Sunday, February 1, 2009

Evangelical Implosion

The End of Church? Internet Monk Says Evangelicalism Implodes Within 10 Years!

At least how the headline reads. Personally, I have observed that it is easier to kill Freddie Kruger than to kill off a church. But the following article by Internet Monk, Michael Spencer, is a long, dire, and well-grounded prediction in Part 1 of a looming crisis in “church-as-we-know-it”. He gives a grim prognosis for all the major streams of modern Christianity, except for his own of course. Part 2 details the post-apocalyptic realignment of the scraps and holdovers.

At the institutional level, his analysis is chillingly plausible, if a tad slanted. But on the “kingdom level” it is unseeing.

Among the movements whose days are numbered, iMonk counts what gets called “the grassroots movement as represented by Shame Claiborn.” (Note that the “grassroots movement” came up in the comments section, not in the article itself.) iMonk dismissed it as something of an appendage on some other doomed movement or another. The gentle Monks of unChurch Abbey, nestled high in the Indiana Alps, respectfully disagree.

The grassroots “movement” did not begin with Shane Claiborn, it just got a new face with cool dreds. The grassroots dynamic exists in most every church and tradition, and even outside them. They are the odd person or people who do not spend their hours crafting or criticizing church agendas. Or lecturing, or chomping pipe stems. Or climbing trellises of leafy ambition. Or blog-crawling.

They are living, where “faith acts out in love”. They are living--living like they believe their every word and action has power to renew the withered souls, and God’s creation with them. They bake the extra casserole. They babysit the crusty-nosed kid. They bring the ladder over and show the anxious yuppie how to use it without killing himself. They pause with him, and smile, and uncloak the Eternal. They break the bread and pour the wine. They pray and believe and confess, “On earth as it is in heaven!”

They know that the Kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. And all the institutions and all the theologians of Protestantism and Catholicism have ridden pompously on their backs from the beginning. Sure, the institutions will crumble; they are but wood and straw. But I am not worried. How many times have men read the Last Rites over a lifeless body of Christ? Haven't we learned?

Our gospel just loves crumbling empires! Because the spirit that breathes eternal life into mortal flesh does not crack or crumble. And we ain’t skeerd.
Joe B

iMonk's Evangelical Implosion, Part 1 & Part 2

39 comments:

Jillian said...

well, i tried to read the article, but the blog was not found. could you update the link, please?

without reading the article, it seems that iMonk must be writing from a Western perspective. he seems to forget the underground churches all over the world who have never had an "institution", the places where Christianity is a crime. if you met these Christians, or have seen what they have endured, you would never say that they are cracking OR crumbling. these followers usually turn out to be martyrs, and endure a lot of suffering for being Christians. but still they remain strong. without the establishment of the church's political arena.

it makes me wonder if we as the American church might be cracking and crumbling because we have never quite endured such hardship. whether or not we're founded on a Rock hasn't been tested in ages. but those whose faith is built on the solid foundation will never be knocked over. sorry, iMonk.

scott said...

I think I fixed the links for him.

Joe B said...

Man Scott, you're always nitpicking my html coding. Oh, and thanks. Probably had i's instead of a's.

Jilly, great point. And I guess almost by definition "evangelical" is an american thing. But Jesus isn't.

void77 said...

I didn't read the articles, but, Joe, what you wrote is beautiful. Very well written. Thanks!
-Eric

Larry Gwaltney said...

They know that the Kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. And all the institutions and all the theologians of Protestantism and Catholicism have ridden pompously on their backs from the beginning.

You know, this goes a long way in explaining all the theological mistakes that pepper the main page.

They are living, where “faith acts out in love”. They are living--living like they believe their every word and action has power to renew the withered souls, and God’s creation with them.

Because these guys are so REAL, baby! AUTHENTIC!

Jan Kelley said...

I had decided that i would only read and not respond, but Mr.Waltney's statements, cause me to want to opine. I dont understand. Your first statement appears to be against this column and the peppering of error in the blog's main page. then it appears to me that you, Mr. Gwaltney, are praising in your last paragraph by calling those referenced by Joe B. as being so REAL and authentic. What are you saying, Mr. Gwaltney? I think your words, Joe B, in this addition of the unchurch are very "on target" and give me hope against the doom espoused by Michale Spencer. If there is "doom" it will be the "church" the unchurch continually references.

Eutychus said...

It's funny. Joe B and some commenters merely imply some unflattering things about some churches, and Larry G is all suited up for a new crusade.

But iMonk opens up a huge can of whup-ass on the church, and Larry Gwaltney is just fine with it.

Obviously it is okay to mercilessly rip the beloved body of Christ as long as you are into Reform theology.

After all, that is the test, right?

Eutychus said...

I'm still looking for the theology on the front page. There really isn't anything much there except saying they want to follow Jesus. Is there supposed to be a link or something?

Larry Gwaltney said...

then it appears to me that you, Mr. Gwaltney, are praising in your last paragraph by calling those referenced by Joe B. as being so REAL and authentic. What are you saying, Mr. Gwaltney?

The fact that it has to be explained is illustrative of what I'm pointing out.

Larry Gwaltney said...

But iMonk opens up a huge can of whup-ass on the church, and Larry Gwaltney is just fine with it.

What makes you think I'm "fine with it?"

The reality is that iMonk likely does not read this board, or is even aware of it. He's a bitter guy who apparently fell off the pomo bandwagon, according to a friend of mine.

Larry Gwaltney said...

I'm still looking for the theology on the front page. There really isn't anything much there except saying they want to follow Jesus

There hasn't been a better summation of the problem with this board than your statement .

scott said...

Ah yes, too much Jesus-following, not enough theology.

Got it. I'll work on correcting that immediately.

See, I can use sarcasm too. :-)

Larry Gwaltney said...

Ah yes, too much Jesus-following, not enough theology.

Got it. I'll work on correcting that immediately.


This reminds me of a conversation I had with someone about 18 years ago. In fact, you probably know him, Scott.

Anyway, Roger Shuman and I were at his house, and while he and Roger were out getting food for supper, this individual's little brother began quizzing me about the books he saw in my luggage.

When this person and Roger got back, the little brother said: "Hey, I've decided I want to be a Calvinist!"

Immediately this person sat down next to me on the couch and looked directly at me. "Larry," he intoned solemnly,"I just want to follow Jesus. That's all. I just want to follow Jesus."

Here's the funny part: Some years later this person went to John MacArthur's Master's Seminary and became the biggest flaming Calvinist you can imagine. I was reading an online discussion in which he was zealously defending Calvinism, and I couldn't resist sending him a note: "Hey, I thought you just wanted to follow Jesus."

I got a sheepish but honest response: "Larry, I had no idea what I was saying all those years ago."

The point of this story is not that Everybody Should be Calvinist (although I DO think that!) but rather the expression "I just want to follow Jesus" is essentially a meaningless statement without some kind of theological context. You CAN'T "just follow Jesus" without doing theology.

To give a specific example, you're NOT following Jesus if you're teaching people that the Israelites built the Temple as an act of disobedience, and that God never wanted it in the first place.

You're NOT following Jesus if you're instructing people to read the Bible "as if they had never read it before," apart from historical, exegetical, and theological considerations. That's what Charles Taze Russell did, and that's why the Jehovah's Witnesses aren't following Jesus even today, although they would insist to you that they are.

And, apart from that big, bad Systematic Theology that everyone here seems so suspicious about, and that institutionalized church tradition nobody seems to want to acknowledge, how COULD you tell a JW that he wasn't "just following Jesus?" I suppose you could quote Scripture to him, but what if he said: "Hey, God actually only wrote the 10 Commandments, and Jesus didn't write ANY of Scripture. What's written on my heart is more significant! The letter kills, the Spirit gives life!!"

Hey, that sounds familiar.

Big Doofus said...

Who is this "Roger Shuman" cat that Larry speaks of? He sounds like the kind of dude I'd like to know.

Oh boy...I told myself that I'd stay away from this blog and the JJ blog and here I go again (hey, isn't that a Whitesnake song?). I'll probably regret it and go away once more, but here goes...

Joe, this post is the biggest "atta-boy" you've ever given yourself and your unChurch. That's all fine and good. I have no doubt that guys like you and Scott are incredibly well-meaning in your desire to bring others closer to Jesus. I KNOW Scott. I knew him as a boy and I've seen him as a Christ Follower man. But while you were noting the zeal of your fellow grassroots movement brothers and sisters you backhanded the rest of us who are "institutionalized" and "antiunchurch" (I just made that term up, thank you very much).

During the past year, I've befriended quite a few Missouri Synod Lutherans via some of my writing and I've had the pleasure of meeting them and spending time with them. While I'm not a Lutheran, I deeply respect what they believe as it is heavily grounded in scripture and tradition (in that order). Are these folks like all Lutherans? Probably not. Are "evangelicals" all the same? No. There are essentials when it comes to our faith in Christ that are very important (hence Larry's points regarding theology), and I can have fellowship with a variety of genuine believers. But we don't throw out theology based on our assumptions about how it divides us or corrupts sincerity. Theology and the church with it's buildings are NOT responsible for this--it's sin...flesh...the old Adam.

And for the rest of you, I know Larry Gwaltney and can stand up for his character as well. He's a bit smarter than I am, but he's brought me so much closer in my own walk with God through his sincerity, his diligence in understanding the scriptures and history of the church, his communication skills and his friendship.

And if Larry is the "blog crawler" that you're referring to, I have to take issue with that. Perhaps you regret it, but you invited me and then I invited Larry. Plus, it's on the Interwebs. If you don't want people hanging around and commenting (whether they agree with you or not) then shut the whole thing down. As long as we can all act like grownups (and it really needs to start with you, Joe) then it's fine.

"They know that the Kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power." (Joe B.)

Jesus, speaking about the Kingdom of God on Matthew 12 notes that words do, indeed matter...

"For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:37)

I would also add that theology is not made of wood and straw. It's as solid as the Rock that started it all.

scott said...

This has absolutely nothing to do with the current post, but I guess this is as good of a place as any to answer Larry's question to me. I think this is the one that applies to me:

To give a specific example, you're NOT following Jesus if you're teaching people that the Israelites built the Temple as an act of disobedience, and that God never wanted it in the first place.

This has come up before, since I first made that comment last month. And I will readily admit that I did err in how I stated my comment (linked here for your pleasure). So I apologize. As you pointed out, I had my timelines mixed up -- between Isaiah and the tabernacle, it was AFTER the fact and not before. Not to mention that I failed to distinguish between the tabernacle and the temple. I'm fascinated by Jewish history and the original Hebrew scriptures, but I'll admit I'm still learning.

That being said, what I was trying to present was simply the general idea that I quoted. God exists no more in my church building than he does in the back alley or the gay bar. That's not a slam on churches (so try hard not to take it as one), that's simply stating that Jesus wants us to reach the people in the back alley and the gay bar.

Most of what I have read about the building of the temple have not indicated is was an act of disobedience to build the temple (I never said that, by the way), but rather it was a human notion -- like wanting a human king, rather than being willing to be completely led by God. Regardless of what happened with the temple, God wanted obedience and the whole LIVES of the Jewish people. Most of what I read from God's words in I Kings bears that out.

It becomes very easy for all of us to compartmentalize God when we've got a building for him. That doesn't make the building bad. They can be destroyed -- as was evident in AD 70 -- and God's people will survive. HE doesn't rely on our buildings, thank goodness.

I Kings 8:27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

I Kings 8:17 Solomon said, "My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel."

I Kings 6:11 The word of the LORD came to Solomon: "As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel."

I Kings 8:15 "For he [God] said, 'Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built for my Name to be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.'

I hope that explains my original point from last month. Sorry for taking up more space here on something completely unrelated to the post.

Larry Gwaltney said...

Most of what I have read about the building of the temple have not indicated is was an act of disobedience to build the temple (I never said that, by the way), but rather it was a human notion -- like wanting a human king, rather than being willing to be completely led by God.

First of all, the building of the Temple was not merely a "human notion." It was God who insisted on a Tabernacle, gave them the plans, and instituted the observances.

Second, God always intended Israel to have a human king (you can see the laws the king was to obey in Deut. 17:14-20). The act of disobedience on the part of Israel was wanting a human king to "go out before us," in other words, they wanted a combat general/commander-in-chief, and they wanted it NOW, rather than wait upon God's timing.

When God comments to Samuel that "they have not rejected you - they have rejected me," that certainly would constitute an act of disobedience, wouldn't it?

Consequently, comparing the desire to build a Temple to a desire for a human king is calling a desire for a Temple an act of disobedience.

The reason for the Tabernacle (and later, the Temple) was that it was a sort of stand-in for the Garden of Eden. God's special presence dwelt with Adam and Eve in Eden, and his special presence dwelt with the Israelites in the Temple.

The Garden of Eden's entrance was to the East, which is why the entrance to the Temple was on the East side. The Menorah is likely shaped that way to represent the Tree of Life. When in Genesis it says that the duties of Adam and Eve were to "work and take care of it (Eden) that phrase appears in only one other place - when it describes the priestly duties in the Tabernacle.

Instead of trying to "keep God in a box," the idea of the Temple was essential to what it meant to be Jewish.

Nobody is saying that today's church buildings are the equivalent of the Temple, and God's special presence is with us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But the issue is not one of a building. The issue is one of institutionalized worship, sacraments, discipline, and the preservation and teaching of the Word of God.

Taking reductionist presuppositions and imposing them on passages like the ones in 1 Kings simply will not do.

Joe B said...

"Joe, this post is the biggest "atta-boy" you've ever given yourself and your unChurch..."

Roger, this post was explicitly about all the grass-roots saints everywhere, not about us in particular. I used the pronoun "they" nine times, and "we" not once. But God is our judge, and if the shoe fits us then I guess we'd wear it.

Yes, that is what we aspire to, and what we advocate, and what we admire most. It is a vital part of following Jesus, whether for scum-of-the-earth grass-rooters like me or for theologians and presbyters and apostles. Why that annoys you guys so much is just beyond me.

Those whose faith is without such works, their faith is dead. So I guess they might as well just go around accusing Jesus and his posse for speaking against the temple. They've gotta do something til they die, right?

Joe B said...

"For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power."

St. Paul, 1 Cor 4:20

Joe B said...

Would you mind to point out one of Scott's reductionist presuppositions and demonstrate how he is imposing it on one of those verses in 1 Kings? That would be interesting.

Larry Gwaltney said...

Those whose faith is without such works, their faith is dead. So I guess they might as well just go around accusing Jesus and his posse for speaking against the temple. They've gotta do something til they die, right?

Good grief. I think before you claim that the "unChurch" is part of "Jesus and his posse" you're going to have to demonstrate some ability to "rightly divide the word." As an example:

"For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power."

Unfortunately there's a context to this verse, that being the "words" Paul refers to are the words of the false teachers. Ironically a passage from chapter 1 of this same epistle also says:

12What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas[a]"; still another, "I follow Christ."

That last one is the one YOU use. A lot.

And that "power" Paul refers to is his apostolic authority. The same authority he used to assign elders in every institutional church he founded.

That verse certainly is NOT an invective against a systematized theology or church hierarchy.

Interesting that you can imply that I have no works and that thus, my faith is "dead." I've never said that about you. What I've said is that you have a naive view of ecclesiology, exegesis, a decided lack of appreciation of church history, etc., but that isn't nearly as severe as accusing someone of having a dead faith.

But it's revealing. There's lots of self-congratulatory claims here of being "alive," or "real," or "living," but if that's the case, I would think someone like that wouldn't be so reckless in his accusations, both theological and personal.

Larry Gwaltney said...

Would you mind to point out one of Scott's reductionist presuppositions and demonstrate how he is imposing it on one of those verses in 1 Kings? That would be interesting.

You mean you really can't see it?

I Kings 8:27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

I Kings 8:17 Solomon said, "My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel."


Recall that Scott has claimed that the building of the temple was a "human notion" the like of which was seen when Israel demanded a human king. Look at I Kings 8:17 first. Solomon is recapitulating the history of his father, David. But how does one get the idea that the building of the Temple was merely "a human notion" from that verse, especially when you recall that God ordered and directed the construction of the Tabernacle. Where did David get the idea of building a Temple, if not from God's ordination of a Tabernacle?

To simply recall that David wanted to build a Temple by no means demonstrates that it was merely a "human notion" of disobedience.

And 1 Kings 8:27 isn't an admonition of a "human notion" of "putting God in a box." Look who is doing the speaking. It's the guy who ended up building the Temple.

Only someone presupposing the supposed futility of building a temple would interpret those verses in that way. That interpretation misses so, so very much.

Here's a question to ponder: Was the writing of Psalm 23 a "human notion," or was it ordained by God?

The answer is "yes." Saying that David had a "notion" to write Psalm 23 in no way minimizes the fact that God wanted David to write Psalm 23. But would anyone say: "The writing of Psalm 23 was a human notion, akin to the desire of the Israelites to have a human king?"

Joe B said...

Larry, you may be surprised to learn that the unChurch blog is not about you.

In fact I don't even know you, whether you hold rank in any church, nor what you do on your days off. And I certainly do not think of you as a theologian. You could be a virus in my computer for all I know.

Mostly I think of you as some little guy who really should consider getting himself a cat.

But, it's a source of endless amusement how you guys strap on your sandwich board signs that say "I'm a Pharisee and I resent that remark!" and protest up and down our sidewalk...

As though we were anybody! :-D

Larry Gwaltney said...

Larry, you may be surprised to learn that the unChurch blog is not about you.

No, it's clearly about the guy who puts his picture on every one of his posts.

In fact I don't even know you, whether you hold rank in any church, nor what you do on your days off. And I certainly do not think of you as a theologian. You could be a virus in my computer for all I know.

Mostly I think of you as some little guy who really should consider getting himself a cat.


And yet you never seem to be able to muster up any theological responses to what I'm saying. Instead, you have to resort to snarky remarks. Which would be OK, except...that's ALL you do.

You ASKED me for a theological explanation for Scott's exegetical problems, did you not? And then insult me because you couldn't think of anything else to say?

scott said...

You know, we get twice as many unique visitors to this blog on the days when this kind of argument comes up. And it's NOT how I wanted to draw people to this blog, nor did I want that to be representative of what was discussed on this blog.

It's like a car wreck. No one really enjoys being in it all that much, but they sure are drawn to watching it. (And this is coming from me, a guy who LOVES to debate. I have debates with atheist strangers on the Internet, and those discussions often end up being more civil.)

Hardly any of these comments are about the original post. If someone has a problem with the theology -- or more accurately, I guess, the lack of deep "theology" on this blog, they can easily enough take it up with me or anyone else in email. Again, and again, and again. Just because there is no deep theology on this blog doesn't mean we have no desire to study God! (That's what theology is, right? Or are we all just arguing about a word of which we all have COMPLETELY different definitions?)

I get that impression from this statement: The expression "I just want to follow Jesus" is essentially a meaningless statement without some kind of theological context. You CAN'T "just follow Jesus" without doing theology.

I've honestly never before encountered anyone who is so AGAINST the notion of "following Jesus." I can only assume that you are assuming that we have no "context" for following Jesus, and that we've never met him. This would be because we don't put a bunch of creeds up on our web log? Do we need an in-depth "statement of faith" on the main page? Is it possible that this blog has one small purpose, and that's not it?

Let's stick to the topic. Hammering each other over the head on one sentence I wrote a month ago is silly.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I've gotten the impression I couldn't say ANYTHING that some people would agree with, at this point.

Me: "I erred in that statement. I apologize. And I never said they were being 'disobedient.'"

Others: "Let's argue about it some more! Because I still feel like you are saying they were being disobedient!"

On the blog, I would be happy to discuss: The current issue at hand. The post. And discussions that won't evolve into the same repeated argument that will never get anywhere.

On email, I would be happy to discuss: Any discussions that won't evolve into the same repeated argument that will never get anywhere.

I'll let others have the last word. Have at it.

Anonymous said...

Men,
What we have here is a contest to see who can be "Most Correct" in the way we follow Jesus.
The unChurch seems to beieve that we best follow Him by doing what we do for our fellowman because of what we believe and going "where they are" to reach the lost. Concentrating on living their faith first and participating in corporate worship second. Not necessarily at the expense of corporate worship.
Larry seems to believe that the "institutional" is more important. Having the firm foundation of knowledge that is the catylist for drawing the lost to Jesus. Knowing what we believe and why is absolutely an important part of living our faith. We must have an answer when we are ask "Why do you do what you do?"
I am reminded of the time the disciples saw another group casting out demons and wanted Jesus to rebuke them because they were "not one of us."
"38 John said unto him, Teacher, we saw one casting out demons in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followed not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man who shall do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is for us."
Joe, if Larry doesn't agree with you using this logic, he should let you work because you are for the Kingdom. It doesnt make him a bad guy. He is, I believe from his passion, a sincere follower of Christ and a student of the Word.
Larry, while you may not find the way of the unChurch to match your theology, they are indeed doing the work of the One who sent them, trying to reach lost people and turn them from hell toward Heaven.
It is obvious to a casual observer that this is not a topic which you are likely to reach a common ground, agree that you disagree. To continue this sniping and discord is only to give Satan an opportunity to hold back the Kingdom of God and gives others a place to criticize God because of your strife.
"We are not all hands or feet, but we make up one Body." (my loose paraphrase)
Live in peace among the brethren. Go in Grace.

Big Doofus said...

Joe B said...
Yes, that is what we aspire to, and what we advocate, and what we admire most. It is a vital part of following Jesus, whether for scum-of-the-earth grass-rooters like me or for theologians and presbyters and apostles. Why that annoys you guys so much is just beyond me.


I'm not annoyed by people getting their hands dirty and serving Christ. You never miss out on a chance to throw a label on me or Larry. When I go back and look at everything I've written you it's now TOTALLY CLEAR that I've been telling you all to stop serving and to spend more time reading books and sitting in pews. That's a perfect summation of my words and the way I live my life. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...
Larry, while you may not find the way of the unChurch to match your theology, they are indeed doing the work of the One who sent them, trying to reach lost people and turn them from hell toward Heaven.


First off, why not identify yourself? Secondly, this is the written word and it's hard to convey inflection and intention when I write, but please don't read any sarcasm into my reply to you (although I will admit that I used sarcasm above--I was at a loss).

It's hard to sit back and think that someone is "doing the work" when they are, at the same time, constantly bashing the church. Why doesn't anyone else see this? Larry and I don't go around picking fights with people. While it is incredibly unfortunate that there are disagreements among believers, it's always important to fight for what's true when it really matters. We're not here to debate baptism beliefs or communion. There's plenty of room there to agree to disagree.

At some point, we'll give up and move on. I thought I had come to that conclusion earlier and yet here I am again.

Larry has pointed out consistently where the faults are and yet no one cares to deal with them.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Doofus,
I am sorry for your unfortunate name. Is "Big" your given name or a nick name? I am also using a little sarcasm here, I have no desire to cause hard feelings either.
You are no more "in the open" than I am. You defend yourself and ignor my observation.
You both (Joe's team and you & Larry) are passionate about serving the Lord in the best way you both know how. Neither of the groups has an iron clad lock on the Truth. You are not wrong and Joe is not wrong. Both of you have the same purpose, to Love God with all your heart mind and soul and to reach and teach others about Jesus.
It is necessary to stop the infighting and concentrate on the real battle. Reaching the Lost before it is too late.
My name is Garry, by the way.

Joe B said...

Larry, I'm sorry about the cat thing. In fact you did succeed I making me angry. And I did say that to insult you. And it was loveless.

Apologies also to the other unMonks and others whose expectations my word-ball disappointed.

Apologies to Jesus who spoke not a word against his accusers, and who said if we would be sons of our father in heaven, that we should bless those who curse and pray for those who persecute us.

Really he said all that needed to be said. To him with ears to hear.

Jan Kelley said...

As an outsider-- I came upon this blog via Facelbook--I am from Houston, Texas, and Iam a regular --Sunday a.m./ p.m. & wednesday night and Ladies' Bible class services --attendee. I memorized scripture all through my growing-up years in the church. I am 62 and a graduate of Abilene Christian University with 8 hours n Bible. I am a retired elementary school principal and a Christian. I love the Lord and I have a spiritual story to tell of the grandeur and the steadfastness of my Lord, but I will tell that in my own private blog or in my Sunday school class or in Ladies' Bible class. Scripture is the foundation of my faith. When I read the words of the unchurch, I was not offended at all, but rather thought that this was what Jesus would have us to do, which i took as regular church attendance with the addition of actually going to the lost with benevolence from me specifically and not just my church in place of me. Jesus set the example by going to the sinners and saying "it's not the healthy that need a physician, but the sick". Matthewe 12:9 When I i read the words of the unchurch i am thinking that they are speaking basically what Jesus said in Matthew 9:12. When i read the word of Mr. Gwaltney and his friend, i am thinking they are thinking that the unchurch is for closing the churches and leaving all of the formalized church out in the cold. My opinion is that Joe B and his "people" are desirous of the church realizing that they have abrigated their "Christian duty" by church attendance and minus having any real personal impact on those who dont know Jesus. The words of their blog have convicted me, as one of the "regular church goers", who have fekt so good about my regualr attendance and hae not really had a personal impact on the lives of others in years. Other than always being friendly and mentioning my love for the Lord very readily. Mr. Gwaltney, I think possibly in your zeal to not preach any other gospel other than thatwhich was preached in the new Testament times, you are condemning your Christian bothers and sisters who love the lord and are attempting to spur their fellow believers into personally getting involved in the lives of the lost. Mr. Gwaltney, i think you and i could be spritual friends an would enjoy to talk to each other about our Savior and God. (I'll look for you in Glory for our visit.) I am not trying to meet you, I am just saying that from what i read that you say, i see that you love the Lord. I have met Joe B. and I know he loves the Lord and His church. He just doesnt want us Christians to use "church attendance"' as a "cop out' to not get personally involved. May God richly bless you, dear brothers in Christ.....and my sisters too.

Jan Kelley said...

18 college hours of Bible not 8.

Joe B said...

I did not intend that my profile photo should cause my brother to stumble (though why should I be surprised that even that would be found offensive by some.)

As my penance I shall now change my profile photo. Behold, a most unflattering photo indeed!

I shall bear this photo as the mark of Cain. Perhaps it will turn some unwary unPilgrims away from the precipices of peril...

Big Doofus said...

Anonymous:

Sorry about that. However, I'm "known" by Joe B., Scott and Larry. Plus, if you go to my blog (which is just a silly blog) I'm pretty open about who I am. If you want to save a few steps, I'm "Roger Shuman." I was Scott's youth leader back in the day. Larry was am elder and Sunday School teacher at the church we used to attend when we all lived in the Fort Wayne area.

I'm a deacon at a non-denominational church. Years ago, I sat under the teaching of one Larry Gwaltney. He's a hard-liner, PCA Presbyterian--a high church guy. Besides being an elder at his local church, Larry works with an organization that works to get seminary training to the ends of the earth--FOR FREE! He drives a beat up car and gave up a couple nice jobs and a house on a lake to do this.

The reason that I continue (although not for much longer) to comment here is because of my love for the local church (not just the one I attend). How do I put this in a perspective that you'd all understand? Let's say that you work somewhere and there's an employee who claims to love his job but constantly hurls accusations at the owners of the company and those who buy into what they are doing. How long would he last? How would it affect morale? It's not the best example, I know. But I don't take this matter lightly and neither should you. You cannot say that we agree to disagree when one person is attacking the very foundation that we both stand on.

Joe:

You are not being persecuted, just chastised.

Jan:

If what YOU say is true about this site, then I'd be on board and I'm quite certain that Larry would, too. But go back and read the posts and subsequent comments from Joe. If he wants to support the work of the church I rarely see it in his writing. In fact, he takes quite a few shots at the church. I'm not saying that it's wrong to ever be critical of the church, but I don't get the idea that I "cut it" based on Joe's criteria, and the same is true for Larry (who is known to chew on a pipe stem from time to time). It's not a perfect place because it's made up of imperfect people, but it's the bride of Christ and I'm not going to turn against it or lead others astray. I will stand up for it.

I would suggest that Joe and Scott take what you have said and work from it--and change the name of the place while they're at it.

Now let me tell you about what it means to be a Christ Follower. I have a dear uncle who passed away this past Tuesday. His name was Harold Burns and I doubt that many on this earth will remember him or his name. He served his entire life as a servant. For years he lived with and served the Indians and other people groups in the Amazon jungles of Brazil. He translated the bible into their native Indian languages. His wife became too sick to stay so they moved back to Florida. She passed away about five years ago and his health kept him from returning to Brazil...so he started serving in local prisons. He shared the good news of Christ to just about everyone he met (even the nurses on his deathbed). He shared with words and with actions. And he loved the church and figured out how to work within it.

Larry Gwaltney said...

I've honestly never before encountered anyone who is so AGAINST the notion of "following Jesus." I can only assume that you are assuming that we have no "context" for following Jesus, and that we've never met him.

Reread what I've written. I'm not AGAINST the notion of "following Jesus." It's just that EVERYBODY says that they're "following Jesus."

But the problem with the premise of this board is that based upon what you've been advancing, there is nothing that you could say to a Jehovah's Witness, or a Mormon, to indicate that they AREN'T.

By giving short shrift to church authority, systematic theology and tradition, you have nothing left to say to them.

Anonymous said...

If we run into a mormon we will just go and swamp his blog with withering criticism until he is won over by our love and kindness.

I noticed your blog doesn't have much in the way of theology either. You should be ashamed.

Larry Gwaltney said...

If we run into a mormon we will just go and swamp his blog with withering criticism until he is won over by our love and kindness.

Again, you people refuse to engage with what I'm saying, and instead can only resort to sarcasm.

I noticed your blog doesn't have much in the way of theology either. You should be ashamed.

Interesting, because I don't HAVE a blog. What are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

But Larry, if you don't have a blog with all your theology detailed on the front page, what will you do if you run into a Mormon? Couldn't you at least make a little blog page and put the Westminster Catechism up there to overwhelm the doubters? I'll bet that worthy Apostolic Successor bishop Eugene Robinson would even bless it for you, and you'd be all set.

Surely Big Doofis has his complete, approved theology posted on his blog. Maybe you could just cut and paste a little theology from his site?

Just in case, you know. Those Mormons and all. You know, cause they roll right over when you flash a little reform theology at them.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I posted two
"Anonymous" comments yesterday and signed the second one, (defeating the purpose of being anonymous I suppose).
The diversion to "What if we meet a Mormon." is someone else. I will choose not to involve myself in that discussion.
Big, if we can be on first name basis now, it is good to meet you and Larry, I think my perception of you both was on the mark, Godly men, students of the Word trying to turn men from hell toward Heaven. It is fantastic to have someone like your uncle to look to for a model to live your life by. We all need that person, it should be our purpose to be that person for someone who is coming along behind us also.
I look forward to being with you There.
See you then, Garry

Joe B said...

Okay, kids. You've all made your points as well as you are able.

I will now close this post to new comments so that we can turn our attention to Scott's fine new article.

Enjoy the fellowship of the cyber-saints. Please mix it up freely, but remember: Content over controversy.

Comments that are not related to the post may be removed by Redacticus, the new Chief Scribe of unChurch Abbey.

Joe B said...

And please take the time to sign in (Eutichus? hint, hint.) I know it's a pain, but like Garry noted, it gets confusing when there are three anonymous' all saying different things.