Archive for August, 2007

A Little Leaven got a little more mean spirited today. They have a pop quiz to tell if you are a “real” Christian like them or a fake one. The last question was particularly annoying. It goes:

Question 4 – (This is the toughest one. Be sure to read all the options before you answer.)

This picture depicts a poverty stricken African child infected with the AIDS virus. He will be dead within the year.

Which message do you think he needs to hear the most?

A. Learn How to Have a Dream Family

B. The Gospel According to the Beatles.

C. How to discover his life’s purpose.

D. How to Live Your Best Life Now

E. Overcoming Dysfunctional Relationships

F. How to have an iLife.

G. That Jesus Christ died on the cross to atone for his sins and that he needs to repent and believe the gospel.

(The correct answer is G. If you got this one wrong then we REALLY need to talk. Have your Christian friends contact us and we’ll schedule an intervention for you.)

It seems that the critics think we can do only Either/Or. My answer is “None of the Above.”

How about being a little more edifying like saying something like, preach the gospel (answer G) and help the child out with his medical needs? True Christian faith is not a multiple choice quiz. True Christian faith is living out the Gospel.

The message that child needs to hear is our faith in action that is consistent with the words of the Gospel.

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This post (alternate link) over at Old Truth (motto: where only half of our site’s name makes sense) contains some absolute gems into the mind of the watchdoggies and what they really object to about their targets. This particular post takes the form of a how-to make your own relevant blog. The derision is about as subtle as Ezekiel 23.20 (Now I’m a bit confused, does that make me prurient or Biblical?). Anyway, lets see what we can see inside the mind of a watchdoggie.

For example, check out the first point:

Talk about your wife in gushy glowing terms, like you can’t wait to get home to see her every single day.

So if you want to be all cool with the watchdoggies, make sure you don’t like your wife. Or at least, don’t let anyone suspect you actually like her. You might want to come up with code words for “I love you” so no one catches on (I’d suggest something like “Chicago is wonderful this time of year”), and be sure to forget all anniversaries and birthdays. On the off chance you might actually love your wife I’d suggest sending all cards and gifts via UPS, that way when the guys come over to trade collectible Spurgeon cards they’ll never suspect you would dream of being nice to your wife.

When seekers find out that they don’t have to give up their U2, Bon Jovi, and INXS – they will realize that Christianity is not such a big step after all.

This tells us that in order to be a watchdoggie, time travel is a must. Or, at least time travel at concert venues.

If you have no fear of God whatsoever, you can do what I’ve seen in the seeker blogs, and also refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as “a dude” as well.

Watchdoggies have a strong belief that Jesus was a chick, and anyone implying otherwise will not be tolerated.

Say things like this: “Bon Jovi was cool, but my boys in our worship team Rock!”.

Under no circumstances will watchdoggies allow competent musicians to lead worship in anyway. All watchdoggie musicians must be at least as incompetent as Bon Jovi, and if one does sneak through, their proficiency must never be acknowledged.

Those words are: Doctrine, Theology, Elders and Deacons, Bible Commentaries (oops some of these are two words), Hermeneutics, or any of those kinds of things that pastors have cared about for centuries.

Watchdoggies believe they are hundreds of years old and have trouble counting.

Tell your readers how disappointed you were when certain shows ended differently than you expected. Mention how you watch TV with your wife.

Watchdoggies are always contented with how their favorite shows end (even Seinfeld). Oh, and they never, ever admit to actually being with, or doing things with their wives.

If you bring up scripture on your blog, keep it short and sweet, perhaps give your “life verse” or maybe mention a verse that talks about “vision”, but be sure to quote from The Message. It will often give a completely different meaning than any of the other bible translations, but the important thing is that people will be able to understand what it’s saying.

Watchdoggies believe that no one should be able to understand what scripture is saying (BTW, I had trouble finding any actual scripture on that post).

Stay upbeat! I can’t stress this enough.

Watchdoggies are never, ever happy. I can’t stress this enough.

Talk about those guys a lot in your blog posts, and make it sound like you are best buddies with them by using that familiar “my man” prefix when you refer to them by name.

Watchdoggies have no friends. Or at least none that they’ll publicly admit to (see the entry on wives).

The way to handle these is to cover-up any biblical points that they made, by citing the number of baptisms you had last month.

Watchdoggies don’t baptize anyone. Ever. That’s obviously something the semi-pelagian, purpose driven, emergent cult of neo-liberalism does.

So there you have it. A quick look into the watchdoggie mind.

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CR?N goes after a Christian group that krumps. I watched the video and I don’t see anything that’s wrong with this. Am I missing something? Is it because a guy has his shirt off? Is it the term “bangin”, which has multiple meanings, just like “hot” and “phat”?

Honestly, I’m about as whitebread as it comes, but I thought the dance was kinda cool.

According to the Union Tribune article, krump is an acronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifting Mighty Praise. The relatively new dance form with Christian roots originated in South Los Angeles as an alternative to gang violence.
YouTube Preview Image

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The anonymous editor over at CRN.com has issued a call for some more LAPD theology.

This was written in response to this article. You can immediately see why there’s such hostility towards it. After all, the author calls into question the entire ministry philosophy of the watchdawggies:

My passionate desire is to be a bridge builder in the Southern Baptist Convention. Not to compromise biblically. Not to be soft in my theology. I desire true collaboration with those of uncompromising biblical certitude to reach a lost world with the gospel of our Savior. My prayer is that the conservative resurgence will now grow into a Great Commission resurgence.

But our witness is compromised when a spiritually lost world sees us fighting with one another, when they see unloving words hurled without restraint, when they see terse comments cloaked in civility – when they see little evidence of Christian love.

Would you pray with me that the world will see us as men and women who love the Lord with all of our hearts, and who love one another? Will you be a part of the conversation that shifts from negativity to Great Commission obedience?

I ask: Will you be a person who speaks a truth in love in such a way that your comments glorify God and are found acceptable to Him?

Amen.

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Seriously, this post has nothing to do with any of the aforementioned people or sites. What would you do if a sex offender showed up in your church and the leadership made him part of the pastoral team?  I had a gut reaction last march that you can read here when I found out there was a guy living down the road from me.

I found this article to be extremely interesting. I especially chewed on the sentence, “We believe in forgiveness.”
So, what do you think?
HT: Slice

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CRN takes as stab at the importance of a name of a room. They complain that churches are changing from calling their main meeting rooms from sanctuaries to auditoriums.

Here’s the origin of sanctuary. ORIGIN Middle English (sense 3) : from Old French sanctuaire, from Latin sanctuarium, from sanctus ‘holy.’

Here’s the origin of auditorium. ORIGIN early 17th cent.(originally in the general sense [a place for hearing] ): from Latin, neuter of auditorius ‘relating to hearing’

My question is, what happens if you meet in a house church? I imagine I’d overhear a conversation like this: “Oh hi, Fred. Why don’t you come into the living roo-I mean SANCTUARY.”

It doesn’t matter where you meet for church and it certainly doesn’t matter what you call it. Church is the people.

Talk about a case of splitting hairs.

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In a recent discussion, phil posted an incredibly interesting article written for Christianity Today back in 1990.  While the terminology is slightly different, it reads like something that could have been written yesterday.

Evangelical Megashift

Why you may not have heard about wrath, sin, and hell recently.

by Robert Brow   (web site – www.brow.on.ca)

This article originally appeared in Christianity Today [February 19, 1990], pp. 12-14.


Evangelicals have long been at odds over the models they use in interpreting Scripture. Witness the differences between Calvinists and Wesleyans, pacifistic Mennonites and just-war Lutherans, or a Baptist and an Anglican such as Billy Graham and John Stott. In fact, all of us, in a way we often take for granted, view Scripture through a model, or pattern, that organizes our assumptions and governs our conclusions. 

 But now, almost without our recognizing it, another model has appeared. I will call it “new-model” thinking, and suggest it is dividing evangelicals on a deep level. The wind of its influence blows in through every crack when we read C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia stories or Madeleine L’Engle’s time travel fantasies. A whole generation of young people have breathed this air, making their thinking very different from that of “old-model” evangelicalism, even where there is shared commitment to Jesus as Savior and the Bible as the authoritative Word of God.

 How are we to understand this “megashift” in evangelical thinking? Shall we embrace it as a recovery of biblical faith? Repudiate it as one more case of Christianity capitulating to culture? See it as an important “contextualizing” of faith for modern minds? To move discussion toward an answer, I will outline the contours of this model and look closely at key terms, allowing the reader (and respondents) to decide whether, and in what way, the new model fits the revelation of God in Scripture and in Jesus Christ. For the most part, I will avoid naming individual authors and theologians, allowing the ideas to stand or fall without reference to persons, institutions, or schools of thought.
 

Justice: The glory of Rome

One of the most obvious features of new-model evangelicalism is an emphasis on recalling the warmth of a family relationship when  thinking about God. It prefers to picture God as three persons held together in a relationship of love. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it argues, made humans in their image with a view to bringing many children to glory. So instead of being dragged trembling into a law court, we are to breathe in the atmosphere of a loving family.

 New-model evangelicals usually suggest that old model thinking came into the churches of Europe with the translation of the Bible into Latin. To the Roman mind, the justice of their law courts was the supreme glory of the empire. Theologians such as Tertullian and Augustine set the interpretation of the Bible in the context of a criminal found guilty by an impassive judge who pronounces the death sentence of hell. The Son of God was then viewed as the one who came in to pay the penalty so the criminal could go free. This forensic, law-court model was set out in its most rigorous substitutionary form in Cur Deus homo (Why did God become man?). Four hundred years later the Reformation would retain aspects of the law-court model of Augustine and Anselm. But Luther and Calvin did modify it to argue that the substitutionary law-court payment of Christ could be credited to our account on the basis of faith, not by submission to the Roman Catholic church.

 New-model evangelical theology argues that the Roman law court is the wrong context for understanding the Scriptures. This has a dramatic effect on the way faith is articulated, for the adoption of a new model changes the nuance of every word. A shift from Newtonian to Einsteinian physics, to suggest an analogy, makes terms such as gravity, light, energy, and space and time change their flavor. We similarly need to understand the new meanings given to some of the old words. Here, then, are some key terms that have completely changed their focus in new-model theology, words that point to the shift in how some now understand and articulate their faith.

 First, the word hell. In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis rejected the idea that God sends people to hell by a judicial sentence for failing to hear or understand. His picture of a gray city and the freedom to move into the light of heaven suggested that no one could possibly be in hell who would rather be in heaven. I would identify this understanding as new-model, and suggest that it is now a common assumption of many Christians in thoroughly biblical churches.

 This is not, of course, to suggest that new-model evangelicals preach universalism. C. S. Lewis had no doubt that some, together with Satan, will choose hell. The point is that the assignment to hell is not by judicial sentence. The model presents heaven and hell as the ultimate outcome of our freedom.

 A second key word is faith. C. S. Lewis’s picture of heaven and hell as destinations of the heart supplies a new motive and meaning for believing. Faith is a direction of looking, new-model thinking would argue, not a particular decision. While choosing is important, decisions can be based on fleeting emotions, wrong information, or ignorance. But God looks on the heart, the new model says. Abraham, as described in Romans, shows this: He is justified by faith – a faith in which one cannot point to only one decision. His faith had to do with a constant looking in the right direction.
 

A comforting judgment

Another word with shifting connotations is judge. The word has two quite different meanings, it is argued. Instead of a Roman law court, the new emphasis derives its understanding from the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings. Judges such as Deborah or Gideon or Samuel are portrayed as defenders of their people. They may have to settle petty quarrels, but their concern is the freedom peace of the people.

 This picture of a judge is sometimes merged with the Old Testament portrayal of the ideal king. David is a father of his people: He loves them, fights for them, and is a good shepherd. New-model evangelicals are comfortable with such interpretations, while old-model evangelicals complain that they produce preaching that misses the notes of sin, guilt, condemnation, and the terrors of hell.

 In new-model theology, a fourth term, wrath – specifically God’s wrath – similarly means something different from the old-model understanding. Wrath connotes not angry punishment, but the bad consequences God assigns, as any loving parent might, to destructive or wrongful behavior. The word wrath as used in the Old Testament, it is argued, is not primarily a law-court term. It never means sending people to an eternal hell. In fact, it can simply be translated “bad consequences” – the bad consequences of pestilence, drought, and famine, or the ravages of wild animals and invading armies, experienced in the here and now. Likewise, Jesus spoke of terrible consequences that would come about in the fall of Jerusalem – for his generation.

 So wrath is more like a loving encouragement or rebuke to help us into (or keep us in) the fold. New-model evangelicals shrink from using the terrors of hell to scare people into making a decision. From the old-model point of view, that approach misses the fact that God can send us to hell, and that the only hope is to accept what Christ has done to save us from the damnation we deserve.

 A fifth word, sin, also changes meaning. In a law court, sin is an offense deserving of a penalty. In old-model theology, even one sin would be sufficient to condemn us to hell. New-model evangelicals, on the other hand, cannot think about sin without reference to the fatherly care of God. For loving parents, sin or bad behavior requires discipline and correction, with a view to helping the child change. But the purpose is never to exclude the child from home. That means sin under the new model is dealt with primarily in the community of faith, under the inspiration o Holy Spirit. Old-model evangelicals stress that the judicial condemnation of sin must first be removed by a deliberate acceptance of the payment Christ has made on our behalf.
 

Who goes to hell?

A sixth key term in the model shift is the word church. Traditional medieval theology held that there is no salvation outside the church. Only the baptized who submitted to the discipline of the Roman Catholic church could have the sacrifice of Christ credited to them. All others went to hell. Protestants tended to think of an invisible church of those (really known only to God) who have genuine, saving faith. Some, therefore, tried to organize churches where all members knew they were saved by accepting the judicial transaction Christ had made for them. Most groups assumed that if one belonged to heaven, he or she would believe the right doctrines and belong to the “correct” evangelical church. Those who thought otherwise and belonged to errant churches were probably going to hell.

 New-model thinking views the church as one of the instruments of the love of God. Instead of a stockade for the saved, or an agency to save souls, the church is viewed as a royal priesthood functioning to make known the love of God, to say “your sins are forgiven” as Jesus did, and to offer the resources of the Spirit to all who want to learn how to love and enjoy God and their neighbors.

 That obviously produces a different motive for missions. Old-model missions viewed all the heathen as lost until they heard the gospel and made the right “faith decision.” Christians – missionaries in particular – are to feel the burden of the millions going to hell; they should go and save any who can be reached with the good news.

 New-model evangelicals tend to appeal instead to the Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel. Jesus’ program is to teach all nations. This means enrolling by baptism any who want to learn and training them, forming them into church families where the Spirit will teach them all that Jesus taught.

 Finally, there is a subtle difference in the meaning assigned to the title, Son of God. Both old-model and new-model evangelicals believe that at the right time, the eternal Son or Word of God took a human body, lived among us, died, rose again, and ascended from our space-time world. Old-model theology, however, stresses that our forgiveness was not purchased until Jesus actually died on the cross. New-model evangelicals, as suggested in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia stories, view the Son of God as eternally both Lion and Servant, Shepherd and Lamb. He did not become Lamb simply when he was put on the cross. His identity as Lamb was eternal in the sense that he was already absorbing our sin and its consequences from the time the first creatures were made in the image of God. That means the cross was not a judicial payment, but the visible expression in a space-time body of his eternal nature as Son.
 

Changing our minds

We have looked at seven key words that have radically changed focus among new-model evangelicals. When these words are encountered in the Bible, their meaning is articulated with a different accent. Many readers of Christianity Today will recognize that they have moved in some of these directions without being conscious of a model shift. And the old model can be modified and given qualifications for a time. But once three or four of the changes have occurred, our thinking is already organized around the new model. We may still use old-model language and assume we believe as before, but our hearts are changing our minds.

 What are we to make of the new model? It does make sense of the family language of the Bible. And no one would deny that it is easier to relate to a God perceived as kindly and loving. But is new-model thinking biblical? Has it a place under the evangelical umbrella? Will it indeed, as old-model evangelicals believe, deprive our preaching of its cutting edge and dull the motive for missions? Does it provide a more helpful picture of God’s good news, or is it “another gospel”?

 These questions deserve debate; facing and struggling to answer them should become evangelical theology’s major task.

Very interesting reading, indeed…

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This is coming from someone who really can’t dance. My parents also didn’t let me listen to secular music growing up either.

So I led a Boston Harbor cruise event for my young adult ministry (mostly single adults). Here’s the thing that will annoy some of the more conservative posters here. We had dancing on the boat. And we danced to secular music.

Some of you will think I’m flaunting my “Christian freedom”. I’m not. Here’s the point of the story.

We were walking back to our cars later that night and we accidently ran into a friend in a life threatening situation. I won’t go into details, but this friend had not been on the cruise and we hadn’t seen her in a long time. She had sort of fallen off the deep end. God literally opened up a door for us to help her out and minister to her.

It raised questions in my mind. What if we hadn’t gone to the boat cruise, who would have helped her? What would have happened to our friend? Why hadn’t the friends she had come with helped her?

Our first thought was how much this was God’s timing. Boston has a population of 600,000, what were the chances of us meeting our friend? He put the right people there too, because we were able to address the situation in an appropriate and God pleasing manner.

I don’t think God wants us counting all the rules we keep. We can get like the rich young ruler, telling Jesus “all these I have kept.” (Matthew 20:18-21). However, like Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

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Here is a post by Gary Lamb. It is 500 words long. Here is a response to 12 out of those 500 words. It is 675 words long.

How do you manage to write 175 words more than an entire piece over just 2.5% of it? I would say that’s gotta be some kind of a record but it seems like that’s the standard operating procedure of ODMs in general.

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Pretend, for a moment that you hear two people discussing a third person who was rudely treated at a grocery store check out. The first says:

“How about just asking the courtesy clerk, ‘Hon, I’m so sorry you’re having a bad day! What can I do for you to make it better?”

Try it, it WORKS. Then say a prayer for them when you leave, AFTER you tell them, “I’ll be praying for you today. I sure hope your day gets better”.

The second says:

When I have spent thousands of dollars a year supporting a retail establishment, I see absolutely nothing wrong with requesting courtesy from the staff. Rudeness and lack of service is endemic today because customers put up with it. This young woman Mrs. Pilgrim referred to was in serious need of a reality check. Not only did she do a favor to the young woman who was in sore need of basic teaching, but she did a favor to the store in helping them retain customers. Further, she did a favor to future customers who are often weary and at wits end trying to accomplish the day’s responsibilties and who don’t need an insensitive, boorish individual making them feel badly for shopping in the store.

So which of these two people in this discussion are Christians?

Well you might be surprised to find out that they both are.

Perhaps a better question would be the question posed in the title: Which of these two responses are Christ-like? Because its only one of them.

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