27 January 2009

I'm reading a couple books on the Emergies right now. First up was a book that I have not the heart to criticise, at least in a public sphere...my wife has had to hear all about its fallacies at length, and I won't belabour the point to you all. "A New Kind of Christian", by Emergie-in-Chief Brian McLaren. Read it if you must. I still have the final bit at the end to get through, but I'm suffering from an overdose of Postmodern-Hyper-Introspection, I had to put it down.

As an antidote, I am now reading the very humorous and insightful Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. I'm only about 60 pages in, but so far they do a good job expressing criticisms that I would have expressed in a much more ham-fisted way, and besides, they are more well read on the Emergie conversation than I.

I also just watched a documentary entitled The Weather Underground. It was a fairly balanced view that gave these domestic terrorists a pretty fair hearing. I find it thoroughly baffling not only that these people are not locked up in jail, but that people like Ayers and Dohrn are actually respected members of the educational establishment, not to mention personal friends of the President and First Lady.

I suppose there is a common thread to this post:

"Hippies! They're everywhere. They wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad. I hate hippies! I mean, the way they always talk about "protectin' the earth" and then drive around in cars that get poor gas mileage and wear those stupid bracelets - I hate 'em! I wanna kick 'em in the nuts!" - Eric Cartman


A Pilgrim's Porridge said...


I find it frustrating to even discuss the Emergent Church with friends that agree with me. I just can't believe the utter disregard for Biblical Orthodoxy. That's the ironic part, they desire to keep the ancient traditions yet they whole heartedly abandon the only tradition worth keeping - Faith in the Cornerstone.

I've been wanting to read Why We're Not Emergent for a While, maybe I will pick it up online tonight.

Another thing I find humourous is that most of the Emergents I know are led by old white guys that wish they were young (maybe even hippies). I don't think this movement is as much about the youth as it is about the first and second generation postmoderns leading young neo-intellect college students astray.

Whatev...I am frustrated already...

Percussivity said...

I am going to right up front confess my ignorance of all that is the emergent church... but I have to at least ask this: Do they have the gospel? Are they saved? That is for me the best place to start because if they have abandoned the gospel then they aren't my brothers OR the church, but merely another cult of lost people worshipping they know not what.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

LOL! Percussivite, trust me, those are precisely the sorts of questions that aren't answered. It is your "modernist" mindset that makes you ask those questions, hehehe.

If you feel like diving more into it, I can loan you the audiobook of A New Kind of Christian. There are some things to learn from it, but for that matter there are some things that can be learned from a nonbeliever's perspective of Christianity, so that's not saying too much I guess.

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

Have you read any of the other books by Kevin Deyoung (author of Why We're Not Emergent)? They look really interesting.

Yeah Percuss, the best explanation that I have ever heard of the Emergent church is this; if Christians have a tight grip on the core doctrines the other hand should be an open hand to the world, the Emergents are willing to open both hands to the world, losing their grip on the the truths that we should be dying for.

Another thing to note is that they believe in appropriation into the church. The idea that over time people come to appreciate the communal and spiritual aspects of the faith and will eventually decide to participate.

It is essentially the new, ultra post-modern, seeker friendly movement and young Evangelicals are buying in by the millions.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Haven't read them, no.

I would correct you though that "seeker sensitive" is probably not the right word for them. The Emergies tend to hate that word even though in some senses it describes them. They see Seeker Sensitive churches as the ones with amenities, nice parking, comfort, etc., all the things they rebel against, the Brickworld of evangelicalism. I would agree that seeker-sensitive rarely goes hand in hand with fundamentalism, so they generally are two different kinds of churches, both heavily criticised by the Emergent "conversation" and probably the source of many of its members.

Emergies are all about story, narrative, "the journey", and the deemphasize truth (particular anything hinting at absolutism), explanation, structural rigidity, organization, etc. I could go on, but as someone wrote, definining the Emergies is like "nailing Jello to a wall". By definition, they eschew definition.

Needless to say, there are some serious doctrinal divides.

あじ said...

there are
Do you ever question yourself? Do you ever question why you think as you do, and where that came from? Do you ever wonder if some philosopher, such as Plato or Aristotle, warped your view of the bible without you realizing it?

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Horse Mackerel, I tend to be very skeptical; in many ways I find myself almost between the camps of liberalism and fundamentalism on many issues. I'm not a heatedly vicious KJV partisan (it may be shocking, but I've been using the Luther Uebersetzung of late!), I'm not into absolute interpretations of less than clear Biblical passages (pre-trib, post-trib, I just don't care...), I am open to the possibility that God used what we know as evolution in creation and the days might not be what we conceive of them (outside of the earth's atmosphere, what is a day?), I am open to and expectant of the fact that much of what I have assumed or learned on Earth may make for some forehead slapping in eternity when I realize just how wrong I was.

So, barring getting pissed off at my parents/church/upbringing and barring having a raging right-brain, I would be prime Emergie material myself, but I didn't, and I don't. Much of the criticism is well-founded and helpful, and that is where I think the conversation benefits the church. Teaching of false doctrine, on the other hand...and I know the phrase "false doctrine" is just thoroughly mind-blowingly awful since it uses "doctrine" AND "false", implying truth or non-truth, but Paul used it on many occasions.

But for serious critiques I would defer to other actual authors/theologians. I am neither, just some blogger unable to resist channelling Cartman.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

BTW, just went to those links...depending on the authors, different people will make a distinction or not. The "Why We're Not Emergent" does make a distinction between the two, while D.A. Carson's "Becoming Conversant", which I've only begun, starts off saying it will not make such a distinction. I don't disallow the emergence of any church...it happened in the first century AD, and unique local churches emerge all the time around the world...but my term Emergies is referencing the movement/conversation led/guided/provoked principally by McLaren and Bell et al.

Percussivity said...

I am happily dogmatic about what the 'Church' is... the church is a group of people scattered across the globe, currently sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is extremely black and white... as much so as my wife considering our two kids in a crowd of youngsters. Only two of them came out of her uterus and there is no ambiguity whatsoever about that. So when I look at groups we tend to loosely discuss as a 'flavor' of Christianity I cringe slightly. If they do not preach the Gospel as presented in the New Testament then they might as well be Voo Doo head hunters who like wearing a cross around the neck.

Without the Gospel their names are not in the book so why argue about any other semantic? Get to the real issue.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Re the black and white thing...this is something "Why Were Not Emergent" briefly touches on. The Emergent movement is often tied in with abandoning "black and white" in all its Modernity for a more post-modern full colour. But it is ironically a black and white approach! Why choose either-or when "and" works? Some things are in fact black and white, some things are more an issue of grey, or colour. To say that there is no black and white, is to take a black and white approach to it! :D

Percussivity said...

Well it may not be 'black and white' per se... it all depends on the color of the ink and parchment within the book of life (it might be shining gold and eggshell, although I'd think there would be a greater contrast for ease of reading... but then angels probably have better eyesight and do not necessarily need the sharp contrast ratio the cursed body prefers). It all comes down to the fact that at the judgment your name is either in it or not.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Oh agreed, I wasn't imputing that the Book of Life was anything but purely binary!

Just went on a tangent on the black and white concept altogether.

あじ said...

My comment wasn't directed at you, dear Neuf; I'm aware of your, well, less-than-conservative (in some circles) views on certain issues. The demarcation of liberal vs. conservative is often, though not always, unclear. The only simple way I can really define a "conservative" is someone who is willing to call themselves that.

Percussivity: the question then is, what is the Gospel? And when you answer it, make sure to define the words you use, such as salvation, repentance, belief, etc. When you start discussing theology, you get into a boatload of terminology, and not everyone uses the same definitions for words (Reform vs. Arminian vs. ...) Not to mention the change of definitions that occurs over time, which is part of what the "conversation" is about. It ultimately boils down to how you define orthodoxy, and consensus does not appear to be forthcoming.

Percussivity said...

1. 2Co 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

2. 1Co 15:1-8 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: (6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

3. Rom 10:8-10 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; (9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Yes, defining "conservatism" is a can of worms in itself. Both conservatism and liberalism have been thoroughly devalued by their use particularly in political arenas. I am conservative in that I am skeptical of things that appear new; particularly because I believe nothing really is new, but old things return again in shiny new packages (as to a great extent is the case with Emergism, which seems Quaker-esque in ways). I know there is no quicker path to being branded an Emergie than to quote someone like G K Chesterton, but I'll take the risk...in Orthodoxy, and I'm paraphrasing, but he called tradition "the democracy of the dead". This is the strength of conservatism...it is bulwarked by centuries upon centuries, and is not easily swayed or crumbled every five years when a new book is published.

The new books can be useful, by the way, but its my nature to be cautious, skeptical, and conservative in my approach to "new" kinds of Christianity.

The Angry Coder said...

If we take away all meaning from all words, then no words have any meaning and every man will do that which is right in his own eyes. No, that is ridiculous. Words have meaning and they are particular and specific. Just because some charlatans warp and twist words (what is the meaning of the word "is"?) to cover their sin does not truly strip them of meaning. The Bible is objective, period: not subjective. The God who wrote the Bible also happened to be the one who created language: language itself is the invention of God. All this obfuscation of meaning is Satanic, as God is not the author of confusion and did not create language as a means of propagating darkness, but rather light.

あじ said...

Words have meaning - and meanings change all the time. For instance, the word "study" is now used primarily in relation to education, whereas 400 years ago it meant something more along the lines of "diligence" - which is why someone could "study to be quiet."

If the bible is purely objective, why does everyone, no matter how "conservative" disagree on how to interpret it? There are various schools of dispensationalism and reform theology, there's orthodox, catholic, episcopal, methodist, on and on. However much you want to talk about "objectivity," complete agreement is almost impossible to find.

The Angry Coder said...

I understand that language is fluid and there is variation in meaning, particularly English. However, it is not a free-for all. Those variations are slight. Even your example with "study" shows there's not significant difference. Context would be the major key in understanding the proper meaning. If a modern English speaker heard the phrase "study to be quiet" and literally thought that was a class in school, we would think they're an idiot.

I have a page from the original KJV printing and I can read it just fine. There are some words that have changed since 1611, but not many. I have to be more diligent to understand the underlying Hebrew and Greco-Roman cultures than I do the language.

Percussivity nailed it with the Rom 10 and 1Cor 15 passages. They clearly and simply set forth the one, true gospel by which we are saved. Any other gospel is 'another gospel'. I don't know if you are a Christian or not, but the gospel is simple, clear and unchanged for nearly 2,000 years. The multitude of denominations and contradictory definitions are not based in scripture and just part of the Enemys plan to deceive people by creating confusion. Don't fall victim to it- just believe the simple truth!

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Mackerel, I agree...we can say "there is no private interpretation" from 2Pet1:20, but that does not refute the fact that for, say, a thousand Bible-believing American fundamentalist churches, there will be at least a thousand unique interpretations of prophecy and scripture, in places. Does this conflict with 2Pet1? I don't think so; simply because there exist, undeniably, many private interpretations of the scripture, doesn't mean that all are valid. I agree, it means what it means, and so therefore there are correct interpretations, and incorrect ones. It is hugely improbable and borderline arrogant, to assume that we have arrived at God's intended interpretation for EVERYTHING in the Bible, when there is so much disagreement even among conservative fundamentalist churches and individuals. This is why it is wise to be critical, and not take our understanding, and yes, interpretation of every passage of the Bible is necessarily exactly what God was saying.

In some cases, yes, its pretty sodding clear. The Bible is a book of revelation, not a book of confusion, and many passages that are being debated defy my understanding as to why. The Gospel isn't a particularly complicated one. But if someone wants to debate on what exactly the Good News is, why, hell's bells, that's an opportunity to share the same, so why not embrace it instead of war against it? If the Emergies need the Gospel, we can point them to it!

The irony is that my interpretation above of 1Pet1:20 may be subsequently hotly contested, further illustrating the point that there are almost as many unique interpretations of the bible as there are humans. I'm pretty sure everyone on this side of eternity has some mistakes in our understanding...I'm not saying everybody is right and everyones private interpretation of the Bible is truth, I'm saying rather the opposite, that we're all probably wrong and its worth mucking through some things to get as much right as we can, particularly on the important stuff (who Jesus was/is, the Gospel, the mission, sin/redemption, life in christ).

Now let's play nice or my next post is Bootzilla.


あじ said...

Many apologies for the randomness of my responses...

Actually, I would contend that verse 21 makes your interpretation of verse 20 suspect, because they are connected. By "private interpretation" it means that it wasn't the prophet's own ideas that became scripture, it was the working of the Spirit. This I affirm. Beyond that, yes, I think many portions of scripture are quite clear, many are intentionally vague and apocalyptic, and many we mis-read because of our traditions and cultures (e.g. moderns read radical individualism into the scripture, which was quite foreign to the early church). True objectivity belongs only to God; our lot (for now) is to always "know in part."

I'm not trying to debate what the Gospel is, nor to get you to quote random scriptures. I'm trying to get a clear explanation of it, produced by individual thought. Quoting scriptures out of context and not giving proper definitions for words like "saved," "believe," "confess," etc. is not an explanation. I didn't see anything about "repentance" in those verses either - shouldn't that be included? But I fear the gospel to many is reduced to intellectual assent and a pre-printed prayer - a strange inheritance from a history where martyrdom was on the list of potential "inconveniences" one might experience. Moreover, why do so many conflate "the gospel" and "salvation"? Are they one and the same? Why have two terms for the same concept?

I'm not sure Chesterton would have many nice words for Modern Evangelicalism, but sadly I have only read snippets of him. When I have worked my way through Noll, Guinness, and Grenz I will try to revisit him (and Lewis and Tolkien (quite an anti-modern himself)). That moderns, especially Americans, disregard history and tradition is essentially a given in most circles, so the return to more ancient traditions should be welcomed, but I think in part moderns dislike it because some of it pre-dates the reformation, where the real history started (tongue firmly in cheek).

The Angry Coder said...

Hmmm... he didn't quote anything out of context and neither was it random! They were very direct, pointed verses regarding the salvation of man's soul. The words you asked for definitiions of are pretty main-stream words in the English language. In trying to sound smart, your question sounds pretty silly- unless you are an ESL speaker.

Pro 22:20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
Pro 22:21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Since I know you're big on context and it all has to be spelled out clearly- these words were historically dictated by King Solomon to his son. However they are also part of the Word of God to you and I and so they convey a very modern message in a very clear way. The words of truth are certain. If we can't know their meaning, then they aren't certain and the whole Bible is pointless. And that, I think, is the crux of this whole conversation.

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

If I may point to the simplicity of scripture for a moment by mentioning this verse (which is actually repeated twice in the Gospels):
Luk 18:17 - Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

I think Christ knew that only the humblest of men would ever truly know him, not those that could explain why the ESV is superior to the KJV or how Calvinism stands in light of Romans 8 or how many ways are there to understand the word "study." Though these things are important and must be discussed they do not determine our standing before a Righteous God.

Paul clearly teaches that we should avoid false teaching (Eph. 4:14) and we must protect one another from heresy. Today we have taken the most subtle path to heresy and that is where the danger exists. My issue isn't with different interpretations of second or third tier doctrines, it is with the misinterpretations of the core doctrines, the doctrines intended to be understood by the simplest of hearts by those who are as children.

Today new teachers are using pluralism as a subtle path to redefining salvation, the gospel, repentance and redemption. It is all under scrutiny by the intellect of men, men selling books, might I add.

This is where the danger lies. There are certain things that have always been true of Orthodox Christianity - those things are being untaught under the guise of Orthodoxy.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

"It is all under scrutiny..."

I praise God for scrutiny!

Coming to the Bible like a little child implies both simplicity of faith of course, but few things are more childlike than asking questions that may seem obvious to adults?

If our faith is sound, it can bear out a little scrutiny. The church as a whole has been wrong on a lot of things in the past (I don't consider the Gospel to be one of those things, hehe) so I would rather we welcome questioning than shriek "DAS IST VERBOTEN!" and retreat into our turtle shell when somebody questions dogmas/beliefs/practices of the church.

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

Perhaps you are reading the wrong thing out of what I am saying.

I am talking about the exposition of those who "lie in wait." As well as the necessity to remember what comes first. This "New Christianity" would have us all calling Jesus "Frank" and prescribing that the Holy Spirit is a kin to a Chinese woman named Sarayu (The Shack).

And Nic, you of all people should know, scrutiny for the sake of scrutiny is vanity;)

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

Actually, upon rereading what I wrote I can only assume you only read the last couple of paragraphs.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Well, I think we've got a parallel set of misunderstandings! I am not so much advocating scrutiny in the sense that we should proactively tear apart the faith with the limited abilities of our human intellects, I'm referring more about our attitudes to incoming scrutiny. When those outside of Christianity scrutinize our beliefs, point out issues that are often glossed over politely (the issue of remarriage, etc), I think sometimes a more helpful attitude is to be thankful and welcoming, not defensive/hostile. Protective, yes, and not passively reluctant to engage, but sometimes we just get angry and solidify any preconception they may have had about Bible believers being unthinking and unquestioning. Not that that is the case, but it could very easily be the impression we give off.

And yes, I had read your entire post, at least twice. I was responding directly to the quote in question, saying that scrutiny is not a purely evil thing that we must protect our fragile, weak faith from ever encountering.

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...


And for your entertainment...

Percussivity said...

The moral is I think to only drink the koolaide Jesus gives you.

[That by the way was not intended to mean anything at all... it just sounded deep]

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

"This mix up with cold water and sugar and drink in remembrance of me?"

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

OK, I was reading the D.A. Carson book this morning ("Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church") and I hit this passage and it was just too funny in light of the Gospel Definition War of this thread:

"[Dan] Kimball offers us antithetical visions of modern preaching and postmodern preaching. In modern preaching, the sermon is the focal point of the service, and the preacher serves as the dispenser of biblical truths to help solve personal problems in modern life. Sermons emphasize explanation - ie., explanation of what the truth is. The starting point is the Judeo-Christian worldview, and biblical terms like 'gospel' and 'Armageddon' do not need definition. The biblical text is communicated primarily with words, and this preaching takes place within the church building during a worship service. By contrast, Kimball writes, in the (postmodern) emerging church movement, the sermon is only one part of the experience of the worship gathering. Here the preacher teaches how the ancient wisdom applies to kingdom living; the preacher emphasizes and explains the experience of who the truth is. The starting point is the garden of Eden and the retelling of the story of creation and of the origins of human beings and of sin. Biblical terms like 'gospel' and 'Armageddon' need to be 'deconstructed and redefined'."

I'm all for thinking critically and analysing words like "gospel", particularly in light of what can become a very insulated Christian jargon, but I see no "need" for redefinition.

derek van neufeld said...

I probably won't even think about the emergent 'church' today, but I bet you I will probably spend 25 minutes total today just laughing about the Cartman quote.

あじ said...

I don't see anything in those verses about sin or repentance - aren't those things important? 1 Corinthians 15 speaks only of the resurrection, so it leaves out Christ's lordship and his divine nature - can they be denied and salvation received? Why are you using "gospel" and "salvation" interchangeably? Are they truly equivalent? I ask for definitions of words because they aren't as simple as you seem to think (not everyone has spent a decade or more in church to understand what they mean). Is salvation equal to eternal life? Are you saved from some thing (or things)? To something? For something? Some combination thereof? Is salvation all-or-nothing, or can you be saved from but not to or for?

Based on that passage, the gospel is only Christ's death and resurrection. Christ went about preaching the gospel - but I don't see him telling anyone other than his disciples about his death and resurrection. Is his gospel different from Paul's? Christ also told his disciples to spread the "gospel of the kingdom" - is that another gospel? How many gospels are there? Is Isaiah 61 the basis of the gospel? Something else?

In fact, the whole reason Paul brings up the crucifixion and resurrection in the context of the gospel is to set up the rest of the chapter! He is not defining a term, he is framing an argument. That's the context, which is completely missed when you only quote a few verses. That's not to say that it's not part of the gospel - Paul makes clear it is quite essential - but the entire chapter is about resurrection.

porrige: that we enter the kingdom as children is quite true: no matter how smart we are, we are infants compared to God's wisdom. Our standing is purely of grace. Nevertheless, God did not give people minds to learn and yet expect them to be shuttered. Christ commanded to love God with the whole mind, with the whole being.

Percussivity said...

Are you saved? Scratch that since you feel that needs redefining... are you going to Heaven when you die? If so, how exactly did you attain that destiny and the assurance of it?

The Gospel was defined by Scripture so I won't repeat that... it is the good news of what God did for us. There are many other important passages one would use if they were trying to evangelize a lost soul, involving understanding that sin separates you from God as well as concepts such as repentance, grace and mercy. I'm just puzzled that you obviously consider this a great mystery when this particular mystery was revealed two millenia ago and we as ministers of Christ we ought to be the stewards of this mystery as well as others you may or may not be familiar with.

Here is our church's Statement of Faith: http://mbtkc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=68&Itemid=73

Which part do you disagree with?

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Yeah, I listened to "Stretchin' Out" today, what a great album. Although I'm in the process of procuring the 1978 "Live in Louisville" album, from what I've heard of it, it is smoking!

Oh wait, you guys weren't asking about Bootsy Collins?

My mistake.

Anywho, horse mackerel, the point of "the gospel of the kingdom" vs "the gospel of Christ" is one that I had considered. The word means "good news", and if its meaning is fully self-contained, why does Paul talk about the gospel OF Christ and Jesus talk about the gospel OF the kingdom? I'm totally open to considering that gospel simply means good news, generically, and in context of passages in the New Testament, it happens to refer to the "best" news!

"gospel" is just a word, an English word, translated from εὐαγγέλιον in the Greek, that means "good news". The concept it represents as defined by Paul is immense and wonderful, but I don't see the need to jump down anyone's throat (by imputing they are not a Christian and/or have limited mastery of the English language) simply for asking what the word means and implies in the text.

This is by no means intended to blunt my conclusion that McLaren is at best, a teacher of false doctrine, at worst, The Biggest Douch in the Universe. Just for the record.

The Angry Coder said...

hhhhh... okay, I'll bite. Color me sucker.

I don't see anything in those verses about sin or repentance - aren't those things important?


1 Corinthians 15 speaks only of the resurrection, so it leaves out Christ's lordship and his divine nature - can they be denied and salvation received?

Do you actually mean "denied" or do you mean "omitted"? The real issue is that 1Cor 15 is not meant to be a full expositional treatise of every detail that could possibly addressed: including a full apology of the Gospel and rebuttals to common heresies. It does, however, contain a concise definition of the gospel, which is what you asked for.

Why are you using "gospel" and "salvation" interchangeably?

I am not- please show me where you thought I that I did?

Are they truly equivalent?

No, the gospel is the message itself. Salvation is the action of spiritual regeneration that results from receiving the gospel.

I ask for definitions of words because they aren't as simple as you seem to think (not everyone has spent a decade or more in church to understand what they mean).

The three words in question are all in common use in the English language. To have a general sense of them does not require church attendance or theological training. To understand their technical, theological nuances would.

To address the definitions from the position of the former, I will offer this:

"saved" - the condition of being rescued from something or set aside for something. "I saved these seats for you." "200 people were saved from the sinking cruise ship."

"believe" - to hold to the opinion of something; to accept as true. "Do you believe in Santa Clause?"

"confess" - to admit the truth of something, especially to take personal responsibility of. "The accused confessed to all crimes he was charged with".

Is salvation equal to eternal

No. Salvation is the condition of having been rescued from hell and a useless life. Eternal life is a possession granted to a person at the point of salvation.

Are you saved from some thing (or things)?

Yes, not the least of which is eternity in hell, as well as numerous woes in this life.

To something? For something?

Yes, to God's glory and for His purposes.

Some combination thereof?

See above.

Is salvation all-or-nothing, or can you be saved from but not to or for?

All. The purposes don't begin until the point of salvation, where the person is also delivered from condemnation and sin, etc.

Based on that passage, the gospel is only Christ's death and resurrection.

As stated above, this passage gives a concise definition of the gospel. Scripture must be compared with scripture to build a total picture. There is no one verse- no "magic bullet"- that covers all points in explanation of the gospel and rebuffing every possible false variation thereof.

Christ went about preaching the gospel - but I don't see him telling anyone other than his disciples about his death and resurrection. Is his gospel different from Paul's?

Yes. The scripture must be "rightly divided". There are numerous "gospels" in the Bible, but only one is for us today.

Christ also told his disciples to spread the "gospel of the kingdom" - is that another gospel?


How many gospels are there?

Several. I'd have to take the time to dust off the old D2 and Shepherd's School material and frankly, if you were really that interested in this, I think you could find the resources yourself.

Is Isaiah 61 the basis of the gospel? Something else?

This question is seemingly at random and I have a feeling you're setting me/us up for something here. So if you would, just exposit whatever you're point may be regarding this passage. In general, I would say 'no', this passage- and certainly not this passage alone- is not "the basis" for the gospel. But what would that even mean? Do you mean the basis for the gospel to exist? The basis of God's motivation? The basis of a definition? The question is vague and seems like a set up.

In fact, the whole reason Paul brings up the crucifixion and resurrection in the context of the gospel is to set up the rest of the chapter!

True, because the resurrection is intrinsic to the gospel.

He is not defining a term,

False. In v1,2, Paul states that it was the gospel which he delivered to them and it's subsequent impact. v3-8 he reiterates what that message- the gospel message- was. So he is, in fact, establishing a definition. The thing about definitions is that they are brief, not exhaustive. 1Cor 15 is sufficient to be a definition. It seems like what you are asking for is a treatise, which is fine. Apparently we are all corroborating on that ;-)

he is framing an argument.

Sort of. I would call it an explanation myself, but he is correcting some of the Corinthians bad teachings, so I could see where argument may also fit.

That's the context, which is completely missed when you only quote a few verses. That's not to say that it's not part of the gospel - Paul makes clear it is quite essential - but the entire chapter is about resurrection.

I agree that we have to be careful about using a few verses to explain a teaching. Too many times I have seen very poorly chosen verses used to explain something. However, this is not one of those times. It is not wrong to use just a few verses to explain something, but we must be sure that those verses actually, in context, teach the point we are making. That is the case here. I agree the overall context is about resurrection, but not every topic in the chapter is directly about resurrection. v1-8 he explains the gospel. In v8-10 he actually explains a bit about himself- no mention of the resurrection. So the chapter is "about" many things, but primarily about the resurrection.

I have the feeling this has been a great exercise in counting angels on the head of a needle. Virtually none of this would come up in a real-life, practical situation of giving the gospel message to someone who has not been 'churched'. I by no means will lay claim to being a great, or even a good, evangelist, but I have had several occasions to give the gospel to several people over the last year: a coworker who grew up Catholic but rejected that; a Hindu who is from Orissa, where Christians are being persecuted right now; a guy who is obsessed with conspiracy theories; a guy who is recovering from the grip of alcohol; several drunk and high people and my own little children. None of them thought like you or asked the same questions. These seem to be to be questions of unbelief, not of deep searching. I hope that I'm wrong.

Debtoneufer said...

I just witnessed my husband hang his head in shame as he realized that he wrote "Douch" instead of "Douche".

Gina said...

Regarding receiving the kingdom as a child, I would like to point out what I've observed about my own children. They take everything at face value rather than trying to read into it or determine intent. If they don't understand a word, I make them look it up in the dictionary. But, I will gladly explain definitions to them is there is not a dictionary readily available.

As far as the question that has been posed about the gospel, salvation, and repentance, I think you are asking how this would be explained to a lost man. First of all, I agree that every Christian should have at least an elementary list of "salvation" verses including the facts that we are sinners in need of salvation from death by grace through faith in the gospel by repenting from our ways to His way. Secondly, every witnessing opportunity is going to be different. Some will have a better understanding and background of the Bible than others. Most anyone will have some kind of hang-up or roadblock that needs to be hurdled which is preventing them from accepting Christ as Savior. I believe and have seen that the Lord, if he so chooses to use us, will bring verses and examples to our remembrance as we are witnessing and in communion with the Lord. We may need to go back a few verses in Rom. 10 to give the example that He uses about Israel's roadblock, in that we need to submit unto the righteousness of God rather than trying to establish our own. With someone else, they may just need to hear only verses 9 and 10 (which was the case when I was leading a girl to the Lord before) because their heart is already ready. We may be able to explain to death every little detail, but until the Lord convicts them and sheds his light into their blinded hearts, it will not take root. God gives the increase- not man's wisdom.

If you are asking these questions because of doubt in your own heart, I suggest that you humble yourself before the Lord and seek his face, that His light would reveal truth to you. He is not an unreasonable God and will always answer those that seek him with an unfeigned heart. I know that every one of us in this discussion would fervently pray for you if only we knew the intent of your questions. I thank the Lord for his saving grace that has given me life.

Percussivity said...

To increase this already record breaking post with yet another comment... I'd like to say that I wasn't trying to be mean with my last comment or to imply that he isn't saved or by any means unintelligent. This entire conversation (if I may borrow the term) has been about whether or not the Word of God is simple and clear as to how a lost man can find acceptance from a loving yet just and holy God. My position, which I trust has been obvious, is that it is abundantly clear. It is true that most everyone participating here HAS been under fairly advanced Bible teaching for at least 10 years... BUT I can at least speak for myself that my salvation came about through the use of a small handful of verses, most of which have been listed and of course the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I don't recall ever stumbling upon the use of language in the scripture... in fact the scriptures presented to me 19 years ago merely reenforced what I knew in my heart already due to the Spirit of God revealing my desperate need of forgiveness over the course of many weeks.

The very first verse I quoted I will quote again because it expresses my sentiments about this entire conversation/argument/whatever...

2Co 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

We do need to study to show ourselves approved, but don't take something as blessedly simple as Salvation and treat it as a dark mystery. We are no longer in darkness.

Gina said...

A few more comments:

Do you ever question yourself? Do you ever question why you think as you do, and where that came from? Do you ever wonder if some philosopher, such as Plato or Aristotle, warped your view of the bible without you realizing it?

I questioned the way that I thought when I was learning to follow the Lord. There were a lot of things that I had to undo because Christ was renewing my mind. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and his wisdom is greater than man's wisdom. The Holy spirit guides me into truth (John 16:13, I Cor. 2:10) and the Lord enlightens my eyes with the spirit of wisdom (Eph. 1:17-18).

I would not say that Plato or Aristotle warped my view of the Bible, but rather that the Bible unskewed my view from the ways of such philosphers and of the world. Have you read either of these philosopher's books? I have read parts of each and they are completely against the ways of the Bible. They devalue human life, whereas Christ gives value to it- even to the least. Plato and Aristotle believed in the idea of manipulating civilizations where a few select men choose who marries whom and what babies deserve to survive. They wanted to break apart families and let the "community" raise them. They were just as Paul describes them in Acts 17:21 "...they spent their time in nothing else , but either to tell, or to hear some new thing." Or as he says in 2 Tim. 3:7, "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Christ changed the world. His teachings were very contrary to the teachings of that time. I would recommend "How Christianity Changed the World" by Schmidt for a good read about this in more detail. The preaching of the cross that we as Christians are to be preaching seems like foolishness to this world, but as simple and foolish as it may seem, it has resurrection power to give us newness of life. My faith stands sure in the substantiating work that I have seen the Lord work in my life and all around me.

1 Cor. 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Rereading the war-torn, ravaged landscape that is this post's epic comment thread, I feel I should correct myself...

Pilgrim, in one of your comments, you characterized it as "the new, ultra post-modern, seeker friendly movement" and I contradicted you on that regard. While I do still think that they are two very unique movements, it is true that there are great parallels; your comment was more spot on than I realized at first, with the seeker movement seeing the emergent movement as the next version of their own movement. The seeker-friendly movement is, true to form, actively posturing to become "emergent-friendly". But that is more a one way relationship...the seekers reaching out to the emergents. The Emergents rail against what they see as seeker-sensitive churches (ignoring the common aspects they share). Very rarely in emergent literature do I see the heart for outreach...it is intensely focused on "inreach", on all things self-oriented. The major form of "outreach" is more in regards to leftist activism under the banner of social justice. The seeker-sensitive group are the embodiment of being "made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." McLaren on the other hand, would say, "what do you mean, 'save'?" And he would probably go on to say it means holding hands in the park on a fall day with a smooth talking Jamaican guy your main character has a huge man-crush on from the first moment he used the phrase "paradigm".

40! Foh-tay! Thanks to all who made this comment thread a raging, violent success.

Percussivity said...

If comments were presidents you'd have ended on a great note had I not just upped it to 41. It could of course be worse if someone else comments.

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

Much appreciated detail added to your prior comment.

Much the way a "sub-culture" quickly becomes mainstream, the emergent church's deconstruction of the the mainstream is what has made it so attractive. You better believe that McClaren knows exactly how many books he has sold and how big his congregation has grown since he announced that he no longer believes in hell.

A new form of seeking by becoming intellectually accessible, hip and just a little bit softer than their evangelical predecessors...I mean, no one wants to believe in hell, right?