Teachable moment

Responding to my (now seemingly long ago) NQC comments about the Mark Lowry/LordSong set, nonSGfan wrote:

I think the Mark Lowry delusion was so off base….reading WAY too deep into a shallow man. Mark Lowry doesn’t believe the bible is the final authority, he makes jokes that make eevvveerrybbbooooddy laugh about how other people believe. He makes a mockery of OLDline traditional pentecostals or southern baptists because he cannot stand the standard they live by.

Here is a perfectly teachable moments about the perils of the joyful-noise approach to music appreciation. Based on this logic, the ability to enjoy a musical or artistic performance pivots on the degree to which the fan and the artist agree in particular matters of belief, theology, and worldview. Notice how the all the critical energy here centers on finding reasons to not take the music and the performance seriously, rather than taking the artistic effort at face value and judging it on the merits. Of course, if you can’t articulate a basic framework for how to distinguish good music from bad, then judging something on its merits probably gets pretty tricky. Witness: He makes a mockery of OLDline traditional pentecostals or southern baptists … and so on. Of course Lowry makes jokes about how other people believe. He’s a Christian comedian. But to call that making a mockery of orthodoxy, is rather like saying that HeeHaw was elitist because it made fun of hillbillies.

That doesn’t mean the likeability of a performer is never an issue. People whose performing persona we detest or disapprove of will typically disincline us to be fans of the person’s music (and by persona I mean to distinguish between the private person we imagine or construct from the snippets of the performer we see in public). Witness, the Brittney Spears Debacle. But there’s no obvious or overt aspect of Lowry’s career that shades into this kind of infamy … and yes, I’m factoring in the sexuality rumors.

I have no idea if Lowry is shallow or not, just as I don’t know if Taranda Greene believes in the perseverance of the saints or whether Randy Shelnut is a good tipper or not. That’s because these things are at best secondarily related to their ability to create powerful, affecting musical performances, communicate psychospiritual ideas meaningfully, and make available religious experiences in song. But someone who is shallow, or doesn’t believe in eternal salvation or stiffs the help must have a bad heart, you say, and so won’t be able to truly communicate the gospel in song … ah, but you see, herein lies the solipsism of the joyful-noiser, ever ready with an unprovable assumption that creates its own looked-for outcomes.

My gut tells me it’s unlikely someone would work as hard at what he does as Lowry without believing genuinely – deeply – in something larger than the self, though I have no trouble believing that whatever he does believe is heterodox at best. But to be honest, what he or Greene or Shelnut or any other performer believes doesn’t prevent me from deriving satisfaction from listening to and participating in the performance of their music as a listening fan. But then again, I listen to music for what it allows me to feel and think and reimagine, not because I want or need it confirm every basic tent of my worldview.

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  1. Kyle wrote:

    So the question now becomes….are Christian artists, by design, supposed to convert an audience to THEIR point of view (whatever it may be), or are they designed to simply stimulate the audience to consider their OWN views and beliefs? When I go to see Mark Lowry, am I supposed to walk away saying, “Man, that guy really has his stuff together, maybe I should look into HIS beliefs,” or am I supposed to say, “Wow, he had some really good points….maybe I should re-examine what I believe.” Perhaps they should be viewed as a means to an end….NOT the end-all, be-all.

  2. Leebob wrote:

    Jamie Ragle used to make the point that if everybody around you was having a good time and you were not, is it in the realm of possibility that you are the one with the problem?

    Kyle, that is a good question and we would do well to examine it before we walk on to any stage. My responsibility is not to save everybody in every audience. In fact it is not to save anybody in any audience. My responsibility is to worship God with a pure heart, mind, and soul in spirit and in Truth. Then trust Him to do the drawing through His Spirit.

  3. nonSGfan wrote:

    Good assesment my friend. I PERSONALLY believe that Mark Lowry is one of the most dynamic artists i’ve ever seen. I thoroughly enjoy his performances, and have laughed at his antics countless times. It is BECAUSE i’ve seen him so many times, that i believe i’ve grown to understand his beliefs. Mark Lowry is what I like to call a “theological liberal”. MOST of his comedy sets are set and designed to methodically tear apart the “down sides” of many Christian denominations..but ONLY THOSE WHO HOLD ABSOLUTE TRUTHS AND NON-RELATIVE MORAL STANDARDS IN THEIR DOCTRINES. Notice, he NEVER makes jokes about “new age christianity” or “inclusionists”. It is ONLY those who hold dogma’s and creeds as absolute truth. This is the proof of his beliefs. You never hear him joking “well according to inclusionists, hitler is going to be the door keeper to heaven”…but you WILL hear him make many jokes about Pentecostals/southern baptists. Traditional Pentecostals, holiness, or southern baptists- in the Mark Lowry Doctine, are the PROBLEM with the “Church world”…They stand in the way of progressive theology and doctrinal openess. I’d LOVE to sit and talk to him and find out if all that i’m saying is right…because you are EXACTLY right…i’m doing nothing but JUDGING. But hey……i was made in the image of God…it’s part of my nature. :)

  4. cdguy wrote:

    IMHO nonSGfan is dead wrong on Lowry. I’ve had opportunity to be in a group discussion with Mark, and although he was the center of attention, it was obvious he is anything but shallow. He may be one of the deepest thinkers I’ve met.

    Sure, he pokes fun of everyone, but as Doug stated, that’s his job. He’s a comedian, for heaven’s sake (pun intended). As Kyle stated, he’s not trying to sway you over to his understanding of theology, he’s just trying to make us think, too. Think about why we do what we do. Why we think the way we think. Do we say and do things just because that’s what Mama said we should do? Or just because that’s what our pastor said?

    I’ve also seen Mark in concert settings, both large and small, as well as on the Gaither tour. What we see of him on the Gaither stage is not the same as we see when he has a full 2- or 3-hour concert. And, although I was not at his performance at NQC, I would venture to say he probably didn’t have time to get as deep there as he does when he has the entire evening.

    I’ve heard and read the same rumors about his personal life as mentioned here, and others not referred to here. I don’t know if any are true, and frankly, I’m not sure I care to know. I care, yes. But I don’t care to know. Whether true or not, it’s gossip.

  5. cynical one wrote:

    I’m not convinced Mark is trying to “tear apart the ‘down sides’ of many Christian denominations..but ONLY THOSE WHO HOLD ABSOLUTE TRUTHS AND NON-RELATIVE MORAL STANDARDS IN THEIR DOCTRINES, ” as you stated. I think he’s only trying to tear down the walls that keep us from knowing God more intimately and drawing others into the Kingdom.

    Don’t forget, he graduated from Liberty University, one of the most conservative Baptist colleges in the country (if you don’t count the Bob Jones crowd). He’s stated his beliefs fall in line with that school’s teachings.

    But even Jerry Falwell, as conservative as he was, was a maverick (if I can use that term during this election season) among conservative evangelical fundamental Baptists. He used translations other than the KJV, and allowed guitars, drums, slacks, tracks, and blacks in his church services. That was considered heresy in some of the circles he traveled in 30+ years ago.

    NonSGfan, I’d suggest you have a chat with Mark about your concerns, before you spread this around any further.

    Would that be the Biblical thing to do?

  6. Leebob wrote:

    NSGF…he makes fun of what most of us understand. Being a long time Baptist I understand there are certain “characteristics” of our denomination that are most obviously present and funny if you have a sense of humor. Most people do not understand “new age christianity” or “inclusionists”. If you are going to be funny you are going to have to get into areas that people understand or bring them up to date, which requires alot of time. I think you are way off base NSGF, but I could be wrong.

  7. Huh? wrote:

    Did I miss something in the comments about Shelnut or Greene? I scrolled through them and couldn’t find or draw a connection. Maybe someone could bring me up to speed.

  8. SGfan wrote:

    Doug, Please exclude the former comment and repost under this name. I really don’t feel like getting a mailbox full of email on the issue. Thanks.

    #3 nonSGfan,
    “i’m doing nothing but JUDGING. But hey……i was made in the image of God…it’s part of my nature”

    I’m sorry my friend, but you missed a very important point here. You may be judging, but you are judging based on the conclusions you have drawn without having command of the facts or weighing the facts against scripture. While judgement is part of the nature of God and part of the image that we have been given, it has to be done in the context of scripture and based on facts, not opinions of the facts. Again, judgment may be part of your nature, but you can’t blame the particular judgements you make on God until they reflect His nature and His word and the ones you made just fail miserably in that. I do not claim to know what Mark Lowry believes. I don’t know him personally and can’t speak for him. I can say that he makes fun of the aspects of our religious lives that we can all relate to and laugh at. In the end, he does it in a way that does not tear down the fundamental importance of the truth of scripture. Again, it all comes down to context. You need to have command of that before you can ever begin to make “judgements” of which I feel you mixed up with opinions in this situation.

  9. jbb wrote:

    I am general baptist and a couple of things we make fun of in our denomination is ” we better point a committee”, “we need to have a business meeting to decide that”, and “it’s not in the bulletin”. I think it is good for the soul when you can look at things and laugh. I’m sure Vestal is still laughing when Lowry talks about her “healing” people. I don’t agree with everything he says, but, I for one need a good laugh sometimes and a “gut “check.

  10. Texan wrote:

    “Saturdays with Mark and Tony” might reveal a little more about his theology and beliefs.


  11. Wade wrote:

    OK I know she does not need my help and I very seldom agree w/ her but I did not see anything bad NSGFAN wrote. She said he made fun of the DOWN SIDES of the crazy ways ppl worship. Her JUDGING was MAKING A GUESS at what HE BELIEVES. So unless I missed something, in which case, she and all of the others will chime in.

    I do stand up comedy for part of my living and can tell you that NOBODY that does what ML does can be shallow. The bits he writes & performs are much harder than most ppl ever know. He also does what every good comic that skewers something does, HE GETS EVERYBODY!!!

    The problem is ppl just hear THEIR SKEWERS and get all twisted about that… and forget he has HAMMERED EVERYBODY. While I know he loved Jerry Falwell he always made jokes about him.

    What Mark does is what ppl like myself, Irishlad, & even Old Harry Peters want to accomplish, which is to call attention to there being only one absolute and that is knowing & accepting Jesus as your savior. That is the only unpardonable sin.

    If you have specific beliefs beyond that then God Bless you. But do not try to shove it down ppl’s throats and tell them they are going to hell if they do not believe JUST LIKE YOU!!!

    I know many of you do not believe it but there will be ppl in heaven from every religion that teaches Jesus is the only way to heaven.

    Will not mention any names or specific church TYPES but it will happen.

    For what I know about the world I believe, and not judging badly, that Mark is at the very least asexual.

    In all my years I have never seen him with a woman. I have never heard about him being with a woman. I do believe he could be asexual and not homo or hetro because I have a very good friend that is and he and Mark are very much alike.

    But as we are though here by DH… be open minded enough to take ALL THE GOOD that Mark does and enjoy it… OPEN YOUR MIND and realize YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS!!!

    Believe me Mandatory Classes taught by a BuBBa to become a part of a congregation and the HARSH JUDGMENTS do more harm for the Cause of Christ or The Great Commission than any one who loves the Lord and performs a positive message or sets on their wallet when it comes time for the Mission Offering.

  12. Leebob wrote:

    And the baptistry needs to be high on the wall behind the choir where God meant for it to be too jbb #9…lol!!!

    I suppose NSGF is omniscient too so he can judge like his Creator? NSGF, I think you were joking so I will take no offense at you making that comment because it is certainly deeper than the jokes you so disdain from Mark.

  13. Secret Spy wrote:

    Ok, I don’t know where to put this, but I have to tell someone. Notice in the Singing News that Ginger and Johnathan Bond of Young Harmony are now grandparents. (funny - “Young” Harmony). They had a BIG celebration at their home tonight welcome the little Bond baby. About 60 people showed up with gifts and food. I went with a friend, but must confess that I was eager to go. All that I have to say is if you think that the Billboards and all of the Magazine Spots were vain looking, you should see their home. Johnathan showed us through his MEGA OFFICE and it looked like a Young Harmony Memorial Hall of Fame. Vanity at its best. If you are ever invited to their home, you have to go just to laugh. They love themselves way to much.

    Ok, on to more important things. The weather is very nice here in Chatt Town.

  14. quartet-man wrote:

    Wade, I hope you meant denomination in the following comment, instead of religion.

    Wade said: “I know many of you do not believe it but there will be ppl in heaven from every religion that teaches Jesus is the only way to heaven.”

  15. RF wrote:

    What is wonderful about this blog (and I hesitate to call it just a blog–it’s more like a site for commentary, but that’s another subject for another time) is the wonderful things I learn. Like Mark and Tony’s discussion on abortion.

    Sensible and pragmatic, the solution to the problem is not overturning a Supreme Court decison or enacting another law, contrary to many Christians’ belief (and the party they follow in goosestep), but in a common sense approach. Witness this story:

    When in college in the late 60’s-early 70’s, I knew three women who had abortions. Why? Because they did not have the means to take care of the child nor did they have the support of parents and others. Their only solution was to abort the child. Each traveled to other states to do what they thought had to be done. Abortions will always exist no matter the law, just like liquor and beer was always there for those who wanted to drink during prohibition. Common sense must rule. Wouldn’t it make more sense to deal with the problem instead of throwing out outlawing something that would only encourage those to seek out available options? Apparently not.

    I, for one, am glad that this election has not focused on that one issue. In following that issue, so much has been lost on what America could and should be. Bravo to both Barack Obama and John McCain for focusing on other issues, but it will rear its ugly head before November. And, in the process, the issues we can control will be put on the back burner. Sadly.

  16. NonSgfan wrote:

    I was trying to use a lil’ humor..guess I failed miserably.

    I am just SAYING thats what I THINK about Mark Lowry…not what I KNOW.


  17. cdguy wrote:

    A little off-topic, but regarding Lowry, sogospelnews.com reports Penrod is taking a sabbatical from GVB, and ML will be one of 3 people standing in, on a rotation basis.

    Not sure his voice is high enough, but he sure can blend!

  18. Bones wrote:

    Jonathan Bond is another Cecil Blackwood.

  19. Wade wrote:

    QMAN… Both… most ppl call Catholics & Anglicans as OTHER religions.

  20. sockpuppet wrote:

    How is murder more “common sense” than adoption?
    Here’s some food for thought:
    this is a friend of a friend of mine. She’ll be interviewed on Focus on the Family tomorrow to be aired on Wednesday

  21. SGfan wrote:

    #19 Wade,

    “QMAN… Both… most ppl call Catholics & Anglicans as OTHER religions.”

    In that case, “most ppl” would be wrong. Prostestant and Catholic are both Christian religions. True they are not different denominations, but they are considered Christianity, merely different sects if you will. However, buddhists, muslims and any other non-Christian religion will not be in Heaven. At least that is what we as Christians believe.

  22. Curious wrote:

    Bones, how is Jonathan Bond like Cecil Blackwood? Elaborate so that we all know the facts.

  23. Wade wrote:

    # 13 - Secret Spy… I am in Chattanooga too. Sorry I missed that party. Did they sprinkle or ANOINT The Child?? lol

    Wished you had called me I would have went with ya!!

    Did you here that Fay Sims & The Scenic Land Qt is having a reunion??

  24. Jim E. Davis wrote:

    RF - not wise to bring up abortion on this blog no matter how “progressive” you make it all sound. Your flimsy arguments will incite the bible thumpers to come out with really BIG bibles. I happen to be one of them but I won’t open it this time.

    Since common sense must rule then we shall try a little common sense first. My tax dollars don’t pay for free liquor to the poor and if a public school teacher took a 15 year old student out of school and bought them a beer, they would be fired on the spot. Furthermore, the three ladies you knew in college did have another solution…they could have [edit: not had sex] while they were in college to supposedly get an education. I know it would have taken them a little longer to get to class but at least they wouldn’t have been “punished” with a child (not my words, but borrowed from Senator Obama).

    As long as I have breath, the abortion issue will never be pushed to the back burner. The innocent unborn who have no choice or voice will always have mine.

  25. Jim E. Davis wrote:

    Didn’t mean to ignore the topic of this thread. Got sidetracked…sadly.

    I’ve always enjoyed hearing Mark Lowry poke fun at different denominations - even mine. It keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. Aaron Wilburn came to our church (which is pentecostal to the bone) and had the nerve to sing his “swinging” song which unashamedly lampoons pew-jumping churches. Our congregation loved it, laughed along and had a great time.

    I really don’t care what the artist believes. I’m here for the music and the presentation. Very rarely do they insert their doctrine into the lyrics. When was the last time you heard a baptist quartet sing their new radio release, “Once Save and Always Saved”? Or a United Pentecostal group sing “Baptism or Hell”? Not too often. Most of them want to sing in all churches.

    Mark Lowry is a deep thinker. You only have to read the lyrics to “Mary, did you know?” to know it. That song will be performed and published long after Mark is gone. His irreverence knocks down the wall and you find yourself thinking about God in a whole new light. I refuse to let rumors and speculation about personal beliefs rob me of what I wanted to experience in the concert. It is best to always judge the message and not the messenger - that’s God’s job.

  26. Harry Peters wrote:

    #14 Q Man. It doesn’t matter which word Wade meant. Denomination, religion, sect or as many in academia call any religion, a cult. Don’t you remember the old SG song, “It’s not what’s Over the Door? It’s What’s in Your Heart.”

    Old Harry Peters interprets Brother Wade’s comment the same way…and the Good Book does quote Jesus as saying,” Whoever comes to me, I will in no wise cast out.” In the Baptists little “Romans Road,” which includes the magic prayer, Paul says, “for whosoever calls on the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED.”

    Now tell us once again what Wade is missing when he says: “I know many of you do not believe it but there will be ppl in heaven from every religion that teaches Jesus is the only way to heaven.”

    Old Harry Peters doesn’t want to come down hard on you, but you are splitting hairs with what Brother Wade said.

  27. Wade wrote:

    # 21 SGFAN… WoW… I totally agree w/ your last 2 lines. NO they will not be in heaven.

    #25 Old Harry Peters - Thanks Brutha… funny how QMAN Splits hairs like that w/ me but don’t challenge him on what is a Medium Size Church.

    Even though SGFAN agreed w/ me she did not want to admit it and felt ashamed she had done anything to support my challenges to QMAN to do a few things to get more ppl into his Mega Church to come.

    I am gonna help QMAN go out and sell sponsorship’s & a program to a Quarterly Mega Church Building Concert Series that will the talk of their metropolis and help get ppl to come to church when before they never would have.

    This will not cost the church any money and they can even donate to the church to cover the cost of the extra electricity & gum wrapper clean up.

    Y’all be nice to my new girl friend to be NoNSGFan. She just likes to tweak y’all to get you to show THE PASSION you might never show. She likes PASSION!!! She’s Hot and we are going on a Date to The Mull’s Singing Convention to see The McKamey’s, Inspo’s & Charles Johnson. Hopefully CJ will go postal again and kick down the entire stage when his monitor feeds back. It will be a WILD TIME. We might even set in the back and HOLD HANDS!!

  28. SGfan wrote:

    #27 Wade,

    NoNSGFan may be a woman, but I am not a “she”, just for future reference. Maybe you got the two mixed up, LOL! Maybe you need to reread those posts on that other thread you are referencing in comment #27. I am not ashamed of anything I posted, apologetic for typos but that is beside the point. What I don’t appreciate is when a portion of a comment is taken out of context to imply more of a connection or an agreement than there is. When you are right, I will acknowledge it. When you are wrong, I will not back you up. It is that simple.

  29. quartet-man wrote:

    #14 HP, When I think of other religions, I think of something other than Christianity. Of course there will be those from different denominations. Yes, Jesus is the only way and as long as someone repents and accepts Him they are saved. My point is that to my understanding only one religion preaches that Christ is the only way, and that is Christianity. I don’t consider it splitting hairs at all. I just want to make sure that people don’t think that Buddhists, Muslims etc. will make Heaven unless they repent and are saved at which point they wouldn’t stay in those religions.

  30. quartet-man wrote:

    # 27 Wade, show me where I said not to challenge me on anything, let alone what a church is. What bothered me about your doing so was that you accused me of lying about our size and even the numbers we have and that I was trying to make us bigger and better than we were. I don’t give a flying fig on what you think a medium church is or what I think it is and I don’t give a crap if you have and post a different opinion. What I do care about is you insinuating I said or did something I didn’t, or in insulting my church members and accusing them of things they are not especially when you haven’t even been there or seen anything to even suspect these things.

    You also seem to be rewriting what happened with SGfan. Yes, they agreed with your definition of church size, but as I recall they didn’t like your including them as being in agreement with other things you said. You seem to have a problem with misquoting people or in understanding what they meant.

    Once again, you make the snide comments about the electricity and gum wrapper clean up when I told you that we let people not even affiliated with the church use our church for good causes and do not charge them. We have had hot meals for low income, we have had a group that includes many churches and denominations, we have had a pro life non profit use our church, and we let a local fire station use our water and parking lot to practice drills. There are others I am sure.

  31. ashley` wrote:

    just so everyone knows i am the parent to johnathan and ginger bonds grandchild and there was NOT a BIG CELEBRATION at there house

  32. ashley` wrote:

    I also want to add I do not appreciate people talking about MY CHILD or my family like this how would you like it if people talked about YOUR CHILD like that? but to answer the question there wasn’t a party and no we did not “sprinkle or annoint him” and even if we did we would be giving back to GOD what hehas blessed my family and I with

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