Monday, August 11, 2008

River City Redemption Is Closed...New Location!

Please click over and bookmark the following two new blogs-River City Revolution Church's blog (, updated every weekday by the leadership team and my personal blog (, which will also be updated every weekday as well.

Thanks so much to all of you (close to 1300) who checked out the blog over the past year. I've received emails from viewers from Philly to L.A. It was a lot of fun and very cathartic. The new blogs will be even better.

Thanks again and God bless!

Friday, August 8, 2008

New Revolution Post and New Blog

My bro, Pastor Justin, will upload a new post over at Revolution today. Be sure to check it out.
Also, as you know, I'll be shutting this blog down soon but I am opening a new personal blog that will largely contain my own thoughts as I struggle to prepare to preach every week or so at Revolution (fortunately for all Revolution attendees, I will periodically turn the pulpit over to my bro, Pastor Dave Dunham). Feel free to check out the new blogs. Links are below.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Revolution Post and Why Metal Rules!!!

Ryan Rolfe, leader of The World Most Dangerous Praise Band, has a new post on worship music at the Revolution blog. I love Ryan but he does slight the awesomeness of metal, and although he clearly holds a majority opinion, in my opinion, it is darn near an unforgivable sin!
Now, I am certainly biased. I have been a metalhead since roughly 1983! The first album I ever bought was Def Leppard's "Pyromania" followed by Quiet Riot's "Metal Health." Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil" led me to heavier stuff and by 1987 Metallica and Guns N' Roses made all the hair metal stuff sound girlish.
I then dove headlong into stuff like Pantera and dug deep into the past for stuff like both Ozzy and Dio era Sabbath, Maiden, Priest, Motorhead, etc. All awesome!
After a while I became concerned with the amount of time and money I was putting into my metal collection which included dozens of tee-shirts, festivals and literally thousands of CD's. So, because it was becoming an idolatry issue, I began to sell off my CD collection BUT I still love metal, so what is a Christian metalhead to do? Back in the day the heaviest Christian stuff I could find was Stryper...go ahead and throw up in your mouth, I won't be offended. Luckily, Christian metal has come a long way and you can find pop metalers like Disciple, Pillar, Skillet and nu-metalers like RED and Flyleaf and rap metal like KJ-52 and even Christian metalcore like Living Sacrifice, As I Lay Dying and, of course, Demon Hunter!!!
Now many people do not consider metal "real music." Shame on them. Some of the world's greatest musicians play (or played) metal (i.e., Geezer Butler, Neil Pert, Dimebag Darrell).
Moreover, the reason I never "outgrew" metal is that everything else is so tame! And what I love about Christian metal is that it has stones! Now, we worship a big, mighty, holy God who creates, judges, destroys and all this set to acoustic guitars with soft melodies just don't seem to do it justice.
So, everyone is entitled to an opinion (I guess!) but I will continue to fly the flag for metal because it has real the Almighty!!! However, Revolution services will largely be metal-less. Sad for me.
All that being said, my bro Ryan is a great musician. We are blessed to have him on board and you will dig his post which can be found here:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Best Bible in the World!!!!

The greatest Bible in the world is the English Standard Version (In my mind, I sound a little like Will Ferrell as Ron Burgandy when I say that) and the study Bible hits bookstores this October BUT if you just can't wait (and who can????) then you can download the entire audio version of the Gospel of John over at Crossway (the 2nd greatest publisher in the world next to Banner of Truth).

If you are a core group member of Revolution then you should know that if God blesses our new church then I'll be preaching through the Gospel of John starting in January with the able help of Pastor Dave Dunham. Link is here.

Also, check out Eron Elswick's latest post ("Is Jesus Crazy?") over at the Revolution blog.

Why Plant A Church?

I get asked the question from a lot of church people, "why are you planting a new church?" The question assumes that all existing churches need to do is institute a new program or offer a different kind of service but study after study demonstrates that the unchurched and the dechurched will not enter existing churches for various reasons. Thus, the most effective way to reach both the lost and those that loathe the church is to plant a new church and that is why Revolution kicks off August 31st. Now, if we just find a building to hold it in...

Before I forget, be sure to check out Dave Dunham's new post over at the Revolution blog:


Monday, August 4, 2008

New Revolution Post

New post over at the Revolution blog re: the 2008 Xenos Summer Institute with links to MP3s by Mark Driscoll, D.A. Carson, Gary Breshears and Mark Mittleberg. All of the speeches are worth a listen. Check out Revolution at

Friday, August 1, 2008

Narrative Over And Against Proposition?

As I was refreshing my memory re: all things Emergent for last weekend's sermon, I began re-thinking the old narrative v. propositional antithesis that many, if not all, of the leaders in Emergent trumpet.

If I'm speaking a foreign language it is essentially this--modern Christianity is beholden to a theology that is alien to Scripture and the 1st century Church. The Bible is a story not a powerpoint presentation and the modern church has turned it into a list of propositions or "Do you believe A?" and "Do you believe B"? and if you don't believe "A" and "B" and on and on then you are not really a Christian. In protest, Emergents argue that the Bible is really about living out the story contained within. In other words, its not so much affirming the belief that Jesus existed and preached the Sermon on the Mount and that the Gospels faithfully record the words as it is to live out the commands to "turn the other cheek" and "give to whoever asks of you", etc.

Now, on the one hand, Emergents have a point and it was one that easily snared me as a seminary student nearly ten years ago. The modern church has indeed turned a lot of the faith into a true/false test instead of a way of life or, to use Donald Miller's phrase, separated truth from meaning i.e., we affirm something as true but it doesn't truly mean anything to us because we don't live as if it were really true.

Yet, on closer examination Emergents have simply swung from one extreme to the other when they truly need to find a solid middle ground.

The Bible is largely made up of narratives but not exclusively and a good portion of Scripture, like the Epistles (Romans-Jude) contain propositions flowing out of the narrative. In fact, such a move is inevitable. You cannot engage any story without being confronted with a proposition. The very frame of the story confronts us with a demand to acknowledge its truth or falsity. Even schlock like Rambo IV (which was friggin' awesome by the way) demands that the audience side with Rambo or the Burmese army and the moment you have made such a decision a number of propositions flow from such a commitment. Paul saw this. So, did Peter, James, John, Jude, etc.

Thus, Emergents pose a false antithesis. The proper way is to embrace both the living out of the story of Jesus while affirming the truths He explicitly taught us and those He gave to the Apostles, such as Paul, who Scripture affirms, is Jesus' own chosen instrument (Acts 9:15).

This is the balance you find in the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20). Read it. Pray over it. Meditate upon it. It is a command to live a certain way but that way includes setting forth certain propositions.

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:16-20 ESV)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Revolution Update and Don't Waste Your Time

Later today, check out my bro Justin Clark's post on what you can do to help Revolution. Link is below. Be sure to make it one of your favorites.

Ryan Rolfe, leader of the World's Most Dangerous Praise Band, will post tomorrow.

Revolution launches August 31st in Portsmouth, Ohio at a location to be disclosed later.

Check back soon for updates.

Finally, many of you know that I think it is largely a waste of time to read most of the stuff that Christian book publishers are pushing these days. I've already begged and pleaded with you to put down McLaren and Bell and dig into a good Bible, like the ESV Literary Study Bible, or something that will help you better study your Bible like Fee and Stuart's "How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth."

May I also humbly recommend anything and everything by John Piper. Even Rob Bell writes in a footnote in Velvet Elvis that everyone should read everything by Piper!

The good news is that many of Piper's books are online for free! Go to Desiring God ( and click on "Resource Library" and look to the left for "online books." I recommend that you start with the modern classic "Desiring God" and then peruse "What Jesus Demands From The World" and "Don't Waste Your Life" but its all good and its all free.

God bless.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

River City Revolution and Dwight Schrute

Check out my bro Eron Elswick's post re: Jesus and the poor over at the new River City Revolution Blog. Posts forthcoming from Justin Clark and Ryan Rolfe this week.

Click over to

Be sure to add it to your favorite list as it will be updated every weekday by a member of the leadership team of Revolution which launches on August 31st in Portsmouth.

Once again, I will be shutting down River City Redemption in the next few weeks but in the meantime I'm going to have some fun.

For example, here are my favorite quotes from one of my personal heroes, Dwight Schrute from The Office.

1) "I am faster than 80% of all snakes."

2) "Women are like wolves. If you want one you must trap it. Snare it. Tame it. Feed it. "

3) "I don't have a lot of experience with vampires, but I have hunted werewolves. I shot one once, but by the time I got to it, it had turned back into my neighbor's dog."

4) "If I could menstruate, I wouldn’t have to deal with idiotic calendars anymore. I’d just be able to count down from my previous cycle. Plus, I’d be more in tune with the moon and the tides."

5) " I am not a security threat. And, my middle name is "Kurt", not "Fart.""

6) "Why tip someone for a job I'm capable of doing myself? I can deliver food. I can drive a taxi. I can, and do, cut my own hair. I did however, tip my urologist, because I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones. "

7) "I have been Michael's number two guy for about five years. And we make a great team. We're like one of those classic, famous teams. He's like Mozart, and I'm like...Mozart's friend. No, I'm like Butch Cassidy, and Michael is like...Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart, you're gonna get a bullet in your head, courtesy of Butch Cassidy."

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Gods Aren't Angry? and a Shout Out to Mrs. Pistole

I just finished watching The Gods Aren't Angry, which is the new Rob Bell DVD. Where do I begin?

Charles Colson told a pastor friend of mine that he believes Bell to be the most dangerous teacher in America today. He may be right.

I'm sure that Bell means very well because I did when I believed and taught exactly the same thing to several churches and youth groups while I was an Emergent.

Bell very subtly denies the great Christian doctrine of propitiation (Rom. 3:25 and 1 John 2:2 and 4:10...look them up in a good translation like the ESV or the NASB) and, therefore, the awesome doctrine of double imputation. Bell takes the Abelardian position that everything is about expiation i.e., that God doesn't need blood and that sacrifice is all about your conscience. Such a view greatly waters down the holiness of God and the great evil of sin.

Now, like I used to do, Bell is simply following the proponents of the New Perspective on Paul set forth by one of his heroes N.T. Wright. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 and think about it a very long time. I can tell you that the adherents to the New Perspective, like Wright (and Bell) have never adequately dealt with it.

Bell also trumpets the theory of religion outlined most notably by another Bell hero, Ken Wilbur, who is a tantric, Mayan Buddhist. The Bible is very clear that other religions are not the product of organic responses to "forces beyond our control" but are, in fact, demonic (see Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:17; 2 Chron. 11:15; Psalm 106:35-37 and 1 Cor. 10:20-28).

Bell goes on to deny that God is angry because He is a "god of love" but is that Biblical? Romans 5 and Colossians 1 teaches that before repentance and faith we were "enemies" of God and Philippians 3 teaches that He will crush all of His enemies under His feet. Revelation 14 teaches that the judgment of the unrepentant by Christ will be as if they were stomped in a giant winepress until the blood runs as high as a horse's bridle. Sounds pretty angry to me, Rob!

Bell fails to see that anger and love can and must be reconciled. For example, I hate abortion because I love children. One is often contingent upon the other. God must be just and the justifier (Romans 3:26).

Pray for Rob Bell. Pray that he repents from the culturally acceptable, narcissistic "gospel" that is really all about us and doesn't seriously factor in the great and awesome holiness of God and justice of the sovereign ruler of creation. It is, as R.C. Sproul wrote, as if Bell has only been converted to one person of the Trinity and that is tragic.

Okay, all that heavy stuff aside, here is a shout out to my sister in Christ (and Revolution core member) Mrs. Tiffany Pistole who is having oral surgery this week. Get well soon and I'll be praying for you.

ALSO please note that the River City Revolution blog is up and running with a post from yours truly and the one and only Pastor Dave Dunham on being a dude for Christ. Coming soon, posts by my bros Eron Elswick, Justin Clark and Ryan Rolfe (i.e., the heralded leader of The World's Most Dangerous Praise Band). Check it out here:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Revolution and Xenos Summer Institute

River City Redemption will be shutting down very soon but fortunately you can click on to the new River City Revolution Blog here.

Thanks to my bro Dave Dunham for getting it up and running.

Xenos Christian Fellowship's 2008 Summer Institute focused on the Emergent Movement and contained a few surprises including Mark Driscoll rebuking the crowd for not praying for Brian McLaren and Rob Bell. Gary Breshears, a professor of theology and co-author of Vintage Jesus, gave a seminar on the works of McLaren (who he has met and conversed with) and spent a good deal of time congratulating McLaren on energizing so many for social justice. The biggest surprise was that the best and most moving speech was given by D.A. Carson on Thursday night. His lecture (really a sermon) entitled Experience and Truth from Psalm 1 and 1 John was amazing. I encourage you to get the CD from Xenos.

The speakers did indeed take Bell, Pagitt, McLaren and others to task in the mold of John the Baptist, Paul and King Jesus himself but there was a great emphasis on praying for these brothers who have gone astray.

I agree and repent of the harsh language I have often used to describe them. I remember when I was Emergent and downplayed the holiness of God, scoffed at the the need for atonement and portrayed sin as largely corporate and political. It helped me feel independent at first but an empty smugness followed that nearly destroyed my faith and my family. I thank God that His Spirit is working on me and helping me to repent every day and to say that Jesus is Lord.

We must still strongly contend for the faith for Satan has always been more successful at twisting God's Word then outright denying it but we, and especially I, must do so with a better attitude.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taking A Break...

No real post today. I'm taking most of the day off to listen to Mark Driscoll talk about Emergent this morning (which is great because I'm preaching about it this weekend at CCC as Dad, Rick and I take a tag team approach to the sermon) and then I get to listen to D.A. Carson speak twice about postmodernism and Emergent and then sit in on a workshop re: the works of Brian McLaren with Prof. Gary Beshears. Driscoll and Dennis McCallum did a good job last night and I'm really looking forward to hearing Don Carson. I'll blog about the conference tomorrow. Until then....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Part Two of Books You Must Read RIGHT FRIGGIN' NOW!!!

Okay, so you go out and buy a good Bible (ESV or NLT) and you dig in only to discover that you don't know what in the frick is going on. I mean, you get over the talking donkey and some dude opening a can with the jawbone of an ass (don't send me emails that's a quote from ye ole King James Version) but then you get into the prophets and really weird crap is happening and you read the Gospels but you can't figure out who Jesus is pronouncing judgment upon and then you get to the book of Revelation and you haven't heard anything like it since your roommate in college rambled on after hitting his wizard shaped bong and a VHS copy of Fantasia. So if the Bible is God's inspired word then what do you do?

Fortunately there are number of great resources available to help a dedicated Christian study Scripture without chucking a spaz. I recommend "How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth" by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. The little book gives Christians an overview of each applicable ancient genre contained in Scripture so that they can better understand their Bible.

However, if you really want to dig in deep then I recommend "Grasping God's Word" by Duvall and Hays, which is a great textbook designed for Bible college students.

So, if you are dedicated and willing to let your geek flag flythen buy one or both and be the first kid on your block to actually understand what the @#!* the book of Daniel is about.

Part One of "Books You Must Start Reading RIGHT NOW!!!!"

Okay, so anyone who reads this blog knows that I cannot stand "Pagan Christianity" or "The Shack" or most emergent drivel.
So, in my estimation, what books don't suck?

How about we start with the Bible? Heard of it? I know, I know...a little long, some of the characters are hard to care about, you feel like you're reading a children's book when animals start talking, etc. etc.

Yet, if you truly have God's Spirit working within you to slowly "depervertifisy" you (does that sound George Bush like?) then you cannot go long without reading Scripture.

Yet, if you walk into a Christian book store (not that I recommend it! So much crap in there makes me want to go Jesus in the Temple and...okay, I digress...sorry) then you will notice a hundred different choices and some of them not even ye King James! I would recommend a good study Bible and access to, which has dozens of English translations available. I think that every serious Christian needs a good study Bible and access to other translations in order truly dig deeply into the Word of God.

The best reader friendly translation available is the New Living Translation. If you can afford it then you should grab a copy but if not then don't fret you can find it online at Biblegateway. I always recommend that Christians read whole books of the Bible in as few sittings as possible and not just engage in "read a verse and pray devotionals." In fact, the best way to study a book of the Bible is to read it through in one sitting beginning with a reader friendly but theologically accurate translation like the New Living Translation. Eventually, however, you need to slow down and study the book by breaking it down into smaller chunks and this requires a good literal translation and I define "literal" as a work that strives to stick as close to the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek as possible.

I think that the English Standard Version (or ESV) has surpassed the New American Standard as the best literal translation on the market and the best version out there is the Literary Study Bible. You should find one in a store and flip through it or peruse one online and see what you think but keep in mind that two new study Bibles will hit the market this fall and may easily rank as the best one-two punch out there--they are the ESV Study Bible and the New Living Translation Study Bible, which, by virtue of the scholars working on them, promise to be extraordinary.

So, if you decide to wait on one of the two study Bibles or if you feel the need to grab the ESV Literary Study Bible today then please...please...please...put down your crappy Tim LaHaye, Ted Dekkar, William Young stink pickle and just start reading a good version of the Bible!
Because if I run across one more so-called Evangelical Christian pushing some pile of poo that they think is "revolutionary" then I'm going to have to resort to extreme measures...think something like the picture to your right...I mean it...don't mess with me...I'm a lawyer and therefore have no heart!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Alma Mater Does It Again!

I went to seminary at Abilene Christian University which is a strange place. It is a church of Christ school which was birthed as a sectarian fundamentalist Bible college but has now become a left leaning, emergent friendly place with a serious case of Duke, SMU, Harvard, Yale, Princeton envy. I knew that when I was there and when I left the place as a little emergent neo-neo orthodox pastor but I hoped that it would change. I love the faculty there and hoped and prayed that they would repent of following mainstream denominations and seminaries into the land of blur.

But this past week I received my quarterly alumni newsletter focusing on the seminaries upcoming lectureship (a huge deal to the folks at ACU) only to discover that the featured speaker is none other then Brian Mclaren...Brian friggin' Mclaren!!! The ex-Jesus Freak hippie who, with the help of Doug Pagitt, shifted the "conversation" among the Gen-X pastors of the Young Leaders Network from how to reach the lost among the Gen-X and Gen-Y crowd to how to jettison 2000 years of orthodox Christianity.

Now this is a really strange turn for ACU because it prides itself (to a sinful degree, in my estimation) on its rigid academic standards and here it is inviting a self-confessed "non-theologian" with no seminary training and a flair for poorly argued positions to highlight their most cherished event.

After I left ACU with my M.Div. in 2001, I was a Mclaren, Bell, Grenz, Barth, N.T. Wright Emergent. I preached nice little "God loves you, so recycle" sermons and fed my congregations' worst instincts wrapped in a nice liberal, feel-good package that ignored the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man and the need for substitutionary atonement. Yet, despite hours of prayer, fasting and "conversations" about such "deep thinkers" as Brueggemann and Moltmann I was an absolute miserable mess. It was only after God took me, smacked me around and introduced me to the Gospel preached by Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Augustine and...well...the Apostle Paul that I found true peace.

So, after staring at Mclaren's mug in my alumni mag, losing my mind and repenting (a few times) I will start praying that ACU either truly turn from leading students down the same liberal, narcissistic path it led me or that God will move to close its doors before it does too much harm.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weekend Post: Tim Keller on Missional vs. Evangelistic

Why Revolution? Frankly we will be the only missional church in the area in so far as it understands that we are living in a post-modern, post-Christian, post-"you name it age." That's why.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Blogging Slowdown

Sorry that posts have been few and far between this week but I've been travelling through upstate New York with the fam. Will begin regularly scheduled blogs next week until I hit Columbus on Wednesday for the 2008 Xenos Summer Institute featuring D.A. Carson and Mark Driscoll. Anyone interested in attending the Wednesday night session should contact Christ's Community Church at 740-353-1633.
Will be back with more on Revolution, must read books, kick tail music (have you checked out This Fire's Embrace new one?) and other stuff that will probably torque off a lot of fundamentalists and liberals. Until then...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Revolution Blog

River City Redemption Project will be shutting down soon (sad times), so that I can focus solely on the new Revolution blog, which will be manned by a team and not just yours truly. New address and more coming soon...stay tuned.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"So, What Are Supposed To Do Einstein?"

As I was sitting here in my hotel room outside of Buffalo, New York, it hit me that after reading my last few posts, you may raise the objection, "So, what do you think the church is supposed to look like, Einstein?"
I'm going to spend a lot of time unpacking that here and there over the next few months but in short here it is: (1) the church is, was and shall always be the worldwide collection of those called by King Jesus to fulfill his command found in Matthew 28:16-20 and known as the Great Commission i.e., evangelism and discipleship; (2) the church has a hierarchy of leadership that is and will held accountable to the King. The idea that the early church was a loose, spirit led democracy is clearly undercut by Acts and Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. If nothing else, read Acts 15:1-21. Notice that James the Brother of Judas makes a decision for the whole church! (3) the church fulfills the Great Commission by proclaiming the Gospel, which is possibly best summarized in 1 Cor. 15:1-11); and (4) the church is a community where God's reign (or His Kingdom) is seen clearly in acts such as believers taking care of one another (see Acts 2:42-47). This was the church that was the instrument of the Holy Spirit to create disciples who praised God while being fed to the lions.
Now granted, this is a grossly oversimplified list that will need to be unpacked at length (although not as short as Calvin's who defined the church as the place where the Gospel is heard and the sacraments administered) but I wanted to start to toss some things around lest you think I'm just throwing rocks at the heretical butt pirates who have given the faith a bad name...not that I won't throw rocks at them in the future. I really enjoy it too much to give it up!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The More Things Change...

I've spent the day in Ithaca, New York with the folks from the church I helped pastor for three years while I attended law school. The church sits in the shadow of Cornell University (known since the 19th century as "godless Cornell") in a town which boasts that it is the "pagan capital" of the east. Talk about missional!

A few conversations I had last week along with the time I spent with my former comrades today has sparked a lot of thought about the state of Jesus' church in the world. It seems to me that the religious landscape among "God's people" has not really changed all that much since our King ascended back to His throne.

In the first century there were essentially four groups within Judaism--the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots. One may argue that the Zealots were more politically centered than theologically so but, in James Carville's words, "let's not complicate the simple."

First, there are the Pharisees who, while knowing in some sense that grace precedes and accompanies election, still easily lapsed into harsh legalism in the hopes of earning God's favor once again. The Pharisees were not unlike many within evangelicalism today who think of the faith in terms of exchange, whether its the Joel Osteens & purple haired freaks on Trinity who preach that if you show up in church and get the right attitude then God owes you a paycheck or the meanspirited King James only folks who believe that if we just all stop cussing, drinking beer and watching "Superbad" then God will reward our country with full employment, G-rated movies and women folk who know how to cook, clean and keep their gob shut.

Second, there were the sadducees who in their desire to "get along" with the powers that be decided to cut the Bible up in order to get rid of all that king and resurrection talk. The sadducees tended to be wealthy and hang out with government officials at cocktail parties talking about politics and the art. Sound familiar? Like liberal mainliners and certain emergent streams who decry the "religious culture" while being fully enveloped in another religious culture that is equally unbiblical i.e., like quietly lusting to be accepted by the elite.

Third, there are the Essenes who are the sectarin nut jobbers who have written the world off and care only about their own spirituality. Go ahead and lump both certain fundamentalists who have bomb shelters, automatic weapons & every Tim LaHaye book next to chicks with napkins on their heads and, again, certain emergents who have given up on evangelism and are "just trying to be faithful" by withdrawing to coffee shops and pubs where they read Volf, Brueggemann, etc. without actually speaking to anyone about issues related to salvation.

Finally, there are the zealots. These encompass both the Jeremiah Wright liberation theology types and the angry, pudgy, buzzcut, middle aged dudes who voted for Tancredo and volunteer to patrol the borders to keep out hungry foreigners in the name of Jesus!!!

King Jesus please come soon or, at the very least, Lord, please save us from your followers!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Your Weekend Post--"Dumb Bell"

Thanks to the Gospel Coalition's Resources, I was listening to D.A. Carson talk about the Emerging Church and he brought up Rob Bell. Carson had not previously tackled Bell because when he wrote his book "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church" Bell had yet to follow the voices of McLaren and Walter Wink into the Land of Blur!

Carson made a couple of good points: (1) Mars Hill would not be as successful outside of a place like Grand Rapids. Carson echoed something I have heard many of my friends in or near western Michigan say which is that the overwhelming majority of Mars Hill attendees are torqued off white kids who are bitter about being raised in Grand Rapids many stiff necked churches; and (2) Bell's NOOMA videos and presentations are only "deep" if you have a Christian background to read into them. Indeed, I remember showing a NOOMA film to a non-Christian and he thought it was "new age, Oprah-esque fluff." AMEN!

Moreover, Bell is not really that creative. He is essentially a fairly uncritical plagiarist. I have yet to see "The Gods Aren't Angry" but almost everything in "Everything is Spiritual" is lifted from texts like Walter Brueggemann's commentary on Genesis and Lee Strobel's "Case for a Creator." About the only thing original in "Everything is Spiritual" are the bad jokes!

Before Bell went on an extended summer vacation, he was preaching through Philippians and was lifting nearly all of his sermon material from Peter O'Brien, N.T. Wright and folks like Richard Horsley.
Bell even repeatedly made a mistake that would get a freshman Bible College student in trouble by stating during every sermon in the Philippian series that Paul was in prison for saying "Jesus is Lord" instead of Caesar. Not true. Read Acts 24:1-9. The charge was disturbing the peace by allegedly defiling the Temple. Paul even made it very clear in Acts 25:8 that he had not committed any offense against Caesar. Please note that this is a verse that Wright, Crossan and others who Bell is parroting do not deal with or butcher in order to fit their preconceived "political reading" of the New Testament.
This is in addition to the numerous mistakes Bell makes in citing "Rabbinic authority" to interpret the New Testament because most of the works he cites are from the 3rd or 4th century, which is like looking to today's New York Times to figure out what Abe Lincoln believed! It is literally that kind of time gap! Ben Witherington at Asbury "took Bell to the woodshed" over this but was apparently ignored. A shame. Lord help us. When will the rain of dook that passes for "evangelicalism" come to an end?????

The Rebelution Tour :: Promo 2008

Josh Harris' younger bros are on the road as part of the "Rebelution" Tour promoting their book "Do Hard Things." I have heard nothing but great things about the tour and the book. Finally, a full on push by many evangelical leaders to transform student ministries from holy babysitting which treat teens like horny little retards with "lessons" consisting of lots of "don't or else" to actually challenging them on every level--about friggin' time!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Good Soldier

I still have too much to do to post so I'm pulling the lazy route of uploading vids. Here is Mark Driscoll on successful church planting. For those involved in Revolution, it is well worth your time. Enjoy.

The Ordinary Radicals - Trailer

My blog freaked out last night and I'm too busy preparing for a trip to New York to deal with it or to really post but here is the trailer to the forthcoming documentary "The Ordinary Radicals."

I strongly disagree with a lot of what Shane Claiborne says and does but I do admire the guy for living out his convictions. If nothing else, this forthcoming documentary about folks like Claiborne, who are attempting to follow hard after Jesus, should be interesting.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Gospel Coalition

I just discovered from Justin Taylor's Blog, which is one of the few blogs worth reading every day, that the Gospel Coalition's web page is now up and running ( with a lot of goodies for doctrine dorks like me.

Included are free audio downloads from board members like the great New Testament scholar D.A. Carson (whom I'm looking forward to hearing in person in a few weeks at Xenos in Columbus), information on their Christ on Campus Initiative and Themelios, a free on-line journal that looks very promising.

The Gospel Coalition's Preamble is worth reading and is copied below in full:

We are a fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures. We have become deeply concerned about some movements within traditional evangelicalism that seem to be diminishing the church’s life and leading us away from our historic beliefs and practices. On the one hand, we are troubled by the idolatry of personal consumerism and the politicization of faith; on the other hand, we are distressed by the unchallenged acceptance of theological and moral relativism. These movements have led to the easy abandonment of both biblical truth and the transformed living mandated by our historic faith. We not only hear of these influences, we see their effects. We have committed ourselves to invigorating churches with new hope and compelling joy based on the promises received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

We believe that in many evangelical churches a deep and broad consensus exists regarding the truths of the gospel. Yet we often see the celebration of our union with Christ replaced by the age-old attractions of power and affluence, or by monastic retreats into ritual, liturgy, and sacrament. What replaces the gospel will never promote a mission-hearted faith anchored in enduring truth working itself out in unashamed discipleship eager to stand the tests of kingdom-calling and sacrifice. We desire to advance along the King’s highway, always aiming to provide gospel advocacy, encouragement, and education so that current- and next-generation church leaders are better equipped to fuel their ministries with principles and practices that glorify the Savior and do good to those for whom he shed his life’s blood.

We want to generate a unified effort among all peoples—an effort that is zealous to honor Christ and multiply his disciples, joining in a true coalition for Jesus. Such a biblically grounded and united mission is the only enduring future for the church. This reality compels us to stand with others who are stirred by the conviction that the mercy of God in Jesus Christ is our only hope of eternal salvation. We desire to champion this gospel with clarity, compassion, courage, and joy—gladly linking hearts with fellow believers across denominational, ethnic, and class lines.

Our desire is to serve the church we love by inviting all of our brothers and sisters to join us in an effort to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel of Christ so that we truly speak and live for him in a way that clearly communicates to our age. We intend to do this through the ordinary means of his grace: prayer, the ministry of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s supper, and the fellowship of the saints. We yearn to work with all who, in addition to embracing the confession and vision set out here, seek the lordship of Christ over the whole of life with unabashed hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform individuals, communities, and cultures. You will find attached both our Confessional Statement and our Theological Vision for Ministry—a vision rooted in the Scriptures and centered on the gospel.

So, check it out and, if possible, donate some $ to a worthy group. I plan to do so.

Am I Just Too Darn Loud?

Why do I scream like a friggin' maniac when I preach? Why do I use "raw language" when I preach like calling people "self-absorbed, materialistic perverts?" Aren't I supposed to correct with gentleness?

Okay, first of all, no I don't always preach in that manner. It depends on the text and context of where and when I'm preaching. Second, to paraphrase Mark Driscoll, when someone criticizes your preaching then pray about it and reflect upon it and if the critic is right then repent humbly but if they are wrong then ignore it and get over it. So, I have and will do so.

However, please keep all of the following in mind, if we let the Bible define the Bible and speak to us today as God's Word then we need to keep a few things in mind: (1) Jesus used "raw" language and called people "the children of the devil" i.e., your momma shagged Satan. Paul also used such language calling people "dogs" or "whitewashed walls" which are the modern equivalents of things I can't blog about without getting blocked by a lot of filters! (2) the greatest revivals in history have been sparked by preachers proclaiming the Gospel with all of its rough edges. Do yourself a favor and Google Jonathan Edwards' classic sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Heck, pick up any collection of sermons from the 1st or 2nd Great Awakening and see what I mean. John Wesley himself claimed that he didn't preach grace until he had everyone in tears over their sins!

Also, my bros & sisters, just read your Bibles. I know that we have all grown accustomed to soft, pleasant sermons that are essentially "How to Succeed in Life without really Trying" or pats on our spoiled, soft narcissistic heads. Whether its Rick Warren or Joel Osteen or Rob Bell, as different as they all are theologically, they still all preach the "Gospel Light" that appeal to different base instincts but Scripture simply does not support such an approach.
Then again, maybe I'm just too darn loud and nasty or perhaps you're all just self-absorbed, materialistic perverts!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Apologetics--The Reports of Its Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

My seminary profs, along with many emergent leaders, predicted that the discipline of apologetics, i.e., the rational defense of the Christian faith, was dying a quick death.

Yet, Christianity Today reports that apologetic conferences are hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell and that seminaries are turning away students in droves seeking to earn degrees in the subject. So much for my profs' prophetic vision!

This month arch apologist Dr. William Lane Craig released his 3rd edition of the modern classic "Reasonable Faith" while Dr. Tim Keller's book "The Reason for God" is still flying off the shelves. Do yourself a favor and pick-up both. Also check out the audio resources at and Dr. Craig's new youtube channel featuring many of his debates with prominent atheist scholars (search for drcraigvideos). Enjoy.

Dealing with Christian Doubt

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

Here's to bros like David French who are serving honorably overseas.

I know that it is popular, especially among the torqued off honkies in the Emergent movement, to view our country, and especially our founding fathers as, purely secular. Funny that the founding fathers themselves didn't see it that way.

Take the two least religious founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and consider their actions.

For example, look at Thomas Jefferson who was the author of the so-called separation of church and state (by the way, the phrase is not in the Constitution, Jefferson did not have a hand in authoring our Constitution, the letter containing the phrase is attached to the Free Exercise Clause not the Establishment Clause and no Court interpreted it as remotely relevant until 1947).

Did you know that Jefferson attended church every the Capitol ! In fact, the Capitol housed more than 2000 church attendees every week. Where did they get permission to use the Capitol as a church? From President Thomas Jefferson! That's not all. Jefferson ordered the Marine Corp Band to serve as the church's band!!!

Also, after the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson sought federal funds to evangelize Native Americans and have church buildings built for them! Not even Jerry Falwell would have done that!

What about Ben Franklin? During the Constitutional Convention, the delegates found themselves at an impasse and here is how Franklin interceded:

Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other -- our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own wont of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. -- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move -- that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

So, Jefferson ordered church services in the Capitol and federally funded evangelism. Franklin's response to an impasse at the Constitutional Convention was to call for prayer (which was heeded with 3 days of prayer and fasting).

So, did the least religious founding fathers misunderstand their own Constitution or have secular jurists twisted it by their own Machiavellian instruments?
I may not be as conservative as I used to be but I do believe that our country is headed to the way of France, Germany and Canada i.e., secular socialism, largely based on an ignorant view of our Constitution and founding. God forgive us and have a happy 4th!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ben Witherington on Pagan Christianity

Ben Witherington is one of my favorite Arminians. Ben is a professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, a master of early Christian history, author of a few of the most valuable Christian reference works in print and maintains a widely read blog.
Lately Witherington has been analyzing the book "Pagan Christianity" chapter-by-chapter. Check it out here--

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Shack

I received like the 50th email on "The Shack." I haven't read it. Don't know if I'll have time to read it but here is Driscoll on it. Would also read Challies review as it seems to encompass both the praise and criticisms I've heard from Christians of all stripes.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hotel California

I'm headed for a hotel in northern California tomorrow (you have my permission to feel sorry for is a work trip though!), so don't know how often I'll post but here are a few things:

1) Revolution is moving forward. We had roughly half our core group in town on Saturday and a lot of people are probably torqued off at yours truly for preaching a "you're not a Christian unless you're really following Christ" sermon but so be it. A lot of people after the Sunday service asked if they could help and a lot more asked if Revolution was solely for 18-35 year olds...yes and no. We will welcome help from anyone and everyone (right now we would welcome help finding a good place to hold gatherings!). Also, while Revolution's stated goal is to evangelize 18-40 year olds, who are currently the least likely people to step inside a church service, anyone and everyone is welcome to attend! The music will be super loud and I yell a lot but if you want to come then by all means come. HOWEVER, we only ask that if you are already active in a congregation that you do NOT leave or stop tithing to that congregation for Revolution. We do not want to be the source of division in the Body of Christ.

2) The Revolution core group will continue to meet through the summer but now the meetings will be weekly rather than bi-monthly. A group will meet this Friday to cook out and watch the fireworks. Anyone is welcome to attend even if you are only "kicking the tires" and aren't sure if you really want to jump in with a bunch of loud, puritan punkers. Let me know if you want to attend this week or in the weeks to come ( and I'll get you directions, times, etc. Among the plans for the next few weeks will be a showing of the documentary "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers."

3) Some people were really ticked off at me for preaching things like "a retarded prayer at the end of Roman Road has sent more people to hell than Jenna Jameson and Jack Daniels combined" or that such "invitations" to Jesus to enter one's heart with guarantees that he will do so are "unbiblical" or "if you haven't grown in turning away from sin since 'inviting Jesus into your heart' then you may not be a Christian", etc. What say me? Folks, its all in the Bible and I can't help if if you don't read it or read it and don't believe it!
Coincidentally, I was reading the great Puritan preacher Thomas Watson's "The Godly Man's Picture" this morning and here is what he has to say on the subject of Christians who essentially think they are going to heaven because "they invited Jesus into their heart" and don't cuss or drink beer:

"The man who is a pretender to saintship, but whose heart tells him he has nothing but the name, carries Christ in his Bible but not in his heart."
"The wicked hate the hypocrite because he is almost a Christian, and God hates him because he is only almost one."
So, what does Watson suggest for those who have defined Christianity mostly as what they do not do instead of taking texts like Matthew 25:31-46 seriously or have only said some silly superstitious prayer while living just as God's enemies do? Watson writes:
"Christian, if you mourn for hypocrisy, yet find this sin so potent that you cannot get the mastery of it, go to Christ. Beg of him that he would exercise his kingly office in your soul, that he would subdue this sin, and put it under the yoke. Beg of Christ to exercise his spiritual surgery upon you. Desire him to lance your heart and cut off the rotten flesh, and that he would apply the medicine of his blood to heal your hypocrisy. Say that prayer of David often 'Lord, let me be anything rather than a hypocrite.' Two hearts will exclude one from heaven."
So, if you pass by the hungry, write off the prostitute & drug addict, refuse to share your money, hoard possessions, lust continually, scream at your spouse or kids, have never shared the Gospel, etc. and dare to call yourself a Christian then stop trying to be "good" and beg Christ hourly for His Spirit and its painful but necessary work. As long as you have life and the Lord tarries then there is hope.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Case for God Part 3--Nature, Beauty & Justice and Discipleship

Part of the sermon I'll be preaching tonight & tomorrow at CCC on the case for God centers on the regularity of nature. Again, it is improbable that a Big Bang alone could produce a world not only so fit for human life but also one so regular that we can construct the entire scientific method on the regularity of nature.

Another argument against a purely materialistic/natural origin concerns our innate sense of justice and love of beauty. If we are purely evolutionary creatures then we should only be concerned with ourselves, esp. hunting and gathering. Yet, we stop in awe of things we considering beautiful and long for justice for others. The purely evolutionary argument ultimately fails to explain these human traits.

Yet, despite all of these arguments, 10% or so of the American population deny the existence of God and many more deny any one true way to God--why?

The fact is that many so-called Christians are really practical atheists. We claim there is a God but we don't live as if there is a God. We claim that Jesus saves us and that the Holy Spirit is slowly transforming us into the image and likeness of the Son of God but most of us are simply stagnating or regressing. We "Christians" are often legalistic, moralistic, boring, angry, materialistic, self absorbed, lustful jerks who claim to have Jesus in our heart.

We have too long defined Christianity largely as what we don't do rather than how we live day-to-day. No wonder 1/10 refuse to believe in God and many more refuse to believe in Christ. If we want an unbelieving world to believe then we've got to step up, sacrifice and follow Jesus even unto death.

Derek Webb puts it like this in his challenging song, "Rich Young Ruler"

poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv
and twenty miles across town

where we’re all living so good

that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood

where he’s hungry and not feeling so good

from going through our trash

he says, more than just your cash and coin

i want your time, i want your voice

i want the things you just can’t give me

so what must we do

here in the west we want to follow you

we speak the language and we keep all the rules

even a few we made up
come on and follow me

sell your house, sell your suv

sell your stocks, sell your security

and give it to the poor

"what is this, hey what’s the deal

i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal"

i want the things you just can’t give me

because what you do to the least of these

my brother’s, you have done it to me

because i want the things you just can’t give me

Now, before you go label Derek some kind of ultra-liberal, social gospel kook, go read Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 18:18-30 and then ask yourself if, given the whole world where thousands of children die everyday from hunger, if you are rich?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Case for God Part 2--The Fine Tuning Argument

In Tim Keller's modern masterpiece, "The Reason for God", he stacks together a number of compelling arguments for the existence of God. The second argument is widely known as the "fine tuning argument." In essence, it means that the earth has been so finely tuned for human life that the odds are that it was not the product of an accident but the work of an intelligent designer.

Eminent scientist Stephen Hawking puts it this way, "The odds against a universe emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religions implications."

One may look at it this way, let's say you were shooting dice in a back alley with someone (apologies to Nazarenes) and your opponent threw five "6's". Pretty incredible. Let's say he did it again with his second roll. Wow! That rarely ever happens. Let's say he does it his third role. Okaaaay. Let's say he does it with his fourth and fifth role...what are we to conclude? He's cheating!!! The odds are simply against this being an accident. The same applies to all the conditions necessary for life on this planet. The odds are this is all no accident!.

Just a friendly reminder, the Revolution Crew are hijacking Christ's Community Church this weekend--both services (Sat. at 5 and 10:30am) will be ours (can you say moohaha?).

Please try to be at the Saturday service as we will be gathering in the old gym immediately afterwards for pizza (just like a lame youth group deal) and for a frank & open discussion about Revolution. I know that a lot of people are travelling (or selfishly celebrating their wedding anniversary! That's my shout out to the Pistoles), so invite anyone and everyone that might be interested in an emerging/missional deal in River Town.

Please let me know if you will be there so we know how much pizza to buy for you to throw down your gobs. Peace.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Case for God Part One

I'll be preaching this weekend at Christ's Community Church in Portsmouth, Ohio as Revolution hijacks the church.

The topic is "Can We Make A Case for God?" and is part of CCC's new series on worldviews.

The first part of the sermon is lifted right from Tim Keller's magnificent work "The Reason for God."

In his chapter, "The Clues of God," Keller argues a number of points, which, by themselves, are not arguments that would bring any atheist to their knees in repentance, but when stacked on top of one another make a strong overall case for the existence of a creator god.

The first argument in the chapter analyzes the belief in a "big bang." The consensus among the scientific community is that the universe began with a big bang but Keller asks, "how did that happen?"

Keller quotes eminent scientist Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome project, who wrote:

"We have this very solid conclusion that the universe had an origin, the Big Bang. Fifteen billion years ago, the universe began with an unimaginably bright flash of energy from an infinitesimally small point. That implies before that, there was nothing. I can't imagine how nature, in this case the universe, could have created itself. And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that it had to be outside of nature."

Keller points out that the very contingency of creation strongly argues for a God. Now, this does not mean that it is the god of the Bible, but it is a start. More later but, once again, be sure to be there at the Saturday evening service (5pm) and stay for dinner and frank and open discussion about Revolution. Peace.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More On the Poo that is "Pagan Christianity"

More reviews on the poop that is the book "Pagan Christianity" by Barna and Viola (pics to the left).

Here are a few quotes from Pastor Joe Thorn's take on the first few chapters of the poop:

Chapter one is a challenge to re-think our current practices in the church, an invitation to read the book. I guess we should all be thankful for this little book since without it the church remains doomed to misunderstanding who it is and what it should be doing. This is how the book presents itself. Since the death of the Apostle John no one got it right. At best, according to the authors, the Church Fathers syncretized just about everything the church should be doing with pagan practices to such a degree that the divine mandates have been lost. And no one since has done much to return the church to its Apostolic practices. The Reformers did not reform the church, the puritans did not purify worship, and your contemporary church with its building, paid staff, sermons, etc. is so far outside the will of God that the spiritual health of those attending your services is in grave danger. My response after reading the book - whatever.

I do not want to dismiss the authors’ concerns, but it’s hard for me to take them seriously when they so grossly overstate things.Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy provocative books. I want others to challenge me and force me to re-think my practices and beliefs. The problem for me is that the book reads more like an ecclesiological version of the Loose Change conspiracy theories concerning the 9/11 attack. A lot of information is collected, assumptions are made, and in the end the final interpretation of history is simply wrong. Not only does their attempt to uncover the truth fail, but more importantly I fear their legit concerns will be ignored by many while others will read the book as gospel because it presents itself as unquestionable history with Barna’s research seal of approval.


In chapter 2 of this provocative little book Viola and Barna come on strong against the “church building.” They argue that a church owning and meeting in a building, as we typically do today, is unbiblical, of pagan origins, and works against the spiritual health of Christians. They believe that moving the church’s central gathering from a private house to a devoted building “is based on the benighted idea that worship is removed from everyday life.” (38)

Let me say on the front end I do believe we need to rethink how we use our church buildings. It is a worthwhile question - what justifies the cost of a building? Do we pay tremendous overhead for a meeting place we use once a week? How many small churches struggle to pay their utilities and maintenance bills on a building they simply do not need? Is that the best stewardship of God’s money? How can we use the buildings we have in a way that glorifies God, strengthens the church and blesses the community to which we have been sent? A great example for effective use of a church facility is Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.

We would also do well to pay attention to the design and aesthetics of our meeting places because these things do have an impact on our worship. We should not dismiss the issue, or some of the problems the authors point out with owning a building.

However, I do not believe the church met in homes because of a developed ideology. Rather, I believe they met in homes because it was the most natural context in which to gather. And as the church grew some homes were devoted to such gatherings and functioned more like our modern church buildings. While their account of the history of church buildings is generally informative, it is a bit heavy handed and too quickly dismisses the Puritan’s take on the meeting house. The Puritans were concerned with many of the same issues Barna and Viola are concerned with and sought to answer them according to Scripture.

I would also agree that the church should continue to gather in people’s homes, in smaller groups beyond the greater gathering on the Lord’s Day, for the purpose of prayer, devotion to Scripture, the development of fellowship, the practice of hospitality and evangelism and more. I have argued for years that the church cannot experience New Testament Christian life apart from being involved in one another’s lives and spending time in one another’s homes. Yet I believe this can be accomplished without sacrificing the larger gathering on the Lord’s Day. I’ll give more of my thoughts on worship in the next post this weekend.

I just don’t find Barna’s and Viola’s arguments convincing. The early church did not have corporately owned buildings, and the church buildings we have today often create problems for the church. I agree. At the same time, the early church members did not own individual copies of the Scriptures. Scripture was never read privately in the Bible, but only in the context of a gathering. Today every Christian has multiple bibles and unfortunately most see little value in reading the bible in the corporate context. What is the solution? Throwing out our personal copies? Returning to the first century context of a shared text read only in the assembly? I wouldn’t buy that argument either. I think there is a need for reformation as it relates to the church and her buildings, just as their is need for reformation as it relates to the Christian and his bible. Reformation in use, not repudiation of use.

More later...