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Remember who is in control… (read on)

09 Jan

A note of encouragement from the Truthinator…

 I don’t know about you but I get discouraged sometimes. People desperately need the message we carry yet they are often less than concerned about the severity of their eternal state.   Then I remember the prophet Jeremiah who was told by God that the very people to whom he was to take God’s message would fight against him rather than listen.

 We must take the message of God’s grace found only via Jesus to the world. God will determine and deliver the results. We were never told to deliver results to God. He charged us with being faithful to Him in carrying His message and caring for the truly needy. 

 I exchanged emails with a Cambridge University Theology professor a while back. This man was doubtlessly very much learned in many subjects but unfortunately theology was not one of them. He was a proponent of the Emergent Church concept where anything goes and all roads lead to heaven (or to nowhere if one preferred it that way). We had several cordial discussions about what he believes vs. what the Bible teaches. To my surprise, he ended up admitting that his belief system had many holes in it and that the Emergent Church was a “work in progress”. I challenged him not to go into eternity hanging onto the hopes and hubris of the human ego but to trust in what the Bible plainly states. Afterall, the Bible has been attacked for thousands of years only to continue to stand. Hundreds of prophecies written long before the birth of Christ were fulfilled by that very birth… man’s hopes and dreams have no such record of success. 

 Do what God says to do. The responsibility for the results rests squarely upon Him.    

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17 Comments

Posted by on January 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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17 responses to “Remember who is in control… (read on)

  1. Ali

    January 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Well written, timely article. In these most difficult days in which we live may we -

    “…let [y]our light shine before others, so that they may see [y]our good works and give glory to [y]our Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

     
  2. Truthinator

    January 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Thanks, Ali. Another timely and well-said comment. Please visit any time.

     
  3. chaddavis14

    January 31, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Hi.

    I am not sure what your sources on the Emergent Church are, but universalism isn’t a primary doctrine of emergent. Tony Jones talks about universalism on his blog, but I don’t think its accurate to call universalism “the Emergent Chuch concept.”

    Even if Universalism were a tenet of Emergent, which it’s not, Emergent is only about 12 years old, universalism goes back centuries, perhaps to the Church fathers (but not to the apostolic church).

    There is a church that Majors in Universalism or as you put it, ” where anything goes and all roads lead to heaven (or to nowhere if one preferred it that way). ” That church is called the Unitarian-Universalist Church. They won’t mind if you call it their doctrine, but as an Emergent Christian, I have to object.

    I am cool with you being against universalism, and perhaps your Cambridge Theology professor is a universalist and also emergent. But I don’t think you should make it seem like Emergent is the author of Universalism, or even that Emergent Christians are universalists.

    Let me know what you think.

    Thanks,
    Chad

     
    • Truthinator

      January 31, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Chad,

      Thanks for reading my posts and for commenting. I will try my best to explain my thinking.

      I do not try to place you or anyone else in a box as an individual. People are more complex than that. Not every person conforms to every tenet of the belief system of everyone else in that org or group.

      The EC is especially slippery in this area since one of the tenets of the EC early-on was that they were not easily defined! They used to say, “The Bible is unclear, who can know what it means?” (I realize not every EC proponent said this but much of the info that was publicized about them stated such)

      Now, I will say that people like Doug Pagitt and Brian McLaren have a bit of Universalist about them. They were bandied about as ‘leadership’ of this leaderless non-movement for a while during the early years. Doug said several times that all people share the same afterlife experience regardless of what they believe. This is Universalist at the core. McLaren has also said some things that lead some to believe that he also believes this way but he is harder to pin down since he writes and speaks a little more cloudily.

      I was not referring to the UUC at all. They are another group for another day.

      The professor I exchanged emails and posts with was hardcore in his non-traditionalist and non-orthodox (IMHO) beliefs. He also admitted that many of his stances (I would say most) were not in the Bible. My question was, “Where then do they come from and how can you rely upon them for your eternity?”. He had no answer for these questions.

      Does the EC have primary doctrine? There seems to be many flavors of the EC. Some are like traditional churches but louder and with drama and sermonettes. Others pitch the Bible altogether and focus on material made up by someone. I would agree that Universalism is not a primary doctrine but it is present in the EC. I have also heard about it in traditional liberal churches for years. And Universalism pretty much accepts anything a person might believe as being valid.

      I do believe that the EC has more of an “anything goes and all roads lead to heaven (or to nowhere if one preferred it that way)” because that is how I interpret the rhetoric from the Jones, McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, Bakker, the lesbian lady whose name escapes me, and folks in the big tent movement. Some of these openly accept homosexuality, premarital sex, mystical meditational ‘prayer’ and other things not sanctioned by the Bible. I call this ‘anything goes’ since it does not square with scripture. I believe all of these folks consider themselves Emergent.

      Now let me say flat-out that I am not accusing you of being in error. I do not know anything about you. I am a little concerned since you say you are EC since the EC can have many problems with the Bible depending upon the group in question. Your group may not. I cannot be sure.

      My main thing is to stay true to the Bible. Do not add nor take away. God is God alone. We are not. We bow before Him.

      I hope this helps explain my thoughts. What is your Emergent experience like? Thanks and welcome.

       
  4. chaddavis14

    February 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Ok. Thanks for the long reply.

    As far as your comment: “The EC is especially slippery in this area since one of the tenets of the EC early-on was that they were not easily defined!”

    I don’t think its all that slippery. It isn’t an organized church, and it doesnt look or function like a denomination. Accordingly, it doesn’t have a doctrinal statement as such. Our Theologies are “local.” What is believed and taught in one cohort, may be completely different that what say, Brian McLaren or Doug Pagitt teaches. If you were to read Tony Jones book, “The New Christian: Dispatches From The Frontier.” You will find 20 “dispatches.” These aren’t really doctrines, but they are Tony’s ideas about what Emergent is. In appendix 2 of his book is a pretty good statement in response to emergent’s critics.

    Wait, let me look for it online. I’ll post a link if I can find it.

    As for Doug and Brian and Phyllis Tickle and Universalism… I don’t share that view. Their hard-line Post-Modernist approach to truth allows them to depart from orthodoxy with bold strokes. Universalism is one of those things that they believe. I am not a hard-line post-modern. Nor am I willing to go so far as to explain the afterlife in a way that i believe does not ring true with Scripture.

    This does NOT mean that emergent Christians are Universalists. It means that those who publically say that they are Universalists, are universalists. Since Emergent doesn’t not require adhereance to a doctrinal statement, this is no problem. Well it might be a problem for others, but not for us.

    Does EC have a Primary doctrine? I’ll have to answer that tonight or tomorrow. Duty calls.

    Grace to you and Peace,
    Chad

     
  5. Truthinator

    February 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks, Chad for answering. I do not agree with you but I appreciate you dialoging with me. I have another question. I do not see how someone can define their own truth. This is why I heard you say when you said, “Their hard-line Post-Modernist approach to truth allows them to depart from orthodoxy with bold strokes.”

    I see this as ‘making it up as you go along’ type of thing. This is not a vlid approach to life. God made the rules. We cannot change what we don’t like. He is sovereign and we are not.

    Let me know if I misunderstood you.

    Thanks.

     
  6. chaddavis14

    February 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    No,

    You didn’t understand me at all. Its just that they don’t see truth in the same way that you do. It does seem like tailoring truth to suit ones preferences to me as well. However, Postmodern thought is very skeptical about our ability to arrive at truth, and when one buys post-modern philospohy as thoroughly as McLaren and company have, one will view the Bible very differently that you do.

    You seem to have a “God said it, I believe it” approach to the Bible. I see this as a pre-modern understanding of Truth. Don’t get upset, conservative Christians have been resisting and rejecting Modernity since the Enlightenment. That is why there is such a thing as Fundamentalism, as you probably know.

    A Modernist approach to scripture will spend a great deal of time and effort doing higher criticism (Historical Criticism, Source criticism, form criticism, Redaction criticism, etc) in an effort to arrive at Truth by deductive methods. Wellhausen’s JEPD theory is a good example of Modernist though impacting Biblical interpretation.

    Postmoderns think all of that scientific method stuff is a bunch of hooey. Ok that is not exactly accurate. Postmodernism doubts that we can reliable arrive at truth by our human methods. In keeping with that, they do not see the Bible as a list of facts, or propositions, or rules , so much as the story of God’s relationship with the world.

    This is clearly NOT the way you read the Bible, but it is the way that hard-line postmoderns read it. Brian McLaren is probably the most strident post-modernist theologian being published today, or maybe just the most well-known. Lots of conservatives will say horrible, exclusivist things about him, but he is a sincere Christian.

    I am not a thorough-going postmodern thinker. I love the Modernist methods of interpretation. I love studying the scripture and taking the historical context seriously and doing my best with all of the tools, resources and methods available to arrive at what I believe the scripture really says and means.

    I do however see one benefit to post modern thought. I distrust doctrines. I distrust the doctrines of man that contradict and obscure what the scripture teaches and actually means. Systematic theologies and Doctrinal schemata have the unfortunate side effect of dumbing down, taming, or just ignoring the Bible as we received it from the Holy Spirit and the Apostles. This is ESPECIALLY true, when doctrines become normative for communities of faith. When a person must believe a certain doctrine, or interpret a passage of scripture in the same was as teh pastor in order to be a full member of the church, teh Bible is silenced, and honest study, and listening to God is squelched by the insistence that Christians conform to the beliefs of the Majority.

    There are also to benefits to knowing about Postmodern thought and think through it theologically. 1. It is the intellectual/social context of many young Americans, and these people are not in your Church (or mine for that matter). If they are to be reached by the Gospel, Modernist or preModern approaches to truth will not reach them. Post modern non-christians will reject our doctrines so fast it will make your head spin and your denomination decline. Its about being relevant to teh culture we are trying to reach. 2. Non-traditional Churches, with an open source mentality attract and welcome people who would never darken the doors of our modern and premodern churches.

    This is the real strength of the Emerging Church. EC reaches a different segment of society that we aren’t able to reach.

    Emergent is a reaction against evangelicalism, mega-churches and teh seeker-friendly movement. Where evangelicals, and others, have been getting creative with church for teh last 30 years trying to reach new generations, the EC ditches the paradigm all together and starts cohorts and bible studies and house churches that reach people who would never consider putting on a tie and going to a Church on Sunday. This is a good thing.

    The real weakness of EC is this, will the Gospel be taught/preached/communicated? Will people really enter into a saving relationship with God through the work of Christ?

    Its hard to say what will happen here or there, but in the Emergent Church that I have started, I certainly communicate the gospel clearly, and ours in a living breathing, although unusual, church where God is worshipped and people believe the Gospel.

    wow. I typed a lot

     
  7. chaddavis14

    February 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Here is an interesting discussion about Universalism on Tony Jones’ blog. He says some startling things. The comments are great, some take seriously what he says, some offer better alternatives, and some just freak out. One person mocks him and another uses the word heresy.

    Not that you will necessarily like the content, but I think you might like a look inside a real Emergent Conversation on the subject of Universalism.

    http://blog.tonyj.net/2011/02/christian-universalism-cosmology/#more-2731

    Enjoy,
    Your friend Chad

     
    • Truthinator

      February 4, 2011 at 8:49 am

      Chad,

      The Emergents I have read, Tony Jones included, have ‘found’ an alternative path to God in their own thinking that differs from the path God tells us about in His word. Jesus is the exclusive way to God. The Bible teaches what God wants us to know.

      For a person to think they are too cool for what the Bible teaches and to invent their own way to God, which is what the Emergents do, is not valid and will not lead to God.

      Be careful and be warned. Satan told Eve in the garden that God didn’t really mean what she thought He did. This is the same thing the post-moderns are doing. “We do not accept the traditional understanding of the Bible so we make up our own user-friendly version” is the EC mantra. I fear it is a path to hell instead of heaven.

      The Bible was written by God. In whom will I trust… the One who hung the planets in perfect position or Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, et. al. who aren’t sure what they believe? Be careful, my friend.

      Peace.

       
  8. chaddavis14

    February 5, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Well T,

    That isn’t quite the response I had expected from you. I agree with you completely, except that you are still painting Emergent Christians with the same brush. We are not all the same.

    I had hoped that you would have responded to what I think are the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of the EC. Maybe, I am wrong about this, but it sounds like you don’t want to talk about this anymore. I hope that you do.

    But just in case you don’t, let’s nail down the things we agree on from our posts above.

     
    • Truthinator

      February 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Chad,

      Sorry if I sounded terse. That was not my goal. I do not paint ALL EC people with a broad brush but I do paint many and maybe even most of them with the broad brush. The reason is that we only seem to hear from the most egregiously error-prone EC people. There certainly may be others that are not in so much error and their may be some who are not in error at all but then I would have to wonder why they stay behind the EC banner in light of what is stands for.

      The thing about post-modernism being a vaild framework for viewing God and the Bible is rediculous since obviously the major players in the leadership of this ‘leaderless’ non-movement do not believe in the same God that wrote the Bible.

      Also, please do not take my sacrasm as being directed against you. It is not. I have watched the EC pheonix rise from the ashes of the seeker and church growth shenanigans for many years. They originally claimed not to be a movement and that they had no leaders…. and so forth.

      I hope this clears things up. I never want to be rude. Sometimes my humor my seem rude but it is really meant to be sarcastic and it is not directed at you. You have been very sincere and receptive to discussion. Thanks.

      T.

       
  9. chaddavis14

    February 5, 2011 at 8:59 am

    1a. There are visible leaders of the EC that teach universalism. I am including those who don’t subscribe to a doctrine of hell, even though that isn’t really universalism per se.

    1b. Uuniversalism is not a primary doctrine of the Ec. Nor are all emergents universalists. (Speaking for myself, I reject all forms of universalism. Universalism is a doctrine that the Bible plainly invalidates)

    2a. Post-modernism is the primary philosophical underpinning of the entire Emerging movement. Postmodernism, in its most extreme form, rejects truth. This is very dangerous, and ultimately leads to the rejection of any belief in God.

    2b. Not all emergents are hard-line postmodernist. Many emergents cling to faith in God and believe the Scripture for what it says.

    I need to apologize for a very inconvenient typo in my last post which may have led to some confusion.

    I said that you didn’t understand me at all, but as you can see from the rest of the post, I thought that I had written “you didn’t MISunderstand me at all” I really did agree with your post above that.

    I hope this clears that up. I look forward to your reply.

    Grace to you and Peace,
    Chad

    Ps. Do you read Greek?

     
    • Truthinator

      February 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

      You and I agree on your points (1a – 2b). Universalism and religious pluralism are very dangerous. I was never trying to say that EC leaders are Universalists but that they held Universalist beliefs to a degree. Religious pluralist beliefs my be a better descriptor.

      In 2b, who are the people that you are referring to and why do they stay in the EC since it is overrun by the leftward-most leaning people in the post-modern gestalt? What is it about post-modernism that attracts the people you know? What is taught in Bible study by the ‘good’ post-modern EC people you know?

      These are not challenges from me, I am simply curious. Do you consider Andy Stanley EC? Many people do. He seems like a pretty good teacher. I am no authority on him but he is certainly no Brian McLaren or Tony Jones. There are churches in my area that do the theatrical stage lighting & sound with large bands playing loud music. They also have removed much of the Bible and have replaced it with very shallow teaching that is mainly for self-improvement and for fixing broken relationships and so forth. Not much solid Bible teaching. Would this be included in the 2b type of thing you are describing? Just because I have not encountered EC churches that are not solidly in the Bible does not exclude their existence in my mind, I just haven’t seen much of it.

      Thanks again for the discussion.
      T.

       
  10. chaddavis14

    February 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Dear T,

    You asked, “In 2b, who are the people that you are referring to (?)”

    Well, that’s a tough one. I went to Seminary with many who now identify with Emergent. As far as published authors whom you could read, Scot McKnight has written clearly about emergent and his own faith, even in Christianity today. Here is a link to one of his articles:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/february/11.35.html

    His book “The Jesus Creed” is excellent, and I don’t think you will be scandalized by a single word of it.

    Christian Piatt is also publishing. I have not read any of his books, but I know him from my Seminary days. His wife Amy and I had classes together.

    My very good friend Katie Alexander post short Bible studies on Facebook, she calls them “Soul Food.” She is probably a bit more liberal than you are comfortable with, but take my word for it, Katie is a true Christian in every sense of the word. I know her by her fruits. She has a WordPress Blog here: http://revkatiealexander.wordpress.com/

    I could go on, but let me weigh in here myself. I identify myself as Emergent. I will answer the rest of your questions here by talking about my ministry.

    “Why do they stay in the EC since it is overrun by the leftward-most leaning people in the post-modern gestalt?”

    I have chosen to associate with Emergent for two reasons. My denomination has very much in common with Emergent. We don’t have a published Doctrinal Statement, we say we have “no creed, but Christ.” Sure we have affirmations of faith and we use the Historical Creeds of the Church such as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed, but we do not use doctrine as a means to keep people in or out of our Churches. Faith in Christ is what we have in common. Similarly, Emergent does not exclude people on the basis of doctrine. What emergent calls “Life in the Way of Jesus.” is the common denominator.

    Let’s be honest here. Emergent is Liberal, VERY Liberal, far more liberal than I am. The reason people deny that Emergent is Liberal is because they have evangelical backgrounds and they think liberal is a cuss word. They associate “Liberal” with the Enlightnement tendency to rationalize the Bible and deny the supernatural. But really, since they allow everything from Universalism, to Fundamentalism, they are more liberal than anybody on the planet. ( I define liberal as “allowing much”)

    The other reason I am interested in Emergent, is that they challenge what is broken about the Church today.

    a. Young people (aged <30) are not plugging into the American Church in its traditional forms. It is their grandparent's paradigm. Emergent is bringing the Church and HOPEFULLY the gospel of Jesus Christ to the coffeeshop and the bookstore and the tavern. Evangelical Churches have consistently failed to do this.

    b. Doctrine! When denominations become Dogmatic and Sytstematic about their doctrines, the effectively prevent Christians from really hearing Scripture. I am a Big opponent to False doctrine. And its being force fed to Christians in all sorts of Traditional Churches. Why not allow an open source (Wikipedia) mentality where every person contributes, but where the Bible is the rule of Faith? This is what I seek to do with my Emergent Cohort.

    I have to go, I'll answer the below questions in a little while.
    "What is it about post-modernism that attracts the people you know?"

    "What is taught in Bible study by the ‘good’ post-modern EC people you know?"

    In Jesus,
    Chad

     
  11. chaddavis14

    February 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Alright, Now that I have had my Chick-Fil-A, I am ready to answer the other two questions.

    “What is it about post-modernism that attracts the people you know?”

    I thinks it a rejection of authority, not God’s or even the Bible’s authority, but the Church’s. This is true because, to most young people, the organizational Church is an institution that represents their parents and grandparents values and preferences. I think looking for new forms for the Christian faith is better than pitching faith in God altogether.

    I don’t think of myself as a Post-modern, not at all. However, I do like to challenge structures (Churches, Denominations) and systems (Dogmas) that obscure the truth of Scripture and talk over the Voice of God. I am capitalizing on the Post-Modern eagerness to challenge long-held beliefs, in an attempt to get people “Back to the Bible.”

    “What is taught in Bible study by the ‘good’ post-modern EC people you know?”

    Please consider reading Scot McKnight’s “The Jesus Creed.” He is a New Testament Scholar and Seminary Professor. He is certainly a “good” Emergent. Additionally, I am preaching tommorow on John 13:34-35. I will send post a link to my sermon once its finished. Please read it over, then you can take me to task on the details.

    I am one of the Pastors in a non-denominational traditional Church setting, at Edgewood Chapel (though I am ordained by a denomination) and additionally I have started an Emergent group called DiscipleNext.

    We meet twice a week for 25 minutes on the scheduled “break time” where the group members work. Think of it as an “at work Bible study/think tank/worship service.” Every meeting is different, but the elements of the Christian worship and preaching tradition are all included. Its open source. That means everyone may contribute. I lead the Bible discussions, but members suggest the Scriptures they want explained, or the topics they want explored.

    I wish you could witness it. The cohort is made up of 18-23 years olds, plus a few who are older. Attendance is between 8 and 15 each time. I love teaching the Bible and the Christian faith this way. It is extremely meaningful that these young people will come to an informal “DiscipleNext Christian Encounter”, but most won’t go to a traditional church service, at least not yet.

    If you are monolithically against Emergent, then you are against this. DiscipleNext brings the gospel to people the traditional Sunday Morning church cannot reach.

    I am really looking forward to your reply.

    Warmly,
    Chad

     
  12. chaddavis14

    February 6, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Alright my sermon is Here: http://www.disciplenext.com

    Please leave your comments about it on my page. Thanks.

     
    • Truthinator

      February 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks, Chad. I’ll do what you asked. Give me a day or two. Very much is going on now. Thanks again.

       

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