Is Doctrine that Important?/ The Distaste of Doctrine (Part1)

A number of years ago, I enjoyed building model airplanes a whole lot, I thought fighter jets were the best (which kid doesn’t?). I remember when my older brother had gone overseas and he sent back this huge birthday present for me the one year, it was bigger then anything I had ever gotten and I couldn’t wait to open it up. To my amazement my brother had sent me a aircraft carrier with like 12 jets on and everything….

I couldn’t wait to get at it and build this huge, dream come true – ship…

I was so into it, I remember waking up real early in the morning to get it done, and I wanted to get it done in the same way my dog wants to eat all his food with one bite, I wanted it done quick cause it was just so cool.

As I got near the end and started putting all the big last pieces on, I noticed that I had a whole lot of pieces left over… Now, to be honest, in my haste I may have skipped over some parts of the instructions. And I wondered if this was going to mess it up after I had spent so much time on it

I realized that as I was building some parts looked so obviously like they would fit here or there and it just made sense that I skipped over parts in the instructions. In the end I had still built a killer ship, it was great and I was satisfied. Looking back I’m glad it was not a real ship or I might have been in a little trouble.

When I say a little I actually mean a whole lot, because its fine to make mistakes and skip things over when it doesn’t effect anyone, but like if that ship was real and I built it, it would have gone no where, maybe only down, with the crew and all. Thankfully 14 year olds are not allowed to build real ships.

As I think back about those fun filled moments with the ship I keep down in the garage, I’m reminded of some of the things Jesus said. I remember he spoke about a guy who is wise and how he should build his house, and then I remembered Jesus explained the story and said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock”

It really made sense, I could build a little model ship, but without following the carefully made manual by the designers I would get it wrong, even if it looked right.

People often question and ask, ‘What is Christianity supposed to look like?’ or ‘What did Jesus want us to do?’

The world are filled with people who claim to know, and try make communities and groups that are supposed to be the real deal, and I wonder sometimes, did these guys read the manual properly, or are they just building obvious parts of the ship?

Its funny, but when people start talking like this. other people seem to get their back up. Like if I was a ship inspector and came in and checked out the ship, I noticed that the connection to the rudder was missing and the radio had no aerial. Imagine how insane it would be if when I was pointing this out to the guys who built the ship they got all upset and said something like, “Cant you just appreciate it’s ship-ness? Are you saying you are the only one who knows what the ship needs? I mean, if I look at that ship out there on the harbor and look at this one, they look the same, ours even looks a bit better! You are so close-minded about ship construction!”

That would be a totally mad situation, not the kind I expect to find. If they ignored my recommendations they would be in real danger if the ship ever sailed out.

What is so fascinating to me as a Christian is that at the center of Christian Faith is the fact that God exists outside of everything we know as well as in it. Paul spoke about this, he said that a natural man doesn’t understand the things of the Spirit, and that the things of the Spirit are foolishness to him. Apart from Christ no one can really know anything spiritually beneficial to them, sure they might build something that looks like a ship, it might even have everything but the little connector to the rudder, but that’s not good enough. I’m not saying that everything is as important as every other thing, but we can agree that some things are essential.

We all have some kind of belief, even if we believe in nothing

The question is not what are you believing, but what are you basing your belief on

Evil is Under God’s Control

As I begin my series on God’s control of all things, including evil we must consider the evidence (as found in His book, the revealed Word, the Scripture, if you don’t agree, check the evidence). When I refer to evil I am speaking about both moral and natural evil. By moral I mean sin, such as lying, stealing, adultery, and all other ways in which people refuse to love each other and obey God. By natural evil I mean hurricanes, floods, disease- all the natural ways that death and suffering afflict mankind. What I am considering in this series, is that God rules the world in such a way that all sin remains in His ultimate control and therefore within His ultimate design and purpose.

I have read a book on a movement, mostly in America, called ‘Open Theism’ this group denies that God has full foreknowledge of the entire future. The denial of God’s foreknowledge of human and demonic choices is a mattress for the view that God is not in control of evil in the world and therefore has no purpose in them.

However, I believe that the Scripture teaches Go is in control of everything, including evil, and thus any view that suggests evil is out of God’s control, not only is wrong (or unscriptural J), but it offers no hope for a world that at times seems to spiral out of control with evil.

Let’s examine the evidence:

Does God control Calamity?

Let us consider the evidence that God controls physical evil, however keep in mind that often physical and moral evil meet, many of our pains happen because of other people or demonic forces decisions.

In Scripture humans life is seen as something God has complete authority over. He gives and takes away life. We do not have life, nor do we have any complete right over it. So it makes sense then that for God to give life is a gift, and to lose it is never an injustice on God’s part, whether it is taken at age 2 or age ninety-two.

Remember how Job reacted to losing his children at the initiation of Satan? He did not say that Satan was the ultimate cause of it. Instead he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” In case we might say that Job made a mistake, the author adds these words, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (v22). And “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (2:10).

In Deuteronomy 32:39, God said, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” When David impregnated Bathsheba, the Lord punished him by taking his son (2 Samuel 12:15, 18).

What about Disease?

When Moses afraid to speak God said to him, “Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? (Exodus 4:11). In other words behind all disease and disability is the ultimate will of God. Not to say that Satan is not involved- he is probably always involved in one way or another with a destructive purpose (Acts 10:38). But his power is not decisive. He cannot act without God’s permission.

That is one of the points made clear in Job’s illness. The text makes it clear that the disease came upon Job by… “So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” Job’s wife encouraged him to curse God, but he said, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?(Job 2:10)” again, the author says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2v10). That is to say, this is the correct view of God’s sovereignty over Satan. Satan is real and may have a hand in our affliction, but not the final hand, and most defiantly not the decisive hand. James makes it clear that God had a good purpose in all Job’s afflictions, “You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:11)” So Satan may have been involved, but the ultimate purpose was God’s, and it was “compassionate and merciful.”

We learn this again in 2 Corinthians 12:7, where Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh as being a messenger of Satan, and yet it was given to make him more holy: “So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.” Now Satan’s goal is not Paul’s humility, therefore the purpose is God’s.

There is no reason to believe that Satan is ever out of God’s control ultimately. Mark 1:27 says about Jesus, “And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And in Luke 4:36, “And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” In other words no matter how real and terrible Satan and his demons are in this world, they remain subordinate to the ultimate will of God

The point of the teaching I think is in us to cause humility and hope, humility since we are so small and God so great and some things are far beyond our understanding and hope, since no matter how crazy things get, they are never out of control of a all-wise faithful, good and great heavenly Father

In the next Blog: God’s control of Natural Disasters and all other kinds of Calamities.

I am indebted to John Piper for my clarity and articulation in this: See Desiring God by John Piper.

God Even Works Sin For Our Good

Oh sin, how the believer in time comes to hate it, and how I hate the time that I do not hate it. I do not want to sound in anyway in favor of sinning or sin, it is a most evil and disgusting thing, it destroys lives, it nailed the purest and holiest, the very Son of God to a tree- He that knew no sin became sin for those who are saved. Sin is so evil, so exceedingly sinful that is so corrupts man that he will never be free from it until he dies, it even brings about that death, for the wages of sin are death….

However, for the Christian, there is a blessedness in sin, for we know that God works all things together to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Can it be that God can even use sin? Well the apostle says, ‘all things’ now, this is not to say we should then sin that God may use it, no, for if we say God uses our sicknesses and suffering, do we go out and make ourselves sick, do we hurt our own body and thus not look after the temple of the Holy Spirit, certainly not. Likewise with sin.

Sin troubles me so much, I often cry out like the apostle in Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”… Christian listen to the apostle’s sweet answer, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”(v25a). I have noticed within me, when I fall, and I fall so hard, I am moved I am compelled, either to give-up or to fight! How easy it is to give up, the flesh indeed is weak. Christian don’t waste your sin!

If you have played soccer/football you will know what I am talking about, when you are tackled, you can sometimes feel a fire inside of you that says NO, and you turn and run to get the ball back from the one who took it from you, before he passes it and you are the one who is to blame for the subsequent goal. Or you could just give up and say, “I’m to tired, we will just have to make it up. Or you can wonder what you did wrong, and blame the ball, or the uneven ground.

Christian brothers and sister, it is the flesh, sin within you…. But there is one answer to it. And so when you sin, do not be weary, though I know it is easy, do not blame others, for James tells us when we sin we are led away by our own desires (James 1). Say rather the truth, “Woe is me, who will deliver me from the body of death!!!!

Let me tell you who will deliver you, it is the one who chose you, not because you are attractive, it is the one who saved you to make you glorified, not because you are glorious, it is the one Who became sin for you, Christ Jesus the righteous. So pure and holy, compassionate, tender, meek, merciful to those who come with a broken and contrite spirit. Oh may we Christians ever live with broken and contrite spirits, a spirit that will never trust itself.

Why do I then say sin is blessed?

Look at this list, and I am sure there are more then these, but these are what I have thought up in this short time.

  1. My sin causes me to throw myself again at the feet of Christ, and shows me my utter need for Him
  2. My sin cause me to love and cling to Jesus my savior so much more, for there is nothing good within me, but if I can just touch the hem of His garment I will be made well.
  3. My sin crushes my pride and self-righteousness; it shows me my need for Christ and my lack in myself.
  4. My sin reminds me of what grace and mercy is, and what a truly great gift Salvation is
  5. My sin moves me more to hate it as I see it wickedness, it becomes a fuel to fight it with more and more
  6. My sin makes me love my brothers, for I am the chief of sinners and the least of the saints

Christian fight sin, and let Micah 7:7-9 be your chant of war or your cry for victory as you press on

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.

I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.

A Conservative Critique of Rob Bell’s ‘Velvet Elvis’

Well again with a book review. Let me say from the outset that i am not convinced that the best way to approach the emerging church movement is by discrediting and trashing their claims (see my blog series ’emergent detergent’), however, for those who are interested, and some of those emergents who are open to conversation with anyone and not just other emergents who say what they want to hear, maybe this can be useful for you (forgive my viscousness there).

I would prefer someone to read the ‘book of shadows’ (Wiccan Bible) or the ‘Koran’ or listen to a Marylin Manson cd then read this book. Why? Well, at least those others let you know that they are bad, at least you know what you are in for, but this book, is so shneaky, so deceitful, it is way more evil (please don’t let that comment put you off from reading further).

Strategically throughout the book Bell reconstructs Christianity in such a way that makes him believable, those of us who are evangelical, reformed, conservative (but however, not this new brand of blind fundamentalist) will half agree with parts of what he says, so for example on pg 21 Bell mentions the time that Christ said that He is the Way, truth and Life, then Bells says that ‘Jesus was not claiming one religion is better then another’. Thats a half truth, there is a negativity connected with religion, however, that does not mean that that is all religion is, James at the end of chapter 1 of his first epistle seems to be very pro religion. However, like the serpent in Eden, (I hope that is not unfair for me to say, just drawing a parallel, not saying Bell is the devil, although I am pretty sure he is inspired by the devil, there is a difference between being mistaken and not having everything right, and teaching outright apostasy)

His entire fist chapter bell uses the analogy of a spring, however, he then takes the analogy of truth and his connections with truth and thus says that doctrines doesn’t really matter, eventually saying that He could still be a Christian if Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin (although he claims he still believes that Jesus was). This is terrible, listen, if God did not invade the real world and be yet different, then there is no hope! If all Christainity is, is a bunch on pretty imaginations and good concepts, then we are doomed, because death and suffering and all other consequences of sin are real life things, not imaginations!

Then on page 27 he says things like God is bigger then the Christian faith. Well that is true, however, that is the only place He has revealed Himself specifically (for a further investigation on this I encourage you to do a study of Psalm 19, notice the change in thought that occurs in the second half of the Psalm).

Bell later talks about questions (pg28), says they are good and healthy, goes on to suggest that churches are generally against people asking them. I am not sure what churches he has been to… However, he stays at the question, he suggests that we relish the mystery of not knwoing things, instead of presenting peeople with the Word of God and godly Bible teachers who God has given as gifts to the Chruch to help us walk and find answers to what God has revealed. I am not saying all answers are easy, but if we stop at just asking qustions that is celebrating our ignorance, and people perish for lack of knowledge.

He misquotes and reinterprets most scriptures, there is not historical-grammatical method happening in his book. In his second chapter he suggest that when Jesus gave the command to bind and loose to the Church, Jesus was telling the church to interpret and reinterpret Scripture. This my friends is the problem, there is no way that is what Jesus meant, now I can go into a whole exegesis of the text with you, or I can just tell you to go and read 200 commentaries by godly men and find one that even hints at that. Actually no, wait, I think i will reinterpret that Scripture now, binding actually means giving a tattoo and loosing means to remove bracelets from people. 2000 years of Church history and this is still the kind of stuff that deceives the church, wow! This is a proof of the doctrine of ‘total depravity’.

on page 67, Bells attacks the teaching of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture alone is our guide, that really tells us where he stands, and I say this respectfully, how he misunderstands Church history. The serpent in Eden also said, did God actually say….

There is much more I could write about this book, however, there are many good crits on it available for those who want to take a deeper look. For me the main point was Bells stance on Scripture, and since thats out, so is anything he writes really. If you have questions or would like me to expand on anything I have written here or elsewhere, just drop a line.

let me close by quoting the Westminster Confession on Scripture:

4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

6. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and [PCUS that] there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

God, Suffering and Christians.

I have been thinking about suffering. It may be that God is allowing physical suffering to sweep our world in order to shake His Church to the worldwide ravages of spiritual starvation. Our hearts break more quickly when we see a skin-draped skeleton in its mother’s arms than when we hear a missionary say: millions have never heard the gospel and are bound for hell in the wickedness of their worldliness or idolatry. Of course our heads tell us that it is much worse to be happy in this life and in torment for eternity than to be miserable only in this life. But visible earthly misery reaches our hearts more directly. Perhaps God is touching us this way in order that we might feel the horror of spiritual starvation when our heads declare: Do you weep over the suffering of these bodies now?—How much more, then, should you weep over the suffering of soul and body in eternity!

Seeing this in real life:

*An 84-year-old tribesman stands patiently in line waiting for a precious handful of cornmeal. He is only three people from the head of the line when famine strikes its final blow—he collapses and dies. His skeletal body is dragged a few yards away. And the long line shuffles forward.

*A gaunt young mother holds a tiny bundle of skin and bones to her withered breast . . . but there is nothing there. Soon—perhaps tomorrow—her child will be dead, and she will have only bitter memories of unbearable suffering.

*A missionary steps out of his home to find the hunger ravaged corpses of small children at his doorstep—left there in the dark of night by distraught parents.

*At a feeding station, a fine trail of white flour drifts to the ground from a punctured bag. The children who can still move their arms and legs scoop the flour up with dirt and swallow it before the wind can blow it away.

*A gaunt and withered man is shot in the head for his 12-cent bowl of maize porridge.

*In town after town, village after village, local trash collectors pick up the shriveled little bodies of dead children by the ankles and carry them out to their garbage trucks.

Do we stop and ask ourselves anything? Do we feel bad and shrug it off?

These things do not mean God does not exist, if God did not exist then why would we see it as terrible? Why is suffering wrong? We never try to stop one animal suffering in our games reserves, because we see it as a course of nature- survival of the fittest, but why not with humans? why is suffering… suffering? It is suffering because we have an endued worth, the image of God that sets us apart from the animals. The question is not, if there is suffering how can there be God, the question is, if there is suffering, how can there not be a God?

But alas, we are left with the question, why does God allowing suffering, this is a more appropriate question, from the depression I have to the starvation and political strife in Africa, why would God decree it? Well, I think there are many reason, which I will in time elucidate on this blog, however my point today is where we started. Not to the philosophers, or the atheists, or agnostics (all though there is a parable for you as well), but Christians God is showing us the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Should we merely debate theology and go to Bible studies and pray and read our Bible, if all that learning leads to nothing, then is there life (fruit). We need to take share the answer if we so believe He is the answer (Jesus Christ).

Emergent Detergent (Part 1)

I would like to set apart a few blogs to deal with the emergent Church, however, this is more for guys who are in the established Church of Christ- like, remember the one He built on the foundation of the apostles… And so I am not writing to emergents, although you are welcome to read 🙂

In today’s blog I would just like to look at how we got where we are, the idea I have is that attacking the emergent church’s teaching and or leaders may not be the best approach, but I shall show you what I mean as we go along, consider this progressive Revelation (in the Bible God revealed Himself progressively from Genesis and culminated with Christ- just throwing that in there in case someone was left out of the joke)

There is a huge gap between generations (although its diminishing as the later generation dies out), and really it centers around a change in the concept of truth.
What is Truth?

No matter where you look, arts, news, magazines, literature, everywhere one look you see the stranglehold of this new methodology… this new approach to truth.

Its suffocating, like when you smell rotten eggs… my friends and I used to drive about an hour every Monday to play indoor soccer, and whenever we went through this one area there was this rotten eggs smell (apparently sulphuric gas, or something like that). We would all rush to close our windows, five to six guys squashed in a golf in the middle of summer, that’s right, we closed our windows (maybe that’s why it smelled?). Alas the steel doors that protect us from the elements were not match for the stench, and soon the car was polluted… In the same way this stench has come in, and we could not prevent it, it suffocates and fills everywhere, and we hardly ever realized it was happening.

The tragedy today is that men and women are being fundamentally affected by this new way of looking at truth, yet they never even saw the shift in thinking that took place. Young people from Christian homes are brought up in the old frame of truth, then they are subjected to the contemporary (current). After a little time they become confused because they do not understand the alternatives that are being shown to them… Like I use to think Strawberry was the only good milkshake, and then I heard about chocolate, now strawberry is the enemy, and that just trivial milkshake. Confusion becomes panic (Ahhh! but strawberry), and before long they are overwhelmed (anything but that strawberry). This is true, not only of young people, but pastors, teachers, evangelists…

Before the change occurred (we can argue date another day) we all thought along the same presuppositions (Pre- before; supposition-belief), which appeared to work with Christian’s presuppositions

What were these presuppositions… these assumptions of the way thinks worked?

Well the real basic one was that there are really such things as absolutes, the secular world accepted the idea of there being an absolute in the area of Being (knowledge) and in the area of morals. Thus, since they accepted the possibility of absolutes, though they might have disagreed on something, nevertheless they could reason together on the basis of antithesis (crazy word, I’m sorry, but bare with me J )… They took it for granted that if something was true the opposite was false… If Germany won the world cup in 1990, they did not lose it in 1990, get it?

In morality if one thing was right, it’s opposite was false. So we have the formula, “A is A and “If you have A it is not non-A” this is the first concept in classical logic… If you understand the extend to which this no longer holds sway, you will understand our present situation.

It was possible to discuss what was right and wrong. One could tell a non-Christian to “be a good dude” and while he/she might not have followed your advise, at least they would have understood what you were talking about. To say that to today’s dude would be like making a ‘nonsense’ statement.

And so then, back in the day, you could have spoke and people would know what you are talking about, but when one talks today about truth and right and wrong, it makes no sense to the average listener, it’s crazy talk, it would be like me telling you that addidas is the only brand in existence (notice the brand placement), now it may not be the only brand, my absolute statement was wrong. Today’s dudes see every truth statement as being like mine above

Ponder on these things, engage them…. wait fort the next edition as we progress. The goal here is not to win a debate on existentialism, it is to persuade men of the truth of Jesus Christ and to save those as from fire, who name Christ but are being led astray but the many false prophets we were promised.

Grace be with you all.

Isaiah 30:15

A Conservative Critique of ‘Irresistable Revolution’ by Shane Clairborne

Let me start by saying i don’t think i know everything and have everything together. I don’t think my opinion is infallible and so i hope that this can be a discussion on the book. I read it in two days (its written in a really easy reading style, I like the way he writes).

1. The Good

Well, my favorite part of the book is when Shane crits ‘the prayer of Jabez’ by Bruce Wilkinson on page 318. John Macarthur said much the same a while ago, and I think the more conservative and those who ae concerned with honoring God’s Word would figure that out, so props to Shane for nailing that.

I really like what is said about sweat shops, and how we just buy that stuff, we really should ask about things when we support such outright exploitation. I remember the days when Christians used to not by stuff cause it was in some way associated with Satanists, that makes no sense to me since those without Christ are in the same boat as Satanists, it boils down to who is exploiting and who is being fair

2. The Problems

I hate writing this because sometimes you feel like you are always fighting, but since over 80% of the New Testament was written to correct doctrinal errors and what not, i consider myself in good company 🙂 I also hope you know, I am not writing this because I enjoy being contentious, but rather because I understand that this book is popular and so I think we need to temper popularity with wisdom and discernment (essentially I love you my friends and just want to share my thoughts on something that might be dangerous, note I said might)

When i read it, this book reminded me of when I read ‘Mein Kampf’ by Adolf Hitler (wait for the shock of the crowd). What I mean is, Hitler had a political agenda and as he wrote his trashy book of hate he used the Bible to justify it, most of you my friends live in a country where people used the Bible to defend their political views of apartheid. As i read Clairborne’s book he is pushing a political agenda, o matter what he says and tries to get out of it, he is pushing an agenda, and he is not writing as a theologian, nor as a Christian, he is writing as a politician, as a revolutionary.

Now we know he studied at a liberal College (check out what liberal theology is on the net if you don’t know what it is). he tries to avoid the label yet bears every liberal characteristic (communistic tendency, pacifist, green, etc). Honestly, if you read this book, honestly not one of the scriptures he uses is what was intended by the original author to be used how he used them, I encourage you, go back, read good commentaries by godly men, again. There are two ways to interpret the Bible (right and wrong haha- just joking, but seriously) there is exegesis: what did the author mean and how does that apply today, and isegeisis: what do i think, what would I like this Scripture to say. Claiborne uses the second. If you have questions, ask in the comment section 🙂

How do I see his liberalness in his use of Scripture, well he ignores parts, we need to read the whole counsel of God together. eg

1 Tim 5:8 says that those who don’t look after their own are worse then the infidel, even Christ told the disciples to buy a sword. I am sure Adolf Hitler would have loved the world to be anti-war, then we would all be speaking German today.

John 6:68 tells us Christ turned a crowd away because they only followed him for food but they didn’t want His teaching

Romans 13:1-4 tells us that God puts governments in place and gives them a sword to being justice. Even bad governments are used for His purposes (this is a great topic on how God decrees evil but is not the author and uses it for His own purposes)

Luke 16:9 says we must make friends of ungodly mammon.

There is a ton more, but just to show you it is not as clear as he makes it.

Page 29 gives away what he is doing, he wants a new kind of Christianity. although he often tries to go and call for an early church, its interesting that he only picks the Jerusalem church, do you know that not one other church in the New Testament had a distribution! other churches had rich and poor and the rich were taught not to despise the poor but to be generous and help.

If you go and see what Christianity he claims to be converted to and become disenchanted with, you will soon see its not Christianity at all. (page 45; 64-65). I understand and feel with him when I see apathy, when the church does nothing I get angry, and James says faith that has not produces works is dead. But the right kind of works. Creation groaning is often mentioned, but if you read the Scriptures, it will only stop when Christ returns and rules with an iron fist.

Yes we must care for the poor, but Clairborne makes two mistakes:

1. Redefines who the Church is. In Scripture the Church are those, rich or poor who have been born of God into a new life, those saved by grace through faith resulting in works (Eph 2:8-10). However in Clairbornes book the Church are those who live in community and love each other, I think the world is able to love as well, its a common grace. What makes the church the church is not that we are a social society but that we have deeper answers then just earthly things.

If you read Scripture we are supposed to care for those in the Body of Christ, those who are saved, take care of them, not meaning we should not be involved in the world, but our primary job there is evangelism, or let us fill their bellies and send them to hell well fed?

2. He redefines salvation: This is not easy to see, but its typical of liberal theology. In his idea of coming into the church, do you ever see in this book the words sin; judgment; law; repentance? For sure he mentions some of them but not in the right context. Giving to the poor but swearing like a trooper is not a fine place to be, or who decides what sins we suddenly are allowed to do and those we are not?

There is so much more I could write, almost every page, but this is getting long already. so let me say two things

1st John the epistle was written to warn about false teachers. John gives two tests, one is righteousness and the other is faithfulness to sound Doctrine, not just one, but both. Now I readily admit that some Churches focus only on doctrine, and that is a sign of danger, even hypocrisy, but just having good works but bad doctrine is just as ugly before God. Oh how I pray for godly sound Holy Spirit filled young people who know their Bible and theology and can win the atheist and Mormon, but who can cry with the abused and share the truth of Christ and His forgiveness for even their sins.

Secondly, Clairborne quotes Boenhoffer, who was part of a group trying to assassinate Hitler, Boenhoffer once said that if you see a drunk man about to drive down a freeway you have the responsibility to arrest the wheel out of his hands, not exactly a pacifist.

Furthermore, Che Guevara was a mass murderer, not a hero of love, he was a communist killer like Stalin and Lenin and Moa and all such communists. I couldn’t believe he even mentioned him.

Lastly his use of mother Teresa is such a touchy subject, let me just say that Mother Teresa taught in her book, ‘the Simple way’ that her aim was to make a Muslim a better Muslim, a Hindu a better Hindu and what not, and you see this when Clairnorne says to the lepers, “I see God in you” (page 79) and the other guy says the same back, the Bible says without Christ you are a child of the devil, the Hindu idea of god in you is that you are actually a god. I recall God calling people’s good works ‘filthy rags’ before His eyes.

Really all Clairborne does is preach the same old liberal theology, this time from a perspective of communist rather then women or black. His liberalism is tinged with post-modernism. He redefines the Church to include all and thus says we need to reach out unconditionally on a social level to all, I see this as foreign to God’s intention. God did not come to set up an earthly kingdom, but one in men’s heart. As for Clairborne use of being persecuted, I think Christ made It clear as did the apostles, it only really counts if you are persecuted for righteousness sake, for preaching the gospel (that involves sin and repentance towards God, not listening to boring sermons). By the way he constantly miss uses the 2 or 3 are gathered quote, but then again so do most Christians.

In short, I think the book is dangerous because it steers us away from Christ the savior and points us towards a man-made revolutionary Christ. It steers us away from the teachings Christ came to bring and steers us towards a political worldview. It steers us away from the grace and mercy and soon coming judgment of God and our helplessness, towards a distant God, but wonderfully capable men who In fact seem like they could get along fine without Him. Please be careful, even if you don’t agree with all I have said (and I would love to discuss it, on the wall for comments after this being a good time). Thanks for taking the time to read this.