02 March 2007

A side of dressing

by Phil Johnson

ere are a few observations about some of the comments that were posted here and there around the blogosphere in response to yesterday's post:





  • The post I made yesterday was an argument against the notion that one can be more "missional" or achieve a higher degree of "relevance," "authenticity," or evangelistic efficacy mainly by affecting a certain appearance or style.
  • The post was not a facile plea for stricter dress codes. It wasn't an argument for dress codes at all, in any context. It's frankly hard to see how any literate person could possibly stretch the meaning of words so grotesquely as to interpret it that way.
  • Moreover, yesterday's post wasn't even an argument for or against any particular style of clothing. Again, it was an argument against the notion that fashion per se (either one style or the other) is the secret to "authenticity" or evangelistic success.
  • Note: I'm the one who is objecting to so much stress on the outward appearance. Please re-read the e-mail section of yesterday's post if you missed that simple point.
  • On the other hand, if you think being "missional" is all about style and outward appearance, you are being a gross hypocrite if you then pretend to be offended by someone else's dress-code manifesto (even if said manifesto is merely a figment of the critics' imagination, as it certainly is in this case). Because if you imagine that being "missional" entails looking a certain way (or not looking a certain way), and then you advocate being "missional," you have in effect proposed a kind of de facto dress code.
  • For those who have asked: there is no dress code at my church.
  • I've been attending the same church weekly for exactly 24 years this week. I help shepherd a Sunday-school class (GraceLife) consisting of nearly 600 regular attenders, ranging from college age (and younger) to octogenarians (and older)—including people from every culture and racial group that is common in our community. We have some people who are pierced and tattooed, and a few old guys who still wear polyester leisure suits. Some of my flock do wear shorts, jeans, and t-shirts every week. Never once in my life have I rebuked anyone for what he or she was wearing. In fact, I doubt I have ever even remarked about anyone's attire. The only circumstances in which I can envision doing that would be if someone was immodest in a sexually seductive way (or grossly inappropriate in one of the ways I outlined in this post). I've never even considered confronting anyone about dress. Everyone is welcome, regardless of style or subculture. Whether someone comes in tattered blue jeans and a faded Pyro T-shirt or a fancy kurta, he will receive a warm and friendly welcome. If a guest in our group feels under-dressed, it certainly will not be because anyone in the flock has looked askance at his or her clothing. Dress codes have literally been a non-issue in every context where I have ever ministered.
  • Nevertheless, let me say this for the record: It's positively sinful for Christians to shun people based solely on how they look or what class or culture they come from. See James 2:1-9.
  • On the other hand, let me add this: It's utterly foolish for Christians who have never actually even been part of any of the seamy subcultures that hang about society's moral fringe to adopt the base and sordid aspects of those subcultures because of some misguided notion that it makes them seem more real, more relevant, or more righteous in the eyes of the subculture they are trying to reach. That, once more, was the whole point of yesterday's post: If you think the effectiveness of your ministry hinges on the question of style, you have bought into a wicked lie.
  • The hysteria, false accusations, caricatures, wrong assumptions, incorrigibly bad attitudes, vitriol, and hot-tempered critics that emerge from the Emerging woodwork every time this subject or a related one is raised is really quite telling, I think.
  • It's ironic that when you hear the word culture from the lips of today's emerging evangelicals, it's almost never a reference to true culture (the artistic and intellectual aspects of civilization). But instead, what really infatuates and attracts post-evangelicals (and what they seem most eager to imitate) are fads. And the more base and disreputable the fashions, the more the post-evangelical bad boys seem to like them.

Phil's signature

78 comments:

SB said...

Excellent Post

One questions emerging from the post-evangelical woodwork:

You said:

"it's almost never a reference to true culture (the artistic and intellectual aspects of civilization). But instead, what really infatuates and attracts post-evangelicals (and what they seem most eager to imitate) are fads. And the more base and disreputable the fashions, the more the post-evangelical bad boys seem to like them."

is folk art vs. fine art a better a distinction?

as oposed to:

true culture vs. fads

here's a post that illustrates my point--I agree with Bob:

http://fundyreformed.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/clap-sit-go-wild/

HooverBranch said...

We have the Word of God. We are Saved by Christ Alone. Why then is so much enfuses put on things of the world? I dont understand it. I dont understand how we can get caught up on issues like this. Yet here we are. Mr. Johnsons Post which was suppose to do the opposite, brought on a debate over things of the World. A debate that I have seen oh so much. And here we are ready to die on a hill top for this debate. For the side that we are on.

Having Just finished "Fools Gold" (great book by the way) Dan Dumas brings up the point of Jonathan Edwards and how he was willing to lose his Pastorship at his church because of a doctrinal issue. The issue underminded Gods Word.

Does this issue deserve that type of attention?

Can some one help me understand? Not just with this topic but others. Topics that seems like it shouldnt even need to be addressed, yet are such a problem in the Church. I guess all we can do is try and Have Biblical Discernment and back up all our Beliefs with the Word of God. But it is still an enigma to me.

James-Ohio

SB said...

Why does this matter?

the doctrine of God is adorned if we get it right--

because pagans are dying and going to hell and liberals are inflitrating as wolves and hurting the sheep.

To Build and Defend it takes Builders and Defenders-missionaries and pastors-church planters and church maintainers.

so how do we do God's work God's way? and can we do it as effectively with a tattoo or will it hinder the work?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Wow, Phil. Touchy. I heard the "oohoohoohoo" of the Pillsbury doughboy when all I did was stick a finger in.

Here's the irony, Phil. By talking about not having dress standards, you're talking about dress standards. You're saying what? That you don't have a standard. That is a standard of dress. It is: "Come as you wish, oh, unless you don't fit what I think is immodest; then that would be a problem." Oops, so you actually do have a standard. Just a different one. You have minimized dress so that any church who has a standard (actually a stricter standard, since you have one too), is adding works to grace or something like that? Or maybe you're turning grace into lasciviousness.

Since we aren't dressing down to impress anyone, Phil, then it could be better to dress to represent the Lord. I've noticed you have a stated attire for the Shepherd's Conference. It's the only time I've ever seen anything like it. And what is it?

"We recommend comfortable, business-casual attire during the conference."

Why is that? It's obvious that we don't go with a relational philosophy but a representative philosophy. We want to please the Lord, so we're not concerned about whether we please the masses, especially since salvation is of the Lord. We aren't contextualizing our message either in tone or in appearance.

When Paul said, be not conformed to this world, he meant something.

The prophet Zephaniah wrote: "And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel." Zephaniah 1:8

Why is adopting no standard of dress superior to dressing in a way that would not be worldly, Phil? You are deliberately standardless to make your crowd feel comfortable. In what way will their comfort make it easier for them to change into Christlikeness? Why not call for them to do some sacrifice when it comes to their appearance. Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead." Was He adding to grace?

You more than intimate that I was grotesquely illiterate because I "couldn't interpret" what you wrote. Is it possible that it is what you wrote, Phil? Or are you just too good?

You wrote this: "But wouldn't you yourself actually agree that there is—somewhere—a limit to how far Christians can legitimately go in conforming to worldly culture? Surely you do not imagine that the apostle Paul's words about becoming all things to all men is a prescription for adopting every vulgar fashion of a philistine culture. Do you?"

Help me with that, Phil, in light of this: "The post was not a facile plea for stricter dress codes. It wasn't an argument for dress codes at all, in any context." You do the explaining, since we're illiterate. Help us, bwana. Please stay monosyllabic though. Cromagnum might struggle with your syntax.

By the way, a P.S. I think it is humorous to see evangelicals scrambling to not look like they are concerned about dress. I look at your promotional material, and it says "look at our dress" all over it. We're not stupid, Phil. Maybe illiterate, but we can view pictures. "Look, I can grow facial hair! See, I can do a fu-manchu too! We welcome anyone with lamb-chop side-burns!" So what do we get? Quite a few thinking about dress again, thinking about how much they're not thinking about it. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or any other mundane thing that you do, do all to the glory of God.

One Salient Oversight said...

there is no dress code at my church.

Not explicitly, but there may be one implicitly.

When I walked in to Grace Community Church back in 1991 I was wearing Jeans and a T-Shirt. I felt very awkward.

SB said...

i wish i could have an eye wink in my avatar

Mike Galetta said...

One salient, did someone MAKE you feel awkward, or were you uncomfortable because you were dressing casual to make your own statement and it didn't quite seem to hit the mark? I have never felt uncomfortable at GCC for what I wore, whether suit and tie or shorts and tee, I have even seen Pastor Mac in jeans and open collar at a Saturday morning mens's meeting, and he seemed totally comfortable... we do not want to save the best seats for those in fine clothes and make those with a more casual attire sit in the rear, and I truly do not see any of this sort of thing happening. The comment about modesty is really the only thing we should concern ourselves with in the worship service. But, if someone was immodestly dressed and really didn't know it, they would also be welcome as one who needed to be taught about these things the Bible addresses. Lastly, Phil's post was never about attire in the church but about adopting a look to make yourself more able to fit in with a particular group for the purpose of sharing the Truth with them. Anyway, I think we all should adopt Phil's mode of dress as seen at this site on numerous occasions, hawaiian shirt and shades and just be done with it.

Libbie said...

I think there's a certain irony in the fact that I'm going to comment on the graphics of the post and not the content, because I've not been keeping up with this lately.

Album covers are the new Comic book covers...

centuri0n said...

SB:

All it takes is a digital photo and a copy of the GiMP. If you don't know what "GiMP" is, google "GiMP EDITOR". You will be horrified that something this powerful is actually free.
_________________________________

Ah. Implicit dress codes.
_________________________________

Main Entry: hys·te·ria
Pronunciation: his-'ter-E-&, -'tir-
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from English hysteric, adjective, from Latin hystericus, from Greek hysterikos, from hystera womb; from the Greek notion that hysteria was peculiar to women and caused by disturbances of the uterus
1 : a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral functions
2 : behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess [political hysteria]

centuri0n said...

I'll also have to turn out some comic covers to right the direction we're headed here ... not that there's an implict code or anything, I'm just sayin' ...

Tominthebox News Network said...

Not to be crass in any way, but there are also those who advocate "clothing-optional Churches." I am absolutely serious! What's to prevent one from going down that path? Where do we draw the line?

-Tom

HooverBranch said...

sb wrote: "Why does this matter?

the doctrine of God is adorned if we get it right--"

Ok that wasnt my question... although I am sure it came off that way. But this topic is so Black and White with me. (although I guess I am a black and white guy) So I dont understand the reason it still lingers around.

donsands said...

culture: the skills, arts, etc. of a given people in a given period.

fad: a style, etc. that interests many people for a short time; passing fashion.

Phil I think you make a good point. People at large are more emphatic about fads than the culture.

Good post. Helpful thoughts. Thanks.

donsands said...

hoover,

The Scriptures show us that we will have to struggle with issues like these, for even the Apostle Paul had to.

But we do have the Holy Writ as our final authority, not people's opinions.

philness said...

I'm glad this side dish is finished. I hope we can skip the dessert and move on to another meal. I have someone I want to invite to the table.

Everyday Mommy said...

Well done! And, yes they do seem to come out of the woodwork, don't they. It's funny that you can almost craft a post which will cause an Emergent stir by simply knowing their triggers.

Actually, it makes me chuckle.

Phil Johnson said...

Kent:

This post wasn't about you. You weren't even a remote thought in my mind when I wrote the above.

It is interesting, though, that the fundamentalist movement is so much the mirror opposite of the Emerging morass that when you criticize the philosophy of the latter, you will probably outrage the sensibilities of the former.

Selah.

HOOKEM said...

Phil, first let me say thank you for carrying this over to today.

Since when did Christ need anyone’s assistance in bringing people to Him. You show me in scripture where it commands us to be "culturally relevant" so that our evangelism might be more affective. How about you put God and the Holy spirit in a smaller box. We were simply command to "go" and share. The rest is HIS responsibility. My honest guess would be that less than 10% of the people commenting on this blog have even shared Christ with someone face to face in the last week. SB, perhaps one should spend less time "Stirring the Pot" and more time actually sharing Christ with those WOLVES.

I Cor. 9:27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Don’t allow you seeker friendly, culturally relevant, pursuits “disqualify you”

centuri0n said...

We have to get that eyebrow workin' in your avatar, Phil.

Phil Johnson said...

It's working. Just watch it.

LeeC said...

I you change your clothing to finto a cultural groupthat you are not a part of to fit in and win thier trust youe are wearing a costume, a disguise to trick people.


As for dress codes.

I grew up in a Baptist church that made you feel slightly uncomfortable if you did not ear a vest with your jacket tie. You definetly would be asked to come back with a jacket or tie if you repeatedly showed up without one.

My parents stopped attending church when I was 14. I got into he punk and metal scenes, and later historical reenactment/Living history. And I grew my hair down below my waist (see wedding photo icon.)

Through a series of strange events the Lord used me as an instrument to bring my grlfriend to Christ. We looked all over for church. I knew what my old church was like so I avoided that denomination at first. I was broke, unemployed and barely had clothes to wear, let alone nice ones. I did not want to be mocked, but strongly desired to go to church.

So we found several churches that actively sought to make you feel at home no matter what you looked like, and found none of them taught the Word. My girlfriend was frustrated, not having gone to church before she asked me "What are you looking for?" To which I replied "I can't explain really, but you will know when we find it."

In the meantime we got married, even if it was from a pastor whose marital counseling to us was telling us "Thats ok lots of people have" when we confessed that we lived together for the past few years. He pastored a very hip church in Hollywood....

Finally I broke down and decided to forgoe my concerns about being driven out of church if dressed poorly or if you had long hair and showed up at a small VERY conservative GARB church. And was welcomed warmly in spite of my shabby clothes.

Yes, the church I grew up in would not have had any truck with me. But my current fears were all in my head. *I* was judging all Baptist churches on my own presuppositions. After that I also visited Grace Community also several times, and felt fine.

Did I feel uncomfortable at all?

Yes.

Was it because someone else made me feel that way?

No.

My flesh desiring to please man felt awkward because everyone else dressed differently and were groomed differently from me.


That is not thier problem, its mine.

I shortly afterwards cut my hair short, and praise be to God was given a good job and so bought some clothes, but not because of any pressure from the Brethren.

LeeC said...

Gah!
I meant to proofread that first. I really dislike this laptop keyboard with its sticking keys...


Phil Johnson said...
It's working. Just watch it.


Ok, now you guys are creeping me out. Don't post right next to each other...

HooverBranch said...

Donsands wrote: "The Scriptures show us that we will have to struggle with issues like these, for even the Apostle Paul had to.

But we do have the Holy Writ as our final authority, not people's opinions."

I know. Thank you for the reminder. I realize that we will be challenged with Trivial things daily. Because we live in this Trivial World. This is just an area where I have struggled in. Because no matter how many times it seems to be "SOLVED" or "ADDRESSED" it is still lingering around. I mean in my church we have the people who believe that you should be wearing a Suit and Tie to church every Sunday. And I was raised having to Dress up for Church. But about 8yrs ago or so our church kinda got more relaxed with Dress. Now we have a good mixture of Casual and Formal wear. But I will still hear arguments for both sides. "We should be dressing like this to get this crowd in here." "We should be dressing like this because thats the Way Jesus would want us too."

The arguments are Trivial and without the Word of God to back them up. And yet they are still around. No matter how many times it has been addressed.

James-Ohio

p.s. (I actually havent heard this argument for or against by anyone at my church for over a year now. Lets hope it stays that way.)

Sharon said...

So, what's wrong with wanting to look your best when entering the Lord's house? Would you wear shorts and a tank top to a wedding to "make a statement"? Or do you dress nicely for the guests of honor?

I guess I don't understand the "I dress in jeans & T-shirt in church because I can" mentality. What happened to All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not (1 Corinthians 10:23)?

LeeC said...

Well Sharon to be honest, not all of us feel we are entering "The Lords House" when going into an auditorium where His Church gathers.

And nothing is wrong with wanting to look your best when going to worship. But unless Scriptures are clearer than I think they are we should not try to be dogmatic about it. Just as those who don't understand some peoples desire to wear a suit and tie should not berate them for wanting to dress that way.

What IS wrong as Phil has pointed out repeatedly is basically putting on a costume to try and either look like a suit, or look like a hippy, or anything in between to ingratiate yourself with men when that isn't how you really naturaly dress.

1 Corinthians 13
The Excellence of Love
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never fails

SB said...

sometimes I feel like a GIMP

LeeC said...

SB said...
sometimes I feel like a GIMP



Story of my life Bro.

Scott Roche said...

Kent asked about:

"We recommend comfortable, business-casual attire during the conference."

I'm guessing because they want people to feel like they can come dressed comfortably and don't feel like they need to dress up. Probably not so that people who were going to wear jeans and a hawaiian floweredy shirt will dress up to the business casual level.

Just a hunch.

Scott Roche said...

SHaron said:

"I guess I don't understand the "I dress in jeans & T-shirt in church because I can" mentality."

My reply:
I dress that why because Sunday is one of the few days I can. And I think that God's probably okay with that.

Scott Roche said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie said...

I'm so thankful for these couple of posts. Last year, (is it alright to name names?) Beth Moore told a large group of women (I was among the 15,000 or more) in Birmingham, AL that we MUST make an effort with our appearance, to look cute, ("how hard is it to put on some makeup, for crying out loud?") and like we're from this decade, if anyone is going to listen to anything we have to say. In short, if you want anyone in this culture to listen to you, then you've got to look a certain way. After all, we don't want to turn people off before we've even had a chance to say anything, right?

I'm not saying anything against makeup or cute clothes or trendy hairstyles, but I don't see how those things make me relevant OR a lack of those things make the gospel NOT relevant.

I knew what she was saying isn't true, but I couldn't articulate it the way I wanted to. Thanks for doing that for me!

Charles Whisnant said...

"Does this issue deserve that type of attention?"

Yes! My wife said this issue has been mine for our 38 years of marriage.

Every church where I have pastored or been on staff, this has been an issue. And that has been over tweleve churches.

So to read Phil's post and read the comments have been very good.

This issue needs to be address in this form.

Charles

Mike-e said...

I see how it is Phil...YOU just don't like my hair!

:-P

HooverBranch said...

well, obviously you all think this is an issue that needs to be a concern. I guess the 19yr old From Ohio needs to be silent right now. And allow the older wiser men/women to discuss.

James

p.s. I am sorry for my comments if they hindered this discussion. I am a foolish man who is only deserving of eternal Damnation. Thank the Lord for his GIFT of Grace. Because without it I would get what I deserve.

donsands said...

Hey hoover,

I appreciate your input.

Issues like these are never going away.

But Gos is faithful to conyinue to shape our hearts into the image of His Son, in order to become mature, and in that way help those who are weaker in the faith.
This is a huge subject all by itself, so I leave it, to say that your thoughts are as important as anyones.

The Lord bless you. Keep on.

Sewing said...

Hooverbranch, God bless you. I don't think you were hindering the discussion.

Phil, I thought part of your persona was that your eyebrows never flinch? I'm going to have rethink it all now.

candyinsierras said...

Picture of Pat Boone. Priceless.

I had forgotten about his midlife crisis.

LeeC said...

candyinsierras said...
"Picture of Pat Boone. Priceless.

I had forgotten about his midlife crisis."


Oh, I dunno, I'd pay em at least a dollar to not post that pic up again! *shudders*

HOOKEM said...

Who was Pat Boone....

SB said...

certain implicit preferences in "style" of ministry was really what concern i had

dress is immaterial(naked I have came from my mothers womb naked I will return)

another words do we show--partiality towards those who stress the same emphasis as we do and condescension towards those who stress the other side of the coin?

for example:

can we agree that instead of relevance we as reformed people highlight our otherness?

or instead of highlighting God's immanence we tend to highlight God's transcendence?

or instead of highlighting authenticity in ministry we tend to highlight authority in ministry?

or

instead of training the elect in practical strategies for evangelism to pagans -- we highlighted training the elect in classroom settings for biblical thinking-and assumed the action would follow(since the pagans who are elect will get saved anyway)?

as a wise Pyro once asked-how do we walk the line?what about balance?
do we look down on our christian siblings for not having the same strengths that we do?
or do we look to ourselves to strengthen our weaknesses while speaking the truth in love to our brethren about their blind spots?

Doug said...

Not that I suggest (or certainly demand) that people be forced to wear suits and ties in church, but the idea that God doesn't care how we show up for the corporate gathering of His church for the purpose of His worship is simply foreign to the entirety of Scripture.

In Exodus, God commanded the people to wash their clothes and sanctify themselves before approaching Him. We in the 21st century want to skip up to the throne in shorts, a tank-top, and flip-flops.

Most churches don't have a problem with unbelievers showing no respect for the worship of God, but they would expect that believers who can dress up to go to a board meeting at their job could surely show God enough respect to dress up for a meeting of His church.

Scott Roche said...

"In Exodus, God commanded the people to wash their clothes and sanctify themselves before approaching Him."

Well I do come in clean clothes and I usually even take a shower and shave. How do you suggest that I sanctify myself, though? And if I do wear a suit and tie should I be careful to make sure that they are made of the same fabric?

"the idea that God doesn't care how we show up for the corporate gathering of His church for the purpose of His worship is simply foreign to the entirety of Scripture."

I don't think this gets addressed in the New Testament. Should our pastors wear big old jeweled breast plates?

LeeC said...

No, Scott, but there is a case for giving your first fruits, your best to Him in service. And that can be seen as an invitation to wear your best for Him.

I'm making no declaration here, but it does bear pondering. Worship...worth-ship, is he worth it?

Is worship a casual excercise?

Is Christ more my buddy, or my Lord?

Do I give back to Him fiscally in a sacrificial way?

To I serve Him in a sacrificial way?

If in my mind I have a suit and consider it my nicest clothes even though uncomfortable compared to my shorts and flip flops is He worth that sacrifice of me wearing that suit as part of my sacrifice of worship?


What lines should the church make between the commonplace and the holy?
http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.626

Just some thoughts to ponder.

Morris Brooks said...

Two comments:

#1 I have been in a come as you
are church. Much of that I will come as I am attitude is nothing more than a thinly disguised attitude of rebellion that says, "You can't tell me how to dress!" which is an off shoot of the narcissism of our age. We must cater to them because they sure aren't going to bend to us.

#2 It has been and always will be the gospel that saves people, not how you are dressed, and I do not need to be dressed and tattoed like them to share the gospel with them.

SolaMeanie said...

I hope I can make this point without what I am saying being misconstrued.

Whenever I see this subject discussed, it goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The focus seems to be on what makes "me" comfortable. I have gone to church in a suit, as well as in blue jeans. I don't think we need be legalists on this as long as biblical modesty is in view. However, the attitude toward dress in church before the legalism battles began used to be that people wanted to put on their best to honor the Lord. It wasn't to show off finery or to have some rigid dress code to the point the ushers would whack you with a pole if you didn't measure up. The heart attitude was wanting to give the Lord your best, and not to approach Him in worship in a slovenly way.

Now, the argument is always about US. What makes US comfortable. I've even caught myself slipping into that mindset. For a brief time, I warmed to the idea of carrying a cup of coffee into the service with me since they put the coffee bar in the lobby. But then it began to bug me. WHY do I need to take coffee into worship? Can't I wait until afterward? I haven't done it since.

I don't mean to impose my own scruples in this, but I do think it would behoove all of us to consider WHY we do what we do. If our heart attitude is to honor Christ, I think we'll stand much less chance of stumbling in this area than if our attitude is to please ourselves.

thelyamhound said...

Before I start, I'd like to make two disclaimers. First, it's arguable that I don't have a dog in this hunt, because I'm not a Christian. Second, I actually agree with the essence of what's said in the post, in that affecting the trappings of a subculture and/or adopting fads for the sake of "reaching" and audience (read: talking down to people different from yourself) is unsound whether you measure it on a spiritual scale or a cultural one.

Actually, make it three disclaimers: I'm an actor, music journalist/critic, playwright, cinema geek, martial artist, aspiring filmmaker, and whatever else they let me do. It's my job, in a sense, to watch fads to see which one of them will hit terminal velocity, hit canonical (in the cultural sense) value and become culture, fine art, the "artistic and intellectual aspects of civilization." As such, I think--if I may propose a paradox--that my viewpoint is both uniquely skewed AND uniquely qualified.

So . . .

Certainly all trappings--be they cultural in the true sense or fads (more on that [arguably] illusory distinction in a moment)--can be adopted on an insincere basis. The trouble is, authenticity is nigh impossible to measure. We see this trouble all the time in punk and metal circles. It's even worse in the post-punk/art-punk/art-metal circles, because those have always been middle-class-based movements. Even industrial music, with its tattoos and leather, emerged from art schools in the late '70s. Were the kids who started that somehow disingenuous because they had their own bedrooms growing up?

People from all subcultures will, of course, attempt to sniff out a fake, and there's probably good reason for that. These trappings are often, when they're not ideological, experiential (that is to say, they were experiential before they became fashionable). I can't speak to the Biblical perspective (and from what I'm gathering, the Biblical perspective isn't even that specific) on invasive body decoration, but there is certainly a separation amongst the "marked" between those who did it (or appear to have done it) for ideological reasons vs. aesthetic ones, and another level of separation between those who did it for aesthetic reasons and those who did it 'cause their friends did it. People who adopt it solely as a way of reaching any of the above are roundly reviled, of course. But none of these distinctions are easy to make. People in the subcultures of which you speak

As to the fads vs. culture debate . . . Look, Dadaism, Surrealism, Romanticism were all "fads." Jazz was a vernacular music, a folk art, before it became recognized as THE predominant American art form. As we speak, "fads" like rock & roll have influenced academic music, inspiring minimalists like Glass and Gorecki, and split into academic subgenres like post-rock, drone, etc.

The point is, we don't know fad from culture until it's been around awhile; moreover, what stands the test of time is as likely as not to be something once dismissed as a fad.

The necktie serves no utilitarian purpose, so that, too, was presumably a fad before it calcified into something that grown-up professionals (or professional grownups) were required to wear (at least for a few centuries). That modest business-casual attire used to be too casual for business. As we say in the theatre, all clothing is costume; it's a matter of the story you want to tell. And the prescribed aesthetic for telling the story which most concerns you--that of Christ crucified--is pretty wide (in my admittedly incomplete view).

Whether the Gospel is the cure/antidote/whatever for culture is a question I'll leave to those who believe in the Gospel, of course. But recognize that those more steeped in the interplay between and within subcultures haven't figured out how to address the matter of "authenticity," so you're unlikely to solve it here. And if you're going to make distinctions between the artistic (let's say "aesthetic," just to keep our field a little broader) and intellectual aspects of our civilization and the aesthetic and intellectual aspects of the moment (fads), you might want to be sure you're qualified . . . and even if you are, you may want to see if it holds on for a few years, lest you make the mistake of academics past and dismiss the future as an ephemeral blip on the radar (which, let's face it, it ALL is when held next to eternity).

Kent Brandenburg said...

OK Phil, even if you weren't reacting to what I wrote (despite the first link going straight to my comment), you seem to be blinded about something. And you are either ignoring or missing what I am saying. By the way, I don't mind hearing I'm the mirror opposite of the emergents. I guess that means I believe in perspecuity and that we can apply Scripture to our culture. I don't mind that. You weren't offending my sensibilities, any more than I was offending yours (or better your scruples). I guess it could be easier for you if that was it, but it wasn't.

You are addressing this strategy or technique of "be like'em to winn'em," that Rick Warren features so predominately in his success manual. I believe you are missing the point, IMO, and not because anyone is grotesquely illiterate. You are either not saying it or you don't get it. I don't know. I believe these are the two problems:
1) Church is an assembly of believers to worship God, so a church service is about God.
2) How we communicate Jesus will affect what people think about Jesus. In other words, the message is tied up in the medium.

In the OT, God set up a system to differentiate Israel from the world, and we are still to keep the spirit of that in not fashioning ourselves according to worldly lusts. I believe that evangelicals, including your brand, have smacked of this "be lik'em to winn'em" philosophy. You have not been consistently applying Scripture to cultural issues, and in so doing have contributed to the existence of this emergent philosophy. You have been in opposition to applying Scripture to cultural issues, but now you are on the right side of it, and you don't like what you see. Their faddish, vulgar dress is simply a further extension of your "come as you are" and "be comfortable" philosophy. Don't make this into a philosophy of discomfort; comfort or discomfort aren't it. It isn't about us at all, but about God, so let's come and identify with Him culturally. Dressing down for church is obviously a cultural fad too. People once dressed "up" for work, but now the employee has become sovereign in the workplace, elevating "how we feel." And no one should say its wrong, because that would be "judging externals" and "intolerance." The people that had those standards weren't all legalists, Phil.

You are obviously now making some cultural applications, because your scruples are now being offended. They have now become even too worldly for you. The underlying philsophy, Phil, however, is what is wrong. We should come to church to dress for the Lord, and not be afraid to say it. In other words, challenge the culture, like you yourself said is to be done. Church isn't a fashion show, but we want to show that we think that the Lord and His church are important. People that dress worldly shouldn't be shunned, but that doesn't mean we should be so afraid they'll be uncomfortable that we don't address this issue. We've got to be the ones that are leading in making Scriptural applications to culture.

People also do need to know that people's understanding of Jesus can be affected by the medium that carries the message. If the vehicle is slovenly and faddish, or just all about personal comfort, then it misrepresents Christ and Christianity. We should dress to represent the Person and the message, not to relate with the people. We are not here to "engage" the culture (Jude 23-25), but to transform it miraculously.

These expressions of culture do mean something. They always have. When a great number of people are converted, the culture of that area should change. We shouldn't believe that our unique cultural is specifically what saves anyone, but it does keep our message pure.

Phil, I would hope that you could take this seriously. I'm not attempting to be condescending.

DarkBlue said...

I'm new to blogging, so forgive me if I seem naive or simple...but here's what I think you are saying, Phil (Is it okay to call you "Phil" in my very first post? I'll go out on a limb and assume that it is):

I think you are saying that it's not about clothes, or hairstyle, or piercings, or use of hip local jargon, or combat books, or any number of things that cause Christians (or anyone else, for that matter) to think that if they employ some particular "thing," they can "fit in" with whatever the latest societal fad happens to be, and therefore, evangelize lost people. And "proper witnessing attire" was never your point, nor will it ever be.

I think you are saying that it's about people who will die and go to hell if they do not enter in to a relationship with God through the spilled and cleansing blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, and if those who wish to share the gospel truly care about the eternal disposition of the souls of lost people, they will not spend fruitless hours shopping at thrift stores to find a wardrobe with just the right amount of grunge (or, if not "grunge," whatever element is pertinent to the seekers in question), but rather will spend every moment making sure the truth of salvation is shared with said group. Jesus is The Truth, and The Truth will assuredly withstand being held up as the standard of righteousness in any group of any age in any location.

Am I close?

SB said...

hey dark blue--i think you are almost right and the part you left seems to me to be pracitcalities

if you made a new friend who liked 24 or mountain biking or say jazz music-- would you be willing to come out your comfort zone and try some jazz for the sake of coming out of your comfort zone and building a gospel friendship?

maybe take a drive in a trailer park?

just practically speaking dark blue
how does the "I preach the truth at all times to the pagans irrespective culture" work itself out?

Certainly not like: here are the pagans in my gospel bullseye-man are they pagan I would never listen to there music or go to there art show-post modern junk-fooey...sinners

and then

over here are my actual friends that we go to Bible Conferences with and watch 24 and debate theology with and go to Chris Tomlin with(read popular reformed fads).

this is a good post from Mark Lauterbach that illustrates what i think is the solution to this whole debate--The Gospel for our day:

http://mrlauterbach.typepad.com/gospeldrivenlife/2007/02/gospel_for_our_.html

SB said...

sorry full link here:

An excellent post from Mark Lauterbach's Gospel Driven Life Blog(answering the question how do you break the missional code:Emergent Faddism or the Gospel?): Gospel for our day

donsands said...

"Whether the gospel is the cure ... I'll leave to those who believe in the gospel" -thelyamhound

I believe the Gospel, or "good news" is the answer.
But another way of saying this is that Jesus Christ is the "good news" for the culture.

A Man who died and rose again, and who claimed He was God is the answer for any culture, wouldn't you think?

Thanks for sharing your heart.

thelyamhound said...

Thanks, donsands. After running through my list of ponderous, verbose responses to what you say, I realized that I'd just be laying groundwork for an apologetical debate, which really isn't my purpose here (nor yours, I'd imagine).

Suffice it to say that this unregenerate sinner--a Buddhist, pantheist, and many other kinds of -ist that you'd likely find even more distasteful--appreciates the kindness of your tone and your taking the time to respond. And if I ever came to your church, I'd likely wear slacks and a tie, just to be sure not to offend (oh, and a shirt--in case that's not a given). ;^)

a suburban housewife said...

I have to comment on the obvious, that being the larger-than-should-be-allowed picture of Pat Boone- complete with a cross-twinkle in his eye. Why did everyone think it so utterly hysterical (and somewhat pitiable) when he sashayed onto the Leno-Letterman-whatever talkshow scene in black leather and chains? I think it was because he was so obviously reaching for that ID factor of, "Hey. Look at me. I can be like the metalheads."

Sadly, I don't think he made a very big impact on the heavy metal culture. Probably because we mostly see him in a beige leisure suit a.k.a. David Wilkerson.

I guess the point I'm trying make is that one can be "culturally relevant" in sharing the gospel without diving head first into that particular culture.

Clear as muddy water, right?

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

Man, I wish Blogger had an edit feature.

Anyhow, Suburban Housewife makes a good point, and one that I think Phil was trying to make in the first place. Perhaps a picture truly is worth a thousand words. I guess we should give Pat Boone kudos, though, for trying to break out of his image, even if most of us thought it snicker-worthy at the time.

And Thelyamhound, thanks for your insights. I'm a new visitor to this blog and not even a Calvinist (whoops, the cat's out of the bag), so I can't speak for the rest of the good folks here, but welcome.

Catez said...

lyamhound,
The trouble is, authenticity is nigh impossible to measure. We see this trouble all the time in punk and metal circles.

It was totally predictable for punk. Punk was unemployed teenagers from British slum areas who were learning to play while they recorded. Even The Clash were a mild (very mild) departure from the punk of Rotten et al. "Garage band" was close, but by the time Lndon Calling came out (which I liked) the difference was obvious. Anarchy and neo-nazism didn't fit with socialism - so the differences were ideological as well. Not just clothes.
And when it crossed the Atlantic - by then it was already something else. The New York Dolls weren't punk. Neither were the Ramones. CBGB wasn't a punk venue. So they invented a derivative label - "New Wave". And then people like the Knack were called "New Wave". And songs like My Sharona, which are a basic pop song with a beat, these were applauded in the music press as part of the New Wave. And the Cars, standard plodding rock with an emphasis on synth sometimes - they were called "New Wave". Which is just funny.
So it does amuse me to hear people taking about post-punk now - like going on to 27 years since anything that was actually punk existed.
Which is to say - you are right in the sense that you identify the split offs, the threads that spin out, and how factions develop.
But... the bottom line common denominator is that it's music. Or art. Or poetry.

Or, for this discussion, the gospel. Bottom line - is it the gospel?

So let's say some-one tries selling me on the Jesus Tomb, which is a kitsch pool of speculation, revived heresy. and deliberately marketed hype. It ain't the gospel. They can try dress it up as the gospel, and they have tried, but it aint. I know it's fake. It is inauthentic.

And that, with a little role reversal, is I think what this topic is about.

Enjoyed your first comment - I like looking at cultural trends and developments, and hearing from some-one who is into that. And obviously, I enjoyed recalling some bands and the demarcations that came into play - or should have. Some-one has to set the record straight. :)

Jeff Wright said...

Question for those who like to explain what those "Emergers" believe and what motivates them to do what they do: have you ever asked anyone who identifies themself as "emerging" if xyz is actually what they believe or if such-and-such is really what motivates them to do what they do? I don't ask this because I'm "emerging" (I'm not) but nobody likes to be caricatured. What is the point of describing emergers in simplistic, caricatures? I don't get it.

thelyamhound said...

I just had a thought: While music, fashion, cinema . . . essentially, while genre can separate (or appear to separate) people into subcultures, what any such expression is--or is supposed to be--is a response to the culture. To dress the part is meaningless, even insulting, if the symbolic nature of the aesthetic isn't shared.

In point of fact, aesthetics for any subculture aren't so readily identifiable as we would make them. A lot of bands on indie labels making the kind of music we're talking about have short hair, no tattoos; some even wear suits and ties when performing. For some, the aesthetic principles apply only to the art, rather than to the artist or the fan.

Pat Boone's an interesting example. Now I don't know if, in his heart of hearts, Mr. Boone's got an ounce of real metal in 'im. But if he did (or, for that matter, if he didn't), I wouldn't know it from his clothes, his hair, his jewelry. Sure, I could try to surmise his character and aesthetic principles through his appearance . . . but I'm sure we all know how well judging character by appearance works. Even the music could only suggest something closer to the truth, at best (though I'd like to think that my ability to examine aesthetic output would lend that hint, that suggestion, some credibility). Let's remember that the whole leather and chains thing is as much a producer or ad executive's idea; it's already, for some, a borrowed badge of subcultural solidarity.

More than that, if we were to imagine--for argument's sake--that I'm right, and that these things are already a response to culture, why would you adopt those trappings (if they weren't already yours, of course) if what you're trying to offer, what you're trying to teach, is a different response to the culture?

Catez - You're gonna get me in trouble here (or rather, I'm gonna get me in trouble and resent you for it). Thanks for taking my post and running with it, but I can't possibly fit all the "hear, hear," "right on . . . ," "yeah, but . . . ," and "no, not really" that I've got for you into this thread. If you're interested in my exhaustive going-offtitude on the matter of what I mean when I refer to "postpunk," how I think you misunderstand (just a little) the historical importance of Johnny Rotten/Lydon, and the emergence of important postpunk/art-punk acts stateside, feel free to chase me on over to my blog. Drop me a response to the most recent post, and maybe I'll try to post something music oriented, or just toss the whole mess around in the comments field of the otherwise uninspiring post that's already there.

Thanks again for letting me play, folks.

Catez said...

lyamhound,
To dress the part is meaningless, even insulting, if the symbolic nature of the aesthetic isn't shared.

Now that is something to think about. That gets pretty close to it I think. Although we could chase rabbit trails about whether it really is a shared metaphor as we think on the symbolic... (I'm sorry - I can't help myself).

but I'm sure we all know how well judging character by appearance works.

Sure. Then there's the whole question of what character is some-one trying to portray by their appearance? - which goes back to what you said about producers - the image making thing. I think you hit a large nail on the head with that. I love the Motown stuff - but it was image produced from start to finish - to portray a certain appearance of character. (They sent all their artists to charm school).

I did drop by your blog - will do so again. I'm in the middle of stuff right now - but I'd be interested in hearing some more on the music. I just can't see the connection between God Save the Queen and post-punk myself - except that they want one. :)
Thanks for the reply - enjoyed it.

SB said...

Audio of Phil Johnson's Emerging Church Lecture from the 2006 Shepherd's Conference

SB said...

Amen to the below excerpt
(Phil's Third Concern with the Emerging Church--on being missional without an emphasis on conversion):

3. It sows confusion about the mission of the church. I'll just sum up my final point with this one observation: The "missional" emphasis in the "emerging church movement" seems to be entirely focused on an effort to adapt the church to the culture, with very little stress on the church's duty to proclaim a message of repentance and faith in Christ that calls men and women to forsake the world.

In other words, the "emerging church movement" seems to be all about the conversion of the church, rather than the conversion of the sinner.

In fact, I found little or no emphasis on conversion in any of more than a dozen books I read about the "emerging church movement". (Sometimes, emerging church writers adopt the language of postmodern narcissism and talk about "recovery," but that's as close as they usually get to discussing conversion.) It is simply not a major theme of discussion in the emerging conversation.

This is a glaring flaw in a movement that calls itself "missional."

The true mission of the church is embodied in the gospel message and the Great Commission. It is truth that demands to be proclaimed with clarity, and authority and conviction, and if you refuse to do that, even if you insist you are being "missional," you are not fulfilling the mission of the church at all.

Tyler Bennicke said...

Maybe I'm missing something, but since when has it been safe to define "missional" as dressing differently?

centuri0n said...

tyler:

You should start at the beginning and not at the end if the discussion. Notice the question actually asked.

Jeff Wright said...

"It is simply not a major theme of discussion in the emerging conversation.

This is a glaring flaw in a movement that calls itself "missional."


But, technically, these are two distinct movements. Yes, most who are emerging are also missional but there are many who are missional but not emerging. The two terms are used interchangebly many times but I don't think it is accurate to do so.

I'm not going to argue the point about not seeing an emphasis on evangelism in the emerging literature. But, have you asked an emerging Christian if they care about evangelism? The majority of the ones I know say that they do. Again, I'm not emerging but I don't think its fair to say that they don't care about evangelism just like I don't like it when people say that Calvinists don't care about evangelism.

Chas Carter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SB said...

1.how does the phrase "Be yourself"

fit in with old silvertongue up there?

also

2.how does this verse apply to our discussion?:

"I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
3 I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless."
psalm 101


what is a worthless thing in this culture(beyond sexual immorality and pride-the ultimate anti-God sin-what else is worthless for example is the rap music of Curtis Allen worthless?) and what can be redeemed and used by God in this culture?

::BTW::im truly seeking to make sense of my past training and this blog is emblematic of my way of thinking for 10 years and as i am now in sovereign grace ministries some of my perspectives have shifted towards relying on the Holy Spirit and Grace to work in the truly regenerate and to be less critical and more charitable without compromising discernment

i am sincerly trying to learn here because i think this is an important issue--"it's a dying world teach me how to care"
-steve camp

centuri0n said...

Jeff --

See my comment to tyler.

Sister Judith Hannah said...

Dear Pyromaniacs and Friends:

I was wondering if I could be permitted to address an issue recently raised on your website? I do have permission from those over me to write this to you.

I was re-directed to the KnowGreek website from B-Greek and thus, came in contact with Pyromaniacs. The discussion about a Christian’s wearing apparel and manner of dress caught my attention. I was wondering if I could add some thoughts, perhaps from a different perspective?

Two issues are involved here, issues which are uppermost in a mature Christian’s mind: discipleship and witness. Discipleship unto The LORD JESUS CHRIST is necessary for growth, both in HIM+ and towards HIM+. It is a sowing to The Spirit. It is how a Christian stays on the True Vine. It involves picking up the cross daily and dying to Self.

Unfortunately, discipleship is what is lacking in this church age (generally speaking). Many serious Christians simply do not know what to do next. They do not know how to go about being disciples of CHRIST JESUS… beyond church activities and Bible study. This is due, in part, to the age-old rejection of how the first century Christians put into practice their Christianity.

Just to refresh our minds, the first Christians took the Word of GOD as God-breathed instructions on how to live out their Christianity. They took the Word as literal instructions to put into practice in their daily life, with the belief that in so doing, they would be drawn into closer fellowship with The LORD and be found well-pleasing in His+ sight. Thus they practiced anything that did this.

They called these practices “disciplines.” Once such discipline familiar to us was fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Another discipline, perhaps not so familiar, was stopping their busy days at least every three hours to return thanks and praise. This was mentioned in Acts as the hour(s) of prayer in the Temple. The Temple hours of prayer coincided by His great design with the hour of the morning sacrifice at the 3rd hour of the ancient day… the time when the Unblemished Lamb of GOD was crucified. They stopped their activities and returned thanks to HIM+, remembering what HE+ did and why HE+ did it. They stopped at noon, the 6th hour of the day when the sky was darkened and The LORD JESUS was in the midst of enduring His+ agony, leaving us an Example. They again stopped their day at the time of the evening sacrifice in the Temple—the 9th hour—remembering that HE+ said, “It is finished, Father…”

But as well as these disciplines of their time and thought, the first Christians also disciplined themselves in their manner of dress. They wore somber garments, non-costly, non-decorated, unfashionable of cut, modest and ample. The Christians who were sisters practiced quietness and meekness of spirit and submitted to the head being veiled. Indeed, the catacomb pictures of the normal Christian woman showed them to have a long dark veiling over another under-veiling! Not only was the hair not braided… it was not even seen by other than husbands or family. The arms and legs were covered and their bodies very amply covered. They wore a long sash that hung about their skirts with a simple cross stitched upon it.

The Christians who were brothers wore humble over-garments called palliums over their tunics to cover up their physique completely. They also were amply, plainly, and modestly covered, unlike their pagan peers whose fashions and ideals were designed to show much flesh. As a matter of fact, the only time “skin” was seen on a Christian was when he/she was put into the Arena, naked, as it was the custom to humiliate these lambs of God as much as possible. But then, they were covered by His+ Grace, His+ love, His+ strength and His+ joy such as the world has never known. Even now, these dear lambs are resting under the altar of GOD, in their white robes, saying, “How long, O LORD, holy and true…”

The discipline of Christian dress was not law. It was what Christians chose to do to practice separation from the world. Like any uniform does, it served as a constant reminder to themselves of Whose+ reputation they bore, Whose+ ambassador they were. Thus, their manner of somber dress helped them walk in their calling, walk in their station of life, and walk in their responsibilities towards The King+ Who+ employed them. They bore a constant reminder to themselves that they had removed themselves from their old culture and habits and embraced a New Kingdom… the Kingdom not of this world.

They took their accountability before GOD seriously so they would not dress so as to lure nor tempt others. To be a stumbling block or to cause others to even desire to sin was in itself considered a serious offense against one’s brother or potential brother. They would not dress to draw attention to themselves or their physique. They did NOTHING to draw attention away from CHRIST JESUS and towards themselves.

Conscientious to the uttermost, they would not dress to try to make others think highly of them… so that the poor would not be made to feel uncomfortable or “less than” around them or sad in their presence because of their dress. In short, they exercised great caution and discipline in order to bring glory to GOD instead of their flesh, their pocket book, or their cleverness.

The second important issue is the matter of bearing witness in season and out unto CHRIST JESUS, visibly, silently, and constantly. Everyone knew it when they “saw” a Christian coming. They were readily identified from afar off simply by their appearance (their dress).Without a word being spoken, every one who saw them knew to Whom+ they belonged.

“Preach the Gospel always;
if necessary, use words.”

That, of course, made them targets. They were targets for those who hated The LORD JESUS CHRIST and targets for those who were hungry for The Living GOD. It was a win-win situation. The LORD’S very Presence was (and is) with those being ridiculed or worse, persecuted, for His+ name’s sake. And, His+ anointing rests upon those lifting HIM+ up, drawing the hungry and hurting unto Himself+.

Don’t we all want to do that? Casting off somber, identifiably Christian dress is shooting ourselves in the foot, practically speaking. It is counter-productive to our goals of discipleship and bearing witness.

The challenge for today’s brethren is this:

Do you want the hungry to come up to you and ask you about HIM+?

Do you want to bear reproach for His+ name’s sake? (It bears good fruit, remember, which is what the Husbandman is looking for as HE purges the branches from the Vine +.)

Do you want to go deeper, climb higher, and move closer to The LORD JESUS CHRIST?

Then practice the discipline of identifiable Christian dress. Dress in a somber, dignified, unworldly way that readily and with a certainty identifies you with Whom+ you serve with your whole life and heart.

Dear friends at Pyromaniacs, you do a good job. I hope this different perspective on Christian dress will strengthen the body of CHRIST to go on with HIM+, to not be afraid of being identified as a separate people, and to give even the most meek among us a way to lift Him+ up… in order to (h INA ) draw all unto HIM+.

I thank you for your time and space. May The LORD quicken you by His+ HOLY SPIRIT as you prayerfully consider these words.

Yours, in CHRIST JESUS our Life… for the common Goal+
Sister Judith Hannah
Order of the GOOD SHEPHERD + + +
sisterjudithhannah@yahoo.com

Jeff Wright said...

"Jeff --

See my comment to tyler."


Alrighty. "Start at the beginning. Notice the question asked." I read your post. iMonk: "can we cooperate with those who LOOK different? Not those who believe differently. Not those with a different confession, but those who simply look different." Is this the question you're talking about?

Read Stetzer's paper. Not everyone who says they're missional is missional. Different groups mean different things even when using the same terms. Some who say they're missional call believers to unite around mission rather than theology. That's not good. He believes churches should be "biblically-faithful, culturally-relevant, counter-culture communities." Love Stetzer, glad I read that paper. So far, so good.

Now how should I apply what I've read there to my question about whether an emerging believer would agree with the characterization that they don't care about evangelism? Maybe "start at the beginning of the conversation" was supposed to have a self-evident meaning related to my comments but I suppose I'm a little dense today. Now that I've started at the beginning, what were you trying to tell me in your response to my comments?

Jeff Wright said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Catez said...

Jeff,
I second you on that. (For those who don't know me, I'm neither Emergent or emerging). That comment was embarrassing - not the least because it used a fictitious character for the dramatis persona but was a poorly constructed piece of theatre.
CS Lewis it wasn't.

Catez said...

Wearing identifiable Christian clothing to be closer to Jesus is extra-biblical. Nowhere does the bible say that wearing identifiable Christian clothing will bring us closer to Jesus. In fact clothing is not to be the measure of spiritual regeneration in that sense at all - we are told that it is the inner beauty of the heart that shows.
Modesty in order not to stumble others, and to possess ourselves honourably, is mentioned.
Being sombre in what we wear is not a requirement for going "higher" or being "closer" to Jesus. "Higher"?

Making sombre clothing the means by which we become more spiritual is ascetism - a denial of normal physicality as a means to earn favour with God.

Identifiable Christian clothing is not a barometer of who is justified or sanctified. If it were Madonna would be streets ahead of all of us. (I'm not into bashing Madonna - the example of "identifiable" clothing just came to mind).

I won't be giving up some bright colours, or my beachpants (it's still summer here - just).

Tyler Bennicke said...

centuri0n:

Talk about not reading well enough, check this action out...
Thanks for the heads up, I had just been reading pyromaniacs - I appreciate the link (again).

Chas Carter said...

Thanks all for the wonderful input. Keep on thinking that cultural relevancy is the key to evangelism. You're playing right into my hands!

Silver Tongue

Jeff Wright said...

"Thanks all for the wonderful input. Keep on thinking that cultural relevancy is the key to evangelism. You're playing right into my hands!

Silver Tongue"


No one said that. You're just helping to reinforce the opinion that what you are saying is totally pointless.

Phil Johnson said...

A reminder:

Profanity, including so-called "mild" profanity, is not permitted here.