Monday, January 30, 2006

Outrage of the Week - McLaren on Homosexuality

If the link below doesn't demonstrate to Bible-believing evangelicals that Brian McLaren (The Emergent Church) advocates very, very bad theology, I don't know what will. And yet, we have some pastors at heretofore solid evangelical churches insisting that McLaren is a strong leader who deserves support.

Might as well run the Word of God through a shredder.


Edited to add:

At the Leadership Journal blog area, Brian has posted a response to the heat he has been catching on this issue. I am afraid his answer is not satisfactory, but is rather more of the "unpacking" and "deconstruction" we have come to expect.

This issue really goes beyond Brian, his writings, and those of other EC leaders. I begin to think we'd accomplish more if we'd focus less on personalities such as Brian and go to the issue at hand. That issue is ultimately our view of the Word of God. Do we have a high view of Scripture or a low view of Scripture? Is Scripture inspired by God or isn't it? Is it our only rule for faith and practice, or do we give credence to other extra-biblical sources? If Scripture is not reliable or authoritative, then why bother with this thing we call Christianity at all? One could follow the the Bhagavad Gita, the Baha'i Scriptures or even the Aquarian Conspiracy and make it just fine. Or in true relativist fashion, say that all are equally valid.

Gracie Slick, has your hookah-smoking caterpillar been making the rounds at theological conferences again?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Another pastoral scene? Uhoh...that must mean another rant!

Yes, I must set the stage for another infamous Solameanie rant...while inspired by the EC controversy, it also applies to other situations. This one deals with the improper use of Matthew 18 to settle disputes between Christians. Listen closely (as if typed words were audible)...this passage does not apply to false teachers or false teachings publically disseminated. Matthew 18 only applies to personal sins between people and related disputes. Many have tried to use this passage of Scripture as a bludgeon to ward off correction. I've seen speakers, preachers, pastors, teachers (and even bloggers) do it.

Don't fall for it and don't let yourself be silenced. When people publish books, preach to hundreds or thousands, write magazine name it...and their teachings are unbiblical, they must be corrected publically. Note the Apostle Paul's dressing down of the Apostle Peter as recorded in Acts. Also note Paul's naming of Hymenaeus and Alexander. None of this was done behind closed doors. Think about it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The EC and Panentheism

The link "TEXT" below is to the website of Apprising Ministries headed by Pastor Ken Silva. I highly recommend reading the articles Ken has written on Brian McLaren and what seems to be creeping panentheism into the church.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mark Driscoll Distances Himself from EC

This is an important development and article worth reading. The link is below this on the word "TEXT." Mark Driscoll is to be commended for taking this firm stand against the more extremes of the EC! I will be interested to see how Dan Kimball views these comments by Mark as I had identified Dan as being on the conservative end of the EC. Stay tuned....

(Edited to add)

Regarding Dan Kimball, he did a piece recently on apologetics that I found interesting, with some very valid points raised. In the piece, he mentions his love for apologetics, but raises concerns over the manner in which he has seen apologetics practiced. While I don't dispute that he has indeed seen defense of the faith carried out in an unloving, harsh fashion, I have seldom encountered this in my years of apologetics ministry. It's a given that I do not believe that we should be needlessly hostile to people. At the same time, we should never be so "nice" or accomodating as to wink the eye at false doctrine. To some, any firm opinion clearly expressed will seem hostile. We are, after all, in a generation that seems to think anyone who stands against anything as being "wrong" is somehow intolerant and a danger to society. In the end, we are called to stand firmly for truth, contending earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). That means calling false doctrine exactly what it is....false doctrine.

In addition, there is a difference between dealing with the ignorant or untaught, and dealing with false teachers who ought to know better. False teaching is not to be given warm fuzzies.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Progressive? Hardly!

This has rankled me long enough now to the point where I must say something or begin keening.

Those of us who are conservatives need to notice how the wild left (not to mention their accomplices in the media) are increasingly using the term "progressive" to describe themselves. We need to begin challenging this warm, fuzzy label. "Progressive" implies progress, betterment, improvement etc. Actually, leftist policies have quite the opposite effect. What they advocate in many areas is not progress, but regression or degeneration.

Time to start pointing that out.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stark Beauty

I love the outdoors in fall. Fall is my favorite time of the year. This was taken at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois this past fall. I tend to find beauty overlooked by many who catch the usual sunrises, sunsets, flowers, mountains etc. While I think those are lovely also, scenes such as this (the rocks, not me) are beautiful in their very starkness. When one thinks of Illinois, cornfields pop into most minds. Yet, this little arid scene can be found right next to the Illinois River. Amazing, isn't it?

Don't worry..I'll get back to theology in time. Actually, there's quite a bit of theology in this photo if one cares to look.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A brief statement on the Alito Hearings...

Funny I would post this juxtaposed to this beautiful shot of Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. However, I need a pastoral scene such as this to bring my blood pressure down.

I am appalled at the way Samuel Alito is being treated by the Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is beyond questioning a candidate about judicial philosophy. This is more geared toward personal destruction, insults, grandstanding, bloviating, pompousness, biliousness and a host of other adjectives. And I haven't even said what I think of Ted Kennedy yet.

We are paying these guys' salaries. They are our employees, not kings. Their revolting, unconscionable behavior will ensure that no qualified candidate for the Supreme Court, Cabinet or any other post will want to put themselves or their families through what I think is tantamount to gang rape. This is truly a sad day in the history of our Republic.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A brief, humorous diversion...

This past week, I had the dubious honor of battling yet another kidney stone - a malady I have suffered for 26 years. Well, I finally passed the latest villain yesterday. I have decided to follow the course laid before me by the National Weather Service. I will now name my stones as they name hurricanes.

The first stone of the 2006 stone season has been named Audrey. She passed into oblivion yesterday afternoon after encountering large doses of water and at least two doses of Vicodin. The next named stone will be Bertrand, in honor of the late atheist Bertrand Russell, who is now a Trinitarian. I hope I will not have to use the Greek alphabet at the end of the year.

BTW..Audrey was a Category 3 in intensity.

This too shall pass.....

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Sidebar on Moynagh

In my last post, I mentioned that I am reading Moynagh's book "emergentchurch.intro." I hate to say that I am very unsettled from the outset.

In planning this series of analytical articles on the EC, I have always wanted to try and be as balanced as possible, and not "knee-jerk" the way so many do when issues such as these are confronted. I have read enough of the back and forth on many blogsites to see the old Crosby Stills and Nash lyric realized.."When everyone's talking and no one is listening. How can we decide?"

I am sorry to say, though, that in reading Moynagh, I can truly see why so many concerns have been raised about the EC and their theology. My heart truly sank..and I'm not even done with the book yet. Now, it will be stated, I am sure, that Moynagh is EC-Europe or UK..and that does not reflect the American EC. Okay..except that Brian McLaren is mentioned prominently in Moynagh's book, Steve Chalke (another UK emergent) is endorsing it, and McLaren endorses Steve Chalke and vice versa. You can see a pattern beginning here.

What are my specific objections? I will finish the book before highlighting them..and have this particular series to finish on the EC as I have thus far encountered it. Afterward, I'll have more to say. But it isn't good. Sigh.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Emergents – Part Two

Since posting part one of this series, I have decided to somewhat alter my original plan for these posts. Other writers, bloggers, apologists, professors, researchers and theologians have done quite a thorough job of discussing the writings and theology put forward by various Emergent Church (EC) proponents including Brian McLaren, Steve Chalke, Rob Bell and others. I really do not need to revisit their work. In addition, the EC authors have done a great job documenting themselves in their own books. In fact, I am currently in the process of reading a new book by David Fitch called “The Great Giveaway,” in which he calls for “reclaiming the mission of the church.” I am also reading “emerging church.intro” by Michael Moynagh, an EC advocate and writer from the UK. I will have more detailed reviews of these books later. For now though, I want to discuss the areas where I feel the EC extremes are losing it, based on the eight points I wrote of earlier in part one. First, a couple of comments to set the stage.

When reading EC material, one is left with the impression that the church at large has been blowing it terribly for a very long time, especially in what they like to call our modern era. The idea put forward is that we are losing a whole generation that is largely incapable of understanding or responding to the Gospel message the way it has been presented for centuries. If we want to claim this generation for Christ, we will need to alter our methods (and some say message) to reach them. Reading Moynagh, he states at the outset:

“Emerging church does not parachute a set model of church onto people: it is church from below. It starts not from a preconceived notion of church, but with the desire to express church in the culture of the group involved. It is church shaped by the context, not by “This is how we have always done it.”
“Some new expressions of church cater for Christians who are disillusioned with church. But a growing number are geared toward people with no church background. They start not with an invitation, “You come to us on our terms”, but offer instead, “We’ll come to you. If you want, we’ll help you to be church a time that suits you, in a place that is convenient to you and in your style, not ours.”
[Moynagh’s book] concentrates on this second category. It argues that emerging church could give Western Christianity a fresh and vital mission thrust. Its theme is how church can release this potential. But we must remember the bigger picture. Not all fresh expressions of churches are so mission-focused. Emerging church is a broad term, with many bedfellows. Key words perhaps are: contextual, customized, diverse, flexible and experimental.”

Okay. That sets the stage nicely. The first chapter of Moynagh’s book is a laundry list of woes for the church of today i.e. how the church is ineffective, etc. It’s a common theme for the EC. Now, did you notice what I noticed in reading Moynagh’s list of key words describing the EC? One rather important word was missing from the list — the word “biblical.” In fact, you go through the entire first chapter without one verse of Scripture. Moynagh does bring Scripture into the arena later in the book. We’ll see how he applies it as time goes on. For now, what we know is that in the eyes of the EC, the church of today has a big problem. But is their suggested cure medicine or poison? And is the church (assembly) actually supposed to be doing what they say it should be doing?

The first problem I noted is one of epistemology, or the study of the nature of knowledge. How do we know what we know? This also touches on the doctrine of revelation — what is God’s revealed truth to mankind? Pontius Pilate’s question to the Lord in John 18:38 is illustrative of the idea. “What is truth?” (Isn’t it ironic that Pilate’s question was unwittingly addressed to the Author of truth Himself?) The church — on the authority of none other than Christ Himself, God Incarnate — claims it has the truth. The only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). However, when the church compromises on this question or surrenders the certainty of absolute, objective truth, it compromises the very Great Commission of Christ itself — the church’s foundational marching orders. If the church cannot be certain that its message is true, then we have no business criticizing the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, or anyone else who has a truth claim. The hallmark of postmodernism is denial of this type of truth. They say, “we can’t know for certain.” Scripture says otherwise in numerous places, including 1 John 5:13 . . . “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” It doesn’t say “think” we have eternal life, or “guess” that we have eternal life. It says, “know.”

It is one thing for the church to find itself in a “postmodern” culture where the notion of absolute, objective truth is scorned, and to look for ways to witness the truth of Christ to that culture. It is quite another thing for the church to adapt TO that culture in a misguided effort to reach it. The words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 about “becoming all things to all men” does not for a moment mean that we are to fall into sin or unbelief to save people out of sin or unbelief. The Lord calls us to confront the world, not adapt to it. That is the clear testimony seen in the whole of Scripture. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we come to know THE truth. And that truth alone will make us free. (John 8:32).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

J.C. Ryle on False Doctrine

This sermon by the late, noted theologian and pastor J.C. Ryle is worth pondering given the arguments of our day within the church. I will likely post more gems later on.