Friday, September 30, 2005

Emerging Questions

I was reading the comments to Phillip Johnson’s comic book cover relating to “The Emerging Conversation” and found one of the comments interesting. The question was asked about whether Phil had had informal dialogue with the individuals who theology and practice are in question. Since the writings of people like McLaren are public and a personal audience is not so easy a task it would seem we have to let the authors writings speak for themselves. It is also true that the more that they write, McLaren for example, the more clear, or at least as clear as a “Post-Modern” writer can be, their theology becomes.

It was also mentioned that the leaders of this movement, sorry conversation, are asking good questions. That may or may not be true but my issue has been that in the midst of this conversation they are dragging unsuspecting people into the abyss. It is much different for individuals to ask probing questions and deal with the issues but when the conversation is played out in front of an audience and that audience becomes sort of the test ground, as pastors we would seem to be culpable for leading the sheep astray. Some time back I wrote on some disturbing quotes from Rob Bell. I do not say we should not question what we believe; I for one have done so and stand even firmer today than before on many things because of this. The issue is that as a Pastor when this is done in public there are many that will simply take the Pastors answers and make them their own. We might say that this is their problem as they should be more discerning but that is not how people work.

It is OK for McLaren, Bell and others to question things but simply because one is questioning something does not make that which is questioned wrong. This is where the problem really starts as all too often the questions are asked because it is assumed that the previous conclusions are based on a wrong construct, modernism. So right from the start it is assumed that what was previously thought is wrong in some way and needs to be refashioned some how.

Bottom line is we can and should ask question but as Pastors it needs to be done much differently than individuals because the consequences of what we teach and where we lead are much more serious.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Kind of Christian? (Prt. 3)

Here are some further thoughts on Brian McLaren’s A New Kind Of Christian

CH. 9

In this chapter I would agree that I to have a dislike for the consumer packaging of religion that seems to permeate church life. But from here the conversation goes to allowing for one to be a Christian and culturally a Buddhist or Muslim which is all well and good to say but can it really be true when the scriptures seem to speak of salvation being a life changing event. Daniel in Babylon saw a need to be counter cultural when it collided with his belief in God. This all seems to either misunderstand or be naive about the belief systems that are trying to be melded in some way.

Over and over I see a goal of constantly equating Christianity as we know as intimately tied to modernity and defining modernity as either wrong or passed by. By doing this NEO seems to step right in with an answer and even though the answers are either vague or wrong they are to be accepted because the alternative is to be modern, which is wrong.

CH. 10

Again I find areas to agree on but the reaction to them is different. Such as I agree that the attitude of many towards the Gospel is selfishness in that it turns it into more of a self help program than a God glorifying event. However, the solutions provided by NEO are not adequate or the only possibility.

When NEO is asked about getting into heaven (salvation) his answer or actually non-answer seemed was very Mclarenish. His minimalizing of hell is in contrast of the amount of scripture that speaks of Hell as real place. The description of hell that comes from the reading is that of simply being heaven with the wrong glasses on. Basically heaven and hell are the same place but it is only heaven for those who want to be there and it is hell for those that do not desire heaven. So what is accomplished is making hell no more than being at a Sex Pistols concert when you desire to be at a Bach recital. But the bible speaks of hell as a much more terrifying place and it should not be minimized to accommodate the mindset of the sinner.

CH. 11

In chapter 11 again hell is relegated to the nebulous realm of imagery and blames the orthodox understanding on modernity. By now it has gotten old to continue to see that whenever the orthodox view of scripture is disliked it is simply thrown out as a consequence of modernity. When NEO begins to equate cohabitating and sin with the early church issues with Kosher and non-kosher he seems to be mixing categories. Also it would seem that the concept of accepting people in sin as is shown may prohibit church discipline as that would be judgmental and harm the offenders person some how. However did not Paul deal with the same issues in Corinth and even kick a church goer out for his own good? The Bible does have a moral code and the letters to the Corinthians show Paul’s concern for the moral state of his charges.

This all said I do agree where it is mentioned that sin is all to often categorized and not dealt with. But the alternative is not to ignore the issues as this is even more harmful. This is the usual tactic of those supporting homosexuality as they relate how adultery permeates the church and is just as sinful but is not dealt with as readily. Well the answer is not that both are ignored but that the church needs to more seriously deal with all sin.

CH. 12

This was one chapter that got an “Amen” and an “Oh Man.” The amen was in reference to the complaint that the gospel is all too often packaged ass a slick sales pitch or that so called friendship evangelism is often a ruse. So that in the case of friendship evangelism quite often once the prey is seen as no longer viable as a convert they are dismissed. While this may be true of general contacts as in the analogy of shaking the dust from ones feet this does not fit the bill when one seeks friendship just to sell God somehow. The problem in the narrative is that the answer to this is incomplete and lacking.

This is where the “Oh Man” comes in. The Gospel is not defined except as what it is more than. This is a way to say that one side is wrong without really answering the question as to what is right. I guess I really \do not expect much more than this since post modernism is notorious for not only denying there is an absolute truth but staying as far away from it as possible.

More to follow as time allows.


More on God and Disasters

In reading an article by Derek Thomas titled Contemplating Katrina there is an interesting quote from Dr. John Sanders:

God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom to cooperate with or work against God's will for their lives, and he enters into dynamic, give and take relationships with us....God takes risks in this give-and-take relationship, yet he is endlessly resourceful and competent in working toward his ultimate goals. Sometimes God alone decides how to accomplish these goals. On other occasions, God works with human decisions, adapting his own plans to fit the changing situation.

What is interesting is that if, as Thomas does, this quote is prefaced by the words “Open Theism” most would scoff at it but if it is left without the preface, with no mention of Open Theism, many people would probably not see an issue with Sander’s conclusions. This speaks to the readers misunderstandings of God more than Sanders hiding of what he believes. But, it also shows the danger of Open Theism in that it seems to be the destination that people arrive at who try and save God from the ills of this world.

I have read a book, well a good portion of the book, that I was given as a refutation/alternative of/to the Doctrines of Grace. This book by Marston and Forster, God's Strategy in Human History, uses much of the language of open theism but it seems that this is secondary to many readers who comment on the authors conclusions. Actually the statement has been made to me, when I showed the Open Theism leanings of the authors, that we need to take the good from the bad. The problem is that the conclusions of the authors are generated from their apparent willingness to see Open Theism as viable and thus are based on the bad.

The point is that more and more it appears that the attempts of finite man to save the credibility of an infinite God lead to a truncated, even often a heretical, view of God and invariably an incorrect Gospel.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More on the Emergent Church

As work has impinged on my reading, how dare it, I do intend to finish my reading of “A New Kind of Christian” by Brian McLaren however difficult it is to do. It is difficult not so much because it is a hard read in terms of language; it is not, but because of its content. I am sure if I had read this when it first came out I would have probably seen the same issues but when reading it now and having read some other articles and listen to McLaren I can see that what is revealed as a journey in the book seems now to be where McLaren is at. Unfortunately, as is the case with many “Emergent” pastors, it is hard to tell where he is other than not being orthodox.

In the mean time I ran across this article, EMERGING WITH A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SCRIPTURE, which I am sure will offend some of those who embrace the Emergent Conversation, remember it is not a movement, because he takes a position and that position is against the direction the “conversation” is going. I guess I see this whole Emergent issue as very dangerous because it seems to play into the next step of the seeker sensitive church concept and this step is ever farther from the truth, by the way there is truth in scripture and we can know it.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Catechism for the Semi-Pelagian

Was led to this: Semi-Pelagian Catechism.

It is funny unless it is how you view things. Here is an example of one of the catechisms:

19. Q: What are the means given whereby we may save large crowds of souls in a spectacular manner?

A: Such a spectacle is accomplished by means of well-publicized Crusades and Revivals which (in order that none may be loath to attend) are best conducted anywhere else but in a Church.

Much food for thought as some may not see this as humorous and to tell the truth there is a side of me that does not see this as funny because it does represent some people beliefs.

Catechism #1 speaks volumes to who is supreme man or God in the semi-pealgian view of things:

1. Q: What is the chief end of each individual Christian?
A: Each individual Christian's chief end is to get saved. This is the first and great

Friday, September 23, 2005

Love and Truth

I read Tom Ascol’s blog on Love and Truth and was convicted that I need to use more love in the leading of others to see the truth, patience would help also. However, there are times where love may not appear as love to the world today. It would seem that the conviction is that all too often I jump straight to the correction and rebuking (which still can be done lovingly, at least in the eyes of God). Then there are those times when the differences on a subject comes to a point where the truth becomes compromised and while we need to be loving it may begin to appear as unloving to some in how the situation is dealt with.

It is when this wall of disagreement is reached that some may forgoe conviction on doctrine and just throws their arms up and gives in to the temptation of minimilizing truth. If we believe there is truth we need to stand up for it but make sure we do so in a God glorifying way, that is the tough part at times. But, we also need to make sure that truth is not compromises in the manner Post-Modernism seem to do. Making truth a relative thing is good for no one as in the end it is what we believe that drives what we do and how we do it.

So the struggle is how to stand for something yet not stand on people. I am not sure I have the answer except I do see that there may be times when it is better to divide over a matter and still keep love in tact than to let things fester to the point that reconciliation becomes even more difficult. When I say divide I am not sure how this works but the main point is that if a point of doctrine comes to a place where there are differences that are irreconcilable and the convictions of both parties are at a point where fellowship is hindered in the context of the local church then I think separation may be best. It is much easier to hold differences with those we do not work side by side with every day than it is for those we are in fellowship with regularly.

So this is all a thought in process and it eventually works itself out in real time as things progress but I do pray that when differences come to a head that we all realize that it is God’s church, God’s Truth and, if we are truly believers, God’s children. We need to gaurd all of these and not just one as they are all intertwined.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, September 19, 2005

Enter to win a Bible and a book

If you would like a chance to win a Bible and a book from click on the picture below.

Sept Giveaway

While there check out the blog as there are some good articles and book reviews.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Around the Blogosphere

Various items from around the blogging world:

Phil Johnson writes on the issue of primary and secondary doctrines. Article 1, 2 and 3 .

Tim Challies continues his review of Mark Driscoll's Radical Reformission.

Steve Camp speaks on the SBC and the Doctrines of Grace.

Tom Ascol writes on Reforming Churches.

Joe Thorn lists things we should repent of in our blogging: Confession for Theoblogians .

Justin Taylor summarizes a sermon from John Piper: The Supremacy of Christ in an Age of Terror .

Check here to keep up to date on Lakeshore Baptist in Mississippi.

Grace and Peace,


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Are Acts of Nature in God's Will?

Here is an article that speaks of a Rick Warren interview on Good Morning America. It seems that not only is God somehow not involved in natural disasters but they are also not necessarily His will. It seems that once a Christian leader is in front of the press they can not get themselves to rely on scripture as it may upset people. But the truth is scripture will upset people, but it is the uneasiness that is created that God often uses to reveal Himself.

Also, interesting that in Rick Warren’s comments he moves from a natural disaster to “free will.” What do the two have in common here as it does not really answer the question of God’s part in Hurricane Katrina? Of course I am sure many of those faithful “Purpose Driven” devotees will nod in agreement instead of asking what scripture says.

I think the “Down Grade” of Spurgeon’s time that has been ebbing in for some time is now fully upon us. It seems most of those Evangelical pastors, not all thankfully, that are prominent find it more palatable to minimize the hard sayings of scripture for greeting card platitudes. But as in Spurgeon’s time even in the midst of this minimalizing of God’s word we can still know God is in charge regardless of the claims of what the pundits proclaim in the news.

Grace and Peace,


Monday, September 12, 2005

New Kind of Christian? (Prt 2)

After spending a good part of the week in Seattle on a project for work here is a continuation of my thoughts, see part 1, on the reading of Brian Mclaren’s A New Kind of Christian.

CH. 6
Early on NEO seems to use the straw man that many today use, that of finding those who do not apply the scripture correctly and applying it to all. Of these arguments is the often used one of slavery. To say that because some Christians condoned slavery all that claim the bible as authoritative are wrong is using a straw man that burns easily. To say that Christians that claim the authority of scripture do not recognize the so called traditional grid they supposedly see scripture through is a ploy to stop an argument by simply saying one does not see what they think they see.

When NEO speaks to fallibility of man and thus them not really being able to interpret scripture authoritatively he is waling down the popular post-modern mindset. To deny absolute truth and being able to discern it denies what the bible says is truth and absolute. One cannot simply state that the only way one sees this is because they are looking through so called modern glasses. By trying to move from the authority of scripture to Jesus the route used neglects the fact that scripture is where we see and hear God. So scripture can be the foundation because it is the written revelation fo God and thus God’s word to us.

CH. 7
To imply that those that seek concrete answers from scriptures are not “humble seekers” is make an unnecessary conclusion. But, from Mclaren’s view (I mean NEO) this needs to be done as it would not fit nicely for there to be answers that would make something right and other things wrong.

I agree with the thought that scripture is often turned into moralisms but that only speaks to a wrong understanding of scripture and not necessarily a modernistic view. Even if it was a modernistic view this does not presuppose that a post-modern reading is better. The proposed reading of scripture very much sounds like the reader-response reading method which allows the text to say what ever you want as ling as it says it to you (whatever that means).

CH. 8
As we move on we seem to be getting into the ever deepening quagmire of post-modernism. To imply that truth is some moving nebulous thing allows for people to generate their own truth and that truth can not be questioned because it is the individual’s truth. This chapter reveals what I seemed to hear when I heard Mclaren on Larry King in that he does not want to answer anything that may place him on one side of an issue or the other. Thus the ploy is not to answer because in the minds of the post-modern world it seems that there are no real answers. In response to some of what is said in chapter 8 I need ask: Why does cultural change in truth have to drive scriptural truth?

When NEO speaks of a non combative way of sharing one’s faith I would have to say this is entirely possible without entering the post-modern world. It is true that Christians have begun to rely to greatly on apologetics and less on God but this again is not reason to abandon reason and truth.

It is in this chapter that I think NEO and thus Mclaren reveals a gospel that is not the gospel. NEO says on page 65: “And I really believe that not one person will be in real contact with God the Father apart from the work and wisdom and love of Jesus.” But what does it mean to be in “real contact with God” and where is Christ’s sacrifice for sin in this message. Is the gospel to NEO a life enhancement program? Interestingly this is much the same view of the gospel espoused by the seeker sensitive movement of which many in the Emergent church seem to be reacting against. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Well that is all for now more to follow. I realize that some of what I have said needs to be built on more but this is simply my thoughts as I read through the book. As I read more I see more of what is so dangerous in the goal of many in the Emergent movement, that of reaching a post-modern culture. In trying to reach a people the church begins to morph into post-modernity, which contrary to NEO is not a good thing.

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Kind of Christian? (Prt. 1)

I am reading Brian Mclaren’s A New Kind of Christian as it seems to be important to the “Emergent Church” conversation. I have to be honest in that my reading is jaded by having seen Mclaren on TV and also having read a review or two prior to my reading. I would also like to say that one possible response to this review is that I just do not get it and I would like to affirm that; I do not get it. But it is not that I do not get what Mclaren is saying, I do not get how people can be so consumed by what is said. Another argument is that I was not supposed to read the book as a theology dissertation, that would be so modern of me, but as a story. However, even stories carry the author’s presuppositions and theology as does A New Kind of Christian.

Mclaren lets us know from the begging that this story tells much about his disgruntlement with where he was in his ministry. So I take it that in this story he is both NEO, even though he is supposed to represent those that have guided him, and Dan since one side is where he was and the other is where he is going. What I intend to do is to give brief thoughts on some chapters. These thoughts came as I read and represent the initial thoughts and not some over thought out response. The more I thnk about what I read the more concerned I become.

So here goes.

That Mclaren refers to himself of being sick of being a pastor and almost sick of being a Christian (ix) says to me he did have issues to deal with as we all do at one time or another. But to be sick of being a Christian says that maybe he had a misunderstanding of what a true Christian was. He gives three possibilities but he seems to leave off a fourth which would be to simply to re-evaluate what he considered a Christian and a Pastor to be and see if his sickness was caused by a wrong understanding. This may be part of his third possibility but his third possibility seems to assume he needed to move on.

On page xiv in point 5 he refers to a needed conversion to having a 21st century faith but I would say the goal is to have truth faith, a faith that transcends time. Why is it assumed that because there is a problem today that we need to move forward, maybe we need to move back? I am not necessarily saying this is what we need but it needs to be an option.

Ch. 2
The idea that faith is related to ones time period may be how things are but it is not because of the faith but because of misunderstandings. Scripture does not speak of a changeable faith, with regards to time, but speaks of a faith from an unchangeable God. So the idea we need to move on from modernism as a world view does not necessitate Christianity changing because modernism is passé. Just as likely is that Christianity needs to re-evaluate cultures effect on it and corrects it’s course.

CH. 3
Modernity is pictured as an aggressor and that postmodernity is an asylum from this aggression but the true story is that Christianity needs to be the asylum and not any world view (other than a true Christian World view). Just because Dan is pictured as feeling comfortable with the thought of postmodernity does not make it the haven it is being portrayed as. Truth is that I am sure that the decadence of many periods in history felt comfortable for some people but that did not make it right.

CH. 4
The whole idea that Dan was shocked by a past teacher saying there was not Christian world view and now feeling it was right does seem to show a path that the book is heading. The fact that we can not know all things and that people can be influenced by the age they are in does not mean there is no absolute truth and that Scripture cannot be interpreted apart from ones culture. If the idea that the Christianity of modernity was on the way out may be true but that just says that Christianity should not be tied to a culture position but rely solely on scripture. So I would say this is all the more reason to avoid molding how one lives out ones faith to the times.

CH. 5
To see the divisions between groups such as Catholics and protestants on the road to disappearing neglects or maybe foresees the minimalizing of theology. In many ways this is seen in the politicization of belief in that many times the theological differences between groups is minimalized to save some cause. Even so called conservative Christians tend to go this route and rationalize the greater gain is in saving something, except the gospel.

Neo uses the picture of Luther seeking change (41) but I would say that Luther sought change of culture through scripture while Neo seems to want culture to change scripture. There also seems to be a move to divorce the Holy Spirit from scripture (42) and thus ones feelings of being “moved by the spirit” trumps all things.

Well that is where I will stop for now. I will say that the book does make me ask the question of whether modernity has influenced my views of scripture and thus what being a Christian is. This only means, though, that I would need to correct beliefs and not take on the cultures change. If scripture denies the culture so should we.

More to follow.

Grace and Peace,


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Helping with Disaster Relief.

If you would like to give to the disaster relief effort you can do so through NAMB (North American Mission Board) click on Disaster Relief logo on the right. You can also look at other ways to help as outlined on the NAMB website.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, September 05, 2005

Contrasting Views on God and Katrina

Here are two contrasting articles on Hurricane Katrina:

1) Katrina: Not God's Wrath--or His Will: By Tony Campolo

2) Hurricane Katrina: By Phillip Ryken

If you read both articles you see a vastly differing view of God and how He relates to disasters. Over the years I have not been impressed with Tony Campolo’s use of scripture and how it is made to fit his social construct, which is ever changing. To appeal to a Rabbi over the clear teaching of all of scripture would seem to be very postmodern. The fact that the word “omnipresent is not mentioned in scripture does not deny it is an attribute of God. The entire panoply of God’s word shows a God that is all powerful. I wonder if the sentiments that Campolo’s espouses make him feel confident in God. This is the same tact taken by the “Open Theists” and the result is a helpless god (not capitalized for a reason) that is not able to do anything but react to unforeseen and overwhelming circumstances. You need to search all of the scriptures yourself and read them as a totality of God’s revelation (OT and NT, the Rabbi stops short of this) and the picture that presents itself is of a God that “omnipresent” and not taken aback by such occurrences as the last few weeks. To use the straw man of God has no part in evil is nothing new but the truth is those of us that see God’s hand in everything do not see God has doing evil.

Compare this article with that of Phillip Ryken’s and you see a more clear picture of the God of the Bible. The second article gives us actions to take but does not try and protect God from the everyday occurrences He has control over. But we also see a God that by being part of all occurrences in some manner (this is where there is a measure of mystery) leaves us with a God that, while we may not now the reason for the occurrence, is still God and has His reasons for all that happens. To leave the “bad” things that happen to some outside influence is not the answer and is not biblical. Job understood this (Job 2:10) and so should we.

Grace and Peace,


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Doing what was right in their own eyes

We finished looking at Samuel and Kings today and it is more amazing every time I study the Old Testament how relevant it is today. Throughout all of Samuel and Kings there are a succession of kings but the end result is failure. The people wanted a king but there eyes were not on the true King. In the Hebrew canon Samuel follows Judges which ends in 21:25 by relating how Israel had no king and the people did as they saw fit. So Samuel/Kings continues the theme that the people still truly had no King since they constantly strayed from the true King and thus did what they thought was right to them, and not God. This is as true today as it was then, that when our focus is taken off of the true King we all turn to doing what we feel is right. Just look at the problems that have happened in New Orleans, when any semblance of restraint is removed and peoples focus is on themselves and nothing else..

Another issue is that in Samuel/Kings the people saw the success of the peoples around them and wanted to be just like them. This was the original reason they wanted a king so what was different now. They not only thought that an earthly king would solve their problems but when they saw the success of those nations around them they wanted to be just like them and thus did just as they did. How often today does the adage “if it works it must be true” lead people and even the church to take on the characteristics of the culture that surrounds it. We also tend to want to solve problems as the world does and rely on things other than the King of Kings to deal with the issues. Just as Israel wanted a king to be like others around them and to solve there problems how often do we as Christians think that having the correct politician in office will solve our problems.

Just as with the Israelites we as believers need to rely on the true King. This does not mean we cannot be involved in other things but it does mean this is incidental to putting out true faith in God rather than man. Let us not be like Israel and put our focus on the true King and weighing all we think against the word of God. Throughout Samuel/Kings the prophets who represent the word of God are ever present and so the word of God needs to be with us today.

Let us do what is right in the eyes of God not what is right in our own eyes.

Grace and Peace to You,


Friday, September 02, 2005

More on God and Divine Judgment

Here are some other articles on God and Divine judgment, with an emphasis on the current struggle people have with the results of Katrina and God's part in it all:

Matthew Hall: The Mystery of Providence
Sam Storms: Katrina, Common Grace, and a Theory about the End of the Age
Nelmezzo: Of judgment, hurricanes and pointed fingers
Joe Thorn: Is This Hell?

I will post other articles as I come across them.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Starbucks and Evangelism

I knew there was a good reason to go to Starbucks. Read Steve Camp’s article:
The Church of St. Arbucks ...their coffee cup is brewing up strong messages.