Tuesday, July 09, 2002

looking beyond a facade of modernity

It happened to me again today on the train. Ok I did so something other than email. because of what we are doing in learning community i've been reaching back to some of the "new classics" on discipleship. A week or so ago I finished Robert Coleman's The Master Plan of Evangelism and today on the train I finished Leroy Eims The Lost Art of Discipleship. While working through Coleman's book I had posted this for the 'mappers:


...One of these books has been The Master Plan of
Evangelism by Robert E Coleman, which was first written in 1963.

For those of us who have had our modern evangelical training/spiritual
upbringing challenged by the critiques of the postmodern turn, it's easy to
dismiss such writers as hopelessly modern. Yet I noticed a few years ago
that while one can, I believe, discern the constraints of modernity in
Colement's writing, one cannot dismiss him as consistently locked into that

The two passages that jumped out at me some time ago:

On p. 16 Coleman refers to the Scriptures as our "Textbook on Evangelism."

Yet read a later comment on the same page:

"The boundless dimensions of the Lord of Glory simply can not be confined
within any human interpretation fo His perfection, and the longer one looks
at Him, the more he sees this to be the case." !

And then this morning, I came across another passage like this:

"...Jesus did not urge His disciples to commit their lives to a doctrine,
but to a Person Who was the doctrine [sns: transpropositional commitment!],
and only as they continued in His Word could they know the truth (John
8:31,32)." p. 56

Further, the entire book stands as a critique on standard ecclesial methods
of spiritual formation and leadership training, with its addiction to the
merely propositional.

So I commend the book. And the reason that I wished to post this is that we
don't caricature people over 35 or writers who wrote before, say, 1990 as
being "just moderns." The Holy Spirit has shown Himself to be quite capable
of helping his folks transcend the tepid propositionalism of a locked down,
anthropocentric, two-dimensional, Cartesian epistemology!


Well tonight I was reading Eims when I came across this passage:

"...I shared this with a pastor once, and he told me, 'LeRoy, it seems to me like you're some sort of fanatic on getting people into the Word and getting the Word into their lives.'

...I have seen what the Word of God has done in the hearts of hundreds of people through the years and the tremendous effect it has had on their lives."

p. 155

Sounds like same 'ol, same 'ol yes? The secret to the "dynamic Christian life" is 30 mins in the Bible every day and 30 mins of prayer. Get those propositions in, let those propositions out, and the spirituality just comes gushing forth.

But then,

"The problem is that this cannot be accomplished wholesale. [ss: Huh?] It cannot be done through a program. [ss: What??] It is attained through individual, personal attention to people in helping them actually do these things and work these priciples into their lives so it is part of them daily. [ss: sounds pretty transpropositional to me!!] (emphasis mine)."

p. 155

We musn't collapse those who've proceeded us down to a two-dimensional caricature. Sometimes, in fact, we should humbly sit at their feet. (also see a word on theology in postmodernity).

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