Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Modernism with more Cowbell

Was blogsurfing, and ran across this great quote:

Modernism is Man without God.
Post-Modernism is Man above God.
Hence, Post-Modernism is Modernism with more cowbell.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Three Things

Three things I've read today that I find real innnerrrresssstin'...

  1. Pulpit Magazine - Assurance. Great article on the assurance of salvation.

  2. ScienceDaily - Cosmologists Predict A Static Universe In 3 Trillion Years. The return of the Steady State Cosmology model. Oy, vey...

  3. Travis Johnson - Tagged: a word about our volunteers. This I think is probably the first time I've probably been "tagged." Okay, say something nice about volunteers... ah... they rock. Our entire staff - myself included - are volunteer here at CC on the Lakeshore. And by "entire staff" I of course mean "both of us."

    ...okay... now what...

Chris Elrod: Things I Wish I Had Known About Church Planting

Church planter Chris Elrod answers the question, "What things do you wish you had known before you planted your church?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Larry Flint Eulogizes Jerry Falwell

You've got to read this to believe it.

Speaks volumes to me about how we can stand by our convictions, and yet not be jerks about it - and how far that goes in building bridges.

Johnny Mac on Pragmatism

Great article by Johnny Mac here about the whole "hey, if it works" attitude that's very prominent in the American/European church today.

Farah-Hanegraaff celebrity death match

Joe Farah smacks back at Hanegraaff RE: the utterly insane contention that America's support of Israel causes terrorism.


And eating Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups (TM) causes global warming.

Anyway, good op-ed...

Game 6 Postmortem

Great analysis of our Game 6 loss - and actually of the entire Western Conference Finals series - here by Mitch Albom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oh, well...

The Wings played a mighty impressive third period there.

Unfortuntately, it takes a full 60 minutes of good play to win a game. You really can't expect to pull off a win when you don't show up for the first 40 minutes.

Especially in the Playoffs.

Especially-specially in a do-or-die Game 6 situation.


Well, the Tigers are doing well, and then there's the Pistons.

::double-sigh::'s to next year.

PTRC: Social Action and Dispensationalism

What with how so many within and without the ECM are jettisoning the doctrine of the Blessed Hope and placing eschatology on the shelf as de facto "disposable doctrine" in favor of a social gosp-- er, I mean, "social justice"... ahem... I found this article regarding social involvement within a dispensational framework to be very interesting.

Yes, yes, I know. Tommy Ice is the devil. Blah blah blah.

Read the article. It's spot-on.

This is another great one.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Charles Nestor: Book Review

Calvary pastor Charles Nestor has a book review on Johnny Mac's book The Truth War here.

I absolutely love this quote:

What I don't understand is why people would rather spend so much time trying to be relevant by being ambiguious and doubting rather than being relevant and creative with the life-changing, powerful truth of God and His word.


hismethod: Balance

This is a great post.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Israel Insider Article

Important article here, especially in light of the current political situation with Israel and her peace-loving neighbors...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Paskewich tribute to Falwell

Quickly, because period 2 has started - with the Wings up 2-0 3-0!!!

Great homage to Dr. Jerry Falwell here by Joe Paskewich.

Go read it.

Okay, back to the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup...

Unpacking the Wineskins - 2

Next I want to examine the points that Mike Newnham brings up as to the "new movement" he yearns for.

But first, two things:

  1. I at the outset want to point out I don't think that the CC Movement is calcified, cracking, inflexible, or Spirit-choked. In general.

  2. I don't think that the Spirit stops moving. Pedantic point, to be sure, and I'm certain Mike didn't mean otherwise, but I want to make clear that I believe that right at the outset.

I like his list of things that are "keepers" with regard to Calvary Chapel.

  1. A complete commitment to the Bible as God's inspired word.

  2. A commitment to worship.

  3. A commitment to evangelism.

Good list.

I believe that the two primary, sine qua non essentials that universally define Calvary Chapel - what we are known for - are:

  • The primacy of the expositional, Genesis-to-Maps, verse-by-verse teaching of the Bible.

    • Yes, I know that some guys don't do the V-B-V thing, and I know that Chuck teaches topicals. But the topicals are couched within the larger context of the Sunday night V-B-V teaching and, to be quite honest, Chuck (and CC by extension) aren't known for our brilliant topicals, but for our unswerving commitment to the whole "line upon line" thing.

    • One of the reasons I really don't understand why anybody would even want to be identified with Calvary Chapel who eschews the V-B-V thing in favor of the "this month, we're doing a series on ______________________!" thing in the stead thereof. But I digress.

  • A balanced view of the Gifts of the Spirit.

    • Mike doesn't think afterglows in the back room are sufficient. Let me categorically state - I agree with him. However, administering the whole "decently and in order" thing in churches the size of Costa Mesa necessitates the whole "afterglow" thing - and hence a practice that arose out of practical necessity becoming a CC hadith followed by many protégés without questioning why and understanding the original reasons behind it - and thus after questioning, taking away the principles rather than simply copying.

    • Here on the glorious West Coast of Michigan, we do the afterglow thing every Sunday night at our prayer meeting. Our fellowship here is orders of non-magnitude tiner than Costa Mesa - I would venture to say, smaller than Costa Mesa's men's room. So it's easier to administer. Plus, nobody shows up to the prayer meeting (no food), so it's real easy for me & my lovely and gracious wife to go get our Azusa Street freak on. But, whatever works...

Quick interlude, on the whole subject of Sunni CCs. The Murrieta Pastor's Conference is coming up in June - an event I look forward to every year. Not primarily for the teaching, which is always great - but let's face it, I can always get the DVDs - but for the fellowship with brothers-in-arms that I don't get to see but once a year. Most of the ministry to me happens between the sessions and during the glutto-- er, that is, "eating".


But it was really funny the first two years to see all these dudes from the Midwest walking around with Hawaiian shirts on.

Chuck wears Hawaiians.

I minister in Michigan. We don't have too many flights to the Islands from the Muskegon airport or Gerald R. Ford International Airport (which can be called "international" because some flights go to Canada - the Maple Leaf State). In tongue-in-cheek semi-protest, I purposefully didn't wear Hawaiians while out in Murrieta, instead wearing a Red Wings sweater (that'd be "jersey" for those of y'all in the south - like Indiana) or a Mossy Oak RealTree (TM) shirt under a flannel outer or something.

...but I've now taken to wearing Hawaiians, too.

Largely because, let's face it - nothing's funnier than to watch a furry fat guy sweat in SoCal because he pridefully won't follow the crowd - and Hawaiians are a lot cooler to wear.

So to be consistent, I've started wearing Hawaiians here in Michigan.


To be fair, it's really opened a lot of conversations up here, and I get to brag on our "simple hippie noncomplicated you don't have to wear shoes if'n yer don't warna" church.

Go figure.

Back to the point.

Which brings us to the point where I'm going to begin some disagreeing with Mike's points.
4. Freedom in non-essentials.

To break fellowship or disqualify someone from ministry based on their eschatology is senseless beyond belief.

To exclude people based on where they stand on the line that runs between Calvinism and Arminianism is equally inane.

I'm tempted to go all John Kerry here and say "I agree... and I disagree...," but in the final analysis, I really don't agree.

First, as I pointed out in an earlier blogpost examining Mark "Blankety-Blank" Driscoll's treatment of the issue of Calvary Chapel and eschatology, I reject the idea that CC breaks fellowship with someone based on their eschatology. We had Jacob Prasch recently speak at a pastor's conference - and I could be wrong, but I don't think he's a dyed-in-the-wool dispie. This is not a litmus test issue for fellowship.

Now, for ministry...? Yeah, I'll grant that. Much like the dudes at Chalcedon are really committed to postmillennialism and will disqualify a dispie from ministry in a Chalcedon-affiliated church (like Messiah's Congregation in New York - Steve Schlissel's church). Hey - pretrib premil is a universally recognized aspect of Calvary Chapel - you know that going in.

I look at it like the issue of baptism. I wouldn't expect to be welcomed into ministry with opened arms in a (consistent) Presbyterian church if I started preaching credobaptism and against paedobaptism.

And baptism is (arguably) a much less central issue than is one's eschatology.

Unless, of course, you're into Covenant Theology, in which case it becomes the outward, visible sign of the covenant.

ADD... ADD... ADD...

Back on track.

So, I don't apologize for insisting that, if someone's going to be identified as representative of the official, hands-laid-on-by-the-elders ministry of Calvary Chapel, that they'd be copasetic with the doctrinal particulars - including eschatology.

We're not alone in that, by the way. The Christian and Missionary Alliance is unapologetically pretrib, too. And they're an honest-to-gum denomination.

To quote the great philosopher of old: D'OH!!!

Now, as to the Calvinism-Arminianism thing (BTW - for some of my compadres - it's "Arminian," not "Arminianist" or "Armenian." An "Armenian" is a dude from a landlocked country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Rousas J. Rushdoony's forebears hail from thence.

I have no idea what an "Arminianist" is.)

But as to the whole Calvinism-Arminianism thing... with all due respect, "Yadda, yadda, yadda." And I mean that respectfully.

I am decidedly non-Calvinist. As a non-Calvinist, I am forever barred from partaking of the joys and privileges of the Acts 29 Network, no matter how much I'm diggin' on Driscoll, simply because I don't burn incence on any of the five altars of the Dordrecht Divines.

I'm quite certain that I wouldn't be looked at twice for a ministry position with John Piper's "Desiring God" organization, or his Bethlehem Baptist Church.

In fact, I'm almost certain that there are distinctly Reformed (read: Calvinist) denominations - whole slews of them.

To say nothing of the sundry an assorted Presbyterian churches.

Sooooooooo... are they allowed to discriminate on the basis of soteriology, but we aren't...?

Look: personally, I don't care if anybody's come down with a mild case of Calvinism, so long as they take plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, and don't operate heavy equipment until they're sure how the Genevan system will affect them. Many people lead long, productive lives after testing Tim-Keller-positive. To me, it's like the whole Emerging thing; the milder cases are actually quite innocuous. Amusing, cute, but overall innocuous.

And in fact, Calvinism wasn't a big deal in Calvary Chapel until sometime in the late '80's, early '90's, when some young bucks got hit by a bad case of the Westminster Catechism went all Rambo over the...ah...doctrines of grace...and somewhat ungraciously began pummelling all us mindless semi-Pelagian heretics over the head with their copies of A.W. Pink.

Or so I'm told. I wasn't there. I was still doing my best to finish out High School with something approaching a passing grade. Erckh.

But I believe it was an older, wiser Calvary pastor on the PP blog which pointed out that what ruined it for the rest of the Augustinians in the movement was that these few "didn't adorn the doctrine well."

So, now it's an issue.

Bottom-line (and I have to bottom-line this one, because the puck's about to drop), we aren't a denomination, nor are we opposed to deno-- drat. Sorry. It comes so easy...

...but seriously; we're not a denomination. "We" are a group of independent fellowships who voluntarily choose to identify with the vision, philosophy of ministry, and principles that God has given us through the example set by Chuck Smith. As such, Chuck has the right to define what that looks like - and he's delegated that to CCOF.

And the parameters of what that looks like are the Distinctives.

Gotta go - I need to have a few moments of prayer and fasting for my Wings so that they take a 2-1 series lead tonight on the Ducks' ice. Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please, oh, please...

Travis Johnson: "I would never do it BUT..."

Travis Johnson hits a home run with this post.

...sorry about the baseball analogy.

I'm waiting for Game Three of the Western Conference finals to start, and I noticed that the Tigers are just starting a game vs. the Red Sox. Since I miss my lovely and gracious wife, who is currently driving back from deepest darkest Cleveland, and she's as much into baseball as I am into hockey, I decided to keep the game on...

...again, sorry...

Unpacking the Wineskins - 1

So back to the Phoenix Preacher wineskin post (and now more here). I have a few minutes between putting out fires managing the various and sundry blazing infernos as best as is humanly possible here at my day job to support my habit, so here goes, a brief limping start to unpacking Newnham's post.

First, a comment.

Mike mentions something that's long bothered me. In mentioning what he perceives as the already-cracking leather which is the Calvary Chapel wineskin, he mentions something that I've heard from some Calvary pastors:

"That's not how Chuck did it"

"Chuck said"….

"We need to stay on the old paths…what would Chuck say?"

...yyyeeeeaaaaah, 'bout that...

I have to admit, I've heard similar.

To be fair, I don't for a second believe that Chuck himself condones, promotes, or otherwise aids or abbets that sort of thing.

But I have heard it.

I have noticed in my tenure as a CC pastor that there are, in essence, to kinds of Calvary Chapel pastors. Sunni, and fundie.

I consider myself to be a CC fundie. More on that in a moment.

The other type, however, I've taken to calling "Sunni CC."

In Islam, the Ahlus Sunnah wal-Jamaa'h, or Sunni, take their doctrine not primarily from the Qur'an, but from the Ahadith, a body of collected sayings and recorded practices and preferences of the Prophet Muhammad. A particular hadith would go something like this:

It has been reported to us by the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that...

...followed by something which Muhammad said, did, preferred, wore, or what have you.

Whatever the Prophet said (...did, preferred, wore, etc.) is presumed to be Allah's best revealed will for mankind and should be emulated by all good ummah.

Hence, there are ahadith pertaining to:

  • How Muhammad bathed

  • What Muhammad ate

  • When Muhammad ate

  • What Muhammad wore

  • How Muhammad prayed

  • and on, and on, and on...

There are literally thousands of ahadith, effectively regulating everything in a Muslim's life.

And sometimes, when talking with some fellow CC pastors, I have wanted to reach out with the right hand of fellowship and gently tap them upside their foreheads in a very "I shoulda had a V-8!" sort of way, because what I have heard goes something like this:

It has been reported to us by the companions of the Pastor (peace be upon him) that he prefers the King James Version.

(The obvious, barely-unspoken implication being that therefore, you should, too.)


It has been reported to us by the companions of the Pastor (peace be upon him) that he prefers that children not sit in with the adults during the Bible study.


It has been reported to us by the companions of the Pastor (peace be upon him) that... {fill in non-Distinctives particulars here}.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in a conversation with one of my fellow pastors, and we eventually get to the "well, Chuck says..." or some variation thereof - with the (again) strongly implicit understanding that all discussion can now end; an ex cathedra pronouncement has been made.

Or, in keeping with the whole "Sunni" analogy, a fatwa.


And I can't even begin to count how many times I've walked into a Calvary Chapel and the setup, order of service, and pretty much everything is designed to look just like Costa Mesa. Which becomes more than a little amusing when there's all of thirty people there. And when you realize that Costa Mesa didn't always look/feel/run that way. A lot of the hadithic Costa Mesa-isms evolved over time out of necessity and pure practicality, and are just a bit pretentious when taken out of its context.

All that to say, I unfortunately am forced to agree with that portion of Newnham's observations.

And say that whereas Sunni CC-ites exist, I do believe that the majority of us are CC fundies.

Briefly: what I mean by "CC fundie" is that we believe that Chuck has been given a vision by the Lord, a philosophy of ministry, a set of principles that are not unique to Calvary Chapel but are uniquely applied by CC, and it's that set of principles that we adhere to.

And that set of principles is the Distinctives.

And this is where I begin to diverge from Newnham; I wholeheartedly and unapologetically embrace the Distinctives - eschatology and soteriology and all.

More on that later; breaktime is over. Bending back to bring nose closer to proverbial grindstone...

AOMIN: New Perspective on the New Perspective of Paul

Jimmy White and Alpha & Omega Ministries has posted this series of studies on Dr. Kim Riddlebarger examining "New Perspectivism" - one of the leading causes of ECMism.

Remember: Friends don't let friends buy Wright.

Monday, May 14, 2007

PP: "Sewing A New Wineskin"

Phoenix Preacher. The blog we love to hate to love. To hate.

Or something.

Generally a very... interesting blog; I have in the past on simplemindedpreacher tongue-in-cheekedly called it The Blog Of Which We Do Not Speak (the word "bitter" is the color red), I have lurked there for just over two years now, for a variety of reasons. It began as a sort of morbid fascination thing, roughly akin to watching a train wreck in progress. However, over the course of these two years, I've watched as Mike Newnham, the mods (most of them all of them), and many of the participants grew in grace and slogged through the actually real issues that many have been dealing with.

Calvary Chapel is a great movement to be a part of, and I am in many respects a Chuck Smith dittohead, but let's face it; there are no perfect movements or denominations or churches, and even in the best, with the best of intentions, people get hurt.

It complicates the issue even more when bad men within the movement cause that hurt.

Phoenix Preacher has been a place of often extremely amusing venting by some really... angry people (must...not...say...bitter...) ...but it's also been a place of real outreach and communication and healing for many who have actually and legitimately been hurt by some truly unsavory people within the Calvary Chapel movement.

So it has served an overall very good purpose, and just as Mike and the mods (most of them all of them) have grown over the course of these two years, so have I as I've read, and considered, and prayed.

Mike Newnham has his issues (he's a stark raving pinko commie Calvinist for one - much like one of my personal heroes, Mark "blankety-blank" Driscoll), but he's no Doug Gilliland, with whom I've butted heads waaaaaay in the past when his "CC FUAQ" was still up. Newnham has serious issues with CC, but doesn't seem to be a rabid "Chuck Smith is the Devil" type like some I've read and interacted with.

Oy, vey.


I said on another blog that I neither recommend Phoenix Preacher, or not recommend it; it is what it is. The blog certainly isn't for the faint of heart, or for those who aren't already well-grounded in what they believe, or for those who are uncomfortable questioning and/or challenging their worldview. I read it precisely because I disagree rather sharply with most of the things said and conclusions drawn - and so it keeps me thinking and considering from a perspective I wouldn't naturally look.

Enter today's post, "Sewing A New Wineskin." Well-balanced, and overall quite good and thought-provoking. When I have time (being a bivoc that's really a good joke... get it? When I have time? Heh... heh... whimper... cry...) I'd like to unpack it a bit, but let's say I largely disagree with Mike's conclusions... and somewhat agree.

But regardless, it's an interesting, thought-provoking post.

Friday, May 11, 2007

PCW: Hidden Heroines

The Persecuted Church Weblog has a great blogpost RE: four heroines of the faith.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Stuff of note...

I keep track of many streams of information via tools like Bloglines. I only get to really skim a lot of the stuff that I keep tabs on - it's a lot of information. Mostly blogs, some news sites...

Some of the webthings I've bookmarked in for more in-depth perusal when I have the time, and which I present here for y'all's consideration:

  • Next-Wave
    • Online newszine for the Emerging/Emergent Church.

    • If you want a better understanding of the current thinking in the ECM, this is a tremendously good resource.

    • I've found that the contributors cover a good portion of the range of what is considered "Emerging," though in general sits right in the center (ever-shifting as that center might be).

    • Note: It's good to read stuff from dudes you might not agree with, as that serves the twin functions of keeping yourself sharp, and makes it more difficult for you to fall for mischaracterizations. The ECM is the "hot topic" du jour, so I make sure to read their stuff so that I really can say I understand it.
      • ...again, as much as something as fluid as the ECM can be understood...

  • Open Source Theology
    • Another ECM site, and...

    • ...a more appropriately - and instructively - named blog I have never found.

    • Warning: This one leans waaaaaaaaaaaay over to the far left, theologically. One of the longer-running threads is titled (I kid you not) "Genesis as True Myth".

    • 'nuff said.

  • Dan Kimball is one of the leading ECMmers that I actuallly appreciate. Theologically conservative to the core, and with a really wacked out hairdo, to boot. My kinda guy.
    • In this post, he lays out his "here's my non-negotiables" list and then pleads for more patience and charity in the whole... ah... "conversation" thing, there...

  • A good blogpost by Stand To Reason regarding public prayer

And in the "not-directly-theology-related" category, I have bookmarked:

Boundless: "Gray Matters"

Good article on discernment here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

STR: Pomo is Overrated

Brett Kunkle over at Stand To Reason thinks that postmodernism (and by extension its breathless theological suitor, the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement) is overrated.

BTW, I wholeheartedly agree.

This, too, shall pass.

The Word remains.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Biblical Twister

A helpful post on sound hermeneutics (by examining unsound hermeneutics) here by the dudes over at The Sign of Jonah.