04 February 2014

Donald Miller's "trinity" votes church involvement optional

by Dan Phillips

Good brothers Denny Burke and Todd Pruitt are writing about this post from Donald Miller in which is says he doesn't go to church much.

Why not?

Because: I, Me, My.

(That's shorter Miller, distilling a post [as our elders might have said] utterly innocent of the least allusion to Scripture.)

All I have to add is to say that you Pyro readers would have been already abundantly well-prepared to respond to Donald Miller decisively and finally, as well as to all the thousands of anonymous donaldmillers running about clutching their notes from "god" excusing them from doing what the actual living real God of Jesus Christ has called all believers to do for the last 2000 years.

"Freshen my memory," you ask? Sure, I'm here to serve. To pluck out just three:

Thinking like a slave

Thinking Biblically about church attendance, involvement, and membership

Why you need to be in church this Sunday

And then finally and specifically to Miller, there is the indispensable Open Letter to him by the indispensable Frank.

About all of these, and the use they could have been made of in a cooperative Christian blogosphere that was really about the issues concerning which we claim to be passionate rather than the petty maintenance of clubhouses membership lists, I have a great deal to say.

But not here, and not now.

ADDENDUM: Miller circles a bit around the theme of "intimacy with God," free-associating as if Scripture had nothing to say on the topic. But it does. Were anyone to read Miller, then work through sermons 17-24 on Proverbs 3 in this series, he might think they were preached in response to Miller's entirely erroneous notions... if it weren't for the dates on them.

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30 comments:

Frank Turk said...

You know what I like about Donald Miller? I like his certainty. I like the fact that, in spite of his book after book after book after movie about how mush one can doubt what one is taught, he is certain he's right.

The reason? At least you can engage someone like that by what he actually believes rather than always swirling down the toilet of PostModernity and their so-called epistemic humility.

DJP said...

Right.

Then on the other hand, there's the way Christians are called to think about things. (See the post, above.)

David Regier said...

I learn the most when I am telling people what I think.

Verification:
lemming chief

DJP said...

Exactly, David. I wanted the post to be shorter and focused; if I had added one thing, it'd've been about that. Very telling, eh? "I like church best when I'm in charge and doing the talking."

Kerry James Allen said...

"If it be right for one Christian to remain out of church-fellowship, it is right for all; and then, if there were no churches, there would be no institutions, and where would the gospel itself be?" CHS

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Anyone catch it ironic how, when Don writes what he does about Church membership, that he is quietly inviting folks along to what he's decided is proper church membership? He gets away from it to fall right back into it. I think if he really believed the consequence of his idea, he'd not tell anyone at all and just be all by himself, because of what Church attendance and membership actually IS.

Benjamin said...

Frank wrote:

"I like the fact that, in spite of his book after book after book after movie about how mush one can doubt what one is taught, he is certain he's right."

Dare I suggest that was an inspired typo?

Frank Turk said...

There are no typos. Only providence.

Aaron Snell said...

I found Todd Pruitt's post to be particularly helpful, especially his point #4, which is pure gold and needs to be teased out in a longer exposition by somebody. Go read it if you haven't.

Unknown said...

I think Miller is absolutely right, but that's only entirely about himself. You don't seek God's presence about one's self, you seek God about Him.

Kurt said...

Is the church of today the church that Christ set up and the Apostles taught in?

I live in Santee, Ca. 92071. Tell me where I can take my family that doesn’t have a “protected pulpit”, where one hour of attendance isn’t really more than 20 minutes of teaching without any ability to ask questions on the sermon being taught.

The church of Apostolic times was many times an all day affair with people being lauded for “searching the scriptures” with their constant queries and confirmation of what was being taught. Where is that today?

Now the princes of smart with their approved seminary education have no time to deal with such antiquated practices, unless you count an hour long bible study that the pastor (probably an elder) may not attend.

How is today’s modern church (as described above) really better than a family sitting down at the dinner table on a Sunday morning for an hour or so, and going at whatever pace is necessary (Ala J. Vernon Mcgee) to go thru the Bible stopping to answer any and all questions . Or, as an example, doing family study of ‘The Creation Seminar” from Dr Kent Hovind; Cross TV; or anything by Ken Hamm, pausing as necessary to teach, study, and search the scriptures.

How is that any worse than 20-25 minutes of slap, dap, get you out the door so the 10:00 A.M. group can be herded in and out before the 11:30 service.

I was an attendee of the Presbyterian (not OPC) church before the one in our area dissolved, and the UPC until it became mind-numbingly apparent that my family was missing out on so much. I would try to ask questions of the pastors (both wonderful men) in the few minutes I had at the door before I felt like I was holding up the parade of others wanting to shake his hand and tell him what a wonderful service it had been.

I understand the accountability issue to others, etc… that a gathering of believers provides, but is that really more important than learning the Word?

How is today’s protected pulpit any better than the Pharisees of Christ’s day, or the Catholics, Mormons, and J.W.’s of today?

The Apostolic church weren’t sheep in a pew trying to stay awake for a 20-25 minute sermon, but more of a question and answer session, all day if necessary, about Christ and His Word.

Where can I find a church where I can participate, ask questions and search the scriptures, today?

If this sounds snarky I apologize because that’s not my intent.

Respectfully,

Kurt Marquardt
Kurt6009@cox.net


Bill O'Neill said...

Miller: "Like I said, it’s not how I learn." Oh, that. I told my boss that I don't _do_ meetings. I mean, my former boss.

"But I also believe the church is all around us, not to be confined by a specific tribe."

I guess I need to go find a new perspective on Eph. 4:4.

Susan said...

I stopped reading Miller's article when I got to this quote:

"My friend Bob Goff says when we study somebody without getting to know them, it’s called stalking. Bob says Jesus is getting creeped out that we keep stalking him. He’d like us to bond with him in the doing."

Um...run that by me again!? Whatever happened to Jesus's invitation of not driving anyone away if they truly seek him (God's sovereignty at play, of course)?

Frank Turk said...

Kurt:

I'll bet the real problem is that you cannot abide to attend a smaller church. They are too messy and inconvenient, maybe too full of old people.

Frank Turk said...

That "not one tribe" thing is so odius, I can't not comment on it.

Let's assume that he's right, and that Jesus doesn't just save fundamentalist reformed baptists, but people on a spectrum from pentecostal snake-handlers to OPC pastors to Eastern Orthodox antipopes. Even if this is true, and even if this means that we have to be more generous when we meet these other sinners saved by God's love and good will, how does that exempt us from loving the believers who are literally in our neighborhood and homes? That is: how does the universality of the church exclude or exempt the believer from being in any specific example of that church?

His reasoning is sophomoric and selfish at best. What a clown.

DJP said...

Kurt, perhaps someone can recommend a church. Regardless, whether anyone here can or not, as the post and the articles linked therein demonstrate, if you're a Christian, it's your moral responsibility to find and involve yourself in one. Note: a church. Not a place-devoted-to-your-preferences. I have absolutely no doubt that there are dozens of the former within driving distance of you.

Aaron Snell said...

Kurt,

Who ever said that the full extent of a local church's functions are limited to the beginning and end of a Sunday morning worship service?

>>The church of Apostolic times was many times an all day affair with people being lauded for “searching the scriptures” with their constant queries and confirmation of what was being taught. Where is that today?

Where is that (particulary the latter half about constant querries) in Scripture?

>>How is today’s modern church (as described above) really better than a family sitting down at the dinner table on a Sunday morning for an hour or so

Because it is a church, and your family, biblically speaking, is not.

>>I understand the accountability issue to others, etc… that a gathering of believers provides, but is that really more important than learning the Word?

Why separate the two? I don't think you can. It's like saying, "Isn't learning the building code really more important than building a house?" Well, in a way it's foundational, but what's the use of the first without the second? Furthermore, if that very same Word you are devoting yourself to learning tells you to gather with other believers, don't you think it might be a bit hypocritical to say you hold the study of Scriture to be preeminent when you set aside one of it's commands?

>>Where can I find a church where I can participate, ask questions and search the scriptures, today?

There's a bunch. I'm an elder at one. But, again, why assume that those things need to take place between 10:30am and 12:00pm on Sunday morning? Perhaps the things that are happening there are other things that Scripture requires of the gathered people of God, and hey, the've gotta happen some time?

Halcyon said...

Okay, so Miller's right that people of different personalities have different learning styles, and thus a "sermon" may not be everyone's primary cup of tea. (I myself am more visual and kinesthetic.)

But to leap from that to "I don't go to church often"? That boggles my mind. Is there nothing to "church" in Miller's world than sermons? Are there not a multitude of ways you can be edified, edify others, and worship God within a church?

A Patriot said...

Kurt,

Attending church helps to keep you on the right path. If you just sit at home and read and study yourself there is a strong chance you will get off the rails. Church and the people there can help to keep you accountable in a way that you are unable to yourself.

I know of good churches near Santee, but they are Baptist.

DJP said...

Patriot: true, but actually beside the point. If someone chooses to sit home and do whatever rather than involve himself in a local church, he's already off the rails, and in a very fundamental way. As the post and linked articles demonstrate.

Kurt said...

Frank Turk said...
Kurt:

I'll bet the real problem is that you cannot abide to attend a smaller church. They are too messy and inconvenient, maybe too full of old people.

Uh, no, I’d much rather be part of a smaller church as it’s much easier to interact with fellow believers. But thanks for assuming, with no foundation, bad intents on my part. I guess 1 Pet. 3:15 and Matt. 7:3 are just words. By the way, I’m 57…I am an “old people.”

DJP said...
Kurt, perhaps someone can recommend a church. Regardless, whether anyone here can or not, as the post and the articles linked therein demonstrate, if you're a Christian, it's your moral responsibility to find and involve yourself in one. Note: a church. Not a place-devoted-to-your-preferences. I have absolutely no doubt that there are dozens of the former within driving distance of you.

My only “preference” is to be able to dive deeply into Christ’s Word, discuss, chew, learn, and acquire e a deeper understanding of it, my bad.

Could you provide me the actual verses about my “moral responsibility” or is John 6:27-29 too simplistic; and is Matt 18:20 meant only for the apostles?

But I’ll trouble you no further Mr. Phillips, at least in the posting of heartfelt queries are concerned, as charity and humility seem to be replaced with one line zingers.

Sorry to waste your time, though I imagine it wasn’t a total loss as you did get to be the dismissive adult (I have absolutely no doubt that there are dozens of the former within driving distance of you) without directly answering any of my questions concerning the apostolic church.

I like the wealth of information on your site and will continue to monitor it but after this will no longer participate in the comments section as honest questions should not be occasion for you or your “followers” to use me as your
foil.

Respectfully ,

Kurt



trogdor said...

The most surprising thing about the Miller announcement is that he hadn't made it before. Haven't we had this discussion about him previously?

The "thinking like a slave" post is still among my all-time favorites, and probably the most frequently referenced, for such occasions as this. What comes across loud and clear in both Miller's articles is that he regards himself, at worst, as an equal partner in this relationship with God. God's way of doing things isn't how Miller would like? One of them is wrong, and Miller thinks it can't possibly be him.

Frank Turk said...

Kurt:

I don't really have to assume anything. Being 57 doesn't make you immune to being unwilling to love older people, or any kind of people. There are plenty of misanthropes in all walks of life.

Here's the Google Map of where you live, with the churches nearby represented as red dots:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ee1rcPTCe-s/UvOHmWSTMqI/AAAAAAAACVs/UZMAGSlbEwE/s1600/KurtsChurches.png

Let's simply toss out all the Mormon churches (The San DIego Mormon Temple is a spectacular site, but a complete waste of time) and all the Catholic churches.

Your original complaint was, "Tell me where I can take my family that doesn’t have a “protected pulpit”, where one hour of attendance isn’t really more than 20 minutes of teaching without any ability to ask questions on the sermon being taught."

I'll bet you that ever single one of the "Community Churches" on that map has a sunday school hour prior to services where the pastor is teaching a class and he's available for questions. If you can find three that do not, e-mail me.

If your complaint is really that you want no liturgy at all, go back and read your Bible. That's all you have left if you really, really want no liturgy -- and in doing that, you'll find that at least some liturgy is not only warranted by Scripture, but required.

If your complaint is that you're not allowed to run the service, or that you con't have a relationship with any pastors or elders (hence your word "protected"), I revert to my original comment to you. I'll bet that you cannot abide to attend a smaller church, with the addendum that its because those fellows running those churches need workers and real friends.

You can have the last word if you want it.

DJP said...

EXCEPT that if Kurt just goes back and reads his Bible, it will condemn him for his deliberate unbelief and rebellion against God. (See the post and links within it, which sufficiently answered his every excuse.)

A Patriot said...

Shadow Mountain Community Church might have what Kurt is looking for. I have many friends that go there. Yes they have the sit and listen part of church. However, they also have small groups that meet during the week at people's houses.

My own church also has Sunday School classes that meet at 9:30 on sundays. Every one of the teachers will stand around and answer questions after class. Many of them are not paid staff, but they are servants that willing give of their time and energy at church.
www.lighthousebaptist.com

Aaron Snell said...

Kurt,

It's interesting that you ignored the comment that actually tried to address your questions and statements directly and specifically.

Kurt said...

DJP said...

EXCEPT that if Kurt just goes back and reads his Bible, it will condemn him for his deliberate unbelief and rebellion against God. (See the post and links within it, which sufficiently answered his every excuse.)

SPECIFICS, SPECIFICS, SPECIFICS on my unbelief and rebellion.

I believe that Christ was beaten, bloodied and killed for my sins.

I believe He died and was buried for me.

I believe that He rose again on the third day, defeating death.

I believe that when I meet Him I’ll fall to my face recognizing how unworthy I man to be in his presence.

I believe that if he were to ask me why I should go to heaven and be with Him, my only response should be that I deserve to be sent to hell and that I have no personal right to live in eternity with Him, but will gladly accept his sacrifice for me, so that I can.

I believe Christ when he said to the people that came seeking Him in Capernaum “what shall we do that we might WORK the works of God, (which Jesus answered) …This is the WORK of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent (John 6:28-29).

Apparently Christ’s mistake was that He didn’t clear that with you.

The worst you should believe of me is that I’m a “milk-fed” Christian needful for the “meat” of Christ’s Word, but no, you go to unbelief and rebellion.

But that’s not good enough for you as you set yourself in the Judgment seat of God with nothing but general, personal attacks, and no scripture to back it up (Telling others to look at unnamed posts is lazy).

Speak not evil of another brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (Jas 4:11-12)

There is no …lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering; forbearing one another in love (Eph 4:2) in you replies, just a clanging cymbal and a soul crushing snarkiness.

God’s Word is a two-edged sword…but only if you actually use it.

Those that set themselves up as the purveyors of righteousness should remember...

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of My Father which is in heaven (John 6:28-29 is the WORK we’re to do, not the grievous burdens laid up on us by priests, popes, pastors or self-appointed bloggers sitting in God’s stead). Many of you will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wondrous works? And then I will profess unto them, I NEVER knew you… (Matt 7:21-23)

These people WANTED to go to Heaven. They thought they were the good ones, the bright ones, the chosen ones with all the answers, like so many that sit in judgement of a fellow christian because they didn't like his question, maybe it hit to close to home. I guess if you cant answer or don't like the question it's just easier to vilify the person.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20)

That verse would be a real stumbling block for most, short of a legalistic Pharisee’s answer to cover it.

I guess it all depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

Sometimes you can learn so much, that you've lost the basics.

Frank Turk said...

Kurt:

You don't believe that you can belong to a local church. cf. this

Next.

Frank Turk said...

I would add: You don't believe this and you defend your unbelief.

DJP said...

...and my actual post, which (still) answers all the objections with all the necessary specifics.

The demons believe correct doctrine too. Read James.

A person who affirms the theoretical lordship of Christ but refuses to obey him as Lord by involving himself in a local church -- as I demonstrated -- has what James calls faith without works, which he calls dead faith. He needs to repent.

This has become a broken record, and we don't do that.