Mike Cope's blog

Friday, October 28, 2005

The DaVinci Code has been popular partly because it's so well written. But another big factor is that it gives many the (false) sense that they're being let in on some long lost secrets that have now been recovered that make everything plain. Wade Hodges and I visited recently about a great preacher we enjoy hearing (from another tribe) who is always peppering his sermons with insights that NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD BEFORE--obscure material from rabbinic teaching that makes everything clear. The problem is, the stuff probably isn't true, at least not as background material for scripture. It is probably from writings that come centuries later. But people soak it up because we love the idea of being in on lost secrets now recovered that explain everything. If scripture can just be made less mysterious and obscure, we'll take it! Remember hearing the old interpretation about how there is a spot in Jerusalem called "eye of the needle" that was so low a camel could barely get under it? And remember how exciting it was to finally make sense of Jesus saying that a rich person going to heaven is comparable to a camel going through the eye of a needle? One problem: there is absolutely no evidence of such a spot. Several people have shared with me their joy in watching some video series a guy has done that supposedly reveals what NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD BEFORE from backgrounds that seemingly only he has discovered. Again, it makes scripture so much clearer. But again, it's just probably not right. But we love being in on lost secrets. - - - - Some members of this blog community have started another blog focuses on glimpses of grace all around us. Check it out at www.ourgracenotes.blogspot.com. And while you're at it, try the new Wineskins site at www.wineskins.org. - - - - Tonight is the big AHS-Cooper football game. I'm speaking this morning at Richland Hills at a gathering of Church of Christ and Christian Church leaders, and then I'll head back so that we're in our seats on the 50 yard line well before kickoff. How many high school games have over 15,000 in attendance?


  • I thought all we really needed to know happened at the cross or the empty tomb. What else is there? Really?

    By Blogger Paul, at 10/28/2005 03:37:00 AM  

  • Being from the Northeast Mike, the idea of 15,000 attending a high school football game is completely foreign. Everything I know about high school football in West Texas I learned from the movie "Friday Night Lights." I hear from those who know that it's pretty darn accurate.

    By Blogger kenny, at 10/28/2005 04:11:00 AM  

  • You're right, Kenny. The fervor in "Friday Night Lights" is pretty much accurate. In fact, the conference in the movie is the one Abilene High and Cooper play in (along with two Midland schools and two Permian schools).

    By Blogger Mike, at 10/28/2005 04:41:00 AM  

  • I think you are underselling it Mike. There have not been fewer than 17,000 at Shotwell since the '80s. I wish that I was going to be there tonight. Probably better that I am not, though, since my beloved Cougars have taken a nosedive in recent years. It is always hard to lose to the Eagles.

    By Blogger Kent, at 10/28/2005 04:58:00 AM  

  • Go Eagles!!

    By Blogger Jenni, at 10/28/2005 05:45:00 AM  

  • Abilene High/Cooper and Shotwell -- what memories. Who can forget the great Snow Bowl from 1978? AHS was going to end the decade+ long curse with blazing speed at all skill positions - then it snows like 5 inches through the course of the game - another bitter defeat. These days people complain about the Warbirds being too good. Go Eagles! Be safe on the roads Mike.

    By Blogger KentF, at 10/28/2005 05:50:00 AM  

  • Tonight, we will attend a high school football game with an attendance of somewhere in the 12,500 to 15,000 range in the southeast Texas town of Katy -- west of Houston. We will sit on the 45 yard line, using our season tickets, which are a more precious commodity than Houston Texans tickets. Our side (Katy) will be completely covered in red. The other side (Cinco Ranch) will be a sea of maroon. Bands and drill teams will cover the field at half time.

    The playoffs will begin in two weeks -- then Texas High School football gets really exciting. The good teams step up to another level of play.

    One exception to Friday Night Lights now is that the players are larger, especially the linemen. 5A Texas Football is in a leauge all its own.

    By Blogger David Michael, at 10/28/2005 05:56:00 AM  

  • So, Mike, how do you keep your sermons fresh & interesting w/o adding anything false to them or repeating the same material over & over? I'm sure this is a common problem for preachers. And the audience will tune out if you're just saying the same 'ol thing about a story they've heard for the millionth time.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 10/28/2005 06:02:00 AM  

  • Ah, that "eye of the needle" thing. That's a big pet peave of mine. Even though there's no proof, people are very defensive that it "simply must be" because 2,000 years later, Jesus' teaching is rough on our toes.

    Beaner, I wouldn't presume to speak for Mike, but as a preacher, I'd say that it is a challenge to keep one's preaching fresh, but embellishment and untrue liberties are never the answer...time with Jesus is. The shortcuts don't work, and don't honor God.

    By Blogger James, at 10/28/2005 06:39:00 AM  

  • I haven't been able to get this comment out of my head -- and I think it speaks to why we feel the need to "better" explain the gospel.

    "The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."
    - Soren Kierkegaard

    By Blogger jem911md, at 10/28/2005 06:43:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I'm really curious about the preacher you're talking about here, since I've found a guy that I really like that seems to fit your description of rabbinical knowledge and the like which makes me wonder if this is he. He's also recently published a book that I'm really enjoying.

    Anyway, I could get an email or some idea of who you're referring to?

    By Blogger Phil, at 10/28/2005 07:07:00 AM  

  • I had always heard the "eye of the needle" thing but was always very skeptical about it. Seems it just makes us feel better to have more money.

    I've heard many stories about Texas HS football, But I am biased enough to believe it's just as good here in Mississippi (Most NFL players per capita). I've seen 11,000 at a game here in a town of only 13,000. I never miss a chance to plug MS high school football.

    But the stadiums in Texas are a lot nicer.

    By Blogger Matt Warren, at 10/28/2005 07:13:00 AM  

  • I do not mean to sound to judgmental but it seems like books such a "The DaVinci Code" or the many books essentially proclaimiing a health and wealth gospel are so popular because they allow people to feel good and secure about their present way of life.

    By Blogger K. Rex Butts, at 10/28/2005 07:14:00 AM  

  • Phil - Can't find your e-mail address, but YES, you're thinking of the same guy. His stuff is mostly great: fresh, edgy, gospelly. But much of that stuff he uses about rabbinic insights is VERY SUSPICIOUS! He ought to be listened to for his passion for the kingdom, not for his lost secrets he reveals. I have that book ordered that you alluded to. All right, my gig in Ft. Worth is over and I'm headin' home. Mike

    By Blogger Mike, at 10/28/2005 08:16:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    I've read "Da Vinci Code" to see what a couple of teens in my youth group were talking about. It's very entertaining, but comes to some scary conclusions!
    Does it frighten you that it's being made as a major motion picture coming out next summer? Do you plan to preach about it? If so, what might you say?

    By Blogger Franklin Wood, at 10/28/2005 08:24:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    I am with Phil... wondering if you are speaking of someone with a new book (since we are not throwing out his name) his book title might be a purchase in Memphis and he speaks at a place with the same name as a place Paul once spoke.?

    If it is... some of his work is really good. To bad that some of it is questionable.

    What about some of these books, ie. Father Abraham I know Wade has been reading this one.

    If you don't want to out him, e-mail me.

    By Blogger TCS, at 10/28/2005 08:40:00 AM  

  • OK, I guess I need t go ahead and read the stupid Davinci Code. My take on it is that the author has brilliantly tapped into a highly spiritual, but religiously declining American culture. People are really hungry, but the same old buffet items under the heat lamp are getting nasty and very unappealing.

    Maybe the efforts to perpetuate religious institutions over perpetuating hte Kingdom have left a spiritual vacuum for Mr. Brown.

    You know, I am getting a whole new respect for our "anti" sisters and brothers. I mean, their fears were not totally crazy.

    A post-institutional church is needed to meet this audience that is so hungry DaVinci Code stuff.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 10/28/2005 08:50:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Friday night high school football is hard to beat. I'm sure it is still fun for you, but I am also sure that you miss not seeing #44 out there handing out slobber-knockers in your name.

    As a young preacher, I have found myself at times living in a particular passage for the sermon that week attempting to find something new and fresh. There are times where that fresh image comes to mind that is worth exploding, or when the exegesis for the week has brought to light a difficult passage. But, I have also found that some of the best sermons are those that simply just carry reminders--of God's reconciling power, His forgiveness, His compassion, etc. Though people crave something new, sometimes what they need is a simple act of reframing a story or a piece of their life.

    By Blogger Josh Ross, at 10/28/2005 09:08:00 AM  

  • Outside of Chapel in the Benson with 5,000 kids singing or the singing at Firestone Fieldhouse during the Pepperdine Lectures, there is NOTHING like High School football!

    Go Memphis Harding Academy Lions!
    Congrats on making the play-offs again.

    Mike, I hope you will post about the gathering this week at Richland Hills.

    By Blogger David U, at 10/28/2005 09:10:00 AM  

  • Mike -

    Thanks SO much for telling your readers about "Grace Notes".

    We invite everyone who would like to be a contributor in any way to join with us in, as you say, showing some those "glimpses of grace" all around us if we will but look for them, seek them, and try to be glimpses of grace as God's children, as well, to all we meet daily.

    If any of you have any good Grace Note stories or start finding some (they are truly all around us), but don't want to be an "official" contributor, then email one of us (contributors) to tell us about them so we can post them.

    Thanks again, Mike. And thank you all who have already stopped by Grace Notes today. Hope the rest of you will, too.

    By Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews, at 10/28/2005 09:26:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I like that guy, you know the one with the insights NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD. Interestingly, the sermons I've heard him do have less of that than his other products. God forgive me for all the false stuff I've unwittingly taught and said. Thanks for the reminder, that as ministers of the gospel, that we have to do our own homework.

    By Blogger Sean, at 10/28/2005 09:28:00 AM  

  • Thanks for the confirmation, Mike. The book is very good, but a whole lot of new info if you've heard a lot of him before.

    He does footnote a lot of the rabbinical info that you referred to, so that may provide some more opportunities for investigation, if you're so inclined.

    By Blogger Phil, at 10/28/2005 09:29:00 AM  

  • Definitely good points all. I think there are many aspects of the DaVinci code that appeal to the masses, some that are and are not fiction.

    I think non-Catholics and non-Christians find it refreshing that we elevate Mary, where man religions have no strong female leadership. We pray the Hail Mary, I think that speaks volumes. The Our Father isn't refering to Joseph, so clearly Mary was of importance in the landscape.

    But I think this book showed the mystery of Christ, not just the miracles he performed, or his love and compassion for all, but that there was something really special and even mysterious about him. It could result in people spending time really wanting to learn about Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and those who were devoted to him.

    Where's the harm in that? Besides, it really is a page turner. Yes I am well aware that this is fiction, and I wish people on both sides of the debate would recognize this. It is important for people to keep that in perspective.

    And while the DaVinci Code has become a billion dollar industry that everyone on both sides are cashing in on, I don't think this is something to be feared. Why should we be concerned over a movie coming out? Why must we fear debate? Or fear conflict? Isn't Be Not Afraid the Christian National Anthem?

    By the way, speaking of getting in on the payday that is the DaVinci Code, two historians are suing Random House for plagiarism. The trial is set for February. Check on the story on my blog. (there's my self-promotion for the day)

    By Blogger MyManMisterC, at 10/28/2005 09:45:00 AM  

  • Our cross-town game got canceled this year because of scheduling problems caused by Hurricane Rita. :(

    I'm greatly annoyed by the spreading of false info in general. I despise forwarded emails and I'm a big fan of snopes.com. I also hate those sermon/devo illustrations about the man who worked at the railroad bridge and took his young son to work with him one day and -- uh-oh -- the bridge is up and a train is coming so he's got to bring it back down but where is my kid? Holy soup, he's playing in the gears. Do I bring the bridge down and crush my kid in the gears and let all those people die? Of course not. I'll kill my kid and watch the people ride over the bridge reading their papers and sipping their tea and having no clue of the sacrifice I just made for them. That's what God did for you, so you'd better get yourself down the aisle, buddy!

    Yeah, I hate that.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 10/28/2005 09:48:00 AM  

  • The Union/Jenks game in Tulsa typically draws 20,000. They usually play twice a year -- regular season and playoffs. In 1999, 40,000+ filled Tulsa University's Skelly stadium for the championship game. Yup, 40,000. At a high school game. Insane.

    By Blogger Glenn, at 10/28/2005 09:58:00 AM  

  • Deana - that's hilarious! And really, I'm not God so you can bet all those train people that I don't know are gonna die if my boy is stuck in the gears.

    I just watched a cool video from a guy who talks a lot about Jewish stuff & he just wrote a book - I hope it's not the guy because I want to order the videos. How do I check out "my guy" to make sure he's accurate? Is there any good Christian resource that rates Christian authors, etc. for authenticity?

    By Blogger Beaner, at 10/28/2005 10:29:00 AM  

  • yeah i miss texas high school football, but i live in the other big high school football state, ALABAMA!!!

    tonight the undefeated daphne trojans take on the school that our head coach left to come and coach at daphne, davidson. oh yeah, and the head coach is a member of the church i attend, port city church of christ.

    GO TROJANS!!!!


    the youth minister of port city has started a coffee and conversation group at a local coffee shop in mobile to talk about the book and the author's views of the "suspicious" preacher. tuesday night was the first night.

    i listen to the suspicious preacher's sermons that have been posted on his church's web site all the time. i even loaded them into my laptop so i can listen to them while i am out on the road. i think he is great.

    i have heard nothing that is false, but if you do let me know.

    By Blogger k2, at 10/28/2005 12:09:00 PM  

  • 15,000+ in attendance? That's my type of football game. Garland High (the school that I went to) usually drew 10 or 11,000, but there are two games that I remember where we sold out our 15,000 seat stadium. We always sell out against South Garland (our rivals). And there was a special game my senior year against DeSoto High where we had around 15,000. That was the Thursday after September 11th, we were the only football game in DFW on that Thursday night. It was really neat, my chamber choir got to do the national anthem and a couple of other patriotic songs. We were on television. But it was such a great sight to have so many people come to a community event (even if it's high school football) and support a bunch of high schoolers doing something they love.

    By Blogger Jeremiah, at 10/28/2005 01:46:00 PM  

  • I am a self confessed big time fan of the "mystery" preacher we are all talking about. Yes, go ahead and get those DVD's - they are awesome. I have used all of them up to this point in some form of teaching.

    And the concepts in the book with the "white cover" are awesome too.

    But I will be more of a critical listener and reader from now on. But really, who do you hear and read that you don't filter at some level? I love McLaren and he makes me a better believer but I don't "buy" everything he says as true. I hate to openly admit this here but I love listening to Paula White preach because she inspires me with scripture, but I certainly don't agree with everything she preaches.
    As for Elvis' buddy from Chicago I buy most of what he teaches because he draws me to Jesus and the cross, not to himself.

    By Blogger Arlene Kasselman, at 10/28/2005 02:30:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Beaner, at 10/28/2005 05:44:00 PM  

  • Yeah - I figured out through the clues that it's the guy I was thinking of. I'm still wondering if anyone knows of a resource where I can look up Christian books & DVD's & check them for authenticity. Does one exist? I'd like to buy this guy's DVD's to show our teens, but I don't want to present false info. But maybe this is covered under Paul's "As long as Christ is preached" speech? Help!

    By Blogger Beaner, at 10/28/2005 05:49:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Walter, at 10/28/2005 06:30:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Walter, at 10/28/2005 06:33:00 PM  

  • Forget the DaVinci Code - this is great stuff on our "Mystery Preacher".

    Speaking of inaccuracies by preachers, I sure hope the tale about the finest coffee in the world is false. I actually heard this: there is a rare type of bean that travels through a worm's digestive tract...I'll say no more. But somehow this related to the gospel.

    Figure that code!

    By Blogger Amy, at 10/28/2005 06:42:00 PM  

  • Walter,
    Good call. I would suggest that most of the STUFF YOU'VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE comes from Ray Vander Laan. I don't think he's a member there. In fact, I think he's on staff somewhere else. But I think he's kind of Rob's mentor.

    By Blogger john alan turner, at 10/28/2005 07:37:00 PM  

  • Sorry - I didn't mean to perpetuate anything here! I'm just a relative newbie to the Christian/CofC world as I was raised Catholic. Which is also why I get a little nervous about people who might be passing info. that is NOT Biblical as scripture. I cannot tell you how many things I was taught in Catholic scholl that I thought were in the Bible, but weren't, so sorry if I get a little jumpy.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 10/28/2005 08:20:00 PM  

  • Oooh! I WAS taught how to spell, though! The nuns would be SO disappointed!

    By Blogger Beaner, at 10/28/2005 08:27:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    Are you and Wade sure that guys's insights are not accurate? Are you talking about RB from MHBC? When is it wrong to try and cast the "story" in the "science"?

    Love you brother.


    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 10/28/2005 09:22:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Mike, at 10/29/2005 12:46:00 PM  

  • By the way, I removed the comment not because I mind being reprimanded but because I don't want the person mentioned. My original comments were vague enough that I didn't think it would tip anyone off. It's not about him -- a person whose faith, passion, and on-target teaching about discipleship I greatly value.

    Please feel free to post the same thing without the name.

    By Blogger Mike, at 10/29/2005 01:09:00 PM  

  • I totally agree about the way that biblical urban myths morph into Christian orthodoxy. My mother still believes the camel thing. I do think there are insights, fresh even, that can help us make Jesus' message live. Glen Stassen's 14 triads insight I feel is one example (http://www.fullerseminary.net/sot/faculty/stassen/14Triads.htm).
    I am also a fan of Wink's work on the "cheek, etc." passage(s) (http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/article/item_9283.html).

    B Blessed

    By Blogger R U S S, at 11/03/2005 04:58:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger R U S S, at 11/03/2005 05:20:00 PM  

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