Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: November, 2010

The Bestest Newest Product on the Market!

If you’re like me you’ve had your special moments of frustration with that best of Books. Maybe you accidentally found yourself in James or one of the synoptic Gospels and you read something that did not in any easy way seem to mesh with good, old-fashioned Evangelical theology. If you were a good Christian you had an evangelical study Bible that tried to help neuter the offending passage, but deep down inside you could feel something was still off. Some voice inside told you that when you interpret something in a way that negates everything that was spoken, it’s bad somehow.

Well not to worry for I have found an answer that will save fundamental evangelicalism from its current state of decline! Forget having a study Bible to merely explain away the anti-evangelical things that some Apostles say! Say hello to the brand-new Theological Conformity Bible!

No longer will we be embarrassed about lines from the Apostles who hadn’t read the Pauline Epistles nearly enough. See how the TCB renders these verses:

Hebrews 6:1 – “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity in sounding and defining the depths of eschatology, unpacking deep Trinitarian doctrine and word studies about how ‘World’ doesn’t always mean ‘World’.”
1 Peter 1:17 – “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s doctrine, conduct yourselves with confidence during your time of exile, because your doctrine is probably right.”
James 2:24 – “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone (Ha! Just kidding guys!)”

And, of course, it’s not just the Apostles, but Jesus himself has uttered some words that, at first glance, do not really line up with an evangelical way of thinking. But with a few innocent tweaks we can make it all fit nicely:

Luke 18:18-25 – “And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Pray this prayer with me: God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”

Matthew 7:12 -“So be sure to spend a lot of time reading your Bible and going to church and listening to sermons, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

John 14:28 – “If you had loved me you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is co-equal and co-eternal with me and the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 22:36-50 – “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall get the doctrines of the Trinity, atonement, eternal state and end times right. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You will make sure your neighbour gets them right, too. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.'”

Matthew 25:31-46 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep form the goats. And the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For you accepted Jesus as your personal savior and said a prayer to that effect. You held the doctrine your preachers preached and maintained an unquestioningly evangelical outlook on life. You are orthodox in your views on hell, the end times and the Trinity.’ Then the righteous will say, ‘Hurray! We knew it would be like this!’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For your prayer of conversion did not mention substitutional atonement and you questioned aspects of evangelical theology. Your views on hell, the end times and the Trinity were a little off as well.’ Then they will also answer and say, ‘Nuts.'”

I anticipate this new Bible being a great hit. To order your own copy, please call 1-800-485-3787.

Swords or Plowshares?

Good or bad, small or big, all depending on your point of view.
Or, perhaps more pointedly put, depending on your view of the point.
The point!
The point!
What is the point?
A statement usually uttered in the dark depths of despair, never really expecting an answer to reach that far down into Shadow’s lair.
But my cry is not hopeless or thoughtless or a cry for attention. I want the point, no matter it’s sharpness.
The greatest of men once called only a few things important, and maybe just one. So what is the one? What’s the point?
What is the true dogma?
What is the true doctrine?
Wherein lies that romantic orthodoxy?
Is it not to live life as Christ’s proxy?
Surely life as a proxy outweighs popular orthodoxy.

This insight just might tell me there’s no need to fight over who’s wrong or right in this plight.
For I say and confess that dogma is less than the over-all stress of Christ to clean the mess of this world and our souls.
So why should I complain when you say it is plain that Saviour’s campaign in his battle with pain was to sustain and maintain a healthy dogma?
For that’s a doctrine and my thoughts make another. And I’ve already established that doctrine is secondary.

Ah! But wait!
I suddenly fear a fight must ensue.
For your doctrine dictates your life.
And when your doctrine holds itself in its own high esteem the outcome borders obscene.
Ivory towers with puzzle doors, the residents within claiming to have food but will not open their gates except to those whose poor tongues can utter ‘Shibboleth’
Ivory towers stand in the land of famine, claiming to burst with true mana. But the gates are locked and the password is Shibboleth and most in that land cannot manage the post-alveolar fricative – SHHHHH.

When dogma preaches out that doctrine has the clout to show who is in or out of the kingdom of Christ, then your disciples will flout everyone who is without as they sit and tout their books and their preachings.
And those towers of ivory will forever be empty of everything good, except for the slaves and sermons and books and matrices.

So what do we do, who stand at the base of the beast and look within, after knowing that there is no food to be had?
We leave and find Him who feeds.
And what of the crowd, growing ever so loud, demanding to be let in so they can freely starve with the keyless gatekeepers? Must their lives become ash? Must the monks in the tower perish without the power they claim to wield over the elements?
Or must that tower be burned?

I have two objects before me. Both pregnant with power. In my one hand I have a plow, the likes of which can wound the earth so that it gives birth to those things that nourish and cure and enrich.
Shall I use it?
In my one hand I have a sword, which I may turn upon that tower, standing tall with all the pride and beauty of ancient Babel. This sword can chip and slash and bite and gnash away at the tower, so full of power, that mayhap it will crack and the monks will see the attack and realize they lack whatever it was they were searching for. And maybe they’d leave that tower of sin and begin to take part in the noble plowing.
A sword and a plow, which one ought I use now?
Can I hold them both here at once?


A man can love his wife without ever really understanding what love is. Just like a man can gain strength from food without knowing a thing about nutrition. But some people just gotta know.

I’ve tried to pin down love. I used logic and cold reasoning to do it. I started making up and stealing sentences like math formulas to analyze and grab a hold of some intellectual picture of that strange phenomena. I never had much success. Each witty saying came out cold and lifeless. They sounded good, of course. They sounded true. But they didn’t seem right. They didn’t seem alive.

It bothered me because I wanted to know for sure that I loved my wife. I knew I loved her, of course, but I felt like I couldn’t prove it.

Thank God for Louis Armstrong.

Love is, primarily, a creative force. Since it is the greatest virtue is stands in opposition to the greatest evil (entropy). So it stands to reason that the way to uncover the secrets of love would be found in the heart of creative expression. And I think I found it:

When you’re smilin’….keep on smilin’
The whole world smiles with you
And when you’re laughin’….keep on laughin’
The sun comes shinin’ through

But when you’re cryin’…. you bring on the rain
So stop your frownin’….be happy again
Cause when you’re smilin’….keep on smilin’
The whole world smiles with you

This is love.

When Ruth is smiling, the world is bright and light and true and alive. All is well and every difficultly is seen for what it truly is: nothing special.

Where is love? Love is when her smile causes the universe to smile.

Thanks for smilin’.

Hallowed Thoughts

Halloween gets a bad rap. And I can understand why. There’s something kinda creepy about pretending to be dead things. I get that. I also get how Halloween tends to encourage consumerism and poor lifestyle choices (though not nearly so much as Christmas). And, let’s face it, wandering the dark streets on a crisp autumn day doesn’t sound like much fun at all.

But as I took the kids out Trick or Treating last night a few thoughts hit me that nearly fully redeemed the holiday in my mind.

  • – Halloween encourages community. When else would you ever knock on your neighbour’s door? When would you go out of your way to meet new people?
  • – Halloween encourages giving. And not the quid pro quo giving that goes on at Christmas. Halloween giving can’t be repaid. Those funny-looking kids have no means to repay you for your handfuls of goodies. That’s a Jesus kinda giving.
  • – Halloween reminds you that there are other people living on your street and in your town. And in a culture like ours, where the national past-time is staying inside with the people you already know, that’s a good reminder to have.
  • – Halloween reminds you of death. Creepy, eh? But I feel sometimes like we are a society of immortals. Death is pushed aside and given fake names (Oh, he passed away). Halloween is a modern Danse Macabre. And through it we have no choice but to remember the frailty of life and the worthlessness of earthly glory.
  • -Halloween lets you dress up, and that’s just way too fun!

So give Halloween a chance!