Here’s an idea. Let’s go back through historical church eras and glean from such time periods those issues deemed to be of value in the development of the Christian faith. Let’s review the first-century church, the church between A.D. 100 and 600, then consider the medieval era (A.D. 700 to 1500), followed by the Reformation period (A.D. 1500 and later), and so on. To be effective in this endeavor, it’s important to have a good understanding of the cultural context in which the Christians of each era practiced their faithT. A. McMahon

It started with such promise, a suggestion to study history and glean what is of value.  McMahon even proposes making sure we understand the cultural context so the gleaning can be more accurate.  Here’s an idea… and it’s a good one: Learn from the past.

But then, after a brief history of the recent upsurge in interest in the ancient church, the article takes an unfortunate but certainly predestined twist.  Apparently learning from the past is not a good idea.

First to be assaulted is Richard Foster who “wrote Celebration of Discipline. His book, which introduced Catholic and occult meditative techniques to evangelicals” – problem #1… gba assertions without foundation or support.  Just what did/does Foster promote that is of the occult?  And techniques must be bad if they were used by Catholics?

Problem #2 follows shortly thereafter… false dichotomies.

Let’s both reason from the Scriptures, and simply be reasonable (Isaiah 1:18). The Ancient-Future search to discover gems from “Classic Christianity” comes up short by a century — the century in which the New Testament was written. The critical difference should be obvious. The writers of the New Testament were inspired by the Holy Spirit as they penned God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21, 22). What writings from A.D. 100 and later can claim such inspiration? None

McMahon is right, there is a critical difference between the inspired writings of the Apostles and those who followed.  Problem is, no one is saying that the Church Fathers are on par with the Apostles.  I pondered this a bit trying to decide if it is a straw-man, or a false dichotomy.  I chose the latter since McMahon argues against a point no one is making.

The bulk of the rest of the article is a series of mostly ad hominem attacks against ancient church celebrities.  How did the Gospel ever survive until Luther?

 The summation lies in his final question: “Will this soon pass? No. It’s all part of related agendas that are building the end-times apostate church (Revelation 13:8).” I guess it only goes to show that you will indeed see what you are looking for.

P.S. – I found the McMahon article through Ingrid’s link here - though she fails to give any substantial reasoning, she does a much better job at listing the heretics

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 at 11:00 pm and is filed under Emergent Church, Misuse of Scripture, Original Articles, Worship. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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11 Comments(+Add)

1   Coop    http://whileromeburns.blogspot.com
March 5th, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Nothing after the First Century is inspired by the Holy Spirit? Well, there go the writings of Luther (I guess the Reformation wasn’t all that great after all), Calvin, *gasp* Spurgeon (the ODM superhero), Tozer, MacArthur, Walter Martin (that oughta take some wind out of Ken’s sails!) and plenty more that escape me at the moment.

Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? Well, that’s the logical end of the argument that has been presented.

2   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 5th, 2008 at 11:46 pm

The lack of historical knowledge of the ODM is overwhelming… the one or two that might have a clue seem to miss that if their preferred “Reformer” sat head to head, they might have killed each other.

I wonder though if they did have some historical understanding of even their “supposed” tradition they follow, that they might actually be able to parley into some strong apologetics… though for now, I am not holding my breath as they us “KJVonly” like logic.

iggy

3   M.G.    
March 6th, 2008 at 12:30 am

Minor nit: I would say that the article suffers from neither a false dilemma nor a strawman. He doesn’t really address arguments put forth as to why we ought to learn from all of Christian history, nor does he really argue that we are forced to choose between the first century and later centuries. His argument seems to be that the Bible is inspired, people are not, therefore we should stick to the Bible.

The problem, though, is that he’s a. self-defeating and therefore b. unable to communicate the relevant point. He’s self-defeating because he presumably likes reformers like Calvin. Assuming that’s the case, he needs to put forth an extended argument as to why one non-inspired writer, Calvin, is preferable to another non-inspired writer, say Athanasius. (Why he targeted Athanasius is beyond me, by the way.) Failing to do that, the article is pretty much pure drivel, with all due respect.

The closest he comes to an argument is by saying, “Catholic” which is usually the extent of argumentation demonstrated by ODMs.

4   nc    
March 6th, 2008 at 8:33 am

Despite what we would see as mistaken theology, Athanasius is pretty much the one to whom we have to give thanks for our Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity.

If one sits down and reads and actual historical work on christian theology, not some pseudo-academic drivel from some trade school for pastors, then we would be able to understand all the complex issues that influenced why Athanasius and others “said things the way they did”.

same with Augustine…the guy didn’t set out to articulate the more problematic positions he held. He started with a high view of Christ as God and the church. He painted himself into a theological corner, so to speak.

Even Calvin had a love jones for Augie…I wouldn’t be so quick to judge a difficult and complex theologian if you haven’t done the work of really reading his works.

You do ill to criticize what you really don’t understand…

5   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
March 6th, 2008 at 8:45 am

So, I read McMahon’s piece, and the whole way through, I was thinking to myself, so what’s the danger in this? Then I come to find that basically he thinks that we are all too stupid to discern for ourselves through the Holy Spirit’s guidance what is good and bad. This is what gets me about these people. For as much as they spout off slogans from the Reformation, they really don’t believe it. They really want the authority of a centralized power structure in the Church, but they just don’t like the trappings.

To me it is the height of arrogance to think that we can’t learn anything from Christians in all eras. No one said they were entirely correct, but that doesn’t mean they were all wrong, either. The only reason I can see that people want to discourage others from looking into things, is that it might convince people that they were lied to.

It’s like communists trying to keep American products and media out of their country. “No really things are perfect in our little fundie-world, there’s nothing outside worth looking at. Eat your Test-a-mints and be quiet!”

6   Neil    
March 6th, 2008 at 8:53 am

M.G.

I see your point. I called it a false dichotomy since he set up the contrast between the inspired Apostles of the First Century and the Church Fathers who followed. A contrast that everyone from the Ancient/Future Club that I’ve read (including Foster and Webber) would agree.

I guess the bottom line response to that whole argument would be “OK – and that’s relevant how?”

Neil

7   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 6th, 2008 at 10:00 am

Phil,

So, I read McMahon’s piece, and the whole way through, I was thinking to myself, so what’s the danger in this? Then I come to find that basically he thinks that we are all too stupid to discern for ourselves through the Holy Spirit’s guidance what is good and bad. This is what gets me about these people. For as much as they spout off slogans from the Reformation, they really don’t believe it. They really want the authority of a centralized power structure in the Church, but they just don’t like the trappings.

You do not know how much I agree with this! I am positive that IF the RCC restructured, they would either return or recreate it in their own image…hmmm oh wait! That is what they are trying to do.

I see that they do not trust the Holy Spirit much at all. Oh maybe in things like not having the lights dimmed during service or if the pastor wore a tie to preach. But, the important things like loving others… and forgiveness and reconciliation that is totally dependant on the holy Spirit to do… is the very thing they lack! IN fact there is a lack of all the fruit of the spirit and it is replaced with “judging others fruit”.

iggy

8   anonymousjane    http://anonymousjane.wordpress.com/
March 6th, 2008 at 11:10 am

Kudos to Phil Miller. Also, didn’t Luther say something along the lines that the church is always reforming or that reformation never ends?

9   Chris P.    
March 6th, 2008 at 1:16 pm

“You do ill to criticize what you really don’t understand”

Follow your own advice.
This blog and its contributotrs are devoid of the Holy Spirit.

10   Neil    
March 6th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I’m not sure if it was Luther, but the phrase shows up in two main forms:

Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda
The reformed church is always reforming

or

Ecclesia Semper Reformanda
The church is always reforming

Neil

11   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
March 6th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

This blog and its contributotrs are devoid of the Holy Spirit.

Doesn’t it make you the least bit nervous to be usurping God’s position? Hubris isn’t a strong enough word.

Also, did you write this?