We either seek to redefine Jesus, or we let Him redefine us and our world – on His terms, in His way, through His Word.
Really, this is the major fork in the road.
A friend posted this meme on Facebook, and it was too funny – and disturbingly perceptive – to pass up.
The Christian Pundit published an interesting article, Young Evangelicals Are Getting High.
It claims that the trend among young people now is towards “high church”, including Catholicism and Anglicanism, where they can find “a holy Father who demands reverence, a Saviour who requires careful worship, and a Spirit who must be obeyed. They are looking for true, deep, intellectually robust spirituality…”
This a clear reaction against the recent fad of Christian existentialism – in all its many forms.
Elitism and racism in the Body of Christ are very ugly things. Lately, they’ve reared their ugly heads in some very nasty ways that hit close to home.
Over the last several months, we’ve been promoting Crossroad Junction through some very limited, non-targeted ads by Facebook on Facebook.
During the same period, we also have received a high percentage of new followers from the Philippines and other overseas places. Whether it’s due to those ads or not, we don’t know.
Regardless, this heightened overseas interest is not due to any directed or targeted effort on our part, and Marianne and I are thrilled to connect with other believers from across the globe.
Now, however, our increasing readership is provoking a very elitist and racist series of attacks – directed against us, our fellowships, and our new Filipino followers.
Some of our Filipino brothers and sisters have seen those attacks, and have been deeply offended.
In the face of those attacks, I want welcome to you to our blog – and offer my apologies for the ugly efforts by some of my countrymen to discredit you by questioning your motives and capacity to follow the somewhat intellectual and substantive articles found here.
So, after all the sound and fury, where are we left?
This morning, in response to my series on “Is the Holy Spirit a Liar?”, Christopher Kirk publicly called me a liar on his blog – after telling me I am not allowed to respond on his blog.
This crosses the line from a vigorous and needed debate on the important issue of scripture’s status and authority, into personal attack with no opportunity to directly respond.
More fundamentally, though, Christopher Kirk has now borne false witness – against himself.
Yesterday, I posted a debate I had on Facebook with those who claim that their personal “revelation” and “inspiration” can trump scripture, and that scripture is not the Word of God.
In that debate, Christopher Kirk, a longtime “organic” voice and blogger, finally made clear what he and many of the “old guard” in the organic/simple church community believe: “The bible is NOT the Word of God” and “God can tell you to go directly against scripture“.
The fellowships I’m part of are organic/simple churches. We are not big or flashy, but daily we see the transforming power of God as He works through everyone in dynamic functional community and open, participatory meetings.
Unlike the organic church “old guard”, we are growing, multiplying, and seeing folks move forth in authentic spiritual power. Many are coming to Christ, and their lives and whole communities are being transformed.
Why? Because we fully embrace a vibrant relationship with the Living Word, while submitting to the discipline and authority of His written Word.
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!
This is another timely and important blog by Miguel Labrador.
As he points out, the “Christ is All” crowd has a fractured view of Jesus and scripture.
As I’ve discussed in my own blogs, those who follow existential authors like Frank Viola and his fellow itinerant “workers” like Milt Rodriguez, Jamal Jivanjee and Jon Zens, often create a Jesus in their own image based on their own sensibilities.
They then elevate their very postmodern Jesus over His own written word of scripture, under the mantra that “Christ is All” – such that Christ (or at least their perception of Him) trumps scripture.
As a result, they sever the Living Word from His written Word.
When called out, they make feeble assurances that they have a “high view” of scripture and think it is “inspired”, while nonetheless rejecting its plenary authority.
In fact, they follow the existential “theology” of Karl Barth, which elevates our own perceptions of Christ as higher revelation than God’s own chosen revelation of scripture. The result has been a pattern of anemic churches, introspective faith, weird doctrines and practices, manipulative and at times exploitive “leadership”, and self-referential “truth”.
In essence, they eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – by choosing their own subjective perceptions of Christ and His Church over His sovereign authority to objectively define what, in fact, is true, real and right.
Fortunately, more and more are looking behind the curtain and seeing what’s what.
I look forward to Miguel’s new series on keeping the Messenger integrated with His message – and us in sync with both!
Have you ever noticed how those who heavily promote organic food and natural health with the most enthusiasm and sincerity, sometimes look the most sickly and anemic and seem to have the most health problems?
They are reacting to real problems, but have turned their idealistic and seemingly good-sounding concepts into an all consuming idol – to the exclusion of real health which comes from a balanced life.
I’ve also see this among some who are the most ardent proponents of organic church. They’ve fallen prey to unbalanced reactions and aspirations which prevent authentic life and sustainable, healthy fellowships.
I believe a new “organic” move of God is emerging in the West, which affirms the good things about organic/simple church but rejects the crazy stuff of the past.
With this new move, we are finally climbing out of our ruts and catching up with our “organic” brothers and sisters in the rest of the world – who never fell prey to the crazy stuff and thus moved far beyond us.¹
We also are seeing healthy connections form between fellowships in different regions, as locally-rooted leaders use Skype and other Internet tools to build mutually helpful relationships with each other.
Be wary of modern day pied pipers of existential theology, who say “Christ is All” but deny all of Christ in order to promote their own limited view of Christ.
When “Intimacy with the Lord” Goes Bad is a must-read blog by Steve Crosby.
In the past, I was concerned with some of Steve’s blogs because they seemed to dance right up to the line with some of the “half grace” doctrines and existential nonsense going around these days.
With this blog, however, all’s forgiven! It strikes just the right balance between “being” and “doing”, which I’ve also tried to achieve in some of my own past blogs. But unlike me, he avoids obscure, big sounding words. ;-)
Plus, I love his swamp analogy – especially since I often use it myself when I teach!
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.
Rob Moley, in his blog Restore the Word, wrote yesterday on “The Great Commission: Discipling Individuals or Nations?”.
In it, he says this about the Great Commission:
Rather than being a command to influence nations with the principles and truths of God’s kingdom, the logic of the command in Matt. 28:19-20 is to make disciples from every nation. Then, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, these disciples are able to influence all aspects of society, and God willing, even disciple whole nations.
His point is that the Great Commission is about transforming individuals into disciples who obey all that Christ commands, who in turn transform the world around them.
The greatest challenge facing the Church today are those who promote truth out of balance:
- Those who think the Person of Christ can be fractured from His concurrent propositional truths, moral precepts and commands;
- Those who want the vibrancy of the internal Living Word, without submitting all things to the authority and discipline of His written external Word;
- Continue reading
Jesus Loves Me
(An existential version of that favorite childhood song.
I encourage you to have some fun by singing along as you read it.)
Jesus loves me, this I know,
Postmodern grace has made it so.
With His Spirit in my heart,
External truth now has no part.
Did Jesus tell me?
Oh, how can I know?
I feel Jesus told me,
I hope that makes it so.
The Bible says that I must go,
Proclaim His Word – oh no no no!
Now existential I’ve become,
‘Cause His commands just leave me numb
My sense of Jesus is true light,
I do not worry what is right.
With my sensibilities,
I do not need moralities.
The Bible’s NOT the Word of God.
My own perceptions earn my nod!
The Jesus I have come to see,
Surprisingly looks just like me.
I only want the Living Word,
The Bible seems just too absurd.
Now I perceive reality,
The way I want it all to be.
It is a sign of desperation: Those who indefensibly deny the plenary authority of scripture as the written Word of God inevitably proclaim – when all their other arguments fail – that you are making the Bible your god or elevating the Bible to the level of divinity.
Lately, I’ve been hearing this more and more from those who believe their personal narrative and perceptions about Jesus are more authoritative and higher revelation than His written Word.
They proclaim “Christ is All”, but their “all” ignores much of who Christ has revealed Himself to be in scripture. (See The Problem with “All”.)
I do not worship scripture or elevate scripture to the “level of divinity”. I do elevate it to the level of divine authority, because it is the external Word of God Himself – and thus supersedes all subjective claims of personal or private revelation.
We don’t go looking for or emphasize miracles, but in our fellowships we’ve been seeing the miraculous happen time and again.
We had one man collapse and then die right in front of the paramedics and the fellowship he had been helping to start in the jail – and then come back to life shortly thereafter on the gurney in the jail infirmary after brothers gathered together to pray for him.
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.