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Archive for January, 2010

 

This is a very great burden to some earnest people. They go from convention to convention, from one speaker to another, notebook in hand, so eager to get the blessing (as they term it) and often thinking more of the rapture of the gift than of the person of the Giver.  And because they hear others having experiences that they know not, they carry heavy burdens of disappointment and self-reproach.

Equally well might a child in kindergarten fret because he is not entered in the higher classes of the school.  But why should he worry about his future progress?  His one business is to acquire the lessons set him by his teacher.  When those are learned it will be for the teacher to teach his pupil more and to advance him to positions where quicker progress may be made.  Lord Jesus sets before us day by day, leaving Him to lead us into the fuller knowledge and love of God.

Thomas was one of the dull pupils in our Master’s school.  He could not see what was clear to all beside. But instead of chiding him and leaving him to grope in the dark, the Master paid him a special visit and made the glad fact of His resurrection so simple that the doubter was able to rejoice with the rest.  Don’t worry about your dullness; it will only mean that the dear Master will give you longer and more personal attention.  Mothers give more pains to the sickly, weak, and slow among the children.

 

This is the 2nd excerpt taken from F. B. Meyer’s book on The Secret of Guidance, under the section on Burdens, and What to Do With Them – EmmausTrekker

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I am currently reading F. B. Meyer’s book entitled, The Secret of Guidance – Moody Classics, Moody Press 1997.  The section on ‘burdens’ presents encouragements which I will be posting in short excerpts under the new category of ‘Cast Your Burden Upon the Lord’.  May each reader find the source of his strength and hope only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

EmmausTrekker

 

The one cure for burden-bearing is to cast all burdens on the Lord.  The margin of the Revised Version of Psalm 55:22 reads thus: “Cast that He hath given thee upon the Lord.”  Whatever burden the Lord has given you, give it back to Him. Treat the burden of care as once you did the burden of sin; kneel down and deliberately had it over to Jesus.  Say to Him, “Lord, I entrust to You this, and this, and this.  I cannot carry them, they are crushing me, but I definitely commit them all to You to manage, and adjust and arrange,  You have taken my sins.  Take my sorrows, and in exchange give me Your peace and Your rest.”  As George Herbert says, “We must put them all into Christ’s bag.”

Will not our Lord Jesus be at least as true and faithful as the best earthly friend we have ever known? And have there not been times in our lives when we have been too weary or helpless to help ourselves and have thankfully handed some wearing anxiety to a good, strong man, sure that when once it was entrusted to him, he would not rest until he had finished it to his satisfaction?  Surely He who loved us enough to die for us may be trusted to arrange all the smaller matters of our daily lives!

Of course, there are one or two conditions that we must fulfill before we shall be able to hand over our burdens to the Lord Jesus and leave them with Him in perfect confidence. We must have cast our sins on Him before we can cast our cares.  We must be at peace with God through the work of our Savior before we can have the peace of God through faith in His gracious interposition on our behalf.  We must also be living on God’s plan, tarrying under the cloud, obeying His laws and executing His plans so far as we know them.  We must also feed faith with promise, for this food is essential to make it thrive.  And when we have done all this we shall find it difficult

To kneel, and cast our load,

E’en while we pray upon our God.

Then rise with lightened cheer.

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By Dr. Albert Mohler

The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist.

The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims.

Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and densely populated villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic.

In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism — mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult.

Haiti’s history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation’s fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history — including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment.

God does judge the nations — all of them — and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign — as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now.

A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening.

God’s rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment.

The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake — at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense — in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption.

Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?

Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts — there would be no hope.

The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe. The entire cosmos awaits the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out for the hope of the New Creation.

In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti — and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.

Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ’s people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ’s people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti?

If you have any doubts about this, take your Bible and turn to John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is God’s message to Haiti.

 

 

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 By Paul Proctor – January 13, 2010 – NewsWithViews.com

I have addressed, on numerous occasions, the Church’s ongoing efforts to reinvent Christianity into a global religion of Results & Relationships by using the powers of pragmatism and consensus to artificially grow itself into something more widely accepted by the world instead of faithfully proclaiming the Word of God “in season and out” as we are commanded to do in 2nd Timothy 4:2. The leaders of the new spirituality and its church growth movement have always had a hard time avoiding the “wide gate” and “broad way” choosing clever methods of “evangelism” that are not only incompatible with God’s Word, but also prove them unwilling to trust Him with the increase – ever looking for something more clever, spectacular and impressive to glory in and boast about to a watching world.

“…for men to search their own glory is not glory.” – Proverbs 25:27b

“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” – 1Corinthians 3:7

There’s no better example of this than a recent story from The Baptist Standard where Christians are encouraged by a “veteran missionary” to employ what’s called “The Camel Method” to evangelize, where the Quran is used, instead of the Bible, to share Christ with Muslims – a method that reportedly utilizes “selected verses” and “doesn’t teach or lecture, but asks questions.”

Isn’t this exactly what dialectically trained facilitators have done for years in many seeker-sensitive and purpose driven churches to draw and hold large and diverse crowds of potential converts with a lot of non-offensive opinion sharing and relationship building in order to find common ground and greater tolerance for one another through compromise and group dynamics? That may be the agenda of global socialists at the United Nations, but it’s not the Bible’s agenda for Christians or the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m sure the UN would have no problem with a program like this where sidelining biblical truths for a contrived unity is celebrated and syncretism is the spirituality of choice.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” – Proverbs 14:12

According to the report, missionary Kevin Greeson, who “has served 16 years with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board,” is “working to start Christian movements among Muslims in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal…” adding that “his goal focuses less on individual conversions and more on starting spiritual movements that will result in thousands of Muslims becoming followers of Christ.”

Greeson: “Our generation can’t afford to be satisfied or happy with winning one lost person to Christ. There are so many lost people, we can’t be happy with that.”

“…I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” – Luke 15:10

Certainly most Christians would like to see more than one person they witness to repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but where in God’s Word are we commanded to “take up thy Quran” and “go ye into all the world and start a movement?” Sure it sounds lofty and high-minded in our Big Box culture where consumers like to impress each other and get the most for the least; but isn’t this more of an exercise in ecumenical egomania and spiritual sleight-of-hand than humble obedience to Jesus’ call to “take up thy cross” and “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature?”

It’s alarming enough that the Bible is set aside with this method of “evangelism,” but it’s outright heresy that Jesus Christ is presented as the son of Allah, since Allah was widely recognized and worshipped as a pagan moon god even before there was a Mohammed.

How then can the truth set you free if it begins with a lie?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

 

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by Warren Smith (from A “Wonderful” Deception)

Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven movement has, in a relatively short period of time, become what TIME magazine has referred to as a “Purpose Driven empire.”1 The word empire is defined in the dictionary as “supreme rule; absolute power or authority; dominion.” It also means “an extensive social or economic organization under the control of a single person, family, or corporation.”2 For all intents and purposes, Rick Warren has become the titular head-the almost emperor-like CEO-of an increasingly apostate postmodern church. But while Warren continues to be embraced by much of the world and much of the church, it is not too late for people to reconsider their involvement with him and his Purpose Driven movement. Here are ten scripturally based reasons why people with any love of the truth should not involve themselves in Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity:

Ten Basic Reasons

1) Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven movement offers a “Broad Way” Christianity. One of the mysteries of the Christian faith can be found in Jesus’ warning that the way to life is “narrow” and that “few” would actually find it. Jesus is telling us in advance that the “broad way”-no matter how well intentioned-is not from Him. With Rick Warren’s reformation movement based on deeds and not creeds, everyone is invited to partake in this global effort. But biblical principles are watered-down and often cast aside.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

2) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity does not declare “all the counsel of God.” Rick Warren teaches only what he wants to teach from the Bible. As a result, there are many important teachings that he skips over, de-emphasizes, and leaves out-particularly in regard to prophecy and spiritual deception.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:27-31)

3) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity does not discern the spiritual signs of the times. Just as the leaders in Jesus’ day discerned the weather but not the signs of the times, Warren discerns many of the social and economic problems, but not the spiritual signs of the times.

O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matthew 16:3)

4) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity is ignorant of Satan’s devices. Whereas the apostle Paul stated that he and other believers were “not ignorant of Satan’s devices,” Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity states that Satan’s schemes are “entirely predictable.”3 By being ignorant of Satan’s devices, this “Broad Way” Christianity has fallen prey to Satan’s devices-particularly in the area of the New Age/New Spirituality/New Worldview.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

5) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity does not expose spiritual evil. Warren’s version of Christianity does not sound a true warning about the deceptive spirit world and spiritual deception. There is much more to evil than the problems that Rick Warren is seeking to remedy with his Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan. We are told to expose false prophets and false teachers, not to study under them, spiritually join with them, and further their plans.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)

6) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity does not “earnestly contend for the faith.” By not declaring all the counsel of God, by not discerning the signs of the times, by being ignorant of Satan’s devices, and by not exposing spiritual evil, Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity is not fighting “the good fight of faith.”

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 3)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

7) Rick Warren and his “Broad Way” Christianity are loved by the world and it’s leaders. Jesus loved the world, but the world did not love Him. Jesus warned his followers they would be hated, persecuted, and even killed by the world-just as the world hated, persecuted, and killed Him. In his compromised effort to reach out to the world, Warren and his “Broad Way” Christianity have become the world.

They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. (1 John 4:5)

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. (Matthew 10:22) If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matthew 10:25)

8.) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity is engaged in a process of ungodly change. Rick Warren describes himself as a “change agent” but in his attempt to change the world, he and his Purpose Driven movement are actually changing biblical Christianity. The Bible warns about those who push for unbiblical and ungodly change.

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change. (Proverbs 24:21)

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)

For I am the LORD, I change not. (Malachi 3:6)

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)

9) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity is frequently “double-tongued” and “double-minded.” Rick Warren’s attempts to seemingly distance himself from the New Age/New Spirituality while simultaneously spiritually aligning himself with New Age sympathizers is “double-tongued,” “double-minded,” and deceptively self-serving. In the Psalms, David refers to those who speak with “flattering lips” and a “double heart.”

Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. (Psalm 12:1-2)

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (1 Timothy 3:8-9)

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

10) Rick Warren’s “Broad Way” Christianity is “not valiant for the truth.” Warren has demonstrated, in numerous ways, that he is politically and spiritually expedient when it comes to the truth. His “Broad Way” Christianity plays to the world and embraces the world because it is the world. It does not hold fast to the truth because it is not “valiant for the truth.”

And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth. (Jeremiah 9:3)

If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31)

The Time is Here

The apostle Paul preached the importance of adhering to God’s Word. He warned that the time would come when believers would not endure sound doctrine but would find teachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

As Rick Warren’s “broad way” Christianity seems to be headed down the “broad way” of the New Spirituality, it is very clear that his Purpose Driven movement is anything but the “narrow way” that Jesus Christ described in Matthew 7:14. It is important to understand what is at stake here-the centrality of the Cross as the one and only true Gospel-without which the hope of salvation is lost. Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross for our sins, is the central message of the Gospel. It is the plumb line for ultimately discerning truth from error. But in discerning truth from error, it is essential that we must adhere to all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

Jesus is the one and only Savior-the one and only true Christ. Science cannot and will not prove otherwise (1 Timothy 6:20). God is not “in” everything. We are not Christ, and we are not God. What is born of the flesh is flesh. What is born of the Spirit is spirit. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). It is not “as above, so below.” The apostle John states:

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. (John 3:31)

Jesus Christ is Lord. His name is above all names (Philippians 2:9). He is not the “Jesus” of The Shack, and He is not the “Jesus” of the New Age/New Spirituality. Most assuredly, He is not the “quantum Christ” of a deceived world and an apostate church.

The apostle Paul describes the simplicity of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). According to many of today’s spiritual and religious leaders, it has taken humanity 2000 years to finally “get it.” They say we need quantum physicists, cellular biologists, Ph.D. mathematicians, New Age channelers, and emerging postmodern preachers to finally understand what Jesus was trying to tell us back in the first century. No, this is not the simplicity that Paul was describing. This is the deceptive work of our Adversary as he tries to transform the creation into the Creator and co-opt God’s creation to himself.

Unfortunately, many of today’s pastors have forgotten that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and that we are to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). As a result, the church is now catapulting into great spiritual deception.

For those who still rightly divide and depend upon the Word of God, the Bible warns that the coming deception will be so great that most of the world will be deceived (Revelation 13:13-14). Jesus warned that His way is not the broad way but the “narrow way” of continuing in His Word (John 8:31). And it is His way that leads to eternal life. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)

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Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

 

By Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck

not emergentForeword by David F. Wells

Moody Press, 2008, 256 pp, $14.99

“They just don’t get it.”

I predict that’s what the naysayers of Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck’s new book Why We’re Not Emergent will say.

“They don’t understand me” is one of the slogans of post-moderns, Emergents, and teenagers everywhere. It’s built into their philosophical system. It may be the only solid plank their doctrinal platform has.

In one sense, of course, it’s true. No one but God understands all the way into the depths of every person’s heart (e.g. Prov. 20:24).

And in another sense it’s helpful. For instance, my wife, recognizing that my experience and brain-wiring are quite different than hers, loves and serves obtuse and arrogant me when she says in exasperation, “You’re not understanding me!” When she says this, she’s not referring so much to logical differences as to categorical or perspectival differences, as if a cat were trying to explain its view of the world to a dog. So it is with the Emergents. They are potentially serving and loving non-Emergent evangelicals by insisting, “You’re not getting it,” because it forces us non-Emergents to work harder at getting outside of ourselves and seeking to understand.

CONVERSATION STOPPER

The problem is that this same phrase “You don’t understand me” can be used dismissively, immaturely, impudently. It can be thrown out as a conversation-stopper in order to avoid correction. And it’s my impression that some Emergents, like some teenagers, do just this.

Michigan pastor DeYoung and his church member Kluck, who write alternating chapters in this excellent book, are under no illusions that Why We’re Not Emergent won’t run into these kinds of conversation stoppers. The last page of the penultimate chapter reads, “Those who aren’t inclined to the emergent/emerging thing will probably support most of what we’ve written, and those who call themselves emergent will find a million reasons to find fault with it. The idea that people read much of anything and have their minds changed by it is less and less realistic to me. People, usually, just dig in” (235).

I hope they are wrong. I hope my snarky teenager comparisons are wrong. I hope that those inclined to the “emergent/emerging thing” will themselves at least try to understand what these two men are saying, because it’s the closest thing that I’ve read so far that both “gets” where the Emergents are coming from while at the same time offering a very good critique of the movement’s deficiencies.

PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN

In fact, that’s probably the book’s greatest strength. In addition to describing some of the philosophical and doctrinal deficiencies of the movement, they capture something of its cultural flavor, aroma, texture. DeYoung and Kluck pull the emerging curtain back and point out, “Look, a lot of what you guys are doing is dressing up your cultural preferences with highfalutin language. C’mon.”

Here’s their reaction to pastor and Emergent leader Dan Kimball’s side-by-side comparison charts of the modern church and postmodern church:

Kimball says that preaching in the emerging church “teaches how the ancient wisdom of Scripture applies to kingdom living as a disciple of Christ” while the modern preacher “serves as a dispenser of biblical truths to help solve personal problems in modern life.” Those two sentences would say the same thing if not for Kimball’s choice of language, employing uninspiring words like “dispenser, ” and “solve” for the modern church instead of cool words like “ancient wisdom” and “kingdom living.” Similarly, in the modern church “the Bible is a book to help solve problems and a means to know God,” and “discipleship is based on modern methodology and helps.” Conversely, in the emerging church, “The Bible is a compass for direction and means to experience God,” and “Discipleship is based on ancient disciplines.” Well, who wants problem solving and methodology when you can experience God and use ancient disciplines?

DeYoung and Kluck don’t mean to suggest that the differences between Emergents and non-Emergents is merely terminological. In fact, every other chapter, authored by Pastor DeYoung, is devoted to explaining the significant philosophical and doctrinal differences behind the word groups contrasted in the quote above (to be fair, Dan Kimball describes himself as “Emerging” not “Emergent,” meaning that he doesn’t embrace all those doctrinal differences). Still, non-Emergent readers like me will probably find themselves grateful that these two authors finally return the stereotyping favor that Emergents have used to bless us non-Emergents from the get-go. As they put it, “the emergent critique of the modern church suffers from an over-population of straw men.”

And Emergents, well, I hope that the ever-earnest Emergents will receive the stereotyping—accurate, in my opinion—with good humor, with the ability to not take themselves so seriously, and with the gentle correction that, yes, some of their sacred cows like “authenticity,” “sincerity,” “inconsistency,” “spiritual journey,” and “idiosyncracy” are cultural clichés, too. Like all of us, Emergents have their own set of culturally conforming non-conformities.

REAL AUTHENTICITY

By seeking to understand several of Why Were Not Emergent’s critiques, Emergents might even gain some of what they’re after—like authenticity—as illustrated in a story Kluck tells about attending a funeral at his old church. He describes the building as a place with “folding tables, a drop ceiling, bad carpet, and a potluck lunch” which would “give Dan Kimball a heart attack.” Kluck writes,

This church, like many in America, has survived a great deal. Car wrecks, cancer, extramarital affairs, some bad theology, and the like. But, much like the small town that it’s in, it has taken care of its own. It has mourned with those who mourn. It has delivered meals. It has made countless hospital visits. It has, for the most part, spoken truth and preached the gospel of Christ crucified…Those here [for the funeral] today came to honor the life of a man who lived largely because of a proposition—that sometimes outmoded belief that Christ paid the penalty for our sins, and that we are, because of that, compelled to live for Him, and like Him.

Reflecting on this experience, Kluck continues,

I am reminded that there are still churches and places in this country where one doesn’t have to work at being “authentic.” Authentic isn’t a look you put on in the morning, or a new and snappy way to bathe the sanctuary in “mystery’ through the strategic arrangement of candles and projected images. Authentic is bearing one another’s burdens. Authentic is people coming to a funeral in their work clothes—Carhartts, hospital scrubs, etc.—on a Friday morning.

One of the most downright beautiful aspects of this book is its repeated presentations of this kind of authentic church life together (see especially the chapter “Why I Don’t Want a Cool Pastor”).

NO, WE DON’T GET IT

The trouble with teenagers, of course, is that they think they know it all already. And the trouble with reform movements like the Emergent church is that they assume, by their very nature, they “get” whatever they are trying to reform. They have a “been there, done that” attitude that permeates every conversation. Which makes them somewhat impervious to counter-correction. In their very passion to reform, they can become unreformable.

Emergents might be right about some of the things they want to reform; and they might be right about the majority’s inability to understand. No matter how many times my wife explains to me what it’s like to be my wife, there’s a sense in which I just don’t get it. And sometimes I think that I never will. So let me say to the Emergents, “On behalf of all non-Emergent evangelicals everywhere, no, we don’t understand. We don’t get it.”

That’s unofficial, of course. No ETS or SBC or PCA or CT or DG or T4G or TGC or DAC signature at the bottom of that. Take it for what it’s worth.

So one weakness of DeYoung and Kluck’s book is that there’s a sense in which they may not get it. I don’t say that because I do get it. I already told you that I don’t. But I think that I get what I don’t get which, if you get, you’re getting it just enough to say what you’re not getting. Get it? And I think that DeYoung and Kluck just might back me up on this. But I’m not sure. Also, both of my parents are professional musicians and I grew up surrounded by musicians. If you did as well, you’ll know what I mean in a second.

So with these impressive credentials, let me propose that there’s something of a nineteenth century Romantic impulse dwelling in the heart of the Emergent church—a drive to experience mystery, beauty, majesty, and the heroism that can only follow a profound grappling with all that’s dark in the world. This impulse can never be satisfied with just rational formulations.

There’s also a deep-in-the-gut dissatisfaction with the world as it now is, a dissatisfaction so viscerally intense that it can easily overwhelm one’s better theological judgment and yield a kind of utopianism.

Now I think, although I’m not certain, that DeYoung and Kluck understand all this, but I’m not sure they understand it as well as Emergents want to be understood. And that’s understandable. I don’t understand either. Their ability to write well demonstrates that they are creative men, Kluck especially. But the book still reads like two men who think with their heads. Again, me too. Like all Romantics, Emergents think—and I can only put this vaguely—with their guts, or maybe it’s their hearts. And praise God that some people in this world think with their guts or hearts! I’m grateful that some people don’t want to simply work out mathematical physics equations in classrooms but want to escape into the night and feel the grandeur of the stars. I’m grateful that some people aren’t content only with books of theology but want to enjoy and live even the slightest hints of God’s transformative compassion in song and service. I’m grateful that the injustices of this world weigh more heavily on some than they do on the rest of us.

In short, I believe us proposition-loving types could do a better job of listening to the heart passions of the Emergent church (and if you’re response to words like “heart passions” is anything like mine, then you and me are the ones who could do a little more listening).

Of course, right now any Emergents who made it through the last four paragraphs are probably thinking that I don’t get it at all. What can you do.

BUT PLEASE DON’T JUST SAY…

But even if they—or we—don’t understand you entirely, Emergents, please don’t just say, “These guys don’t get it” and chuck the book on the pile. That’s a conversation stopper; and these two authors get a lot. I’m vain enough to wish I had written their book!

DeYoung and Kluck’s arguments, I believe, are compelling, and their cultural characterizations are revealing. Emergents, I plead with you, please read those aspects of the book carefully and with open hearts. Yes, the Phariseeism that can afflict proposition-loving personalities like mine can send people to hell. But wrong propositions will also send people to hell.

Finally, Emergents and non-Emergents alike should be convicted by DeYoung’s remarkable epilogue, which meditates on Jesus’ words to several of the churches in John’s Revelation. Jesus has words for the doctrinally sound but loveless Ephesians. Jesus has words for the faithful but doctrinally undiscerning Pergamums. Jesus has words for the loving but overly tolerant Thyatirans. Jesus has words for each of us, and Why We’re Not Emergent concludes by wonderfully reminding us of that fact.

Jonathan Leeman is the director of communications for 9Marks and is grateful for both of his Romantic and doctrinally discerning parents.March/April 2008, ©9Marks

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