Thursday, October 14, 2010


This is a post from 2006... still relevant nonetheless:

I received a great father's day gift the day before Fathers Day. My wife and kids gave me a DVD of Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous from 1937.

I love this movie, it is one of my favorites. I intended to write a post about the many excellent examples of fatherhood in this movie but I couldn't find the time.

However, I found other illustrations in this film helpful in describing one thing in particular going on today in evangelicalism.

In the film, ten year old spoiled rotten brat Harvey Cheyne played by Freddie Bartholomew is the son of a widowed millionaire tycoon who sincerely loves his son but is unaware of his son's manipulative antics of bribery and threats in order to win favor with his peers. When things start getting out of hand with the boy, his father takes him on a luxury cruise in order to spend some time with his son and restore their relationship. While on the ship, Harvey mistakenly falls overboard. Soon thereafter Harvey gets rescued by Manuel, a humble Portuguese fisherman played by Spencer Tracy. He pulls the unconscious boy aboard his skiff and takes him on to the fishing vessel "We're Here" where he is surrounded by rugged fishermen. After Harvey awakens, he approaches the captain of the vessel, Captain Troop played by Lionel Barrymore and demands the captain promptly take him back to port. The captain is unfazed by Harvey's incessant demands and informs the boy that he will be able to return to his father when they have gathered enough fish to fill their boat. This, Harvey is told will take about three months. This is unacceptable to Harvey.

This boy comes from a world where everything he demands he gets. He is accustomed to telling adults what to do as they wait on him hand and foot. For the first time in his young life he finds himself in a position where the world does not revolve around him. This doesn't make sense to him at all. He offers them $10,000.00 if they return him immediately. The offer falls on deaf ears. The men continue to go about their regular chores while politely tolerating Harvey's annoying demands. He continues to insist the captain turn the ship around and return him to his father or he will have them all arrested for kidnapping.

As the boy refuses to relent and will not shut up, the captain of the ship mutters some words under his breath about "regretting to have to do this" as he gets up, goes over to the boy and smacks him in the head knocking him down on a big heap of fish carcasses. The boy suddenly shuts up. For the first time in his life he has just been put in his place. It's a wonderful thing to see. Finally, somebody who had the sense and the authority to stand up to this little boy who doesn't know his place among his elders and is convinced the world revolves around him, stands up to this spoiled brat, putting him in his place, and begins to bring clarity to the situation.

That scene in the movie sets the stage for what happens throughout the film. The boy learns how to work, clean, cut and bait fish along with the other fishermen. He learns to humble himself and respect others around him. He learns to take responsibility for his own actions. He learns to be unselfish. He learns what it means to be ashamed of his unethical deeds. He learns what it means to have little and appreciate life and see the many untangle blessings God provides. Manuel becomes a father to Harvey and changes his life forever.

My whole point in bringing up this movie is that I believe it is a good example of what is going on today in evangelicalism with so many of these new-upon-the-scene pastors and authors like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, and not so new Tony Campolo, to mention a few. This also resembles some youth pastors in today's churches.

What the church needs today are MEN like Captain Troop to get up and SMACK these guys on the head (so to speak) and tell them to sit down and shut up. Rob Bell and Brian McLaren come aboard the fishing vessel and start to tell the other fishermen that we must turn around and go a different direction? That's exactly what these guys are doing. They're coming onboard this ship with new charts in hand attempting to convince the crew that we need to rethink and re-imagine our present course.

I would love to see authoritative men of God stand up to these young Fletcher Christians and put them in their place, spiritually. Instead I'm afraid many evangelical leaders are listening to them and even seriously considering what they are teaching. They are giving them a platform. They're thinking..."maybe we should go back and change our agenda, maybe we should rethink or re-imagine our course. Maybe there are 'secret charts' we were not aware of or maybe our charts are outdated and today's fisherman may not feel that this is the best course to take".

O, I know that old fashioned "authority figure thing" doesn't work anymore with our current postmodern culture. Harvey's perception of an authority figure didn't work for him either until he ran into someone who actually exercised authority over him, then it worked.

Just imagine guys like Rob Bell, McLaren, and Campolo or one of today's youth pastors with his earrings and "ghetto-jargon" conversing with any of the "initials guys" (A.W. Pink, A.W. Tozer, W.P. Nicholson, J.C. Ryle, E.M Bounds, C.H. Spurgeon, R.A. Torrey, D.L. Moody etc.). I can't imagine it. I don't even think the "initial guys" would give them the time of day, AND RIGHTFULLY SO! I think they would either ignore them like captain Troop did Harvey or they would boldly "put them in their place".

This is what we need men of God to do today in the church.

The "initial guys" remind me of Captain Troop. I know that they are no longer with us, but what I would like to know is are there any men out there today who have a position of spiritual authority who will speak out boldly against authors like Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and any other Emergent maverick with the arrogance and audacity to question the authority of the Word of God and believe it is their position to try and turn the fundamental doctrines of our faith on its head?

The same goes for any pastors of churches who may have a youth pastor introducing ideas and false doctrines flourishing in the Emergent Church circles and concepts promoted by the likes of the Campolos and McLarens, not to mention this infatuated fascination with the mystical "ancient spiritual practices" of the desert fathers and unbiblical doctrines of the apostate Roman Catholic Church.

Come on men! Stand for the truth! Contend for the faith! Quit making your idol "getting along with everybody". Where is Captain Troop? Where is Manuel the humble fisherman who takes this young boy and teaches him lessons in humility and respect?

In the end of the movie the boy becomes a respectable and appreciative person. He reconciles his relationship with his father and learns lessons of life which would not have been possible had it not been for the influence and bold leadership of real men like Manuel, Captain Troop, and his father.

They allowed Harvey to stay aboard the ship but they certainly did not let him dictate where the ship was to go and what the fishermen were to do. That was determined by the wise captain of "We're Here" and we know who our ultimate Captain is.


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