Saturday, August 20, 2005

Personally Enough

Taking a walk in neighborhood around sunset is something I do fairly habitually. Usually I take a little digital AM/FM radio and listen to assorted stations. The other day I happened to tune in to a local xtian station and heard some fairly big-name preacher say, in so many words, that he didn't like to call XP his "personal Savior" because using the word "personal" might suggest there was something special about himself, the big-name preacher. Also, at times, whilst I was voyaging upon the vast Blogific Ocean, I have stumbled occasionally across this particular meme elsewhere, this strange "we don't want to call Him personal anymore" idea.

The big-name preacher I heard is unduely alarmed. Believe me, there is no danger of anybody ever thinking there was something special about him, the big-name preacher. Nobody would be that mistaken. So really, he has nothing to worry about. Besides, fussing about the word "personal" seems, to me at least, more like silly quibbling over words.

But let us recall a few things about XP:
  • He personally agonized in the garden of Gethsemene.
  • His closest personal friends abandoned Him in His hour of deepest need. One of them even betrayed Him.
  • He personally endured beatings, insults, and mockery from many of His people's religious rulers, the very ones who should have recognized who He was.
  • He personally endured the horrific scourging inflicted up Him by the Romans.
  • He personally wore a crown of thorns.
  • He was personally condemned to be crucified by the Romans, with the crowds shouting for it. Instead a career criminal was released.
  • He personally carried His cross to Golgotha, until He was so weakened by His ordeal that Romans forced another man to carry it.
  • He personally was nailed to that cross. Cruel spikes were driven through the hands and feet of His blessed person.
  • He personally endured hours of agony and thirst. His mother stood by and watched in horrified helplessness.
  • He personally died, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
  • He was pierced by a Roman spear, and out of His person flowed blood and water. Witnesses personally saw this.
  • They buried His person in a borrowed grave.
  • He personally rose from the dead, on the third day, and in His very person appeared to many of His disciples.
So if someone were to ask me, a wretched sinner such as I, all of this is enough for Him to be my personal Savior.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Runny Mascara

As part of my continuing program of studying the revivals of 20th Century, I am currently plowing through Vinson Synan's lengthy history textbook entitled "The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal". Synan does lay out much of the gory details that histories are supposed to provide — names, places, dates, and who did what, where and when. But unlike Epstein or Blumhofer, Synan does not go about trying to nail things onto a secularistic framework.

It's been enough to keep me fairly occupied, which is one reason why my blogging has slacked off. His book covers a vast amount of wide-reaching territory, and it has several contributors. I guess Synan was the presiding editor.

Even though it is jammed packed with the stuff of history (names, dates, etc.), if anything Synan's book is almost too abbreviated, and it easily could have been expanded into several volumes. It would be a very good introductory textbook. With extensive notes in the back, the book has 15 chapters. I've now reached chapter 13, written by David E. Harrel Jr., entitled "Healers and Televangelists After World War II". Unfortunately, nowadays this is what most people immediately think of if someone mentions the word "Pentecostal" — cheesy televangelists with puffy hairdoos, accompanied by lugubrious ladies with runny mascara, perpetually begging for money. In fact, it's just a small portion of the overall picture, although it's the tiny part that has grabbed all the attention.