Takedown Series, Vol. 3
Ok, I promise I’ll do something besides a takedown soon!
Unfortunately, there is so much out there being bandied about in Christian circles that is close to, or contains truth, but lands significantly far from the mark.
Most of you may not be deceived by the original article, but nonetheless it is important to understand when standards are taken too far.
I believe in upholding high standards, even if they go beyond the explicit words of Scripture (e.g., maintaining a clean, short haircut for men , when the Scripture only says that long hair is shameful for men); however, it is easy to stray into a Pharisaical attitude by comparing yourself to others who don’t follow (and probably do not even know) the same standards. This attitude can affect any Christian to a degree, but it is particularly sad when a pastor leads his congregation astray with a judgmental attitude towards a fellow Christian.
Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, preaches and maintains high standards for himself and his congregation. However, this particular blog/sermon combo (blog is shown below, video of sermon is linked here: https://youtu.be/H2HFSKN3g74) comes across as less about righteousness, and more about anger at another Baptist church encroaching on his turf.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” – 1 Corinthians 6:9
Out of context: This passage is talking about the heathen, who are not worthy to settle disputes between believers. It is giving examples of certain kinds of evildoers who are not saved. Anderson proceeds to make the case that Jon Guy and Mark Rasmussen Jr. are effeminate (and possibly outright deviants) but this is the only Bible passage he uses to back up his claims.
So Paul Chappell is blessing us with a church plant here in Tempe called Citypoint Baptist Church. The Pastor’s name is John Guy, but I call him “Pastor Polka Dot.” When I first heard about him, I clicked on his website and saw him in this trendy polka dot shirt. His Twitter profile shows him in a pink polka dot shirt and super skinny jeans, and what did I find on facebook? More polka dots! I’ve now seen this guy in at least four different polka dot shirts, so the nickname I gave him definitely fits.
I also looked at this Guy’s (pun intended) website and Facebook. For every picture you find of him in polka dots, there are five of him *not* in polka dots. Furthermore, in two of the pictures which his shirts appear to have polka dots, they do not, in fact, have dots. One has diamonds; the other has paisley.
As for “super skinny jeans”, the man is obviously quite skinny himself. He could stand to put some more meat on those bones, but being skinny is not sinful. His pants do not appear to be very tight-fitting, as you might infer from Anderson’s use of the phrase “super skinny jeans”. This goes to a common trope of Anderson’s: he exaggerates many of his critiques, which wouldn’t be so bad, except that he uses the exaggerated criticism to condemn and dismiss anyone who does not conform to his ideals.
I would expect any grown man who names the name of Christ to be manly, but this John Guy is a pastor!
Even a casual internet search of secular websites will tell you that polka dots are normally worn by women and that men in polka dots are very “fashion forward” and run the risk of looking “flamboyant.” In fact, Pastor Polka Dot is so cutting edge, there’s a picture of him on facebook in skinny SHORTS. I’ve been preaching against skinny jeans for a while, but I didn’t even know skinny shorts were a thing! And let’s face it, men who try to show off their body look effeminate and queer!
“Fashion forward” and “flamboyant” are not necessarily synonymous with “queer”. While I agree with Anderson that it is better to not follow the trends and fashions of the world, doing so does not make a man “effeminate” or “queer”.
I also agree that it would be best if Christian men refrained from exposing significant portions of their bodies in public, but it is not necessarily true that all men who wear shorts want people to check out their legs. Also, there are countless examples of men showing off their bodies who are most definitely not effeminate or queer (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwyane Wade, Michael Phelps, etc.)
We’ve got a bunch of skinny-jeans wearing sissies coming to Tempe to start a church.
You. Do. Not. Know. That.!! Clothing tells us something about a person, but it does NOT tell us EVERYTHING. You cannot say categorically that these men are sissies; you know nothing of their hearts, and you have not seen them engage in any physical endeavors. In his zealous condemnation of these men based on their appearance, Anderson is forgetting a fundamental principle of Scripture: man focuses on the outward appearance, but God focuses on the heart. We cannot dogmatically say someone is right with God or not based on external appearance alone.
Not only does the pastor look effeminate, but he’s bringing music director, Mark Rasmussen Jr., whose mannerisms are way worse.
Um, not really. An examination of his pictures and video show that Mark is pretty much the same as Jon. This accusation seems to be based on his manner of singing, but we don’t have any examples of Jon singing to compare and conclude that Mark is “way worse”. Once again, Anderson is exaggerating to support his points.
I mean, I hope Mark is straight because he comes from a good family, but I’m having a hard time believing it.
This is a thinly-veiled accusation of homosexuality. Once again, you cannot determine one’s sexuality from appearance alone. You don’t have all the facts, let alone a hint of an understanding of these men.
If these guys don’t want to be accused of being queer, then why do they look like queers and act like queers!?
Let me get this straight: wearing polka dots (only one of these men actually do that, and not very often) and singing tenor is looking and acting queer?? Sounds more like the problem is that they don’t conform to your idea of manliness, which is not spelled out in Scripture.
Why don’t they start dressing like men? You may not think this is a big deal, but this is the leadership of a fundamental Baptist church! John Guy is currently the assistant pastor at Lancaster Baptist Church. Men are being taught by example to be effeminate, which is a sin. The Bible teaches that people are an abomination when they wear gender bending clothing.
Correction: The Bible teaches that people are an abomination when they wear clothing that obviously pertains to the opposite sex.
Nonetheless, Anderson has a point here: Jon Guy in particular should be more definitively masculine in his appearance, since he is a visual example to the men and boys in his congregation.
Citypoint will have no standards.
I will say it again: You. Do. Not. Know. That.!! Even if they didn’t preach on clothing or music, this would in no way mean they had absolutely zero standards, or even weak standards.
Their music style is pretty much the Back Street Boys minus the drums, and the women wear whatever they want.
“This song has ‘fire’ and ‘desire’ in it with tenor vocals, and that song has those things in it too, so that’s sinful!” (See video for the specific songs being referred to)
No, such simplistic comparisons are just intellectually lazy. By this line of reasoning, any Christian songs with guitars and synthesizers in the instrumentation are “Backstreet Boys minus the drums”.
The women do not necessarily wear whatever they want; the vast majority of the photos they appear in show them wearing clothing that’s conservative Baptist would consider appropriate. However, as the wives of church and college leadership, they should not be seen publicly deviating from the standards that Lancaster and West Coast uphold. Anderson is right to point out this problem as he does below, but it is hardly a case of women dominating the men and wearing whatever they want, whenever they want.
The music director posted a video of him proposing to a woman wearing a bikini top and short shorts, and in the same video he announces the new church plant in Tempe!
Yes, this is not a good look for the couple who wants to lead worship at an Independent Baptist church. Also, I’m surprised Anderson didn’t rail on Rasmussen for showing himself shirtless in the video in question.
At another point in the video his wife is wearing jeans with holes in the knees. These aren’t new Christians or backslidden laymen in the church. These are staff members from a Bible college, and this is what they are publicly posting.
A valid point: the new-jeans-with-holes fashion is pointless and not befitting of Christian leadership. Anderson could have made this point and left it at that, but he had to go at these particular people with a special vengeance, which does nothing to dispel the likelihood that this whole “sermon” was more likely occasioned by Anderson’s anger at soon having to compete with another Independent Baptist church than by any genuine concern for the purity and reputation of Independent Baptists.
“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
If you’re into this touchy-feely crap and want to go to a church where the pastor’s wife wears the pants, there’s a church starting for you in Tempe.
This is another ridiculously over-the-top conclusion based solely on the external appearances of two rival pastors coming to Tempe. Also, just because one of the wives posed with a fence post and an auger doesn’t mean that she is the one who “wears the pants.”
Honestly though, this new church isn’t needed. We’ve already got plenty of contemporary churches in this area. It’s a shame when many of the IFB churches today are identical to the non-denominational contemporary churches, with the only difference being that they use the KJV. I thought we as independent fundamental Baptists were old-fashioned and believed men should look like men and women should look like women!
Anderson has concluded that Citypoint will be just like all the other non-denominational churches based on some pictures and video of mostly private activities. Proverbs 18:13
Even the name of the new church in Tempe is patterned after the typical non-denominational liberal church. Citypoint Baptist Church will be meeting at the Improv, a comedy night club.
There is no evidence that church names that have “point” in them are inherently liberal. The name alone is not enough evidence to make the comparison. It might be valid if “Baptist” were left out, but that’s not the case.
The church is such a joke it meets at a comedy club! Of all the storefronts and office space available in this area, they chose to meet in a bar so they can have purple lighting and a fancy sound system for their faggoty music.
Once again: You. Do. Not. Know. That.!! You cannot know the circumstances of the choice of the venue. While I agree that the choice of a comedy club isn’t the best, and is something I would avoid if I were starting a church, this particular accusation feels more malicious than born of genuine concern for the spiritual well being of future members of this church. Pointing out the dubious choice could have been done more tactfully, as could any point being made in this entire blog. Also, it would be easier to believe that this objection was made out of genuine concern for the reputation of God’s local churches, rather than malice, had Anderson reached out and at least offered to help Citypoint find a location.
It’s easy to rip on guys like Pastor Polka Dot and his whiny worship leader, but effeminate clothing on boys can creep into even good churches.
Yes it is, as you have so thoroughly demonstrated with your blog and one of your longer Sunday messages. You seem to have taken special delight in doing so.
Young people see this kind of clothing in advertisements and the media, and they have a tendency to conform to whatever’s in style. It doesn’t mean they have queer tendencies, but it means that they are following people who are queer and wicked. As fathers who are old enough to know better, we need to crack down on our sons if they start to wear this type of clothing.
This should have been the focus. Yes, we don’t want our children to conform to worldly fashions, especially the androgynous style of boys’ fashion. Had you spent less time railing against the pastors you feel are encroaching on your “territory”, and more time warning of the the dangers of following worldly clothing trends, few, if any, Baptists outside your circle would be taking issue with your message.
If people want to conform to this world and come to church in skinny jeans, I’m not going to police them.
But you probably will criticize them.
It’s the job of the parents to regulate the clothing in their own house, but I can promise you that my family and the staff members of this church and their families are going to wear clothes that fit!
Fantastic! Please continue to maintain high standards. Just don’t get deluded into thinking this makes you a superior person before God. Also, given Jon Guy’s especially skinny legs, if he were to wear “normal” fit jeans, he probably would be criticized for wearing “baggy” jeans.
In conclusion, I want to be fair to Pastor Anderson by noting his valid points.
-First, he was right to question Rasmussen’s and Guy’s choices of attire in certain circumstances, and the attire of their spouses, since they are currently, and will continue to be, leaders in the local church, now to an even greater degree. Church leaders need to be aware of the example they present to their congregation in every aspect of their lives.
-Second, the choice of location for the new church is certainly questionable. If I were starting a new church, I would be very hesitant to use a place that has a club ambiance. That being said, we don’t know the circumstances surrounding this choice of venue. There is also no Scripture that directly applies here. The principle of portraying a clean image to the world does apply, but I see nothing in this that deserves outright condemnation. It should be questioned, and if so, those who will question should seek to understand all the facts surrounding the issue before coming to any conclusions.
-Third, I firmly agree that it is wrong to slavishly follow worldly fashions. There is a balance, however, between avoiding vain fashions, and looking so out of place that anything you say is lost because your appearance is so wildly different than the mainstream. Obviously, Biblical principles regarding modesty should be observed no matter what the fashions are.
Having expressed agreement with those points, I hope it is clear that I am being as fair as I can.
The first overarching problem I have with this post (and its accompanying sermon) is that the above points weren’t the focus of the message. Instead, they are quite lost in a storm of wild accusations and condemnation based on minimal evidence, and while Scripture is used, it doesn’t really fit.
The second problem I see here is how this contrasts with the following Scriptures:
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Ephesians 4:26, 29, and 31
I see a lot of anger here: It’s revealed in his particularly aggressive takedown of these two men. The whole post and sermon reek of a jealous anger, as if Anderson is guarding his “territory” (there is no such thing as church “territory”; any number of churches can cover the same city).
At one point during the video sermon, Anderson mocks the vision statement of Citypoint Baptist and asks the congregation, “Does anyone know what the hell that’s supposed to mean?” That three-word throwaway phrase in the middle of his statement has no place in church, and should never under any circumstances come across a pastor’s lips. That’s nothing less than corrupt communication.
Anderson’s tone is not one of concern: it is of malice. He essentially lumps Guy and Rasmussen in with the LGBTQetc crowd, and it is no secret that Anderson reserves his harshest condemnation for those people.
Thirdly, in the sermon itself, Anderson rests the entirety of one of his points upon Jon Guy’s mispronouncing of the Greek word “drachma”, and his (admittedly) questionable definition that a drachma was “a special silver, not a base metal”. But from this, Anderson concludes that Guy gets most of his Bible interpretations from corrupt commentaries, and that he must not use the King James Bible or be led by the Holy Spirit in his sermon composition. Anderson then claims that he himself is guided by the Holy Spirit in his Bible study and sermon composition. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt regarding other sermons, but little to nothing of this sermon, which is full of anger and malice, with little to no edifying or grace for the hearers, seems Spirit-led.
Finally, I don’t want to criticize without offering a solution: Anderson, if he is sincere, should at least try to gain a better understanding of his Christian brothers. He should reach out to them with his concerns about the images they have portrayed to the world and to their followers. If he comes at them like he did in his sermon, they won’t listen to him, so he should raise the questions with tact and genuine concern for the people who will look up to these men. After that, he can consider his Biblical duty fulfilled.