Archive for August 27th, 2007

“However, because Kimball denies that God alone elects, draws to Himself whomsoever He wills, and then saves them apart from anything they do, at best he is my estranged brother fighting for the wrong side. You see, teaching otherwise robs Christ Jesus–the LORD God Almighty Himself in human flesh–of the glory that is due to Him alone. As long as He chooses to sustain me, even as an unworthy bond-slave who deserves nothing, this is what I will gladly labor for. And what is more, being among the relatively few fighting to give all glory to God and His Christ alone we are only following in the footsteps of the great Apostle Paul:” - Pastor Ken Silva

Over at CRN Brother Ken takes issue with Chris Lyons’ post. OK, a strong disagreement, and we all have been given the privilege of confronting views with which we find our own views at odds. But as usual we have a self-serving tirade that lets you know that any who espouse the free will teaching, like John Wesley, are robbing Jesus Christ of the glory that is due to Him alone. And Wesley, Moody, Tozer, Ravenhill, Keith Green, and a host of others are estranged brothers fighting for the wrong side.

And Ken concludes with predicable humility that he is among the relatively few fighting to give all glory to God and His Christ. So all the free will brethren missionaries, living in horrible conditions in Africa, or life threatening conditions in Pakistan, or poverty conditions in the Dominican Republic, or in jail in China, or hiding in North Korea, they are estranged brethren fighting for the wrong side, and are robbing Christ Jesus of His glory.

And we American bloggers, sitting in air conditioned rooms, hazarding our lives as we type, and posting little articles about who knows what, we are among the relatively few fighting to give all glory to God and His Christ.

Yea, and who is thinking more highly of themselves than they ought? You know what, I think I’ll stick with an estranged brother like John Wesley, the American blogging scene is just too dangerous!

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Watchdawggie says 'Arrrrrr!'Avast ye landlubbers, lest we chum the waters with ye’r entrails!  Thus were the calls of the pirates of past centuries.  While the language has evolved quite a bit, the words of war and strife that long preceeded the Pirates of the Barbary Coast still pollute the world.  Sadly, as in the days of Pope Urban II and the later terrors of Torquemada, such words have become part of the language of the church, with frequent war-like language directed at brothers and sisters, though sometimes the casting of such words is almost Orwellian…

Love is Hate

While many Christian bloggers (sometimes ourselves included) may like to say they believe in the second greatest commandment, to ‘love their neighbor’, their writings and actions bear more resemblence to the Sadduccee interpretation of neighbor (”Other believers who look and believe exactly like me”), than to the all-encompassing view given by Christ (”everyone, especially those who you disagree with”).  In the conversations of today, this is no more apparent than in discussions around Seeker-Sensitive and Emergent/Emerging Christians.

ODM websites, in particular, spit out terms like “man-lovers”  or “man-pleasers” in response to kingdom calls for compassion or in response to Christians who believe that God created a world that sits somewhere between free will and predestination.  They instantly elevate any theological disagreement as if it were the preaching of another gospel rather than simply disagreeing with the systematic (man-made) theology of the ODM, and blast away accordingly, ignoring that Paul spells out the simplicity of the gospel message in I Cor 15:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

Instead, “love” as it relates to those they disagree with has become a code word for “make sure they know they’re wrong”.  As I have noted before, many ODM’s have recast the two greatest commandments into something of hate, not love:

Love your God: Determine what it means for you to obey God, based heavily on tradition or your own social mores and – possibly – the Bible (insofar as the Ten Commandments are concerned), and then expect everyone else to “obey God” based on your definition.  If they don’t, they are somewhere between mistaken and apostate.  Additionally, to love God means to know exactly how He works and does not work and to know all the ‘Christianese’ terms which define these workings, along with all the right soteriology, and to then expect everyone else to understand God exactly the way you do.  If they don’t, they are somewhere between mistaken and apostate.

Love your Neighbor: Step 1: If your ‘neighbor’ is somewhere between mistaken and apostate (see “Love your God”), your first and foremost duty is to make them see the error of their ways, and if they do not, to warn everybody else that they are somewhere between mistaken and apostate, and by all means mock them and distort anything/everything that makes them mistaken or apostate in your eyes.  Step 2: If they are still around after Step 1, and if they are in need, it might be a nice thing to do to help them out. 

In contrast to this, in Galatians 6, Paul writes to us:

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. 

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I would also note the “IF” in v.1, as disagreeing with a tenent of a particular systematic theology does not automatically equate to sin or false teaching.  One of the takeaways from Paul’s observation is that we have a job to reap a harvest, and when a group of people is dedicated to shooting other harvesters in the back “in the name of love”, then there’s just something wrong with their definition of “love”…

Some folks have asked, though, “what about the legitimate threats/issues pointed out by these ODM’s?  Aren’t you throwing the baby out with the bathwater?”  I would reply with a question: If you were to visit a surgeon to work on your body, would you want one with a track record of, more often than not, amputating appendages which may not need to be removed?  There are better places to go for ‘discernment’, which seem to have a bit better track record than ODM blogs like C?N/SoL/AM.  Some of these include:

War is Peace

The Chrisian Pirate FlagOne of the more alarming aspects of the shift in dialog and, as described by Christianity Today, the ‘angry bloggers’ in this discussion is the rank demonization and militarization in the tactics of these organizations.  Whether it is the title of a sloppily-researched treatise, or an unwieldy attempt to militarize Jesus through verbal shell games, these groups ignore the myth of redemptive violence in spewing vitriol against those who dare to be different than the ODM’s far-narrower view of the narrow road identified by Jesus.

A microcosm example of this occurred on this site, when we adjusted our course to respond more so to ideas than individuals.  In response to this, a prominent ODM blogger replied in our comments section:

I’m not open to discussing this with you I’m not going to be commenting here after this. The lines have now been drawn… [emphasis mine]

Classically, these ODM’s have justified their violent rhetoric via self-visualization as modern descendents of John the Baptist and Elijah (though, obviously, sans the direct inspiration, which is the problem with this line of argument), or via Jesus’ purging of the money-changers in the Temple (which is a poor exegesis of the most likely motivation for this event).  Regardless, their methodology is aimed at other believers and has the timbre of a clanging cymbal.

Just as an example, one of these ODM’s has published an article headed with a Christian Pirate Flag (see above) headed:

You’re Not Fulfilling Your Biblical Duty!  Repent!

The purpose of this particular web page is to be forwarded to pastors who don’t give expository preaching in every worship service (or most worship services), to put them on notice (ominously “The Bible Warns Us About Preachers Like You.”) if they don’t change.  Steven Furtick describes the typical sentiment behind this type of ultimatum this way:

Don’t preach practical stuff to me. I would actually have to do something about it. Instead, tickle my brain with abstract philosophical rhetoric that I can say Amen about, nod my head in agreement with, and go home just as mean and carnal as I came in.

Preach about topics that make me feel smart and elite, rather than preaching the pure, simple, practical Gospel of Jesus in a way that a plumber and a doctor can both understand and relate to at the same time.

Go round and round about the minutia of the 2% of Christianity that churches disagree about rather than finding common purpose in the essentials of our faith and teaching us to make a difference in a lost and hurting world.

When you preach on marriage, for instance, don’t tell me practically how to treat my wife better. Spend 40 minutes talking about the mystical union of Christ and the church as it relates to the rapture and the design of the tabernacle in relation to Levitical dietary laws as understood by the Council of Trent.

That’ll bless me.

And I’ll go home, fat and happy because of the latest cognitive dump, and I’ll continue to treat my wife like crap and my kids like dogs.

And whatever you do…don’t preach messages telling lost people how to meet Jesus. I’ve already heard it, and I’ve already met Him. I want to go deeper.

Everybody else can go to hell. God will save ‘em if He wants to.

In a bit less hyperbolic manner, if you examine the three primary teaching methods of Jesus, you get a different, balanced perspective on teaching/preaching.  There are three methods used by Jesus and other contemporary rabbis (also called sages), which are: hagadah (”knowing the Word”), halakah (”doing the Word” or practical application), and parable to tie hagadah and halakah together.  Further, if we examine Jesus’ actual words, his teaching is divided almost equally between the three.

But I digress.

We are not at war within the church, and while there is a need for discernment, an amount of charity among brothers is required, without nasty attempts to first prove that the target of our criticism is not our brother, so that we can fire away without impacting our conscience.  Our enemy is not of flesh and blood, as Paul taught us, and when we pray for people in these ODM’s, we are not praying for our enemies (even though they may treat us as theirs), but for brothers who are harming the body via demonization and impeding the harvest we are called to bring in.

While it is difficult, and we are not perfect, it is important that we strive not to exact eye for an eye, but instead try to choose non-violent methods (some more creative than others) in counteracting the cannons precariously aimed within the walls of God’s Temple, and to remember that love is required.  As noted in one of the guiding principles of my non-denominational denomination:

In essentials, unity,
In non-essentials, charity,
In all things love…

Grace and Peace,

Chris

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Christianity Today has put up the article about Ken Silva. The author has corrected the error about where Silva was based.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/august/23.52.html

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I love letting people know about free music, so I thought I’d pass this on. This has little to do with any “controversial” church matter, except perhaps that Robbie Seay is Chris Seay’s brother.

Relevant Magazine is sponsoring free downloads of Robbie Seay Band Give Yourself Away album for free before it hits stores Aug. 28. The download ends today (Monday, August 27).The only thing is that you have to sign up for two electronic newsletters.

http://relevantmagazine.com/robbieseayband/


The Robbie Seay Band leads worship at Ecclesia Church in Houston where Robbie’s brother, Chris Seay, is the teaching pastor.

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I’m linking to this without comment.

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