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TK

This is very good! I hope you will submit it to the upcoming Lutheran Carnival that I am hosting!

ttm

How does a self-defined post-emergent Christian define the purpose of church organizations? Are they primarily to present the good news to the lost? To help the newly found to grow spiritually? Or something else?

And what of churches that continually raise the bar in terms of what is expected of members?

What is the point of going to any church if our eternal status is based not on what we do, but on faith and God's grace (100% God and 0% us)?

I assume, since you are human, you will not have watertight, absolute answers. But would you attempt some answers for a Christian who is finding difficulty embracing any traditional denomination's theology and any new-fangled movement's "dialogue"?

Thank you.

P.S. If you are like the emerging church leaders I discovered in Blogworld, you will now post blog rules which do not allow for "anonymous" posts, will prohibit comments which are "not nice" and do not agree with the blogmaster's personal philosophy, and will delete my comment as quickly as possible.

I am hoping that post-emergent Christians operate by a different set of rules!

Steve

TTM:

I’ll try to answer your questions to the best of my abilities.

How does a self-defined post-emergent Christian define the purpose of church organizations? Are they primarily to present the good news to the lost? To help the newly found to grow spiritually? Or something else?

The best place to define what the church is and its purpose is in the bible. .
First, the Church is the body of Christ which consists of all believers in Christ. There is the physical Church that we see and the eternal Church, which consists of all the saints throughout the ages.

The local Church is a group of believes who gather for worship and teaching as their primary focus. There are many other activities that the Church and believers will engage in but they secondary to preaching and teaching. In Acts 2:42, we see what the first Church did: Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (Holy Communion) and prayer. Also, we see that the believers provided for each other (Acts 2:44).

Here, I am referring to the Church catholic, not any specific tradition.

And what of churches that continually raise the bar in terms of what is expected of members?

This question could be taken in two ways. First, if the believers are not living in accordance with scripture, then the Church has the mandated responsibility to bring the believer to repentance and if necessary, excommunication if the sin in so severe and the believer remains unrepentant for it (Matt 18:15-17).

Second, there are many that create extra burdens that are not in scripture. It may be in what they wear, eat and drink, or what they to or entertainment. Here, this is wrong since they are placing additional requirements that are not commanded in the Bible. As long as the activity does not cause one to sin, then it can be acceptable.

A common one is for drinking. While drunkenness is a sin, drinking a beer or a glass wine is not, otherwise, Jesus would have sinned. This is what Paul refers to as Christian freedom that we have in Christ. However, this freedom does require me to not exercise it if it causes a fellow believer to sin. (Romans 14:1-8)

There a “little Pharisee” in all of us who want to make rules so that we won’t sin. However, these rules can take greater importance than what the Bible commands us to do and not to do.

What is the point of going to any church if our eternal status is based not on what we do, but on faith and God's grace (100% God and 0% us)?

Our eternal salvation is a gift of God’s through, but we can lose our salvation through unbelief. We gather with other beliefs to receive the gifts of God, His Word spoken, His Body and Blood for the Forgiveness of our Sins, and to encourage others in the faith.

However, by not attending worship and the assembly of believers, unbelief can come. Unbelief is the rejection of the faith that God has given us to believe in Christ. We can, over time, fall into unbelief. Jesus taught this in the parable of the Sower and the four types of soil. In one soil, the seed grows but then dies due to the hard times and he has no root while in another soil, the seed grows then dies from the cares of this world (Matt 13:3-9, 18-23)

I assume, since you are human, you will not have watertight, absolute answers. But would you attempt some answers for a Christian who is finding difficulty embracing any traditional denomination's theology and any new-fangled movement's "dialogue"?

The focus of my writing this blog is to have people focus on Christ. Period. Anything else is secondary.

If you are like the emerging church leaders I discovered in Blogworld, you will now post blog rules which do not allow for "anonymous" posts, will prohibit comments which are "not nice" and do not agree with the blogmaster's personal philosophy, and will delete my comment as quickly as possible.

I am hoping that post-emergent Christians operate by a different set of rules!

Disagreement is good as long as it is done in a mature manor. If you point out something that I wrote is not consistent with scripture, then I will accept your finding and post my error. I’m more interested in remaining true to scripture than my personal philosophy.

ttm

Thank you so much for your succinct and humble responses, Steve. You have given me a lot to think about. I apprecicate your willingness to answer my questions and will consider what you've said in light of my own search of Scripture.

Pastor David

What a wonderful, much needed critique!

I have long held the conviction that Warren's theology (and that of most mega-church pastors) is basically the theology of self-help. That is, sure they acknowledge a "higher-power;" but mainly because that will help you better "realize yourself" and have a successful, happy life.

Nancy

Just amazing you would spend effort, time and expense to "evaluate" another's intention.
Are you envious, perhaps?
No wonder the world rejects the Christian Church when we critize one another under disguise of "knowing it all."


Chris Rosebrough

Nancy,

The purpose of this site and these posts is not to evaluate anyone's intentions. It is to evaluate their doctrine and teaching in light of God's word.

Scripture tells us to 'test everything'. We're merely obeying that directive. If you would like to offer us a Biblical counter-point to our observations we would like to hear it.

Come let us reason together and see what God's word will teach us in this matter.

james okamoto

Aren't we being a little hyper critical here? I have a hard time with Christians that just nit pick and criticize other churches/denominations without looking into the bigger picture. If you were to ask Rick Warren about his beliefs about sin, and salvation etc you would probably find that they are closer to yours than you think. He is not trying to trivialize the Bible by putting it in a lay person's terms, and his book isn't meant to be the same as Luther's Catechism.

Ian Stapleton

Philippians 3:15-16 Therefore let us,as many as are mature, have this mind, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal this even to you, Nevertheless, to th degree that we have already attained, let us walk to the same rule, let us have the same mind.

Paul's context here is moving onto maturity and we all have to agree that we are at different levels of this, both in our own fellowships, let alone the body of Christ. Now Rick Wareren's web-site seemed to speak or depict nothing different from any other pentacostal or charismatic web-site does I have checked out. Even your comment on his, I can't understand, they are all fundamental basic doctinal teachings of both Christianity and scripture, are they not??? I am a pastor of a small non-denomination apostolic fellowship, that Christ is Saviour and Lord, I believe in God's order for the church, I believe in freedom of the Spirit and of the Power of God in both my individual and corporate life. Basically I believe all thet the bible says, nothing more nothing less, 1 Cor 4:6. I sit on the local ministers association with men and women of different denominations from catholics to pentacostals. Do I agree whole heartedly with everything they believe, No! Do I agree with the fundamentals, Yes! To the level that we have attained we relate.
So getiing back to I can't understand your issue, are you agreeing or diagreeing, you haven't made your self clear here.
The Holy Spirit does live in us, Acts 2:38, 1Cor 6:16, 2Cor 4:7, 2Cor 6:19, Eph 2:22, 1Pet 1:5
God did not create sin, Didn't God create Lucifer Is 14:12-20, the tree of knowledge of good and evil Gen 2:17, He sends strong delusion 2Thes 2:11, and of course Col 216 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, wether thrones or dominions or principalities and powers were created through Him and for Him. We must begin to get a revelation of God'd justice, righteousness and TOTAL AUTHORITY.
Grace, well it is Eph 2:8 it is through faith in this grace that saves and continues our relationship. Jn 1:16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. It is grace that calls, it is faith in grace that saves and it is grace that grows us.
If someone dies and spends an eternity in hell might not sound like a reassuring statement to you, but it is the truth. It reassures my commitment to Christ.
We are to serve, didn't Jesus wash the disciple feet. Now I now that this might seem strange, but it was through their service and concern to one another that brought the numbers to the Lord daily, Acts 2:37-47.
So these are comments on some of your comments. If we look at the moves through the ages, 1700's Martin Luther restored justification through faith, 1800's John Wesly the born again experience, 1900's pentacastals the baptism of the Holy Spirit, 1960's charismatic restored the gifts, 2000 the word faith movement, and now the apostolic, or the simplicity of the early church is being revived around our nations. Our God is a God of newness, refreshing and revival, do any of us have all the answeres. Again if the fundamentals are correct, then God will sought out the rest.
Now whilst I agree I do not agree with large crowded venues with preformance like attributes I will not condemn them for they are doing a service in some way, this is at the level people know, but as long as we are sincere with Him, He will lead us into all truth, some just learn to walk faster than others. Maybe we need to concentrate more on our own relatiionship with the Lord. What is of God will stand, what is not will fail. My dear friend, be in peace, God has it all under control!
We are the church, the believers, 1Pet 2:5, Eph 2:22. We are His body and it's time we come together.
Blessings in His almight name.

Aaron Menchaca

I think this critique was written by a person who came to the task with an intention to critize; that was the goal, and not a neutral evaluation of Rick Warren's theology (or of Saddleback). This is like a kid that tells her dad "I love you, dad" and his dad thinks to himself:

1. My child is presumtious is thinking they can know what "love" is. She didn't first explain to me what love is, all the ins-and-outs of what involves true love (like her being willing to put me first, understanding that love is not simply an emotion). She probably doesn't understand, so her sentiment is flawed.

2. She didn't say anything about my wife - so does she hate Linda? Why does my daughter hate her mom? She only said "I love you, DAD", not "I love you dad and I love mom too". I have a hateful daughter.

There are some outright silly statements in this critique like:

"What does 'death is a beginning, not the end' mean?" Obviously the first part of Saddleback's statement "Heaven and hell are real places" should clear that up. The critic here is for a moment pretending the first part doesn't exist, or that a reasonable person wouldn't be able to link the two parts into a whole statement.

"This implies that Jesus and God are the same person" in response to the Saddleback statement of Jesus being God showing Himself to us. Wasn't it Jesus that originally made that claim in John 14 to Philip? The statement is conveying that scripture perfectly.


The critic asked why the second page didn't just replace the first (the second page being more comprehensive, with scripture)? I think that's really the central problem that the critic has with the list - this list of beliefs doesn't cover everything. That's only a bad thing if it clearly warps a fundamental principle or teaching of scripture, which it doesn't (until the critic invents it in his comments). Seriously, what's the criteria of a doctrinal statement on a website, as long as the truth is being taught in the actual church (especially with a second page easily accessible that is more comprehensive)?

I think readers of this website would be better served with an intelligent critique of a serious issue.

Aaron Menchaca

I looked at my first entry and realized I wasn't clear on what I was comparing in Mr Newell'S critique to that scenario of the daughter and father; I was saying Mr. Newell's reasoning in his piece was like the reasoning of that made-up father.

Also, I looked again at his piece. He says that the statement that God made everything in creation could imply that God made sin. Since when is sin a part of creation? Creation in the bible has to do with air, water, land, people - things that are measurable scientifically. Who on earth would imagine sin to be a part of creation? Sin is an untangible moral/spiritual issue which is committed by a member of creation (man), but is not a part of creation. Sin entered the world because of Adam and Eve's disobedience, after creation had been established. Sin is an act or thought outside of God's perfect will, that goes against God's holiness. I'm not sure if the writer understands the nature of sin.

Once again, I think the writer was trying to just bring a minister down without cause.

Steve Newell

Aaron,

Thanks for your comments. What I was doing was to show that if a church places their "statement of beliefs" on their website, word chooses can lead to wrong conclusions. In your statement, you filled in all the blanks that were not stated in Saddleback's statement on this point. If someone did not understand the impact of the Fall and how sin as corrupted all creation, they could assume that God, who created everything, is also responsible for sin. This assumption by that individual would be wrong. Many people don't think of creation as at the time of Adam and Eve, but creation as it now.

I would disagree with your statement that sin is intangible. We see the effects of sin everyday. Just read about every single death. This is the tangible effect of sin.

The purpose of my post was not to bring down Pastor Warren, but to exam what his church posts on their website as a statement of their faith and to see it is consistent with Holy Scripture. I believe that this exercise should be done on all church websites.

Regina Kinton

In your first paragraph under the 'Good', you incorrectly identified grace as "God giving us what we desire". Should be 'deserve'. We deserve death and eternal separation from the Father, but He in His mercy, has shown us grace! What we don't deserve, but what we desire and must show to others!

David Henderson

you are being very hard on Rick Warren. None of us would want to be evaluated by a brief statement on a website. This is not fair. jealousy is a terrible thing and you should get over it.

Cynthia Curran

RIck Warren is kind of worn out for most people these days. I read both of his books and never understood how he became so popular in the first place. In fact, his church appears to be made up of middle aged people on the whole since he doesn't attract much hispanics or asians which on average tend to be younger than the white population in his area. This presents problems about 15 years from now for his church as demographics gradually changed. This means that Saddeback like Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa and Crystral Cathedral in Garden Grove attedance will drop from what it is now. But too many people follower his growth methods thru out the US. In fact, if Rick Warren was smarter he would have started a church in the Phoenix area in Maricopia-since Maricopia has outspace Orange County in growth for about 20 years now. After, the 1970's, OC growth switch from people moving from other states to people moving from other countries. One reason why Rick would have been smarter according to his own philosophy to have located his church in the Phoenix suburban areas rather than Orange County.

Andrew

I know this is an old post, but with all the controversy of RW being at the Desiring God Conference, I figure I would respond.

This post is a little harsh and I think the disagreement here is in semantics. One example is when you criticize the church for saying that the Bible is a guidebook. Here's the definition of guidebook:

"a handbook with information for visitors to a place, as a historic building, museum, or foreign country Also called guide"

Wouldn't you say the Bible is the ultimate guidebook for humans living in the universe? Doesn't it tell us the purpose of life and the universe? (to glorify God) Anyway, I'm not going to say something about ALL of your points. I just think you have been a bit to critical with him. Many of the critiques of RW have come across as a little too... cynical. Or like they have to dig really really deep to find any little thing to disagree with.

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