 3: Salvation! In Wright’s hope do you really even need a step 2? No, no you don’t. That’s what makes his hope so hollow. It’s underpants gnomes.
God’s hope has action now. When you choose God as your base want, your greatest want, you are stating that you are willing to put in the work towards that Hope even at the cost of your own comfort or existence. It’s a Hope building towards God’s Kingdom and Kindom on earth. That’s where works are the fruit of faith. It’s a sacrifice, and it’s real. And it isn’t hollow.
Which came first: Faith or works. I believe it is faith, and with faith where God is our greatest want, we find we what we need is for communal connection. Healing. Active peace. That's real Hope.