December 30, 2008

Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren: The Atonement is only a “facet” of the Gospel

In an interview posted on his website following his sharp criticism of “postmodern” churches, Emerging Church movement leader, Brian McLaren, made some rather unorthodox statements about the biblical Gospel. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

(Q): Hold on. That bothered me too. You [McLaren] wrote, “Which reminds us that none of us has a complete grasp of the gospel…. It's very dangerous to assume you've perfectly contained the gospel in your little formula.” I think with all the other change going on, one thing we’ve got to hold firm on is the gospel.

(A): What do you mean when you say “the gospel?"

(Q): You know, justification by grace through faith in the finished atoning work of Christ on the cross.

(A): Are you sure that’s the gospel?

(Q): Of course. Aren’t you?

(A): I’m sure that’s a facet of the gospel, and it’s the facet that modern evangelical protestants have assumed is the whole gospel, the heart of the gospel. But what’s the point of that gospel?

(Q): What do you mean? I guess it’s so that people can spend eternity with God in heaven in an intimate personal relationship as opposed to … the alternative. You don’t seem to agree.

(A): Well, for Jesus, the gospel seemed to have something to do with the kingdom of God.

(Q): Which is the kingdom of heaven, which is going to heaven after you die.

(A): Are you sure about that?

(Q): Aren’t you?

(A): This is exactly the point I was trying to make in the article. Many of us are sure we’re “postmodern” now with our candles and hipness and so on, but we haven’t asked some important and hard questions – not about postmodernity, but about modernity and the degree to which our theology and understanding of the gospel have been distorted or narrowed or made “gospel lite” by modernity.

(Q): If you were intending to make me feel better, you’re not succeeding.

(A): Well, I hope you’ll at least think about this. And search the Scriptures, you know, to see if there’s any validity to the question I’m raising.

McLaren whether intentionally or not minimizes the atonement by referring to it as a mere “facet” of an uncertain gospel, a gospel that according to him, “none of us has a complete grasp of.” Yet he is content to criticize others for being “gospel lite.” Seems rather absurd to criticize others for being “gospel lite” while advancing an uncertain gospel. I Corinthians 15:1-4 clearly defines the biblical Gospel. If, however, one employs McLaren’s logic then one must conclude that Paul was “gospel lite,” right?

December 28, 2008

Focus on the Family website yanks Glenn Beck interview

WorldNet Daily reports that Focus on the Family’s interview with conservative talk radio and TV host, Glenn Beck, was recently yanked from the ministry’s CitizenLink website because they received many complaints that the ministry made it appear that Beck was Christian when he is actually an active Mormon.

The WorldNet Daily piece stated,

Karla Dial, the freelance reporter who did the interview for Focus, even says in the prologue, "These days, Beck is hoping to spread a more eternal sort of gospel through his new book, The Christmas Sweater." Those comments, among others, drew the criticism of several Christian apologists, who argue that Beck's gospel and the evangelical gospel are not the same.

Focus on the Family, however, did make this statement after yanking the Beck interview from their website,

"You are correct to note that Mr. Beck is a member of the Mormon church, and that we did not make mention of this fact in our interview with him," the receptionist said. "We do recognize the deep theological difference between evangelical theology and Mormon theology, and it would have been prudent for us at least to have pointed out these differences. Because of the confusion, we have removed the interview from CitizenLink."

Beck made this statement on his website:

The Christmas Sweater is a story about the idea of Christmas as a time for redemption and atonement. Whatever your beliefs about my religion, the concept of religious tolerance is too important to be sacrificed in response to pressure from special interest groups, especially when it means bowing to censorship. I'm humbled and grateful that hundreds of thousands of people from different faiths have read the book and have appreciated its uplifting message for themselves. At a time when the world is so full of fear, despair, and divisions, it is my hope that all of those who believe in a loving and peaceful God would stand together on the universal message of hope and forgiveness. -glenn

It’s disappointing that Focus on the Family had to be pressured before giving a prepared statement –that Mormonism is not compatible with biblical Christianity– to a receptionist to read to those who called with complaints, but at least they did do the right thing.

December 6, 2008

Emergent Church leader says homosexuality can be biblical lifestyle

In a recent WorldNet Daily story, Tony Jones, national coordinator for Emergent Village has decided that homosexual relationships are biblically valid. On his New Christians blog discussing the same-sex issue, Jones said, "I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state." As shocking as this story may be it should not be that surprising since Brian McLaren, another leader in the Emerging/Emergent church movement said a few years ago in a Christianity Today blog that Christian leaders should take a five year moratorium to decide whether or not homosexuality is immoral.

Watchman Fellowship Places part of its Research Library at a Kansas City, MO Seminary

Baptist Press recently published an interesting story about Watchman Fellowship placing part of its collection of original source material from various cults at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City for use in theological education. James Walker, President of Watchman Fellowship, said in the piece, “Our goal is to equip the body of Christ for discernment and evangelism, to educate the community to the dangers of religious cults and to evangelize those lost in cultic deception."

Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin doubles as Islamic prayer center

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Faith Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Wisconsin has agreed to allow area Muslims to use the church’s building to conduct 2 of the 5 daily Islamic prayers. Faith Presbyterian Church pastor, Rev. Deb. Bergeson-Graham said of her church’s decision, "I think we're doing this, not because of what they believe, but because of what we believe. It's what Christ would have us do." Obviously, Rev. Bergeson-Graham views her church’s action as virtuous, but it would be interesting to see if Rev. Bergeson-Graham and her church view Christians who evangelize Muslims as "intolerant." Shockingly it appears that a Protestant church is validating Islam.