Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What is the Church?

Here are a variety of metaphors that Larry Morris laid out in his lesson from Sunday 5/28/06.
(1) The church is a Family
(2) With familial terms of Christ as the groom and the church as His Bride.
(3) The church is a Body, each with separate special functions and responsibilities, with Christ as its head, holding the entire body together and equipping every part to work as it should.
(4) The church is a New Temple [building], a Holy Priesthood, Branches of a vine, a Field of crops.

Corey Carey also brought up some good points that para-church organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ, and InterVarsity, etc. are not church bodies in that they do not have the structure of a local body with elders and deacons. Larry added that they also do not partake of the sacraments of the Lord's Supper and Baptism.

I would go further to add that they are members of the universal or catholic church [not the Roman Catholic] but they do not stand in themselves as a local church body. The local church has many facets. Here are the 9 marks of what a church is according to Mark Dever [and I tend to agree with him].
(1) Expositional Preaching
(2) Biblical Theology
(3) Biblical Understanding of the Good News
(4) Biblical Understanding of Conversion
(5) Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
(6) Biblical Understanding of Membership
(7) Biblical Church Discipline
(8) Promotion of Christian Discipleship and Growth
(9) Biblical Understanding of Leadership

I also think that the church should have relationship between people from birth to very elderly. They must be in a community that they can share Christ in. They must have many professions and gifts to serve the body and live and speak the gospel to others.

Awesome lesson!

Spurgeon and Election

Charles Spurgeon (Lectures to My Students, book 2 pg. 47)
"I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen him;

and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he never would have chosen me afterwards;

and he must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why he should have looked upon me with special love.

So I am forced to accept that doctrine."

I couldn't agree w/ Charles more!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Is the Speed of Light Changing?: Part 2

This is part two of my posts of what my systematic theology I professor [Dr.Douglas F. Kelly] wrote in a book called Creation and Change: Genesis 1:1-2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms.

These quotes are pretty interesting! Check it out...
Quote V: "The speed of light (c) is generally accepted as being 299, 792.458 kilometers per second. A 'light year' is the distance light travels in a year. Thus a star might come into being a million years away from earth but could not actually be observed until a million years later because it would take that long for the starlight to reach the earth from outer space. If this is the case, then the solar system would have to be immensely older than the few thousand years indicated by the Genesis chronologies. This fact would seem to remove the biblical chronology from serious consideration in constructing a scientifically valid world picture.

But there are weighty reasons - empirically based - not to be hasty in drawing such a conclusion. For a number of physicists who hold the chronological validity of the Genesis genealogies (and thus to a young earth) have proposed alternative models that maintain a recent creation and, at the same time, accept the correctness of Einstein's General and Special Theories of Relativity, which give central emphasis to the significance of the speed of light. Of several proposals that have been made, we shall mention only two [I'm only postin one] as meriting serious consideration in this chapter.

First, arguments that the speed of light has been slowing down (and thus traveled much more rapidly in the past), if correct, would indicate a very young universe, in terms of thousands rather than billions of years. This matter has been debated since the 1980s. Barry Setterfield, an Australian scientist, proposed the decay in the speed of light in The Veolocity of Light and the Age of the Universe. According to Setterfield, the first careful measurement of the speed of light was made by a Danish astronomer, Bradley, in 1728. It has been measured many times since then, and is said to have reached an equilibrium of 299,792.458 kilometers per second by 1960 (since which time atomic clocks have been used).

These date indicate that the speed of light in 1675 was around 2.6% higher than today, and that it continued to decline until 1960 (when atomic clocks began to be employed). Setterfield charted a rate of about 5.7 kilometers decrease in velocity per second between 1675 and 1728 and 2.5 kilometers per second decrease between 1880 and 1924, etc. He then worked out a curve (a log sine curve) tracing the decary of the velocity of light. He postulates that at the time of creation the speed of light was 5 x 10[to the eleventh power] faster than now, so that light once traveled about seven million times faster than it does at present. On this basis, Setterfield figures that the earth was created about 4040 B.C., plus or minus one hundred years.

If he is correct, then previous measurements of light speed (which assume that it has never changed its rate) would yield a date vastly too old for the solar system, rather like the difference in speed and time between a man sailing in a small craft to London to New York, and flying there in the Concorde. If one measured the time it took to cross the Atlantic to New York in a slow boat (comparable to the speed of light at present, according to Setterfield), it would require much longer than flying in the supersonic Concorde (comparable to the speed of light at the time of creation). Hence, to continue the illustration, previous measurements of the vast age of the universe are said to be immensely too long because they have been charted at 'boat speed' rather than 'jet speed' ([Kelly's] analogy; not Setterfield's). Therefore, to the point of this chapter, if the speed of light has indeed decayed in terms of Settefield's charts, , then the most basic empirical measurement of the age of the solar system would fit precisely into the genealogical chronologies of Genesis yielding a date not much more than six thousand years ago.

Moreover, this - assuming it is correct - might explain why the dates derived from various types of radioactive measurements on physical, geological elements (such as the half-life of Uranium 238 decaying into Lead over millions of years) suggest a time frame vastly older than the true creation. As Setterfield writes, '...the velocity of the electron in its orbit is proportional to the speed of light. This is an expected result because whatever mechanism causes the peed of light to decrease with time is going to act in a precisely similar way causing the decrease in speed of all other propagaionts of mass-energy.' Hence, '...radiometric ages in rocks, meteorites and other atronomical objects in conventionally allocated years can be predicted by the high initial value of c and accomodated within a 6,000 year framework.' That is why '...the 1/2-lives of the radioactive elements are proportional to l/c and so were much shorter in the past. The vast ages conventionally allocated to rocks dated by radioactive methods, are based on the assumption of virtually fixed decay rates and a contstant c. Ignoring this high initial value of c and its subsequent decay, inevitably results in these vast conventional ages.' (Pg. 144-146)"

This chapter is outright intriguing! Have a great memorial day!

Is the Speed of Light Changing?: Part 1

My systematic theology I professor [Dr.Douglas F. Kelly] wrote a book called Creation and Change: Genesis 1:1-2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms. It is really very good!

Anyhow in chapter 7 "The Age of the World and the Speed of Light" he discusses a controversial reason for why scientists date some things to billions of years old. Check some of these quotes out!

Quote I: "The various methodologies employed to assess the age of the solar system (whether employed by advocates of an ancient of young world) are characterized by imprecision and repeatable experiments. Discussions of the chronology of the cosmos are somewhat problematical. Reasons for avoiding this question entirely, especially when one wishes to plead for the possibility of a young world, are not hard to find. (Pg. 137)"

Quote II: "...the vast majority of contemporary scientists accept as fact the high antiquity of the universe. Dr. David Wilkinson in his critique of Stephen Hawking states fairly and realistically the weight of informed opinion against all scientific attempts to argue for a young earth:
'Arguments used for such a young universe include a decay in the speed of light, problems with ages derived from solar clusters and problems with the Big Bang. These are supplemented by evidence for a young Earth, apparently shown by changes in the magnetic field strength, problems with radioactive dating, the explanation of the fossil record by means of the effects of a global flood and arguments against evolution. Some of these arguments do point to some inadequacies in current scientific theories, but have not convinced the vast majority of the scientific community that our picture of the origin of the universe is mistaken.' (Pg. 137-138)"

Quote III: "...even Christian scholars in the evangelical tradition generally accept the opinions of the broader scientific community regarding the cosmos, and are quick to dissociate themselves from attempts to question widely received views of a universe billions of years old. Respected authors such as Professors Davis A. Young, Pattle P.T. Pun and Dr. Hugh Ross could be mentioned."

Quote IV: "Those who believe that the early chapters of Genesis mean exactly what they say, will be inclined to favor new models that challenge the ancient world paradigm for the following reason. The biblical documents seem clearly to indicate a relatively young earth and solar system. Genesis chapters one and two speak, as we have already seen in this volume, of a completed creation within the space of six days as we know them from an earthly perspective. Then the genealogies of chapters ten and eleven of Genesis, and those of Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter three all concur in indicating a date of human and terrestrial history in terms of something less than ten thousand years since creation. (P. 139)"

Part 2 is coming today...:)

Terms: Emergent vs. Emerging

Here are a few posts regarding what the origin of the terms Emerging and Emergent came from according to Dan Kimball.

Here are a few distinctions...
Emerging: The most current forms of methodology "emerging" in any/all church denominations.

Emergent: More theological/philosophical movement...an actual structured organization with identified leaders.

Here's a quick quote:
"Through time people started even saying 'Emergent Church' instead of 'Emerging Church' or use both terms as describing the same thing - instead of having Emergents focus more on theology and Emerging Church more on methodology as it started initially. [From Part Two]"

Here's part one, and part two.

[HT: Justin Taylor]

Friday, May 26, 2006

What's Done for Christ Will Last!

"Only one life twill soon be passed

Only what’s done for Christ will last

How true that short little phrase is! Powerful!
Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."

1 Corinthians 3:14-15 "If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

Revelation 8:7-8 "The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood."

Hebrews 13:14 "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come."

[HT: John Piper. If you click on the link the quote is about half way through the talk.]

Assurance Only in God's Sovereign Choice

Rocky Vest taught an excellent lesson Sunday [5/22/06]. It was an exposition of John 10:22-31. If you missed it last week you missed a great lesson!

Here's a quick list of the "benefits" of knowing about assurance from Rocky's lesson.
(1) There is nothing that we or anyone else can do to remove what God has done in our life. You cannot lose your salvation! (Romans 8:35-39; John 10:29)

(2) There is no boasting about our salvation; all glory for our salvation goes to God. (John 17:9-10; Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12)

(3) We will trust in God through trials. (Rom. 8:28-39; Philippians 1:6)

(4) God speaks through our evangelism, which takes the pressure off of us. (John 10:16; Ezekiel 11:19; Joel 2:29; Isaiah 65:1; Jeremiah 31:33)

(5) It guarantees our success. As sanctification is not a work of our own, we can’t undo it. (Hebrews 10:14; Philippians 2:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-10)

Here's another great point from Rocky's lesson...
Assurance of salvation is found in: Hearing and Following Christ (Verse 27-29). The sheep belong to Jesus Christ. Sheep hear his voice - they understand; they comprehend; they internalize what He is saying. Sheep follow – they do the good works which were prepared beforehand that they would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). There is no separation here between just knowing: simply giving mental assent to knowledge of Christ. These sheep actually follow the shepherd. So knowing is following. John also says:
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (ESV)”

So eternal life is knowing God, and those who know God follow God.

Rocky thank you for handling the inerrant Word of God so carefully and faithfully for His chosen flock! We love you brother!

[HT: Rob Young...thanks for taking such awesome notes at everything!]

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"I will not forget you"

Ladies this one’s for you!!! (Okay the men too:) There is an awesome blog for Christian women called Girl Talk. I have this linked in my blogs link column. Check it out. I think Lindsey is digging this blog!

They have an excellent post that relates very well to Rocky’s lesson from Sunday! Check it out, it’s called “I will not forget you.”

Here’s the entire article…read it…it is very good! Thanks Lindsey!
May 24, 2006
"I will not forget you."

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman whose mother-in-law is suffering from Alzheimer’s. As the disease attacks her mind, the cumulative knowledge and memories of a lifetime are gradually being erased. I can’t even begin to fathom the hardship this must be—both for the individual afflicted with Alzheimer’s and her family and friends. Although, I am sure there are many of you reading this post who are intimately acquainted with its severe consequences.
This woman told me how her mother-in-law, a wonderful Christian woman, was struggling because she was having a difficult time remembering God. “She feels like she’s lost the Lord and can’t remember how to find Him.,” my friend explained. But, she went on: “We remind her that even though she can’t remember the Lord, He doesn’t forget her. He’ll never leave her.”
He will never leave. He will never forget.
What unspeakable comfort for this woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. What comfort for us today!

My salvation is not dependent upon the strength of my feeble, sin-infected, and disease-vulnerable mind. My perseverance to the end isn’t contingent upon my ability or my faithfulness to remember God. It rests entirely secure in the unfailing memory of my Heavenly Father. If I have been bought with the blood of Christ, then I can rest in the knowledge that God would no sooner forget me, than forget His own Son.
I don’t know what my future holds. My mind might give way before my body. But I know that He will never leave. He will never forget.

“Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Isaiah 46:4

“I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

[HT: My wife and Girl Talk]

History of Inerrancy

If you’ve heard of the “inerrancy” of the Bible before and don’t know what it is…here is a helpful article by Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church on the history of it. It may be a good thing to read if your trying to get familiar with what “inerrancy” really means.

Also, it will help you defend the origin of the doctrine when people say that the concept of "inerrancy" started when a council voted on it in Chicago in 1973!

Here is a quick quote:
“Only because of the Living Word may we finally know to trust the Written Word. May God use these resources of those who’ve gone before us to equip and encourage us in so trusting.”

Check out this article by Mark Dever! It is very good! Inerrancy of the Bible: An Annotated Bibliography.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My Heart Faints Within Me: Seeing God's Face

I came accross this in devotions this week... (Right now I'm studying the book of Job)
Job 19:25-27: "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!" (ESV)

I have a question for you if you are a born again Christian. Does the mere thought of seeing God face to face cause your heart to faint within you? You might ask, "what does that mean?" I think it is an excellent descriptor for the following...
Psalm 73:25-26: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

God is the strength of my heart, and yet my heart faints within me when I think of seeing His face.

He has said to me, "Seek My face." My heart says to Him, "Your face, LORD, do I seek." Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! (Psalm 27:8-9)

We see the fulfillment of the outcome of our salvation in the following:

Revelation 22:3-4: "No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads."

The human race in Adam hides from God, but in the end His children will see Him face to face. Honestly, this reality causes my heart to faint within me. Let's live today with this in mind! We will see our savior's face!~

In Christ

Friday, May 19, 2006

Desiring God National Conference 2006!~

The name of the conference this year is: Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World

This is from September 29-October 1, 2006

Check out the details here

If you register before 8/14/06 it is $100.00 a person. Also, Lindsey and I found last year that hotels filled up fast…so if you don’t have a relative or a friend to stay with we recommend getting a reserveration at the recommended hotels now!

Please consider this conference. This conference reeks of the glory of God, and it is great! Also, the bookstore will blow your mind…budget for it!

Read John Piper’s invitation here. . In this postmodern time this conference is desperately needed.

It would be awesome to see some of you guys go!

In Christ

Here’s the speaking team and the name of their talks:
· David Wells: "The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World"
· D.A. Carson: "The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World"
· Timothy Keller: "The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World"
· Mark Driscoll: "The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World"
· Voddie Baucham: "The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World"
· John Piper: "The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World"

[HT: Justin Taylor]

Deep thoughts by Zach Kapfer

[For Men's Bible Study 5/24/06]

Acts Chapter 3.

(1) Crippled Man
(A) Acts 3:2… says "he was put every day to beg (NIV)" placed at the temple

(ESV) laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

(NASB) whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple.

(KJV) whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;

· Begged Daily
· Needed help from others to move.
· The priest and others that used the temple personally knew the crippled man and knew the extent of his condition. Well known.

(B) More than 40 years old: Acts 4:22 “For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. ” (ESV)
· Begged for a long time.
· Crippled a long time.
· Someone in their youth would expect to recover faster or easier than someone in their 40's.

Acts 3:7-8 “…instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” (NIV)

“…and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” (ESV)

(2) God receives praise.
(A) In Acts 3:7 The crippled man [and in verse 10 all the people who saw him walking] gave praise to the one who gave him strength and the ability to walk - God.

(B) Peter confirms that something this good can only come from God.
Acts 3:12 “When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (NIV)

“And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” (ESV)

(3) Application-- if something good or great happens in your life and you take credit for achieving it, then you are suggesting that you are godliness (extreme view). Also, the more power you accredit yourself, the less you are acknowledging the power of God and the gifts he has given you. Give all the credit where it belongs, to God.

Acts 3:16 “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” (NIV)

“And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (ESV)

Notice that he said more than the "name of Jesus". It takes faith in Jesus and the acknowledgement that the gift is from Jesus to have made this miracle happen.

(4) Side note: We are all sinners and undeserving to be with God (Romans 3:23), thus the salvation we receive through the atonement of our sins (Romans 2:24-25; Mark 10:45) is a gift from God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

(5) BIG QUESTION: Is it enough to proclaim that Jesus Christ is your lord and savior to receive the gift of salvation, or is there more needed?

[I lightly edited this]

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Everyone Who Calls on the Name of the Lord will be Saved

Romans 10:5-13

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

[Emphasis is mine]

No Other Name

Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (ESV)

1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."(ESV)

[This was my first post back in February. I'll post this every once in a while to refocus myself back on the gospel!]

"The Thorn"

I stood a mendicant* of God before His royal throne
And begged Him for a priceless gift, which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, "But Lord, this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.

This is a strange, a hurtful gift that Thou hast given me.
He said, "My child, I give good gifts and give my best to thee."

I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore;
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn without this added Grace.
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hids His face.

"The Thorn," by Martha Snell Nicholson

*["mendicant" = beggar]

[HT: Justin Taylor]

Emergent/Emerging Church

As of today I'm done posting on this movement. I feel that I may have overdone it a bit regarding this, but I am very concerned about this movement impacting Christ's church with incorrect beliefs about God.

If you have followed my posts, Thank you! If you haven't I'm going to be getting back to the Word and devotional type material today!

In Christ

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 4.2

Because the Bible is inerrant Christ's Church will be like dolphins in this world! Swimming against the current of the world according to the direction of the inerrant authoritative or as B.B. Warfield put it infallible Word!

J.C. Ryle wrote this in Principles for Churchmen of Christians:
(pg. 72 of J.I. Packer's "Faithfulness and Holiness")
"[Dislike of dogma] is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and especially among young people....It produces what I must venture to call...a "jelly-fish" Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. A jelly-fish...is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, "No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine." We have hundreds of "jelly-fish" clergymen, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have no definite opinions; they belong to no school or party; they are so afraid of "extreme views" that they have no views at all. We have thousands of "jelly-fish" sermons preached every year, sermons without an edge, or a point, or a corner, smooth as billiard balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint. We have Legions of "jelly-fish" young men annually turned out from our Universities, armed with a few scraps of second-hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion, and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what is Christian truth. They live apparently in a state of suspense, like Mahomet's fabled coffin, hanging between heaven and earth...And last, and worst of all, we have myriads of "jelly-fish" worshippers - respectable Church-going people, who have no definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors. They think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, everything is true and nothing is false, all sermons are good and none are bad, every clergyman is sound and no clergyman unsound. They are "tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine"; often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to "render a reason of the hope that is in them."...Never was it so important for laymen to hold systematic views of truth, and for ordained ministers to "enunciate dogma" very clearly and distinctly in their teaching." (Emphasis added)

Now that's a quote!

That humbles my heart very much...I hope it humbles you too. Let us not be jelly-fish to just be taken on by this Emergent/Emerging Movement because we don't know any better. Let us not be ignorant of our rich orthodox Christian heritage!

Check out what John Piper has to say on the "jelly-fish" theme!

(From his sermon on 12/22/1985 titled "But God" on Ephesians 2:1-9)
"Don't you really want to be FREE from the spirit of the age. Why would anybody want to be jelly fish carried around by currents in the sea of secularism? You can be a dolphin, and swim against the currents and against the tide. Jelly fish aren't free. Dolphins are free." (Emphasis added)

(From Piper's sermon on 12/29/1985 titled "God Glorified in Good Resolves" on 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12)
"So when I use the term "resolve" this morning I want you to understand it in a sense broad enough to include all the acts of the mind that go out after goodness. For some that may be a resolute, considered, thought-through goal. For others it may be a more intuitive, less reflective pursuit. But in either case, what I mean to exclude is a jelly-fish approach to life that just floats with the currents of the times and the spirit of the age. All Christians should be dolphins in the sea of secularism whether your goals are felt intuitively as deep desires or whether they are weighed and considered and resolved." (Emphasis added)

(From Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life" on pg. 125-126)
Consumed with Clothes

"Or think about clothes. What a tragedy to see so many young people obsessed with what they wear and how they look. Even Christian youth seem powerless to ask greater questions than "What's wrong with it?" Like: Will these clothes help me magnify Christ? Will they point people to him as the manifest Treasure of my life? Will they highlight my personhood, created in the image of God to serve, or will they highlight my sexuality? Or my laziness? Trust me, I'm not hung up on clothes. There are some pretty radical, Christ-exalting reasons to dress down. My plea is that you be more like dolphin and less like a jelly-fish in the sea of fashion - and of contra-fashion (which is just as tyrannizing). (Emphasis added)

Christians, let us be less like "jelly-fish" and more like "dolphins". I'm afraid the Emergent Church is a movement taking advantage of us jelly-fish. Let us guard ourselves in Christ and the doctrine we have received as His church that is rooted in the inerrant Bible!

In Christ

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 4.1

Inerrancy Continued
Below is a post I posted a while ago…I’m putting it here because it fits where I’m at in my concerns of Emergent very well.

NY Times on the Emergent Church and “Evangelicalism”

In a recent article in the NY Times there is a discussion on “Evangelicals debating the meaning of ‘Evangelical.’” (Click here to read it.)

Lower down in the article is a quote I couldn’t help but notice. I have been following what is known as the “Emergent Church” for some time now…and this sentence really caught my attention.
“[regarding the Emerging Church] It emphasizes reading the Bible as a narrative, perfect in its purposes but not necessarily inerrant; de-emphasizing individual salvation in favor of a more holistic mission in serving the world; even making evangelicals less absolutist on whether people from other religions might find their way to heaven.”

I’m not sure what the Emerging Church has to say about this, but article says further down
“But Brian D. McLaren, founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church outside of Baltimore and a chief apostle of the emerging church, argues that he is not promoting relativism; rather, he believes the evangelical movement has been hijacked theologically, as well as politically, by its more fundamentalist elements, something he is trying to correct. ‘In many, many areas, I'm looking at polarization,’ he said, ‘and I'm looking at a third way.'"

Al Mohler says this, “A third way between what? It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that those who stand in continuity with the founders of evangelicalism have hijacked the evangelical movement.”

Check out Al Mohler’s blog on this here
Wow…interesting stuff.

If the emerging church really denies the inerrancy of Scripture…then outright that is antithetical to what the E-free statement of faith teaches...what we believe (check out the first point of the statement of faith here).

The first point of our statement of faith is:
(1) The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life. (Emphasis added)

When approaching the theology of the Emergent/Emerging Church be very discerning and very careful. There is a wide array of what different churches practice that call themselves Emerging/Emergent Churches, but Brian McLaren and others who are identified as the leaders of this movement embrace a theology that is different than much of orthodox Christianity. They use words that are very vague to describe their theology...so it's confusing to figure out what they actually do believe...so be very careful. There are some healthy orthodox Christian churches who use the title Emergent who have a more orthodox approach to theology, but they are selling themselves short using the title Emergent. The Emerging church is surrounded by questions as to what they believe. Those churches that are healthy in their theology are just confusing the matter more. In the end this movement may turn out to have good theology attached to it's name, but right now it's way up in the air!

Also, here is a quote from an article that the Emergent Church cites from their own webpage. Here's what an article in Christianity Today says (the Emergent website links to this article):
Then it stopped working." The Bells [leaders of an Emergent church] started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself—"discovering the Bible as a human product," as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat."

There is definitely more to say... but specifically if you have heard of the Emerging/Emergent Church be very careful when reading or approaching their material.

If you're interested here's a good book you can read on it...D.A. Carson's Being Conversant with Emergent.

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 4


I believe that one more quote of B.B. Warfield sums up much of what the Emergent/Emerging Church is:
(From B.B. Warfield's critical review of "Mysticism and Christianity". Volume X, pg. 366)

“Mysticism [any movment that throws out inerrancy] is a religion, and supplies a refuge for men of religious mind who find it no longer possible for them to rest on 'external authority.'…Once turn away from revelation and little choice remains to you but the choice between Mysticism and Rationalism.”

I agree with the Emergent Church’s desire to do more theology in reaching out to the poor and needy. I agree with them that there is a desperate need for a reformation in evangelicalism, but through good theology [At the end of my posts on my concerns on Emergent I will recommend movements that I believe are better solutions to reformation in the church] and through faithfulness to the Word as the inerrant words of God as BB Warfield states:
(The works of B.B. Warfield Volume I, "Revelation and Inspiration" pg. 396)

“Inspiration is that extraordinary, supernatural influence (or, passively, the result of it,) exerted by the Holy Ghost on the writers of our Sacred Books, by which their words were rendered also the words of God, and, therefore, perfectly infallible.” (Emphasis added)

BB Warfield clearly believed the Bible to be authoritative/inerrant. Or as he said “perfectly infallible.” Wow!

Tony Jones (National Coordinator for Emergent-US) said in a recent seminar the following:
(1) inerrancy (the word ‘inerrant’) is an invention of the 20th century (1973) [some Chicago council] logical positivism
(2) inerrancy holds the Bible to an external standard, but the Bible holds internal integrity.

Wow! As the quote just given above by BB Warfield the concept of inerrancy was believed by scholars before 1973! That’s a bold teaching [and a lie] from Emergent! Also, the Bible is the authoritative external standard for all living.

Also, Tony Jones said this, “'They [evangelicals] need to read Paul through the lens of Jesus and not Jesus through the lens of Paul.' – Tony…evangelicals should rip Romans out of the Bible for a few years.” These quotes on inerrancy are enough to convince me not to embrace the Emergent/Emerging Movement!

All that I have to say is that I'm not ripping Romans out of my Bible! Whatever happened to the treasuring of the following Scripture:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (ESV)" (Emphasis added)

2 Peter 1:19-21 "And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (ESV)." (Emphasis added)

If the national coordinator of Emergent-US speaks false truth [lies!], and misleads from what Scripture teaches...that tells me to avoid embracing this movement.

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 3

Relevance of Christ and His Church to the World

B.B. Warfield in the same critical review from my last post,
“No one will doubt that Christians of to-day must state their Christian belief in terms of modern thought. Every age has a language of its own and can speak no other. Mischief comes only when, instead of stating Christian belief in terms of modern thought, an effort is made, rather, to state modern thought in terms of Christian belief.” (Emphasis added)

Further he says,
“[These young men] are preoccupied with modern thought and appear to suppose that Christianity must be assimilated to it. They open their Introduction by telling us that “Christianity” as well as “its traditional theology” originated in past of outworn conditions…” (Emphasis added)

B.B. Warfield in a critical review of a book called “Foundations. A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought.” The works of B.B. Warfield Volume X, pg. 322

This statment, "originated in the past of outworn conditions," sounds very much like what the Emergent Church says.

Traditional theology isn’t rooted only in Modernist or Victorian wineskins. It is rooted in the authoritative inerrant Bible! Absolute truth in the Word given to us in the canon of Scripture [The Bible] is authoritative! So if stating things clearly (which has occurred all through history in statements/confessions of faith…not just in Modernism) as to what we believe is only showing our acceptance of the authoritative Word of God.

Recently Brian McLaren [a leader in the Emergent Church] wondered:
“why the vision in Dan Brown’s book [The Da Vinci Code] is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church.”

To which Tim Challies [a Christian blogger] said, "That's because they hate the Jesus of the Bible, Brian!"

(HT: Justin Taylor)

I would have to completely agree with Tim Challies. Check out this quote from John Piper:
“The glory of Jesus Christ is that he is always out of sync with the world and therefore always relevant for the world. If he fit nicely, he would be of little use. The effort to remake the Jesus of the Bible so that he fits the spirit of one generation makes him feeble in another. Better to let him be what he is, because it is often the offensive side of Jesus that we need most.” (John Piper in "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, pg. 99)

I believe that the absolute truth of the Bible is definitely out of sync with the world. That’s why it’s so relevant. Why would we want to make what is “out of sync,” for the purpose of bringing glory to Christ, “in sync?” To do so would undermine the purposes of God. So in every age what is thought to be the old way of thinking is made into a caricature so that the new way of thinking can achieve its agenda. And in the case of the Emergent/Emerging Church they won’t really clearly make their theological agenda known.

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 2

Approach to the Culture

The Emergent/Emerging Church won’t state clearly what they believe. Saying that Jesus didn’t have a mission statement is ridiculous. He did, namely what is revealed in the authoritative Word, the Bible. And there are a lot of things that the Bible teaches that are covered throughout the entire thing that need to be clearly stated because it would be easy for people to incorrectly interpret what the Bible says. I know I have done this myself!

In order for something to be true there has to be a set of absolutes. Like this is a car...so saying this is a car would be true. This isn’t something that found it’s beginning in Modernism as the Emergent/Emerging Church teaches.

In my last post LeRon Shults said this:
“Why would Emergent want to force the new wine of the Spirit’s powerful transformation of communities into old modernist wineskins?”

He couldn’t have given a better opportunity to segway into what a great theologian stated in 1913 in response to Modernism taking over the older Victorian philosophical approach to culture and theology. Check this out and judge for yourself if what they were proposing sounds vaguely familiar to LeRon’s statement above even though it was said almost 100 years ago!
(In the following quote Warfield is speaking from his opposition's perspective.)
“[These] are times of of transition. The Victorian [Modern] age is gone; and the assumptions on which Victorian [Modern] religion was built up have been dissipated. What was thought to be the bed-rock has become shifting sand. A new world has come into being, a new world which is asking questions. The repetition of old answers can serve no purpose. New answers must be framed, and these answers must be couched in the 'terms of modern [postmodern] thought.'…[Young men of this age] think in other terms; they must at least attempt to express what they think in the terms of the though-world in which they live. And, indeed to be perfectly frank, if Christianity cannot be expressed in terms of this new thought-world, Christianity is doomed. Men of the time are under the stress of a great obligation, therefore, at least to attempt to pour the old wine of Christianity into the new bottles of modern [postmodern] thought.” (Emphasis added, and I put in brackets some application to more contemporary terms.)

B.B. Warfield in a critical review of a book called “Foundations. A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought.” The works of B.B. Warfield Volume X, pg. 320

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 1.4

You might ask, "Why are mission statements important?"

They are clear precise ways to communicate what you believe. In case we didn't all realize the Bible is huge. There is a ton in there! A statement of faith is an example of what we believe regarding it.
(1) If those beliefs change over time (Remember God is unchangeable [Job 23:13; Hebrews 6:17-18; etc.], so even though our perception of God may change...He doesn't change!) then we can revise our statements of faith. The Evangelical Free Church of America is currently revising and changing their statement of faith (go here to follow this...the Draft revision links are at the far right side of the webpage.) So you can see that our developing a statement of faith has not stopped the conversation as to what we believe.

(2) If what we believe needs more clarification because it isn't clear then we can further clarify on that in revisions as well.

What does this have to do with the Emergent/Emerging Church?

Well, they won't clarify their beliefs. I emailed Brian McLaren probably about a year and a half ago asking if they had a mission statement for the ECM. He did not reply. To be fair he may have never received the email, but here is a response recently posted that might shed a little light on the situation as to why they don't want a mission statement.

This will be long...I'm sorry, but following are some quotes from the national coordinator for Emergent-US Tony Jones in response to why they don't have or want a mission statement:

From Tony Jones, National Coordinator, Emergent-U.S.
Yes, we have been inundated with requests for our statement of faith in Emergent, but some of us had an inclination that to formulate something would take us down a road that we don't want to trod. So, imagine our joy when a leading theologian joined our ranks and said that such a statement would be disastrous.

That's what happened when we started talking to LeRon Shults, late of Bethel Seminary and now heading off to a university post in Norway. LeRon is the author of many books, all of which you should read and now the author a piece to guide us regarding statements of faith and doctrine. Read on...

From LeRon Shults:
The coordinators of Emergent have often been asked (usually by their critics) to proffer a doctrinal statement that lays out clearly what they believe. I am merely a participant in the conversation who delights in the ongoing reformation that occurs as we bring the Gospel into engagement with culture in ever new ways. But I have been asked to respond to this ongoing demand for clarity and closure. I believe there are several reasons why Emergent should not have a "statement of faith" to which its members are asked (or required) to subscribe. Such a move would be unnecessary, inappropriate and disastrous.

Why is such a move unnecessary?

(1) Jesus did not have a "statement of faith." He called others into faithful relation to God through life in the Spirit. As with the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, he was not concerned primarily with whether individuals gave cognitive assent to abstract propositions but with calling persons into trustworthy community through embodied and concrete acts of faithfulness. The writers of the New Testament were not obsessed with finding a final set of propositions the assent to which marks off true believers. Paul, Luke and John all talked much more about the mission to which we should commit ourselves than they did about the propositions to which we should assent. The very idea of a "statement of faith" is mired in modernist assumptions and driven by modernist anxieties – and this brings us to the next point.

(2) Such a move would be inappropriate. Various communities throughout church history have often developed new creeds and confessions in order to express the Gospel in their cultural context, but the early modern use of linguistic formulations as "statements" that allegedly capture the truth about God with certainty for all cultures and contexts is deeply problematic for at least two reasons.
First, such an approach presupposes a (Platonic or Cartesian) representationalist view of language, which has been undermined in late modernity by a variety of disciplines across the social and physical sciences (e.g., sociolinguistics and paleo-biology). Why would Emergent want to force the new wine of the Spirit’s powerful transformation of communities into old modernist wineskins?

Second, and more importantly from a theological perspective, this fixation with propositions can easily lead to the attempt to use the finite tool of language on an absolute Presence that transcends and embraces all finite reality. Languages are culturally constructed symbol systems that enable humans to communicate by designating one finite reality in distinction from another. The truly infinite God of Christian faith is beyond all our linguistic grasping, as all the great theologians from Irenaeus to Calvin have insisted, and so the struggle to capture God in our finite propositional structures is nothing short of linguistic idolatry.

Why would it be disastrous? Emergent aims to facilitate a conversation among persons committed to living out faithfully the call to participate in the reconciling mission of the biblical God. Whether it appears in the by-laws of a congregation or in the catalog of an educational institution, a "statement of faith" tends to stop conversation. Such statements can also easily become tools for manipulating or excluding people from the community. Too often they create an environment in which real conversation is avoided out of fear that critical reflection on one or more of the sacred propositions will lead to excommunication from the community. Emergent seeks to provide a milieu in which others are welcomed to join in the pursuit of life "in" the One who is true (1 John 5:20). Giving into the pressure to petrify the conversation in a "statement" would make Emergent easier to control; its critics could dissect it and then place it in a theological museum alongside other dead conceptual specimens the curators find opprobrious. But living, moving things do not belong in museums. Whatever else Emergent may be, it is a movement committed to encouraging the lively pursuit of God and to inviting others into a delightfully terrifying conversation along the way.

This does not mean, as some critics will assume, that Emergent does not care about belief or that there is no role at all for propositions. Any good conversation includes propositions, but they should serve the process of inquiry rather than shut it down. Emergent is dynamic rather than static, which means that its ongoing intentionality is (and may it ever be) shaped less by an anxiety about finalizing state-ments than it is by an eager attention to the dynamism of the Spirit’s disturbing and comforting presence, which is always reforming us by calling us into an ever-intensifying participation in the Son’s welcoming of others into the faithful embrace of God.

[I edited this a little bit for clarity in reading.]

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 1.3

Mission Statements
(1) At my home church we have a mission statement of faith (click here to view it).

(2) At my current seminary (Reformed Theological Seminary) we have a statement of faith (click here to view it).

(3) At RTS they also hold to the confession of faith put forth in 1646 in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

(4) At Capitol Hill Baptist Church (where I am applying for a church apprenticeship program) they have a statement of faith (click here to view it).

(5) At Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (where I'm applying for full time seminary) they have a statement of faith. (Click here to view it).

(6) Luther in 1518 presented (with others) the Heidelberg Disputation and the 95 Thesis are examples of his statement of faith.

(7) The Apostle's Creed from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, the Nicene Creed written in 325 AD and revised at Constantinople in 381 AD, the Athanasian Creed from the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the Chalcedon Creed written in 451 AD, and the The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople's Creed written in 553 AD were all early confessions that orthodox Christians wrote. Christiasn have almost always developed some kind of written statement about what they believe.

(8) We also have the Articles of Religion (39 Articles, written 1571 in the Church of England), Canons of the council of Orange written 529 AD, etc.

(9) Most recently the New Hampshire Baptist Confession written in 1833, the Baptist Faith and Message written in 1925...revised 1963, 2000, and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy written in 1978.

There are many more statements/confessions of faith, but these are some of the main ones. Some of the links I attached didn't have the dates on them. So for the ones that didn't I obtained the dates from Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 1.2

This drives us to the question, "What is Theology?" right?

J.I. Packer is awesome when it comes to this...check out what he thinks...

He poses this question (Knowing God Pp. 18-19),
"But wait a minute...tell me this. Is our journey really necessary? In Spurgeon's day, we know, people found theology interesting, but I find it boring. Why need anyone take time off today for the kind of study you propose? Surely a layperson, at any rate, can get on without it? After all, this is the twentieth century [Now twenty-first century], not the nineteenth!"

Further he says,
"A fair question! - but there is, I think, a convincing answer to it. The questioner clearly assumes that a study of the nature and character of God will be impractical and irrelevant for life. In fact, however, it is the most practical project anyone can engage in. Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives."

"As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it."

Pp. 20 He cites Five Foundational Truths of Christian's knowledge of God...
(1) God has spoken to man, the Bible is his Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.

(2) God is Lord and King over his world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him.

(3) God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from teh guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly.

(4) God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it.

(5) Godliness means responding to God's revelation in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God's Word. This, and nothing else, is true religion.

In essence these 5 foundations represent a starting point from which we are to develop our world view. This is one reason why when I join an organization, support one, or refer one I look at their Mission Statement. Mission statements are really important because they help those who are a part of an organization clearly understand why they exist, what their purpose is, and gives them a foundational starting point to develop deeper understanding of God and a starting point for clear communication of those beliefs to others.

(UPDATE 5/17/06: I listened to an interview yesterday (5/16/06) between Derek Thomas, Ligon Duncan III, and David Wells. David Wells' thesis for what Theology means in his book "No Place for Truth" is below:
1.) Confessional rooted in Scripture as divinely inspired and authoritative and relevant for all life and conduct. The truth that God has given us.

2.) Reflection/Thought life understanding of how truth has reached us through history. To think about that truth.

3.) Cultivation. Development of spirituality and moral life and practice based upon and growing out of that authoritative truth and not based upon technique and the psychological culture in which we are living today even though we receive valuable insights, but they have to justify themselves at the bar of truth.

This helps define what theology is from the "Evangelical's" perspective.

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 1.1

The Church

To quote Mark Dever from The Deliberate Church (Pp. 26),
"Fundamentally, God intends the local church to be a corporate display of His glory and wisdom, both to unbelievers and to unseen spiritual powers (John 13:34-35; Ephesians 3:10-11). More specifically, we are a corporate dwelling place fo God's spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17), the organic body of Christ in which He magnifies His glory (Acts 9:4; 1 Corinthians 12). The Greek word is ekklēsia (ἐκκλησία), a gathering or congregating of people. The church is God's vehicle for displaying His glory to His creation."

Later he says how we should build it (Pp. 27-28),
"...let us be clear on the relationship between the Gospel of Christ and the method of its ministers.

(1) Theology drives method.
Whether we realize it or not, our thinking on the Gospel will shape the way we share it. Our theology of the Good News will be brought to bear on how we build the church. [Note: Remember though that Jesus is ultimately the one who is building His Church Matthew 16:18.]
(2) God's methods determine ours.
The methods we use to plant and water in God's vineyard must be subservient to and in complete harmony with the working of God's growth method - the Gospel, as faithfully preached by His servants. Working contrary to God's processes often means working contrary to His purposes.
(3) The Gospel both enables and informs our participation in God's purposes.
We are not even able to enter the Kingdom of God, much less minister in it, unless His Gospel first does its work in us; not do we know how to minister in His kingdom unless His Gospel first provides the parameters for doing so. As such, the Gospel alone must both shape and evaluate any ministry method we use.
(4) Faithfulness to the Gospel must be our measure of success, not results.
The power of God for spiritual life and genuine holiness is in the Gospel. So fidelity is paramount, not innovation, and not immediately observable results. Simon the Magician drew a crowd - he even had them calling him the Power of God; but his power, motive, and message were fraudulent (Acts 8:9-11). Our call is to fidelity as messengers. Only God causes real growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7), and He does so by the Gospel (Romans 10:14-17; Galatians 2:1-5)."

We aren't perfect, so every method we attempt to do will not be perfect. But we must strive for God's way of building His church, or "doing church". If theology drives everything we must have a clear understanding of what the actual theology is.

I think that those under the banner of the Emergent Church may agree with this. Many churches under the banner of Evangelicalism aren't genuinely pursuing truth in teaching and living, so many Emergent Church Movement leaders are trying to pioneer (in their eyes) "living/doing theology." This is good only if the theology is good.

More to come!

In Christ

Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church Movement? Part 1

As I have been trying to define the Emergent/Emerging Church through these posts I hope you can tell that I was trying to be fairly objective in what I was writing…

I was trying to understand and gain a clear understanding of the following:
(1) Current reality of the size, ecclesiology, and leadership of the movement.
(2) The historical context
(3) Comparison to other movements
(4) The Emergent/Emerging Church Movement's priorities
(5) Other Characteristics of the movement.

I’m sure there is much more that could be said to lay out an understanding of the entire thing. Honestly, since this movement is an organism it can evade many definitions, but we must attempt to have an understanding of it's breadth.

So the question remaining is, “Why do I care?” Well, I think we should care because this movement I believe is limiting the clear communication of the gospel!

Honestly, when I look at their qualities from my last post (What is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 7) I think to myself… “self, these qualities are amazingly radical, and Christ exalting.” However, when you begin to look at the theological teaching that is so ingrained in what they teach in the midst of their missional living there are some major RED FLAGS and CONCERNS as to how clear the gospel is communicated. This directly impacts whether or not what they do exalts Christ. I believe that what the full counsel of what the Bible teaches is not clearly, and correctly taught within much of this movement.

Please continue to follow my posting as I will now move from a defining stage to a stage of pointing out concerns regarding the Emergent/Emerging Church movement.

In Christ

Friday, May 12, 2006

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 7

[This post is an edited version of what Justin Taylor wrote in a post linked at the bottom of this post.]

In this series of posts, I'm trying to understand the emerging church movement before I attempt any critique or offer any concerns.

I want to commend to you a brand-new book, published by Baker Books, entitled Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, both of Fuller Seminary.

I expect this book to quickly become a standard reference in the ongoing conversation. Key leaders within emerging churches are also recommending it as the best book currently available:
· “Quite simply the best book yet on the emerging church.” (Andrew Jones)
· “If you want to be truly conversant with emerging churches, this is the book to read.” (Brian McLaren)
· “The best book available on the emerging church.” (John R. Franke)

Gibbs and Bolger spent five years interviewing participants in the “emergent conversation.” Rejecting a definitional approach that would clearly demarcate who is “in” and who is “out,” they have chosen to label as Emerging Churches those faith communities that are engaged in particular processes.

Gibbs and Bolger first identified churches “that take culture, specifically postmodern culture, very seriously.” They next identified nine activities/practices that were common to these churches. Very few of the churches they surveyed exhibited all nine. So they broke it down into three core practices and six derivative practices. Their expansive definition, build upon these nine practices, is as follows:
Emerging Churches are those:
(1) who take the life of Jesus as a model way to live, and
(2) who transform the secular realm,
(3) as they live highly communal lives.
Because of these three activities, emerging churches
(4) welcome those who are outside,
(5) share generously,
(6) participate,
(7) create,
(8) lead without control, and
(9) function together in spiritual activities.

Boiling it down to one sentence: “Emerging Churches are communities who practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures.” Or another way of saying the same thing: “Emerging Churches are missional communities arising from within postmodern culture, consisting of followers of Jesus seeking to be faithful in their place and time.”

Click here to see the original post Justin Taylor wrote on this on 11/17/2005.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 6

[This post is an edited version of what Justin Taylor wrote in a post linked at the bottom of this post.]

One way to understand the self-described goals of Emergent is to read the Order and Rule of the Emergent Village. At EmergentVillage.com, they write that “Members of emergent hold in common four values and practices that flow from them.” I will list these four values, along with some distinctives beneath them, encouraging you to go to the website to see this unpacked:
(1) Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus
(a) Great Commandment (love God, love neighbor)
(b) Holistic gospel
(c) Generous orthodoxy

(2) Commitment to the Church in all its Forms
(a) Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal
(b) Irenic and inclusive, not elitist and critical
(c) "Deep ecclesiology”

(3) Commitment to God’s World
(a) Practice faith missionally—following Christ into the world

(4) Commitment to One Another
(a) Growing, global, generative, and non-exclusive friendship.

We could summarize this core commitments as: (1) pro-Jesus, (2) pro-church, (3) pro-world, and (4) pro-Koinonia.

Click here to see the original post Justin Taylor wrote on this on 11/17/2005.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 5

[This post is an edited version of what Justin Taylor wrote in a post linked at the bottom of this post.]

A clarification on terminology. In an earlier post, I distinguished between Emergent and Emerging. The two are difficult to keep straight, and few are careful with the distinction. The important thing is to understand that there is a conceptual distinction, even if there isn't always a linguistic one.

Click here to see the original post Justin Taylor wrote on this on 11/17/2005.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 4

[This post is an edited version of what Justin Taylor wrote in a post linked at the bottom of this post.]

The emerging church movement is not a North American phenomenon only. There are thousands of emerging Christians in Western Europe and the South Pacific—and to a lesser extent, there is development in Asia, Africa, and South America. Given the audience for this presentation and my lack of acquaintance with models outside the U.S., I will mainly focus on the American version. But do keep in mind that this is part of a larger worldwide conversation with its own dynamic and nuances.

Click here to see the original post Justin Taylor wrote on this on 11/17/2005.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 3.4

Lastly, from the definition on Wikipedia.

Comparison to other movements
It is useful to compare the Emerging Church with other Christian movements which emphasize foundational Christianity and inner experience.
(1) The Taizé Community in France also offers a neo-traditional experience of Christianity in which traditional symbols such as candles and crosses have intensified importance. Taizé, however, places relatively less emphasis on Scripture and a greater emphasis on meditation and the experiences derived from the monastic life. The Emerging Church, in turn, places a greater value on multimedia-based creative expression (and would consider religious orders an anachronism, if they considered them at all). An important difference is that the Emerging Church seeks to be relevant and accessible within the larger society, while the Taizé Community offers an alternative to the surrounding culture.

(2) The Religious Society of Friends, although not born out of the conflicts of modernism, has nonetheless influenced the Emerging Church through thinkers such as Dallas Willard.

(3) The Quakers also reject church hierarchy while valuing the sacred as a personal experience. However the Quakers have developed a formal theology of the Inner Light, whereas the Emerging Church does not wish to establish novel theologies of any kind.

All three of these groups are ecumenical in their outlook, value tradition and inward trans-rational experience, and seek to revitalize the faith. The Emerging Church stands out by its close association with post-modernism and by its emphasis on accessibility, as well as its ideal of interacting with the surrounding culture rather than escaping it.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 3.3

Also from the definition on Wikipedia.

Ecclesiology / view of church structure
Reflecting its decentralized and local nature, the emerging church does not maintain a mutually agreed-on ecclesiology, or set of beliefs defining the specific role and nature of the church. Eschewing doctrine, the emerging church instead seeks merely to continue the mission of Christ, while deeply respecting the different expressions that the body of Christ may bring to that mission.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 3.2

Also, from the definition on Wikipedia.

Structure and commonality
While there is no co-ordinated organization behind the Emerging Church and no guarantee that the Emerging Church will mature into a coherent movement at all, the term is becoming increasingly common among leaders of Emerging Church groups and Emerging Church thinkers. Many of these leaders and thinkers have written books, articles and/or blogs on the subject using a shared terminology.

Emerging Church groups are typically observed to emphasize the following elements:

(1) Highly creative approaches to worship and spiritual reflection. This can involve everything from the use of contemporary music and films to liturgy, as well as more ancient customs, with a goal of making the church more appealing to the unchurched, and those within the church.

(2) A minimalist and decentralized organizational structure.

(3) A flexible approach to theology wherein individual differences in belief and morality are accepted within reason.

(4) A holistic view of the role of the church in society. This can mean anything from greater emphasis on fellowship in the structure of the group to a higher degree of emphasis on social action, community building or Christian outreach.

(5) A desire to reanalyze the Bible within varying contexts with the goal of revealing a multiplicity of valid perspectives rather than a single valid interpretation.

(6) A continual re-examination of theology.

(7) A high value placed on creating communities built out of the creativity of those who are a part of each local body.

(8) A belief in the journey of faith, both as individual and community. The Emerging Church Movement (ECM) shares with the house church movement the willingness to challenge the structure and organization that have become traditional for the Church over many centuries. Many emerging churches are in fact also house churches.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 3.1

Also, from the definition on Wikipedia.

Historical context
In support of their ideas, the Emerging Church claims the following: During recent centuries Western Christianity, like all of Western civilization, has been influenced significantly by modernism. In the 19th century Protestant theologians applied principles of scientific reductionism to the Bible text in an effort to derive the true text and the underlying meaning as well as to establish proven "meta-narratives"(cf. textual criticism). The result was not a unification of theology but rather an additional schism within the Church, resulting in the oppositional worldviews of liberal Christianity and Christian fundamentalism.

The apparent antagonism between science and faith, unknown in antiquity, presents a novel challenge to the Church. The Postmodern church resolves this issue by encouraging followers to deconstruct each element of their faith experience and reassemble the pieces according to his or her own unique journey of deconstruction. In practical terms this faith trajectory may be seen in the young believer who is brought up in a Fundamentalist tradition and encounters the oppositional arguments in early adulthood. He can choose sides, he can reject both sides, or he can construct his own personal faith, but this will involve deconstructing his childhood faith.

The Emerging Church provides a environment for this process of deconstruction and reconstruction. The resulting theology is, necessarily, heterogenous and potentially divisive. The response of the Emerging Church is to seek unity through borrowing from the early Church a variety of symbols, practices, and experiences that form a common heritage and a unifying experience. From this perspective, the Emerging Church may be seens as relatively mystical and traditional while both liberal Christianity and Fundamentalism may be viewed as modern and hyper-rational.

The Emerging Church may also be seen as both a reaction to, and a continuation of the Saddleback/Willow Creek movement, which achieved such great success in the 1990s using a "seeker-friendly" approach. The "seeker-friendly" approach practiced ‘come-to-church’ evangelism while the emergent church thesis is ‘discover church’ evangelism, in which the powerful (and often challenging) symbols and practices of the early church are poured into the modern church.

Both models are marked by their goal of evangelism and by their willingness to retool the church experience as necessary to meet their goal. However, the resulting church experiences can be quite different. The Saddleback/Willow Creek movement sought to forego the "irrelevant trappings" of the traditional church, such as stained glass, liturgy and candles, while the Emerging Church movement tends to value these same symbols as sacred expressions of faith and creativity.

The Saddleback/Willow Creek movement is comfortable applying the tools of modern American marketing (focus groups, advertising, polling, etc.), to deliver a highly polished product to a baby boomer target demographic. In contrast, the emerging church movement recognizes that their own target audience -- post-baby boomers -- has already been bombarded and over-saturated with advertising and thus places a higher value on authentic personal interactions and a de-emphasis on "timeless truths".

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 3

The emerging church definition from Wikipedia.

The Emerging Church or Emergent Church is a diffuse movement which arose in the late 20th century as a reaction to the influence of modernism in Western Christianity. The movement is usually called a “conversation” by its proponents to emphasize its diffuse nature with contributions from many people and no clearly defined leadership or direction. The emerging church seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christianity as they live in a postmodern culture. While the movement is very diverse, many emergents display the following characteristics:
(1) Authenticity
People in the postmodern culture seek real and authentic experiences in preference over scripted or superficial experiences. Emerging churches strive to be relevant to today's culture and daily life, whether it be through worship or service opportunities. The core Christian message is unchanged but emerging churches attempt, as the church has throughout the centuries, to find ways to reach God's people where they are to hear God's message of unconditional love.

(2) Missional living
Christians go out into the world to serve God rather than isolate themselves within communities of like-minded individuals.

(3) Narrative theology
Teaching focuses on narrative presentations of faith and the Bible rather than systematic theology or biblical reductionism.

(4) Christ-likeness
While not neglecting the study of Scripture or the love of the church, Christians focus their lives on the worship and emulation of the person of Jesus Christ.

Emergent Christians are predominantly found in Western Europe, North America, and the South Pacific. Some attend local independent churches that specifically identify themselves as being "emergent", while many others contribute to the conversation from within existing mainline denominations.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 2.3

Once again…this is not a small organization happening only in the United States. Take a look at the list below cited at the Emergent Church-US website .

Most of these are email addresses to one individual, but are 3 links to Emergent organizations overseas. I have only added links to the 3 with websites.

International links to emergent people around the world. If these people have a web site the link will take you to their site, otherwise you'll get an e-mail link for getting more information.

Below are Friends of Emergent, with links to their web sites and e-mails, for you to connect to:
(1) Emergent United Kingdom
(2) Emergent friends in Australia
(3) Emergent friends in Burundi
(4) Emergent friends in Canada
(5) Emergent friends in Denmark
(6) Emergent friends in The Faroe Islands
(7) Emergent friends in France
(8) Emergent friends in Hawaii
(9) Emergent friends in Japan
(10) Emergent friends in Latin America
(11) Emergent friends in Lithuania
(12) Emergent friends in Malaysia
(13) Emergent friends in The Netherlands
(14) Emergent friends in N. Ireland
(15) Emergent friends in NZ
(16) Emergent friends in Poland
(17) Emergent friends in South Africa
(18) Emergent friends in Spain
(19) Emergent friends in Turkey and the Middle East

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 2.2

This post cites Emerging Church websites that are listed in the definition of an Emerging Church from Wikipedia. This also gives an idea of how to compare these bodies to some denominations.

Emerging Church churches

The Emerging Church is not confined to one denomination or gathering. Emerging churches can range in denominational affiliation from the Anglican/Episcopal Church to the Southern Baptist Church; still others are best described as non-affiliated intentional communities or house churches.

The following sites list just a few of the emerging church websites found around the world:
(1) emergingchurch.info stories from Churches
(2) TheOoze.com Church Directory
(3) ginkworld.net's "Communities of Faith"
(4) zoecarnate.com Church Connection

In Christ

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 2.1

This post cites more leaders that are listed in the definition of an Emerging church from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a free online, open-source encyclopedia. I will post more from this resource in the days to come.

Remember the distinction between (1) Emergent, and (2) Emerging from my first post. Wikipedia does not bear this distinction in mind and uses the terms interchangeably. Also, they are defining the Emergent/Emerging Church on a world-wide level…not just Emergent-US.

Some of the names were repeats of my previous post. Below are only the names of folks whom I have not already mentioned.
Pioneers in the Emerging Church movement

The Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is highly decentralized so in no sense does any one person act as a spokesperson for the movement however the following people are often recognized as pioneers and important thinkers:

(12) Jonny Baker, UK alternative worship pioneer and advocate
(13) Kyle Cheatham, founder and Pastor of Terranova in Georgetown, Texas]
(14) John O'Keefe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_O%27Keefe , lead pastor at 247connection and founder of ginkworld.net, "an emerging/postmodern site exploring what it means to be a follower of the Jesus in today's world"
(15) Mark Pearson, founder of Cityside in Auckland, New Zealand.
(16) Leonard Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University, and prolific author
(17) Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy at USC
(18) Jay Bakker, founder of the Revolution Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
(19) Karen Ward, the founder and pastor of Church of the Apostles in Fremont, Washington.
(20) Troy Bronsink, the founder and pastor of Church as Art in Atlanta, GA.