This Thursday is an important night in the life of our church. We embark on a bold, new direction. We are trodding into territory only the likes of John Hagee dares to trod...yes, the John Hagee who now boldly claims that Jesus never came to be the Messiah for the Jewish people, and hosts non-evangelistic events to raise money for Israel. This Thursday our church is hosting a very similar event called "A Time to Stand With Israel". Despite our pastor's claims, this is an event that for all practical purposes is being hosted and sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Its on our property, we are the ones who have it proudly displayed on our website...its our baby. This blog is the only place that I've seen any serious attempt at analyzing this event: what is its purpose, why would our church do this, what are the pros/cons of sponsoring such an event. This blog is the only media that has made an attempt to disseminate information to the church members who deserve to know what is going on in their church. But nothing from the pulpit except the most basic analysis from Mac Brunson (we got our bible from the Jews, Jesus was a Jew, and Israel is the apple of God's eye). He never made an attempt to answer any of the serious questions in peoples minds that have been expressed here on this blog - questions having to do with abortion, with the mission of our church, and the possible financial or business motives of hosting such an event. What an absolute abdication of leadership responsibility on the part of our pastor to avoid addressing any of these issues.
Why do I say we are embarking on a new direction? Well, as far as I can tell, this is the first political, non-Christian, fund-raising event that we've ever had at our church. For years and years and years, our church has stood for one thing: JESUS CHRIST IS THE MESSIAH AND SAVIOR, HE IS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD, AND ALL MEN MUST ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST TO GO TO HEAVEN. All events we've held have been focused on getting this message out in various forms: preaching services, pastor's conferences, children's musicals, high school drama performances, special Christian music events, family conferences, Christian comedian events, and on and on. Our message....our mission...always very clear, very consistent all these years. So clear that we have from time-to-time gotten heat from local and national media for being so "rigid", so dogmatic. When Dr. Vines dared to say that Mohamed was a "demon-possessed pedophile" at the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention Pastor's Conference, national attention was focused on our church. But our pastor, the man representing our church, didn't back down one inch, he didn't flinch a bit....he stood in the pulpit on the Sunday after all the hullabaloo, and proudly declared that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and declared that he was too busy pastoring the church and spreading the gospel to meet with any leaders of other faiths to discuss his comments. Jerry Vines received a standing ovation from his congregation for his bravery.
Fast forward 6 years to Mac Brunson - Mac is not only hosting an event that is expressly non-Christian (not just "secular", but honoring a religion that does NOT believe what we believe about Jesus Christ) that has no more business being at our church than we have holding a church service at the Moose Club....but he won't even mention this event, won't even bother to announce it the Sunday before it takes place. Certainly he knows his congregation is concerned and has questions. If its not important enough to announce on the Sunday before it is held, just how important is this event? Shouldn't he show us the courtesy of explaining it again, maybe talking about why it IS a good event for our church? How it IS consistent with our message and mission? The flyer on our website proclaims that this is a time for Christians to show their support for Israel! So shouldn't he be telling us that the Sunday before?
So there you have it...I've posted several times here explaining why this event has absolutely no business being hosted on our church property. If you want you can go back and read those comments, as I won't rehash them here.
But I hope there will be some members who are in attendance Thursday night who can report back here and share their experience with the rest of the church. We need to get answers to the congregation on the following questions:
1. Were our ushers there to greet the attendees?
2. Did our ushers greet the visitors and hand out visitor's cards and collect them?
3. Were any of the Christian symbols covered for this event, such as crosses, or the names of Jesus displayed below the pulpit?
4. How many times was the name Jesus mentioned?
5. Was the gospel ever presented in any form or fashion?
6. What was Mac's speech about?
7. Were the names "M-EDG" or "Florida Israel Biomedical Initiative" mentioned?
8. How many people attended?
9. What kind of music, if any, was played?
10. Who was the host or master of ceremonies for the evening?
11. Did this have the feel of a church service, or was it more of a political event, a fund raiser?
12. Were deacons and FBC Jacksonville staff present? Which deacons were present for this event?
13. Did Mike Cohen or John Perry of M-EDG speak at the event, or were they mentioned or present?
14. Were any comments made by the speakers regarding the objections to this event being held at FBC Jax?
Perhaps some of you bloggers have other questions to add to the list. Let's try to get answers to all of these and share them with the congregation. Audio clips would be helpful!