This year, at onething’09, our theme is: “What is the Spirit Saying to the Church?” As those who love Jesus, we are all desperate to hear what He is saying, and then to obey it. At this four-day conference Lou Engle, Misty Edwards, Allen Hood, Dwayne Roberts, Mark Anderson, myself, and others will be teaching on what we believe the Spirit is saying.

There is an answer to the confusion and deception that is coming from some of those associated with the Emerging Church. We believe the Spirit is raising up what we refer to as the “Praying Church”—a church that loves the truth and has unwavering allegiance to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is raising up such congregations that will do outreach and works of justice that flow from a foundation of prayer and deep relationship with Jesus. This “Praying Church” movement is resisting the false church, which is emerging in our nation today, especially among young adults.

Comment from Alex on this post

As one who is finding myself more and more associating myself with the Emerging Church, I take exception with the idea that the conservative type Christianity has the truth. Let me say that as a progressive Christian, I can say with just as much passion that we “who love Jesus, we are all desperate to hear what He is saying, and then to obey it.” It just happens that what the two camps are hearing from God are often different, even opposing. Theoretically, I could say in response:

There is an answer to the confusion and deception that is coming from some of those associated with the Praying Church. We believe the Spirit is raising up what we refer to as the “Emerging Church”—a church that loves the truth and has unwavering allegiance to Jesus.

More and more I am feeling like I am being pushed into a corner to ‘get with the conservative program’. Implied in the above IHOP quote, is that their camp is the one that loves Jesus and has the desire to be obedient and those of us that are emerging are the deceived false church. I am starting to develop thinking that God is more glorifies in the multitude of belief sets. Worship of God cannot be complete in any one camp. Not the Eastern Orthodox nor the Catholic. Not the Protestants nor the Anabaptists. Not the Calvinists nor the Armenians. Not the Charismatics nor the Cessationists. Not the Liberals nor the Conservatives. Not even the Emergents nor the Praying Church. I am starting to think that complete worship of God will come in an open environment when we recognize that  all the above camps, and all the camps that were left out make up the Body of Christ.

I pledge to recognize all camps as legitimate expressions of the image of God. Who will join me?

“Very few emergent folks I have encountered have any chance of returning to a robust, traditional evangelical faith. As emergents learned and listened in their evangelical churches and institutions, they realized they could not accept much of what they were being taught. Though they remained within the comfortable confines of these institutions, their faith became ironic. Yes, they were Christians, but not quite what most people meant by that term.

“… Instead, they are building a new theology that “emerges” from the story they find themselves in—namely, the shift from modernity to post-modernity.”
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Scott McKnight details eight catalysts that “move disaffected evangelicals from an ironic faith within evangelicalism to a fork in the road: Either abandon traditional evangelicalism for an emergent form of post-evangelical Christianity, or abandon Christianity altogether.”

  1. Scripture’s inerrancy, does not sufficiently express the truth about the Bible and is therefore not sufficient as the base of determining the nature and scope of knowledge.
  2. Strong inclusion of Kingdom message of gospel.
  3. When science and bible conflict, science does not need to move aside. Broader view of Scripture: less concerned about traditional understandings of inerrancy.
  4. State of church and lack of integrity of leaders casts doubt on the institution of the modern church.
  5. Faith is more inclusive than exclusive.
  6. Re-thinking of understanding of God: violent God of the Old Testament vs a God of love.
  7. The need to re-think the ‘gay’ and ‘abortion’ issues.
  8. Language plays a large role in our faith and our claims to know the truth;
    • theology is language-bound; language has its limits;
    • the Bible is in language; that means the Bible, too, has the limits of language.

More and more I am finding myself in a story where my traditional evangelical background is no longer sufficient. For me, the emerging movement offers the hope of a third way.

language plays a large role in our faith and our claims to know the truth

Ever since the US election, I’ve been thinking about the division of Christians over Oboma. I remember reading Dutch Sheets response:

but my convictions run deep and I believe I bear a God-given responsibility to share them.

Was This God’s Will?

Was what happened Tuesday God’s will? I am quite confident it was not. America was offered a very clear choice between moving further toward protecting the unborn or further away; between a Supreme Court that would move towards honoring God, life and morality or away from it. The stakes couldn’t have been higher nor the cost greater. As a nation we put on blinders concerning Barak Obama’s background, associates, beliefs and practices, and set these causes back years, possibly decades.

And in doing so we took another step away from God and His plans for America, and another step towards judgment.

  • For those in the Church who aligned themselves with pro-abortion forces, I believe judgment will result.
  • For leaders in the Body of Christ who refused to take a stand for fear of losing people, money, and tax-exempt status – I believe there will be a degree of judgment.
  • For those, both withing the Church and without, who voted money over morality – a potential raise or better health insurance over the life of a baby – there will be judgment.

I think I now believe that those who claim to be pro-life are, in fact, narrow minded. Not that they are wrong for being against abortion, but most who say they are pro-life, are actually just anti-abortion? They are short sighted and on a mission for God. And to quote Frank Schaeffer, ”No matter how good a cause, when you think you are on a mission from God, you eventually get crazy”.

Can you be pro-life and pro-death-penalty?

Can you be pro-life and anti-condom distribution? If this is the case, then I would say that you are more concerned with the image of abstinence then you are with life. If you were really pro-life you would teach abstinence and hand out condoms.

Can you be pro-life and be pro-war? If one is pro-life does that not mean they should be at least anti any and all civilian causality? I don’t believe you can say you are pro-life and be supportive of the war in Afghanistan or in Iraq. In this respect Obama is more pro-life than the alternative!

Can you be pro-life and do nothing for poverty? If you are not active in the fight against poverty politically, on the local body of believers level and on a personal level, I don’t think that you can say that you are pro-life. I don’t know all the statistics but I did hear that 90% of abortions that occur for those under the poverty line are done for financial reasons. Having a baby could mean losing a job, not finishing school or in general subjecting the baby and maybe other children to malnutrition and a general shitty life.

It is because of this last issue that I struggle calling my self pro-life. I have never brought into my home a pregnant mother that has no where to go. I have never in any active way tried to help those suffering more then me due to their condition in poverty. Politically I am against poverty, so at least I do something for poverty come election time, but I am not sure how much my vote aids in their real life struggles.

Taking the stance of pro-life, for most people including myself, is an easy way to ease our conscience rather than being actively pro-life.

So, back to the new US administration, there were two groups of response on election day: the group that were singing and rejoicing and praising God; and the group that were on their knees in mourning and interceding on the nations behalf. Both sides need to repent! Obama is not the savior nor is he the anti-Christ. He is, however, God’s authority in the seat of power of the kingdom of the west. Both sides need to come together in unity to pray and bless Obama and to seek God for direction for the Kingdom of God. For way to long, we have been mesmerized by the kingdom of the west. We have bought into the capitalism as though it were God’s economic system. We thought that it is through this worldly kingdom that God’s morality would flow. We have fought each other and drew divided lines, less on the things of God and more on politics.

Jesus will bring judgment on all kingdoms, and they will all fail. If America and west fall (not to mention China and the east which are being hit just as hard by the economic situation we are finding ourselves in), it willnot be because the wrong party was voted into power in America. If any thing the last party has been instrumental in the failing economy, what with their pro-death war! All Obama’s horses and all Obama’s men will probably not be able to put Humpty together again.

Revelations 18,19 is a better indicator for the state we find our selves in, rather then any results of an election in a worldly kingdom.

Obama was either chosen or allowed, by God, to be the leader of the United States in this hour! We need to stop rebelling against God’s authority by subversive intercession and negative attitudes masquerading as prophecy and raise up, separate ourselves from the kingdoms of this world and actively bring God’s Kingdom to earth! Love one another (fellow believers, our neighbors, even our enemies); Sell all you have and give it to the needy; Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned; Visit orphans and widows.

Dutch Sheets claimed that he knew what God’s will was for his nation and that Obama was not it. Other Christians claimed they knew God’s will for the nation and Obama was the answer. Rationally, only one side can be right. Only one side can be hearing from God, meaning the other side is being deceived by some one else. This is the only rational answer. I believe God’s answer is not rational. God does not speak to individuals, he speaks to his Body. As long as God’s Body is divided into different camps, we will not know, we cannot know God’s will.

God’s Body is bigger than most people believe. It includes many that we ignore or resist (Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Anabaptist, liberal, mainline, evangelical, charismatic, post-charismatic, cessationists, post-evangelical, emergent, house-church, …). This is the Body! And until this Body comes together in unity we all will be carrying only a fraction of puzzle known as God’s will.(John 17; Eph 4) We need to focus less on the doctrines and practices of the different parts of the Body, and less on the kingdoms of this world. We need to focus more on Christ and His Body. His complete Body!

Some of these posts were first put on Facebook as notes and  part 1 of ‘What should ‘Church’ look like’  created quite the stir with over 500 comments.

Its funny, of all my posts, that one seemed to me to be the least controversial. Maybe I’ve just wrestled over this issue with God so much that it became mundane to me. Or, maybe this is an issue that strikes at a chord of disillusionment many are feeling in the Body today. Even though my other writings deal with similar disillusionment, this topic is in your face. We experience it every week, we can put a face to it.

Every where I look, I see all kinds of people that are struggling with a disillusionment. There are:

Some of these people are hurt and bitter, with or without cause. Though this bitterness is not good or even right, there are probably more people where they came from that are remaining in their situation and in their bitterness. From what I have read, those that remove themselves from the source of their hurt, find healing.

Just as often though, there is a disillusionment and the desire to walk in something that they see in their bible but that is hampered by the machine. And most notable to me is that the people that are leaving to try something new, were leaders in the old thing. (Could be that we are just hearing from leaders because they are, well, leaders).

I look at this movement and see hope. I see the hand of God doing something new in our day. Others may look at this and see the enemy. What ever side we fall on, we need to recognize that these people are still apart of the Body. We need to love on them, embrace them, and even include them. To say that God cannot be active in their midst because:
a) they do not have the same leadership structure or
b) are doing something out of hurt
is to:
a) dismiss all churches that do not have our leadership structure. I belong to a church that have elders that rule over the congregation. There are other denominations that have popes and some that have elders that influence but the congregation votes (by majority or by consensus)
and b) heaping judgment on pain.

As I am on the side line cheering these fore runners on, part of me is envious. I think that these people will be remembered by history as the unnamed heroes of the second great reform. Often I feel the desire to jump ship and follow after them; but I have hope that change can come to the old guard. Like the first reformation, there are those who are inside the institution working for reformation and those that separate themselves. I pray that we will not make martyrs of those that choose, by choice or by accident, to walk away and live in what God is leading them into.

I believe that this new reformation will be marked by a desire for unity. The global community and flood of information make it easy for us to see our enemy’s side of things. And though we may never come to an agreement with them, we will see that they are real human beings and not just those witches in some other city. Once we know them as human, it becomes easier to pray for them and bless them rather than burn them at the stake.

The other thing I see happening in this move, is that all forms of hierarchy are being destroyed. In my reading of the New Testament, it is very clear that we are all brothers and sisters and that Jesus alone is the head. Sure there are elders and deacons that are recognized in the Body, but these are not offices and do not hold authority over others. They are examples, guides and even helpers on our joint journey.

Lastly, I think there will also be more recognition of the Spirit’s influence in every believe. God can distribute gifts, ministries, effects [1 Cor 12] as he desires to a gathering of 100, 1000 or even 10. He can even give some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. There are some that believe this can only happen by the blessing of the pope while others believe it needs the blessing of the elders. I believe, more often then not, God’s gifts go unrecognized by anyone but Him and possible the recipient.