Thursday, July 12, 2007

here's the church, here's the steeple, open it up, where's the gospel?

less than 200 yards from my house is a large church building. i have nothing against large church buildings. no matter what the size, as long as the gospel is proclaimed and the god who is worshipped is the one true god, it matters little if the building seats thousands or barely 100, as my own does.

the size of this church is not what bothers me. what does bother me is that this past sunday, they cancelled their morning "worship services" and instead showed the movie "evan almighty". if thats not enough, you had to pay to get in.

set aside for a moment whether or not the movie itself is worth seeing. i have no idea, i haven't seen it, though i have said i would like to. whether or not the movie is good or not isn't the point.

the point is this. what in the world does it say about our view of god and his deservingness of our worship when we cancel services said aside to corporately proclaim his glory and majesty and to spend time in his word in order to show a movie?

what does it tell church members about the priority of the leadership? what does it tell visitors about the god the church claims to worship and his holiness? what does it say to the lost about the need for christ? what does it say to the community about the value of this church's worship?

i am not anti-hollywood. i am not anti "evan almighty". but i am anti trivialization of the worship of the holy and mighty god of the universe who demands that we worship him in spirit and in truth - not in technicolor, surround sound and high definition.

here is another blogpost concerning the same event

HT: ron kinzel


Scott said...

I had a "discussion" with some folks on my blog.

Morgan Owen said...

Hey Stephen,
Its pretty strange what some individuals will do to draw a crowd. It think I read somewhere that Jesus said "If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32) Churches must be about proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, not of West Coast Hollywood.

By the way, is there a reason you use a lower case "g" in God. I understand the lower case blog theme, but doesn't He deserve an upper case "G". I think He is worthy of it. :)



stephen lee cavness said...


i went to your blog and found your post, but looked for several minutes and couldn't find any comments or discussion. perhaps i am not well enough versed in wordpress.


indeed there are many ploys often used to draw people into a church building at the compromise or even detriment of the gospel. i would to see churches recognize that christ is their greatest asset.

as for capitalization, the lower case isn't so much a theme as it is truth in advertising. i never use capitalize letters while typing or even handwriting.(a point bro. sing, who i had as a professor twice in college, still ribs me about)
the only exceptions are when i type papers for class or am involved in official correspondence.

my conscience is in no way bound by scripture that whether or not i use capitalization when typing the word "god" is an issue, nor does it suggest he is less worthy of a "g" than a "G". his holiness or worthiness isn't limited or bound up in my 21st century american grammar, good or bad and praise the lord for that!

Anonymous said...

a wise man once said" let's remember to keep the main thing the main thing."

Morgan Owen said...


Its obvious that your conscience is not bothered about giving God a lower case status. The question is that if it was important to the writers of the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, etc. translations to capitalize the name of God, why isn't it important to you, a student of the Bible and minister of the Gospel?

Is it possible, too, that the God who is not limit to your 21st century american grammar is also not limited by a wayward church who shows a movie on Sunday morning instead of preaching the gospel?

stephen lee cavness said...


my first question would be why you chose to misrepresent what i said.

i never said my conscience was fine with giving god a lower case status. yet that is what you said.
i wonder if that was an oversight or deliberate? if it was an oversight, then it is easily dismissed. if it was deliberate, then it is troubling.

the translators of the KJV,NASB, etc. are free to do as they choose. just as the editors of the two most commonly used greek texts, which do not always capitalize "theos' or "ee-aysus". ("god" and "jesus")

it was important to the translators of the KJV bible to have a translation for the king that would not suggest immersion as the proper mode for baptism, which is why they used the transliteration "baptise" for "baptizo".

so are the standards for these same people all applied to me?

so i would say that the question is *not* about the standards of grammar of said translators.

the point of the original post is that the new testament (and the whole bible) is clear that the worship of god's people is to be consistent with his direction, and taken seriously. this church obviously, at least in this instance, showed disregard for that.

there is no new testament command, implicit or explicit that says how we are to write out god's name.

jews of the old testament would be shocked at any one's attempt to write out his name at all and would say we are both in sin for doing so. i would hope that you would agree that their zeal was wrongly applied.

my handwriting and typing are consistent except for the mentioned exceptions above, where i have to make an intentional effort, often not even noticing when i forget. it is not a deliberate sign of defiance.

it is a matter of heart and conviction. i can say with assurance that i know that even after having thought about this in the past and sought whether or not to be deliberate, i was compelled by neither scripture or conscience to change.

i appreciate you coming by the blog and hope that you continue to join in the discussions pertinent to each post. i also hope you are enjoying the west tennessee summer. i miss those... even the humidity.

in christ alone,

G. F. McDowell said...

The original greek manuscripts were written all in the upper case. The Pilgrims came to America in part to escape the persecution of King James. They wanted nothing to do with his bible. I certainly wouldn't hold an interpretive decision made by the 1611 group of translators who were loyal to their king as being having more authority than the oldest manuscripts in the original language. Capitalizing proper nouns is a convention of the English language, nothing more, nothing less.

I agree that Stephen is in rebellion, but it is not rebellion against God. No, he is rebelling against the rules of good English grammar. There IS a difference. Your comments in this forum do not indicate that you perceive this difference.

Of course, I see from your original volley that you used the wrong form of "its" (in English, "its" is possessive and "it's" is a contraction of "it is", and I am pretty sure I didn't use my quotation marks correctly in this excursus.)and did not make proper use of quotation marks. If you're guilty of rebellion against the laws of English as Stephen is, should we question your qualifications for ministry the way you did his?

I'm going to answer my own question and say no, we should not question your qualifications for ministry. I think you questioning Stephen's calling based on his lousy grammar was below the belt, and I lovingly urge you to apologize publicly for taking such a cheap shot against your brother in Christ.

Morgan Owen said...

g.f. mcdowell:

In no way was I questioning Stephen's calling based on grammar. In fact, I know Stephen and met with his dad yesterday for lunch. (Stephen, he was proud of you writing the lesson for the Collegiate magazine)

I was simply pointing out the need for reverence for the name of God or when it is referred to. When you use the word God(speaking of the Christian God) it is in reference to the name of God while not actually saying the name of God.

The truth is our english grammar rules are in place to remove confusion.
The sentence:
his eat the restaurant family jim to went dinner to with

reads much better as:
Jim went to the restaurant to eat dinner with his family.

Thus, if you say "god", which "god" are you talking about?? In my opinion, capitaling makes it clear.

My comments of your conscience not being bothered came from your statement
"my conscience is in no way bound by scripture that whether or not i use capitalization when typing the word "god" is an issue"

Sorry if my statement was confusing.

I think you are right, Stephen. This discussion has gone off the point.

You have clearly thought through this way of writing. Besides, if Bro. Sing, in all his ribbing, couldn't convince you, I don't have a chance convincing you.

I guess we agree to disagree.

god bless :)

stephen lee cavness said...


i want to add one thing, and then let it go as you said, agreeing to disagree. capitalization or not, the *content* and subject matter of this blog should make it fairly obvious *which* god i am speaking of. (though, we both know that there is only one...)

i am glad you were able to meet w/ dad. i am sure he enjoyed getting a break from countless vbs' and summer bcm activities as i am sure you are all too familiar with.

i pray that the looming semester and school year will find the lord being glorified and christ exalted at utm, which i know is your desire as well.

thanks for helping clarify my thoughts.
i still say the north cheated in the war of 'states rights"


G. F. McDowell said...

The North cheated? Who was upset about the results of a free and fair election? Who fired the first shots? Who had all the best generals? (And whose tactics would later win WWII?)

LOOK, I know the Real reason the South lost despite them having all the best generals.

Grits is why the South lost the civil war. I wonder if the French started eating Grits right before WWII? It might explain a thing or two.

Totally off topic,

Worship Leader Ron said...

Them's fightin' words!