As promised, here are the breakdowns of the matchups for the 1st round of American Jesus Madness.
Consider them a guide to voting or just disregard them all together of vote however the heck you want.
But before I give my analysis, there’s a couple of housekeeping things I wanted to mention. First, if you haven’t downloaded the bracket you really need to. Filling out a bracket is half the fun. Once you’ve read through the matchup breakdown use that accumulated knowledge to fill out your bracket, email it back to me, and take your chance at winning eternal glory.
Secondly, a word about voting. As you know (hopefully) the winners of each matchup will be determined by your votes which begin Tuesday, March 19th at 8:00am EST. The voting will take place using a poll like the one below. Super simple. But just in case you’ve never used an online poll before, go ahead and take this one for a spin, see how it feels, and get ready to build some callouses on your clicking finger because voting is unlimited.
Ok, now on with the show…
1ST ROUND BREAKDOWN
Tim Tebow vs. Ray Lewis
Tebow come into the tournament this year as the reigning American Jesus Madness tournament champion. Ray Lewis comes in as the reigning Super Bowl Champion. In this clash of champions who will prevail? My money is on Lewis. Why? Two reason: his over the top shows of faith pregame, postgame, midgame, and every other time a camera was put in front of his face this year made Tebow look like a disinterested atheist in comparison. More importantly, if you don’t vote for Ray Lewis he’ll probably murder you.
#RickWarrenTips vs. Mark Driscoll Tweets
It’s true that #RickWarrenTips was just a flash in the pan, a one day riff on a bizzare tweet from the one and only Rick Warren. But what allowed that viral moment to happen were the never ending, quasi-theological, and often nonsensical tweets Rick loves sharing with the world. In Mark Driscoll, however, Rick may have met his Twitter match. No one does thoughtless tweeting quite like the pope of Mars Hill. Sure, he may have a team of ghostwriters at his beck and call, but nothing keeps Mark Driscoll from sharing that certain level of gross insensitivity and pseudo-sophistication that only Mark Driscoll can. So who wins? It really doesn’t matter. As long as these two keep tweeting, we all lose.
Scot McKnight vs. Albert Mohler
There’s few things fundamentalists like more than one of their own who has the astounding capability to use polysyllabic words. It’s this singular ability that makes Albert Mohler the lord of Fundieland. Out in Hereticville resides Scot McKnight. Scot is one of those wacky “Christians” who tries to corrupt the church by trying to convince us that we don’t have to be fundamentalists in order to be Christians. Worse yet, he thinks science and faith aren’t fundamentally incompatible as if it’s “ok” to believe in both the Creator of the universe AND the laws and principles that Creator imbedded within it. Obviously that’s just crazy talk if, as all real Christians do, you accept a “plain reading of Scripture.” So, if you’re one of those heretical people who thinks it’s ok to ask questions about your faith and accept the demonic teachings of science, go right ahead and vote for McKnight. But real Jesus lovers, who would never do something so sinful as to question their leaders, will vote for his high holiness Albert Mohler.
Pope Benedict XVI vs. The Next Pope
As we all know by now, ‘ole Benny shocked the world when he announced he was stepping down from the papacy last month. Just this week, right after I posted the bracket in fact (thanks conclave), his successor was named – Pope Francis I. Now the question is – what sort of relationship will these two vicars of Christ have? Since none of us have inside access to the Vatican, we’ll never know for sure….which is exactly why we need to decide for ourselves by pitting them against one another in a popular vote. Francis seems like the favorite being about a decade younger, but don’t count out Benedict. He’s got a few loyal Swiss guards on his side that aren’t afraid to do what’s necessary to move ‘ole Benny on to the next round.
Mark Driscoll vs. Christian Humility
Mark Driscoll makes another appearance in the tournament this year. This time as himself, rather than just his tweets. He’s up against what is, by most accounts, his greatest opponent – Christian Humility. As Christians we are called to humble ourselves, to be servants to all, to turn the other cheek. But none of those things are very manly and if there’s one thing Mark Driscoll is clear about it’s that you can’t be a real Christian if you’re not manly. Christian Humility may have the final say on Judgment Day, but until then, it’s going to have to be wary of Driscoll’s pent up testosterone, blatant overcompensation for apparent rampant insecurities, and his immense MMA skills.
Joel Osteen’s Smile vs. Joel Osteen’s Mullett
There’s so many things to love about Joel Osteen. That amazing smile, his wildly tacky yet incredible hair, the fact that he tell you God wants you to be rich. But as we all know you can’t have your cake and eat it too. While the mullet is a transcendent hair that stretches across both time and geographical space, it’s that million dollar smile that got Joel his millions. The mullet may apply its patented surprise attack from behind, but its gonna have a hard time overcoming the shekinah glory of Joel’s pearly whites.
History Channel’s ‘The Bible’ vs. ‘DJesus Uncrossed’
There’s few things we American Christians like more than historical revisionism. It allows us to remake the past in any way we like, to suit whatever agenda we have, all why erasing all of our inconvenient mistakes. This year brought us two great works of historical revisionism, one intentionally funny, the other unintentionally racist. The Bible may have hours of footage and huge ratings behind it, but DJesus Uncrossed has guns and samarai swords and a small army of Roman scalping disciples.
Mark Sandlin vs. Justin Lee
You don’t get much more liberal than this matchup. Which is exactly why, as good Christian folk, we should probably just avoid it like the plague. In one corner you’ve got Mark Sandlin, progressive Christian blogger and co-founder of The Christian Left. In the other corner, you’ve got Justin Lee, the man with the audacity to think Christians should love their neighbors even if they happen to be gay. Somewhere James Dobson is rolling in his grave over this match. Oh wait, he’s not dead? Huh, well that would have been a good one-liner if…oh, never mind. Either way you go here you’re voting for a liberal and as the Bible clearly tells us, voting for liberals is a sin.
Rachel Held Evans vs. Biblical Womanhood
Rachel Held Evans had an incredible year last year. No, I’m not talking about her New York Times best-selling book, her appearances on several national talk shows, or dominance of non neo-Reformed blogging world. I’m talking about what really matters – her second place finish in the 2012 American Jesus Madness tournament. This year, she comes back looking to take the trophy away from God’s favorite football player Standing in her way is Biblical Womanhood. Most people assumed she took this mythic beast down with the publication of her book. But like Lazarus, it has risen from the dead and is out for revenge. Can the neo-Reformed zombie take down Evans? Probably not, but I just wanted to say “neo-Reformed zombie.”
Peter Enns vs. Ken Ham
Ken Ham gets a lot of flack. Sure, I’m one of those people giving him a lot of that flack, but without Kenny we wouldn’t have awesome people riding dinosaur dioramas to teach us about “real Biblical science.” Seriously, though, who wants to live in a world where people can’t use their God given freedom to domesticate and ride dinosaurs? Peter Enns, that’s who. Enns would rather we believe in things like “science” and “evidence” and “facts.” Sounds like boring nerd stuff to me. I say bring on the dinosaur saddles!
Hobby Lobby vs. Chick-Fil-A
It was a banner year for Christian owned businesses. By which I mean a banner year of embarrassment. Hobby Lobby stood up against Obamacare, but came across as standing up against women’s health. Chick-Fil-A stood up for “traditional marriage” only for people like this guy criticize their loyal followers who showed up in droves to buy chicken sandwiches because a talking head on TV told them to. Now the two must battle it out to determine who wears the crown of American Christian business. Personally, I’m taking Chick-Fil-A. I mean, have you ever had one of their chicken sandwiches or their nuggets or their lemonade or….Seriously, I don’t want to live in a world without Chick-Fil-A.
Rob Bell’s New Tan vs. Rob Bell’s Missing Glasses
A lot of things have changed since Rob Bell fled the great white North and headed for the sunny shores of southern California. Most notably he lost his glasses somewhere along the way (my guess he accidently left them in a Nebraska bathroom) and picked up a tan. If you’re a Rob Bell critic, then you’re probably convinced this new tanned look is the clearest evidence that he’s sold out to Hollywood. If you love Rob Bell, then you know that his gorgeous new tan is, like it was for Moses, the result of spending so much time in the presence of God. Personally, I don’t mind the tan, but Rob Bell without the glasses is like Ron Swanson without his mustache. Bring back the hipster glasses!
The Gospel Coalition vs. Homebrewed Christianity
You’d be hard pressed to find two more different takes on the Christian faith than the neo-Reform Gospel Coalition and the process homebrew of Tripp Fuller and Bo Sanders. Which is exactly what makes them perfect for battle! After all, if you can’t get along, why not fight it out? It’s the ‘Merican way! Now, I’m sure, given the chance, Tripp and Bo would gladly sit down with the fine folks from The Gospel Coalition to talk through their differences on an epic Homebrewed podcast. But since the Homebrewed boys are not of the neo-Reformed persuasion they are, by definition, inferior mortals and not worthy of debate with the mighty Gospel Coalition. Which means we must put God to a vote – all-powerful and predestining God or self-limiting and in process with his creation? That’s right, you get to decide the nature of God with your vote! You’re welcome America.
Ann Voskamp vs. Tim Challies
It’s hard to find two more contrasting styles or personalities than Tim Challies and Ann Voskamp. Those differences flared up this past summer when Tim Challies called Ann Voskamp’s book “dangerous.” Voskamp, in her typical ridiculously gracious way asked Challies over for dinner. Challies eventually apologized. The matter could have just died there, but what’s the fun in that? This is America and we need a war! More importantly, we need a winner! So, since we all know Ann is way too nice to give us the fight we want, this is our chance to do it for her!
John Piper vs. Christian Decency
For a long time John Piper has fought a determined and voracious effort against basic Christian decency. When the rest of the church held hands together and prayed for the victims of the Joplin tornadoes, Piper boldly stood up and declared it was the judgment of God at work. When Christians and non-Christians alike broke down in tears over the shooting of innocent children at Sandy Hook elementary, John Piper definitely stood up again and declared the shooting was actually a theology lesson from God. Now it’s Christian Deceny’s turn to fight back and take a stand for those who have the audacity to think that being a loving and decent human being to your neighbors is sort of part and parcel to being a Christian. Will Decency finally win the day or will Piper continue to pummel it into submission? That’s up to you. No pressure, but the reputation of the entire Christian faith rests with your vote.
Tony Jones vs. Stephanie Drury
Last but not least, we’ve got yet another battle of Godless liberals. This heretical matchup pits emergent church leader extraordinaire Tony Jones against the high priestess of Stuff Christian Culture Likes, Stephanie Drury. If you follow these two bloggers at all, then you know that despite their shared liberal heresy they’ve had their clashes. Well, now it’s time to settle things once at for all. Can Tony Jones muster the might of the emergent church or will the Stuff Christian Culture Likes army rise to the occasion? I believe Shakespeare said it best, “Hell hath no fury like a woman with devoted blog followers.”
YOUR 1ST ROUND BREAKDOWN
Aneel Trivedi: American Jesus Madness – First Round Picks
Ben Irwin: American Jesus Madness (yes, it’s a thing)
David Miller: American Jesus Madness – My First Round Picks
Mark Sandlin: The American Jesus Madness – Round 1