Anne Rice's Christ the Lord? A Contradiction?

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Note: This article was originally posted November 25, 2005.

Anne has switched the topic of her writing career from vampires to Christ. Remember seventy years ago, novelist Fulton Oursler, turning from agnosticism to devout faith and writing The Greatest Story Ever Told. Today, it’s Anne’s debut. With as much passion that Mel Gibson delivered in his movie production on Christ, Anne is exhibiting the same about-turn-face dedication to writing about the Savior. In her latest novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt , Anne invites, “This is a book I offer to all Christians—to the fundamentalists, to the Roman Catholics, to the most liberal Christians in the hope that my embrace of more conservative doctrines will have some coherence for them in the here and now of the book.” It was an invitation I couldn’t resist. After reading her book, here is my review of the delightful and the distasteful, with the intent that sometime these words from an Idahoan might cross the computer screen in her room so that her heart might consider.
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An Editorial Response to Vision Forum

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ADDED 12:35 AM Friday, October 6, 2006

Some words of explanation/clarification:

  • We had made several attempts to contact and converse with VF leadership, as well as with Scott Brown of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches, following the original publication of the articles in 2005. An invitation to provide clarification of their position on the SI platform was offered to VF/NCFIC multiple times. The invitation still stands.
  • We have republished the “Family Squabble” article (though they have not specifically requested that we do so) in the interests of furthering charitable dialogue and clarification of the issues that unite and divide.
  • The most recent “personal contact” made with Jason before the recent publication of multiple articles on October 4, 2006, consisted of a fax of Einwechter’s article on the same day it was published online.
  • Jason is continuing to attempt personal conversation and dialogue between the VF leadership and the SI team.

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A little over a year ago, SI published a series of articles by Joe Fleener and Aaron Blumer detailing some concerns with the Family Integrated Church Movement. Joe Fleener specifically named Vision Forum Ministries in his three part series.

This week, Vision Forum began to issue a response to these articles. We have included the text to the main response on the SI blog.

However, it seems to have been implied that VF considers the publication of these articles at SI as “blogosphere gossip.” Prefacing Michael Gobart’s article is this statement:

The following article is presented as one example among many…of a SharperIron.org author attempting to discredit his brothers in Christ based on a point of scholarship over which he does not appear to have even a rudimentary understanding.

Furthermore, on the same day the articles by Gobart and Einwechter were posted, an excerpt from the Westminster Confession of Faith was published on the Vision Forum website. The post was entitled, “The Westminster Confession on Blogosphere Gossip.” The sidebar informs readers that: Read more about An Editorial Response to Vision Forum

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Family Squabble: Vision Forum responds to SharperIron

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CounterPoint

EDITORIAL NOTE: In 2005, SI published a series of articles by Joe Fleener and Aaron Blumer detailing some concerns with the Family Integrated Church Movement. Joe Fleener specifically named Vision Forum Ministries in his three part series. This week, Vision Forum began to issue a response to these articles. We have included the text to the main response on the SI blog. A secondary response/clarification was also published this week, and may be found here. Registered members of SI may discuss this article in our forums. Joe Fleener is also interacting with commenters on his blog. -GJL

Family Squabble An Autopsy of Joe Fleener’s Three Part, “Vision Forum, Patriarchy and Federal Husband,” Part I

by William Einwechter, October 4, 2006

(Vision Forum’s) Editor’s note: Earlier this year, Vision Forum began to receive requests from friends and supporters across the nation who had been hurt and in some cases adversely affected in their local churches as a result of a series of three defamatory articles authored by Joe Fleener and published on SharperIron.org. The articles were also widely disseminated by e-mail and other venues. The articles were noteworthy for their polemical nature, factual errors, lack of research, and, most significantly, for the unwillingness of the author or publishers at SharperIron.org to demonstrate brotherly charity and biblical integrity by contacting the Christians at Vision Forum Ministries to confirm facts or to raise private concerns prior to their decision to bring public charges and accusations to the broader body of Christ.

In response to these articles, Bill Einwechter, elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, drafted the following response. Mr. Einwechter is not a member of Vision Forum staff, but, as a reformed and baptistic pastor who has been an invited guest to several Vision Forum events in the past, is a friend to the ministry. Mr. Einwechter’s three articles will be released one at a time, over the course of the month of October. Where proper attribution is included, permission is granted to publish and disseminate these articles. Read more about Family Squabble: Vision Forum responds to SharperIron

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The Heart of Biblical Missions

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Note: Dr. Sam Horn is host of The Word for Life radio program.

by Dr. Sam Horn

Doxology or Soteriology?

A carefully crafted statement or phrase has a way of penetrating and fastening itself to a man’s mind as firmly as a nail driven into a wooden beam. Such statements often surface at the most unexpected moments to confront us with the message they proclaim. They will not be denied or ignored until the truth they declare has been reckoned with and answered in some definitive way. They profoundly impact the way we think and act and therefore have enormous potential for changing the direction of our lives. Such statements are rarely long or elaborate. Usually, they are short pithy phrases much like the one I encountered some time ago while preparing for a seminar I was to deliver on missions.

The opening statement of John Piper’s work on missions, Let the Nations be Glad, arrested my attention. His statement, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t,” began a thought process that would ultimately force me to reexamine much of my thinking about a biblical approach to missions and the great commission.[1] The journey was neither brief nor easy. I found myself uncomfortable with Piper’s statement although I could not easily explain or express the specific reasons for my discomfort. The longer I pondered his statement, the greater my discomfort. Somehow this phrase just did not sound right. To me, adopting the idea of worship as the primary motivation for missions, although sounding spiritual on the surface, would seem to ultimately undermine our efforts to send believers to the mission field by subtly directing attention away from the desperate need of the lost.

Furthermore, I could not see how Piper’s statement squared with Scripture passages where God seems to use the urgent need of the lost to motivate believers to reach them. Passages like John’s account at the well in Samaria show Jesus motivating His disciples by reminding them that although there may have been four months before the physical fields before them were ready for harvest, the people of Samaria themselves were ripe for an immediate harvest (John 4:35). Besides my theological reservations, I had an unspoken practical reason for my discomfort. I had sermons and files full of material on missions I had preached and taught which were now being challenged (at least in my mind) by Piper’s comment. Read more about The Heart of Biblical Missions

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Why Sing? | Part 1

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Why do we have music in church?

This may seem like an odd question. Most — if not all — churches have music, don’t they? This is just how it has always been, right?

While this may seem like an odd question, I believe it is nevertheless an important issue to discuss because of the myriads of faulty answers people will give when answering the question. For instance, I have heard people say that the music of a worship service is simply prelude to the preaching. These kinds of people view music as nonessential to a worship service; we could eliminate it altogether and they wouldn’t miss it at all. Others say that music “sets the mood” for the preaching. This is still a “prelude to preaching” type of thinking, although these people would probably say that music is a good thing because it does “prepare our hearts” for the message. A third group — and this is what I’ve heard more often in our circles — will say that the reason we have music in churches is so that we can teach and affirm biblical truth. This answer may sound a bit better, but I will still insist that it is no better an answer than the other two.

The reason these answers are so faulty is that they completely miss the crucial reason that we use music in church. They focus only on the words of music in the church and give no thought to the actual music itself or even to the poetic form of the words. You can recognize a person with this kind of reasoning because when they are evaluating music for use in the church, the only question they ask is, “Are the words biblical?” This is a great question, but it’s not enough.

I am going to argue that the purpose for music in the church goes beyond simply the words. The reason we have music involves more than just a nice setting for teaching and affirming biblical truth.

What is the purpose of the church?

In order to answer the question of why we have music in church, we must first step back and ask questions about the purposes of churches in general. The Bible gives the church specific missions to fulfill, and if the church engages in any activity that does not support its mission,then that activity should be eliminated.

Establishing Mature Followers of Christ

With specific reference to believers, churches are responsible to establish mature followers of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16 perhaps best demonstrates this mission of the church:
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Shall We Reason Together? Part Three: The God Who Reasons

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In The Nick of TimeWhile verbal inspiration is not dictation, it nevertheless implies that what Scripture affirms, God affirms. Inspiration did not obliterate the human personalities of the biblical authors, who certainly made free choices about what they would write and how they would write it.
Nonetheless, their choices were guided by the Holy Spirit so that the Scriptures are the very Word of God. This is a key principle: what Scripture says, God says, and what Scripture does, God does. One of the things that Scripture does is to reason. The Bible is packed full of logic. Granted, the biblical text incorporates few explicit syllogisms. The writers of Scripture prefer to reason in enthymemes. They are constantly resting their conclusions upon inferences, the validity of which they expect their readers to grasp.

Consider Isaiah’s satire about idolatry (Isa. 44:10‐20). A man plants and tends a tree in the forest. When the tree is mature, the man cuts it down and burns it in order to warm himself and bake his bread. He takes a bit of the tree to a carpenter, however, who planes it, marks it, and fashions it into an image. The man keeps the image in his house, falls down before it, worships it, and prays, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”

The core of Isaiah’s sarcasm involves a line of reasoning that he never makes explicit. If I may translate Isaiah’s satire into a syllogism, it goes something like this:
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Knowledge, Humility, Zeal, and Leadership

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I really love Peter. It is so easy for us, in retrospect, to snipe at him for his antics, but I have been thinking a lot about him lately. Peter strikes me as a man who had given himself over entirely to follow Jesus. He rightly vested in Christ all of his hopes and dreams. So much so that when asked if he were going to leave Jesus, he responded, “Where else can we go? You have the words of life.” Peter was exactly right; Jesus is the only way to life. All other paths are leading directly to sin and death.

Yet much of Peter’s ideas of discipleship were colored by his own misguided expectations and misunderstandings. Jesus had a habit of turning those expectations upside down, and we frequently find Peter struggling to reconcile what Jesus was doing and teaching with his own preconceived notions of the way things were supposed to be.

In John 13, we see this misunderstanding clearly demonstrated. Jesus stooped to the level of a servant and approached Peter to wash his feet. Peter immediately (and somewhat impulsively, I think) responded that this wasn’t right. According to all he understood, the rabbis, teachers, and great people of his day didn’t ever do such things. It was unbecoming of their status and position, and Jesus was even greater than these. In Peter’s eyes, this request was an affront to the accepted order of things.

However, Jesus was insistent. If Peter wanted to be His disciple, his obedience was essential; and when Peter realized this, he exclaimed, “Then don’t just stop at my feet! Wash the rest of me as well.” You have to give Peter credit. Once he knew what to do, he zealously jumped in headfirst. Of course, he still misunderstood the point. Jesus was preparing to teach the disciples an important truth regarding discipleship, and Peter especially would need to understand it in the coming years. Fundamentalism needs the same lesson.

The truth is that God can really use a completely devoted disciple who is zealous for Jesus, even if that person starts out a little misguided, and this is exactly the case with Peter. Indeed, the first step of discipleship is to understand that our lives belong wholly to the Lord. We must be reminded that our reasonable service is to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice for His glory. Peter seemed to have this part down better than the rest of the disciples. After all, wasn’t it Peter who drew his sword to take on the Romans who had come to arrest Jesus?
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Logic in Its Place

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The two latest installments of Kevin Bauder’s In the Nick of Time, “Shall We Reason Together?” parts one and two, raise interesting questions about the relationship between Scripture and logic. (I’ll refer to them as SWRT 1 and SWRT 2.) The essays are stimulating reading and provide valuable perspective in an area that has received little attention among biblical fundamentalists. But the articles represent only two views of the role of logic: Dr. Bauder’s view and the view he rejects as “alogicality.” A third option is available and might be a better choice.

The Alogicals

The essays refer to the philosophy that what we infer from Scripture is less authoritative than Scripture itself. People who believe this are not hard to find. But Kevin also describes the alogical philosophy as holding to the following beliefs:

  • Drawing inferences from Scripture should be avoided whenever possible (SWRT 1).
  • If we must draw an inference, we should “advocate it only in the most tentative terms” (SWRT 1).
  • Logic itself should be rejected. (SWRT 1: “To reject reason because some people reason badly is like refusing to eat with a spoon because some people dribble.”)
  • No rational thought process is occurring in the act of reading. (“Alogicals seem to assume that reading is simply a matter of running their eyes over the words on a page, upon which meaning somehow (magically?) registers itself in their minds.”) (SWRT 2)
  • “We ought not to treat inferences as if they were authoritative” at all (SWRT 2). That is, inferences have zero authority.
  • “It is wrong to impose moral requirements that are merely inferred from Scripture” (SWRT 2).
  • Reasoning should be avoided entirely. (SWRT 2: “Alogicals reason, analyze, form inductions, and draw inferences all the time. They are constantly doing the very thing to which they object.”)

Another Option

If the philosophy truly holds to these ideas, “alogical” is a good name for it. But there is another position on logic and Scripture that is neither Kevin’s nor the alogicals’. It shares most of Kevin’s view, with one important reservation. First, several points of agreement.
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