Archive for September 18th, 2007

I have been out and about today, and wasn’t able to enter the discussion in “A Question Put Forth” and “More Questions Put Forth” threads. Honestly my first reaction to someone calling this a “hate” site is to laugh at the irony at first, but I am forced to some introspection regardless of the source the accusation is coming from. Personally, I have seen many close friends and family members hurt by Christians, so it is very easy for me to fall into cynicism. Fortunately, though, I have too much of the real miracle-working power of God to have any excuse for being cynical.

In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen shares his insights on the familiar parable.  One part that stuck put out to me was toward the end of the book where he talks about the Father’s capacity for joy. The Father literally throws a party for the son that earlier left and basically told him that he wished him dead.  Yet the Father is so eager to forgive the son, that He runs toward him at the first sight of him walking home.  This is not the act of a cynical God.  Nouwen decribes this quality like this:

For me it is amazing to experience daily the radical difference between cynicism and joy. Cynics seek darkness wherever they go. They point always to approaching dangers, impure motives, and hidden schemes. They call trust naive, care romantic, and forgiveness sentimental. They sneer at enthusiasm, ridicule spiritual fervor, and despise charismatic behavior. They consider themselves realists who see reality for what it truly is and who are not deceived by “escapist emotions.” But in belittling God’s joy, their darkness only calls forth more darkness.

People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God. They discover that there are people who heal each other’s wounds, forgive each other’s offenses, share their possessions, foster the spirit of community, celebrate the gifts they have received, and live in constant anticipation of the full manifestation of God’s glory.

Every moment of each day I have the chance to choose between cynicism and joy. Every thought I have can be cynical or joyful. Every word I speak can be cynical or joyful. Every action can be cynical or joyful. Increasingly I am aware of all these possible choices, and increasingly I discover that every choice for joy in turn reveals more joy and offers more reason to make life a true celebration in the house of the Father.

It is my prayer that God would open our eyes to His work in the world.  I pray that the joy that causes a Father to run to a sinful son would become the joy that we live in.

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Bill Kinnon makes an excellent catch on scorn:

I was struck by what happened to my half of the conversation. I began to roll out the scorn. When talking about bad website design, I would relish how really bad it was. I would hold the brand up for “how stupid can someone be” excoriation.

Now, the linguists can tell us what is happening here. This kind of talk has a meta-pragmatic function. It builds solidarity between the speakers. (The mechanics: scorn presumes that we both understand a topic is risible. This presumption claims a commonality. This commonality builds a solidarity. Or something likes this, more or less, give or take.)

Solidarity is a good thing especially with one’s colleagues, but in this case it didn’t sit right. In fact, I found myself recoiling from scorn even as I manufactured it.

The problem is that this scorn must, I think, interfere with the dispassion with which we are, again I think, obliged to talk about contemporary commerce and culture. It really gets in the way. At the very least, we have confused the issue. More specifically, we are using our talk to build solidarity when we ought to be using it to think about the world.

the entire thing is worth reading, but this is the heart of the observation. Essentially, scorn is used as a bonding agent for those who see each other as being in with the in crowd. This should be a cautionary tale for everyone who reads it. Kinnon makes the salient points strongly. Go read his. Its incredible.

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From here:

“Many of the institutions in which Christendom has embodied its conceptions of God’s truth will crumble away. Many of the conceptions will have to be modified, neglected truths will grow, to the dislocation of much systematic theology, and the Word better understood will clear away many a portentous error with which the Church has darkened the Word. Be it so. Let us be glad when ‘the things which can be shaken are removed,’ like mean huts built against the wall of some cathedral, masking and marring the completeness of its beauty.”

That’s Alexander McLaren. And it was written over 100 years ago. Still, sounds rather emergent doesn’t it? Almost like McManus’ statement about destroying Christianity as a world religion.

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In the comments of the article linked to in the previous post by Chris L entitled “A Question Put Forth” Jim from Old Truth had this to say:

It’s interesting. I listened to the Podcast today of the guys that I satired, and they attempt to distance their attack site from various discernment ministries. They are somehow convinced that what they are doing is better, more worthy, kinder, gentler, than the sites that they say are “unbiblically narrow-minded gossipmongers and malcontents”

Well Jim, actually yeah I do believe we do things kinder and gentler, and more Biblically than the watchdoggies. Now, given that is a fairly low bar to cross, but we’ve given plenty of examples of the level of vitriol coming from watchdoggies. we’ve had worshipers excoriated for using commonly used practice books, claims that certain types of churches are producing “false christians”, deliberate distortions about what e/e leaders believe, and we haven’t even gotten into the various petty names Ken et al. have come up with (the hollow men of the emerging church, the pope of protestants etc). Where have you seen anything close to that level of malice on Oh, and of course you’ve got Jim’s own parody as well as Team Pyro’s posters.

So Jim, Ingrid, et al. here’s the challenge. Instead of just stating a conclusion without any evidence, either come on here and post a comment which will be allowed to be posted in all its glory, or post on your own blogs where you’ve seen this level of vitriol and nastiness from I realize that you’re not used to being challenged because you only allow comments you like through, and in the case of Jim won’t even allow critics to link to your blog, so take all the time you need.

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A sad watchdawggieA reader of the Hope In Laodicea (HeIL) site has addressed a question, by all appearances, to the readers/writers of this site. In a recent article, HeIL (incorrectly) identified our site as an “attack site”, and one of the commenters, Faye, asked the following question.

I have wondered about what the emergents say about the Bible not being clear, not being understandable. They profess to love God’s Word but turn around and almost totally discount His Word by saying no one can truely understand it. They seem to be O.K. with all the “love thy neighboor, golden rule” scriptures, but get real fuzzy in their understanding about repentance, submission to God and the wrath of God for rebels (sinners). Haven’t they ever heard of the Holy Spirit and that He will teach us and help us to recall the Truths of scripture when it is needed? Just my observation and I do have an opinion about those who claim that the Bible can not be understand and who still claim to be a christian. We need to pray for those whom God has chosen to be His own to come out from among them.

For those of you new to this conversation, pretty much anyone/everyone in disagreement with the methodology (primarily) and theology (at times) of CR?N/AM/HeIL/OT/Pyro/etc. is labelled “emergent” (which describes, in reality, about 20% of our writers, if you count ‘emerging’ as part of the ‘emergent’ movement). Since no answer of substance from the writers/readers here would be allowed on HeIL, perhaps some of our writers/readers could help Faye understand whether a) she understands who she’s asking a question to; and b) what our response would be to her query/observation.

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Todd has submitted this article, with some excellet questions, as part of our conversation here. Thank you, Todd!

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD :

“He is good;
his love to Israel endures forever.”

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. — Ezra 3:10-13

I’ve read these verses before with my young, selfish and proud eyes, applauding the younger Israelites for being forward-thinking and not satisfied with looking back or longing for yesterday. These “others” shouted for joy at the sight of the new temple – the new incarnation of their relationship with God – and looked to the future for what God was going to do in their midst. These “others” weren’t around in the days of the older temple, they didn’t see the glory of the former, they only knew the excitement of the present and the possibility of the future. The “others” were right while the old priests and Levites were wrong.

While I still have young, selfish and proud eyes, today I’m reading the verse in a different light. I still applaud the “others” for their progressive view, but I’m softening my stance toward the older individuals in attendance. What if these priests and Levites are mourning not because of the “inferiority” of the present, but because of the road the Israelites had taken to arrive at the present situation? What if they’re weeping not because they want to go back, but as an admission of their failure to be God’s people as God commanded?

What if discernment blogs and ministries took this approach to their criticism of today’s church? What if rather than condemn the new on the mere fact that it is new, they critiqued the new in light of their (the Church’s) failure live the way God commanded?

For example, today’s seeker sensitive churches are certainly sacrificing some reverence for relevance, but today’s seeker sensitive movement is nothing more than an attempt to meet people where they are. The reason it has moved so far from the traditional, “orthodox” way of doing church is because the traditional, “orthodox” method refused to even take a step toward people, instead requiring the non-believers to make the first steps. If discernment ministries would weep over the fact that today’s incarnation is flawed because of the Church’s past failures, I believe their criticism would be infinitely more beneficial to the Church at large.

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Ok, so I’m going to be heretical. Is having the ability to read a requirement to being a Christian? Is having a Bible a requirement to being a Christian?

What I’m struggling with is this: that until the invention of the printing press, Bibles were not readily available and the vast majority of people simply couldn’t get one. Both Calvin and Luther came from wealthy, educated families and would have had access to Scripture. But what about the vast majority who couldn’t? Did the printing press play as much a part in the Reformation as did doctrinal error? Was it impossible to be a good Christian if you were a poor farmer and couldn’t read or afford to own a Bible?

Just some questions I’ve been kicking around in my head.

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I messed up the links for Itunes this repost is for the benefit of Itunes. If you want to comment use the next post down.
Download it here

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