Saturday, April 01, 2006

Prayer doesn't work! Good!

Lost in wonder, love and grace: Prayer doesn't work! Good!

Tom Gee has a great little post about mechanisitic praying!

McLaren Defends Emergent Epistemology...

Also from the Criswell Theological Review... in an interview with Brian McLaren:

I often hear people saying we deny the existence of truth (which is, frankly, ridiculous) or that we reject the Bible (again, ridiculous). Some say that we show no respect for Church tradition and others that we pay too much respect to tradition. Some reduce everything we're talking about to a rather esoteric and un-nuanced debate about epistemology. Some are concerned about me because they know that I am unhappy about the Religious Right's narrowing of the gospel's social impact to two or three issues, and I think the rhetorical strategy of the Religious Right has made evangelism harder here in America and around the world. If they think the Religious Right is the leading edge of God's work on the planet, they see me as someone who isn't with the program.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Driscoll Defines Emergent - In a Way Someone Can Understand!

"First, the Emerging church is a broad category that encompasses a wide variety of churches and Christians who are seeking to be effective missionaries wherever they live. This includes Europeans and Australians who are having the same conversation as their American counterparts. The Emerging church includes three distinct types of Christians. In a conversation with Dr. Ed Stetzer, a noted missiologist, he classified them as the Relevants, Reconstructionists, and Revisionists.

Relevants are theologically conservative evangelicals who are not as interested in reshaping theology as much as updating such things as worship styles, preaching styles, and church leadership structures. Their goal is to be more relevant; thus, appealing to postmodernminded people. Relevants commonly begin alternative worship services within evangelical churches to keep generally younger Christians from leaving their churches. They also plant new churches to reach emerging people. Relevant leaders look to people such as Dan Kimball, Donald Miller, and Rob Bell as like-minded leaders.

The common critique of Relevants is that they are doing little more than conducting “cool church” for hip young Christians and are not seeing significant conversion growth. Within the Relevants there is also a growing group of outreach-minded Reformed Relevants, which look to men like John Piper, Tim Keller, and D. A. Carson for theological direction.

Reconstructionists are generally theologically evangelical and dissatisfied with the current forms of church (e.g. seeker, purpose, contemporary). They bolster their critique by noting that our nation is becoming less Christian and that those who profess faith are not living lives markedly different than non-Christians; thereby, proving that current church forms have failed to create life transformation. Subsequently, they propose more informal, incarnational, and organic church forms such as house churches. Reconstructionists, who are more influenced by mainline Christian traditions, will also use terms like “new monastic communities” and “abbess.” Reconstructionist leaders look to such people as Neil Cole and Australians Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch.

The common critique of Reconstructionists is that they are collecting disgruntled Christians who are overreacting to the megachurch trend but are not seeing significant conversion growth.

Revisionists are theologically liberal and question key evangelical doctrines, critiquing their appropriateness for the emerging postmodern world. Reconstructionists look to such leaders as Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt as well as other Emerging Christians.

The common critique of Revisionists is that they are recycling the doctrinal debates of a previous generation and also not seeing significant conversion growth. What ties each of these types of Emerging Christians together is a missiological conversation about what a faithful church should believe and do to reach Western culture. However, beyond that there is little unity because there is widespread disagreement on what counts as faithful doctrine and practice."

Mark Driscoll in Criswell Theological Review available online here.

HT: Justin Taylor

I'm "Childfree" For Little Ol' ME!

BBC NEWS | Europe | The rise of the 'childfree': "

"Some people simply have no maternal feelings - some are worried about how the world is going, some like to travel, some like to pursue their careers - we're not selfish people."

'Selfish and irresponsible,' are words that 43-year-old Jane, who lives in London, is used to hearing.

In the UK, the most commonly cited statistic is that by 2010, one in four will be either childfree or childless.

'I made the choice early on not to have children. I don't dislike them - I simply decided that I could not devote 100% of my time to someone else,' she says."

And exactly how is that not selfish?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Homosexuality HIdden for Christian Peace Activist Loney | Private life kept hidden for Loney's protection:

This makes more sense out of the extremely questionable Christian Peacemakers Teams.

You can also read this. Interesting that this part of the story received such little press.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

John Newton on Unbelief

Christian Thought: Good Ol' Newton:

Julian posts another wonderful Newton hymn at the link above.

Proof You are a Christian

It always surprises me when I get a shocked look to this statement: "The proof you are a Christian is not some card you signed or aisle you walked - it is whether or not you are living for Jesus now, today."
Throughout the New Testament, both Jesus and His disciples make this perfectly clear. Consider Jesus' foundational parable of the four soils. One soil is hard and shows no fruit. The last soil is good and yields a large harvest. The other two soils (rocky and weedy) seemed to show some real fruit, but in the end were proven to be false. Either persecution or something like covetousness creeps in and the false professor is exposed. (See Mark 4.)
In other words, they did not persevere to the end.
In His Olivet Discourse (Mark 13), He notes the fact that "the one who endures to the end will be saved." Clearly, the one who does not endure is not saved.
Paul never spoke of his "having arrived" spiritually, even though he clearly believed in and taught God's preservation of the elect. He wrote to the Philippians, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14).
Here is the great Apostle, the one who similarly wrote "nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ," being careful not to predict his own future - rather entrusting it to God. ("Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained" :15-16).
Other examples could be cited, but I think it is important to ask the question, "Where do I stand with the Lord today?" This is not meant to excite doubt, but to promote a focus (better, faith) on Christ! The fact is, I am nowhere today apart from Jesus. My salvation rests as squarely on His shoulders today as it did that first moment I breathed out words of repentance and faith.
I would suggest that part of the reason evangelicalism is in such an odd condition is this sin of presumption when it comes to our standing before God. I do not doubt my salvation (praise the Lord!) one bit. The Lord has blessed me with great assurance most of my adult Christian life. But my assurance is not what saves me. Christ is my Saviour. And the moment I begin to focus on my actions, feelings, or past decisions, I have declared allegiance to a new christ.
So, I suppose I am suggesting two things. 1. We need to ask ourselves where our hope for heaven lies. Is it in Christ alone? 2. Is there evidence in my life of this living for Jesus? Beyond a rational and logical, positive answer to question one, we need to move to testing for the fruit which always accompanies such a genuine positive answer. Do I really, truly, genuinely and in recent history exhibit behaviours that "adorn the Gospel?"
Two questions worth asking our souls often - and without fear! For a negative answer to either only points us back to the one solution to both -- Jesus!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Always Forgiven

This is my second favorite new song from the Worship God Live CD produced by Bob Kauflin. It glories in full atonement made by Jesus for sinners like me, and points back to the Father in all of His glorious grace, love and mercy!

Always Forgiven
I don’t deserve... to be Your servant
And how much less... to be Your child
Anger and wrath... sure condemnation
Should be my portion... my just reward
Never have seen it... never will know it
Your lovingkindness... enfolds my life

All You have shown me is grace, love and mercy
Now and forever I am Your child
Freely You pour out Your lovingkindness
Father of grace, You welcome me in

All of the sin... I have committed
Was placed upon... Your righteous Son
And now You see me... Through His perfection
As if I’d never... done any wrong
Always forgiven... always accepted
No fear of judgment... Before Your throne

Jonathan and Ryan Baird © 2004 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Dialogue with Brian McLaren for Free

Upcoming ECHOs

Since the Evolving Church is sold out, you may want to take the opportunity to listen to what Brian McLaren has to say at this event. My friend Darryl Dash is hosting McLaren at Richview Baptist Church (a FEB Church just down the road from us).

[3/28: Talking with Darryl after I posted this I realized it would help RBC if you would RSVP ASAP... you can do that by going here.]


The Evolving Church Conference at Tyndale:

It must have been all the free publicity I gave this event back in January... I don't know. But if you thought that the Emergent movement was not that popular or a fast-dissolving fad, you should note that the EC conference is sold out. The one day event on April 8 now posts on its website: "Only overflow tickets left." Meaning you get to sit in a nearby room and watch a video feed of the proceedings. Hey, Nathan Colquhoun - if you read this, maybe you should send me a free ticket or something! :-) You know, as a token of thanks for my promotional work!
Actually, I quite enjoyed getting to know Nathan "electronically" and trust that his desires for this conference will be met. I still wish that he and the other organizers had made this event a genuine "conversation" and invited someone who disagrees to the table. It's not too late to do so, of course.

More on SiGaPuF... (and some personal reflections)

Today at 10AM the Sovereign Grace Pastor's Fellowship (SGPF) will hold its second last meeting of the season. Robert Zins is scheduled to make a presentation on Roman Catholicism. You can get the goods here.
The last meeting of the year will be featuring(!) me making a presentation on the Emergent Church Movement. The date for that meeting has been changed to Monday, April 10th as the original date was on Easter Monday and that would have severely limited my playing time at the 38th Annual Martin Family Road Hockey Invitational!
So, if you are at all interested in "Emergent" and curious to my views I would invite you to attend this 3 hour meeting. I will present a paper on the subject, then the floor will be opened for discussion. I hope it is a great time. All are welcome... even though it sounds like a pastor's meeting.
I am just finishing my first read of Brian McLaren's "The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything." I hope to include some lengthy interaction with that work, since I assume it reflects the most current thinking of this ever-changing movement. I am also scheduled to take part in a meeting with McLaren himself (like my Pinnock interview for my Open Theism paper) just days before the paper. That will make it challenging to get the paper done on time, but I hope it will ensure my study is fair and representative of the issues. Of course, some will not like that I give McLaren so much attention, but they need to understand that, whether they like it or not, he is their primary representative.

On a personal note, we had a great day at Grace Fellowship Church yesterday. Thus proving my point again that you should never miss church! The Sunday you miss is invariably the Sunday the Lord comes with power! Although, we had so many folks out yesterday we were scrambling a bit for chairs... the Lord continues to bless. Would that every unbeliever that was at church yesterday would wake up and find themselves a Christian today!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Case against Afghan Christian convert dismissed | Case against Afghan Christian convert dismissed:

"The case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity was dismissed by an Afghan court on Sunday because of a lack of evidence.

'The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,' an official told The Associated Press.

The official said Rahman, who potentially faced the death penalty, would likely be released soon."

I hope this brother survived his time in prison...