On April 1st, I posted a statement on Facebook (what a wild and wooly place!) in opposition to some postings by Christopher Kirk in his blog, notesfromthebridge.
In his blog, Chris creates a dichotomy between scripture and “living by the Spirit” – as though what the Holy Spirit says in the Bible can’t be trusted, or lacks validity, absent some additional deeper, personal revelation.
In his blogs, he also claims the right to personal revelation and inspiration which contradicts and is more authoritative than the Bible.
Along those lines, his blogs suggest that we cut out significant parts of the Bible because he disagrees with their content (including most of Paul’s epistles); say that the Bible is not the Word of God; and repeatedly attack the plenary authority of scripture (“plenary” means we must submit our own contrary opinions to the authority of scripture).
As Christopher Kirk confirms below in his own words, “the bible is NOT the Word of God” (it’s interesting that those who hold this position never seem to esteem the Bible enough to capitalize it) and “God can tell you to go directly against scripture“.
The Seven Great Lies in the Church Today, by Steve Hill
Amen and amen. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Steve Hill on this important article.
If you’ve read Crossroad Junction for very long, you’ve seen me also tackle most of these same, out-0f-balance issues. I’m glad to see others raising identical warnings, now to a broader audience, regarding:
- Overemphasis of Prosperity
- Exaggerated View of Grace
- Deification of Man (or, as I put it, creating Jesus in our own image)
- Challenging the Authority of the Word
- Rejecting Hell
- Universal Reconciliation
Really, folks, it’s kind of simple: He defines what is ultimately true, real and right, not us.
He’s God. We’re not. Get over it!
Many Christians have lost their way by embracing “hyper grace”, which is really half grace – it robs them of the power to become mature disciples and the confidence needed to go forth as ambassador’s of God’s full grace.
Nearly every move of God gets sidetracked when its main leaders fall into the trap of thinking that their own measure of Christ is the full measure of Christ – and thus start promoting their own perspectives and motivations as normative for all.
No one person can ever reflect or express the full measure of Christ. Never – even if they started out truly grasping some essential, needed element of His nature, their ministry initially bore much fruit, and they even once transformed the Christian landscape.
Tragically, it often seems that such leaders slowly and subtly shift from sharing their own measure of Christ, to eventually acting as though it is now the full measure of Christ.
A cry of confession…
A plea for forgiveness…
A call to repentance…
…for myself and my Christian brothers and sisters in the West:
• By drifting into self-absorbed, post-modern subjectivity and relativism, we ignore the liberating blessing and power of God’s transcendent and objective truth, goodness and beauty for all of life and culture.
• By neglecting the historic doctrines of the faith to embrace the attitudes of our day and the latest theological fads, we proclaim a disjointed and shallow “gospel” that lacks answers to the great issues of our age.
• By promoting a narcissistic “me”-focused faith, we forget that Jesus wants us to know Him not merely as savior, but also as sovereign creator, lawgiver, judge and provider.
• By seeking grace without truth, we no longer serve as salt and light to our neighbors, cultures and nations.
• By falling prey to Gnostic dualism, we fail to equip believers to be disciples who live out God’s precepts and authority in all spheres of human endeavor – including the “secular” and “material” world of our day-to-day existence – as our fellowships and churches instead focus, ad nauseum, on only so-called “spiritual” matters.
• By ignoring Biblical injunctions to renew our minds so we can be faithful stewards over all aspects of God’s creation, we’ve become trapped in intellectual lethargy.
• By embracing recent eschatologies of retreat, defeat and escape, we sit on the sidelines as God’s triumph over evil continues its progressive march through history and in other parts of the world.
Forgive us, Lord, for wanting only you and not also your Kingdom. Even so, we honor your name. May your Kingdom come as your will is done on earth, just as it is in heaven …
Gnostic dualism is a system of belief that views, among other things, the temporal material world as inherently bad and only what is spiritual as inherently good. It thus tends to withdraw from any redemptive involvement with the “world” to focus only on what is “spiritual”.
The main theological battle of the first several centuries of church history was between Biblical Christianity and gnosticism. The core beliefs of gnosticism, however, can be seen in segments of the Church throughout history, including today.
My generation by-and-large seems hell-bent on frustrating an emerging generation of “millennials”. We do this by either ignoring, or alternatively uncritically catering to, the prevailing postmodern sensibilities of an emerging “millennial” generation.
The “You Can’t” Crowd
What I find most bizarre among emerging “Beyond Evangelical” authors is how vocal they are in telling Christians what we can’t do – we can’t be engaged in cultural or civic reform, we can’t go and disciple the nations, we can’t be engaged in politics, we can’t ever take a social position that offends, we can’t this, and we can’t that.
Sometimes, it gets so bad that you can only laugh.
History Repeats Itself
History demonstrates that a mainly subjective faith is a largely anemic faith, which increasingly becomes insular and irrelevant.
In the 19th century, an overly subjective focus within the Christian community in the West produced an existential form of pietism, which said that everything about anything came down to one thing: a personal relationship with Jesus.
In the 20th century, this came to a more extreme fruition in the existential theology of Karl Barth. Barth concluded that the Bible is not the Word of God, but rather only leads us to the person of Jesus. Furthermore, our subjective experience of Jesus is the only valid authoritative revelation of God’s word. As such, Barth rejected the plenary authority of Scripture as the written Word of God, and it’s role in providing external standards for judging the authenticity of our experience of Jesus.
The spirit of this age – at least in the West – is post-modernity, which views reality as subjective and truth (if it even exists) as individual and relative.
It is not all bad, but neither is it Christ!
Steeped in a post-modern culture, Western Christians are increasingly re-defining Jesus through post-modern sensibilities that we’ve uncritically inherited from the world.
As a result, we focus on a personal, highly individualistic relationship with Him – which is often driven more by our own needs, our own hurts, and our own insecurities than by Jesus Himself.
Of the seven spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12, the last – but, I believe, the greatest yet least appreciated and most abused – is mercy.
As I watch and sense what God is doing with an emerging new spiritual generation, I see that their dominant characteristic is mercy. I also have begun to realize that God wants to use “mercies” (those with the primary spiritual gift of mercy) as catalysts to unleash additional gifts in others. That, in turn, will bring this rising generation to new pastures where God wants to dwell among us.
This doesn’t mean everyone in this new spiritual generation has mercy as their dominant individual spiritual gift. But as a whole, they nonetheless seem to collectively exhibit the main motivations of mercy – which are a deep, personal craving for the presence of God and for genuine intimacy with others.
As a result, this rising generation has little interest or patience with the moral and cultural wars of my generation, or with our prevailing hypocrisy as we tried to fix everyone else but failed to exhibit God’s presence in our own lives. Nor can they understand the focus on programs and institutions – with a resulting lack of authentic community – among older Christians.
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Virginia, but I’m stuck with a lingering cold and sore throat. That gives me a good excuse to skip church and my ministry commitments later this afternoon in the local jail.
So what to do? I just let my ADD dog out and he’s happily occupied digging a new hole in my otherwise nice green yard, there’s some good coffee brewing (I’m partial to Gold Coast from Starbucks – two level scoops per 14 oz.), the light of a crisp blue March sky is streaming through my sun room windows, my favorite worship music is playing in the background on my iPod, and I’m relaxing in my over-sized Lazy Boy recliner thinking on the things of God.
I guess that makes this as good a time as any to bang out some thoughts on effective New Testament leadership.