Gospel, gospel music, and the gospels.

by K.W. Leslie, 25 September

Sometimes we use a word so much, its meaning gets a little fuzzy.

GOSPEL 'ɡɑs.pəl noun. Good news. Specifically the good news of God’s kingdom; or the revelation, teaching, and saving work of Christ Jesus.
2. A record of a great person’s life, teachings, and works. (Specifically a record of Jesus, namely the four included in the New Testament.)
3. adjective. Something meant to share good news, such as a book, tract, or song.
GOSPEL MUSIC 'ɡɑs.pəl 'mju.zɪk noun. Black contemporary Christian music.

The gospel, the good news of Christ Jesus, you know already. Or at least I hope you do. If not, I wrote all about it. Give it a read.

Gospel music used to refer to Christian music performed by church choirs. Nowadays in the United States, it just refers to Christian music performed by African Americans. Might be R&B, hip-hop, rap, or rock; but if it’s Christian and the artists are black, it’s gonna be lumped under the category “gospel,” and you’re as likely to find it on K-LOVE as you’d find a black artist on MTV before Michael Jackson broke through. Because culturally, the Christian music business is still 40 years behind the times, so it’s still segregated—which is still sin. But that’s a whole other discussion.

As for the gospels, these’d be the records of Jesus and his teachings. In the New Testament we find four of ’em. They were written anonymously—but we Christians weren’t having that, and gave credit to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew and John were members of the Twelve, and Mark and Luke were members of Paul’s ministry team.

Gospels have a lot in common with biographies, but they’re not really the same thing. They aren’t about the life of Jesus—’cause if you read ’em, you’ll notice the authors dropped a lot of biographical details. Like Jesus’s childhood, family and personal life, a precise chronology of events including exact dates… We have nothing about Jesus from birth to age 30—except Luke’s brief story about Jesus, the child prodigy, teaching in temple. The missing details are all the things historians care about, and they go a little bonkers that we don’t have it. But the gospels’ authors had a wholly different priority: They were trying to prove to their readers Jesus is Messiah, the King of Israel. Jn 20.31

How I got mixed up with the Assemblies of God.

by K.W. Leslie, 19 September

Gonna talk about my church background a little. (Assuming you care.)

The quick ’n dirty way to size up a Christian is to ask them their church. “What church do you go to?” Then you compare them with all the nutjobs in their church. Never the sane people who go to their church; never the sober-minded, thoughtful, kind, friendly types. (Assuming you know of any.) Just the crazies.

So when people ask my church, I know that’s what they’re up to. I’ll tell ’em anyway: I’m a member of an Assemblies of God church. And off they dig through their memories. If I’m lucky they know a nice person who happened to go to such a church; if I’m not they know some cranks. (Worse, some of our cranks.) Or of various televangelist scandals. Or they know some different kind of crank: The sort who’s anti-Assemblies, who tell anyone who’ll listen, “Do you know what those people teach?” and make us sound like raging heretics.

More often, people don’t know anything about Christian denominations. They know the one they’re in… sorta. They’ve heard of the bigger ones, like the Catholics and Baptists; or the older ones like the Lutherans and Episcopalians. The Assemblies is only a century old. So they don’t always know which prejudices they oughta have against me.

Not that all their prejudices fit. I didn’t grow up in this church. I started attending it only five years ago, less than a year after I moved to town.

Son of God and cheesy Jesus movies.

by K.W. Leslie, 12 September

Why is it the label “Christian” on movies, music, and fiction is so often synonymous with “junk”?

When Son of God hit the theaters February 2014, various people at my church were talking about it like it was the Second Coming of Christ. In fact, I got in some minor trouble ’cause I joked about this when I was presenting our church’s weekly announcements. Humor-deprived Christians merit a whole other rant. But not today.

From their website. Sorta.

A Jesus movie! In the theaters! In wide release!—not just playing in the hard-to-find specialty theaters in major cities and college towns. Produced by Hollywood producers! (Well, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, anyway; she got to play Jesus’s mom.) Public vindication of everything we Christians hold dear!

Meh. I’m not one of those Christians who are just thrilled to pieces every time Hollywood decides to pander to my demographic with a bible movie.

Largely because they get so much wrong. And y’know, they get it wrong even when they’re fellow Christians. Because—for the very same reason they so often get their theology wrong—they assume they know more than they do, never consult with experts, hire overeager over-actors instead of good actors, try to “improve” the story by padding it with stuff which is guaranteed to annoy the many, many purists among us… and the result is junk.

Burnett and Downey produced the awful History Channel miniseries The Bible, which had already done all this and more. Then they did it again, back round Easter 2015, with their awful NBC miniseries A.D.: The Bible Continues.) I saw just enough of it to realize Son of God was gonna be just as awful. So I didn’t bother to watch it myself till Netflix got it. There’s two hours, 18 minutes (less; I skipped the credits) I’m not getting back.

Wait, a new blog? What’s it about?

by K.W. Leslie, 06 September

Introducing Christ Almighty!, your new favorite blog. Well, maybe in the top 10. Top 1,000 at least.

Yep, it’s a new blog. In full, it’s called The Christ Almighty Blog. In short, Christ Almighty! In even shorter, TXAB, or “T-Xab,” as the kids might call it, if kids ever got around to reading it, and of course we all know kids don’t read. Really, neither do adults. Not even sure what you’re doing here. Oh right; curiosity.

The purpose of Christ Almighty! is to talk about Christ Jesus. Or as Americans call him, Jesus Christ. In medieval times Europeans put titles after names, which evolved into last names, like Tom Butcher and Dick Baker and Harry Candlestickmaker. It’s why too many folks still think Jesus is Mr. and Mrs. Christ’s boy. We forget Christ means “anointed one,” an ancient Hebrew euphemism for king. Jesus is our king. He’s almighty. “Christ Almighty!” isn’t just a clever name based on a popular exclamation. It’s this blog’s point.

Authentic Christ-following is what I’m going for here. Hopefully you are too, and it’s why you’ve visited. Welcome. Sit a spell.