When New Testament words are presumed to have post New Testament meanings based on post New Testament assumptions, traditions and agendas, is it any wonder that the Church has lost its New Testament power, form and function?
Non sequiturs¹ Jesus never said …
(But are implicit among those who jettison scripture to create a postmodern² Jesus of their own perception):
“It’s about relationship …
So forget obedience.”
“All scripture points to me …
So your own perceptions of me trump any scripture that offends you.”
“I am the living word …
So you no longer need to submit to the authority and discipline of my written word.”
“‘Be holy as I am holy’…
Now means ‘I am postmodern as you are postmodern’.”
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
Prov. 30:5-6 ESV
Getting down to basics…
Without external revelation on what is truly true, really real and rightly right – by one with the authority to define all because He created all – you are trapped in the meaningless absurdity of circular logic and self-referential perception.
C.S. Lewis bemoaned, in The Abolition of Man, that the West was becoming a culture of men without chests – meaning we have either lost the courage of our God-given convictions or in many cases denied those virtues altogether.
This is amply illustrated by relativistic “tolerance”, which has been used for too long as a counterfeit “virtue” to attack what is true, beautiful and moral.
Lately, however, those who rationalize Jihadist atrocities in the name of “tolerance” – and who then protest that we must not “offend” Islam – are causing more and more people to reject the moral bankruptcy of their squishy relativism.
Martin Luther is credited with saying “in essentials, unity”.
In applying that sagely advice, over the years I have developed two essential prerequisites for all other essentials. They have served me well, and tend to weed out over 90% of the frauds, fakes and flakes that plague God’s church (don’t ya love ’em!).
If you don’t like being knocked down, then stand for nothing:
“Are they servants of Christ? (I am talking like I am out of my mind!) I am even more so: with much greater labors, with far more imprisonments, with more severe beatings, facing death many times.
“Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers, in hard work and toil, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing.
“Apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches.
“Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation?”
~ Paul, 2 Cor. 11:23-29 (NET)
If your life is generally free of conflict and opposition, then are you honestly standing for what’s true, right and real?
On the other hand…
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.
This is a burning question for the organic church community – as well as other reform movements.
Do we embrace a fabricated Jesus, or the authentic Jesus?
Everyone loves the poor, until asked to share a meal in their home with one.
Everyone loves mercy, until they have to embrace the actual mess of inconvenient victims.
Everyone loves justice, until it disturbs their comfort zones.
Everyone loves the prophetic, until it exposes sin among them.
Everyone loves grace, until it calls them to repent.
Everyone loves love, until it speaks truth.
Is it any wonder that a generation raised to believe it’s all about them has a hard time grasping that it’s all about God?
They are easy prey for those peddling God’s amazing grace, love and acceptance, while rejecting repentance, truth and change.
The greatest deceptions, however, involve half truths.
Unfortunately, there’s just too much of this going around these days, and it’s terminal when it comes to healthy believers, healthy ekklesia and healthy nations.
Grace is the means – God extends undeserved mercy, forgiveness and truth.
Repentance is the result – I accept, submit and change.
A friend posted this meme on Facebook, and it was too funny – and disturbingly perceptive – to pass up.
“The more I read, the less I admire modern theology. The more I study the productions of the new schools of theological teachers, the more I marvel that men and women can be satisfied with such writings. There is a vagueness, a mistiness, a shallowness, an indistinctness, a superficiality, an aimlessness, a hollowness [in] the literature of the ‘broader and kinder systems’, as they are called, which to my mind stamps their origin on their face. They are of the earth, earthy.”
~ J.C. Ryle (written in 1864, but how much more true today – especially among those who push their faddish theology under the disingenuous claim that they have no theology, other than their own existential perceptions of Jesus!)
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.
Last updated 1/10/2015
Lately, some guy named Bart Breen has been attacking, with increasingly shrill and outlandish behavior, anyone who dares expose the history of sexual abuse and cover-up in a cult he’s involved with.
That cult centers around author and so-called “apostolic worker” Frank Viola, who has used his position and influence to sexually prey upon and exploit teenagers and other young women.
Rather than protect folks from Frank Viola’s misconduct, Mr. Breen and their network of self-appointed “apostles” at House2House Ministries (including Felicity Dale, Jon Zens, Milt Rodriquez, Keith Giles and Ken Eastburn) have engaged in an ongoing campaign of intimidation and cover up.
Bogus Press Releases and Stalking My Wife
In all my years helping church abuse victims as an attorney (now retired) and as a local church elder, I have never seen anything as nasty or as vicious as the cultish efforts by House2House – and its mutual promotion network of self-appointed “apostles” – to attack and personally destroy anyone who dares reference their history of abuse and cover up.
It is ongoing and gotten so bad that Bart Breen, a frequent House2House Magazine co-contributor who is associated with a struggling Frank Viola affiliated “church” near us, has been stalking my wife while also putting out false blogs and press releases in a desperate attempt to silence me.
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.
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!