How would you present the gospel on Twitter?

This is how Rob Bell answered this question:

I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.

Is Rob Bell’s “gospel” really a gospel in all its New Testament sense? What is missing? Or, what is Rob Bell really saying, because I surely don’t know what he is talking about; I think he’s talking about something big related to history that’s going somewhere, but I cannot tell by his statement what that big thing actually is nor where it is going.

Help?

Check out also Greg Gilbert‘s response to Bell’s statement.

Brian McLaren & Why “Everything Must Change”

For those who missed Brian McLaren‘s talk that he recently gave at Highland Baptist Church here in Louisville, Kentucky, a helpful summary is given in the March 17, 2009 edition of his DeepShift / Everything Must Change News email:

Dear Friends,

Just last week, I had a chance to present a summary of Everything Must Change to a group of about 450 people…and something different happened this time!  You may remember part of this conversation if you came to an EMC tour stop last year…

First I talked about the prosperity dysfunction (our economy keeps growing beyond environmental limits because of its addiction to more and faster) and then our equity dysfunction (as the rich prosper and live like kings, the poor fall farther and farther behind). Then I moved to the security dysfunction, and asked, “What do the prosperous do when they see the suffering of the left out and left behind?” Then I jokingly replied, “They take out their wallets and ask, How can we help you?” Everyone started to laugh, realizing how far this was from the truth.

As the laughter died down, I explained, “No, the rich typically build higher walls to keep the poor out. And instead of investing in ways to help their poor neighbors, they invest in bigger and more destructive weapons to defend themselves from anyone who might want to interfere with their private money party. They take the money that could have been spent on bread or economic development or medicine to serve others, and they spend it on bombs and guns to protect themselves.”

And at that moment, for the first time in all the times I’ve presented this material, the crowd broke out in applause. Not because they were happy about what I was saying, but because they were relieved to hear someone telling the truth, and they wanted to affirm their belief that this false security system must be named for what it is: barbaric and wrong.

But while they were still applauding, I kept speaking: “I wish that’s all I had to say. But it’s worse than that. You know what else the richest of the rich do again and again? They don’t just build new weapons systems to protect themselves.” Now there was silence again, and I added: “They sell weapons to these poor guys over here, so they’ll use them against these poor guys over here. And they sell weapons to those poor guys over there, so they’ll fight against those other poor guys there. Knowing that, you won’t be surprised to hear that the nations of the U.N. Security Council are also the world’s top weapons dealers, and that our nation sells weapons to both sides of many of the world’s hot spots of conflict.”

People are “getting it” more and more: there comes a point where more weapons mean less security. And that’s why I think people of faith are reaching a tipping point, related to weapons, especially nuclear weapons.

What would happen, brothers and sisters, if over the next five years, a faith-based movement to abolish nuclear weapons began to take root? Wouldn’t such a movement need to begin in the country that has the most nuclear weapons – the USA? Wouldn’t that be a great next step in God’s kingdom agenda of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks?

It’s thrilling to see “the new abolitionists” springing up all over the country – people dedicated to abolishing today’s slave trade where women, children, and men are trafficked for sex or for bonded labor. But I wonder if that’s only one dimension of a three-dimensional abolition movement that’s taking shape among us:

1. Abolishing exploitive and slave labor and human trafficking, and building a fair trade/ethical buying movement in their place.

2. Abolishing nuclear weapons, and building a peace-making movement in their place.

3. Abolishing economic practices that destroy the environment, and building regenerative economies in their place.

Does that start to sound like an agenda that people of faith could come together on – liberal and conservative, Protestant and Catholic, Mainline and Evangelical, Christian and Muslim and Jew, along with people without formal religious commitments? I hope you’ll ask if this is what the Spirit is saying to you and to churches today.

Keep on plotting goodness, Brian

(Emphasis is all McLaren’s)

Emerging Missional Fallacies in Postmodern Exegesis

Earlier in the fall of 2007, I was invited by Rev. Ken Silva (SBC) of Apprising Ministries to serve as a correspondent for his online apologetic ministry. This past December, I finally responded to his invite and committed to writing 1-2 articles on the Emerging Church every month starting in January 2008. However, due to my busy January schedule and the extremely busy Spring semester here at Southern Seminary, I thus have yet to publish anything. I sincerely apologize for not living up to my self-proclaimed commitment and for my lack of foresight into my schedule.

Please know that my first responsibility is to my seminary studies; at the same time, please also pray that what I share with you here would be a fruit of and an overflow from the countless hours I spend reading the Scriptures and books on theology.

Emerging Missional Fallacies

On that note, I am excited to write to you concerning the Emerging Church and postmodern theology! In this opening half of the year, I will share with you how I came into contact with Emerging theology and the things that have led me to confront evangelical accommodation in today’s postmodern culture. Although I was very eager to write to you about the beliefs of Emerging churches, I found it necessary to write appealing to Emerging pastors to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

For there are certain pastors who have crept unnoticed into the church that are reading their own personal desired interpretation and ideas into the Bible’s text, ideas that are not necessarily extra-biblical but rather extra-textual to the passage preached on. These usually result from careless exegetical fallacies that remove the text from its original context (cf. D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996). More specifically, I am concerned about ordained ministers of God’s Word are eisegeting an Emerging missional ecclesiology into the New Testament – where as 2000 years of biblical scholarship have found no explicit “missional” meanings in such passages whatsoever.

(Read the rest of this article.)

When Our Knowledge of God’s Truth is Diminished

I was just skimming through David Well’s new book, and found this in the first chapter:

The loss of truth is being offset by increasingly adventurous experiments in worship and by various attempts at recovering a lost sense of mystery. My view is that this kind of offsetting is an illusion. There is no offset for the loss of truth. There can only be a cover-up of what has taken place. When our knowledge of God’s truth is diminished, our understanding of God is diminished, and no amount of contrived mystery through ancient liturgies or gathering in the presence of dim, flickering candlelight can compensate for the loss.

Emergents too, are standing outside the house that Ockenga, Henry, Graham, Stott, Lloyd-Jones, and Schaeffer built in that earlier generation. The difference is that they are standing outside the house, whereas the seeker-sensitives, the marketers, still imagine they are living inside it.

David F. Wells. The Courage to Be Protestant. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008. p. 18, emphasis mine.

Sinners in the Hands of the Emergent Church

Jonathan Edwards Joins the Conversation

Jonathan Edwards was an innovative and creative thinker who sought the conversion of those with whom he worked and lived. He was, by no means, a recluse, who kept to himself and offered no concern for others. Preaching became his passion, as did conversion. Yet, Edwards offers the emerging church with some extremely important measures to consider. First, do not compromise theology for culture. Second, make preaching primary. Third, doctrine is important. And, fourth, God admires the virtues of morality and piety.

The emerging church offers a future for reaching the young generation. If they listen to Edwards, a biblical conversion and growth can take place.

William D. Henard (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Paper Presented to The Academy For Evangelism in Theological Education
(Ashland, Ohio – October 4, 2007)

(HT: Ed Stetzer)

The Attractiveness of Rob Bell

What’s so likeable about him?
1. Rob Bell is “cool” to look at.
His hair is slick, glasses black and plastic, and simply looks hip.

2. Rob Bell is “cool” to listen to.
He is a gifted storyteller, and simply tells some very interesting stories in his Nooma videos.

What’s so hateable about him?
1. He does not preach the Gospel.