white chicken looking rightAvast ye swabs! The chookwatch central team served up another pIRATE radio tirade by their favourite sea-rover against a Christian pastor this week.

I took time to listen in to what their self-styled pirate captain had to say, but, oh my goodness, it was impossible to listen to more than ten minutes of his intrusive and unedifying tosh (the critique I mean).

The picaroon’s target for a broadside this time was the energetic and friendly Christian McCudden, a great pastor from Australia who has successfully planted a thriving church on the Australian East Coast, and was invited to help open a church building for a sister church in Adelaide.

Ad tedium interruptus

I didn’t get to hear all of the message because of the multiplicity of interruptions, which became so groan-worthy and tedious that it was nigh on impossible to make out clearly what the preacher was saying.

However, it was obvious that the audio pirate was seriously missing the point of what was taking place, including breaking into a time where the minister encourages the church to cast their cares on the Lord by stopping the recording of the message and interjecting a few bars of a secular song, then mocking people for giving thanks to Jesus for the way in which the church had grown over the years, jeering at the pastor and congregation for praising God for the provision of a new facility for their growing congregation (at the new facility’s opening, no less), and scoffing at the acknowledgement by the speaker of the personal sacrifices made by the pastors (which all good ministers make in the cause of Christ) in getting to where they are.

What did the pirate hope to gain by being so ungracious to these people? Hasn’t he heard of exhortation, for this is what was taking place at the beginning of the message? The minister was encouraging the congregation. He was reminding them of the goodness of God, and the effectiveness of working together as the local church. He was calling them to attention.

One thing you do discover is that the radio filibuster must love the sound of his own voice. Every few seconds, there he is again, pressing the pause button and making a statement which completely ignores the context of what the speaker is saying.

Shore leave

One would have to come to the conclusion that the pirate captain needs to take some shore leave to spend some time with God and get his head back into the gospel for a season.

It sounds as if he has spent so much time all at sea looking for ministers to criticise and scoff at and sermons to plunder, that he has lost sight of the fact that we Christians are supposed to be on the same side, taking territory from the adversary and working with Jesus to win souls, make disciples and build the Church.

What the pirate does is set the scene with a few derogatory opening remarks over the soundtrack of some secular rock music before launching into the sermon, which he constantly speaks over, stops and starts the message, making cutting remarks, does his own little exegesis of something unrelated, adds sarcastic interjections, derides the preacher, the church, the movement or denomination, sidetracks into a pet peeve, and generally cuts the sermon into pieces causing the actual message to be lost to his own slant on doctrine and his personal opinions of the preacher. He really is a pirate.

Out of curiosity I took a listen to one of the pirate’s local church sermons (he pastors a Lutheran church in country USA), and found it to be quite reasonable exegesis. To be fair to him, he is capable of being quite a good Bible teacher – when he’s behind the pulpit.

Quite a different kettle of fish to the pirate radio icon he has become, in fact. Perhaps this pirate alter-ego gets a hold of him and makes him into another person altogether. Maybe there’s some hope for the captain if he can get his feet back on the ground.

But he clearly doesn’t have a clue about Pentecostal preaching or ministry. I guess that’s understandable if he is out of the Lutheran tradition, and a cessationist and all.

But he is like a duck out of water when he shows his complete misunderstanding of Pentecostal preaching and ministry, and, to deepen his folly, throws in those sadly snide remarks every thirty seconds as he interrupts whatever a preacher says in a sermon that the pirate, out of sheer ignorance, doesn’t appreciate.

It’s quite embarrassing, in fact, to listen to a man with a globally-broadcast self-serving interjectory microphone switch who is so obviously out of his depth when it comes to attempting to contextualise a ministry style of which he has no clue or experience.

It’s a bit like mocking and pointing out the perceived short-comings of the skipper of an Americas Cup yacht when you’ve only ever rowed a dingy across a mill pond. Maybe he thinks the cocked hat and skull and cross-bones flag are credentials enough.

The foolish confound the wise

Preachers who believe that the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit are for today will always, with their ministry, confound those, like the pirate, who say the gifts of the Spirit ended with the last Apostle (for which there is no Biblical evidence, by the way).

How could a cessationist possibly know how to serve a congregation with the Word and Spirit when he actually believes the Holy Spirit can no longer do what He did in the days of Jesus and His Apostles? How could a cessationist even grasp the significance of the ministry of the Holy Spirit if he thinks it can’t, won’t and even shouldn’t happen?

I don’t mean that to denigrate the poor guy, who obviously loves the Lord, but he does have a rather deliberately targeted critical radio program which tends to go after other Christian ministers in a sometimes scathing, occasionally derogatory and often unkind way. It’s just not edifying to listen to this kind of critical analysis.

Why is it that so many cessationist adherents consider Pentecostal ministry to be so inferior doctrinally, when the cessationist concepts are so lacking in scriptural evidence, or rely on heavily contrived eisegesis? Mind you, being considered base, weak, foolish or despised isn’t a bad thing as far as God is concerned.

Come now, Mr Pirate, have you not remembered that God actually uses the base, weak and foolish? Yes, He does. He’s not looking for the noble, wise and educated – unless, of course, they realise that they too, compared to God’s greatness and glory, are base, weak and foolish. I know it doesn’t always make sense to the intelligentsia of theology, but churches grow because God is glorified, not because of oratory.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

Man the lifeboats

Come on, pirate skipper. Take some time out from the criticism and grab yourself some good teaching you can appreciate and enjoy and charge yourself to say some kind, generous and edifying things about people.

If the Pentecostals and charismatics annoy you so much with their faith and positive attitude to the gospel, why not stop listening for a season to give yourself a break from that critical spirit you are developing at the expense of some really great ministries and teaching? It might give your listeners a break from the haranguing too. Clanging gong, anyone?

Or, better still, have a sojourn with the Holy Spirit and your Bible for a few weeks to drain the psychological bile out of your system so you can learn to appreciate the many facetted means by which God the Holy Spirit reaches the lost and uses the rest of the Body to make disciples.


Dictionary definition:

Pirate: a person who attacks and robs ships at sea; a person or organisation that broadcasts radio or television programs without official authorisation; to use or reproduce another’s work for profit without permission, usually in contravention of patent or copyright; to rob or plunder.