Archive | February 2015

The Glory of Plodding by Kevin DeYoung

(#327) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY –

THE GLORY OF PLODDING BY KEVING DEYOUNG

It is very encouraging to see today a much needed message given by a younger Pastor/teacher/author relating to an important part of our faith that is foundational to our walk – the Church.  In particular, a focus is given to young Christians to hold to what Scriptures recommends for us to grow – together, truly in “community”, in faith….etc.  It’s a message that runs counter to many popular trends within Christianity today – especially within the Emerging Church.  A trend that can sound noble at times with people having a sincere desire to be used by God to engage society.  

But a trend that, like many other trends throughout history, can be misapplied as people mover further away from the clear teaching of God’s word.  In it’s seemingly “hip” portrayal of ditching institutional religion and it’s “radical” image of being on the front lines in our communities, today’s EMERGING, INCARNATIONAL, MISSIONAL focus can sometimes work against the important resources God has provided Christians to grow spiritually, to help others in the body, and to live out the Gospel in our local community as well as carrying the Gospel message through cross-cultural missionary efforts across the world (NT discipleship).  This important resource is…..the Church.

The Glory of Plodding
by Kevin DeYoung

It’s sexy among young people — my generation — to talk about ditching institutional religion and starting a revolution of real Christ-followers living in real community without the confines of church. Besides being unbiblical, such notions of churchless Christianity are unrealistic. It’s immaturity actually, like the newly engaged couple who think romance preserves the marriage, when the couple celebrating their golden anniversary know it’s the institution of marriage that preserves the romance. Without the God-given habit of corporate worship and the God-given mandate of corporate accountability, we will not prove faithful over the long haul.

What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risktaking plodders. The best churches are full of gospel-saturated people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.

My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without followthrough. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole. We want global change and expect a few more dollars to the ONE campaign or Habitat for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up. What the church and the world needs, we imagine, is for us to be another Bono — Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bonos (as at least one author suggests). With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the choir every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income?

Until we are content with being one of the million nameless, faceless church members and not the next globe-trotting rock star, we aren’t ready to be a part of the church. In the grand scheme of things, most of us are going to be more of an Ampliatus (Rom. 16:8) or Phlegon (v. 14) than an apostle Paul. And maybe that’s why so many Christians are getting tired of the church. We haven’t learned how to be part of the crowd. We haven’t learned to be ordinary. Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with the kids, buy the same groceries at the store, and share a bed with the same person every night. Church is often the same too — same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works — like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21). Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.

It’s possible the church needs to change. Certainly in some areas it does. But it’s also possible we’ve changed — and not for the better. It’s possible we no longer find joy in so great a salvation. It’s possible that our boredom has less to do with the church, its doctrines, or its poor leadership and more to do with our unwillingness to tolerate imperfection in others and our own coldness to the same old message about Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s possible we talk a lot about authentic community but we aren’t willing to live in it.

The church is not an incidental part of God’s plan. Jesus didn’t invite people to join an anti-religion, anti-doctrine, anti-institutional bandwagon of love, harmony, and re-integration. He showed people how to live, to be sure. But He also called them to repent, called them to faith, called them out of the world, and called them into the church. The Lord “didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church” (John Stott).

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). If we truly love the church, we will bear with her in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification. The church is the hope of the world — not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head.

Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me. Put away the Che Guevara t-shirts, stop the revolution, and join the rest of the plodders. Fifty years from now you’ll be glad you did.

 

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/glory-plodding/

 

“We’re Moments Away From the Church Embracing Gay Marriage”

(# 324) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – ROB “ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL” BELL

ROB BELL: “WE’RE MOMENTS AWAY FROM THE CHURCH EMBRACING GAY MARRIAGE”

STAND UP FOR THE TRUTH

http://standupforthetruth.com/2015/02/rob-bell-moments-away-church-embracing-gay-marriage/

Rob Bell and his wife, Kristen, are making headlines again, this time about gay marriage and the church. Before we start, just a point to our emergent friends: When it comes to heretical teachers like Bell, we are NOT to “eat the meat and spit out the bones (advice found nowhere in Scripture), but instead we are to follow the command to mark and avoid false teachers.

(Romans 16:17-18) “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

Here’s an excerpt from the show that aired Sunday, Feb. 15. reported what Bell said on Super Soul Sunday, airing on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel:

“One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness,” Rob Bell said. “Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

That statement prompted a question from Oprah: “When is the church going to get that?”

We’re moments away,” Rob Bell said. “I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors and they love each other and just want to go through life with someone.”

Said Kristen Bell: “There are churches who are moving forward and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle.” (SOURCE)

Bell recently started a broadcast group called “The Liturgists,” and promotes “mother God” and a deep mystical New Age mediation called “apophatic prayer.” Remember that Bell is part of the Emergent Church:

The Emergent Church movement is a progressive Christian movement that attempts to reduce or eliminate Christian doctrine in favor of experience and feelings. Most do not believe man can know what is absolute truth, and believe God must be experienced outside of traditional biblical doctrines.

It’s important to note that there are the well-known emergent leaders we’ve tracked: Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell and Rick Warren (whom many of these leaders point to as their inspiration for the Emergent Movement). Then there is the next generation; the up-and-coming rookies who now are the prolific young voices at leadership conferences (like Catalyst and many others), that you can’t easily research because they don’t have anything questionable yet attached to their bios. But make no mistake: The leaders of old have not gone away, nor has the movement died. Instead it is shifting into a new or neo mode, making the Neo-Emergent movement even more insidious, confusion and (worst of all) appealing to a whole new audience of young Christians. It’s the same old “Hath God said” lie repackaged into a slick media marketing formula with programs helping many pastors “plug and play” with sermon topics and programs in their own churches to perpetuate the movement. Most don’t even know they’re doing it.

Whatever Happened to Teaching in the Churches?

(# 323) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TEACHING IN THE CHURCHES?

This is near and dear to my heart – Christians spend less and less time in God’s word as churches go down the path of being more concerned with following after society, dependance on marketing fads to entice people to come to church or the idea that church isn’t necessary because we should be out in the community making the world a better place.  With this comes a further move away from what God has already spoken in His word and influx of aberrant teaching replacing biblical values.  Then, we wonder what happened to the church – its not the same today nor is it as effective in reaching and changing society according to the blueprint already given to us by the Great Commission.  Christians are not discipled today as they once were and are ill-equipped to know God, know His word, and be in a position to be used by God to engage society.  Instead, they become more influenced by the constant bombardment by society in areas that the church no longer deals with for fear of not attracting others (e.g. homosexuality, creation/evolution,….etc.)

These thoughts by Bill Muehlenberg point to one of the biggest problems within the church today – one that is hard to detect once your church starts down this path. All other problems and issues develop and grow as the church moves away from God’s word – knowing, living, breathing, sharing and applying His word.  This doesn’t sound exciting to some – instead they embrace the catch phrases of today such as being missional, spiritual formation, transformation, tolerance…etc. – making these words mean something that is foreign to their actual meaning.  Whatever happened to teaching in the Churches?

 

Whatever Happened to Teaching in the Churches?

http://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/02/17/whatever-happened-to-teaching-in-the-churches/

Once the regular teaching of the Word of God, of doctrine, of theology, and its application in the Christian life was a mainstay of any evangelical church. It was pretty much the core activity. Yet there seems to be such a dearth of good, solid teaching in so many churches today.

Instead of proper instruction in which believers are fed with the solid meat of the Word, with emphasis on biblical doctrine and proper exposition of key biblical themes and teachings, all we seem to get in so many churches today are topical sermons.

These are often little more than pep talks with one or two verses thrown in along the way. Most of our Sunday morning sermons tend to be feel-good, how-to chats, emphasising how the Christian can be successful, happy, confident, and have a good time.

We promise folks their ‘best life now’ and give them motivational speeches, upbeat homilies, and the like. The systematic instruction and teaching of the Word of God, its core doctrinal truths, and basic Christian doctrines are almost never heard any more in so many churches today.

Perhaps I am spoiled, because I think of my home church in the US and what was offered there, after I was first saved, way back in the early 1970s. What we had obible-11n offer there was typical of most Bible-believing churches back then. There was non-stop teaching, doctrinal instruction, and biblical exposition.

Back then this is the amount of teaching I got in one week at just this one church:
-adult Sunday School where various doctrinal and practical Christian living classes were on offer
-Sunday morning teaching in the sermon
-Sunday evening teaching in the sermon
-more teaching and Bible exposition at the Wednesday night prayer meeting.

Thus my old church offered at least four major events each week in which we got plenty of doctrinal teaching, teaching on key subjects (such as Old Testament survey, New Testament survey, various books of the Bible such as Romans, basic Christian doctrines, the cults, apologetics, ethics, etc) and regular Bible instruction and exposition.

Where is all that today? I know a few churches still do this to some extent. Some of the Presbyterian churches for example still put a very strong emphasis on doctrinal teaching and expository preaching. But the majority of our evangelical churches today simply no longer offer this.

At best there is one time only each week where the sheep are fed: the Sunday morning sermon. But as I just mentioned, this is seldom proper biblical teaching and doctrinal instruction. Almost always it is topical preaching with a minimum of scripture, more in line with secular or New Age motivational pep talks than anything else.

Thus it is clear to me that a major reason why Christians today are so biblically illiterate, have little or no understanding of basic biblical doctrine, and are so easily swept off their feet into error (be it heterodoxy or heteropraxis) is because of this basic lack of Christian instruction.

They are just not getting it in their churches. Unless they pick up a bit of Bible teaching elsewhere (say in books, or online, or listening to CDs or watching DVDs) they are simply being starved of the essential biblical information which they must have to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. No wonder the church today is so anaemic, so ineffective, so carnal and so salt-less.

But how can this be, given the overwhelming emphasis found in the Bible on the essential importance of teaching and instruction? Hundreds of times in the New Testament alone we read about teaching and its importance for the believer. In the gospels we constantly read about Jesus teaching the disciples. The same in the book of Acts where we see the disciples teaching others.

Teaching was the very foundation of disciple making for Jesus and the early disciples. Yet it is all but lost in so many of our churches today. No wonder the church has lost its way. No wonder believers are falling into theological and behavioural error so often. They simply have never been taught properly.

Let me look at just some of the New Testament verses on teaching. That God gave teachers to the Body of Christ is clear from passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:28: “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.” We find the same in Ephesians 4:11: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers”.

And this regular ongoing teaching ministry is exactly what we find in the early church. As but one example, consider Acts 2:42 which discusses the fellowship of the believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

I wish we keenly devoted ourselves to teaching as well today. Because there is so much biblical material on teaching, let me offer a few more verses, but only from the Pastoral Epistles. There are dozens of verses about teaching in these three short books. Here are just some of them:

– 1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
– 1 Timothy 4:6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
– 1 Timothy 4:11 Command and teach these things.
– 1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
– 1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
– 2 Timothy 1:11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
– 2 Timothy 1:13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
– 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
– 2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
– 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
– 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
– Titus 2:1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.
– Titus 2:2-3 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
– Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
– Titus 2:15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

A major reason why so many believers are falling into the hands of the cults and into heresy, and are engaging in sinful lifestyles is because of this lack of teaching. While all believers should take it upon themselves to learn, to study, to grow in knowledge, and to master the basics of the faith, our leaders have much to answer for if they are neglecting this vital and sacred calling of teaching and instructing.

Let me conclude with a few quotes on the importance of all this:

“The visible church in our generation has become astonishingly tolerant of aberrant teaching and outlandish ideas – and frighteningly intolerant of sound teaching.” John MacArthur

“Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.” John Piper

“Secularism cannot be blamed on the secularists, many of whom were raised in the church. We are the problem. If most churchgoers cannot tell us anything specific about the God they consider meaningful or explain basic doctrines of creation in God’s image, original sin, the atonement, justification, sanctification, the means of grace, or the hope of glory, then the blame can hardly be placed at the feet of secular humanists.” Michael Horton

“If we go astray in our doctrine, eventually our life will go astray as well. You cannot separate what a man believes from what he is. For this reason doctrine is vitally important. Certain people say ignorantly, ‘I do not believe in doctrine; I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; I am saved, I am a Christian, and nothing else matters.’ To speak in that way is to court disaster, and for this reason, the New Testament itself warns us against this very danger. We are to guard ourselves against being ‘tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine’, for if your doctrine goes astray your life will soon suffer as well. So it behoves us to study the doctrines in order that we may safeguard ourselves against certain erroneous and heretical teachings that are as rife and as common in the world today as they were in the days of the early Church.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“I am convinced that there is an urgent need in the church today for much greater understanding of Christian doctrine, or systematic theology. Not only pastors and teachers need to understand theology in greater depth – the WHOLE CHURCH does as well. One day by God’s grace we may have churches full of Christians who can discuss, apply and LIVE the doctrinal teachings of the Bible as readily as they can discuss the details of their own jobs or hobbies – or the fortunes of their favorite sports team or television program.” Wayne Grudem

THE NEW CHRISTIAN LEFT

(322) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY 

THE NEW CHRISTIAN LEFT 

This article by Dave Sterrett is long overdue with regards to the New Christian Left.  It is very practical because we are living in a generation with young Christians who are growing up in an atmosphere that is popular to be critical towards traditional and long-held biblical values as well as critical towards all things related to the church.  While nobody is beyond criticism, what makes the present atmosphere challenging are the trite sounding descriptives used to present the various points of view (e.g. tolerance, equality, social justice, authentic, environmentalism,…etc.).  With similarity to society’s view on these topics, it become difficult to see a difference between the Christians whole hold to these values and those in society.  It’s like a grandfather clock with a pendulum that swings too far one way by responding even much farther in the opposite direction. From this perspective, this article is a refreshingly reality check for many Christians today:

When the New Christian Left Twists the Gospel and Perverts Morality
by Dave Sterrett

Almost a decade ago, I remember attending Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, packed with thousands of young evangelical leaders. It was there, that I first heard a young creative pastor named Rob Bell, pastor of the fast growing Mars Hill in Michigan. At the age of 25, I was finishing up seminary, but felt rejuvenated when I heard the line up of Catalyst speakers like Rob Bell, Donald Miller, and Andy Stanley. These teachers were creative but avoiding a lot of the controversial doctrinal issues that I heard from my alma mater Liberty University’s founder Jerry Falwell.

Rob Bell and these Catalyst communicators did not have pulpits, but were either walking, or sitting in comfortable chairs and bar stools. They weren’t talking about politics, or hell, or inerrancy of Scripture, or homosexuality and certainly not abortion. By no means were these guys like James Dobson or Falwell’s Moral Majority.

To me, their teaching seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to the dry doctrine. I felt burnt out on from seminary. There was excitement like the energy of a concert. I was not alone, thousands of those who grew up in non-denominational, Southern Baptist or Church of God congregations were drawn to this new kind of Church. Out of this generation, some sons and daughters of conservative Bible expositors, including Andy Stanley, Jonathan Merritt and Rachel Held Evans would drift away from their father’s evangelical fundamentalism and rise up to become today’s defenders of tolerance, social justice and gay “rights” at bakeries.

Ten years ago, at my first Catalyst conference, I did not agree with everything these younger communicators were saying, but I thought perhaps they could bring more balance. Weren’t these guys like Rob Bell and Donald Miller authentic by asking questions? We were the generation that was more about what we were “for” and not “against.” After all, there was no need for me to also always be discussing controversial things like abortion, gay marriage, doctrine and apologetics. In my young ignorance and piety, I told myself that I appreciated their “tone.”

So as a 25 year senior pastor of the SBC Immanuel Baptist Church, I got rid of the pulpit, bought some skinnier jeans began showing Rob Bell’s Nooma videos to the church on Wednesday nights. As I sipped on my Starbuck’s latte and saw an excitement from younger people, I felt relevant. I thought Bell’s teaching was authentic and fresh. But as time passed, I noticed things that concerned me. As I read the Bible and compared it to the teaching of some younger evangelicals like Bell, I did not always see correspondence. Fortunately, my seminary professors like Dr. Thomas Howe and Dr. Norman Geisler had engrained in my mind the laws of logic, the inerrancy of Scripture and the historical grammatical method of interpretation. I knew that I had responsibility to train others into the truth. Thankfully, there were several individuals who challenged my thinking when I started to get off track. As I returned to those old dusty seminary books by J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and Peter Kreeft and scholastics like Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas, I started rediscovering life in the truths of God. Thankfully, God saved me from the fruit loops theology of Rob Bell, Oprah and Rachel Held Evans.

In the last couple years, we have seen a steady rise of professing evangelical Christians who are no longer simply rebelling against the “Moral Morality” conservatism of the Ronald Reagan era that their parents might have taught them, but instead, have become zealous promoters of secular liberalism all in the name of Christian “love” and “social justice.” They are finding their voice through well-marketed blogs including CNN, Religious News Service, and the Huffington Post. Rather than focusing on religious liberty, classical Christian virtues, and the proclamation of the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ, this group has become staunch defenders of gay marriage, social justice, global warming awareness, feminism and religious pluralism that has empathy towards Islamic jihad.

Chelsen Vicari’s new book Distortion evaluates how this progressive or savvy driven Christianity which boasts of “authenticity” and “nonjudgmentalismhave actually repackaged the Scriptures and are leading a generation astray. Through a combination of well performed emotionally led worship services and false shallow teachings, the Christian left claiming to be “real” have promoted politicians who are actually increasing abortion rights, gay marriage and Marxism.

Vicari’s new book takes to task these millennial evangelicals whose theological maturity consists of “Worship” music and Jesus Calling devotionals. Chelsen Vicari is a younger evangelical who serves at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. She tells her story of how though growing up in a traditional Christian family, she left home and in college, “morphed as a full-fledged feminist, told my parents they were ignorant for not endorsing homosexuality, and bought into the distorted social justice rhetoric that confuses carrying for the poor with advancing socialist or big government systems and demonizing the United States for its free market system.” She tells her powerful story of how she realized how wrong she her new relativistic and Marxists ideas were and through an investigated journey, turned back to believing in Biblical principles. In her book, Distortion, Vicari exposes the generation of bloggers and speakers who are rebelling against the Bible-believing conservativism of their parents. Some of these writers include: Rachel Held Evans, Andy Stanley, Jonathan Merritt, Rob Bell, Jay Baker, Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis. Some of these liberals used to claim “neutrality” about gay marriage, traditional morality and controversial subjects because they say, “We want to be known what we’re for, not what we’re against.” But Vicari shows that these “progressives” are not just “positive” but are vehemently against any conservative who holds to natural law, biblical inerrancy, and traditional marriage.

Rachel Held Evans is an outspoken feminist who has fueled her anger against conservatives like Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Evans a defender of gay rights and “equality” is the daughter of a conservative Bible-believing fundamentalist who worked at a fundamentalist Bible college. Rachel Held Evans has been capitalizing by poking fun of the conservative and Biblical teachings she was taught as a youth. Vicari’s book challenges Rachel Held Evans’ for throwing out undocumented assertions against conservatives. Rachel Held wrote for CNN that young Christians are leaving the church because Christianity has become “too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people…our LGBT friends to felly truly welcome in our faith communities.”

Vicari also reveals the inconsistency of Andy Stanley, pastor of America’s second largest church and son of famous traditional Bible believing preacher, Charles Stanley. Andy Stanley whose church of North Point claims to stay out of the politics of abortion and gay marriage, hypocritically goes on the attack of those who appeal to their Christian convictions that business owners like wedding cake owners should not be forced to by the law to serve a gay marriage for that would “violate their personal conscious.” Andy Stanley found that it was “offensive that Christians would leverage faith to support the Kansas law….serving people.” Of course Andy Stanley who claims neutrality, does not apply his own principles at his North Point Church to perform gay weddings. Yet he uses his platform to find flaws in those who promote America’s religious freedom.

Another Baptist minister’s son that Vicari mentions in Distortion is Jonathan Merritt, whose father was once president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jonathan Merritt gained great appeal with mainstream, as one coming from a conservative background but has no problem showing the errors of the Falwells, Pat Robertsons and Duck Dynasty guys. Mainstream media loves evangelicals who can write as an insider and find flaws in the conservative and Biblical ideas. Vicari wrote, “Jonathan Merritt, Richard Cizik, Rachel Held Evans, and a whole host of others on the evangelical Left assert the myth that the way to end abortion is by passing out tax-payer funded contraception like it’s candy.” (p. 115) Vicari replies, “Nice try, but the research and data are against them yet again. Planned Parenthood’s own think tank, the Guttmacher Institute, surveyed more than ten thousand women who had abortions during 2000 and 2001. The study found that a mere 12 percent of the women cited limited access to birth control as the reason for their pregnancies and subsequent abortions.” “Researchers in Spain analyzed the use of contraception and abortion rates between 1997-2007. What they found was astonishing. During that decade access and use of contraception increased 80 percent, yet abortion also increased-by a whopping 108 percent.”Essentially greater access to contraception,” says Vicari, “led to a false sense of security. When contraception failed, as often happens, the baby was aborted.” I would comment that Vicari does not make a hasty generalization. She does not argue that all of these leftist Christians hold the same views. She cites Merritt in positive way of common agreement when talking about Christians who face persecution in Middle East. I think Vicari’s approach is reasonably balanced and fair. She also is clear to break down the topics that some progressives reject, while others may not be as extreme.

Towards the end of the book Distortion, Vicari interviews young evangelicals that are living out a bold faith and not willing to give into the trendy fads amongst hipster evangelicals. Vicari interviews Eric Teetsel who is now directing the Manhattan Declaration who talks about his experience at Azusa Christian College. He said, “I found that it was only Christian only in the sense that we would do a devotional before class and then immediately jump into the same material that they were studying at University of Southern California down the street, including all the tolerance, pro-gay, white guilt stuff.” When a same-sex speaker spoke at this college, Teetsel asked, “Wouldn’t you agree that even if you dismiss some of the specific verses that speak to homosexuality that there is broader theology of human sexuality that goes from Genesis to Revelation that affirms heterosexuality?” And the speaker said, “No, I don’t agree, and I would invite you to stop speaking.” What Teetsel experience is not unique. The Christian left while claiming “tolerance” is very intolerant those who take a stand for traditional marriage. I encourage those who understand the incoherency and dangers of the new Christian left to read Chelsen Vicari’s Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith.

THE DECEPTION OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER / SPIRITUAL FORMATION

(323) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY

This brief video highlights some of the issues and terms used by many of those who promote a DEEPER way of getting closer (united) with God.  These terms describe practices that are catching on with many Evangelical churches.  Their is a focus more on ancient church traditions (e.g. ancient Roman Catholic mysticism and monasticism) as well as an inclusion of practices from Eastern Mysticism.

Sounds strange for an Evangelical Church to be involved in these practices?  I hope so.  But take a look at this video and see if you have heard of some of these terms spoken in your church or if you read about some of these terms in popular Christian magazine articles and best selling books.

This video only hits on some of the most commonly used practices and is meant only to introduce you at a high level to these terms.  Future video postings will go into more depth and provide greater details on these trends within the church.

Obviously, some Christians today use these terms, not in their original sense, but rather they (unknowingly) apply the terms to biblical concepts such as discipleship and sanctification. Therefore, some may be engaging in practices that are biblical.  But they are still utilizing words that represents these ancient mystical practices that are seeing a rebirth today within  Christianity.  It is dangerous to call biblical concepts by these non-biblical practices and think that everybody will be just fine.  In book stores today, you will see more books promoting these questionable and aberrant practices than you will see books that warn against them.  An undiscerning person could easily wander into these various Eastern practices without realizing it because the jargon sounds familiar to what they hear at church or from a Christian author….etc.