Monday, March 31, 2008

Pentecostal/Charismatic Quote of the Day

"The experience of the Holy Spirit is so important to me. I am not a Christian because of good arguments, I am because of an experience of God, multiple experiences, and the arguments help give rationality and coherence to those experiences. As I learn more and more every year I find that my knowledge does not sustain my faith. My experience of God does. The presence of the Holy Spirit is what keeps me going." -Bryan L.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Heaven, again

So then, what exactly is "Heaven"? in the biblical sense?

Again, is N.T. Wright? There is no locale to which one can refer to as "heaven."


Friday, March 28, 2008

No Heaven?

So, Is NT Wright? That "heaven" is not our home?

I admit I am not a big fan of the Bishop of Durham, he can be interesting but when reading him I constantly feel like he is trying to avoid something, not sure what it is just yet.

Here is a key quote from the CT article linked above (really an excerpt from a book):
The traditional picture of people going to either heaven or hell as a one-stage, postmortem journey represents a serious distortion and diminution of the Christian hope. Bodily resurrection is not just one odd bit of that hope. It is the element that gives shape and meaning to the rest of the story of God's ultimate purposes. If we squeeze it to the margins, as many have done by implication, or indeed, if we leave it out altogether, as some have done quite explicitly, we don't just lose an extra feature, like buying a car that happens not to have electrically operated mirrors. We lose the central engine, which drives it and gives every other component its reason for working. [Italics mine]
Is it just me or it this a non-sequitur? (something that doesn't follow). How does the hope of heaven diminish the reality of the resurrection? It also seems like he is building a strawman argument because those who long for heaven do not downplay the hope of resurrection nor think they won't be . Its a both and. I understand he has a problem with people saying we'll be with God in heaven forever and that he is saying to be in heaven is to be with God - not in a particular location per se. Fine. However, all I see him doing is trying to redefine the terms and this really just confuses people rather than bring clarity, in my opinion.

Please feel free to dialogue with me about this. But to me this is one of the things NT Wright does best: build houses of cards with non-sequitors and straw man arguments.

What say you?


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spirit Baptism vs Fruit of the Spirit

This is a comment I put up on a Christian forum in a discussion regarding the gift of tongues.

just in case it needs clarification - it was not necessary for Jesus to speak in tongues and besides, nobody did before Pentecost (at least not in the sense we see it in Acts 2. Of course there was prophetic/spirit inspired speech in Judaism and acts of esoteric speech in other religions prior to Pentecost, but something new happened at the Pentecost event) - at Pentecost a new age of the Spirit was begun and as Jesus said at the end of Mark - with the coming of the Spirit, people will speak in new tongues, cast out demons (notice no one could but Jesus prior to Pentecost) lay hands on the sick and see healing, etc. When Jesus said the disciples would do greater works than he did, it was a reference to Pentecost and that "greater" meant not more miraculous but greater in extent, or in terms of geography since Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost in Israel. We, the people of God are to do greater works than Jesus in seeing God's salvation to the ends of the earth.

I disagree with the notion that tongues makes one more spiritual than another who may not yet speak/pray in tongues. Evidence of one's spiritual maturity is not tongues (or the lack thereof) but rather evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

Also, there is no direct correlation between spiritual ministries (or gifts) and the fruit of the Spirit, per se. Certainly the fruit may be affected by one's reception of Spirit Baptism (as in possibly somewhat accelerating their development, with the right heart and attitude of humility and repentance before God) but not the other way around. Spirit Baptism is charismatic empowerment for witness to Jesus in he world in both word and deed. The fruit of the Spirit indicate one's spiritual maturity in Christ and takes time and effort (continual submission to the Spirit) to develop in the heart and life of the believer.

This is why I believe we often see so much disconnect between those folks who may have the Baptism of the Spirit (as seen in Acts 2:4ff) yet display little evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (spiritual maturity) and those who have great spiritual maturity (fruit of the Spirit) and yet may not have the Baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2:4ff).

Again, tongues are not an indicator of spiritual maturity but rather the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

I do agree with Ezra [username on the forum], love is key. This is why the "love" chapter (13) is put in between 12 and 14. Without love, the gifts most likely won't be used and applied properly in a congregational setting. Love is to be at the heart of functioning in Spiritual ministries (or gifts). I use the term "ministries" because they are to empower and build up others, not exalt the self, which tends to happen when we use the term "gifts", it puts the focus on the individual instead of the congregation.

Hope this helps.

Feel free to comment, I am still in process with all this in terms of trying to explain it in a way that is true to the Bible.


2 Timothy 2:19-24 (NRSV)

Read the passage below out loud. Let me know if you had to read a portion of it (or two) over again and which part. I want to see if I am not alone on tripping over a phrase (or two) in this passage. How might you smooth it out a little more?


(19) I hope in the Lord to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. (20) I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (21) All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (22) But Timothy's worth you know, how like a son with a father he as served with me in the work of the gospel. (23) I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; (24) and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

EJ Interview with George O. Wood pt3

George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in America on defending the Pentecostal experience:
I learned from an incredible, stellar faculty composed of the luminaries of the evangelical world at the time: George Eldon Ladd, author of Jesus and the Kingdom; Geoffrey W. Bromiley, the church historian; Wilbur M. Smith; Everett F. Harrison; Edward John Carnell. These people were just phenomenal.

I learned from these professors, but I also learned to rebut the criticism that Pentecostals base their theology on their experience. It happened this way. In my first year I took a class with Gleason L. Archer, a Harvard intellectual who had written an introduction to the Old Testament. Archer knew about 20 ancient languages, such as Sumerian and Akkadian. I had Hebrew and Old Testament with him.

In an orientation class, a different professor came each week for 2 hours and allowed us to ask questions. Some of the students got into a question and answer debate with Archer on what the phrase “husband of one wife” in 1 Timothy 3:2,12 and Titus 1:6 meant.

Archer adamantly said, “husband of one wife means that the elder or the ordained minister can only have one wife in a lifetime. If your spouse dies and you remarry, you are disqualified from that role.” I thought, I’ve never heard that before; that’s extreme.

In my second year of seminary, Archer’s wife died. In my third year, he remarried. He dressed differently, acted like he was 30 years younger than he was, and changed his view on the text 180 degrees. I said to myself, Here is one of the most educated men in the evangelical world, and his experience has helped condition his theology.

There is danger in letting your experience shape your theology. But at the same time, what we as Pentecostals have done — when we have had an experience — is look in Scripture to see if there is any warrant for it. I think that is the key test. If there is no warrant in Scripture for the experience, then we need to question the experience or, at least, not make it universal. We need to regard it as we would Peter’s shadow — a unique event — because other people are not having the same phenomenon. But we can look at our Pentecostal experience and see that it is rooted in Scripture.

Many incidents occurred at Fuller that helped me see this. In fact, Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, wrote a congratulatory note when I was elected general superintendent. I wrote back and expressed deep appreciation for the role Fuller played in my life and ministry.
It is always ironic to me that when discussing issues surrounding the Pentecostal experience with non-pentecostals that what I call the "e" word (experience) is always either downplayed or flat out not allowed, yet how many have had experiences with God that solidify their faith and or relationship with God or as Dr Archer had, he thought one way and then after an experience of losing his wife and getting remarried, changed his theology based on an experience? Yet Pentecostals are not allowed to factor in experience into Pentecostal Theology regarding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as seen in Acts 2:4 and also the exercise of Spiritual Ministries (aka: Gifts)? How does that work?

If you want to read the interview more in full check it out at the Enrichment Journal Online here.

Feel free to let me know what you think.


EJ Interview with George O. Wood pt2

George O. Wood. General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in America on "the call":
When I was pastoring, I invited Morris Williams to hold a missions convention. He was field director (now called regional director) for Africa. I respected Williams. He had a sterling record as a missionary. I took him to lunch after Sunday morning service. I asked, “Brother Williams, how did you receive your call?”

He said, “George, I never had a call. I read in the Gospels where Jesus was taking volunteers, and I up and volunteered.”

I had never heard anyone give that explanation before. It challenged me. Since then I have studied the call in Scripture. I now realize there is a continuum on the call — everything from the divine voice to William’s volunteering. Certainly, God equipped Williams with the gifts and graces for his calling. God also granted me the desire of my heart. I wanted to be a minister.

When we talk about the call to ministry we need to be careful not to project that everyone is called the same way. God uses a variety of ways to put us where He wants us. For me, it was a quiet desire that began to well up in my heart. From that time on, I was on the trajectory to go into the ministry. The only other occupation I ever considered was law and politics.

When I was a junior in college I had an offer to be an intern in a congressional office. I came to a crisis at that point. I had to make a decision whether to accept that opportunity or continue toward ministry.
I like this comment because it is how things have been for me as well - I have never had this explicit "call from God" at the altar kind of experience. For me it has been more of a process of understanding my own personality, desires, values, and giftings. When I put two and two together going into the ministry be it pastoring or missions, it just made the most sense to me and it is a good fit. So if you are out there and think you have to have some awe inspiring divine call to go into the ministry then be free of that and follow God in whatever way you feel him leading you! Yes, there can be the awe inspiring divine call from God but it is not that way for all people all the time and I think that has kept some people from following the Lord in they way they sense his leading.



EJ Interview with George O. Wood pt1

George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in America on the value of ministerial education:
The experience I had at Fuller made me believe that ministers need to get as deep an education as possible. When I was a younger minister, Robert Frost, one of my spiritual mentors, prayed for me and the other students. He said, “Lord, help them lay foundations that are strong enough to bear the weight You will later place on them.”

A formal theological education helps ministers build strong foundations for life and helps them avoid burnout. The reason people get burned out in the ministry is they do not have sufficient intellectual and spiritual resources to draw on to sustain them.

I walked into a pastor’s office when I was a younger minister. I looked at his library. It contained only books that were titled, Simple Sermon Outlines,and they had cobwebs on them. Some were unused. I thought to myself, This congregation is not getting fed, because he is not being fed. He will not last. This pastorate will not last.

Many ministers cannot afford to continue a formal education. Often their time and resources go toward supporting their families. But with the Internet, libraries, and the many resources available for learning, ministers have opportunity to continue their personal study and educational advancement.

Continual learning is critical. As a pastor, I spent about 20 hours a week in study and message preparation. I do not know how a pastor can feed people if he is not spending substantive time in study. The seminary experience gave me the tools, resources, and life disciplines to continue learning throughout my ministry.
This is really good stuff. Too bad so many in the AG (and other Pentecostal or Charismatic groups) tend downplay education. Many believe all that is needed is "the anointing" and the Holy Spirit - but it hard for the Spirit to do much with someone who doesn't know anything...


Monday, March 24, 2008

Early Easter.

Apparently, yesterday was the earliest Easter any of us will see in our lifetime.
I lifted this from the Biblical Studies e-list.

Easter 2008

A once in a lifetime experience !

Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after March
20. This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew
people used to identify passover, which is why it moves around on our
Roman calendar.

This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see.

And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this
early (95 years old or above) And none of us have ever, or will
ever, see it a day earlier.

1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the
year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was
1913 (so if you're 95 or older, you are the only ones that were
around for that).

2) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the
year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was
1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier
than this year.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

Luke 24:5-7 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"

Were these women the world first Christian Missionaries?

9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

Here is the point of Easter: Jesus is ALIVE! He is risen from the dead! And in him we can have new life! A Resurrection life!

May you be blessed this particular resurrection Sunday!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

missions quote of the day.

But things have changed. I have been in a missions convention where I was the only person who knew a foreign language, where I was the only field based worker, where I was the only person actually engaging lost people on a regular basis. During a year at one of our schools and in touring 10 of our colleges on a preaching and teaching tour sharing the vision for the least-reached in Asia Pacific I have not yet once been approached by a person of any age who says, “I want to go to a place and spend the rest of my life where the church does not exist and preach the Gospel and plant the church of Jesus Christ. People tell me they want to lead teams, that they want to travel to “lots of countries,” that they want to get a seminary degree and go teach somewhere, that they want to find a place that uses English to go pastor, that they want to travel and do crusades, or hold babies in an orphanage. The list goes on and on. These activities are not wrong in and of themselves. In the context of Assemblies of God missions we have always done these things, and for the most part they are good things. But at the same time we did not get to 50-plus million adherents world wide with a cross-cultural staff that saw any of these activities as the controlling center of what they were about. The center of our labors has always been evangelism, church planting, and the training of national ministers.

-Alan Johnson regarding the decline in emphasis on cross-cultural missions in the Assemblies of God in America. I think it could be applicable to more than just the Assemblies of God - I think emphasis on cross-cultural mission has been in decline in the American church at large.

Also, please know my post on missions is not targeted at those who cannot go or are unable to go.

If you want to see the rest of the paper go here.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

missions? to whom?

As I wrote in my past post, one problem facing the issue of Christian mission is, what is it? I noted a quote by Stephen Neill that "when everything is mission, nothing is mission." The point he is making here is that often times the concepts of mission and evangelism often get conflated such that there is no difference and it all becomes the same thing when they should not be considered the same.

To whom should missions be focused? Well, in my opinion, primarily to those people in the least reached people groups or iow those who have the least access to the gospel. Least access?

Are you familiar with the missiological concept of what is called the "10/40 Window"?

The "10/40 Window" is a term coined by Christian missionary strategist Luis Bush in 1989-1990 to refer those regions of the eastern hemisphere located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, a general area that in 1990 was purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges and least access to the Christian message and Christian resources on the planet {and often most resistant to the message of the Christian gospel]. The 10/40 Window concept highlights these three elements: an area of the world, with great poverty and low quality of life, combined with lack of access to Christian resources. The Window forms a band encompassing Saharan and Northern Africa, as well as almost all of Asia (West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and much of Southeast Asia). Roughly two-thirds of the world population lives in the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is populated by people who are predominantly Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Jewish or Atheist. Many governments in the 10/40 Window are formally or informally opposed to Christian work of any kind within their borders.

I think however, that concepts of unreached people groups have expanded a bit and are not just limited to the 10/40 window. Many folks from various unreached people groups now live right here in the US and Canada and in large parts of Europe.

Here is a question to consider. How might Irem, a Turk, Ahmet, a Banjar and Tin Sau, a Bama be lost or "unreached" in way that "Lee" in Dallas, "Carlos" in Costa Rica, and "Hae Yung" in South Korea might be lost or "unreached." The first set of names are folks in a people group not a country per se. The issue is one of accessibility to the gospel message. Not all things are equal in our world. The idea of being unreached is a specific missiological concept that refers to a specific groups accessibility to the gospel message - unreached people groups not only don't have access to the gospel - they do not even have the potential to hear about the story of Jesus unless there is a near neighbor witness who can share it. While all people are equally lost theologically (eg. Rom 3:23) not all have equal access to the story of Jesus - so "Lee" in Dallas, "Carlos" in Costa Rica, and "Hae Yung" in South Korea are lost yet because there is significant Christian presence in their respective nations, they have greater accessibility to the gospel message. In case anyone wondered, South Korea has several of the largest churches in the world numbering well over 700,000 congregants. However, Irem, a Turk, Ahmet, a Banjar and Tin Sau, a Bama live among unreached people groups where there is no near neighbor witness to the gospel - even if they wanted to learn more of Jesus they most likely would not be able.

It is to these folks the priority of Christian missions should be focused - unreached people groups - people who are sociologically and culturally without Christian witness - though that is not the case presently. Presently, nearly 90% of Christian ministry/missions is targeted to the already reached and Christianized parts of the world - while those most in need of the gospel message go without.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

what is missions?

This can be a challenging question to answer - what is missions?

There are just so many different perceptions and ideas of what exactly entails Christian missions that few can come to a unified agreement as to how to define it. In fact, there is little to no real sense of clarity as to what is meant by missions and its practice cross-culturally. My friend Alan Johnson, a long time missionary to Southeast Asia, believes this lack of clarity is due to a variety of factors. One of the problems is that we have allowed the idea of missions to mean just about anything such that every person becomes a missionary (to their work, neighborhood, school, local club, stores, etc) - just about anywhere is now a "mission field" and any believer is a "missionary." What happens then is that, to quote Stephen Neill, "when everything is mission, nothing is mission." This then, had lead to general confusion at the local level as to what missions is and what it entails. I think this leads too, to general lack of financial support for cross-cultural missions work because many may not see the point.

My friend Alan Johnson says what has happened then is a "conflating of ideas regarding evangelistic outreach in a local church or movement context within its own sociocultural setting with missions. Thus, any kind of outreach at all becomes missions, with the deadening [or flattening] effect of equalizing all types of evangelism." Many folks think cross-cultural missions and local church or personal evangelism are the same thing, when they are not.

In and unpublished paper given at AGTS in 2006, Alan talked about this idea being "accompanied by concepts such as missions relating to the crossing of geographic borders, working with our own people in locations outside of our geopolitical borders, and where the term “missionary” is used, with the ubiquitous aphorism, 'everyone is a missionary.'"

He goes on to say "This results in people being sent outside of their country to preach the Gospel to their own people who are living abroad, while ignoring within their own borders those groups of different religious, social, and linguistic background who do not have church movements at all. It also devalues the cross-cultural worker because since we are all missionaries our field is wherever we live, thus giving all places equal priority no matter what the strength of the church is within that sociocultural setting. [brackets or italics mine]

It needs to be highlighted that there is a difference between geographical and socio-cultural borders. One is in regards to location. The other is in regards to cultural differences. These are vastly different. The question he is putting forth is doing "missions" work in a separate geographical location but among existing church structures and "missions" work among a completely different socio-cultural setting/location the same? He says no, they are not the same.

So back to the question, what is mission? Christian missions is that effort to proclaim the Christian gospel to people in those socio-cultural settings where the gospel has not only not been heard but where there is no means to hear the gospel message because no near Christian neighbor, with whom the non-christian person can hear and come to knowledge of Christ, exists.

So, is our workplace a mission field? No. Is our neighborhood a mission field? No. Unless our workplace or neighborhood is among non-Christians in a socio-cultural setting completely separate from our own, such as among Muslims in Dearborn or Khartoum, or Buddhists in Denver or Mongolia.

The emphasis here is on socio-cultural settings over geographical locations. There may be "missionaries" in Central America, Eastern Europe, or even South Asia but if they are teaching at a Bible school and/or working with existing church leaders then they may not really be missionaries but rather just Christian workers providing support in overseas contexts. True apostolic missions doesn't work among existing church structures but instead goes to settings where the church does not exist or is a very tiny minority.

This is still in progress for me so if you want to talk with me about it, please do.


Friday, March 14, 2008


I want to point everybody to my friend Eric's blog site where he links us to the website World Map - it is an excellent missiological tool and resource for intercessory prayer for world missions!

Do give it a look see!

I personally cannot think of a more important issue for the church than the task of world evangelization - it should be the primary focus of the church in my opinion. Everything we do should be motivated by missions - the desire to take God's salvation to the ends of the earth!

Some questions I have:

How can a truly biblical theology be anything less than a theology of missions?
How can a truly trinitarian theology be anything less than missions focused?
How can a truly systematic theology leave out the importance of missions?

Have you considered the fact of the 6 billion people in the earth - as much as 50-60% remain estranged from Christ?

Romans 10:14 "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"

Isaiah 6:8 "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

Pray about it.


Thursday, March 13, 2008


This video from comedy central is really wild! Just completely unbelievable really.

I am reading through one of John Stott's books The Incomparable Christ (IVP, 2001) and while it is a popular level book it it is a great read - to me at least. I was really happy when I read, "I am numbered among those who believe that Galatians was the first letter Paul wrote." Right on! I too am numbered among that crowed, as is one of my professors from seminary (most scholars contend the Thessalonian Correspondence was Paul's first). John Stott notes because of the issues Galatians deals with (Law (circumcision) and Grace (freedom)) it is interesting there is no mention of the Jerusalem Council - that circumcision was not necessary for Gentiles (among other issues) (Acts 15), which had Galatians been written after this event why would Paul not mention it for added authority? I would like to add too I think Paul passed through Galatians (I argue South Galatia) before he got to Thessalonica. It would make perfect sense that he would write to the Galatians first.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Maybe we're too mean?

My last post asked if Christians are too nice when it comes to difference but perhaps I was wrong - maybe we are really too mean and too quick to condemn or over eager to point out false teachings - maybe we need more niceness or more grace?

One friend wrote me to say:
I think if a pastor or author is in question, we should discuss their ideas openly. If someone we are personally talking to has bad ideas, we should use grace if we correct them. Public individuals often stand for certain ideas and if we don't agree with their ideas, generally we'll ignore them completely and try to have others ignore them as well if possible. I think this is natural and expected. Some people I know quote Jerry Falwell and Pa Robertson as sources of what all Christians think. I try to tell them to not pay attention to these folks and realize that there is a diversity of voices about politics and many other issues among Christians if one looks hard enough.

then another friend, Sheryl, wrote and said:
The problem with Driscoll is that he tends to draw lines in the sand and seems to lack a lot of grace when he talks about people with whom he disagrees. He hangs out with the likes of John Piper, who tends to be the same way when discussing people with theological differences. The emerging/emergent "movement" is a varied one. To say that people and leaders within that "movement" have abandoned or are in the process of abandoning the historic Christian faith is a loaded statement. Some of it comes from ignorance (not knowing what the emergent movement is about or unwilling to investigate). This issue was a source of intense discussion at Jesus Creed a couple of weeks ago. Look for the post on "mapping" and read the comments.

I think the issue is that Christians are more often mean than nice. A primary issue is how we voice our disagreements. Is it vengeful? combative and argumentative? Are we seeking to "throw down" others with the belt of truth, intent on proving we are right? Does our discourse lack humility and grace? Do we need to be right and let everyone else know they're wrong? We can disagree with others theologically in a respectful, tactful, peaceful manner. And if we really think someone is in error, "throwing them down" like Driscoll,, will not incline them to listen to one word we have to say.

Maybe this is true that Christians are rather too quick to point out differences and quick to draw a line in the sand as to who is right and who is wrong as though it were all black and white? I know many independent fundamentalists baptists tend to be this way - anything different than KJVO or literalistic interpretations of the Bible is oft to be condemned and labeled as false teaching. Some have whole lists of supposed "false teachers" many of whom pastor a church right down the street from themselves.

What say you?

Monday, March 10, 2008

are we too nice?

Over at the AGTS Karoox blog there's been a discussion on the emerging church and if it is faithful the historic Christian faith or not - I agree with others that it depends - some yes, some no. I also agree that the term emergent is really hard to define.

The site provides a link to a lecture by Mark Driscoll that I think you may find interesting: (it's about an hour and a half long or so).

Anyways, in the comments section one commenter noted his displeasure with all the name dropping by Mark Driscoll (he named names to identify were folks fall on the spectrum of supposed emergent teachings). Instead this commenter would prefer that Driscoll talk about the issues and not leave the people out of it.

He wrote:

One thing a did not appreciate in the podcast: I think it does more harm than good to name names and “throw down” like Driscoll did in the court of public opinion. In so doing lines are drawn in the sand and camps are formed. Why not just argue your point in opposition to a given opinion and keep it above the fray? When individuals like Driscoll and others get a big following they tend to draw these lines and make people choose imaginary sides. That is ridiculous and counterproductive. If they really want to discuss issues they feel are detrimental to the Kingdom then get together and have a debate. Attacking them from a distance is like trying to grasp a vapor. I also think it comes off looking like a straw-man jousting session.

Talk about the ideas. Not the people. I know it is a lot easier to attack personalities. It's also more entertaining. A modern day theological gladiator match. We have learned to be entertained over and over again by the bloody arena of political campaigns. But if we make it about people first and foremost, if or when we reject an idea we must by default reject the person. That begins to tread close to a sinful response. We are all God's children and thus deserve honor and respect presented in love. If we stick with challenging the ideas, thoughts and words and we can disagree agreeably while remaining a part of the body of Christ.

While I can understand where he is coming from, this is what I wrote back:

As to name dropping, well, I understand what Gary is saying, deal with issues and not people, however, too often the issues and the people are so intertwined it is hard to separate them. Even so, Paul seemed to have no problem name dropping if necessary. In 1 Timothy 1:19-20 he specifically pointed out that "Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme." That seems pretty harsh if you ask me, but it was necessary for Timothy's sake. In Philippians 3 he called the false teachers "dogs" (3:2).

I think if there are dangerous teachings going on then if necessary they need to be pointed out - obviously with grace and respect but again if necessary it needs to be done.

There wasn't a reply to my comment but I wonder about it - was Paul too easily angered and just shooting off his mouth when he called false teachers "dogs" (a term not unlike calling a Police Officer "pig" today)? In Galatians he wished the Judaizers would go all the way and emasculate themselves (Gal 5:12) Or did he know false teaching when he saw it and rightfully said those preaching a gospel different than his "eternally condemned"? (Gal 1:8-9). Was he going overboard when he went public in pointing out that Hymenaeus and Alexander had harmed him and shipwrecked their faith?

I am wondering if we have become so "nice" we can't take a stand when false teaching arises - as a Pastor people can and do get terribly offended when I say Mormons are not Christians - some people don't want to go that far. Or worse - certain sectors of the Charismatic movement teach really bad doctrine and have flat out abandoned the gospel - it is wrong to point out who? It is unethical or inappropriate? Unnecessary? Or should we just keep it quiet and not point out false teaching but just redirect people elsewhere?

What say you? Are we as Christians sometimes too nice?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hebrews 13:20-21

Hebrews 13:20-21 (New Living Translation)

20 Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,[a]
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Biblical Studies Blog Carnival XXVII

The latest Biblical Studies Blog Carnival (XXVII) is up for those interested.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

YWAM SBS Podcasts

What?! The School of Biblical Studies (SBS) International is a segment of Youth With a Mission (YWAM). SBS is a 9 month Bible school program that centers on what is called Inductive Bible Study - an approach to study of the Bible using a more or less 3 step process of Observation, Interpretation, Application (emphasis on application). The idea is that one needs to know what the text says (observation) before one can know what it means (interpretation) and apply it to ones life (application) - with the end result being not just thorough knowledge of the Bible but also a transformed life devoted to Christ. Early on in the process each step is fairly segmented but as one becomes more familiar with the process the steps tend to blend in. In the school students devote nearly 50+ hours a week to personal study of the Bible with the goal of using the inductive method to study all 66 books of the Bible over the 9 month period (it's very intensive - each book is "studied" at least 5 times with different levels of reading) - don't worry - there are group sessions and lecture times - times for interaction and the like along with the private personal study and the results are quite orthodox.

So, The School of Biblical Studies International now has a website with various teachings on books of the Bible available for the listening public. There are a variety of Bible teachers up on the site. The main one I am familiar with is Ron Smith, the founder of the School of Biblical Studies. Ron has a masters from GCTS and has a ThD but I am not sure where from - he is quite an educated man and a solid Bible teacher - perhaps not as well known as such NT scholars and teachers as Gordon Fee or Bruce Waltke for example, but I think his teaching could very well rank up there with that level of biblical/theological scholarship. At least, that is my opinion.

Here is the link: SBS International Podcast.

Consider listening in on some and let me know what you think.

The main reason for this post is that I am a YWAM'er. Once a YWAM'er always a YWAM'er. I attended a Discipleship Training School (DTS) in 1994 at the base in Lakeside, Montana. So, I am a pro YWAM guy and support many aspects of the organization.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Way of Jesus Christ - A Review

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1993. 388 pgs.

The Way of Jesus Christ is a highly creative theological work by German scholar and theologian Jürgen Moltmann. In this work Moltmann seeks to present a messianic Christology that reflects a messianic faith. Additionally, he seeks to highlight the links between Judaism and Christianity from that perspective. At the same time, Moltmann blends in perspectives taken from Liberation and Feminists theologies with a few twists of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox thought. All this blended together creates what Moltmann believes is an effective interpretation of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

There are many issues to consider in Moltmann's book. Early in the work, Moltmann expresses concerns regarding the nature of such creeds as Nicaea and Chalcedon. It seems that he respects the decisions of these councils but wants to somehow move beyond them. The title chosen for the work `The Way of Jesus Christ' elicits how he wants to portray Christ; "This shows that I am trying to think of Christ no longer statically, as one person in two natures or as a historical personality. I am trying to grasp him dynamically, in the forward movement of God's history with the world. What I wanted was not an eternal Christology for heaven, but a Christology for men and women who are on the way in the conflicts of history" (xii).

For the traditionalist, this may seem at first a bit threatening but the reader should be careful not to miss the broader issues Moltmann is discussing. In essence, he is seeking "a new interpretation of Christ which will be relevant for the present day" (xv). For Moltmann, this new interpretation seems to lie in an "eschatological framework of messianic hope and apocalyptic expectations" (xv). Because the subject can be complex he breaks it up by presenting what he sees as "the historical mission of Christ in the framework of the messianic hope in history; the sufferings of Christ against the horizon of apocalyptic expectation; and the resurrection of Christ in the light of eschatological vision of the new creation of all things" (xv).

In the first chapter, Moltmann discusses messianic perspectives from Jewish and Christian points of view. In discussing Jesus as the Messiah he notes Judaism's inability to accept Jesus as messiah due to its understanding of redemption. Quoting Martin Buber, "We know more deeply, more truly, that world history has not been turned upside down to its very foundations; that the world has not yet been redeemed. We sense its unredeemedness" (28). The Jewish people see redemption as the perfecting of creation and the ultimate fulfillment of the kingdom of God. Thus, for the Jews, when Messiah comes the world will be redeemed (29). Yet, Christians believe redemption is taking place in the spiritual realm and in what is invisible; that is, in the hearts of people. In an attempt to bring the two faiths together, Moltmann wants to recapture Jesus as messiah in an "eschatologically anticipatory and provisional way" (32-33) that reflects the whole of God's salvation both visibly and invisibly.

In discussing `the messianic mission of Christ,' (73) Moltmann presents some challenging views on the person of Jesus Christ. To understand these views it helps to keep in mind that Moltmann sees Christology as being found not in theological reflection per se, but rather in what he calls "Christo-praxis" (41). "Christo-praxis" is type of Christian ethic that involves a life of discipleship in which people learn who Jesus is through living with and among the poor, sick and oppressed (43). For Moltmann, the mission of Christ is a social mission (100). Jesus came "to bring good news to the poor; to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor" (Isa. 61:1-2). A life of discipleship according to Moltmann will reflect the life of Christ.

It seems then in light of Christo-praxis, Moltmann is not seeking to deal with issues surrounding the two natures of Christ, but rather issues surrounding why Christ came and what he set out to accomplish as Israel's Messiah. Whereas the traditionalist sees importance in the historicity of the major events of Christ's life such his virgin birth and resurrection from the dead, Moltmann seems more interested in seeking the higher meaning of these events in the light of the Jesus' messianic mission.

In considering the virgin birth Moltmann does not see it "as one of the pillars that sustains the New Testament faith in Christ" (79). Instead, Moltmann believes the importance of the virgin birth narratives lie not in the biological facts but in the confession of Jesus as messianic Son of God and "to point at the very beginning of his life to the divine origin of his person" (82). Thus, the overall purpose of the accounts of the virgin birth of Christ is not the historicity of the event but rather to show that Jesus is the divine Son of God and that in Jesus' becoming human the whole of humanity will be healed (85).

In considering the resurrection, Moltmann is less concerned with the historicity of the event and more concerned with its theological implications. Moltmann asserts the event of Christ's resurrection from the tomb is not historically ascertainable because there are no witnesses of him leaving the tomb (243). Moltmann interprets the resurrection as an eschatological event that represents the "creative act of God" (241) in restoring the creation to its original state. In placing hope in the resurrection one is placing hope in the future act of God in overcoming the problem of death in the world and the hope of a new creation in which death and mortality will be vanquished (214), and in the perspective of Judaism all things will be made new and the world will finally be redeemed.

There are many strong points in Moltmann's work `The Way of Jesus Christ.' However, there are weak points as well. For the traditionalist, the weak points lie in the unwillingness of Moltmann to anchor his theology in the historicity of the major events of Christ's life, e.g. the virgin birth, healings and miracles, and the resurrection. Moltmann's theology could be more readily welcomed, if from the start, he noted the presuppositions and intentions of his work. If one pays attention, it seems he is not concerned with historicity but with relevancy. But the danger with relevancy is that without historicity there is no solid ground on which to base one's theology, particularly Christology.

The strengths of Motlmann's theology lie in his highly creative blending of various theological viewpoints to come up with an effective and relevant theology on the person and work of Christ. By choosing not to begin with the framework the Nicaean or Chalcedonian creeds, but moving forward from them, he is forcing the traditionalist and liberal Christian alike to "think outside the box" in terms of what it means to be a Christian in today's post-modern, post-Christian world. His emphasis on the need for Christology to be reflected in "praxis" and discipleship highlights the need for Christians to come down from their intellectual platforms and get their hands dirty by making the gospel relevant and practical in the modern world. While controversial in many respects, Moltmann's work provides many challenges to the Church and will remain relevant for years to come.