28 November 2007

Two-for-one mistakes

by Frank Turk

If I had been slightly more awake last week, I would have made that a two-for-one post because it turns out that Mistake #4 on our list looks like this:

4. The Mistake of Whole Congregations in Direct Involvement, Not Professional Missions.

And I think it is pretty self-evident that is a different flavor of Mistake #3, which is at its root a mistake of replacing the local church with something else.

If I need to cover that more deeply, bring it up in the meta – as if you people needed any encouragement on that front ...

Anyway, Mistake #5 of the list looks like this:

5. The Mistake of Insisting that Devout Followers of Jesus Call Themselves “Christians” and Identify with the Western Church



And for those of you who have followed my inglorious career as a blogger and fusser, you'll recognize this as what I would call an "oldie but a goodie". That is, it's something that comes up now and again, and it simply doesn’t make any more sense when the next guy brings it up.

This discussion is triggering a flashback to Jesuit all-boys High School where I had a Jesuit for senior elective theology and he was chastising the hypothetical Christian who did not want to self-identify. It made sense, he reasoned, that a devil would want to be reckoned as an angel -- because if you knew someone was a devil, you'd have to be crazy to follow him anywhere, right? And it made sense that if one was on the side of the angels one ought to want the credibility that goes along with being on Heaven's team. But what did you gain, exactly, by being an angel and posing as a devil? How does that deception advance the cause of truth?

This from a fellow who frequently smoke and drank around the seniors when the opportunity arose, and who swore like a sailor. Father, as they say, absolve thyself.

At its root, however, is the problem of whether those who follow Christ "own" the whole Christian church. I think the answer, for good and ill, is that they do -- and trying to change one's name to avoid that is, frankly, a shell game.

Let's first reason from the lesser to the greater, and consider the Southern Baptist Convention. There was a bit of conventional wisdom about 10 years ago that if you took the word "Baptist" out of your name and converted to a "community church" or "fellowship" church, you could participate in church growth by separating yourself and your church from the stigma of being called a Baptist. Yet here we are today, and Lifeway has conducted some studies that indicate that now, rather than contributing to growth and bon home, the unchurched and even those who are attending these churches cannot answer the question, "what is a Baptist?"

Think about that – because it is a perfectly logical paradigm. If you change your name to escape the so-called "stigma" of those who are like you, what you are doing is blotting that name.

And in this case, the name is "christianos" – those who follow Christ.

That seems to me to be the baby, the bath water, the tub, and the kitchen sink – and probably throws away too much.

Now, here's the reasoning behind this: the name "Christian" has a lot of political baggage, and it impairs evangelism to have that baggage attached – even in the west.

Apparently it was fine to be a Christian like Torequemada, and a Christian like Chrysostom (who was an anti-semite), and a Christian like Innocent III, but Boar's Head forbid that one is a Christian as portrayed by the propaganda arm of the Islamist political movement and a liberal media which cannot gets its fact straight about the abolition of slavery and the rise of civil rights in the West, let alone the implications of the human right to life.

But then there is the problem, as they say in some circles, of "catholicity". That is, the problem of being the visible church in a circle larger than the one at your dining room table. We often use the apologetic device that people should judge the church by what Christ has done for it rather than what the people in it are doing (that is, if you are encountering lost people), but that's really the same answer as, "well, I'm not a 'Christian'." It's conceding the point that people allegedly like Jesus but hate the church.

Listen: there's no question that there are some people who are inside the boundaries of the church who, frankly, blow it. In fact, you cannot find any age of the church in which the church wasn't cross-populated with those who are in the unenviable position of needing the church most and also demonstrating they do not belong there. It goes back as early as the Galatian church, and the Corinthian church, and the Laodicean church – which were, btw, still called churches in spite of their problems.

But that fact did not cause the Apostles to rethink their branding: it caused them to press harder on the Gospel and correct or discipline those who were falling away.

And my opinion is that we should follow those apostles and not some others who are self-appointed and clearly off the Biblical map.







145 comments:

donsands said...

" ..press harder on the Gospel and correct or discipline those who were falling away."

Amen. But when 'push comes to shove' sometimes the shove wins out.

I think it boils down to a fear of man, more than a fear for the Lord. At least for me.

Enoch said...

I think my first attempt at a post is lost in the cyber, so let's again:
I thought the "don't identify with the Western Church" was more of a "let the visible expression of the church be unique to the culture, not subservient to the "Western missionary who planted it"'s culture."
Otherwise, I agree.

Daryl said...

Perhaps we should come up with a list of possible names for "Christian" and cycle through them as they fall out of favour.
We'll be Christ-followers until the culture figures that out and then we can be Jesus-freaks for a while. Maybe we'll get to be Christians in another millenia or so.

Daryl said...

On a more serious note: Isn't "don't identify with the Western Church" just another attempt to split up the body? Should we not all identify with each other?

Pastor Rod said...

Frank,

I think he is making a different point than what you are responding to. My sense is that he is talking about a confusion between the conversion to Christianity and the adoption of the Western cultural expression of Christianity.

One example of this distinction would be in the case of messianic Jews. It is not necessary to leave the Jewish culture to embrace Jesus as the Messiah. And one need not adopt the label "Christian" with all the baggage it has within the Jewish community.

In some cultures, a similar model might be more true to the gospel than trying to get people to imitate Western Christians with all their materialism, pragmatism and triumphalism.

Rod

stratagem said...

In liberalmania schools and universities, the two most evil things in the world, are Westernism and Christianity.

As far as I can see, that's the only reason someone would categorically call statement #5, a 'mistake'.

Any idea what the writer of these 'mistakes' wanted us to call ourselves?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I really like this blog.

There are some pernicious, persistent, spreading, cancerous falsehoods within Christendom and the team of spiritual physicians at Hospital Pryromania (Phil Johnson, Frank Turk, and Dan Philips) give the best diagnosis and treatment for what ails the Church.

They are like the tv character Dr. House in the Fox show "House". Dr. House is not well-liked for his bedside manner, but he always does what is right for his patients.

Likewise, Team Pyro is seen (actually misperceived) as obnoxious, judgmental, legalistic, harsh, pharasaic, exclusive, unloving, un-Christ-like, unbiblical when they practice biblical discernment and uphold the Greatest Two Commandments.

When the situation calls for it, a rhetorical or theological punch in the nose is exactly what's needed to combat false teaching.

Emergents and Theological Liberals and Secular Humanists... be intellectually honest and let the Refiner's Fire burn away all that's false within you ... with the kind help and assistance of Team Pyromaniacs.

Theophilus said...

Would the inevitable Bible re-write have Acts 11:26 look read:

And they first called the loose network of seekers ("x") at (Seattle / New York / San Francisco &c.)


BTW: Boar's Head. Lord of the Flies reference by any chance? I loved that novel.

Theophilus said...

Ignore "look" in last post.

I thought I DID preview it. (sigh)

David said...

Should we make the Elbonians wear suits? No. But the Christian thing... That's just goofy. It's as good and concise a description as you'll find. I mean, disciple of Christ is probably more accurate, but puts you in a denomination you probably don't want to be in, and besides, it's longer and more awkward.

Besides, I haven't noticed anyone "insisting", anyway.

Hadassah said...

As to #4:

To a "professional" missionary, as in a person or family who engages in missionary activity as a full-time, paid profession, it could be very frustrating to have an entire congregation in "direct involvement." It would depend on what the involvement was, but if everyone and their brother (ha!)somehow thought they should have a say in making decisions, or directing the ministry, boy what a mess you could have! If by direct involvement, you mean intercessory prayer, care and comfort, then I can see the benefit.

Umm, shouldn't we all be doing that anyway? I'm not sure I get the point of #4. On behalf of the meta, would you elaborate?

~Mark said...

I'm not totally sure what the view expressed on "Western Church" is in the post, but my 2 cents is that yes new converts most definitely need to recognize themselves as Christians. Should they yell that from rooftops in areas like Egypt? Probably not, but they should see that as the chief identifier of their being.

As far as identifying with the Western Church, heck no. I don't want to be primarily identified as the "Western Church", or the "Eastern Church" or even primarily as the group to which I belong.

I'd rather be identified first with the Christ of the Scriptures, then the other stuff, and I know that is best.

Tom said...

Rod wrote: "One example of this distinction would be in the case of messianic Jews. It is not necessary to leave the Jewish culture to embrace Jesus as the Messiah. And one need not adopt the label "Christian" with all the baggage it has within the Jewish community."

Is there any empirical evidence to suggest that "messianic Jew" is less offensive than "Christians" to those within the larger Jewish community? It is certainly not more descriptive. If I were an orthodox Jew, for instance, looking forward to a future Messiah, I would be quite offended by some upstarts calling themselves "messianic Jews" who were really followers of Jesus Christ. The term simply has a different set of baggage.

And, if the "Jewish culture" is, by definition, anti-Christian, then it is necessary to abandon that culture when one becomes a follower of Jesus Christ.

Mike Riccardi said...

This whole switch from "Christian" to whatever else (Christ-follower seems to be popular) really unnerves me.

I think of the passage in 1 Peter 4 that says that if anyone suffers as a CHRISTIAN, he is to glorify God in that name. The NIV says, "but should praise God that you bear that name," which, although a poor translation, I think is a good paraphrase. Bottom line, the name means something.

Then, as RTS has made some class lectures available via iTunes U, I've been listening to a class on Church History. I'm astounded at the torture that the early Christians endured because of simply bearing that name. They would be asked three times if they were a Christian, and then given another three chances to deny it, and if they kept professing that they were a Christian they were tortured and/or killed.

This is what we're called. We didn't decide to call ourselves this, as if we were naming our social club. And I'm not willing to let all of that fall by the wayside because people have acted foolishly in the name of Christ. I mean... by the same logic, why don't we just renounce Christ then? It's in His name that all that crazy stuff has been done.

No, the answer is not surrendering the name; it's redeeming it. Let's, by our integrity and virtue wrought by the Spirit who indwells us, keep our behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander us as evildoers, they may because of our good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Paul said...

Mike: "...the answer is not surrendering the name; it's redeeming it."

Well said.

pastorbrianculver said...

And all the while...
Mormons are trying to get themselves called -- "Christians!" Guess it doesn't matter which Jesus you follow, just attach your name to Christianity and be welcomed into the world of religion!

Good post again! thanks!

pastorbrianculver said...

Absolutely right on redeeming the name and not surrendering it! Good job Mike

Brotherhank said...

Amen Cent...Amen.

DJP said...

Very good points, Brian and Mike. (And great post, Frank.)

Mormons want the name, Romanists insist they have a patent on it... but evanjellybeans get all puckery over it.

It's in the Bible. If you're a Christian, wear it, live up to it. If not, please don't.

BTW, is anyone aware of Moslems coming up with alternate names, because of the past (and ongoing) associations with the terms?

wordsmith said...

"BTW: Boar's Head. Lord of the Flies reference by any chance? I loved that novel."

I didn't even think of that until you mentioned it - I assumed it was a reference to the Boar's Head Tavern, which in times past has been a thorn in the side of TeamPyro.

centuri0n said...

Rod:

I suggest you read the "mistake" statement again -- becuase iot's not about "culture" but about identification with the ones who are Christioans in the west.

wordsmith said...

I understand Frank's point about true believers being reluctant to bear the name "Christian." At the same time, however, I get tired of these characters who pose as part of the true Church but whose actions belie their actual identity. Calling tares "wheat" only muddies the situation.

DJP said...

But then you have what thinks of itself as a better grade of wheat, a kind that thinks itself too good to be called merely "wheat." It insists that it is... uh... "wheatgrain bearers," or some such load of codswallop.

Paul said...

Dan,
Could [missional] Christian be used as an example?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Does anyone know what a post-evangelical is or what it means to be on a post-evangelical journey?

I read the Internet Monk's self-description which goes: "Internet Monk is the personal web space of Michael Spencer. Michael is a communicator and writer living in southeastern Kentucky. 'I am on a post-evangelical journey, discovering what it means to be vitally connected to Jesus. That process is always worth sharing.'"

Does post-evangelical mean Emergent? Liberal Protestantism? Transcending Evangelicalism because you find it too limiting, too constraining?

What is a post-evangelical?

Enoch said...

Uh, Rod and Cent,
You may want to pop over to ralphwinter.org and take a look at some of what he has there (specifically The Role of Western Missions in the 21st Century, found under Milestones, section C). It is about culture, but I don't think we here can embrace what he says.

Pastor Rod said...

Enoch,

Thanks for the URL, I was trying to find something specific that supported my reading and didn't find his site.

I do know that I've read about this in other places. Western missionaries have assumed that converts to Christianity must adopt a westernized form of the faith. This has the effect of isolating new converts from their social networks and preventing them for being a conduit for the gospel.


Frank,

Here's a quotation from Ralph's site:
[O]ur own form of Christianity has been unthinkingly assumed to be the main balanced, Biblical, total, properly contextualized thing.

He really is talking about something very different from the trendy use of "Jesus follower" rather than "Christian."

For people in these other cultures, the issue is not what you and Dan mean when you say "Christian." The problem is the meaning that the word has in that culture.

Are you ready to answer for all the actions of George Bush, for all the movies that come out of Hollywood, and for the antics of Paris Hilton?

You might as well use a swastika as your logo while explaining that the real meaning of the symbol is a cross.

Culture is a tricky thing.

Rod

Drew said...

Anything that is post-something, started in the something, but then changed in reaction to what it saw as errors in the something. The journey then, is the process of realizing the new way that came from the old one.

I would see myself as a "post-evangelical" (using the popular definition of evangelical, rather than the old one), so I would be happy to talk more specifically about what that means in my life. It has been itentified with both liberalism and the EC, but it doesn't fit either one very well.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I would see myself as a "post-evangelical" (using the popular definition of evangelical, rather than the old one), so I would be happy to talk more specifically about what that means in my life. It has been itentified with both liberalism and the EC, but it doesn't fit either one very well."

Dear Drew,

If you don't mind, could you elaborate a bit more about what "post-evangelical" means in your life?

It's not evangelical, it's not liberalism, and it's not Emergent Church.

What are you and the I-monk trying to convey when you inform folks like myself that you are "post-evangelical"?

wordsmith said...

"It's not evangelical, it's not liberalism, and it's not Emergent Church."

Maybe it's evangelibergent?

Hey, if others can make up words like "post-whatever," "missional," and "incarnational" without anyone really knowing what these words are supposed to convey, I can too.

centuri0n said...

Rod --

I'd like to go on-record to note that your last post here is a ridiculous and reductionistic view of the so-called problem, and that I an 100% ready and willing to defend faith in Jesus Christ from the charges that it is the cause of Paris Hilton, porn and violence as entertainment, and the political views and actions of the Bush family.

If I had an hour today, I'd line that out for you. As it is, this is all I have time for, so my reductionistic summary will have to be enough until later.

Enoch said...

Rod,
You're welcome for the site, but I don't think it supports your take (or my initial take) on the issue. Dr. Winters does make culture the issue, but he includes so much with it that it escapes beyond your thoughts.
I hope.
While I don't think the church in Bangalore needs to engage in Western style worship, for instance, Winters goes beyond the trappings of Western Christianity to the actual theological foundations of it. And if I understand correctly what he wrote, his take is actually scary.

Pastor Rod said...

Frank,

Chill out and quit looking for a fight where there isn't one. Pay attention to what I'm saying and don't assume that I'm trying to argue a position that you're more familiar with.

Not only did you miss Winter's point (as has been sufficiently demonstrated), but you have also missed the point I was trying to make.

I am not saying that Christian faith

is the cause of Paris Hilton, porn and violence as entertainment, and the political views and actions of the Bush family.

What I thought I made clear, especially with the swastika example, was that the word "Christian" has baggage in non-Western cultures.

While you and I know that much of Western culture has nothing to do with Christianity and even Christendom, in many cultures the words "Christian" and "American" are essentially synonomous.

I wasn't really arguing for a particular position in my previous post as much as I was trying to explain the context of his statement.

If I was trying to make any point, it was that much of what we think of as "plain, biblical, historical Christianity" is loaded down with all sorts of cultural accretions.

Save your indignation for some of my other views that are deserving of it.

Rod

Pastor Rod said...

Enoch,

We can debate how far we should go with this reexamination of the Westernization of the gospel. But first we must be clear what we are talking about.

Much of what the average person in the pew (and person in the pulpit for that matter) thinks of as plain, obvious, biblical, standard, orthodox Christianity is in truth simply Western culture.

If we agree that people do not need to become Western in order to become Christian, then we can talk about what falls into which category.

An honest inquiry will indeed be "scary," because we might find that some things that we consider "essential" are nothing more than cultural.

This is not a threat to the theological foundations of the gospel. Rather, it strengthens them.

Nor is this something only done by "liberals" or "emergent" types. Do the women in your church wear head coverings? How about jewelry?

We cannot avoid the contextualization of the gospel. But, unfortunately, we can do it irresponsibly.

Peace,

Rod

Mike Riccardi said...

I don't know rod...

What I thought I made clear, especially with the swastika example, was that the word "Christian" has baggage in non-Western cultures.

I thought Frank got your point pretty well. He's saying that despite the baggage, he's willing to own being a Christian and defend why all that other stuff (Bush, Hilton, etc.) isn't really Christian.

And I am too. If Jesus was crucified on a swastika, and then the Nazi's commandeered that in the 40s and branded it as a universal symbol of racism, I wouldn't disown the swastika. I'd spend every bit of myself explaining to anyone and everyone interested that that was a gross abuse of what the swastika really stood for, and then I'd explain what it really stood for.

Just because there's cultural baggage or contextual connotations doesn't change the absolute: We're Christians. For better or for worse. And, btw, I think between the fathers who had to be brutally tortured for the Name and us who just have to spend a lot of time unfolding the true Gospel amongst all the false gospels in the name of Christianity, I'd say that they got for worse, and we got for better.

Drew said...

truth . . . I'd be happy to answer your questions, but we are a bit off topic. Shall we do this via email or some other place?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Drew,

I think the discussion of what "post-evangelical" means is related to this blog topic.

Frank Turk is saying that the term "Christian" is viable and good, despite the cultural accretions heaped upon it.

I'm wondering whether the word "evanglical" is still viable and good, despite the cultural accretions heaped upon it.

And another commenter Wordsmith has provided some input about the term "post-evangelical".

So, if you don't mind the public scrutiny of this blog, could you share what you mean by "post-evangelical" and why you think that that is a more apt description for you rather than evangelical, liberal, or emergent?

polycarp said...

To DJP:

While this is not directly related to this particular post, it is still somewhat related because the person who said what he did to me about John MacArthur most definately believes "mistake #5" is indeed a mistake (and clings to the others on the list as well). I wanted your opinion in particular because you mentioned last week that you are a Talbot grad. This particular fellow said, amidst his rants about Pastor MacArthur (whom I respect tremendously and expressed this clearly to my friend), that MacArthur has "gone out of his way to harm [the reputation of] Talbot". My friend is also a grad. of Talbot. I find his statement very hard to believe, as I think it is either a complete misunderstanding of something Dr. MacArthur said, an untruth, or ignorance (or all of the above perhaps). Would you have any idea where my misguided friend came up with this, as he did not explain?? My assumption is that others may have heard this, just as I have, and I'd like to see you guys dispel such myth. I plan to have him read this post for his answer.

Thanks

carolczech said...

I, for one, am getting tired of all the cat and mouse games going on in the American church. It's really getting so you have no idea what you're going to find when you walk into a church anymore. Between the bait and switch schemes (Halo "evangelism"), evasive labels (Christian? Christ Follower?), Worship Wars (traditional? contemporary?) It's dizzying!!

I know of one local church where the sr. pastor and worship team actually change clothes between services - suits and ties for the traditional service and a more "hip" look for the contemporary service. It is really sad to see the usually dignified older sr. pastor jumping through hoops to try to be someone he's not.

To me, that's the bottom line and the whole problem. It seems like this is all about "image" and that leaves me with a really "yucky" feeling.

I got a mailing from IX Marks today and it had a description of a "Godward Church" (in contrast to traditional, seeker and missional churches):

"A bunch of people get together in a room. Someone stands up, opens a Bible, and says, 'This is what God says.' He explains it. The church sings, prays, shares the bread and cup, and goes home."

Amen. We're way overcomplicating things.

SolaMeanie said...

To me, there is something disengenous about calling yourself something other than what you are because you're afraid you'll catch too much flak. It kind of smacks of the way some cults disguise themselves through front organizations. It's dishonesty at its most basic, fundamental level.

As to culture, I can understand why some might have concerns about relating to a culture, but I think too much ado gets made about "Western" cultural expression. I am sure the suttee was quite popular in India at one time, but Christian missionaries helped shine the light on it as the evil monstrosity it is, and thank the Lord they did. Some cultural things need to be stopped.

If we're going to model anything as the church, how about the New Testament to start?

Phil Nicholson said...

I think a lot of this discussion misses the point of mistake 5. (I am with Pastor Rod on this.) I don't think it is anything to do with issues of identity in the American church. It is about contextualization in a cross-cultural setting.

Winter is raising a real and complex problem faced in mission circles where there is significant cultural antagonism to Christians & a confusion between "Christian" and "American" or "Western". This is particularly true in Muslim contexts where prison or death are common experiences for converts.

There are two main questions missionaries ask 1. what name do these people call themselves publicly - Christian or something else? 2. What forms are used to live out their Christianity in this culture? i.e. it is the question of contextualisation. It is about removing unnecessary causes of offence and unnecessary barriers to the gospel to enable the gospel to penetrate the community. It is not about encouraging converts to compromise their testimony in order to avoid persecution.

Whether or not you agree with Ralph Winter's own conclusions (I have some reservations), it is not just something that can be easily dismissed with accusations of compromise and fearfulness. Our brothers & sisters in these places face tremendous pressures. The Western church & missionaries need to be clear that we are not increasing this through unnecessary cultural demands on them.

The Mistake is our tendency to assume that our way of doing things is the only biblical way.

I love most of the Teampyro posts but I am disappointed in the ones on the "12 mistakes" as I think you haven't really understand the context from which these issues have been raised. i.e. cross cultural missions - not American church conflicts.

polycarp said...

Phil,

I like what you've said here and agree entirely...IF the author of these "mistakes" meant the list in the same way you have defended it. I DO believe these are in-house, in-country gripes with the church here in America.

Also, we need not necessarily sing "yankee doddle dandy" to appreciate the rich blessings the church in this country--or this country through the church--has received from God in America because of a faithfulness that grows weaker and weaker every day.

In short, these gripes are the same ol'-same ol' we get from liberals and/or emergents.

DJP said...

Polycarp, my honest answer is that I just don't know enough to answer. Your friend's view isn't my understanding. However, I don't know nor work with John MacArthur, and can't speak for him.

A number of us in my class were concerned with trends we were seeing as Biola sought respectability. Master's was beginning as my time at Talbot was ending. The perception of those I heard at the time was that he was setting out to do what Talbot had been committed to doing: train men to teach and preach the Word of God.

Austin Bob said...

Carolčech ...

"A bunch of people get together in a room. Someone stands up, opens a Bible, and says, 'This is what God says.' He explains it. The church sings, prays, shares the bread and cup, and goes home."

Any reason I should expect this someone to have a clue about his explanation? Ordination (and the accompanying examination process along with the typical precursor of a seminary education) does have a purpose. Self-proclaimed "experts" are part (or most?) of the problem being addressed here.

polycarp said...

Thanks Dan!

A bit off topic, but I needed an answer of some sort to this inquiry; I knew you went to Talbot, you stay current on issues, you know Phil, and you respect Dr. MacArthur as I do.

Well, you actually clarified alot by not being aware of any big doctrinal/theological "headliner" issue that has ever occurred between these two parties, because nothing of the sort ever did occur. Indeed, you would have known/heard about it I'm sure if there ever was anything to this rubbish. But, is not this such an emergent characteristic though? They perceive other believers' decisions to dig-in and embrace/defend God's truth in an uncompromised manner as somehow being offensive or "attacking".

Thanks again for your quick reply!

Daryl said...

Am I missing something? Don't people in other lands think American's are Christian for the same reason they are Hindu? That is, people in an ethnic group tend to follow the same God. Seems to me the American/Christian problem is more a problem with misunderstanding what an American is more than what a Christian is.

Also, does anyone really find a church teaching anything typically American as essential to the gospel? And if we Westerners can tell the difference, why do we think the people we are sending missionaries to are too stupid to tell the difference?
Preach the gospel, call yourself a Christian and give people the benefit of their brains...

carolczech said...

Austin Bob said "Any reason I should expect this someone to have a clue about his explanation? Ordination (and the accompanying examination process along with the typical precursor of a seminary education) does have a purpose. Self-proclaimed "experts" are part (or most?) of the problem being addressed here."

I agree!! (although there are (rare) exceptions)

Phil Nicholson said...

Daryl,
I think the misunderstanding is both about what is an American and what is a Christian. There is a much stronger association between ethnic identity and religious affiliation in most parts of the world than there is in the West. e.g. to be Thai is to be Buddhist. To leave Buddhism means you are rejecting your whole social and cultural identity. They perceive that when a person becomes a Christian he needs to also adopt western cultural values.

"Also, does anyone really find a church teaching anything typically American as essential to the gospel?"

It may not be explicitly taught but it is certainly modelled. Why is it expected that you should wear a suit and tie to church in many non-Western cultures? Because this was what the earlier missionaries modelled. This is a fairly trivial example but we easily send this sort of message if we don't think about cultural issues.

For example, I work in church planting amongst working class Taiwanese people. One of our biggest barriers in evangelism is the perception that church is only for well educated middle class Westernised people - and to be a leader you need to have a college degree and also speak English. This is because most of the churches that currently exist look like this. No one has ever said this (as far as I know), but this is the message that is conveyed. Even those working class people who have become believers feel like going to church is entering an alien culture where they are 2nd class citizens.

"And if we Westerners can tell the difference, why do we think the people we are sending missionaries to are too stupid to tell the difference? "

I don't think most Westerners are aware of how culture affects their Christian faith and life! It is not always a matter of right and wrong but often (as in the case of suit & tie) a matter that what sends a helpful message in one context is a barrier to the gospel in another.

Drew said...


So, if you don't mind the public scrutiny of this blog, could you share what you mean by "post-evangelical" and why you think that that is a more apt description for you rather than evangelical, liberal, or emergent?


I identify myself as "evangelical," because it means, "rooted in the Good News." I was raised in a church that is evangelical in the popular sense of the word, and I still use the word to describe myself.

Why, then, do I also claim to be "post-evangelical?" Because I have values that grow out of evangelicalism that aren't necessarily those OF what is called evangelicalism. Evangelicalism is my soil, but the plant that I have grown into looks different than the plants that used to grow from that soil. I care about many of the things that "liberals" care about--justice, peace, environmental, stewardship, reconciliation, and such.

So why don't I call myself "liberal?" Well, I do, sometimes. But to be honest, when I hand out with most people that identify as such, I feel completely out of place. We don't share the same soil. Maybe the plant looks the similar, but it seems to be a different species.

Does this make me "emergent?" Well, I use that title for myself sometimes, too. But not emergents are post-evangelical. Some get there from liberal protestantism, others from the Roman Catholic Church. For lots of emergent Christians, their first exposure to the gospel was through an emergeing Christian community. So while I can call myself both post-evangelical and emergent, the two terms mean different things.

Likewise, a person can be a post-evangelical that doesn't jump into the emerging conversation, but sticks with his/her original community or finds a new home in some other, non-emerging stream of our faith.

I hope that clarifies the terms.

For the record. When I meet non-Christians, I never use any of the above terms. I usually just identify myself as a Christian. Normally, people then assume that I am pro-war, anti-gay people, and in general, a negative influence on society. I wish that some of my brothers and sisters would use the title "Christian" less, because quite a few of us are making Christians out to be a bunch of jerks. So I can understand why some people are dropping the name, but I just can't do it. The jerks are my brothers and sisters.

carolczech said...

Drew said "Likewise, a person can be a post-evangelical that doesn't jump into the emerging conversation, but sticks with his/her original community or finds a new home in some other, non-emerging stream of our faith."

Anyone have a Dramamine?

Drew said...

Sorry carol, what I meant to say is that being a post-evangelical doesn't necessarily make you something else.

Daryl said...

"The jerks are my brothers and sisters."

And that's exactly why #5 is not a mistake.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Drew,

Thanks for posting the thought process and journey by how you come to situationally identify yourself.

For me, I adopted what J. Gresham Machen did: He called himself a Bible-believing Christian. And historically, and generally speaking, evangelicals are Bible-Believing Christians.

Tertiary point: I am an American. There are certain small things that America has done which I'm not happy about, but I still call myself an American.

I never want to call myself a post-American. If pride wasn't such an awful thing, I'd honestly call myself a proud American.

Daryl said...

Phil Nicholson,

Those are good points and perhaps things should be done differently, but does anyone really think that the people you describe actually believe that those things are essential to the gospel.

I know what you are saying is right but Pastor Rod said that the problem is communicating that our cultural baggage is essential to the gospel. I still hold that that doesn't happen.

Drew said...

I would also call myself a Bible believing Christian and an American. Sometimes (ok, often) I am embarrassed by the behavior of other Americans (or by an American president), but that doesn't change who I am.

Paul said...

Mike Riccardi,
I appreciate your comments!
___________________________________

Why does their have to be some sort of "stereotypical" reason for others to deny the gospel? Why is it they can't deny it for the same reason many others deny it?

Do people really reject the gospel because they are affraid they will have to become "westernized"? Or, do they reject the gospel because they will have to deny themselves and become born again?

On a separate note:

Do missionaries feel they need to reach entire regions? Or do they realize they can reach a few and let the few reach out to the region? Let the native people whom have received the message take over and proclaim the gospel!

I'm sorry (and perhaps I'm off base), but those who use culture as an excuse are packing a pocket-size Savior for the trip.

Pastor Rod said...

Daryl,

Pastor Rod said that the problem is communicating that our cultural baggage is essential to the gospel. I still hold that that doesn't happen.

That is a rather imprecise way to characterize the point I've made. However, if you maintain that it is not a problem, that is evidence of how pervasive the problem is. Anyone who doesn't think that there is a tendency to confuse culture and the gospel doesn't understand culture or doesn't understand the gospel, or both.

Rod

Paul said...

Drew,

How do you boldly proclaim the gospel when you have 47 different titles?

You are like a chameleon, stealth ninja Christian.

I think we give ourselves too much credit [actually, we don't deserve any credit]. Just stand up and speak the Word. God will take care of the rest!

Drew said...

Those "titles" are mostly for other Christians. As I already stated, I simply identify myself as a Christian when I am speaking to somebody that lives outside of "church world"

Drew said...

And Paul, please check before you make accusations. I am neither stealth, nor "ninja," and I have no idea where you got the idea that I am.

Paul said...

Are you serious?

Pastor Rod said...

Paul,

Do people really reject the gospel because they are affraid they will have to become "westernized"? Or, do they reject the gospel because they will have to deny themselves and become born again?

I'm sorry, but you're in over your head here. The issue is much more than "why people reject the gospel." In many cultures, religion and culture and family are so intertwined that to become a Christian is seen as a rejection of culture and family.

It's easy for us sitting at our high-speed Internet connections to say, "They should just embrace Christianity and face the consequences."

What if you were told that you had to give up everything you own and never see your family again? Would you be willing to make that sacrifice? Really?

But this is about more than asking people to make unnecessary sacrifices. You said, "Let the native people whom have received the message take over and proclaim the gospel!" That might be rather difficult once they've been cut off from all their social networks.

Simplistic slogans sound good on a blog. But in real life, things tend to get a little more complicated.

Rod

Drew said...

yes. I don't know why you assumed that I don't share my faith, but its incorrect, and I don't like it.

Paul said...

"In many cultures, religion and culture and family are so intertwined that to become a Christian is seen as a rejection of culture and family."

This is a biblical fact for ALL Christians.

I'll disregard your other remarks.

Paul said...

Drew:

"I don't know why you assumed that I don't share my faith..."

This is not what I was trying to say. I was implying that perhaps you are trying to wear too many hats when sharing your faith.

My apologizes!

Pastor Rod said...

Paul,

This will be my last attempt to carry on a conversation with you. You can have the last word and "disregard" anything that is too difficult to address.

It is not a fact for all Christians. Did you see your family at Thanksgiving? Do you put up a pagan Christmas tree and decorate it with lights to celebrate the rebirth of the sun at the winter solstice? Do you enjoy watching football? How exactly have you rejected your family and your culture?

You really are talking about things that you don't understand. Outshouting the other person in a debate doesn't make your point nor does it cover over a basic lack of knowledge.

Peace,

Rod

centuri0n said...

Rod --

I'm warning you about Rule #2. You usually walk a thin line, but today I think the season is getting under your skin or something.

Take it down a notch or else.

Jason E. Robertson said...

I am a SBC church planter who decided not to put the word Baptist in our church name. Do any of you really think I am a coward? Do any of you really think my people do not know what a Baptist is or what it means?

Examine us... we have nothing to fear. And if you do you will find that many (maybe as much as 35%) of our membership were non-baptist before joining us -- and told us in their membership interviews that they probably would have never visited us if they had known that we were SBC.

(And again, if you examine us you will find that we do not hide in our ads, website, or literature that we are Baptist, but we did leave it out of our name.)

The point: words are powerful. Labels are powerful. And sometimes it might be best to educate people before introducing labels. I have found most people in Southern California don't really understand the gospel (neither do most Christians out here BTW). And I find many view "Christian" as meaning "conservative Republican home-schoolers." Now I have not ceased from calling myself Christian, but I don't fault those who may wish to swap "labels" in an attempt to properly educate people to the gospel. They may call themselves "disciples" or "Jesus-followers."

Who cares? As long as God calls us by name, calls us friends, calls us sons and daughters, calls us the elect, and says "Well done." Right?

Of course, if you know someone who is just ashamed of historical Christianity and wants to distance themselves from the Bride -- then I agree they are spineless cowards who make Demas look like a Deacon Steven.

Paul said...

When I said "perhaps I'm off base" someone actually thought I was. Fair enough! I just thought that indigenous and native missions actually worked. I guess I was wrong.

Pastor Rod said...

Frank,

Exactly what part of this

Say what you like about us; disagree as strongly as you like; beat us up or slap us around verbally with near-total impunity. But keep within the parameters of Christian civility. We'll automatically delete comments with profane or unwholesome words, including abbreviated or otherwise disguised ones.

are you implying that I'm in danger of transgressing?

I was expecting your first post to be, "Yes, Rod, I see what you mean, maybe I was reading that with the wrong context."

Instead you told me to reread the statement.

When I explained Winter's position accurately, instead of saying, "Yup, you're right," you accused me of being ridiculous and reductionistic, all the while completely missing my point.

I clarified the position further. Phil Nicholson, a real life missionary, adds more information from his own experience.

Then a few readers make statement betraying a lack of basic understanding of the issue.

Then I ask some tough questions and am answered with platitudes.

Then you finally rejoin the discussion and play the Rule #2 trump card.

How have I violated Christian civility? Where are the profane or unwholesome words?

Every time I begin to think that I can engage in something resembling a true conversation here or at your blog it always seems that you end up trying to paint me as the bad guy.

Out of curiosity, do you still stand by your original reading of Winter's "mistake"?

Rod

Strong Tower said...

Hey Rod-

rasberries man!

Yes it cost me all my friends and all my family. No, I did not spend Thanksgiving with family, so pthfffft, to ya!

Let me agree with you on this. There are many who confuse culture with Christianity. You're one of them. You seem to think that the message has something to do with culture, rather than transcending it. Let's see, what do you think of Scripture, just what part of persecution for the Lord's name sake do you not understand?

When I read the quote, quite honestly I thought it had to do with orthodoxies, and not culture, you know Eastern, Greek and Russian as in the mystic heresies including Rome which is really not distinct, as opposed the the Historic orthodoxy of say obscure men like Luther and Calvin and so forth.

In all that you have said it is apparent that your real beef is with orthodox Christianity and you use culture as a shill to mask it. So let me test that. Do you believe in Missions that share the gospel straight-up without any cultural trappings, as in do you believe that the gospel should be presented straight from say Acts chapter 7. Then going from there to what Jesus did with the notorious Emmaus Two: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself"?

You would go for that, eh?

And if you need another name, perhaps since we are followers of messiah, we could simply call it messianity, which would really capture the reality of imperfect men saved by a perfect Savior.

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

Pastor Rod and Phil Nicholson,
Good stuff and nice try....
Appreciate your courage.
In his post on the 3rd mistake, Centurion wrote this:
"until I read this list, I had no idea who Ralph Winter was. I had to Google the guy to get a bead on him, and I figured that most people are probably about as informed as I am – which, apparently, means 'not very'."
It's too bad (but not surprising) you are getting the kind of responses you are, considering the self-admission that both the writer and the readers of these "mistake" blogs are "not very informed".
This (blog and responses)is a glorious example of missing the point.
Blessings to you.

Devin said...

I've kind of been in the same frame of mind as Jason. I'm not a church planter, I'm just a guy, but I've been attending art school for the past four years. While I won't deny that I'm a Christian when asked, when introducing myself I've been saying that I'm a "follower of Jesus." I had no idea it was the trendy thing to do...that alone makes me want to stop doing it.

In any case, the reason I chose to do so was because here in Minneapolis people get pretty rabid about their politics, and in art school even moreso (strongly to the left, of course). I chose to address myself as I did in order to get around the political preconceptions most people I spoke with often associated with the word "Christian" - Republican conservative - and all the other baggage they have that may or may not be accurate, and cut straight to the heart of the matter: the person of Jesus.

(Plus, admittedly, I get a kick out of saying Jesus's name aloud in front of art students. In a non-blasphemous way.)

I saw it as a means of getting people to the Gospel message with the least amount of unnecessary resistance as possible. I honestly never thought of it as an evasion, or a means of not being identified with the Church. That's something I've argued with people about in the past - how can you claim to love God if you're not willing to love the Church?

But I see your point, Cent. The Church is the Church, its history is a part of us whether we like it or not, and being branded with Christ's name is a blessing, no matter how other people may see [mis]perceive it. I'm leaving art school now and heading back to Southern California, so maybe I'll just go back to plain old "Christian" anyway.

centuri0n said...

Ah. Nothing like a little insomnia to allow for some meta-maintenance.

Where to begin ...

Pastor Rod said this:

|| I think he is making a different
|| point than what you are
|| responding to. My sense is that
|| he is talking about a confusion
|| between the conversion to
|| Christianity and the adoption of
|| the Western cultural expression
|| of Christianity.

If we look to my last post of Winter's "12 Mistake" assessment, you can find that I don't have a lot of patience for people who use code words to reinvent what they mean. You can imagine, however, that when they invent a code for what they mean, and then even their euphemistic version of their ideas are not very presentable, I'm even less a fan. I would class Winter like this without any question - because his summary here seems to be an attempt at a euphemism for what he is really trying to say -and his euphemism is actually no better than the trash he is trying to hide with it.

And your whitewashing of what he says, Rod, is not any better. When you say this:

|| Here's a quotation from Ralph's
|| site:
||
|| [O]ur own form of Christianity
|| has been unthinkingly assumed
|| to be the main balanced,
|| Biblical, total, properly
|| contextualized thing.
||
|| He really is talking about
|| something very different from
|| the trendy use of "Jesus
|| follower" rather than
|| "Christian."
||
|| For people in these other
|| cultures, the issue is not what
|| you and Dan mean when you
|| say "Christian." The problem is
|| the meaning that the word has
|| in that culture.

You are trying to add yet another layer on top of Winter's dung heap in order to mask the smell, but it can't possibly work.

Here's why, from Winter's site:
(found here)

[QUOTE]
However, figures like Billy Graham have succeeded in gaining a hearing to some extent from within almost all of these diver- gent traditions, just as Brahmins in India have been attracted to Graham’s message and his Bible without affiliating themselves with the formal movement of Christianity.

The phrase "churchless Christianity" has thus been employed to describe some phenomena in South India. It is possible that a more accurate phrase might be to speak of "Christianity-less churches," since we see people still regarded as “Hindus” involved in home meetings much like the "ecclesias" of the New Testament but we do not see any close affiliation of these believers with the cultural tradition of Christianity. It is as though we must ask whether we are to preach Christ and not Christianity. A recent secular editorial in India recounted the gruesome tortures early missionaries of Portuguese Christian tradition inflicted on the people of Goa wherever departures from faith were suspected. We can protest that that was "Catholic" Christianity. But our own Protestant "Christian" cultural tradition includes similar events such as when John Calvin consented to the death by fire of Michael Servetus as well as thirty-some women accused of witchcraft, whose departures from the faith seemed threatening to the unity of the Gospel. How can we not therefore try to understand the disinclination today of high caste Hindus to see their cultural unity threatened by invading missionary forces which may find it difficult to conceive of a Hindu cultural tradition that validly understands the Gospel?
[/QUOTE]

Now, before one of the many ill-wishers reading this comment thread go to the "you're just an ignorant jerk, cent" button and press "PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT", Winter says this in the context that [A] he believes the task of world missions is largely on the verge of completion, and [B] Western Christianity has really been a missiological success. What he's trying to advance is a way to sort of clean up the corners of the globe.

Let me say frankly, for the other kinds of malcontents who read this blog, that there's no way to say [A] with a straight face, and one has to wonder what he means by [B] as we read the rest of his missive here.

What he's advancing he says plainly is a redefinition of what it means to be "Christian", or a "people of the book", which includes the abolition of the term itself for the sake of eliminating the places where we can divide between heresy and orthodoxy. To him, it's all the same if you're a JW or a Pentecostal, a Mormon or a Presbyterian, a Brahman or a Methodist. Servetus was a Christian in spite of his anti-trinitarian views, and witches are simply another expression of culture in faith.

His little excursus about the Jew vs. Gentile in the early church, and what Paul thought of whether Gentiles needed to become Jews to be in the faith, is itself an education on what people are willing to believe to make their own dreams come true, and might be worth some time exploding in its own blog post.

However, what Winter is proposing is actually far worse than what I criticized here, and it includes what I criticized here but points to a far more perverse and anti-evangelistic view. He wants to abolish the label "Christian" in order to prevent us from distinguishing between false gospels and the true Gospel, and to simply accept others as "churches" when there is no foundation for such a thing.

On the one hand, he wants to abandon a 16th century view of enforcement of orthodoxy -- which, I think, is a fairly-legitimate view as none of us demand that the church be married to the state in order to press the state into doing the church's dirty work using the state's tools (which are the coin and the sword). But to explode that idea into a notion that those with the Gospel do not have an obligation to distinguish between all false religion and the Good News of Christ, and that we also do not have an obligation to admit that our own churches are not perfect and our own evangelism of where we come from is incomplete and perhaps has its own defects ... well, it's simply denying every practical aspect of what Paul teaches us about the church in the NT, let alone taking on the harsher parts of the "red letters" in the Gospels.

|| Are you ready to answer for all
|| the actions of George Bush, for
|| all the movies that come out of
|| Hollywood, and for the antics of
|| Paris Hilton?

This is where you begin to get rather amateurishly reductionistic, Rod: by claiming that somehow it's the Gospel or the Bible which lead to those things you object to -- as if Paris Hilton's pastor was the one who encouraged her to be what she is today, or as if the tenability of George Bush's foreign policy is a referendum on the Sermon on the Mount rather than an experiment in the limits of Rom 13.

Let me say frankly that if this is how one has to view "Christianity" to get to the place where he doesn't want to associate with it, it would be just as fair to ban you, Rod, for being a black-haired Hispanic woman with a peg leg, because we know that they are the real problem with reasonable dialog on blogs.

That is to say: not only is that a wicked stereotype in general with no substance, it is also a false statement about you, because as far as you have told, you're not any of those things.

But here's the real irony in your bringing it up: it's the so-called "missionals" who would want to associate with the culture that closely and are therefore much more likely to bring the claim on themselves. You couldn't possible mistake, for example, John Piper's view of the Christian life with anything Paris Hilton has ever done -- but you might mistake some other, more "missional" guys as endorsing her segment of society's lifestyle and freedom to live that way.

But you really fall off the apple cart when you say this:

|| You might as well use a
|| swastika as your logo while
|| explaining that the real meaning
|| of the symbol is a cross.

On the one hand, dude, I'll bet Winter would say that doing so in a Nazi culture would be a good thing. On the other, there's nothing like reducing the other guy to a Nazi to really liven up the meta, or violate Rule #2. That's where you began your trek into incivility, if you want to draw yourself a map.

|| Culture is a tricky thing.

It is -- no question. But the problem is when you, or Winter, demand that people do not have to leave false religions in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, and do not want to self-identify with the generations of faithful who came before them because it turns out none of those people were perfect, either. Culture is tricky, but in this kind of missiological thinking it has become its own kind of idol -- just as towering and wicked as the insular culture of some in the SBC. When calling people out and calling them to identify with Christ and therefore with all other disciples before them becomes an evil practice, "culture" becomes just as horrible an idol as "prohibition" and "party politics".

__________

And to my chagrin, I am out of time this morning. The rest of you will have to think about this stuff without me today as I have some other things to do.

Enoch said...

Cent,
Exactly. That's why I said his views are scary. They are not really even Christian, but we need to avoid that word, apparently, so what better way to avoid it than by changing the substance it represents

Daryl said...

Rod said :

"Anyone who doesn't think that there is a tendency to confuse culture and the gospel doesn't understand culture or doesn't understand the gospel, or both."

So...give me an example of something (anything!!) cultural that is being advanced ANYWHERE as being essential to the gospel.

On another note, if this American/Christian thing is such a problem for the world-wide church, and if this issue you raise in this quote is really an issue:

"But this is about more than asking people to make unnecessary sacrifices. You said, "Let the native people whom have received the message take over and proclaim the gospel!" That might be rather difficult once they've been cut off from all their social networks"

Then why is that in fact, exactly what is happening? Why, in Vietnam, for instance, do missionaries try unsuccessfully to dissuade potential converts, on the basis of sure persecution, not to believe unless they are willing to give up everything, when life spans of recent converts in that country are often measured in days?

If having to give up family and life itself (as promised in the Scripture) will make church growth/gospel preaching impossible for the locals, then why does the church grow more rapidly in that setting than anywhere else? And if the "Westernization" of the gospel is such a threat to THEM, are their churches growing while ours do not?

The reality is that the church is persecuted in almost every culture in the world except the West. And it's not "Americanism" that is the object of persecution. Look around, most non-Western cultures are gradually adopting some Western ways, America, for most, is the ideal place to be (or Canada).

You seem to imply (correct me if I'm wrong) that persecution is over Western culture and not the gospel, I just don't buy it.

Daryl said...

LEt me add to my last comment, that not only is the church being persecuted everywhere outside of the West, but it is growing too quickly for the pastors to count in those places as well.

Q: Why does western civilization create growth everywhere but the west?

A: It doesn't, the gospel does, it creates growth and persecution exactly as Jesus promised.

We should be thankful for the lack of persecution here in the West, but don't accept it as the norm for Christianity. It is not, and it won't last.

Pastor Rod said...

Frank,

You may well have problems with some of Winter's ideas. But your last post is, in my opinion, a misreading of his position. Just because you read a few of his words in the context of your battle against "emergent" types and those who call themselves "missional" doesn't mean that you truly understand his view.

(Many people quote the exact words of the Bible and miss the real point of the text.)

What I do know is that you and your readers have grossly misrepresent my position and attributed thoughts and feelings to me that I do not have.

Maybe these attributions explain why you made the wild accusation that I was calling you, or anyone a Nazi.

Let me break it down for you.

You have a specific, rather precise definition of "Christianity." However, you do not own the word. Unfortunately, the term has very different meanings IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD.

[One of the big problems here is that you and many of your readers are thinking primarily of the North American situation.]

My example about the swastika is a perfect illustration of this phenomenon. The swastika had a legitimate meaning before Hitler commandeered it for his purposes.

Now the symbol is lost to anyone to might wish to use it for any serious purpose. Your reaction is just a further indication of this point.

I did not imply that you were a Nazi or that your position is somehow analogous to Hitler's. But the emotional content of the symbol overwhelmed the plain sense of my words and caused you to react emotionally before you even processed the logical content of the paragraph.

[It doesn't help that you seem to always put the worst possible twist on everything I say.]

I'm baffled that you still don't get my point about Paris Hilton and Hollywood. Just as the swastika has been redefined, so also has the term "Christian" IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. [Think about Iraq, for example.]

I am not arguing that "Christian" is no longer usable. I am simply saying that the issue is not what you think the word means but what it means in these other cultures.

I have to say that I am disappointed with the way this dialogue has degenerated. I offered my comments in good faith with comity. I was not looking for a fight or trying to subvert the pristine culture of the Pyro blog.

God Bless,

Rod

SolaMeanie said...

Does it really matter how other cultures define the term "Christian? Or does it matter how the Bible defines the term?

Just asking.

Daryl said...

Meanie,

Enough with the reasonable questions already...that sort of thing might make people do silly stuff, like read the Bible or something.

MTR said...

Rule #2 Frank??? You're funny, especially considering your own comments at Dan Kimball's blog. You guys can dish it out, but...

This blog, as fine as it is (despite my own difference of opinion), would be much, much better if you didn't shout down any opposing comments all the time. It's rather annoying.

I know, I know, rule #2. Later.

Drew said...

Solameanie. Yes. It does. Especially if Christian means something radically different than the faith we are going to share.

Actually, thanks to "Christian" media, which produces "Christian" books, and "Christian" music that is shared in "Christian" coffeehouses and talked about on "Christian" radio, the word is dangerously close to meaning "over-produced, under-thought, lower quality, rip-off of the world's culture, but with out the swears, gays, or skin."

When Christian became an adjective to describe a product (especially since it was most often a sub-par, derivative product) the word became much less effective in presenting the Gospel.

Mike Riccardi said...

I don't know if this was addressed, but...

What if you were told that you had to give up everything you own and never see your family again? Would you be willing to make that sacrifice? Really?

Um... we're all told to do that if it happens to be our situation. Whether we have to do that to the degree that others do it or not is irrelevant.

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. ... So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. -- Lk 14:27-28, 33

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. -- Lk 9:23-26

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Lk 12:51-53

I could go on. I am called to give up everything, to sell all I have and buy the field (Mt 13:44-46). That means that as an Italian American, I can no longer get my identity from being Italian and have to forfeit some worldly idea of "who I am," that's fine. I'm a Christian first. If that means that my family will never talk to me again, that's fine. Whoever does the will of my Father is my brother and sister and mother (Mt 12:50). If that means that I get exiled from my homeland and have nothing, that's fine because by forfeiting myself, I get Christ. And I get to bear HIS Name.

And yeah, it's easy for me to say that. But not because I'm a spoiled American behind my laptop (even though I am!). It's because the Spirit has illumined to me the preciousness of Jesus, and how He is better than any of those things. He's worth turning my life upside down.

Daryl said...

I suspect this debate will rage within the church until we finally and completely rid ourselves of the marketing model with the non-believer as the consumer.
Preach the word, identify yourself with the historical church (ie. Christian) and trust God to do the work.
"Christian" is not a brand, nor does the church have one. Changing the name will not make people more receptive to the gospel, God will.

Perhaps we should follow the lead of the church in Acts. Don't have a name, let the culture give us one as an insult. Oh, but that would make us look bad in their eyes, no one would listen then...

Incidentally, so far no one has some up with even one culturally western idea that has been presented as essential to the gospel. No one...

No examples?? No case.


Sigh...

SolaMeanie said...

Drew,

Nice rant, but you know better than that. That is NOT what I am talking about. Not in the least. I am talking about this in terms of both orthodoxy and orthopraxis. So is Frank. So is Phil. So is Dan, and so are the majority of others who raise these types of issues with Emergent church types or any other jackanapes would-be theologian that raises his head.

No one is talking about suits and ties. No one is talking about spitting into the third row while preaching. No one is talking about fried chicken dinners on the ground during July. No one is talking about third rate rock and roll set to fifth rate bad poetry. It's doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, and then more doctrine at the root.

The sooner you guys absorb that by osmosis, the better off we'll be.

Bill Honsberger said...

If anyone wants to play with an example of WInter's contextualization methodology in action as opposed to mere theory, let me tell you a story...
Actually the account is that Jim Bjornstadt of Cedarville and long time co-worker with Walter Martin went to a meeting of the Evangelical Missionary Society, where this contextualization discussions (six different versions and other fun things!) are the rage. In one seminar the leaders were praising the model of an African church, led by "former" Muslims who had (allegedly - my call) become Christians. The only problem is that the church's doctrinal statement had an explicit denial of the deity of Christ!!! But this seemed to be no problem for the EMS crowd.
Pragmatic approaches overseas and here - Fuller through McGavran and Winter have blessed the church so much...not!
Bill

S.J. Walker said...

DREW:

If I may interject, I see something that might need thought about in your own life, as it had to in mine some time ago.

The Chameleon comment actually wasn't far off the mark. Just bear with me.

In company with "Christians"(as in Bible believing Christian) you sometimes will tell them you are one as well. In company of "post-evangelicals" you sometimes do the same. You, by your own admission, will turn into, and use the vocabulary thereof, whatever cultural, "missional", evangelical, or what have you group you happen to be conversing with at the time.

The problem here, is that, in the core, not the soil as much as the root for weeds grow in good soil too, these ideas or belief systems or what ever you want to call them are, in point of fact, diametrically opposed to one another. Mutually exclusive.

Another thing I might address.

"Normally, people then assume that I am pro-war, anti-gay people, and in general, a negative influence on society."

Does this mean that you are anti-war, pro-gay people, and in general a positive influence on society?

I won't go any further for now. But if your answer to the second part especially of that question is "yes", we have a whole other issue that might explain the lack of commitment to any one "title" that may not be likable in some circles.

Daryl said...

still no "western" doctrines out there???

S.J. Walker said...

Drew:

Sorry, but if I may, I will ask one more question. Again, I had to answer this in my own life not long ago. For now, just give a "bare bones- no nonsense answer", the first thing that pops up.

Here it is:
When speaking to a person you don't believe is...well, what ever the term for the minute is, but we'll use Christian; what is your biggest concern?

Strong Tower said...

Sure-

cirle the wagons

Annie get your gun

you'll get this gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers

The Rockies will be back, eschatologically speaking

Wyoming is not a Western state, it is on the East Slope of the great divide

many more Western doctrines but these are a few

Strong Tower said...

S.J.

If their wired and are they packing heat?

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

Strong Tower,

LOL!!!

S.J. Walker said...

strong tower,

hehe, Not quite what I'm getting at, but I like your enthusiasm.

BTW, what about"God created men, Sam Colt made the equal"

Strong Tower said...

uh-

A righteousness revealed from heaven not by our good works?

Drew said...

Daryl, plenty have been presented (all incorrectly). Among them:

Democracy.
A western sense of modesty.
the English language
Western liturgy
a western understanding of justice (i.e. penal substitution)
western musical styles.
western leadership styles

I know that you are going to ask for specific examples, so here's one: When the Sudanese Christians that I worship with were baptized, they were given new, Christian names. Nothing wrong with that. But the names, Paul, Elizabeth, Martha, etc. were the English versions of Hebrew and Greek names.

This made things easier when they moved to America, sure, but why not translate said names into their native language of Muer? I think it had to do with the Westernization of the church.

Solameanie: I am all for calling Christian doctrine, doctrine. But I thought the question was about mission practice within a culture, and I gave an example of how, even within OUR culture, the word Christian may not, at all times, be effective.

Christian doctrine and Christian practice are great. And if we had more of both, I suspect the word would not have been spoiled in our culture.

Strong Tower said...

So Drew-

The answer is not to vacate the use of the name, then, but to renew and pursue the Gospel that the name contains, right?

S.J. Walker said...

What I'm getting at this.

When speaking to non-Christian(which I used to think I knew what that meant), my greatest concern(s) should be this/these:
#1- Am I a Christian--a real one? (A) Yes

#2- As such, what does that make me to God? (A) His instrument.

#3- If I am His instrument, then I better perform the task precisely, correct? (A) Yes, because if I do not, He will raise up another in my place.

You see, if a Christian is God's instrument, should not that Christian be the right tool for the job? There is, to use an anology, only One Wrench to turn the bolt of salvation. It is not adjustable. Our job is to be metric measurement in one case, and English in another, but to be calibrated for God's good pleasure and no-one else's.

If my "off the top of my head" answer to my question is: "whether or not I present the Gospel in a culturally pleasing way", i have much to repent of.

Daryl said...

Drew,

Quick overview:

Democracy - Is this really taught as "gospel"? What option would you suggest.

A western sense of modesty. - What west do you live in? What modesty?

the English language - A great thing for anyone one to learn given the world economy, but if you really think this is being taught as gospel, why so many bible translators?

Western liturgy - That would be...??? Identify one non-Biblical western liturgy.

a western understanding of justice (i.e. penal substitution) - Biblical to the core.

western musical styles. - Taught as essential??
western leadership styles - meaning...??

So, with the exeception of penal substitution which is, of course, an essential Biblical doctrine and not a western thing at all, how many are actually taught as, and believed to be, essential to salvation.

And, incidentally, are we about to fall into the trap of believing that anything native to a culture is inherently neutral or good by virtue of it's being different than ours? Sounds silly, but that's a pretty common belief among Westerners of all stripes.

You'll have to do better than all that. People from any culture will pck up things from visitors from another, is that bad?

Again, are these taught as gospel?

S.J. Walker said...

correction:

"our job is NOT to be metric...

sorry

Daryl said...

My point Drew, is this.

Is picking up bits of another culture a bad thing?

Who is teaching any of what you listed as gospel (the Biblical teaching of PSA aside)

Drew said...

s.j: I do not believe the terms to be mutually exclusive and you have not shown them to be (with the possible exception of "liberal." I am politically liberal, but not theologically). I am nothing but honest about who I am, with all people.

For the record, as a matter of faith, I am anti-war and pro-gay people. I want to be a positive influence on society.

I don't think that God is pro-war or anti-gay people, do you?


My first concern when I meet a non-Christian is showing and/or telling them who Jesus is.

Daryl said...

Drew,

The world doesn't define pro-gay and anti-gay as pro-gay-people and anti-gay-people, but pro-gay-lifestyle and anti-gay-lifestyle.

"The church hates gays" is a red-herring. That will be said of anyone not approving the lifestyle.

So now how do you answer the question?

S.J. Walker said...

Drew,

Okay, thanks for the answer. As to the anti-war bit, I can understand although we can't forget that it too has it's place.

As to the gay issue. If, by your answer, you are pro-gay people because you desire them to come to repentance in the will of God, then yes, I am for the redemption and extraction of gay people from that blatantly sinful lifestyle.
If your meaning is anything other that, read both old and new testaments again, twice, and then tell me where you stand.

As to your greatest concern, good answer. Who/what is Jesus?

Please understand, I ask you these questions is a passionate desire to exhort a sibling in Christ.

What say you to these?

SolaMeanie said...

"A Western sense of modesty."

So, the Bible's rather clear instructions about keeping nakedness covered are culturally insensitive?

SolaMeanie said...

While I am at it, I am quickly coming to the conclusion that "culture" is something that belongs in a petri dish. I think far too many worship at that altar as if it's sacrosanct, and it gets tiresome.

All the more so when "culture" is used as an excuse to flush orthodoxy down the commode.

Drew said...

Strong tower. That is what I have been doing, but I understand why others would choose to abandon the name.

s.j., you wrote:

There is, to use an anology, only One Wrench to turn the bolt of salvation. It is not adjustable. Our job is to be metric measurement in one case, and English in another, but to be calibrated for God's good pleasure and no-one else's.


The one wrench is Christ, not me or the words I choose. Thank God that God has chosen to use me and my words sometimes, but he uses lots of different people in lots of different cultures using lots of different words.

SJ:

If my "off the top of my head" answer to my question is: "whether or not I present the Gospel in a culturally pleasing way", i have much to repent of.

Me:
Fortunately, I don't think very many people think that way. Did I say something to communicate to you that I think that way?

S.J. Walker said...

meanie,

zzzactly right.

Drew,

Also,
Define: "positive influence on society".
Define: pro-gay, yet Theologically not liberal.

I still can't figure out where you stand.

Drew said...


Is picking up bits of another culture a bad thing?


Not normally. In fact, that's what good missionaries do.

Who is teaching any of what you listed as gospel (the Biblical teaching of PSA aside)


It has all been done, but I really don't want to take the time to research it, beyond the one experience that I have of knowing Muer people that received English names when they were baptized.

Drew said...

SJ: I believe Jesus as revealed in scripture. I really don't have time for this step by step thing. If we can't cut to the chase, then I might have to bow out.

Daryl, that is why I chose the phrase, "pro-gay people," because the culture defines "pro-gay" in one way. I used a different term to make my message clear. I (and I believe God is) "pro-gay-people."

And gay people need to repent, like everybody else.

s.j., I don't know why you don't get me, I think I am being clear.

The Bible is my authority, not experience, therefore I am not theologically liberal.

I am not pro-gay, but pro-gay people, because I believe that God, as revealed in scripture, is pro-gay-people.

Daryl said...

Let's grant your point for the sake of the discussion, Drew.

Even if what you are saying is right, the evil western culture being taught/adopted in foreign countrys. how does dropping the name "Christian" fix the problem?

Drew said...

It only fixes the problem when the term is linked to negative parts of the culture. In this culture, if I stopped using the name (and I haven't), it would free me from the baggage of Fred Phelps, George W. Bush, Benny Hinn, "Christian" media, and the many other forces that, in my opinion, mis-represent Christ.

centuri0n said...

Rod:

You might as well use a swastika as your logo, dude.

When that statement doesn't imply you're a nazi, I'll offer you an apology for misunderstanding you.

S.J. Walker said...

Drew,

Now we're getting closer to the original problem.

You wrote:
"The one wrench is Christ, not me or the words I choose. Thank God that God has chosen to use me and my words sometimes, but he uses lots of different people in lots of different cultures using lots of different words."

I will buy that to a point, I would not necessarily disagree with that on the surface. The One Wrench, as I indicated, is indeed Christ; it is also the Word, it is also the Truth, it is also the Vine--they are one. And are we not in Christ?

We are the branches; the branches bear fruit or they do not. Our "many different words" to "many different cultures" must, absolutely, mean the EXACT same thing. You have many different words and their meanings change in mid-sentence it sometimes seems.

Christian means one thing here and another there, evangelical means one thing here and another there.

The Bible has been translated into thousands of different languages, the chief one now is English. Yet, through all of history, do you know what the beautiful and awe inspiring thing is?

It means the EXACT same thing it did in the beginning!

God is Almighty, eternal, and Holy.

Man is depraved and is therefore hated by the Holiness of God and reciprocates that hatred in his own arrogance.

God loves man through His Grace and calls some to "come out from among them" to His own good pleasure.

THAT, is what a Christian is and only took 5 seconds to explain. That is what we do, when we have people who do not view Christianity outside od the connotations "American Culture". We do not redefine it with more "many different words".

That is all. May God miraculously speak to you, and terrify you, and love you Drew, just as He did and does with me.

In Christ

Drew said...


You have many different words and their meanings change in mid-sentence it sometimes seems.

show me where.

I agree with your presentation of the Gospel.

I think that there's a little more to it, but it seems like the perfect place to start.

I don't want to re-define Christianity, but I do want to re-express it again and again in every new situation. The God doesn't change, and neither does the Gospel, but people do.

Thank you for your blessing.

SolaMeanie said...

Let me pose an interesting question, since Emergent types love questions.

When God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel, and as a result humanity was scattered, from where did their "cultural" differences come? What was their origin? Is it just remotely possible that some much vaunted cultural flavors arose out of sin in the culture, and therefore are not to be celebrated?

I used the example earlier of the suttee, where widows burn themselves to death on their husband's funeral pyre. Am I advocating cultural genocide because I find that practice appalling?

Just asking.

Pastor Rod said...

Frank,

Here's your post:
|Rod:
|
|You might as well use a |swastika as your logo, |dude.
|
|When that statement |doesn't imply you're a |nazi, I'll offer you an |apology for |misunderstanding you.

Why do you insist on misunderstanding me and twisting my words, even after I have explained them in detail?

Here's my statement:
|For people in these other |cultures, the issue is |not what you and Dan mean |when you say "Christian." |The problem is the |meaning that the word has |in that culture.
|
|Are you ready to answer |for all the actions of |George Bush, for all the |movies that come out of |Hollywood, and for the |antics of Paris Hilton?
|
|You might as well use a |swastika as your logo |while explaining that the |real meaning of the |symbol is a cross.
|
|Culture is a tricky thing.

And in a latter post:
|What I thought I made |clear, especially with |the swastika example, was |that the word "Christian" |has baggage in non-|Western cultures.

I think it's pretty obvious to anyone (not drinking the Pyro Kool-Aid) that I was not calling anyone a Nazi. I was making the simple point that the swastika has been debased as a symbol to the point that anyone who did use it would be considered a Nazi.

It is bad enough that you accused me of things I never did. But what baffles me is your persistence in sticking to your emotional reactions even after I have explained in detail my true intentions.

Is it your position that I am lying about what I meant? Or are you just claiming to know my mind and heart better than I do?

I think you owe me more than an apology for the initial misunderstanding.

But I'm sure that instead I'll get a long explanation of how I've violated some rule or crossed some line. And while you are composing the list of my transgressions several of your readers will pile on and chastise me for my uncharitable attitude and generally despicable theology.

Peace,

Rod

Drew said...


Is it just remotely possible that some much vaunted cultural flavors arose out of sin in the culture, and therefore are not to be celebrated?

absolutely. This goes for "sending" and "receiving" cultures.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Boy Wonder: "Holy Cow Batman!"

I'm enjoying and learning from the vigorous give-and-take on this thread. It's all good. Punching someone and getting punched back is not the worst thing in the world. [That's my last word regarding "loving tone".]

Anyways, here's my amateurish reductionistic summation:

Apostle Paul said something like "I become all things to all men". But I don't think he meant that it's a point-blank license to dilute the Gospel (like in Bill Honsberger's comment about ex-Muslims denying the deity of Christ. Which was then affirmed as a good cultural contextualization practice by EMS).

This whole Missions debate can be distilled in its essence to:

Cultural Context vs. Gospel.

IMHO, I'm cool with being sensitive to Context as long as Cultural Context does not dilute, water down, misrepresent, distort, or slant the True Gospel. I think Cheap Grace or Easy Believism in order to fulfill the Great Commission is a terrible mistake.

And speaking of the general case, this discussion of Cultural Context in international missions is directly applicable to the critiques that Team Pyro has towards the Emergent Church Movement and the Seeker-Sensitive Movement (like at Willow Creek).

Summary Conclusion: Go ahead and be Culturally Sensitive to Context. Yet Christ uber alles. Living/Written Word uber Culture, not Culture uber Living/Written Word.

Pax to all.

SolaMeanie said...

Rod,

Please don't play the martyr.

Drew,

And your point is? I ask because you seem to keep missing mine.

S.J. Walker said...

Drew,

I think your post at 8:04 PM, November 28, 2007 starts to give perspective as to a criss-crossing view of words' meanings. That coupled with other statements regarding how Christian can decribe you in one instance, and other times it is

"an adjective to describe a product (especially since it was most often a sub-par, derivative product) the word became much less effective in presenting the Gospel".

If it can describe you, and also mean this, either you fit this description, or you have two different meanings of it.

And no, people don't change either, we are still born wicked as ever, we still hate God as ever, and still think we are better than the age before us as ever(at least in some way). We have changed at all, no matter what culture. We merely are now in the Autumn instead of the Spring.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Drew,

I think most of your "cultural baggage", if it ever was considered essential by missionaries, has been largely abandoned in our generation.

As for the specific instance of the Muer adopting "Western" names, it could just be that they were honoring the missionaries by adopting their culture, rather than seeing it as essential to the Gospel. I am inclined to believe that the missionaries did not teach them that it was essential.

Daryl said...

Drew,

I take it from your last comment re - cultures, that what you meant to say all along is the since cultures are all fallen, give and take between them is irrelevant to anything and the gospel should be preached to everyone whether the natives take up wearing ties or not...

Am I close???

So you're agreeing with Frank's original post and disagreeing with Rod's wild-eyed assertion that we've been sending missionaries overseas to teach people that 'Made in America' sums up the gospel?

See, the trouble isn't the mixing up the gospel on the mission field, it''s the mixing it up here at home. Movements like the EC water it down so it will have no effect on people/culture and then wonder why cultures over-seas often change when the gospel is clearly taught.

Movements like the one you've adopted are so hung up on the value of culture in its own right that they sacrifice gospel for culture and get upset when the reverse is done overseas.
Sure, mistakes have been made by well-meaning missionaries. Some of them will continue to be made.
So what?? Preach the gospel, teach the word, it will change people, cultures will change, that's all a good thing.

Paul said...

Well said Sola!

Surrendering to the authority of Jesus Christ and His word is difficult for ALL Christians. The maturing process of walking away from the old unregenerate self and adjusting to the new birth is challenging for ALL Christians no matter what corner of the globe you rest your head. Are the sacrifices more extreme for some versus others? Absolutely! Does it change anything? Absolutely not! The command to spread the word and proclaim the gospel is simple to understand and execute. The consequences & results of doing it are not. Are we lead to believe otherwise.

IMO, and again I may be off (as some have suggested), we are complicating the spreading procedure in order to try and simplify the acceptance. When the acceptance part is never going to be simple no matter what procedure we come up with to spread it.

I am open to those who would share any other [biblical] reason for rejecting Jesus Christ other than, it is foolishness to them.

Paul said...

...and we love darkness rather than light.

Drew said...

Mark, I hope you are right.

SJ: I hope you do not think that I choose the latter definition of "Christian" (sub-par product) for myself. It is one that "Christian" companies and our culture has created, and it a definition that, though I reject (hence all of "this,") is a reality that must be dealt with.

Some words do have more than one meaning, right?

And yes, people have been depraved and hated God since there was sin, and we will continue to do so, but that doesn't mean that we haven't changed. History (including Biblical history) is full of change--otherwise we wouldn't have to write it down because we'd already know it!

centuri0n said...

I'm sure you also didn't mean to call all the readers who agree with me here at TeamPyro part of a mind-numbing cult, Rod, but you did with the "kool-aid" remark.

The trajectory here is that you are either deliberately insulting and too timid to admit it, or you are like a kid in 2nd grade who accidentally learns a cuss word who repeats it for shock value without knowing what it means.

The latter is less offensive to you. I guess. No need to call you a liar when demonstrating you're simply babbling will do.

Daryl said...

Paul,

I like you last one-liner, 'cause that's the issue isn't it?
It seems like we've been hearing "People reject Christ because Christians aren't light enough" but if people prefer darkness (and we know they do) then this whole arguement would have the reverse conclusion.

S.J. Walker said...

Drew,

I'm sorry, but excuse me?! Can you defend the assertion that people do change from ANYwhere in Scripture?

Here is the answer. No.

There is only one change in mankind, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else changes in man. He is only evil continually.

S.J. Walker said...

Rod,

You said it.

Drew said...

SJ. You are right. Most of us are illiterate, wear animal skins, believe the world is flat, and that different local gods reign over different parts of the earth.

We tend to follow authority, and fear anybody that is different than us. We believe that it makes sense to enslave anybody we defeat. We travel by foot, or maybe sometimes on an animals back.

Yup. People haven't changed at all.

Oh crap. It's starting to rain. I must have done something bad to cause God to open the holes in the sky to punish me. I better go make a sacrifice.

S.J. Walker said...

Drew,

I'm not questioning the fact that some have commercialized, culturalized, whateverized the term Christian to something incorrect.

But you're answer in effect, is this:

"That definition of Christianity is not correct (so far, so good). We need to bring up new terms that more accurately describe what we believe (which I still haven't completely figured out since you won't answer the other questions)."

When someone has an incorrect view of anything, we don't come up with another definition that is more pallatable or less offensive in his culture, we tell him "no, what this really means is this and keep on using the right word in the first place.

S.J. Walker said...

And that last answer was as silly as was completely superficial

Strong Tower said...

Tuad-

"Apostle Paul said something like "I become all things to all men". But I don't think he meant that it's a point-blank license to dilute the Gospel..."

And more exactly, he wasn't saying it about culture, he was saying it in reference to Jews and Gentiles, the circumcised and the uncircumcise, in a religious sense.

Daryl said...

s.j.

Drew's last answer is reflective of a culture that believes if we just educate people, they will change for the better.

Drew, your silly rant only indicates the people have learned stuff, not that they've changed.

The gospel, as originally given, applies in the same way because it does not address knowledge but rather condition, and that (as s.j. noted, has not changed.

S.J. Walker said...

Drew,

This is why you don't agree with/understand what I'm saying. I'm not talking about clothing, superstition, or any of that codswallup.

I am talking about the heart of man which has not changed at all. Not at all. If you spent less time thinking about the surface and more time thinking about the heart, you could come to understand what the whole point of salvation is.

You prove my point exactly. Thanks. Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart.

BTW, that sounded an awful lot like evolution to me.

Daryl said...

Drew,

Ever been to a different culture?
Ever listened to someone who has?

Invariably the report/experience is,"They do stuff differently, but people are people."

There's a reason people say that.

It's true.

S.J. Walker said...

Thanks Deryl

God Bless

Drew said...

Of course it was a silly response.

You made a silly assertion (that people don't change).

As to you more serious assertion:

"When someone has an incorrect view of anything, we don't come up with another definition that is more pallatable or less offensive in his culture, we tell him "no, what this really means is this and keep on using the right word in the first place."

I agree, most of the time, and I have stated, countless times, this is what I have been doing, with the word "Christian," and even the word "Evangelical."

But sometimes, said words are barriers to conversation. In such cases, it makes sense to start with the definition, and when a person assents to that, go to the word.

An example. I have a friend who likes "Christ," but fears "Jesus." Now, you and I both know that this does not make sense. Do I abandon the name Jesus? No! But I do set aside the name for a time, rather than argue semantics. We talk about Christ. As we talk, my understanding of who Christ is rooted in a Biblical/historical understanding of Jesus.

After hearing her explain herself, I have been able to correct some of her misunderstandings about who Jesus is, but we both have a long way to go. I don't know if she will ever confess the (exact) name of Jesus or not, but in the meantime, her understanding of "Christ" is approaching the Biblical understanding of who Jesus Christ is.

Have I abandoned Jesus? No. But if I would have insisted on using his name from the start, there would have been no opportunity to share the good news about him.

S.J. Walker said...

Dud that answer any of the questions up to now?

1) Who is Jesus? Define Him for us.

2) What is your stand on homosexuality?

3) Can you prove in Scripture where people, IN THEIR HEART, do indeed change?

Number 1 will dictate how relevant your comment about your friend was because many people, one could say, understand Christ, as in a concept or something like that, but as you and I know, that isn't good enough.

Number 2 is, admittedly, only part of the sinfulness of man, but what you truly believe about it shows what you believe about the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.

Number 3 shows the same thing.

Drew said...


Drew,

Ever been to a different culture?
Ever listened to someone who has?

Invariably the report/experience is,"They do stuff differently, but people are people."

There's a reason people say that.

It's true.


That's funny, because I just spent 3 weeks in Vietnam. And the (American) missionaries there are so frustrated because they think so differently than the Vietnamese.

I bought a t-shirt that reads, "Same, same, but different" it perfectly captures the way the different way of thinking. Things can be the same and different.

If I assume that all people are the same, than I am likely to assume that they are all like me (or the way I used to be), and then I don't have to listen to them.

But when I listen openly, I find that some things are the same: (people love their kids, people love sin, whatever), and other things are different: (not everyone fears hell, not everyone understands justice as we do, some people think systematically, others linearly, etc)

It's not just a difference of education. It's also personality.

The church, in its current American expression, has less creative people than analytical people. Why is it that way?

It could be because creative people are inherently stubborn and unwilling to repent (but I don't think so)

It could be because we have focused on an incomplete presentation of the gospel that appeals to analytical people, like us (bingo!)

I could try to convert creative people to analytical people, to convert them to my gospel, OR I could learn from creative people how they think and try to communicate the gospel to them in their terms. This new language may include some forms and shapes of my old language, but I may, when I learn their new language, discover that something in my old language just doesn't work in the new one.

Is this a slippery slope? Yes. Is it hard to do? Yes. But the Spirit is with us, and if Gentiles can learn the Gospel of the Jewish Messiah, then it can be conveyed into any culture and/or language.

SolaMeanie said...

Hey, Frank..

Do me a favor. The next batch of Kool-Aid you mix up, make mine cherry or grape. Just don't make me watch the dumb commercial with the talking, singing jug. "Oh, yeah!"

Come to think of it, skip the Kool-Aid and make me a nice, strong latte and buy me a pair of Birkenstocks. I'll then grow a goatee and begin writing everything in lower case. You know, just to fit in certain circles.

One more thing. Stop harping so much on the meaning of culture. What culture means to me depends on the moment -- just the same as meanings to various Bible verses and theological terms. I make up meanings on the spot and expect you to accept my mercurialness.

Daryl said...

Drew,

Your appeal to personality etc. is meaningless unless you're trying to say that up until recently there was one dominant world personality that has now changed.

The differences you mention are all superficial and have always existed. They are not new. Reason? People are still people.

centuri0n said...

24 hour cooling-off period declared. Give yourself a break, whoever you are.