Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guest Blogger Chris Rosebrough

Rosebrough. A name that strikes fear in the hearts of purpose-driven and emergent types everywhere. I’ve been soaking up Chris Rosebrough’s teaching for a lot of years now. He’s got more blogs and websites than anybody I know (even more than Cwirla) – too numerous to list, although I’ll hit the high points.

Chris grew up as an Evangelical, but escaped from his own purpose-driven prison with the help of Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. Not only does Chris collect blogs, he also collects degrees, which have certainly helped in his apologetic efforts, both theologically, and in a business sense. He’s got a degree in Religious Studies and Biblical Languages from Concordia University in Irvine, as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.

He is the author of the well-know apologetic blogs Extreme Theology and A Little Leaven (which houses the Museum of Idolatry). Since the original scuttling of Issues, Etc., his creation, Pirate Christian Radio, has been the online radio network that airs all of those great programs we’ve all come to love, such as Issues, Tabletalk, The God Whisperers, Take the Stand, Radical Grace, Higher Things Radio, and his own show Fighting for the Faith.

Fighting for the Faith is a show I really can’t get enough of. I like Chris’s ability to point our error in today’s churches, while at the same time interjecting a little humor, and teaching Law and Gospel along the way. His philosophy might be humorously summed up by this quote from a PCR advertisement: “Finally, a Real Christian radio station that is free from the scurvy plagues of pop-psychology, goofy fads, self-help, pietism, liberalism, purpose-drivenism, emergent nonsense and the sissy girly Oprah-fied spirituality that is being passed off as Christianity.”

I’d go on about what a great guy Chris is, but my pen’s running out of ink. So let’s get to it. Here's a sound bite from Chris's August 11th, 2008 appearance on Issues, Etc.:

Cancelling A Radio Program Launched an Entire Radio Station

One year ago this week my phone rang. The caller ID said that it was Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller who was calling me. I love talking with Pastor Wolfmueller! Not only is Bryan smarter than I am he is funnier than I am. But, when I answered the phone Bryan’s voice didn’t sound right. The tone that he was using was the same tone that people use when they call to tell you about a death in the family. In this case, there was more than a death in the family, there was a murder.

Bryan asked me if I had heard the news.

“What news?” I asked.

“The synod has cancelled Issues, Etc.”, Bryan stated rather flatly.

“What!?!? They cancelled Issues, Etc.! It’s Holy Week!! What!?!?! Are you sure?!”

“It’s all over the internet and the Wittenberg Trail”, said Bryan.

I felt like I had been punched in the face. Issues, Etc. had been a lifeline of sanity and sound doctrine for me. Issues, Etc. was the only program I’d ever heard that unashamedly, day after day, proclaimed Confessional Lutheran doctrine and Christ crucified for our sins. I couldn’t imagine any sane Biblically grounded Lutheran leader canceling Issues, Etc. What Pastor Wolfmueller was telling me just didn’t make any sense.

During the call, Bryan reminded me of a conversation we’d had a few months earlier in Denver. I had travelled to Denver on a business trip and had met with Bryan for a cup of coffee. (Wolfmueller paid for the coffee because of a friendly wager that he’d lost. The details of the wager had something to do with me defeating him during Issues, Etc. Soundbite of the week. But, that’s a different story.) During the conversation I shared with him my advanced plans for starting a Christ-Centered radio station called “Pirate Christian Radio”. On March 18th, 2008 Pirate Christian Radio was still in the Business Plan phase. In fact, PCR wasn’t even close to being ready for prime time. But, Pastor Wolfmueller nudged me, “Maybe you can help bring back Issues, Etc. when you launch Pirate Christian Radio.” At that moment I realized that this was one of those “once in a lifetime opportunities” when a good idea and the perfect moment had providentially found each other.

The months that followed were absolutely crazy. The political fallout from the cancellation of Issues, Etc. was breathtaking to watch. Blogs sprung up out of nowhere. A petition was launched and thousands and thousands of people signed it and called on a deaf synod to bring back Issues, Etc. While all of this was happening, I was working behind the scenes with Todd and Jeff to put together a business plan for the new program. While the plan was being written and revised Todd and Jeff were looking for a place to put their new studio as well as find the funding necessary to purchase the equipment they needed to get back on the air. While the rest of the world was mourning the cancellation of Issues, Etc. I was working behind the scenes to help bring about a resurrection AND launch an entire radio station. It was like flying at mach 5 with your hair on fire.

Few people know that during early planning stages we debated whether or not Todd and Jeff should relaunch their program using the name Issues, Etc. At that time the status of the Issues, Etc. trademark was still being researched by Henry Madsen and we were uncertain if LCMS, Inc. legally owned it. As a result, we made contingency plans to relaunch the program under a different name. (Those of you who are fans of Ablaze™ will appreciate this.) The name that we decided on was “Critical Events”. (Could you imagine the look on President Kieschnick’s face if Issues, Etc. had relaunched under the name “Critical Events”?)

June 30th, 2008 arrived sooner than any of us had expected. Yet, from the moment that the world heard the new music for the resurrected Issues, Etc. it was clear that not only was Issues, Etc. back, but that the LCMS’s decision to cancel the program was the best thing that could have happened. The new program was leaner and meaner than the KFUO version and it became clear that Pastor Wilken was at his best when he was able to speak his mind freely without synodical baby-sitters and restraints.

We not only got Issues, Etc. back, we got an entire radio station. Pirate Christian Radio is doing fantastically well. PCR is listened to in over 60 countries. It is in the top 10 in the talk category on the Live 365 Internet Radio Network and it is sailing circles around KFUO. In fact, Pirate Christian Radio is the most exciting thing to happen in Lutheran Radio in almost a century and none of this would have been possible if the LCMS had not cancelled Issues, Etc.

During the one year CAnniversary celebration I plan to send a Thank You card to LCMS President, Jerry Kieschnick. He might decline the card and claim that I’m thanking the wrong person. But, I know that he’s the one to thank for the actions that took place on March 18th, 2008. It would be wrong of me to not express my deepest gratitude for helping to give us the gift of a better Issues, Etc. and Pirate Christian Radio.

Chris Rosebrough's ride, his Toyota "wrapped" in PCR colors.

Graphics provided by Chris.

1 comment:

Frank Gillespie said...

“Critical Events”? That is hilarious! If it had gone down that show needed to start back up with a new name, “Critical Events” would have us all shouting w00t!

I would argue that PCR is not just the most exciting thing to happen to Lutheran radio in the last 100 years but rather the most exciting thing to happen to Lutheran media. We will always need scholarly books to teach but the importance of new media cant be understated as a means to catechize people that may never have been taught the sound doctrines of the faith or have been taught in only a superficial manner in a way that is easily and immediately accessible.

Thank you Chris for helping bring us PCR.