January 29, 2010

Why I Don't Do Beth Moore Anymore

A blog post written by fellow blogger Edie at Life In Grace blog, used with her permission:

Why I don't Do Beth Moore... Anymore

After spending lots of time on the blogsites of christians, I know right away that this will be a controversial topic---but this is the little spot in the world for my perspective. I've done probably 5 Beth Moore studies over the years. I enjoyed the fellowship with women and I really like Beth's 'style' of teaching. She's down to earth, funny, sincere, and very cute. And I learned some great stuff. My favorite study was probably David. I'm guessing that that's because aside from Jesus, David is my favorite Bible figure. So why, you ask, have I given up on Beth Moore studies? I only know one other person who feels the way I do so I realize this is a lonely place to be in American Christianity. The last study I did of hers was the Psalms of Assent. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I was doing my daily 'homework'. Everything seemed so self-focused.

What does this verse mean TO YOU?

What experiences IN YOUR LIFE are like this?

How does this make YOU FEEL?

You may not see really anything wrong with that on the surface, but there is a recurring theme in every fad that passes through pop American Christianity: ME, ME ME. Look at the titles in your own christian book store: “7 ways to be a better wife” , “Your Best life now”, “The Purpose Driven Life/Church/Christmas”, “Promise Keepers”, “The Prayer of Jabez,” and don't forget the WWJD bracelet as you check out. We have turned in on ourselves.

We are obsessed with the christian rather than the Christ.

We have been led by well-meaning, sometimes highly educated people, to look into our own hearts and our own selves for the answer, for meaning, for good works and for purpose. We live in a postmodern society that is completely driven by feelings. Whatever I FEEL must be right. And our churches and the writers and leaders of our Bible studies have fallen right in sync. Go to almost any church service in America and you will probably 'feel' good; the music will be right, the lighting, the dynamic preaching, all orchestrated to bring about all the right feelings. But what will be the over-arching message of the day? 7 ways to be a better you? How to be the best You you can be, smothered with a little feel-good God loves you? Maybe I exaggerate but I went to a local contemporary service for quite a long time and went 14 weeks in one stretch without hearing a clear presentation of the gospel.

The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation.

It is objective truth---outside of ME----and has nothing to do with my feelings or my best life now. It doesn't have to be manipulated or presented with the right kind of music. The Word of God is powerful and it will do its work if we get out of the way. I think we are so focused on ourselves and on our particular christian life that we don't even realize the gospel is missing. And instead of a clear presentation of God's law in all its harshness followed by God's gospel in all its grace, we usually get some watered down 'you can do it if you just try harder/pray more/grit your teeth and be more dedicated'.

And I say to that.....no.....no....no, I can't do it.

But I know ONE who did it FOR ME: who lived the perfect purpose driven- promise keeping life and DIED the perfect death on the cross of Calvary and then rose again to redeem me back to himself. And I am trusting in HIS best life now----not mine.

Half the time, I don't feel like I'm even saved. I don't FEEL spiritual or forgiven or redeemed at all. Does that mean I'm not? Can I trust what's in me? Ever? Not usually. As a matter of fact, hardly ever. And does it really matter 'what this verse means TO ME'? Or does it just mean what it means----translated from the Greek and Hebrew and given to us by the inspiration of God? We have subjectivized nearly everything in today's form of christianity.

But God is unchanging. He is objective truth. And He gives me His word---which is objective truth, outside me. He proclaims that he forgives me. He gives me His very body and blood---which is objective and outside me. All these objective things He gives to me so that I don't have to look inside myself. So that I can know beyond of a shadow of a doubt, despite how I 'feel' at any given time, that He loves me and has given His son to die for me. That He has forgiven me and lived the perfect life as my substitute. Those are words I can trust---not feelings that change with every blowing wind or fad.

We often want a Jesus life coach.

What would Jesus DO instead of what HE HAS DONE.

Unfortunately, I lived like that for 20 years and it has 2 possible outcomes. Either I think I really am 'doing it'----living my best life now. Or I realize I can't and look around at all the people in my Beth Moore study who seem to be pulling it off. And I despair.

God never meant His gospel to be a 'how-to'. His story to us is a story of how HE DID IT-----and wrapped the gift of salvation up in a babe in swaddling clothes and presented it to us as the greatest gift on earth.

So as I ponder how I do sometimes miss the fellowship. I wonder if you think I'm being too harsh, too picky? I see her new study out on Esther and it makes me wanna give it one more try.

“A little bad theology maybe isn't all that bad.” I say to myself. “Just take the good that's there (and I know there's plenty of good) and when the focus gets off Christ...you can just 'refocus' yourself.” That's very hard to do. I've tried it.

That's what I have so loved about Lutheranism. It is intensely Christ-centered, cross-focused. You don't have to sift through questionable theology. Maybe we need a Lutheran Beth Moore. But you know what, it wouldn't sell well. No gimmicks, no manipulation-----just pure law and gospel and a worship style that's 2000 years old. It's not flashy enough or hip enough to make a splash in today's postmodern culture.

But when I go to church today here's what I know for sure: I will hear of God's complete forgiveness of all my sins (confession and absolution), I will hear a clear presentation of the gospel (the preached and read word), I will receive the very body and blood of Christ (the Lord's supper). And it won't matter or depend on how I feel. The objectiveness of those things is what I've come to crave every week. And maybe I'll find a good study on Esther by some codgy old Lutheran. (who guaranteed won't be nearly as cute or fun as Beth Moore).

P.S. A hearty thank-you to Issues Etc. for hours and hours of good sound teaching.....that has helped shed the light for me on so many of the books/fads in my life.

Thoughts on the Emerging/Emergent Cult of Innovation

I recently had an email exchange with some like minded friends Daniel Neades started it off by commenting on Chris Rosebrough's interview with Doug Pagitt :

and also on Doug's interview with Chris, on his own show:

(and yes we listened to the originals as well without Chris's running commentary)

Daniel wrote: It seems to me that it is this whole ‘shape the practice/message to fit with what people are looking for’ approach that is fundamentally in error. Unbeliev- ers don’t know that they need Christ, and mostly don’t want Him when He is offered. Changing what is on offer is to miss the point, however.

And this is exactly where LN goes astray itself, when it seeks to apply business management tech- niques to the church. It wants to ‘innovate’, so that it can reach its market better. But I don’t think any of these guys realize that you can’t innovate in the Church (especially if your innovation has the aim of making your message more attractive to outsid- ers) without changing (and perhaps destroying) the very message that you think you are trying to spread. We simply have not been given the remit to innovate and produce a different ‘kind of spirituality’.

I responded:
Now see, to me this seems kind of a no-brainer. But when you try to explain this to someone who has drunk the koolaid, they just will not accept that you can't 'innovate' without changing the message. They simply don't understand that the MESSAGE ITSELF down through the centuries is exactly WHAT has prevented'innovation' and experimenting with the church or the way the worship service is carried out. So that by 'innovating' you are de facto changing the message.

Christine followed up:
Expanding on what Paula said about the gospel message being the thing, and you can't tamper with it, I think often times well-meaning and truly saved Christians get sucked into this pragmatism because whenever they hear a compromised gospel message, their minds unconsciously and automatically "fill in the gaps."

How can we help these people understand that it is the gospel message - and only that - that has salvific power? I remember as a new Christian, every time I would hear the gospel, I would just be mesmerized. Well, I'm still mesmerized by it six years later. Our pastor gives the gospel every week - and it's rare that I don't cry. The gospel has amazing life-giving properties, both to the lost
and the saved. Why don't these "innovators" understand this?

and I affirmed:
I echo your post thoroughly Christine. Sometimes the lamest telling of the gospel will take my breath away. Without it, I am lost. I can't believe I made it through so many years without hearing it at my previous church.... how did I not notice it missing??

You know, the only thing I can figure is that they were never moved that way by the gospel message. Not the MESSAGE itself.

Maybe they were emotionally moved by the visual of a passion play, or a Jesus movie, but they weren't really told (and believed) WHY he did it and WHY they need him. They saw a man being beaten and killed, which is emotionally moving in and of itself, no matter WHO it is...and he was beaten and killed for some reason that wasn't explained very well, and they figured it was because he 'stood up for truth.' and we should do the same...
or he was sticking it to the establishment and was martyred for it, or... what? Jesus Christ was not Braveheart, sticking it to the oppressive ruling class. While that was a gripping heroic moving story, it is not the gospel, the gospel "is a better story than that." (listen to 41:00 through 46:15, easier to do through Itunes)

January 15, 2010

Rush Limbaugh: Don't Divorce The Republican Party?

I just sent this to Rush Limbaugh, but who knows if he will ever see it. I know he gets lots of mail and I am no longer a subscriber so I don't have the subscriber's email access.

Look Rush, I like you but I have disagreed with you a few times over the years mostly because I'm farther to the right than you. I guess that plays into my whole frustration with your blaming people who want to jump ship to a third party. (e.g. Constitution Party would be a good option for me).

You sound like someone who is blaming a battered woman for leaving an unhealthy relationship. "Stay and change him!" A woman who is legitimately unhappy with her corrupt husband has MORE of a chance of changing HIM than we have of changing those moderate and liberal Republicrats in the party. You can spend all your time trying to control his behavior, I suppose. But even if you are succesful at that, as soon as you relax and go back to having a normal productive life, he will return to it. Or you can get out and find a healthier relationship with someone who has your same worldview.

I don't mean to judge, but for someone who has thrown in the towel (whether she started it or not) on a marriage relationship three times, you sure are advocating a lot of perseverance for the rest of us in a relationship that isn't even a covenant before God.

Even if I go to a third party, I am happy to support real conservatives in the Republican party like Michelle Bachmann. But that is not going to stop me from supporting real conservatives in the Constitution Party.

The only thing that gets a little kid to behave sometimes is not yelling and threats from the parent. It is his belief that the parent will do the unpleasant punishment that they say they will do. If all we do is threaten to leave and not really do it, just like the terrorists we are fighting overseas, they won't believe we mean it.

I'm not saying to jump to a third party just to send a message, if you don't believe in what the third party represents. But you point to the democrats' unity as an EXAMPLE of how the Republican party ought to behave? Since when do we take our cues from them? It's the liberals and spineless moderates that are dividing the party, not the third party advocates. Even if you believe the third party advocates are not responsible for dividing the party (so far that is unclear to me) then you must stop sounding like you are blaming them as much as the others.


January 14, 2010

Kim Gustafson asked to leave AFLBS

I wish to applaud those at AFLBS who are taking a stand against the idea that Allah and God are the same.

This past few weeks there has (as I understand it) been a special class on understanding Islam. Some of the students became concerned when guest speaker Dr Kim B Gustafson kept saying things that sounded like Allah and God were the same God. They pressed it, involved the faculty, and the good Dr was asked to leave.

This has resulted in some ruffled feathers, as I understand it, and requests to pray for the school. I beg you folks who don't understand why this is done, please take the time to get your head around this issue because it is important. It may not come into focus as fast as you'd like. But it really is an essential issue.

I did about 20 seconds of googling Kim Gustafson's name. Google popped up a suggestion for me right away "kim gustafson common ground" (no quotes). The first hit was this one:

False Prophets Continue to Seek
“Common Ground” About allah

Well hmm... that doesn't sound good.

I followed the links to the original CitizenLink (Focus on the Family) articles:

links to the Christian Response to the original Muslim document: "A Common Word Between Us and You"

And yes, Kim B. Gustafson is listed among the 'prominent' group.

Looking at the other signatories, they list them by 'prominent' people first, then just the ordinary joes below that. Of the prominent people, the only names I recognize are theologically liberal (Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Scot Mcknight, Richard Cizik, David Yonggi Cho, Richard Mouw) to ultraliberal. (Brian Mclaren, Tony Jones, Jim Wallis, Robert Schuller).

As a side note, when something obviously unbiblical like this comes up, it is a GREAT opportunity to look at names of the organizations represented, if you want to see which ones might be dangerously lacking in discernment. I would find it odd if an organization allowed an individual to indicate the organization he/she belonged to, without the organization giving at least tacit approval. It is not 100 percent, but it's something that at the very least should raise your radar and prompt you to do further research if you are involved with that organization.

Back to the main point: there is not one name that I recognize for sound doctrine on that list (no, Rick Warren and Bill Hybels do not teach sound doctrine). No Sproul, Piper, Macarthur. Citizen Link, who was issuing the warnings about this attempt to bridge the unbridgeable between Christians and Muslims, is a magazine put out by Focus on the Family. They made a great call on this one and raised the alarm.

Not even Ergun Caner or his brother Emir, both prominent former Muslims now converted to Christianity, show up on that list. THEY know Allah and God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ are not the same.

If you then go to the ordinary joe list as well, you see lots of UCC and PCUSA pastors, Episcopal pastors, UMC pastors, "spiritual directors" (where is THAT office in the Bible?), at least one CODE PINK organizer...

The interesting thing is look at Malaysia, where they are torching churches over the idea of using Allah as a generic name for our God and their God. Building bridges? I don't think so. Stick with the truth. Respect Muslims by understanding that we don't have common ground with them, even less common ground than Paul had with the Judaizers who he said were preaching a different gospel and counted "accursed."

back to googling for Kim Gustafson:

Skimming down, past other similar results about this "Muslims and Christians together" document, I found a page where Mr Gustafson was mentioned as a member of the faculty.

The Master's institute huh? Well I know that isn't John Macarthur's The Master's Seminary. I remembered that TMI was a Lutheran Renewal (Charismatic, as I recalled) school. Their beliefs statement was rather bare, and I found that they do not emphasize the Holy Spirit working THROUGH THE WORD ALONE.

I found the list of their other faculty members and was alarmed to see Greg Boyd's name listed there. Any school that has Boyd on staff is in trouble theologically. Plus they list two female 'pastors' on their faculty (another woman is not listed as a pastor, but an author). And Dave Householder, whose written reprimand against the ELCA was ... rather wordy and less than forceful. We saw the issues coming in the ELCA in the late 70's early 80's and Householder can't summon a forceful rebuke even in 2009? He has spent far too long in the carbon monoxide polluted ELCA trying to change it, I guess. Sorry, the authority of Scripture by which you might hope to correct a church left the ELCA 20 to 30 years ago.

In addition, TMI offers:

"Holy Spirit led transformation
At MI, we cooperate in this Holy Spirit-led transformation by creating a nurturing atmosphere with a personal mentor for each student and a unique small group experience. Our prayer is that each student will grow in Christian maturity through their mentoring and small group relationships, personal time and examination with the Lord, exploring and practicing spiritual disciplines, Scripture reading, and reading of selected books"

How about reading the Bible? These people offer lip-service to the authority of Scripture and yet in practice they deny it because charismatics emphasize the Holy Spirit's work outside of the Word -- and part of this is 'spiritual disciplines' which bring you closer to God somehow. Sorry, there is nothing WE DO that brings us closer to God. Christ has won full access to the throne of Grace for all who believe. "IT IS FINISHED." And there is no sanctification, outside of the ordinary means of reading and understanding Scripture, through which the Holy Spirit works. Rituals and silence and other psychological manipulative techniques (that amount to self-hypnosis) are at best worthless and at worst, spiritually and mentally perilous.

Now how does spiritual formation figure into the Muslim/Christian bridge building aspect?

I have heard testimony from people who used to participate in these "disciplines" and "lectio divina" and in "going into the silence" that it causes you to feel 'at one' with everyone and everything. In essence, it builds a spirit of ecumenicism (specifically a pantheistic or panentheistic ecumenicism). Hmmm!

What I am also concerned about however, is how easily I found this information. It took me all of 20 seconds to have my flag raised, and maybe ten minutes of rather basic searches to finally decide I would not want this guy speaking at my church or Christian organization. So who dropped the ball at AFLBS, just as the ball was dropped when planning the trip to the National Youth Worker's (mystical spiritual formation) Convention?

January 13, 2010

Please Join the Pirate Christian crew (shameless appeal)

I am not affiliated with Chris Rosebrough or his ventures, but if you could take some time to listen to his show:

Chris has started this broadcast with the help of a generous donor, but that support ends in February this year.

He was also instrumental in helping Issues, Etc. survive the dismissal being issued from on high at the Purple Palace and getting them started back up again.

He's looking for 1000 supporters at $6.95 per month to keep it going (currently has about 300). Our entire family has found it very encouraging and immensely helpful in learning to sift through the morasse of worldly Christianity being foisted on the general public.

Steven Furtick going on the attack (so what's new)

Steven Furtick the ad hominem attacker continues essentially attacking the little kids who exclaim "the emperor has no clothes"


Um here's the thing Steven, um. NO.

However, you might take some advice from that page:

"Criticize by creating, not by running your stupid mouth, regurgitating page 87 of Desiring God, and doing damage to the cause of Christ by casting aspersions on a fellow minister of the Gospel."

Hey, I didn't write it, he did. Although he would probably not be reading Desiring God, but more like the Purpose Driven Life or the latest thing by Bill Hybels on how to whip your followers into shape, I dunno.

I counted 11 ad hominem attacks in that post (some of which are hidden in straw men argumentation) and there are about 33 lines or sentences (or fragments), give or take. So 33 percent of the time he is insulting people. Amazing. Wonder if he'll come after his critics like his mentor Perry Noble?

January 9, 2010

A Stupid Facebook Breast Cancer Awareness Stunt

Right on the heels of a supposedly Christian friend posting a nudie picture of a Red Sox fan with her breasts exposed for 'team spirit,' came the bra color kerfuffle.

On Facebook over the last week women have been posting single word status updates consisting of colors. I wondered what it was, and it seemed to only come from women. Eventually the men started wondering also what it was. Someone spilled the beans and I was rather disgusted upon finding out what it was, to see that some Christian girls and women were participating.

The whole thing was supposedly a gimmick to draw attention to breast cancer. This kind of thing has actually resulted in a new term: Slacktivism. Posting the color of their bra does nothing to draw attention to breast cancer, but rather specifically to the BREASTS of the woman posting.

here is the original text of the 'bra color' campaign
Just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the color, nothing else. And send this on to ONLY girls no men. ... It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the girls have a color in their status... Haha!

Haha 'fun'?

WHY? I can think of a lot more fun things to do. Including shoveling snow when it's 3 degrees outside.

It seems pretty plain to me and most of the women I've talked to that this is a game to play, with men's minds as the object, and not a breast cancer campaign. The only reason it could be considered 'fun' is if you consider riling men up fun. I don't, I would rather treat them with respect, as equals. If non Christian women want to subjugate themselves by playing at being a sex object, they are free to do that (although it is still wrong for them as well,) but my Christian friends should really know better, especially grown married women.

Several Christian women were offended that we would take offense, and told us to loosen up, lighten up, prudes, and insinuations were made that we were not joy filled. Yadda yadda...

A friend of mine on facebook wrote a very good short note about all this:
Breast Cancer Awareness:

Apparently there is another one now which uses hairstyles:

My apologies for posting this, but it shows their intent quite plainly for what it is, and what many of us insisted it was the other day while a few 'Christians' told us to 'lighten up, it's just innocent fun.' I am posting it as is. After all I don't want to be thought a prude!

The color thing got the boys so riled up yesterday and today, we thought we'd try this again... This will get them thinking. Let's see how dirty their minds are. Ok, so this is the game - It's about how you have your hair styled....If its up, write ON TOP If its down and up at either side of the face, write SIDE BY SIDE If it's long & straight, write GIVE IT TO ME STRAIGHT If its just a complete mess, write EVERYWHERE N MESSYYou get the picture!... remember to place it as your status update. Let's see if they get this one! but ONLY SEND to GIRLS!!!!!...

None of this should have been participated in by Christians. It does nothing for the cause and only shows one's complete lack of Biblical modesty.

If you did participate, I beg you to examine your heart, confess this as the sin it is,