Contending for the Faith…or Just Being Contentious?

Contending for the Faith…or Just Being Contentious? A recent event impressed upon me our collective need to be responsible when it comes to accusing others of having false doctrine. Many people get up in arms because of rumors that circulate on the internet, many of which are neither carefully researched, nor proven. Boycotts are sometimes started to punish those who don’t toe the line on pet doctrinal issues and, oftentimes, good and godly people are maligned and misrepresented. Case in point: I received an email from a Concerned Lady who has read my articles for many years. She has heard me speak at a conference, and has purchased, and read, my books. She said she has always appreciated what I have to say and has often been encouraged and challenged by it. However, she was recently reading an article in a magazine in which I appeared as an author, and saw something that troubled her. A different author in the same magazine (not me)  included a quote from “Evangelical Author X” (obviously not his real name!). Apparently, the concerned lady had recently seen “Author X” mentioned in a bad light by an online heresy hunter, with whom I was not familiar. “Heresy Hunter” (not his real name), is the anonymous author of a “Discernment Ministry” website. He claims that “Author X” is associated with some bad people (Emergent Church authors), because in one of his books “Author X” uses some of the same terminology that they use (such as “contemplation” and “meditation” in reference to prayer). Therefore “Author X” must be a heretic. “Heretic Hunter” listed “Author X” (a Southern Baptist minister) as being in league with the following “bad guys” (and then he lists): a Jesuit, a Quaker, an Anglican, a Roman Catholic ascetic, a New Ager and a few others.  According to “Heresy Hunter,” these men are all bad, and they use “Terminology Y,” so since “Author X” uses similar terms (he sites three sentences), “Author X” is now one of them (even though “the heretics” are not even all on the same page theologically). This really isn’t even a case of being “guilty-by-association,” since none of the “heretics” hang out with each other or believe exactly the same things, and “Author X” certainly doesn’t hang out with any of them. (Confusing, eh?) The net result of all this, is that “Concerned Lady” (if I do not respond in the way she deems fit) may no longer support (or perhaps even oppose) my ministry....

You Might be Emergent if…

(Preface: This is all in fun.) You might be involved with the Emergent Church if… You finally understand the Trinity now that you have read “The Shack”. You think “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller is a book on Systematic Theology. You have life-size posters of Rob Bell on your wall. You read every blog entry on Emergent Village (and comment!). You consider Brian McLaren to be your spiritual granddad. You shaved your head to look like Tony Campolo. You think Mark Driscoll is a Fundamentalist. You learned to dance by reading “Soul Salsa” by Leonard Sweet. You sent money to Steve Taylor to help him release his new film. You don’t know what the term “Postmodern” means, but you think it is cool. You buy all your clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch. You chose your current church because they have WiFi and Starbucks! You keep a copy of “The Ragamuffin Gospel” in your car. You read “The Message” bible. You tried an NLT, but it had too many big words. You are in MN to see Doug Pagitt, NOT John Piper. You have a “Tony Jones is my homeboy,” bumper sticker on your eco-friendly hybrid. You love the word, “Conversation,” but cringe at the word,...

How Did the Church Disconnect from Truth? — Francis Schaeffer

How Did the Church Disconnect from Truth? — Francis Schaeffer Dr. Francis Schaeffer, a brilliant Christian philosopher who died in 1984, gives great insight to the Postmodern crisis we are experiencing within the church today. He explains how Thomas Aquinas opened the door for an Epistemological compromise between the Bible as an authority on one hand and Aristotelian philosophy being an equal viewpoint on the other hand. This mixture, known as Syncretism,  led to Christians questioning whether the Bible was needed at all. This is something we are struggling with in our day. Is the Bible merely “a” source of truth, or is it “the” authoritative source for all moral truth? Is the Bible “a” truth (i.e. Relative Truth), or are there real absolutes that relate to all of life and reality? If you have never read Dr. Shaeffer’s works, you need to rediscover this man’s amazing contribution to the Christian community. It may change your life, as it did mine nearly 20 years ago. Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker and is the Director of Family Renewal,...

Is There Anything Wrong With Rob Bell’s Gospel? – by J. Lee Grady

Is There Anything Wrong With Rob Bell’s Gospel? Wednesday, 18 May 2011 07:38 AM EDT J. Lee Grady Newsletters – Fire In My Bones The popular author’s controversial book Love Wins celebrates God’s love but drifts dangerously into Universalism. I’m usually quick to speak my mind. But in the case of Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins, I’ve withheld comment until now because (1) I don’t think Christians should judge books before reading them; (2) the theological issues addressed require careful analysis; and (3) I have many young friends who are fans of Bell’s books, and they may write me off if I don’t treat him fairly. So I’ll begin with a compliment. Bell is a masterful writer whose prose is poetic. As pastor of the 7,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, Bell has gained a following because of his casual style, his ultra-cool Nooma videos and the previous books he’s released with Christian publisher Zondervan (especially Velvet Elvis). With Love Wins, he’s taking his message mainstream. HarperCollins published it, and Time magazine featured a cover story in April about the firestorm Bell has triggered among conservative Christian leaders who have accused him of heresy. So what’s all the fuss about? Bell’s core theme is that Christians have been too narrow in their view of God and His mercy. He argues that God loves people too much to banish them to hell. In the end, he says, after this life is over, everybody will find ultimate reconciliation in Christ. Bell claims this is what the Bible teaches, and he suggests that Christian theologians have promoted the idea for centuries. He writes: “At the center of the Christian tradition … have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.” That sounds a lot like Universalism, the idea that all spiritual paths ultimately lead to heaven. But pinning the Universalist label on Bell isn’t easy because he doesn’t write authoritatively. He muses, hints, speculates and suggests his views, so not to offend. Rather than preach with conviction, he invites his readers to a “conversation.” It feels friendly and non-confrontational. Near the end of the book Bell sounds solidly evangelical when he emphasizes that people must receive the grace God has offered to us. But he sounds more like Oprah when he asks: “Has God created millions of people over tens of...

Narrative Theology — A Subtle Deception

Hi Israel, Our friends’ son (a homeschooled young man raised in a Christian home) now states that he is not a Christian, doesn’t believe that Jesus lived and the Bible, to him, is just another old book. Very sad but it was coming.. He had joined the emergent church several years ago.. Wonder if this is a common thing for those who move to the emergent church? (A concerned friend) A big part of Emergent Theology is a Narrative (story) approach to Hermeneutics (how we study and understand the Bible). Nearly every Evangelical scholar will readily admit that Narrative (story) is an important part of understanding the Bible. Jesus used Narrative quite often. The Mid-Eastern culture is deeply rooted in Narrative as a method for transmitting transcendent values from one generation to another. It is an important and vital part of Christian Homiletics (preaching style and methods of communicating the Gospel) and is a substantial part of the content of the Bible itself. What many Emergents mean by Narrative Theology though is that the Bible is MERELY that…a story. As Brian McLaren, the grand-daddy of the movement says (in his book, The Story We Find Ourselves In), the Bible is a collection of stories that Bedoin shepherds told themselves around campfires to help them learn the story they found themselves in. Today, we read those stories in an attempt to understand important truths that might help us understand the story we find ourselves in. So Narrative Theology is a deconstruction of the authority of Scripture, and most specifically what is called the “Perspicuity of Scripture“. That means that God wrote the Bible intending for it to be understood. He wanted it’s message to be clear and available for everyone. Emergents deny any claim someone makes that they understand what the Bible means. They would concede that you can know what it means FOR YOU, but not what it means objectively or what it means for someone else. Really this is just a carry-over from what the German Theologians did through Higher Criticism over a century ago. Everything cycles back around. Back then the Fundamentalists were battling Modernism. Now the Evangelicals are battling Postmodernism. At the root is the fight over the authority of Scripture, and yes, thousands of young adults are embracing Narrative Theology as a replacement for seeing the Bible as Objective Propositional Truth. May the Lord grant this young man humility, which opens access to grace (1...

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