Note: Don’t be alarmed. The post title refers to a book, not my current state of health.
Last month I put out a post asking for book recommendations for a summer reading program one of our church deacons is starting up this summer to encourage reading in our congregation. Of course, we visualize taking up sound biblical materials. My leanings are towards theological works that have been well established – Christian classics. I submitted a fine list of books that aren’t heavy, dry or technical, written by a wide variety of well respected (and theologically orthodox) writers. Well, in a nutshell, my picks were shot down before they could take flight. My deacon friend doesn’t believe most people (that is, believing Christians in the church) will be interested in theology! This boggles my mind, frankly. I consider myself an ordinary fellow of average intellect. Yet, I have an unquenchable yearning for the knowledge of God. This comes from God’s call upon me to become his own possession, a beloved child in his vast, ever-expanding family. As such, I desire to know this God who has rescued me and washed me clean of all my sins. The doctrine of the bible is for the simple and unlearned as well as for the towering intellectual. Theology is not at heart a purely academic pursuit. It is the pursuit of God Almighty. I have a hard time grasping the concept that true believers don’t desire the same things. My yearning may be at a high level because of the calling on my life to teach eternal truths, but surely every believer wants to intimately know the God who saved them to some degree. Every Christian most certainly needs this knowledge to grow in the grace whereby they are saved.
Of course, I know where the deacon’s line of thinking stems from. It has flooded modern evangelicalism for decades now. The church growth\seeker-sensitive movement thrives on a non-doctrinal paradigm of Christian pragmatism. Don’t give church-goers what they need, give them what they want – in liberal doses. This pragmatic approach may attract multitudes of church-goers but does little to produce true disciples of Christ. So the wants of a typical church filled with ‘seekers’ (those who haven’t made any kind of commitment to Christ but are interested) do not match those in the church who are truly Christians. The focus of seeker-sensitive churches sits squarely upon the seeker and his carnal wants instead of the classic doctrines of the bible: teachings such as man’s sinfulness, God’s wrathful judgment against sin, the means of salvation and sanctification he has provided through Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the heart-changing ministry of the Holy Spirit. I suppose congregants who have no zest for doctrine and theology are considered ‘babes in Christ’ who need to be nurtured in a pastel colored nursery by coochie-coochie-coo care-takers that speak condescendingly about moral platitudes from the life of King David. Unfortunately, seeker-sensitive churches often have no plans to move toddlers out of the nursery. They keep them content with toys and entertainment. Continue reading
Surprised that I haven’t commented on this brouhaha yet? Actually, so am I. My longtime readers know what an outspoken critic I am of Rick Warren and his purpose-driven pragmatism. For those few who may not be in the know, pastor John Piper, a highly respected preacher/teacher both inside and outside of the reformed community has recently invited Rick Warren to his Desiring God conference this year. Outrage and dismay ensued upon this announcement. Piper made a video justifying his invitation to Warren, saying among other things that he believes at root that Warren is theologically and doctrinally sound. I’m biting my tongue as I write – so much I could say… Maybe that’s why I haven’t said anything.
Bloggers responded immediately, resoundingly condemning John Piper’s discernment in allowing this man a platform at his conference. Some bloggers went over the top and unfairly attacked Piper’s character and his ministry. In certain circles John Piper has been declared anathema. Honestly, If I had posted an article immediately following the announcement I may have crossed that line too as a knee-jerk reaction. I held back, seeking to see the whole picture first. I guess the Lord is maturing me after all. I was beginning to wonder about that.
Anyway, at this point I don’t feel the need to address the issue other than to commend to you an article from Phil Johnson over at the Pyromaniacs blog. After giving the controversy some thought, I can honestly admit that I agree with Phil’s balanced post in about every way possible. And since he can articulate himself much better than I ever could, I will simply point you over to his blog for a thoughtful take on Pipergate. Enjoy!
On the Piper-Warren Connection
Chris Rosebrough of Extreme Theology has hit a home run with his latest article. He recently attended the Evolve 08 Conference in Cumming, Georgia. Church planters, cutting edge pastors and ministry leaders from around the country gathered together to share ideas. Chris interviewed and conversed with many of the participants to try and understand the CPM’s modus operandi of establishing and growing churches in postmodern America. He has rightly divided the word of truth, splitting asunder their foundation with surgical precision, exposing the central tenant of this dangerous movement. The CPM, according to Chris, has part of its roots planted in the sandy soil of the candy-coated Purpose-Driven Ungospel of Rick Warren’s brand of Baptist theology. I’ll let Chris explain further: Continue reading
I actually read most of the best-selling book, “The Purpose-driven Life” a couple of years ago. At the time I thought it was a refreshing blast of gospel simplicity. I was thrilled at Rick Warren’s approach because, in hindsight, it was reflective of the way my church conducted service. It was a natural synopsis of the philosophies I had been raised upon in my first decade of spiritual growth. Of course I loved it! I heartily recommended it to a friend struggling through a divorce for encouragement, without a moment’s hesitation.
However, my suspicions concerning the state of the modern evangelical church continued to grow from that time until just over a year ago. It all came to a head in a prayer I voiced to God in the cool darkness of my backyard one late autumn night. My prayer went something like this: “Lord, my spirit is troubled over the church and the way it is handling the precious gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I fear that error is spreading like a plague through the churches of our land. More than anything, I desire to know the truth, and to live by that truth no matter the personal cost. Humble me that I may choose to follow you, Lord wherever it is you lead me. Open my eyes that I may perceive, unstop my ears that I may comprehend.”
Posted in Uncategorized
- Tagged Calvinism, Charles Spurgeon, Christian Testimony, Christianity, Church Growth, Kirk Cameron, Market driven church, Modern Gospel, Purpose-Driven, Ray Comfort, Reformed Theology, Religion, Rick Warren, Way of the Master
For 10 years I cruised down the smooth asphalt highway of free-will theology. Gradually I began to take notice that the pristine world scrolling past my vision started to lose its luster. The rolling green hills and bright blue sky had become washed out, dull and lifeless; a barren winter landscape. It was then I noticed it wasn’t the environment that had changed, but it was the Lord removing the rose-colored spectacles perched on the end of my nose. Spectacles, that up to that point in my spiritual walk, I had been blissfully unaware I was even wearing. For the first time in my born-again life I saw the modern church from a perspective outside my own limited worldview. I began to question doctrines and church traditions I had firmly believed in for a decade. I marveled at methodologies that didn’t spring from the pages of scriptures, but were fermented in the minds of well-meaning modern evangelicals. Thump! Thump-Thump! Where did all these potholes come from! Oh my. This highway, I’ve discovered, has a toll booth. The price, I fear, is too high to pay. Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized
- Tagged , Calvinism, Christian Testimony, Christianity, Church Growth, John Maxwell, Market driven church, Purpose-Driven, Reformed Theology, Religion, Rick Warren