Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Now . . . the next few characteristics of the emerging church problem. The emerging church is the result of the evangelical movement getting mixed up in church growth methods and techniques. Churches discovered that some doctrines sell easier than others. It is easier for people to visit and stay at a church that is teaching what the people already think. The obvious result is that church growth research basically tells us that if a church simply tells people the people what they already believe then they are going to be comfortable in your church and stay.
Characteristics #4-8 of an emergent church follow:
4. The moral failures of leaders in the church have caused the emergers to doubt the entire institution of the church.
5. Multiculturalism has caused an unresolvable tension between the gospel that says Jesus is the only way and multiculturalism that says every culture has found their own way. (So, how are those cultures doing? Are the emergers leaving the US yet for those other cultures yet?)
6. Just as the Gnostics of the second century could not grasp the concept of the God of wrath in the Old Testament, so also the Emergent Church can not resolve the conflict they have between their image of a tolerant, understanding God of love and mercy along with the holy God of righteous judgment found in the scripture. (Point: the emergers are not emerging but are regressing back into ideas and practices that time has proven to be failures.)
7. Concerning the issue of homosexuality the emergents consider the biblical view to be oversimplified compared to the complex issue of sexuality. (How hard can it be? God begins the Bible by telling us he made them male and female. People are either one or the other. Obviously, the sin nature is so powerful that people get confused with only two options. Just imagine how difficult sexuality would be for the emergers if sexual options were like a Baskin Robbins store??)
8. The use of language has its limits so the Bible itself is bound by the limits of language. (It is too bad that God did not have the foresight to overcome this. If God were only as wise as the emergers he could have skipped the whole process of the recording of scripture and just communicated to us through our feelings.)
You may want to take note of the following. According to Roger Oakland these are some trends of the Emerging Church movement:
- Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.
- The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.
- More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.
- The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.
- The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.
- The teaching that the book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past or is allegorical.
- An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.
- Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.
- The pastor may implement an idea called "ancient-future" or "vintage Christianity"claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.
- While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.
- These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments (for Protestants), particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
- Some "evangelical" Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the "church fathers" saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.
- Some suggest there are many ways to God.
- Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave. If you are over age 50, your opinion will not even matter.
Monday, September 22, 2008
- Emerging churches believe that the doctrine of Scripture's inerrancy does not sufficiently capture the true character of the Bible. (Can you guess where this is heading?)
- They believe that the gospel we have been preaching concerning Jesus' death as payment for our sins and his resurrection for our new life was Paul's idea and not Jesus' intention at all. Emergers, which is my word for people involved in an Emerging Church, describe the message Jesus preached as a 'secret message' that has been rediscovered by leading emergers. They have discovered that Jesus was focused on political action and he had global concerns. (Maybe the emergers would like to suggest a world political leader we could unite behind to follow into a golden age of world harmony. Are you ready for the anti-christ?)
- The deification of science has created a generation of people that are ready to dismiss the literal biblical accounts whenever science's latest revelation, or hypothesis, demands obedience. This is easily done in the name of Christianity by assuming the Bible is written in some ancient form of poetry, allegory, parable, etc. With this understanding an Emerger can both agree with the Bible but at the same time redirect it to allign with current pop science. (Remember the house built on shifting sand? Well, this is that house.)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
The identification of God as Father goes even beyond Jesus’ own relationship with God when he teaches his disciples to also pray by saying “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). It should be noted in passing that Jesus’ teaching concerning God’s fatherly relationship to them, and their familiarity and intimacy with God as Father, should not detract from their understanding of his awesome holiness and flawless righteousness because in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus followed “Our Father in heaven” with “hallowed be your name.” The Father/Son relationship of man with God is based on the redemptive work of God through Jesus. John says, “To all who received him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he (God the Father) gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12, 13). Jesus and the apostles taught that God our Father demonstrated his Fatherly care and relationship with each believer in these ways:
Cares for daily needs (Matthew 6:32)
Individual concern and attention (Matthew 6:26)
Source of our spiritual life (John 1:12, 13)
His Love has been lavished on us (1 John 3:1)
Gives us grace and peace (Ephesians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1)
Concerned with our welfare (Romans 8:15-28)
Gives us good gifts (James 1:17)
Oversees our discipline and growth (Hebrews 12:5-13)
Provides us with commands and directions for living life (2 John 4)
Makes us in the image of his own Son (1 John 3:2)
Paul begins all his epistles by identifying God as the Father (Rm.1:7; 1Co.1:3; 2Co.1:2; Gal.1:1; etc.). All human fathers receive the concept of fatherhood from God himself (Ephesians 3:14,15). God is the Father of glory (Eph.1:17), the Father of spirits (Heb.12:9) and the Father of lights (James 1:17). After his resurrection Jesus told Mary that he was “ascending to my Father and your Father” (John 20:17).
Sunday, September 14, 2008
On Friday, about five minutes before the last bell rang, I noticed a DJ setting up his sound equipment for the dance in the school gym. Since our track team practices right outside the gym, I knew the boys were going to be frustrated when they heard the music and saw fellow classmates dancing. I wondered if some boys might still be tempted to skip practice, so, for good measure, I decided to make one final announcement over the intercom as a reminder. Over the loud speaker came the words, “There will be track practice as usual immediately after school today for the entire boys track team.”
Right as the announcement ended, eight boys from the track team walked into my classroom dizzy with confusion. One boy conjured up his best look of bewilderment and asked, “Coach, do we have practice tonight? We were wondering because nobody really knows.” When I again confirmed that we did, another boy quickly asked, “What happens if we don’t come?” My reply was simple: “You’ll be punished.”
Confusion was not limited to this group of boys. Many members of the track team lingered in the hallway—debating about whether or not there was track practice. One boy approached a team manager and inquired about it. The manager supposedly told him, “I think there’s practice…but it might be optional.” That was all that the boy needed. Now armed with words straight from the mouth of the team manager, he could claim ignorance and later justify the reason he followed his desires and went to the dance.
As I left my classroom to head to the track, another boy stopped me to ask about practice. I looked right at him and said, “Yes, we have practice.” He went to the dance.
The track boys who chose to go to the dance could actually see their teammates running warm up laps on the track outside as they walked into the gym. Yet these boys remained “confused” as to whether or not there was track practice.
Confirmations about track practice that had taken place:
1) I had announced there would be practice on Friday and even warned the boys that there might be some confusion because of the dance, but that shouldn’t change anything. 2) An announcement was made over the loud speaker moments before the boys had to make the decision whether to go to track practice or the dance. 3) Some of the boys had approached me even after hearing the announcement, and I told them face-to-face, “Yes we have track practice.” 4) The fifty-eight boys who showed up for track practice were running right outside the gym, and the boys who were dancing could actually see their teammates—thus confirming that practice was indeed taking place.
When all seventy track boys showed up on Monday, I asked why twelve of them had missed Friday’s practice. The excuses were varied but all came back to the same claim: they were in a state of ignorance due to so much confusion. Some insisted that I hadn’t made it clear. One blamed the manager for saying practice was optional. Others swore they forgot. And all the boys who went to the dance confirmed each other’s confusion by contending that there was just no way of knowing whether or not we had practice. Their strategy involved insisting on confusion. They figured if enough people said they were confused, I would have to accept it as a legitimate excuse. But I didn’t. The confused boys lost the privilege of running in our first track meet.
As I stood there on Monday afternoon at track practice surrounded by the track team it became very clear to me that in life people choose to be confused. I could not have done anything more to help get them to track practice other than to pick them up and carry them from the school to the track. Even then some of the boys would have slipped away to the dance while I wasn’t looking. With all my effort to communicate a testable and provable obvious truth almost 20% of those I communicated with remained confused. Many of the things in life that we claim to be confused about are as obvious. I will even say many of the things we just can’t “wrap our minds around” are testable and provable. It is not that we can’t “wrap our minds around” them but we don’t want to “wrap our minds around” them.
Today in the United States of America many people have found comfort when faced with moral decisions, personal responsibility and spiritual realities by using the same excuse as these junior high boys. We are looking at a growing cultural pandemic that is more dangerous than any threat the media is covering. Our society is conveniently confused about what is right, what is true, what is moral, who is God, who should be responsible, who should be honored and who should be shunned. America apparently hopes to be able to cry out for mercy because they are just so confused. How can God expect us to be moral, responsible people when there are so many things to be confused about!! Right?
I suppose if I had not announced there would be practice or had failed to realize there was a conflict with the dance the boys would have had an excuse for being confused. Likewise, if there is no way of knowing what is right or moral how could we help but be anything but confused. If God had never communicated with man nor had the concept of God ever crossed man’s mind then man could be excused from having failed to come to grips with his Creator. If that were the case then I suppose mankind could claim to have an excuse.
I have learned that claiming to be confused is not the same thing as being confused. Likewise, searching for a reason to convince yourself you are confused is still not an excuse. Even if you find a whole group of people who all claim like you to be confused, this still does not mean anyone of them has not heard the truth and rejected it only to later claim to be confused.
I suppose that claiming to be confused after rejecting the truth is no different than claiming to be in the dark after you shut off the light.
(This is blog is taken from chapter one of Galyn's book "Hope for America's Last Generation")
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Apocrypha was accepted in 1546 at the Council of Trent. This decision was an error on the part of this church council for these reasons:
- Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament never quote from the Apocrypha.
- The Apocrypha itself never claims to be authoritative, inspired, or the word of God.
- The internal evidence within the books themselves even disclaims inspiration, stating that there were no prophets that could speak or write under the inspiration of the spirit during the years these books were written (1 Maccabees 4:46; 9:27; 14:41).
- Some books have major historical errors. For example in the book of Judith, Nebuchadnezzar is said to be the king of Assyria, and in the books of First and Second Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanies is recorded as dying three different ways in three different places.
- Some books promote doctrinal error. For example, prayer for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:45-46), attainment of complete sanctification and sinlessness,
- Some of the books accept practices that the Bible condemns such as suicide, assassination and magical incantation.
- Josephus, who rejects the Apocrypha and other books outside of the Jewish scriptures says: “From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.” (Against Apion 1:8)
- The Dead Sea Scrolls do not consider the Apocrypha as inspired.
- Jerome rejected the inspiration of the Apocrypha and originally refused to translate them as part of his Latin Vulgate – but did include them in the end at the request of the Roman bishop. He warned readers not to “apply them to establish any doctrine” concerning “these portions which exhibit no authority as Holy Scripture.”
- The Apocrypha lacks any prophetic authorship or content and so there is no possible prophetic fulfillment to confirm their authority.
- In accepting these writings in 1546, the Council of Trent broke with the traditional views of the Jews, the early Church, and major church councils in the past.
- The Council of Trent made its decision in reaction against Martin Luther’s criticism of their doctrine of praying and collecting indulgences for the dead.
- The Council of Trent accepted only 11 of the apocryphal books. They accepted 2 Maccabees because it supported their belief in prayer for the dead, but rejected 2 Esdras because it opposed prayers for the dead.
The New Testament Apocryphal Books
There are books from the first and second century that have been compiled as the so-called New Testament Apocrypha. These books can be broken down into two groups: books written by known authors that are not considered scripture, and pseudo-writings which are books written by unknown authors claiming to be someone else (For example: an author who wrote a book with his own ideas and doctrine but signed Peter’s name to it to help it gain acceptance).
Some books written by known authors from the early church that are authentic but not considered scripture are Clement’s letter to the Corinthians, Ignatius’ seven letters written on his way to martyrdom in Rome, and others. A few books written by unknown authors who ascribed the writings to apostles or other famous Christians are the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, and the Apocalypse of Peter.
These books are rejected because they do not meet the requirements of canonicity listed above. In addition:
- They were never recognized by a major church council.
- If they were ever listed in the same document with the canonical books they were always placed on a separate list.
- None of these books ever received universal acceptance by the churches. At best they experienced local acceptance (or consideration), and then only for a limited time. Once they were tested and carefully considered they were universally removed from acceptance in the canon
- Some of these books are clearly fables, deceptions, or products of some early unorthodox group trying to gain acceptance into Christendom.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
- "Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:27
This same chain of prophets was referred to by the Jewish historian Josephus when he wrote:
- “From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.” Against Apion 1:8
This concept eliminates the possibility of canonicity and the inspiration for the Apocrypha. The word Apocrypha comes from the Greek word apokryphos which is built on the Greek word krypto which means “secret or hidden”. They were given this name by Jerome around 400 AD because they are books that are rarely seen. They were written between 400-200 BC after the inspired Old Testament canon was closed.
Old Testament revelation can be traced through a series of prophets who form a prophetic chain through the Old Testament beginning with Moses (1440 BC) and ending with Nehemiah who compiled the final books after Malachi closed Old Testament Revelation around 432 BC. Scripture identifies these prophets as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Nathan, Ahijah, Iddo, Jehu, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra and Nehemiah.
- Moses -Genesis, Exodus, Revelation, Leviticus, Deuteronomy (Nehemiah 9:14Luke 24:27
- Joshua - End of Deuteronomy, book of Joshua
- Samuel - Samuel wrote an early history of Samuel and David (1 Chron. 29:29)
- Nathan & Gad - Nathan and Gad recorded events in the reign of David (1 Chron. 29:292 Chron. 12:15)
- Nathan, Ahijah, Iddo - Nathan, Ahijah and Iddo wrote of the events during the reign of Solomon (2 Chron. 9:29-31)
- Shemaiah, Iddo - Shemaiah and Iddo chronicled the events in the reign of Rehoboam (2 Chron. 12:15)
- Iddo - Iddo wrote of the events of the reign of Abijah (2 Chron. 13:22)
- Jehu - Jehu wrote of the events of the reign of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:34)
- Isaiah - Isaiah wrote of the events of the reign of Hezekiah (2 Chron. 32:32
- (Hozai?) - An unknown prophet (possibly Hozai) wrote of Manasseh’s reign (2 Chron. 33:19)
- Jeremiah - Jeremiah prophesied and recorded the final days of Judah during the reigns beginning with Josiah through Jehoiakim through Zedekiah (Jeremiah 1:1-3)
- Ezekiel - Ezekiel prophecied and recorded events from July 5, 593 until April 28, 573 BC during the Babylonian captivity (Ezek. 1:2; 40:1)
- Daniel - Daniel prophesied and recorded events from 605-536 B.C. This included the time of Jehoiakim of Judah, and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon until Cyrus and Darius of the Medo-Persians (Daniel 1:1; 10:1)
- Ezra - Ezra returns to Jerusalem with the exiles with the written revelation and teaches the people. Ezra taught the word of God and recorded events (Ezra 6:18; 7:11; 9:4
- Zechariah - Zechariah prophesied to the Jews who returned from Babylon and recorded events in 520 BC (Zechariah 1:1)
- Malachi - Malachi closed the time of revelation around 432 BC – until the coming of “the prophet Elijah”, or, John the Baptist (Malachi 4:5)
- Nehemiah - Nehemiah was governor in Jerusalem for two terms (445-432 and a second term somewhere between the years 430-407). Nehemiah compiled the final prophetic books with all the previous revelation into an organized collection of written revelation known to Christians today as the Old Testament (Nehemiah 1:1; 5:14;13:6)
On Thursday or Friday we will take a look at the Apocrypha. I believe we should be familar with the Apocrypha. One of the greatest stories is recorded in the book of Maccabees concerning the Maccabean revolt.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Transcendence and Immanence - These are two characteristics of the God of the Bible. Transcendence refers to God as being prior to and existing outside the created world. To describe God as transcendent means God’s existence, his person and his nature, are not connected to the created world. God exists unchanged before, during and after the universe, or any created thing, existed. Immanence refers to God’s ability, desire and practice of being involved in the universe. This includes his general indwelling of every part of creation. God is everywhere simultaneously and is present at every point in space (but, this does not mean he exists as every point in space.) As transcendent, God is beyond time and space and is not affected by creation. As immanent, God is aware, present and involved in the created world. The Biblical God is both transcendent and immanent. He exists outside the universe but is active in the universe.
There are seven major world views of concerning God:
1. Atheism – believes there is no God
2. Polytheism – believes there are many gods
3. Panentheism – believes God is finite. He learns and changes as the free universe makes decisions.
4. Finite godism – believes God is finite but lives beyond the universe yet still has limited action in the universe
5. Pantheism – believes God is infinite but lives or exists with the creation
6. Deism – God is infinite, does not live in or effect the world; he is totally outside creation (transcendent).
7. Theism – God is infinite and beyond creation but he does act within creation; he is personal and knowable
Theism is an ancient philosophical concept that needed to be identified when the philosophy of deism began to be embraced in the 1600’s. Deism simply believes that God created the universe like a clockmaker. God wound it up and is letting it run. In deism God is entirely transcendent or outside the created world. Deism describes God as the first cause who created the world and established immutable, universal laws that can not be altered even by divine intervention. Theism on the other hand is the belief in the existence of one God who is transcendent and yet immanent. Theism embraces an infinite God who has personhood and interacts with people.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Many times in life the decisions we make today eliminate the options we will get to choose from in the future. Bad choices today cancel out the good options from our list of future choices. Even in human history and in world events there are no "right" answers to our dilemmas because previous sins or selfish choices have destroyed the win/win options. Thus, we find ourselves with no clear direction and no real commitment to move ahead since any decision will produce lousy results.
As the angels tried to get Lot to leave the city, Lot hesitated and refused to flee. Why? He was fleeing into the dark wilderness were he would end up living in a cave in the mountains. Why did things end so badly for Lot? He had made a series of bad choices which included leaving Abraham who was still a powerful and wealthy relative living only twenty miles to the west.
Watch this 9:55 minute YouTube message by Galyn Wiemers:
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Points of Doctrine Concerning Inspiration
1. All Scripture is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16)
2. Scripture comes from the mouth of God (2 Tim. 3:16)
3. Scripture reveals God’s plan and God’s ways to man (2 Tim. 3:16)
4. Scripture did not originate in the thoughts of man (2 Peter 1:20)
5. Scripture came through men who were carried along by the Holy Ghost in their thinking, speaking and writing (2 Peter 1:20)
6. The Words of Scripture were written through inspiration (1 Cor. 2:13)
7. The Words of Scripture continue to be inspired throughout all time (Mark 13:31)
Doctrinal Errors Concerning Inspiration
1. Natural Inspiration – erroneously sees the writers of the Bible as very great men who were geniuses. They came up with their own thoughts and wrote them down.
2. Mystical Inspiration - this incorrect perspective accepts the Bible to be the result of men who were assisted by the Holy Spirit to write good material that was “inspired” by God like many of today’s sermons, songs, books, conversations and actions as equally “inspired” by God.
3. Dynamic Inspiration – an errant opinion that presents biblical authors as having had a revelatory experience with God. Then they wrote down in their own words and abilities what happened.
4. Degree Inspiration – this view accepts the Bible as inspired but considers some parts to be more inspired than others.
5. Limited Inspiration – in this position some parts of the Bible are inspired and others are not inspired. Inspiration is accepted in the case of doctrinal teaching, but some of the historical accounts (creation, flood, Abraham, Job, even miracles) are fables, stories, inaccurate recordings, etc.
6. Concept Inspiration – an illogical proposal that believes that the ideas of scripture are inspired but that the words themselves are not. This is like saying I understood the novel but I could not understand any of the words.
7. Barthian Inspiration – Karl Barth held that Jesus was the Word and that the Bible revealed and testified about Jesus. In this view Jesus is revealed in the Bible but the Bible is not inspired, and worse, it contains errors.
8. Neo-orthodox Inspiration – this false doctrine teaches the Bible is the word of God but not the words of God. When you read the Bible it becomes the Word of God, or inspired, for the you.
9. Mechanical or Dictation Theory – this undeveloped position teaches that the writers of the Bible were used by God as human typewriters (or word processors). God dictated word for word, and the writer simply recorded it.
Monday, September 1, 2008