Showing posts with label OpenChurch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OpenChurch. Show all posts

23 August 2011

Open Letter to Kent Shaffer

by Frank Turk


Dear Kent;

First of all, thanks for your e-mail this weekend about your new project, OpenChurch.  Your infographic to raise awareness for the huge race, gender, and geography gap among global Church influencers for the purpose of positioning OpenChurch.com is interesting as a representative of a few statistics, and also because somehow my name wound up on the same page as people like Mark Dever, Jack Graham, Kay Arthur and Doug Wilson.  What might be even more interesting is that names like Lisa Bevere, Phyllis Tickle, Don Miller, and Ed Young Jr. also appear on that page, but names like James White, Don Carson, Graham Goldsworthy and Greg Koukl do not.


Let's start someplace safe rather than dive right into the Cat-5 bandwidth devastation: I think you're about right when you say that "A $300 resource downloaded 10,000 times saves the global church $3 million … [money] to be used for orphans, widows, outreach, or creating new, free resources."  In my view of it, giving away $3 million in teaching resources will like cost a "rich" church something it could afford to give away, and provide "poor" churches with something they probably would never have thought to seek out.  It's actually probably much better that $3 million impact from a strict economic analysis.

And I also think you're right-minded here to say that there's a massive upside which the church can find when somehow the churches with resources are not mining other churches for reimbursement for their efforts.  The workman is certainly worth his wages, but there's a vast difference between, for example, James White charging what it costs to support his downloadable content literally at no profit while Benny Hinn …

The TBN Mod Squad
Um, wait a minute.  Benn Hinn is in your list of global influencers. The self-disgracing Eddie Long is in your list.  T.D. Jakes is listed along side Voddie Baucham as if these two men shared the same faith.  Tony Campolo is found right next to Kirk Cameron -- and I'd love to see the video of those two talking about Christ, one evangelizing the other.  Erwin McManus is there; Rod Parsley; Joel Osteen; Hal Lindsey; Jay Bakker.

Wow.

OK: let's say that $ 3 million is a lot of money in the Global church.  It would certainly be a lot of money to most local churches, but let's just call it a lot of money -- and consider that saving it would be a blessing to the church at large.

What if by saving the church at large $3 million, we taught 10,000 fledgling churches that the primary message of the Gospel was "Don't give into your emotions and let them keep you from God's blessings and promotion." (a classic from Osteen)  Would that have been worth the savings?  Would you be proud of that?

My gut tells me, "no."  I don't think you're a fool.  But look at your list -- look at the people you have listed as influencers without any filter  for whether they are presenting good or ill.  And, I think, it gets worse when we think about the trajectory you are mapping with your slogan that we should learn "from 100% of the church."  This worries me because when I think of 100% of the church, I can call out plenty of people with whom I agree with theologically whom I would hope never will get a global pulpit because they are lousy ambassadors for Christ -- and heaven forbid that people who can't even affirm the Nicean Creed would get a global pulpit to spread their free samples to people who, frankly, need something better than what those unorthodox rich people are selling.

Kent: here's my bottom line, and you can take it or leave it.  If you really think that the church benefits from an opensource approach to discipleship and theology, I can't stop you from doing what you're about to do.  But I can caution you from the authority you and I both believe has the authority to not only warn us, but reform us.

There are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers.  To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.  For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Certain persons ought not to teach their different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

The church is supposed to be a pillar and buttress of truth, Kent -- not a wind tunnel where everything can blow through and is blown around.  While the call to offer more resources for free from reputable ministries is a great idea -- an idea long since past the tipping point in this digital age -- the question has to be what exactly is the message in the medium.    And your approach here intentionally does not (and perhaps cannot) ask that question well.

Be careful, my friend, that in seeking to open the doors to all whom God has gifted to teach you do not also open the doors to those who are servants of a lion who is looking everywhere for someone to consume.  To even give over one soul to that lion is not just unfortunate: it is complicity in the eternal death of a soul in God's image.

I hope this note finds you in good spirits, and able to receive what I mean here in good faith.  I honestly wish you well, and am praying for you.