Evangelical Celebrity Complex

Here is a piece of satire, one of my favorite genres, from a friend (Chuck) who is about as exhausted with evangelical egotism and the whole evangelical celebrity complex as I am. He shared it with me and gave me permission to share it with you. 

Chuck's Disclaimer:  I've just finally had all I can stand of famous preachers thinking they have to speak on every possible thing as though somehow they are an authority or that anyone actually gives two hoots what they think. So here's my rant...er satire!

The Evangelical community has been all a-buzz lately over the subject of Pool Playing and the Christian life. Recently a number of Evangelical scholars have written a symposium on the subject entitled, Is Pool Playing Christian?

The book is published by Crossway and carries with it a number of endorsements from members of the Gospel Coalition. The volume begins with an introduction by John Piper titled, "The Supremacy of God in Pool Playing: Finding Joy in God on the Green Baize!" In Chapter One of the volume, Biblical & Theological Foundations of Pool, Wayne Grudem attempts to answer the questions, is there a biblical way pool should be played and is there one game that fits within a Biblical Worldview better than others? Grudem concludes that eight ball should not be allowed in a Christian's pool playing experience because the chaos it inherently holds is an affront to God's ordered sovereignty. Grudem maintains that straight pool is too autonomous and antinomian because the shooter may attempt to pocket any ball he chooses. He says that one pocket would be God's choice of games due to it's restricting the players to only one pocket, thus setting stringent standards reflecting God's Law, but that such a game actually entails too much legalism and thus should be rejected. Lastly, Grudem seeks to prove that nine ball is the superior game Biblically speaking because it has specific rules, governed by ordered rotation, but is free enough in that a player can pocket the nine at any time by combination play, thus allowing for Gospel freedom.

A number of ethical questions relating to pool are dealt with in subsequent chapters. Kevin Swanson decides that pool is completely unfit as a game for the Christian in that it promotes a homosexual agenda due to its obvious fixation upon men playing with sticks, balls, and dark holes respectively. Douglas Wilson writes that while possibly ok for men, women should not play pool due to it's being inherently a "man's game" as well as the possibility that it could cause sexual licentiousness due to the fixation on clear representations of the mail anatomy. Thabiti Anyabwile discusses the unbiblical racism inherent within pool by pointing out the supremacy of the WHITE CUE BALL dominating the other COLORED BALLS by driving them off the table. He claims that this is most egregious in eight ball where the ultimate goal is to drive the BLACK EIGHT BALL off the table after eliminating all the other colored balls, revealing that eight ball pool is particularly racist against people of African descent. John MacArthur writes on the evils of pool by pointing out its association with clearly Biblically prohibited activities such as the consumption of Alcohol and wagering. Ted and Paul Tripp collaborate on a chapter that seeks to show that pool is a form of "idolatry in the heart" due to it being a competition in which men seek the vain-glory and pride of victory and human accomplishment in the sight of others. E. Calvin Beisner writes an essay attempting to show how pool is inherently sinful due to the problem of making mistakes in cue ball position and ball pocketing. He illustrates this by referencing his other written works wherein he shows how making mathematical mistakes are sins. Ken Ham's essay is a critique of pool on the basis of the historical narrative found in Genesis. Ham concludes that pool was devised by the fallen descendants of Adam and that it was actually a prime element within the corruption of ante-deluvian culture that ultimately led to the flood. Kevin DeYoung writes that pool is a great detriment to the church due to it contributing to the growing threat of prolonged adolescence, particularly in men. Carl Trueman writes that while pool may not be necessarily sinful, it is an inferior game for Christians due to its strictly American origins. Trueman offers an alternative by extolling the greatness and superiority of English Snooker.

Not all the articles in this volume are negative however. John Frame, peace making champion of the "third way" writes that by using a tri-perspectivalist paradigm, middle ground can be achieved in the debate over pool. Frame suggests finding this middle way by promoting Three Cushion Billiards as a compromise between the two poles. Vern Poythress takes the same approach in his own very short chapter titled, Me Too John. In an even more positive chapter Bill Hybels and Rick Warren write that pool should be embraced by the church by putting in full service billiard parlors in each church location in an effort to reach the unchurched pool playing community. They do however say that it would be better to replace the beer with coffee and the secular music with CCM. Another positive chapter is by Tim Keller and Darrin Patrick who endorse pool as a great opportunity for doing "Missional" ministry, especially in cities by starting Bible studies and other outreach programs in the pool rooms rather than using pool as an attractional approach within the church as promoted my Hybels and Warren.

Mark Dever contributed both the forward and conclusion to this volume. His reaction to the book and concluding recommendations are that churches should heed the warnings about pool in this book and seriously consider adding the game to the restricted activities listed in a church's membership covenant requiring members to refrain from pool playing under threat of church discipline, just as he has lead the elders of Capitol Hill Baptist to do.

The response to the book has been mixed in the Christian community to say the least. For example, Theonomists Gary North and Joel McDurmond complain that none of the authors of the book ever point out the simple fact that pool must be a clear affront to God due to it's not being directly mentioned in the bible, especially in reference to Old Testament Law. They also point out that pool is a sinful waste of time because it takes away time and energy from Christians taking dominion. However, North may be distancing himself from these previous claims in that unconfirmed reports say he has commissioned a number of scholars within Theonomic circles to write a ten volume series of books called Biblical Blueprints for Pocket Billiards. Kinist Harry Seabrook, in a recent blog post, claimed that the book was a waste of time. Seabrook remarked that all anyone needs to realize is that white men should not go to pool rooms due to the threat of miscegenation because so many blacks and Hispanics frequent these places. Mark Driscoll, while not commenting directly on the book himself, has made his views on the controversy quite clear in a recent controversial sermon. He declared, "Pool isn't sinful, it's just stupid. Pool players are wasting their time trying to win victories that don’t count!" Driscoll then went on to deride and berate men in his congregation who left their wives at home to go play pool by screaming, "How dare you!?!?!? Who in the hell do you think you are?!?!?!?"

The controversy has grown in recent weeks when revelations about one of the book's contributors brought some discredit upon it. Douglas Wilson has been embroiled in scandal since the discovery that numerous young male members of both Christ Church and the New Saint Andrews student body have been running an illegal pool gambling ring called the Morton Street Billiard Hall. To further inflame the matter Wilson has also been exposed for using church funds to pay off debts accrued by this notorious pool gambling ring. The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches recently discussed the evils of pool during a Q&A panel at their recent conference. Geoffrey Botkin used the opportunity to chastise all Christian pool players for being "disobedient cowards, serving their own flesh and following the world because pool is a picture of weakness and surrender." Joe Morecraft went so far as to say that "pool is the death rattle in the throat of a dying culture." D.G. Hart spent a month writing blog posts at Old Life Theological wherein he suggests that this may be the most asinine controversy in Christian history. Hart blamed the rise of revivalism and transformationist Neo-Calvinism as the cause of all the hoopla. Hart concluded his posts on the subject by promoting a return to confessionalism as the solution to the controversy. Lastly, Joshua Harris has just released his newest book: I Kissed Pool Playing Goodbye.