11 March 2008

A question about "seekers," and sensitivity thereunto

by Dan Phillips

Let's say there's someone who expressly says he wants to hear about Christ. That's right, he positively is interested in Christ. This in itself marks him off from the majority. We'd say it makes him a "seeker," wouldn't we?

But this man isn't so much interested in hearing about the holiness of God, the law of God, man's depravity, God's judgment, or the full story of the way of salvation. He certainly does not want to hear about his own sin. He's not interested in bad news.

Yet he does want to hear about "Christ."

Wouldn't conventional, seeker-sensitive evanjellybeanical sentiment dictate that we meet him right where he is, unconditionally, if it is in our power to do so? Give him what he's asking for? Let him set the agenda? Set these other issues aside?

Now, with those framing questions, read this narrative:
When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer (Luke 23:8-9)
Is it fair to observe that Jesus wasn't very "seeker-sensitive" in this encounter?

Discuss.

UPDATE: my own thoughts are comment #85.

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104 comments:

WayneDawg said...

We could argue that Jesus already knew the intent of Herod's heart and thus answered not. But, likewise, we could do the same with the rich young ruler and Jesus did talk to him.

Maybe the difference was that the rich young ruler actually sought Jesus out; went out of his way to find Him. Herod, on the other hand, had heard about Jesus but didn't seek Him and only came to be in His presence due to the events that unfolded.

It's always the issue of the heart.

Some seek and find Him. Some seek, find Him and walk away. Some don't seek and find Him. Some don't seek and will do everything they can to crucify Him.

John said...

I agree that Jesus was not always "seeker sensitive." Nor was He always willing to engage in a "conversation." Nor was He unwilling to offend. Let this Biblical Jesus be our example rather than the invented Jesus!

Daryl said...

"Some seek and find Him. Some seek, find Him and walk away. Some don't seek and find Him. Some don't seek and will do everything they can to crucify Him."

I thought Paul said in Romans than none seek...

I'd write the above paragraph this way:

Some don't seek, but are drawn, and so find him.
Many don't seek, aren't drawn, and don't find him.
All, unless they are drawn, will do everything they can to re-crucify, or marginalize him.

I'd also follow up on waynedawg's comment and say, we too know the state of men's hearts, what we don't know is whose heart God is going to change. So we preach truth and let the seekers...go somewhere else.

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

I think one problem is that Jesus always knew what He was doing and We don't.

I think Jesus was first and foremost "God-sensitive" rather than "seeker-sensitive". He did exactly what the Heavenly Father wanted Him to do, all the time. In this incident with Herod, or the other with the rich young ruler, as pointed out by waynedawg above, Jesus was doing exactly what God the Father wanted Him to do. Silent in one, teaching in the other. He did not let His own mercy to over-rule God's will. So I think it's fair to say that Jesus was sometimes seeker-sensitive and sometimes wasn't.

However, for us who do not always know how to respond to every "seeker", what do we do?
Firstly, we've got to admit that we are NOT Jesus. We don't always know how to respond to that new-comer who says he's interested in Christ. Maybe he is genuinely hungry for the Gospel. Maybe not. We simply do not know what's really in his heart.

But, there is one thing we can always do which would be in favour of the "seeker" while not neglecting God's call. It is the clear, truthful, and faithful preaching of the Gospel. None added and none subtracted. This, I believe, is being truly "seeker-sensitive" if you have to be, because the ultimate goal of being sensitive to the seekers is to win their souls, is it not? And without the preaching of the gospel, how would you benefit them? Without the sharp edge of the Gospel that will cut and pierce their hearts, how would they know that they really need this Jesus of the Gospel? Without it, they will only see the good man, Jesus and will try to be like that while things are well.
I'd say, "Sure, be friends with them and build relationships, but do those seekers their favour, and preach the Gospel including the thorny bits before it's too late." If they are really genuine, they'll be cut to their hearts and repent and live. If they aren't genuine, they'll go away hating Jesus and perish. That's sad, but at least you gave your best shot at it. Or maybe God will turn them around some time later, who knows? Whichever way, you would've been faithful to God and His Word.

We mustn't let "our own mercy" over-rule God's way. It is a sign of disbelief in God's mercy. It is an over-estimation of our own mercy. It is an under-estimation of our sinful nature. Be as gentle as the Bible is to a sinner, and be as confronting as the Bible is to a sinner.

Ahh... it's becoming too long. Let me stop here.

donsands said...

" ..he made no answer".

That's a powerful example for us. What a Lord we have.

He's not seeker-sensative IMHO.

My pastor's sermon this past Sunday showed how Jesus was transfigured (Luke 9:28), and it was a glorious event, where Moses showed up with Elijah, and yet it was not done but for three disciples to behold in private.
Why not do this for all to see?

Yet Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to be scourged and crucified for all to see. He would be humiliated, and killed, and this was done in public.

The Lord is the Good Shepherd, and He is seeking, and saving His sheep. They are lost, and in the dark, but the Lord is purposed to find them, and bring them into His "marvelous light".

Benjamin Nitu said...

What do these seekers seek?

If they are no really interested "in hearing about the holiness of God, the law of God, man's depravity, God's judgment, the full story of the way of salvation, his own sin or bad news", then I have to ask again: what are they seeking?

You can't really search for a savior if you don't think that you need salvation.

Herod is just a nosy kid that wants to be entertained. That's all he is seeking: entertainment.

Until the church stops entertaining the world, it will be hard for the world to hear the gospel.

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

Ok, after reading Daryl's comment, I thought my comment above might be misinterpreted. Would it be enough to say that I agree with what Daryl said? I mean... of course their heart cannot be genuine if they aren't regenerated first by God.

DJP said...

TimothyI think one problem is that Jesus always knew what He was doing and We don't.

Yep. I find that's a BIG problem!
(c:

Firstly, we've got to admit that we are NOT Jesus. We don't always know how to respond to that new-comer who says he's interested in Christ

If I understand you, I think I'm in complete agreement, in personal terms. The one approach Jesus always used is that He didn't use just one approach. And personally, I think it best to err on the side of reaching-out than not.

In framing my question, though, I was thinking a bit more of the setting of church polity. You know, the churches that poll pagans, ask what they do and don't like and want, and then set church agenda thereby. Because they like "Jesus," but not the church. Well, Herod was ready to like "Jesus" too, if Jesus would just give him what he wanted.

Many seem to think that if we just give them what they want, they'll like Jesus.

Jesus didn't. He could have, but He didn't.

Is that instructive to us?

S. Todd Young said...

You don't (or shouldn't) go to the doctor and tell him you aren't interested in a proper diagnosis, but you just want to hear about the latest prescription for ________.

People do not know what they need, and Herod had no intention of following Christ; he merely wanted to be entertained.

And Jesus had no time for entertainment. Ouch. He would much rather save your life.

Evie said...

I think Jesus was always interested to bring out the truth and sometimes one can say more in their silence than with words. I believe Jesus discerned what was going on with Herod and acted wisely. It sure made Herod mad, and must have made him think because he knew Jesus could do miracles, but here Jesus refused to entertain Herod with miracles.
Jesus stimulated discussion also with the rich young ruler. "What do you call Good?" - opened up a huge subject about goodness. Also with the woman at the well. She had her theology wrong - "We worship on this mountain and the Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus corrected her theology and said "...salvation is of the Jews...the time is coming when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth."
Unlike the modern seeker sensitive approach (which tends to just tickle the ears)Jesus always got to the truth of the matter. Some accepted the truth others walked away.

S. Todd Young said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Jesus had a bigger fish to fry: he was on a mission to die on the cross, and to make a disciple out of Herod at that time might jeopardize his mission!

dac said...

Is it fair to observe that Jesus wasn't very 'seeker-sensitive" in this encounter?

No

Daryl said...

Dan,

I think part of the issue ( a big part) is that we tend to imagine that people know what their problem is and what they need. So we poll them to discover their felt needs, never realizing that the problem is they're dead and blind. And dead blind people, living with other dead blind people, can't know they are dead and blind.

Daryl said...

And so, of course, Jesus is not seeker-sensitive, not because he doesn't care about the people who he runs into, but because he cares so much about God and his glory that ultimately, the needs of the person before him are met, or ignored, by recognizing God's glory as more important.

stratagem said...

Right on, Dan. (See, I just revealed how old I am again).

I'm not a theologian, but I am a marketing executive for a decent-sized company. So I can tell you that this whole "meet people where they are, give them what they want even if they don't know they want it" concept came from one 20th-century idea: What marketers call the "marketing concept".

The marketing concept says that instead of selling what you have, you should go survey people and then design a product that fits what they want. (Believe it or not, that was a breakthrough business idea early in the 1900s).

Those who are familiar with the Willow Creek, seeker-sensitive, etc models will no doubt recognize the similarities between those models of gospel promotion, and the marketing concept.

It's a classic case of taking something from business, and mis-applying it to Christianity. If your goal is building Christ's church, then it makes perfect sense to stick to the truth and offer it as-is. If your goal is to add numbers to your organization, then it makes perfect sense to change the truth to fit the marketing concept that equates to peoples' wants and needs.

Jesus was a truth-bringer, not a marketer.

Evie said...

That's a terrible thing to say that Jesus had bigger fish to fry. God is not willing that any should perish. Jesus knew what to do because the Holy Spirit guided Him. He didn't refuse Herod because of having other things to do like going to the cross. He just wouldn't go along with a charade. Jesus took time to heal the soldier's ear when Peter cut it off in the Garden - in a very traumatic/hectic time I would say. He always brought out the truth even in that situation. - He came not to bring a sword.

S. Todd Young said...

Evie, don't you think God works all things according to his plan? All I'm saying is that at that time, in that place, it was more important for Jesus to fulfill his purpose for being born than anything else. And ultimately, it was not in the plan for Herod to have a contrite heart when he attempted to interview Jesus...

Daryl said...

I think it's perfectly legitimate to say that Jesus had bigger fish to fry. What is more important, God's glory, or anything else?

When God's glory and a sinner's salvation coincide, GREAT!! When they don't, I think we know who gets priority.

Is it fair to observe that Jesus wasn't seeker-sensitive in his encounter with Herod? Absolutely. Jesus' concern was clearly not Herod, but God. And so Herod's "needs" were ignored to the Glory of God.

Daryl said...

Oh, and Evie, he came "not to bring peace, but a sword."

Mike Riccardi said...

I think Todd hits it on the head.

Herod wasn't seeking anything but entertainment. He was thinking about Jesus like the latest sideshow freak at a circus. He wanted to see Him perform miracles. He wanted to be entertained, amazed... we might even say he wanted to be lost in wonder.

But Jesus isn't an entertainer, he's not about tickling our carnal fantasies and filling up our lusts for the appetites we have as natural people. He's not about never landing the plane, and He's not about casting pearls before swine.

He most certainly is not seeker-sensitive. It's blatantly obvious that Herod's looking for entertainment, so both the Hybels and Warren crowd and the emergers would sit him down on a fluorescent couch, light a few candles, and let the games begin. But they are poor ambassadors, as they've never been explicitly commanded to act in such a way nor have had an implicit example given to us by their Master.

Evie said...

Jesus said"Put away your sword Peter." We Fight not against flesh and blood.But truth surely does divide.
Sometimes silence is truely golden.

DJP said...

Right. So perhaps the least we can learn from this is not to abandon all discernment just because someone expresses interest in, or affection and/or admiration for, "Jesus."

That's an easy mistake to make in a culture where just the mention of the Name can lower the ambient temperature 10-20 degrees. It's nice to find someone who actually expresses any kind of interest in Him.

But the kind of interest still matters.

I've some more thoughts, but am appreciating the input. Well, the contentful input.

DJP said...

(My last response was to Riccardi)

S. Todd Young said...

Dan, Is that like "contented" input? :-)

DJP said...

Only alphabetically.

S. Todd Young said...

LOL. Thanks for your blog... I appreciate/enjoy it. Alphabetically and otherwise...

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

@Dan
And personally, I think it best to err on the side of reaching-out than not.

I agree, thank you for the reminder.

In framing my question, though, I was thinking a bit more of the setting of church polity.

Ah... I see... my knowledge on the "church-level" seeker sensitive approach is quite limited. I'm gonna have to do my homework before I can properly comment here.

in the meantime... let me just say,

I think it is necessary for a local church to know its own local setting. The church must be interested in the lives of the local community and know them to some degree, and maybe sometimes a survey is what's needed. I'm doubtful that many established churches are required to spend their resources on this. But it may be useful when planning a church plant for example, so you know what the demographic is like and find out where they are at, not to give them what they ask. You won't learn how to do ministry by looking at the community but you will be able to make informed decisions if you knew a little bit about the community. If that is what it means to be "seeker-sensitive" I don't see much problem with it.

Okay, gotta go do my homework. But then... sleep first!

ScriptureZealot said...

The rich young ruler (as Evie also mentioned) was probably the ultimate seeker and Jesus turned him away. Not very seeker sensitive.

He didn't make it easy to be saved and if we make it easy, a new convert could start out on rocky soil.

Mike Riccardi said...

Timothy,

But don't you think Jesus' commission gives us another way (i.e., other than surveys) to accomplish that? Wouldn't it be more Christlike, and thus more 'effective' to just invest in the lives of these people, loving them, serving them, and preaching the gospel to them? Surely we'd find all the information we'd get from a survey, and more.

And on the plus side, we would be doing only that which Jesus commanded, instead of being too clever for ourselves and letting our marketing strategies supplant what I would call gospel ministry.

Jugulum said...

DJP said,
"If I understand you, I think I'm in complete agreement, in personal terms. The one approach Jesus always used is that He didn't use just one approach. And personally, I think it best to err on the side of reaching-out than not."

I'm likewise in complete agreement, in personal terms.

A flipside (that I don't quite know what to do with) would be that whole "cast ye not pearls" thing.

Stefan said...

Dan:

By gum, I understood there were fundamental problems with the "seeker-sensitive" approach and the whole "evanjellybeanical" wasteland that lies before us, but I've never seen the issue put so concisely before (or "heretofore," to keep in theme with the post title).

...And speaking of titles, there you guys go with your allusions to 70s music again! I'm sure I heard "A question about 'seekers,' and sensitivity thereunto" on the radio, just the other day. Catchy number, that one was. Made the Billboard top 100,000, as I recall.

The Doulos said...

In Biblical terms, there is only one Seeker, and that is God Himself through Christ. There is no category for a "seeker" apart from that person first being sought by God and drawn to Him by His irresistible grace. And when God's gracious seeking occurs, the person will always respond by seeking the true Christ.

The man you describe here Dan, who was interested in Jesus but not in hearing about holiness, sin, repentance, etc, is seeking a Jesus of his own making or imagining, not the real Christ. And the real Jesus didn't seem to have much time for these type of "seekers", I don't think we should either.

Stefan said...

In His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ used miracles to establish the fact that He is Lord and King of the universe, who can control nature, provide miraculous sustenance, exercise power over sickness and death, and forgive sins. Those whom the Father gave Him, saw the means to salvation.

Everyone else saw a magician who gave away free food, healed the sick, spoke cryptically in parables, and was (some hoped or feared) the Messiah (which He was), who would be the earthly king of an earthly kingdom. So this is why those today who overemphasize miraculous healing, social justice, or immediate material gratification at the expense of the Gospel—those who are more interested in the signs of Christ's deity rather than what those signs testify to (God emptied Himself to die on the cross for our sins and be resurrected on the third day)—are missing the point? (Rhetorical question.)

Daryl said...

Good Point Stefan,

I recall some time ago that the Centurion reminded us not to confuse the kingdom with the effects of the kingdom.

Your comment reminded me of that.

Stefan said...

I understood that it was a problem, but never understood why in quite so clear and simple a way before. I love you guys!

Johnny Dialectic said...

There are, indeed, "seekers." As Paul told the Athenians:

"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."

To those who reach out we owe the gospel. Giving them jelly is theological malpractice.

Pedro said...

God is so much bigger than we little worms....
If anyone truly seeks Jesus it is because the Holy Spirit is already working in that heart.

What about Isaiah 65:1-2

1 "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'

2 All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations-

Thanks Dan et al. for your wisdom.

Mike Riccardi said...

Johnny,

The very point of that passage is that though God made these moves in general revelation and acting directly through the nation of Israel, men didn't seek Him to find Him, even though He's so near to us.

Let's not forget that Paul also wrote (quoting the Psalmist) that there is none who seeks God. That must guide our interpretation when we come to this passage.

There are no such thing as seekers.

S. Todd Young said...

I think it is important to realize that there are at least two, if not three or more perspectives on the issue of "seeking."

First, there is, of course, our perspective, and anyone who follows Christ will be caused by the Holy Spirit's work to "seek" after God. It is our perception of reality, but it is not the ultimate reality.

Second, there is God's perspective, and anyone who follows Christ has been called and caused and enabled to follow. God is the ultimate seeker from this perspective.

Third, there is the terribly confused and difficult to sort out perspective of those of us who begin to see both sides of the picture. God calls, we choose, and *pop* brains begin to hemorrhage.

Let's seek the truth and remember where people are coming from...

Evie said...

I believe Herod was a coward/bully and under great conviction because his order to have John the Baptist's head cut off. Didn't he think Jesus was the reincarnation of John the Baptist? - that's a scary but false thought. In fact a very twisted religious thought!
I think Jesus discerned his hardness of heart and kept silent. He certainly wasn't going to ease Herod's conscience by distracting him with miracles, because signs and wonders,or religious awe, in themselves do not save a person. Only faith and repentance would touch Jesus's heart. Those who seek Him with all their heart shall be found of Him.
Got to go to bed now - it's 2:15am here in Aussie Land.

Laura said...

Dan's hypothetical person is apparently seeking his own version of Christ, rather than the true Son of God. I'd venture that he is not yet regenerate and seeking out of a new heart. And I'd also venture that Jesus knew the same about Herod, and that's why He gave no answer.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Mike, I think the rest of ch. 17, and verse 32 in particular, supports my view. Regardless, in practice, we would both respond that in ANY situation our responsibility is the true preaching of the gospel. I'm content to stand on this common ground.

debese said...

Excellent post. I look back and consider the "seekers" that came to church, participated for a short while, but when the novelty wore off, or something offended them they were never seen again.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I agree with the thrust of this post and the answer that the rhetorical question is designed to stimulate.

However, it leads me to wonder the following things:

(1) Is this a fair and reasonable portrayal by DJP of "seekers" who don't know Christ? Correspondingly, do you think that most "seekers" fit the category that DJP describes?

(2) Benjamin Nitu insightfully asks: "What do these seekers seek?"

I don't know. But regardless, these "seekers" are unredeemed sinners. Is there sin (of not seeking "properly") so much worse than others that they should be ignored?

(I'm not saying that they should be molly-coddled. But I'm not saying that they should be ignored and de facto shunned either.)

(3) Let's say that the pastoral staff of a church decides to embrace a "seeker-sensitive" church model of ministry. Is it reasonable to call this model of ministry a Heresy?

What should be the lay Christian's response?
(a) Obey your elders.
(b) Contest this ministry development. Possibly leading to quarreling and division.
(c) Leave this church.

(4) Assume DJP's description. How can anyone say with reasonable certainty about a "seeker's" motivation without being judgmental? I believe that making a righteous judgment is biblical (John 7:24).

But in making a judgment about a potential "seeker", how do you make sure that you're making a righteous judgment, and not a pharasaical judgment?

Pax.

RememberPolycarp said...

Thank's Dan! Excellent!

As I'm often a "day late and a dollar short," I imagine the contents of the link below are old news and commonplace to many of you, but nonetheless a perfect match for this post today. Interestingly, a friend just sent the link to me this morning:

http://revealnow.com/story.asp?storyid=48

WayneDawg said...

Daryl said...."I thought Paul said in Romans than none seek..."

well,

Mark 10:17 - 17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”


So - the rich young ruler was drawn and went away sad?

I don't mean to withdraw from the original intent of the post, but I would have to say that this man was seeking. He didn't like what Jesus had to say, but he came seeking.

Was this young man drawn to Christ? He for sure wanted some answers to the eternal life question he posed.

John 6:37 - All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

So - Did the Father draw this man to Christ. We would have to say no based on the young man going away sad.

I guess we can debate drawn vs. seeking. Many people can seek answers from a godly person and maybe that's all this young man was doing; seeking answers and not a Savior.

Stefan said...

TUAD:

If I apply the template of Dan's "seeker" to my own life, I can take his template one step further.

I was someone who was interested in "Christ" for many years, but not interested in hearing about the holiness, righteousness, judgement, grace, and mercy of God, or the sinfulness of man. (I say "Christ" in quotes, because obviously I was interested in a graven image of Him: the enlightened "historical" Jesus.)

Nevertheless, even at that point in my life, the Holy Spirit had already quickened my heart, but God still had work to do on me before He would regenerate, justify, and sanctify me—very much like Jacob who God first revealed Himself to him, had to slave away for years under Laban until God had completely broken him down.

Anyhow, let's cut to the chase. Since I was only interested in a caricature of the outward, earthly manifestation of Jesus, I sought out churches and writers who parotted that view: liberal Christianity; the Jesus Seminar; John Shelby Spong. As a consequence of all of which, my situation became worse before God, because what had started out as an openminded curiosity about Jesus became ruined by the weeds of "enlightened," skeptical humanism.

It was only when God began leading me to born again believers who affirm and taught His whole counsel, who believe in the sinfulness of man and his helplessness, and know that what Jesus Christ did on the cross 2000 years ago is the only solution to our problem and the only means to salvation, eternal life, and communion with a holy and righteous God—it was only then, as they forced me to challenge and confront my own beliefs, that God could deem me ready to be saved, regenerate me through the Holy Spirit, impart His effectual Gospel call to me, justify me, adopt me as His son, and begin the lifelong task of sanctifying me.

So in short, if a "seeker" is in fact being sought by God, a seeker-sensitive approach will do nothing to save that sinning seeker, and may even make his or her situation worse. Such churches hold the sinner's eternal state in their hands, and squander their mandate. We should be praying for seeker-sensitive pastors, that they will see the error of their ways.

Stefan said...

Edit of 3rd paragraph:

"...very much like Jacob, who even after God first revealed Himself to him, had to slave away for years under Laban until God had completely broken him down."

Philip Harrelson said...

I think that one would also want to consider what Herod did with his first interaction with the Truth.

John the Baptist appears on scene and boldly declares his adulterous relationship to be a sin. Herod was incensed by this. After the dancer had danced, he had to pay for the dancer's dues. . . . The Cost? John the B's head.

When one kills his first preacher, don't be so expectant when the second one does not answer.

Felix had a similar reaction to Paul. He put him away for a while until things were convenient. This is one of the perils of the modern generation. "Don't inconvenience me with the Gospel right now! You come when I call (or need) you! You might make some demands that I am not willing to live up to right now."

Dan, on a side note, (and I have never posted on here before), you and Frank and Phil have provided much, much inspiration and mental steam over the years.

Thanks. . .

wenxian said...

Hello all,

Since these people seek God, then lets them the real God that they are seeking for:

Regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they did (or want to do) , our God does not change and hence, the message of who our God is, what our God did/does and said does not change.

If the person can't accept that, thats fine. We respect that and pray for him/her.

Imagine if they agreed to 'convert' based on a false/errorous portrayal of God or on the wrong premise (due to seeker sensitive tactics)and they found the truth after reading their bibles in context?

Telling the truth and portraying the truth in a way that is clear is important, even if it hurts. We are akin to minor 'spiritual' physicians and thus we are ethically (and biblically) bound by God to speak the truth and only the truth, in love.

Imagine your local doctor needing to whip out a guitar and sing you a serenade and instead of breaking the news to you, he tells you that something vague and unclear, like you are going to live forever. Only when you read the results from the slip yourself, do your own research, then you realise that you got 2 weeks to live. By then you've already lost one week.

Not nice at all.

dac said...

This passage seems to me one of those that is a "descriptive" passage, but not necessarily a "prescriptive" passage

It records what happened. It's meaning is not explained, nor is it further expounded upon in such a way that it becomes in some way part of our orthopraxy.

So no, I would not take it that in some way it is commenting on the seeker sensitive movement and Jesus's opinion on it.

Jugulum said...

Stefan,

Re: Your "In his earthly ministry" post.

My. That was very good. I think I'm going to quote you on my blog. :)

Jugulum said...

Stefan,

Hmm...

You identified "miraculous healing, social justice, or immediate material gratification" as "the signs of Christ's deity rather than what those signs testify to (God emptied Himself to die on the cross for our sins and be resurrected on the third day)".

I had a second thought. Those things are not simply signs. There are eschatological elements in them. Aren't healing and social justice part of the restored order that Christ brought? Or perhaps "is bringing" or "will bring"?

This is not to defend those who do not see these things in their proper relation to the Cross--I'm just not sure we can call all of it only "signs".

Daryl said...

Waynedawg,

The rich young ruler as not seeking, if he was he would have taken what was given. He was trying to justify himself rather than seeking to be saved.

Perhaps it's a definitional thing, but when Paul says that no one seeks, and Jesus says only those drawn by the Father come, it seems to me that we can safely ascribe different motives to the rich young ruler than those of an honest seeker.

If we don't conclude that, then at least we have to conclude that the man was really seeking, but Jesus flat out rejected him. In which case, what does that say to us about how we treat "seekers".

Seems to me that we could make a pretty solid case for making "seeker sensitivity" blatant sin.

J. R. Miller said...

I see where you are going with this.

The only thing is that your argument assumes that we are, as followers of Jesus, are supposed to model his life.

The question for how we should approach the lost is not, "What Would Jesus Do?", but is "What Does Jesus Command?"

Daryl said...

j.r.miller.

That's a good conclusion I think, provided that by 'what would Jesus command' you include all Scripture and not just the red letters.

DJP said...

MillerI see where you are going with this

Who? Me? Primarily, I'm just asking. "Is it fair to observe that Jesus wasn't very 'seeker-sensitive' in this encounter?"

What would you answer? Would you answer, "No," or "Yes," or "Yes, but it shouldn't have any impact on us because ____?" — or something else?

J. R. Miller said...

Daryl--yes, I would include all of Scripture in this... especially the directives of Jesus through Paul.

djp--when I say, "see where you are going" I mean your effort to apply Jesus actions directly to the actions of the church today.

I don't think this story has a direct bearing on how we, the church or individuals, should act toward the seeker. Jesus was in this story fulfilling some very specific prophecy about remaining silent before his accusers. So to try and rip this story from its historical and theological context to make a point about the seeker sensative movement is not good hermeneutics.

I think the more direct analogy is between how Paul and the other Apostles acted toward the "seeker."

DJP said...

So, there's your answer. See, that's how you do it!

Mike Riccardi said...

But there's a difference between saying that this passage is about the way to react to so-called "seekers" and saying we can learn something about how to think about/deal with the idea of "seeker-sensitivism" from the way Jesus dealt with this guy or that guy.

There's a difference between interpretation and application. To say, "This text meant xyz about seeker-sensitivism" is out there. But to say, "We can apply principles from this text to our situation in confronting the seeker paradigm" is a good thing.

Would you not say?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Stefan writes: "So in short, if a "seeker" is in fact being sought by God, a seeker-sensitive approach will do nothing to save that sinning seeker, and may even make his or her situation worse. Such churches hold the sinner's eternal state in their hands, and squander their mandate. We should be praying for seeker-sensitive pastors, that they will see the error of their ways."

Hi Stefan,

I'm exceedingly glad that you as a "seeker" came to a saving faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior.

I hear what you're saying and what you're exhorting. In a general sense I quite agree with you. I was just thinking that if anyone were to lodge a protest of false teaching against a "seeker-sensitive" model of ministry that's adopted or being proposed by the pastoral staff, then things could become very messy and very ugly as a result of your allegations of false teaching.

As I've written before, it's one thing to blog and ask rhetorical questions, it's quite another to apply it to your own church situation or personal situation.

As I asked before: Assume DJP's description. How can anyone say with reasonable certainty about a "seeker's" motivation without being judgmental? I believe that making a righteous judgment is biblical (John 7:24).

But in making a judgment about a potential "seeker", how do you make sure that you're making a righteous judgment, and not a pharasaical judgment?

J.R. Miller's observation is not easily dismissed:

"I don't think this story has a direct bearing on how we, the church or individuals, should act toward the seeker. Jesus was in this story fulfilling some very specific prophecy about remaining silent before his accusers. So to try and rip this story from its historical and theological context to make a point about the seeker sensitive movement is not good hermeneutics."

Daryl said...

TUAD,

Give'em the gospel, which exactly what the seeker-sensitive movement strives to NOT do. That'll quickly show who God is seeking and who's looking for affirmation.

Daryl said...

One other thing, when someone asks, like Herod did, to see some magical demonstration...take a leap and assume a false seeker and show 'em the door.

chris said...

And here I've always thought (in part, at least) that Jesus refused to address the usurper of His earthly throne (according to his lineage). To address Herod, I think, might have given some suggestion that Jesus was accepting Herod as king.

I still like my view. And I like DJP's view. Maybe I'm just listening through the ears of my "story..."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"TUAD,

Give'em the gospel, which exactly what the seeker-sensitive movement strives to NOT do."

Daryl, I would like to hear or read of any pastor or leader of a self-identified "seeker-sensitive" church who will clearly state that they are striving NOT to give folks the Gospel.

Incidentally, I'm not posting on this thread to defend seeker-sensitive churches. My interest is that the respresentation of seeker-sensitive churches be fair and accurate. To the degree that DJP has captured them accurately, then the criticism is just. To the degree that DJP has made a strawman caricature of them, then the criticism is unjust.

My other interest is when the rubber hits the road. Is a "seeker-sensitive" church a heretical church? Is a "seeker-sensitive" pastor a false teaching heretic? How does one judge so as to answer these questions? Should you make your judgement public? Or should you keep your judgment private?

Not only that, but pastors will differ on what the Gospel is. They will differ on how to present the Gospel and when it should be presented. They will differ on what's the whole Gospel. Phil Johnson spoke about "contextualization" in a different post. So pastors will differ on contextualizing the Gospel.

But I have yet to read or hear of any "seeker-sensitive" church or church leader saying that they strive NOT to present the Gospel.

J. R. Miller said...

Mike, is it a good thing? To me it seems a lot more like "proof-texting".

djp's syllogism, phrased as a question, is flawed:

1. Herod wanted to meet Jesus
2. Herod would be classified as a seeker
3. Jesus demonstrates how to talk to seekers.

The flaw, which is what I posted in my first two comments, is between points 2 and 3.

Now this does not mean that there are not principles we can learn from this passage and apply to our lives, but I see no principle here that connects jesus to the seeker movement. It is the same if we tried to take Jesus' use of parables and apply it to our preaching.

1. Jesus taught in parables
2. Parables were used to confuse the crowds.
3. Preaching should be designed to confuse the crowds.

I think Daryl is far closer to it. Jesus made commands that his followers should make disciples. Paul says preach the Gospel, both in season and out of season, etc...

Our goal is not to mislead people to Jesus through fancy methods. Far too many leaders lack integrity when it comes to sharing their faith and doing church. There are lots of passages that address these issues. It is the Liberal tendency to try and reduce every passage to a principle for application. Let us, then not go that route because It is not necessary to take this passage out of context to "proof-text" our way to the right conclusion.

J. R. Miller said...

Truth Unites....

You post made me think about the basic argument here. I am now thinking that IF this passage has an impact on how we should approach seekers, it JUSTIFIES the seeker sensitive approach (at least as defined by djp).

1. Herod wanted to meet Jesus
2. Herod would be classified as a seeker
3. Jesus demonstrates how to talk to seekers. He kept silent and did not give them the Gospel

Therefore... when people come to our churches to hear the Gospel, we should keep silent and just entertain them. :-)

Daryl said...

TUAD,

You're missing it. I attended a seeker-sensitive church which as a part of the Willow Creek Assoc. Naturally, the PD stuff was their thing as well...

After 6 years it was apparent, despite objections from the leadership, that one would not hear the gospel, nay, could not even piece together the gospel, after spending a year taking notes from their sermons.

So...just because they don't claim to purposely avoid the gospel it is not then a straw man to say that they do. They do.

Remember, churches have to get pretty far off the rails to admit that they are off the rails on purpose. Most will never admit it, so don't expect to find literature saying that avoid the gospel is their goal.

Is the ss church heretical, mostly not. The issue is far more what they don't say, than it is what they say wrong.

That's why Jesus had it right. He said exactly what "seekers" don't want to hear, and it worked!! They left.

DJP said...

Rats; though corrected, Miller, you go right back and make the same mistake again.

Your concern about not drawing unwarranted conclusions from Jesus' actions is commendable.

Do you think you could apply a little of that same concern to my post? Refrain from turning a question into a syllogism and then flunking me for your bad syllogism?

Strong Tower said...

Well, I think that one of the keys is submission, but I've got to go get the kids from school, so I'll just leave you with these two things to consider:

The borrower is the servant of the lender...

Many had gone out to him, but they had been with him for some time and he had compassion on them, and gave them something to eat, but also said that if they did not eat of him, they could have no part...

Necessarily then there is a cost, no free parking tokens...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks Daryl for supporting my point. Which I confess was a trite point. NOBODY's going to say that they are striving NOT to present the Gospel. No leader's going to admit that.

AND SINCE they're not going to stipulate to that assertion, what's the proper response for a Christian? Incidentally, I think your response was the best. Just leave. Or do you think you should have made some public "noise" so as to alert others in the pews? Or should you whisper and murmur privately to others about your concerns that in 6 years of sermon notes, you could not piece together the gospel?
---------------

Perhaps the term "seeker-sensitive" just sets you off and you have a wild hair or bug crawling up your back crevice as a result.

Would a terminology change alleviate the instinct to pucker up over the word "seeker sensitive"?

What if "seeker sensitive" were wholesale replaced by "Great Commission" churches? Would that be better? If one of the missions and objectives of a particular church was to corporately fulfill the Great Commission, would that be okay?

Then you can get into all kinds of methodology debates about fulfilling the Great Commission, you can get into definitional debates as to what constitutes the whole counsel/gospel of Christ, etc....

I believe in the Great Commission. I think TeamPyro bloggers do too. I think TeamPyro bloggers are unhappy about alleged abuses of the Great Commission by so-called "seeker-sensitive" churches.

But to be unhappy about an alleged abuse is absolutely distinct and separate from the underlying concept itself, which in this case, is the Great Commission.

J. R. Miller said...

djp, if you to see my observation as a "mistake" that you must correct then there is not much more I can say. I guess I just don't understand your "rules" for what comments are allowed.

God bless

Michelle said...

Surely those who are dead spiritually in their sins no more seek spiritual life than the physically dead Lazarus sought physical life. If so, then the very term "seeker-sensitive" becomes a mute point. Herod wanted to see Jesus to satisfy his curiosity.

Jesus is the only seeker. That's why He came - to seek and save those who were lost.

Btw DJP, please tell me that isn't a bottle of vino you're holding on to in your pic :).

DJP said...

That's funnier than it actually is, Michelle.

No'm, it's a sword.

DJP said...

Actually, Michelle, you can see a better view of it here.

Strong Tower said...

Don't let him kid you Michelle, he's just popped one, that is why he has that cat with fish in mouth look on his face.

Strong Tower said...

You'll notice how now he is outside. That picture was taken right after the UPS truck tires were slashed and the Police showed up and said blow on the straw...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Daryl,

What do you think of this theologian-professor's article on a robust gospel?

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/march/13.36.html?start=1

Michelle said...

Amazing - the statement "that's funnier than it actually is", coming from you, DJP, makes perfect sense. I don't know how you do it.

Thanks for making me think and making me laugh - usually simultaneously.

DJP said...

Um... 'cause I'm smarter than I actually am?

< scratches head >

Frank Turk said...

J.R., dude, that's amazing.

You should write a book or something.

Stefan said...

I think there may have been some misunderstanding somewhere upthread. I would classify myself as having been a "seeker" many years ago (as the seeker-sensitive movement would define it). I'm not saying that we should turn away "seekers" at all. Obviously God drives us to "seeking" Him out in the first place, so at some point, we were all "seekers," even if in the monergistic sense that the initiative was all God's.

Now, at the time, I thought I wanted to know about the "historical" Jesus, that merely enlightened guy that the humanists love so much. What God was stirring in me deep down in the depths of my soul—at a level I wasn't even conscious of at the time—was a desire to find the real Jesus, even if it would take me almost twenty years from when He first planted the seed in my consciousness, to when it would bear fruition in repentance and salvation.

So where I see the problem is in tayloring a church's whole message to give seekers what they think they want to hear, rather than what God wants them to hear. And unlike Jesus Christ, we can't automatically discern what a person's motivations are, so as Daryl suggested, "give 'em the gospel," and trust the Holy Spirit to give those whom God effectually calls, the ears to hear.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Is the ss church heretical, mostly not. The issue is far more what they don't say, than it is what they say wrong."

I agree with you Daryl. Although it raises an interesting question for me.

Can a pastor propagate and teach heresy through silence?

Furthermore, suppose the answer to that question is "Yes."

That elicits further questions. Which human being is going to keep track and monitor that the "hard sayings" of Scripture are being preached and taught in the proper amounts and in the proper periodic intervals from the pulpit to the congregation? Which human being wants the position of judge for that "seeker sensitive" church's pastoral staff? What's the criteria for preaching and teaching the whole counsel, and how was it chosen?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Stefan writes: "And unlike Jesus Christ, we can't automatically discern what a person's motivations are...."

Exactly correct!! Thank you so much Stefan!

That is why I wrote previously:

Assume DJP's description. How can anyone say with reasonable certainty about a "seeker's" motivation without being judgmental? I believe that making a righteous judgment is biblical (John 7:24).

But in making a judgment about a potential "seeker", how do you make sure that you're making a righteous judgment, and not a pharasaical judgment?

DJP said...

Eighty-plus comments; cool! Thanks to everyone who seriously engaged.

Now, here are my thoughts.

The least we must draw from Jesus' example is that every encounter is not necessarily controlled by the lost person's agenda.

Jesus, indeed, had His own agenda, and Herod had his. The bare fact that Herod wanted an encounter with "Jesus" was not the controlling factor to our Lord. We cannot do as the theology of some in fact does: take any nominally "god"ward instinct and project a straight line to the true God.

As some have said, Herod wanted entertainment, distraction. He wanted to control the encounter. He naturally would expect to: in a situation like this, most would beg for their lives, and if Herod wanted a pirate dance, they'd give him a pirate dance as if their lives depended on it.

Not Jesus. He did not address Herod's wants, didn't even nod to them.

Note: so far I have adduced one (1) point: the sinner's wants or "felt needs" don't necessarily control the agenda.

And I think it is a pan-Biblical truth that the people of God should not adapt the agenda of the lost as their own, in the vain hopes that, if the world likes them better, they'll like God better. Here's God incarnate, and He passed up a golden opportunity to be better-liked by a "seeking" sinner.

Having said that, I make three brief points:

1. Not being gifted with omniscience, I think love for God and for the lost should always move us to err on the side of communicating the Gospel.

But note: that's not what any part of my post was about. Read it. My post was only about whether Jesus' refusal to meet Herod's "felt needs" is instructive. I think it is.

2. There's a world of difference between telling someone the Gospel and being driven by his agenda. I've told this story before. When I was 17, I just wanted the doctor to do something about this dull ache in my side. If he had been driven by my agenda, my wants, I'd have died. Instead, he was driven by my needs, sent me to a surgeon, and my life was saved by an emergency appendectomy.

3. There is nothing wrong (and can be much wisdom) in taking the sinner's wants as a launchpad, but you use it to go where he needs to go, not necessarily where he wants to go. My pain drove me to the doctor; his wisdom drove me on to the surgeon.

And so the rich young ruler talks about "good"; well, Jesus has some thoughts about "good" for him to chew over. The woman wants water; Jesus will talk about her real thirst. And so on.

But in others, He just takes charge and does a 90-degree turn. "Nicodemus, that isn't what we really need to be talking about at all. Here's what you need to know:...."<

In some encounters, we'll take right up with what the unbeliever presents us with. In others, we'll apply a little English, or even reverse-English. In yet others (like Jesus here), we'll just let it go, letting the already-existing witness stand.

There.

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

Dan, thank you for your thought-provoking post and helpful comments of your own.

I found it helpful. Your explanation in the comments were quite satisfying and reasonable to me.

Stefan said...

As an afterthought, there's a world of difference between being sensitive to "seekers" and being "seeker-sensitive."

Let me explain...our church welcomes all comers, from all walks of society and many different ethnic groups. We offer simultaneous translation; multiple language ministries; men's, women's, elderly, children's, and youth's ministries to both the lost and saved; Gospel-centered "Discovering Jesus" classes; and so on.

But all of this is geared towards preaching Christ and Him crucified. Our pastors never shy away from expository, Christ-centered preaching. Easter and Christmas services—primary opportunities to reach the lost—are anchored in the Gospel. Visitors are warmly welcomed, but the parameters of what they hear are defined in Scriptural terms, not human terms. When communion is offered, the pastor explains that it is for those who have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (to paraphrase). Those who do not are invited to pass the elements over, but it is explained that we understand were they're at, as we were all there at some point.

And so on. I'm sure that most other commenters' churches function in a similar fashion. "Seekers" are thus welcomed, but the message they hear (if they have ears to hear) is the Gospel, plain and simple. ...And when people are served the Gospel straight up, they come to Christ, and bear fruit as they grow to become mature believers.

dac said...

pheh

Still think you are taking a descriptive event and making too much it

DJP said...

< shrug >

Okey doke.

Strong Tower said...

Submission-

Of course we cannot know what is in a man's heart as Jesus did, he needed that no man tell him, but...

The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him... later...

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him...

Here's something about Herod- it might have been a story running through the family traditions that a child had been born that would be king...

Jesus claimed to be that child...

Herod had been for some time plotting the death of Jesus...

He had him now in his clutches, that is why he was happy to see him...

It was not as if Jesus needed to use the Spirit to discern Herod's heart, it was obvious to the world.

Lesson learned, know your enemy. Until they are converted and become as little children (disciples) they are an enemy...

But, here is the thing sparky:

Througout Jesus' earthly ministry the first thing on the agenda was always the Gospel, for that is why he came, Isaiah 61, cf. Isaiah 53. The Jews knew well the references he had made and were putting him to the test all along; Deuteronomy 6:16, which is what the tempter does. Asking for signs,(what you can get out of it), is not a good way to seek the Lord.

Now, we must make sure that when we present the Gospel, that those hearing understand the gravity of the Word being spoken: "And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, [2] cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics [3] nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Find out who is worthy- there are some things we can accomodate- but in the process of giving it must be the Gospel first- the great Sword that causese division- understanding that the Sword is a fine surgical instrument, which in the hands of a skilled physician is the discerner of the intents of the hearts of men.

Key, you must be a skilled surgeon. Corollary, the great commission is not given to those in med school. Conclusion: we've a lot of premed students in the pulpits and the pews.

Jesus did this discerment thingy as a trained physician (senses trained to discern between good and evil). His Gospel appeals to all but not to all for the same reason... for some it is the appeal of circumventing threat, to some the appeal to cosmetic profit, to some it is the appeal to relief from the burden of sin and suffering under which they mourn.

He also showed the seeker-strainer friendly approach. With Nicodemus he cut him off his routes, blitzed and tackled him before he could pass, with the rich young ruler he intercepted the pass and ran it back all the way, with the woman at the well he strung out the line and cut off her end run... In most cases he didn't use the Twilight Zone defense, even though he knew what was in the heart of every man. He used the seeker-strainer, mano a mono, hit em where their not looking approach. Even with the woman at the well, though he did there operate as a prophet, it was the woman's dialogue that he short circuited. With Herod, he did not need to do acrobatic charismatics, Herod's track record was well known, he simply relied on the scouting reports and waited for him tip betray his offense. When he sought entertainment, and not the Word, Jesus gave him just what he was looking for, nothing, for he needed nothing.

Now, back to my proposition: COT presents a reading of Edwards. And some of you may not think that the ole fire and brimstone is a good thing. And, I might agree in some cases, except, Jesus was about calling to himself disciples. And the Great Commission is about that too. Discipline, discipline, discipline... It cannot be said enough. The cost is everything. The cost must be presented. The cost demanded. Or, no deal. So our methods of outreach must include early, the call to discipleship.

The model of the feedings is that at some point in the pursuit of the benefits of the body of Christ, the hammer of the Lord must fall. You must give them Isaiah 55:2 salted with a little Proverbs 23:9 some hot Proverbs 23:13-14 with a nice side of Proverbs 23:6-8. Sip some unmixed wine with them while you contemplate what Proverbs 26 has to say about witnessing.

We need to ask, do we present a gospel in such a way that it does not require of the hearer the death of themselves as the price to be paid? Jesus did. That is WJWD because it is what Jesus has done on our behalf. That is what the Father asked when the Son replied, "Here Am I, send me."

With Herod it was never going to happen. He was looking to take another's life to preserve his status and life. And the signs that Harod gave determined the actions of the Lord, just as it did when he called for the crowds to eat of him. Their refusal was their turning away.

At some point you have to make known the committment that is required for them to continue to follow even to those who have been with you for a while. When they know what it is to follow, you will know what sort of seeker they are... well except for the Judas'.

Strong Tower said...

Thanks djp- I just read your 5:29 post- you are a man of few words that say alot-

It's just not in me...

Anyway, yu da man!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

This thread will serve as an enxcellent entree into Phil Johnson's upcoming posts about "contextualizing" the Gospel. I look forward to PJ definining "contextualization" and how to do it so that the Gospel is not diluted, watered down, and compromised in trying to accommodate and appease thin-skinned, easily-provoked, overly-defensive-and-thus-easily-offended "seekers" about the True Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

On a related note, I read one pastor's definition of who is a Christian:

“To be Christian means that Christ is your savior and God and you have called upon him to have mercy on you based upon what he did on the cross.“

My point.... how you define who and what a Christian is... may influence how a church corporately practices the Great Commission and how the church "contextualizes" the Gospel for its local community of "seekers."

Strong Tower said...

TUAD!

juks said...

Your first comment said: Some seek and find Him. Some seek, find Him and walk away. Some don't seek and find Him. Some don't seek and will do everything they can to crucify Him.

I would say: None seek HIM for who HE truly is. (Rom 3). HE seeks and saves the lost. As in John 6 He first does church shrinkage before He does church growth. Then you know that those that come do so not of their own primary volition but due to God's. John Macarthur summed it up beautifully last week at the SC session 1 - don't appeal to man's falleness when proclaiming the gospel. I would add: don't try and add people to the body of Christ that He hasnt added! Its impossible and ALWAYS fails in the long run. Deadly.

juks said...

I would add: in humility and gentleness tell people the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH, from the beginning, in whatever culture and situation both now and forever. Let God worry about who the 'seekers' are. (See Phil Johnson in Session 8 last week at SC from Acts 17).

juks said...

Sorry one more thing ... "So help us God".

wenxian said...

TUAD,

[But in making a judgment about a potential "seeker", how do you make sure that you're making a righteous judgment, and not a pharasaical judgment?]

I think stefan has answerred your question well in comment #87.

In addition, i think that if a person comes to our church, they should 'play by our rules'. They came seeking for God, (or if you want to be really exact, God enabled them to come seek Him), not to go to a church and act like whining babies asking for attention.

We tell them the full counsel of God, holiness and wrath mixed with meekness and majesty; completely God-centred. They will usually have 2 reactions:

They accept.

They leave.

If they leave and start complaining about how their (non biblical) wants (e.g. pretty girls, friends, job opportunities, feel good factor, marriage, etc etc etc) are not heard, we can safely make the judgement that they were looking for a seeker sensitive church. And vice versa.

As for labelling ss churches, there will come a point in their church history where they as a church will be forced to make a decision between being seeker sensitive and being firm for God, for they are in great conflict.

It is also quite easily seen in the content of their sermons, their mission statements, and the kind of disciples that are produced from people who are committed in that church, and the people they recommend or invite into their churches. Perhaps that is why 2John1 was so strict when in comes to welcoming 'false teachers':

[2John 1:10-11, NIV] 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

The bible is full of ways how we see the fruits of believers e.g. Galatians 5. It is also written that whatever is hidden will be made known, so their false fruits will be evident as well.

Daryl said...

TUAD,

I haven't had a chance to look at that article yet...but to your other comment...

I think that substituting "seeker-sensitive" with "great commission" would be to completely overlook the seeker-sensitive movement which aims to enlarge churches. Even a cursory review will demonstrate that you do that by not offending people and telling them how much God loves them. It's based on (at least) semi-Pelagian theology that suggests that people must be convinced to believe and so what you want to do is bring them in and do what you can to not scare them away, hoping that if they stay, someday they just might decide to believe in God.

The Great Commission says...make disciples. Jesus saves, we disciple, so teach and feed meat and solid food. If they go, they go.

By the way, yeah... the term seeker-sensitive makes my skin crawl. Primarily because, in my experience, the whole movement is predicated on lost folks knowing what they need, and saved folks needing to learn at home and not expect anything from the church. Blech!!

Oh and, by the way again...we only left our church because we moved. I'm not sure how we would've handled things had we stayed in the city. Mostly we did things like ask elders "what is the gospel" and poke around to see if the church really was committed to this philosophy...I'm sooo glad we moved, it saved a lot of heartache I think.

Wenxian,

you said:

"They came seeking for God, (or if you want to be really exact, God enabled them to come seek Him), not to go to a church and act like whining babies asking for attention."

I would dispute that. If it were true mega-churches would be full of bible believing Christians. I'm not sure they are.
They came, like the rich young ruler, seeking to justify themselves or fix a marriage. God, as presented in all of Scripture, is the last thing they want.
If they really wanted God, they be leaving the seeker-sensitive churches in droves, looking for a more biblically solid church instead. They're not doing that.

Daryl said...

TUAD,

I read the article... His "robust gospel" is a predictable social gospel that vastly underestimates sin and vastly over plays our role in society. That is, Jesus didn't come to establish a "new society" he came to save His people from their sins. A far larger and more significant task.
He confuses the kingdom with it's effects, in my view. Which I think is the EC version of the SS mistake. That is, he's looking for felt needs, telling the church they're ignoring them, and then making the solving of those needs "the gospel".

I think "robust" is a word specifically chosen to make other, more actually gospel centred churches feel bad. Just like the EC and SS like to talk about church being "messy". The implication being that orthodox believers like things clean and avoid trouble like the plague.

In short... :) anytime someone says something like this:

"Sure the gospel includes saving us from sin but...."

be wary, what follows will not be good.

Rileysowner said...

TUAD, I have read Scott McKnight's article. Sadly, I found my response while reading it was the same as the response I have from reading other things he wrote. That is, I simply don't get it. He seems to combine a whole bunch of the results of the gospel into the gospel itself, thus muddying the clarity of the good news that Paul summarized in 1 Corinthians 15, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared . . ."

Yes, the results of receiving that message in faith are important. Without them, ultimately a person is showing by continuing in the darkness that their profession of faith is a lie, but to make those results part of the gospel takes the good news from being good news, to being something else completely.

Pedro said...

Strong Tower,

"Discipline, discipline, discipline... It cannot be said enough. The cost is everything. The cost must be presented. The cost demanded. Or, no deal. So our methods of outreach must include early, the call to discipleship. "

Amen to that… In line with Dr. MacArthur’s “Hard to Believe” teaching.

My brain grows just by reading all of you guys... Thanks DJP.

Daryl said...

"My brain grows just by reading all of you guys..."

Pedro, there's a small operation that can correct that...

wenxian said...

TUAD,

I think i'm not really good at writing comments but what i meant was that these people are coming to a biblically solid church (defined by the word 'our church' - ref my previous comment)

After reading the rest of your comment addressed to me, i realised that we are in agreement. So no issues here.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Wenxian, you write great comments. Please continue.

Daryl, Stefan, et al, we're on the same page. My point about linking Scot McKnight's article about a "Robust Gospel" is that we're going to be entering into a definitional quagmire. And this quagmire has downstream consequences leading to other quagmires. It is messy and ugly.

I didn't particularly care for the article either. And I'm not enamored with Scot McKnight either, although he did contend against the Jesus Seminar theo-libs.

Christianity Today has a large readership. Scot McKnight has some degree of "standing" within the "evangelical" community. If he defines the marks of "robust" gospel as being ....., then that naturally affects how the "Gospel" is preached and lived out in a church and by that church's pastoral staff.

How you define a Christian, how you define the Gospel, and other key definitions will shape how you present the message of Christ to the local community of "seekers" in that church area.

At its core, what the TeamPyro blog and other blogs do is critique (appropriately IMHO) the underlying presuppositions and definitions driving other Christians and Christian leaders.

My observation: There is NO consensus on these definitions. Scripture is the Final Authority. But that Final Authority does get abused.

Furthermore, I will reiterate: It's one thing to blog about the theological and ecclesiastical errors you see; but it's an entirely different matter to biblically confront those who are erring in your own life or in your own church.

Pax.