So, When Are You REALLY a Man?

What are some benchmarks for manhood?

Read and then examine your true masculinity versus the world system’s definition portrayed by the media.

Why We’re Not Emergent

“I’m convinced that a major problem with the emerging church is that they refuse to have their cake and eat it to.”

Josh Harris writes about a new book on the emergent church and quotes from it:

New Book: Why We’re Not Emergent
Posted: 21 Dec 2007 09:06 AM CST
My friend Justin Taylor, shot me an email this past week about a new book by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck entitled Why We’re Not Emergent. I don’t normally get excited about books coming from a “we’re not that” perspective, but from what I’ve read on the book’s website, these guys seem to be striking a helpful tone. The promotional description reads:
“You can be young, passionate about Jesus Christ, surrounded by diversity, engaged in a postmodern world, reared in evangelicalism and not be an emergent Christian. In fact, I want to argue that it would be better if you weren’t.” The Emergent Church is a strong voice in today’s Christian community. And they’re talking about good things: caring for the poor, peace for all men, loving Jesus. They’re doing church a new way, not content to fit the mold. Again, all good. But there’s more to the movement than that. Much more. Kevin and Ted are two guys who, demographically, should be all over this movement. But they’re not. And Why We’re Not Emergent gives you the solid reasons why. From both a theological and an on-the-street perspective, Kevin and Ted diagnose the emerging church. They pull apart interviews, articles, books, and blogs, helping you see for yourself what it’s all about.

And here’s a strong quote from the free sample chapter that they make available on their site:

I’m convinced that a major problem with the emerging church is that they refuse to have their cake and eat it to. The whole movement seems to be built on reductionistic, even modernistic, either-or categories. They pit information versus transformation, believing versus belonging, and propositions about Christ versus the Person of Christ. The emerging church will be a helpful corrective against real, and sometimes perceived, abuses in evangelicalism when they discover the genius of the “and,” and stop forcing us to accept half-truths. Carl Henry is right: “The antithesis of ‘person-revelation’ and ‘proposition-revelation’ can only result in an equally unscriptural contrast of personal faith with doctrinal belief. It is now often said that belief in Christ is something wholly different from belief in truths or propositions. But to lose intelligible revelation spells inescapable loss of any supernatural authorized doctrinal assertions concerning God.” It is possible for Christians to esteem the Bible wrongly and equate the Bible with God. But it is not possible for Christians to esteem the Bible too highly. Every word in every sentence in every proposition or command or question in the Bible is inspired by God, authoritative, trustworthy, true, useful, and aids our joy in God. Despite their differing interpretations on some matters, Christians of various theological stripes in all ages have believed wholeheartedly in this previous sentence. My hope is that emerging Christians are not departing from it. For every fundamentalist who loves the Bible more than Christ, I’m willing to bet there is one emergent Christian who honors the Bible less than Christ did. I fear that what starts out as a fancy way of coupling postmodern jargon with biblical authority quickly leads to a loss of confidence in the word of God—a lost confidence that prevents preachers and evangelists from establishing doctrine, ethics, and gospel truth with the words “It is written.””

The book won’t be released until April, but in the meantime, you can read the free sample chapter or pre-order it.

Impressed With Rob & Kristen Bell?

“A recent issue of Christianity Today featured a cover article about the “Emerging Church.” That’s the popular name for an informal affiliation of Christian communities worldwide who want to revamp the church, change the way Christians interact with their culture, and remodel the way we think about truth itself. The article included a profile of Rob and Kristen Bell, the husband-and-wife team who founded Mars Hill—a very large and steadily growing Emerging community in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

According to the article, the Bells found themselves increasingly uncomfortable with church. “Life in the church had become so small,” Kristen says. “It had worked for me for a long time. Then it stopped working.” The Bells started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself—”discovering the Bible as a human product,” as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat. “The Bible is still in the center for us,” Rob says, “but it’s a different kind of center. We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it.””I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible,” Kristen says, “that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.” [Andy Crouch, “The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today (November 2004).]

One dominant theme pervades the whole article: In the Emerging Church movement, truth (to whatever degree such a concept is even recognized) is assumed to be inherently hazy, indistinct, and uncertain—perhaps even ultimately unknowable.”

-John MacArthur in Truth War

How To Read the Bible for All It’s Worth -Part 1

How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart is an outstanding primer on understanding and applying Scripture. The approach by the authors breaks down the Bible into its diverse genres and gives principles and examples for interpreting each type. The following will be a summary of the contents of the main tenets of the book.

Introduction: The Need to Interpret
1. The reader will always be an interpreter.
2. The nature of Scripture begs for interpretation.
3. The 1st task of the interpreter is exegesis.
4. Learning to do exegesis requires a knowledge of the historical context, literary context,understanding the actual content, and using good tools to accomplish these tasks.
5. The 2nd task is hermeneutics: seeking the contemporary relevance of the ancient texts.

The Basic Tool: A Good Translation
1. In order to choose a good translation, one must understand the science of translation.

The Epistles: Learning to Think Contextually
1. The Epistles are occasional documents that address a variety of issues.
2. To interpret the Epistles, one must reconstruct the situation the author is speaking to in the historical context.
3. Tracing the author’s argument will solidify the literary context of the epistle.

The Epistles: The Hermeneutical Questions
1. Many interpreters make the mistake of bringing their theological heritage, ecclesiastical traditions, cultural norms, and existential concerns to the epistles as they read them.
2. The 1st basic rule of Biblical interpretation is that a text cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or his readers.
3. The 2nd basic rule is that when we share similar specific life situations with the 1st century hearers, God’s Word to us is the same as his Word to them.
4. When there are comparable specific life situations, God’s Word to us in such texts must always be limited to its original intent.
5. There are 2 kinds of texts in the Epistles: those that speak to 1st century issues that for the most part are without 21st century counterparts, and those texts that speak to problems that could possibly happen also in the 21st century but are highly unlikely to do so.
6. Difficulties and differences lie in the problem of cultural relativity because God’s eternal Word has been given in historical particularity.
7. Because of the occasional nature of the Epistles, caution needs to be raised about forming task theology beyond what the passage explicitly states.

What Makes Your Church Appealing?

I received a flyer in the mail today from IX Marks that had such thought-provoking questions that I had to share them.

It began with this premise:
“We will look like Him as we listen to Him.”

Then it asked these questions: “What makes your church appealing?

-Good music?
-Comfortable for outsiders?
-A traditional service?
-People who look like you?

How about going for a supernatural appeal, something like. . .

A group of pardoned rebels
from multiple ethnicities and classes
whom God embraces
and refashions in his Son’s image
–holy, loving, united–
with his own Spirit
before an onlooking universe
as the display of his glory

Is not that the purest New Testament (Ephesians 1-5) definition of the church? May our people identify with God’s purpose for them!

Would You Vote for a Pro-Choice Candidate?

Do the other issues outweigh abortion on your priority meter? Read Randy Alcorn’s post on the topic.