Friday, March 10, 2006

What will the kids learn at Centrifuge?

From the looks of what is being advertised on the site, this summer may be no safer than last summer for teenagers who are innocently set off to camp by parents and churches. This site offers the first day's lesson of the summer Centrifuge Camps. The Bible Study Leader's Guide for "Fuge 2006" is entitled, Thrill Ride and is written by Christopher S. O'Dell. The author is described in the preface as "a full-time stay at home dad of four children" who "served as a youth minister and worked Centrifuge camp" before becoming a dad.

If the posted first day's lesson is any indication, this may be another infamous "Fugegate" offered up by Lifeway. According to Sephen Underkofler's blog about this, that is precisely what is going on. Stephen received the whole teaching guide in the mail and says, "there is no cross" in it. Specifically, he laments, "Yes, they want me to teach the 'gospel' without mention of the cross, resurrection, sin, or God's holiness." I searched the lesson that is posted and did find 2 quick references to sin, but none to forgiveness, repentance or hell. I did find this:

Ask: What’s the point of riding a roller-coaster in the first place? [The thrill!]

Say: We can go to a carnival and see the most rickety, old, squeaky, rusty roller-coaster with a sign posted out front that says "WARNING: Not safe! WARNING: Really!" And still get on it. Jesus calls us to "step right up," yet we let uncertainty cloud our senses. In this lesson, we will see that Jesus is the most entertaining and thrilling ride we could ever choose. May we allow God to tighten the bolts and oil the gears of your faith. Jesus offers you a life full of LIFE. We should not be satisfied with waiting for everyone else to finish the thrill ride. We are to strap ourselves in and enjoy the ride.

Read Stephen's full account and get his take on this material. Regularly I am asked if I really think that we have lost the Gospel in our day. Things like this make it easy to defend my answer.

And before anyone emails me accusing me of "pushing Calvinism" again, let me state the obvious that too often seems to be missed by some: This is not a Calvinist issue. It is a Gospel issue. My Arminian friends are just as appalled by this kind of whiz-bang, supercool substitution for the Gospel as we Calvinists are.

HT: Alex Forrest.


Scott said...


First, thanks for pointing this stuff out.Keep staying on top of these things! I'm starting to get ticked off! I'm supposed to be going out tonight to celebrate 12yrs of marriage and it's this type of stuff that gets my blood boiling! I can hear it now at the restraunt from my wife" Honey just let it go let Tom Ascol have this one tonight"!I'm not going to say a word to my wife( Just tonight).
Who is keeping tabs on this stuff? Serious minded Christians who have a passion for sound doctrine would not let this stuff go through.I need a Gene Bridges investigation and critique on this! He will give a great analysis!

MarieP said...
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MarieP said...


I am grieved yet again by seeing the Gospel thrown out the door. I wonder if there are any Reformed-based youth camps? Even if there is not, I know that Bethlehem Baptist puts out good children's material. Great Commission Publications is good too, if you excuse the Presbyterianism :) Also, I just noted that Founder's Press has some children's Scripture memorization material.

G. Alford said...

"Jesus is the most entertaining and thrilling ride we could ever choose... We should not be satisfied with waiting for everyone else to finish the thrill ride. We are to strap ourselves in and enjoy the ride."

Jesus Christ is entertaining?

Jesus Christ is a thrill ride?

Brothers, I must confess that I am new to what has been going on at these events but this is the most humanistic disgusting garbage I have ever heard anyone try to pass off as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ignorance truly is bliss… here I was thinking that Lifeway was a responsible Southern Baptist publisher… I cannot believe that Lifeway is allowed to get away with publishing such blasphemy.

This is another sad example of what you get when you try and “Market” the Gospel to any selected group… the package may indeed be appealing to your targeted audience but when it is unwrapped what is inside it is not what was promised on the package but nothing more than a useless trinket!

I would like to write more but after reading this filth I need to go wash my defiled mind in the cleansing Word of God.

Gordan said...

I am a refugee from the Presbyterian Church (USA). Now, by God's grace, a London Baptist...and let me tell you this stuff looks familiar.

Several years ago the liberals/feminists hosted a conference called ReImaging God. It was Lesbianity. At the communion service they substituted honey for wine and prayed to Sophia, the supposed Wisdom of God.

This roller coster stuff is no better. It is only less blatant. I guess preaching is dumbed down to the level of sideshow barking now?

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Tom:

Thanks for making all of us aware of this. Again, I am indebted to you.

I have notified the youth minister at our church about this. I don't *think* we had planned on sending anyone to fuge, but we won't be now.

Dave Hewitt

Jeff Wright said...


Thanks for pointing it out.

This absolutely makes me want to vomit.

In your opinion, would it be possible (or, more importantly, helpful) to get a list of Pastors, Youth Ministers, Churches to sign a document detailing why issues like this and last year's debacle force them to not send their kinds to a Centrifuge or MissionFuge event?

I ask because someone, somewhere, is going to have to get through to the youth ministry gurus in Nashville that we're tired of seeing our kids innoculated to the gospel and spoonfed immaturity at SBC youth events.

That's a bit of a rant. I'll step off the soapbox now. Still - what about a list or statement or something? I know it would receive support. I just wonder if it would be helpful.

Tom said...


I think you should encourage every pastor, youth minister, parent or others who are concerned that you know to contact Lifeway and express their concerns. Remind them to do so kindly and after reviewing the material that is posted online.

David Keuss said...

Stay at home dad, that is too bad. He should be following biblical patriarchy instead.

D.R. said...

As a former Fuge leader, I have watched with interest in how this controversy over Fuge material has grown. Trust me, from what I understand most of the material over the years has been bad, but what should we expect from the same guys that give us very weak exposition in their "Read Through the Bible" SS material?

One thing we can be thankful for in regard to Fuge is that I personally know of several reformed and Biblically sound Fuge camp pastors (and Bible study leaders) who teach the material to the leaders and in turn the students, deviating often from the material to emphasize the Gospel and exposition of Scripture during Bible study time.

But I do think that we need to express our concern to LifeWay. That is why I am encouraged that Dr. Rainer is taking charge. I think he will listen to such concerns and we can be sure he will address them. So I encourage you to write directly to him on this.

GeneMBridges said...

Yes, I would encourage folks to get a copy of the material, and sit down and write a lengthy well thought out response to this material. Personally, I find deconstruction to be extremely useful. If you go to Triablogue (, you'll see that we employ this technique frequently, precisely because folks can follow it.

Request the material; set aside the time to read it, evaluate it, and write a good response to it, and send it to Dr. Rainer via snail mail.

Those with this and post it. The blogs have been instrumental this year in raising awareness of issues across this Convention. Put your blogs to work for you.

And before anyone emails me accusing me of "pushing Calvinism" again, let me state the obvious that too often seems to be missed by some: This is not a Calvinist issue. It is a Gospel issue. My Arminian friends are just as appalled by this kind of whiz-bang, supercool substitution for the Gospel as we Calvinists are.

AMEN. When I talk to Arminians...real Arminians, not the Arminians who slander Amyralt's good name and think they are "Calvinistic" because they believe in eternal security...they are absolutely horrified by this kind of thing.

Our people are being treated disrespectfully by those who write the material. Not only are they writing material that simply doesn't present the gospel and insults God, they are treating our people as if they know nothing. Well...what do they expect with material like this?

This isn't an issue in the Youth Dept. either. Similar material comes via the Adult Sunday School literature. Our churches are on autopilot. Where is Josiah when we need him?

G. F. McDowell said...

Blogged. With a name like fuge, why is a fugue so surprising??

Stephen A Morse said...

I am not surprised either. I was preparing for Sunday School Teacher's training this past week end and skimmed the new Lifeway literature on Isaiah for the following quarter. In the very center of the learner's guide (not the youth edition), on the first page of that chapter you will find a dialogue between the author and a dentist. The dentist asks if the pastor really believes that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. His response was something like "No one can prove the resurrection but I have experienced the risen Christ in my own life."

Does this kind of stuff bother anyone else? What exactly is 1 Corinthians 15 all about anyway?

The Romans study... shallow. The children's studies that my children are being fed... shallow. What exactly did the resurgence accomplish if we would reject and reprint Elliott's work and still feed our churches empty (dare I say) mythology?


I feel like I have no voice.

Matt said...

This is exactly why I don't use any of Lifeway's literature with my students. It is extremely difficult to find solid (let alone reformed) Sunday School material for Youth. I use InQuest's stuff. While it isn't perfect it is pretty good. In fact a couple of weeks ago in the Genesis study we are going through they quoted John Owen. They have also in previous studies quoted Luther, Calvin, Augustine, and others. While I understand that quoting these people doesn't necessarily make them "solid" it does at least prove that somebody who is helping put the material together has read or is reading them.

Garvis Campbell said...


In reading this, my heart became heavy yet again. Although the light of reformation is gaining strength in the SBC, this news reflects how the darkness of shallow thinking, shallow believing, and shallow orthopraxis still hold great sway.

I encourage everyone to contact Dr. Rainer in the manner Gene so kindly suggested above.

Ex Tenebras Lux!


johnMark said...

Thanks, Tom. I emailed LifeWay a few years ago about TD Jakes material. At the time I was a minister of students in an SBC church. I did receive a reply from someone at LifeWay which basically said that Jakes doesn't really write about theology so it's no big deal. Sad!

I've thought about pulling the email out again and revising it. This issues seems a better battle at the moment.


Michael King said...

Hey Tom,

Thanks. It is not only that the gospel is missing, but also that many teenagers will get on the Jesus thrill ride and then get off later after the "thrill" is gone, when the sun starts to dry up the seed and the thorns choke it out. Then after that, they will still insist that no matter how these kids turn out, their salvation is never in question or jeopardy. And so goes another generation of "carnal Christians" with and eternal security ticket in their pocket. Much grace to you,
Michael King

Adam Winters said...

Thanks for the heads up, Mr. Ascol.

This is truely disturbing. With all the quality preachers and professors employed in our SBC churches, colleges, and seminaries, it is lamentable that Lifeway should choose to forsake the gospel in the name of relevancy. If kids want a thrill ride, then they will find it somewhere else. What youth need is the biblical gospel of a Savior and Lord.

I pray that Dr. Rainer can help bring Lifeway's publishing materials back to Scripture and away from this mockery of the faith.


Scott said...


Does Lifeway still sell T.D Jakes books or any other men like him( Benny Hinn, Copeland, John Hagee, and Joel Osteen)? I always buy through Cumberland Valley or Banner or used Book shops so I have not checked them out lately.Some of us might be shocked as to how out of control the SBC is in many areas.
The issue with Johnny Hunt being president, NAMB, IMB, Centrifuge, Unregenerate church membership, the lack of understanding of basic doctrines like Election, Depravity, roles of deacons in Baptist churches, divorce rate, and the loosing of our kids after high school we have such a battle ahead of us.I want to encourage you and the rest to keep contending for the faith. Things seem to be really heating up on the blogs and I really believe they are causing some leaders to think about the health of the SBC under the majority of noncalvinistic pulpits.
What were seeing today is the results of the arminian Fox that has been in the SBC vineyard from some time( Nettles book).Even Dr. Akins article proofs(my opinion) that certain leadership sees that the SBC is slowly moving more and more Calvinistic.What is so sad is that how some see that Calvinist are to blame for the problems in the SBC.How can this be when the noncalvinist have been occupying the SBC president , seminary professors(Not all), denominational leaders, and pulpits for the last 80 yrs?
For many of these leaders in the SBC to admit that the problems in the SBC are attributed to unsound doctrine and a very low view of God and a high view of man. For them to admit this it would mean that their ministries have been wrong in many areas. Can you imagine for some of our larger church pastors to publicly admit to their churches that they have been wrong in doctrine and methodology? It's amazing what some men will do to protect themselves rather than repenting before a Holy God. The power and money is alot for a man to give up. So,their is alot to clean up in the SBC.Myself and others have blown it many times as well.Let's not let this reformation movement stop in the SBC.

David & Rose Ann said...

Message to Dr. Mohler from someone who attended Shep. Conference like you did:

The time has come for you in particular to rein in Rainer. As in sit down with Tom Rainer, the current president of Lifeway and former Southern Seminary leader, and issue some type of mandate. Please do this asap. Perhaps all it takes to help eliminate this stuff from Lifeway (maybe) is a cease order from him. Help us please. said...

Rainer is not a Calvinist, but I don't think he'd be for this junk either. I don't think he needs to be "reigned in" as he just started on the job last month. But he should be contacted with your concerns. I emailed him this week, and received an encouraging response.

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Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Tony,

Okay, I'm praying for you. What are the dates of your x-fuge?

Love in Christ,


P.T. said...
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Chris Bonts said...

OK guys, the previous post calling for Mohler to rebuke Rainer is not at all helpful...

"The time has come for you [Dr. Mohler] in particular to rein in Rainer. As in sit down with Tom Rainer, the current president of Lifeway and former Southern Seminary leader, and issue some type of mandate. Please do this asap. Perhaps all it takes to help eliminate this stuff from Lifeway (maybe) is a cease order from him. Help us please.

To suggest that Rainer needs to be reigned in implies that he created the mes in the first place, which he did not. Do you realize how long it will take Dr. Rainer to turn Lifeway around? These problems are not his fault, they did not occur overnight, and they will not be fixed over night. He inherited these problems and is working to bring about change. As a former research assistant and Garrett fellow, I know that Rainer will not allow this issue to go unaddressed. He cannot, however, just go in and fix every problem in the company tomorrow, nor can he read everything that is published by Lifeway prior to publication. Some of this material was in the works before he became president.

Your critique of Rainer, when he has only been Pres. of Lifeway for a month would be similar to someone bashing Mohler for the false teaching that went on at Southern 1 month after he inherited the mantle at that SBC institution.

Demonstrate some patience and charity. If Rainer has demonstrated years of neglect then a "confrontation" would be in order. I urge you to write/email Dr. Rainer with your concerns because he needs to hear them. He will listen to the churches. Eventually, as more and more employees that think theologically are brought into Lifeway, we will begin to see some change.

Furthermore, if you guys are that upset about the youth literature, etc. from Lifeway, check into how YOU can become a Sunday School writer for them. Anyone can submit literature - you can find out by contacting them. I think that working to provide good alternatives is always better that complaining but offering no real solutions.

David & Rose Ann said...

That will teach me to post right after having read a Fuge lesson. I apologize for my tone brothers. Thank you joethorn in particular.

If Dr. Rainer makes the same productive changes that Dr. Mohler made upon coming to Southern, excellent. But, one's opinion on that depends on whether one views the SBC glass as half empty or half full. Until then, I suppose I'm just experiencing Point #2 of a Breakout church.

hashbrown said...

It would be interesting to hear some critique from Mohler about Lifeway.

I'm not optimistic that we will hear any critiques from Mohler about Lifeway anytime soon.

I love Mohler and think his impact will be multi-generational. But I scratch my head at some of the battles he chooses to fight and comment on when there are so many internal institutional issues that are screaming for his assessment and his weighing in on.

G. F. McDowell said...

Gentlemen, you speak as though Dr. Mohler was the Pope. I love what the man's done for Southern, but I don't think his authority extends far beyond Louisville.

hashbrown said...

Mohler is more of a Cardinal than a Pope.

D.R. said...

"I love what the man's done for Southern, but I don't think his authority extends far beyond Louisville."

The guy is on national television at least once a month (notice that Larry King doesn't call the SBC Pres). He has a nationally syndicated radio show. And he speaks at events like The Shepherd's Conference and Together for the Gospel all the time. He serves as chairman of the Council of Seminary Presidents and was just elected chairman of the Great Commission Council. In the SBC, I know of almost no one who doesn't at least recognize his name. If there's anything he has -- its authority.

Hashman is right to question why Mohler picks cultural battles so often when the denomination so needs his leadership in issues like church memebership and discipline.

jrr said...

Since I'm not sure whether Tom would plug this or not, I will. The best Youth camp I've ever been to (Unfourunatly, after I became an adult.) is the Saved By Faith Youth Challenge (SBFYC). This camp sets a high expectation for the youth that attend and have some of the best pastors and teachers assembled. No teens counseling teens here but a conference that most adults would enjoy. Oh, and Tom's brother, Bill is the Director.

Check out the Founders web site under "Conferences."

Timmy said...

As many of you already have done this, I blogged about his as well as sent an email to Dr. Rainer. He was kind enough to email me back within a matter of a couple of hours.

He did say, however, that he had NOT seen the Centrifuge curriculum and that was going to take the concerns seriously. He also said that due to his travel schedule, he will not be able to address this immediately.

I was encouraged with his reply and think we should remember him in our prayers. As has been stated, he is just beginning, and to make some of the changes which need to be made will require not only great courage but a sustained resolve to follow through in spite of expected opposition. said...

DR. I agree with your comments, but "authority" is the wrong word. Influence would be a better choice IMO.

Travis Hilton said...

This was exactly what I was afraid of after the last "Fuge-Gate." It wouldn't suprise me at this point if something else like this is discovered if someone does the reasearch. Who can you trust for a good camp or cariculum anymore?

My youth director was starting to get excited about the condensed version of centri-fuge called SBC-Fuge, which will take place during the Southern Baptist Convention. It's much less expensive. Now I'm going to have to call and ask if this same carriculum is what they are using. Thanks for the heads-up. I needed to add one more phone call to my already large list:)

hashbrown said...

When I was a youth minister I had to be strategic and creative.

First, I had to get the parents on board with the philosphy that NOT every meeting would be evangelistic and/or play to the lowest common denomination, but would challenge them.

Second, I took books written for adults and spoon-fed them to the youth. I made my own teaching worksheets for books like "Playing by the Rules" by Robert Stein on Hermeneutics. Spiritual Disciplines by Donald Whitney, and Grudem's Systematic Theology.

Our youth group grew when we started telling them things they didn't already know.

I don't know why in the publishing world there is this impulse to package curriculum in childish, condescending ways rather than just telling teens the plain truth.

I have seen some good curriculum over at Inquest Ministries. They are not reformed, but some of their stuff is solid and expositional. They have retreat material and Sunday School material. We are using their sunday school material instead of Lifeway at the moment.

InQuest Ministries

D.R. said...

Joe, I agree with your word choice. I only used the word "authority" because ReapolitiKLR used it and I assumed he meant influence. Still, Mohler is considered an authority in certain matters.

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dpatterson said...
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Bill0615 said...

jrr, thanks for the plug for the SBFYC. We are celebrating our twentieth anniversary this summer and are excited to have Steve Camp join with us in our times of preaching, teaching, and worship. The theme this summer is, "Worship God!" Steve Camp will be preaching evangelistically, leading seminars designed to help aspiring musicians and song writers, and singing some of his theologically saturated songs. I will be preaching on the subject, "The Regulative Principle of Worship for the Twenty-first Century." We will also be blessed to be led in worship by Joshua Ascol and the SBFYC worship ensemble. This group of young men and women is committed to God-centered worship that is intense and intentional.

Centrifuge (unintentionally) "gave birth" to the SBFYC camps over twenty years ago. Early in my pastorate at FBC Clinton I went with a group of young people to a Centrifuge camp and knew at the end of the week (to paraphrase Spurgeon commenting on a certain commentary) that I had done nothing worthy of having to endure a second Centrifuge. So, rather than simply sit around and critique the status quo (something that many Calvinists seem to have developed into an art form) I decided to do something about my concerns and the SBFYC was born. I am grateful to God for what He has brought to pass in and through the SBFYC camps over these twenty years and would dearly love to have all lovers of truth join with us this summer as we labor to challenge young people to become Great Commission Christians.