Bookworm tidbits and toxic TV

I’ve been a bookworm since my grammar school days. One of my simple pleasures used to be frequenting the many independent bookshops in Rochester. They’ve all gone out of business over the years, victims of the large chains like B. Dalton, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. But the predators became the prey and the last of the giants, B&N, is fighting to stay alive as Amazon continues to tighten its stranglehold. The latest news is that B&N is attempting to sell itself, but who would buy a failing company with no apparent future? See the article below.

Barnes & Noble could soon be putting itself up for sale

We have a B&N near us and I stop in every 2-4 weeks to check out the new offerings, but I rarely purchase anything. I’d much rather get my reading material for free fromCapture71 the library or by purchasing an inexpensive used copy from an Amazon third-party seller. Kindle is always another less-expensive option (Is it me or are those Kindle prices creeping higher and higher?). In my excursion to B&N last week, I did see a new book on the shelf, “Escaped Nuns: True Womanhood and the Campaign Against Convents in Antebellum America.” As you can imagine, that’s a “must read” for me (even though the book examines the topic from a pro-Catholic perspective). I drove home and checked the local library’s on-line catalog (I don’t have a smart phone), but they didn’t have a copy. I checked Amazon and found that it was actually cheaper to buy the book from B&N with my 10% membership discount than it was to order it from Amazon with free Prime shipping. So I drove back to B&N and bought a copy. Review to follow in a few weeks.

We also have a (c)hristian bookstore close to us, but I rarely visit anymore. I have all of the Bible study aids I need and just about all of the rest of the books they stock are written by TBN prosperity gospelers.

I recently ordered John MacArthur’s latest book, “Christ’s Call to Reform the Church: Timeless Demands From the Lord to His People” directly from Grace to You. It’s based on the seven churches in Revelation. Review to follow.

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Television notes: I had thought about reviewing each episode of CBS’s new comedy, “God Friended Me,” but changed my mind after watching the pilot episode because I could see the nebulous deity of the show had no connection to the God of the Bible. One of the main messages of last Sunday’s show was the promotion of same-sex relationships. In other television news, this past Tuesday at 8PM I began to watch “The Connors,” which is the “Roseanne” show without Roseanne. In one scene, 10-year-old Mark, who prefers to go to school dressed in skirts rather than pants, asks his grandfather, Dan, for his opinion on who the best choice would be between two candidates for a boyfriend. Dan is initially uncomfortable with the question, but gradually overcomes his “ignorant prejudices” and tries to help Mark make a good choice. Argh! That’s what’s on TV at 8PM, primetime family viewing? This is a good example of where the world is headed.

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“God Friended Me” – Review of pilot episode

I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of CBS’s new religious-themed show…

God Friended Me
Pilot Episode – Originally broadcast Sunday, 9/30/18 on CBS
Featuring Brandon Micheal Hall, Violett Beane, and Suraj Sharma
Directed by Marcos Siega and written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt

Plot

Miles Finer (Hall) is a young single living in New York City and working at an internet security firm by day while attempting to interest Sirius Radio in his New Atheism podcast diatribes. He begins receiving mysterious Facebook friend requests from god, which he initially dismisses as a hoax. (g)od then directs him to save John Dove, who just broke up with his girlfriend and attempts to commit suicide by walking in front of a subway train. (g)od then directs Miles to Cara Bloom (Beane), an internet magazine writer. Persistent Miles enlists Cara in helping him determine who is at the bottom of this Facebook god sham. Miles’ computer software-savvy friend, Rakesh (Sharma), traces god’s IP address to a house in New Jersey, but Miles and Cara find nothing there except for a porch swing similar to the one she used to sit on as a child waiting for her absent mother to return home.

Back at Miles’ apartment, a photo mysteriously appears on his laptop, that of his deceased mother while she was in the hospital, surrounded by family and medical staff, which sends Cara exiting in a tizzy. Miles had become embittered against God when his mother was cured of breast cancer, but subsequently died in a car accident on the way home from the hospital. Oy! With help from his estranged minister father, Miles determines the nurse in the photo is Cara’s mother, who had abandoned her as a child. We find out that Cara had tracked her mother to NYC, but is ambivalent about contacting her. Miles encourages her to meet with her Mom, but when the reunion goes sour, Cara frantically dashes across a nearby street and is hit by a car. As she lies in the street, very close to death, a driver gets out of his car and comes to her aid, saving her life. The driver just happens to be….you guessed it….John Dove, the gentleman Miles had saved at the start of the show. Dove also just happens to be a doctor. As Cara recovers in the hospital, her Mom visits and they reconcile. Miles then reconciles with his minister father.

Comments

As expected, the god that’s presented in this show is the same feel-good deity presented in previous shows such as “Highway to Heaven” and “Touched By An Angel,” a god who is mainly concerned with fixing broken temporal relationships. The God of the Bible was not presented and neither was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus was not mentioned throughout this entire pilot episode. Followers of most any religious stripe could watch this show with its generic deity and not be offended, which is obviously by design. The Facebook tie-in is a none-too-subtle gimmick to hook millennial viewers. In an awkward effort to demonstrate that the god of “God Friended Me” is not some kind of a “Puritanical prude,” Rakesh takes a brand new female acquaintance to Miles’ apartment for sex and god seems to be quite fine with that because the occasion is “providentially” used to disclose information vital to the happy ending (i.e., the photo of of Miles’ and Cara’s mothers).

The god of this show is a far cry from the God of the Bible. After watching the pilot, I doubt if I’ll be watching and/or reviewing any more episodes.

Postscript: My wife is much more of a “glass half-full” type of person, and she insists that this show, even with its very faulty theology, is better than having no shows about God on the big three networks. Comments?

“God Friended Me” debuts this Sunday, 9/30/18

Several months ago, I had posted that CBS had improbably planned another religious-themed television series, even after cancelling its disastrous “Living Biblically” show. The pilot episode of new series, “God Friended Me,” will be debuting this Sunday at 8 PM Eastern.

The show launches with Brandon Micheal Hall as Miles Finer, an outspoken atheist who receives several Facebook friend requests from God and subsequently has his world turned upside down.

I certainly don’t expect this show to present the God of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather, I do fully expect that the (g)od of “God Friended Me” will be the same feel-good, faux deity portrayed in Michael Landon’s “Highway to Heaven” and Roma Downey’s “Touched By Angel.” You know the one. No sin, no repentance, no salvation in Jesus Christ by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, just a lot of Oprah-style religious cotton-candy that will appeal to the all-good-people-go-to-Heaven crowd.

But can the Lord use something like “God Friended Me” to draw a person to Jesus Christ? Absolutely He can! So with that thought in mind, I’m hopeful.

If you’d like to watch the pilot episode before Sunday evening, just click here.

Reviews of each episode to follow.

TBN’s Rogues’ Gallery

I don’t watch a lot of television, but when I channel surf, I usually scoot right past channel 50, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). The cable channel is a cesspool of heterodoxy with its stable of prosperity gospel and Rome-friendly televangelists. The other day, I got the idea in my head to list all of the TBN “entertainers,” so using my limited Microsoft Excel spreadsheet skills, I copied and sorted all of the shows scheduled on the cable channel during a week’s time span and came up with the list below. Based upon my own knowledge and/or with a little Google research, I categorized each televangelist as to whether they were propagators of the prosperity gospel and/or supporters of ecumenism with Rome. A “Y” means Yes, an “N” means No, and a “?” means I could not determine the status. Generally, prosperity gospelers are too busy picking out their next Mercedes or airplane to care about doctrinal differences with Rome. There are also several on the list who, while not flagrant prosperity gospelers themselves, make a habit out of hanging out in prosperity gospel circles.

A quick glance reveals this list of TBN’s 60 televangelists is heavy with prosperity, word-of-faith shysters and Rome-friendly ecumenists. BTW, Father Cedric on the list is, in fact, Roman Catholic priest, Cedric Pisegna. There are only a few on this list who I could recommend, like Charles Stanley and Ray Comfort. Several I have never heard of.

This listing is obviously not set in stone so any challenges or help with the “?”s will be appreciated. Forgive the wide columns, but incorporating an Excel spreadsheet into a WordPress post is a little messy.

Prosperity Ecumenical
Mark Batterson ? ?
Irvin Baxter ? ?
Reinhard Bonnke Y Y
John Bradshaw ? Y
Jonathan Cahn Y ?
Christine Caine Y Y
Ron Carpenter Y ?
Alicia Britt Chole ? Y
Ray Comfort N N
Kenneth Copeland Y Y
Gregory Dickow Y Y
Creflo Dollar Y ?
Jesse Duplantis Y Y
Tony Evans N Y
Karl Faase ? Y
Jentezen Franklin Y Y
Steven Furtick Y ?
Louie Giglio ? Y
Billy Graham N Y
Jack Graham ? Y
John Gray Y Y
John Hagee Y ?
Allen Jackson ? ?
T. D. Jakes Y Y
Robert Jeffress N Y
David Jeremiah N Y
Mark Jeske ? ?
Daniel Kolenda Y ?
Greg Laurie ? Y
Hal Lindsey ? ?
Max Lucado N Y
James MacDonald ? ?
Guillermo Maldonado Y ?
James Merritt ? ?
Joyce Meyer Y Y
Beth Moore ? Y
Robert Morris Y ?
Joel Osteen Y Y
Father Cedric N Y
Fred K. Price Y ?
Joseph Prince Y ?
David Rives ? ?
Pat Robertson Y Y
James Robison Y Y
Samuel Rodriguez Y Y
Sid Roth Y ?
Rabbi Kirt Schneider Y ?
Bobby Schuller ? ?
Jay Sekulow Y ?
Priscilla Shirer ? Y
Kerry Shook N N
Erick Stakelbeck ? ?
Charles Stanley N N
Perry Stone Y ?
Tommy Tenney ? ?
Holly Wagner ? Y
Don Wilton N ?
Andrew Wommack Y Y
Ed Young Y Y
Michael Youssef N ?

The improbable “return” of Jimmy Swaggart

Disclaimer: I do not endorse Jimmy Swaggart Ministries (JSM). I offer this posting strictly as a summary of my recent observations.

Back when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in the early 1980’s, (c)hristian television was pretty bad, just like today with all of the shenanigans going on at TBN. The biggest name in (c)hristian television back then was Jim Bakker, who preached a nascent prosperity gospel with his flamboyant wife, Tammy Faye, on their PTL network. Another big-name televangelist at the time was Jimmy Swaggart. It was Swaggart who helped bring down his fellow-Pentecostal, Bakker, when financial improprieties and sexual scandals began coming to light in 1987. But Swaggart wasn’t immune from scandal himself. Just a year later, in 1988, he was caught with a prostitute, and again in 1991. Swaggart should have resigned, but he had a mini-empire down there in Baton Rouge and kept the wheels rolling. Defrocked by the Assemblies of God, Swaggart faded into semi-obscurity.

Flash forward to 2018. My wife and I just purchased a new mattress with an adjustable base. Wowza! It’s a fine thing to recline in bed with my head and feet raised up. Ahhh! I usually wind down my day by aimlessly channel surfing in bed until I turn out the lights, but lately I’ve been pausing on Jimmy Swaggart’s SonLife Network (SLN) cable channel. Jimmy Swaggart? Is he still around? Yes, brother Swaggart is now 83-years-old, and has actually revived his once very-troubled ministry with the help of his son, Donnie, and grandson, Gabriel.

I’ve watched the SLN channel irregularly for about a month and I do have a few observations:

  • Pretty much forgotten after his scandals, Swaggart’s ministry was deep in the dumps – Sunday attendance at his 7000-seat Family Worship Center was only a couple of hundred in the early aughts – until he improbably revived the enterpri$e through his SLN cable network. Read the amazing story here.
  • Swaggart is a Pentecostal and I am a cessationist in regards to the apostolic gifts of the Spirit. Jimmy and his associates refer to glossolalia and healings quite a bit, but I take all of that with a grain of salt, no offense intended to my Pentecostal and charismatic brethren.
  • Swaggart does preach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, but he delivers it packaged as “The Message of the Cross,” a slogan he uses repeatedly. A viewer gets the impression that he’s had the phrase trademarked, he uses it so often. For every time Jesus’ name is mentioned by Swaggart, “the cross” is mentioned ten or fifteen times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not not saying we should never mention what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross, it’s just that the cross is given a strange preeminence at JSM.
  • Swaggart constantly hawks his “Expositor’s Study Bible,” in which his commentary in red lettering is intermixed with Scripture instead of being placed as footnotes. That’s just wrong.
  • Speaking of hawking, during the program breaks, JSM materials are constantly promoted by Jimmy, Donnie, and Gabe. It also seems like there’s a never-ending plethora of telethons for the support of JSM and SLN.
  • To his credit, Swaggart indirectly refers to his past failings with remorse.
  • The prosperity gospel is not pushed hard by the Swaggarts compared to televangelists like Copeland, Dollar, or Meyer, but it’s still a part of the message. A young Donnie Swaggart notoriously rebuked prosperity preachers twenty years ago (see video here), but he’s now saying financial prosperity is part of the believer’s inheritance in Christ.
  • Speaking of financial prosperity, the Swaggarts do not divulge any of JSM’s financial records. If you’re sending your money to JSM, you have no idea if it’s going towards ministry or Donnie’s new Rolex. The Lord commands us to be good stewards. If a ministry refuses to allow its financial records to be scrutinized, we shouldn’t contribute one red cent.
  • The other night, I was listening to Donnie praising the work of the Holy Spirit in regards to the proliferation of the manifestations of the Pentecostal gifts of the spirit throughout the world. He specifically mentioned the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement as an example. Donnie makes my point for me. One-hundred and sixty-million Catholics, including tens of thousands of priests, belong to CCR. They still strongly believe in Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit, yet Pentecostals and charismatics embrace them as believers because they manifest the requisite gifts. To be fair, many cessationist evangelicals also embrace Rome.
  • The music/worship segments that are broadcast are generally very enjoyable. Swaggart employs some talented singers and musicians and ol’ Jimmy can still tickle the ivories. You won’t hear any Hillsong music during one of Swaggart’s worship segments. I imagine many Christians who otherwise would not devote any time to Swaggart tune in for the music segments.
  • All of the shows on SLN are slick. There’s nothing amateurish about the production quality. The operative word here is slick. Jimmy, Donnie, and Gabe are exceptional communicators and entertainers. If they were selling cars, they would have the most profitable dealership in Louisiana.

Final thoughts: I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get their teaching from Jimmy or the other Swaggarts. As I mentioned previously, Jimmy should have resigned from the ministry following his scandals. However, there is “some” good information that does comes through SLN. I imagine some people have genuinely accepted Christ after listening to the Swaggarts give out the Gospel. But a believer definitely needs to be cautious and discerning while watching SBN and must be constantly engaged in “chewing on the meat and spitting out the bones.”

Postscript: A couple of months after writing the above post, I happened to catch a telecast of a “classic” (pre-scandal) telecast from the Family Worship Center and I was amazed to see a mammoth balcony stretching across the auditorium filled with people. The balcony is still there but current telecasts of services at the FWC purposely limit the camera angle so as not to expose the empty balcony.

Going, going, gone! Living Biblically 13

This review is for the thirteenth and final episode of CBS’s cancelled sit-com, “Living Biblically.” The premise of series was that the main character, Chip, a Roman Catholic and self-professed “good” person, desired to be an “even better” person by following the Bible literally. The show is in sync with the “good people go to Heaven” philosophy and at odds with the Biblical message of man’s total depravity and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Living Biblically
Episode 13, “David and Goliath”
CBS, originally aired 7/21/18

Plot

Chip (Jay R. Ferguson) hangs out with his pregnant wife, Leslie (Lindsey Kraft), and his “God Squad” spiritual advisers, priest Gene (Ian Gomez) and rabbi Gil (David Krumholtz), down at the local watering hole and wrings his hands over the upcoming financial challenges the couple will soon face with a child.

The next day at his newspaper office, Chip and his peers find out their boss, Ms. Meadows, was fired by Mitch, a company big-shot, as part of a corporate cost-cutting measure. When Chip meets with his God Squad again, he expresses his frustration about not being able to help Ms. Meadows. The clergymen advise Chip that he’s not powerless. Just as young David brought down the Philistine giant, Goliath, with a slingshot, they suggest his writing talent is also a potent weapon.

Chip hatches a plan and writes an article about how corporate greed is destroying people’s lives as in the case of Ms. Meadows with the intention of sneaking it into the newspaper. Chip and co-workers, Vince (Tony Rock) and Cheryl (Sara Gilbert), surreptitiously enter the workplace at night and load the anonymous article into the paper’s computer feed for the next edition.

Chip’s article makes the front page of the newspaper and causes a city-wide outrage, including protests in front of company headquarters. Mitch determines that Chip is the author and immediately fires him. However, the “big boss,” Mitch’s father, advises him via a phone call to avert any future bad press by immediately rehiring Chip. Sensing his favorable bargaining position, Chip imposes upon Mitch to also rehire Ms. Meadows.

Back at the local watering hole, everyone celebrates Chip’s improbable victory including a grateful Ms. Meadows. In anticipation of a second season, the show’s writers end the episode with Leslie revealing she is carrying twins, prompting Chip to inform his “God Squad” that he’s going to need twice the amount of their spiritual guidance going forward, much to their chagrin.

Commentary

I don’t have much to say about this final episode. There really wasn’t much of anything noteworthy to glean from it.

After this final installment, I can finally say goodbye to this sorry comedy series, which claimed to be about “Living Biblically,” but which had absolutely no trace of the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. What the series did accomplish was to demonstrate fairly well Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and its “good guys go to Heaven” philosophy.

Postscript: I recently read an online review of this works-righteousness-themed series that smartly commented that it would have been more accurately named “Living Levitically.”

Living Biblically, Episode 12: “It’s Better to Give Than to Receive”

Today, we’re going to review the next-to-last episode of the cancelled CBS sit-com, “Living Biblically.” The premise of the series is that the main character, Chip, a Roman Catholic and self-professed “good” person, desires to be an “even better” person by following the Bible literally. The show is in sync with the “good people go to Heaven” philosophy and at odds with the Biblical message of man’s total depravity and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Living Biblically
Episode 12, “It’s Better to Give Than to Receive”
CBS, originally aired 7/14/18

Plot

Chip’s boss, Ms. Meadows, calls the staff at the newspaper together to kick-off the annual charity effort, “Koaster Rides 4 Kids,” at a Six Flags amusement park, the idea being that employees sign up sponsors to donate a dollar amount for every time they ride the roller coaster. What a sacrifice! Chip meets with his “God Squad” at the local tavern to enlist their support, but priest Gene and rabbi Gil balk at such a cheesy concept. Priest Gene suggests instead that the newspaper staff help fix up a family residence in his parish that was damaged by fire. Chip pitches the idea to his workmates and they grudgingly accept.

Saturday morning, everyone shows up at the worksite, but their enthusiasm wanes quickly due to the hard work involved. They decide a day at Six Flags would be more enjoyable and stage a walkout, leaving behind Chip and his wife Leslie, Gene, and Gil. Priest Gene was hoping the family would be able to move back into the repaired house on Sunday, but the walkout foils those plans.

At Six Flags, the deserters begin to have second thoughts about their selfish behavior. The story ends on a happy note as everyone returns back to the house to continue repairing the structure.

Comments

The Bible says even our good deeds, including our charitable efforts, are like filthy rags.

“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” – Isaiah 64:6

Everything we do is tainted by sin, even our charitable giving. For example:

  • We contribute to charities for a tax write-off.
  • We’ll contribute to charities if we receive some kind of recognition such as having our name published alongside other benefactors so others can see how generous we are. Catholic churches and organizations often publish the names of contributors in the parish bulletin and diocesan newspaper as incentive for giving.
  • When we give we often expect some kind of reciprocation.
  • We give because it makes us feel better about ourselves.

There’s a gentleman who made quite a fortune in the Rochester area who has contributed massive amounts of money to the construction of several new educational and medical buildings in town. Not surprisingly, all of the buildings bear his name.

This episode does an interesting job of examining people’s less-than-altruistic motives behind their charitable efforts, but it leaves out the most important spiritual lesson. We are all depraved sinners in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t reform ourselves unto salvation. All of us are sinners and fall short of God’s glory. Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Living Biblically – Episode 11 – “Thou Shalt Not Covet”

Well, we’re slowly inching toward the end of this cancelled CBS sit-com and its propagation of works-righteousness religion. This episode looks at the Tenth Commandment.

Living Biblically
Episode 11, “Thou Shalt Not Covet”
CBS, originally aired 7/14/18

Plot

Chip (Jay R. Ferguson) and his co-worker and best friend, Vince (Tony Rock), are informed they have both been nominated for the same yearly journalism award; Chip for his “Living Biblically” column and Vince for his crime reporting.

Chip subsequently hangs out with his “God Squad” advisers, priest Gene (Ian Gomez) and rabbi Gil (David Krumholtz), at the local tavern and gloats about his nomination. The clergymen remind him that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not covet,” and advise him to be content with a job well done and to keep in mind that, in the grand scheme of things, such awards are “meaningless.”

Despite his “God Squad’s” advice, Chip confides to his wife, Leslie (Lindsey Kraft), that he’s struggling to not covet the award. She suggests that he focus on rooting for Vince to win.

At the awards dinner, Chip tries to make everyone believe that he’s rooting for Vince, but when he’s announced as the winner, he proceeds to make a pompous fool of himself via his obnoxious acceptance speech. However, the emcee abruptly stops the ceremony, saying a mistake had been made and that Vince is the actual winner. Chip then predictably states that he doesn’t really care about the dumb award after all, thereby insulting and angering Vince.

Back at the tavern and with the guidance of his “God Squad,” Chip apologizes to Vince for his behavior and the two friends reconcile.

Comments

The premise of “Living Biblically” is that the main character, Chip, a Roman Catholic and self-professed “good” person, desires to be an “even better” person by following the Bible literally. The show is in sync with the “good people go to Heaven” philosophy and at odds with the Biblical message of man’s total depravity and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

That being said, I did appreciate this episode about covetousness to a certain degree. No matter how hard he tried to take the high road, Chip’s pride and selfish desires came through. Catholics and other works religionists maintain that they successfully obey the Ten Commandments with the help of sacramental grace. But when they stand before their Holy Judge, He will reveal the tens of thousands of covetous and envious thoughts and actions they had throughout the course of their entire life. And that is just one of the Commandments! When we stand before the Lord, we will not have one single plea of righteousness of our own. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” – Ephesians 5:5

Living Biblically 10 – “The Bible is sexist”

CBS is currently airing the last several episodes of its cancelled “Living Biblically” sit-com. I was able to catch up with episode 10 via CBS’s free app that I downloaded to my Kindle.

Living Biblically
Episode 10, “Submit to Thy Husband”
CBS, originally aired 7/7/18

Plot

Chip’s wife, Leslie, is pregnant so he decides to start up a weekly poker game with “the boys” before his domestic responsibilities ramp up. When Leslie, a nurse practitioner, comes home from work exhausted, Chip suggests that she should quit her job and stay home to raise the baby, referencing the Bible as the inspiration for his idea. Leslie is angered by what she perceives as Chip’s Bible-fueled aim to dominate her.

The guy crew (priest Gene, rabbi Gil, friend Vince, and the workplace security guard) show up at Chip and Leslie’s apartment for the card game, but Leslie is too angry to play the polite hostess. When Chip’s boss, Ms. Meadows, also drops by, Leslie imposes on her to go down to the local saloon for a “girl’s night out.”

At the bar, Leslie shares her marital conflict with Ms. Meadows. The latter confides she was “raised in the church,” but has no use for the Bible any longer, calling it “sexist” (the character is an unabashed lesbian). She quotes Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands…,” as evidence that the Bible is no longer to be taken seriously.

Back at the apartment, a distracted Chip continues to send unacknowledged conciliatory texts to Leslie rather than focusing on the card game. Aware of the details of Chip’s marital troubles, priest Gene advises him that the Bible was written for a different time and needs a “modern interpretation.”

When Leslie returns home, Chip apologizes for his heavy handedness and promises to submit to her as they submit to each other.

Commentary

Ephesians 5:22 is egregiously offensive to many unbelieving…and believing…women. But taken together in context with the entire passage of Ephesians 5:22-33, we see both husband and wife instructed to love the other with a sacrificial, servant love. Yes, the husband is to be the head of the family. Not a dictator, but a servant leader. Many Christian husbands have abdicated their spiritual leadership role. Yes, there have been some men who have unfortunately used the Bible to justify mistreating their wives. Many Christian wives have followed the world’s example and sought to dominate their husband.

The Lord’s instructions for a husband and wife on how they are to function together does not need a “modern interpretation,” although you can be sure that the culture is not going to agree with that.

It stung me to watch this episode and listen to God’s Word being strongly attacked. The Gospel is not connected with this series in any way, folks. This is all someone’s interpretation of the Bible who doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.


Husbands, Love Your Wives
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-383/husbands-love-your-wives

The Willful Submission of a Christian Wife
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-382/the-willful-submission-of-a-christian-wife

The (Brief) Return of “Living Biblically”

Every Sunday, I like to quickly peruse through the daily listings in the Sunday newspaper’s television booklet to see if there’s anything worth watching in the coming week, usually without any success, but yesterday I noticed that CBS had put the remaining five episodes of its cancelled sit-com, “Living Biblically,” in its rotation. Episodes 9 & 10 were broadcast Saturday, July 7, episodes 11 & 12 will be broadcast Saturday, July 14, and the final episode is slated for Saturday July 21. Yesterday, I downloaded the free CBS app and watched episode 9.

Living Biblically
Episode 9, “Never Let Loyalty Leave You”
CBS, originally aired 7/7/18

If you remember from my reviews of the previous episodes, the show follows the comic adventures of a lapsed Roman Catholic, Chip (Jay R. Ferguson), who is shaken by the death of his best friend and vows to live his life “100% according to the Bible” with the help of his “God Squad,” his parish priest and a rabbi friend, much to the chagrin of his atheist wife, Leslie (Lindsey Kraft). Chip sees himself as a “good” person who desires to be “even better” by following the Bible literally.

Plot

This episode begins with Chip inside the confessional booth, disclosing his sins to “father” Gene (Ian Gomez). However, the priest is annoyed with Chip because he’s caught him napping at several masses. Chip pleads that it’s hard to stay awake during mass because it’s so boring.

Chip and his wife then meet up with Vince (Tony Rock), Chip’s workmate and best friend, at the local tavern. Vince explains that he’s going to attend his aunt’s Baptist church the following Sunday in search of a prospective girlfriend. Out of curiosity, Chip and Leslie decide they will attend as well.

Chip and his wife are overwhelmed by the friendliness and enthusiasm at the predominantly-Black, Baptist church, so unlike the environment at his Catholic church.  Vince’s Aunt Estelle befriends Leslie and tries to witness to her about Jesus. During the service, Chip sways and dances to the opening Gospel music (“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”) and loudly “Amens” the pastor during his sermon, much to Vince’s embarrassment.

Chip and Leslie are so pleased with the service at the Baptist church that they decide to attend the following Sunday as well. “Father” Gene notices Chip’s absence from mass and confronts him. When Chip confesses he’s attending the Baptist church instead, the priest feels betrayed.

As the next Baptist service begins, the pastor welcomes new visitors and one happens to be “father” Gene, who came to the church because he is curious why Chip is forsaking Catholicism for the Baptist church. Chip is impressed that his priest-friend went to all of that trouble and resolves to return to the Catholic church, despite the boredom.

Commentary

The matter of which church a person attends on Sunday shouldn’t be based on where they feel most entertained. The vital question is, Does the church preach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone or not? Every Catholic church preaches the same false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. No one can find forgiveness and spiritual rebirth in Christ by following the standard Catholic salvation theology. Unlike the fictional Gene, most real-life priests would have warned their parishioners that they MUST worship at a Catholic church on Sunday or incur a soul-damning mortal sin.

This episode had a few elements of truth, but ultimately retreated to a message of loyalty to a religious brand. Being loyal to your family’s false religious heritage is spiritually useless. Jesus Christ is the Only Way. You must repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26