Monday, December 22, 2008

a great insignificant event

Out of the mathematics of general relativity would come ideas and postulates that are themselves also matters now of household conversation; time as another, and fourth, dimension; time as capable of being slowed; the ongoing expansion of the universe; the Big Bang. And in conjunction with the work of other brilliant, popularly known physicists like Edwin Hubble, general relativity would eventually make it possible, on July 20, 1969, for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the surface of Earth's moon. In doing so, they walked on what always before had been the footstool of God, and that made all the difference. Literalism based on inerrancy could not survive the blow (though it would die a slow and painful death); and without inerrancy-based literalism, the divine authority of Scripture was decentralized, subject to the caprices of human interpretation, turned into some kind of pick-and-choose bazaar for skillful hagglers. Where now is our authority?
Tickle, The Great Emergence, p. 82

Well, that's certainly a mouthful of a paragraph, and one not slacking in it's claims. Shall we take a look at them?

For example, where is it ever said in Scripture that the moon is God's footstool? I can think of a place where the Earth is call that, but never the moon.

Second, what is the connection between walking on the moon and biblical literalism, such that literalism must now die a slow and painful death because man has walked on the moon? I think I'm pretty familiar with the Bible, and can't say I've ever noticed anyplace in it where the subject of walking on the moon is dealt with pro or con. I don't recall it being a part of any prophecy, or a prophetic sign.

Third, why does man having walked on the moon suddenly mean that Scripture is now "subject to the caprices of human interpretation, turned into some kind of pick-and-choose bazaar for skillful hagglers"? In fact, what is particular new about that situation? Couldn't that be said about almost any time since the early church, that there were those who interpreted the Scriptures through their own desires and biases, and picked-and-chose among the things in the Bible they kept and those they ignored or tossed aside?

In other words, as grand an achievement as walking on the moon was, in a biblical sense it was in effect a non-issue and non-event. "Thou shalt not kill" was as meaningful the second before Armstrong's boot touch the moon's soil as it was the second after. Jesus' words that "no one comes to the Father's expect by Me" were as true on July 19, 1969 as they were on July 21 of that year, because one thing that was not found on the moon was another way to God. We don't know what the angel's thought when man set foot on that far-off satellite, but we know that they rejoice when one small human repents of his or her sins to God.

And, again, in other words, Tickle (and humanity as a whole it would seem) is simply grasping at straws, trying to find any way she can to undermine the authority of the Bible, to in essence say "Has God really said?".

Because, yes, God has really said, and yes, people like her don't particularly care for what God has really said.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

one can be known by one's heroes

But in the name of historical accuracy as well as fairness, we need to remind ourselves, before we go any further, that "Scripture only and only Scripture" really was, if not badly wounded, then certainly badly bruised, well before Einstein and Heisenberg ever came along. Their work would only reinforce and broaden an investigation already in progress
Tickly, The Great Emergence, p. 80

What investigation is that (and what kind of word is that for a postmodern to use, anyway?)? The so-called Quest for the Historical Jesus.

Tickle points to two men in particular in this part of her book, Reimarus and Schweitzer. Here's a bit from Wikipedia's page on Reimarus.

Hermann Samuel Reimarus (December 22, 1694, Hamburg - March 1, 1768, Hamburg), was a German philosopher and writer of the Enlightenment who is remembered for his Deism, the doctrine that human reason can arrive at a knowledge of God and ethics from a study of nature and our own internal reality, thus eliminating the need for religions based on revelation. He denied the reality of miracles and is credited by some with initiating historians' investigation of the historical Jesus.

Modern estimates of Reimarus may be found in the works of B. Punjer, Otto Pfleiderer and Harald Høffding. Pünjer states the position of Reimarus as follows: "God is the Creator of the world, and His wisdom and goodness are conspicuous in it. Immortality is founded upon the essential nature of man and upon the purpose of God in creation. Religion is conducive to our happiness and alone brings satisfaction. Miracles are at variance with the divine purpose; without miracles there could be no revelation" (Pünjer, History of Christian Philosophy of Religion since Kant, Engl. trans., pp. 550-57, which contains an exposition of the Abhandlungen and Schutzschrift).

God cannot interrupt His own work by miracles; nor can He favour some men above others by revelations which are not granted to all, and with which it is not even possible for all to become acquainted. But of all doctrines that of eternal punishment is most contrary, Reimarus thinks, to true ideas of God; and it was this point which first caused him to stumble" (History of Modern Phil., Eng. trans. (1900), vol. ii. pp. 12, 13).

So, right off, we run into some pretty extra-biblical and un-biblical ideas in this man. Although the Bible is filled with accounts of miracles, he says that God cannot work miracle. He says that Hell is contrary to whatever he means by true ideas of God.

It's a dangerous and arrogant thing to say what God can and cannot do apart from what He Himself has told us in His Word.

And here is the page on Schweitzer.

Schweitzer realizes that critical First Century theology has been ignored by the faithful. Almost all early followers are known to have been illiterate. Only those few literate individuals, in power, could be aware of critical unfulfilled First Century theology. To expose this issue, the early leaders would surely lose power, and their employment. Schweitzer observes that the early Church leaders continued their employment by introducing a modified theology, once the prompt return, was found to be not literal.

Schweitzer concludes that First Century theology originating in the lifetimes of those who first followed Jesus is far removed from those beliefs later made official in Nicaea, almost 300 years later, under Constantine. Schweitzer writes that the variations of Christianity that now exist, in modern times, contradict the urgency of what Jesus originally proclaimed as his First Century theology. Each new generation of followers anticipates that their generation will be the one to see the world destroyed, another world coming and the saints governing a new earth.

Schweitzer seems to be claiming that a kind of "De Vinci Code" type of cover-up was done in regards to Christ's statements about His return, even though much of the difficulties in those can be explained by good theology (something that does well in explaining many difficulties).

By the closing decades of the twentieth century, Jesus scholarship, with Reimarus, Schweitzer, and Heisenberg as tis intellectual forebears, had become the life work, in public space of superb and popularizing scholars like Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Elaine Pagels, and Karen King.
Tickle, p. 81

Wow, there's a line-up to inspire confidence, yes-sir-ree (not). Jesus Seminar hacks and new-Gnostic pop stars. What a bunch of maroons.

Though it's probably a point she's making, but maybe not one she's wanting ot make--once you play fast-and-loose with the Word, what else can you end up with but people who think they know better than God, picking and choosing what they want from it (Jesus Seminar) and adding to it even the most contrived and stupid of works (Gnosticism and particularly the much-refuted (false) Gospel of Thomas).

From Reimarus' denial of miracles and revelation to the Jesus Seminar and the new rise of Gnosticism, not to mention the emergent church. What a hefty lump a little leaven can leaven.

a cycle for arrogance

The Right Reverent Mark Dyer, an Anglican bishop known for his wit as well as his wisdom, famously observes from time to time that the only way to understand what is currently happening to us as twenty-first-century Christians in North America is first to understand that about every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale. And, he goes on to say, we are living in an through one of those five-hundred-year sales.
Tickle, The Great Emergence, p. 16

This isn't the first time I've come on this concept. I think it was McLaren who said much the same thing in one of his books.

I think there are some questions we can ask abou this, though.

For example, Christianity has only been around abot 2100 years, so how much can we infer from a seeming 500 year cycle when we've had so very few of them? In what stone is it written that about every 500 years something drastic is suppose to happen in Christianity?

Also, why 500 years? Let's grant that maybe Tickle and those historians who have taught her may have noticed something, still, what if they have picked other numbers of year? For example, 400 or 300.

A bit later in the book, Tickle tries to support her claim by refering to things that happened in those +-500 year cycles that have been given the moniker "great"--Gregory the Great, the Great Schism, the Great Reformation (though I'm not familiar with that moniker for the Reformation; she says it's used a lot, but I can only raise the eyebrows at that claim). Which I guess is meant to support her claim the we are now in the Great Emergence.

But I can't help but find that a bit of a convenience for her--if every 500 years something "great" happens, then since we are now 500 years from the last "great" we should be in the middle of a "great" happening now.

But is that so? Why should we assume that?

If, for example, we went back 400 years, or 250, or even a not-round number like 137, what would we see happening at those times? 400 years might take us to the conquering and settling of the new world, 250 would put us close to the American Revolution, 137 may be close to the industrial revolution and the "discovery" of evolution.

In terms of Christianity, what may be significant about those times? Well, the new world was seen, among other things, by some as a land of escape from religious persecution. Despite claims by such as Tickle, the American Revolution and founding of the United States were events highly influenced and grounded in the Christian religion and biblical thought, and the result was a nation where people were given the freedom to worship God as they saw fit without the government telling them how to do so or not do so (within the realms of moral laws, of course; meaning that child sacrifices were not allowed, for example).

Evolution, of course, has had a quite large effect on religion, and is in fact still a point of division.

My point is simply this--don't take Tickle 500 year cycle as being anything but an observation that may be worth something, but isn't necessarily as much of a thing as she wants it to mean, and certainly don't think that simply because emergents happen to be around at the point of some arbitrary 500 year cycle that they have any right to claim to themselves being epoch-making. It's an appeal to ego, a way of making emergents feel central and important, and that is all it is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

immorality should be legalized???

First, let's get this out of the way.

As will be discussed later, I believe the Bible says that same-gender eroticism is wrong.
Tony Campolo, Adventures in missing the point, p. 178

Campolo begins this chapter, where he discusses homosexuality, with a story apparently from his high school years. It's about another boy in his school, who was apparently known to be homosexual, and the things he suffered from the other students, which seem to have eventually led to his suicide.

I think it can be agreed that if things happened like Campolo claimed, than what happened to that boy was wrong and ugly. Such cruelties are not good and not to be condoned or encouraged.

But then Campolo makes this leap.

I believe that if Jesus were in our shoes, he would reach out in love to his homosexual brothers and sisters and demand that they be treated justly, that we end the discrimination that has too often made homosexuals into second-class citizens and denied them their constitutional rights. If Jesus were in our shoes, he would work to create an atmosphere in society wherein homosexuals could be open about who they are without fear of oppression and persecution. If Jesus were in our shoes, those with a homosexual orientation would be treated with dignity and respect.
p. 178

One division Campolo makes is between 'orientation' and 'behavior', which may help explain some part of the statement above. Some, but not all.

For example, what constitutional rights have been denied homosexuals? When I see that, I think "he means homosexual marriage". And when he writes that they should be "treated justly", isn't that also what is meant, though other things may be thrown in too?

So, is he in essence saying "I think that homosexual sexual acts are sinful, but that we must recognize the people who engage in them, let them marry and have the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, let them adopt children, and treat such marriages as normal and even right"?

If so, I have to ask "Why?"

Campolo says that Jesus, if He were here today (and really isn't He, I might add), would demand that homosexuals be treated justly. Very well, but what does that mean? Does it mean "Their sexual activities must be approved on socially and in the church"? Does it mean "Churches should not call homosexual sex sin"? Does it mean "Society must recognize gay marriage"?

To which I have to think, no, Jesus would not be for those things. I think very strongly that He would not approve of the mistreatment of Campolo fellow student in his boyhood, but at the same time, I don't think He would tell that student that his sexual choices were acceptable.

One can point to the instance when a group brought the adultress to Jesus for judgment. He points out the group's sinfulness, but also doesn't let her completely off the hook by telling her that while she is not condemned by Him, she is not to do that again.

We do not see Him demanding that her adultrous relationship be recognized and accepted by the nation. We do not see Him saying that her sin wasn't really a sin.

I would well image Jesus in a similar spot as Campolo gives concerning his fellow student being tormented by other students. He would likely have those tormentors remember their own sins (what magazines do they have hidden under their mattresses, or what were the one boy and his girlfriend doing in his car a couple of evenings ago). Perhaps (and I stress perhaps) after that, he would turn to boy being persecuted, and say that He will not condemn him, but he is not to act that way any more.

What I can't see Jesus doing is demanding that even if homosexuality is sinful, it should be recognized and accepted by society and homosexuals should be allowed to marry and be considered normal. There is a certain twisted-ness about that thinking, for how can we on one hand say that something is wrong and immoral, and on the other say that it should be lawful and legal?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

“Enough with the Bible already…”

The Bible & Homosexuality: Enough with the Bible Already

If it is truly the Bible that is causing some to hold these discriminatory beliefs, then perhaps we need to set the Bible aside for awhile. Perhaps we need to not construct a belief system about LGBT folk built on the foundation of a couple verses in scripture. Perhaps that isn’t healthy, fair, just or Christian.

For some, I believe the Bible has become an idol. Some place the Bible above Jesus’ compassion and love, Jesus’ radical inclusivity, and hold steadfast onto what they believe to be the correct interpretation of a small amount of verses that speak about same-sex relations. To those who repeatedly start quoting Leviticus and Romans verses as soon as anyone brings up the topic of homosexuality, I’d suggest perhaps you stick your Bible back up on the shelf for awhile. Perhaps it should collect a little bit of dust. And maybe, just maybe, you need to go out and grab coffee with someone who’s gay. Maybe you need to hear their story, learn about what they’ve been through, how they’ve experienced Christians and the church.

If it is the Bible that is causing us to delay accepting and celebrating LGBT persons as being fully human and fully created in the image of God, just as they are, then perhaps we need to say, “Enough with the Bible already…”

These statement are almost beyond commenting on, or needing commenting on. Seriously, what can be added to what is said?

I mean, really, how arrogant does this man have to be, to say that if the Bible disagrees with him and people of his ilk, then the Bible is the thing that has to be discarded?

And this man is strongly in the emergent slum, a contibutor to the book "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope".

But there are his words, voicing his willingness to thumb his nose at God and say "I know better than You!!!"

Sickening. And indicative of emergents as a whole.

ht Apprising Minsitries

Friday, December 12, 2008

regurgitate the answers we want from you

At first, it seemed odd that students regularly challenged me with the same statistics. Then, I discovered that the vast majority of them had seen the same video, America's Godly Heritage, by an amateur historian named David Barton. The fils argues that the United States was founded explicitly as an evangelical Christian nation. Large numbers of evangelical churches and schools use his material to "correct" the secular interpretation of American history.

In recent years, conservative evangelicals have created a cottage industry out of America's Christian heritage. From his television pulpit, Florida pastor D. James Kennedy weekly assails contemporary secular society's historical blindness and extols the nation's Christian past. Paul Marshall and David Manuel produced an influential textbook called The Light and the Glory that opens with God directing Christopher Columbus to found the New World. Across America, conservative Christians are claiming history as theirs--remaking the past in their own theological image of a Christian nation, even a specifically evangelical Protestant one.

In many ways, it is tempting to ignore this as the uneducated carping of people who believe the world was created in six twenty-four-hour days. And it is not difficult to award low grades to students echoing such claims.
Diane Butler Bass, Christianity for the Rest of Us, pp. 27-28

There is so much here, so I'm going to deal with it kind of like this.

First, there is this link to David Barton's Wallbuilders.

This isn't the only time Butler Bass mention (with derision) Barton, so one may safely that when a liberal like Butler Bass sees fit to try to pound on Barton so much, there must be a lot of truth in what he's saying.

I'm not familiar with "The Light and the Glory", so cannot comment on it. I am familiar with Kennedy (and I don't mean Ted), and I've even listened to Barton on a set of CDs of messages from Coral Ridge. I can recommend Coral Ridge strongly.

Concerning Creation, there are many resources. Although it probably doesn't necessarily support six-day Creation, the movie "Expelled" is still a good one for raising questions about the modern religion of evolution, and how strong-arm tactics (like Butler Bass mentions in the quotes above) are used against those who do raise questions.

(Funny, isn't it--postmoderns go on and on about questioning everything, but if you dare bring evidence for America's Christian heritage and maybe the biblical account of Creation, "it is not difficult to award low grades to students echoing such claims". Apparently, you may question anything except what pomos say you cannot question, or they will fail you in their classes.)

And although I haven't yet been able to visit it, the Creation Museum is only a few hours away from me. I really must get up there sometime.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

so much for sound doctrine

Far from any individual's theology being The Right One, in one sense all theologies are heresies. For theologies, like heresies, are major or minor distortions of the truth.

We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(I Corinthians 13:9-10)

In other words, what you believe may be correct, but is certainly not completely correct. The point? We must always be open to further insights that will give us fuller understanding of what God is all about.
Tony Campolo, Adventures in Mission the Point, p. 32

And, since this book is a tag team between Campolo and McLaren, of course McLaren likes Campolo's twist of phrase.

I love Tony's statement that "in one sense all theologies are heresies".
McLaren, p. 39

First, let's look at the passage Campolo points to as proof for his "in one sense all theologies are heresies" idea.

I Corinthians 13

8. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

10. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away.

So, can this be said to mean that "in one sense all theologies are heresies"? Where?

What else does Scripture say about doctrines?

Titus 1:9
He (an elder) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine, and refute those who oppose it.

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

I Timothy 4:16
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

I Timothy 1
8. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.

9. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers,

10. for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine

11. that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Paul has something to say to the issue of heresies.

Galatians 1
6. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--

7. which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

8. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other thant heone we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

9. As we ahve already said, so now I say again: if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

I Timothy 4:1
1. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:

2. Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

3. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

4. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

It is not surprising that an emergent should 'love' the statement that "in one sense all theologies are heresies". Anything that would support their relativistic delusions is something for them to embrace. Anything they can grab on to to support lie they believe that sound doctrine is unnecessary and even dangerous is poison they will flock to.

Because if "in one sense all theologies are heresies", then it is only a short step to saying that there really aren't really any heresies at all.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

arrogant misrepresentation

There is another story early in the book "Adventures in Missing the Point", a story which I have titled "An Exercise in Arrogant Misrepresentation".

It comes in a chapter written by McLaren, and he calls it the Parable of the Race (not that he's comparing his insights to Jesus or anything...). It's found on pages 26 and 27, and is too long to give in its entirety here, so here's a quick summation.

In a very dull land, a race is announced. When race time came, thousands were at the starting line, some to run and some to watch. When the race began, those who came to race ran a few steps, then started acting as if they had all won the race. After a time, those who were watched thought that, since the runners weren't running, maybe they should instead, and so they did.

The point of the story is to contend that salvation is not a one-time experience, and as well it seems to contend that all those who believe that salvation is something that happens in a moment are merely staying at the starting line, happy to be saved but not doing anything else. Thus, I call it "An Exercise in Arrogant Misrepresentation".

Because I can't think of a church I've ever spent any amount of time in which it has been said that the moment of salvation is all their is, that after that all else doesn't matter, that we aren't to worry about living holy and godly lives between salvation and Heaven. Perhaps the supposedly 'progressive' churches McLaren and Campolo have been around have been ones that have been contend to be 'only saved' (saved from what, though, may be wondered, as they seem to not believe in hell, or heaven, or for that matter even God or an afterlife), but out here in the real world, we think Christians need to live like Christians. We think that the moment of salvation is a good moment, a good start, and necessary place to begin, much as is represented in the book "Pilgrim's Progress", but just as in that book, salvation is only the beginning of the journey.

So, yes, I say this 'parable' of McLaren's is a misrepresentation, and I say that it's an arrogant one, too. To even pretend that up until he and his emergents came along the church was filled with people content simply to be happy to be saved and not concerned about living as Christians is distasteful and, yes, arrogant. I know better.

But I'm getting used to such arrogance from emergents.

Monday, December 8, 2008

are you being served?

The book "Adventures in Missing the Point" starts out (in a fashion which emergents no doubt approve of) with a story. Whether in the body or out of the body, I know not.

A man (maybe a real man, and maybe an account of a real event, again I don't know) is in a Home Depot, look for a thingamajig (that is the exact word used in the story). The fact that the man telling the story uses the words "consumer canyons" to describe the aisles at that HD tell me that two things are likely; one is "This man if probably a leftie", the other is "this man is probably not much of a handiman".

He has problem finding his thingamajig, so he starts trying to find "a little just-in-time customer service".

I want to scream: Take your eyes off those boxes! Get down off that stupid ladder! Quit visiting with your coworkers! Don't pick up that phone! Pay attention to me!

But I guess they don't, because he laments further...

But it's pointless, and I finally get it: I'm an interruption. An irritation. They'd prefer I wasn't in their building.

They've forgotten why they went into business. It wasn't to count boxes. Or visit each other. Or ignore the customer. They went into business to pay attention to the customer.

Employees like these have missed the point.
Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 11

Well, let us assume that such an event really happened, and the person isn't simply vindictive against Home Depot for whatever reason. Can we maybe take a somewhat fairer and more balanced look at what is going on?

For example, why is the one worker counting boxes? Could it be because that was what he was suppose to do? That was a part of his job? And it may actually be an important thing he's doing?

And why is the other one on a ladder? Could he be trying to help another customer, who wants something that is up so high?

And the ones talking, are they merely gossping with each other? Might one be trying to get some help for a customer by talking to the other? Or discussing something of equal importance?

And the one answering the phone, are you the customer so certain that it is not important? That the phone-answerer is not helping another customer, or doing something else of importance.

You say that the reason such a place is in business is "to pay attention to the customer". I don't know about that. I would say rather that the main business of a Home Depot is to provide a place where people can buy the types of things they provide--building materials, home fixtures, tools, yard equipment, and any others I haven't listed. Even if we grant that customer service is important, the fact that you have for whatever reason at that moment a bit of a lack in such service still doesn't mean you can thus and therefore make the judgment that the employees have "missed the point".

Maybe it's not all about you. Maybe you should go and trying to find someone who is free to help you, instead of judging those busy doing their jobs. Perhaps you may even want to wander a bit, read the signs in the aisles, and maybe just maybe you'll get a tad bit of satisfaction out of finding the thingajig all by yourself.

Maybe you should cut the employees some slack. A store like that is a complex thing, and most of them are doing their jobs, and likely doing it pretty well. Deal with your abandonment and clingy issues and either find help yourself or help yourself.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

word games with the Word

...Also by the way, "the Word of God" is never used in the Bible to refer to the Bible. It couldn't since the Bible as a collection of 66 books hadn't been compiled yet.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 181

So, when scripture tells us "all Scripture is inspired by God", that doesn't refer to the contents of the Bible? Or is this just a game these people play, like saying "Jesus wasn't a Christian"?

Because this is a moot point, a point that is essentially pointless, a subtle means to undermine the rightful authority of the Bible. If the Bible is the collection of those writings that are the Word of God, then trying to say what McLaren says here simply clouds the issue.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

discarding the essential

We live in a post-Nietzchean world of faith and spirituality. Nietzche's declaration that God is dead still holds true, since interest in all things spiritual doe snot necessarily translate to a belief in a metaphysical God or the tenets and dogmas of a particular fait.
Barry Taylor, in the Book "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope", p. 165

I swear, postmoderns have more faith in Nietzche then in God, I think. At least, they take him literally, while they go out of their way to try to take the Bible as non-literally as possible.

The return of God we are experiencing today is not a resurrection of the premodern God as much as it is a new iteration in concepts of the divine, based not on medieval scholasticism or metaphysics but rather on the daring and often precarious notions of postmodern culture.

So...what's new again?

People want spirituality without God? Nothing new there.

"...a new iteration of concepts of the divine"? Well, doesn't that sound like something straight out of Chopra or Wilbur. What might this look like, we may wonder?

Whether "Christianity" has any future at all as a vibrant expression of faith in the Man from Galilee is a matter of debate as far as I am concern. Perhaps the times call for something else, something other, not merely the repackaging of old metaphors (playing the "relevant" game), but a new incarnation of what it means to follow Jesus.

Ah, one of those cleverly worded postmodern phrases, where you are told one thing then told the opposite. In this case, we are told that "" a vibrant expression of faith in the Man from Galilee..." is a thing to be debated and, by extension, discard if need be. But right after that, we are told that we may need "...a new incarnation of what it means to follow Jesus".

So, what does this apparent contradiction mean?

Well, we have to think if there is a way to reconcile these apparent contradictions. After all, the contradictions are merely apparent, not real, if one looks at it in a sufficiently skewed way.

There are, for example, people calling themselves Christians who have no qualms about mythologizing or spiritualizing the Gospels to the point of saying that most or all of what the Gospels record that Jesus said and did is fiction and hyperbole (except for a very few select phrases which they approve of).

Is this where he is leading? Well, it's certain one way of tying the contradictions together--discard the real biblical Jesus for a jesus of their own creation.

The audacity and arrogance here is staggering, but common to man, which is one reason the supposedly positive spin the emergents try to put on man just doesn't measure up to reality. The Bible's apparently negative statements about man, how fallen and in sin and separated from God we are, are the truth.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ok, who DIDN'T see this coming?

How I Went from There to Here: Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue

With that in mind, I always responded, "I'm holding that issue in abeyance. I haven't made up my mind yet, and I'm in no hurry to. Homosexuality," I would say, "I one issue that I don't want to get wrong."

And yet, all the time I could feel myself drifting toward acceptance that gay persons are fully human persons and should be afforded all of the cultural and ecclesial benefits that I am. ("Aha!" my critics will laugh derisively, "I knew he and his ilk were on a continuous leftward slide!")

In any case, I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.

Ok, so, a few months ago, I showed some excerpts from Tony Jones' book "The New Christians", which show how some emergent churches mentioned in the book were already compromising on the homosexual issue (even as some claimed to not want to deal with it).

Given all that, this move on Jones' part is completely predictable. The only question was the timing.

("Aha!" my critics will laugh derisively, "I knew he and his ilk were on a continuous leftward slide!")

Umm...yes, Jones, you and your ild are continuing your leftward slide. Those of us you look seriously at your movement are not surprised, because that is what you have been doing--sliding more and more leftward.

Friday, November 21, 2008

anything-goes worship

In traditional worship forms, the congregation is often reduced to passivity or, at best, to orchestrated responses. Worship that results in suppression is a contradiction in terms.
Gibbs and Bolgar, Emerging Churches, p. 177

Is it?

The underlying assumption in the book, and among those it quotes from the emergent churches, is that chaos and creativity are in themselves good things. As is said later on the same page...

The creation of art directed toward God is in itself worship.

But is that so?

When we look at the Bible, we do not really see an "anything goes" type of idea; rather, God sets some pretty strict boundaries about how the people were to worship Him. And lest we think He was not serious, there were at least two times when men who were caught up in doing things improperly were killed--Aaron's two sons when they offered strange fires, and the man in King David's day who touched the Ark of the Covenant when it was being transported improperly.

One could point out, and rightly, that with Christ's death and the new covenant, things have changed in how we worship. We no longer sacrifice animals, we no longer have to rely on a human priest to go into the most holy place for us.

But can we honestly say that this freedom is license? That we have now entered a time when "anything goes"?

I must say "no", but I must do so with some caution. I have some experience with the other extreme, the one that does not want to change, and condemns things that do not need to be condemned. This is especially seen in controversies over music, where some seem to hold that there is a style of music that is acceptable for church worship, and styles that are not. Going into that controversy is beyond what I want to do here, but suffice it for now to say that I think such restrictions are wrong.

I have no doubt that artistic endeavors may have a place, but they are not the main thing, nor should they ever be. And chaos has no place at all in churches, not do I think it necessary for the creation of good art. I am a graphic designer myself, and I find that very often, ideas come from thought and reason and digging and technique and exploration and evaluation. It isn't an exercise in chaos. "Let all things be done decently and in order".

separated from God

Contrary to the assumptions of the Greek version of faith tht many of us have come to know, the good news of Christianity is that we are integrated with God, not separated from God.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 90

Is that the message of Christianity?

(1) "Being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts" (Eph. 4:18 RV).

First Proposition: Men outside the redemption re "darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God" through the ignorance that is in them, hardeneding their hearts

(7) "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2)

Seventh Proposition: Outside of redemption in Christ, men are under the control of the prince of the power of the air.

(11) "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19 RV)

Eleventh Proposition: "The world world," the whole mass of men who have not received Christ, "lieth in the evil one"--rest in his arms, in his power, in himself.
R. A. Torrey, "What the Bible Teaches", excerpts from pp. 354-357

As with many other things Pagitt writes in the book, this assertion of his is without much if any scriptural support. And as is shown, scripture says much the opposite about man's condition.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

and yes it does matter

Even if we could answer the question of who is and who isn't a child of God, it wouldn't help us be better followers of Jesus;
Nanette Sawyer, in the book "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope", p. 47

Well, we're so glad it's not really all that big a deal in her mind. After spending a couple of rather long pages trying to convince us that all are God's children, it's a relief to hear that it's not really all that big a deal to her.

In case you may not have noticed. I'm being a bit sarcastic in the above, though with a point; after all, this sudden "it doesn't matter" type of thing just really doesn't hold with the concern she has shown before.

it would only help us divide people into categories.

And this is wrong...why???

I mean, seriously, are we to believe that there are no legitimate categories? Or that if there are legitimate categories, then we should not see that there people in them?

The thing is, the Bible does divide people into those categories, as we looked at before. Saved and lost, those that are God's and those that are the world's, redeemed and not, Christians and those who worship false gods. These are large categories, important categories, even categories of eternal importance and consequences.

It's rather amusing, though, when emergents and postmoderns try to play this "don't categorize" game. It's amusing, because it's the thing they do. They say "This way of thinking is Modern, or Pre-Modern, or (insert whatever here)", they say "Those beliefs were fine in (insert time period here) or in (insert nation or culture)". In other words, an importance facet of Postmodernism is, simply, labelling and categorizing. Another important facet of it is that they themselves try with might and main to avoid being labelled and categorized; thus, Postmodernism seems to be something that to them is beyond definition, or else the more successful they are at avoiding being defined, the more succeesful they think they will be.

But the important thing here is, this appeal to not categorize is a bit of nonsense, or even more than a bit of it.

First John answers a different question, I believe, and a more helpful question.

I John probably answers many questions.

Addressed to a community that has just gone through a painful schism, this sometimes rhetorically inflammatory letter seems primarily about how to follow Jesus, and it pivots on two point: the persistent practice of love and the paradox of human nature in relationship with divine nature.

I really hope she didn't think she was saying something profound (though the text is italicized in the book) when she wrote that I John is 'primarily about how to follow Jesus', because one could say that about any book in the New Testament, and it may even be a legitimate observation in regards to the Old Testament books. So I hardly see how such a statement is saying anything more than the blindingly obvious.

And whatever primary concerns John may have been writing about, doesn't mean that there were no other things addressed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

no we're not all God's children

With all this background, you may understand the reason my statement of faith, my personal credo, written in seminary and required for ordination in the Presbyterian Church, included the line; "I believe that all people are children of God, created and loved by God, and that God's compassionate grace is available to us at all times."

Imagine my surprise when a particular pastor challenged me on this point. He suggested that "children of God" is a biblical phrase, and that I was using it unbiblically. He believed that not all people are children of God, only Christians. If I'd been quicker on my feet, I would have done a Bible study with him right there; instead, I focused on not letting my jaw hit the floor and mumbled something aobut God creating all human beings. Back at my seminary desk, I searched for words and understanding about these concepts.
Nanette Sawyer, in the book "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope", p. 45

I can't help but give some credit where it may be due here, that at the least when she was challenged on her beliefs, she does say that she wished she had thought to take the person challenging her to the Bible. Granted, if the man who challenged her was up on his Bible, he would likely have shown her why she was wrong, but at least there is something good there.

But not in her ideas, which are wrong. Consider this...

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither is he that loveth not his brother (1 John 3:8-10)
taken from R.A. Torrey "What the Bible Teaches", p. 353

So what about the Bible on this question of the children of God? Is it unbiblical to call all people children of God? It is true that there are many places in the New Testament that talk about the children of God as the followers of Jesus. But it is not true that this must lead us to the kind of arrogance that asserts that non-Christians are not children of God. In fact, there are three biblical instances undermining such an exclusionary claim.
Sawyer, "EMH", p. 46

Note first the attempt to paint those who are against her in a bad light-- "...the kind of arrogance...", as if anyone who disagrees with her couldn't find ample biblical reasons to think her wrong, as if the Bible doesn't say much against her contentions.

But, at least she sets forth a case, so let's look at it.

Paul says in Romans that "we are children of God" (8:16 NRSV) and that we are waiting for adoption, while the who creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God (see vv. 22-23). He indicates that we are not yet fully children of God. This metaphor of adoption into the family of God is based on the idea of becoming "conformed to the image" of Jesus, becoming so like him that we become adopted siblings (v. 29). A similar incompleteness and uncertainty is maintained in the first letter of John, which says that we are God's children now, but what we will be has not yet been revealed (see 1 John 3:2). And finally, in the Acts of the Apostles 17: 28-29, Paul expands the "we" when he affirms to the Greeks, to whom he was is preaching, and who are not followers of Jesus, "We are God's offspring".
Sawyer, "EMH", p. 47

Ok, so, let's look at this.

Romans 8:12-17
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For is you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deed of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until no. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

First off, who is Paul writing too? He specifically addresses "brethren", by which we may understand fellow Christians like himself. And Romans was a letter addressed to a church or churches, thus to fellow Christians. It was not, then, addressed to those who were not Christians. Therefore, to say that Paul is making some kind of statement about the universal condition of all people being "children of God" is unwarranted from this passage.

I John 3 1-2
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

And here again, we the writer is addressing those who are Christians. He even makes the contrast with Christians and those in the world. And it is later in that same passage that the passage above from Torrey's book is taken, the one about children of God and children of the devil.

The most problematic one was in Acts 17.

Acts 17:28-29
for in Him we live an dmove and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring'. Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising.

This one was problematic for me, because I think I understood it, but was not certain how to defend my understanding for a while.

I found this in Torrey's book. It's a bit tricky to put here, though, because one part makes mention of two Greek words, and I'm not able to type those letters here. I'll do the best approximations I can with it.

The doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God is utterly unscriptural and untrue. It is true that all men are His offspring, stock, race, or nation (Acts 17:28, 'yevog' not 'tenva', see usage in Greek concordance), is the sense of being His creatures, having our being in Him, and being made in His likeness. (see context, verses 28-29). But we become His "sons" or "children" by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26 RV, John 1:12 RV).
Torrey, pp. 353-354

I am with Torrey in this, and against Sawyer. All people are God's creations, so are of value in that sense. But we are not all God's children. Although I respect that she tried to make a biblical case for her position (which puts her ahead of some others), her case is rather weak.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008



THIRD—There is nothing wrong with being a Christian or even a Western Christian, if that’s your cultural background. But there is something far better and that is to be a follower of Jesus. The largest spiritual movements in the world are happening among Animists in Africa, Buddhists and Hindus in Asia, Muslims and Jews in the Middle East, atheists and agnostics in China and even Christians in the USA. This movement numbers in the millions who do not identify themselves with Christianity or Western Christianity, but sincerely and enthusiastically call themselves followers of Jesus. They love and worship Jesus!

How can this be? Because Jesus is more preeminent than we have let Him be. He is so much greater than any Christian can ever lift up and He must be lifted up. As He is lifted up Jesus will draw all men and women to Him, because He is the most attractive, the most irresistible and the most relevant ever. If the Creator-God were to ever take on flesh and become man, God would look like Jesus.

One problem with these paragraphs has to do with an unclearness in phrasing. The writer speaks of "The largest spiritual movements...", but then directly after saying things about "This movement...". Either a mistake was made there, or not. And if not, then he is saying behind all of those large spiritual movements there is in reality one movement encompassing all of them.

If that is so, then we have to contend with the assertion that he is saying that animists, Buddhists, Hindus, et al., are in to his mind "followers of Jesus" who "love and worship Jesus", despite the fact that few of them actually really worship Jesus, but something else.

Whic is, of course, the whole universalism and "all roads lead to God" things, which the Bible will have no truck with.

Of course, if may simply be some awkward phrasing and misspelling. I do plenty of that, so have no place to stand in saying overly much about that. It would be good if it were to be clarified, though, because such sentiments coming from that source are not so very surprising.

another's summations

And they are pretty good, too, considering whose they are.

The Emergent Church: Emergence or Emergency?

I think Giesler does a good job of showing the contradictions in the emergent's positions. It's an interesting read, and worth it.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Believers must give up old loyalties in order to create a space for the kingdom to come. Nationalism, individualism, and consumerism are a few of the idealogies that must be reappropriated or completely abandoned in light of the coming reign of God...

According to N.T. Wright, Jesus stated that all loyalties had to acquiesce to loyalty to the new kingdom. All forms of power had to be relinquished. Satan, not Rome, was their enemy now, thus ending all forms of nationalism and violence. If one wanted to pursue the kingdom of God, old, former loyalties had to give way to new kingdom-oriented ones...
Gibbs and Bolgar, Emerging Churches, p. 91, 92

Perhaps they could have told us where, exactly, the Bible tells us this.

For example, Paul was a Roman citizen who seemed to not think it wrong to be one, and even to make use of it at times. In Philippi, he uses it to demand an in-person apology from the officials who had who imprisoned him and Silus wrongly. Later, he uses it to keep from getting beaten in Jerusalem, and then to make his appeal to Caesar. In Romans, Paul still refers to Israel both as "my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh" and as "God's people".

One may rightly point out that we Christians have a higher loyalty to God, "we ought to obey God rather than men". That is very true, but that doesn't make all other loyalties of no effect. The fact that we are the Bride of Christ does not mean that married Christians have the right to abandon their spouses on a whim, and even in the New Testament marriage is treated as a high and serious thing. Similarly, simply because our citizenship is in Heaven doesn't mean we can blithely disregard and abandon our earthly citizenships and duties.

Nationalism, if by that is meant things like love of country and patriotism, is not something that must of necessity be relinquished. Yes, it must be kept in its proper place, as must all other loves and loyalties. I think Lewis put it something like this in 'The Four Loves', that only by loving God firstly can we love others rightly. But loving God rightly does not necessarily mean that we cease loving others.

Friday, November 7, 2008

we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

It's been a couple of days since election day. Trying to figure how to think about it has not been easy.

Falling into extreme pessimism has been most tempting, and not without reason. That such a person was chosen for our highest office is something that I still cannot comprehend. Although I say that the media is complicent in it because of how they tried to hide and spin all the things about him, in the end the people knew what he was. They knew what he said to Joe the plumber, and knew what it meant. They knew his stands on abortion and even infanticide. They knew the type of person he was, and they chose him anyway.

Very well. The people have spoken. Now we shall see what comes of it.

I am not completely pessimistic. For one thing, he is, after all, a politician, and one of the cheapest currencies in the world is a politician's promise.

Also, I am not forgetful of things in Scripture. Although not a king, perhaps there is something to be said for "The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord, and He turns it wherever He wills". I have consoled myself a time or two with that thought that "What has been intended for evil, God can turn to good".

But let us not be naive and dreamy, either. Even if he only accomplishes a bit of what he has said, it will be quite damaging enough. If he sets up the economy the way he wants, the damage will be serious. If he gets something like the Fairness Doctrine passed, free speech will be damaged, and I can't help but think that hate crimes laws will not be long in following and will be used to further restrict speech. If he passes the abortion legislation he wants, then any gains done in recent times will be set back. If he makes immorality normal and legal in marriage, then we will have lost all claims to being a moral people.

So, what now???

It is easy to use Scripture out-of-context here. I could pull out "If my people...will humble themselves, and pray...then I will forgive their sins, and heal their land". And there is much to be said for what is being said there. We do need to humble ourselves, pray and seek God's face, and turn from our sins. We need to repent.

I'm not going to say that passage is necessarily applicable to us. If we do those things, perhaps God will heal our land. If we repent, he will forgive our sins. But I think that promise was given to a certain people, a people called Israel, and we the church aren't them. But the passage still gives good advice.

Now, if the repentence were to be truly national, then maybe our land could be healed. But I'm not a pollyanna, and if anyone reads this, they are likely already Christ's, or at least think they are.

We need to repent. I couldn't care lesser about having big services in large churches or stadiums with lots of people gathered and weeping on each other's shoulders. I couldn't care less about the theatrics. We need real repentence, not a show. And by 'we' I mean myself as much as anyone reading this.

We, the church, need to repent. If others who are not Christians can be led to repentence, then all the better for them and for us.

We need to repent of abiding the presence of wolves among the sheep. No small list could be made of those wolves, and no doubt disagreements would arise in some cases of which is which, but let us start with some that are obvious--those who are ecumenical to the degree of saying that all religions are ways to God; those who would deny or abide the presence of those who deny basic biblical doctrines such as the Godhead and Christ's death and resurrection and ascension; those who make the Gospel about health and wealth and manipulating God into blessing them; those who would trade eternal life for some kind of supposed utopia on earth.

How often have we seen the dark and ugly side of things like the Word of Faith preachers? It is to our shame and those scam scum can not only still do their thing, but get wealthy doing it.

How often have we seen how shallow and wrong this new apostolic and prophetic movement is? I wish there were prophets, but if there are any, they aren't in Kansas City, or Pensacola, or Toronto, or any other such place. How many more trainwrecks like Bentley do we need to see that there is something deadly wrong with what their saying and doing? It is to our shame that we have abided such things, falling for their supposed manifestations, trading in sound doctrine for barking like dogs in church aisles.

There are no doubt other things that we need to repent of. Some may point out how divorce in the churhc is no better than in the world, and maybe they are right, but I am cautious about that. How many of those people turned to Christ after being divorced? How many are cases of Christians who fell but have repented and been restored? We must be wise in how we view such stats, while also considering that they may be showing us a problem.

We need to return to the Bible, and what it says, and preach that.

I cannot promise the same blessing that the passage above promises, except the part about God forgiving those who repent, because I do not think that will happen, at least at this time, and I've already given one reason why, that those promises are not really directed to us. Perhaps a day will come when our land will be healed, but it will not come until Christ returns. But I'm not speaking to a nation, but to the church.

I am not a Word of Faith sycophant, nor a dominionist of any stripe. What I see in the Bible is "If they hated Me, they will hate you as well" and "All those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution". Some I have heard and read seem to say that if we get right with God, we can expect favor with the world and even a sort of christianization of the world. I think that much the opposite is what would happen.

I am not a bold man. I am not a preacher. I don't know how all of this will work out for any of you, or even myself. The threads that surround us are huge, I would even say worldwide. The fact that we may have a bad and even ungodly leader is not new in history, but the seeming global quality of it all is new. And we shouldn't ignore that.

Before our God, we must be humble and pray and turn from our sins. Before people, we must stand firm, and expect persecution and ridicule and rejection. Some will hear, and repent and believe. Many will not. Let's go ahead and accept now that it will be so.

The time is short. I can give no advice on what specifics any of us should do outside of what I've said above. God will be with us, though, if we are with Him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

enemies, enemies everywhere!!!!

The fact is, all religions of the world are under threat--from fundamentalist Islam, but more, from the McDonaldization and Wal-Martization of the world, from global consumerism, from forces that emanate not from Arabia and Afghanistan, but from New York and Hollywood--forces that make religion equally superfluous, trivial compared to the lust for a new car or a new pair of jeans.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 286

Yeah, because we all know that Ronald McDonald really, under that clown suit, wants to do away with all religions in the world and set up a Big Mac Mecca. Because we all know that sometime in the next few years, Wal-Mart is going to declare jihad and seek to run bomb-filled delivery trucks into Krogers, K-Mart, and Ikea stores. We all know that people can't drink Starbucks and claim any loyalty and affiliation to any religion but Starbucks.

Or maybe McLaren has been reading a little too much cyber-punk.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

spinning things as worse then they were

In ancient Israel, the categories clean and unclean maintained identity and established boundaries, and contact with outcasts, sinners, or lepers made one unclean. In conjunction with the holiness laws and food laws, the priest declared who was in and who was out. The sinners, the outcasts, the oppressed, the poor, and the hungry were despised and were definitely out.
Gibbs and Bolgar, Emerging Churches, p. 118

Ok, let's see...

Where did they get any of that???

I mean, really, where in the Law does God tell the people that being oppressed, or poor, or hungry made a person or a people 'unclean' and "definitely out"?

While I don't have a list of the thing that the law declared unclean or said made a person unclean for a time, I have no recall of something like social status being one of those things.

In fact, one can find places in the law where room is left for the caring of those kinds of people. For the hungry, there were the rules about gleaning the fields, which can seen illustrated in the book of Ruth. It wasn't a welfare or handout system, they still needed to do the work of gathering from the fields, but it is there. And there are places in the law where they are warned to not show favoritism to either the rich or the poor, but to judge justly. There were laws about, for example, not keeping a person's coat overnight, so that they could be warm.

If they want to comment on how the law may have been twisted, they may have a point. But to me I do not think they make that distinction. At least in the above, they make it seem almost arbitrary, that the priests made the decisions based solely on their own opinions, and not on the Law God gave the people.

Monday, November 3, 2008

can you spare us a change (please)???

A comic that works on so many levels

In both the religious and political spheres, it would be good if people considered that 'change' is nothing in itself. Simply because something is 'different' doesn't mean it's 'good', or even 'better' than what is here and now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

being fair to the Law

In ancient Israel, the categories clean and unclean maintained identity and established boundaries, and contact with outcasts, sinners, or lepers made one unclean. In conjunction with the holiness laws and food laws, the priest declared who was in and who was out. The sinners, the outcasts, the oppressed, the poor, and the hungry were despised and were definitely out.
Gibbs and Bolgar, Emerging Churches, p. 118

Ok, let's see...

Where did they get any of that???

I mean, really, where in the Law does God tell the people that being oppressed, or poor, or hungry made a person or a people 'unclean' and "definitely out"?

While I don't have a list of the things that the Law declared unclean or said made a person unclean for a time, I have no recall of something like social status being one of those things.

In fact, one can find places in the law where room is left for the caring of those kinds of people. For the hungry, there were the rules about gleaning the fields, which can seen illustrated in the book of Ruth. It wasn't a welfare or handout system, they still needed to do the work of gathering from the fields, but it is there. And there are places in the law where they are warned to not show favoritism to either the rich or the poor, but to judge justly. There were laws about, for example, not keeping a person's coat overnight, so that they could be warm.

If they want to comment on how the law may have been twisted, they may have a point. But to me I do not think they make that distinction. At least in the above, they make it seem almost arbitrary, that the priests made the decisions based solely on their own opinions, and not on the Law God gave the people.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Imagine an adult human with a double Ph.D. in engineering and ornithology trying to use grass, feathers, scraps of paper, and mud to build a common robin's nest. His fingers and thumbs form a muddy blob that would crumble in the first rainstorm. Then imagine a robin building the same next with nothing but her beak. The robin (as far as I can tell) doesn't know that she knows how to build a nest and doesn't know how she knows, but she knows; she has a feel for it, as we see every spring. She can do something the certified, lettered expert human can't. Her unknown knowledge illustrates the deepest level of human knowledge that is learned not just from a "teacher" but from a "master". If you ask, "How do you do that, how do you know that?"--the only answer can be, "I don't know; I just know!"

This is the kind of inwardly formed learning that Jesus, as master, teaches his apprentices; a knowledge about how to live that can't be reduced to information, words, rules, books, or instruction, but rather that must be seen in the words-plus-example of the Master.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 96

Ok, can anyone understand what the heck he's trying to say?

Is he trying to tell us that being a Christian is like being a bird? That God pours the knowledge of how to be a Christian into us, so that we know what to do like a bird knows how to build a nest? Because there does not seem to be a "master bird" that goes around teaching other birds how to build nests.

And isn't the whole "knowledge...that can't be reduced to information, words, etc..." just a cop-out? Isn't that just a way of saying "I'm right, just don't ask me to prove it"? Isn't that just his way of telling us to not ask him to expect him to give biblical support to his position, and even to not question when what he says goes against the Bible?

Friday, October 24, 2008

ooooo, heaven is a place on earth???

Because our questions about the afterlife have risen out of the Greek worldview, rather than the Hebrew culture of the early church, it's not surprising that we can find very little in the way of answers. But if we are willing to suspend the need for answers to those questions for a bit, I believe we find a whole other set of questions that are worth pursuing with equal passion.

The early Christians saw heaven not as a place we go to but as a reality that comes to us. They talked about redemption and healing coming through God's creation, not apart from it. They believed we would live as freed bodies in this healed place, not as freed spirits in some other place.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 228-229


Praise by to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a lving hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,

who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I Peter 1:3-5

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,

because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

We live by faith, not by sight.

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may recieve what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
I Corinthians 5:1-10

Jesus replied. "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor by given in marriage; they will be like the angels of heaven.

But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you,

"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"?

He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
Matthew 22:29-32

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
I Thessalonians 4:13-14

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
I Thessalonians 5:10

The Bible does say much about how things will be set right when Christ returns, among men and in all Creation; however, in regards to the earth, it also says that it is "reserved for fire", and that we look for "new heavens and a new earth", which seems to be something similar but different to what we have now.

As such, then, I think that Pagitt must do more then just claim that the early church didn't see Heaven as a place they would go to. Paul is pretty plain that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". That doesn't negate the things said about Christ's rule when He returns, but those don't negate the other, either. Jesus said that in His day Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were living, and in the Transfiguration He converses with Moses and Elijah, who in body had been dead hundreds of years, and for Moses well over a thousand years.

And consider such biblical passages as are above, I think we can say that they did see Heaven as a place. A place where those who died before are, and where we go after we die.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

so, where did he get that idea?

Jesus made it clear that the afterlife isn't a place. It's a state of being...

While it might not seem like it at first glance, even Jesus' comments about "going to prepare a place for you" and "in my Father's house there are many rooms" come from the rabbinic tradition and are meant to create a picture of God's redemption on earth.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 222-223

Although not as footnotes-happy as Bell or Tony Jones, Pagitt does have several in this book; however, when he makes this contention about Jesus' statement about His Father's house having many rooms, there are no footnotes, and no support is given to his claims about the interpretation he claims.

Also, there is the disciple's own reactions, recorded in the passages in John, to Jesus' statement. They are troubled by His words, and ask where He was going, and are in sorrow that He would leave.

If they knew He was only using figurative language, then why did it bother them so much? Would they not have welcomed it if it had been "a picture of God's redemption on earth"?

You heard me say, "I am going away and I am coming back to you." If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
John. 14:28-29

Perhaps Pagitt has some kind of supports for his claims. But if so, what are they? What rabbinic tradition is it that says what he claims? Why is his claim not supported? Could no specifics have been given, no specific resource cited?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

creative misplacing of priorities

Worship expressed both verbally and through a full range of artistic expression is a unique human activity on earth. Witness and mission are the outflow of that worship commitment. Consequently, it is given the highest priority.

Jonny Baker (Grace, London) highlights the central importance of creativity. "It's a core value for me and Grace. I would say that being made in the image of God, among other things, is about creativity. ...""The creativity of God is linked to the realization of the kingdom of God in our midst," says Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch (Minneapolis). "The phrase 'the kingdom of God as the creativity of God' I made up as tha way of explaining how God and humanity interact."

Art is our participation in God.
Gibbs and Bolger, Emerging Churches, p. 175-176, 177

One thing I've noticed in things I've read and listened to from various emergents, is how much they stress creativity, even to the point, as Pagitt does in the quotes above, of linking it to God's kingdom, making it almost synonamous with it.

While I do think that creativity is a good thing, I find a lot that keeps me from putting such emphasis on it, and making it such a great virtue or core value. Let me try to explain.

I am a single man, having never been married, but as it perhaps usual with some of my age in such a situation I have a bit of history of being 'in love' several times. Looking back on those instances and the women to whom I had feelings, I can say that in few if any cases were any of them very artistic women, and that I don't recall such creativity or lack thereof as being of much importance to me. Some of them may have been musician to a certain degree, or tried their hands at poetry, but those weren't the things that seemed to define them.

Rather, when I look back on them, it was other things about them and their character that were the things that drew me to them. Some of them I consider to be true saints in regards to the works they did, or things they overcame, or the sacrifices they made. Almost all were good and godly, who wanted to obey God and show Him to others. No doubt they were creative, but in what I would call a practice sense--using their creativity to help solve normal or even not-so-normal problems.

When I look at the New Testament, I see very little if anything said about creativity. None of the instances of the Great Commissions say anything about it; rather, they seem to presuppose that we already have the message, the Gospel, that we are to take to the world. We are told nothing about the Apostle's artisitc abilities, and since most were what would be considered 'common men', we may presume that they had very little. Nor do we have record of them ever encouraging their congregants to explore their artistic creativity.

In the list of spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit, artistry and creativity are notably lacking.

Even in what may be thought of as the more expressive spiritual gifts, like prophecy and tongues and interpretation, there is little room, if any, for personal creativity. A prophet was to share what had been given to him, a person speaking in tongues likely did not understand what he was saying and so had to rely on the interpretor to translate.

Finally, I'm not unfamiliar with the lives of some very creative people, and frankly while I may admire thier works, other parts of their lives would give me pause. Berlioz, Wagner, Lord Byron, Whitman, van Gogh, to some degree or another were not people who showed godly character traits. As a chess player, I can think of Alekhine and Fischer as examples of great players who were of very questionable character. And to play the extreme card, I could point out that Nero was a poet and Hitler an artist.

As someone who could maybe be labelled a 'creative', though in a very low-grade sense, I can appreciate creativity and the arts to some degree. But that also means I can appreciate the limits of artistic creativity, and I want to say quite clearly that I see no call to artistic creativity in the New Testament, that a person can be a Christian without ever picking up a paint brush or writing a line of verse.

So be at peace, you who have no desire to paint pictures or write poetry or who have little to no musical abilities, you are not second-class Christians in any sense. There is no biblical command for you to be any such thing; rather, consider well the things the Bible does command of us--to live pure and holy lives, to be Christ's witness to the world, to take the Gospel to the world, among other things--and see that one does not need special artistic abilities or special creativity in order to do those things.

And for those who are artists and musicians and such, beware if you think yourself somehow special and above those who are not. You may have your places, but those places are no higher or holier then anyone elses. And don't think that painting or writing puts you above the need to communicate the truth, or that you are above accountability because you are 'creative'. Be grateful to God for the gifts He's given to you, and use them for His glory.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

using fakes to dismiss the real

Ironically, though, when many modern Christians use the word sovereign (another form of "kingship" or "lordship"), they make matters worse, much worse, because for them, sovereignty means absolute control, and control is a very tricky word. Again, if you're living in danger and chaos, to say, "A good king will soon be in control," would be good news.

But it's not good news at all if you live, as we do, at the end of modernity, a period that told us in a hundred different ways how we're already controlled: by our genes (genetic determinism), by class struggle (Marxism), by primitive psychological aggressions (Freudianism), be operant conditioning (Skinnerism), by evolutionary competition (social Darwinism), by laws of physics and chemistry (naturalism, reductionism), by linguistic and social constructions (some forms of extreme postmodernism), by Euro-American military and economy (colonialism), by technique and machinery (industrialism), and by advertising (consumerism).
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 89

So, because a bunch of pretenders are claiming the throne of sovereignty, we must kick God off of that throne?

Or, should we recognize that God is sovereign despite (maybe even because of) the presence of all of those pretenders.

And if I may say, some of those pretenders are themselves simply pretenders in McLaren's mind. I mean, really, can advertising really make people do things? It may be manipulative at times, but manipulation can only go so far.

And, as well, this supposed distaste of people today to the idea of a good king cannot explain, for example, why people today are so fond of Tolkien. One of the main points of the "Lord of the Rings" is that a good and sovereign king (insofar as a human king can be sovereign) is coming and has come to take his rightful throne, taking over for a great but insane man and having a part in defeating a demonic power. Or how many people like Lewis' Narnia stories, which again often revolve around the establishing of good kings and queens. Or the continued interest in King Arthur.

Perhaps in the supposed progressive circles Mclaren runs in, the idea of a soverign king either isn't viewed positively (unless one of themselves should hold that throne), or is denied. But out here in the real world, it's still powerful and very meaningful.

But in the end our human reactions to such things are meaningless. If the Bible says that God is sovereign, then He is so, and any distaste in the idea is wrong.

Monday, October 20, 2008

the emergent shift?

"Preach the gospel to all creation," Christ said. Are we only now beginning to understand what he meant? I believe the unwritten melody that haunts this book ever so faintly, the new song waiting to be sung in place of the hymn of salvation, is simply the song of creation. To move away from the theology of salvation to the theology of creation may be the task of our time.
Vincent Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered, quoted in McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, pp. 100-101

One of those 'in a nutshell' statements--Heaven is traded for earth, salvation is discarded in exchange for saving the world, love of the world pursued.

Plus, I suppose we could ask, where did Jesus say to preach the gospel to all creation (as if either Donovan or McLaren were Creationists, we may wonder). Preach it to every nation, all peoples, yes. All of creation? Book, chapter, and verse, please.

Friday, October 17, 2008

getting it all backwards

He (Vincent Donovan) explains, "I was to learn that any thoelogy or theory that makes no reference to previous missionary experience, which does not take that experience into account, is a dead and useless thing...praxis must be prior to theology...In my work [theology would have to proceed] from practice to theory. If a theology did emerge from my work, it would have to be a theology growing out of the life and experience of the pagan peoples of the savannahs of East Africa". Similarly, I have become convinced that a generous orthodoxy appropriate for our postmodern world will have to grow out of the experience of the post-Christian, post-secular people of the cities of the twenty-first century.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 100

If the whole postmodern virus as it concerns religion could be summed up in one small phrase, a good one would be "praxis must be prior to theology".

Or to sum up in other words, "we have to do everything backwards".

We have to change the message of the Gospel to fit, so we think, the heathen peoples to whom we are suppose taking to Gospel to. We have to know what the people want so we can give it to them, rather then giving them what they need.

(and if you live in the country, tough bananas, pal, because they're only concerned about "the post-Christian, post-secular people of the cities of the twenty-first century"/.)

Instead of going to the Bible to see what message we should give to the heathen, we go to the heathen to see what message we should give to them.

Because Jesus said "Go into all the world, and get from them the gospel". Didn't he???

As someone who spent a few years in missions himself, I can only say that these men's ideas are hogwash.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

friends in low places

No. The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat. We should be seen as a protector of their heritages, a defender against common enemies, not one of the enemies. Just as Jesus came originally not to destroy the law but to fulfill it, not to condemn people but to save them, I believe he comes today not to destroy or condemn anything (anything but evil) but to redeem and save everything that can be redeemed and saved.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 287

What is evil but religions that teach people to worship and serve other beings but the true God? What is evil but religions that teach people to seek their own salvations in their own works--acts of 'righteousness', pursuit of nothingness, an unending cycle of reincarnation?

There is the definition of evil. True Christianity cannot but be the enemy of such things, as even Jesus and the Apostles knew.

Other religions are the enemies of God, and as such the enemies of the people in those religions. Those religions are misleading the people, giving them false hopes and false assureances, and as the Truth Christianity cannot be anything else but the enemy of those things.

Christianity must love the people in other religions enough to tell them the truth, that they are worshiping what is not true, worshiping devils and demons, thinking they are saved when in reality they are lost, and telling them to repent and leave those things and come to the living God.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

two important facts about every one of us

It's one thing to recite these confessions and statements in a Sunday school class. It's a very different thing to live out a theology of inherent depravity (that humans start out lacking anything good). We can say we believe that humanity is evil and depraved and that we enter the world this way. But I don't think this fits the Christian story, nor do many of us truly hold to it.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 124


...The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They begain with the fact of sin--a fact as practical as potatoes. whether or not man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not merely materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proven...The strongest saints and the strongest skeptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all athiests do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.
Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 11

And further...

...I mean, I've never heard of someone walking the halls of a maternity ward and saying, "Oh, what a collection we have here of dirty, rotten, little sinners who are separate from God and only capable of evil!" Rather, the impulse is to say, "What wondrous, beautiful miracles." Or to borrow a phrase from the creation story, "It is very good." New life just doesn't seem to fit with this notion of inherent depravity.
Pagitt, p. 124

In the Bible, we are told two very important facts about ourselves. One, which Pagitt seems to have no problem accepting, is that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made". He is right that babies are "wondrous, beautiful miracles", though if he thinks that is such a prevalent attitude, he should check the numbers on abortion.

But the Bible also gives us another fact, which Pagitt unwisely seeks to discard. It tells us that we have been "shaped in iniquity, and conceived sin", and that we "come out of the womb speaking lies". We are told that "all of the works we think are righteous are only putrid rags". In that since, the man calling children in maternity wards "dirty, rotten, little sinners" is speaking as much truth as the one calling them "wondrous, beautiful miracles". Both things are true, and unless one accepts that both are true, nothing the Bible teaches about us makes sense, and one must mutilate and truncate the Bible, as Pagitt does, to disregard the one so as to wholely cling to the other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

deconstructing Jesus???

I think Jesus is right because I believe God was in Jesus in an unprecedented way.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 77

God was in Jesus???

So, what is Jesus in this?

Is the divinity of Jesus being dismissed here??? God was only in Jesus, not Jesus being God???

Even his explanations over the next few pages leave me unsatisfied in regards to what he thinks here. Rather, after some kind of lengthy politically correct apology about the use of masculine terms in regard to God and Jesus, we get this...

...the experience of God in Jesus was so powerful that it forever transformed what followers of Jesus meant when they said the word God. What was God like? What was God about? When they thought about what they had learned, seen, and experienced in Jesus, their understanding was revolutionized. Eventually, after a few centuries of reflecting on God as revealed and experienced through Jesus (in the context of some major controversies with varied forms of Greek philosophy), the church began to describe God as Father-Son-Spirit in Tri-unity or the Trinity.
p. 84

Is he really trying to say that the Church had no idea of the divinity of Jesus until a few centuries after the Scriptures were completed? Is he trying to say that the early church was unitarian, or thought that Jesus was just some kind of good man, a great ethical teacher, or some kind of ascended master?

Seriously, as I'm writing this, I'm feeling sickened. Why would anyone who names themselves Christian listen to this man? Doesn't this absolutely disqualify him from being any kind of Christian teacher? His ramblings about Marxism and liberation theology and pacifism could maybe be relegated to non-essentials (though I stress the 'maybe'), but this cannot be, and for him to say what he's saying and to infer what he's inferring is heretical to the core.

Look it up. The page numbers are up there. Look at things in context, and confirm or not that what I'm saying is real.

Monday, October 13, 2008

seeing what's really there

...Recently I received an e-mail from an intelligent, young, "religiously right" Christian (intelligent enough to use e-mail) who told me he expects to die as a martyr at the hands of "liberals." How many hours of religious broadcasting does it take to produce this much fear.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 278

Leaving the snide remark about how a "religiously right" Christian could dare to be intelligent enough to use e-mail...

(especially as he likely doesn't dare to acknowledge the discovery by McLaren of Jesus' supposed 'secret message', which somehow the Church for 2000 years had missed)

Likely it doesn't take many hours of such broadcasting. Likely it doesn't require any at all.

Maybe this young Christian merely has his eyes open.

Maybe he's noticed how any biblical opinion he holds is being labelled "hate speech" or "not progressive" or something else in order to be dismissed.

Maybe he's noticed how his education system is set deliberately to minimize his views. Maybe he's seen how nothing but evolution is allowed in his school, and that not by force of evidence but force of law. Maybe he's seen how other religions are being welcomed into his schools, except his own. Maybe he's seen how his country's history is distorted and his country defamed by teachers and professors with their own liberal agendas.

Maybe he's noticed how people like McLaren will bend over backwards to accept and acknowledge almost every other viewpoint as being worthy of being in 'the conversations'. Except his own.

Maybe he's noticed how the liberals are actively trying to silence people like himself. Maybe he's seen how his churches can't speak out about who should lead his nation without the liberal bulldogs of the ACLU threatening to silence them. Maybe he's seen how "hate speech" laws are going to be used to silence him from speaking of the biblical views of things like homosexuality. Maybe he's heard of the misnamed 'fairness act', meant to shut down conservative talk radio, and notices that liberals aren't a concerned about how their own liberal television bastions aren't a part of that so-called 'fairness'.

Maybe he's noticed how the media will opening plug anyone and anything liberal, playing the 'victim' card ad nauseum, while being openly and actively hostile to all things conservative.

Maybe this young man has his eyes more open then McLaren does.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

spinning lewis

We've said it again and again in these pages: the secret message of Jesus isn't primarily about "heaven after you die". It doesn't give us an exit ramp or escape hatch from this world; rather, it thrusts us back into the here and now so we can be part of God's dream for planet Earth coming true.
McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 183

It rather honks me off that in the chapter in which he writes that sentence, he quotes C.S. Lewis rather a lot, as if Lewis was on his side in this, as if Lewis is some kind of 'posthumous Friend of Emergent' (dare I say, an 'emergent zombie'? Ht the movie "An American Carol" and ACLU zombies). Read these, please, and see if you think that Lewis thought that ideas of Heaven (notice I capitalize that name, and notice that McLaren doesn't) was some kind of 'escape hatch'.

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither.
Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 134

'...If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for the other world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing...I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.'
Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 136-137

The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph...

The doctrine of the Second Coming, then, is not to be rejected because it conflicts with our favorite modern mythology. It is, for that very reason, to be the more valued and made more frequently the subject of meditation. It is the medicine our condition especially needs.
Lewis, The World's Last Night, pp. 105, 106

Lewis does not seem to at all denigrate the hope of the 'other world' as McLaren seems to do. Lewis even equates those who have a healthy hope for life after death with those who do the most good here on earth, as opposed to emergents who seem at best embarrassed by the afterlife and either cite some kind of 'Platonic dualism' or try to shift focus away from it as quickly as they can.

But emergents can't get away with it. They have aimed for earth instead of Heaven, and so shall have neither. They shall, no doubt with the best on intentions (such as the ones that pave the way to hell), redefine and deconstruct the Bible to fit their own presuppositions (all while condemning the presuppositionalism of others), embrace other religions as being other ways to God (all while condemning those in their own religion who know the Bible teaches otherwise), and support politics that legislate for their favorite pet ideas, like global warming and the redistribution of wealth (all while ridiculing those who focus on real moral issues, like the murder of the unborn and the legalizing of sexual immoralities).

And so, they will pollute earth, because they will not have people think of Heaven.