Author Archive for Marc Santom

Marc Santom
Marc is a '92 English Education graduate of Geneva College (Beaver Falls, PA) and an '02 graduate of the Regent University School of Divinity (M.A. Practical Theology). Formerly the National Student Ministries Director for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) denomination, he is now in the process of completing his Master of Divinity while working for the School of Divinity. Marc currently resides in Virginia Beach with his beautiful wife, Tina, and two amazing kiddos, Rachel (9) and Ethan (7), where they are members of Kempsville Presbyterian Church. Originally from Mars, PA (yes, some men are literally from Mars), Marc can often be found cheering his heart out for the Steelers with other citizens of Steeler-Nation here in southeastern Virginia. When he’s not having a blast with his family, Marc can often be found taking in a good film, enjoying the beach, drinking an ice-cold Pepsi or reading some of his favorites, like C.S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, John Piper, Jack Hayford, John Eldredge, Eugene Peterson & Mitch Albom.

Must Evangelicals Support Israel?

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 by Marc Santom

As you probably know, President Obama has found himself dealing with a volatile issue lately—and I’m not talking about the economy.  I’m referring to his proposal to re-imagine and re-draw the Israeli-Palestinian border along the 1967 armistice lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps. Given the loaded and tenuous history of these “peace and land talks” in the Middle East, I don’t envy the president for one second—especially after seeing how House Democrats and Republicans applauded Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress which unabashedly spurned the president’s plan.

Needless to say, many evangelicals have since derided the president’s peace proposal as well. Why? For starters, many evangelicals are Republicans who voted for McCain and probably would have a difficult time praising Obama for anything he does right. (I even know some Christians who are covertly upset at the timing of Osama bin Laden’s demise because it means that President Obama will get the credit for it.)  Second, American evangelicals, by in large, adore Israel and love its people. As a result, any policy that disadvantages Israel must have its origins in a dark place with fire and lost souls.

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Reflections on Christian T-Shirts & Bumper Stickers

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 by Marc Santom

While I was driving up to Michigan from Ohio a few weeks ago, I noticed a giant billboard that read, “Jesus is Real.” Now, as a Christ-follower, I already know that Jesus is real, but seeing it written against a 40- foot high silver backdrop, it actually made Jesus seem less real to me in that moment.  I thought, “If the immeasurably transcendent and all powerful God of the universe is real, then why would He need some tacky billboard to declare what He could not declare, Himself?” That well-intentioned billboard somehow managed to make the reality of Jesus quite artificial.

In that same vein, I’ve been noticing what is actually written on Christian t-shirts donned by fellow followers of Jesus. Here are a few I saw just this past week: “Get Right or Get Left” and “This Blood’s for You” and “Jesus: Tougher Than Nails.”

While I was at it, I observed a few bumper stickers out on the road: “Jesus Is The Answer” and “Know Jesus, Know Peace. No Jesus, No Peace” and, one of my favorites: “Jesus Loves the Hell Out of You.”

We evangelicals really don’t get that there is a lot of truth to the saying that ”the medium is the message.” God knows this; that’s why He orchestrated the Incarnation of Jesus instead of merely sending us a book that informed us about grace, love and salvation. Instead of dropping tablets from the sky declaring the truth of redemption and information about promise of the Spirit and the coming Kingdom, He sent His Son in flesh and blood—the fragile child clothed in humanity who was also the full manifestation of the Father, not to mention the personification of grace, love and redemption. Jesus didn’t just bring the message of God. He was the message of God.

So what does this have to do with Christian t-shirts and bumpers stickers?

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“At Least He’s Not Gay!”

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 by Marc Santom

A few weeks ago, America caught wind of a rather familiar story—another televangelist had been caught having an adulterous affair. Reverend Marcus Lamb, of the Daystar Christian TV Network, came clean to his global audience, confessing that he cheated on his wife & co-host, Joni, with another woman a few years earlier.

DayStar TV's Marcus Lamb

What makes this story even more interesting is that the timing of Rev. Lamb’s recent confession seemed to coincide with the timing of three alleged extortionists’ recent attempt to squeeze $7.5 million out of Lamb’s ministry. As long as the preacher paid up, these three would shut up about his affair. At the end of the day, Rev. Lamb “refused to use God’s money” to pay off the extortionists and decided to come clean instead.

But what really arrested my attention in this story was a statement made by Rev. Lamb’s marriage counselor, Fred Kendall. When asked to comment on Lamb’s affair, this is what he had to say to the Daystar CTV Network audience:

“He had one inappropriate period of misbehavior–with one person. And it wasn’t a man and it wasn’t a transvestite. It was with a woman—and she was a Christian woman.”

Well, that’s a relief! At least it was a Christian woman….and at least it wasn’t an affair with a gay man or cross dresser. For real, Mr. Kendall? That’s your comment to the world? You sound less like a marriage counselor and more like a politician’s press secretary trying to spin the facts to make your boss look good.

Not only does Mr. Kendall smugly mitigate the seriousness of this grievous act by drawing obvious comparisons to the fall of former evangelical heavyweight, Ted Haggard (which is quite the loving and respectful thing to do to a penitent brother in the Lord, don’t you think?), but he echoes an outrageous notion that is found in many evangelical circles. And here’s the notion: that heterosexual sin is somehow more acceptable in God’s eyes than homosexual sin.

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The “Fleecing” of God

Monday, November 15th, 2010 by Marc Santom

Last week, I was speaking to a friend (whom I shall call “Keith”).  Now Keith is a man who’s been walking with God for over 40 years and is highly respected by many people within the church. During our conversation, he mentioned that he was quite displeased with the leadership of his church—and that he was considering leaving because his differences with the leadership are seemingly irreconcilable.

Keith’s reasons for potentially leaving the church seemed understandable to me. He then, however, proceeded to tell me something that I didn’t understand so well.

“I should know within the month whether I will leave the church or not,” he said.

“Why’s that?” I inquired.

Sighing, Keith answered, “I am doing what I always do. I put out a fleece for God to respond to. I told Him that I needed to see something specific happen. And if it happens, I’m leaving the church. If not, I’ll be staying put.”

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Musings on My Lottery Ticket

Saturday, September 4th, 2010 by Marc Santom

As I write this, I’m looking at the “lottery ticket” lying next to my laptop. It’s not an actual lottery ticket, mind you, but rather a scratch & win ticket from The Great Grocery Giveaway. Some local grocery stores give them out to customers at the checkout line. For some reason, the checkout gal at Food Lion handed me a stack of 47 of them the other day. So I brought the stack home, handed my kids a few coins and ordered them to start stratchin’ so we could start winnin’.

The goal of the scratcher is to pick three of the nine circles to scratch off—and if all three match, you get whatever is revealed in the prize box at the bottom. After my kids unsuccessfully scratched through half the stack, I grabbed one and, using my fingernail, scratched off three circles really fast and, lo and behold, all three matched! My kids thought I was superman and immediately exclaimed, “Daddy, scratch the prize box to see if we’re rich!” All of a sudden, the possibility of winning up to $250,000 warmed my soul and placed a spark in my eye. I was experiencing hope for a better life as I thought, “I could be rich and things could get real good real fast.” Amid the brewing excitement in my mind, however, I paused long enough to observe what was going in within me…

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Teenagers, Worldviews & Rated-R Movies

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 by Marc Santom

Tis the season…of summer movie blockbusters, just around the bend. Robin Hood, Iron Man 2 & Twilight Eclipse are just a few titles that will don the cinema marquees and rake in fistfuls of dollars–not to mention the hearts and minds of our teenagers.

It’s been about six years since Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ hit theaters in 2004. You know what I consider to be one of its best, barely-noticed legacies? That is was rated R.  I loved the uncomfortable irony of it all—that this film, which many Christians considered to be one of the greatest evangelistic tools of our day, was labeled with the scarlet letter of the MPAA movie rating system. That meant that this film about Jesus’ triumphant love would share the same rating as brash films like Pulp Fiction, Superbad, Saw V and Sin City.

Of course I loved The Passion for more that its R rating. I was elated to see the greatest story ever told conveyed with a lot of Scriptural accuracy, a real budget and genuine artistic sensibilities brought to bear. What also elated me was that many preachers who elevated the (often arbitrary and inconsistent) MPAA rating system to sacred status and made “Thou shalt not see R-rated movies” the Eleventh Commandment were forced to re-think the issue.  They had to begin to ask questions like this:

  • “Can an R-rated film have redemptive value—and can it have more of it than a PG film does?”
  • “Does this mean that PG and PG-13 movies are always safer and more accurately reflect a Christian worldview?”
  • “Can God’s truth, beauty and goodness be found in other films that don’t star Jesus as the main character or fail to have an overt Christian message like Fireproof or  Facing the Giants?”

My aim is not to debate the value of R versus PG rated films or the competency of the Motion Picture Association of America. There’s a bigger story here…

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