Calvinism...comes perilously close to blasphemy. And that is why I congratulate Dave Hunt for writing this excellent clarification of the doctrine that has its roots more in Greek humanism, from where it originated, than it does in Scripture...Every evangelical minister should read this book. If they did, we would see a mighty revival of soul-winning passion that would turn this world upside down as multitudes of people saw the real God of the Bible, not the false God of Augustinianism and Calvinism.
"I am particularly concerned however, with some growing trends among some people: the rejection of Jesus' death on the cross as a penal substitute for our sins; resistance to openly denouncing homosexual acts as sinful; the questioning of a literal eternal torment in hell, which is a denial that holds up only until, in an ironic bummer, you die and find yourself in hell; the rejection of God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, as if God were a junior-college professor who knows only bits and pieces of trivia; the rejection of biblically defined gender roles, therby contributing to the 'mantropy' epidemic among young guys now fretting over the best kind of looffah for their skin type and the number of women in the military dying to save their Bed, Bath and Beyond from terrorist attacks; and the rejection of biblical names for God, such as Father, which is essentially apologizing before the unbelieving world for the paryer life of the flamboyantly heterosexual Jesus, who uttered the horrendously politically incorrect 'Our Father' without ever having the decency to apologize for being a misogynist patriarchal meanie. This is ultimately all the result of a diminished respect for the perfection, authority, and clarty of Scripture, all of which was written by patriarchal men." (22-23)
'..emerging and missional churches see the church's primary task as sending Christians out of the church and into the culture to serve as missionaries through relationships, rather than bringing lost people into the church to be served by programming.' (26)
On Congregationalism: 'As I studied the Bible, I found more warrant for a church led by unicorns than by a majority vote.' (103)
'I wanted a church filled with missionaries, Christians who were learning how to become missionaries, and lost people. I would not accept a church filled with Christians who did not give, serve, or reach lost people, because they invariably make themselves and their selfish desires the mission of a church and kill innovation and momentum.' (112)
This week-end I finished 'The Gospel for Real Life' by Jerry Bridges. It was excellent. Definitely one of my top five for the year. It is basically the gospel. He does an excellent job of making a lot of soteriology very accessible, with many illustrations, and applications. I highly recommend it, and recommend giving it away. It would be a great gift book for anyone. It would encourage and refresh an aged believer, or really clarify the gospel for someone with a shallow understanding of what Jesus has done for us. His chapters pretty much cover (in different words) the following: sin, imputation, justice, wrath, propitiation, expiation, ransom, reconciliation, justification, faith, adoption, assurance, sanctification, and mission.
'The reality of present-day Christendom is that most professing Christians actually know very little of the gospel, let alone understand its implications for their day-to-day lives. My perception is that most of them know just enough gospel to get inside the kingdom. They know nothing of the unsearchable riches of Christ.' (17)
'Do you want to grow in your own worship of God? That growth will be directly related to your understanding of the gospel in all its fullness..' (124)
This semester I have been meeting up with a group of men to go through Kent Hughes' book 'Disciplines of a Godly Man.' We finished this week. It was pretty good. He has a very high view of Scripture. The chapters were the disciplines of Godliness, purity, marriage, fatherhood, friendship, mind, devotion, prayer, worship, integrity, tongue, work, perseverance, church, leadership, giving, witness, ministry, and the grace of discipline. Hughes is well-read so it had tons of good quotes and stories. Here is a quote he used by Dennis Prager, a Jewish radio talk show host:
'One thing I noticed about Evangelicals is that they do not read. They do not read the Bible, they do not read the great Christian thinkers, they have never heard of Aquinas. It they're Presbyterian, they've never read the founders of Presbyterianism. I do not understand that. As a Jew, that's confusing to me. The commandment of study is so deep in Judaism that we immerse ourselves in study. God gave us a brain, aren't we to use it in His service? When I walk into an Evangelical Christian's home and see a total of 30 books, most of them best-sellers, I do not understand. I have bookcases of Christian books, and I am a Jew. Why do I have more Christian books that 98 percent of the Christians in America? That is so bizarre to me.' (78)
Quoting Mark Driscoll: 'We need to recover beauty as an attribute of God. Dance, video and music all need to be redeemed. At Mars Hill, we take that redemption seriously. That's why we have candles everywhere. It's why we feature paintings by professional artists in our community. It's why we burn incense, hitting all the senses for a full experience. Everything in the service needs to preach: architecture, lighting, songs, prayers, fellowship, the smell, it all preaches. Being creative is tough work, but we believe art is that region between heaven and earth that connects the two. To experience God is often the highest form of knowing and the entire worship experience must be more than a presentation about God.' (103)
'We need to beware of the anaesthetizing and stultifying effects that Christendom, the tame, nonmissional church, and our safe middle classness have had on us.' (223)
'The missional church is incarnational, not attractional, in its ecclesiology. By incarnational we mean it does not create sanctified spaces into which unbelievers must come to encounter the gospel. Rather, the missional church dissembles itself and seeps into the cracks and crevices of a society in order to be Christ to those who don't yet know him.' (12)
'As Mark Driscoll has said, "I want to prepare like an evangelical; preach like a Pentecostal; pray like a mystic; do the spiritual disciplines like a Desert Father; art like a Catholic; and social justice like a liberal."' (27)
'If by holiness we simply mean no drinking, no smoking, and no dancing, we have a very limited view of the concept.' (54)...'Holiness is primarily defined not by what we don't do, but rather by what we do in our hallowing of the everyday.' (132)
'Ironically, full-time clergy in the traditional attractional churches often find themselves so run off their feet with the busyness of serving on various committees, attending myriad meetings, and running worship services, that they have very few social contacts with unbelievers. We thing this is one of the great blights of the institutional church; it covertly withdraws its clergy from casual, social contact with the neighborhood community.' (59)
-The cultural context is postmodern and pluralistic.
-The church accepts that it is marginalized in culture.
-Pastors are local missionaries.
-Church services blend ancient forms and current local styles.
-Missions is “glocal” (global and local).
Last night I finished John Franke's 'The Character of Theology: A Postconservative Evangelical Approach.' I haven't read McLaren's 'Generous Orthodoxy' but I am pretty sure that this is the academic version of that book. Franke's book was mostly postmodern junk. I read it because he claims to be reformed and postmodern and I wanted to see how that worked. It didn't. He has adopted a lot of postmodern philosophy, which is directly opposed to lots of reformed theology. I enjoyed the read for the most part though. It was stimulating at times, nauseating at others. He says that all theology is to be defined socially and contextually. No absolutes. He is a non-foundationalist. Reformed theology says the Scripture is the foundation. He says that the approach of theologians such as Grudem and Henry are lacking because they are "based on the presupposition that the bible, as the entirely truthful self-disclosure of God presented in propositional form, is the sole foundation for theology (88)." He did have some good things to say though, particularly in the chapter on the purpose of theology. "The ultimate purpose of theology is not simply to establish right belief but to assist the Christian community in its vocation to live as the people of God in the particular social-historical context in which it is situated. The goal of theology is to facilitate and enable authentic performance of the Christian faith by the community in its various cultural locations (161).