The Agape Boat

By now you’re probably aware of the latest in spiritual growth tools—the Christian cruise.

At one time, trips to the Holy Land or Reformation sites were the rage. Today it’s not where you go, it’s how you get there. Cruise boats, complete with onboard lecturers and concert artists, don’t go anywhere in particular. Cruise directors downplay geography.

Ads bill them as an Alaskan Getaway, Mexican Riviera Retreat, or Caribbean Odyssey, and the closest they get to a site of theological import is the Bermuda Triangle, which has vague Trinitarian imagery.

Cruises aren’t new—several seafarers are mentioned in the Bible. But now we know they did it all wrong.

Noah’s cruise could have been a romantic retreat with his wife; instead, the whole family came along (not to mention their animal friends).

Jonah let himself get pushed around by the ship’s crew, his cruise ended prematurely, and he never got a refund. All he got was great sermon material.

Paul endured three shipwrecks. Once he had to tread water for an entire day, and another time the captain’s bad judgment forced Paul unexpectedly to spend a whole winter in Malta. He should have signed up for the Mexican Riviera.

The Bible records only one cruise filled exclusively with Christians. But in that one, Jesus was wakened from a sound sleep by passengers complaining about the weather.

Today’s “disciple ships” are such an improvement. Private rooms, swimming pool, life rings stenciled “Rescue the Perishing,” and a friendly crew offering everything from morning coffee to the daily devotional guide, The Cruise Missal.

Strangely, though, Christian VIPs are almost unanimously critical of these frilly flotillas.

“I was disappointed,” said one. “My wife and I had visions of Love Boat, ...

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