Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Goodmanson on "Church" Planting

Okay, I don't care who you are... this is downright disturbing on soooooooo many levels... 'specially that it's actually being taken seriously...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Random thoughts on "authenticity..."

Something occurred to me the other day as I was thinking through some of the things I've been reading about Emerging/Emergent from Emerging/Emergent types... one of the biggest things for the ECM seems to be an effort to be "authentic." You won't read very far without encountering some reference to "authenticity" and "being authentic" and such.

Question: Isn't a focus on or attempt to be authentic a sure way to... not be authentic?

Think about it: being "authentic" is simply being what I am. When I start to focus on being something, I'm no longer being what I am, instead I'm trying to become what I want to be... which would make me no longer "authentic." Right?

There's nothing wrong with focusing on what you want to be and seeking to improve; II Peter 1 tells us to "add to our faith..." a whole list of things that are very teleological in nature (focusing on what is to be, on becoming something, focusing on the end of a thing). But that makes me no longer "authentic," but rather very purposefully (...the Emerging/Emergent dilbertism for that seems to be "intentional") introspective and change-driven.

The more I'm reading from ECM guys, the more I really feel for them; it has to be utterly exhausting to try to focus on what you "are" and then expend a lot of energy to become what you... well, aren't, but want to be.

Instead of just being, and letting the Spirit remake you through the mirror and by the hammer and anvil of the Word.

I also note in ready from ECM pastors that it sure does seem to take a whole lot of energy and effort to "do church" the Emerging/Emergent way.

But, as Paul said, "...whether in pretense or in truth."

I like the model that was passed down to me from my pastor. Very... well, "dysfunctional," in the sense of holding the reins of ministry very loosely and just focusing on those primary two things of "prayer and the ministry of the Word," allowing the Spirit to develop all the other good, necessary, and essential things from that.

Sounds simplistic, I know. But boy, I sure like it...

Franklin Graham was right...

Egyptian Cleric Sheik Muhammad Nassar Tells a Group of Children about Child Martyrdom in the Early Days of Islam

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Preaching against culture..."

With all the brouhaha lately regarding the Emerging Church Movement, I've recently begun to take a more serious look at what the ECM leaders are actually saying, by both reading source materials... ah, from their source (ahem - what a concept), and by reading secondary materials (by that, I mean works from those within the movement looking at themselves and describing what they see -- getting their "take" on what they are). That means for me, primarily, doin' the bloggin' thang...

To be honest, the more I read and hear from ECM-types, the less concerned I'm becoming regarding Emerging practice (heck, we were Emerging before Emerging emerged, if all you're looking at is a fluidity of style and not exalting a certain cultural context as being "Christian"). Of course, the more I read and hear from ECM-types, the more deeply concerned I am about Emerging doctrine... well, mostly more of the implications of Emerging doctrine... but that's the subject of another several thousand posts, so I won't dive into that one just yet.

...all that aside; in reading through a blog by an SBC pastor who is into the whole Emerging thing, and reading about what was said at a recent conference in Seattle, I ran across this quote that he... ah... quotes... and I thought it was actually quite profound and worthy of remembering:

Preaching against culture is like preaching against somebody's house. It's just where they live.

Why is this such a smashingly good quote? Because it's another way of saying, "you can't expect unbelievers to act like believers. They don't know any better; they don't need to reform, they need to be reborn. They don't need to 'clean up their respective acts,' they need to come to Jesus." Besides, you can barely expect believers to act like believers nowadays...

Anyway, good thought-provoking quote.

The HipsterPDA

Okay, I don't care who you are... this is cool...

Shalom from Jerusalem (a reserve IDF officer's POV RE: the Lebanon crisis)

The following is an e-mail a few pastors received from a reserve IDF officer
in Israel giving a vastly different spin on the ongoing crisis with the
Hizb'Allah practitioners of the religion of peace and Israel... thought it was
very well worth passing on...

Shalom from Jerusalem.

Thank you all for your concern and e-mails of support.

These are hard times in Israel. It is not the first time and unfortunately might not be the last time. While the majority of the people carry on with their daily lives, a million people on the northern part of the country, Galilee, Haifa and the Golan heights are spending most of their time in bomb shelters.

Some short history to explain how we got to the present situation. In May 24, 2000, the Israeli forces that were deployed in Southern Lebanon had pulled back to Israel. That was to comply with a Security Council resolution calling on all foreign forces to evacuate Lebanese territory. The Syrian army and its thousands of soldiers did not remove its forces from Lebanon and the country was held captive by the Syrian dictatorship. Lebanon was only independent by name. The decisions for Lebanon's future were taken in Damascus. When the withdrawal was completed, the U.N. with Israel's approval had sent over a party to make sure that Israel had pulled back to the international border and that there are no territorial issues between the two countries. Israel's hope that the Lebanese army will deploy its forces along the border as the resolution dictated, were in vain. The Lebanese army never stood to the mission because Syria would not allow that. Instead, the Hezbollah, with Lebanese consent and over a $100 million annual support from Iran started to build a terror infrastructure. More than 12 thousand rockets were hidden in bonkers all over south Lebanon. In the same time the Iranian government was building Hezbollah a fortified quarter in the southern part of Beirut.

That's where the headquarters and the logistical center were. Israel was watching frustrated how the world was ignoring what was going on and doing nothing to stop Iran and its armed militia Hezbollah. Only when the American French pressure on Syria increased, the Syrian army had left Lebanon leaving behind thousands of intelligence officers still holding Lebanon by its throat.

Resolution 1559 from 2004, had called specifically on the disarrangement of Hezbollah and the Lebanese army's deployment in south Lebanon. That resolution was totally ignored. With Iran behind the scene and the massive support it was giving Hezbollah, the provocations from their side were growing. In October 2000, three Israeli soldiers were killed and their bodies kidnapped into Lebanon. The Israeli retaliation was minor and Hezbollah's confidence as a result, sky high. From time to time, the terrorists would open fire on Israeli army posts along the border. Several attempts that were made by them to take more hostages, soldiers and civilians, had failed. As a result of the threat of abducting Israelis, farmers by the Lebanese border were ordered by the army not to farm their land too close to the border. In a well anticipated routine, before the tourist season, before the Jewish high holydays when hundreds of thousands were suppose to stay in hotels and B&B all over the area, Hezbollah would fire a few rockets and the tourist season was ruined. Ever since 2000, Israel had not initiated a single assault or attack on Hezbollah. That had two main reasons:

  1. Israel was occupied with the Palestinians.

  2. The world was asking to give diplomacy a chance.

Well, as always in the Middle East, diplomacy had failed. Accustomed to the mailed Israeli retaliation, in July 12, Hezbollah tried again. This time two soldiers were abducted and 8 others killed in an attack in Israel's territory while hundreds of rockets were launched at Israeli towns along the border. That was the trigger or the excuse we needed to take severe measures to remove Hezbollah from our borders. It is the same old story. In 1982 we occupied south Lebanon because of the P.L.O. and now, 24 years later because of Hezbollah. The only difference is the name of the enemy. When this is all over, who will guarantee it will not happen again? Who will monitor the border crossings into Lebanon from Syria and Turkey?

Who will check the cargo brought in by air or by sea?

And the main thing and the most frustrating one is that as these words are written, weapons of many kinds are flowing un noticed into Gaza for the Hamas also supplied by Iran. In a few years, there will be another Israeli attack this time into Gaza to remove the threat. However by then, Iran will probably have an Atomic bomb.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Trekkie for All Seasons

Just read Ron Daniel's wish list... and discovered that on top of being a great Bible teacher, rockin' former headbanger from the '80's (...that'd be "my era", though I often hesitate to admit it in mixed company... you know the old saying, "if you can remember the '60's, you weren't there;" the '80's mantra is, "if you can remember the '80's... don't admit it), and all-around fantabulous guy... he's also a fellow Trekkie.

Rock on. Rock right on...

The media's collective skirt is showing RE: the "Qana Incident"

Great set of posts here regarding media corruption RE: Israel vs. the Hizb'Allah practicioners of the religion of peace...

Responsible for damnation but not for being saved? ...or, "thoughts on the post 'why some are lost'"

Through a recommendation from a blog whose author I respect (while disagreeing with him on certain aspects of ecclesiology), I ran across this post, which attempts to sidestep the implications of the "third point" of Calvinism - Limited Atonement. Laying aside for the sake of succinct analysis the point that the "Five Points of Calvinism" hardly do justice to that particular system, were formulated in response to the five-point summary of the Remonstrants, and are only a handy (if woefully inadequate) summary of "Reformed" soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), the doctrine of Limited Atonement essentially states that Jesus didn't die for everyone - only for those lucky enough to be the elect (usually other Calvinists at least implicitly, possibly others given an endearingly Reformed version of the doctrine of Invincible Ignorance). This doctrine has been the one that's caused the most headaches for those who think of themselves as being Calvinists, and has lead to several claiming to be "Four-Point Calvinists," which as this handy little book points out, doesn't work; Calvinism is a tightly integrated (if not completely Scriptural) theological system that stands or falls as an organic whole.

The main sticking point in the doctrine of Limited Atonement is the direct implication of "double predestination." That is, if Jesus died only for the elect, then it necessarily follows that He did not die for the "non-elect." And thus, if you are unfortunate enough to be non-elect, there's no more hope for you than for the devil himself. You're lost, and there's nothing you can do about it - and what's worse, you are utterly incapable of caring. So sorry; hope you like
very - ahem - warm climes.

This blog post tries to sidestep the issue with the following logic:

"Election alone accounts for the saved, but non-election does not account for the lost... No one would be saved were it not that God in a sovereign manner has chosen him, as we have seen abundantly from verses 6 to 29. It is God’s action alone that saves someone. So why is anybody lost? Is it because they are not elected? No! What accounts for the lost is their rejection of the gospel...We are not responsible for our acceptance of the gospel, but we are responsible for our rejection of it."
{Note: Yes, I'm aware that the blogger is only quoting from another commentator.}

Here's the point of cognitive dissonance in this: If you are saved because God elected you (which, incidentally, the Bible does teach), and only that election can possibly save you, then if you are not elected, you are not saved (which, again, the Bible actually does teach). But since in Calvinism you have utterly, absolutely, and without hope or remedy any say in the matter (i.e., you cannot choose to surrender your life to Jesus and appropriate His atonement for yourself - which the Bible also tells us to do, incidentally), that means that the very act of failing to elect someone necessarily and irredeemably "elects" them by that nonaction to damnation. In an attempt to get God "off the hook" for this (since such a thing is monstrous in the extreme), Lloyd-Jones makes the contra-rational leap to "we are not responsible for our acceptance of the gospel, but we are responsible for our rejection of it."


If I cannot accept the gospel unless I am elect, and I have no power over my election, then if God does not elect me, knowing that I have no power to accept the gospel, then it is by His very inaction that I am unable to accept that gospel, and so by direct and inescapable extension my damnation is His responsibility. Remember, this is the same God who states, "for him who knows to do good, and does not do it, for him it is sin." I fail to see how He would hold His creatures to a higher standard than He holds Himself to. After all, He is Jehovah - not the capricious Allah.

And herein lies the primary problem with either Calvinism or Arminianism - or any man-made theological system, for that matter. It fails to grasp that the Bible states many things without explaining them fully or "tying up the knots" in a nice, neat, systematic fashion - but simply
states for us things which we could never arrive at on our own, but had to be given to us by revelation. On the subject of salvation, the Bible does clearly teach election. That election is in conjunction with foreknowledge, but it is insufficient to say that it is predicated upon God's foreknowledge (otherwise it's not election, but "rubber-stamping-in-advance"). God elects without any input from ourselves. However, the Bible also teaches that man is responsible and able to choose for himself. I'm sorry, but it's nonsensical in the extreme to imagine that God commands man to do that which he is incapable of doing.

I don't know how the two sides of this particular coin mesh, and honestly I'm not too worried about it. I'm quite certain that it's way beyond me - or anyone else, for that matter. I'm sure that if it could be explained to man, then God would have put it in His Word in such a way that it's unambiguous - especially if it's such a vital, important, the-world's-going-to-end-aah-aah-aaaaaaah sort of doctrine the way our Calvinist friends make it out to be - much like any other truly primary, vital doctrine (like, oh, say, the Trinity, or salvation by grace, for instance). Apparently, both are true without contradiction. I don't understand it, but I don't sweat about that, and thus when I come across passages in Scripture dealing with God's election of me in eternity past, I rejoice in that and teach it; when, however, I run across those passages dealing with man's responsibility and those passages warning Christians, I don't try to interpret them in such a way that they no longer say what they say (like the classic Calvinistic explanation of "well, it says 'all,' but it really means 'all the elect.' The Holy Spirit must have just forgotten that
little clarifying word there, is all..."); I take them for what they are, and teach them, too.

In other words, just let the Word say what it says where it says it without trying to shoehorn it into a preconceived (and entirely human in origin) systematic theology. Don't know about you, but I'd rather my theology be proven wrong than impute any perceived shortcoming on the Word.

But that's just me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Brits are Alright…

In a refreshing change from the near-unanimous litany of “How Dare the Jews Defend Themselves” in the world press, this article in a UK daily paper brings a bit of sanity into the perspective on the current state of affairs in the Middle East…

WHAT French Antisemitism...?

In what can only be described as a completely unforseen turn of events, France is demanding that the Jews stop defending themselves and make nice with the Hezb'Allah practitioners of the religion of peace that are nobly trying to kill them.

You can read the article here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,207539,00.html

Again I say, the French are insane.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Couple of Very Important Articles

Here are a couple of very important articles to help bring the whole conflict in the Middle East into a bit of perspective... something you won't get in the mainstream American/Canadian/European propaga--

--er, "news media..."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Empies are in New Mexico

I just got a picture mail forwarded to me from my good buddy and fellow-laborer, John George, that he got from the Empies... they've made it to New Mexico and... well, how about I just quote my good buddy and fellow-laborer, John George's e-mail...

Just got a call from Ray, they are in Albuquerque eating BBQ next to one of Sherri and my favorite restaraunts! He took this picture earlier today. He said that he repacked things so the trailer wan't so squirrelly, and he can "drive 80 now ifhe wants to". He said Steven is kinda sick, Maria is at the top of her game, and Molly is " surviving" Those Empies ROCK!!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006