Recently my wife and I had a hard decision to announce. The decision itself was not really hard to make. What was hard was having to tell our Sunday School friends (whom I teach). We decided to leave the church which we had been members of for almost two years. In many ways we had left the church a long time ago. The only things that kept us going were the great people with whom we met each Sunday morning for Sunday School and certain of the church leadership who are great people and who had become good friends. But we had not been attending the morning worship service for some time. This was because it became difficult to listen to our pastor try to teach from the Bible. I don’t want to overdramatize the situation. There wasn’t much heresy going on. I believe that our pastor is a good man who cares about his flock. But he had demonstrated to us over and over again that he was not a careful thinker when it came to the text of Scripture or theology. The proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” was when Mr. Don Piper (author of Ninety Minutes in Heaven) came to preach one Sunday morning. I’ll leave it for another blog (my own or someone else’s) to say what’s wrong with a story like Don Piper’s. But I will give one example of how careless the “theology” is that accompanies his testimony. Mr. Piper claims to have “died” in a severe car accident. As he lay “dead” in his car for ninety minutes, he went to the outskirts of heaven (he carefully disclaimed actually entering heaven proper) where he was met by a welcoming committee of friends and family who had gone on before him and who had played a role in shaping his own Christian life. One thing in particular struck Mr. Piper as he took in the sights and sounds. He noticed to his delight that he did not have any scars from his accident. (Presummably his body is covered with scars right now.) Now, I am not one to quarrel with anyone who maintains that in heaven our bodies will be so perfected as to not carry any scars over from this life. But the thing that doesn’t make sense with Mr. Piper’s story is that while he was on this trek to heaven, his physical body was lying in his car that had just wrecked. But, if his physical body was in the car on Earth, exactly what was it in heaven that Mr. Piper had that lacked any scars? It couldn’t his resurrected body, since the resurrection hasn’t taken place yet. It couldn’t be his spiritual body, since spiritual bodies don’t have scars anyway. (The whole point of emphasizing that he noticed that he didn’t have scars was to demonstrate that in heaven our bodies are perfect.) Since spiritual bodies couldn’t have scars anyway, it would meaningless to point this out to his audience. Now, if Mr. Piper wants to maintain that between our deaths and the resurrection of our physical bodies, we have an intermediate physical body, fine. I won’t quarrel with him about this. While I might not agree with this position, I suspect that there have been Christians who have maintained this view throughout church history. But this would not render Mr. Piper’s story any more coherent. The reason is because it would be uninteresing to point out that our intermediate bodies lack any scars. Why should they? Even if they did lack scars, this certainly would not entail anything about our permanent resurrected physical bodies. So why would it be significant that any intermediate physical body lacks scars. Why should the loaner car have the same dents as the car you left at the garage to have fixed. The whole thing is theologically problematic. But since our pastor seemingly deemed his testimony as something that our congregation (and visitors) might find interesting, if not useful and spiritually uplifting, then that signaled to us that he is not discerning enough for us as church members to support his ministry. So, rather than sticking around and complaining about how we disagree with this or that, we concluded that the best thing for us to do was to leave and try to find another church where the pastor is more careful and conscientious about biblical and theological matters. So far, I’m sad to say, our search has been to no avail. Thankfully, we’ve not exhausted our local options yet.