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.
By “measure of Christ”, I mean the unique way that God created them to relate to and understand Him. Out of that perspective, they often have great, transformative insight that initially brings needed, legitimate reform to God’s people.
But then they lose balance as their perspective – their measure of Christ – becomes “all”.
Diversity or Conformity?
In fact, we each have a different measure of Christ. It’s like God gives us different spiritual antennas that resonate most strongly with one or two of His particular attributes – some with truth, some with love, some with service, some with order, some with grace, and yet others with subjective experience or any number of other aspects of Christ.
There are many valid ways that Christ in me will be expressed differently than Christ in you. The New Testament contains various lists of differing gifts, callings, motivations and ministries. But there is no one overarching measure of Christ – in the form of any one perspective, attribute, or transcending truth – that supersedes all else.
In the New Testament, we are repeatedly told to be the Body of Christ – with many parts, different gifts, diverse motivations and various callings – as we are knit together into a local, functional community. Thus, we should never allow one person’s measure of Christ to become normative for all.
The Danger of Past Success
Many leaders fall prey to pushing some perspective – often in the form of a legitimate attribute of Christ that most strongly resonates with them – out of balance. In my experience, and I think history confirms, this often happens as their initial success isolates them from real, functional and accountable local fellowship.
As they become detached from healthy fellowship and overly focused on their own way of perceiving and relating to Christ, they frequently come to believe that it represents some new “revelation” or overarching “truth” that transcends all else.
Sometimes, even the Bible takes second place to their great new revelation – whether it be some “Story” that explains all, everything being merged into their existential vision of Christ, love conquering all, or grace transcending all.
The “all” may be different, but the associated decline into an out-of-balance perspective is the same.
Unfortunately, their past success gives them a platform to now insist that God’s continuing advance through history, our own maturity, and the health of our churches, depends on us grasping hold of their own pet issue or transcending revelation.
It is not uncommon for them to become totalitarian, rigid or doctrinaire, but often in a subtle and personable, but manipulative, way. They retain the charm, charisma, drive and skills that initially elevated them to prominence, but now use those attributes to promote conformity to their unique vision. Such conformity is presented as necessary to become fully “spiritual” or the “bride or Christ” whatever else of they have taught is of paramount, essential importance as God’s ultimate goal.
It is not unusual for their “movement” and churches to fall into cultish practices and beliefs.
Typically, such leaders even give occasional concessions to the need for balance, but in fact their own life lacks it, it is not evident as a practical outworking among their own “tribe” or “movement”, and the totality of their overall writing fails to reflect it.
A Local and Universal Phenomena
This lack of balance is all too prevalent in both local fellowships and the larger Church.
Local fellowships often start reflecting a particular measure of Christ – which may be a very appealing measure! – found in some leader who comes to dominate. Likewise, whole moves of God become limited to the measure of Christ found in their initial groundbreaking leaders.
Many miss this subtle shift from legitimately imparting some needed aspect of Christ, to now making that measure of Christ normative for all and the central truth around which all must revolve. Folks uncritically fall prey to this shift, because they were blessed by that leader’s earlier ministry and can’t conceive that any problem might later arise with him.
So Where Does That Leave Us?
Whenever some respected Christian leader says “Christ is All” (e.g., the “Beyond” or “Deeper Life” authors), or others claim that “Grace Prevails Over All” (e.g., the growing “Grace” movement) or “Love Conquers All” (e.g., the “Emergent Church” movement), be wary.
All too often “all” means their own measure of Christ (which in this age often is extremely existential and postmodern), to the exclusion of all of Christ’s other attributes and all that He has given and commands:
- for our individual maturity;
- for our ability to function together as the truly multifaceted Body of Christ; and
- for us to be engaged as ambassadors of His Kingdom in the world.
We need to be discerning about those who come in the name of Christ to promote their own measure of Christ or some attribute of Christ as being “all” – no matter how anointed their past ministry may have been.
~ Jim Wright
- Organic Dead Ends (crossroadjunction.com)
- Beyond Evangelical? (crossroadjunction.com)
- Beyond Scripture? (Part 2) (crossroadjunction.com)
I believe if you took the time to go meet personally with Frank Viola, Milt Rodriguez, or Jon Zens you would see that what you are saying they believe in or think about are actually wrong on your part in assuming. While you don’t call them out in this post by name you have seemingly becomed intently focused on your perception of each of these men.
I understand with your background as a lawyer you have an awesome way with words, but I can personally tell you that most of your claims against these brothers is wrong.
If I had an axe to grind as big as you seem to have with Viola, Rodriquez, & Zens I would take it to them face to face not in a passive/aggressive manner on Facebook or the web.
Nobody I know claims that these men have all the answers or completeness of Christ in themselves or their works. As a spectator in cyberspace I feel like you have typecast these brothers and have a very skewed view of each of them.
If we went back in time and judged you or myself on anything we said it would not necessarily reflect who we are now in Christ or who we have become in in Christ. If you can’t allow growth in Christ in others how can you do it in yourself or your local body?
Now before you lump me in a “tribe” or dismiss me as a “beyonder” I prescribe to Jesus Christ who’s Truth includes yet transcends portions that you, Viola, Rodriguez, Zens, myself bring to the table.
I personally would enjoy hearing about your experiences, functional situations, and stories outside of the IC instead of the passive/aggressive swipes at the above mentioned men. There are thousands of people who need encouragement b/c of where they are outside of the walls of “church”.
My concerns go “beyond” the men you mention. Regardless, their own writings speak loud and clear for them, and my own personal interactions with them have only reinforced the concerns I have with their current focus and continuing books and blogs. Yet the same dynamic also can be seen in the growing “Grace” and in the Emergent Church movements, as I mention in the blog.
I would say that the vast majority of my blogs focus on my experiences and stories, but the last few blogs certainly have raised a warning about the drift I see among those who want to make their own measure of Christ normative for all.
Jim W. You have been confronted and corrected by many people about your treatment and outright attacks of certain men and authors and also a sister. I consider you at this point to be unteachable and will not listen to reason. You are bring division to the body, leading astray vulnerable believers Scripture is clear on how to deal with such a one. Go to him one on to one, if he won’t listen, bring two or three witnesses, if he still won’t see, bring him before the ekklesia, if he still refuses, treat his as a pagan or outcast. All these things have been done Jim in the setting we are in and still you must pounce and attack. I pray for you that God would open your heart to see the damage you inflict on the body, you are driving a wedge right through the middle. The attack of the enemy! Just what he wants and you are playing right into his hands. Can’t you see this Jim Wright??
Pam, based on other posts by you on Facebook, I assume you have taken offense at me, on occasion, critically referencing some of the public writings of Jamal Jivanjee, Milt Rodriquez, Frank Viola, Jon Zens and Kat Huff. Those five bloggers are close colleagues, and share very similar views.
Indirectly, I do include them in this blog as part of the “Christ is All” and so-called “Beyond” authors.
As in some of your other pleas that I refrain from drawing attention to what those authors have written, I again fundamentally reject your characterization of my critiques of their public writings as personal attacks, divisive or leading people astray.
Here is what I have critiqued, and what you have defended in other settings as you fret over me having pointed out:
In January of this year, Jamal wrote a blog where he came right out and said that the Bible is NOT the “Word of God”, because “Jesus Christ” as understood via his personal, existential “revelation” is the only true Word of God.
Milt Rodriquez, who is Jamal’s spiritual mentor and the itinerant “apostle” over the church where Jamal is a leader (that church is also one of the few still associated with Frank Viola), chimed in with comments to the blog which wholly endorsed and praised Jamal’s views. Kat Huff likewise subsequently wrote a blog wholly endorsing and recommending Jamal’s writings.
According to Jamal’s blog – which I admit I have publicly criticized at great offense to you – he says: “The scriptures clearly reveal to us that the ‘Word’ of God is none other than Jesus Christ.”
In fact, he is wrong. Out of all the many references to the “Word of God” in the NT, only two refer to Jesus. John 1 additionally says that Jesus is the Word made flesh. The other references in the NT to the “Word of God” mainly (but not exclusively) refer to scripture – either in the form of the OT or in the form of the teachings that were proclaimed by the Apostles and became the NT. Even Jesus Himself called the Old Testament the “Word of God”.
Jamal, with the explicit concurrence of his fellow “Beyond” authors, goes on in his blog to say that others who do not share his new doctrine have substituted “relics” for his new-found existential “revelation of Jesus Christ”, right next to a picture of the Bible. And in case he is unclear about what he means by “relic”, he then says the “Word of God” is “NOT a book (bible)”. (Note the lower case reference to “bible”.)
Throughout the blog, time and again, he is so dismissive of the “Bible” that he won’t even accord it the courtesy of a capital “B”, but always uses “bible”. If he was referring to some cheap, trashy romance novel, would he likewise use all lower case in referencing its title? I think not. So why such dishonor to scripture?
Milt Rodriquez in his endorsing comments to the blog accused anyone who did not agree with Jamal, and who believed that scripture is the written Word of God, as being “legalists”.
Pam, do you deny this? Is it wrong to call attention to this, and openly dispute such views?
Jamal’s point sometimes becomes more subtle, like when his blog states: “The scriptures were written for one specific purpose, to reveal the person of Jesus Christ.” This mirrors the writings of his close colleague, Frank Viola, who in the past has frequently recommended Jamal’s blog. In fact, that is the theme of Frank’s new book Theography (according the pre-publication Introduction which was recently released and I read) – although to his credit, Frank does not go so far as to deny that the Bible is the Word of God.
Rather, according to his Introduction, Frank just thinks that his personal perception of Christ (like Jamal and Milt) is higher revelation than the Bible. He calls his higher revelation “the Story” – and then makes the bizarre claim to be the first person in history to have figured that “the Story” is, in fact, our only true, authoritative revelation. He also openly states that his views of the Bible are the same as those of existential theologian Karl Barth.
Jon Zens, a fellow Beyond author, recently made a similar claim in an endorsing forward to a new book (Treason Against Christ) which states, explicitly, that the Bible “is not the Word of God.” Rather, one’s personal perceptions derived from the Bible supersede scripture and become a higher revelation. With Jon, according to that new book, “the one and only authentic identity of the Word of God” is some new revelation of what “the Gospel” really means.
Anyway, Pam, such views are whacked, and it is not inappropriate to quote and dispute their proponents.
Such views – as Frank Viola openly admits in the introduction to Theography and in his blog – are rooted in Karl Barth. He was a twentieth century theologian who likewise asserted that the our perception of Christ is higher revelation than scripture. Just like Frank Viola (in his recent book “Beyond Evangelical”) and the people you defend, Barth openly dismissed the plenary authority of the Bible and advocated private, personal revelation as being higher revelation.
In academic circles, such views are called existentialism – and Barth is known as the main “existentialist theologian of the Twentieth Century.” You, in the past, have taken umbrage at the use of that descriptor, even though it is perfectly legitimate and widely used even by those who share Barth’s views.
For Barth, Jamal, Milt, Kat and Frank, the Bible only has utility to the extent it leads to personal and wholly subjective revelation beyond the Bible – even though 2 Tim. 3:16 clearly states that all scripture is given by God for so much more. According to that verse, all scripture is for correction, doctrine, reproof, maturity, righteousness, etc.
Yet, digging his existential hole deeper and denying 2 Tim. 3:16, Jamal says “it is a gross misuse of scripture” to use the Bible to teach “principles for better living.” Really? I mean, really?
My Jesus said “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” and to “be holy for I am holy.” And along those lines, He gave us not only Himself, but His written Word to provide authoritative, objective standards by which we judge if the life of Christ in us and through us is truly authentic AND to avoid the trap of tending to create Jesus in our own image. As I have pointed out, however, for Jamal, Milt and others, Christ (and their slogan “Christ is All”) – based on their own writings – refers to their own subjective existential sensibilities.
For them, the concept of the plenary authority and self-affirming revelation of scripture is a “distraction” from their very limited concept of Jesus and the things He has provided to teach us about Himself and how to live. This is the very thing I warn about in my blog.
Jamal’s blog also asked: “When you refer to the ‘Word’ of God with a capital ‘W’, are you talking about the person of Jesus Christ, or are you talking about the bible?” (Note, again, how he doesn’t even respect the Bible enough in his blog to capitalize it.)
His answer is to ignore the fact that Jesus Himself repeatedly referred to scripture as the “Word of God”, and to conclude perversely that only his personal perception of Jesus – as Jamal understands Him to be – is true revelation.
Again, the very point of warning in my blog, but to which you take great offense.
Pam, if quoting other writers and critiquing their own, self-professed views on such essential issues of faith is a personal attack, divisive and warrants repentance on my part, then I guess you’ve come to the wrong place. I stand resolute against such views. I remain confused as to why you repeatedly, however, defend those views and attack as “divisive” anyone who dares question and refute them.
Open, honest debate on such issues is not only healthy, but greatly needed. This blog will remain a place where that will continue to occur.
Again Jim Wright tends to make claims against brothers I know he doesn’t know.
Jamal is NOT a leader in his local body and Rodriquez & Zens have never been in a face to face with Wright. Jim continually speaks in sweeping generalities about people he doesn’t know, has never met, and assumes many things about many people.
I can personally say that any errors in the above brothers mentioned are always addressed locally and never publicly as scripture holds to.
These posts have become very similar to the witch hunt trials in the part of America history or McCarthy-ism.
I know 3 of the 4 men personally and Wrights claims are skewed and deviant at best. If you want to make a name for yourself attack others in a passive/aggressive manner in vague & misleading ways and you will have a popularized name.
If you have a problem w/ another Saint go to them face to face not via email, facebook, etc with a humble heart of Christ and express your concerns.
3 of the 4 brothers mentioned would happily dialog in that manner………I know because I’ve done that with them.
Jim, I have talked at length several times with Jon Zens by phone and interacted with him otherwise several times.
I have had frequent dialog in private communications – in addition to more public forums – with Frank Viola. Generally, Frank deletes comments to his blogs that are not supportive – and that has been the reality with some of my attempts to also engage him directly in response to some of his blogs.
I had extensive private communications with Kat Huff, before she blocked me and others from a public forum she was administering because some of us had questioned – in a very civil and factual way – some of her views. Not good for ongoing dialog, Jim.
I have directly interacted in public forums with Milt Rodriquez, and once tried to communicate with him in private, but he just denies everything anyone says which questions him, even when he’s cited and quoted, so that’s not very productive.
Regarding Jamal, when I sent him a private comment disagreeing with what he said, he followed up with a public blog saying – I kid you not – that I had put out a “hit” on him and was trying to “kill” and “murder” him. Not good, Jim, for dialog! In fact, that was the sole point of his responding blog. (Jamal confirmed to me in an email that I was the one he was talking about in that blog.)
Also, I’m not sure what you mean by denying he is a “leader” in his own fellowship. In fact, he also is promoted as an up and coming leader within the larger “Beyond” tribe (to use their own word).
I simply note that you say you know them privately, but I cite and quote their public writings. I have always cited and quoted. Your private relationship – and any private relationship I may have with them – does not trump what they have said in public.
And I yawn
I’d like to add to your blog or pushback by saying that what you describe is a fairly universal phenomenon. It’s part of human nature and evident all over the body of christ. Thousands of denominations is proof enough. Though ‘leaders’ are the most obvious targets, fact is followers and listeners are as much to blame. I’ve seen this whole thing play out so many times, in leaders, in groups, in myself. We all have insecurity at work within us, feeling threatened by the other and afraid we will miss out… those who deny this do so at their own peril. As you say we should each think soberly of our limited measure of christ, recognizing others have something to share.
For sure institutions and blog/author led communities can tend to magnify this human weakness. It becomes a bit of a headless monster where it can actually become increasingly difficult to lay responsibility at any individuals feet.
So really one could exchange the terms ‘beyond’ ‘grace’ ‘love’ for all manner of other ‘isms, movements and streams.
As to the ‘beyond’ guys, mileage may vary. A hard thing for us to realize and accept is that though we may have very negative interactions with someone or their stream that is not so say that is to be expected for everyone else.
Part of the reality of having a unique measure of christ is that yes on the one hand we have something profound to address in certain streams of people… but also that we can more easily find common ground with some that others can’t.
eg. personally i have very little time for word of faith type people, but someone else may have all the time in the world and have vastly different perspective and experiences of them.
It’s a two way street. We shouldnt make our positive measure of christ ‘normative’ for everyone else, so too we shouldn’t make our criticisms or warnings of others normative for everyone… it takes all types to reach out and make connections.
Lately I have been pondering what constitutes ‘the essentials’ of Christianity. I have been around folks who would answer, “Everything” and they would go to the mat over the smallest eschatological detail…and I have become a firm believer in God’s grace for daily living…not just salvation…yet I am dismayed to hear there is some movement that is apparently taking that concept to an extreme, just like the church-structure opponents.
I think that some things are essential in defining a Christian believer while others beliefs or doctrines are not essential, assuming that other sincere students of Scripture come up with different understandings. In the first category I place the gospel…Jesus death, burial, and resurrection…the deity of Christ…the authority of Scripture. In the second I might place the pre-tribulation rapture, tithing, even Sunday worship. The non-essentials may be arguable from Scripture but they should not be fellowship breakers.
So, Jim, having seen your impressively forthright comments in several discussions, do you think I am going soft by not actively ‘contending for the faith’ in these settings? I believe I share your deep respect for the authority of Scripture and am grieved at the errors that will, if past experience is an indicator, fizzle out or go so far out that the error is plain to all, but what should my role be?
Hi Jim. I have to admit that though I have enjoyed reading your posts and have been challenged by them, I have lately been put off by some of your emphasis on what you believe to be “normative” for the church. I probably would not have commented on this until having just read this blog of yours on :”The problem with All.” Absolutely, leaders tend to take hold of their own gifts and perspectives on Christ and Christian ministry, avoiding areas in which their antennas just don’t tune in and resonate. That’s why plurality of leadership is so critical. Leaders need enough humility to not only realize that they don’t fully measure up to the full measure of Christ, but that others alongside them may have gifts and perspectives which are lacking or deficient in their own lives and encourage others to exercise them as well.
The area in which I have found you becoming tedious is in the matter of the Organic Church. Clearly, you firmly believe that the normative for the Christian Church is small group, body ministry focused, Spirit-led, with all participating rather than facing one individual in a pulpit. Though I have many years of observing how God has done profound things in people and faith communities in this type of setting, I’ve been around long enough to see that God clearly uses many other expressions of church life. God meets people where they are whether it’s in a liturgical setting in an evangelical Anglican community, in a huge cathedral with an organ and choir, or in a home fellowship group of a dozen in a living room.
Might you be promoting “your own perspectives and motivations as normative for all” as you aptly put it? Though I tend to share your perspective, I’m realistic to see that many committed Christians are just not going to gravitate to a church of a small group meeting in a home and sitting in a circle. They may see this as a necessary part of church life within a larger setting, but not the full extent of church life itself. Are they all wrong? It seems to me that you are being a bit rigid and dogmatic, somewhat like what you have just blogged about. I hope that I am wrong, but that is they way you have been coming across. Most believers find ourselves sitting behind other heads all looking forward in many of our gatherings. For me and many, it’s not all the time. Even if it is, might you admit that you’re being a bit judgmental?
Hi, Jim. Good to hear from you. It’s been a long time.
Interestingly, I very carefully avoided in this blog promoting or even mentioning any particular church structure. Rather, I simply referenced what I think is the essential principle of the Body of Christ being multifaceted. What I address in this blog is an issue that stands against that principle – regardless of how the principle may be implemented within any particular fellowship.
I am very nonchalant about how a group of people organize themselves into a Biblical community that expresses some of the core NT principles. In fact, I would be the first to vigorously oppose anyone who says it must be rigidly one way or another. Each fellowship is indigenous to its own culture, mix of people, and the like, and will look different. Yet the core principles can’t be ignored if there is to be health and impact along the lines that I think the Lord commands in His Word.
I know folks who are doing that in Anglican churches. I know folks who are doing it by “sitting in a circle” and meeting in “home” (and BTW, I’ve never said that’s how Church must be done). Some get to authentic fellowship despite of the overall church structure, and some get to outside such structure, and some even are part of structures that facilitate it. God moves in all settings. The principles, however, stand as Biblical or not regardless of anyone’s tradition.
In fact, ironically given your mention of Anglican, I just had a very close Anglican friend stop by to visit me this morning and we had a great time of fellowship as he shared what God is doing within his church to create participatory, multigifted, active community within the church’s overall structure. Some of my input has been helping that happen, as I share the basics and let them figure out how to implement within their own context.
As someone who believes in the underlying principles that define a healthy Body of Christ in the NT – things like open participatory gatherings, ministry one to another, community, diverse gifts, equipping each other for service, and the like – I try to be careful to simply share what we have learned but not make that the be all and end all. Nonetheless, it is the field where God has called me to serve.
While being an advocate of what we have learned and seen among our fellowships, and also addressing some of the key things that inhibit the Body of Christ from being participatory and multifaceted, I very seldom get into “here’s how to do it”. In fact, I am often criticized for not providing blueprints and how-to checklists.
We all must guard against making the thing that God uses us for, or the way we relate to Christ, the one overarching “thing”. We can be advocates for the things God calls us to be or do, give testimony to how that’s working in our own lives, and even debate problems that stand in the way – but I truly don’t think I’m doing much more than advocating basic principles and leaving it largely up to each believer and community to find their own valid expression of those principles.
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Jim, you say that I did an “endorsing forward to a new book (Treason Against Christ) which states, explicitly, that the Bible ‘is not the Word of God.’ You keep repeating falsehoods after you’ve been corrected on them on different occasions. I’ve cited Dennis’ own words to you several times, apparently to no avail. Then Pam Frazier posted this reply by Dennis Mulkey to your mistaken claims. You didn’t reply, so Pam tagged you and said, “Jim Wright, did you even read the the response from the author of the book? It is posted under my last comment. Please read the author’s own words and then reply.”
Here is the author’s response to your repeated claims:
“It has been brought to my attention that Jon has come under fire from Jim Wright for endorsing my book. Jim has apparently on a number of occasions made remarks such as these about my book: “[it] comes out and explicitly states that the Bible is NOT the Word of God, but merely points us to their own view of who Christ is . . . . Pam, the book and the excepts stand on their own, as I quoted and as others can see. I read the book. It clearly concludes that the Bible is not the Word of God, and I quoted from the online excerpts which say the same thing . . . . Regardless, my point from the beginning was not to contend with the Barthian theology found in the book.”
As the author of this book, Treason Against Christ, I must say that I do not believe Jim has accurately portrayed my views. There are several points I would offer for you folks in the FB groups to consider. These three points pertain to the infallibility of the canonical Scriptures, the identity of the Word of God according to the NT Scriptures, and the involvement of the “father of lies” with any and all deviations from the Spirit-intended meaning of the Scriptures.
I wholly identity myself with the sola Scriptura believing family — I am fully committed to the canonical Scriptures as the one and only, finally authoritative source for all gospel truth. My investigation of the NT identity of the apostolic “Word of God” — having been grounded in the unfolding of virtually all the references in the NT to “the Word of God,” “the Word of the Lord,” and “the Word,” when these references seem clearly intended to refer to “the divine message” intended for us all in this present age — my investigation has compelled me to conclude that the apostolic identity of the Word of God is that alone of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
My passion here has been simply to follow the God-breathed Scripture where it seems clearly to lead, to embrace what the NT identifies as “the Word of God” to us all: by what/whose authority may we deviate from what seems to be the infallible witness of the NT Scriptures?
If there seems to be such a deviation from the clear and consistent teaching of Scripture, is it really biblically “out of bounds” to include the “father of lies” as certainly somehow involved in such subtle deception? Certainly each of us bears personal responsibility for any and every deception embraced, but is it utterly outrageous to point also to Satan as bearing some real responsibility for the deception as well?
I am utterly committed to sola Scriptura, and the contents of my book attest this in all-pervasive manner: so then, I find it very difficult to believe that anyone who questions my commitment to the full and final authority of the canonical Scriptures has perused carefully the full contents of what I have written. To make the claim that my position is “Barthian” seems hardly warranted. I doubt very much that Karl Barth would confess what I have said about the Scriptures! It may well be that some of my conclusions — interpretations — of particular Scriptures may deviate from those embraced by other sola Scriptura believers; but be sure this constitutes merely a difference of interpretation of the God-breathed Scriptures, rather than a denigration of their unique authority as foundational and final for all gospel truth. I welcome continuing dialogue. Blessings in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Dennis J. Mulkey, author of Treason Against Christ (email@example.com)
Jim, you may not agree with some of Dennis’ conclusions, but please stop saying he doesn’t believe the Bible is the Word of God. He does. He said so.
Jon, I will respond more fully when I have time. However, this is an attempt to reconstruct what was clearly in his book (which I have and have read), after you and he felt the heat from me directly quoting from the book and pointing out what you chose to endorse.
For example, he does say IN THE BOOK (let’s deal with what the book actually says, OK?) that the Bible is not the word of God, that the only word of God is his interpretation and higher revelation of the “gospel” (by which he DOES NOT mean the four books of the Bible we normally call the Gospels), and that those who consider the written Bible the word of God are committing “treason against Christ” (thus the title of the book) and furthermore are under “Satanic influence”.
There is nothing in your comment which, if anyone reads it carefully, disputes the truth of what I said originally and in my prior paragraph about what the book itself says.
Jon, the problem I have with you and some of your Beyond colleagues is that you write and endorse this kind of weird stuff, then protest that “we didn’t mean it” when I or others call you out on it. You’ve gotten away with this for too long, to the detriment of the Body of Christ.
If that book does not express your views, then the only response I find valid is for you publicly retract your previously written endorsement and forward to the book. Anything less is disingenuous.
Jim, you constantly shift things away from the issue. I have never said “we didn’t mean it.” That’s your spin. You are the one who repeatedly said “the author denies that the Bible is the Word of God.” That is shown to be absolutely incorrect by the author’s own emphatic affirmations above, which you seemingly ignore. Dennis said, “I find it very difficult to believe that anyone who questions my commitment to the full and final authority of the canonical Scriptures has perused carefully the full contents of what I have written.” Again, you may disagree with some of Dennis’ conclusions, but it would seem that the valid thing for you to do is to retract your misrepresentation of the author’s actual stated views, and then take issue with the content of the book. The author’s email is given. If you think his affirmation of the Bible as God’s Word is contradicted by what is said in the book, why don’t you explore such matters directly with him? Maybe you would find some clarification, understanding, or confirmation that you lack right now.
Jon, it is utterly astounding to me that you deny what the author said in the book itself. That he now back peddles – without actually refuting what I recounted from the book but simply saying (in effect) “it doesn’t matter because I also believe this other stuff which makes me a good guy” – is irrelevant. I focused on the book. You want to bring in other things beyond the book. The book, however, said what it said – as I described it. You endorsed it. You are either willing to now own your endorsement and stand behind it, or not.
You and the author provide NO QUOTES from the book which affirm that the Bible is the Word of God. Nor do you refute that the true “Word of God” for you and the author are your personal, higher revelation of the “gospel” (which is NOT what others mean by that term), or that those who disagree with you – according to the book – are under “Satanic influence” when they affirm that scripture is the written “Word of God”.
Please Jon, deal with the book and your endorsement in the forward of the book of those views expressed IN THE BOOK. All else is irrelevant and just meaningless static intended to deflect from the issues I originally raised – which is the book, what the book said, and what you endorsed in the forward to the book. (I hope the repeated use of the word “book” helps you focus on the real issue – the book! – but it likely won’t.)
Again, Jon, own it and live with it, or denounce it publicly. Those are your choices, and don’t complain when others call you out for openly embracing such rubbish.
Finally, Jon, the idea that it is not proper to publicly take an author to task for what he has publicly written or endorsed, unless I first approach him in private to allow him to privately back peddle or otherwise explain away his own public words, is wrong. It is the very approach you and other of your colleagues have taken to avoid public criticism on other issues. I reject your contention, and simply refuse to play that game.
I am always open to private communication. But whether or not that happens is not the least bit relevant to the legitimate need to publicly address what is publicly written, publicly done or publicly said – and any public impact.
Barring a public retraction (or, in some cases, repentance), a public response to what is done by those who want to be leaders, which in fact harms the Body of Christ, is always appropriate. In fact, I think 1 Tim. 5:19-21 even mandates it.
‘…“Love Conquers All” (e.g., the “Emergent Church” movement), be weary.’
I too am a victim of spell checkers, but I got a chuckle out of this wrong word…I presume you meant wary, as in careful or cautious rather than weary, as in exhausted an tired…which seems to be an expected result of all this controversy!
If a person writes something in a book, then it seems entirely fair to cite the page number and quote them. If they write so poorly that a quote taken fairly…and in context…says something they subsequently deny, then they need a better ghost writer or editor.
Thanks, Tom. I made the correction. Good catch!
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I read through all the comments here and see some truth in a lot of them. But if I may pipe in with a comment or two of my own.
I see nothing wrong with pointing out what may amount to false doctrine in a publicly available book for the benefit of all. If I take the truth of 1 Corinthians 14:26 and apply it to this situation (along with the example of Acts 15 where an ungodly doctrine was publicly discussed and debated before the Body) then a discussion of the doctrines involved (either pro or con) is perfectly legitimate and even beneficial for those reading this blog.
As long as we focus on the doctrines involved and don’t start in on throwing mud at each other or reacting in the flesh to each other.
Secondly I see very little quoting of Scriptures in the comments left on this post. Which I find a bit odd in that what the Word says will determine definitively what is false and what is not. Paul said not to go beyond what is written lest one man raise himself up arrogantly over against another (1 Corinthians 4:6). To the degree that we don’t go to the Word and hold up what IT says we will end up getting off into a dispute of what will seem if not actually amount to personal opinion…which never gets anywhere. So a bit more Bible quoting might be advisable in making points I think.
Lastly I would just like to say that in reading through much of Frank Viola’s writings which are publicly available (including his blog) I have seen a tendency to be rather lose in his interpretation of what is written. I sense that his seeming preoccupation with everything about Christ, while sounding right on, also glosses over areas that while not being directly about Christ, are still worth discussing and dealing with. I too have left comments on his blog which have either not been allowed in or have otherwise been censored.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate greatly many of the things that Frank has said. They have been an encouragement to me but I have seen many start taking what he says hook, line, and sinker with hardly any question or critical discernment. That’s downright dangerous to the Body of Christ.
It’s like we are all looking around for someone to do our thinking for us or something such that on settling on someone we like…we take ready offense to anyone who comes in questioning our choice of favorite teacher.
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