Archive for June, 2008

Over at Apprising Ministries, Ken Silva responds to a letter from a reader. Here are a few excerpts that are quite telling of his attitude when it comes to his status

The following is based on an unsolicited email I received here at Apprising Ministries. Please understand that I do not think any pastor-teacher is above reproach [insert typical Emerging Church whining here], etc. [emphasis mine]
What I wish to bring out is how easy, and I’ll argue arrogant as well, it is for people to simply disregard the teaching of someone like myself who has been studying the fields of apologetics, Comparative Religion and evangelizing non-Christian cults for 21 years….

You said: “I was very surprised to see your negative views on Christian meditation in the article CHRISTIAN MEDITATION WITH MANTRA: DOM JOHN MAIN.” So let me put it another way: I am very surprised to see you so quick in attempting to instruct someone like me whom Jesus has called as one of His pastor-teachers. [emphasis mine]

My dad always told me that you could tell alot about someone based on how they respond to correction or constructive criticism. This correspondence to Apprising was in no way instructional or a harsh rebuke. It sounded like an honest reader that was trying to understand where Silva was coming from. Most of the email was actually the reader asking him questions. But, Ken strikes back with his lofty credentials and how a man of his status should not be quickly instructed. How did Silva know that this reader had not spend some time looking at the Apprising articles and made an educated and simply inquisitive inquiry. On top of that, he sends such mixed statements: no pastor is above reproach, but people should not instruct someone who is a pastor-teacher in this manner.

Anyhow, this all too telling of the attitude of both Apprising and CRN:
We are educated, anointed and experienced, therefore we get to criticize whoever we want, whenever we want. And, you better not say anything about it.

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This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all.

The God of the legalistic Christian, on the other hand is often unpredictable, erratic, and capable of all manner of prejudices. When we view God this way, we feel compelled to engage in some sort of magic to appease Him. Sunday worship becomes a superstitious insurance policy against His whims. This God expects people to be perfect and to be in perpetual control of their feelings and thoughts. When broken people with this concept of God fail, as inevitably as they must, they usually expect punishment. So they persevere in religious practices as they struggle to maintain a hollow image of a perfect self. The struggle itself is exhausting. The legalists can never live up to the expectations they project on God.
In similar fashion a person who thinks of God as a loose cannon firing random broadsides to let us know who’s in charge will become fearful, slavish, and probably unbending in his or her expectations of others. If your God is an impersonal cosmic force, your religion will be noncommittal and vague. The image of God as an omnipotent thug who brooks no human intervention creates a rigid lifestyle ruled by puritanical laws and dominated by fear.

But trust in the God who loves consistently and faithfully nurtures confident, free disciples. A loving God fosters a loving people. “The fact that our view of God shapes our lives to a great extent may be one of the reasons Scripture ascribes such imporantce to seeking to know Him”.

-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

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Over at CRN, Ken Silva, the general editor, published this excerpt from a recent article in the Christian Examiner about all the exciting things that were happening with the PEACE plan via Rick Warren.

A mammoth Christian mobilization effort—with a goal of tapping the time and talents of a billion believers worldwide. Pastor Rick Warren developed the PEACE Plan and unveiled it during a three-day, invitation-only conference that drew 1,700 pastors and business leaders from all 50 states and 38 countries…

“The churches have become fragmented and segmented in a large degree, and there are a lot of silos,” [Warren] said. “When you travel as much as I do and you get not just a national picture, but an international picture, you realize that there’s enormous talent and enormous potential in the church, but it’s not connected”…

it was followed up with this snide remark

O whatever did God do before Rick Warren showed up?

And that was the extent of his article. This is just another example of how the ODMs are not really 100% concerned with defending the truth, proclaiming the gospel, etc. It’s about attacking their self-proclaimed false prophets and teachers as much as they can, whenever they can. This reminds me of the kid on the team that always made fun of the other kids who excelled at the sport. They would usually make some sarcastic remark like “oooohhh! John’s soooooo cool. He can hit a ball all the way out of the park. woooooowwww. What ever would we do without him?” In reality, it was just their way of putting on their pouty-face (what my mom still calls it when I get upset at the age of 24 :) ).

I find it just a bit funny that they make that statement about Rick Warren when many of them feel it is their God-given responsibility to make sure that the faith stays pure. As if The Almighty was not powerful enough to do that. I mean, whatever did God do before the Christian Research Network came on the scene*?

*Please note that the following statement was a use of sarcasm. It was strictly used to prove the author’s point, and is in no way intended to be taken literally. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

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When I saw Chris P. was going to post his argument(s) against a universal application of the Imago Dei I was intrigued… this is such an assumed doctrine in Christianity that I was stunned the first time I read someone write that only those who are born-again have the Imago Dei. After reading part one I was disappointed and not a little bit confused at the non-sequitur logic.

Here are some excerpts with my comments and/or rebuttals.

There is a lot of teaching that all men currently exist as God’s image and likeness., i.e. that “divine spark” is found in all men. There are those who teach God exists in all creation. Everything, and everyone, is essentially good. Everything is beautiful in its own way……….What exactly does that mean? – CP

Here we find the first flaws in the argument. It is sort of a straw-man. That some teach that there is a divine spark in all humans, that others teach that God exists in all creation, that still others teach that everything and everyone is essentially good is true. It is also moot to the question. The misapplication of a doctrine, the misinterpretation of a passage bears no weight on the doctrine or the passage itself. The Dispensational claim that Covenant Theology may lead to anti-Semitism neither argues for Dispensationalism nor against Covenant Theology. It is moot, and not a good start.

God made man in His image and “likeness” by creating him as male and female, and then giving “them” dominion over creation. So man is like God in being male and female, and in asserting dominion, or rule, over creation. CP

Maybe. Genesis 1 describes how humans were created subsequent to God saying “Let us make man in our image…” – but it does not follow that the descriptions given (male, female, have dominion, etc.) define what “in our likeness” means. These may be descriptive; they may just be the order in which things happened. Therefore any argument built on this interpretation is only as strong as the interpretation itself.

God does not exist in the created things around us. He does not exist within fallen man. That is what Romans 1 is all about. God only exists in the new creation, i.e. Jesus Christ the head (chief authority), and in His Body, the ekklesia, and ultimately in the new heavens and new earth. – CP

The teaching that God exists in all creation, or that all creation is part of God is called panentheism (god in all) and pantheism (all is god), respectively. And it is false. But does God only exist within the new creation? Of course not. God exists separate from all creation – current or new. Jesus Christ is the head of the church and he will be the ultimate authority of the new heaven and new earth, but this is not another way (cf. the i.e.) of saying God only exists in the new creation. God is separate from creation, now and forever.

So death is the state of all mankind who are outside of Christ. Therefore Christ’s atoning death on the cross not only satisfies the requirement of the Mosaic covenant regarding sins, forgiveness, and deliverance,, i.e. the Passover, it also fulfills God’s (His Law) judgment on man, based on Adam’s transgression of the covenant, which is death. -CP

What death are we referring to in Adam’s transgression – physical, spiritual, both? It cannot be physical, i.e. that only those born again will be physically resurrected since all will be resurrection, those in Christ and those not… some to everlasting joy others to everlasting punishment. To say otherwise, to say only those in Christ are physically resurrected would be to embrace annihilationism.

The resurrection then is essential, which is why Paul defends it as fact so aggressively in 1 Cor 15. It is through the death and resurrection that we exit the old creation, and enter the new. Jesus said, in answer to the Sadducees trick question, that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so he is the God of the living not the dead. That would mean that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are participants in the resurrection and thus the new creation. (1 Peter 4:1-6)They are “the living”. So are we who are now called the Sons of God because of the second Adam.- CP

OK – no problem there… but I need to include it because of…

This would the mean that “imago dei” is found only in Christ, the new creation, and in His body the church. We, who are “born again” are imago dei. Imago dei is not found in unregenerate mankind. Unregenerate man is dead (literally) in the sins of Adam. (Romans 6: 4-13) He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. God is only found in His Son, who is alive forevermore, Amen.

What’s that noise I hear? Oh, it’s your transmission fallen apart as you grind the gears shifting too fast from one thought to a supposed conclusion. Where is the connection between the need for the resurrection and the Imago Dei only being found in believers, in the new creation, in the church? That God is the God of the living proves that He is the God of the living. That the resurrection is necessary proves that the resurrection is necessary – no connection was made to the Imago Dei. I suspect no connection was made because there is no connection to these truths and the residence of the Imago Dei.

So, part one fails to prove that only the regenerate possesses the image of God. It fails because it is built on a spurious interpretation of the meaning of the Imago Dei. It fails because it relies on the buttresses of the false and straw-man doctrines of pantheism and panentheism both of which are moot to the argument. It fails because it claims God exists only in the new creation – which is not only false, but is itself panentheism in the future. And it fails because it never makes the connection between God being the God of the living, the need for the resurrection and the limited Imago Dei.

Maybe part two will be more convincing.

*** UPDATE *** June 30

Chris P. has posted part 2 of why the Imago Dei resides only in the regerate.  It consist with a list of Scriptures interspersed with commentary and “The conclusion is that Imago Dei is seen only in the new creation. Those who are born again from above, i.e. the Body of Jesus Christ.”  It was rather an odd process to read the Scriptures Chris P. posted, agree with a lot of his commentary on them, then reach the summation that it all proved his conslusion… maybe if I try a little harder I’ll see the link.  Usually I can follow an argument even if I disagree with it.

Bottom line, I am still unconvinced (but now confused at the flow of logic or lack thereof), and dissappointed that he never dealt with Genesis 9.

I think Chris P. confuses good works that reflect the Father and/or Christ with the Imago Dei… I’ll have to think about that.


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As inviting as ever!

HT to Marko

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Imonk nails the problem with a lot of what was said about Carlin:

There are some people who have decided that if a person is an atheist or says untrue things about God, then that person should be treated as an enemy, and derided in puritanical terms as deserving of disrespect and insults.

If Carlin said things about your religion that really offend you, that doesn’t mean that I can’t say Carlin said and did some things with his life that are worth taking note of. A thoughtful consideration of a life of a non-Christian actually can contain more analysis than “He was an awful man and he’s in hell. Think about that!”

You wonder why we can’t come up with thoughtful Christian discussion? You have to get past the mob with pitchforks. Seriously, if you don’t want to engage this kind of discussion, but feel you have to throw cold water on it, just go away.

The rest is good too, go read it. This though, nails exactly what the problem has been.

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A couple years ago, while I was teaching at an art & music camp on the Rez in North Dakota, several of the other volunteers and I (particularly the guy who hosts this website) decided to put together a music video in our spare time (primarily an evening break).

The song we chose was from a disc of songs submitted to Word Records by amateur acts (see this story for links to several of them) that never made it (if you listen to them, you’ll understand – particularly this one, whose chorus will put you in stitches).

Below is the result of our ‘hard work’:

YouTube Preview Image

While it contains a whole lot of ‘in-jokes’ from the week (which are never nearly as funny when explained), it served its purposes as some funny entertainment, and it also reminded us that sometimes we take ourselves way too seriously. (For anyone wondering, I’m the dude in the pool with a guitar)

As I get ready to head out to do another camp with this group of brothers and sisters – along with some more I’ve not met yet – and as I dust off the ‘demo album’, seeing the video was just another reminder of how sometimes it’s just good to take the time to laugh at yourself…

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In a recent post over at Slice, Ingrid returns to a common theme – music. Her take is that certain styles of music are acceptable and certain styles are not – and this seems to apply to everyone. She offers a polemic by her husband to make her point.

The essay by Tom Schlueter reminded me of the comments by John MacArthur regarding the wearing of suits in church. On the one hand both the opinion of MacArthur and the opinion of Schlueter make sense… they even have some validity. Yet the shared flaw that renders their opinions incapable of being applied universally is their ethnocentric position.

In other words, their instructions may have value – in their narrow context. The problem is they both elevate their preferences to universal codes that all must follow.

For example: Tom Schlueter gives two examples of purely instrumental brass music – in the style of swing and fanfare, respectively. In the first “The trumpets led the brass in a clear call to listeners: get up and dance” the other calls the listeners to “Come and worship God.”

His conclusion: The [fanfare] brass in the second example tells us there is royalty present. The percussion at the end of the fanfare speaks not of dance and flesh, but of honor and respect and reverence. Different message entirely. And he is right – swing brass bids us come and dance, fanfare brass bids us recognize authority and honor.

But his application is flawed. He rightly differentiates the two biddings, but then sets up a false dichotomy – that honor and respect are valid modes of worship, but celebration and dance are of the flesh. His conclusion of swing, if used as a call to worship would be “Get up and dance… Women should start flaunting their stuff in front of men on the dance floor. This would not be worship at all, but rather a gross insult to the Almighty.”

I’ve been in worship services where people danced – I doubt God was insulted.

The problem is not one of style of music, but context and assumption. First the assumption, Schlueter first assumes dance is fleshly and swing calls women to flaunt their stuff – this I will summarily dismiss. The context is worthy of discussion.

Tom Schlueter uses a 9-11 memorial as an example of appropriate music – solemn music would be appropriate, a Broadway tune… not so. I agree. And if the point of worship is the “honor and respect and reverence” of God, then a fanfare might work. Where he fails is the recognition that maybe the point of worship is (at times) to dance and celebrate. And in this swing may work well.

If Schlueter had stuck to an argument that music should evoke appropriate responses given the situation of worship, then I could have agreed. But he could not, he had to insert his cultural version of what is appropriate in style and overlay those expectations on us all.

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The Internet Monk eulogizes George Carlin.

I-Monk responds to Ingrid’s evaluation of Carlin’s value as nothing more than her enemy in the culture war.

Imonk updates:

The George Carlin post has resulted in a record number of unposted comments. Easily have refused more comments on that one one post than any other post in IM history. And some of these comments are absolutely unbelievable. I have no doubt anymore that there are a breed of Christians- few, but loud- who have a serious case of jihad envy. They really are into labeling enemies and hating them with relish. What that has to do with Jesus completely misses me, but then that’s what they keep telling me.

As the first commenter on the update noted, the prophet Jonah has a life experience that might bring us wisdom.

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Here’s an article about our brothers and sisters in China. A sample:

Rev. Jin Mingri peered out from the pulpit and delivered an unusual appeal: “Please leave,” the 39-year-old pastor commanded his followers, who were packed, standing-room-only on a Sunday afternoon, into a converted office space in China’s capital. “We don’t have enough seats for the others who want to come, so, please, only stay for one service a day.”

A choir in hot-pink robes stood to his left, beside a guitarist and a drum set bristling with cymbals. Children in a playroom beside the sanctuary punctuated the service with squeals and tantrums. It was a busy day at a church that, on paper, does not exist.

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