Goodmanson

Unlocking Value for Entrepreneurs

Will the real emerging church please respond…

Go check out a primer on Five Perspectives on the Emerging Church from David Fairchild.  David attends the National Pastors Conference and each contributor (Karen Ward, John Burke, Doug Pagitt and Mark Driscoll) of “Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches” was present except Dan Kimball. They had those attending break up into 4 different groups of 8 people and then had each speaker sit in the groups to answer questions.  David gets to ask each person about their beliefs.  Here is a quote regarding Karen Ward: 

Our second guest was Karen Ward from Church of the Apostles. This was an interesting exercise in nailing Jell-O to the wall. Part of what concerns me about this new form of liberalism is its purposeful vagueness as if it is to be commended that we obfuscate rather than clarify our words and ideas. The disdain for definition is felt immediately when I began to ask questions about what acts as her underlying belief or presupposition for theology or ministry. The word games and semantic shuffle makes you feel like your herding cats with a bubble blower. I realize this form of communication is considered avant garde in our pomo/post-pomo culture, but this is nothing more than repackaged deconstructionism sprinkled with postmodern Christianese to be passed off as deeply intellectual thought.

Another quote: 

 This session ended with all four of the speakers sitting up front to field questions which were written down for them to answer. Low and behold my question was the first up- “What role does the cross-specifically the aspect of penal substitutionary atonement play in your ministry.” it saddens me that Karen and Doug gave your typical “cross as example” answer and left John and Mark having to explain the significance of the cross of Christ. John did this very politically correct and Mark basically said (and I’m paraphrasing) that if you don’t get the cross, you’re not a Christian. It is what sets Christianity apart from all other beliefs and faiths. Mark then gave a great explanation of the many aspects of the atonement and what Christ accomplished for us on our behalf. 

Read the whole post:  The Truncated Cross & Emerging Reductionism

For more on Listening to the Belief's of Emerging Churches, read what the authors say about their own chapters:
Doug Pagitt
Dan Kimball who also links to the statements of faith from these author's churches
Mark Driscollwho links to a sample PDF of his own chapter.

Bob Hyatt's associate pastor wrote another review: Listening to "Listening To The Beliefs of Emerging Churches His take on Driscoll is a bit different:

While Driscoll is to the modern Calvinist/systematic theologians as Barak Obama is to the Democratic party (a young voice that older folks are putting a lot into) he doesn’t participate in the same way as the rest of the contributors….To put it crassly, Mark puts on a black and white striped shirt and spends a majority of the book blowing whistles on what he sees to be theological fouls. But it’s a little like having a referee at a poker game, its somewhat out of place. It doesn’t really work that well. He’s given himself the role of whistle blower on the emerging church.

Another TallSkinnyKiwi post Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches. Part One.  In it he writes:

Mark Driscoll (Biblicist Theology) is the elephant in the room, the crabby schoolteacher, and one continually wonders whether he is on the defensive to protect his own reputation from participation in this book project or if he considers it his ministry to bring the others back to Calvin. Or, as a pastor, he is worried about his flock going into spaces where there be dragons. Maybe all of those. Reformed folk will be cheering him on as he chastises the others for treating theology as if dynamic rather than static. But his comments open up so many questions that the book almost needs a place for the other authors to respond to Driscoll's comments on them…

Doug Pagitt (Embodied Theology) is brilliant. I have said this before but The Pagitt has not been able to display it in such a way as to prove I am right.

Karen Ward (Communal Theology) also does exceedingly well, perhaps better than anyone.

John Burke (Incarnational Theology) offers a gateway for those feeling stifled in the World of WillowBack and are pilgrimaging forward into emergent territory, but he also speaks out for global issues (also my role in conversations like these) and the good news for new age and neo-paganism.

So the debate continues,  I'm sure many will have different view points based on their theological convictions and where/what they see the church to be.  Can you be reformed and emerging?

I had a discussion with a few guys from Kaleo Church about what makes a church 'emerging'.  My assumption is that there is an emerging in the 'form' (styles, place, methods) and others in the 'substance' (theology, beliefs).  So are churches like Kaleo (and Mars Hill or other Acts 29 churches) truly emerging?  One person suggested that at the very center of the emerging movement is an undefinable quality that is part of the definition.  I guess this means you can be an emerging church if you want to be.   

32 Comments

  1. I have to admit I find all this emerging church stuff all very vague and mixed up. Isn’t there only one truth, how can we change theology and belief? Like you say there does seem to be two camps. Those who want to meet the changing cultures and those who want to change the bible and we all know where that leads.

  2. I was in this seminar as well and will attest to a couple of things.

    1. There was palpable tension between Doug and Mark

    2. Mark was not the hero– everyone was wrestling with certain things, including their personalities. Sometimes it got the better of them, including Mark. In fact, I will say, especially Mark.

    3. Karen Ward, with whom I spent much time this week, is not Jello. Unless Jello has a spine of steel. Her theology is exceedingly well-thought out… read the book.

    4. Cats are only difficult to people that try to herd them, which is kind of a dumb thing to try and do with cats in the first place.

    In fact, Karen gave some very gentle, very effective rebukes to both Doug and Mark during the time. She gave visible testimony to the fact that what your theology does to you, how it makes you treat others, especially those with whom you have friction, is at least as important as the theology itself.

    My associate Pastor wrote up his thoughts (on the book and the time together) here

  3. Thanks Bob, I added a link and a couple quotes to Chris (associate pastor)’s blog post. This is a conversation that many are still trying to get their hands around.

  4. Bob,

    1-Yes there was, and guess what the tension was over? The cross and atonement. Should we abandon such distinctions?

    2-Never said Mark was the hero, he was just brave enough to say what needed to be said, that flesh without a skeleton is nothing more than a bag of meat and isn’t going anywhere.

    3-You may have had great interaction with Karen, and this is not a personal attack to her, but her idea of a purely communal hermaneutic is not only frightening, but dangerous. I found her theology to be less than well thought through and pretty inconsistent when taking her ideas to their logical conclusion.

    4-This is my point: those within the emerging/pomo movement don’t want to be lead by anyone except themselves. Let me just say that you’re going to have a difficulty following God (who you can’t see) if you are unable to follow the men (who you can see) God has placed to lead and act as undershepherds to the church. Not only that, let’s just talk about the big elephant in the room- why does she consider herself a pastor/elder? As far as the rebukes, I didn’t see those. I saw someone pushing a particular agenda of “jesus as example” while steering clear of penal substitutionary atonement and it’s need to be central to all we do. If we don’t live out of that reality, you are simply not a Christian. Without our being justified, we neither have peace with God nor can claim we know him. If justification is insignificant, then let’s just take the cross out of our churches and replace it with a statue in a lotus position chanting eastern prayers.

  5. Let me make some observations regarding this comment:

    “While Driscoll is to the modern Calvinist/systematic theologians as Barak Obama is to the Democratic party (a young voice that older folks are putting a lot into) he doesn‚Äôt participate in the same way as the rest of the contributors‚Ķ.To put it crassly, Mark puts on a black and white striped shirt and spends a majority of the book blowing whistles on what he sees to be theological fouls. But it‚Äôs a little like having a referee at a poker game, its somewhat out of place. It doesn‚Äôt really work that well. He‚Äôs given himself the role of whistle blower on the emerging church.”

    This is what somewhat erks me about this so called “emerging conversation.” If you don’t hold to a postmodern intepretation of truth and scripture, you are labeled “modern.” Mark is far from modern and I think we need to be fair and stop slapping labels on guys that simply aren’t postmodern in particular areas. Can we come up with another term please? It is intellectually dishonest since it reduces you to the either/or camp. There are more than just two camps in our day. Perhaps we should call the third camp the “not pissed off at modernity, but see its flaws and desire something different” camp? It might be a little long, but boy would it help.

    Also, I find it interesting that Mark gets ragged on because he takes a strong stance without hiding his position in a trojan horse of feigned tolerance. He just simply says what he believes is scripturally true. He was asked to contribute to the book and the point was to show areas of variety and disagreement. This is not accepted though. Why? Because tolerance for different views is only tolerant if you agree that tolerance is primary and truth is secondary. How about we take in Mark’s view with the same desire to understand where he’s coming from as others? The reason this won’t happen is the same reason political correctness is about as prejudice as one could get. “Adopt our language, use only our approved words, think in a way that we think, or we’ll slap you down as a theological biggot.” This is not only sad, but woefully inconsistent with the entire purpose of the “conversation.”

    If having a conversation means that only the approved can play, then it isn’t a conversation open to all. And, if having a conversation means you can’t say anything and only listen, then it’s nothing more than mental wheel-spinning. I’m all for open dialogue, I think it’s important. Let’s have that, but let’s not censor those who disagree with us, let’s talk about it, think about it, discuss it, blog on it, and allow God’s word to act as the final court of arbitration in all matters of disagreement and dispute.

  6. David- thanks for the pushback… I think you have some issues with what Chris and I said and I think you had some issues with some things Chris and I did not say…

    So.

    1. The tension was not over the cross and atonement. That was a point of contention, yes, but if you think that was the core issue between these two strong-headed personalities…
    Doug said it well- this is about categories. They both have them. One is playing football, the other baseball. Neither wants to play on the other’s field.
    There are serious theological differences between them, but to boil this down to simply and issue of competing views of bible or atonement is, to use your word, reductionistic.

    2. You described a hero, in heroic terms. Even when you are describing how you didn’t call him a hero, you use the word “brave.”
    Mark was not “brave” in that room. He had a largely sympathetic crowd.
    In fact, he said he had a tendency towards being a “Richard” (his word), and stating he was working on it, and then promptly acted very much the Richard when it came to speaking with Doug and Karen.
    It may have been blunt, forthright, uniquivocal, what have you… but “brave”? No.

    3. Did Karen ever say she had a “purely communal hermenuetic”?
    I would venture to say that someone who is as proud of her Lutheran heritage as Karen would call that a mischaracterization.
    I have theological disagreements with Karen. I have methodological disagreements as well. BUT- it’s obvious to anyone who spends any time with their community that what they do and everything they do is rooted in theology and history within their Lutheran and Episcopalian context.

    4. “This is my point: those within the emerging/pomo movement don‚Äôt want to be lead by anyone except themselves.” Say what? You can actually make that statement after sitting their listening to karen talk about her respect for and obedience to her bishop? Are you serious?

    “Let me just say that you‚Äôre going to have a difficulty following God (who you can‚Äôt see) if you are unable to follow the men (who you can see) God has placed to lead and act as undershepherds to the church.”
    Okay… I do both. I’m not sure what your point is.

    ” Not only that, let‚Äôs just talk about the big elephant in the room- why does she consider herself a pastor/elder? ”
    Did you actually just say that??? She considers herself a pastor/elder because she has been duly ordained by the authorities under which she ministers. You may disagree with the theology behind it, but seriously dude… don’t be a Richard about it.

    “penal substitutionary atonement and it‚Äôs need to be central to all we do. If we don‚Äôt live out of that reality, you are simply not a Christian. Without our being justified, we neither have peace with God nor can claim we know him. If justification is insignificant, then let‚Äôs just take the cross out of our churches and replace it with a statue in a lotus position chanting eastern prayers.”

    I’m sorry- but as Mark says- the atonement is a many-faceted jewel. Jesus is central to all we do, not any one single facet of the atonement. Jesus. End of story.
    Who said justification was insignificant???

    And please… “This is what somewhat erks me about this so called ‚Äúemerging conversation.‚Äù If you don‚Äôt hold to a postmodern intepretation of truth and scripture, you are labeled ‚Äúmodern.‚Äù

    Chris was using “modern” in the sense of “lately,” not modern vs “postmodern.”
    He realy couldn’t give a rat’s behind about being “post-modern.” And he loves Driscoll’s preaching, just for the recod. Listens to every podcast.

    “He was asked to contribute to the book and the point was to show areas of variety and disagreement. This is not accepted though.”

    Not accepted? By whom? Me? Chris? What gave you that idea?
    Chris had issues with HOW Mark presented his ideas, and the WAY he interacted or failed to interact with others, both in the book and during the seminar.

    “Adopt our language, use only our approved words, think in a way that we think, or we’ll slap you down as a theological biggot.”
    Now you are just being silly, man…

    “I‚Äôm all for open dialogue, I think it‚Äôs important. Let‚Äôs have that, but let‚Äôs not censor those who disagree with us, let‚Äôs talk about it, think about it, discuss it, blog on it, and allow God‚Äôs word to act as the final court of arbitration in all matters of disagreement and dispute.”
    Now you’re talking!

  7. HI Drew,

    Regarding your last paragraph, I think these articles would give you the best lay of the land in terms of the ec:

    Understanding the Emerging Church by Ed Stetzer

    What is the Emerging Church? by Scot McKnight

    – Brett Kunkle’s
    Central Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church


    by Justin Taylor

    Hope these help.

  8. sorry – the last article is

    an emerging church primer by justin taylor

  9. I’m sorry- but as Mark says- the atonement is a many-faceted jewel. Jesus is central to all we do, not any one single facet of the atonement. Jesus. End of story.
    Bob – although I pretty much agree with that statement, it’s misleading. The Atonement is the centre of what Jesus’ purpose on this earth was and the centre of everything he is to us – so if we truly make Jesus central to what we do we make the atonement central to what we do.

    I completely agree that the atonement is a many-faceted jewel – but smack in the centre of that is the substitutionary part. Without that, we are nothing and we have nothing. What Christ did on the cross is an amazing example – but there have been many martyrs before and since, arguably some that have suffered more painful deaths. The uniqueness and vitality of the cross can only come down to the fact that in submitting to the cross he took the punishment for the sins of mankind – nothing else!

    So in the end, what ever way you look at it, Penal Substitutionary Atonement does have to be central to all that we do. This in no way undermines Jesus the man or Jesus the example, rather it is the only context in which every other facet can be understood!

  10. See, what gets me about this is that the charge of “‚ÄúAdopt our language, use only our approved words, think in a way that we think, or we‚Äôll slap you down as a theological biggot” is exactly what I see happening here…
    Perhaps I wouldn’t use words quite that strong, but the idea is that there is a certain approved way to think/talk about this issue and unless you hit it just right, you are suspect- and forget the myriad Church Fathers whom we will quote on so many issues who just happened to speak of the Atonement in different ways and categories than “Penal Substitutionary Atonement.”

    The Gospel is larger than Penal Substitutionary Atonement. And Penal Substitutionary Atonement is not the CENTER of the Gospel. It’s the MEANS. The center of the Gospel (to quote Keller) is God’s rescue and renewal of all Creation THROUGH the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

    When we mistake the MEANS for the POINT, we get all out of whack.

    I believe in the atonement. But Jesus is the point. His life, His death, His resurrection, His teaching, and His purpose and plan to rescue and renew all of creation. The atonement is a means to that end, and should not be confused for the end itself.

  11. I apologize if I’m being combative here, or coming acorss that way. I don’t mean to… My frustration comes from what I perceive to be massive misunderstandings of people I care about, so I get kind of defensive.

    I really mean it when I say that what your theology does to you, how it makes you treat others, especially those with whom you have friction is at least as important as the theology itself. I really am working on my own stuff in this regard…

    Thanks for your patience, Drew.

  12. does anyone know if there are any urban emerging churches? by that i mean with african american people leading the way and doing emerging ministry among the poor, etc? i find that living in the city (chicago) these emerging conversations are fascinating and all but are mostly irrelevant to where i live, minister, worship. any help would be appreciated…

    illreezon.blogspot.com

  13. Bob,
    I get ya brother. I understand what you’re saying. I too think the Gospel is more than just 1 Cor. 15, but isn’t less than that. I think we’re saying the same thing from different angles here.

    The atonement is robust, multifaceted, but still the history of the world according to Christ is about his suffering and glory (Luke 24 hermanuetic) so we read all the Scripture as the Gospel, but realize that the centerpiece is what Christ has done to accomplish redemption. The Father planned repemption, the Son came and accomlished redemption, and the Spirit applies Redemption. I think we agree on that. The thing that concerns me is that when we start to think of our faith not being driven from the cross, it then makes grace either irrelevant or at best confused.

    I doubt highly you would argue that the cross is an absolute necessity for grace to be grace, so for that I’ll shut my yapper.

    Depending on the conversation I’m having, I usually take the position that we need to see the Gospel and Redemption beyond our personal experience, so it’s funny to have to argue the necessity of penal substitionary atonement. I think it’s necessary because in the EC movement, it is seriously dimished and therefore grace is lost behind “be like Jesus” works based mentality. I’m arguing for grace and grace comes through Christ’s finished work, so this is where I have a hard time with a loss of terms that clearly define what Christ accomplished to make the news what it is and grace what it is.

    I appreciate your dialouge though, and look forward to more in the future.

  14. I just reread my post and need to clarify:

    I said “I doubt highly you would argue that the cross is an absolute necessity for grace to be grace…” I mean to say “I doubt highly you would argue against the cross as an absoulte necessity for grace to be grace.” That certainly changes the meaning!!!

  15. Hey Drew, I’m bummed we didn’t get to meet at the conference. Sounds like there was some good conversation to be had, I guess the blogs will do.

    I really like Mark Driscoll. Like Bob said, I listen to him almost every week. My struggle with his contributions to the book and cc course this week had more to do with HOW he interacted.

    I’m a strong believer in the idea that what you’re theology does to you is as important as what you state it to be. I have some seriously bad history with pastors claiming data points on their theological spectrum and acting very poory in the pulpit and on the ground in churches. Its a big point for me.

    There’s two categories on contributors in the book, Mark, and everyone else. I don’t mean this as a compliment, nor a total poke. Its simply political-ish interaction, not conversational. Bob referred to much of what Mark was saying as a good old fashioned republical stump speech. Just say the words and all is well, speak to a group of 30 like you would speak to 5,000… The thought I kept having was, “He’s writing this book to John Piper and Tim Keller. He want their head nod. He’s not so worried about whether or not joe blow reader gets any of this…”

    I viewd the interaction between authors as extremely valuable and a great tool for teaching others about what the nature of theological dialogue can and should be.

    Mark said that he hasn’t had somone from his congregation ask him for an appointment in over a month. This is tragic, Mark himself has a lot of pastoral gifts to offer the people attending Mars Hill. I had a brief interaction with him on tuesday (he remembered me from an acts 29 conference from 3 years ago, which was cool and sort of wierd since the last time I tried to speak to him he actually looked away and ignored me until I left…) and was surprised at how encouraging he was. I felt, for a brief moment, pastored.

    Unfortunately, he left that part of him in the hallway and off the page.

  16. pardon the spelling errors, didn’t edit that last one 🙂

  17. I have to disagree with Chris. At least as far as how he believes Mark interacted in the book “Listening to the Beliefs in the Emergent Church.” I just finished reading the book and Mark did what most of us actually enjoy in conversation; he interacted and gave his thoughts on the ideas and beliefs of the other contributors. I am really left to wonder Chris what you expected out of it. The book after all is a counterpoints book in which each author is supposed to engage and critique the ideas of the other writer’s. Mark did just this, and he did it quite well. I am not sure if it was due to editing or just Mark using personal restraint but there were none of the “driscollisms” that I was expecting coming in. Overall his essay and responses seemed the most well researched and thought out, but this is just one man’s opinion I am sure there will be many others.

  18. I’ve read part of the book, and I believe the camp you begin with prior to reading the book is going to continue in your bias as you read it. If you love Karen, you will like her more poetic journey with us through life as followers of Jesus but not like Driscoll’s ‘authoritarian position’ using the Bible as he sees it. If you like Driscoll, you will like the use of Scripture as the starting place and laugh at Driscoll’s quote about Karen quoting indie rock bands, blogs, movies, obscure theologians, and Hindu Ghandi as her authorities.

  19. I think what I’m increasingly having a hard time with, in regards to the EC conversation, is that it seems that there is a higher value put on how something is said as oppossed to what is actually being said. Thus, we constantly hear McLaren applauded because he is soooo humble and Driscoll negatively criticized becaused he is abrasive in his delivery sometimes. Certianly, we need to hear the truth spoken in love but I’m quite sick of the “delivery card” being played. We need to spend more time on considering what exactly is being delivered (e.g. is it true?).

  20. I hear you Drew, that’s true. We all come into this with presuppositions about the contributing authors, and some folks are already wearing the jersey before they even open the book…or any book for that matter 🙂

  21. I agree with you Michael, we do need to listen to exactly what someone is saying and not just how they say it.

    For the record though, my little write up focused on the ‘how’ as it related to the ‘what.’ Perhaps it was to the detriment of the ‘what,’ it was somewhat hastily written while at the national pastor’s conference this week and frankly I didn’t anticipate any sort of conversation coming from it.

    having said that I do think it needs to be said that simply laying importance on the ‘how’ being very connected to the ‘what’ does not by neccesity place more importance on the how. I just want to say that the ‘how’ tells us a lot about the ‘what,’ but by no means does it tell us everything.

    but when someone jokingly refer to another’s theology (in a simple minded manner at that) it says something about the way you see the world and the way you see other people…which are very integrated into theology in my book.

  22. Yeah- for the record-
    1. I enjoyed my personal interactions with Mark very much this week.
    2. My concerns focused more on the “how’s” and even “what’s” of what was presented in the seminar, as opposed to the book which I have mostly just skimmed so far.
    3. What I said was that the “how” is at least as importnat as the what… not “more”- an important distinction. Be as nice as you want, but be wrong about it and you are still wrong.
    Be as right as you can be, doctrinally, and be a jerk about it, and you are still, in some sense, wrong.

    Mark, Doug and Karen (John was fine…) each struggled with their personalities this week. I think each won in some ways and each lost in some.

    Maybe if I get my hands on the audio, I can expound on that some more…

  23. “What I said was that the ‚Äúhow‚Äù is at least as importnat as the what‚Ķ not ‚Äúmore‚Äù- an important distinction. Be as nice as you want, but be wrong about it and you are still wrong. Be as right as you can be, doctrinally, and be a jerk about it, and you are still, in some sense, wrong.”

    I don’t think that I can get behind this statement because Paul praised God that the gospel was preach even when it was preached from the wrong heart. Paul declares, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Phil. 1:18) It seems to me the opposite is being valued more so these days. In the prescene spiritual climate, it is not so much if Christ is being proclaim that matters but more so that whatever is said, it is said nicely and without absoluteness. Give me a jerk that speaks the truth over a nice guy that spins destructive lies anyday. Both cause damage but the word of God isn’t chained, and only one of them is speaking it. As a disclaimer, let me say again I do believe that scripture teaches us that the how does greatly matter. Our speech should be soaked in grace!

  24. Excuse the spelling mistake. I credit them to two things: 1) Indiana State Public School System and 2) I’m a bad speller.

  25. Funny- we talked about just that example last night…
    there’s a difference between preaching the gospel rightly from a wrong motive (which Paul accepted, and praised God for.. and preaching the right content in an un-Christ-like manner.

    I think the controlling verse here is “speak the turth in love”. If you speak the truth, but don’t have the love (as Paul says elsewhere), you are still in the wrong. If you have all the love, but don’t have the truth? Still wrong.

    Pitting truth and love versus each other should never happen. Nor we elevate one over the other. To be right, one must have both.

  26. Bob,

    “here‚Äôs a difference between preaching the gospel rightly from a wrong motive (which Paul accepted, and praised God for.. and preaching the right content in an un-Christ-like manner.” Can you expand on this a little more? I’m not saying I disagree, I just want to make sure I’m tracking with you. Thanks!

  27. Bob,

    If Doug and Karen talked the way you did, there would be a ton LESS controversy. If they said things like this,

    “he Gospel is larger than Penal Substitutionary Atonement. And Penal Substitutionary Atonement is not the CENTER of the Gospel. It‚Äôs the MEANS. The center of the Gospel (to quote Keller) is God‚Äôs rescue and renewal of all Creation THROUGH the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. ”

    then there would be a better reaction. I understand why you like them, because of the balance their opinion brings to the a one-sided systematic way of viewing the Bible, and the atonement for that matter. But, they would never be confused for holding onto a more orthodox view (of both the Bible and the Atonement) as strong as you do.

  28. Christian,

    Check out Eric Mason at Epiphany Fellowship in Philly. He’s doing Emerging Church contextualization in the urban setting.

    http://www.epiphanyfellowship.org/

  29. I was trying to stay out of this conversation because i wasn’t at the conference and the book that started the discussion is #2 from the top on my reading list at the moment. But this idea of proclaiming the “right message with wrong motives” is fresh in my mind. I was just studying John Ch 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman. I was amazed that Jesus in this conversation confronts her on the fact that she has many husbands and the man she is with is not her husband. But as Jesus has this conversation the woman finds a messiah and runs to the village to tell everyone to come and see. Now contrast that with the story of the woman caught in adultery. She is being dragged to the street to be executed (while her Male partner in crime seems to get away scott free). The crowd was right… the law says… the law came from God, but Jesus disperses the crowd. I think there is a point that in the “how” something is delivered the right can be made wrong.

    Secondly I hope that my theology doesn’t solely flow from the cross. If it does i think it is woefully inadequate. I firmly believe that theology has to flow from who God is . That would mean it flows from creation, and the temple, and the manger, and the cross, and the tomb, and Peter‚Äôs vision when meeting Cornelius, and the martyrdom of the saints… To say theology and the practical experience of that theology, is defined merely by the cross and that the cross is defined merely by substitutionary atonement leaves a huge hole in in our faith, and diminishes the work of God in the world before the cross and our work as the body of Christ after the cross.

    It‚Äôs very frustrating to minister with “emergent/post modern sensibilities” and come from a tradition that is rich and considerably heavy with deep theological heritage. We hear so often those things don’t matter. I have profound respect for Karen and the Church of the Apostles for honoring that God given tradition, that effects who they are as disciples of Jesus.

    Your milage may vary

  30. “To say theology and the practical experience of that theology, is defined merely by the cross and that the cross is defined merely by substitutionary atonement leaves a huge hole in in our faith, and diminishes the work of God in the world before the cross and our work as the body of Christ after the cross.”

    To this I would say that the gospel is the central message of the entire Bible (both OT & NT) and the cross is at the center of the gospel. For example, the incarnation is only fully understood in that it leads up to the cross (destroy this temple!). And it is impossible to get to the resurrection without going through the cross. Thus, the cross is the central message of the Christian faith but that isn’t to say that the cross is the Christian faith. It is just to say that all other doctrines can only be fully appreciated and grasped in light of the cross.

  31. Of course there are more things in our faith than just the cross…no one is claiming anything different, however, the cross is the act by which redemption/justice/wrath/mercy/and grace collide together in this great symphany where God’s character, nature and work are put on display. It is also the only way by which redemption is accomplished for us. We can’t even begin to speak about working towards the redemption of all things without first considering the redemption accomplished and applied for and to us. Without the cross, all other discussions are rendered moot because none of us would have access to these other great benefits in any substantive way.

    It pains me to see such little concern for the cross, considering those that so vocally espouse grace fail to remember that grace came at a great cost, and this was paid at the cross. Without the cross, none of us have peace with God which is what we all long for ultimately. Read the pastoral epistles after the churches were founded, what do you see? You see quite a bit of attention paid to the gospel, and specifically what Christ accomplished for us. As matter of interesting survey, Paul, in 1 Cor. addresses 11 major problems at the church in Corinth, and guess how he answers all 11 of these problems? With the Gospel of grace- what Christ accomplished. This is also the reason Paul confronts Peter over racism- his life wasn’t “in-step” with the gospel of grace. The gospel has lines to it that flow from the work of Christ. Our lives are spent bringing everything in-line with the Gospel. To the degree that we believe this gospel of grace, and not our own works-based sanctification, to that same degree we will have transformed hearts which will result in tranformed lives and then a transformed world. Inside out, not outside in- no matter how much we promote a social agenda, it will never have the power to change the heart of man.

    I’ll state again- of course there is more to the Gospel than 1 Cor. 15, but it isn’t less than that. Reductionism has a tendency to pick up on one particular aspect (like christus exemplar) while ignoring other aspects of the atonment, specifically penal-substitutionary atonement. Friends…like it or not, this is going to be the fight at the end of the day which will divide the room. Some are moving away from the atonement because they want Jesus to be reduced to a great example for us, which is nothing more than works-based salvation apart from a bloody cross and empty tomb. Re-read Luke 24 and attempt to discern what Christ was getting at when he spoke of His suffering and glory as the point of all OT history. Did that end when He died and rose again? If so, why does he bother to mention this twice in the chapter for those on the raod to emmaus and also later to his disciples before he ascends to the right hand of the Father? The reason is found in Acts (which is nothing more than a continuation of Luke) which shows us the founding and empowerment of the church by the Spirit with a message, and guess what the message was? Look at Peter’s first sermon, yep the cross, the gospel.- Christ died, Christ rose, repent, believe, get baptized.

    If ever there were a time to do away with all the “cross” talk, Jesus sure blew it before He was taken up. I’ll go ahead and stick with Jesus and the message that was preached by which all men are commanded to repent and believe. Yes there’s more, after we get grace, after we deal with the offense of the cross. Till then, it’s all a bunch of mental masturbation.

    My suggestion: stick close the cross, spend your life unpacking the gospel, and by this transforming grace become motivated the set the world on fire. Nothing else will do.

  32. William Nielsen

    May 5, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Resurrecting an old thread 🙂

    Well stated David!

    I would also like to include this quote which I believe adds some historical context regarding the atonement:

    “Those who set aside the atonement as a satisfaction for sin also murder the doctrine of justification by faith. They must do so. There is a common element which is the essence of both doctrines; so that, if you deny the one, you destroy the other.

    Modern thought is nothing but an attempt to bring back the legal system of salvation by works. Our battle is the same as that which Luther fought at the Reformation. If you go to the very ground and root of it, grace is taken away, and human merit is substituted. The gracious act of God in pardoning sin is excluded, and human effort is made all in all, both for past sin and future hope. Every man is now to set up as his own savior, and the atonement is shelved as a pious fraud.

    I will not foul my mouth with the unworthy phrases which have been used in reference to the substitutionary work of our Lord Jesus Christ; but it is a sore grief of heart to note how these evil things are tolerated by men whom we respect.

    We shall not cease, dear brethren, in our ministry, most definitely and decidedly to preach the atoning sacrifice; and I will tell you why I shall be sure to do so. I have not personally a shadow of a hope of salvation from any other quarter: I am lost if Jesus be not my Substitute. I have been driven up into a corner by a pressing sense of my own personal sin, and have been made to despair of ever doing or being such that God can accept me in myself.

    I must have a righteousness, perfect and Divine; yet it is beyond my own power to create. I find it in Christ: I read that it will become mine by faith, and by faith I take it. My conscience tells me that I must render to God’s justice a recompense for the dishonor that I have done to His law, and I cannot find anything which bears the semblance of such a recompense till I look to Christ Jesus. Do I not remember when I first looked to Him, and was lightened? Do I not remember how often I have gone as a sinner to my Savior’s feet, and looked anew at His wounds, and believed over again unto eternal life, feeling the old joy repeated by the deed?

    Brethren, I cannot preach anything else, for I know nothing else. New dogmas may or may not be true; but of the truth of this doctrine, I am sure.

    If anybody here is preaching the atonement, but does not like it, I dare not advise him to cease preaching it, but the words tremble on my lips. I am firmly persuaded that the unwilling or cold-hearted preacher of any doctrine is its worst enemy. It comes to this, in the long run, that the wounds of truth in the house of its false friends are worse than those given it by foes. If you do not love the cross in your heart’s core, you had better let it alone. I can truly say that I preach the atonement con amore, with all my heart…….

    Observers will have noticed that the joyous element has gone out of many pulpits. The preacher does not enjoy his own subject, and seldom speaks of having been in the Spirit while he was discoursing. He likes twenty minutes’ preaching a great deal better than forty; and he is peculiarly apt to merge his two week-night services into one.

    Nobody enjoys modern doctrine, for there is nothing to enjoy…….

    I would like to rise from my bed, during the last five minutes of my life, to bear witness to the Divine sacrifice and the sin-atoning blood. I would then repeat those words which speak the truth of substitution most positively, even should I shock my hearers; for how could I regret that, as in Heaven my first words would be to ascribe my salvation to my Master’s blood, my last act on earth was to shock His enemies by a testimony to the same fact?”

    CH SPURGEON

    How ironic that throughout Christian HIStory, that the cross, the atonement and its impact on humanty, is the single most attacked issue regarding not only its central importance, but also its significance!

    Sola Gratia!

    Peace,

1 Pingback

  1. Coops was here

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Goodmanson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑