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Book preview: Things That Go Bump In The Church

~~The book, Things that go Bump in the Church (Harvest House) is being released on April 1st (no, really).Bump Cover

The work deals with intimidating doctrines that Christians sometimes fear. I was privileged to co-author the work with Mike Abendroth and Byron Yawn. Our goal was to provide accessible, biblical presentations of teachings that are often misunderstood, and to do so in an engaging style (we at times lapse into satirizing the Amityville horror genre). The subjects we cover include demonology, elder rule, election, homosexuality, controversial liberties, among several others.

You can pre-order the paperback or Kindle version by clicking here.

To get a taste, here is an excerpt of the introduction to my chapter on church membership, titled…

“Anuptaphobia and Church Membership”

He was new to the creepy little town, but not a visitor. This dot on an Appalachian map was now home. His Christian upbringing had left his conscience averse to the “Solo Lobo Syndrome”— a lone wolf is a dead wolf was Grandma’s sagacious mantra. So that first Sunday he dutifully visited the only church in town. Its shabby, unkempt exterior didn’t put him off. It matched the ageing appearance of all the local buildings, and their occupants. He wasn’t expecting much from the service that morning, but still there was something slightly off-kilter about the experience, like when a painting has been hung askew, just enough to pique one’s awareness but not enough to be called crooked.

The bald greeter at the door seemed genuinely happy to meet the stranger. And although he never removed his right hand from the pocket of his suit pants, he warmly gripped the visitor by the shoulder and led him toward the sparse, seated congregation. The evidently tight-knit cohort of a dozen or so regulars greeted him enthusiastically. Everyone was friendly, though one or two could not mask their bemusement that this stranger had chosen to worship with them.

 

A short, elderly lady on well-used crutches peppered him with personal questions regarding his provenance, vocation, and intentions of staying. Her long dress hid the reason for her need of assistance. A smartly dressed, middle-aged gentleman interrupted her barrage of questions, gently announcing that the service was commencing. He then walked with a slight limp to the pulpit. The sermon contained nothing untoward, and the discerning new face smiled approvingly at the literal interpretation and faithfulness to the text of Scripture, in the King James Version. But behind his smile, the man found his thoughts wandering to the strange coincidence that the gentleman in the pew next to him, and the young lady sitting across the isle from him, were both missing some fingers.

After the service, as he exited the gravel parking lot, he saw the fellow who had greeted him at the door lugging a trashcan. His left hand gripped the handle, while his right arm hugged it to his chest, revealing a stump where his hand had been amputated. The flame of curiosity was now unquenchable. Impulsively pushing the break pedal, he hopped out, leaving the driver’s door open, trotted over the greeter and blurted, “I’m really sorry if this is rude, but I was wondering what happened to your hand?” As the words set sail from his mouth he realized how boorish he was being. He tried to recoup and offered, “It’s just that I also noticed a few others in the church who…” He couldn’t bring himself to finish. “You know…never mind. Sorry for… Have a nice day.” Just before he turned back to his car, the greeter smiled and said enigmatically, “If you decide to become a member here, you’ll find out.”

The Perception of Membership

Different churches and denominations teach varying views on church membership. Your perception of membership will vary widely on your upbringing, denominational practices, and experience with certain churches. For some, membership seems a normal. They belong to a gym, a country club, and a band—why not a church? To others membership feels intrusive and restraining, like a spiritual straight jacket. Some churches compound this perception by creating membership requirements as intimidating as a Faustian contract for your soul.

There are churches whose requirements for membership border on being illegal. You would experience this if you, like our unsuspecting stranger, decided to visit the church of Appalachian snake-handlers. This quirky sect is not renowned for their numerical growth. What they are known for is a disturbing and occasionally lethal worship rite, namely holding venomous serpents, usually rattlesnakes. (Two hints that you’ve stumbled upon such a church: the inordinate number of handicapped parking spots, and a visibly surprised greeter at the door).

[End of excerpt. Mwahahaha.]