The Current State of Calvary Chapel: Part 3

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132 Responses

  1. Everstudy says:

    In my area, it looks like most CC’s are in both the CGN and CCA, except for Calvary Old Path (formerly Calvary Chapel Cypress). I think their new name speaks volumes.

  2. DavidM says:

    One of the positives about B.B. is that he realizes that the “rapture” is NOT the Gospel, something the old guard will never be able to grasp.

  3. Jean says:

    Michael and Duane,

    “The changing demographics of the surrounding area combined with a tired “liturgy” that catered to the age of the crowd had led to a downturn in both attendance and giving.”

    Does this mean that as people grow older their worship music taste changes with age, and if a congregation is catering to a young crowd with a particular style of music, that people may leave as their taste in music changes with age? I

    I’m wondering if this is a general rule and, if so, how congregations can/should manage this phenomenon?

  4. Xenia says:

    I imagine that most CC’s will thrive or decline based on the personality of the local CC pastor, just like any other evangelical congregation. If the pastor is a “good teacher,” local people will attend if basic evangelicalism is their cup of tea.

    CC is the group that popularized trendy church services, with rock music and casual clothing. At the time, they thought they were being all things to all people. Problem is, the style they adopted (and other churches, unfortunately, copied) is yesterday’s news and is appealing to fewer and fewer people. Who are the “all people” they are trying to attract nowadays?

    So CC’s run by younger pastors are trying to attract hipsters, I guess. In a decade, hipsterism will be as old and stale as CCM is nowadays and they will have to come up with some new persona, which they will call “New Wine Skins.”

    This is what happens when you design your worship service to appeal to the random unbeliever who might pop in rather than preserving your worship service as a place where *believers* gather to worship and pray to God and receive the Sacraments. Since the focus is an appeal to the world there is no sense of holiness or sacredness. Just a hall with a big screen, a band and a lecturer telling stories about himself. Might as well stay home and fix pancakes for the kids.

    Of course, not all evangelical churches are like this but almost all of them have been affected.

  5. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I think Xenia nailed a lot of this.

    When Brian came on board at CCCM he fired the long time worship leader and made some necessary changes in equipment.
    There was quite a backlash and a lot of people went down the road…

  6. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Is the music style in church a new phenomenon? Did my parent’s generation demand jitterbug worship music?

  7. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I would say that the worship wars in evangelicalism have been as intense as the doctrinal ones…

  8. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia is dead on in #4.

    MLD – No, it’s not new. Worship styles, musical genres and instrumentation have caused controversy at least throughout the history of the American church.

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – so there was Jitterbug worship music?

  10. Josh the Baptist says:

    Not sure what jitterbug genre would be, but yes, worship music has been written in all different styles throughout history.

  11. victorious says:

    Hipster or spinster , if there is worship in Spirit and truth then an encounter and interaction with Immanuel and His people is beautiful and transforming.

  12. victorious says:

    A trio of “significant” positives is a great thing.

    My comments on two of them.

    “He is much more open to the greater Body of Christ and hearing from and working with it.”

    Intentionality in playing one’s part in the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17 is a great thing.

    “The works overseas have a real vitality that is missing here.” The global center of the church shifted awhile ago. There is a local vitality among the people who support and invest in the vitality over there.

  13. victorious says:

    My only concern is the capacity for emotional/spiritual maturity and relational health whether CCA, CCGN or spinoff of either. It is the conflicts and type of communication that happens that show to what degree or lack thereof one apprehends and is governed by the command to love one another. The implementation of the great command needs to go hand in hand with the pursuit of the great commission.

  14. Steve says:

    I’ll keep Brian in my prayers. Its sounds like he is a godly man. Personally, if I were him, I would try to separate the business from the ministry. First regarding the business, it seems CC and the dove just seems to have become a brand. I would take hold of this brand if it truly belongs to Costa Mesa and license them out to CCA and make them pay for their use. A business needs to pay its bills first and foremost.

  15. John 20:29 says:

    Thanks to MLD, I will spend the rest of the day trying to imagine what jitterbug worship music would sound like… that and the pastor in a zootsuit …

  16. Josh the Baptist says:

    Like this?

  17. Pointing out empty parking spots and pews misses the point. Anyone who measures numbers first is measuring popularity and customer base, not quality. What some call hemorrhaging (losing life blood) others would call liposuction (cutting the fat).

    These kinds of transitions and changes take lots of time. It’s only been a little over four years since Chuck passed. It takes a few years for things to settle before rebuilding can happen, and I think we are just entering the rebuilding stage, which is why there isn’t much to point to in terms of “success.”

    CCA absolutely has a branded identity for people to connect with. IMHO it is that brand and identity that is the problem. When a church/movement builds a brand for the sake of gathering people, it has things backwards. When churches intentionally build a culture around a pastor or brand, it also has to build metrics to measure the success. What is lost in all of this is actually creating followers of Jesus. What happens instead of creating people who follow the culture of the church that is supposed to be following Jesus. Ugh, I could go no because this is a pet peeve.

    Creating a culture on purpose automatically creates an us vs. them mindset. Just look at the Apple vs everyone else wars. I’m not anti-culture, I just think a culture should be free to develop dynamically, not from the top down.

    If anything, I’m hoping that CGN is going to create a framework only, and let a new culture be built on that. And again, that takes time. Losing people is not automatically failure. If it comes to it, selling properties is not automatically failure. The failure occurs when we hang on to those things when we shouldn’t any longer. People who see these things as loss and failure are short-sighted and again the reason for the CC culture split.

    Re-reading this I think I might sound too much like some entrenched and inflexible “blessed subtraction, left foot of fellowship, there’s the door” kind of guy. I’m really not. I know that people have been hurt by all of this. I know that people have felt discounted and dismissed as things have changed in their church(es).

    But I keep coming back to John 15 and the story of the vine. If left untended, which I think CC was for a long time, it can grow and grow and become this huge thing for the ignorant vinedresser to say, “Look at what I’ve grown! It’s huge!” But the fruit is bland and kind of useless. Now to make good fruit from this monstrosity, it has to carefully and strategically be pruned, else it die a quick death. Better to prune, train (trane?), and tend the vine from the very beginning so that it is healthy and makes quality fruit and not become a bloated thing.

    And I think I just came up with the passage for our first home group this week.

  18. Hipster or spinster – I’m totally stealing that.

  19. Josh the Baptist says:

    “What some call hemorrhaging (losing life blood) others would call liposuction (cutting the fat).”

    Blessed subtraction? Hmm.

    The problem comes in when your organization has expenses for 5,000 people, but now only has 2,500 attenders. Big changes have to occur.

  20. Xenia says:

    That’s how people talk in churchland.

    If your church is packed, it’s a sign of a movement of the Holy Spirit.
    If your church attendance is sparse, your group is the Faithful Remnant.

  21. Xenia says:

    People don’t attend church (any type of church) because most people are not believers and society has reached the point where they no longer have to pretend that they are.

  22. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia nails it, again.

  23. Ms. ODM says:

    I won’t remain camped out in one place — I choose to follow the Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night — until I reach the Celestial City. The folly of the Catholic Church in erecting a building on every “holy site” should teach us all a lesson. Soon the call to “Come out of her My people” will resound. Most will stay put — the true Remnant will go outside the Camp with Jesus.

  24. John 20:29 says:

    #21 – these true words should give us pause…. a lawless society, one that doesn’t have an underlying “fear” of God, is a frightening prospect… are we dissolving as a nation? I have seen children in communities where there is no parental supervision … they form their own societies called gangs…. do adults do something similar? Will we go back to finding our identity in tribalism? Warring tribes again?

  25. Corby says:

    JtB – that kind of speaks to my point, that perhaps it shouldn’t have gotten that big in the first place.

  26. Josh the Baptist says:

    Yeah Corby, but the sheer economics are a major issue now.

  27. Jean says:

    “I choose to follow the Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night — until I reach the Celestial City.”

    Apparently Mrs. ODM is not alone.

    Joints for Jesus, anyone?

    http://www.newsweek.com/joints-jesus-bless-church-marijuana-718068

  28. Corby says:

    JtB. I know. There is no easy answer. When something gets that big, pastors/leaders are held captive to doing what is needed to maintain the thing and not easily able to make changes for quality over quantity, because keeping quantity requires being consumer-centric and not depth-centric. I mean, when you read what Jesus has to say about the cost of being His disciple, it isn’t a fun-sounding thing.

    And also for the record, I’m not anti-big-church. I think big church can be done while intentionally producing mature and fruitful disciples. It’s just way harder.

  29. ( |o )====::: says:

    Life after Calvary Chapel, having returned to simply following Jesus

    https://68.media.tumblr.com/e99f9d930c55e45b4a0733c1b63c794d/tumblr_p2g5k9ivya1sh491mo1_1280.jpg

  30. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Ms ODM – I don’t know what you would be following – God no longer resides or travels in the cloud or fire. He lives in the believer.

  31. John 20:29 says:

    I think a lot of us who claim Christ have thought of Sunday morning as a combination of worship and evangelism, the more that come, the better… Sunday evenings were more oriented to family (God’s family) Sunday School before the service was for teaching the Faith and Wednesday was for prayer…
    That demise seems to coincide with the confused place we evangelical fundies find ourselves today… The older I get, the more I appreciate, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

    I heard the Pope quoted as saying the serpent in the Garden was the beginning of fake news… love it! Hath God said…?
    Our problem is not a matter of, did I hear correctly, so much as it is, does God really know what He’s talking about… or so it seems to me

  32. Steve says:

    The folly of the Catholic Church in erecting a building on every “holy site” should teach us all a lesson.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    This sounds more like CC with practically every single big time CC pastor having to build their own facility with a vision to build coming directly from that pillar of fire. Isn’t there enough ex Catholic church building they could either lease or buy from?

  33. descended says:

    MLD

    Haven’t you ever heard of The Rounders?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNxfayNC_zQ

    That lady is very talented bassist.

  34. The New Victor says:

    Pipe organs weren’t used in churches for the majority of church history. One wonders how many cranky olde men were back then who bemoaned the worship liturgy going to the dogs…

  35. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean, Michael, Xenia

    “The changing demographics of the surrounding area combined with a tired “liturgy” that catered to the age of the crowd had led to a downturn in both attendance and giving.”

    I can only speak for myself in this matter. I will never… and I mean never, forget the part that CC played in my salvation and in my life for some years. With all his faults, I still honor Chuck Smith both for what he did and what he allowed to be done at CCCM. Oddly, from my old friend DavidM to my new friend, Michael, CC has been involved. There’s a mystery for you… and a blessing.

    I came to believe some years ago that if you marry the “present” you will be a widow in the future. What I look for and desire is the sacred. I find the sacred in the reality of the Incarnation. I hold to the creeds not because they proclaim orthodoxy (although they do) or because they are ancient (although they are) but because they encapsulate in words the Incarnation. I am a sacramental Christian because the sacraments are essentially signs, symbols and means of grace in which the Incarnation continues to be made real in this time and place. I prefer a set liturgy because it is a continuum of the Church in history, which I see as another “sign” of the Incarnation.

    All this is to say, I think we miss the point when we concentrate on the externals of boomer churches, or hipster churches, or this kind of music or that kind of music. Additionally, I think we also miss the mark when theology becomes an end in and of itself. A hammer can be a tool that we use to build, or it can be an tool used to tear down. Worse than that, it can be used as a weapon to inflict harm. I would hope that we would use theology to build, uplift and nourish. In the beginning, CCCM did that, even if in a simplistic manner. Somewhere along the way, that changed. I consider it a warning to all of us. It can happen to us as well. The externals have little to do with what makes a church effective. At the end of it all, what will make us effective is not the externals… it’s about whether we have a heart for God and others.

  36. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “At the end of it all, what will make us effective is not the externals… it’s about whether we have a heart for God and others.”

    I enjoyed with a lot of your #35. Focusing on your last sentence, it is theology, is it not, which manifests itself in the kind of heart one has for God and others.

    You seem to frequently imply that theology and the heart exist independently of one another. I don’t see a separation. And for that reason, Scripture repeatedly warns against defective theology.

  37. DavidM says:

    Duane #35 “it’s about whether we have a heart for God and others.”

    Precisely. That is the evidence of our faith. It has to do with the heart. Well said.

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    #37 David

    I was thinking about you and Michael when I wrote that…

  39. Duane Arnold says:

    #36 Jean

    When theology is “weaponized” it become heartless…

  40. bob1 says:

    #35

    Beautifully put!

  41. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Well done @ 35…

  42. Michael says:

    “Focusing on your last sentence, it is theology, is it not, which manifests itself in the kind of heart one has for God and others.”

    No… a thousand times, no.

    I have known so many with aberrant theology that loved God and people much more than I do…and known great theologians who were utterly heartless.

    Love is the work of the Spirit…doctrine has it’s place but it won’t produce love.

  43. Jean says:

    I have to be more concise than normal, because I’m on a mobile device.

    #42,

    Fruit inspecting is unreliable. Only God knows the heart. The whole wolves in sheep’s clothing allegory is directly against fruit inspecting. The wolf comes cloaked as the holiest, most loving, wisest guy or gal around.

    All we know for sure is someone’s confession.

    People of all religions do good deeds in the world. But, we know what God thinks of our works, and the Bible calls them filthy rags.

  44. Duane Arnold says:

    “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

    I think “understand all mysteries and all knowledge” includes theology…

  45. Michael says:

    “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;”
    (Colossians 1:9–11 ESV)

  46. Steve says:

    When theology is “weaponized” it become heartless…
    ___________________________________________________________________
    The only way this can happen is if the theology was defective in the first place. I’ve seen this kind of thing happen a lot but good theology is the remedy to bad theology and I have to agree with Jean on this.

  47. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This is why progressive christians are so willing to let Gandhi and the Dali Lama into the christian family – nice guys who love god — just not sure which god but if you are trying hard, hey you are in.

  48. Dan from Georgia says:

    MLD, yes those nice guys! And progressives tend to see Jesus as nothing more than a nice guru who only comes against Pharisees and conservatives. There is no sin in their world except what they define as sin.

  49. John 20:29 says:

    The mark of a growing Christian, as I see it, is their ability to meld sound Doctrine with grace… Our Lord is described as a rock and a cornerstone – both unyielding , the rock intended to trip up the legalistic and the cornerstone to keep the Church true as it builds…

  50. Duane Arnold says:

    Amazing to see those who react (usually negative) to the concept of Christian love…

  51. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, perhaps you rubbed your eyes with Vaseline – where did you see anyone react negatively to Christian love?

  52. Duane Arnold says:

    No vaseline… seeing very clearly.

  53. Michael says:

    The assertion was made that it is theology that creates a heart for God and others.
    The Scriptures tell us (in the passage Duane quoted from (1 Cor) that one can have the best theology and the soundest doctrine and still be without love.

    Then we get the usual bullspit comparing us to liberals and false religions.

    It’s getting old…

  54. Michael says:

    I’ll say this for all to read…if God in His sovereign will decides to let some heathens in because they were nice, I won’t object a whit.

  55. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I hate to disagree once again, but having a heart for God and others is a theological position – it is a theological teaching that one must get right. It is taught throughout the scriptures as a learned position, with consequences for failure to properly apply that doctrine. In this case, doctrine does matter… greatly.

    The fact that Jean’s challenge was so easily dismissed is quite telling. He asked why some held the position that theology and the heart were held independently from each other? From that, you would think he pooped in the living room.

  56. Michael says:

    “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part,but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

    So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
    (1 Corinthians 13:1–13 ESV)

    How much clearer can that be?

  57. Jean says:

    I would think that proper theology would, through teaching and preaching, convey a proper understanding of Christian love, as well as the Spirit, who works in the Christian both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    Moreover, Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.”

    Without proper theology, man calls good evil and evil good. So, I don’t know any standard other than proper theology to discern what Christian love means.

  58. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael,
    Yep, I have learned those doctrinal positions on love many times. When I am not expressing Christian love, I am taken back to the classroom to get my theology straightened out.

    Even you constant insistence is doing the same as you keep pointing us back to the importance of not only correct theology on Christian love but an absolute, narrow and precise doctrinal stand. It cannot be more clear – right doctrine leads to Christian love.

  59. Michael says:

    Why no interaction with the text?

    So…which of the 20,000 plus takes on doctrine produces love?

  60. bob1 says:

    “I would think that proper theology would, through teaching and preaching, convey a proper understanding of Christian love, as well as the Spirit, who works in the Christian both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

    I think you would think incorrectly.

    What Michael said #59

    Which doctrinal formula releases the magic pixie dust of Christian love, anyway?

  61. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, are you kidding? The doctrine of love your neighbor.

  62. Jean says:

    “Why no interaction with the text?

    If you’re referring to 1 Cor 13, here’s my interaction: I love the entire chapter. Does it say anywhere that such love comes apart from the Spirit’s work in a Christian? It appears that love is connected with faith and hope.

  63. Michael says:

    “Does it say anywhere that such love comes apart from the Spirit’s work in a Christian? ”

    I’m the one who has contended that love is a work of the Spirit, not theology.

    I do not diminish the place of theology, but the notion that it produces love is one I heartily reject.

  64. Steve says:

    I confess, I personally have weaponized 1 Corinthian 13 by trying to convince others of its truth. I am guilty of this but this is only because I haven’t really understood the text and obeyed it. If I did, I would have realized that love does not insist on its own way. So the correct theology convicts me of my wrong motives and this is the Spirit in action. Ok maybe this will help some.

  65. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – if it comes so naturally by the spirit why are Christians (not unbelievers) commanded to love God and love neighbor?
    Why does James teach so much in this area? Why do we not see any NT statements that passively suggest ‘stand back because you won’t believe how your love for others will automatically change.
    I know you old group held to some teaching of the third use of the law – perhaps the new group has no teaching on the third use.

  66. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Must you extrapolate and twist every damn thing I say and add to it things I do not say?
    I’m way too tired for such foolishness.

    The fact is that the passage I have posted says that there is a possibility that doctrinally sound people can be loveless.

    My old tribe was a lot like your tribe…obsessed with theological precision.

    It also harbored some the meanest, most arrogant men it’s ever been my displeasure to meet.

    Can and should sound doctrine inform and even instruct love?
    Absolutely.

    Will it automatically do so?
    No.
    Emphatically, no.

  67. Steve says:

    Michael, is doctrine something just to inform and instruct? It needs to be obeyed to have any real value.

  68. Michael says:

    Are you obedient, Steve?

    My obedience is usually a result of age and lack of opportunity to sin….

    My point is simple.

    I know saints who loved God and others deeply who struggled with even cardinal doctrines of the faith.
    In time, God helped them with that…but they were theological train wrecks for years.

  69. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, yes there can be abuse but you cannot get around that Mr the commands to love God and love neighbor are law and a whole theology is laid out on the who, when and where.
    Without the theology / doctrine, there is no “Christian” love.
    But, I will drop it there.

  70. Steve says:

    I try to be obedient, but I’m not perfect. I want to be obedient, but I fail at times. Obedience though is more than just deeds. Its submission of your entire thoughts, words and deeds. In other words its everything and that includes believing correctly. Correct doctrine is the only thing that informs me of my sin so that I can repent.

  71. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    One last thought. We really need to have the discussion about “what is Christian love. Excommunication can be an example of great Christian love.
    Most look towards the more lovey dovey actions.
    Now done 🙂

  72. Michael says:

    Steve,

    So which sect do you belong to that has the correct doctrine?

  73. Steve says:

    Excommunication can be an example of great Christian love.
    __________________________________________________________
    It certainly can but unfortunately usually 99.9999999999% of the time its usually just a big gigantic power trip by some of the most arrogant men on the planet. Ok, I’m done as well. 🙂

  74. Steve says:

    Michael,

    I never said I belong to a sect that has the “correct” doctrine. There is a lot of leeway in what is taught much more so than what you would find in a LCMS. I go to an independent reformed church that is probably more evangelical than reformed and I am comfortable there. We are not perfect by any stretch and I am not 100% sure the doctrine is perfect but I trust that they are doing the best they can. Sometimes there are errors in doctrine and its usually dealt with in love. This is all I can say. Personally I try to judge what is coming from the pulpit with my Bible. What more can I do? I view doctrine probably more in an idealistic way in that hopefully we are growing and learning what is correct and not going away from that.

  75. Jean says:

    Good comments from everyone. I will leave my final comments also:

    If one doesn’t understand what Christian love is (which can only be learned from theology revealed in Scripture), then one will not understand what God’s love is. If theology doesn’t matter, then God (His nature and attributes) becomes wholly or partially a projection of my own values and experiences. This can take someone into perilous territory.

    I heard a pastor very recently say he doesn’t usually pray to the Father, but to the Lord, because a lot of people have earthly father issues. This, despite the teaching of Jesus that Christians pray to the Father. This was this pastor’s seeker sensitive, “loving” approach, rather than a sound biblical theology-based approach.

    When if the relationships within the Trinity and the relationship of Christ and His Church are both taught in Scripture, not only for their own sake (which they are), but also to show us God’s will for the temporal relationships of the family and marriage, respectively? If this is true, then a correct understanding of godly love appears important, because it underpins these relationships.

  76. Duane Arnold says:

    “If theology doesn’t matter…”

    No one has said that… it is a false premise.

  77. Duane Arnold says:

    Let’s be realistic. Can we say that it is evident that there was not a developed systematic theology in the first century? Most churches in the first century did not even have a NT canon. Around the end of the second century, with a good portion of the NT canon in hand, systematic theology began to be developed, reaching a more mature state by the fourth century. So, what are we to say about the Christians of those first 300 years? We know what others said of them – “Behold how they love one another”. How could this be without a developed systematic theology?

    Theology explains and leads us to greater understanding. It is not, however, an end in itself.

  78. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, “No one has said that… it is a false premise.”

    Would that be similar to the false charge @50 – “Amazing to see those who react (usually negative) to the concept of Christian love…”?

  79. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well you have added the word ‘systematic’ in an attempt to lead the conversation toward your own type of fundamentalism.
    Jean and I have only spoken of theology and doctrine dictating the who, what and where of loving neighbor. Without sound doctrine we would not know that this is the will of God.

  80. Duane Arnold says:

    #79

    And how was that sound doctrine explicated in the first 300 years of the Christian era? I could be wrong, but I don’t think they had the Book of Concord…

  81. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    #81 – no, but the stuff in the Book of Concord is what was spoken and taught in those first 300 years.
    Because there was no formalized combined NT does not mean that teaching (theology and doctrine) was not happening — even in your words systematically.

    Someone knew the book of James or 1 John (choose your own favorite) very well from someone up the chain who had been taught by the apostles who may have been reading from manuscripts and taught it whether he had a written copy or not — the teaching was out there – the writers had written it all down.

    The Fathers of those centuries were able to say “this is what we believe, teach and confess” and do do with authority. They taught the doctrine of “love thy neighbor” and perhaps gave a pop quiz at the end. 🙂

  82. Jean says:

    Duane,

    The first and second generations of Christians made a marvelous use of the existing Jewish Scriptures to understand God, Christ, love, and other theological topics. It is pretty much all there in the Jewish Scriptures, once the veil was lifted. Have you read and noticed how many OT quotes, allusions and echos there are in the NT?

    Easter morning: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [i.e., Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

  83. Duane Arnold says:

    “no, but the stuff in the Book of Concord is what was spoken and taught in those first 300 years.”

    That has to be the most amazingly anachronistic statement I have seen in a long time…

  84. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The teachings and the scriptures were out there – the fathers quoted from the scriptures. What wasn’t out there was bound copies as we see as our Bible today.
    Duane, to not try to falsely lead others here to believe that the fathers were theologically flying by the seat of their pants.

  85. Duane Arnold says:

    “falsely lead others…”

    Sorry, but you simply do not know what you are talking about… and, as usual, you try to put words in other people’s mouth that have not been said.

  86. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I guess that’s one mans opinion – thank you for that.
    I will take your Beatles’ theology under consideration. 🙂

  87. Josh the Baptist says:

    Beatles theology…

    I wanna hold your hand?

  88. Michael says:

    “I heard a pastor very recently say he doesn’t usually pray to the Father, but to the Lord, because a lot of people have earthly father issues. This, despite the teaching of Jesus that Christians pray to the Father. This was this pastor’s seeker sensitive, “loving” approach, rather than a sound biblical theology-based approach.”

    That’s called a “pastoral” approach and I thank God for men wise enough to use it.

  89. Steve says:

    Thanks MLD and Jean. Although I am in no way a Lutheran, I have to say you guys won this debate hands down.

  90. Michael says:

    “Duane, to not try to falsely lead others here to believe that the fathers were theologically flying by the seat of their pants.”

    Why don’t you quit accusing a pastor (with a doctorate in patristics) of trying to “falsely lead” others in anything before we have a real problem here.

  91. Michael says:

    “but the stuff in the Book of Concord is what was spoken and taught in those first 300 years.”

    That’s almost funny…

  92. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – I was yanking Duane’s chain about the BoC – he is the one who brought it up.
    You ignore his false charges and his anti Lutheran ad libs — but that’s OK.

  93. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – Beatles theology =
    1.) you do not need to confess Jesus, just be on a journey as the Beatles’ traveled through Eastern thought
    2.) you can even teach falsely about Jesus by claiming you are greater, more influential and more popular than Jesus
    3.) All You Need is Love

  94. Michael says:

    MLD,

    No one here is teaching what you propose @94 and it’s shameful to accuse someone who has spent their lives in the ministry of doing so.

    I will not tolerate this anymore.

    Period.

  95. Josh the Baptist says:

    Ahh, All You need is Love! Totally wasn’t getting it.

  96. Xenia says:

    When trying to win an argument it is best not to exaggerate the views of the other person.

    This has been my experience.

  97. Michael says:

    I’m about to make some big changes here.

    Jean made a statement that I believe is scripturally false, that being that theology creates love.

    I have no problem with healthy debate…but I have huge problems with what has followed.

    In response we get accusations that we are claiming that doctrine and theology don’t matter and a host of other accusations and nonsense.

    I simply will not tolerate this anymore.
    I’m mad as I’ve been in a very long time.

  98. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This will be my last comment on this thread so I do not cause distress – but this all began with Duane’s charge that those who were disagreeing with you two we reacting negatively about Christian love — which was a total false, and unchallenged charge on his part — but he has a doctorate.

  99. Xenia says:

    An example would be the Salvation Army which has, in my opinion, terrible theology. Yet they are the ones who feed the hungry and house the homeless in our town. They are the ones who show up at disaster scenes. The 2nd most helpful (loving) religious group in town is the Catholics with Catholic Charities. They are also the ones peacefully holding up signs in front of Planned Parenthood. (I am only talking about groups that believe in Jesus Christ. As for virtuous HIndus, etc., I cannot and will not speculate.)

    I think they will hear “Well done, good and faithful servants” from our Lord.

  100. Michael says:

    MLD,

    It’s not false.
    Every time we speak of love, you speak of doctrine as if the two were the same.

    They’re not.

  101. Michael says:

    Xenia @100…amen.

  102. Xenia says:

    The “theology creates love” statement seems to say that only Christians with good theology are capable of truly loving one’s neighbor. Is this what you actually observe among people? You have never seen an unbeliever show love towards a neighbor in need? Will you say s/he does it out of bad motivations and is therefore not true love? Must their acts of love and kindness have an asterisk attached – “This selfless act was not done by someone not holding to LCMS theology so please disregard.”

    The Orthodox believe all humans still contain the Image of God, however marred. This Image manifests itself even in the lives of unbelievers. Without belief in Christ they are not saved by their works but the goodness of God can still shine forth and often does.

  103. Xenia says:

    Pardon the double negative up there.

  104. Xenia says:

    Bad theology can discourage good works. I have seen plenty of that in my 66 years of church attendance.

  105. Michael says:

    Xenia @ 103…you almost persuadeth me to join your tribe at times…

  106. Steve says:

    Xenia I’m not quite sure where this discussion on doctrine went awry. But I have a hunch. I personally feel there are some philosophical under pinning on the different definitions or understandings of doctrine that is the culprit. To me it is simply a matter whether you believe there are two centralities (heart and mind) or just one centrality that should control and dominate a person. Put another way is subjective and objective truth 2 forms of truth of the same coin or are they two different truths completely? Those that are advocating for one centrality don’t see a competition between the heart and the mind. Others view the heart and the mind completely separate. I personally view this idea as false but I can certainly be wrong. My whole point is that I believe we talk past each other because we don’t understand the others philosophical viewpoint.

  107. John 20:29 says:

    well, Scripture declares that the heart is deceitful and we are told to renew our minds… that leads me to conclude that they are two separate parts of our being… i think that it is our heart that responds, but it is our mind that processes and guides
    is doctrine what produces love? no, but sound doctrine renews our minds and guards and guides our emotions (we can have strong emotions, including anger and not sin, if our minds are well fed) …. IMHO – but then I also believe in the second birth 🙂

  108. Jean says:

    Just to clarify,

    Here is my original statement: “Focusing on your last sentence, it is theology, is it not, which manifests itself in the kind of heart one has for God and others.”

    Christianity, in contrast to some other religions, such as Judaism, is “creedal.” By that I do not mean, simply creeds (although we have those too), but it is a religion based on beliefs. Why? Because we are saved by grace through faith, not works. Therefore, we teach and confess a faith, which is not hollow but consists of doctrines, such as the Trinity, Two natures of Christ, justification, etc.

    You simply cannot separate doctrine and faith or faith and love in the Christian religion.

    Anyone can do a “loving” work in the City of Man, but since God is all in all, God works even through pagans to deliver temporal blessings to humanity. That is part of the doctrine of vocation. God uses all kinds of folks from all religions to carry out his providential rule of the world.

    A Christian and a Muslim could do the very same work, of the very same quality, with the very same love of his object.

    But I was responding to Duane’s statement: “At the end of it all, what will make us effective is not the externals… it’s about whether we have a heart for God and others.”

    Once you put God in the equation, then our “heart for God” is formed, sanctified, worked in by the Spirit in accordance with proper theology of God and His revealed Word. That is what the whole Reformation was about in a nutshell.

    I saw the watering down of the importance of theology and wanted to have a discussion. I’m sorry it has annoyed Michael. That is not my intent.

    But theology is not opposed to love. That is a false dichotomy. People have been martyred, and wars have been waged over theology. Please, let’s not discount the treasures of our faith, which have been handed down to us, through the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors in the faith, with a mindset of “let’s get on the kingdom building stuff.”

  109. Steve says:

    “I will put my laws into their minds,

    and write them on their hearts, ”

    Something to chew on.

  110. Michael says:

    I’m not annoyed, I’m outraged. It’s about to hit the fan big time so I’m getting off before I sin.

  111. Xenia says:

    I should clarify:

    I see two uses for the phrase “Christian love.”

    1. Acts of love done by a Christian, no matter how terrible their theology. Again, I am limiting this to “genuine” Christians. (And I am not the one to make this determination.)

    2. Acts of love done by Christ through unbelievers. All good things come from God, including all acts of goodness. (Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, James 1:17) All humans are created in the Image of God and therefore, reflect some of His goodness. So the good works of a Hindu person are not the good works of a Christian and so are not “Christian good works” in my first definition of the phrase. But his good works are the good works of Christ being done through him because all goodness is of Christ.

    I have to continually repeat this because people want to misunderstand: I am NOT saying that the good works of Christ-deniers will save them. But I am saying that Christ can accomplish good works through unbelievers and therefore, we can use the phrase “Christian (“from Christ) good works.

    We are all created with the Image of God. At my Church, we are often doused with the smoke of incense and we often bow towards each other, recognizing the Image present in each human. The image can become very, very marred. Baptism un-mars the Image… for a time, anyway.

    When I see some homeless person, the temptation is to be dismissive but then I have to remember that this person too bears the Image of God.

  112. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Please let me know who said, “let’s get on the kingdom building stuff”?

  113. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Please let me know who advocated “the watering down of theology”?

  114. Xenia says:

    I think in the original discussion, theology was used in the sense of “theology among Christians,” not “theology among practitioners of the world religions.”

    Among Christians, theology can affect good works because I have heard a lot of sermonizing to the affect that we should be cautious of doing good works because it’s too Catholicky. Yes, I have really heard this. So the desire in the heart of the Christian to go forth and feed the hungry, etc. is squelched by certain theologies.

    Groups can also err by claiming good works is all there is.

  115. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I propose, based on Michael’s last comment, that we end this particular discussion.

    Hopefully in the future, as these kinds of topics come up again, we can all endeavor to comment clearly and read each other’s comments in the best light.

    I will commit to the BBHE principle: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. So, bear with me, believe in me, hope for me and endure me; and I will do the same.

  116. Duane Arnold says:

    #116 Jean

    Agreed…

  117. pstrmike says:

    Very late to the party here.

    At times some of you on this blog sound more like the Calvary Chapel that you love to criticize than the reality of what Calvary Chapel is today.

    Xenia,

    “The Orthodox believe all humans still contain the Image of God, however marred. This Image manifests itself even in the lives of unbelievers. Without belief in Christ they are not saved by their works but the goodness of God can still shine forth and often does.”

    The more I study, the more this doctrine becomes clearer. Almost thou persuadeth me as well. But I’m not standing for 90 minutes… 😉 The Quakers have a similar doctrine which they call the “Inner light.”

  118. Xenia says:

    pstrmike, the Greeks have pews. 🙂

  119. pstrmike says:

    LoL!!!

  120. Jim Jacobson says:

    Michael, could you define “holiness codes” -I guess I am missing that.

  121. John 20:29 says:

    Chewing on Steve’s 110….
    The law processes through our minds as theology or organized doctrine and settles in the new heart that responds to God’s laws … (I think the law is written on the mind, not the heart) the promised changes to a Believer’s heart are an interesting study…. Without the new heart, what does a mind full of law produce?

    While I agree with the observation somewhere up the thread that unbelievers can bless us, can do good deeds that benefit humanity, I do come up against the Scripture that says our “righteousness” is filthy rags by God’s measure of righteousness, so I’m not sure that good people (the ones I like. ?) will merit Eternal life…. it comes down to a question, did you learn of Christ? If so, what did you do about that? That said, those who had no knowledge of Jesus Christ will be judged fairly by God – of that I have no doubt…

  122. Steve says:

    (I think the law is written on the mind, not the heart) the promised changes to a Believer’s heart are an interesting study…. Without the new heart, what does a mind full of law produce?

    _____________________________________________________________________
    “Hebrews 10:16”. No need to question this. The law is written on the “heart” according to scripture. But I do agree with you that this is the new heart not the old one. Now, maybe I am dead wrong but I think this is where the 100% sinner, 100% saint doctrine comes in. We still have that old heart of stone until God fully removes it. In the mean time regenerated believers I think have that new heart of flesh.

  123. Kevin H says:

    Jim,

    Michael can certainly answer for himself, but based on the things I regularly hear in church, I would imagine he is referring to things like no drinking (most especially for pastors) and no cursing (again most especially for pastors), even faux curse words like frickin’ or sucks. And maybe even other things like no Purpose Driven or The Shack and a strict adherence to emphasizing the Rapture and supporting Israel.

  124. ( |o )====::: says:

    How about we focus on the things Jesus taught in The Beatitudes?
    There’s plenty there for a lifetime of adventure and blessing!

  125. John 20:29 says:

    Steve, FWIW, the ESV of Heb. 10:16 is.
    “….I will put my laws on their hearts and write them on their minds.” as I read this, it seems to indicate that our hearts will respond, hopefully, treasure, God’s laws?
    not a sticking point here, though. ? our hearts AND minds are where God intends His laws to be, eh?

  126. John 20:29 says:

    G, would you place the Beatitudes within the laws of God?
    I think I lean that direction.. how could one be blessed breaking His laws?

  127. Jean says:

    The Beatitudes are in no way, shape, or form laws. They are blessings bestowed upon Christians by Christ.

  128. Steve says:

    John 20:29 @ 126. Thanks for pointing this out. Apparently different translations have reversed this order but totally agree with your assessment. And yep, heart and mind together is where God’s law should be.

  129. John 20:29 says:

    Didn’t say they “shaped or formed”… the actions and trials endured that bless do not skirt God’s norms and standards… Now, if we are being legalistic, “the poor in spirit” attitude is not codified, so there is no law for or against – but surely the one who i s poor in spirit has not transgressed any law …. at least not in that regard

    Point being, God’s laws do not countermand good ….

  130. Jim Jacobson says:

    Kevin @124… I think it probably comes down to just one of those issues.

  131. Spencer says:

    You haven’t lived till CCCM staff think you work for opposing counsel, tap your phone, vehicles, home, stalk you a year or three, embed legal shills to go thru your retreat luggage, home, mobile device, restroom habits, and collude with political and other non-church mega-biz to illegally breach your life. BTW, anybody else notice the careful edit of youtube’s Brodersen induction, redirecting vid to the stage, when strongarm ‘elders’ assumed trouble from a less savvy attendee. Next bible study, ask how many beside your group leader are Legal Dept staff or assignees. Try taking a prayer leader’s photo. They’ll freak. Ask who their DNC lobbyists are. A volatile faq. But SoCA 501c3 corruption is as reknown as it is criminal. Anything for money and power. Best advice is to let God field their own actions’ indicting their eternity. Woke.

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