Tuesday, April 12, 2005

got Word?

Warning: Ramblingly long boring lunchtime post ahead. Apologies.
- the Mgmt

Thanks for everyone with remedies and well-wishes for my headache yesterday. Mostly pollen-related, I think, and I just slept wrong the night before. When I told my brother I "slept funny" the other night, he replied,"How do you sleep funny? I mean, did I sleep serious one night, then sleep funny the next?" - Idiot. Today there's still a tinge of funny-sleepin' headache, but mostly a nausea, too. Not a good trade-off, but even more on the pollen-induced side. Ugh.

In posting some reviews and discussion on Brian McLaren, Dave Fleming and other "emergent" topics/books, I've been getting some new google hits. Both guys have written controversial works that challenge the status quo, something that doesn't like to be challenged and isn't usually threatened with change. It bugs me that so many times, people are misunderstood and labelled as heretics - and that me saying this will cause some to respond defensively, "no we don't". Instead of asking each other questions, we put forth propositional truth statements that you either agree with and are okay, or you don't fully agree and you're dangerous to the cause of Christ. Happens on "both sides", but I'm seeing it more and more from several anti-emergent biased sites. The same search that can lead you here can lead you to sites that rip McLaren and Fleming and their respective inputs on the culture. So many of these webpages miss the points that I've gleaned from these guys, and my own defensive reflexes get the best of me, too. I don't fault them for speaking out, just that there's little room for conversation when there's so much bashing going on.

So, conversationally speaking, I want to lift up the mantle in one area: THE BIBLE. Most folks who are opposed to the new growth of "emergent" thought are hung up on the idea that people are throwing the Bible out of the church. I think they're wrong, and it disturbs me that there's not much middle ground for the discourse to take shape. All my life I've had a Bible, and I've been reading it for a long time. I've heard sermons on some great passages - some of my study Bibles have multiple entries with multiple sermons on the same passages through the years. What I see happening - as limited as my perspective might be - is a re-assessment of what the Bible means to us as Christians. Up to now, it's been something almost deified, given a place of authority it doesn't aspire to, or placed in authority because we don't truly understand "authority". I've come to see, or am still discovering along with others, that Jesus is the Authority of the Word, and that only in relationship with Him does the Bible have anything meaningful to say.

If I don't pay much attention to arguments of inerrancy and infallibility, it's because I don't hold much weight on those things - Jesus is definitely inerrant and infallible, and out of the life we're living the Bible will speak from His heart into ours. Having a higher view of Jesus means that there is a higher, more honest treatment of scripture. Some folks are straying from the Word, and some are deconstructing way too far - I understand that, and deal with it in a few forums, too. But some are accused of leaving the Bible behind when they're not - when they're actually grabbing onto a more solid view of the whole of scripture, getting away from prooftexts and moving toward holistic and significant interpretation and application.

"But they disagree, so they must be wrong. We respectfully disagree - meaning that I allow you to be as wrong as you want as long as the threat I perceive you representing can be dealt with before leading others astray." - that's the call I see coming up across the landscape, and the conversation is nixed because one side or the other doesn't respect the other. That's sad, because we all still have so much to learn.

Example: In a conversation about how a particular worship leader with a new CD should separate himself from the lures of the worldly side of pop music, a friend used 1 Corinthians 10:14-24 to show me what Paul said about staying away from evil, staying pure, choosing Christ - all good, and I appreciated that passage. I commented that if one reads further in 1 Cor 10:25-33, you get a broader view of how interacting with the world is possible with a pure heart and pure motives in living the Christ-life. Instead of cold-turkey avoiding interaction with the world, which might be an idea from the first part of this chapter, Paul seems in context to be checking our hearts, challenging us to live in good conscience with others "for the glory of God" (10:31). We disagreed, his point being on the first half and mine trying to go with that while still making room for the second half - and that's what I see in this "debate", too.

Why is this happening? People hate questions they don't already know the answers to. Lawyers in a courtroom will not ask a witness a question they don't already know the answer to. People want affirmation more than they want information. We already know it all, especially as Christians with the testimony of Jesus, the Answer for all our wrongs. Questions are opposition, making us think and re-think for ourselves. And that's perceived as a bad thing too much of the time. But where "Jesus is the Answer" for all that's wrong in the world, He's also the Redeemer of all that's right, the Creator of all that is, and the Enabler for kingdom-living. There's so much more Truth out there to be learned, beyond our suppositions and propositional statements - and it's dangerous to the status quo. At least, it should be.


Blogger janet said...

Rick, I'm starting to feel like a DittoHead in your comments section. God is very definitely using you to speak to events that are going on in our lives both socially and internally. Keep surfing these same brain waves cuz, bro, you're conveying it better than I've been able to.

12/4/05 12:51 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"dittohead"? - out, out, foul spirit of rushlimbaugh! let go of my friend!! :)

still just getting my head around most of this, but i'm so used to deconstructing that it's old hat by now. i love to be challenged and to challenge, and the conversation helps us grow better than the lectures, don't they?

12/4/05 12:56 PM  
Blogger iggy said...

The answer is Jesus... there is NOTHING we can do and should do without Him doing it through us.

When Jesus touched the lepers who were unclean, they were healed and made clean. If we touched something unclean we are unclean. If Jesus touches someone or thing through us... HE MAKES IT OR THEM CLEAN!
My favorite verse to those of the separist mindset is:
Titus 1: 15. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

I bleieve when God says He made all things NEW... He meant it. We are new creations, all the things of this world are NEW...and made pure in Christ Jesus.

I point out that if all things are not PURE to the person then THEY HAVE AN ISSUE! They need to address their issue with themself and GOd and not pull my into what I see as a non-issue.... like rock music...Christian or non-Christian.

I like to say, "What better way to get back in the devils face but with his music that has been redeemed"!


12/4/05 1:45 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Um, you lost me there :). Was this in response to my "example"? Just checkin'.

for me, my "point" in that exchange was that we could give this particular artist the benefit of the doubt, instead of accusing him of bowing down to the culture.


12/4/05 2:53 PM  
Blogger janet said...

Rick, I love the conversations as well. the downside is that until recently, we weren't in any sort of company that was willing to hold any sort of conversation (just those darn lectures). Since we've "found" our new community/family, which is ALL about conversations, it's been a stretch to remember that not everyone is willing to exchange those ideas. As you have seen in Mike's blog. The amazing thing is watching God move and change us in spite of ourselves.

I'm diggin' on what Iggy had to say as well. We had a very similar conversation in our house recently. I'm absolutely psyched to see the waves of God moving on so many people in so many different places.

Go figure, eh? :)

12/4/05 3:02 PM  
Blogger janet said...

OH, and I'll forgive the Limbaugh exorcism ;)

12/4/05 3:02 PM  
Blogger iggy said...

I was responding to your disclaimer...

Warning: Ramblingly long boring lunchtime post ahead. Apologies.
- the Mgmt


Also, to your conversation.... I was cut a little short in my answer as I was being beckoned out the door by my wife.... you know.... "come on dear, we are leaving!"

I am also, though maybe not clearly, responding to "questions"...
In the modern view "we must know all the answers"... I don't see that any more. I see it as sometimes there is another core question they are really asking. Or maybe sometimes we just need to be like the guy Jesus healed when asked who healed him and what can you tell us... he responded by saying, " I really don't know much about him, but I was blind and now I see." In other words say, "I don't know. Let's look into that together and see what we find."

We can share where we are at. I think often also we tend to depend on the "bible answer man" approach...while Jesus rarely answered a question directly, but answered with a question... or transcended the question by not saying either/or but neither. As in the woman at the well when she asked about where should we worship.

Questions are not oppositions but opportunities for dialog. An open door for conversation.
Do I have to agree with the other... not at all. Can I as one who knows the living Christ help someone draw closer....no. Only Jesus can draw someone closer... and that was my original point.


12/4/05 7:08 PM  
Blogger Jeff Stilwell said...

If this comment gets posted twice, it's because blogger sucks.

I'm reading "Generous Orthodoxy" and I just read Al Mohler's review. I can see what he's saying if I look through the eyes of my bible college, seminarian, conservative, liberal bashing, minimalist, i'm right / you're wrong so i'll bash you a little more perspective.
But that's not me anymore. Called it enlightenment. call it "that hasn't worked." Call it that I've lost it. I don't care what you call it.
I'm just glad to be a part of the conversation.
Q: Blue pill or red one?
A: Do you have it in dark purple?

13/4/05 6:23 AM  

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