Also see Bishop Hill's reporting of this story.
An throw another log on the fire for me, yo. It's cold over here.
I know everyone and his uncle has linked to that stuff already, but just in case you missed it, there it is.
One other thing about all that -- DG is sort of distinguishing itself as a media organization. The quality of the speakers, the topics they handled, and from a geek-speak standpoint the quality of the audio and the speed with which it all made it to the interwebs here is frankly staggering.
Somebody started up on something in the comments, and I wanted to put this up to sort of stop that. I'll talk through it later when I have time to give it the proper nuance, but for now let me say 3 things:
 Everyone in the church is not in the kingdom in the soteriological sense.
 All of the church is not in the kingdom in the eschatological sense.
 Every human being who has ever lived is either in the set "church" or the set "not church" in both the eschatological sense and the soteriological sense, but the set which includes "not church" but "kingdom" with regard to people is a null set.
I am sure that will have saved no one in the final account. But it needed to be said.
Well, yes. Yes: in fact I have 3.
From Rev 1:
- John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
And I say this because again in Rev 5 we see this scene in heaven:
- And they sang a new song, saying,
"Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth."
And the reference I would find most interesting in Heb 12:
- At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
That doesn’t abolish any already/not-yets we might want to discuss, but it does sort of limit the distance one can got o say that somehow the Kingdom is not already in or among the church.
I'm with Pastor Ray, and you should be, too. Prove it by being with the Lord's people on the Lord's day in the Lord's house this week. You know: the real Lord who really does save.
You know: obviously. Right?
A long-term feature of my blog has been Halsocan comments, and a company called "JS-Kit" bought Halsocan about a year ago. It turns out they really bought the user base of haloscan and they have apparently set their sites on tormenting us, the users of haloscan, by obscoleting the system.
So here's your fair warning: if you ever said anything in the comments of my blog which you thought was somewhat worth saving, this would be a good time to find those comments and save them in another place.
You can find your comments by going to Google, and typing this into the search field:
+"[my user name]" site:www.haloscan.com/comments/centuri0n
Don't say I didn't warn ya. I have a real fear that when they come and upgrade the comments, we're going to be wailing and gnashing teeth like somebody killed our dog and served him to us as meat loaf.
One of our readers over there said this:
It’s well accepted that 1 Peter 3:15 forms the basis for the entire concept of apologetics. But for our purpose, let’s keep it simple, without straying into the specific aspects of apologetics theory.And to that I say “poppycock”.
Before I tread one word further in my disabusing of that fallacy, I know that this verse is one of the theme verses of Alpha Omega Ministries, and it’s important to note two things about their use of that verse:
 They do not say about it what this reader said about it, and
 They use it exactly as Peter does use it, not anticipating that every Christian will be a debating machine.
So when this reader says his piece here about 1Pet 3:15, he’s putting himself out on a limb which, if he were an adequate apologist and a reasonable commentator, he wouldn’t do. This verse is not hardly “the entire basis for the concept of apologetics”. And frankly, I’m not the first one to say so. Here’s the Geneva Study Bible on this passage:
He will have us, when we are afflicted for righteousness sake, to be careful not for redeeming of our life, either with denying or renouncing the truth, or with like violence, or any such means: but rather to give an account of our faith boldly, and yet with a meek spirit, and full of godly reverence, that the enemies may not have anything justly to object, but may rather be ashamed of themselves.”Here’s the emminant John Gill on the same passage:
Now, a ‘reason’ of this is to be given; not that they are to account for the Gospel, upon the foot of carnal reason; for that is not of men, nor according to the carnal reason of men. Nor is it to be thought that every Christian should be capable of defending the Gospel, either in whole, or in part, by arguments and reasons, in a disputatious way, or to give a reason and argument for every particular truth, but that he should be well acquainted with the ground and foundation of the Christian religion. At least, with the first principles of the oracles of God, and be conversant with the Scriptures, and be able to point out that in them, which is the reason of his holding this and the other truth, though he is not able to give a gainsayer satisfaction, or to stop his mouth.And for laughs, here’s John Calvin on that passage:
And this is to be done with meekness and fear; with meekness, before men; in an humble modest way; not with an haughty air, and in a morose and surly manner, which serves only to irritate and provoke: and with fear; either of God, and so the Ethiopic Version renders it, with the fear of the Lord. Considering the subject of the argument, and the importance of it, and how much the honour of God is concerned in it; and taking care lest the answer should be delivered in a light, trifling, and negligent manner, and that no part of truth be dropped or concealed, in order to please men, and be screened from their resentments; or with all due reverence of, and respect to men, to superiors, to the civil magistrates, who may ask the reason; for they are to be treated with honour and esteem, and to be answered in an handsome and becoming manner, suitable to the dignity of their persons and office ...
But it ought to be noticed, that Peter here does not command us to be prepared to solve any question that may be mooted; for it is not the duty of all to speak on every subject. But it is the general doctrine that is meant, which belongs to the ignorant and the simple. Then Peter had in view no other thing, than that Christians should make it evident to unbelievers that they truly worshipped God, and had a holy and good religion. And in this there is no difficulty, for it would be strange if we could bring nothing to defend our faith when any one made inquiries respecting it. For we ought always to take care that all may know that we fear God, and that we piously and reverently regard his legitimate worship.You know: because we say we’re “Calvinists”, right?
This was also required by the state of the times: the Christian name was much hated and deemed infamous; many thought the sect wicked and guilty of many sacrileges. It would have been, therefore, the highest perfidy against God, if, when asked, they had neglected to give a testimony in favor of their religion. And this, as I think, is the meaning of the word apology, which Peter uses, that is, that the Christians were to make it evident to the world that they were far off from every impiety, and did not corrupt true religion, on which account they were suspected by the ignorant.
What this passage is talking about – as these learned men make clear – is that Peter is not establishing the office of apologist here: Peter is calling the believer to respond in trial and persecution with the testimony of the Gospel and not the mace and broadsword of argumentation.
You’re not trying to shut anyone up if you abide by 1Pet 3:15, but the only way to see that is to see how Peter has positioned this statement in his larger exhortation.
- Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [ESV]
But the next thing we have to notice here is that there’s no fear motive in this passage. Peter actually says, “have no fear”, right? So the reason for doing whatever it is one is doing here is the motive to honor Christ.
That is not to say it would be just a bunch of blubbering when you’re in trouble – but it is to say that Peter is here saying that whatever it is you will do, it will be “good behavior” which put slanders and reviling “to shame”.
And let me suggest something to you about “a reason for the hope that is in you”: When Peter does this at Pentecost, it’s not a philosophical display of forensic acumen. When Stephen does it at his stoning, he didn’t appeal to the Cosmological argument. When Paul was at Mars Hill or before Agrippa, we didn’t address the existential matter of the problem of evil.
To these men – who are our examples – the “defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” is that Christ has died and risen from the dead.
If that’s what you want to call “apologetics”, then it turns out you are saying what I am saying. But look around you – seriously: look at all the “apologists” running around starting fights for Jesus with unbelievers. Is that what Peter was talking about here – being the WWE champion of apologetics for Jesus?
There’s no way that’s what Peter’s talking about here – yet that’s what most “lay apologists” for the faith do every day. Let’s stop doing what we want to do here and start doing what Peter actually asks us to do here – and stop pretending that we’re “apologists”. Let’s be disciples first, and foremost, and crawl out of our books and walk into people’s lives in a way that actually causes them to ask us what kind of hope causes that – in an unironic way.
And be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day in the Lord’s house this weekend. You don’t need to apologize for anything when you start there.
Here's why I'm blogging it. In that piece, Tim said this:
I wondered, had I always been fair to Warren? As David and I spoke it suddenly dawned on me that Rick Warren is a real person. He isn’t a robot or a really clever computer who spits out books and sermons, but a real guy. And as a real guy, he is aware of some of the controversy that surrounds him—including reviews and articles written by the likes of me. And as I’ve often had to do in the past, I had to pause to consider whether I would say to Warren face-to-face what I’ve said about him in my reviews and articles. This is not to say that I’ve ever accused Warren of heresy or torturing kittens. But I have commented on the nature, the completeness of the gospel he preaches—surely a topic that is close to his heart.And it seems to me that this is the new mea culpa on the internet these days: "I just suddenly realized [fill in here] is a real person -- I never thought of that before."
Oh heaven, please.
In a day and age when we periodically get lectures about "incarnational living" and all manner of word-made-flesh moralisms, when someone starts up with the tom-foolery that they just now realized they were taking to or about flesh and blood and not to one of the Decepticons or a monster from a Hellboy movie, I have to refrain from starting a controversy about my own language.
We don't refute Dr. Doom, do we? We don't evangelize him or take him seriously. He's in a green cape and an iron mask for pete's sake. that's how we treat people who are not real to us: as objects of entertainment. And if you haven't done this, you're not guilty of objectifying anyone, so don't give me your phony unburdening -- it's patronizing.
And that's not just for Challies -- that's for all of you out there who are trying to show me how self-aware you are. "I just realized they are people," is something a 16-yr-old can say credibly. If you have had kids or have been married for long enough to have at least one good fight where you were flat-out wrong, you know people are real. You have the equipment. If you're just now using it, you have a lot more to apologize for than merely giving Saddleback an elbow to the ribcage.
I'm a real person, too: be civil enough to me to avoid this kind of sentimentality and second-rate self-examination.
I've never heard of you. And logically I can't make sense of you.
And I mean you personally -- I have plied my logic to the question of you, and I don't see the logical necessity of "you", so-called.
Am I therefore justified to disbelieve in you and be an agnostic or atheist about you personally?
That's a dragon. If that link is dead, try this pdf.
And don't say I never post any Fing Fang Foom pictures.
Can anyone find the place where the wheels come off his reasonableness?
Nice work, ed.
The GTY statement then goes on to say this:
This is not to suggest that these are the only circumstances under which people are permitted to leave a church. This is not to suggest that these are the only circumstances under which people are permitted to leave a church. There is certainly nothing wrong with moving one's membership just because another church offers better teaching or more opportunities for growth and service. But those who transfer their membership for such reasons ought to take extreme care not to sow discord or division in the church they are leaving. And such moves ought to be made sparingly. Membership in a church is a commitment that ought to be taken seriously.But those who transfer their membership for such reasons ought to take extreme care not to sow discord or division in the church they are leaving. And such moves ought to be made sparingly. Membership in a church is a commitment that ought to be taken seriously.And before I say another word, let me say this in favor of this part of the statement: it is a pastorally-motivated statement which points people to treating the local church with a certain degree of dignity in spite of its flaws, and which seeks to give people good advice about how to manage their own growth in the faith. You simply cannot fault GTY for seeking to do this for people – especially given the nature of its ministry and because they are serving the larger Christian community in a way many local churches will not.
You know: many local church will not make an exposition of Scripture a key matter for Sunday worship. They will not make the task of rightly handling Scripture a matter of basic discipleship. They will not. That is: they choose not to do it on purpose.
That’s spiritually criminal in many ways. But it’s not actually heretical: it’s merely pragmatic. It is not very edifying, but it’s also not the worst a church can do. But think about this: the approach suggested by this part of this statement is not really any more pragmatic by saying that you should do what seems, in a practical sense, "better".
I read the GTY statement, and I have sympathy for what motivates it, but I wonder whether or not it’s giving advice which takes into consideration the gravity expressed in the first half of the statement. What does it mean that leaving a church is “not done lightly” if “there is certainly nothing wrong with moving one's membership just because another church offers better teaching or more opportunities for growth and service”?
I’m not sure those things mix together well. I’ll get back to that later.
One man shouting "liar" is, well, an interesting comparison.
Here's one gem from the back half of the essay:
Carrying on from this danger of personality cults, part of me also wonders if the excitement surrounding the movement is generated because people see that Reformed theology has intrinsic truth or because they see that it works, at least along the typical American lines of numbers of bodies on seats (in Britain, we'd say `bums on seats' but that phrase rather gains in translation). Now, I am no member of that theological party which sees the Lord's blessing in the fact that every year its churches are smaller, its sermons more arcane self-important and tedious, and its people less friendly and more sour. Look, if I wanted a pretentious and incomprehensibly abstract theology with an impeccable record of emptying churches, I'd convert to Barthianism, wouldn't I? Yet not reveling in smallness and irrelevance does not require that I necessarily regard increasing numerical and financial size as accurate gauges of fidelity and truth.As they say in respectable places, read the whole thing.
Frank and I have very different views on the place of ecclesiology. I have a very low ecclesiology, almost consumed by my Christology. Frank seems to have a much higher view of the church, its role and especially its leaders than I do. This really is a quite influential difference.And the reason it needs to be addressed is not because of who said it, but because I'll bet a lot of people think this way about what I believe.
So in the spirit of a proper merciless beating, let's go at it one part at a time. Ignore the cartoons as they are merely ornaments and not commentary. I have a quote to keep up.
I have a very low ecclesiology, almost consumed by my Christology.I have no idea what that means, but it seems to me that an actually-high Christology will put the affections of Christ in the right places. Mind you: I didn't say "affections for Christ but the affections belonging to Christ.
My opinion is that an adequate Christology amplifies all the christological consequences -- and in this case, that would be the church. What we think of it, how we relate to it, whether we believe in it, how we stand trial with it and toward it, whether we endure it or nurture it or abandon it.
So while Michael says his Christology overshadows the church, I would say my Christology causes me to reconsider the church from Christ's perspective. I think that's a difference of opinion based on a difference in perception about the incarnation, and to say more than that would be to say something easily misinterpreted as unkind. The "low view" of church is a classic anabaptist consequence, which many baptists share. I can't fault Michael for being in that gaggle as that is my gaggle, too.
Frank seems to have a much higher view of the church, its role and especially its leaders than I do."Yes" before the comma, not so much after the comma. I have a high view of what the leaders are called to do. I have a high view of what a man must be -- by command of Scripture -- to lead the church, spiritually and personally.
But here's the thing: I have also spent the last 20 years leading people. There is nothing worse than leading people who, frankly, will not be lead. In a secular environment, you can just fire those people when they are sufficiently insubordinate -- something I have only had to do twice. You can't fire someone from the church -- even though bad pastors do it all the time.
In that, I think that the commands of Scripture to us are really very clear: be in submission to your leaders. They are men, and they will always make plenty of mistakes. You should love them for trying to serve Christ with their whole lives rather than with just their sunday mornings and wednesday nights. When I talk about how the layman should relate to the elders of his church, it's from the perspective that these men are called to do what it says in Titus and Timothy to do, and they can't do that if they people around them have their own ideas of how to accomplish that and fight them at every turn.
The back side of that, of course, is that they are actually called and required to be good leaders who are humble before God, and humble to men, and do not lord it over people, and take the commands to Titus and Timothy seriously. It's a one-way street, with Christ directing traffic, and we all need to follow Him or else it's just a wreck.
So again, I think a high Christology, which sees Christ's incarnation as a real thing that causes the church and requires the church as a necessary consequence of Emmanuel, causes a radical view of membership and leadership which, frankly, is a wrecking ball to the CEO pastor.
My wife and I joke all the time that a pastor is more like a kindergarten teacher than a CEO. He's more like a shepherd than he is like a king. Or at least he ought to be -- and the sheep need to follow him for their own good.
This really is a quite influential difference.I do agree with that. I'd welcome a discussion about that.
 Michael has said that I have taken a private e-mail from him and turned it into a blog post. I've been through all the posts for 2009, and I can't find it. If someone can point out to me what he's talking about, I'd be grateful.
 Michael has also said that I am "obsessed" with him, and that I only blog for the traffic. I own the second half of that, as should any blogger who can report his traffic, for example, in order to gain sponsers for his blog or to sell a book deal. However, until I reviewed the last 8 months of blogging, I did not realize how much like clockwork my posts about him have been. Most of those this year have been sympathetic, but facts are facts. To my own state of mind, it was convenient to find topics at BHT and IM, and I have been especially limited in time this year. I would call the practice: sloppy; lazy; convenient; myopic; drive-by. There was by no means any ill-will intended as the content of all but the last 5 or 6 would testify (I would argue that all but that last one testify to that; but I am honestly not trying to argue now). However, it has plainly caused Michael to be offended. I stand by the content; I reject the practice. I apologize to him for making him a truck stop for my blogging benefit. It was an ill-considered practice, and I will avoid making a habit of commenting on his blogging in the future.
Turk’s closing swipe at me from the 5th post fisking me in the last two weeks:What should trouble the reader here is what the elipsis covers -- which is (as you can see below), 'Well, I think that I have listed some pretty specific content here. Anyone who calls you "not Gospel centered" should cite an example, and we can gage it from there. I could cite an example of such a thing, but oddly I wouldn't call you "not Gospel centered"'.
..so my examples of you being “not Gospel centered” would be for the benefit of trying to explain something else to you — something which, after years, you simply cannot hear. And it’s a shame, really.
And for the record, it was iMonk who said I "have to fisk him 3 times a week". I hadn't really done anything to or about him for quite a while before that -- and his randy comments about John Piper. It's been fun, but as you can see, it doesn't work really for Michael's sense of well-being. It's slander, you see, to tell him he's not half as generous or credible as he thinks he is.
Obviously, the key to my spiritual life is to receive Godly counsel from a man who continually lies and slanders me, misses no opportunity to claim knowledge of my life and motives and who entertains delusions of being God’s agent to get truth to me.Ah. The lies and the slanders. Like the lie that your interpretation of Timmy Brister's reading list is that it is too narrow -- not diverse enough.
I am sure neither you nor Timmy will be the same. For the record, Michael has e-mailed me his denial of that statement by me, and I accept it. We'll keep that on file for the next time he goes off on Young Reformed types and their narrow vision for the theological world.
Since we're setting the record straight, I see myself as a fellow blogger who, frankly, thinks you have never once in your life received a citicism you thought was constructive -- especially when you're wrong. Your tolerance for people who think you are honestly wrong can only be measured in microvolts -- which is why I send criticism in megawatts. I like to see your meter ping.
Frank, go find a pastor. Show him what you’ve written about me these many years. All of it. Look at him and tell him that you are in the will of God when you’re doing this, and I am out of it for not listening to you.Mine always has -- and still does even as I am seeking a new church. Thanks for asking. When you can return the favor, and find a pastor you can tolerate who will also tell you the truth, let the rest of us know and we'll be glad to receive your high-handed rebukes with a light dusting of credibility.