Thursday, November 30, 2006

Emergent and Her Critics: Metaconversation toward Conversation

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

theological disagreement and the emerging church

A plea for the emerging church, emergent and her critics:

The late S Lewis Johnson is one of my heroes. From 1950 until 1977 he was first a professor of New Testament Theology and then of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. When I was in seminary, I used to order the free tapes Believers Bible Chapel provided of his teaching and sermons. And then one of the happiest discoveries I experienced in the last year was when I realized that his church had uploaded hundreds of his talks to the web for free download.

Dr. Johnson passed on 28 Jan 2004 at the age of 88 but he's still teaching.

I mentioned a few days ago that I've been studying eschatology and, as a consequence, am also studying dispensationalism, covenant theology, new covenant theology, and progressive dispensationalism. And so tonight while cooking for my girls, I began listening on my Nano to Dr. Johnson's 37 lecture series entitled The Divine Purpose. In the series Dr. Johnson, a dispensationalist, devotes a significant amount of time to Covenant Theology.

Toward the beginning of his first lecture, he makes these comments:

"Now I hope you won't mind that when I talk about Covenant Theology, I'm going to try to present it as faithfully to its proponents as I can. And when I talk about Dispensational Theology I'll try to present it as faithfully to the viewpoints of its proponents as I can. That won't necessarily mean that I agree with everything of either one of these theologies, of course. But I will try to be as honest as I can and presenting [sic] the viewpoint in as strong a way as possible. And if some of you are partisans for one view or the other, you may get upset when I present ... the other person's viewpoint - and I hope you realize that what I'm trying to do is to do what any person should do in discussing an issue. He should present all of the viewpoints in as positive a way as possible, in a way in which proponents would present it (emphasis mine)."

For many years I've taught conflict resolution in my corporate environment and have done some conflict mediation as well. I've detailed my approach here, but the heart of my method is essentially what Dr. Johnson expressed above. Before I begin a moderation, I stress to the participants that what we are about to do will be very, very difficult. During the moderation, I have each participant listen to his or her opposite and then summarize the viewpoint of the other person. The sessions cannot continue until each person not only certifies that the other person has successfully summarized the position they do not hold, but that they have also successfully detailed the reasons for the position that they do not believe. Only when each side can articulate their opposite's position and reasons for that position to the satisfaction of the other party can we move forward to solutions.

It has been my experience that this process sometimes brings out an unrealized complexity to an issue that the participants had previously believed was a simple binary proposition. Presuppositions are unearthed and creative solutions can be crafted.

This is what I long to see happen between the emerging church, emergent, and her critics. I believe that I see movements in these directions and the desire for these types of interactions to occur on both sides of the discussion.

But it seems all too easy for discussions like these to quickly debilitate into two-dimensions. They can cascade down into caricature with the requisite cartoon figures and the attendant ad hominems and accompanying impugnations.

And it's understandable. Such devolutions seem to be the norm. This kind of discussion and work is extremely difficult. It's time-consuming and inconvenient. It's trying. It requires imagination, confidence, and humility. It requires a tremendous amount of character.

Understanding the other calls for imagination, because we have to provisionally assume the other may be correct - or at least partially correct - if we are to truly listen. We may have to hold our convictions in abeyance as we hypothetically consider the position of the other.

Coming to agreement requires confidence, because our self-worth cannot rest on our being merely right.

Finding Christ's mind demands humility, because we don't like changing our minds and acknowledging that the other has a good point. Our certainty is such a warm comforting blanket that we hesitate to toss aside.

What's needed most of all is love - love for the other, love for God, and love for the truth - the three in balance.

But it's hard. In fact, these kinds of conversations are so difficult that often the only way that we can even begin is by crying out to God that His Spirit would empower us to proceed.

God help us.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dispensationalism, Progressive Dispensationalism, Covenantalism and New Covenantalism

I mentioned that a friend of mine asked me to mentor him in theology and wanted to start with eschatology. I was - at first - less than thrilled with that beginning point because I feel it's my weakest area theologically, but I've been enjoying it and learning. Of course, this has backed me into the dispensationalism/convenantalism conversation and I've begun building out a faithmaps page on these great systems (and their children systems).

If you know of online articles or summaries or charts dealing with any of these systems that you would recommend i link to on, please let me know in comments.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

My Top 10

After I posted Justin Taylor's around-the-room survey for Top 10 Books, someone asked me what mine where. These are ten books that have had a big impact on my life and thought.

1 - Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman

  • This is a tremendous book that I come back to again and again. I've summarized it here. Seligman is a psychologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Through summarizing the research literature and sharing his own unique work in this research space, Seligman effectively demonstrates how successfully handling adversity optimizes the chance of success in many spheres of life.
2 - The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy by Irwin Yalom
  • The main thing I gained from this book was the concept that successful therapists commonly share several specific behaviors in effecting life change with their clients irrespective of idealogical orientation.
3 - Chronicles of Wasted Time by Malcolm Muggeridge
4 - The Healing Presence by Leanne Payne
  • Payne is an amazing CS Lewis scholar and mystic. She writes eloquently and convincingly about the importance of practicing God's presence.
5 - Inside Out by Larry Crabb
  • I was blessed to study under Crabb when I was working on my Masters of Divinity degree. His teaching quite literally changed my life. This book is the summary of the primary class in his graduate program at that time.
6 - A Francis A Schaeffer Trilogy by Francis Schaeffer
  • Schaeffer's interaction with secular thought and art was both prescient and a model for us today.
7 - Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
  • Collins and Porras' magnificent study of outstanding organizations is a classic in organizational study. I've summarized it here.
8 - Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • Collins followed up Built to Last with this wonderful study that outlines how organizations can change. A brief summary can be found here.
9 - The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • Kouzes and Posner's book is also considered a classic in leadership studies. A summary of this book can be found here.
10 - Descartes Error by Antonio Damasio
  • Dr. Antonio Damasio provides a neurological basis for the importance of a transpropositional approach to spiritual formation through analyzing the importance of emotions on intellectual development. We've teased this out a bit more here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

more Michael Frost talks

If you want to get the skinny on incarnational ministry (versus attractional ministry), then you must listen to michael frost.

jordon has been posting some recent talks of his here.

michael is mostly known for having co-written the shaping of things to come with alan hirsch.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

the best selling Bible Translations

Rick Meigs posts the Nov 2006 list of Best Selling Bible Translations according to the Christian Booksellers Association:

Ranking Translation
1 New International Version
2 New King James Version
3 King James Version
4 New Living Translation
5 English Standard Version
6 Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)
7 Holman Christian Standard Bible
8 New American Standard Bible update
9 The Message
10 New International Readers Version

For many years, I preferred the NIV in the Old Testament and the NASB in the New. Today I'm a diehard ESV guy - I love this translation.

I thought it was very interesting that the TNIV is didn't even make it to the top ten.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

an increase of faith in france

"France alone has witnessed an eightfold increase in evangelical Christians over the past half-century, from 50,000 to 400,000 today.
Those numbers are small in absolute terms. Indeed, evangelicals represent less than 2 percent of the European population. But their influence is growing, as Roman Catholic and traditional Protestant churches increasingly borrow from their hands-on and inclusive doctrine.
Perhaps most significantly, the evangelicals attest that spirituality is not dying out in Europe. "

- the full Washington Times story (free registration required)

ht: Brad Boydston

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

the end of the purpose driven organization

""Purpose Driven as an organization, in a sense, really doesn't exist anymore," Jon Walker, Saddleback's pastor of strategic communications, told CT


Purpose Driven carried out the first round of layoffs in July, while Warren preached in 14 countries across Africa and Asia. Saddleback leadership had hoped the cuts would be enough. Warren and his wife, Kay, even donated $2 million to cover a deficit at Purpose Driven and hopefully save a few jobs.

But a second round of layoffs couldn't be avoided. From a peak of 160 employees, Purpose Driven laid off 30 staff members while another 24 positions were eliminated through attrition."

- Christianity Today article

The Top Ten Book Lists

Christianity Today's recently listed the Top 10 Books that have Shaped Evangelicals.

This has lead to a number of alternative lists including that of Ligon Duncan listed below, courtesy of Justin Taylor:

"The following list is from the Reformed side of evangelicalism, the books are from the last 50 years or so, there is a heavy emphasis on theology and devotional material. Naturally, it emphasizes what should be the top ten, as opposed to what has been the top ten!"

1. J. I. Packer, Knowing God (IVP). Introduced a new generation to the Reformed doctrine of God, without their knowing it.

2. J. I. Packer, Fundamentalism and the Word of God (Eerdmans). One of the most important popular presentations and defenses of the historic Christian (“evangelical” or “fundamentalist”) view of Scripture published throughout the long era of “The Battle for the Bible”

3. J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness (Crossway Books) Introduced a new generations to the Puritans, one of the hallmarks of Packer’s long ministry to evangelicalism.

4. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Eerdmans). Put Reformed soteriology and the ordo salutis on the map for three generations (now) of evangelical Christians. Given originally as Sunday School class lectures, most students require dictionaries at hand in order to grasp the precision and variety of Murray’s vocabulary!

5. David F. Wells, No Place for Truth (Eerdmans). The most important assessment of the disappearance of theology in evangelicalism in print. Totally different conclusions than Noll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

6. John Piper, Desiring God (Multnomah). Piper’s message has profoundly affected the entire younger Reformed movement.

7. John Stott, Basic Christianity (IVP). A book that has been instrumental in the conversion of thousands, and used by thousands in bearing witness to Christ. Typical of Stott’s whole ministry.

8. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There (Crossway). Schaeffer as a thinking popularizer and apologist (rather than as an intellectual or theologian) had a profound and positive impact on evangelicalism.

9. R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Tyndale House). The whole ministry of Ligonier is built around the message of this book (which shook everyone from Bill Hybels to Charles Colson to the core). Other than John Piper, no one has been a greater popular exponent for Reformed Christianity than R.C. Sproul.

10. O Palmer Robertson, Christ of the Covenants (P&R). Single-handedly revived covenant theology, which had been languishing for almost a hundred years."

Others have also offered their thoughts along these lines as prompted by Justin Taylor:

Scranton Community Church's Bold Choice

"This past Sunday Scranton Community Church held its final weekend service. After struggling for years to balance the demand of producing creative, innovative, culturally relevant weekend services with the demands of putting on and attending as many creative, innovative, culturally relevant church conferences possible, Pastor Dwight Schrute made the decision to pull the plug. "Over the past few months we've been pairing down our ministries to focus on what we do best. We eliminated Women's Minsitry, Men's Ministry and all age specific ministries; the next logical step was to eliminate the weekend service. "

- the entire news release from geoff surratt

Monday, November 20, 2006

resources for writers

justin taylor posted links to a number of good books for writers. I particular recommend Zinsser's book, which I'm working through now.

shari also mentions Writers' Market, which I recently found very helpful when I was trying to figure out how much to charge for a freelance project on which I was working.

Churches and Rescue Missions

Leadership Network's Advance ran a piece I had put together on how some churches are now working in the area of traditional Rescue Mission work and partnering with Rescue Missions.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Movie Recommendation: Happy Feet

Friday nights are usually "Family Movie Night" @ the Shields' house - usually DVDs. Last night, Beth and I thought we'd surprise Michaela (10), Skye (8), and Alia (6) and take them to see Happy Feet. It was @ highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes and looked interesting enough to fork out the $45 an Fandango for the five of us to see it in a theatre.

It was amazing.

The scenery animation was dazzlingly beautiful. The creative score was wonderful. I hate musicals. If you had told me there was as much singing as there was, I would not have wanted to go; but the modern score of contemporary music was fantastic. Robin Williams was hilarious.

It had a strong message of the importance of being good stewards of our environment.

It had a strong message of the value of our individual giftedness and the acceptance of others.

We'll buy this one when it comes out on DVD and I highly recommend it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

thank you to anthony smith

...and others for engaging in conversation around the "don't we care about those who don't know Jesus?" post. It took a while for conversation to start, so I was growing concerned that no one would be concerned enough to respond to my post that few seemed concerned!

I'd love to see others chime in if they've interest.

- anthony smith - musings of a postmodern negro

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mark Driscoll Thanks His Critics

"What I did not mean to communicate was anything regarding the Haggards, particularly Mrs. Haggard. She is not to blame for the sin of her husband.


Lastly, I want to thank my critics, especially the most vocal. They have helped me to understand that more than just pastors are following what I am saying. Subsequently, they are helping me to learn how to more clearly articulate what I am trying to communicate. In that way, they have been of great assistance to me as I seek to pastor most effectively for Jesus. I have waited some time to post this clarification because in times past I have gotten angry and responded with a tone that was defensive, prideful, and not helpful. I am learning that critics in some ways are also friends because there is often some truth in what they are pointing out. Subsequently, God is using my critics to teach me and is asking me to be willing to listen."

Mark Driscoll thanks his critics
for their response to this post.

Thanks, Mark.

working with the down and out

Leadership Network just published a piece I did on churches and rescue missions. through the research I did on this article, I found some churches doing some amazing stuff in this ministry space.

the return of rob schlapfer?

maybe! stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

our longing for jesus - out longing for heaven

A friend has asked me to mentor him in his theological education and spiritual formation. This morning we met and discussed two of Wayne Grudem's chapters on eschatology in his fine Systematic Theology.

Grudem writes about the Christian longing for Jesus' return:

"John's response at the end of Revelation should characterize Christian's hearts in all ages: 'Amen. Come Lord Jesus!' (Rev 22:20). True Christianity trains us 'to live sober, upright, and godly lives in the world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ' (Titus 2:12-13)" (emphasis his, p. 1092).

Grudem comments, "To some extent, then, the degree to which we actually long for Christ's return is a measure of the spiritual condition of our own lives at the moment" (p. 1093).

I think that CS Lewis somewhere wrote that when we experience deep longing for something, we are really longing for heaven. I believe that in the Christian heart, the longing for Jesus and the longing for heaven is co-mingled.

These comments and thoughts led me to think of one of my favorite passages from Malcolm Muggeridge's biography Chronicles of Wasted Time.

Malcolm Muggeridge led an interesting life. He was the British journalist who popularized Mother Teresa in his Something Beautiful for God. He was a journalist in England for the Manchester Guardian. He was with the British intelligence unit serving as an operative during WWII with MI5. He went on to become an editor of the famous British satirical journal Punch. I believe he became a Catholic while in his 70’s.

In this passage, Muggeridge notes how, counterintuitively, an appreciation and perspective on our eternal destiny increases the value we place on our temporal surroundings.

How can I ever explain to those who insist that we must believe in the world to love it that it is because I disbelieve in the world that I love every breath I take, look forward with ever-greater delight to the coming of each spring, rejoice ever more in the companionship of my fellow-humans, to no single one of whom – searching my heart – do I wish ill, and from no single one of whom do I wish to separate myself, in word or thought or deed, or in the prospect of some other existence beyond the ticking of the clocks, the vista of the hills, the bounds and dimensions of our earthly hopes and desires? To accept this world as a destination rather than a staging-post, and the experience of living in it as expressing life’s full significance, would seem to me to reduce life to something too banal and trivial to be taken seriously or held in esteem.

In other words, the Christian proposition that he that loves his life in this world shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall see it projected and glorified into eternity, is for living, not for dying. After all, it was a St Francis who truly loved the world he so gaily abjured, as his enchanting prayers and canticles convey; not a Pere Goriot who so cherished its commodities. It is misers and Don Juans who moan; spendthrifts and saints are always laughing.


All I can claim to have learnt from the years I have spent in this world is that the only happiness is love, which is attained by giving, not receiving; and that the world itself only becomes the dear and habitable dwelling place it is when we who inhabit it know we are migrants, due when the time comes to fly away to other more commodious skies. "

Monday, November 13, 2006

the emerging church and evangelism

On Thursday 26 October 2006, Scot McKnight gave a talk @ Westminster Theological Seminary's Emerging Church Forum entitled, "What is the Emerging Church?"

There he said in one of the most passionate sections of the talk (this really comes thru in the audio of his presentation):

"The emerging church is not known for [evangelism] - and I wish it were known more for it. I believe it is right here that we are staring at a very serious issue for the emerging movement itself: any kind of Christianity and any kind of Christian ... that is not evangelistic is woefully inadequate. Unless you proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, there is no good news at all; and if there is no good news, there is no Christianity - emerging or Reformed.

...I offer here a warning to you and to the emerging movement: any movement that is not evangelistic is failing the Lord. We may be humble about what we believe and we may be careful to make the gospel and its commitment clear, but we better have a goal in mind - the goal of summoning everyone to follow Jesus Christ and to discover the redemptive work of God in Christ through the Spirit of God" [emphasis Scot's].

- as recorded in the PDF of his talk

And so I have some questions and I welcome answers in the comments.

I do not assume that these questions aren't being asked and answered anywhere in the emerging church. But we are perceived as being unconcerned with these issues.

Are we concerned?

Who in the emerging church conversation is doing the best job at addressing below? It would be great if we could capture some of the best thinking on below by links in comments or your comments.

  • What does it mean to be "saved" in the New Testament? Is anyone in trouble and needing to be saved?

  • What does it mean to be "born again" in the New Testament?

  • Why don't we talk about sin?

  • Who is talking about fulfilling the Great Commission?

  • There is a lot of talk about expanding our understanding of the atonement beyond penal substitution, and it seems that few in the emerging church who are doing this are denying penal substitution. So if, then, we do believe in penal substitution, are we talking about judgment? Do we need to warn anyone about anything?

  • Are we afraid that if we talk about these things that we will be labeled fundamentalist?

  • Are we allowing a past exclusive emphasis of some on our eternal destiny after we die to drive us to the opposite extreme of an almost exclusive focus on issues of justice today?

    • Why does this have to be an either/or; why can't it be a both/and?

  • And, finally, if you can't point to any links or books where emergers are talking about these matters, what do you think?
Can we afford to ignore matters that seem to be such a prominent part of the New Testament documents?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

who is this person?

"Once upon a time there was a gifted young scholar whose star was rising in the academic world. The young man had gone to premier schools, and he had even traveled to Germany to pursue a doctorate in the fatherland. He studied with the finest scholars, and his work was of the finest quality. His dissertation was published in a prestigious academic series. He landed a teaching job. He began to churn out scholarly books and articles.

And then something happened. That young scholar became more and more convinced that teaching the truths he was trading in was not enough. Such things had to be proclaimed, heralded, exposited. He had to preach.

So the rising young evangelical scholar who had written his dissertation in the field of New Testament, specializing in Jesus studies, left the lectern for the pulpit. He took his precise, academic training and sought to apply it to non-academic Christians.

For nearly thirty years his soul was refined by the Bible, the afflictions of life, the pains of the pastorate. For nearly thirty years he labored for language that would convince the mind and compel the heart. For nearly thirty years he preached and prayed, read and wrote, wept and rejoiced as a shepherd of the flock of God, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed him an overseer.

For nearly thirty years academic scholarship on Jesus continued to be produced. Learned and precise it was, but not always connected to the reality about Jesus. Quagmired in discussions of which Gospel was written first, which saying of Jesus was authentic, how and whether the Gospels can be shown to be historically reliable, and how Jesus really subverts or supports some modern political agenda, academic scholarship on Jesus often seems to miss the Messiah altogether. For nearly thirty years non-academic writing about Jesus continued as well, and in most cases it wasn’t any better. These non-academic books were intended to be devotional, but often they were painfully ignorant of historical realities, resulting in a distorted, modern, sentimental, not very Jewish and not very helpful portrait of Jesus.

The brilliant young scholar is now an aged pastor, and in him are conjoined the sensibilities of the historian and the wisdom of one who has been with the sheep. "

- find out who from jim hamilton. I didn't know this!

I just received the book jim mentions for my birthday. it looks interesting and i'm looking forward to diving in.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Did Evangelicals Abandon the Republicans?

"Some liberal religious advocates proclaimed yesterday that the Democratic sweep showed that their party had succeeded in closing what they called the God Gap. But the results are more mixed than that, according to experts who analyze trends among religious voters.

Defying predictions of widespread disillusionment, white evangelical and born-again Christians did not desert Republican Congressional candidates and they did not stay home, nationwide exit polls show."

- The New York Times article

Also, Terry Mattingly does an around-the-room about how different news outlets are covering the topic of religion and the 2006 mid-term elections

Habermas: "Dealing with Doubt"

Habermas entire book: Dealing with Doubt

ht: roger overton

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

writing on the side

"If a person wants to write, nearly always it has to be a way of life. Some do manage to write on the side, but the vast majority write every day, all the time, and they begin the day in the mind wondering how best to express a thought.

The biggest mistake I see in young professors is the (almost always) mistaken notion that they will write during the summer break full-time or they’ll wait until the Chrstmas break or over the Spring Break. No analogies work completely, but to me that is about like saying, “I’ll not train all year long, and try running competitively over break.” Like running, writing is something that takes constant practice.

And here’s the second mistake I often see: some think they can begin a writing career by writing a book. Instead, it is easier to begin by writing book reviews, magazine articles, and journal articles."

- great post by scot mcknight on writing

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

sermonizing on ted haggard

From the right brain ("right" as opposite to "left," not "right" as opposite "wrong."):

I have now gotten to the point where I just can't read any more blogged conclusions about Ted Haggard.

I wonder if we need to pray more - for Ted, for his family, for his accusers, for his church and, perhaps especially, for us - and conclude less about how his fall is a red light on the dashboard about what's wrong with ________.

My response to reading all I've read has been to want to stop blogging for a time.

It's made me question why I blog.

Am I just looking for profound things to say so that I can sound deep and get folks to think I'm cool and spiritual? I don't want that. I want this blog to be an expression of my love for God and for others in response to what Jesus has done for me. God help me.

I'm not saying conclusions can't be drawn about the state of [fill in the blank]. It just all seems too fast, too soon. It's almost like that this was all so quick and so dramatic that it's provided a litmus test of us and what we think and who we are.

You are likely the best judge of your motives; so if this fits, put it on. If it doesn't, just kick it to the curb and keep on blogging. Maybe this post says more about me than about you.

It's mostly a feeling, I guess.

a customized emerging church google search engine

c. wess daniels writes:

" I spent a couple hours this morning creating a customized emerging church search engine using Google’s new Co-op feature. I’ve added tons and tons of websites and blogs that deal with emerging church issues. My sources for this list came from Scot McKnight, Ryan Bolger, The Daily Scribe, Andrew Jones, Jordon Cooper, Adam Cleaveland and Steve Taylor. This is a working project and I will be tweaking it as I receive feedback and what-not. I am sorry if I missed anyone, you can contact me if you’d like to be added."

- the emerging church google search engine

Monday, November 06, 2006

*all* have sinned - including Christians

"About 25 Christian students yesterday took turns confessing their sins on Nyumburu Cultural Center's amphitheater stage to counter the message three evangelical Christian preachers espoused on the same stage Tuesday - that "real Christians don't sin."

"One by one, we are going to come up [on stage], say our name and acknowledge that we have sinned," said Ryan Penley, the campus director of Campus Crusade for Christ, who organized the event.


Penley, who organized yesterday's event by sending an e-mail to various Christian groups on campus, also invited members of the Pride Alliance, the campus group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students that organized Tuesday's counter demonstration.

Penley said it was important to reach out to the Pride Alliance because they had been shown the most hate by Soulwinners Ministries, and hatred toward campus community members was one of the main things Campus Crusade was trying to challenge and diminish. Although Campus Crusade doesn't condone homosexual activity, it also doesn't condone hatred toward homosexuals, and that distinction was worth emphasizing, Penley said."

- link to this University of Maryland newspaper - the Diamondback - story

Ryan Penley contributed an editorial to the Diamondback, which they printed. It says - in part

"They were furious and raging about this "Christian" on the campus and his preaching about homosexuals going to hell. It piqued my curiosity, to say the least, so I asked them what was going on. They pointed me to the ampitheater, and that's when I saw it for myself.

As a Christian who works full-time in ministry with students at this university, I was embarrassed and ashamed. Time and time again, people like this show up and display our ignorance.

There were many things that frustrated me about this guy. I just could not believe he called himself a Christian and then on the back of his "Fear God" shirt, it read "Christians do not sin." I just wanted to go up and punch this guy and beat him with his own sign. Therein lies proof Christians do sin, because that desire probably didn't please God.


So yes, according to the Bible, homosexuality, drunkenness and sex outside of marriage are "sins," but so are lying (oops), jealousy (oops again), pride (are you serious?), selfishness (oh crap, I'm definitely screwed!), etc. Sin is sin in God's eyes. What I mean is that my selfishness is just as displeasing to God as someone else's homosexual actions. Yet for some reason these people come on the campus and point the finger at people's homosexuality and not at my selfishness. That's just wrong."

- entire editorial

Ryan and Jenny Penley's were a part of the church Beth and I attend which supports them in their ministry to University of Maryland students.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ted Haggard Apologizes to His Church

The Associated Press released this a few minutes ago. This from a letter read to New Life this morning:

"I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you," he said, adding that he had confused the situation by giving inconsistent remarks to reporters denying the scandal.

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life.


...the accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry."


Let's pray for New Life and for Ted, Gayle, his family, and for everyone involved in this tragic matter.

Michael Polanyi

This marvelous and insightful audio summary of the brilliant philosopher-scientist Michael Polanyi is now available on MP3 from Mars Hill Audio.

I posted some of my own reflections on Polanyi some time ago.

Also, Mars Hill has started a podcast!

I've intermittently subscribed to the Mars Hill Audio Journal (not the podcast - it's been around for years and started on cassette) for the last few years and it's not infrequently thought provoking.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

a great around the room on Westminster Theological Seminary's recent Emerging Church Conference

courtesy of tony stiff.

tony links to audio, written text , and summaries of various of the talks.

Friday, November 03, 2006

the two-dimensionalization of those not present

The blogosphere is now exploding with comment about Ted Haggard's troubles. Here's what Haggard has to say, where he admits that some of the allegations are true.

On the now defunct faithmaps discussion group, we used to have a policy of respect for those present and respect for those not present - even if they were public figures.

I'd like to caution everyone who might be tempted to pontificate on this situation that we need to wait until all the facts are out before we draw conclusions and make broad sweeping statements. We need to maintain respect and not two-dimensionalize anyone involved in this sad affair. We mustn't collapse Haggard down to our suspicions or his confessions. We mustn't collapse Mike Jones down to the fact that he's a "former self-described male prostitute."

I'm not saying that hard choices won't need to be made or consequences might not need to be experienced. But just because we live in an age in which we can quickly get information, that information doesn't come down to us with either a guarantee of accuracy or the assurance of instantaneous proper perspective.

That can take some time.

And what if it this were about someone you loved?

a view into souls

AP: Letters to God End Up in Ocean, Unread

"Many more were written by anguished spouses, children or widows, pouring out their hearts to God, asking for help with relatives who were using drugs, gambling or cheating on them. One man wrote from prison, saying he was innocent and wanted to be back home with his family. A woman wrote that her boyfriend was now closing the door to her daughter's bedroom each night when it used to stay open, and wondered why.

A teenager poured out her heart on yellow-lined paper in the curlicue pencil handwriting of a schoolgirl, begging God to forgive her and asking for a second chance.

"Lord, I know that I have had an abortion and I killed one of your angels," she wrote. "There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about the mistake I made.""

On Communicating Clearly

I know. Another post pointing to Jesus Creed. I'm really not trying to be "all Scot, all the time."

It's just that his recent talk to that bastion of Reformed Theology - Westminster Theological Seminary - has precipitated a burst of comment, much of it his! (And I just ordered all the Horton, Franke and Mcknight talks given @ WTS' Emerging Church Forum).

Scot posts some important thoughts today about the importance of communicating effectively to people who don't know theological nomenclature.

It took me a looooong time to come to the same conclusion.

I enjoy multi-syllabic words. I really thrill to be reading along, find a word I don't know, and check AHD online or grab the closest dictionary. (As evidence of my wonkish ways: just a couple of days ago, I bought a compact dictionary to put in my backpack because I'm finding Barbara Tuchman uses lots of words in her Guns of August - also, of course, in my backpack - that I don't know ). I take great joy in writing extended, complicated sentences cascading down the page with endless dependent clauses.

But just in the last couple of years, I've realized that - for me at least - a lot of this was pride, some of it was thoughtlessness, and perhaps even a bit of laziness. And so I've tried to communicate more clearly in my writing, though I know I still have much room for improvement.

Thanks Scot.

Words fueled by love will always find their mark.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Audio of Talks now Available for Purchase from WTS' Emerging Church Forum

Including talks by John Franke, Scot McKnight, Michael Horton, and others

You can get them here.

Westminster Theological Seminary
is to be commended for bringing in two leading emerging church conversationalists to participate in this forum as opposed to just evaluating it from a distance.

ht: Bob Robinson

Reformed Conferences

If you're looking for conferences with a Reformed flavor, Tim Challies is keeping a Directory.

Anybody know if anyone is doing this for emerging church confabs (within and without emergent village)?

ht: andrew jackson

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Scot McKnight on Disagreeing Christianly

"Most of the schools, and also some of the churches, are clearly aware of their doctrinal distinctives. None more so than Westminster. In spite of theological differences, Christians welcome other Christians — which is to say we really do try to live out our creedal confession of the communion of the saints and the unity of the Church. I surely experienced this at WTS."