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Posts Tagged ‘doctrine’

Semper Reformanda

by Michael Horton

If you’ve been in Protestant circles for very long, whether conservative or liberal, you may have heard the phrase “reformed and always reforming” or sometimes just “always reforming.” I hear it a lot these days, especially from friends who want our Reformed churches to be more open to moving beyond the faith and practice that is confessed in our doctrinal standards. Even in Reformed circles of late, various movements have arisen that challenge these standards. How can confessions and catechisms written in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries guide our doctrine, life, and worship in the twenty-first? Liberal Protestants frequently invoked this phrase to justify their captivity to the spirit of the age, but some conservative Protestants also use it to encourage a broader definition of what it means to be Reformed.

But where did this phrase come from? Its first appearance was in a 1674 devotional by Jodocus van Lodenstein, who was an important figure in Dutch Reformed pietism — a movement known as the Dutch Second Reformation. According to these writers, the Reformation reformed the doctrine of the church, but the lives and practices of God’s people always need further reformation.

Van Lodenstein and his colleagues were committed to the teaching of the Reformed confession and catechism; they simply wanted to see that teaching become more thoroughly applied as well as understood. However, here is his whole phrase: “The church is reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God.” The verb is passive: the church is not “always reforming,” but is “always being reformed” by the Spirit of God through the Word. Although the Reformers themselves did not use this slogan, it certainly reflects what they were up to; that is, if one quotes the whole phrase!

Each clause is crucial. First, the church is Reformed, and this should be written with a capitalized “R.” If it is true that Jesus rose from the dead two millennia ago in Palestine, then it is just as true in our time and place. The ecumenical creeds confess the faith that we all share across a multitude of cultures and eras. Similarly, the Reformed standards (such as the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms) summarize what Reformed Christians believe to be the clear teaching of God’s Word. Churches will always be changing in significant ways depending on their time and place, but these communal ways of confessing Christ remain faithful summaries of “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Our forebears who invoked this phrase had in mind the consolidation of catholic and evangelical Christianity embodied in the Reformed confessions and catechisms. There is a reason that this wing of the Reformation called itself “Reformed.” Unlike the Anabaptists, Reformed churches understood themselves as a continuing branch of the catholic church. At the same time, the Reformed wanted to reform everything “according to the Word of God.” Not only our doctrine but our worship and life must be determined by Scripture and not by human whim or creativity.

Interestingly, it is a mainline Presbyterian theologian, Anna Case-Winters, who brings attention to what she calls “our misused motto.” Winters points out that “in the 16th-century context the impulse it reflected was neither liberal nor conservative, but radical, in the sense of returning to the ‘root.’” This was reflected in the rallying cry, sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone). The Reformation had no interest in “change” as an end in itself. As Calvin argued in his treatise “The Necessity of Reforming the Church,” the Reformers were charged with innovation when in fact it was the medieval church’s innovative distortions of Christian faith and worship that required a recovery of apostolic Christianity. Rome pretended to be “always the same,” but it had accumulated a host of doctrines and practices that were unknown to the ancient church, much less to the New Testament.

Some people today leave out the “Reformed” part or at least interpret it as “reformed” (little “r”): the church is “always being reformed according to the Word of God.” This means that to be Reformed is simply to be reformed and to be reformed is simply to be biblical. All who base their beliefs on the Bible are therefore “reformed,” regardless of whether their interpretations are consistent with the common confessions of the Reformed churches. However, this runs counter to the original intention of the phrase. Doubtless there are many beliefs and practices that Reformed believers share in common with non-Reformed believers committed to God’s Word. We must always remain open to correction from our brothers and sisters in other churches who have interpreted the Bible differently. Nevertheless, Reformed churches belong to a particular Christian tradition with its own definitions of its faith and practice. We believe that our confessions and catechisms faithfully represent the system of doctrine found in Holy Scripture. We believe that to be Reformed is not only to be biblical; to be biblical is to be Reformed. As important as it is to keep “Reformed” in the phrase, an even more dangerous omission is often found among more liberal Protestants who also leave out the “according to the Word of God” clause. And usually it is “always reforming,” instead of “always being reformed.” In this view, the church is the active party, determining its own doctrine, worship, and discipline in the light of ever-changing cultural contexts. Progressivism becomes an end in itself and the church becomes a mirror of the world.

Yet those of us in confessional Reformed churches must also beware of forgetting that our doctrinal standards are subordinate to the Word of God. Christ’s church was reformed by God’s Word in the Reformation and post-Reformation era. It was brought back to God’s Word and the fruit of that great work of the Spirit continues to guide us through our confessions and catechisms. And yet the church is not only Reformed; it is always in need of being reformed. Like our personal sanctification, our corporate faithfulness is always flawed. We don’t need to move beyond the gains of the Reformation, but we do need further reformation. But here is where the last clause kicks in: “always being reformed according to the Word of God.”

It is not because the culture is always changing and we need to be up with the times, but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us, individually and collectively, that the church can never stand still. It must always be a listening church. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). Personally and corporately, the church comes into being and is kept alive by hearing the gospel. The church is always on the receiving end of God’s good gifts as well as His correction. The Spirit does not lead us apart from the Word but directs us back to Christ as He is revealed in Scripture. We always need to return to the voice of our Shepherd. The same gospel that creates the church sustains and renews it. Our personal conformity to the Word that Paul commands in Romans 12 is never completed in this life, and the same is true of the church in this present age.

This perspective keeps us from making tradition infallible but equally from imbibing the radical Protestant obsession with starting from scratch in every generation. When God’s Word is the source of our life, our ultimate loyalty is not to the past as such or to the present and the future, but to “that Word above all earthly pow’rs,” to borrow from Luther’s famous hymn. Neither behind us nor ahead of us, but above us, reigns our sovereign Lord over His body in all times and places. When we invoke the whole phrase — “the church Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God” — we confess that we belong to the church and not simply to ourselves and that this church is always created and renewed by the Word of God rather than by the spirit of the age.

 

From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: http://www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

 Original article can be linked from Ligonier Ministries.

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Excerpt from D. A. Carson’s sermon on the Motivation for Ministry

(On Paul’s second letter to Timothy chapter 1:13 – “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”)

It’s not just a series of isolated propositions but a pattern of sound teaching….Listen, informed Jehovah’s Witnesses have a high a view of the doctrine of Scriptures as I do. Inerrancy does not guarantee a pattern of sound teaching. Don’t misunderstand me, I do think that the Bible does maintain this very high view of Scripture. But a very high view of Scripture may not guarantee responsible hermeneutics. There might be an unbiblical pattern so that the teaching is not sound.

In every church eventually you find some people who knows quite a lot of bible verses but they do not have a glue on their brains. They cannot rub two theological thoughts together and make them stick. There’s an anatomistic bit over here and another anatomistic bit over there…sometimes they say things with the profundity and insight that you think, ‘this is wonderful, real potential there!’ And then two sentences later they say something so screwball, you wonder what planet they’re from. And thus there is no pattern of sound teaching.

You never ever give those people a voice or a Sunday school class or primary evangelistic responsibilities, you know. You nurture them around and say ‘God bless them’, and let them do what they do independently somehow then encourage them on their way and hope that they’ll improve with time but some people quite frankly just don’t. And meanwhile there are others who can quote a lot of verses and say quite a lot of true things and have quite a lot of theology but somehow the pattern goes screwball. It’s no longer the pattern of Scripture…. The part of responsible teaching and ministry in the local church is to develop an historically-rooted, biblically faithful pattern of sound teaching….It is astonishingly important to understand that this is what Paul insists upon here.”

Link to the original sermon at the Gospel Coalition website, click here. To download, right click on the mouse (Audio icon) and ‘Save Target As’.

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In one of the leading Philippine internet dailies, the leader (or ‘pastor’ as people refer to) of a popular religious group in the country hosted a sumptuous gathering for ‘presidentiables’ in the forthcoming elections in May 2010. Everyone was hoping to hear whom he will endorse as the country’s next president. But he decided to withhold it, claiming that he needed more time to pray (and pray) so that he will clearly hear the will of the Father (referring to God). To read the full article, please follow this link

The Inquirer writes: 

Earlier, Quiboloy said in a statement that he was still waiting for the clear sign from heaven on who had been chosen by God to lead the country. According to the pastor, all he has been seeing are cloudy visions, which he says might signal chaotic elections. It is His will that we have leaders, in particular a President, who is willing to give up his or her life for our country, so that our people will prosper. That is the kind of President that the Almighty Father is looking for. It is that revelation I am waiting for,” said Quiboloy. Choosing a candidate for President and Vice President in the May 10 elections is not mine to make, it is the Father’s choice. My personal preferences in this matter, and as an ordinary person, a regular citizen of the Philippines, I do admit I have my own, take a back seat to the Almighty Father’s wishes. As His Appointed Son, I carry out His will,” he added.

His presidential endorsement is never my concern but notice how he called himself the “Appointed Son” of God. I have heard this claim in the past but it is only now that I have any proof. The other troubling (yet expected) fact is that his group boasts of  4 million members in the Philippines alone (plus another 2 million internationally).

Now why should this be a concern can only be answered by a portion of the sermon on the Mount of Olives by the Lord Jesus who is the true Law Giver. Many times in the sermon you will read the Lord Jesus saying, “you have heard…but I say to you”. Moses, in Mt. Sinai, received the Law from God, but the Lord Jesus, as the true Law Giver, referred to the Law and expounded its depth of meaning to His hearers at the Mount of Olives. Let’s now refer to Matthew 7:7-22 below:

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

May I note here the original texts do not have sub-headings which were conveniently inserted in modern translations, and I took the liberty to remove them (except the verse numbers for reference purposes). This will allow us to have good view of context. I would endeavor to go through this section step by step and hopefully, come to the place of  understanding  the difference between the narrow gate-wide gate and hard way-easy way comparisons. Thereafter, grasping the flow of thought leading to identify what kind of false prophets here are being referred to.

The Father’s Good Gift to His Children (verses 7-12). Following through short and indepth exposition on a series of commands pertaining to a righteous way of life, the Lord introduced verses 7-12 regarding the privilege of asking God, and God’s willingness to give the good gifts to His adopted children in Christ (specifically those who believed and received the Lord Jesus Christ referred to as ‘His disciples’). Many Christians commonly refer to these verses as the prayer for needs because of the example given. However, the prayer transcends the physical and indeed helps us comprehend that our most vital needs are spiritual which the Father will never deny – that His disciples be enabled and sustained in doing what is good and lawful to others. No wonder you will ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened – all certainties and assurance that the prayer will definitely be answered.

Narrow Gate and the Hard Way (verse 13-14). Interpretations often point to the Lord Jesus as the narrow gate and that is definitely true. However, the “narrow way”  is at times neglected or misunderstood.  The narrow way represents that kind of life that God requires of His people. Still having the prayer in verses 7-11 in view,  despite the difficult narrow way, the gift of the Father to every disciple who would ask of Him must be the grace for obedience and unity of heart to heed His commands. It is the will of God for anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior would  also have this same Jesus Christ as Lord. God has made this Jesus as both Christ and Lord (Acts 2:36), which was gloriously demonstrated by His resurrection on the third day following His death at the cross.

One of today’s problems in evangelism is what is called “easy believism”. Faith in Jesus Christ includes these following essentials of the faith: He is the Son of  God who came into this world and born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, propitiated for the sins of the people chosen by God at the cross while imputing His righteousness on them at the same time, resurrecting on the third day and ascending to heaven sitting at the right hand, to come again as judge all living and dead. All these facts are to be received by faith alone. But this kind of faith  is not alone and has fruits of good works – the evidence of a righteous walk that God has prepared for His redeemed people before the foundation of the world. Those who insist that faith is believing devoid of any resulting evidence of a repentant life falls in the error of ‘easy believism’.

Now I need to be careful of what I have just written so as not to fall on the other end of the ditch – legalism. This is where salvation is not by faith alone, but by faith plus works which the apostle Paul outrightly condemns. He asked the Galatians, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law of by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3). It must be clear that God desires those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation also have His Son as Lord. The difference lies with what obedience really is – obedience as a result, not the means, of salvation that is by faith in Christ alone.

Wide Gate and the Easy Way. Considering a major issue in the context of the entire sermon, the contrast is made between what the scribes and Pharisees do and teach versus what Jesus is saying. He said that unless one exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, no one can enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). The one wrong notion is to think, by default, the scribes and Pharisees are righteous. On the contrary, they are not since they have rejected the Lord of Righteousness – Jesus, nor can they be made righteous by following the Law (when one law is broken, the entire Law is broken). To exceed their righteousness is gained by believing in Christ who perfectly obeyed the Law (what is called ‘positional righteousness’- see 2 Corinthians 5:21) and displayed in obedience to Him (‘practical righteousness’).

A gate is defined as an opening in a wall or fence, or the frame or door that closes a gate (ref: Merriam Webster). Applying the first meaning which fits the flow of thought, the gate is wide because there are many teachers with teachings what is contrary to Christ. Partnered with this wide gate is the easy way. The way definitely becomes easy because the Law of God is re-intrepreted to suit the desires of men rather than God. Many popular so-called Christian groups today have diluted, edited, relativized and compromised the word of God. They have become ‘user-friendly’ – give what the people want so that they will keep on coming to church. The term ‘seeker-sensitive’ has been coined for this kind of groups. In one particular case, the Word of God has been redefined altogether like the Emergence Christianity (a.k.a. Emergent Church or Progressive Christianity).

The False Prophet (Verse 15-20). A prophet essentially has similar function with the scribes and Pharisees. Although biblical prophets foretold the future in the past, their primary function was to reinforce the Law. They called to Israel to obey and warn them of disobedience and its serious consequences. The scribes and Pharisees were the ‘caretakers’ of the written Word in scrolls and are to expound the entire counsel of God as well. Instead they had their way of setting aside God’s commands by their traditions. Here, the disciples were warned on false prophets (essentially‘scribes’ used in Mark 12:38, Luke 20:46). They guard the wide gate and teach the wide way – as inferred, these are anything that is contrary to Christ and what He taught. Jesus said thay can be recognized by their fruits – anything that will be a curse (represented by thorns and thistles; echoes from the curse on man in Genesis) but the false prophets will use their charming ways and deceitful kindness (sheep’s clothing) to deceive people. This is basically the outward character of a false prophet – they look warm and endearing but will feed thorns and thistles to the people (examples are best-selling books such as “Purpose Driven Life” and “Your Best Life Now”).

Secondly, the people who follow are essentially the false prophet’s fruit. Goats crave for goat food. Goats eat anything. Sheeps eat only what is in the pasture of the Lord – His Word. The Lord said that when His sheeps hear another voice other than His, they will run away from that.

(Verse 21-23) It will be these false prophets/shepherds/teachers and their disciples that will be denied by Lord and will be judged as workers of lawlessness since they have trusted in a false prophet and teachings that are not in accord with the whole counsel of God resulting to a life that is unacceptable to God.

Unmasking the Wolf.   Apollo Quiboloy is a false prophet who claimed that he is the Appointed Son of God – usurping the place that rightfully belongs to the Only Begotten Son – Jesus Christ. He is the guardian of the wide gate and the easy way.

He teaches doctrines that are not in keeping with what the Lord has proclaimed.  He assumes that God’s will is to put a president who will bring prosperity to the Philippines. What is his basis for this audacious claim when I consider that many people in my country have turned a deaf ear to the Gospel in pursuit of worldly riches. Don’t misconstrue but I do care for our poor and hope that government leaders would do more to alleviate their condition. But what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? No wonder Jesus commanded His disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and not be like pagans whose preoccupation is materially-oriented. He also explicitly denies the three distinct Persons of the One God: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. On top of this, he is a purveyor of an old heresy called Modalism, that is, one God three modes of operation.He is a mystic who relies on “revelations” supposedly coming from God instead of the clarity of Scriptures.

He is a wolf in sheeps clothing with his respectable and caring appearance to his flock but have only set the cursed way for them. The millions of people who have believed him are now traversing the easy way that leads to destruction,  to be revealed on the last day unless they heed the Gospel and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

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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

Permissions©9Marks. Website: http://www.9Marks.org. Email: info@9marks.org. Toll Free: (888) 543-1030.

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I have transcribed the introduction below from the White Horse Inn broadcast on December 6, 2009 regarding the subject – EmmausTrekker

 

What is Discipleship? by Michael Horton

Once we sit down and really become a disciple, a listener, a learner, once we really do, first of all, receive from Jesus the truth, the doctrine that He wants to teach us, then that is our Christian formation – the Gospel as it is explored and explained shapes us into Christian followers of Jesus.

 A young Christian entrepreneur becomes enamored on the superbly crafted cuckoo clock he picked up one day in a quaint village driving from Geneva to Zurich. A year later he returns with an idea. If he can figure out how the clock he bought was made, he could develop a prototype and put it out on the assembly line in China for mass distribution around the world. It can be made more quickly, efficiently, therefore cheaply once the secrets of its construction are put down on paper. Locating the craftsman who made this clock, the American opens his laptop, ready for notes and begins asking details about its construction. Soon however, the craftsman runs out of answers, so the entrepreneur looks over his shoulders as he sets to work. “How do you make that squiggle?” he asks. “I don’t know,” the craftsman replied, “I’ve just done it for years. I grew up making these clocks with my father. This is his shop. It’s just in my blood I guess.” Eventually the American did try to copy the clock, squiggles and all, but it wasn’t the same. You can’t just make a great piece of culture by formulas that can be ‘routinized’ and duplicated on the assembly line.

Christian discipleship is a lot like craftsmanship. It can’t be reproduced with formulas, principles and steps. Disciples don’t come off an assembly line. There’s no get-spiritual-quick scheme. It takes time, energy, effort, patience and skill. It takes life in a community. It means belonging to a group that passes along habits, many of which can’t be even stated explicitly in so many words. The habits of a craftsman are simply different from those of an entrepreneur or industrial manager.

For a lot of reasons that has been wisely explored by many people today, we are increasingly becoming a society and a church that has lost its habits of Christian formation. Some say, “Well, if we just get the doctrine right, everything else will follow.” Others shout back, “No, deeds not creeds!” But neither answer really gets to the point that growing up into Christ can’t be reduced either to intellectualism or activism. There is no doctrinal proposition or spiritual program that will conform us to the image of Christ. The Gospel must transform us over a lifetime of very ordinary and sometimes even plodding habits that we cannot always even articulate. And that’s why the disciples walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, observed His actions as well as His teachings.

In this process, it is often hard to distinguish between doctrinal instruction and practical living. They were just there with Jesus as He was explaining who He was and showing them by His deeds that He was the Messiah. Reading the Gospels, we look over their shoulders and say, “Ah, that’s what the kingdom is!”

Yesterday I heard an interview with NPR and she was asked at a “Read-to-Grow” rally why she loves reading books even over the summer break. With enthusiasm the girl talked about the many other worlds she had visited in her books. “What would you tell someone who says it’s boring and they just can’t get into reading?” the interviewer asked. The little girl said, “Well you just got it start. The more you read, the more you want to keep on doing it. Then it becomes a habit and it’s what you want to do whenever you can.”

What if parents and pastors took that approach more often? Our children as well as new converts to the faith need time to mature, and they need pastors not programs. They need to belong to a community of disciples – older believers – fellow saints from various walks of life and ethnic backgrounds who simultaneously show and tell what it means to trust in Christ and love and serve their neighbors. There’s no manual for this. Not even the Bible is really a manual of discipleship. Rather, it’s the unique story that inducts us into the life of Christ. It’s the story that gives rise to the doctrines, the rituals of baptism and the Supper, habits of praise and prayer, fellowship and witness that had authorized it as our canon. There is no quick and easy path, no shortcut to success. It takes a lot of work. Although we’re not working for our salvation, we are working it out as God works in us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.

Marriage involves a lot of work and involves time and patience. No program for how to raise a family will actually raise our children and form us to be better parents. It takes time, patience, a lot work and wisdom from a lot of people. To do it well, we often have to change our priorities in daily routines. And we can’t do it alone; we need others. Even more do we need the constant, ordinary, sometimes all-too-familiar habits of family worship, the Lord’s Day, fellowship and personal bible reading and prayer especially when the burdens and distractions of our temporal callings threaten to become idols rather than gifts. Even personal private disciples will be of no spiritual benefit in shaping our Christian discipleship apart from the ordinary means of grace in the church and the distinct type of piety that arises out of it.

Perhaps instead of the Christian life, we should speak of the Christian lifetime. Even at the end of our days, we will not be a finished piece of divine craftsmanship but one day we will be as exquisitely refined as Jesus Christ, living out these days from the established fact of Christ-saving work in the past, and our liberation from the guilt and tyranny of sin in the present, we strain toward the price as Paul described it. Only with the Gospel in our hearts can we say with Paul’s confidence, “The sufferings of this present life are not worth being compared with the joy that will be revealed in us.”

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by John Calvin, from the Institutes of John Calvin and Calvin’s Commentary on Hebrews

“For in [Christ] ‘all treasures of knowledge and wisdom are hid’ (Colossians 2:3) with such great abundance and richness that either to hope for or to seek any new addition to these treasures is truly to arouse God’s wrath and provoke him against us. It is for us to hunger for, seek, look to, learn, and study Christ alone, until that great day dawns when the Lord will fully manifest the glory of his Kingdom (cf. 1Corinthians 15:24) and will show himself for us to see him as he is (1John 3:2). And for this reason this age of ours is designated in the Scriptures as ‘the last hour’ (1John 2:18), the ‘last days’ (Hebrews 1:2), the ‘last times’ (I Peter 1:20), that no one should delude himself with a vain expectation of some new doctrine or revelation. ‘For at many times and in many ways the Heavenly Father formerly spoke through the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken in his beloved Son’ (Hebrews 1:1-2), who alone can reveal the Father (Luke 10:22); and he has indeed manifested the Father fully, as far as we require, while we now see him in a mirror (1Corrinthians 13:12)” (Institutes 4.18.20).

“This, however, remains certain: the perfect doctrine he has brought has made an end to all prophecies. All those, then, who, not content with the gospel, patch it with something extraneous to it, detract from Christ’s authority. The Voice that thundered from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son; … hear him’ (Matthew 17:5; cf. Matthew 3:17), exalted him by a singular privilege beyond the rank of all others. Then this anointing was diffused from the Head to the members, as Joel had foretold: ‘Your sons shall prophesy and your daughters … shall see visions,’ etc. (Joel 2:28). But when Paul says that He was given to us as our wisdom (1Corinthians 1:30), and in another place, ‘In him are hid all the treasures of knowledge and understanding’ (Colossians 2:3), he has a slightly different meaning. That is, outside Christ there is nothing worth knowing, and all who by faith perceive what he is like have grasped the whole immensity of heavenly benefits. For this reason, Paul writes in another passage: ‘I decided to know nothing precious … except Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (1Corinthians 2:2). This is very true, because it is not lawful to go beyond the simplicity of the gospel And the prophetic dignity in Christ leads us to know that in the sum of doctrine as he has given it to us all parts of perfect wisdom are contained” (Institutes 2.15.2).

“And when he speaks of the last times, he intimates that there is no longer any reason to expect any new revelation; for it was not a word in part that Christ brought, but the final conclusion. It is in this sense that the Apostles take ‘ the last times’ and ‘ the last days.’ And Paul means the same when he says, ‘Upon whom the ends of the world are come’ (1Corinthians 10:11). If God then has spoken now for the last time, it is right to advance thus far; so also when you come to Christ, you ought not to go farther: and these two things it is very needful for us to know. For it was a great hindrance to the Jews that they did not consider that God had deferred a fuller revelation to another time; hence, being satisfied with their own Law, they did not hasten forward to the goal. But since Christ has appeared, an opposite evil began to prevail in the world; for men wished to advance beyond Christ. What else indeed is the whole system of Popery but the overleaping of the boundary which the Apostle has fixed? As, then, the Spirit of God in this passage invites all to come as far as Christ, so he forbids them to go beyond the last time which he mentions. In short, the limit of our wisdom is made here to be the Gospel” (Commentary on Hebrews 1:1).

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