05 November 2007

Are We Too Heavenly Minded?

by Phil Johnson

"And let me tell you 'Kingdom of God' language is really big in the emerging church."—Doug Pagitt


o anyway, yesterday in GraceLife I spoke on 1 Peter 1:3-5, where Peter writes to saints in exile under the threat of persecution and encourages them with the hope of heaven.

Then last night I started reading Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change and in the opening chapter, he says this:
More and more of us are realizing something our best theologians have been saying for quite a while: Jesus' message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God's will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven. So people interested in being a new kind of Christian will inevitably begin to care more and more about this world, and they'll want to better understand its most significant problems, and they'll want to find out how they can fit in with God's dreams actually coming true down here more often.
. . . and I was struck by the utter disconnect between what McLaren says and what the Bible teaches. I can easily think of a dozen key places in Scripture where we are told to set our affections on things above and look forward eagerly to heaven. And most if not all of those passages are set in contexts where saints are either being encouraged in the midst of trials or admonished against the sin of worldliness.

Worse yet, McLaren uses an ill-defined notion of "the Kingdom" as a jumping-off point to introduce a series of stylish, environmentally-sound, and politically-correct sociopolitical issues he thinks ought to consume Christians' thoughts more than the hope of heaven: environmentalism, poverty, the threat of global war, and "the failure of the world's religions, especially its two largest religions, to provide a framing story capable of healing or reducing the three previous crises."

I think Christianity already has a perfectly good "framing story," and it includes a number of truths McLaren dismisses out of hand, including the hope of heaven.

What do you think? Talk amongst yourselves.

I'll be back this evening.
"...because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel"—Colossians 1:5

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."—1 Peter 1:3-5

Phil's signature

145 comments:

Laura said...

I just finished reading "The Pilgrim's Progress" and the whole book is about focusing on Heaven as a way to get through trials and past temptation. It's all very Scriptural. McLaren is taking away people's hope by focusing entirely on here and now. The world is fallen and it's only going to get worse till Christ returns and sets up the Millennial Kingdom, so our only hope right now IS Heaven...not what's going on around us!

DJP said...

Or, keep reading in 1 Peter 1 and you get to v. 13 —

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ"

What part of "fully" does Pagitt not understand? The Greek teleiōs means completely, all the way.

I guess he doesn't get the "fully" part.

And besides, that would just be saying what Biblically faithful Christians have said for 2000 years. It wouldn't be cutting-edge.

~Mark said...

VERY good point Laura. God gives us a hope in our future while more than once reminding us that in this life circumstances are guaranteed to only get progressively worse.

We have opportunity while we're here to make a difference, but if we begin to believe we can stop the decay, or even slow it significantly, we're setting ourselves up for a fall.

Strangely reminiscent of Charismatic doctrine, eh? (Your Best Life Now!)

Phil Johnson said...

Two things in that McLaren quotation are particularly galling:

1. The word "instead." McLaren isn't just pointing out that God's will on earth is something Christians should pray for, desire, and seek. He's saying he thinks the church ought to have an earthly understanding of Christ's kingdom and mission instead of a heavenly hope.
2. The phrase "they'll want to find out how they can fit in with God's dreams actually coming true down here." McLaren's god sounds like a kid at Disneyland rather than the sovereign God of Scripture.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Emerging? Ha. This is the same Social Gospel malarky that hacked and wheezed in an agony of death early last century, robbing countless Christians of true spiritual power and favor in the sight of God.

Nothing's changed and the result will be the same.

~Mark said...

Dig the irony from the current top post at Pulpit Magazine:
"[Os] Guiness understands the heart of the problem the church faces today. “…an unprecedented Christian pursuit of relevance has led directly to an unprecedented Christian irrelevance” (p. 45). He describes this statement as the central concern of the book. The irony is astounding. The Church today wants nothing more than to be relevant to the culture. Many in the church feel relevance is the only way to reach the culture with the gospel. Guiness says this pursuit of relevance is precisely the reason the Christian church today has never been more irrelevant."

Mark said...

I think there is a point commendation in this... McLaren has found a new way to abuse and misuse an already overly misused and misunderstood passage!! See I'm trying to be loving... or something...

DJP said...

I said "Pagitt," should've said "McLaren."

Oopsie.

Grigs said...

It is the thought of hell and my parents and loved ones going there unless they repent and trust the savior that keeps me focused on the mission of going and preaching the Gospel to all nations.

carolczech said...

"More and more of us"

Anyone else REALLY weary of this phrase? It uses the "ad Populum" fallacy - appeal to the majority. Rather than appealing to an authority - in this case the authority of the Scriptures - McLaren (and other emergents who love this phrase) appeal to the "in" crowd. It just has to be true because "more and more" people - more and more really COOL people - are coming to understand these truths that have eluded Christian scholars and theologians for centuries.

It's just peer pressure dressed up in emergent trick-or-treat garb.

DJP said...

Good catch, Carol. It's like the Lamestream Media's "rising chorus," "mounting concerns," "deepening rift," and so on.

Rhology said...

Listen to the 1st 20 minutes of this to prime you for reading McLaren's book. Your skull needs toughening up so it won't explode.

Brad Williams said...

I think the trouble comes in when we make this a total either/or type of choice. No one denies, I hope, that we are to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given in this world. Further, we must pay attention to the poor or our faith is useless, but all of this is done with an eye to heaven and the longing for the day when all things will be made new. Indeed, it is the hope of heaven that moves me to be a better steward in the here and now.

SolaMeanie said...

It is comforting to me to know that Bill Hybels has repented from the seeker-sensitive model of church, and is bringing in Brian McLaren to speak at his conference. I hear the theme song for the conference will be Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven is a Place on Earth."

(Sola's tongue firmly in cheek)

Seriously, I am actually glad in one sense that McLaren continues to churn out books like this. The more he writes and speaks, the more ammunition he provides those of us who have a concern with biblical theology. If the Emergent Church has friends like him, who needs enemies.

SolaMeanie said...

BTW Phil,

I think it is interesting to note that some speak of "anti" meaning "in place of" and not just "against." McLaren wants to give us an "instead" in terms of our heavenly hope. The coming world system wants to give us someone "instead" of the real Jesus. Antichrist theology, anyone?

Joanie H said...

Wow...this exact passage in I Peter was what my daughters and I discussed this morning over breakfast! They are 7 and 8 years old, and we were talking about having an eternal perspective. My 7-year-old said, "I think telling people about Jesus seems more important if you remember about heaven and hell."

Mike Riccardi said...

This whole issue extremely frustrates me, because I see it as a prostitution of the true Gospel. We're prostituting the truth so we can be more socially conscious or environmentally friendly or "pious." The false humility and virtue is astounding. The perversions and reversing of priorities from passages like Luke 4:17ff are just maddening. But I think this is a problem not only for the Emergents, but all so-called "missional" folks. We lose our focus when we become mission-centered and not Gospel-centered (To Be or Not to Be Missional).

I thought Solameanie's comment was hysterical, especially the reference to the song. I laughed out loud in my teacher's lounge during lunch.

Steve Lamm said...

I'd like to know who the "best theologians" are that McLaren refers to in support of his worldly theology.

Raulemir said...

I'll tell you why they want to stop thinking about heaven. It's because they love sin.

The Bible *repeatedly* connects the hope of heaven with holy living. For just three examples, see Titus 2:11-14, 2 Peter 3:13-14, and 1 John 3:1-3.

Righteous desires culminate in the final righteousness that will be ours when we are perfected in heaven. *Of course* heaven isn't appealing when you love sin.

The two are inseparable. Show me someone who doesn't love the hope of heaven, and I'll show you someone who doesn't hunger and thirst for righteousness as the Bible defines it.

And the hubris to cloak your love for sin in a supposed better desire for being more "righteous" here on earth on social issues.

God will eventually and decisively expose that kind of hypocrisy. And when he does, no one is going to rejoice in having been emergent.

Drew said...

To answer your first question, yes, most of us are.

I think McLaren is mostly right, and that Jesus' message is not about escaping this troubled world, but rather its redemption through Christ.

I know that he has been accused of making these points because he wants to be "cool," but have you ever seen the guy? He's not cool at all! He listens to hippie music and is really quiet. The guy is a great writer/thinker (in my book), but a fifty-something, pasty-white bald guy is few people's definition of cool. Neither are, by the way, his positions. I don't know where you got your definition of "cool," but McLaren does not fit it, not by most definitions.

Finally, you are correct. Christianity DOES already have a perfectly good "framing story." For some reason, everybody kept talking about it. I'm glad McLaren is proclaiming the Kingdom of God, along with "more and more" people, since the church, in recent history, has paid far too little attention to this thing that was central to Jesus' message.

carolczech said...

"I'd like to know who the "best theologians" are that McLaren refers to in support of his worldly theology."

Since I started playing "Fallacy Detective" I should have added the "appeal to authority."

Who are McLaren's "best theologian"? Are there 4 of them or are there millions? Did they attend conservative seminaries or were they philosophy majors at Berkley? Or perhaps they are a bunch of latte-swilling buddies from an emergent cohort meeting in the back of eco-friendly coffee house.

While we're at it we can throw in the "either/or fallacy" (also called the "false dilemma")

That said, I have to be fair and say I haven't read the book. Perhaps later in the book he does cite scores of qualified theologians who have found new truths in the Bible that two thousand years of Christian scholarship has missed.....then again.....

centuri0n said...

Drew:

Is the Bible a God-centered set of texts, or a man-centered set of texts? That is, what is the central coincern of the Bible if we take the messages of the 66 books in it together?

Raulemir said...

By the way, some dispensational crackpots make the same mistake when they get all worked up about prophecy and never get around to talking about its implications for holy living.

The New Testament *repeatedly* and always connects its discussions about the future with the implications for holy living today.

Any discussion of eschatology that leaves out the resultant call for sanctification ultimately forfeits its claim to be biblical--no matter how detailed and garish the charts look.

David said...

Johnny D is correct.

The Emergent Church is moving to that which caused the death of many main stream protestant churchs.

Having said that, if you dropped all of the volunteers from those social gospel only churchs out of the volunteer pool at your local gospel mission/homeless shelter, alot of missions/shelters would end up closing because of the dearth of volunteers.

Of course, I am not sure if alot of the Emerg volunteer there anyway..

Lane Chaplin said...

McLaren is implementing a different religion, period. This is just more proof of that. It's really black and white:

Either you believe and do what the Bible says or what McLaren says. You can't do both.

SolaMeanie said...

Raulemir,

"Dispensational crackpots?" I guess I've been one of those for a long time, and I honestly don't recall many people of note teaching dispensationalism who have not also called for holy living. The Apostle Peter's admonition . . . Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness (2 Peter 3:11) certainly applies.

I would like to know which crackpots you have in mind here.

Drew,

I suggest you read through Phil's post again. While no one suggests we shouldn't be having an impact on this present world, we are also clearly told that our ultimate hope is Heaven, and that our sights ought to be fixed on that.

Why are you ignoring these Scriptures, and if not ignoring them, reinterpreting them to mean something not meant by the writer (you can include the Holy Spirit in that, btw)?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

If I'm not mistaken, I think everybody is saying that Christians should do both... to be both heavenly-minded while being redemptive Salt and Light in a fallen world as our act of worship to the Living God.

It's a false, but real divisiveness.

stratagem said...

God is showing me more and more that we really need to be praying that Rob Bell, McLaren, Pagitt, and the other Emergent people get saved, so that not only they, but also some of their followers, will be spared from the wrath they are building up for themselves.

They have to know deep-down, that adopting the world's agenda, but just for different reasons, is hopeless.

I'm not sure pointing out where they diverge from the Bible is going to do much for them, by itself, since they don't believe that book is anything special. However, the Lord can convict them so deeply that they will have to buckle, if He chooses to. That's what we need to pray about.

Robert said...

And don't forget Colossians 3:1-7

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.


5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.


6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.


7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

Mark L said...

EC definition of "redeeming the world" - an ecological world where everyone lives in harmony and there is no more war. Sounds like that old Coke commercial.

2 Peter 3:7, "But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (NASB)

It doesn't sound like God's ultimate plan is to redeem the world.

And reading further in 2 Peter 3, down to verses 13 and 14 - "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless," (NASB)

McLaren must not have read 2 Peter.

When Scripture talks about redeeming the world, God is talking about saving or redeeming sinners. That is bringing about the 'kingdom of God'.

Tim Bertolet said...

There have perhaps been some "evangelicals" who have had too much of an escapist mentality with respect to heaven, but I fail to see how swinging the pendulum completely the other way is any better.

A lot of this stuff is made to be either/or and not both/and: Like why should be choose: either escape from this earth or redemption through Christ. Isn't the new heavens and the new earth, mean that this present age/earth is passing away?

As the commnets noted already, I too fail to see how this is not liberalism resurrected. Adolf Harnack's main points where: (1) the kingdom of God and its coming [deeschatologized of course]; (2) God the Father of all and the infinite value of all humans; (3)the higher righteousness and the commandment of love (moral ethics). They detracted from all notions of 'getting saved' too, thinking their view was in favor of the 'kingdom story'.

Benjamin Nitu said...

The meaningless of it ...

“The City of God is a place where the inhabitants love people and walk on gold; the city of man is a place where the inhabitants love gold and walk on people.” - St. Augustine


John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."

donsands said...

"Are we too Heavenly minded?"
Nay, is my answer. Would that we were. The Gospel would be so much more bright.

It's good to think this way sometimes: To be rid of this body of death, and sinful desires. To long to see the Lord Jesus Christ, and to see the OT saints in heaven: Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Samuel, and so many others.
What a day of rejoicing that shall be!
And all this is true only because he first loved me, and His grace found me when I was lost, and opened my blind eyes.

"For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is FAR BETTER. Nevertheless to rmain in the flesh is MORE NEEDFUL for you.
... For to me, to live is CHRIST, and to die is GAIN." Phil. 1:23-24,21

SolaMeanie said...

In all seriousness, there's another side to this whole thing we ought to consider. For Christians who live in countries where persecution is severe, the biblical hope of Heaven has helped sustain them through their trials. That is nothing to sneer at. Let yourself be tortured in a communist prison for five years, and let's see if your hope of Heaven strengthens any.

I've talked to some of these saints myself. And none of them that I can see are so heavenly minded they're no earthly good. They do quite a bit here on this earth for the glory of Christ.

Dan Paden said...

When I reviewed that book recently, I noted that the sheer number of "What the ????(?)!" moments beggared description. This one's not even especially egregious.

Paul said...

Sola:
Are you implying that some people actually help others WITHOUT promoting, marketing and/or writing in a book and selling?

That is SO Matthew 6!

I used to think I was missional, until I found out I had to tell everyone I am "friend of missional" or wear a shirt or something.

puritanicoal said...

A few thoughts:

“More and more of us are realizing something our best theologians have been saying for quite a while:” (How about something you have been reading in your Bible for quite a while? Why mention unnamed “theologians?”)

“Jesus' message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores, as is popularly assumed,” (First of all, I agree with you Brian, but that’s a straw man – that’s not what the Bible teaches. The gratuitous mention of “popularly assumed” adds to the weakness of his thesis. Also, do I detect a hint of the Pagittian heresy of the non-existence of hell, and that heaven is not a "place?" Moreover, who preaches about the "blissful shores of heaven" when Revelation clearly teaches there will be no ocean!!)

“but instead is about God's will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven.” (Again, that statement in isolation is agreeable, but in context is simply a twisted use of a well-known phrase from the Model Prayer.)

"So people interested in being a new kind of Christian ®" (always plugging past books, or trying to create a new label?) (Why do we need a new kind of Christian? Isn’t the old kind taught in the NT sufficient?)

“will inevitably begin to care more and more about this world, and they'll want to better understand its most significant problems, and they'll want to find out how they can fit in with God's dreams” (Is this Brian’s version of the Fruit of the Spirit? If you are a New Kind of Christian ® then you will exhibit, via a New Kind of Regeneration ®, these “fruits?”)

"God’s dreams?" (Can anyone say “Open Theism?”)

“actually coming true down here more often.” (Brian’s Gospel – God needs us to help make all his dreams come true. Maybe his next book will be titled: "McLarean Dynamite.")

No thanks.

David said...

My position, simply stated:

Jesus Christ is Lord. My Lord. I am a subject in His kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven.

As His subject, I am called to do His will, which He has revealed in His Word. Because my Lord dwells within me by His Spirit, the kingdom of Heaven is within me, and I am enabled to carry out His will, on earth as it is in heaven, as I am no longer conformed to the pattern of the earthly kingdom. Instead, I am being transformed by the renewal of my mind so that I may know and carry out God's will.

Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place for me, so that where He is, there I may also be. In Him, I have eternal life, which is to know the Father, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.

Drew said...

Centurion:

The Bible is an inspired book that tells of Gods interaction with humans. God is the hero of the story, and its beginning and end, to I would call it "God centered," but humans have a big part (the love interest!)

Solameanie:

I am not ignoring these scriptures, nor am I re-interpreting them (not on purpose, at least!) I do not find them to be at odds with Christ's preaching of the Kingdom at all, the question is of priority.

I am not a heaven-denier, just a heaven-deemphasizer. McLaren's point still stands--our Gospel has become too much about avoiding hell and getting into heaven, and less about the main thrust of Christ's teaching. I've just read those scriptures for I think a fifth time today, and I believe them to be true, but not central.

Stratagem, others, I wish you would stop referring to environmentalism, peace, and justice for the poor as "the worlds agenda." Even if you don't believe a scriptural mandate exists to make these "the churches agenda" (although two are there explicitly and the other is pretty well implied), surely you have eyes to see that the world is not really all about peacemaking, faithfully stewarding creation, or relieving poverty. There all of our war, environmental destruction and poor people ought to show us that "the world's" priorities are elsewhere.

stratagem said...

Stratagem, others, I wish you would stop referring to environmentalism, peace, and justice for the poor as "the worlds agenda." Even if you don't believe a scriptural mandate exists to make these "the churches agenda" (although two are there explicitly and the other is pretty well implied), surely you have eyes to see that the world is not really all about peacemaking, faithfully stewarding creation, or relieving poverty. There all of our war, environmental destruction and poor people ought to show us that "the world's" priorities are elsewhere.

Sorry, Drew, no can do. I hate to say it, but you are being duped by McLaren's high talking. It is definitely true that McLaren and other Emergents' agendas are being set by the world: For instance, justifying homosexual behavior isn't in the Bible (at all) as being the church's agenda, but it most certainly is in Emergent's agenda. Advancing the cause of candidates who want to keep snuffing out human life in the womb, legal and acceptable, is also not spelled out in the Bible as being the church's agenda. But, the Emergents don't care about that cause, at all, and in fact most of them vote to keep the baby-killers in power. Sounds like 'social justice' to me!

The Emergents want to be liked by the world. Talking about green causes, getting rid of poverty through socialism, and so on are on the emergent radar screen because that is what the crowd of the world is scremaing for, right now. Just as at one time, they were screaming to free Barabbas.

Dave Marriott said...

I like to call the emerging concept of the kingdom, the pseudobasileia. Even if bringing kingdom to earth were possible, would it not include regeneration? In terms of Jesus, McLaren and others believe that kingdom ethics are possible apart from regeneration. In terms of Paul, they believe they are capable of living out imperatives without first settling indicatives. Thus my title, pseudobasileia or false kingdom.

SolaMeanie said...

Drew,

Jesus talked about Hell more than anyone else in the New Testament. I would hardly say that He de-emphasized it, or Heaven. Again, I think this is really much ado about nothing on the part of the EC, at least in terms of Bible-preaching churches. If you get things in the right priority in terms of getting saved, and then hiding God's Word in your heart, DOING what God's Word says - including good social works - is all part of the equation. Good works flow out of one's salvation.

That being said, there are eternal consequences to be faced by the lost (unless one toys with universalism). Those outside of Christ will indeed spend eternity in Hell. Some in the evangelical church today are afraid to preach that message because it isn't "nice." Jesus Himself said that the Gospel would be a stumbling block. Why? Before you get to the Good News, you have to face the Bad News.

This really isn't rocket science. I think people need to quit their hand-wringing about whether the world likes us or not, and get on with preaching the whole counsel of God, including the certainty of His coming judgment.

Mike Riccardi said...

but humans have a big part (the love interest!)

There it is. Man-Centeredness in a can.

This idea that we are God's "love interest" is the root of all sorts of error and heresy.

Why does God do what He does? For our sake, or for His own? To make much of us, or make much of Himself? To make us preeminent, or to make CHRIST preeminent?

For example, why did God predestine sinners to be conformed to likeness of His Son? Because He loved them so much? NO! In order that the Son might be exalted.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; - Rom 8:29

Another one. Why do sinners get to be sanctified? Is it because God loved us so much that He wanted us to be like Him? NO! He purifies sinners to be able to present His glorious, all-pleasing Son with a worthy bride!

who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

God's love interest is NOT humanity! God's love interest is JESUS! It's for HIS sake that God does ANYTHING, because the Father is most glorified in His Son.

Anything we get out of it is inexplicable, jaw-dropping, abundantly merciful GRACE.

Gummby said...

I said "Pagitt," should've said "McLaren."

There's a difference?

Seriously, though, in the last week, I listened to Doug Pagitt on WOTM (which I've started transcribing), a critque of Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis by Pat Howell at the Bible Church of Little Rock, and read McLaren's Reading of John 14:6. Every single case involves redefining terms.

Just looking at McLaren's article, for instance, you find out that John 14:6 isn't talking about heaven at all. It's only directed at the disciples, and it's about their being part of God's kingdom.

If one believes in a "generous orthodoxy," one must reconcile this belief with problematic passages (like John 14:6), which seem to imply exclusivity and narrowness about the Gospel, and about Jesus. What better way than to define (or redefine) what he is talking about to make it not speak of salvation?

McLaren says: There are other passages in Scripture you can go to if you want to further explore the question of how God deals with people who have never heard about Jesus, or Judaism, or Christianity.

He includes this in the footnote:
For example, I’d look at Romans 2:1-29, 5:12-21, 11:25-36. I’d also follow the theme of the “righteous outsider” in the Old Testament – with characters like Melchizedek, Jethro, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah, etc. I would also take into account passages like Amos 9:7 and Acts 17:24-28. But even in considering these texts, it will be essential to examine the pre-critical assumptions we bring to our reading, including the assumption that the Bible is primarily concerned with who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. That’s a subject I explored in The Last Word and the Word After That (Jossey-Bass, 2005), and to which I hope to return in the future.

The premise underlying all of this (and it's like peeling away layers, like an onion) is this--that the narrow gospel is arrogant. It is our own theological arrogance that has lead us to this modern-day Pharisaical notion of narrow salvation, and ignoring "God's work on earth" for our escapist dreams of heaven.

Rant over. I've got better things to do.

Like ministry.

SolaMeanie said...

To clarify what I just wrote (horrors..CLARITY!), here's what I mean by much ado about nothing. The EC loves to imply that the church (at least the evangelical stripe) isn't doing anything to address social ills. That is a ridiculous, baseless charge, and I could point you to numerous evangelical rescue missions and other agencies (not to mention church-based ministries along with the para-church) who are doing all they can to help meet social needs. While there are certainly lots of "bless me" clubs out there that don't do much, I hardly think that is the majority.

Unfortunately, too many in the EC have bought into the left's notion of social justice and that impacts their theology.

SolaMeanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Short Thoughts said...

Has MacLaren been reading N. T. Wright? That quote, with a little more eloquence and a lot more accent, could have almost come from the famous initials.

Daryl said...

Call me simple but I still don't get how the EC can possibly imagine that the percieved quality (healthy or not, wealthy or not, enviro-friendly or not) of some 70-odd years (best case) can compare in the slightest with the quality (heavenly or hellish)of a billion billion to the billionth power times a billion to the billionth power again - years (worst case). (I freely acknowledge that my second number is really nothing compared the reality that is eternity...)

It's like saying "Don't worry about who you're gonna marry, the real issue is whether or not that complete stranger over there will smile, ever-so-briefly, at you."

How can we be so blind?

lordodamanor said...

Drew,

Completely wrong, the gentiles seek after these things, so do not be deceived because there are wars and all. The world agenda, even in those who love war is to bring about world peace and prosperity. The Scripture warns us not to believe the lying spirit that says Peace, peace when there is no peace. The peace we make, and are to pursue has nothing to do with peace here on earth.

Our Father's will is always done with or without you. It is not up to you to carry it out. It is for us to obey the commandments, it is for him to carry out his will, and if he chooses what is that to you? Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is he, not you, who works in you the willing and doing, so fear. For he may just leave you to your sin, to work out his good pleasure. 'Thy kingdom come, they will be done,' is a doxology, praise to him who is sovereign over all creation such that it necessarily follows that he commands and it is done. So, the petition part of this prayer is no petition at all. In fact the words are in the imperative. In otherwords it is, "You command that it is given, this day our daily bread, and it will be given." It is an affirmative assent to the doxologies that book end the prayer. It is "You command and it is done, that we forgive others as we are forgiven...you command and it is done that we are not left to evil nor are lead to it." And it is because it is his kingdom and his power and all for his glory.

Drew- check it out, this movement to establish the kingdom here, is a delusion. He will share his glory with no other, and the fact is that this world will not get better until the man of peace comes, but that will be the grandest of all delusions, so powerful that except they be elect, even the elect could be deceived. So, do not believe them when they say he is there or he is in the desert, or he is in the streets, or the environmental movement, or stewardship or any other deceptive name they use for Christ. He will not be here, or there, until we all see him coming in clouds of judgement. Take care, when others say that by these things or those, we are being more like Him, that you are not caught in the trap of civilian affairs.

Jay said...

Mike Riccardi nailed it.

Paul said...

Did Jesus need to die for Brian McLaren's message; or, will any Gandhi, Bono or hollywood actor do?

I don't think Jesus had to die for social injustices. He could have sent an angel to instruct us about those.

Daryl said...

Paul,

That's exactly their point, that's why they call the penal substitutionary atonement "divine child abuse". They see the cross as merely an example of self-sacrificing love, not the necessary payment for the sins of the elect.

Funny how one thing leads to another. Theology is important.

David Castor said...

So, do not believe them when they say he is there or he is in the desert, or he is in the streets, or the environmental movement, or stewardship or any other deceptive name they use for Christ.

Or perhaps when "they" say he is in conservative Christendom?

Drew said...

Stratagem: It sounds like maybe a chicken and egg thing, because there ARE a number of people (although they are still in the minority from the looks of things) that are concerned about peace, justice for the poor, and faithful stewardship. You seem to think that they came up with these ideas, and the the EC folk told them that these are values of Christianity.

I would submit that it is the other way around.

But maybe you are right. Maybe the EC folk rewrote the Bible so that they could be cool.

Solameanie: Yes, Christ talked more about hell than anybody else in the NT. He also talked more about the Kingdom than anybody else. So what?

McLaren's point is that dwelling on the subject does little good. I would be happy if we agreed to the ratio of preaching that Christ used--mentioning hell, but talking a lot more about a lot more stuff. I suspect McLaren would be pleased with that, too, and a lot of people here would complain about the "selling out of the gospel."

Lordodamanor: This is not a movement to establish the kingdom. Christ established the kingdom. Christ will complete it. God has chosen the church to proclaim it and demonstrate it by his grace through the Holy Spirit until Christ's return.

Mikericcardi: I don't think we will ever agree. I suppose you hate that "Jesus loves me song," and John 3:16. I don't know where you got the idea that God loving outside of the Godhead detracted from God's glory in some way. I believe that God loves me, even while I am still a sinner. This does not glorify me any more than the book of Hosea glorifies prostitutes. Anybody can love somebody that can love them. God loved us while we were opposed to him.

Seriously, I never thought I would have to argue "God loves you," to somebody who is a student of the Bible.

DJP said...

DarylFunny how one thing leads to another

Do what they say, say what they mean. One thing leads to another. You tell me something wrong, I know I listen too long. But then....

farmboy said...

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40, ESV)

The (theo)logical order of love in the above passage is important. First, we must love God with the entirety of our being. Then, derivatively, we are called to love others as we already love ourselves. Even in our fallen states, self love is part of our nature. From the perspective of self love, lost people understand love. However, it is only when we love God with the entirety of our being that we are capable of loving others in the same way we love ourselves. As for the next question, in our fallen states is it natural for us to love God?

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19, ESV)

Based on the above, it is not natural for lost people to love God. Instead, it is natural for them to love the darkness. It is only when – through the agency of God the Holy Spirit – lost people are reconciled to God the Father through the atoning work of God the Son that they become capable of loving God.

It all starts, then, with the gospel. Until a person is born again that person does not have the capability to participate in advancing God’s eternal, infinite Kingdom in this temporal, finite setting that we find ourselves.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

As born again, new creatures, we see, understand and act in the temporal and finite based on an eternal, infinite perspective – a heavenly perspective, if you will. Thus, a call to properly see, understand and act in the temporal and finite must be predicated on a call to embrace the gospel, as it is the gospel that fundamentally changes us so that we can properly see, understand and act.

Gilbert said...

Drew said:

>It sounds like maybe a chicken and egg thing,

This is a convincing start to your statement...

> because there ARE a number of
>people (although they are still
>in the minority from the looks of
>things) that are concerned about
>peace, justice for the poor, and
>faithful stewardship. You seem to
>think that they came up with
>these ideas, and the the EC folk
>told them that these are values
>of Christianity.
>
>I would submit that it is the
>other way around.

And your Biblical support with this is...? The folks above have supported their arguments with Scripture.

>Mikericcardi: I don't think we
>will ever agree. I suppose you
>hate that "Jesus loves me song,"
>and John 3:16.

Where did he say that?

> I don't know where you got the
> idea that God loving outside of
>the Godhead detracted from God's
>glory in some way.

He didn't say that, either.

> I believe that God loves me,
>even while I am still a sinner.

Romans 5:8 says this:

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8 (NIV)

He says this to believers. "Us" means believers, not sinners. Yes we do sin as believers, but our lives are not characterized by sin, or are less so as time goes on.

>McLaren's point is that dwelling
>on the subject does little good.

Even though the Bible does? So he disagrees with Scripture. Hmmm.

>Solameanie: Yes, Christ talked
>more about hell than anybody else
>in the NT. He also talked more
>about the Kingdom than anybody
>else. So what?

So it means that He places great importance on both. The first, to repent and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent by the Father to redeem this sinful, sorry world,those that will trust Him and Him alone for salvation and grace. And the second is to focus on His heavenly kingdom, because it sure isn't coming from us or this sorry world.

>I would be happy if we agreed to
>the ratio of preaching that
>Christ used--mentioning hell, but
>talking a lot more about a lot
>more stuff.

I would be THRILLED if we talked about what Jesus told us to talk about...not peace, not some social "gospel", but the TRUE, saving Gospel that is so lacking in not only the EC church, but a lot of them these days, from those that are liberal to conservative, and all inbetween and beyond!

We need Jesus to save us from eternal damnation in hell that you and I wholeheartedly deserve, and the only way to God the Father is through our Lord Jesus Christ. Not by what we do, but what He did for us as we believe in repentance and faith. THAT is what needs to be preached! Then and only then the helping of the poor and other good works, as the Bible teaches, becomes a true act of love.

Jay said...

Those who are truly heavenly-minded ought to be the ones who sacrifice the most for the good of this world. To discourage heavenly-mindedness is to try to cut people off from the very thing that encourages all true charity and self-sacrifice. The heavenly-minded person can joyfully give up fading earthly treasure for that which does not perish.

Oh that we might me more heavenly minded!

lordodamanor said...

This is not a movement to establish the kingdom. Christ established the kingdom. Christ will complete it. God has chosen the church to proclaim it and demonstrate it by his grace through the Holy Spirit until Christ's return. Drew

Drew, Jesus himself said that the people would not believe even if they saw a man raised from the dead. And simply because someone can be won over by another's good behavior or that the unbelievers glorify God because of the work's they see, does not mean that they are saved because of them. Rmember, it was Christ's condemnation was linked to works n because he said that if he did these things then he was the Son of God. And that isn't really the issue, it is the dimunition of the Word of God, particularly the atonement and what it means that is central to this movement. Go back and study your world history. Follow the emphasis on social justice (which is a late twentieth century term having it roots further back in the mysticism of the Catholic Church), though the utopian era and people like Thomas Moore. Follow the path of the delvelopement of Germany and the Soviet Union. I think you'll be shocked to discover that they both have their precursors is aberrant Christian doctrine which emphasized the here and now. From St Francis to Robert Owen. Did you know that the Third Reich, the third way, was steeped in social justice philosophy? It was an environmental movement. There primary emphasis as a "Christian" movement was the developement of man, and anthopocentic orientation over against the theocentric one, which develope in to a denial of transcendence, to produce the god now here essence of the new man, the manifestation of the Kingdom on earth. The other strains moved more quickly developing another fascism known as communism, but the socialist aspects of redistribution and social justice begin befor Marx. As either, Lenin or Stalin remarked, "We chose Marx over Roberth Owen because Owen was too Christian." The strange thing though, is that the communist system was fathered by Owen, even down to the design of their public housing and the reindoctrination centers, freedom of speech restriction, and mind control through psychological reorientation. Our position has not changed, and we will with Bonhoffer and others oppose the linking of the civil with the heavenly, because, throughout history is has produced the most heinous of evil.

Or perhaps when "they" say he is in conservative Christendom? David Castor

Yes, David, any association outside of Scripture. Because it is neither conservative nor liberal, but the Truth.

I never thought I would have to argue "God loves you," to somebody who is a student of the Bible. Drew

Well, love has an amazing appeal to those who do not know it. But, God sent his only begotten Son into the world because this is the way that he loved it that those who do not believe are condemned already. Love necessitates also that he hates. So, are you ready for this, God hates you also Drew, every little sinful drop of you. Love is greater than what the simple minded argue it is out of John 3:16. Jealousy, anger, and hate for unrighteousness, is God's love also, and without it, it is not love at all.

(Jeremiah 23:25-29) DJP

Thanks DJP, strong warning, that those who claim such thing, need to be aware of. They play with fire and they are more likely getting burn than being purified by it.

As born again, new creatures, we see, understand and act in the temporal and finite based on an eternal, infinite perspective – a heavenly perspective, if you will. Thus, a call to properly see, understand and act in the temporal and finite must be predicated on a call to embrace the gospel, as it is the gospel that fundamentally changes us so that we can properly see, understand and act. farmboy

Leave it to a farmboy to sum up the first things love. It is by the Word that the worlds were called into being, and unless there is a new creation, you can paint the dung heap all you want and it will still stink.

Sounds like a bag of gags to me! Hadassah

Ain't that right Hadassah. You echo DJP's response well with the other side of the coin. Those who were given great gifts were all put to death eventually, or suffered great persecutions and torture. The funny thing is, that all those who claim such things never seem to go through those things!

SolaMeanie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who quotes song lyrics around here! ;)

I was tempted to quote the Youngbloods earlier today, but I was afraid to start another kerfuffle. Okay, jesting over for the moment.

Drew, I think this discussion might be helped by defining terms more carefully. What, to you, is the "Kingdom?" What is the purpose of this "Kingdom?"

What is the Gospel? What is the purpose of the Gospel?

What is salvation? What are we being saved from?

What is the church? What is the purpose of the church?

What is Heaven? What is the purpose of Heaven?

What is Hell? What is the purpose of Hell?

Perhaps if you begin telling us precisely what your views are on these areas - hopefully with biblical justification - we can actually begin to get somewhere in this discussion. I know this probably is irritating, but defining terms is one of the hallmarks of a fruitful discussion.

777law said...

We may someday see for ourselves just how durable the McLaren Gospel proves to be. Only a gospel like his could be concocted in an society where the quality of life has reached the state of nirvana. Replace our current affluency with a third world sustenence level, and we will see how many miles per gallon the McLaren ideologues get. Turn up the Richter scale on persecution and see how quickly they populate the tall grass.

It is my belief that those who embrace the doctrine of Brian McLaren and his "best theologians," are making the awful mistake of assuming that life on earth will always be a bowl of cherries. However, there may very soon come a time when the metal of those who hold to this doctrine will be tested by the judgement of God upon this nation.

Should this nation ever face God's Judgement, I, for one, would put my money on the doctrine that gave courage to the martyrs. I find a great deal of comfort in knowng I have built my house upon the Rock.

Rick Potter said...

Phil,

Would you agree that because some do not have a fully developed doctrine of the church that it becomes almost impossible to differentiate between the "already" and "not yet" aspects of the Kingdom. Frank got me to thinking along these lines a while back when he conducted a debate (which I cannot at this time recall with whom he debated) that reached a point in which his opponent wanted to magnify the temporal aspects of salvation - not in it's entire soteriological aspect - but in a more social (or maybe grammatical) aspect. While "most of us" (sorry!) would agree that the inauguration of the eschaton has taken place, doesn't that fact require us to believe in a Kingdom ecclesiology that defines the "already" as the reign of Christ through His church.

(Frank - if you read this could you give me a link to that debate if you remember it. As I remember it was excellent.)

centuri0n said...

Drew:

If you believe your answer, doesn't it follow that the Bible is about what God does for us and not really about what we can do for God?

Drew said...


Drew, I think this discussion might be helped by defining terms more carefully. What, to you, is the "Kingdom?" What is the purpose of this "Kingdom?"

What is the Gospel? What is the purpose of the Gospel?

What is salvation? What are we being saved from?

What is the church? What is the purpose of the church?

What is Heaven? What is the purpose of Heaven?

What is Hell? What is the purpose of Hell?

Perhaps if you begin telling us precisely what your views are on these areas - hopefully with biblical justification - we can actually begin to get somewhere in this discussion. I know this probably is irritating, but defining terms is one of the hallmarks of a fruitful discussion.


You are absolutely right. This is irritating, but still less irritating than being told that "God hates every sinful drop of me."

So I begin.

The kingdom is God's reign on earth. It is the year of God's favor, freedom for the captive, sight for the blind, and good news for the poor. It is the first becoming last, and the last becoming first. It is the pearl of great price, and the prodigal son coming home.

What is the gospel? Good news. The good news of the defeat of sin and death. Good news for the poor. Good news of the defeat of empire. Good news for individual sinners like me, and for the whole world.

Salvation is God's act of saving us. What does he save us from? What doesn't God save us from! Sin, death, empire, self-centeredness, oppression, evil, hell--all of it, God saves us from it all.


What is the church? The church is the body of believers. It is Christ's body. It exists wherever the word is rightly preached, the sacraments rightly practiced, and discipline rightly administered. It is made up of redeemed sinners. It's purpose is to be Christ's body until Christ returns. It is blessed, as Abraham was, to be a blessing to all nations. It is to make disciples, and to teach them to obey all that Christ commands.

Heaven is where God reigns, with no pretenders to God's power. It's purpose? God's glory.

Hell is the absence of God, which is horrible. It has no purpose, because purpose would give meaning, and there is no meaning or purpose outside of the will of God.

I'm sure, as a student of the Bible, you will recognize where I have made reference to scripture. I don't really feel like looking up chapter and verse, but if I might if you still need it.

Drew said...

Centurion: it does.

Juice said...

Question: How is a turn of the 20th century liberal a "New Christian"? I think J. G. Machen interacts quite well with McLaren, etc.

donsands said...

"Hell is the absence of God, which is horrible. It has no purpose'

It's purpose is to judge sin. It's th just reward for all sinners, and for the devil himself.
It where we all deserve to go.

God saved us from an eternal hell. Think about that for a couple minutes.
That should cause our hearts to have some kind of reaction.

carolczech said...

drew...

Would you mind looking up a couple verses for me? A few things look unfamiliar and I'm not sure where you're coming from (I'm no professional theologian - just a lay-blog-lurker)

"Good news of the defeat of empire"

Not sure what that's all about.

"Heaven is where God reigns, with no pretenders to God's power."

Don't understand the "no pretenders" part.

"Hell is the absence of God, which is horrible. It has no purpose, because purpose would give meaning, and there is no meaning or purpose outside of the will of God"

I'm gonna need a verse for that! Sounds a little Rick Warren-y. Would that make Satan the anti-Warren?

I'm really not trying to be snarky - I've heard a lot of comments like this and I really would like to know where they come from scripturally.

David Castor said...

I must admit that it is a little disheartening to read through all of the non-seqiturs and misrepresentations of McLaren's theology. It might even be said that to call such misrepresentations caricatures and strawpersons would be far too kind - the idea of caricatures and strawpeople is that the commentary has at least some tangential relationship to what is being critiqued. It seems that many commenters on this thread simply wish to invent positions that McLaren simply does not hold. For instance, "777law" suggests that McLaren and his ilk assume that life will always be a bowl of cherries. Really? Where, pray tell does he say that? In fact, McLaren seem to suggest the opposite - that life for many is unmitigated misery because of both individual and system sin. Indeed, if life were always a bowl of cherries, McLaren would have no grounds upon which to criticise the framing narrative of conservative Christendom and the call to pursue justice and equity would be redundant.

I can't really say whether the profoundly weak appraisal of McLaren's position is because of sheer dishonestly or sheer ignorance and intellectual laziness. That said, I can only hope for the sake of those responsible that it is the latter reason.

Anita Hensley said...

1 John 2:15-17 "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

centuri0n said...

OK, Drew -- you're a pretty pliable guy, and I appreciate that.

Here's the last question, and then you can be about your business.

How does McLaren's statement about "[wanting] to find out how [people] can fit in with God's dreams actually coming true down here more often" reflect that kind of God-centeredness, if it does at all?

Drew said...

"Good news of the defeat of empire"

This is not spelled out explicitly, but it is pretty clear shen the NT is read in context. The fact that Pagan Rome was ruling God's Israel was a serious problem for Jesus' contemporaries. "Going the extra mile," "turning the other cheek," and "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and God what is God's" are examples of Jesus' teaching that God's power is greater than Rome's. Saying Christ is Lord and Savior means saying that Caesar is not.

Now, as I said in my earlier post. This is PART of what the Good News is: It is not the Gospel in its entirety.

"Heaven is where God reigns, with no pretenders to God's power."

I added the "no pretenders" part, because I know that God also reigns here on earth, but death is the last enemy to be defeated, and so now, on earth, there are those who act as if God does not reign. In heaven, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord.

"Hell is the absence of God, which is horrible. It has no purpose, because purpose would give meaning, and there is no meaning or purpose outside of the will of God"

Can't give you a good verse for that one. I'll admit that it is an extra-Biblical answer. The problem for me is that I cannot imagine an existence outside of God, and I cannot imagine the presence of God in hell.

I've been accused of denying hell before on this blog, so I will be a little more clear here. I know that Jesus spoke of hell. I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, I'm just saying that I can't make sense of it.

And I don't want to. I don't think sin and death are logical. I don't want to justify somebody burning eternally. If God wants to, that's another story. God can do whatever God wants, but I do not want to pin my theological system on a doctrine of hell.

Thanks for not being snarky, Carol. I slipped into it a little bit, as is likely to happen online, but I am trying to refrain as well.

donsands said...

"I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, I'm just saying that I can't make sense of it.

And I don't want to. I don't think sin and death are logical. I don't want to justify somebody burning eternally."

I understand that. I don't really think anyone can explain eternal torment with our minds and hearts. But we do need to let the truth of Scripture rule, not our thinking.

God sees it different according to His Word. And we need to proclaim this truth, as awful as it is. And yet we need not understand it completely. That's my heart.

Drew said...

Centurion:
You asked,

How does McLaren's statement about "[wanting] to find out how [people] can fit in with God's dreams actually coming true down here more often" reflect that kind of God-centeredness, if it does at all?

I think it reflects it pretty well. God's dreams are not our dreams. I probably would have chosen a different, more tangible and less touchy feely, word than "dreams," but that statement makes it clear that God sets and completes the agenda, and we are blessed to be able to participate in it.

stratagem said...

Stratagem: It sounds like maybe a chicken and egg thing, because there ARE a number of people (although they are still in the minority from the looks of things) that are concerned about peace, justice for the poor, and faithful stewardship. You seem to think that they came up with these ideas, and the the EC folk told them that these are values of Christianity.

I would submit that it is the other way around.

But maybe you are right. Maybe the EC folk rewrote the Bible so that they could be cool.


Drew, Ah, so then the nearly-universal support of the EC, for candidates who wish to perpetuate the slaughter of the most innocent and helpless among us, is in the Bible?

Where is that verse or principle, exactly? And how is that advancing justice? You'll have to help me out with your logic.

Trading the lives of the unborn for environmentalism or socialism, seems more like a worldy agenda to me. Face it Bub, the EC agenda = liberal politics. Period. You've been duped.

Jim Pemberton said...

I would say that part of the emergents' problem is that they have a distorted understanding that this current process of sanctification is eternally normative. We should rather be encouraged that while we are justified, we must yet work out our salvation. The struggle with sin indicates that we do not yet behave as God desires, but that our gradual improvement here is a certain hope that our perfection will be complete at the resurrection. The emergents apparently don't hope in the resurrection.

Mark L said...

I have been observing the discussion mostly but, I want to share this thought on hell.

I think it was RC Sproul who said that hell is not the absence of God, but God present in His wrath.

I think the hell = absence of God terminology started because we don't want to deal with the idea of God punishing someone for eternity. And although I once thought that way, I do not think it is Biblical.

I have often thought that hell is eternal because those in it continually sin while there, ie they are in a state of constant rebellion. However, this is just my poor brain trying to explain it, I cannot back that up with Scripture.

777law said...

David Castor,

McLaren's stated:

"So people interested in being a new kind of Christian will inevitably begin to care more and more about this world, and they'll want to better understand its most significant problems, and they'll want to find out how they can fit in with God's dreams actually coming true down here more often."

Perhaps I am wrong, but the christians I see envisioned in the above statement are ones who focus primarily, if not exclusively, on a better life here on earth. In my post, I only stated "my" opinion, and I stand by it for the reason that from my perspective, McLaren is not building the kind of kingdom that God is building. He is building the kind of kingdom that God has been about the business of tearing down since he created this world, beginning with the tower of Babel. The idea that man can make God's dreams come true to me raises a huge red flag.

My bowl of cherries point applied only to McLaren and his friends, not the suffering world around them. I am convinced that they believe God has a wonderful plan for everyone's lives an they have the blueprints.

Scripture teaches that it is trials, tribulations, and the worries of this life that ultimately cause the falling away of those who are not really of the true faith of Christ. Since, as I have already stated, I do not believe McLaren to be teaching the doctrine of the true faith, I would fully expect such adversity to bring about the biblically anticipated results. Adversity is where the proverbial rubber meets the road; and unlike the doctrine proven by the martyrs, I do not believe McLaren's doctrine has yet been so proven.

SolaMeanie said...

And I don't want to. I don't think sin and death are logical. I don't want to justify somebody burning eternally. If God wants to, that's another story. God can do whatever God wants, but I do not want to pin my theological system on a doctrine of hell.

Drew, don't you see the implications of your statement here? Read it again. Masked within your statement is implied criticism of God. "Well, God..if you wanna make a place as awful and evil as Hell, that's your problem. But me? Nope. I'm better than that. Not gonna do it, not gonna go there." Despite the fact that the Lord's own theological system, of which He is the author, includes the reality of Hell as the destination of all who do not repent and trust in Him for salvation.

The Emergent Church loves to accuse biblical conservatives of arrogance. With all due respect, this statement of yours is one of the most blazing examples of theological arrogance (not to mention ignorance) that I have seen in some time. I hope and pray that you will be able to see this, recognize it, repent of it, and then truly come to grasp the whole counsel of God, not just the bits and pieces that sound marketable to the world.

Gummby said...

Just a couple things here.

First, Drew said: Hell is the absence of God, which is horrible. It has no purpose, because purpose would give meaning, and there is no meaning or purpose outside of the will of God.

Drew, you're mistaken on this point. If Hell was the absence of God, then God isn't omnipresent. Hell is not the absence of God; it is the presence of God in all His wrath, without any mixture of His mercy present. When people are in Hell, they will be wishing for the absence of God, and from relief from their torment. At the same time, they will still be blaming God for their situation, still rejecting him, and never acknowledging their own culpability.

Further, there is a purpose in Hell. It's purpose is to demostrate God's justice by punishing lawbreakers.

One reason we have such a hard time with Hell is that we don't pick the right starting point. The starting point must be God, and His holiness. When we understand God's holiness, it is then that we can start to make sense of why sin must be punished, why God would send Christ as a savior and redeemer, and why Hell exists.

John Piper reminds us that because Hell exists, we can take seriously God's commands to love our enemies, and not worry about somehow compromising God's justice in the process. "Indiscriminant mercy," I think he called it one time. All sin will be punished, either though Jesus' death, or by the sinners themselves receiving just recompense.

Finally, a right understanding of Hell should not create some sort of theological arrogance in our lives; instead, it should drive us first to our knees, to thank God that He loved us without any merit on our own and reached down to save us and snatch us from the flames of judgment, and then to our feet, to go out and spread the gospel, in the hopes that they, too, would accept God's free gift, and avoid His eternal wrath.

puritanicoal said...

If Castor is looking for a succinct summary of McLaren's "theology" it is best summed up in the chapter in Finding Faith -"Do All Paths Lead to the Same God?" His answer and prayer at the end of the chapter are pure heresy. The prayer includes a petition to God to lead someone in "whatever religion" is best for them. The chapter also includes a diagram illustrating that all religions, including Christianity, are tapped in to absolute truth, but none have it all, including Christianity, and that we can learn something about truth from every religion.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me." There is no truth in Islam. There is no truth in Hinduism. None.

That's the theology of McLaren I have read, and that anyone can read on just about any bookstore shelf in the country.

Castor and Drew - is repentance from individual sin, by an individual person, and trusting Jesus' substitutionary atonement for those sins the only way to be saved from God's wrath? Yes or no?

Daryl said...

Drew said -

"Hell is the absence of God, which is horrible. It has no purpose, because purpose would give meaning, and there is no meaning or purpose outside of the will of God."

Where do you get the idea that hell (or anything else for that matter) is outside the will of God.
As well..."no purpose"??? Come again? Is punishment for Satan and his angels (not to mention unrepentant people) of no purpose?

Think about what you are saying before you say it...please.

Helen said...

I alread read and reviewed Everything Must Change

I think I liked it more than most of you...

Ivy (Slice of Laodicea) said that me posting a positive review demonstrates how off-track Brian is.

Mike Riccardi said...

I know this was a while back, but I thought I'd clarify what I said since it was so horribly maimed and mutilated that it became no longer what I said. And my sincere thanks go to Jay and especially Gilbert for trying to preserve the purity of what I actually said.

I don't think we will ever agree.

Probably not, Drew. Not as long as you remain unequivocally man-centered.

I suppose you hate that "Jesus loves me song," and John 3:16.

Nope. Love em both. But I know you must hate songs like "In Christ Alone," especially that second verse. Wrath? Satisfied in Jesus? Yucky, icky. I also love the verses that I quoted (Rom 8:29, Titus 2, 11:-14, and also add in there Col 1:15ff).

Seriously, I never thought I would have to argue "God loves you," to somebody who is a student of the Bible.

You don't. I agree that God loves His children (and I guess I even have to qualify that by saying God loves the elect, His sheep).

All I was trying to say was that's not the main story, to keep it in the PoMo language for you. The main thing in this whole history of the universe thing is that God will glorify Himself by exalting His Son over all creation. Creation was made by Him, for Him, and through Him (Col 1). And from Him and to Him and through Him are all things (Rom 11:36ff).

Again, no disagreement that God loves His people. My disagreement is exalting God's love for people over His love for His own glory and His Son's preeminence. You make that substitution. I don't.

The story isn't: God loved me so much that He sent His own Son to die for me! It's: God loved His Son so much that He redeemed an utterly sinful people from condemnation and death to purify them to be a Holy Bride for His glorious Son. That's the story. That's the end (or goal) of all history, of all acts of God... that presentation of a pure virgin Bride to His Son.

Now, is this act of purifying the church not ineffably loving? Of course it is! But it was in no way motivated by the Father's love for the bride; rather, by the Father's love for the Son.

Drew said...


Trading the lives of the unborn for environmentalism or socialism, seems more like a worldy agenda to me. Face it Bub, the EC agenda = liberal politics. Period. You've been duped.


You are assuming that I am pro-choice, which is incorrect, for both myself and for many other EC.

I never brought up abortion, and you didn't at first, either, until I pointed out that there IS a Biblical mandate for the so called, "liberal agenda," that "the world" is supposedly pushing, of environmental stewardship, peace, and justice for the poor.

Equating the EC with liberal politics is like equating Evangelicalism with the war in Iraq. It may be true in some cases, but it isn't really fair at all.

farmboy said...

"It might even be said that to call such misrepresentations caricatures and strawpersons would be far too kind"

Strawpersons? What is this world coming to? When they are in fact present and utilized they are strawmen, not straw-women, not strawpersons, strawmen.

Drew said...


Drew, don't you see the implications of your statement here? Read it again. Masked within your statement is implied criticism of God. "Well, God..if you wanna make a place as awful and evil as Hell, that's your problem. But me? Nope. I'm better than that. Not gonna do it, not gonna go there." Despite the fact that the Lord's own theological system, of which He is the author, includes the reality of Hell as the destination of all who do not repent and trust in Him for salvation.


That is not how I am thinking. I am trying to be humble in my speech, firstly saying "I don't know."

But here is what I do know. What God does is good. If God elects to send me to hell, and it glorifies God, so be it.

But because I don't know for sure, I am erring on the side of saying less.

I do not share your conviction that God authored a theological system that includes hell, but if he did, it is very good.

Daryl said...

"I do not share your conviction that God authored a theological system that includes hell, but if he did, it is very good"


He did, in fact there's a really good book that covers the topic quite extensively. It's called the Bible...

[sigh]

Drew said...

Drew, you're mistaken on this point. If Hell was the absence of God, then God isn't omnipresent. Hell is not the absence of God; it is the presence of God in all His wrath, without any mixture of His mercy present.


I am not sure that God can only exist in a time/place partially. (i.e. wrath without mercy), and I do believe that God is love.


Further, there is a purpose in Hell. It's purpose is to demostrate God's justice by punishing lawbreakers.


While I am fully aware of my sinfulness, and thus the possibility that I am wrong, eternal punishment, to me, does not look like justice.

But if God does it, than it is just.

Drew said...


Finally, a right understanding of Hell should not create some sort of theological arrogance in our lives; instead, it should drive us first to our knees, to thank God that He loved us without any merit on our own and reached down to save us and snatch us from the flames of judgment, and then to our feet, to go out and spread the gospel, in the hopes that they, too, would accept God's free gift, and avoid His eternal wrath.


Agreed. I am not sure if this is happening, but I agree that this is what SHOULD be happening

Daryl said...

"While I am fully aware of my sinfulness, and thus the possibility that I am wrong, eternal punishment, to me, does not look like justice."

Drew, you need to go back and re-read all the stuff you've written. Read the quote above, you take everything back to your own personal sense of what is fair or just as if it really mattered what you and I thought.
What matters if what the Bible tells us. Stop running everything through your own seive and run it through Scripture.

Damon Steele said...

God's "dreams"?? Huh?

I wasn't aware that God had "dreams". Or "hopes" and "wishes" either...

God does have a will, however. And as believers, it's up to us to be part of that will, wherever He ordains us to join in. Part of that will is to meet the needs of those in need...the poor, the sick, the widows, those in prison... most of all, the lost.

It's amazing how complicated the hip can make the Gospel in their quest to be cool.

Drew said...


Again, no disagreement that God loves His people. My disagreement is exalting God's love for people over His love for His own glory and His Son's preeminence. You make that substitution. I don't.

I don't think I do.


The story isn't: God loved me so much that He sent His own Son to die for me! It's: God loved His Son so much that He redeemed an utterly sinful people from condemnation and death to purify them to be a Holy Bride for His glorious Son. That's the story. That's the end (or goal) of all history, of all acts of God... that presentation of a pure virgin Bride to His Son.

I don't think I would have ever put it this way, but I like it, and may say as much in the future. I agree.

Drew said...

Castor and Drew - is repentance from individual sin, by an individual person, and trusting Jesus' substitutionary atonement for those sins the only way to be saved from God's wrath? Yes or no?

No. Jesus Christ and his grace is the only way.

Mike Riccardi said...

Yes, grace is the method. Salvation is by God's grace, obtained how? Through faith (the means). What's faith defined as? Repenting from trusting in everything else and turning to trusting and treasuring Christ for all that He is.

My Daily Bread said...

This is an excellent topic and one I hope to "chew on" for some time to come, the Lord willing.

McLaren sounds Postmillenial to me, thinking that we Christians can bring in the kingdom by our own efforts at evangelism.

We do, as Christians, receive more in this life, as respects joy and quality of living, than we would have had we not become Christians. But, this world is not that which we set our eyes upon, but upon the world to come.

We pray for the kingdom to come, but no by our own efforts, but by the return of Christ.

Good topic.

Stephen Garrett
www.baptistgadfly.blogspot.com

Mike Riccardi said...

Stephen,

I think you bring up an extremely important issue, one that I've brought up in the past and thought about doing again. I elected not to because it seemed like there were other issues that were taking prominence in the discussion.

But since you've mentioned the postmillennial thing, I'll ask those postmils who are seriously Gospel-centered (if I'm not mistaken I think Mr. Twitchell is one of those), how does the doctrine of postmillennialism differ from all the "Let's usher in the kingdom" talk that we get from the EC/ECM/Missional guys?

David Castor said...

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me." There is no truth in Islam. There is no truth in Hinduism. None.

With all due respect, Puritanicoal, this isn't what either Aquinas or Calvin say on the subject.

Castor and Drew - is repentance from individual sin, by an individual person, and trusting Jesus' substitutionary atonement for those sins the only way to be saved from God's wrath? Yes or no?

If you wish to ask whether I believe that Jesus has died for my sins (and the sins of the world), I would agree with this statement. However, if you're asking whether someone is saved by believing in "correct" doctrine, then I'd disagree.

puritanicoal said...

It is what Jesus had to say on the subject...and very clearly.

Helen said...

It is what Jesus had to say on the subject...and very clearly.

You think it's clear because you are in a community which agrees on what it means.

Step outside that community and you will find it's not clear.

You can say that's because you are 'enlightened' and they aren't. However that would mean you're embracing gnosticism: the idea that a few privileged ones have secret knowledge and insight. On the whole the gospels don't support that because they continually report ordinary people understanding and approving of what Jesus did. (The crowd said, "He does all things well")

Mike Riccardi said...

How is what God revealed in His Word secret?

If I propose to understand the Bible, the Word of God, which God gave for the purpose that we understand it and thereby be equipped, given everything we need for life and godliness, how, by saying I understand what God has unmistakably declared, am I believing in something secret.

That's like saying, "Look! The sun is out today!" and then having somebody say, "How can you be so sure?! You and your arrogant friends think the sun is out, but you're just holding yourselves up as enlightened with secret knowledge. Us humble folks know better than to declare something so obviously ambiguous with such blatant conviction."

puritanicoal said...

It is clear because it is clear. It has nothing to do with "community" or "enlightenment."

Drew said...

It is clear that we are saved by believing in correct doctrine? That is news to me. Please show me where scripture makes this clear.

DJP said...

Ah, another day of "telling Helen what she already knows but just doesn't like" dawns.

So, for the record:

1. Yep, rebelling against God will definitely give you a different perspective on truth:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7)

A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none,
But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding (Proverbs 14:6)

2. This Jesus you keep picking and choosing from said this:

*At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will: (Matthew 11:25-26)

That's not Gnosticism. Golly, what a silly dodge that's becoming.

3. You definitely do fit into the crowd, as you like to imagine -- but not in the way you imagine. Your words class you with the portion that wanted to claim Jesus for their own agenda (John 6:15), then bailed when they didn't like the teaching (vv. 60, 6). Though they were more honest than you. They admitted that they didn't like Jesus' teaching. You just say, "La la la, He didn't say that bit."

Daryl said...

Drew said

"It is clear that we are saved by believing in correct doctrine? That is news to me. Please show me where scripture makes this clear."

No one is saying that we are saved by believing in correct doctrine. But what is being said (or should be) is that we are lost by rejecting correct doctrine. This is precisely the EC problem, made plain in the Doug Pagitt/ Todd Friel interview. Pagitt claims not to understand the idea of heaven and hell being a real place, yet he grew up in the church. So, he rejects sound doctrine, putting his soul in grave danger.

puritanicoal said...

One more, Dan...

Proverbs 14:9 - Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.

Helen said...

Though they were more honest than you. They admitted that they didn't like Jesus' teaching. You just say, "La la la, He didn't say that bit."

I'm not being dishonest about it - I don't know how much of the Bible is historically accurate and how much is myth/propaganda/wishful thinking. Maybe the whole thing is made up. Who knows...no one knows for sure.

I understand that you believe every word of it is true.

I don't take issue with that; only with Christians picking and choosing (what you accuse me of) and then claiming they believe the whole thing. Using fancy footwork to gloss over what they don't like because it didn't fit neatly into their systematic theology.

As Brian points out, the danger of such approaches is, Christians can end up in completely the wrong story, doing what Jesus came to oppose rather than what he came to promote. (If the story is true) It would be like the Democrats putting a ton of effort into making their advertising look great and not realizing they were promoting the Republican Candidate.

lordodamanor said...

So, Helen, you are saying that there is no Truth that can be known? And therefore we are to believe what McLauren says is the truth?

Makes sense!

Helen said...

lordodamanor, I'm not saying what Brian says is 'the truth' - only that I like it and I think it would help make the world a better place if people took what he said to heart; which I see as a good thing for those of us living on the earth.

And all that is just my opinion.

Daryl said...

Unfortunately "I like it" has no relevant bearing on this conversation or any other conversation relating to what is true.

Helen said...

Unfortunately "I like it" has no relevant bearing on this conversation or any other conversation relating to what is true.

Ah but it might - since I am made in the image of God.

That might mean I sometimes like things because God likes them.

Daryl said...

Except that the Bible is clear, we hate things because God likes them.

The unregenerate person only hates what God likes.

Helen said...

Except that the Bible is clear, we hate things because God likes them.

The unregenerate person only hates what God likes.


This is just hyperbole. It doesn't reflect the real world in which unregenerate and regenerate people (according to your definition) do similar things every day, based on similar motivations.

lordodamanor said...

But, all Scripture is God breathed and not given for any private interpretation. No personal opinions allowed, but men of old spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, and if any man speaks he is to speak as an oracle of God and we are to learn not to go beyond what is written.

So, is what is written the truth, can it be understood, or is Chistianity, better served by the name Vaguery.

And, if we took it too heart, and it is out of the heart that the issues of life flow, would you want what Brian says in your heart if it is not the truth?

Tim Bertolet said...

since I am made in the image of God

That assumes that's not just myth. I mean that part might not be true. So what makes that part true and other parts not true, other than the fact that you like that part?

lordodamanor said...

People do not do things out of similar motivations: For it is God who is working in you to will and to do of his good pleasure.

The proper will, is God's and not ours. Our hearts are desperately wicked, so much so that you cannot even know what your motivations are. We must then look to Scripture trusting that he will not forget our good works, works which were before ordain by the Father that we would walk in them.
Faith tells us that Father knows best, we know only Him.

Tim Bertolet said...

since I am made in the image of God

Or it could be propaganda or wishful thinking.

carolczech said...

Helen said,"Ah but it might - since I am made in the image of God."

How do you even know that you are made in the image of God if the entire Bible is suspect? You've already admitted that you have no idea if any of it is trustworthy. So how can you build your...do you call it a 'worldview'...a 'theology'...
'credo'? upon a book that you think is a bunch of tall tales? How do you decide which parts to believe? Do you believe that Christ literally rose from the dead? Or was he just a good moral teacher? And what about all the other religious communities who reject that knowlege? Aren't YOU being gnostic about your beliefs?

Why be a Christian at all? Why not be Buddhist? Seems like a much easier calling than all that 'deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me' stuff.

DJP said...

And, as has been shown, Helen, "Brian" is wrong, and you really have nothing to say except to keep saying that you have nothing to say except to keep saying that you have nothing to say and that you want to talk about how you have nothing to say and why you have nothing to say and the whole long, long story of how you came to have nothing to say, and why you love having nothing to say and why you keep loving to come here and go on and on about how you have nothing to say, though you do like asking go-nowhere questions with whose answers you intend to do nothing worth talking about, though you will.

And so, in review:

1. Start wrong, end wrong (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 14:6)

2. The Gnostic crack was silly and wrong

3. People understood Jesus just fine, and still do. That you don't isn't a Jesus-issue, it's a helen-issue.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

1 Corinthians 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Gummby said...

This is just hyperbole. It doesn't reflect the real world in which unregenerate and regenerate people (according to your definition) do similar things every day, based on similar motivations.

So when Paul says in Romans 8:7-8 that "...the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God," he doesn't really mean it? He's just exaggerating to make a point?

Chris Hemmelman said...

Drew said

"It is clear that we are saved by believing in correct doctrine? That is news to me. Please show me where scripture makes this clear."

Hmmm..."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 it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)

Clear enough?

Drew said...

That text is perfectly clear, and I love it. But that text is not a system of doctrine.

And, if we are going to nit-pick, it is not BY those things that we are saved, as stated in that verse.

Paul said...

Ahh! The NT Wright marginalization of sound teaching.

1-non-emergent said...

As a previous post aptly noted, there is a huge honesty issue among emergents and their sneaky, secretive, and liberal agenda. In keeping with their established pattern, the real problem emergents have with thinking about the true kingdom "bye and bye" is simply cowardice of the inevitable persecution of the church and/or our own crosses to bear in the hectic here and now. What a "win-win" they say--we get everyone to like us (in order to thwart God's plan and make him resort to "plan b") AND they get to have alot of fun doing so. Yippee!

Helen said...

djp wrote: And, as has been shown, Helen, "Brian" is wrong, and you really have nothing to say except to keep saying that you have nothing to say except to keep saying that you have nothing to say and that you want to talk about how you have nothing to say and why you have nothing to say and the whole long, long story of how you came to have nothing to say, and why you love having nothing to say and why you keep loving to come here and go on and on about how you have nothing to say, though you do like asking go-nowhere questions with whose answers you intend to do nothing worth talking about, though you will.

Dan, I wonder how you even dare claim you take the Bible seriously given that it says such things as "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Do you (and the rest of team pyro) even own these clothes? Did you somehow get the impression you weren't supposed to wear them online?

DJP said...

Because, Helen, the Bible says "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes" (Proverbs 26:5). You've been treated with kid-gloves again and again, and again, and we've all seen what's come of it.

I reaffirm everything I said.

puritanicoal said...

It's telling, and there is a pattern - scripture is very clear to the Emergent Cult when they want to protect themselves from critism, i.e. see Helen's quote from scripture immediately above. To her, it's very clear, and one she readily applies to Dan. Yet, when an equally clear statement is proffered, such as "No one comes to the Father, but through me," then it depends on the community from which a person comes as to what it means. The lack of absolute truth, and yes, Castor, the lack of correct doctrine, based on the Bible, leads to a palpable intellectual dishonesty that shows itself time and time again.

There will be a literal Judgment Day when you stand naked before God, and it will be impossible to play with words so flippantly on that Day. Please call out to God for repentance before it's too late.

Helen said...

Dan, thanks for the reply.

David Castor said...

and yes, Castor, the lack of correct doctrine, based on the Bible, leads to a palpable intellectual dishonesty that shows itself time and time again.

But by who? Your assertions may very well satisfy yourself, but if you wish to make such vitriolic accusations against Helen and others, it would at least be courteous to offer some kind of substance to your arguments.

Chris Hemmelman said...

Drew said

"It is clear that we are saved by believing in correct doctrine? That is news to me. Please show me where scripture makes this clear."

and

"That text is perfectly clear, and I love it. But that text is not a system of doctrine."

The text is a pretty clear indication of the right belief one must have to be saved. Yes we are saved by Grace, but it is through faith, we have to believe it, we have to accept it.

Salvation by Grace is not some impersonal force that goes around zapping unsuspecting individuals.

God convicts us of our sin and enlightens us to our need for a Savior. We respond with repentence and belief.

And it must be the correct kind of belief. That passage says we have to confess that Jesus is Lord, we have to believe that God raised him from the dead. It is very specific here. These are what one must believe and confess to be saved.

So conversely, NOT believing these things would result in someone not being saved.

This idea that you are not saved by "believeing correct doctrine" is nothing more than New Age spirituality dressed up in new clothes.

Helen said...

This idea that you are not saved by "believeing correct doctrine" is nothing more than New Age spirituality dressed up in new clothes.

Someone should have told James that...he had this crazy idea that demons aren't saved even though they believe the truth...

The idea that you are saved simply by "believing correct doctrine" is nothing more than a Bible with the book of James ripped out.

Tim Bertolet said...

Helen,
Good protestants have always said correct doctrine matters for salvation, Jesus Himself said:

John 8:24 24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins."

The "I AM" is clearly a belief that Jesus is God (background Exodus and Isaiah). Also 1 John is clear we have to believe that Jesus has come in the flesh.

Yet, Protestants (I think one could argue the church fathers), have always held that saving faith is not mere intellectual assent. It involves trust, and trust is evidenced by the changed life (i.e. works in James). James point is "I will show you my faith"... not the exclusion of needing to confess certain truths.

You've accussed a lot of people around here of being hypocritics for trying to obey all the Bible (but failing) and even understanding what the Bible says in a systematic fashion. We all know we never get it 100%, but the difference is that we are willing to repent before our Lord Jesus and trust in His death and resurrection. You are willing to believe you are made in the image of God and throw out a whole lot of other verses when they don't suit your fancy--you do it willingly and flamboyantly. Yet you seem to argue that you are following the 'way of Jesus' or his earthly example just as much as anyone else.

Trying to clothe yourself in compassion, kindness, humility, etc. without trusting as Lord and Savior the one who fulfilled these things perfectly, Jesus the God-man, is little more than moral pretentiousness. It's trying to clean the outside of the cup without cleaning the inside, and we all know how Jesus responded to that.

Gummby said...

Helen said: I don't know how much of the Bible is historically accurate and how much is myth/propaganda/wishful thinking. Maybe the whole thing is made up. Who knows...no one knows for sure.

Helen: if that is really true, then I think you're left with two choices. Either do some research to find out how you can be sure, or toss it aside for something more certain. It is foolish to go on believing anything when you don't have any idea how much if any is trustworthy or true.

That's not how the people of the Bible felt about Scripture. Consider the words of Peter:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 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. (2 Peter 1:16-21, ESV)

Peter starts off by saying that they didn't follow cleverly devised myths. He says, "Hey, this isn't a made up story." "We've seen," he says (v.16), "and we've heard" (v.18). Because of his experience, he was sure of what he said.

Instead of talking about his own experience, and going into more depth as to how that made him sure, he says that there is something even "more sure" than experience - "the prophetic word" (cf. v.20). In other words, he says that Scripture is so sure that he trusts it even more than his own eyes and ears.

Jesus talks about the trusting and believing the Scripture as well. In the story of the rich man & Lazarus the beggar (from Luke 16), the rich man, who was in torment, asked that someone be sent to warn his family. Abraham replies "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." (v.29). But perhaps the most sobering part is what comes next. "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."

God didn't provide His revelation to us in such a way that we need to doubt. That's why postmodernism, and its influence on Emergents, is so insidious - it undermines any certainty we can have - the very certainty that God provides through His written revelation.

I'd urge you to reconsider your position, and to do some research about whether (and I would go so far as to say why) the Bible can be trusted.

Chris Hemmelman said...

The idea that you are saved simply by "believing correct doctrine" is nothing more than a Bible with the book of James ripped out.

Helen, your "rebuttal" is a tired one, and a strawman at that. Nowhere did I suggest that one only need to "intellectually assent" to Biblical truth to be saved.

The demon example you use is especially empty considering the verses I referenced talked about confessing Christ as Lord, which demons and Satan do not. They are in rebellion, remember?

True biblical belief will produce fruit. See Dan's great post as an example.

donsands said...

"God didn't provide His revelation to us in such a way that we need to doubt. That's why postmodernism, and its influence on Emergents, is so insidious - it undermines any certainty we can have - the very certainty that God provides through His written revelation." gummy

Amen, and hear hear!

And Peter is such a great person to check out. He saw Jesus, and touched Him. He denied Jesus, and yet loved Him with all his soul, so much so that he died for Him. I imagine Peter thought it an honor to die for his Lord, Savior, and Friend.

Mac & Melissa Davis said...

How are we to promote God's "will be done on earth if as it is in Heaven" if we never focus on the realities of Heaven? The most Kingdom oriented people in the past few centuries, The Puritans, constantly called for our affections to be upon Heaven, in order that we sanctify ourselves to live properly, ministering the outworking of Christ's Kingdom today.

1-non-emergent said...

Let me take a moment to discuss a key element in McLaren's approach to theology, scripture, carnality, and all of the other appropriate areas of criticism he receives from the heralders of truth here at Team Pyro: his background in English Literature and/or literary theory.

I, like him, also have two degrees in English Literature (along with an earned doctorate in education); furthermore, I, like him, have been a college English instructor for over a decade, so I'm familiar with the thinking of my colleagues, which is just like his. In college, I studied all of the same mumbo-jumbo-postmodern-postliteral-deconstructo-reader-responsive--relativistic--psychoanalytical-socialist-trendy-anti-structuralist--liberal literay theory he has. I can say with certainty (are we still allowed to be certain of anything?) that so many of these "emerging/ent" ideas (better get our suffixes correct) involved with the ECM have the same ol' stench I recall so vividly in grad school.

Sadly, it was in graduate school many years back that I ate all of this postmodern theory up like popcorn as I was making a very conscious choice to rebel against the greatest joy I had ever known: my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, full submission to His will in my life, and a very clear awareness that I was bought with a price. Why? Like any prodigal, I wanted my fun and I loved my sin more than my Savior. My percieved dillemma? All of that pesky TRUTH I had learned through scripture and from the preaching of Godly men who found it their greatest joy was to submit to the authority of God's Holy Word. In exchange for these mentors, and to help me help me in my "growth," I looked to my newfound, baby-boomer, former hippie, pagan professors, as they seemed to have so much more relevance, and they seemed to have so much more fun living (for themselves). Furthermore, just like the hip, cool, non-conformist grad students we were, our profs too were trying to emulate the moral and spiritual bankruptcy we saw in all of the writers, philosophers, and literary theorists we studied... and it showed! At the time, I was frequently reminded of that great question Spurgeon once asked a seasoned gentleman with gray hair: "is that crown of glory or a fools cap for you?" This question kept ringing in my ears as I observed their wrinkles and gray sprouts, but tried my best to ignore such reminders (the Holy Spirit).

Where am I going with this? First, I recall vividly how I found a certain dark and insidious "comfort" in rationalizing to myself--with the help of pagan ideology--all of the convicting scripture and TRUTH that would certainly crash my party if I accepted it; "surely," thought i, "'intelligent' people come to the Bible much differently than the ignorant (God Bless them), and because I certainly would not want to be counted among that corn-cob-pipe crowd, I must find ways of approaching the Bible and theology in a "relevant" way. After all, I was earning my Master's in this stuff-- analyzing literature and language (I knew the thinking of men like Derrida, Chompsky, Fish, and Lacan for crying out loud!) "The Bible, after all, is just literature isn't it?" thought i. We were having a heyday in our deconstruction of particular writers, texts, criterion for canonization, literary standards, etc (structure) in our attempts to create new structures, driven by the conviction that "everything must change". Even though I knew deep down that it was all a bunch of hogwash (or mental exercises at best), I thought "what's the big deal if we change literature or the way people approach/see literature? It's just literature after all--just art." I still think that about literature, or any art for that matter. However, what absolutely floored me, when I first discovered the emerging church movement, was the reappearing of all that pagan nonsense...INSIDE THE CHURCH!!! Like one of those horror movies whereby the antagonist makes his last suddent strike just when the main character thinks he is safe, I had the same reaction when I saw that old familiar creature rise up from the swamp, as it were, through the ECM!

Then, after I discovered that McLaren has an English Literature background, it occurred to me that few people on average spend (waste) their time pursuing this particular advanced degree (or even advanced degrees in areas like philosophy or sociology for that matter). This means that a typical church congregation is very unlikely to have many folks among them with this particular background. Subsequently, if emergents "creep in unaware" with all of their rehashed, postmodern literary theory, it will fly over the heads of many people. They will identify error if they know their Bibles, but they will not be aware of the particular roots from which these weeds spring forth and the complexity of decitful root patterns beneath the ground! Those with seminary training (pastors and theologians) consider this movement an "in-house" matter, like so many doctrinal/theological issues that have come down the pike before; in a spirit of trust, I'm afraid they sit down at the table with this issue with a false assumption that everyone else at this table holds to the same immovables. If this were merely one of those issues, I would have little or nothing to say; indeed, I would not be posting on this blog because I am not a theologian nor am I a pastor--like all of the fine men of God we have here at this site. However, I am voicing my concern because I know the territory from which this ECM rubbish comes...and it is entirely opposed to Christ, His True Church, Truth, and anything that rings of absolutes.

Of course, Phil Johnson demonstrates his keen understanding of the complexities I've just mentioned through his brilliant posters, even without a background in English. Keep it up!

Stefan said...

1-non-emergent:

That is a fascinating testimonial! My English lit studies never went further than 2nd-year electives, but I know exactly what you're talking about. Even in just writing term papers on secular short stories, there were some books and articles I simply could not use for research, because they were so harebrained in their deconstructions of the material.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of interplay between approaches to Scripture on the one hand, and all other literature on the other. I, too, fell under the influence of secular, deconstructionist critical theories as they were applied to the Bible—although unlike you, I was starting out from the atheistic position that there is no God, came to faith in God, then fell away again when exposed to liberal theology and criticism, Joseph Campbell, Jungian symbology, and the like. I struggled for many years with an inability to anchor anything in Scripture, based on the false premise that it's just words on paper, thrown together ad hoc by a bunch of different authors over the span of a millennium, redacted, edited, merged, rewritten, and finally canonized, and all (I mistakenly thought) for worldly purposes.

At some point, mercifully, the Holy Spirit moved me to understand that there are some fundamental, immutable principles on which one can build a firm foundation, and the long, painful journey back to faith—this time, true, saving faith in Jesus Christ—began.

Stefan said...

...A key staging point on the journey back being affirmation of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.

Mike Riccardi said...

I can say with certainty that so many of these "emerging/ent" ideas involved with the ECM have the same ol' stench I recall so vividly in grad school.

I'm right there with the two of you (1NE + Stefan) on this one. I'm in grad school right now for foreign language education, and you wouldn't believe how much of the educational theory (from a confessedly proud-to-be postmodern standpoint) stuff I read sounds like McLaren and Pagitt -- and yes, even Driscoll -- wrote it themselves. This is true especially when considering multiculturalism -- "How are we going to be culturally relevant practitioners?"

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man... Romans 1:22-23

Gummby said...

I knew I had this quote somewhere. This was from an N. T. Wright lecture two years ago.
(Haven't seen Sven in around here in awhile. BTW - standard disclaimer to linking applies here: source of quote, not recommendation.)

Theology and Biblical Studies » N T Wright Lecture: Monday:

Wright moved on to an all too short discussion about heaven and hell, but often reminded us that the Christian replacement of the idea of resurrection and new creation with heaven and hell owes more to Plato and Dante than it does to Jesus and Paul. The NT talks about 'heaven' but not in the sense we understand it today. Likewise much biblical talk about hell often has little to do with the ideas we imagine about an endless post-mortem state of torment, but there'll be more on that in the rest of the week's lectures.

Link said...

Our hope is laid up in heaven. Neither passage quoted says we go to heaven to get it. (The city descends down in Revelation.)

I'm not stating a firm opinion either way on this. I'm not addressing on McLaren's point, either at the moment.

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Jay brings up a good point, relating to all of the "treasures in heaven" scriptures. So if McLaren is right that we should "begin to care more and more about this world", why does Jesus tell us to store up treasures in Heaven, with Him noting that where our treasure is - there are heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19,20)

It seems that Jesus would have us care that we have a reward there (Matt. 5:12), and that we would rejoice in that day - because of our reward there (Luke 6:23); also the possessions THERE are supposed to make us feel ok about even loosing our possession HERE for Christ's sake (Heb 11:34). It sounds like the Lord wants us thinking about Heaven A LOT.

You know what McLaren really needs? . . . he needs a MacArthur Study Bible:-)

tomgee said...

Too heavenly minded? One could only wish.

Reminds me of a story I read attributed to D. Elton Trueblood:
A woman stopped him one Sunday and remarked, "Dr. Trueblood, you are obsessed with the Kingdom of God!"

"Were that it were so, Madam," the good doctor replied, "for that would be a magnificent obsession!"