Archive for the 'Emergent Church' Category

Some time ago, I noted some problems with Why We’re Not Emergent by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. One of the more ludicrous issues was the ex cathedra declaration that it was fair game to lump all emergent leaders together:

when people endorse one another’s book and speak at the same conferences and write on the same blogs, there is something of a discernible movement afoot.

Never mind that none of these actions — either separately or together — really mean anything, let alone that they constitute “a discernible movement”.

More recently, on his post about the term “Young, Restless and Reformed”, DeYoung states that he is

afraid the label is often used in a way that makes YRR sound like an organized movement with official standards and spokesmen.

He then goes on, in detail, to show how it is not.

Four years ago, he declared that A+B+C=D.  Now “D” (by that declaration) applies to his team. And he doesn’t like it.

Changing horses mid-stream is a tricky thing.

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Fred Phelps and his minions at Westboro Baptist Church [sic] are at it again. While they backed off picketing the funeral of the 9-year-old girl who was killed in the recent Arizona shooting spree, they still planned to picket the funeral of the district judge who was killed in that same event, with their special brand of “God hates fags” theology.

In 2005, Pastor Kyle Lake was electrocuted during a baptism. Several writers and bloggers said that this was a message from God against the emergent church (in which Kyle was allegedly a big player).

Both instances involve people deigning to speak for God (funny, I thought the canon was closed) and exploiting the deaths of others to advance their own agenda.

Can someone tell me how the two are any different?

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Ephesians 2:4-6 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together …

I have noted before on my blog that legalism mocks God’s grace. If we are raised in a home that doesn’t perform “worldly” externals, and all Christianity is about is not doing those “worldly” externals, then God hasn’t really saved us from much — we weren’t dead in our trespasses; we just had the sniffles.

A couple weeks ago, Neil wrote about labels, and how they can be helpful at times — and downright useless and silly at other times. The latter issue was the larger portion of his post and (although he didn’t initially identify it at the time of the writing), I was one of the people that he wrote about who had been incorrectly and unfairly labeled. (He later went back and filled readers in on who the label-ers were. ‘Twas a hop, skip, and jump from there to figure out who the label-ees were.)

Unfortunately, for any “fact-checkers” out there, the background of my incident can’t be accurately checked, as the moderators of the site on which I was labeled chose to conveniently excise large parts of the exchange in which either (a) I made a strong point or (b) they looked foolish in retrospect. But that’s not why I’m writing this, anyway …

I was attempting to answer the question “Is Francis Chan emergent?” by noting that the important question was not whether or not someone had attached a label to Chan, but whether or not what he teaches/writes is the truth. As the questioner appeared to truly be researching Chan, but coming up empty, I pointed her to a couple of book reviews and a brief (and, for me, convicting) video by Chan.

(For what extremely little it was worth, one of the book reviews included a quote from Chan that pretty much answered her irrelevant question.)

Having just made the point that the issue was truth (not labels), the very next comment — by a moderator, no less — asked me if I was emergent. Quite frankly, I was stunned at how incredibly and thoroughly he had missed my entire point. I felt like tapping the mic and asking, “Is this thing on?”

I temporarily evaded the question, as it was no more relevant for me than it was for Chan. However, after a while, it became obvious that I was never going to get that point through, even though I repeated it numerous times in different ways. So I just (metaphorically) threw up my hands and answered their question. I worked off a list of teachers/writers that one of my accusers had provided, and (I’m sure to their utter shock) largely agreed with their stances on these men.

But then I “messed up” and dragged God into the conversation (what was I thinking?):

Bottom line though: While none of those men are on my bookshelf, I do not think God incapable of using them to speak truth to me.

The responses to this statement (all of my others “disappeared”) made things abundantly clear — they were so utterly focused on these men, that they totally (dis)missed God. One can only come to the conclusion that they do think God incapable of using those men.

There was even a great, though certainly unintended, illustration of this. One of the moderators has an image in his signature line — riffing off of President Obama’s “Hope” slogan — that says “Hopeless” (complete with the same logo in the “O” as was in the original). While no fan of the president by a long shot, I have to note that this image says infinitely more about the moderator’s view of God than his view of the president.

I ran across a post on another blog today about some truly horrific people — murderers, drunkards, adulterers, pimps, prostitutes — the scum of the earth. Oddly, they’re all characters cited in Genesis, many of whom were greatly used by God. And some of them don’t even have the “good” testimonies of how they did all that bad stuff before they met God, and walked the straight and narrow ever since.

The phrase “another gospel” (riffing off Galatians 1) has been perverted in its overuse to mean “that with which we do not agree”. And, to be sure, I saw that phrase used often in the discussions surrounding Chan and others. But to claim (even indirectly) that God is incapable of using anyone requires not only the ignoring of large portions of Scripture, but an outright mockery of God’s grace and the heart of the gospel message.

That, my friends, is truly “another gospel”.

Galatians 1:9 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Don’t blame me — I didn’t say it.

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I am not a little out of the loop when it comes to the various labels that are assigned to today’s theologians. I never learned about ‘emergent’ theology in college. I never even heard the word ‘emergent’ until I started visiting this blog a couple of years ago. Then I read this and I realized that there was more to this story than I had been hearing; more to this theology than I had been taught.

What sort of theology is it, then, that would cause God to send such a shocking message to the ‘emerging church’ and, presumably, to those who practice ‘emergent’ theology? So many are so quick to label and be afraid of what they don’t understand. For a long time I was too. I used to comment and blog positively about SOL and AM three years ago. Then I learned the truth.

I’m not trying to open up a can of worms, or revisit those things that make us uncomfortable, but I am trying to discern what all the hubbub is about when it comes to theology and especially the emerging kind. The only reason I link to the above ‘essay’ is because the music I refer to below was written by a band who had a close association with the church and the pastor about whom the above ‘essay’ was written. See here. (And, to be sure, it happened a long time ago and has been hashed and rehashed here numerous times and I am not particularly interested in re-re-hashing it again. It is only a segue to the lyrics and theology below.)

So I was on my way home today, from Cleveland State, and I was listening to David Crowder Band, paying particular attention to the theology that undergirds his music. Here’s what I heard:

I am full of earth
You are heaven’s worth
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity
You are everything that is bright and clean
The antonym of me
You are divinity
But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I wanna be holy like You are

You are everything that is bright and clean
And You’re covering me with Your majesty
And the truest sign of grace was this
From wounded hands redemption fell down
Liberating man

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy like You are

But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean

Glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy, holy God

So here I am, all of me
Finally everything
Wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly Yours

I am wholly Yours

I am full of earth and dirt and You

–David Crowder*Band,  A Collision, ‘Wholly Yours’

Yes, indeed. That is a theology that we should be frightened of, and one, I’m sure, the Lord himself finds profoundly offensive. This is a truly emerging, and offensive, Gospel.

There’s some blood for you.

“And ‘forty’ days was the number of years the people wandered in the wilderness, and a ‘kingdom’ of priests was God’s desire in Exodus 19, and ’suffering’ was what Moses said in Deuteronomy 30 had to happen so that the penalty could be paid for infidelity and the people freed for a new exodus.”

–Rob Bell, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, 95

There’s some profound ‘emergent’ theology for you.

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[my apologies for the length... the more I read about these asinine objections to reconciliation the more my anger grew!]

I was enjoying some cheese and wanted a little whine to go with it, so I ventured over the Crosstalk blog where the lead headline is “Rick Warren Sponsors Forum with Emergent Heretic“  – accompanied with a picture of Miroslav Volf.  The headline led to an article.  The article led to a  radio broadcast. And of course, the radio program exposed the heretics.

It reminded me of the game called Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon.  It’s a whimsical variation on the “small-world” concept that says all humans are connected by no more than six degrees of separation.  And just to put a fine point on it – I can connect myself to Kevin Bacon in as few as four degrees.

Not to be outdone, Crosstalk appears to be able to connect any disliked Christian to a heretic in much the same manner.  The difference being – connection means guilt.

It goes like this:

Rick Warren sponsors a heretic. The heretic is Miroslav Volf… because he appeared with Tony Jones… at a conference with Jurgen Moltmann… who embraces C. W. F. Hegel.

Imagine my surprise to learn Volf was a heretic because he appeared with Tony Jones, who held a conference with… well you get it – six degrees of GBA.  Problem is – none of these blog connections showed what “doctrines of demons” Volf actaully teaches.  So I listened to the broadcast… until the “caller amen chorus” kicked in. The radio broadcast was hosted by Ingrid Schlueter with Chris Rosebrough as her guest.

Since the radio broadcast was also void of any specifics as to why Miroslav Volf should be considered a heretic who teaches the doctrines of demons (unless of course a hefty dose of GBA is proof enough) I decided to make a few observations of the program itself.

The host began by declaring she does not care about definitions or distinctions when it comes to  Emerging or Emergent.  This, of course, makes things a lot easier – particularly in the game of Six Degrees of GBA.  Ignoring distinctions allows one to paint with a much much much broader brush.  it also relieves one of the necessity to define what individual actually think, say, teach, or belive – just find a heretic and assume they are all unified.

The Guest mocked the Emergent for embracing seemingly contradictory beliefs – he said embracing contradictory concepts sounds crazy.  This made me think of other crazy contradictions like… three persons and one being (the Trinity) or wholly God and wholly man (the incarnation) or free will and… well you get the picture.  This was in the context of Hegel, who (and here I agree with the guest) carried the whole contradiction thing too far.  Yet, in mocking those who embrace contradictions, the guest embraced the hosts disregard for definitions and distinctions.

And of course Warren is guilty of wanting to promote social “reconciliation” and forgiveness between people, but outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Why is reconciliation in quotations?

What made me truly angry… What the show, the blog, the host, the guest completely ignored (I’d be surprised of they did enough research to even know) is the context from which Miroslav Volf speaks.  He is a Croatian (a member of the Evangelical Church of Croatia) whose country (and his family itself) suffered greatly in the resent Balkan wars.  He has a very vested and very personal interest in seeing religion used, not to exclude and promote violence, but used to embrace and promote reconciliation. Even if the parties are outside of Jesus Christ.

Forgive the person anecdote -  but it is relevant… several years ago I stood in the Muslim section of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  A village absolutely devastated by the war.  On a mountain overlooking the city stands a very large cross.  Through a translator an elderly Muslim man said to me “They put their guns under the cross and shelled our children.”  The cemeteries in the town are full of graves – have you ever been in a cemetery where all the lives end within a two year span?  Those who shelled Mostar were Serbs and Croats — Christians.  Now of course we understand that they are not truly Christian – but (much like distinctions and ODM’s) that distinction is lost on the Muslims of Mostar.

So until the host or her guest have walked the streets of Mostar (pt. 1) and seen firsthand the devistation and violence done in the name of God and Country (as I have) – or – until such time as they have fled into the night because their neighborhood was being shelled (as Miroslav’s family did) – until such time I invite them both to shut up and quit their bitch’n about someone else who happens to think social “reconciliation” and forgiveness between people even if they are outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a good thing.

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Those “born again from above” are regenerated by the Holy Spirit at the Father’s good pleasure, not by how YOU present it.

This comment was posted recently by a detractor who occasionally visits us here at CRN.info. As is often the case, the comment thread had taken a turn to a minor subject that was both irrelevant to the original topic and also the topic of heated debate. In the midst of a discussion about presenting the Gospel in varied ways this comment was inserted.

Now, theologically I would agree. Yet, theology is not what we were talking about – we were discussing practical issues and strategy of Gospel presentation. And while the two are, of course, nearly inseparably intertwined – they are still two separate issues.

This comment represents a whole (and here I freely admit I am raising it as a metonymy) school of thought – a school that derides new ways of delivering the old message, that mocks the need for considering the position of the hearer, that scolds others for trying to be relevant to unbelievers. Now, I also grant that there are those who take this too far – yet our detractors often throw out the proverbial baby with their bathwater

Since I am working on my doctorate in missiology, the issues surrounding the communication of the Gospel cross-culturally are of particular interest. Therefore comments such as the one above pique my interest.

Then I read this in a mission’s publication:

After several people died in Brazil’s Pacaas Novos tribe due to illness, the missionaries felt they needed to speed up the sharing of the Gospel. The missionary with the best grasp of the language stood in front of the people and started sharing. His delivery was animated; he wanted to convey how important this was. Another missionary seated in the middle of the group overheard one man ask another what the missionary was talking about. “Oh, don’t pay attention to him, he’s just drunk,” said the other.

More time learning the culture and the language revealed that only when they were drunk did the Pacaas Novos stand up and talk to a group. So everything the missionary said that day was discounted and ignored, due to the culture of the people he was speaking to. (emphasis mine)

So apparently it does matter HOW you present the Gospel.

Of course, opposition to new methods is nothing new. William Carey was confronted one day by a man in England who objected to new ways of reaching the heathens in far off lands – “If God wants to save the heathens” he was told, “He can do it without your help.” What the man objected to was change… he also objected to a message that challenged his comfort, his way of thinking, his assumptions about God.

Here we are 200 plus years later and people are still saying- “God can save the heathens without you repackaging the message.”

I suppose these missionaries could have skipped the study of their intended people group… they could have stood there and “Preached the Gospel” in the Pacaas Novo language and assumed they had done their duty (does this bring any videos to mind?). How many times a day in America does someone think they have fulfilled their calling to preach the Gospel – yet, due to their lack of understanding those to whom they preach… that is all they have done – “preached.” They have “communicated” nothing.

The missionaries were not satisfied with just preaching the Gospel, their goal was to communicate the truths of the Gospel. And this is a completely different endeavor. Often the latter measn the former… but the former does not guarnatee the latter.

Even though it is the Holy Spirit who regenerates a person upon salvation to the pleasure of the Father – it does indeed matter how WE present that truth.

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No, really.  I honestly don’t get this post.

Short version:  Mark Driscoll will be teaching at the Crystal Cathedral (pastored by Robert Schuller).

Let’s set aside the fact that Driscoll has taught at the Crystal Cathedral before, making this event about as newsworthy as telling me that Albert Pujols has been known to play baseball.

The article goes into some detail about why they think that Driscoll is wrong.  It also goes into voluminous detail about why they think that Schuller is wrong.  And frankly, there are a few things in Driscoll’s belief system and a lot in Schuller’s belief system that I have problems with.  Further, Driscoll has even stated that there are some significant theological issues in which he and Schuller differ.

But nowhere is it stated in the LHT post how the two issues are related (except for some broad, fuzzy emergophobic statements).

I am reminded of the story of Paul and Barnabas preaching in Antioch in Acts 13:42-51" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%2013:42-51;&version=50;" target="_blank">Acts 13:

42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:

‘ I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’

48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

Let’s assume for a moment that there will be one unsaved person at the Crystal Cathedral when Driscoll speaks there.  I don’t think that’s a stretch, and probably something that the “Editors” at LHT would agree with.  Or let’s be even more optimistic, assume that everyone there is a Christian, but that God isn’t a total wimp and is actually capable of speaking to just one person at that church through Driscoll.

What kind of idiot would Driscoll have to be to pass up an opportunity to be used by God?

Now since I don’t have the gift of “discernment” (thank God), I can’t divine the motives and heart attitudes of the “Editors”.  But there seems to be a lot of similarity between the LHT post and the Jews’ attitude and actions in verses 45 and 50.

Every college student — bless his/her heart — is a potential politician, in that s/he can go on and on for long periods of time without ever actually saying anything.  When I was in college, we had a campus minister who used to occasionally say “and your point would be … ?”  It was an honest question, but also a gentle reminder that we had strayed off the ranch.

So I would post this same question to the “Editors” at LHT:  “and your point would be … ?”

HT to SoL, where Driscoll’s upcoming venue was referred to as “the apostate Crystal Cathedral”.  Last time I checked, a hunk of glass and concrete can’t be apostate.  But what do I know?  After all, I don’t have “discernment”.

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Every once in a while a truly and thoroughly evil villain appears, such as a Hitler or Stalin, an Ivan the Terrible or Vlad the Impaler. Folks such as these are easy to oppose. But, when opposing someone who does not exhibit pure evil, building a caricature helps. The first step in any confrontation, be it political, military, or otherwise is to portray your adversary in as poor a light as possible… and the weaker your position/argument the more sever (and important) the caricature becomes.

We have seen this time and time again with various amateur discerners and their blogs. Arguing from a position of weakness, often employing logic based on faulty information, hyperbole, or mere preferences – they must create a caricature of their opponent. Addressing real issues, taking people at face value, using complete statements, bothering to understand the nuances of a thought or comment are either lost or ignored.

The process is exacerbated when the ADM echo chamber kicks in and they start cross-linking and reposting – each time hardening the categories and expanding the caricature.

For example; here is a recent post (in its entirty) by Ingrid on SoL:

Here is an excellent post by Chris Rosebrough at Extreme Theology on the emergent whine that anyone who states anything authoritatively about God is “putting God in a box.” That line is a favorite of those who simply like to make their god up as they go. God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. But emergents, kicking that Word to the curb, would prefer to have a god who changes with them. It is much, much more convenient.

Notice the definitive statements of supposed fact: anyone who states anything authoritatively about God, [they] make their god up as they go, God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. But emergents…

I challenge this ADM to show an example where anyone whom she regularly names says “Any definitive and authoritative statement about God is placing him in a box.” Her hyperbole in caricature creation renders her objections shrill, comical, and useless.  She may have had a point, but her method of re-creating her foe into an unrecognizable caricature renders her argument meaningless.

But this is just the echo chamber exacerbating the ridiculous. If you read the original by Chris R., you will see it is somewhat more tempered – but still guilty of caricature creation and assassination – or straw man – and therefore it is to be rejected.

The very title of the post betrays the false dichotomy upon which it is built – God in a Box” or God As He Has Revealed Himself? This is not a dichotomy. These are not mutually exclusive choices. God has indeed revealed himself, and we finite humans routinely place him in a box.

The thesis of the post is this:

Today, if you happen to be conversing with a group of CHRISTIANS and you boldly, confidently, and succinctly talk about God and His characteristics, attributes and what He has done you are very likely to be accused of “putting God in a box”?

To a point I agree, though I would say “You may be accused…” But instead of exploring this thesis, instead of advancing when God is boxed and when he is not -the ADM jumps immediately to a caricature of his own creation.

He writes:

One of these Christians might even throw a Rob Bell quote or two in your face and tell you that you need to not be so arrogant and should adopt a more humble hermeneutic. According to Bell, “The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. We are dealing with somebody we made up.” (Velvet Elvis, Page 25)
Poppycock!

Humility is poppycock?

It’s supposedly poppycock because

In the scriptures we have God’s revelation of himself and that divine self-revelation gives us some very hard neat lines and definitions about who God is, what He is like, what He has done and what true worship of Him entails. … But, we must always be careful to not allow our imaginations to go beyond what God has revealed about Himself in his word. That which God has not revealed about himself is still mystery.

At this point I would again agree… and so would Bell if he were allowed to speak for himself. After quoting a few of the giants of the faith the ADM points out “…that Paul didn’t say that we ‘can’t know’ but that we only KNOW IN PART.” Here he is denying a statement Bell never made. He’s arguing with a caricature of his own creating not any actual statements made by Rob Bell.

In context, Bell was simply affirming what the ADM himself said; “That which God has not revealed about himself is still mystery.” To deny and subvert this context the ADM must ignore statements that affirm the existence of truth and that Bell affirms the historic Christian faith. Which, by the way, he in no ways denies.

Basically, the ADM and the echo chamber have taken a simple and true statement – If your goal is to figure [God] out and totally understand [Him], it’s not going to happen. and twisted it into “You cannot say anything definitive or authoritative about God.” Then they attack.
This is sloppy at best; it is dishonest as worst… I don’t think they are that sloppy.

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There is much lamenting these days, particularly on blogs, about the state of Christianity in America. It is not uncommon for contemporary (and I strategically avoid the term “modern” at this point) Christianity to be criticized for its lack of biblical fidelity and for churches to be criticized for their methodology and/or beliefs – though the two are often confused. Usually the remedy involves some form of return – return to the Bible, return to tradition, return to…

And today a study was released showing the decreasing value Americans place on religion in general and their decreasing belief in Christianity in particular.

Most often, those complaining the most vigorously display three flaws in their reasoning: 1) an overly simplistic reductionism that assumes there is, or every was, such a thing as monolithic “American Christianity” or “the church in America” in the first place; 2) a dismissive misunderstand of the current trends within younger emerging generations of Christians; and 3) as well as a completely lack of any grasp of history.

There is no doubt that there is a segment of today’s “American Christianity” that is barely biblical… that is, they are Christian in only the most tangential manner. Many voices are promoting an openness to ideas that are quite incompatible with historic biblical Christianity. That this exists there is no argument.

Of course, this is nothing new; a brief review of American Evangelicalism will show it has its very birth in the liberal swing cause by modernism in (predominately) New England over 150 years ago. And those who are so quick to blame and deride post-modernism for Christianity’s downfall in America should remember that it was an embrace of modernism that first gave momentum to the liberalization of the mainline denominations. Couple this fact with the popularity of Deism and Unitarianism in Colonial and antebellum America and any claim that “American Christianity” is, somehow, just now threatened shows an astonishing level of their naïveté.

And while the bloggers lament, and the pollsters poll, hundreds of little churches meet every Sunday as faithfully as their predecessors did in the last century and the one before that and the one before that and the one… And while the bloggers lament and the pollsters poll, hundreds of new churches are being started by a new generation of Christians. And although they may be significantly different in appearance and methodology and even world-view – they to are just as faithful to the Scriptures, to their heritage of the faith, to their Savior as faithfully as their predecessors did in the last century and the one before that and the one before that and the one…

Personally, I have grown tired of the “Chicken-Little-ness” of it all. The beauty of Christianity (its truth notwithstanding) is its translatability. Christianity is ultimately translatable because it is not bound by any one culture… and those who are screaming loudest about the state of “American Christianity” are often those who are the most willing to bind the faith in their own traditions – all the while complaining about the “Man-centeredness” of how others express the faith.

It’s a good things those of whom I speak were not present at the Council of Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15 – for if they had been, they would have shouted down Peter and Barnabas and Paul as they told stories of Gentiles receiving the Spirit… and when they lost (which the purposes of God would guarantee) they would have been the first to blog their lament of the demise of Palestinian Christianity by those emergents in Antioch.

**UPDATE in response to this post being addressed at CRN:**

This post was not a swipe (not so veiled or otherwise) at “ministries” like CRN (and in this case I use quotations in the same spirit as they are often used at CRN). A “swipe” would be a critical or cutting remark with little or no further comment (e.g. my parenthetic comment above regarding ministries in quotations would be a swipe). What I offered was a reasoned post, an alternative interpretation of “Christianity in America” – which, in true ODM style, was glossed over… the heat ignored for the flash of rebuttal. Just repeating the same “The sky is falling” mantra, yet again, does not make it true.

In true ODM style, though, the editor’s response took a true swipe at my/our biblical literacy by suggesting we blow the dust off our Bibles and read Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians – at least we were given credit for having a Bible. And in true ODM style, it was implied that the editor’s brother in Christ is among those who are unsaved… those who do not have the light of Christ. It’s a shame that instead of addressing the issues raised, my/our status in Christ was questioned. Instead of addressing or rebutting the argument, it is assumed that disagreeing with the editor means I/we lack the light of Christ and are, instead, among those in darkness.

At this point I will not get into a debate on the possible applications of Paul’s warning in 1 Thessalonians 5 – for that is not the point. In this post I never advocated “peace and security.” I did not deny the existence of many unbiblical churches. I even went so far as to acknowledge the same. Further, assuming this passage is speaking of the ultimate end (as we know it) it seems arrogantly ethnocentric to assume this end is at hand based on an interpretation of what may be happening in our own particular culture… ignoring completely the massive work of the Spirit in emerging cultures. This too is typical ODM myopia. If God is supposedly losing his grip on America – the end must be near.

Therefore the editor’s employment of this passage is moot.

If, in the future, CRN wishes to debate a topic or question within the bounds of the brotherhood of Christ, and if CRN is willing to address a topic beyond the myopia of American ethnocentrism, I would be more than willing…

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This just in:

Theological Development Most Out of Gas: The Emerg(ent/ing) Church, by now largely exposed as a haven for evangelicals who want to be hip. SWNID is demonstrably not stupid about or uninterested in matters, but we’ve never seen why people were determined to love or hate this stuff. Now we sense that observers and participants are deciding that “there’s no ‘there’ there.” Die-hard Reformed churchmen will continue to rail against the movement even as it lies comatose, as that’s what die-hard Reformed churchmen do. But the rest will continue to re-evaluate the balance of their message and the effectiveness of their methods, make incremental changes to optimize faithfulness to the gospel and the accomplishment of its mission, and try by faith to move forward.

From here.  (In case you are wondering, SWNID stands for Seldom Wrong, Never in Doubt.)

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