In the Name of Christ?
Were it not for the fact that we are inundated with so many schemes to give relevancy to the Gospel of Christ, it would indeed be shocking to see the things being promoted within "Christendom." Inasmuch as this column is designed to look at some of these extremes in view of God's Word, I direct your attention to the following items, both of which are done in the name of Christ.
The Puppet Ministry
One of the latest things to come along, especially within the Lord's Church, is the "Puppet Ministry." So widespread is this promotion, and so well entrenched is the terminology, that the North Irving Church received a circular the first of this month addressed: "Att: Puppet Ministry." It is now automatically assumed that any up-to-date church has such a ministry -- if not on TV then certainly in its Bible class program. Enterprising people see the economic impact of this idea and establish businesses to service this "ministry." Irving is particularly blessed with such a firm and they have mailed out a 14page catalog to acquaint "Puppet Ministers" (these fellows minister to puppets, of course) with their products. At a cost ranging from $9.95 to $49.95 each, a church can embark on this latest religious fad. These "ministers" can select from The Country Crow, Cuddly Dog, a polk-a-dot dog named Tramp, Dopey Donkey or Cornie Crow. Now, any puppet minister worth his salt gets cold chills when contemplating the possibilities suggested by these cute little creatures. If he can develop the necessary voice inflections there is no end to his career opportunities in this booming religious market. (Or is it racket?) If he happens to be a ventriloquist, clown or magician, all he needs is exposure and he is off and running.
I was introduced to this new concept while living in Amarillo, Texas. Our liberal brethren (the Southwest church), with great fan-fare, entered this ministry with a 30-minute TV program on Sunday mornings. The "star" of the show was a fetching little creature called Bartholomew. 'Ole "Bart", you see, was a worm. The single most significant thing about Bart was that he could only read worm-words, and could not make out people words at all. Thus, everything had to be explained to him in meticulous detail. Bart's people-word illiteracy was perfectly complemented by the Spirit-inspired-word illiteracy of the Puppet Minister. As a matter of fact, one often wondered which of the two was "pulling the strings." If one was "turned off" by Bart, he was quickly captured by a grandmother-type people-puppet who baked cookies all the time for sick kids and actively traded cookie recipes with her TV audience. If her references to her mail volume were correct, the Post Office should send a "Thank You" note to the promoters of this nonsense, thanking them for the revenue they have generated. Truly, the modernists have had a field day among some of our brethren. They seem convinced that the Lord's way of converting men is unworkable, even to the point of being unthinkable anymore (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16).
A Stripper for the Lord
So reads a large headline on the editorial page of the Dallas Morning News (1 / 19 / 78). The article, by Bob Greene, relates the story of Kellie Everts who tours the country as a stripper with Minsky's Burlesque. She says, "Besides stripping for the Lord, I go out on the street and do missionary work. I am saving all my money to build a children's prayer chapel in Brooklyn." As a matter of fact, this woman has even gotten God into her act! "I've needed a manager for many years. I knew that if only I had a manager, I would be a star. I was praying and I said to the Lord, `Are you gonna give me a manager?' And the Lord said, `I am your manager.' " Can you imagine the deception that produces such an absurd view of Almighty God? He is the author of all that is pure and holy. Yet, we are supposed to believe that He is now serving as manager of a woman whose activities are immoral, vile filth!
Mr. Greene told her, "Frankly, Miss Everts, I think you are using God as a gimmick." "That's OK,"she said with a shrug, "The evil people never believed in Jesus, either." For such a person to refer to others as evil is like the old adage of the pot calling the kettle black! This entire situation is a stench in the nostrils of Jehovah.
The thing that concerns me is the modern spiritual atmosphere that produces such perverted ideas as this. However, if today's churches are going to embrace situation ethics, homosexuality, etc., these churches might just as well prepare themselves to receive such people as this into their fellowship, with all the rights and privileges afforded by that fellowship, which I am persuaded some are quite willing to do. Some time ago, I received a clipping from the Dayton (Ohio) Journal Herald religious page (1/8/77) about a United Methodist Church in Ingleside, Illinois, which had conducted "nude therapy sessions," with about 30 men and women participants. There is not a shred of difference between this and Miss Everts, except possibly the location of the performance. Certainly, that church cannot cry out against her concepts, not while they practice the same themselves.
What, then, does this say to people who fear the Lord and who are working to go to Heaven? It just further illustrates the magnitude of the task before us. Each passing day reveals new excesses that enter into the battle for truth and righteousness. We can only remember the words of the Lord: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:22-23). The claims will flourish from those who say they do things "in the name of the Lord." This disclaimer from the Lord still sets the record straight.
Truth Magazine XXII: 21, p. 343