January 2010


People haven’t given up on God, just the version with which they’ve been presented. A God who can’t stand gays, thinks less of women, and is always looking to unleash some form of divine retribution just doesn’t jive. Brother Maynard

This is a book I heard about some time ago but haven’t gotten around to reading. I think this will be my next purchase.

The authors [ of The Starfish and the Spider] claim that in the emerging world of the Internet-driven thinking decentralization – that is, the diminishing of hierarchical structure and formal leadership – has become a major asset. The authors call this a “starfish” organization, taking their cues from the decentralized biology of this curious echinoderm, and contrast it with “spider” organization which may look superficially like starfish, but are still essentially command-and-control driven.
Perhaps most challenging and frightening to Church institutions (and professional clergy like me!) is that in a world moving toward decentralization, the very institutional nature of the church is threatened, along with the institutionally protected artifacts…like professionalism itself.

And a link to a movie trailer on Christian Zionism.

I am not one to put up with Cult Watching, however, this warning from Andrew Strom is unique do to Andrew’s tie to the movement. Andrew self identifies as a charismatic pentecostal, and was part of the Prophetic Movement so his is a insider warning. There have been many such warnings, including calls to step back reform the movement from Charisma Magazine’s J Lee Grady. Why is there a refusal to listen? to at the very least sit down together to hear each other?

I am not saying that I believe everything stated in the quoted article. For instance, I would not necessarily declare it demonic, rather I would say that it is foolishness that is keeping seeking people from the true work of God – justice and mercy:

The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me,because the Lord has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor,to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners, to announce the year when the Lord will show his favor, the day when our God will seek vengeance, to console all who mourn, to strengthen those who mourn in Zion, by giving them a turban, instead of ashes, oil symbolizing joy, instead of mourning, a garment symbolizing praise, instead of discouragement. [Isaiah 61 NET]

Hmm, I guess in away it is demonic – at the very least it is anti Christ; anti Kingdom of God.

What saddens me most is that so many of my friends and acquaintances through my years in a local congregation will be ecstatic over the news of another renewal. Some may have even booked their tickets.

KUNDALINI WARNING by Andrew Strom

I just saw the video of Rick Joyner announcing that Todd Bentley is back ministering every night at Morningstar in North Carolina and now they have so-called “revival” manifestations eerily similar to Lakeland. They also announced that they are streaming these big meetings every night on their new TV channel – and they are greatly promoting the whole thing.

Now I am a tongues-speaking Pentecostal myself – but can I ask a simple question here please? What kind of “spirit” was it operating in the Lakeland revival – when the leader and main focal-point of the meetings (Todd Bentley) was having an adulterous affair behind the scenes? Was it truly the “Holy” Spirit that was anointing something so sensual and unholy? And now that Todd divorced his wife and married his mistress – are we supposed to welcome him back and this “anointing” with him? What is going on here? Rick Joyner has been warned very specifically by high-level ministries not to do what he is doing now – bringing Todd Bentley back into the limelight. And yet it seems he does not care. Apparently the “manifestations” are all that matter.

So what exactly are these ‘manifestations’ if they are seemingly at home in such an unholy environment? Are they from God at all? (I am talking here about the violent “jerking”, uncontrollable laughter, bodily contortions, drunkenness, ‘portals’, strange “angel” encounters, etc.) Why do we not see such an ‘anointing’ in the Bible? Why aren’t Jesus or the apostles promoting these manifestations if they really are true Revival? Why instead do we see these things all the way through the New Age and Hinduism, etc? Do we not realize that many false religions have their own version of “laying on of hands” that results in these very types of manifestations? This ’spirit’ is not in the Bible – but it is all the way through Kundalini-type Hinduism! Don’t you think this should alarm us?

WHAT is KUNDALINI?

[see original post for complete article]

…I am putting everything on the line to be “naming names” like this. But I believe it is that serious. How on earth did we get to the point where “kriyas” just like Hinduism are spreading through the church?

As quoted by Cerulean Sanctum.

A New Kind of Christianity

Brian asks ten questions that attempt to integrate our inner lives with our outward actions:

  • The Narrative Question: What Is the Overarching Storyline of the Bible?
  • The Authority Question: How Should the Bible Be Understood?
  • The God Question: Is God Violent?
  • The Jesus Question: Who is Jesus and Why is He Important?
  • The Gospel Question: What Is the Gospel?
  • The Church Question: What Do We Do About the Church?
  • The Sex Question: Can We Find a Way to Address Sexuality Without Fighting About It?
  • The Future Question: Can We Find a Better Way of View the Future?
  • The Pluralism Question: How Should Followers of Jesus Relate to People of Other Religions?
  • The What Do We Do Now Question: How Can We Translate Our Quest into Action?

from zoecarnate

Here is a quick follow up on the Pat Robertson/ Haiti scandal.

First a video response from Haitians themselves:

I would like to thank the Tall Skinny Kiwi for bringing the God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti article at Black and Christian (part 1, part 2 and part 3) to my attention:

Right or wrong, Haiti is considered the point of entry of Christianity into the New World because it is the place where Christopher Columbus built the first Spanish colony after landing on December 5th, 1492. Roman Catholicism was the official religion of Spain, and thus was imposed on all the original inhabitants of the island. The natives were made Christians by force and the island was called ‘Hispaniola’, meaning ‘little Spain’. Before long the Indian population was enslaved and wiped out, and Africans were imported as replacements. But that’s not all.

I was born and raised in Haiti, and I am a graduate of the State University in Port-au-Prince. I am also a believer in the Lord Jesus-Christ in accordance with the Bible. In all of my studies of Haitian history, however, I have yet to find a good evidence of even the idea of Satan’s assistance in the Independence War, let alone a satanic pact.

Even if there was a cultural ceremony (voodoo) before the revolt, this is in no way different then the pact so many western christian churches and ministries have made with the devil of our day – consumerism! We all have the tendency of quantifying evil on a human scale: voodoo has a more evil appearance than native American cultures; native American cultures have a more evil appearance than greco-roman culture; and few recognizes the evil of materialistic consumerism of modern western cultures.  The real satanic act that occurred in Haiti’s history is the pure evil act of enslaving cultures in the name of Christ.

THE DELIVERANCE OF GOD: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul” by Douglas A. Campbell has just been added to my wish list. Here are a couple of quotes  from a book review that gives you a hint at the reason why:

All works of scholarship begin with a problem, some crisis, controversy or conundrum. Campbell’s area of scholarship is Paul, his letters specifically. As you might imagine, Pauline scholarship is awash in controversy and debate. We won’t go into those debates in depth. I barely understand many of them. But to give you a taste let me present three:

The Meaning of Pistis Christou
What we know for sure is that Pistis means “faith” in Greek and that “Christou” means “Christ.” So far so good. But in the Greek there is some genitive ambiguity concerning how the two noun’s–faith and Christ–are to relate to each other. Martin Luther, and those who followed him, translated Pistis Christou as “faith in Christ.” But a growing number of scholars (e.g., Richard Hays, N.T. Wright) have argued that the proper translation of Pistis Christou should be “faith of Christ.” Wow, so much hanging on the switch from “in” to “of”! But it really is a huge change. Specifically, the change moves us from an anthropocentric view of salvation to a Christocentric view. In the former, the human person is the locus of salvation. I, Richard Beck, must have faith in Jesus Christ. My act of faith functions as the key to unlock salvation. In the latter view, it is the faithfulness of Jesus that unlocks salvation. Christ’s faithfulness saves me.

Paul’s Soteriological Inconsistency
Pauline scholars have argued that Paul’s soteriology, his view of salvation, is hopelessly muddled if not outright contradictory. To be sure, this might be unfair to both Paul and the canon. Paul might not be aiming for logical consistency. Plus, Paul might not have written everything we attribute to him. Regardless, it is worrying that Paul, the great theologian of the faith, might be confused or contradictory. For example, when scholars read Romans they see inconsistencies between the soteriology presented in Romans 1-4 and the soteriology presented in Romans 5-8. Of course, not everyone sees these inconsistencies, but as with the Pistis Christou debate, this is a location of scholarly controversy.

The Characterization of Second Temple Judaism and “Works of the Law”
When you hear the Jews described in church, and Paul’s life as a former Jew, they are described in a fairly stereotypical way: The Jews were trying to “earn” their salvation through “works of the Law” (Torah obedience). In short, the Jews were legalists. And this legalism was a source of great pride as many Jews felt that they were, indeed, “blameless” before God. Now, this characterization of the Jews has important soteriological functions. Namely, “Christian” salvation through grace is, at root, a rejection of legalism through works of the Law. Grace is the opposite of legalism. In short, the Christian notion of grace requires a backdrop of Jewish legalism for it to make sense, to be something “new and improved.” The trouble is, is this characterization of the Jews a straw man? Specifically, there is a great deal of biblical and extra-biblical evidence that suggests that legalism wasn’t really a problem, for Jesus, Paul or the Jews. Now, legalism was a problem for Martin Luther, his monastic attempts to save his damnable soul. But scholars have argued that Luther’s problem wasn’t the Jew’s Problem. Nor Paul’s. Nor Jesus’s. And, once again, there is debate about all this. It’s another location of controversy in Pauline studies.In sum, these are three examples of the debates within Pauline scholarship. There are many more and Campbell reviews them all. Exhaustively.
read more…

and from part II

why is God so harsh? Why isn’t his nature more kind, generous and forgiving? Humans don’t demand perfection from each other. We forgive. God, apparently, doesn’t. And it’s not clear why, in light of Justification Theory, God couldn’t be this way. Why couldn’t God be forgiving and nurturing in light of our transgressions? Not that God would be a pushover, but at least God would be nice and reasonable given that he’s working with human beings, creatures that frequently make moral mistakes because, like any animal, we get scared or confused. The trouble for Justification Theory is that if God were like this–nice and reasonable–then the salvific machinery of [the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus] is rendered moot. God doesn’t require the blood sacrifice of Jesus because God is intrinsically forgiving.
read more…

At the very least, Richard Beck‘s initial reviews of this book (part I and part II) have set the hook in my mind. I have been struggling with this image of God that makes a certain televangelist’s comments on Haiti seem not only reasonable but also logical, even required, in order to keep up continuity.

The need to uphold this theory may also be why people respond to the push back on this televangelist’s comments with “One does have to wonder ‘what’s up with Haiti?’ “, “we cannot say what God would and would not do” and even “God has done this type of thing in the past, why do we not think He could do it today?” These push backs always come with the “not that I think He is behind it, but…” If this is the image of your God, why don’t you just grow the balls to say that “God demands justice and maybe Haitians got what they deserved! End of story.”

Sorry. End of rant. Read the reviews and let me know what you think about all this.

I love the work that Neil Cole is doing—and Alan Hirsch (The Forgotten Ways), Bob Roberts (Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World), Frank Viola (Finding Organic Church), and many, many others.

In one form or another, they are champions of “organic church.” The term is fluid, but it contains at least three ingredients: Frustration with the-church-as-we-know-it, a focus on people (vs. programs) and mission (vs. institutional maintenance), and a vision to transform the world.
Out of Ur

As the above post goes on, a comment is made that  I felt I needed to echo. What God is doing in our day – organic spirituality/Christianity,  incarnation, missional embodiment of faith and emerging theology – is not the end. Change will happen again and these movements will need to transform/ reform themselves or become the old wineskin. Of this I have no doubt. My prayer is that if another change happens in my life time, I will remain supple enough to change with it.

I heard one pastor say that every generation needs to reboot their faith. This is true. It is also true that every age (Roman Empire->Dark Ages/Middle Ages->Modern Age->Postmodern) needs to reformat their faith hard-drive.

What ever comes after this postmodern age will bring with it a reformatting of the faith. Between now and then there will be many generations that reboot their faith within the postmodern context. But as for me in this time, I can only go with how God is leading me.

As For Me And My House We Will Serve the Lord [in how He is leading us].”

Religion is temporary. Once we catch a glimpse of what it points towards, it begs to be discarded. Should we hold onto it long after it has served its only true purpose, we only slide back into a state of being that ushers us away from the simple joy of living life with friends and neighbors.
Shawn Anthony

More and more I have a burning passion to enter into a community of faith that has more in common with family then it does with club. So much of institutional Christianity gets bogged down with structure and maintaining what it is, that it misses out on being family. The other side of this coin is those that discard the institution and enter into distant family relationships. Sure they get together, but it is almost by accident.

I believe the true church – the ekklēsia – involves a coming together with intent. In the comments to a blog I wrote:

I hate using the word ‘church’, as it has come to take on so much baggage that is not what ekklēsia means. Sure the ekklēsia will meet and have gatherings, as a matter of fact, it could be said that a group of individual Christians who never come together in community are not the ekklēsia. Ekklēsia holds within it an understanding of gathering together.

My belief is that the ekklēsia gathering need not, and possibly should not be institutionally structured. It is more organic and simple. the ‘Institutionally structured’ church requires effort to be put into the structure by many people and requires a top down leadership structure not unlike the gentiles (Luke 22:25) The result is an exoskeleton structure that will remain even if the Spirit leaves.

Jesus said that were two or three are gathered… Assembling together is all about relationship. If an institutional ‘church’ is the ekklēsia it is because of the relationships and is despite of the structure.

and

Institutions are a product of this world. Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world.

The institution gives us a glimpse of this coming together with intent that the non-church ekklēsia neglects. However, I have the conviction that “with the institution comes much baggage”. God has placed on many hearts a desire to leave this baggage behind, and there is a growing contingent of faithful believers who are struggling to come to grips with a religion-less, non-institutional expression of our faith.

The early ekklēsia met daily.

We are leaving a Christianized culture that met twice on Sunday and a few times throughout the week.

We are becoming/ have become a post-Christian culture that is swamped with time commitments which makes meeting once a week burdensome.

In one sense, we have an even greater need to get together; however, to survive in our culture, we become so busy that there is little time left in a week. All too often, I fear, we neglect relationship building – both within the ekklēsia as well as missionally – due to time constraints that result from our religious commitment to go to our weekly events. We use up our relationship time with our religious meetings.

I guess the warning is that as we ‘discard the religious’, we do not neglect  relationships.

I have no doubt that this process  of working out our faith outside of the institution will be messy. But I also have no doubt that it will be worth it.

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