Entrepreneurs and the Church: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
The movements seem to come in waves. They differ in name and in practice, but they all hold out the promise that they will save the Church. The was the youth movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the Charismatic Renewal movement, the Church Growth movement of the 1980s and 1990s, the Emerging Church movement and, now, the Missional Church movement. All of these movements have left their marks upon the Church for good and ill, but none have proven to be the promised panacea for the revitalization of the Church.
I think there is a reason why that is the case and it has to do with the single common feature that appears to run through all these movements to a lesser or greater degree. They are, at heart, entrepreneurial. Indeed, most of the movements listed above would fit into the economic description of Joseph Schumpeter who described the entrepreneur’s role as “creative destruction”, that is, launching innovations that simultaneously destroy old industries while ushering in new industries and approaches. The entrepreneurial model involves developing a business plan, hiring human resources, acquiring financial resources, and providing inspired leadership. Moreover, it is widely accepted that such entrepreneurial enterprises will, for the most part, partially or wholly reflect their founders’ perceptions and identity.
Additionally, entrepreneurs seek to exploit a gap, or perceived unmet need, in the market and to develop products, services or industries to meet the unfulfilled need and thereby create wealth and stability for the new enterprise. As the core entrepreneurial business grows, the “inspired” leader of the enterprise looks for the opportunity to create off-shoots or satellites. These subsidiary organizations support and feed the central enterprise while retaining and expanding the entrepreneurial culture of the parent body. This includes the unique jargon and vocabulary of the entrepreneurial enterprise… we are “forward thinking”, “responsive”, “encountering”, “engaging”…
Now, if this sounds to you like the program for a new missional church plant, or perhaps what you heard in a Church Growth seminar from the 1990s, or the conference you attended on the Emerging Church ten years ago, you would not be far wrong. While often wrapped in the language of Scripture or, conversely, motivational/self-help jargon, most, if not all, of the recent movements in the Church eventually end up following a secular entrepreneurial model, even engaging in “creative destruction” of what has come before. Owing to the risk factor in entrepreneurial enterprises, large sections of such movements fail. For those that succeed, however, the end goal of a full parking lot, a new building, or a place in the national spotlight, justifies the means.
Yet, there are other matters to be considered and, at least in my opinion, they are important.
In almost all the movements of the last fifty years, one or two things tend to happen. The first of these is theological. When the youth movement of the 1960s and 1970s emerged, the underlying premise of the movement was that, somehow, we were first century Christians. That is, there was an underlying assumption that the intervening 1900 years between the time of the Apostles in the Middle East and 1967 in Southern California, nothing happened that required our attention. Now, this is true of all the movements to a lesser or greater degree, but it was profound in the Jesus Movement and, might I say, it was arrogant. It was as though we discovered what had been lost and we were the only ones to get it right in two millennia. As I said, there are echoes of this in the other movements as well. Indeed, the Missional Movement with its insistence on being contextual, tends to look only at the contemporary zeitgeist and largely ignores history and tradition as being irrelevant to the current context. In the worst examples of this, the arrogance of “we” (those who contextualize ministry) is set over against “them” (mainline denominations, middle of the road evangelicals, etc.), failing to recognize that, of course, the others are ministering in a context as well, simply without reference to a label.
The second thing that tends to happen is a lack of connection. In the case of the Emerging Church movement, it became clear that what took place in a conference was unlikely to produce a lasting connection among participants as they engaged post-modernity in their separate places of worship. Indeed, it was much more likely, given the entrepreneurial model being exercised in these churches, that they would be chiefly known by and organized around the personalities of their leadership – such as a Mark Driscoll or a Nadia Bolz-Weber. This also took place in the Jesus Movement and is currently the challenge of missional churches, as “missional congregations understand that they are contextual and thus also particular”. That “particularity” will, in time, express itself in entrepreneurial leadership issues and medium/long term sustainability.
The one movement that seems to have survived, is the Church Growth movement, even if it has morphed into what we now define as mega-churches. It works largely because it is entrepreneurial and, to a certain extent, mechanical. I wrote an article for Eternity magazine in September of 1986, and said the following about the then emerging Church Growth movement, stating that it,
”…fits right into the consumerism that so characterizes American religious life. Church-shopping has become common. A believer will compare First Presbyterian, St. John’s Lutheran, Epiphany Episcopal, Brookwood Methodist, and Bethany Baptist for the ‘best buy.’ The church plant, programs, and personnel are scrutinized, but the bottom line is, ‘How did it feel?’ Worship must be sensational. ‘Start with an earthquake and work up from that,’ advised one professor of homiletics. ‘Be sure you have the four prerequisites of a successful church,’urged another; ‘upbeat music, adequate parking, a warm welcome, and a dynamite sermon.’ The slogan is, ‘Try it, you’ll like it.’”
Little did I know when I wrote this what the future held. (Now I would probably add other necessities such as, screens, licensed child care, praise bands, and smoke machines.)
Yet, it remains to be seen if, in the long term, any of these entrepreneurial models will benefit the Church as we move through the coming years, decades, and, should the Lord tarry, centuries. The Youth Movement of the 60s and 70s bore fruit. We must admit, however, that it was mainly in the lives of those who, in time, left that movement behind and moved forward. Certainly, that was my experience, as well as the experience of numerous others. In the end, I suspect that all the entrepreneurial models have within them a fatal flaw. It is the basic inability to theologically understand the nature the Church through time as an extension of the Incarnation of Christ. The Church is to be conformed to Christ as his body – not to a temporal context, or a mechanical template, or even a post-modern culture. If anything, the nature of the Church in Word and Sacrament requires faithful pastors and priests… not entrepreneurial personalities.
Duane, good article.
The youth movement of the 60s only seemed successful for the church. However, it was also successful for groups such as followers of the Bagwahan, or the Maharishna, or anything eastern following the Beatles. Cults and communes, hippies, anti war, even a tremendous increase in American youth traveling to Israel for communal living. We were a bunch of joiners and followers where today’s millenials don’t join or follow, so we entice them with technique and manipulation.
Jesus’ plan for church growth? Word and sacrament – Matt 28:19-20 by his authority, v18
Good article Duane. Do you see this more of an issue with American churches or worldwide? Also what do you think of Christian bookstores located inside the church? I was thinking about that the other day with my old CC. I remember pastor defending them against accusations like they were like the money changers when Jesus over turned the tables in the temple. However I can’t help but see some parallels even if they do sell the Bible’s at cost. The tee shirts, posters, bumber stickers and gadgets like the framed “break glass” in case of rapture do come across as crass entrepreneurialism.
I have friends in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia who see the same thing. Everyone is looking for “success”. As anything else, bookstores are not bad in and of themselves… it depends on what they are providing!
In 2005 I think it was Time Magazine that pointed out that the Pentecostal movement of the early 1900s had created an effect that resulted in 1 of 11 people on planet earth self-identifying with it. Now statistics drive us all crazy but what I am suggesting is that the Charismatic movement was a tributary of a much larger world movement that permeated virtually all Christian traditions and communities. In other words it was not a mere wave created by entrepreneurial souls. It was a phenomenon that swept a large portion of humanity and still does. It seems to have a near endless array of permutations making it hard both to identify and destroy.
I don’t think the article is nullified by the point. I just think charismatic renewal is a questionable sub-point.
I tend to differentiate Pentecostalism from the Charismatic Renewal movement that took place in mainline churches in the 70s-90s. They are certainly related, but where as Pentecostalism and Charismatic free churches have engulfed Central America, South America and Africa, there are really only remnants in the US mainline churches of the what started as Charismatic Renewal. Oddly enough, it has remained somewhat vibrant in the Roman Catholic Church. As you say, it is a “near endless array of permutations” these days…
I was tempted to say that the Orthodox Church has escaped these tendencies, but we have our own dire problems, especially the current problems between the conservative Slavic Churches and the liberal, can’t-wait-to-unite-with-the RCC Greeks.
None of us are immune. I’ve had two emails responding to the article from priests in my own tradition that made me want to weep – one is frustrated beyond words and the other has taken early retirement because they simply can’t deal with what is going on…
The Charismatic Renewal didn’t make much headway with the EO.
While I agree with the concept and the fact “starting a church” has minimal entry cost relative to a “real” business, I would like to add something to the argument or idea that older traditions are more real or authentic.
I think if we take a simple step back through church history what will be found is a constant change as the culture it lives in changes.
The Counsel of Nicaea could be argued as a response to cultural views, conflicting theologies and a man’s spirit to lead others into a new era. The eventual split between the Eastern and Western churches, the political domination of the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther, Calvin, Anabaptist, Puritans, and so many more. How many of these “movements” could be described in the day as “Entrepreneurs” and what constitutes true reform and revival?
The premise of primarily young men (how old was Martin Luther, 32 when he nailed his thesis, or Calvin, 27 when he published his first work, back in their day when they got started) using the church as a personal platform of Entrepreneurship probably is really nothing new.
Maybe the critical examination of ancient traditions should be as strong as that given to these Entrepreneurs in our current day.
Just some ideas your article made me think about. Thank you for the stimulation.
… and that is interesting in that the EO has one of the most developed doctrines of the Holy Spirit of all the traditions…
There is certainly development of doctrine and we need to look at all “traditions” with a critical eye. Yet, I will still assert that the entrepreneurial model that has made its way into the Church (possibly from the mid-19th century on) is something different…
The minute we Christians label ourselves, identify, with a particular organized branch or “movement” within the Faith ahead of our identity in Christ our walk is close to edge of the narrow way…. in danger of heading into the forest of leaders who put themselves ahead of Christ…. err something.. . ?
Duane, I’ll admit a lot of what you write is a bit “heady” for me, not finding fault, just that I guess I’m not as academic to the kingdom (again, didn’t mean that as a bad thing, I get why we need the scholars).
However, this really spoke to me, and reminded me of one of my primary issues with “the church” (or why I’m “bitter.”).
It took me a while to realize that in my personal life, nationally, etc., I guess I assumed the “elders” or those which generations of experience (and those from whom they gleaned which came before) understood their responsibility to protect us young-ins from ourselves.
Instead, they swung to doors open wide, and in some cases built those doors, to all kinds of nonsense to anyone whose has matured in the Lord.
I’m not stating all the movements were nonsense, just how disappointed I’ve become to notice how much nonsense was let in that most of us see as nonsense, or “not helpful” in relation to things “which edify.”
The more I look at Jesus, the less I see Him in the church. I don’t mean that to be spiritual, but literal. Just taking His Word, His actions, even the way and circumstances He did them, I honestly see more comparisons with some cults and worldly pursuits in the way they do things.
Anyway, thanks again.
Ever thought of writing a specific set of posts for the “unlearned?”
I think if there is one thing that identifies the “entrepreneur” is the desire for “success”. That desire is what drives the actions and activities. When we bring that same construct into the Church, I think it provides an excuse for much that is done.
In my tradition, it was taught for generations that the main job of a pastor/priest was “the cure of souls”, that is, the pastoral care of the people in your community of faith, as well as those with whom they are connected. Notice that I said the “care of people”… not using people to achieve and end, even if that end is laudable. I think a good bit of the harm that has been done to people is because that basic task of pastoral care has too often been forgotten.
I’ll try to tone down the scholarly side, but after 40 years we all have our ways!?
Oh do want to say something positive about the movement of which I’ve been extracted because my experience warrants a fair observation, and to stick with the positive note, I’ll leave out what extracted me from CCs.
To date, including the enormous freedom I know have, the most inspiring story/experiences relayed to me from those who were there in the early days of CC, and I experienced myself a little, was the complete openness to anyone to come to Jesus and grace given to them to grow in Him and ultimately serve.
I spend a couple years trying to go to church, but for various reasons, was convinced the church didn’t want a combat vet with problems even he didn’t understand.
God used a knucklehead to do a work, which ultimately was the only place I’d enter, and the guys on staff somehow knew I needed special treatment and showered me with grace. They had no special training, but looking back, the way the treated me, it had to be God. The first time I taught, holy jeesh! I’m glad I wasn’t recorded, but can remember the feeling not only did I believe all the versus they told me about Jesus’ acceptance, but this was proof! He’d use me?!!!
It must be how the disciples felt being so familiar with their knuckleheadness and that caused/causes my hear “to burn” within me, again like the disciples.
At the very least, it kept me and continues to keep me alive, knowing the only One whose opinion really matters, especially when He’s the only One to know the real dirt on me, still wants me.
That happened in a small CC.
Good point and clarification. Again, you and I would say it differently and your’s is probably better, but you nailed it (“success” oriented).
And please, don’t change yourself in anyway from my comment. I believe much damage has/continues to be done by any person other than Jesus acting like “be like me.”
I’ve never understand how so many can read about and experience Jesus, then talk more about their opinions.
Anyway, you sport your tweed coat and pipe (do profs still smoke those?) and I’ll pray the Lord uses us both as He intends.
If the idea of church as entrepreneurial enterprise, what’s the product? What determines success?
In churches that believe in what they like to call “eternal security” (OSAS) the product has been launched when the sinner makes a decision for Christ. Other than knocking off the rough edges (drugs, gay sex, etc) there’s not much interest in improving the convert’s soul because they are said to have “the righteousness of Christ,” which I believe they misinterpret. “God sees me as 100% perfectly righteous” is a phrase I used to hear quite a bit back in the day. So all you can do is offer endless Bible studies and busy work to support the pastor’s message. Gaining Bible knowledge and “plugging people into ministries” is all that’s left to do. (I despise the use of the word “plugging” when referring to people.) No interest in purifying the soul, which, by the way, is the purpose of Christian disciplines and spiritual formation, and now you know why some parties hate those things.
The product of this type of church is (A) Busy people who (B) know a lot of Bible stories.
Other types of churches see our life in Christ as staying on the Royal Path, as we call it. You can fall of if you are determined to do so. But for those who stay on the Path, we want to become pure in heart so we can see God. This is accomplished through the sacraments, prayer, church attendance, scripture reading, almsgiving, etc., all done with the help of the Holy Spirit or else it will fail. That’s how you judge success: is a group producing Saints?
The product of this type of church is a *few* people who are *almost* (not entirely til heaven!) pure in heart.
So you can see the output of the second kind of church does not lend itself to the entrepreneurial mentality.
“All of these movements have left their marks upon the Church for good and ill.”
Yes, good and bad. It is not necessarily wrong, maybe even beneficial at times to utilize some of the techniques/practices/ideas that come from Movements like Church Growth or Missional or others who may be “entrepreneurial”. If there are things we can do that help to reach and relate to people, both in and out of the church, then they can be very good things. Paul himself set out to become all things to all people.
The bad comes into play when these techniques/practices/ideas start taking precedence over things that are more important. If the gospel starts getting clouded or watered down or set on the back shelf for these things, then they are bad. If the pastors and church leadership start becoming more concerned with things like how many seats are in the pews or how much dough there is in the coffers or how popular they are than they are with how they can serve and minister to the people of their church, then these things have become bad. If their outlook starts to become one where they want to show how much better they can do church than others, then these things have become bad. If the desire to impress and wow becomes greater than the desire to show reverence to God, these things become bad.
Good article and thoughtful discussion here, I’ll only add one weird dimension:
I was born in ’74. Cam to Christ in ’93. All in USA. This has always been what church is for me. To find a different path would require some pioneering on my part. We may be in a mess, but I don’t see any easy answers that might not cause just as many new problems.
To find a different path would require some pioneering on my part. <<<
Tell me about it! I was Baptist/CC my entire life, a regular church-goer, until my fifties. But there came a day, I remember it well, when I said to myself "I gotta get outta this place if it's the last thing I ever do!" (I sang it to myself, actually.) But the pioneering was disappointing for months. Almost every church I visited that summer of my discontent was trying to be cool and if I wanted coolness, I might as well stay at CC where I still had friends and a job. But then came that day when I wandered into St. Seraphim's….
But it was an ordeal, I can tell you that, until I landed.
*until my late forties, that is. 🙂
” If the desire to impress and wow becomes greater than the desire to show reverence to God, these things become bad.”
I shudder to think of how many want to “impress and wow”… and they will use any means available. Great comments.
I keep telling you that I’ve got that extra cassock set aside for you ?…
Can we really separate or even judge the desires of those who get the “call?”
Personally I believe it takes a huge amount of ego to start something new or to correct what one may see as wrong. In either case the personal idea one is mostly “right” motivates to do whatever it is that is burning in them.
The idea of “success” normally, at least for the males, is something that is measurable. It could be as simple as personal knowledge and practice or the size of the church. A lyric in a Beetles song talks about a “sermon no one will hear” so why write it and if so what is the measure of success?
I think the only real thing that has changed in this generation is our syntax and opportunity, because the motivations and desires of people haven’t changed at all.
Why do we write stuff on an obscure blog, why are we exchanging views and how do we measure our success at such communication?
Maybe we have a different definition of “entrepreneurial,” and maybe I have a bit more cynical view of what motivates people. I’ll be honest it is my opinion that many, if not most, people start with relatively “pure” motives, but it doesn’t take long for those to rust a bit and their target change.
I think you were successful with this article. Thank you.
Oh, and BTW standing on that podium, being a “rock star” is very intoxicating.
I was at my son’s megachurch last month and as I have mentioned, it was a positive experience. I was looking at the young people on the worship team. They were all good at what they did. The congregation was standing and singing a whoopin’ an’ a hollerin’ at times. Where else, except at church could these musicians play in front of such enthusiastic crowds? Even if they are trying their darndest (I know my son tries) to make it all about Jesus, they must catch themselves at times feeling like secular rock stars. I know my other son (who is a better guitarist) quit playing with his own Christian band when after a pretty fantastic bass solo he realized the girls were screaming for him and not for Jesus. Same with pastors, I guess. They don’t start out wanting to steal God’s glory but with certain styles of worship music, it seems unavoidable. Same with preachering, I guess.
I’m not convinced that the Jesus Movement folks were arrogant or thinking that nothing mattered until they came along. Or that all of Christian history was useless until they arrived. I was saved during that time and I was shocked, literally, that after having spent my youth in a Methodist Church, that I had never heard that Jesus was alive or that you could have a relationship with him. I remember thinking that this was a really “new” thing, at least to me. I’d never seen it before. I didn’t meet any Christians in my youth (that I knew of) and this idea of a real Jesus was totally mindblowing. The idea of having a relationship with God was so HUGE to me, so life-changing, so far from everything I had ever been taught that I was convinced that the knowledge had somehow been suppressed and was now released. I’m not sure that’s arrogant. And I’m also not sure that the Jesus Movement folks were thinking they were the First Century Church. I was on the East Coast, maybe it was a different gig on the West Coast, but on the East Coast we were pulled into churches, discipled, taught how to walk with God, and we preached Jesus to anyone who would listen. That was my experience but it could be that what happened on the West Coast was different. Don’t know.
I think most, though not all, start off with good and pure motives, but then the pressure is on and they begin to look for “tools” to enable what they, or their peers, consider “success”. I think that is when the target begins to change…
We didn’t know we were arrogant, but in retrospect, we were… at least the CC/Shiloh crowd I ran with. The arrogance was in thinking that we were the first ones to experience this when, in fact, many had come before us…
I have a friend who teaches at the local Guitar Center. He has a number of students whose sole ambition is to be in the praise band at their mega-church. As one young girl said to him, “It’s like being on stage in a rock concert every week!”
At my old CC, there was always talk of “taking the church to the next level.” One person in authority (not the pastor) described all the levels to me. One level was the home church, then the rented building, then owning property. Along in there was a radio show (probably now a podcast), then the TV show, etc. He called this “new wine in new wine skins” and felt we should be all about moving up the levels. I think a school was on one of the levels. Also in the mix a bookstore (nowadays online), a coffee shop, etc. It was like advancing in a video game. Level Up!
That’s the entrepreneurial spirit…
“entrepreneurial model involves developing a business plan, hiring HUMAN RESOURCES, acquiring financial resources, and providing inspired leadership.”
What are we missing when we think out of an entrepreneurial p.o.v.? How do we not recognize The Holy in ourselves and in others because of this?
The historic and cultural tradition that brought us to a point of church-as-entrepreneurial-activity comes out of colony and empire and plantation and slavery and land-grabs and genocide and conquest. People and land have been considered ours* for the taking. Manifest Destiny is a thing that we, or our foremothers and forefathers believed and told us to be true. We tell ourselves that the divine smiles upon and blesses us. This is the water we swim in. This is the air we breathe and we cannot discern where our culture stands against the divine because we barely recognize it in our pores, our bloodstream, our lungs, our food, and our thoughts. And actions.
It. is. so. deeply. embedded. I will spend the rest of my life removing the beam from my own eyes.
I think for mainline churches, a young man wonders what kind of career he would like and being a pious young person, opts for the ministry. This would mean seminary for most denominations. After graduation, he would be sent by his hierarchy to what ever parish needed a pastor. At least, that’s how in works in Ortholandia and I think in many other tradition churches. There’s no more ego involved in this career decision than doctoring or lawyering. The word “career” could be a red flag to some.
I ran into the mother of one of my old students at the grocery store. I asked how her son was doing and she bubbled forth the info that he was starting up his own church in town, not connected to any other church and with no supervision. Friends, this is how heresy gets started.
Outside T. Fold
I remember a John Stott book from years ago – Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. It seems to me that we’ve forgotten that counter cultural aspect when we buy into an entrepreneurial p.o.v.
Duane, there is a form of entrepreneurialism in the CC churches that often goes unnoticed. If you do a random search of say 10-20 CC websites, churches of moderate to large sized congregations, you will find a great number of them with staff members with the same surname as the lead or senior pastor, usually including the Director of Women’s Ministry, Assistants, and more. Some have as many as 5 family members on the payroll. So, it becomes more a family business than a church, providing a comfortable living for all concerned. Though it is all slathered in spiritual terms, it is little more than nepotism to the extreme. But I think it is symptomatic of a deeper issue: the “Moses Model” pastor, with the authority to turn his church into a family business. This would not happen much in a setting with proper financial accountability.
If I hope to follow Jesus of Nazareth, I hope that it is the teacher and preacher of the Sermon on the Mount and the table flipper who chased those money-changing entrepreneurs out of the Temple.
Doing justly and loving mercy and walking with humility is a very worthy goal. I don’t know if there’s a viable business model to that, though.
Absolutely… and as we both know, it is not limited to CC churches. It has been endemic in a number of independent churches throughout the years. It has even begun to move that direction in some mainline churches I know.
Xenia – re the kid starting his own church, you said this is how heresy gets started.
I would disagree, his upstart church is the result of heretical teaching pumped into him by his teachers.
The thought of an unsupervised church start up is unheard of in the Bible.
Yes, he is the current manifestation of the heresy that got started when the first person decided to invent their own “church.”
By the way… the average seminarian is 46 years old and doing a second career… usually after being in a business environment.
Y’all are starting to sound like you don’t want those trifling kids playing on your lawn.
On my lawn anytime… just bring your Greek NT…
BTW, for those who may not believe that this is a problem, Google “entrepreneurial church” and see what comes up… it’s sobering.
The only reason there are entrepreneurs in the church is because many pewsters are only there as consumers.
Look at Rick Warren’s ‘start up’ story how he went out and interviewed 10,000 households to find out why they didn’t go to church — and then started a church not to give them what they needed, but what they wanted. The merchandising of felt needs.
As long as the definition of church growth is more butts in the seats, you will always have the carnival beakers in the pulpit.
If church growth is defined as the increased growth seen in the individual believer and the community, then you will see an adherence to word and sacrament.
Should have read carnival barkers. Auto correct is probably designed by millennials who don’t know what a carnival barker is. 🙂
Isn’t entrepreneur church leadership based on a theology which embraces and speaks to the free will of people, inventing and modifying programs and styles which are designed to motivate people to choose the entrepreneur’s church and even Christ?
Doesn’t the entrepreneur church measure the Spirit’s pleasure with it by its membership size and/or budget?
“speaks to the free will of people,”
No, some of the most influential hold pretty strict Calvinist theology.
Could some have an unconscious contradiction between doctrine and practice?
Oh sure. If one does not believe in free will, there is no logical reason to “do” anything. So yes, I’m sure all of us practice some of that contradiction.
I think Duane identified another factor at play which perhaps is more troubling for orthodoxy:
“Additionally, entrepreneurs seek to exploit a gap, or perceived unmet need, in the market”
I never fully ‘trusted’ the Calvinism of ballistic leaning folks (not that it matters what I trust) – but I remember John MacArthur doing altar calls at the end of each service (I don’t know if he still does). But why would a Calvinist have an altar call if he didn’t think he was persuading some into the kingdom?
We see this in the LCMS as some churches go the CoWo route trying to convince people it is only a change in style and not theology – which is BS.
Suppose to read Baptistic, not ballistic. Perhaps I need to turn off auto correct.
Was starting to think I was really missing something in this discussion….what with carnival beakers and ballistics…lol…I hate auto correct!
(remember I’m the guy auditing this course because I couldn’t pass the prereqs, let alone be allowed in seminary)
I have two questions.
1) Regarding your analysis which we agree on, may I assume these occurrences of behavior are generally prevalent throughout church history?
2) If yes, what is your best explanation of why church leaders didn’t start around the 2nd century (or before) and put their foot down (ecclesiastically) or at least start hammering the church about the nonsense?
I really hope your not going to tell me that church history is, among other things (bad), a repeating series of repeating nonsense and leaders have always been warning about the last generation’s nonsense.
“I really hope your not going to tell me that church history is, among other things (bad), a repeating series of repeating nonsense and leaders have always been warning about the last generation’s nonsense”
That sort of sums it up.
Oh great, thanks Josh.
Can I at least get my MDiv now?
This is one of the maybe 5 continuing frustrations I have with being a believer and to be honest, don’t blame CCs (anymore).
After just a few years realized of all the orgs/communities I’ve been a part of, the church seems consistently committed to looking/sounding good, but also repeating mistakes and attacking any voice to contrary.
Seriously, if during “the alter call” and magic prayer, leaders just honestly told people, “look, we’re going to say a lot about _____, even from the Bible, but RIGHT NOW get out of your head any sort of reality matching those words you might be used to from other experiences you might have had,” I wouldn’t have this issue. And no, the tropes about “the church is a hospital” doesn’t cut it, not by a long shot.
I can tell you of several groups where their mission was very clear and included (at least non-officially) all sorts of sinful living, but they never tolerated pedophilia, embezzling, and especially didn’t attack those just trying to deal with it or stand behind some dead guy. Hell-oops! heck! (yes we still believe english syllables are more offensive to God than little girls being violated, at least some of us), I’ve written prison inmates who have a very simple and effective technique for pedophiles while the church hems-and-haws. Not saying it’s right, but I read Peter speaking the death penalty to two people just for putting on airs (Acts) and now, with hundreds of stories of evil in the church and we have to ensure mountains of excuses just about whether or not to do anything.
It’s not the result that’s frustrating, it’s what seems like a total lack of motivation.
However, I’m meeting/talking to more guys who are living their values, and after realizing the sham something has become, closed the fiasco, and at least living with a clean conscious, kuddos to them (one who comments here).
Sorry for the length.
No, I don’t think the issue was as prevalent in the Early Church. There were some “entrepreneurial” groups like the Montanists, but they were clearly seen as being at the margins of the Church. This is very much a modern phenomena and, I hate to say it, very American. Some might trace it back to the Cane Ridge revivals, while others might place it in the time of Henry Beecher Stowe. Personally I opt for Stowe with the “slave auctions” re-enacted in the church, the use of publicity to attract crowds and then of course we had the sex scandal and his public trial for adultery. There is a direct line to Aimee Semple McPherson and thence to the 1960s. Of course, you would also have to look at the attempts to popularize Christianity in terms of the prevailing culture – in the 1950s a popular book presented Christ as the “greatest salesman”. Then with the growth of media, it was a “no brainer” to engage the air waves, much as we make use of bandwidth today.
It is when we allow secular values to shape the Church that, at least it seems to me, that we get in trouble. Christianity can be presented as “attractive” without turning it into an “attraction” with all that an attraction entails.
“The only reason there are entrepreneurs in the church is because many pewsters are only there as consumers.”
Or conversely, if, as an entrepreneurial pastor, all you look for are “consumers”, that is most likely what you will end up with filling the pews…
Duane – Paul wrote to Timothy about these guys in 63 ad.
Indeed, but the Church used to keep them at the margins… now we give them book contracts!
I don’t know. I think the church has been a haven for scam-artists since the very beginning. Listened to a podcast this morning that talked about the sovereignty of God leading us to this place and time, and it made me think.
Duane, if a church body calls it’s own pastor, they more than likely will call one who is like them or fits their model.
When my old church (Ocean Hills Community Church) called Skip Heitzig they knew exactly what they were getting and salivating to have someone stroke their felt needs.
True. Yet another part of the problem is when serving pastors/priests are “sold” a program that will “make the church a success”. Currently, in the Episcopal Church, it is “models for congregational development”. When I was in seminary (LCMS) half the class couldn’t wait to try out the Church Growth Movement model.
The models and the movements continue to morph and change. I return to my premise, ” If anything, the nature of the Church in Word and Sacrament requires faithful pastors and priests… not entrepreneurial personalities.”
Duane, as I said in the very first comment on this thread – word and sacrament is the Jesus prescription for church growth. Nothing else is approved – there is no 2nd best – it is either the Jesus way or the devil’s way.
I even mention somewhere above, those in the LCMS who have gone in the CoWo direction have not changed just style, but have changed the theology. The book, the Fire and the Staff by Klemet Preys speaks clearly to this.
I am agreeing with you – just trying to tighten things down. 🙂
What year did Christians have to stop writing new songs?
Since Contemporary Worship is the devil’s way?
While I tend to be a traditionalist, I think contemporary worship can be inclusive of Word and Sacrament…
(Yes, I knew Klemet when he was doing his STM)
I think the root of the problem is in what Duane wrote earlier:
“This is very much a modern phenomena….”
EO have been fastidious in trying to keep modernity out of its liturgy. Therefore, its not surprising that EO worship hasn’t changed much in 1,500+ years.
Modernity says, things progress. If that is your worldview, then of course you will believe liturgy can be improved upon. You will think, theologians know more today than theologians 1,000 years ago. You will think new techniques can be developed that the apostles didn’t know about, which can improve conversion rates. Etc. All that is a modern way of thinking.
Josh you don’t understand. People make changes in the worship service for a purpose – they’re trying to drive home something else that they weren’t getting with the previous worship style. Their must be a corresponding theological change that goes along with it.
So it’s not about new songs
Josh, as a follow-up there is the difference in what is worship. So when I say CoWo you think of changes to the song selection.
On the other hand I see worship as the who service, hence we call it the divine worship service.
Other changes, the pastor front and center instead of the altar being centered – Heck even the CoWo drum set has a more center position. It’s more than mild.
If your pastor decided to go full liturgical you don’t think that would indicate a theological change?
I prefer traditional language (“Thee” and “Thou”) and I could make an argument for particular “religious” language. I also realize that this is purely a personal preference. The updating of the liturgy into modern language certainly acceptable, as is the introduction of new music. When, however, it is merely a one and a half hour time of entertaining with a self-affirming address, that is a different matter…
I will restate it. No one is against New songs. Pastor Stephen Starke has written well over 175 new hymns.
Going back to church growth movement, what is the motivation?
Originally, to fulfill the Great Commission… later, a formula based on sociology and research to increase numbers in local churches…
Baptizing and teaching is the great commission.
Perhaps baptism at the end of the giant slide at the water park is the church growth scheme.
Jean – I must assume then that your tradition is guilty of modern thinking, too. You guys are 1800’s United States, not first century Roman Empire.
MLD – What is the difference in a hymn and a song? Are you asserting something holy, or God-breathed, about the latest hymnal your church bought? I’m guessing you guys sing unaccompanied by any instruments, since anything like a piano or organ would mean a huge theological change from the early church.
It seems to me God uses all types of music to minister to His people. I also believe that some of the most “unacceptable” music for some of us is received as sweet incense by God. Any one ‘In Christ” can offer up sincere praise to Him as they are able. God would be the only judge of what is or isn’t acceptable to Him.
Josh, you are too stuck on the music. I am talking about the motives for change.
If a traditional SBC church started dimming the light and playing mood music to instill a change of emotions before the pastor made his final pitch, you would suspect something was up?
It’s much more than music, it’s the theology change being instituted.
I don’t you answered me earlier – if you pastor moved to a full on liturgical format, you would not be looking for the theological change behind it?
“Jean – I must assume then that your tradition is guilty of modern thinking, too. You guys are 1800’s United States, not first century Roman Empire.”
Are you referring to an immigration to America to constitute a change in faith or practice? LOL
Jacques Ellul only touched on the idea in passing but his comment in Propaganda was that if the Church adopted propaganda in its modern technocratic forms it would be committed to that and not a proclamation of Christ. It’s not that propagandas didn’t exist before, it’s that technologically mediated propaganda integrated across all media and guided by social sciences had not yet been invented. We’re living in an age when progressive writers are talking a bit about “surveillance capitalism”. What made a church like the former MH different and also pernicious was it was a church committed to being a multi-media empire and, as more people shared what kinds of things were done behind the scenes, leveraging of data mining practices happened. A former staffer once said in a podcast interview that it was possible to make a guess which marriages in the church had problems based on podcast consumption habits. Now, first of all, it may presume a lot that what podcasts people listen to could indicate a pending divorce but “if” that’s true that says something about how some megachurches can operate. A megachurch that is processing incoming member contracts and data mining their participation in internal social media networks to find out what they’re up to isn’t exactly surveillance as we’d think of it in espionage movies but it may be an example of how conformity to a contemporary model can mean that as the model for entrepreneurial drive shifts different things get embraced. MH leadership was really into open copyright and saying traditional IP was passe … right up to the point that guys in the church started publishing their first books and then …
It’s much more than music, it’s the theology change being instituted.
MLD, I guess one person’s “theology” is another’s “philosophy of ministry”. To me its like wearing a robe vs. wearing street clothes. Is this really theology or more akin to adiaphora?
Jean – Yes, unless your liturgy was handed down from Jesus, it has changed over time. LCMS liturgy is distinctly 19th century American. You said the idea that the liturgy can change is modernist. You may be right, but that makes us all guilty.
I’m sure MLD will give you an erudite answer, seasoned with his customary singlular whit, but in anticipation of that, let me give you a Lutheran definition of adiaphora:
A practice that is neither commanded by Christ nor forbidden by Christ is a candidate for adiaphora.
But from that initial decision, one must ask: Does the practice in question support or further a practice commanded by Christ or not? The issue is that no practice is neutral. It either supports a practice commanded by Christ or or doesn’t, even though Scripture does not speak of it at all.
Take, for example, placing a praise band at the front of the sanctuary in Worship. Scripture doesn’t say where musicians must play. If you look at a Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox [or Anglican?] worship service, will you find a praise band in the front of the sanctuary? Is this adiaphora?
A Lutheran would say that Jesus is the praise leader of the congregation and that Jesus is the object of worship, and that placing a praise band in the front of the sanctuary does not support the liturgy of the worship service, which focuses on Jesus our risen Lord and High Priest. Thus, placing a praise band at the front of the sanctuary would not, for a Lutheran, be adiaphora. It would be wrong practice.
You said: “LCMS liturgy is distinctly 19th century American.”
That’s news to me. You apparently know more about my liturgy than me.
Apparently. Sorry if that’s disappointing.
Wenatchee the Hatchet —
Thanks for your thoughts on, er, sanctified (?) surveillance capitalism. Don’t get what MH stands for, but the rest of it is astute.
Josh, except the things that we took from the Wiccans for our liturgy, it is pretty much like the ancient liturgy of the 1st century synagogue worship.
Since you are barren of any liturgy knowledge outside of the SBC liturgy, may I recommend the work by Arthur Just, Heaven on Earth – subtitled THE Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service.
As I said, sprinkle in a few Wiccan chants and you have it.
“it is pretty much like the ancient liturgy of the 1st century synagogue worship.”
Ah yes, the claim of every sect. Look, LCMS liturgy was developed in the late 1800’s in America. That doesn’t invalidate it. It just makes it a distinctive form of worship from that culture. I don’t mean it as an insult. It is simply a statement of fact.
But I think it is a valid form of worship and you guys are doing your best to honor God through it. I honestly didn’t know that you thought it was handed down directly from the Apostles, and I don’t intend to shake your faith over that. I don’t see why it would matter. I didn’t get the Wicca quips.
Steve, call it theology or call it philosophy of ministry I don’t care. I am trying to find the motive behind the change.
Let’s look at a couple of examples and see if you think they are just philosophical differences.
I do not hold that a church must have crosses on the property. As Jean said it is neither spoken of or spoken against in scripture. So, if your church did have crosses, say 27 of them on campus throughout the church’s 27 year history and one day the pastor says “have them all removed, they are offensive to visitors.” What do you think – change of theology or not.
How about a pastor who decides to use multiple versions of the Bible – obscure versions and paraphrases so that the message is less offensive to visitors, but is confusing to those who the message should be designed for?
What about the influx of new ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ songs – or songs written that I could erase Jesus’ name and insert my wife’s?
The biggest theology change by these ‘entrepreneurs’ is that Christ is no longer the center of the service (although in many cases he does still receive honorable mention) – but the pewsters becomes the center, the star. And it usually does begin with a change in music.
How many times have we heard the song guy say to the congregation, “I want to teach you a new song I wrote this week”? No vetting or anything – it is just thrown out there.
Now let me just say, if none of that is objectionable to people out there, that’s fine with me, I cannot control others when the objective is to fulfill felt needs – what I wrote above is how they do it.
Your knowledge of liturgy is zilch or at least not more than the 2 min Google search you just did. I gave you a book to read that’s all I can do.
The Wiccans – heck last week you compared the LCMS to the Wiccans, so I thought I would throw that in.
But you are a song leader, so I would expect you to protect your turf.
Protect my turf…that’s funny.
Anyhow, the point was that practice changes over time. There isn’t some pure time we can try to get back to. From the very beginning there have been issues. One would think that would be self-evident to a denomination named after a guy who died in 1546. But hey, maybe he was just rediscovering those things that had been lost for 1500 years. And then, LCMS rediscovered things that had been lost for 1800 years.
Just so we stay in the realm of reality… The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was formulated in the 5th – 7th century, along with the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Liturgy of St. James (which had roots in the earliest Syriac Liturgy). Luther’s Formula Missae (1523) and Deutsche Messe (1526) are revisions of the medieval Roman Rite. Neither of Luther’s liturgies as originally formulated and envisioned are now in common use. Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer (1549,1552, 1559, 1662), based on the distinct medieval Rite of Sarum (a combination of the Celtic and Roman rite) is still in use, although revised (1892,1928, 1979) in much of the Anglican communion. The Roman rite itself was revised after Vatican II (1963) although the Tridentine Latin Mass is still used in some quarters.
All this is to say, unless you are EO, you are making use of the revised liturgies. Practice has also changed. Weekly communion was almost unknown in both the Anglican and Lutheran churches until the mid-20th century. Revision of liturgies and practice is a reality. The question is, do the revisions remain true to the theology of the particular body or are the revisions dictated by the culture at large without reference to theology?
I would submit the the “entertainment liturgies” of most mega-churches fall into the latter category and are driven by an entrepreneurial approach to the matter…
I am trying to find the motive behind the change.
MLD, I gave up trying to find the motives of others. For one I don’t think most churches today are as thought out, nuanced as in the past. Theology is not quite on the radar. It’s not that their theology is wrong, rather it’s probably an absence of it where more thought should go into the worshio service. And second, many times we get the motives of others completely wrong. I think it’s probably best to pay attention to our own motivations and in our own congregation than judge someone else’s.
I can certainly judge the traditional organ in the Lutheran Church as quite stodgy but what benefit does that do?
The point I was making was that the bones of the liturgy, the formulation and foundation go back to the liturgy used in the 1st century synagogues. EO, Anglican and Lutheran can go to each other’s services and feel the comfort in the similar structure of the liturgy.
A Baptist walks in would think he was in a Wiccan coven :-).
Now if either crossed over and changed to liturgical or non liturgical I can almost guaranty it is for theological reasons. OR, a hucksters has taken over, thinks he can fill more seats by making the change, but the change itself will cause theological confusion and eventual change.
I have been trying to keep this within the topic of entrepreneurship in church leadership.
Steve, I find the organ stodgy also. I looked up the definition – dull and old fashion. Is church music suppose to play to your passions or to your spirit.
I would think that is an example of a theological change – I used to believe I was communicating to the people’s spirit, but I now think I will get better attendance now that I realize God has called me to preach / sing to their passions.
I for one, and perhaps it is because of my many years as an elder and sitting on many boards for several churches asking “why?” when some suggests whacky and or unneeded changes.
Some may just accept their pastor has unfettered control and I have worked with too many who have been bedazzled by the slick mailers that come in from the church growth gurus — and it has been my job to figuratively slap them back into reality.
Josh, you may think the church musical genre falls into the “no harm, no foul” category, but I can assure you that if a liturgical church switched to, and this is probably one of your favorite formats, the jumping Hillsong format, that within one year, the theology of the church will have moved quite a bit.
It’s called, “the last conference I attended disease”… endemic in all denominations and non-denominations…
Wiccan coven. Now that’s funny. To me it’s more like a time warp back to an era I have no familiarity with. Not exactly my thing.
“It’s called, “the last conference I attended disease”… endemic in all denominations and non-denominations…”
But that leads to the next question: Who plants, who waters, and who gives the growth? Moreover, what are the building materials to be used? These questions, the answers to which manifest themselves in practice, are deeply theological.
So we’ve established that the liturgy most of you follow was developed in the late 1800’s.
So you guys followed an entrepreneur from the 1800’s. Or “The last conference your pastor attended” was in the 1800’s. That’s fine, but that doesn’t make it holy. You guys love it. You connect with it and it is comfortable for you. It wasn’t handed down by Jesus.
Steve, I like the comparison to baseball. When I grew up as a fan in the 50s & 60s, the players wore only their uniforms – no extras, not even batting gloves, they all blouses their pants the same and as fans we did not wear the merchandise – no jerseys, in most cases no caps.
Today, and I would make the comparison to church, it is all about the individual as the each have their own walk up music as they come to bat, some blouse they pants and show the stirrups, some are baggy, they all wear varied assortments of dangling gawdy jewelry, and massive amounts of battle armor while batting. Add to this the bat flips, the fist pumps and the chest pounding followed by the finger points to heaven make it a game I don’t recognize – the same as going to many churches – doing just like baseball, trying to fill the seats.
“So we’ve established that the liturgy most of you follow was developed in the late 1800’s.”
No! We, from the Lutheran side, never established that nor agree with that characterization.
As Duane said, liturgies have changed, for example Bible translations used in liturgical rubrics have changed. Some liturgical churches have changed the liturgy more than others. But, the basic rubrics used in the Lutheran divine liturgy date back to early Christian history.
Josh, I don’t know where you keep coming up with the 19th century stuff? Lutherans who came to America came here with liturgy intact from the home country.
Do you suggest the American EO folks scrapped their old liturgy when they arrived in the good old USA, and started over?
You need to change your Google search parameters.
If one looks through the Book of Concord and extract all the references to liturgy, worship, etc., (I’ve done this), you end up with essentially a post-Vatican II liturgy omitting the propitiatory language of the offertory… just saying…
“You need to change your Google search parameters.”
No need to insult. At least give me the benefit of having read a few books.
I did not realize that you guys thought you were continuing something handed down from Jesus. The fact that it is late 1800’s American does not invalidate it as a fine form of worship. It is what it is.
Duane, so are you saying that the Lutherans were right all along and even the RCC has come around to Lutheranism by dumping Trent for Vatican 2?
I know that Anglicans did such early on as the 39 Articles are a knock off of the Augsburg Confession.
Josh, again your Google search has failed you – or perhaps your Baptist professors who know nothing of a liturgy.
Jesus handed down nothing about the liturgy. Jesus followed the synagogue liturgy and it was the Apostles and early Fathers who passed it down.
However, just to stir you up, Jesus did pass down “this is my body” but you rid your churches of that also. 🙂
All good. We can discuss things in reality, or you can hold to an imaginary lineage. Whatever.
We of course repeat “This is my body” verbatim. Again, silly insult. Whatever.
I hope it doesn’t shake your faith when you figure out that you’ve been lied to about your liturgy. It shouldn’t be a big deal.
I won’t list the entire divine liturgy, but here are a few highlights:
readings from Scripture
confession and absolution
All of these rubrics trace their history back to early Christian liturgies. Nothing new here in these foundational liturgical rubrics.
You are in a denomination named after someone who died in the 1500’s. And claiming some sort of Apostolic succession.
You guys can keep it. I see there can be no honest discussion around this. You guys do it God’s way while the rest of us do it the devil’s way. Carry on.
Josh I was SBC for 14 yrs – we were trained to say “this is my body” with our fingers crossed behind our backs and to wink at the end (figuratively of course)
Trust me, a Baptist giving a critic of Lutheran doctrine and practice increases my faith – without fail.
Josh, we have made no claim whatsoever to apostolic succession – only to following the teachings passed down by the Apostles.
Baptists should give it a try.
“You are in a denomination named after someone who died in the 1500’s. And claiming some sort of Apostolic succession.”
Lutherans are Creedal Christians. In the Nicene Creed, we confess: “And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”
Thus, we, along with all creedal Christian traditions, do confess continuity with the apostles and apostolic Christian faith and practice.
Rubrics are the instructions as to how one performs the rite. Propers are the constituent parts of the rite. Btw, there is not a direct line from synagogue to the full Christian liturgy. There are only shared elements.
“a Baptist giving a critic of Lutheran doctrine and practice”
I haven’t offered one critique. Only an accurate date for your liturgy. And that has, for some reason, really upset you guys.
Jean – Google “Apostolic Succession”.
Also, MLD, I want nothing more than for your faith to increase. Was that supposed to hurt me in some way?
Perhaps an increase in faith may result in a kinder demeanor one day.
Josh, it’s funny – when going down Duane’s list of those abusing the church through entrepreneurial measures, you were agreeing right down the list – church growth, charismatic renewal, emerging church, and today’s missions church movement.
I bring up the effects of the CoWo invasion into liturgical churches (and it does involve more than just the song playlist in a church) you went nuts because you thought it was an attack on you and you went into some type of evangelical self protection mode. A bit strange and self serving, but that’s OK.
Until you realize that CoWo affects the entire divine service you will not understand the concern.
Point to the time where I went nuts.
Every comment I wrote from the very first was in cordial disagreement tot he overriding idea. Look again. I responded to you and you started on the insult train, because you had nothing else of substance.
I just re-read every comment of mine in this thread. I even affirmed your chosen worship style several times.
Duane – to your 6:55
I said that at 4:31 this morning – that the bones of the liturgy, the formulation and foundation go back to the liturgy used in the 1st century synagogues.
I can see a similar structure even visiting in my mother’s Reform Jewish service.
Josh, I don’t need to Google theological terms. MLD answered your comment about apostolic succession. I was giving you a creedal foundation for the Christian heritage handed down by the apostles.
The modern entrepreneurial church leader, in my experience, has little use for creeds, however, many traditional Christians find great value in them for the Church today. Propers (or are Creeds Ordinaries Duane?), such as Creeds, disarm the entrepreneur who would like to be seen as an innovator and visionary.
I like the way St. Paul put it: “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
Funny Jean, you quoted my comment about Apostolic Succession, and then answered with something else. I assumed you didn’t understand the concept.
Creeds are great. I am glad you have found benefit in them. I agree that many modern churches could benefit from studying them.
Here’s a new book from a prominent Baptist on the subject, if anyone is interested:
Hebrews says “let us hold fast our confession.” Apparently the early Christians shared a common confession. What is the common confession of a Baptist? If any, where and when is that confession made?
Wow, this inquisition keeps turning and twisting. I don’t want to convince you to be Baptist, Jean. I’m glad that you’ve found a nurturing home.
I have linked the Baptist Faith and Message here too many times to count. You can google it, if you are actually interested.
Josh, I like Albert Mohler although he seems to take a roasting here on occasions.
I love his subtitle “discovering authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits.”
This is one of the reasons we recite the creed each week, it affirms our authentic faith, we hear others around us confess their authentic faith and it hopefully holds the pastor’s sermon accountable to the authentic faith as the pewsters have been alerted to what the authentic faith is.
If I was allowed to buy books, I think I would get this one.
I like Mohler. Disagree with him on some points, but he’s a good dude.
I’m in the middle of a move myself, so will probably read this one on kindle. Books are heavy.
“Hebrews says “let us hold fast our confession.” Apparently the early Christians shared a common confession. ”
That confession was “Jesus is Lord.”
Everybody here shares it…
I’m going to go ahead and refute the whole premise of this article.
Entrepreneurs are good and needed in the church. Of course, they can be awful, but some can bring about necessary change. Entrepreneurs don’t have to be inventors. Often they are just finding a new, better path for doing an old thing. Martin Luther was ultimate church entrepreneur. Thank God for his pioneering.
Every person that has commented in this thread , even Xenia, is an entrepreneur. We all found our own way. We have all shared stories of not accepting what was being given to us, and pioneering our way back home.
After that blows up in my face, I want to talk about the creeds. 🙂
Are you redefining the word “entrepreneur?” According to the way Duane in the article defines “entrepreneur,” Luther was not a church entrepreneur and I don’t consider myself one.
Josh, for the sake of your comment, I will agree Luther was an entrepreneur – and his ideas were not to increase the number of butts in the seats as is the attempt of those in Duane’s article – but he was trying to enforce theological change by is actions (just as CoWo does).
What was his contribution? ” When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. ” which the Church at the time was devoid.
If Luther was an entrepreneur in the vein of Duane’s article, he had the worst business plan ever: Eliminating indulgences and proclaiming justification by grace.
I’ve written about this too often, but I’ll do it again.
The church as I understand it was founded on a familial model,not an entrepreneurial one.
The entrepreneurial model is primarily concerned with numbers..butts in the seats and cash flow.
It is uniquely American and based on the American version of success.
It creates little tyrannical CEO’s that are all about a brand, not the care of souls.
It is a damnable thing in my eyes and I hate it with a passion.
My comment is not a rebuke to anyone here…I’ve been saying the same thing for 18 years…
Instead of assertions (many being incorrect) if you are really interested in liturgical development, try ‘The Study of Liturgy’ Jones, Wainwright and Yarnold; or ‘The Shape of Liturgy’ by Gregory Dix.
As to particular assertions –
There were adaptations of synagogue worship (which not a great deal is known in the 1st century) in readings and psalms.
Apostolic succession has a particular definition…
Lutheran liturgy (as Anglican liturgy) finds its roots in the medieval period.
Lord, this is worse than correcting first year theology exams…
If you choose the Dix book, we’ll see you in a year or so… 🙂
He is pretty thorough…?
Duane – “Lord, this is worse than correcting first year theology exams…”
What arrogant, condescending (and I will say the whole word) BULLSHIT.
As if you hold the truth and the rest of us should sit by and learn at your feet.
I simply believe that accuracy is better than mere assertion…
Nonsense – that was your assertion of intellectual superiority and nothing more.
Your only reaction is to be crude and argumentative… I’ll stick with attempting to be accurate.
Butts in seats in and of itself is not a bad thing–we all want the Lord to add to our number–it’s why we evangelize, disciple, and care for one another. It’s just that the end doesn’t always justify the means. If we compromise morals, theology, etc to get butts in seats you have a problem. I say thank God for the entrepeneurs who created “newfangled” ministries that would draw a young punk like myself in and keep me interested long enough to hear the Word, receive love, and become a Christian. Thus I would argue with Jean’s early assertion that nothing is neutral–I think a lot of things are neutral and it is up to us to redeem them for God’s glory. If we do so, the neutral becomes acceptable.
“It’s just that the end doesn’t always justify the means.” Agree, absolutely…
Me too. Agree with Chris, that is.
Anybody ready to crucify me over the creeds yet, or do y’all need to cuss each other out some more first?
No cussing here… don’t need to ?…
From Dictionary .com
noun, plural en·tre·pre·neurs [ahn-truh-pruh-nurz, -noo rz; French ahn-truh-pruh-nœr] /ˌɑn trə prəˈnɜrz, -ˈnʊərz; French ɑ̃ trə prəˈnœr/.
-a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
-an employer of productive labor; contractor.
-verb (used with object) to deal with or initiate as an entrepreneur.
-verb (used without object) to act as an entrepreneur.
So I would say, according to the first definition (“any enterprise”), that anyone who starts a new work is an entrepreneur, a word that does not have to be defined with a derogatory meaning. So anyone who decided to plant a new church is, in a sense, an entrepreneur. As for motives…
People who move from one type of church to another are NOT entrepreneurs, they are seekers.
By the way, the corporate confessing of the Creeds (starting at baptism) is very early…
If you really want to discuss the creeds, send me a short article and we’ll do a new thread…
I was using the economic theory description of Joseph Schumpeter.
I was using the economic theory description of Joseph Schumpeter.<<<
I was using plain English.
Duane – my last comment on this. You placed yourself in the position of being the one who grades our blog comments – and we do not reach even to the level of first year theology students. Your evaluation, not mine, and you are entitled to belittle us all – free speech and all that.
If we have someone (or someones) among us with education in a given area, we probably will be wise to give their opinion greater weight in discussions.
I don’t think it’s a statement of intellectual superiority as much as acumen informed by education.
Swearing is unacceptable in this context…
And I was using, my own made up definition, which was convenient to my point 🙂
Pleased to know it is your “last comment on this”. I, in fact, did not class all comments as such, only those that were patently inaccurate.
I know. I was using the economic definition as it was used by person after person in various church movement materials. It really is the business model which they seem to want to copy.
Michael – I’m cool with getting roasted about the Creeds by the readers of this thread, but I’d rather not publicize it to be marked by the world 🙂
Josh, is there a particular line or phrase in the Nicene Creed that you object to?
Pseudo-Athanasian and never received the authority of an ecumenical council…
Josh, so it’s not Creeds in general but something particular in the Athanasian Creed that you object to?
I get that it is probably not original to Athanasius, but isn’t it always included in one of the the 3 Ecumenical Creeds that all Christians must affirm?
“And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.”
Sorry to be choppy. Doing a few things at once. This is the portion I disagree with.
Josh, we never use it, except for study purposes, in the Orthodox world.
We don’t use the Apostles’ Creed either. Just the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
Ah, I see where your disagreement lies.
I’m totally on-board for Apostles and Nicene (no problem with the Constantinople part either).
This is great, Duane, spot on.
Something that occurred ti me as I read thia was that all the church advertising billboards and front lawn slogans around my town from Baptists to CC to Methodists basically say, “Have you tried Jesus lately?” “Friends for the journey.” “(Underneath a big rainbow) Everyone Welcome”.
Reminds me of Pepsi vs Coke, McDonald’s Happy meals, and a Pander-bear church board, respectively.
I don’t know of a single church of any type that recites the Athanasian Creed on Sunday mornings. What you are objecting to is “salvation by works,” not reciting the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. Is that accurate?
If that’s all it is, you are probably in agreement with almost everyone here.
Yes, Xenia. Or explicitly how it is stated in that creed. I know it is in the Book of Concord. I don’t know how often they recite it.
“And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
Lutherans confess the Athanasian Creed. We also confess that the Scriptures are the Word of God.
Currently in the Anglican Communion is is listed as “an historic document”. It is not validated as a creed by an ecumenical council, it is late, it was not written by Athanasius… in other words, there are some issues here. JND Kelly and I discussed it over lunch many years ago. As I remember, he believed it to have come out of Southern Gaul and that it belonged to the circle of Vincent of Lerins. He also believed that it was first written in Latin. For my part, I believe it to lack ecumenical status as it was never accepted by the Eastern Church. While the EO do not confess the Apostles Creed, as such, it was in baptismal texts in the east at an early date…
Confessional Lutherans are bound to accept the Athanasian Creed as it is included in the Book of Concord.
So you affirm that statement with no context? Just as it is?
I mean, there are lots of verses from the bible that I wouldn’t pull out and use as my creed.
“And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
I can affirm that part of the creed and the Scripture that birthed it.
Why do you say there is no context? Of course there is. Moreover, I said Lutherans confess that Creed. Affirmation is included within the meaning of confess.
Thanks for the context Duane. But why do I have it in my head that there are three ecumenical creeds and Athanasia is one of them?
Further more…I think it needs to be preached as the Reformation did great violence to the Biblical tension between works and faith…
Jean -so you believe good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell?
As far as I can tell, without studying, the Orthodox would approve of the Athanasian Creed. We say stronger things than this!
Josh, do you agree with Jesus’ words or is this another passage that doesn’t mean what it says?
It is the traditional view! Of course, you could say that there are more than three! Apostles, Nicene (325), Nicene-Constantinoplian (the one we actually use), the Chalcedonian definition and the Athanasian. “Three Ecumenical Creeds” tends to be shorthand…
It would probably be easier if we stuck to the creed rather than the scripture reference, which is stated slightly different, and of course has the rest of scripture as a context to be weighed against.
As stated in the creed, I cannot affirm:
“And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.”
If that statement is the absolute truth, I will certainly burn in eternal hell. I would prefer a large measure of grace. It is my only hope.
Josh, that is part of being in “the catholic faith” which is all about faith in Christ. This creed does not say non-believers in Christ can be saved by their good works.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Hebrews 13:4 ESV
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Lots of verses in the NT like this.
But that’s where faith in Christ comes in, which whoever wrote the A. Creed surely believed was necessary for salvation. For such were most of us….
Xenia, I would like to introduce you to a body that recites the Athanasian Creed in church. The Lutheran church does – in fact we will be reciting it this Sunday which is Trinity Sunday.
Much easier for me to affirm a hard scripture than explain away part of a creed.
This is where neo-monasticism can enter the picture, if Christians are not careful. Work done in faith as spouse, parent, employee, etc. are “good works.”
I’m still afraid it doesn’t reach the level of holiness. I haven’t been that great of a husband. It’s either grace or Hell for me.
MLD, ok, thanks for the info.
Jean, I don’t know what “neo-monasticism” might be but I heartily approve of monasticism.
Josh, what of the scriptures I posted?
When I was Reformed I took great exception to that part of the Creed..
Then, as Xenia noted…I had to deal with a plethora of verses that said something similar.
We can use a system to explain them away…but I found that caused too much cognitive dissonance…
This is what confession is all about. We slip up, either deliberately or intentionally, and we confess our sins. Clean slate. Then we receive the Eucharist to give us food for the journey and strength to stay on the Path.
Xenia – I hold those scriptures in context with all the other scriptures. Its something we should wrestle with for sure, and never take our morality lightly.
The creed just has the one line with no greater context. Good boy = heaven, bad boy= hell. It also rules out any type of annihilation possibility, with the distinct language of “everlasting fire”, but I agree with that.
The thing is, I think I can state with 100 percent certainty that the author of the A. Creed believed you had to have faith in Christ to be saved. No do-gooder Hindu can be saved without Christ, in other words, nor atheist or whatever non-Christian system. It was a GIVEN, I think. It was written in a church environment that assumed people would be confessing their sins in church.
Lots of context:
“Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.”
“who suffered for our salvation” seems to be in contrast to “give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire”.
So again I’ll ask: Are you doing enough good to be judged worthy of heaven?
I’ll ask you again: Do you believe Jesus in John 5?
“A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Yes. I believe everything Jesus ever said. Why can’t you just answer my question?
Josh, what do my personal works have to do with the Creed? Do I ask you about your works?
It doesn’t talk about “doing enough.” God is not a bean-counter. Do your best, with God’s help, avoid evil works, confess your sins… Love God and your neighbor. That is sufficient.
Xenia – unfortunately the creed is talking about after your dead and resurrected. You’ll be raised and then judged. Good works for heaven, bad for Hell. You seem tobe saying you will only be judged up to the point of your last confession.
Jean – read this: “At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.”
Xenia – How can that be sufficient?!?! We are talking about heaven, here. Do your best? Really?
Yes Josh, do your best, with God’s help. You will falter and fail so confess this to God and start afresh. This is the Christian life.
Xenia – That’s called grace, and if the creed said that, I’d gladly affirm it.
The Athanasian Creed is full of grace. It is a confession of the faith, what must be believed for salvation, including: “Who suffered for our salvation”
Jean , when you give an account of your works, do you think your good will get you into life everlasting?
“when you give an account of your works, do you think your good will get you into life everlasting?”
Is that what the Creed says? Of course not. It says: “And they that have done good”. So the question is: Who are “they that have done good?”
Luther said something to the effect that a tree cannot make itself a good tree. It bears good fruit only because it has been made a good tree.
What is grace? It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. (I know others groups define it differently.) How does grace work in our lives? By our active participation in the life of Christ which includes confession, Communion, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, etc. But God is not counting how many times we said our morning prayers, to forestall that suggestion. It’s the morning prayers (for example) that soften our hearts towards God and set us in sync with His will.
I would discard the question “How good is good enough?” or “How many good works must I do?” To ask this type of question is making the false assumption that we are mechanically doing good works and God is keeping a tally. No, it’s more organic. We live our lives in Christ with the aim of becoming conformed to His image and the closer we get to Christ, the more the good works will bubble forth and the evil works will shrivel up. But it matters to make an effort, not just to say “I can’t be good enough for God so I will just not even try.” We must try, even though we will never reach perfection this side of heaven. What we must avoid is living a careless live, which- speaking only for myself- led to near disaster.
Jean – thank you for finally answering how you explain away a very clear statement.
My good works will get me into heaven for sure because all of my good works are in Jesus Christ. My works will be evaluated by this statement from Jesus – well done good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of the Lord.
My new man cannot do anything but good works and my old man (the devil living in me) cannot do any good and has already been judged.
Unlike you, I quoted the relevant text. I explained away nothing. The Gospel of John in particular, from which the Creed text in question is taken, emphasizes the new birth from above: “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Hence the good tree.
“My good works will get me into heaven for sure because all of my good works are in Jesus Christ. ”
Me too, MLD. I wish the creed made that clear.
Well, if there is nothing to explain, just leave the creed as is. If your works are judged good, good for you!
The creed does make clear what MLD said because it is the confession of those who are in Christ, as Xenia previously said. A creed is a confession of faith. It is ecumenical because it defines the contours of orthodox Christianity.
Josh, for those who know who they are in Christ, the creed is clear.
For some who are confused and not there yet, they need to be taught.
It still needs more explaining: (my notes in caps)
“At whose coming all men (EVEN CHRISTIANS?) shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own (OWN WORKS IN CHRIST?) works. And they that have done good (DONE GOOD MEANS IN CHRIST?) shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.”
“Josh, for those who know who they are in Christ, the creed is clear.”
Ah, it’s an understanding received at salvation. Gotcha.
Ancient Christianity wasn’t antinomian.
Definition of antinomian
1 : one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation
“So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Even Christians.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” These are Christians in Christ. Created in Christ Jesus for good works. God prepared them for Christians…to walk in them.
Xenia – Agreed. (though I do not believe works are for salvation)
Jean – Agreed.
I am no longer prepared to dogmatically assert that works play no part in salvation whatsoever.
There is a clear paradox in Scripture…and the “faith alone” dogma has produced an epic number of scoundrels that I have no desire to live with in the old or new heavens and earth.
I’m still processing…
If one claims to be a Christian, and his evil deeds outweigh his good deeds, and the evil deeds are never repented of, then we might wonder if such a person is really in the faith and if they are not, they will not see heaven.
How many here will say this about unrepentant homosexuals? Many claim to be Christians yet they will not repent of their sin. How many here are willing to say that an unrepentant homosexual is a genuine Christian and will go to heaven? I am not talking about a person who is struggling, who repents, falls, and repents again. How about an abortion doctor who claims to be a Christian?
See, works do matter. Call yourself a Christian yet proudly commit the most atrocious sins and you will not see heaven.
We are not talking about a dad who had a hard day at work and came home and yelled at his kids and kicked the dog and was remorseful and repented.
Respectfully, I disagree. The blood of Christ is either able to cover any sin, or it is not able to cover mine. I will continue to plead the blood.
Every time I read Matt. 25 I have those questions…
One might say:
If [or since] we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Josh, are you saying that if a child makes a decision for Christ and later embraces the homosexual lifestyle, without repentance, this man will see heaven?
Christ will surely forgive such a person if he admits his sin and repents of them.
Because I see where this is going, I am jumping on Josh’s wagon.
Until someone can give me a list of my sins Jesus did not die for, me and Josh will be best friends.
Also, don’t say unrepentant sins as I cannot think of or remember all my sins this week of thought word and deed – those done or those left undone.
Matt 25 blew up my system…
Heaven will be full of forgiven sinners.
Hell will be full of forgiven sinners.
I can’t see where this is going…I’m just discussing where my own thoughts are at.
I’m not in an adversarial position against anyone…
Michael, the Sheep and the Goats episode was very instrumental in my theological switcheroo. Keith Green’s song was what got that particular ball rolling.
Now we are approaching territory where I disagree with the Lutherans.
Whew, this thread is somewhat revealing, but tedious…
as to the term “good” in the Athanasian creed… perhaps it is a symptom of our lack of understanding? Jesus asked why someone called him good as there is only one good, God… So? So one can infer perhaps that doing the will of the Father is the good referred to?
Now i’ ll go back to reading and find somebody up there already said that. ..?
I guess it was predictable how this thread degraded from a topic about motivation for starting new churches to, whose liturgy is the oldest and bestest.
And this is what makes “Forest run, Forest run.”
Pretty ugly exchange, is all I have to offer. I guess it does prove grace and mercy is where real salvation exists.
Well Mr. Mudman, I thought this was a pretty good conversation.
After all these years some of the less initiated are confused by the special way Josh and I talk through a topic. More like a couple of Jews arguing Torah in Yiddish on a street corner.
Mudman i think we were in the middle of an intense conversation that was very relevant to those participating – twas tedious for me, but the subject was long since settled as far as i was concerned, but then i am neither an intellectual nor a theologian. ?
Sorry Mudman. I’ve been busy for four years and I guess I ‘m throwing it all out there at once. See it as a sparring match. Things can get heated, but mostly it’s in good faith.
I imagine the Lutherans on here (and maybe other Prots.) may throw up in the mouths a little…
But I’ve been reading this Baker book where the author says that we’ve misunderstood the
term pistus — faith. He says it’s closer to allegiance than just affirming something
Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King
I wouldn’t throw up in the mouth. I would just laugh out loud. What was the motto of the Enlightenment? Dare to know? However did the Church get along for 1,500+ years?
Yes, the Church didn’t give a s-it about knowledge pre-Enlightenment. Riiiiiiiiight.
Ever heard of Augustine? Or Anselm?
“Faith seeks understanding.”
No, I’ve never heard of them.
bob1, I took the time to read the book description, the back cover and the first 40 of the 73 reviews. (Hey, some of these reviewers ended up writing a paper of their own) I also looked up the author and the university he teaches for.
What we have here is basic Roman Catholic theology eroding away at faith alone by renaming it and recategorizing it.
I pick up a hint of an RCC version of Lordship Salvation.
But I also pick up some NT Wright’s famous, “look what Reformation protestants have missed these past 500 years – follow me.
When you finish the book, have Michael let you write a book report. Let us know how it comes out.
Naw. Why should I do a book report? Your Lutheran minds are already made up. Besides, I don’t
think you’re capable of much nuance — you prefer bumper sticker-deep thought, not to mention
bullying, coercion, name calling and insults. You’re a regular PhP Donald Trump. Congratulations!
To be honest, most were polite in their dogma and defense of liturgy, but MLD and the other Lutheran were a bit over the top and condescending.
And MLD, I’ve witnessed Torah discussion amongst Hasidic and I believe you top them. Maybe that is the definition of success for you.
And being honest, this discussion would make me run from Christianity and not embrace it.
Xenia you are always polite.
Duane does have the credentials and right to critique, but no one has to agree.
Just observing from the sidelines..
God forbid the Lutherans on here could actually humble themselves and admit they don’t know everything, and learn from those more educated than them. If that’s what it means to belong
to the Lutheran sect…
I agree with MudMan — you two are really crummy witnesses to the Faith. IMHO.
But hey, your sect has the correct doctrine, and besides, we’re all sinners.
So everything’s peachy, right?
bob1 – if you are still in search in this area, continue on.
Yes, as a Lutheran I have looked into and pretty much settled in about faith – are you not settled on individual doctrinal / theological issues?
To a Lutheran faith is not a human work so it is not something I muster up – assent or allegiance. Faith is not a human work, but a gift that is experienced and expressed as trust and reliance. Look at Psalm 3:5 – “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”
We trust God’s words of promise and rely upon Christ’s work of salvation in our place. The gift of faith enables us to say “yes” to God’s offer of forgiveness, life, and salvation – and also, get this, to thank him for that gift.
Yes, I have thought it out. If the RCC position helps you get through life, go for it.
So, I guess if Lutherans were in charge of Scripture, it would read:
I Cor. 12:3 … no one can say, “Jesus is NOT Lord,” except NOT by the Holy Spirit.
See,with your bumper sticker depth, even “Jesus is Lord” gets bumper-stickerized
into “an RCC doctrine” and not, as Michael said so well, the catholic confession of the
church through all time. I guess the Lutherans apparently know better than everyone else.
Well since I did not say any of that, you must be looking at the wrong car.
But to your comment – the only way I can make any statement of faith is by the gift given to me by the Holy Spirit.
Look at it from my side, you are part way through a book published by Baker, an evangelical publisher, written by a Franciscan professor, and now you know it all? Call me when you finish the book and let me know if you adopted his position – I am truly interested.
Ah, a nice dinner, a couple of adult beverages with my dear wife…. and The Lutheran Hour continues…
Duane, you are still a condecending ________.
bob1’s book was addressed to us, even if it was in a backhanded way.
So we answered. Mind your own business or address the book.
As I said… The Lutheran Hour continues…
Well I guess I will call it a night before you pull out your red grading pen again.
It makes me sad that people find this discussion discouraging. I try to bring out all the views in detail because I think it is important to really understand each side of the issue. I also intentionally push buttons along the way to get a little ruckus going. That part is mostly just for my entertainment.
Sincerely, I apologize. I only want to be an encouragement in life. Plenty of discouragement all around, no need for me to add on.
Josh, I agree with Xenia’s assessment that we had a pretty good conversation.
One thing we must always remember is that the words (and message) of Jesus come to mankind, not bringing peace but a sword. That is why theological discussions, in particular, can bring out the worst in people.
It’s all good. The hope is that in a civil and courteous discussion there is more light than heat…
I thought it was a good discussion too, but I understand the critiques and know my own culpability. If commenting on a blog is worth doing, it’s worth choosing my words more carefully for the glory of God.
I don’t want to stir up strife. Only make an observation.
“He says (faith is) closer to allegiance than just affirming something
If this is true, I am sunk. My allegiance is weak on my best day. All I have is the promises of Christ. Particularly Matthew 11:28.
It’s more than just mental. It’s spiritual, emotional, all of it. The only thing I’m aware of most days is how much I fall short and how much we need His Mercy.
Jean and MLD have always pointed to Christ’s Work for us. And for that I’m grateful.
When you have a forum like this that is committed to being ecumenical, you are going to have sharp disagreements.
In particular when you have confessional Christians interacting with non confessional Christians, things can get really heated.
Confessional Christianity is by nature, dogmatic.
Ecumenism, by nature, isn’t.
Both sides get deeply offended by the other.
I think for the most part that this was a good discussion.
We can always get better, but we’ll never be able to avoid sparks flying.
I want to read that…his three points seem to coincide with my own thoughts these days.
“1) intellectual agreement with the content of the gospel, the culmination of which is Jesus’ enthronement as king; 2) confession of loyalty to Jesus in recognition of his reign; and 3) embodied fidelity as a citizen of Jesus’ realm (i.e., actually living in a way that reflects loyalty to Jesus).”
In an age when we prosecute people for giving the thirsty a drink at the border, #3 is very compelling to me…
Joel G – you got it right. When “faith” is turned into our work the natural expression is allegiance. Just up your allegiance to Jesus and you have started your path to Jesus. As I said above, it is RCC theology.
Also again – Psalm 3:5 is the best expression of faith I can find – “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”
MLD yes. I hear this in Evangelicalism, as well. You really have to pay attention to what is preached. As you have said in the past. is it Christ? Or the Christian?
Now this doesn’t change my desire to follow and live out my faith in Him in my small world. It’s only an awareness that my “best” is still dirty rags… tainted by selfishness….and needs His Mercy.
“It makes me sad that people find this discussion discouraging.”
I didn’t find this “discussion” discouraging at all. I found it to be very revealing.
I’m being completely honest, if MLD’s views and dogma are the hope for salvation, then I don’t want it. I thank God his are neither the authority nor the key to salvation and a life in Him.
BTW, I know many Lutherans from the same synod, even those with PHDs, and while there may be disagreements God’s loving kindness shows in them.
Yes I learned much from this “discussion.”
Was it good? Depends on what the measure of success one holds, I guess.
“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them. Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for The righteous shall live by faith. But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
“And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”
“That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
A barrage of proof texts only convince those already sure…
The word of God is living and active…
I am not ashamed of the Gospel…
That’s all I have. If it’s not convincing to someone, I’m sorry.
Mud man, you must not read my comments very clearly if you question my views and dogma on ‘the hope for salvation.’
My view is the easiest and least restrictive of anyone here – sprinkle some water on someone while pronouncing the promises of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and voila! – you are saved – a full blooded Jesus child of God.
So which part of my salvation view are you disagreeing with? Heck, if it’s a baby, we don’t even require they be awake.
Not only is proof texting not effective, the way it’s done here is often offensive.
A string of Scripture verses is not the Gospel…it’s simply sentences out of context.
For all of us to co-exist, you have to deal with the fact that many of us have examined your dogma and rejected it, while others find may it persuasive.
Anytime one group decides they have THE truth…and asserts it over and over again…there will be issues here.
“Works of the Law.”
How you define “the Law” is significant.
I believe “the Law” that St. Paul is always going on about is the Mosaic Law, not the commandments of Christ.
I have either read the book in question, or one with a similar premise. All of my books are boxed up and I can’t check the title right now.
Speaking strictly from the language, I don’t think he has an argument. Many, many scholars before him have translated the word “belief” thousands of times in the NT text, and in other ancient Greek texts. πιστεύω (The root in question) means believe.
Now, he could have an argument that the ancient concept of belief has more attached to it what we think today. I think that is a worthwhile thing to consider, but ultimately, it doesn’t really change the meaning of the word.
What are the commandments of Christ? Love God and love thy neighbor.
Can this be done without any activity on our part? Is it enough to just say to myself “I love God and I love my neighbor” without doing something physically? It has to be more than an attitude or opinion, it has to manifest in work. Good works. Christ requires them of us.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)
JoelG said: “Jean and MLD have always pointed to Christ’s Work for us. And for that I’m grateful.”
I agree. They have been a great witness in that area, and an encouragement to me and many others.
Love God, yes… but with all our hearts, strength , mind, soul… that is an intense, not casual love… and our neighbor. as we love ourselves is pretty nuanced also… Lots to think on again as i read.. Grateful to the pilgrims commenting here again. ?
“Is it enough to just say to myself “I love God and I love my neighbor” without doing something physically?”
This question, if memory serves, brings us back to our discussion yesterday, regarding that last clause in the Athanasian Creed. It seems to me that if we look at the weight of the NT, the gift of adoption as children of God, of life in Christ, of righteousness before God, is entirely by grace through faith. I don’t think there is anything whatsoever ambiguous in the text: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. ”
At the same time, Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
So, “faith” is not lazy or inactive. It is active in keeping the law of Christ. That’s why Lutherans happily confess the Athanasiam Creed. We trust that by the Spirit we will produce what God desires in us, but at the same time we don’t work for our salvation.
How close is this to EO? If pretty far away, where would you find the biggest disagreement?
Back to the book (not Xenia’s conversation) I find those who work so hard to define faith away from being the free gift of God that receives the grace that saves Eph. 2, into an allegiance, we must up and work on, do so not to strengthen their own faith, but to be used to point at others to show them their fault. Such as “if you were really sold out to Jesus, you wouldn’t do this or you would do this.
I find that people who are always complaining about “weaponized faith” are often people who cherish a sin or sinful attitude.
Not always…but often.
The Bible tells us much about how we should live…
Jean, I would just say that faith produces good works and good works, done in Christ, strengthen our faith. The more things we do with Christ, the more like Him we become.
The goal of the Orthodox Christian is theosis, most easily explained as becoming conformed to the image of Christ. This doesn’t happen automatically: I know this firsthand. For most of my life I believed I didn’t have to do anything, that Christ did it all for me. This is what I was taught. Without going into gruesome details, all I can say is I became a bigger jerk with each passing year under this system. It doesn’t work. It may produce a lot of people who will get to heaven but it doesn’t produce a lot of holy people. There is much more to being a Christian than getting to heaven, which is pretty much all I cared about for most of my life and I was terrified that I was going to miss that boat too because it just seemed I was missing a big piece of the puzzle.
And if you don’t think your mild-mannered Xenia was a colossal jerk, all I have to say is after my conversion to Orthodoxy, I had a lot of apologetic letters to write to people at Calvary Chapel, who I mistreated. (I myself was never mistreated, by the way.)
if you were really sold out to Jesus, you wouldn’t do this or you would do this.<<<
“The Bible tells us much about how we should live…”
Very true. And before God, all fail. Not one human being’s living will justify him or her before God. All have fallen short. Since this is the case, there must be another route to peace with God. Jesus pioneered that route FOR us. He is our righteousness and sanctification before almighty God.
If we can hold the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the sole source of our lives before God in Christ, then we should trust that that the Spirit given to us will work in us the will to work for His good pleasure in the world.
Michael, you prove my point. You want to use faith to whip me – which really is the purpose of the law, not faith.
My faith in Jesus Christ is to give me comfort in my salvation, regardless of my sin.
My disclaimer – my view is Lutheran.
Your’s I assume comes out of your Anglican doctrine.
Confusion between the proper distinction of Law and Gospel runs rampant in some circles.
“I would just say that faith produces good works and good works, done in Christ, strengthen our faith.”
Well said! I’m gonna steal that.
Yes, we all fail.
The problem is that once we accept failure as the norm and transformation impossible then sin abounds under the cover of grace.
Grace may cover, but the name of Christ is shamed…
Let’s say this again.
There is no set body of Anglican doctrine.
Anglicanism is about how we worship, not obeisance to a set of dogmas.
Xenia, two points. (Thiese may be purely Lutheran)
1. I assume you still sin, so my natural conclusion is that you are not sold out to Jesus or “you wouldn’t do this”.
2.) My level of being sold out to Jesus is of little consequence – The biblical fact that Jesus is sold out to me is what Christianity is all about.
“The biblical fact that Jesus is sold out to me is what Christianity is all about.”
Look, MLD gets on my nerves as much as anyone else…
but this statement right here bout got me speaking in tongues!
Y’all keep talking and I won’t have to write any sermons for a while! 🙂
“The problem is that once we accept failure as the norm and transformation impossible then sin abounds under the cover of grace.” Excellent observation.
That is the very mindset of the Post Modern world wrapped in Jesus language . Accept everybody and everything because change is not possible.
Why is it so hard to affirm the tensions that are so obvious in Scripture?
I affirm that my salvation is all of grace.
I also affirm that how I live is of great importance spiritually.
Codifying all of this is impossible…we receive it and strive to live in it…
1. I assume you still sin, so my natural conclusion is that you are not sold out to Jesus or “you wouldn’t do this”.
I am not “sold out” to Jesus nearly enough. That’s why I still sin and will keep on sinning until my last gasp. (I don’t really care for the term “sold out” but whatever.)
2.) My level of being sold out to Jesus is of little consequence – The biblical fact that Jesus is sold out to me is what Christianity is all about.
Yes, this is true. But it doesn’t contradict what I have been saying. You make distinctions where none exist.
You have a point there…
Michael, your last comment is perfectly good, for you and for many of us.
But…what I hear from you is not you working about your grace / faith / good works issues for yourself, but wanting to redefine faith so you can judge others. You did just that this morning when you showed interest in the book because others weren’t living out their faith right on the border.
So my comment you want to weaponized faith against some others.
I say this to my own shame…my friends and family have suffered for years because of me and my assertion that “this is just who I am”.
I was already a cranky bastard at age ten and haven’t improved much since then.
No matter… my doctrine was good and there was grace to cover.
Through steadfast friends and loving rebukes I’ve learned that not only can I change, I must.
It’s not easy and I’m still about as warm and fuzzy as a frozen porcupine…but the Spirt is doing a work…
“The problem is that once we accept failure as the norm and transformation impossible then sin abounds under the cover of grace.
Grace may cover, but the name of Christ is shamed…”
I don’t dismiss your concerns; I’ve thought about this; they are as old as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as you alluded to by “sin abounds.” However, I think honesty with ourselves and the world is the best policy . Failure is the norm, and transformation is imperfect in this life, uneven among Christians, and in God’s hands.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis described with an illustration a Christian convert who had come from a really bad background who after years of moral improvement still never became as good as the new convert who began Christian life as an already relatively moral person. Therefore, I see no value in fruit inspecting myself or other Christians. Preach Law and Gospel and trust the power of the Spirit.
If we are not honest with ourselves and our people, then Christianity will become a house of hypocrites who think they’ve transformed, or people will burn out in despair when they realize that they don’t measure up.
Look around this country, look around the church, look around worldwide Christendom. We’re fully occupied by sinners. But, here’s the great news: We’ve got a Physician. Christ came to save sinners!
So, rather than think that Christ is shamed by our sin, why not be honest with people by saying: Brother, we’re all in the same boat – born of Adam. Let me tell you about the God of the universe who out of love for us sent His only Son into this dark world to redeem it….
I don’t think any good works are possible, so long as someone thinks he earns salvation by them (even if you cloak that under the guise of genuine faith). Why? Because once you condition salvation on good works, you turn the Christian into a mercenary and not a son; a hired hand and not a royal brother of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is Lord; that’s for sure. But He’s also our High Priest before God who purifies us before God with His own blood. We are pristine, pure without stain or blemish solely by the blood of the Lamb. We receive Christ’s righteousness passively by grace through faith. Christians share in His inheritance; we don’t earn a wage.
I’m working out my theological issues because I want to know Christ and minister to people the way I ought.
I’m also working them out online, in community, in front of a couple thousand people a day.
It’s not about judging others…it’s about understanding what Christian standards are for myself first, then if I’m hearing the Holy Spirit, speaking those things prophetically to others.
You are free to disagree…I’m ecumenical…
Go read 1 John and get back to me…
Just a reminder…
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matt. 5:16
You can use the words of Jesus to explain the words of St. Paul or you can use the words of St. Paul to explain away the words of Jesus.
Michael, if there are no definable Anglican doctrine, how do you catechize kids / new members?
Now I did see an Anglican catechism supervised and produced by JI Packer. Are they individual creations?
This may answer my biggest Anglican type question – how John Shelby Spong stays a bishop in good standing even though he denies all the miracles in the Bible, and denies that Jesus spoke most of the words attributed to him.
Great discussion, all.
Josh @11:58. Amen!
An anecdote from my little life:
My brother and I are back serving dinners in the house of bedbugs in downtown Portland (being more careful to not bring them home to my family). There are guys there who live under the weight of past sins , addictions and mental illness among other things. It’s my goal to inform them that they are forgiven by Jesus. Nothing else. Jesus can take care of the rest as the Holy Spirit leads. This is what they need to hear. It’s what we need to hear. Over and over…..
“Go read 1 John and get back to me…”
Can you be more specific? I love that epistle, written to already saved Christians
My two favorite Anglican teachers are J.I. Packer and Michael Ramsey.
They wrote books against each others theology.
We have Reformed Anglicans like my dear Packer…and Anglo Catholics like Ramsey…and some who even lean toward Lutheranism and Orthodoxy.
We agree on the basics…the creeds of Christendom and we lean heavily on the patristics…but we have room for a variety of thought and doctrine as we gather in common worship.
I can’t answer for the folly of people like Spong…I simply embrace the orthodox part of our tradition.
1 John blows up cheap grace or grace without works….the tension between the two is shown in that little book better than anywhere else in Scripture…and it’s not treated as a tension,but a coherent reality of Christian living.
God bless your work there.
I announce the forgiveness of sins every week during the Lord’s Table…but I also hope to disciple people into growth as we go…
“and it’s not treated as a tension,but a coherent reality of Christian living.”
My favorite Anglican ? and I rejoice with you for sharing the same understanding of IJohn.
Right there in Chapter 1 John teaches us two fundamental truths: (1) if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and (2) if we confess our sins, Jesus (the only One who can) will cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.
Thank you Michael. We need Him to do anything at all. I need forgiveness when for when I begrudgingly go there.
I’m no pastor. Just a struggling dude like them.
It certainly defies the assaults of systematic theology…
It’s funny, it’s not like Lutherans sit on our hands and do no good works. There is a ‘use of language’ difference. We do all of our works through vocation and for our neighbor. God does not require any of our works to be done for him.
This morning I fed my 12 yr old grandson breakfast and took him out on the boat. Taught him how to drive and we talked a little about life. All good works for my neighbor.
I am going to the store to buy rock salt for the water conditioner so my family has good water to bathe in and brush their teeth. More good works for my neighbor. None of it counts towards some mystical salvation account.
In our confessions are clear categories for the new obedience and for the 3rd use of the law.
And if you greet only your brothers, what extraordinary are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matt 5:47
It is good that you are a good grandfather. God bless you.
But we know, MLD, that you are actually involved in good works outside your family. This has come up when you have described the ministries you do with your church. You didn’t tell us about these things to brag but to let us know that many churches do a lot of good.
You don’t do these things for the sake of your salvation, I realize that. But you still do them because you have the Holy Spirit guiding you into good works.
Xenia. I didn’t mean that I do just for family, but I do just in ordinary life – what comes up and meets me,
I do not have my life and a ministry life – just life.
Out of curiosity, doesn’t the let you light shine rule out the monastic life?
MLD, no. Orthodox people visit monasteries all the time and we find spending time with the monastics very beneficial. Youth groups visit monasteries and help garden, etc. Orthodox monastics aren’t cloistered or forbidden to speak. They are out and about. Their lights shine quite brightly, at least, the ones I know. They do have a lot of private time devoted to private prayers, church services, and reading. They live structured lives, quite disciplined, but they are available for us lay folk.
Also, it is usually monastics who do missionary work. They aren’t encumbered by family and can stay in, say, Zaire, for the long haul.
“My view is the easiest and least restrictive of anyone here – sprinkle some water on someone while pronouncing the promises of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and voila! – you are saved – a full blooded Jesus child of God.”
It’s not about this at all.
Now I don’t know you except for what I read here on the blog and I’m sure like most internet faceless communications, they only represent a part of you. But, when I read what you write, not the actual doctrines and practices, but the attitudes perceived for those writings I would rather have faith in another spirit/religion.
You are probably the best husband, father, grandpa, deacon/elder and life giver to those who around you, but here on this blog? Well that’s what I perceive and it reflects or lights up on being Lutheran MS.
BTW here’s why I decided to be called “Mudman,” it’s as simple as what God made me from and where this body will return to. I believe there’s not one of us who isn’t an Adam.
Michael, Josh, Xenia and others, good discussion I always learn from you. There aren’t too many EOs who actual write about their faith and life experiences.
Mudman, I am sorry that you perceive attitudes that I do not aim to project. But some of what ratchets up the conversation are miscommunications.
You said earlier this morning – “if MLD’s views and dogma are the hope for salvation, then I don’t want it. I thank God his are neither the authority nor the key to salvation and a life in Him.”
So I explained my position on salvation, a sprinkle of water and a few Jesus words, and you said that was not it and moved in a different direction.
I just reread my comments from #1 to about 8:30 last night – I thought we had a good conversation going – then Josh and I started wisecracking each other as I reminded him that he put the LCMS on the same level as Wiccan and then he started back that the Lutheran liturgy was just a 19th century knockoff and then Duane came along with his red grading pen tell us that we were not even worthy of his first year theology class and then the conversation went to seed.
…And then, and then, and then…. Oh Mercy…
Wowee. It’s like PhxP has its own stalker….
And then it occurred to me that i have a problem with blanket declarations about what Baptists are, Lutherans are, Orthodoxers are, Anglicans are, etc…. I don’t much like church dogma…
You are a lover and follower of Jesus, God’s only begotten Son as Scripture has recorded… You have your choice of expression within a particular dogma and it draws you closer to your Spirit directed and growing soul… ? That is a good thing. ?
bob1, quit with the negative confessions. You are not a stalker.
JoelG way back there. God bless you serving the least of these. Jesus is there!
Em – Amen.
Thank you so much Josh. They are my other family.
Em… wisdom… it’s a good thing…
Going back to the original article, I think segregating children out of the regular church service is one of those entrepreneurial mandates that showed up on a slick mailing piece.
1.) The pastor can’t be bothered by the kids – his message is too important to be interrupted.
2.) It cleans up the multi media process.
3.) It gives the impression of big production value you will get your money’s worth.
Also, on the other, it gives parents an excuse to not model church behavior.
Theological entrepreneurs have attempted to add works into the doctrine of salvation using a variety of strategies. Some have said grace comes with strings attached. Others say God gives man a beginning with grace, but man must form or complete his faith with love. Apparently, at least one recent author would have a definition of faith which includes within itself allegiance and obedience.
What all of these innovations have in common in my opinion is that (i) they fail exegetically, (ii) if they are believed, they destroy faith, which is essential for both true love of neighbor and assurance that we are children of God, and (iii) they render truly good works impossible.
Jesus says that when you give to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?) Genuine love of neighbor is impossible if you think God is measuring you by some standard.
Paul exhorted Christians to offer themselves as a living sacrifice for the neighbor. This is impossible unless you have assurance that your adoption in Christ is vouchsafed by the irrevocable promises of God for the sake of Jesus who alone gave God a perfect obedience and who’s blood given and shed for you atones for the sin of the whole world.
The visible church has many blemishes, as it has since the beginning. However, Jesus said that the wheat and tares are planted and grow together by different farmers. So, why are we surprised by church scandals? We certainly are not going to rectify the church’s frailties by re-creating her under the law. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Others may see this differently…
That’s what I just said. I wouldn’t have made the comment if everyone saw things the same way.
“Theological entrepreneurs have attempted to add works into the doctrine of salvation using a variety of strategies.”
In the context of Duane’s writing, why would you call these people “Theological entrepreneurs?”
Quite clearly legitimate scholars, theologians and lay people, who have met the proper standard of exegesis, would disagree with you. It is also quite clear from the biblical narrative that the God of creation is far more tolerant than many doctrines may allow. But that’s a digression, a “rabbit trail,” from the theme of this thread.
Personally I think you have stretched the theme of this thread a bit for your point.
Where I agree with the thread is religion provides an opportunity for individuals to easily manipulate others for their own personal gains.
“Entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur, or “the owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits”. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/entrepreneur
I think the intent for gain, especially personal, is a key to the term. I also believe one will find these individuals throughout the biblical narrative and is nothing new to our generation.
Now the question of gain, motivation and how such are measured becomes important in examining Duane’s thesis. Fame and fortune or just simply being a “rock star” in a field may be enough in my opinion.
If those “theological entrepreneurs” are what you state what is their gain or profit to disagree with your position?
Jean’s comment helps answer a question I had. Why would a big time evangelical publishing house like Baker market a book of blatant Roman Catholic theology?
Perhaps the entrepreneurs are at work to fill the churches with ‘good little soldier’ pew fillers.
“If those “theological entrepreneurs” are what you state what is their gain or profit to disagree with your position?”
First, the position I have posited is generally shared by millions of Christians and several Reformation traditions, so while I offer it on the blog as my opinion, it is not my position.
Second, in my opinion there is an entire book industry and academic apparatus built around theologians coming out with new theological interpretations. It is not solely entrepreneurship, but also (again in my opinion) flows out of philosophical modernism, in which basically “newer is better than older,” and man is wiser today than he was say 500 or 1,000 years ago.
I didn’t stretch the thread. The participant in this thread who introduced the book by Bates stretched the thread. The blog owner didn’t object, and the conversation moved into that and related topics. Personally, I was quite content with the good discussion that flowed straight out of Duane’s good article.
Jean and MLD (in his unique manner),
You both take it back to my original position of motivation and how most movements, reformation or schisms are rooted in the “entrepreneurial” spirit you are suggesting. I believe the case/argument could be made your synod has its roots in such opportunities and desires.
I don’t deny that I am guilty of such motives and I believe to say otherwise about self purely indicates a lack of examination on ones part.
While I find the current crop of mega entrepreneurs guilty and deserving of scorn for basically stealing from gullible people. I also find such motivation is not far from my core.
Thank you Duane for the forum on the subject.
Now off to something profitable for the day.
In terms of academic studies, I don’t believe older is better or newer is better, there’s simply good theology and bad theology. The Didache was not published for us to study until 1883. Bonhoeffer’s books were written in the 1930s along with +Michael Ramsey’s first writings. Most of C.S. Lewis’ dates from the 40s and 50s. Then there’s the work of Jaques Ellul… I would hate to be without any of these. Yes, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff, but that’s been the case in every age…
Thank you… you’ve added to the discussion.
“What all of these innovations have in common in my opinion is that (i) they fail exegetically, (ii) if they are believed, they destroy faith, which is essential for both true love of neighbor and assurance that we are children of God, and (iii) they render truly good works impossible.”
I’ve read a ton of differing theologies and while they all do not utterly persuade me exegetically, most of them have a solid exegetical basis.
They obviously are vehicles of faith for millions of people, not destroyers of the faith of all.
They only render impossible that which your own view decides…and most of Christendom disagrees with your view.
I’ve come to the conclusion that certain theological constructions bring desperately sought certainty and “assurance” to certain people and they will fight to the death to be assured until death.
“Why would a big time evangelical publishing house like Baker market a book of blatant Roman Catholic theology?”
Why does every theological view have to fit into a binary Roman Catholic or Protestant category?
“Second, in my opinion there is an entire book industry and academic apparatus built around theologians coming out with new theological interpretations. It is not solely entrepreneurship, but also (again in my opinion) flows out of philosophical modernism, in which basically “newer is better than older,” and man is wiser today than he was say 500 or 1,000 years ago.”
Luther is the greatest theological entrepreneur of all time.
To accuse theologians since of impure motives is to assume that everything was settled in the 16th century and God locked up the Holy Spirit and said “no more”.
That …is absurd.
The depths of God will be plumbed by men full of the Spirit for the benefit of the people of God until He returns…and I am grateful for all their work whether it assures me or not.
I looked at my list of writers above and found Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox and even a couple of Anglicans… I must be in big trouble?
Like I said yesterday, I have Packer and Ramsey on the same shelf and so far, a brawl has not broken out…
Michael, “Why does every theological view have to fit into a binary Roman Catholic or Protestant category?”
I don’t know that it does and this may be the first instance I have brought up RC / Protestant divides in quite some time. However in this very case it is and you may be sensitive to it as the Anglicans here (I think I will use that term as many fondly say ‘the Lutherans’s here’ – then make their accusations) have slid back from the standards of the reformation.
Now that was a great shot at Luther – I know I am on the right track when people shoot at a guy dead almost 500 yrs.
And I already know the rebuttal – “Others may see this differently…”
Others may see this… very differently….
The funny part – and I must run out to lead my class – is that you talk about differences being good / great, but at the same time you want to flatten them out. I want them to me brought out and magnified for discussion.
Jesus offers mankind God’s rest (Come to me…). He offers mankind a conscience sprinkled clean. Jesus offers mankind peace with God.
Jesus acquired all these gifts for you, quite apart from the law, quite apart from your rebellion from God, quite apart from your sins which damn you, and quite apart from your (or better yet, in spite of your best) efforts, merits, strivings, or works to please God. Jesus did it ALL through the cross for the joy that was set before Him.
I implore anyone who will listen against buying in to any sort of hamster wheel theology. It didn’t work for Paul, who as to righteousness under the law was blameless, but counted it all as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus as Lord and gaining a righteousness that comes from God that depends on faith.
I like that – hamster wheel theology – LOL
Our closing hymn for my class today will be Abide, O Dearest Jesus – here are the first 3 verses;
1 Abide, O dearest Jesus,
Among us with Your grace
That Satan may not harm us
Nor we to sin give place.
2 Abide, O dear Redeemer,
Among us with Your Word,
And thus now and hereafter
True peace and joy afford.
3 Abide with heav’nly brightness
Among us, precious Light;
Your truth direct and keep us
From error’s gloomy night.
the writer takes the hymn from Luke 24:29-31
Well, we’ve had the Lutheran sermon, the Lutheran altar call and the Lutheran hymn… all we need is coffee-hour…
“Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.”
– Augustus Toplady, Anglican
snotty Anglican response – but expected.
Even the good is not allowed here. But then you are probably more into singing “climbing Jacobs ladder” – your ode, a song to hamster theology
Thank you, Joel… that helps ?
Thank you. Those are beautiful lyrics.
Toplady, though Anglican, was a Calvinist! Didn’t get along with Charles Wesley at all…
Man, Jean and MLD, I so agree with you on this issue of faith and works. It makes it more mystifying that you guys have no issue with the Athanasian Creed.
I go take my kid to work and church breaks out….
“Now that was a great shot at Luther”
It wasn’t a shot at all…but Luther started with Roman Catholicism, picked his way through his favorite medieval authors and some of the early fathers, and came up with his then unique system.
I suspect that what drives most Lutherans is what drove Luther…a deep need for a system that provided hm assurance of salvation.
I have no problem with it…but it doesn’t fit my spiritual needs.
I rejoice if it fits others, I just wish they’d quit trying to make the Gospel into suppository form.
I laughed as soon as I wrote that…sorry…
“I implore anyone who will listen against buying in to any sort of hamster wheel theology.”
I implore anyone who will listen to read and think for yourself and reject generalizations such as this.
I’m not anywhere near a hamster wheel, but I did eat some old Corn-Nuts this morning I found in the truck.
I want to define what I mean by “hamster wheel” theology.
It is the experience of a Christian who hears a theology which says: “God gave you some grace; now He requires you to give him your obedience in return (by doing this, God may give you even more grace);” or “If you give God your obedience or loyalty or commitment, etc., then he will give you grace in return (then if you give back to Him even more, you can expect even more grace from Him).” At the end of your life, provided you have reciprocated God’s grace sufficiently (or done your part), you may enter heaven.
What is enough? How do you know how much is enough? Is that good news or is it dreadful?
Can you direct me to the passages that say we’re now free of the need to obey God?
That’s why I directed you yesterday to 1 John.
This is poor theology…we can joyfully and gratefully declare that the grace of God covers our sin and disobedience, but to posit that obedience is no longer part of the life of faith is aberrant in my eyes…
“to posit that obedience is no longer part of the life of faith is aberrant in my eyes…”
if applied to anything I’ve written is a false claim.
“I’m not anywhere near a hamster wheel, but I did eat some old Corn-Nuts this morning I found in the truck.”
Not exactly sermon worthy…but it’s funny 🙂
I’ve studied Lutheran theology, Roman Catholic theology, Orthodox theology, Reformed theology and Anglican theology… I’m not sure that this fits into any of these theological systems… seems to be more of a “straw man” for the sake of argument…
Michael has accused me of Hillbilly Theology. Ever studied that one?
“a deep need for a system that provided hm assurance of salvation.”
That’s me! I worry a lot about my salvation. In the past I have given up from exhaustion worrying if I’m obedient enough? Am I zealous enough? Am I serving enough? Am I thinking the right thoughts every day.
I found I’m lacking in all of the above and all I have is the hope of Christ’s mercy.
I realize God is doing different things in all of us at different times.
Give me the reference books… please!?
Duane, you can dodge the conversation if you wish, but reading carefully note what I wrote:
“It is the experience of a Christian who hears a theology.” Ask Josh or Joel (you know what I think) what they experienced when they heard the Bates definition of faith discussed here.
I’m getting really bored with this, but I want to say something else.
I came into Anglicanism steeped in the Reformed tradition.
I still have sympathies with it.
Duane never once has said a negative word to me about that theology, though it’s not even close to his Anglo Catholic tradition.
I know he’d rather hear a dog bark then me quoting Calvin, but I only know that from surmise.
We speak of theology for a couple of hours every week…he offers things I may not have considered,but leaves the adoption or rejection of them to me without judgment.
I’ve learned a lot…a lot of theology, but more about how to discuss theological issues.
I believe that I see the fruit of the Spirit in every one here, expressed in radically different ways.
I have no clue who is right or wrong, I only know where the Holy Spirit has me today…and I can rejoice in salvation with all the different traditions here.
Why would a big time evangelical publishing house like Baker market a book of blatant Roman Catholic theology<<<
A little blatant Roman Catholic theology would do many of us a lot of good.
I get it…I found great comfort and stability in Calvinism.
It gave me a place from which to understand the trials of life and got me through some tough years.
Like all systems, it has some holes in it, but I rejoice in the fact that it was there when I needed it.
Pretty much, based on his description of life on the hamster wheel, Jean is imploring me to leave Orthodoxy.
I would not wish to comment on the Bates definition, as I have not read his book, nor examined his thought in its entirety. To do otherwise would simply be unfair to his work… I assume you have read his book(s) in full?
Do you feel as though you’re on a hamster wheel or engaged with your faith faith and relationship with Jesus?
There may be a third option or fourth if those don’t fit.
I’m not sure that I would define theosis as a hamster wheel! There is, however, the ladder of John Climacus…
Michael, I feel engaged with my faith and relationship with Jesus and His people.
I feel like we are being proselytized here.
Nearly two decades ago, my sister converted to Lutheranism. She and her husband found a vibrant LCSM church in California and we found a good EO parish near us. My sister and I were very happy for each other and had respect for each other’s churches. Then she listened to a few episodes of White Horse Inn and that Issues program and now believes I am a heretic. Oh well.
So they move across the country and find a new LCMS. After about a year, they quit attending. She wouldn’t say why but there was an episode on Facebook where I learned that her pastor was a… difficult person, let’s say. Recently she told me the pastor was extremely judgmental about non-LCMS groups and even she couldn’t stand it anymore.
Then there’s the son of the LCMS pastor who was a student where I taught. He was always accusing the school of not making the proper distinction between Law and Gospel whenever we tried to enforce the minimal rules we had.
And here’s Jean “imploring” us to leave our churches and join the LCMS, presumably.
When hell freezes over.
But what do you really think? 🙂
I feel like we are being proselytized here.
Yeah, me too. For about the 4000th time.
Michael, speaking of suppositories, is this from where you pulled this ? “a deep need for a system that provided him assurance of salvation.
I just finished my class, and first thing I did was ask them “what provides you your assurance?” To a person (we have a summertime remnant of 25 men) said to the effect, Christ crucified, risen and their baptism.
This was not the system in the RCC when Luther left – so he went to Paul.
On the other hand, where the contrary view is going, is that if you are not doing certain things or not doing enough, your salvation is brought into question. I would choke on my own tongue before I would teach that in my class.
Will someone tell me where Jean to Xenia to leave her church?
There are more than two views and nuance is my friend.
I haven’t ever written here or anywhere that salvation is dependent on works.
I am proposing that the NT would indicate a greater importance on how we live than most Protestants believe.
How it all works out in the way of redemption is beyond my grade…but I can sayJesus does it all while acknowledging that He says I need to participate as well.
I’m sorry you feel proselytized by me. That is not what I am doing with you or anyone else. What I was imploring people to reject is any theology (which I called a hamster wheel) experienced existentially as doubt (or the lack of assurance) that God is not completely pleased with them because there is something more they individually must do, rather than trust in what Jesus has done for them.
I respect you and your faith very much. I respect your honesty and transparency. We have been friends for many years on the blog and on Facebook, and I wish that to continue. In all that time, you have always been above board as a synergist. I’m sure I’ve never condemned you for it or encouraged you in any way, shape or form to give up your church. If you are at home and flourishing in EO (which I have every indication that you are), then I am exceedingly happy for you.
Jean, we will continue being friends. 🙂
Xenia, anecdotal stories don’t work on me.
I could also say that I am not Anglican as their most published and read American bishop is a Christ denier.
So where does that get us?
They work for me, being as I value experience. My experiences won’t work for you, I understand that.
Michael, perhaps we agree. I did participate in my own salvation. I brought the sin and the darkened heart. Jesus did the rest.
I did not write anywhere that I participate in my own salvation.
I said there is something in the whole process of redemption that we are called to participate in.
This life matters as much as the life to come.
Where you and I really differ is that you seem (and I intentionally use the word “seem”) to believe that the whole redemption narrative is about individual salvation and “getting to heaven”.
I believe it a far broader and greater thing than simply that…
Michael, then you would be speculating wrongly. First off, my hope is not heaven but the resurrection of my body.
Today in my class I was working on James 4:11-17 and the use of the word brother. So together we listed what it meant to be brothers and I got into Matt 5:43-47 about love your neighbor and your enemy and over the next 2 weeks will tie it into the Good Samaritan. You can’t get anymore works oriented / participation than that.
The difference between us is I never tie it to gaining salvation, retaining salvation or gaining favor with God.
It is because we are Christians, this is how we are to live. But if I still hate my enemy, I am no less a Christian.
MLD – Do you suppose that “life everlasting” is different than “heaven”?
Josh, so we are talking the same thing, don’t I have life everlasting now?
Going back to the creed: “And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting;.”
That is post resurrection, so it wouldn’t seem to be talking about the life you have now.
The creed aside for a minute (I need to run out) do you think we currently have life everlasting – as a present reality?
I think we do. But there is also that seated in the heavenlies going on also, so time is a little wonky.
This not to preempt MLD, but here are some (not all) of the Scriptures behind that portion of the Creed:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”