Sunday I watched Holy Rollers, a documentary on a team of blackjack card-counters most notable for being Christians (though one non-Christian was brought in for a time).
Brian Dedmon at Hollywood Jesus was very critical of the documentary. The comments field is notable for comments from the director Bryan Storkel and from two of the team’s members – Michael Foster and Benjamin Ady. A feature on the movie can be found here, and an interview with team member David Drury here.
My mini-review: I thought it was pretty good – better than I anticipated, actually – and well worth one’s while. A few points that I think the documentary raises are:
- not only is card-counting an acceptable occupation for a Christian, but what exactly passes the test (and doesn’t pass the test)?
- one team member talks about living life “in the gray”. What does that really mean? Does not living with an everything-is-black-or-white mentality mean one is not thinking properly as a Christian?
- Ady was the only team member who was a non-Christian. This became an issue with some members – one of whom claims that the Holy Spirit told him Ady was stealing from the team. Aside from the issue of bringing a non-Christian into a Christian endeavor, what about how Ady was treated? Is “the Lord told me” a sufficient reason to bring such a charge against anyone, especially for those of us who grew up in/around Charismatic environments and can tell stories about people who claimed “the Spirit says” while coming across as “this is what I want” or “I’m weird”?
- Andy Stanley said what?
- “The megachurches are once again on the leading edge of these questions, but they are not alone. The urgency to reach people with the Gospel can, if the church is not faithful and watchful, tempt us to subvert the Gospel by redefining its terms. We are not honest if we do not admit that the current cultural context raises the cost of declaring the Gospel on its own terms.“
- “Better minds than I have already done that and will continue to do that, but if I could pinpoint one root cause it would be this: Evangelicals aren’t preaching the Bible. They are putting Bible verses into their preaching. And there is a difference.“
- “I will try my best to avoid using the adjective “Biblical” to describe what I think “the Bible teaches.” The use of this word as a prescriptive adjective to promote positions and convictions is rampant among Christians. The problem is, it usually obscures more than it enlightens, hurts rather than helps, and stops discussion dead in its tracks rather than promoting good conversation.“
- “Just when you think that the Tim Tebow story can’t get any more bizarre, along comes internet “dating” website Ashley Madison (“Life is short. Have an Affair”) to offer a $1 million bounty on the New York Jets’ quarterback.“
- “Good book reviews not only summarize a book but they engage the issues themselves, educating and challenging readers to think more deeply, thereby advancing the discussion. In other words, a good book review should not only teach you what the book under review says, but should teach you something about the topic under consideration. Two new reviews of Peter Enns’s The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins (Brazos, 2012) are good examples of what I have in mind. “
- ” Genesis for Normal People is written in an informal voice for Christians who have little if any formal training in biblical studies. It will rock the world for some because it presents the purpose and form of the OT in general and Genesis in particular from a point of view that is distinctly different from the approach the average Christian is familiar with. But this is an important lesson.“
- “This whole idea of “masculine Christianity” that some among the neo-Reformed and others are promoting these days is so off-base I can’t believe anyone falls for it. Most of our concepts of “masculinity” and “femininity” are time-bound social and cultural constructs and have nothing to do with being “biblical” (there is that terribly misused word again) or representing a vital and rigorous faith.“
- “So, is our rejection of effeminate worship “mean-spirited” toward women? Not a bit of it. Does it show contempt for the abilities of women who have accepted the role God has assigned to them? Again, no. I write as a man in a family crammed full of high-performance women, and would mildly suggest that if anybody really wants to attack me on this front, a little background research might be helpful to them.“
- “I hear them (my friends) say “women are a weaker sex” in public settings and hush their wives (with a wink and a nod) when they are trying to contribute to conversations. There are pathological issues being impressed upon an entire generation of young men that will end in the abuse of many women.“
- “This isn’t a sin–this depression. This isn’t a flaw in your design or a mistake. Depression is an illness. It is rampant, especially among women and if ever there were something that needs to be brought to the Light, it is this.“
- “Doing, working, accomplishing, by themselves, are not indicators that you love God. All of us have a tendency that brings with it unique strengths and some treacherous weaknesses. We must acknowledge our own bent, and we must turn to one another and confess that we need to grow and learn from the strengths of others.“
- ‘“The Man Up Campaign, says Lecrae, addresses father absence by telling “young African American males that you’re immediately an example for other African American males in the community at large.”‘
- Michael Patton’s updated, helpful “beginner’s guide” to Christianity.
- “…why do people ignore the commentary of a wise economist and only start listening when Bono says the same thing? Why does a dedicated human rights activist struggle to get a hearing but George Clooney immediately attracts the attention of the world’s press?“
- “Can a transcendent and personal God really act in the universe? and Can science help us answer this question? The answers are not what one might expect – and call into question some of the assumptions that motivate the search for Intelligent Design.“
- “The purpose of this post is to define Arminian soteriology.“
- “J. R. Daniel Kirk (assistant professor of New Testament at Fuller Seminary) … was none too happy with Smith for advancing a theological approach to the science/faith issue that he felt simply circumvents the difficult and unavoidable historical challenges that beset the Bible’s presentation of human origins.“
- “But what struck me about this conference experience was that it was nearly 8000 people whom I did not personally know, and yet still I felt this strange sense of Holy Spirit-indwelt, Word-driven unity.“
- “I picked up these interesting comments from an ELCA pastor who was, and still is, a very admiring student of the theology of Gehard Forde, whose influence, in my opinion, has gained far to great a toehold in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and it may well be that this attitude explains why we see some Lutheran sermons going out of their way to avoid any kind of parenesis.“
- “No one is against the Gospel, but the vast majority of Christians continue to have problems with the Neo-Puritan equation of Gospel with the middle three letters of the TULIP acrostic: unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace. They are also making a renewed effort for the Two Kingdom model of the church. In this model there are more opportunities for drawing a heavier line between the church and the world and fewer opportunities to confuse the two.“
- “In the context of conservative Protestantism, there has often been an anti-intellectual spirit that has ruled out of court, ab initio, critical thinking.“
- “So the question becomes whether Christians can embrace both Darwin and Christ with integrity, giving each his due without slighting the other. This is the real question underlying Darwinism’s presumed theological neutrality.“
- “To sum up, Darwinism and Christianity, even when generously construed, exhibit significant tensions. Are these tensions so serious that Darwinism may rightly be regarded as not theologically neutral? I would say the tensions are indeed that serious. Such a conclusion, however, ultimately becomes a matter of personal judgment.“