Archive for February, 2008

Here’s another perspective from the National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego.  This is an article that Greg Boyd wrote describing a debate/discussion he had at the convention with Shane Claiborne and Chuck Colson.

Now, this gathering of people the ODMs deem heretical is probably enough to make their collective head explode, but I think it raises some good and necessary questions.  What is the role of faith in politics?  How much can Christians disagree on political issues?  Can we serve both God and country?

Just some food for thought and discussion.  By the way, I find Claiborne’s description of the assassination attempt on Hitler by Bonhoeffer and others quite interesting.  Even when we are sure we are operating out of the right motives, we don’t know all the implications of what we do.  Compelling stuff…

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It is, admittedly, fall-out-of-your-chair hilarious that Ingrid would speak negatively about a blogger deleting comments. And Tim Reed owes me a new monitor because he didn’t warn me to swallow my drink before I read his recent post.

But I have some stronger impressions about the situation than what was in that post. Ya see, Steve Camp (whose comments were deleted from Tim Challies’ blog — the focus of Ingrid’s complaint) wrote about the situation himself, and his admissions are both disturbing and revealing.

From Camp’s own analysis (emphasis his):

But here is what only a handful of bloggers knew before I posted my comment: It was a test; a set up. I had contacted some bloggers and told them ahead of time what my intentions were and it was this: I wondered if I use some of the same direct speech and inflated nomenclature that Driscoll uses, but direct it towards him, will his supporters be angry with me and thus reveal a double standard, or will they accept it as being edgy, straightforward and honest? Sure enough, my experiment worked. I was comment 47, and within minutes the Driscolletes were offended and outraged against me. My comment (as well as others) were deleted a short time later.

It was perfect; I couldn’t have scripted it any better if I wanted to.

I do apologize for anyone who took the bait (including Tim) but it had to be done. I don’t mind taking the heat to get to the truth.

It strikes me that Camp’s test was very clever. And I choose that word deliberately.

In the fall of 2006, Driscoll spoke at a conference hosted by John Piper’s church. Camp and many others were outraged that Piper was opening his pulpit to Driscoll. Of course, this was phrased in holy terms such as “concerned”, but the point was made nonetheless. In a Q&A during the conference, Piper admonished Driscoll of the danger of trying to be too clever. Camp took this and ran with it, seeing Piper’s statement as a total validation of his “concern”. Never mind that someone pointed out to Piper later that he also needs to be aware of trying to be clever in his own way (to which Piper confessed accuracy). Never mind that when Piper heard that others were taking his comment as validation of criticism of Driscoll, he said:

I would not have .001 seconds hesitation in having Mark Driscoll come back tomorrow to our church or our conference.

Nope, what Piper said was gospel. One should not try to be too clever. Unless you want to prove a point. Then all bets are off.

But there’s something much more disturbing than exceeding cleverness. Camp is on record numerous times for saying that Driscoll’s approach is sinful, unbiblical, etc. So Camp willfully, with pre-meditation, engaged in (what he very clearly defines as) sin just to “get to the truth”. It “had to be done”. (Maybe I’ll try that line with God the next time that I feel that I need to confess something.)

Oh, and it’s not “sin” when Camp does it — it’s just presenting “bait”. I hope there weren’t any little ones around.

It’s also frightening that none of his “friends” (to whom he brazenly announced his intention to sin) called him on it, either. I’d be interested to know who those people were, just so I’d know who not to seek counsel from.

So what’s the lesson to be learned here? Apparently, the ends does justify the means after all, as long as you are trying to “get to the truth”.

But, wait a minute. Isn’t the knock on Driscoll often that the ends does not justify the means, that his methods are what are important and that his goals are (at best) secondary?

I won’t use the “h” word. It’s too obvious.

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Ok, I used to be a teacher so you’ll have to excuse me with the title. I want to know which emergent leader said this quote. If you get it right, well you’ll have the profound privilege of being right. Is he or she espousing a social gospel?

…share your food with the hungry, and…provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked,…clothe them…then your will light will be as bright as the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will before you and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. If you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like midday. The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land and will strengthen your frame.

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Ingrid complains that Steve Camp’s comment was removed by Tim Challies:

Now if only we could get Tim to treat Steve Camp’s biblical challenges with the same even-handedness he uses with foul-mouthed Mark Driscoll! Here is Sexpert Driscoll on YouTube. **Warning** See also Driscoll’s sex conference video here. He’s decided to travel the country on a Song of Solomon tour where he can talk about all things sexual and justify it because, after all, it’s in the Bible. If you haven’t already, see my post on the Moses Code below. While the Christian pastors in the land fixate on sex, the enemy is oh, so busy.

As if the irony of Ingrid complaining about removed comments wasn’t enough, she calls Camp’s comment a “Biblical challenge” then mocks Driscoll’s claim that he talks about sex because its in the Bible.

We’ve seen this before, and we’ll see it again, the ODMs don’t care what’s actually in the Bible, what they care about is who’s on their team. Which is why Camp’s claims, which are specific to Driscoll and cultural are called “Biblical” while Driscoll’s obvious assertion that sex is taught about in the Bible, so Christians should be proclaiming those truths are characterized as acts of the enemy.

Sheesh.

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Looks like the story is all in what we choose to report.  So, which is the truth, ODMs?   Is Driscoll the raving heretic or the reforming pastor?

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Replica of First Century Galilee Boat

You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus as Rabbi:
Part 1: What is a Rabbi?
Part 2: Was Jesus a Rabbi?
Part 3: Jesus’ Miracles
Part 4: Jesus and other Rabbis
Part 5: Jesus and the Pharisees

In the next set of articles in this series, we will explore the relationship between the rabbi and his disciples.

As we’ve noted previously, one of the defining aspects of a “rabbi” prior to 70 A.D. was that they had disciples, talmidim, who followed them. Often, from a western standpoint we tend to equate “disciple” as being a “student”, and the “rabbi” as a “teacher”. This falls short of the cultural richness of this relationship, though:

A student wants to know that the teacher knows. A talmid wants to be what the rabbi is.

This cannot be overemphasized. (NOTE: In the case of Jesus, wanting to be what the rabbi is is a statement about Jesus’ human nature, not his divine nature.)

Educational System

As we’ve touched on before, the culture of the hasidim was highly educated, in comparison to their contemporaries, particularly regarding the knowledge and memorization of scripture.

From the age of about 4 to the age of 11 or 12, they participated in bet sefer, memorizing the books of Torah (for boys) and the Psalms (for girls). Even today, there are a number of Jewish communities that continue this practice, where it is not uncommon for all members of the community above the age of 12 to have Torah (Genesis – Deuteronomy) memorized. (From my own grade-school church experience, we seemed pretty satisfied having one verse memorized each week!)

At the completion of bet sefer, the children began to learn their family trade (boys) or home skills (girls), with the most talented boys continuing their Torah studies on top of this. This level of education, called bet midrash, included memorization the prophets and the writings, along with interpretation and application of Torah.

Choices, Choices

At this point in their education, the student would approach a s’mikah rabbi in an attempt to further their study. The students would approach such a rabbi, often based upon the rabbi’s area of focus and key methods, to see if the he would accept them as a talmid, a disciple.

The way they would do this is by approaching the rabbi and asking him, “can I be like you?”

The rabbi would then test the student thoroughly. Should the potential talmid not fully meet the expectations of the rabbi, the rabbi would likely suggest that the family profession best suits the student – a devastating blow. If the potential talmid met the mark, though, the rabbi would reply “yes, I believe you can become what I am”, and would accept the young man as his disciple.

Very few young men ever made it this far. In modern America, it would be the relative equivalent of a young football player making it into the NFL. Being the talmid of an authoritative rabbi was a big deal – an opportunity of great proportion.

However – history records that three of these authoritative rabbis altered this model: Hillel, Akiva and especially a certain Galilean, Yeshua. These three rabbis sought out and chose their own disciples rather than having the talmidim come to find them.

In Jesus’ case, we see him in each of the gospels coming out and choosing his talmidim:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

When viewing this calling in its original context, it is no wonder that these young men immediately dropped everything to follow Yeshua! The fact that they were already practicing the family trade would indicate that they were not “good enough” students to make the cut after bet sefer or bet midrash (From the context of Acts 4:13, it is likely that Peter and John were not talented enough to have participated in bet midrash, though they undoubtedly would have participated in bet sefer with all of the other children.) Jesus’ disciples were the “C” students, but he chose them – which should speak to us as well, when we consider our own lack of qualifications.

Jesus even reiterates this to his talmidim:

You did not choose me, but I chose you

In the Hebrew view, this is often expressed as the “faith” of a rabbi in his talmidim – which is not a statement of divinity, but rather a statement of belief that his talmidim are fully capable of living in a way enough like his own to live out Torah correctly.

Footnote on Age

One interesting, though sometimes controversial, footnote to this rabbi/talmid relationship is that in the extra-biblical accounts of talmidim serving under rabbis, these talmidim are all between the ages of 12 and 30, primarily weighted toward the teen-age years.

In the Bible, we have no indication that Jesus’ talmidim were outside of this norm. In fact, at least one scripture seems to indicate that Jesus’ disciples, apart from Peter, were all in their teens:

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

“Yes, he does,” he replied.

[...]

“But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

The two-drachma temple tax was paid by ALL adult (over the age of 20) Jews, and in this passage, we see that Jesus pays the tax for only him and Peter, even though the text says that disciples were with Jesus. So – either Jesus paid for Peter and himself through miraculous providence, stiffing the others , or (more likely) Jesus and Peter were the only ones required (male and twenty years of age or older) to pay it.

Because of our cultural biases, we often “see” the disciples as being the same age as – if not older than – Jesus. Rather, it is far more likely that, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John (the youngest) was likely 12 or 13 and Peter was probably 18 or 19.

Additionally, most talmidim served 12-16 years under a rabbi, but Jesus’ were only with him for three before he sent them out to make their own disciples! As you consider the age and level of “official” training of Jesus’ disciples, it is truly a statement to the his power and the simplicity of his teaching that he sent out a group of teen-age boys, and they, in turn, through him, changed the world by going out and making their own disciples – just like their rabbi.

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Somehow I think Rick Warren is behind this…

SEATTLE – Starbucks is shutting its doors for three hours Tuesday night, the latest drastic step in a companywide bid to improve its sagging fortunes.

The shutdown is one of several big moves spearheaded by Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz, who recently took back the reins of the company amid concerns that it was losing its edge and facing increased competition from the likes of McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Schultz has said the shutdown, which begins at 5:30 p.m. local time, is a way to energize its 135,000 employees and provide some barista re-education in the “art of espresso” at its 7,100 U.S. locations.

Read the rest of the article here.

Who knew the Onion was so prophetic? 

I don’t know what this has to do with anything really, but for the more conspiracy-minded of us out there, I’m sure it does.

I heard there was a direct correlation between latte and frappucino consumption and heretical beliefs.

Bon Appétit!

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Slice of Laodicea received this transcript from Rob Bells new NOOMA video, Open.

…Now to understand why Jesus prays like this, we have to understand that Jesus took very seriously the creation poem Genesis, that the Bible begins with. And in this creation poem God creates, but God creates things that are capable of creating more, and so God creates trees but then gives trees the ability to create more. God creates animals and plants and fish but then empowers them to create more. And then God creates people, and gives them the ability to create more. So everything in creation is essentially unfinished, God leaves the world unfinished, and invites people to take part in the ongoing creation of the world. Now, when you create, you always run the risk that what you’ve created, won’t turn out how you wanted it to, it may go a different direction, it may not be everything you intended it to be. It may veer off course, and it may break your heart…

Her comments on the excerpt will leave readers scratching their heads.

Rob Bell begins his video with the same emotional storytelling that his other emerging peers like to use. While there are still tears on the face of his readers, he inserts something heretical and wraps it all up with some devotional idea that nobody would argue with.

I am not sure how to take this. Is she saying that everything he is saying is completely biblical, but deep down inside he is secretly harboring heretical teachings? I mean, if nobody would argue with his devotional idea, then where is the problem?

We participate with God in the creation of the world? This is rank heresy that abounds in New Age teachings. The idea that we are co-creators with God is a key tenant of New Age belief. We are all co-creators with God, they say. God needs us to carry his creation forward.

Of course we are co-creators in the world. Ingrid created a blog and a radio show that has the expectation of creating what the world (specifically America) should look and feel like. We create churches, ministries, political organizations, small groups, blogs, and television stations all to CREATE a different future. By simply bringing a child into the world, we dramatically change the landscape of the world in which we live. If we actually believed that what we do has no effect on creating the future, we would not get up in the morning. Also, just because the new age movement believes in something, does not make it heretical. The new age movement believes that God is ultimately good, and has an unconditional love for humanity. Should we dismiss that as heretical, just because they believe it?

Creation is unfinished, Bell says, even though Scripture records God as calling His work “good” as he concluded the 6 days of creation. In Rob Bell’s world, Genesis is not a literal account, it is a poem.

Did God mean that all creation was finished by calling it good? That is a far stretch. Also, where did Bell say that he did not believe in a literal creation account? Even if he did, there are several credible reasons to believe that the Genesis account might not be a literal one. Lastly, anyone who has done any type of study on Genesis would know that it is written in ancient poetry form, closely resembling the literary style of early writings and oral tradition. If this statement negates the validity of the scriptures, then calling Psalms a song collection, or Ecclesiastes a framed wisdom autobiography would do the same. It is a far leap in logic to say that becasue Rob Bell bleives Genesis is written in poetry form, he denies the literal account of creation.

Ingrid closes her piece by quoting the famed new-aged guru Dick Raucher, and informing the world that Rob Bell IS moving towards this theology. If that is the case, then Ingrid is quickly moving towards a Fred Phelps theology (since we are all saying whose theology we are moving towards). I have to chuckle at all the attempts these guys make to catch Rob Bell in their nets. Apparently he is now responsible for Christian witchcraft.  Sometimes they are really stretching it.

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In the recent post The Sexuality Obsession, there has been a heated debate over the issue of a Christian’s role in legislating morality. Ingrid wrote

I’m amazed at those who make the statement that you can’t legislate morality. Someone’s morality is always legislated, the question is always, whose? Right now the morality of the child-killers has been codified into law. We have 50 million dead babies because of this. Chattel slavery was the morality codified into law here in the United States and in Great Britain. It took a William Wilberforce, a Christian, to spearheaded moral opposition that changed the law (politics, Henry) to free blacks in England and a civil war to end it here in America where Christians had made peace with slavery.

All I want to say is that fighting for basic rights that all humanity should have (life, freedom, food, etc.) is one thing. Fighting for all humanity to act as we would like them to is a whole other ballgame. Calling for humans to not be sold as property is not the same as calling for everyone to have sex as we would like them to. Ending the genocide in Europe is not the same as fighting for our morals to be made laws in America. We Christians in the United States fight so hard for our moral freedom. But, as soon as someone else wants to exercise their moral freedom, not even asking for us to curb our beliefs, we react with vicious words and actions.

Look, I believe the scriptures. I believe that homosexuality is a destructive and ultimately godless lifestyle. I believe that having sex inside the context of heterosexual marriage is the only acceptable context for it. I believe that God longs for people to honor His instructions for sexual practices. However, I also believe that adultery is biblically wrong. I believe that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman for life. I also know that more people commit adultery in America (14-22%) than live homosexual lifestyles (1-3%). If we are so concerned about legislating our sexual morality, why are we not strengthening the marriage contract? Why are we not fighting for making adultery illegal? Of course, we can’t stop there in being the moral majority. We will have to make it illegal to not attend church. We will have to enforce coveting with the law enforcement. We can force people to give 10% of their income to the church.

If we are going to be the group who controls everyone’s morality thru the government, we have to think thru the long term ramifications. Are we really called to do this? Or, are we just picking and choosing our battles to keep our comfort levels at their peak?

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Hell froze over this Monday when CRN reported something positive about an emerging church. They also didn’t point out that Mark Driscoll was the “cussing pastor”. Rumor has it that they’ve decided to forgive Driscoll and move on with their lives.

Pigs were seen flying through Claremont, NH as well.

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