Emergent Church

Theological Reflections: the Penal Substitutionary Atonement

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Does God allow doctrinal problems in the church so that Christians will study God’s Word carefully and defend it more accurately against unbiblical ideas? Maybe so. There does seem to be some evidence of this in church history. But whether this is true or not, it does seem that several serious doctrinal deviations have arisen in our generation—one after another—even within what has been considered generally conservative Christianity. From the fifties on, evangelicals debated among themselves the doctrine of the inerrancy of the original writings of Scripture. In response to those evangelicals who were arguing that Scripture was not inerrant in the scientific and historical sections of Scripture, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy was formed in 1977. These biblical scholars planned a ten-year strategy of education, study, and publication. Over the course of ten years, they and others published several important and helpful books, along with the notable Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. The battle is not over, but much has been accomplished through careful biblical responses to those compromising the doctrine of Scripture.

Then around the turn of the century, a new approach to the doctrine of God was submitted by those known as Open Theists. Open Theists argue that God does not have detailed control of the universe and that He does not know for sure the future acts of free moral agents. In the words of Al Mohler writing in the end of the twentieth century: “My argument is that the integrity of evangelicalism as a theological movement, indeed the very coherence of evangelical theology is threatened by the rise of the various new ‘theisms’ of the evangelical revisionists.”1 The ideas of Open Theism have been answered by those in support of the classic doctrine of God,2 and the debate has seemingly quieted just in time for another major doctrinal deviation to be proposed.

Now we are hearing that the penal substitutionary view of the atonement should be replaced by some other theory. Seemingly the left side of the Emerging Church has been in the forefront of this grave development, though there is no unified agreement in what the correct theory is. In fact, some, in typically postmodern style, seem to be arguing that there really is no one model of the atonement that gets to the essence of Christ’s death on the cross. The value of the atonement might depend on each individual’s understanding.3 Read more about Theological Reflections: the Penal Substitutionary Atonement

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American Council of Christian Churches 2009 Resolutions, Part 1

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Resolution on the Convention Theme—Taking Heed
Resolution 09-01

From its founding in 1941, the American Council of Christian Churches has dedicated itself to defending the fundamental truths of Gospel doctrine against Satanic attack and to promoting those truths in a world marked increasingly by apathy and even antipathy toward them. Sadly, the corrosive influence of weakness in the face of apostasy, as manifested in the so-called New Evangelicalism, has produced an appalling drift toward positions that have bargained away the hallmarks of the Gospel in exchange for wider acceptance and more popular acclaim.

The first decade of the 21st century has been a time of turning away from the separatist positions maintained not only by the early generations of Christian Fundamentalist leaders and those who benefited from their ministry but also by those who came before them, going all the way back to the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The legacy of Billy Graham’s ecumenical evangelism and the NAE’s fascination with admitted advocates of universalism, such as Robert Schuller, have generated an atmosphere in which Joel Osteen and other purveyors of “evangelicalism lite” have been able to flourish.

Such dismaying trends have affected some who have expressed adherence previously to Fundamentalist truths and to Biblical separation from those who dilute them or deny them. They have begun to doubt the need for the firm resolve Fundamentalism requires in the face of open error and of compromise with that error. Some younger Fundamentalists have wondered about the right way to reach their generation and are concluding that changes in methodology and refinements in message are in order.

Such changes mean shifting away from the reliance on what has been proclaimed in the past in favor of a more contemporary style and a message less offensive to the desires of a narcissistic and entertainment-driven generation.

In the words of Mordecai from the Book of Esther, the American Council of Christian Churches has been called to the kingdom for such a time as this. Now is not the time to waver or fear. Now is the time to reassert the Biblical truths of Christian Fundamentalism to preserve the heritage of those who have already served their generation and who are now in the presence of the Lord. Now is the time to renew our reliance on the things that we have heard. Read more about American Council of Christian Churches 2009 Resolutions, Part 1

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The Emerging Church: The New Worldly Church

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Note: This article is reprinted from The Faith Pulpit (May-June 2008), a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA).
emergent_box.gifWhat are we to think of the emerging church movement? Does it have any validity? What are its dangers? Here, Dr. Douglas Brown of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA) combines careful analysis with biblical understanding to show us the hazards of this movement and how to help people avoid being enticed by it.

The emerging church (or emergent church) is an elusive movement.1 Attempting to understand and explain the emerging church is admittedly difficult. However, the movement is impacting the church today and needs our attention. This article will give an overview of the emerging church and offer some basic critiques.

What Is the Emerging Church?

Leaders and proponents within the emerging church seem to relish the fact that the emerging church eludes defining. Much of their literature is intentionally slippery and vague, often raising more questions than answers. Most resist the label of a “movement” and prefer to use terms such as “conversation,” “journey,” and “narrative” to describe the emerging church.

Part of the difficulty in explaining the emerging church is its wide diversity. It crosses denominational boundaries (since it is both interdenominational and nondenominational) and national boundaries (since it is international). In addition, emerging churches represent a wide assortment of theological positions (ranging from evangelical to liberal) and an even more extensive mixture of methodologies (everything from house churches to alternative worship).

So what is the emerging church? Scot McKnight summarizes: “Emerging catches into one term the global reshaping of how to ‘do church’ in postmodern culture.”2 Reducing the emergent church to innovative and unconventional methodologies would be a mistake. It goes deeper than just methodology. The emerging church movement marks a philosophical and social shift to make the church relevant to postmodern society.

Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger offer this nuanced definition:
Read more about The Emerging Church: The New Worldly Church

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Why Do They Leave Fundamentalism? Part 2

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See Part 1.

Retrain Your Conscience?

In his lecture, Joe Zichterman made many references to Christian liberty and Romans 14. We should discuss this topic because the misunderstanding of Christian liberty is an important stone in paving the way for a young fundamentalist (YF) to leave Fundamentalism.

rudder.jpgThe Willow Creek membership manual states, “We do not take stands on controversial issues about which the Bible is silent. Individuals are left to their own consciences before the Lord, rather than depending on the church to tell them what to think or do.” … Unjustifiable dogmatism on disputable matters is a clear violation of the spirit of Romans 14 … . [I]n Acts 15 when the Judaizers were insisting that gentiles be [circumcised] before they could be accepted as full members of the Jerusalem church? Paul told the Galatians later he wouldn’t put up with that for a single minute. You can’t give the impression of dogmatism where Scripture does not allow you to do so (17:48).

Joe used an example from an Amish acquaintance:

[He] told us that he dreamed … about going wild one day and putting on a red shirt … . [T]he first time he finally decided to wear a red shirt when he walked down the street … He felt like everyone was looking at him … and that they were getting riled up emotionally when they saw him … . And he was literally in tears talking about how he wished his family and friends could bask in the liberty he had now found in Jesus Christ (20:10).

He applied these ideas to music:

When I think about the music wars that took place 30 to 40 years ago over musical style, I wonder how many parallels there are with our Amish friend’s conscientious hang-ups over his red shirt. Music that might be considered carnal or sensual by some may not even raise the slightest red flag in the conscience of others because of cultural background (21:20).

Joe seems to understand several things about Christian liberty: Read more about Why Do They Leave Fundamentalism? Part 2

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