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Friday, September 15, 2006
Take A Look ...
Interesting timing considering our serious conversation over the past week or so.


What are the Holy They up to?

Are we a part? Do we have the faith to believe that we might be part of a move of God that could someday be written about 'for such a time as this?'


posted by From the Margins at 7:50 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 9/15/2006 09:01:00 PM, Anonymous soldiermom

    “I don’t know if Buchanan’s theology is quite right, since I am certain God did not intend her to be raped.”

    I am curious about what your reaction is to this statement. Any thoughts, Sheri?

    Overall, my reaction is why are we surprised that this happens in the church, or that the church is used as a vehicle for victimization? We all read the Canterbury Tales. The clergy were painted in a very bad light even in the 1300’s and most likely rightly so. Why do we think that we would escape rapists, pedophiles or the like? What am I missing?

    Of course I would hope we would, but history proves other wise. What are the Holy They up to? Got me. ;0) Maybe using all people for Their glory, not our own. Somehow they used David, as you said so eloquently before. God has a way of redeeming all that we ruin. Just some rambling thoughts.

  • At 9/16/2006 04:24:00 AM, Blogger Melanie@Abri

    I agree with your surprise about that this happens in the church, soldiermom. WHat struck me is that he expresses such shock that someone in the evangelical "spirit-filled" arena could do something like this, when the lid has just been torn off the Roman Catholic church for its abuses.What makes anyone think that 'evangelical's are any holier than any other denomination? We are all human - I think what is happening is an opportunity for Christians to say 'see? we aren't any different from the rest of the world, we are corrupt, we are broken, we are heinous...' I think we have spent so much time trying to set ourselves apart from the world and now the truth is getting out that we are no different. It's an opportunity to stand with the rest of humanity and say we're all in this mess of life together. The only difference is that we believe in forgiveness. I don't know, random thoughts, possibly not very well put down...

  • At 9/16/2006 06:06:00 AM, Blogger From the Margins

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 9/16/2006 06:42:00 AM, Blogger From the Margins

    I hope that "the Holy They" are up to exposing the Truth ... bringing sin into the Light so that it can no longer hide in the darkness and breed. I think we have an opportunity here to piggyback our voices with this story in whatever spheres of influence we may have, and others that may also now be exposed, meeting in the Light. I see a Divine opportunity to partner with God in a Holy Insistence to expose this sin wherever it abounds. We must insist that biblical stories like Judges 19, like Tamar, like Samson and his prostituting, etc. not be ignored from our pulpits. It's a 21st century issue! (in my opinion.) We've asked for people of influence to be awake to these issues, to amplify the voices of victims from the margins and here Lee Grady is doing just that. We must respond likewise in our own contexts … as he has … with a Holy Fire of Righteous Anger in our Bones!

    SM: I hesitate talking about this ‘angle’ of theology in the context of a victim’s quote … ya know. Rape is evil … all evil. I do think God is powerfully partnering with this woman’s strength of character and brave faith to expose this darkness. I think THEY were waiting and willing to use any of these female victim's faith, even as small as that of a mustard seed, to expose the sin. (The Redeemer hovers) But using her to “BE RAPED” for this purpose … personally can’t go there. I might suggest that her own language and understanding about this life-altering event may change over time. Recovery and redemption from trauma is a process. I don’t condemn her in anyway for stating it this way now. She has a right "to own" her own recovery process.

    Mel: well said.

  • At 9/16/2006 09:06:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    This is horrible, and I am not surprised. I think it gets covered up more than we can even imagine. I think in the world of "we are right biblically" and "they are wrong" church leaders do what they can to keep "the image". I agree Melanie that what has happened in the Catholic church is horrible, but I believe it is just the tip of the iceburg, in all Faith arenas. It angers and saddens me when "a person of God" does horrendous things, that can deeply dammage a persons Faith, but I don't think it should be covered up. In the long run that can do more harm, than if it's dealt with immediately.
    Sherri, I agree with you that the recovery is the victims. I also agree that I personally don't view God as one who "allowed/caused" the rape whatever, in order to use her. I do think God has used her voice and is alongside her ready to redeem a horrible evil.

  • At 9/16/2006 03:57:00 PM, Blogger EverChanging

    hello, I'm new to your blog and would like to make some comments/ask some questions about this part of the conversation. Thank you for having such a forum.

    Do you think there is a need to reassess the heirarchical nature of leadership in church? Is it that God never intended for teachers/preachers to hold such a position of power and authority? Would changing leadership in the church to support all the gifts in Eph 6 disseminate some of this authority/power and remove the clergy/lay person distinction? Are we not all called ministers?

    I must confess to feeling very disillusioned with institutional religion. I know of many instances where clergy have used their roles to take advantage of others. Has the church (meaning the followers of Christ)put such an emphasis on the gift of preaching/teaching; put these men/women on such a petastals that the power and authority corrupts them? If they weren't so empowered, could they so easily take advantage of others? Just some thoughts.

  • At 9/16/2006 05:24:00 PM, Blogger From the Margins

    Hi EvChg: Welcome to the conversation!

    I think you've asked some great questions! I encourage you to keep your voice in this conversation. You are not alone.

    Collaborative leadership vs. heirarchical based on Eph. 6. I agree.

  • At 9/17/2006 05:00:00 AM, Blogger Helen

    I'm not surprised to hear about it but I wish it hadn't happened.

    I think we'll continue to hear about this because a) Christians tend to be too trusting and b) we create an environment at church which encourages people to try to look good rather than encouraging them to be honest and get the help they need.

    I'm not excusing this leader's actions but - in a church environment - what does a leader do who has a problem like this? Imagine the incredible courage it would take to get honest and do what's necessary to get help. Church should be the easiest place to do that, but it's often the hardest.

    When leaders are in this situation, where they are hiding some sin, they've cut themselves experientially from what the gospel has to offer. Instead of Jesus covering their sins they are trying to do it themselves. This is not what we need our leaders to be role-modelling!

    Conversation at the Edge

  • At 9/17/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger Sue Densmore

    That this happened in the church is, of course, outrageous. But because the church is an institution of humans, it is, sadly, not all that surprising.

    Acts and the epistles tell us that the Apostles went around appointing "elders." See that plural? There was good reason for that.

    Christians are trained, and rightly so in most cases, to try to think well of people. We are told we are not to judge. But the same Bible tells us that judgment begins in the house of God, that we are supposed to be wise because there may be wolves in sheep's clothing...etc...

    I think we have lost our balance. When you couple the "judge not" concept with a societal value of tolerance, it becomes very hard to properly use the gift of the spirit called "discernment." It happened to me once, on a much smaller scale.

    There was a couple in our church about whom I had, several times, really felt like God was telling me were untrustworthy. Well, I did not trust myself in that instance, and less than a year later they were stirring up all kinds of trouble in our church body - wolves in sheep's clothing. If I had spoken up, we may have avoided that. You'll have to trust that statement, because the story is too long to tell here.

    So, if you feel like God is telling you something, check it with the elders of your church.

    The other thing I wanted to comment on is the sidebar conversation about whether God "allowed" this girl to be raped. I do not want to sound harsh, but God's nature is God's nature, isn't it? And, since God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, He must allow things to happen in our world, which, remember, is temporarily out of order. So, it follows that what happened to this girl was "allowed" by God. This does not in any way say He wanted this or planned it or all that - just that there are things which are not good which are allowed by God to happen to us. This is the classic age old question of "the problem with pain." Sometimes, we must live with the larger ramifications of the world being fallen. God's common grace holds back some measure of our human depravity, but not all of it. We have free will, right?

  • At 9/17/2006 02:35:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I think in regards to the term "allow", there are different ways people interpret that. At least for my comments...I agree that God "allowed it", meaning "didn't step in and stop it". I don't think God "allows/causes" evil. Evil is evil, and yes, we have free will. God can and does redeem evil, but is not behind evil, even to "help" a grander picture.
    I for one have been in Christian circles, where babies have died, and the thought was, "Well, God had his reasons.", or even someone close to me, had a disabled child, and they honestly think it was God's plan, and they were dealt it for a "reason". Again, I am not saying that our paths aren't helped along by God, but too many times, I hear comments that seem to remove nature, evil, choice etc. and place anything and everything on God.
    I hope that makes sense. I agree with you, just wanted to clarify that "God's allowing" has represented different things in some of the Christian circles I have been involved in.

  • At 9/17/2006 07:22:00 PM, Blogger From the Margins

    Sue- your comment of: "SINCE God is all-knowing and all-powerful ..." assumes that all Christians hold to this theology of God the way you are implying. ("God knowing everything before it occurs" is what I am assuming you are implying.) Actually, there is diversity within our current (Open Theology, for ex.) and historical Christianity of those who do not hold to God operating within the created systems like you've implied.

    Given that this variance exists within our faith, there is an appropriate place for those who feel that using the word "allow" is not applicable.

    Just a point of reference.

  • At 9/17/2006 07:40:00 PM, Blogger From the Margins

    Hi Helen.

  • At 9/17/2006 08:39:00 PM, Blogger Helen

    Hi from the margins :)

    In Spong's belief system all the questions about whether God allowed or ordained some particular suffering and if so WHY...go away.

    Since I never really got anywhere with those questions I have to say I find his resolution appealing.

    At the same time I realize his view of God is unacceptable to many. Maybe it's very non-emergent - I don't know enough about what's emergent yet to know what spectrum it covers.

  • At 9/17/2006 09:17:00 PM, Anonymous jose

    Here is an article that every person from the "Emerging/C" should read to learn what the EC is all about.

    Emergent church “leading theologian” declares: statement of faith would be “disastrous”
    By Jason Carlson

    On Thursday May 4th, the National Coordinator for Emergent-U.S., Tony Jones, sent out an e-mail alert to all followers of Emergent defending Emergent’s refusal to clearly define their doctrinal beliefs.[i] In this e-mail alert Jones states, “we have been inundated with requests for our statement of faith in Emergent, but some of us had an inclination that to formulate something would take us down a road that we don’t want to trod.” I will explain later why Emergent is so reluctant to travel the road of doctrinal definitions, but in the meantime, Jones goes on in his alert to state, “imagine our joy when a leading theologian joined our ranks and said that such a statement would be disastrous.” Who is this “leading theologian” who has so bolstered Emergent with confidence over their doctrinal ambiguity? His name is LeRon Shults, recently resigned theology professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN who is taking a new teaching post in Norway, and he happens to be one of my former instructors at Bethel Seminary.

    Following Jones’ introduction, Emergent’s e-mail alert continues with Shults’ statement attempting to justify the Emergent leadership’s wallowing in doctrinal ambiguity. (By the way, these regular e-mail alerts that Emergent sends out are titled “Emergent/C”. I find this to be a fitting title for what follows in Shults’ statement, as Emergent’s love for ambiguity, uncertainty, and haziness inevitably leads to real and serious EMERGENCIES within the church.) Shults states, “I believe there are several reasons why Emergent should not have a ‘statement of faith’… Such a move would be unnecessary, inappropriate and disastrous.” How does he justify these claims?

    First of all, Shults declares that a statement of faith is unnecessary because “Jesus did not have a ‘statement of faith’”; and then he goes on to state, “The writers of the New Testament were not obsessed with finding a final set of propositions the assent to which marks off true believers.” Secondly, Shults says that a statement of faith is inappropriate because, “The truly infinite God of Christian faith is beyond all our linguistic grasping… and so the struggle to capture God in our finite propositional structures is nothing short of linguistic idolatry.” Thirdly, Shults declares that a statement of faith would be disastrous because “Emergent aims to facilitate a conversation among persons committed to living out faithfully the call to participate in the reconciling mission of the biblical God… a ‘statement of faith’ tends to stop conversation. Such statements can also easily become tools for manipulating or excluding people from the community.”

    Let me say a few things in regards to the above points by Shults, points affirmed by the Emergent leadership, points which celebrate and seek to justify Emergent’s theological and doctrinal elusiveness. First of all, Shults is simply wrong when he states that Jesus had no statement of faith. Jesus may have never written down in a formal document the core essentials of the Christian faith, but he did teach them and affirm them throughout his earthly ministry. Consider just one of Jesus’ many teaching encounters, in John chapter 3 Jesus teaches the Pharisee named Nicodemus numerous crucial propositional truths central to genuine Christian faith, Jesus declares the following:

    V. 3… There is a kingdom of God.

    V. 5-7… To see the kingdom of God you must be spiritually born again.

    V. 13… The Son of Man (Jesus) came from Heaven.

    V. 15… Belief in Jesus leads to eternal life.

    V. 16… God exists and He has a Son.

    V. 16… God loves the world.

    V. 16… Those who believe not in the Son will perish.

    V. 19… Men love darkness and their deeds are evil.

    V. 21… Men may be saved, but only through God.

    This short list is just a tiny sampling of the vast amount of propositional teaching that Jesus revealed to us, truths central to the Christian faith, truths which if not assented to remove you from the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. Jesus himself affirmed the necessity of assenting to these core doctrines when he said to Nicodemus, a Jewish Pharisee, “I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony” (v. 11). In other words, because of their failure to accept Jesus’ revelations, his statements of faith, Jesus did not include the Pharisees in the ranks of those who would receive eternal life. Make no mistake friends; Jesus had a statement of faith and our acceptance of it really matters!

    Secondly, not only is Shults and Emergent wrong when they claim that Jesus had no statement of faith, but to claim that the writers of the New Testament were not concerned with teaching and protecting a core of propositional truths which marks off true believers from those unsaved is absolutely ridiculous. Consider just the following sampling of New Testament references to guarding the true faith to which we must assent:

    2 Timothy 4:1-4… “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

    Jude 3… “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

    Galatians 1:6-9… “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

    1 Timothy 4:11-13, 15-16… “Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourselves to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching… Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

    I could go on and on citing such biblical admonitions for teaching and protecting the essential doctrines of the true Christian faith to which we must assent. For the leadership of Emergent and their “leading theologian” to miss or ignore these clear biblical declarations to the reality of a core set of Christian doctrines which marks off true believers is absolutely astounding. There is absolutely no way that anyone who takes scripture seriously can read these passages and claim that statements of faith are unnecessary.

    Not only do Shults and Emergent wrongly claim that a statement of faith is unnecessary, but they also claim that a statement of faith would be inappropriate. Shults states, “The truly infinite God of Christian faith is beyond all our linguistic grasping… and so the struggle to capture God in our finite propositional structures is nothing short of linguistic idolatry.” The problem with this statement is that we have not imposed our finite human language upon the infinite God; rather the infinite God himself chose to reveal himself to humanity through the medium of finite human language, both verbal and written. In fact, the entire Bible, which was written by 40 different authors in 3 different languages, is not simply a phenomenon of finite human linguistics, but the Bible was fully inspired by the infinite God himself. 2 Timothy 3:16 declares that “All scripture is God-breathed.” God chose to use the finite human medium of linguistics to reveal divinely inspired propositional truths to us. This fact alone dispels Shults’ claim that our human attempts at defining our doctrinal beliefs is a form of linguistic idolatry, for it was the infinite God who first chose to use the medium of finite human linguistics to reveal himself to us. For human beings to take seriously God’s revealed propositional truths to us, by defining them and systematizing them, is not idolatry, it is called faithfulness.

    Finally, after declaring that a statement of faith is unnecessary and inappropriate, Shults concludes his defense of Emergent’s lack of doctrinal clarity by claiming that a statement of faith would be disastrous. How would a statement of faith be disastrous? Well, they’re not, unless you’re an emergent church, of the Emergent persuasion. You see according to Shults, “Emergent aims to facilitate a conversation among persons committed to living out faithfully the call to participate in the reconciling mission of the biblical God… a ‘statement of faith’ tends to stop conversation. Such statements can also easily become tools for manipulating or excluding people from the community.” This last sentence is especially crucial for understanding Emergent’s distaste for doctrinal clarity. You see postmodern inclusiveness and tolerance are pretty much the highest values within the non-systematized belief system of Emergent.

    Now, I don’t have any problem with inclusiveness or tolerance, especially in the true biblical spirit of these terms, but within Emergent there is such a premium placed on inclusiveness and tolerance, as defined by postmodern philosophy, that there is basically no sense of biblical discernment in terms of recognizing and labeling false beliefs, practices, or lifestyles. This is why for example in a recent debate here in the Twin Cities Emergent church leader Doug Pagitt, in reply to a question about whether or not Mormons were within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy, simply could not, no matter how many opportunities he was given, state that Mormon’s were not Christians as defined by Scripture. This is also the motivation behind Brian McLaren’s recent call for the church to take a five-year moratorium on making any judgments against homosexuality.

    You see, never mind what the Bible clearly states, what matters most is inclusiveness and tolerance; and so, within Emergent, whenever they come across a biblical teaching which is exclusive or judgmental, that teaching is either flatly ignored or redefined and neutered through their lenses of postmodern inclusiveness and tolerance. This is why a statement of faith would be “disastrous” in the view of Emergent’s “leading theologian” LeRon Shults; statements of faith are naturally exclusive. The bigger problem with Emergent’s position though is this, not only are statements of faith naturally exclusive, but what the leadership of Emergent doesn’t seem to understand, or is unwilling to accept, is the fact that the truth is always exclusive and so is the gospel of Jesus Christ; and it is these facts which have always driven those who desire to remain faithful to God’s revelation to declare and defend doctrinal positions that distinguish true believers from the unsaved.

    The leadership of Emergent refuses to produce a statement of faith, calling the idea of doing so “disastrous”. Emergent theologian LeRon Shults has provided them a flimsy justification for Emergent’s ongoing theological and doctrinal ambiguity, but with his statement he will inevitably embolden the Emergent faithful in their ongoing march away from biblical absolutes, discernment, and exclusivity. With each successive step that Emergent takes away from affirming the historical absolutes of Christian orthodoxy, the more we can expect to continue to see Emergent’s leadership flirting with and outright embracing non-biblical beliefs, practices, and lifestyles. This is already taking place within the Emergent conversation and Shults’ statement will do nothing more but propel Emergent further into error.

  • At 9/17/2006 10:35:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Thanks Jose for the comments. However, I am not sure what that particular post had to do with the discussion here. You have a right to your opinion, as we do ours. As for your statements of "the Bible clearly states", in many topics within "Christian Realms", there are various ideas, theologies, and beliefs. Dependant on which "branch of Christianity" (or lack thereof, for that matter)one comes from, our beliefs or views are biased. One thing in "emerging thoughts" is the openness to entertain opinion and discussion. When that occurs, we can learn and grow from each other. There are many faithful, Christ followers, who are walking with God, and growing, but may have totally different views than our own. We all "get" somethings, and sometimes, we "completely" miss things. Thanks to God for Grace.
    We all can find, when we look hard enough, those groups that we bond with, and affirm our opinions and beliefs, "all of us". For me personally, being a part of "emerging conversation" gives me a chance to challenge the beliefs I have, why I believe, if there are possibly other ways of seeing things, and Loving not judging, as Christ taught. I know that God knows my heart, and knows that I yearn for guidance, love, understanding, and strength.
    I personally take offense, that because I (or "emergent" or whomever) don't place myself under a "statement of Faith" that the implication is that I am way off base, or "down the wrong road" etc. I will leave that to God to decide. I suggest you do the same.

  • At 9/17/2006 11:16:00 PM, Blogger sylvia skinner


    Thank you for your comments. I do believe that Jesus believed and held to certain truths. In fact, I think he said the whole thing could be summed up in one simple truth: Love God, love each other. Unfortunately, I don't feel the love in any of this kind of rhetoric. For some reason, love just never seems to be enough for "Christians." Isn't is always the same? How many times have i heard it said, "well, I know we need to love and include others, BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT." I just can't find those BUT's between the lines of what Jesus said. If propositional truths were so darn important to Jesus, then why on earth didn't he say so. I keep reading things like, don't judge each other becuase the way you judge others is the way you will be judged. Or how about this one--people will know we belong to God simply by the way we love each other. Or, to Nicodemus, he said something like if you want to see the kingdom (which most biblical scholars accept as God's kingdom here on earth--not a ticket in to some gold-covered palace someday)then you have to be born again...or...I think...give up your pride and all the stuff you think you know and start all over...become like a child...which in that day mean to be humble enough to become like nothing (women and children, that is). He didn't tell the rich guy that--he said if he wanted the kingdom then he needed to give away all of his money. Why didn't he say something about signing on the dotted line of some propositional truths or obeying some laws (kind of like the pharisees did)?

    This is why I'm having a very hard time holding on to my faith--soemthing that has been a part of my life since I was 4 years old (I'm only 43 now!). Until recently, I've missed no more than two Sundays in a row. I'm a minister's wife for gosh sakes...(I think I sound a little like Paul:), but this kind of talk just makes me want to throw up. Sorry...I hope my response is not coming across without any love. I'm just tired of this.

    I know the drill on this whole thing. The minute someone starts spouting all this love stuff they are immediately written off as milk-toasty Christians who don't have a clue what the Bible says and their doctrine must be pretty weak. But after an entire Christian school education and years and years of sitting under "Bible teachers" who can parse greek verbs and exegete with the best of them, I think I can hold my own in this debate, but I feel absolutely no love.

    I guess I just wonder...if it's so milk-toasty to talk about love all the time, then why did Jesus do it. I think that's the thing he talked about the most. In fact, (and i mentioned this a few blogs back) the hill he chose to die on--the propositional truth he cared the most about--the one and only thing he said mattered was LOVE.

    I wonder if the Bethel prof was not feeling any love either--seems that when anyone starts asking questions in evangelical world that's exactly what happens--people don't give a hoot (my "G" rated description) about how they trash each other, all in the name of those precious propositional truths. Perhaps that's why he said it would be so disastrous. Maybe becuase people would just sart arguing about exactly what that statement would be and the conversation would all just stop? Maybe because it would be just one more of the bazillion factions of the church in America, instead of a group of people trying to live out what Jesus said instead of simply fighting about it?

    Sorry about the soapbox girls...let's get back to the conversation. I think it's just my pain crying out...

  • At 9/17/2006 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Christy

    "We must insist that biblical stories like Judges 19, like Tamar, like Samson and his prostituting, etc. not be ignored from our pulpits. It's a 21st century issue! (in my opinion.)"

    I think you are absolutely right about this. Ignoring the victimization of women in the Bible is linked to ignoring the victimization of women in the church today. I know of a number of stories of pastors or other church leaders who were sexual predators towards children (boys and girls) or women. It is far more common than most Christians think.

    I'm so glad to see this discussion here. (Pause while I decide whether to say this or not...) I was raped by my youth pastor when I was a teenager and because of my story, I hear about these things. (There's a lot more to that story as well. Christians don't come off looking very good in several parts of it.) My sample set might be skewed, since I know more women who have survived sexual abuse and rape than your average person, but most women with stories similar to mine won't go anywhere near a church, so church people don't end up hearing about it.

    It is so tremendously important that things like this be openly discussed - and not just after the fact. We need to discuss A) how to create a space where women are valued and given a voice and B) how do we hold church leaders accounatable for how they use power?

    And Michelle - very good response to Jose - gracious yet firm. I really like the spirit of this little spot on the internet.

  • At 9/18/2006 05:15:00 AM, Blogger Helen

    Perhaps jose's post was in response to my comment about not knowing much about what is/isn't emergent.

    Anyway, if I wanted to know more about jose, I'd go to jose for that information rather than going to jose's worst enemy, who wishes jose had never been born.

    In the same way, if I want to know more about the emergent church I'll go to the emergent church for information. Not to a conservative evangelical rant about what's wrong with the emergent church. In my experience conservative evangelicals tend to mischaracterize everything that isn't conservative evangelical Christianity. They over-generalize, over-simplify and as a result, over-villify. I have a hard time seeing what's Christlike about such an approach - to me it lacks the integrity I'd hope for from followers of Jesus.

    Anyway, if someone has editing capabilities perhaps they would like to replace jose's cut and paste of Jason Carlson's article with this link

    Emergent church “leading theologian” declares: statement of faith would be “disastrous” By Jason Carlson

    Cut and pasting entire articles is generally a violation of copyright although I could not find the copyright statement on that particular website, to be sure how they feel about it.

  • At 9/18/2006 07:38:00 AM, Blogger Sue Densmore

    Michele - I appreciate that you calrified the word "allow." It is important for us to know that when we use a word we are all understanding that word in the same way. So thanks.

    As for some other comments, I am all for loving God and our neighbors. I do not think this is "milk-toasty." Jesus did sum up all the Law and the prophets in this one statement. I do not argue that. This should be the goal of all our lives.

    But Jesus referred to a specific God - THE specific God to be, well, specific. And God is revealed to us in the Bible.

    Orthodox theology has held to some basics about God's character and nature, among them God's omniscience - knowing everything.

    This in no way takes away free will. Just because God knows, we don't, and so for us, from our perspective things are choices. I am not even stating that God causes our choices. But He knows them.

    To deny God's omniscience opens what is, in my opinion, a very dangerous door. God Himself chose to reveal Himself, and chose the manner in which to do so. He chose the men who wrote His inspired words.

    To wonder if, or to deny that, He is powerful enough to be sure those guys wrote the right things is also to question His very nature and character. Because another of the very basic characteristics of God would be that He is omnipotent.

    To assume that 2000 years of orthodoxy is all wrong and has nothing to say to inform our discussion here is, quite frankly, arrogant and stupid. Yup, I really said that. I really hope that is not what we are doing. If it is, someone tell me now, because I will just bow out of the conversation.

  • At 9/18/2006 08:32:00 AM, Anonymous soldiermom

    Right now my church is going through yet another split over all the issues discussed here. It is so painful, as many of you know. Reading Jose's rant has made me realize that a split is not the worst thing! He or she needs to stop and take a breath already, gosh.

    And thank you God for delivering me from such hatred and at least for the moment allowing me to see clearly the path ahead. Doctrinal statement or not, emergent or not….the path needs to lead away from that kind of thinking. Sexual predators are abhorrent, but psychological and spiritual predators are even more damaging! Lets keep rising up against all forms of exploitation. I really love your responses here people! Good on ya.

  • At 9/18/2006 09:15:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Personal opinion...when the focus of Jesus stays "only" on our acceptance of Him "getting" us to Heaven, "when we die", it's detrimental. I say this, because of exactly what happened in this line of discussion. We discuss a serious problem, how we feel, what we 'feel' about this as believers, and someone steps in and posts something that isn't related, just because of the 'title' of the blog.
    What I have found interesting, is the way perception can flip. I was raise my whole life in church. Most of my family was active in either music, ministry, teaching, etc. I have heard all of this (that Jose spews). I don't "fear" hearing other ideas or thoughts. In doing that my Faith has grown leaps and bounds this last year. When I "just accepted" (didn't question or study into it) all the "propositional truths", I was stagnant. I spent the last 29 years...just doing. When my pastor encouraged us to "know why we believe what we believe", not just listen to him and accept...my Faith took off. I'll tell you one thing, "emerging thought" has made me humble and more dependant on God, than I ever was with my "tradional", "easy answer" beliefs.
    Lastly, it is hard to not be dragged down in these instances...this seems to be how my weekend is going. I had a great opportunity present it self involving my church, one I am very excited about...I was really feeling like God was "using me". Soon after, I was "attacked" or at least that's how it felt, by a very close family memeber. It was extremely frustrating. "The concern for me" was that I wasn't "worried" about something she heard about one of my pastors/ friends. Mind you "heard", has not attended our church to see herself, met the man she was "worried" about etc. I was yelled at, couldn't get one sentence out etc. "That" is exactly why I run the other way. "Those people" she is concerned about have nurtured me, listened to every thought, wonder, idea, problem, etc. without judgement, and with abounding graciousness and love. They have given their views (quoted scripture), and many times will present more than one view, even not their own, in order to help me sort through everything. They believe in "truths", but have found a way to still "allow" God's work within someone, and God's timing. For me, that has made a huge difference in my Spiritual life, one I am grateful to them for. (Obviously God, but they have been used to help me and others). To be honest what keeps me going, is after this confrontation, I spoke to 5 different "non churched" friends or family members this weekend that have completely opened up to the idea of Faith and church. Knowing that there may be a place that they could go and learn, question, and grow without the attack they feel they received other places, they have actually reconsidered trying again. That keeps me going, that is an encouragement. Sorry for the long one!

  • At 9/18/2006 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    Hi all, sad sad situation. First and foremost I need to say that. How horrible that this happened to these women. Inside the church, ourside the church....its just a shameful indictment of ills in humanity.

    What I think I see is that we're not really so surprised, most of us, that this happens within the church...what we ARE, in my opinion, is like everyone else in the world in that we are so much more likely to jump up and down and shout about it when it happens elsewhere. We're not so quick to 'expose' our own because it exposes ourselves. And we are often afraid....we know it could be us and we don't want to face it, and we don't want to draw attention to it. It hurts us and its our nature to nurse those hurts, hide them, cover them.....the courage to speak out is rare.

    I think we need to be sensitive though -- I don't need to rub my neighbors face in their sin in a public manner. As someone pointed out, the church body should be a safe place to deal with sin.

    I think how we handle situations is extremely important and bringing to light the topic as represented in scripture is key. Instead of picking our 'pet sins' to preach on, we need to have a more inclusive representation of sin. Some sins are so much more accepted and some are demonized so much that it has become impossible to openly teach, preach, and walk through them.

    We are called to something more, however we are not immune to temptation and evil, and while the consequences of different sins varies....no one is any 'less' of a person or any more evil for being susceptible to sin. The behaviors differ but the root is the same for all of it is what I am trying to say.

    I don't think we should push things under the rug, not at all,
    and the larger topics need to be constantly taught from scripture, but I do question how we 'publicize' things. I think we need to go public locally and allow the ground movement to impact our sphere and then on and above.

    I don't think when something happens in my church I need to get on a blog or go to the media and name names and shout from the rooftops. I think we need to openly deal with what is in our community and not shirk when there IS larger attention. It also means we need to quit pointing fingers OUTSIDE and deal with what is in front of us, commenting when asked...but not spearheading lynch mobs and 'causes' that aren't our own business.

    I'm not sure I am verbalizing well what I mean.

    I applaud her voicing what happened to her and taking action, I don't agree with our modern mentality of making everything a three ring circus in the media.

    Also, I agree that Jose's post might be better truncated with a source notation offered, generally complete cut and pastes are carry copyright issues. (?)

  • At 9/18/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Sorry, I can't figure out how to edit other people's comments.

    But FYI, Jose's post is best just ignored. He's been spamming a lot of blogs, including my own, with this same post. I've tried to interact with him and engage him in conversation, but he doesn't really want to hear what anyone has to say that disagrees with him. All he does is just hurl bible verses out of context in response to anything you say.

  • At 9/18/2006 06:36:00 PM, Blogger Christy

    Hope this isn't off topic, but I wanted to recommend a book that ties in with From The Margins comments and earlier discussions of re-casting women's stories in the Bible. It's called Helpmeets, Harlots, Heroes: Women's stories in the Hebrew Bible by Alice Ogden Bellis, a professor at Howard Divinity School

    It's a little heady at times, but she does a good job of looking at various feminist and womanist interpretations of these passages. She doesn't always come to a final conclusion, but then neither do I, so that doesn't bother me. It's food for thought anyway.

  • At 9/18/2006 08:39:00 PM, Blogger From the Margins

    Thanks Christy for the suggestion. I'll check it out.

    Our African brother and sister theologians have written a Bible commentary that is hitting the bookshelves soon ... I'm interested to see some fresh readings through their eyes/context.

  • At 9/22/2006 02:02:00 AM, Blogger Charlotte Wyncoop

    On the "God allows" topic, I've reconciled my own experience with abuse by translating "God allows" to "my dad chose."

    God didn't choose or allow this to happen, but He loved both my dad and I, and I'm sure He cried harder over my dad's choices than I did over what happened.

  • At 9/22/2006 06:44:00 AM, Blogger Sue Densmore

    Charlotte -

    Good thought - thanks for that.

    On the Jose subject, the owner of the blog should be able to remove any comments you don't want here...

  • At 9/22/2006 08:55:00 AM, Blogger Shoshana

    Char - I think you're absolutely right on the "he chose" vs. "God allowed." I grew up being told that one of the gifts God gave us was free will. Unfortunately, that also leaves us free to choose sin with disasterous concequences to ourselves and others.

    But I do have a question for the community in general. How does the emerging community view Satan and his role in tempting us to sin? Not to belittle our responsibility for our choices, but there are some acts that I feel are truely evil inspired.


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