Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Revisiting a Rant
A couple of years ago, I received an email from someone who was a bit incensed at some criticism I leveled at the Emergent Church and at some aspects of a very popular California-based ministry. In cleaning out my email box today, I stumbled on my response to this email, and I thought it would make a good post. The issues I raise are important, and have parallels in both the church and political worlds. I was chided for putting such emphasis on doctrine, as well as for not being impressed by numbers of people supposedly "reached."
I'll put my reply to the emailer in italics to differentiate between now and then. The names have been removed to not distract from the point I was trying to make. Keep in mind, I was a bit irritated at the time.
I think this response is a bit simplistic and naive given the issues at stake. Jesus is also concerned about correct doctrine as His Word makes clear. Of course He is concerned about fruit, justice, giving and the other things you mention. But NOT at the expense of truth.
This is the typical "emotive" response often shouted at the growing number of people concerned over the unbiblical direction of popular church fad movements. I really could care less that 14 million Christians have participated in ---- ------'s materials. As I remember, God reserved to Himself a remnant of only 7,000 out of all Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that deception will be the hallmark of the last days...a deception so clever that even the very elect would be deceived if that were possible. I do not mean to compare ---- ------ with Baal, but I am growing weary with this idea that because millions of people run like lemmings, that automatically means God is behind it. The love of God begins with loving His truth. That is NOT just chatter..and it is NOT silly. I wish people would read their Bibles instead of ---- ------ or ------- -----. They would find it much more profitable.
The remarks about the church being made up of four areas of commonality are all well and good provided that everyone is unified around one standard of truth. I also would be careful about getting overly caught up in the "infinite versus finite" trap. It is certainly true that as human beings, we will not completely understand an infinite God. However, He expects and demands us to understand the truth He has revealed in His Word, and He will hold us accountable if we don't. We won't be able to play Alice in Wonderland/Lewis Carroll-style word games with Him. The core of the faith and key biblical doctrines, as well as orthopraxis, are clear. They are not open for redefinition. Period.
No one is talking about banning books. A frequent canard, and a tiresome one. Also, no one objects to honest, legitimate questions by people who are untaught and wanting to learn. However, when so-called Bible teachers and pastors begin to play games like this, that is a different question. --- ----, one of the Emergent Church's favorite authors, and his wife did an interview recently in Christianity Today where Mrs. ---- said that she didn't know what most of the Bible meant. That is a pastor's wife, mind you, and a leader in that church.
If that is the case, then both of them need to resign and go learn what the Bible means before they presume to teach others, much less sell thousands of books.
The long and short of it is..I think we need to do much less emoting and much more thinking..AND submitting to the authority of Scripture. And by the way, I find the phrase "That's the risk God took" rather curious. God knew precisely what He was doing and His purpose will be realized. To say that God took a risk implies failure much like a gambler pulls the handle on a slot machine and loses. That is not the Sovereign God of the Universe that I know.
Now that I think of it, I'm still irritated.
P.S. I'll mention the deleted names at another time. I think many of you can guess who it is.