A New Revolution (Part 2)…

Ok, so in response to the only comment from the last post, I thought I would elevate the response to another post.

First, I just want to say that this is about the Challies dot com review of One Punk Under God and Jay Bakker/Revolution Church, not Scott or his post. I think the world of Scott and will miss he and his family when when they move.

A caveat would be that if I had been more clear, myself, in the previous post, I probably wouldn’t have to clarify. To correct myself, I stated that Bakker “knows his poo” and didn’t provide sufficient supporting evidence. Well, I hope you’ll be satisfied with this.

I also understand the concern about over-emphasizing grace in the church. Paul did also. I don’t think that’s the issue here, and at this point, personally, I think I’d rather err on the side of grace and love than turning people off to God. I’ve experienced too many people recently being turned away from the church altogether without an appearance of the love that is supposed to define it and bind it (and draw people into it).

The review initially seems ok to me, but as I kept reading, I grew more and more disappointed with it. For the record, I don’t know Challies, as far as I can remember, I haven’t met him, nor have I read his blog recently enough to remember ever reading it. I don’t have anything personal against him or his blog, I’m just going by his review and my experience.

The main thing that bothers me is that he doesn’t back up hugely flagrant statements like, “With theology that often bears only a passing resemblance to the Christianity of the Bible, neither does his preaching fit the image of what we would expect from a Christian preacher and evangelist.” Unfortunately, that’s not a complete sentence, but my point is that it’s not a completely accurate statement, either. It is, however, highly condemning – describing someone’s theology as only a passing resemblance to the “Christianity of the Bible” (presumably the writer’s Christianity, I’m not sure which translation or denomination, though, I’m guessing King James) is quite a slap in the face.

I guess that’s why I’m responding with this post. I don’t see a reason or convincing argument for such rudeness and I’d like to see it stop. Critical evaluation is great, but pot shots are not hot (to trot).

The second part of the statement is quite true, Bakker doesn’t look like what you would expect from a Christian preacher, but my expectations for Christian preachers have also changed quite a bit. I think I would typically go out of my way to avoid what my expectations have become of Christian preachers and evangelists. And anyone (of the millions and millions) who reads this blog knows I listens to some preachin’ and does my share of readin’ on the subject.

A further reading of the review reveals that Challies hasn’t done his homework and expects to fully examine Jay’s ministry through the Sundance Channel’s filter. He makes no reference to listening to the sermon that he criticizes nor researching Baker’s theology beyond what Sundance put together for the show. Not that I have theological problems per se with the Sundance Channel or it’s editing…um, whatever. You don’t even get a full 5 minutes of any sermon from the show, let alone the one Challies takes apart based on what he’s watched. That saddens me, especially as it seems to exemplify Christian writing all over the place (case-in-point: ever read a review from Christianity Today? They don’t seem to even spell check – not that I’m a shining example; but, well, I’m not an organization representing the religion of millions either).
another quote:

“This series, though often poignant and interesting, is a sad testament to a tragic situation. We might have hoped that the fall of Jim Bakker would help his son return to the Bible his father so clearly forsook. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case. Jay Bakker seems to be wandering further and further from biblical Christianity, defining his ministry with theology that is far from what the Bible teaches.”
It’s interesting to me that clearly Challies hasn’t listened to any of Bakker’s podcast sermons – of which there are PLENTY (i.e. more than 10) to get a sense of Jay’s theology. Even a cursory listen of his sermons reveals an obvious thorough searching of scripture and mainstream commentary. Disagreement is certainly a possibility and he regularly invites civil discussion.

The structure of Bakker’s most recent series on Galatians is fairly inductive with references to several mainstream commentaries – Martin Luthor is a recent favorite. The passage is always read through directly and then broken down and discussed, contextualized and applied in a fairly traditional manner. I don’t think he’s breaking new ground with his preaching style, but what he is doing is preaching the gospel in a straight-forward way in a unique context – mostly to people who won’t go to your church. This is pretty easy to see if you listen to it yourself. Yes, he is crass at times…so what. I prefer to let him work out his salvation in the open with the rest of us than try to pretend he’s perfect.

Challies’ laziness combines with his pension for bold assumptions to form a poor/misleading review. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about and we should think so. I hope this isn’t a tendency for him. I’ll have to read more of his writing to find out.

This isn’t to say that I agree with everything Jay says. He invites discussion and civilized (and intelligent) disagreement. This is another element that seems to be lacking in the church at large – the ability to question anything (or think critically, for that matter) or have co-existing disagreements.

I think it is important to challenge people’s theology if it seems out of line, but do it intelligently and with respect. Pray for those who you disagree with and, here’s the shocker, don’t forget that, ultimately, we’re probably on the same team. A team we didn’t pick in the first place and don’t deserve to be on – except by God’s grace.

pax,

-W

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39 Comments

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39 responses to “A New Revolution (Part 2)…

  1. Wayne, this is a fantastic post… nothing to add except please keep writing!

  2. Mike Goodwin

    Hey there buddy. I’ve been listening to some New Revolution sermons since your last post, and I have to agree with you. I think he does dance pretty freely on a fairly slippery slope at times, but a lot of what he the discussion he raises have been long absent from the landscape of Western Christianity at large. Some may resent the fact that with his tats and his meandering and his proclivity for the occasional “shit” he doesn’t come off as very “preacherly”, but so much the better. If we have to go overboard a bit, much better that they do it on the side of grace than that of judgement.

  3. Wayne,

    Thanks for thinking the world of me. Likewise! And it was great seeing you tonight.

    But I’m still not buying it… with all due respect, of course. 😉 Forgetting about style and good intentions, Rev’s main problem, just like every form of liberal Christianity throughout the ages, is that they don’t place themselves and their theology firmly under the scriptures. (I did listen to one of Jay’s sermons, and then another by an associate pastor on homosexuality, and it’s from those that I make that claim.) The bible is very clear – very clear – on most things, and for liberal or emergent or post-whatever leaders (I place Jay in this category) to claim otherwise, to the contrary of 2000 years of historical Christianity, is not to be taken lightly. On the contrary, it’s very dangerous.

    No, notwithstanding claims that all they want is to “discuss” or “converse”, these leaders know full well they’re picking a fight. Isn’t it just a little disingenuous then, when the others “fight” back, to cry foul?

    And a question for you, what do you mean “invites discussion and civilized (and intelligent) disagreement”. As in, “I believe the Apostle’s Creed to be a true statement of Christian belief, and I’d be happy to discuss, in a civilized and intelligent way, why this belief is fundamental to calling oneself a Christian.” Or do you mean, “I think I believe in what the Apostles were trying to say, but since it’s impossible to know for sure whether it’s true, I can’t really suggest you must believe it to claim you’re a Christian. The important thing, anyway, is that we keep talking to each other nicely. Preferably somewhere other than in a church.”

    Sorry, got carried away there, but you get my point. Christianity is a religion full of propositions (“Jesus always was”, “Jesus will come again”, “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church”, etc.). Some propositions are strictly damnable, and if they are spread and believed, they will send the souls of those who believe them to hell. So I agree we should challenge people’s ideology – particularly leaders of the church! – when they are out of line, and do so intelligently. But I’m not sure about the respect part. Non-Christians, of course. But Jesus himself didn’t seem to have much respect for the damning heresies of the pharisees. And don’t forget Paul’s thrashing of Peter. (And don’t forget those whom he wished would cut off their…!)

    And yes, I pray I’ll never forget I’m a sinner saved by grace alone through faith alone. Right beliefs didn’t save me, but O! how important a means of grace they are for keeping me. I pray we don’t construct false dichotomies where there shouldn’t be any (“Jesus is more important than propositions ABOUT Jesus”, etc.).

    Again, good post, just have my standard concerns. And again, good seeing you and hope the best for you and Beth.

  4. Sorry, the third sentence in the fifth paragraph was meant to read, “Some propositions, on the other hand, are strictly damnable…” (such as “Jesus was created”, or “there is more than one name by which man can be saved”, etc.)

  5. Beth

    Scott:

    What do you mean by liberal? I think hearing your definition would go a long way towards understanding what you’re reacting against.

    what do you mean “invites discussion and civilized (and intelligent) disagreement”. As in, “I believe the Apostle’s Creed to be a true statement of Christian belief, and I’d be happy to discuss, in a civilized and intelligent way, why this belief is fundamental to calling oneself a Christian.” Or do you mean, “I think I believe in what the Apostles were trying to say, but since it’s impossible to know for sure whether it’s true, I can’t really suggest you must believe it to claim you’re a Christian. The important thing, anyway, is that we keep talking to each other nicely. Preferably somewhere other than in a church.”

    I’m not sure why you decided these are the two ways to interpret this statement, but I don’t think Wayne meant either one of them. Why bring up the Apostle’s Creed? I don’t think that’s really relevant to the discussion, though I know Wayne agrees with it. You set up a false dichotomy here (which doesn’t follow from the statement) that really convolutes your argument, I’m afraid. Does allowing room for discussion and disagreement mean you can’t claim to be a Christian? Does asking questions really mean you’re just picking a fight?

    And you can’t really be saying that we shouldn’t treat the views of others with respect… can you? Please tell me I’m reading that wrong.

  6. Hey Scott, it was good to see you too (we ran into each other last night at a party). I’m also glad that we can have this discussion. I think it’s healthy and I appreciate it. I also don’t mind the challenge…

    I agree with what Beth says here. In fact, I recited the apostles creed in church tonight. This conversation isn’t about that.

    I want to address a few things in response:

    1) I disagree with the claim that Jay and Revolution Church doesn’t place itself firmly under the scriptures. I hoped that I was clear in reiterating a consistent use of scripture in the (now) 12 sermons that I have heard. Some have been more on the order of “talks” than expositions of Bible passages. That’s called variety and as long as it doesn’t mark the dominant style of the preaching, it doesn’t bother me in the least (and that was a blatant stating of my preference, the Bible isn’t completely clear on the issue of preaching methods). The “controversial” sermon I linked to that was focussed on by the show was, in my opinion, an example of someone truly wrestling with the scripture in the way that we all should.

    Again, we’re not talking about salvation or the gospel or the points of the apostle’s creed here. We’re talking about a tertiary point that some say isn’t as clear we think (or have been taught)

    2) The Bible is often clear, but also often unclear, very unclear indeed. I’ll just say Genesis and Revelation and provide specifics in between upon request.

    It has been my experience of the Bible, and interpretation/understanding of it, that in matters of the gospel and God’s love, it’s very clear. On matters of cultural application, it often is not. This is why we study it, this is why we wrestle with it and re-evaluate it. Case-in-point, what translation do you read? Is it King James (from what I remember, it isn’t). Yet, it’s a pretty major thing to go around questioning the scriptures (I certainly agree with you on that point); but we do it and will continue to do it as we grow.

    3) Citing 2000 years of history (from Moses to Sandy Koufax…wait, that’s Jewish history) isn’t a valid argument. I certainly advocate many of the cultural breakthroughs that contradict 2000 years of Christian history – like women voting (or speaking in public, or wearing pants, or that whole slavery thing, or burning heretics).

    4) The invitation for discussion/disagreement per the show was done soberly and with research and conviction. It wasn’t, according to his own word, to pick a fight, but to address and re-consider a pertinent issue that the church notoriously mishandles (to put it mildly). I heard (I think) the same (other) message you did, unfortunately it wasn’t really what I would consider a fantastic example of the church’s theology (a reiteration of Gomes in “The Good Book”) but not necessarily a bad one – merely one end of the spectrum for them. I would seriously recommend listening to the one I linked to by Jay. Then argue with me, more specifically, that he isn’t firmly concerned with the scriptures.

    5)It still doesn’t change my mind about loving first and letting the Spirit deal with people’s individual sin. I’m talking about (and have been) a church where people are going to hear grace preached. Not that you can fart and get to heaven or that God just really wants to be your pal. He’s preaching grace and salvation through Christ and I can back that up concretely.

    Last notes: The corporate “confession of sin” we read out loud today at church included this line, “We abuse our good gifts of imagination and freedom, of intellect and reason, and turn them into bonds of oppression.” This struck me as what I fear I (and the church at large) have been doing for a long time. Also, I’d check out Reverend Vince’s verse-by-verse exposition of the Lord’s prayer (he uses the Luke passage) that should come out some time this week. It was surprisingly refreshing and well constructed (there’s lots of Greek translation for you).

    -W

  7. @Beth: Actually, you’re not reading that wrong, but I think (hope?) clarification would help. Just as I don’t have any respect for the claim that 2+2=5, I don’t have any respect for the view that there is any other way to the Father but through Christ. Of course I’m not going punch someone for saying it, but I don’t “respect” it, so to speak, by suggesting it’s valid and beneficial as opposed to false and harmful. In other words, I respect people because they’re made in the image of God, but I don’t respect false claims. Indeed, Paul was even harsher than that (Gal. 1:8)

    Re: the Apostle’s Creed, I was just using that as an example of an historically accepted set of propositional truths that, like others of the same, is under fire today from many directions. Obviously, whether fairly or not, I lump Jay and Rev into a larger group of young “emergents” who are abandoning, even if only partially, the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” You’ll say that’s crazy, but I believe history has shown that at the top of the slippery slope of outright apostasy is always a break that either seems so minor in the “big picture” or is already commonly accepted by the culture. But once the break is made, look out, you’ll end up with stuff like this.

    @Wayne: We’ll have to disagree (respectfully, mind you) about whether Jay and Rev are submitting to the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). I will listen to more sermons, though, just to be sure I’m not mistaken. BTW, do they have a confession, or a doctrinal statement to assist me in understanding what they believe? I read they’re “idea” page, but alas, it didn’t really help.

    Sorry I can’t respond to all points, but isn’t that the nature of blog posts and comment threads: everybody makes a few points, takes a few shots, and then gets tired and realizes that real life is calling, primarily in the form of sleep!

    😉

  8. Beth

    Wow. What a cop-out. If you’re not willing to (or can’t?) defend your inflammatory points, don’t post them. You make some huge logical leaps here, Scott, and include a lot of rhetoric, but not much careful consideration of the points raised. I’ll just say that I don’t your asnwers sufficient, and I find what you do write, for the most part, worrisome.

  9. @Beth: Sorry, didn’t mean that as a cop out. I really did try to respond, but really, in all honesty, I only have so much time. I should have remembered that and disciplined myself not to post. But honestly, though, I kind of miss the discussions Wayne and I used to have, and was kind of enjoying that old feeling again. Didn’t mean for it to turn sour. Please forgive me. Won’t happen again.

  10. I miss those exchanges also. In being part of a small-group with Scott for a couple years, it was a great time of discussion and growth for me.

    And I’m fine agreeing to disagree. I have no problem with that. The rest of the church seems to. We should be should be shining examples.

    …And I completely understand your need to sleep.

    Obviously the conversation will peter out, but I’ll follow up on two things and continue of others do also. I think it’s funny that you’re asking for creeds or confessions in the manner of many denominations as a requirement for Rvolution church’s legitimacy. At least that’s how it seemed to come across. Where I think it’s good to have them for clarification’s sake, it’s by no means a requirement for a church to be started. The apostle’s creed and other creeds are great, but they are not the Bible and shouldn’t be given honor as though they are. If a church or denomination holds to certain ones, that’s fine and wonderful, more power to them. I have been and probably will be a member of churches that do hold to creeds or confessions, but won’t discount a church that doesn’t. Granted, it does make it harder to discern.

    I’m not defending “emergent” churches, but that hasn’t been the conversation. This conversation has been about if Revolution Church is a lot of hooey or not, and I’ll argue strongly that it’s not much more or less than most churches.

    About Acts 20:27, “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”

    That’s a mighty presumptuous statement for anyone who hasn’t written most of the New Testiment. Rvolution Church is, however, willing to discuss topics that often are tip-toed through the tulips around by most churches. But plopping this verse in the conversation is too ambiguous a statement to really argue with. That was the reason for my critique of Challie’s review. He didn’t do his homework or provide credible evidence, and made sweeping, inflamatory statements that didn’t really apply. I have a tendency to do just that, but I also know it’s distructive, devisive and harmful and has damaged our ability to love. Not to mention that it doesn’t win an argument.

    pax

    -W

  11. Jode Poley

    Wayne;
    I did everything you asked; watched, listened and contemplated. In fact I spent 6 hours following up to put this in context.

    All I can say is “flee” (1 Tim 1:5-7). For the sake of you and your wife find another church.

    These men are not grounded in the truth. Not only do they not preach the truth they do not know how to find it.

    If you seek people who are authentic… If you seek people who are open… If you seek people who are caring… Go ahead and do that but I plead with you not bring condemnation on yourself by placing yourself under men who do not tell the truth.

    I am happy to dialogue further on this matter – if you wish. jode.poley@gmail.com

  12. Hey Jode, you did everything I asked you except back up any of the statements you made with concrete examples.

    I was hoping that my posts would clarify that unsubstantiated claims are a great detrament to any sort of progress, discussion, or reconciliation.

    I’m also not sure that by attending a church, I am necessarilly placing myself “under anyone.” I don’t think I am heaping condemnation on myself by attending. Did Jesus heap condemnation on Himself by hanging out with prostitutes? Prostitutes, dude.

    I’d be glad to discuss further, because I would like to hear examples of how they are not grounding themselves in the “truth” and which “truth” that might be. I will, however, also be moving on to my next post at long last.

  13. oops, that last post was from me, not properly logged in.

    -W

  14. I also want to express my appreciation to Jode for reading and participating.

    -W

  15. Jode Poley

    Wayne;
    Maybe it would help if you wrote a post describing this place that you are seeking. What is this mental benchmark you are using to draw these conclusions about Revolution NYC? What is this ‘church’ that you have in your mind. I think I would better understand if you clarified.

    To use an absurd example – If you told me you were looking for; A place of Worship, A place that was able to seat 54,000 people, a place that had a large grass field in the middle, a place that sold beer, a place that you could watch men throw a small white ball at each other, and a it must be located in the Bronx… I would be able to piece these elements together to build a picture of this discussion.

    Thanks for your time and attention.

  16. That is an excellent idea! It’ll probably have to wait a week or so for some reflection and research, but I need to be doing that anyway. Thanks.

    btw, I don’t know much about cricket, so I’ll avoid pursuing your example (who knew it was so popular?).

    wink.

    -W

  17. Hi Wayne,

    Scott forwarded me a link to your blog post, and after some thought, I decided to chime in. In listening to a sermon by Jay on Galatians 1, I can see some of what attracts people to him and to Revolution church. His unwavering commitment to God’s free grace is indeed a message that has been largely absent from churches in the last decade, and I am happy to hear of him proclaiming it in the bar in Williamsburg.

    Now, I’m going to guess that Scott and Challies question Bakker & Brown’s commitment to the Bible, to a significant extent, because of their contention that a sexual relationship between members of the same gender is something that can be good and pleasing in the sight of God. After listening (twice) to Marc Brown’s 11/26/06 sermon on this topic, I believe that Scott, Challies, and Jode are correct in their charge against Revolution church.

    To be fair to Rev church, we as Christians do owe our share of apologies to the gay community. Christians have demonized homosexuals and have elevated this expression of human depravity over our own, ‘acceptable’, expressions of human depravity. There is no doubt that Christians have been guilty of sin in this regard. Therefore, I do share Rev’s desire to build a bridge to a group of people who have been so badly hurt by the church.

    That said, I cannot overstate the seriousness of what Rev church has done in their attempt to make practicing homosexuals feel comfortable in church. God has said repeatedly and clearly in the pages of the bible that homoerotic relationships are not a part of what he has designed and purposed for his children. The bible refers to same-sex intercourse as unnatural, shameless, and as something that dishonors one’s body (Romans 1:26,27). Moreover, marriage is a very prominent topic in both the Old and New Testaments and the writers in no case ever mention this teaching as being validly applied to a committed homosexual relationship. Indeed, many of the texts that speak on marriage make little to no sense when applied to a homosexual relationship (Ephesians 5, Matthew 19, to name a couple). Therefore, when Marc teaches that homosexual relationships should be ‘celebrated’, he is clearly contradicting what God has said.

    Equally alarming, at the conclusion of the 11/26/06 sermon, Marc gives what appears be implicit approval and encouragement to men who are considering leaving their families to fulfill homosexual desires to go ahead and do so. Is Marc prepared to take responsibility before God for encouraging men in this position to go ahead and live out their adulterous desires? Is he prepared to answer for the emotional tragedy that will be experienced by the children of such men?

    I’ve listened to Bakker extol the supremacy of ‘trusting God’, a sentiment with which I strongly agree. But both he and Brown would do well to apply this idea to what they preach and so trust God so that when the bible views something as sinful (and implicitly harmful and destructive), then the same should be taught and believed –even if it doesn’t make complete sense to us. We may not understand the fullness of divine reason behind what is written, but that’s why we are called to trust God.

    I realize this critique may sound harsh; however, I do sincerely believe taking and teaching a position that is so evidently contrary to the Scriptures could do untold damage. The Apostle Peter seems to say as much:

    “…the ignorant and unstable twist [the writings of Paul] to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
    -2 Peter 3:16b-18.

    To further backup what I (and others) have said on this point, I have posted a brief response to 4 of the bible passages Marc discussed in his 11/26/06 sermon. I hope it is helpful.

    Sincerely,
    Darin

  18. Hmm.. i’m not sure why the link I meant to post didn’t come through. Here it is:

    http://peznet.net/blog/000108.php#more

  19. Beth

    Darin– seriously??? You can’t overstate how wrong it is to make homosexuals comfortable in church?

    Even if you think homosexuality is wrong, surely deliberately creating a sacred space where ANYONE is uncomfortable, and doing so in the name of God, is far worse.

    I left the Village Church partly I couldn’t invite my brother and my best friend, both gay, without bringing them to a place where they felt judged.

  20. sigh.

    This is a good discussion. It is also, unfortuantely, slightly off topic – oh well.

    The sigh is for me seemingly needing to repeat myself in the relatively short amount of writing I have done for these posts.

    Darin, thank you for a reasonable response. You havemade clear statements that we can work with. Now, in light of the discussion, I feel it’s necessary to reiterate a couple of points:

    1) “I heard (I think) the same (other) message you did, unfortunately it wasn’t really what I would consider a fantastic example of the church’s theology (a reiteration of Gomes in “The Good Book”) but not necessarily a bad one – merely one end of the spectrum for them. I would seriously recommend listening to the one I linked to by Jay.” This was Marc’s sermon that you listened to twice. I didn’t really want to make this a discussion of that particular “sermon.” For one reason, It’s not really a sermon, so much as an explanation of how he sees it. It also didn’t site many sources or site references, from what I recall, but was pretty much the argument by Gomes. Marc seems to be a nice guy, but isn’t really the standard I was using for judging the entirety of Revolution Church, and it shouldn’t be for you all either. It reflects a lack of thoroughness (as he freely admits, at that point, it was only his second time speaking there). There are a lot of sermons by which to judge the ouevre of Rev. Church.

    “09-19-05 Are We Traditional Christians? – This is the real controversial one, if you watched the show. It’s also a pretty great sermon. Maybe the best on the subject I’ve ever heard. The show totally didn’t convey it. I think this shows more chutzpah than a lot of people who consider themselves radical and tow a party line (whatever that party might be).” This is what I said initially.

    If this discussion is going to turn to whether it’s ok for gay people to go to church, that’s pretty different from what I was arguing (I just wanted to let people know Jay, “knew his poo”), but I would encourage you to at least use the sermon by Jay, as your source. Marc’s was there, yes, and it’s on the site, yes, but it’s not, in my opinion, the best basis for this argument OR a good case to judge the church by. If you’re going to take up the argument, Jay gives you more concrete points to do so. It’s also a harder argument to counter, and says a few things I haven’t heard anyone say in the church in my religiously-regular church-going lifetime regarding my friends, the gays (I felt like our references to those with like-sexual leanings was getting too “other” or “us and them” for me – don’t forget that we’re talking about people Jesus died for). I’m a gunna go back and re-listen to it so as I can stand up on my high horse ‘o’ heracy an shoot with more accuracy.

    2) I was arguing that Jay Bakker uses a thorough study of and “grounding” in the scriptures. No one has actually argued that point. Mike made the point that he doesn’t think he’s a great preacher, but when we talked about it last weekend, he acknowledged that it was pretty clear that Jay knew his bible and used it. What is now happening in this discussion is an assessment of the entirety of the Revolution Church ministry based on a sermon by someone who isn’t the main dude or even a regular speaker. In an academic setting, I would grade people down for this. It’s not good journalism or reviewing or argument. Make some points and try to back them up. Thank you to Darin for doing this.

    3) Darin, in his remarks, says two things I would like to note: 1)”In listening to a sermon by Jay on Galatians 1, I can see some of what attracts people to him and to Revolution church. His unwavering commitment to God’s free grace is indeed a message that has been largely absent from churches in the last decade, and I am happy to hear of him proclaiming it in the bar in Williamsburg.” This is a positive reaction to Jay’s sermon on Galatians with no hints of “he’s not grounded in the truth.” I take this quote to indicate that he didn’t have a major problem with the sermon, and knowing Darin, that isn’t a light assessment. 2) “I’ve listened to Bakker extol the supremacy of ‘trusting God’, a sentiment with which I strongly agree.” This is what seems to be another positive statement regarding the preaching at Revolution Church. (yes, I will address the sentence that followed) hmmm. Just chew on that for a few, if you would, because that was what I was wanting to talk about. Now back to the bunny trail…

    4) [Darin]”But both he and Brown would do well to apply this idea to what they preach and so trust God so that when the bible views something as sinful (and implicitly harmful and destructive), then the same should be taught and believed –even if it doesn’t make complete sense to us.” I think this is addressed pretty directly in Jay’s sermon (09-19-05 Are We Traditional Christians?) and I would like to hear your response to it. He makes a comparative argument that we’re over-emphacizing the homosexuality references in the bible. I think we are. I think this post is (partially) evidence. Why no outcry about women’s head coverings!!!!!!!

    Thanks again for the discussion.

    -W

  21. Beth,

    You misunderstood me. I tried to communicate that I am sympathetic to find ways to make practicing homosexuals feel comfortable in church. I admitted that the church has sinned against such people and I’d like to find a way to build a bridge to them.

    I have no problem with doing everything we can to make all people feel comfortable and accepted in church. We must stop short, however, when our attempts at making people comfortable require us to throw away the bible.

    Attempting to make people feel comfortable does not grant us the liberty to call God a liar.

    “I left the Village Church partly I couldn’t invite my brother and my best friend, both gay, without bringing them to a place where they felt judged.”

    What would you wish TVC do in this regard? As long as I’ve been there I have only heard homosexual behavior preached a small number of times, and only when it came up in the book Sam was going through. Do you wish that Sam skipped over these passages?

    My brother is also gay. And I desperately want him to find the loving, accepting, confronting, transforming Jesus that we know from the pages of the bible. I do not believe this Jesus will be found in places where the Pastor don’t trust him enough to let the bible set the agenda for what will be taught and discussed. We are not smarter than God.

  22. Beth

    Darin, what I would like TVC to do is acknowledge that homosexuality is not the same as salvation. It’s not even on the same plane.

    If we really care about people’s souls, and not their behavior, we will do everything we can to get them in the door so they can meet Jesus and experience his love in the body he has set up on earth.

    Then we can start to worry about whether their behavior is wrong– once they know that God loves them and died for them no matter what.

    Wayne alludes to the fact that Christians are inordinately fascinated with this one particular issue, and I concur and add that in my experience, this fascination is driving people– people who need to hear about God’s redeeming grace– away from the church. I want nothing more than to see my brother find Jesus, but presenting this attitude that we’re right and everyone else is wrong is not getting him there.

    I agree that we are not smarter that God. But remember how he welcomed everyone? I want to go to a church that does the same.

  23. Beth,

    Thanks for your reply. Can you provide some examples of how you believe TVC puts homosexual behavior an an issue that is tantamount to salvation?

    Can you also provide some concrete examples of what changes you would like to see to accomplish your statement:

    “If we really care about people’s souls, and not their behavior, we will do everything we can to get them in the door so they can meet Jesus and experience his love in the body he has set up on earth.”

    I’m asking because I tend to agree with both of these and I feel that TVC does as well. I am sorry that you feel that your brother would feel judged. There is no place I would rather have my brother come to church more than TVC; and so I’m very interested to know why you feel the way you do.

  24. Beth

    Darin,

    I’d be happy to talk privately about this. As this is WAY off Wayne’s original topic, I don’t think this is the forum for this discussion. I’ll e-mail you.

  25. Sounds good to me. darin -at- peznet.net

  26. cudos. I think it’s a good and worthy discussion, but, alas, it’s time to move it from here.

    That said I may write about it some time later.

    We may certainly continue the original Revolution Church discussion.

    -W

  27. Correction note: [me]”He makes a comparative argument that we’re over-emphacizing the homosexuality references in the bible. I think we are.”

    ok, I just listened again. It’s not a comparative argument, but it’s still one of the best sermons on it I’ve heard. Ironically, it’s not about the validity or invalidity of the lifestyle. It’s about how WE respond to and treat and love people. And, officially, he states that it’s not the official position of the church – it’s his conviction. And then he says, “go study it yourself.”

    huh. I’m not his or their apologist or defender, but I’ll argue that he makes some pretty good points.

    -W

  28. Wayne,

    Thanks for the discussion. I know you said you are going to print out my response to Marc and consider it. I’d be interested in hearing from you on:

    1. Did Marc faithfully interpret the texts he spoke from?

    2. A reaction to his implicit encouragement to men who might be considering leaving their families to pursue homosexual relationships. Krissy and I know a family (with 3 children) where the father spent years living out an adulterous lifestyle. Thank God, he experienced a very radical transformation just as they were on the brink of divorce. He has been faithful to his wife now for almost 3 years. It would be a tradgedy were he to listen to Marc and leave his family. What is your reaction to Marc’s teaching on this? Is is dangerous? Is it in any way faithful to the scriptures?

    I bring these points up because my intention was not to “review” Rev church, but was to address the charge that they do not place themselves firmly under the scriptures. In my opinion, Marc’s sermon required him to do serious violence to the text.

    Marc is not the main dude, but doubtless Jay approves of what he taught. If I were pastoring a church and someone else preached something I felt was this contradictory to the scriptures, I would attempt to refute the teaching in a following service. I have heard nothing to indicate that Jay did such a thing.

    I will listen to the sermon you referenced and post an update. I will also work on respoding to the request you made on my blog. I think it is certainly a worthy topic.

    Peace,
    Darin

  29. Wayne,

    As a follow up, I listened to the entirety of Bakker’s sermon, entitled, “Are we Traditional Christians?” Here are my thoughts:

    I find Bakker’s method of argument hard to follow at times. I think he was trying to make the following points:

    1. It is wrong to be “Kingdom monitors”

    Bakker supported this point with the Matthew 7 text (Do not judge lest you be judged) and called his listeners to stop deciding who is worthy of God’s grace. On this point, I’m pretty much ready to say, “Amen”. I do think that Christians (including myself) have been, and often are, guilty of such a sin. He is quite right that it is just so easy to fall from grace back in to a works/law mentality. I know this is often the case for me.

    2. We are guilty of elevating our traditions about God’s word. We have done this in our condemnation of homosexual practice.

    Bakker didn’t really do much to defend his contention that to believe in the historical, Christian teaching regarding same-sex intercourse is to elevate tradition over the bible. Like Marc Brown, he wrote off Leviticus in about three sentences giving little to no argument. He also did not provide any exegetical basis for challenging the historical position of most Christians.

    I had mixed feelings about his advice to his listeners that they go home and decide for themselves what the bible teaches on the matter. I was disappointed by it, because he really set things up so that if you don’t know Greek, you cannot be sure of what the passage is saying. I would really challenge him on this assertion, especially for the Romans passage. Our English translations are very good and provide a pretty clear picture of the argument that Paul is making in the first three chapters of the letter. In all the reading I’ve done on the matter, I have not read any substantial, lexical critique of the traditional rendering of the words in Romans 1. At the same time, I do firmly believe that all Christians need to own their faith and thus need to come to their own conclusions based upon a thorough study of the text. And thus, I had mixed feelings on this part.

    I was also disappointed by it because Bakker, as a Pastor, should be modeling for his congregation how to do what he just prescribed. He should present a thorough study and defense of his belief in a teaching that goes against 2,000 years of Christian teaching. As you mentioned earlier, Christian history isn’t supreme, however, one better make an especially strong case if he is going to say that the generations that have gone before us were in serious error. Bakker by no means has made such a case.

    Indeed, the only defense offered by Bakker in the sermon was his experience in visiting with a church that employs a youth pastor who lives in a sexual relationship with another man. Bakker appealed to the love and other fruit displayed by the people at this church, along with a conviction he believes has been given to him from God.

    To conclude, I agree with Bakker on his ‘kingdom monitors’ point. We shouldn’t look at anyone (Gluttons, sluggards, drunkards, embezzlers, etc) and make judgment that they are not worthy of grace. Indeed, such a statement is an oxymoron. If Jay had stopped here, you would find me in agreement (at least mostly).

    Jay’s main error is that he goes on to purport that the bible does not consider homosexual practice to be sinful. I have my own sin issues (laziness; gluttony; and anger, to name a few). The bible confronts my sin. And I expect my Pastor to teach the bible and thus confront my sin. This is a part of what Pastors are called to do. Consider Paul’s words to Timothy:

    “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” -2 Tim 4:1-4 (ESV)

    In the end, Wayne, I think that Jay has some good and important things to say. I am deeply concerned, however, about his unwillingness to submit to what the bible says on the topic of homosexual practice. This issue is certainly not the most important issue; however, it is among the most clear. That a Pastor would either a) not be able to recognize this, or b) disregard it means that he should probably spend some time doing other things before taking responsibility for the souls others (Heb 13:17). Elder must “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

    To Beth’s earlier point, I am all for discussing and thinking up ways to make all people feel comfortable in church. I plan to post some ideas to Peznet in the near future on this topic. But when our ideas require us to disregard the word of God…”thinking we are wise we become fools”.

    The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
    the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
    the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
    the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
    the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
    the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
    More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
    sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
    Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
    Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
    Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
    Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.
    Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

    -Psalm 19:7-14

  30. Darin,

    Dude! Don’t you have a (fairly) newborn?! Where in the world are you finding time for all this?!?!?

    😉

  31. Firstly, My apologies for taking time to respond. It was neither conciliatory nor out of forgetfulness. I’ve been doing my own homework on the issue, including a lot of reading and prayer.

    I also want to apologize to anyone I may have offended by perpetuating this conversation here in this blog format. I want be an advocate for truth and discussion, but certainly not alienation or judgment. If you know me, this will probably make sense.

    I will state again that I did and do not want to have a discussion about my gay friends and family members as a result of this post. I will note that the issue was the one point of strong contention that has been repeatedly brought up by some of the readers. I believe they should fully take note of this and consider it as a sign that further consideration, prayer and study is warranted.

    Now back to the kung-fu…[friendly, kung-fu in the love of Jesus]

    1)”1. Did Marc faithfully interpret the texts he spoke from?” Yes. “Faithfully” is an interesting and loaded question. After re-reviewing that sermon, I feel that he based his conclusion on an amount of research and consideration. Whether you consider this “faithful” or not is a matter of opinion. I will site two examples for why I don’t have a problem with his arguments (*for the record, I may or may not agree, but he demonstrates an ability to research and dialogue that hasn’t always been demonstrated here): a) He precedes his afore-mentioned sermon with a re-iteration of the 2 most fundamental commandments of the Bible, given to us by the soveriegn Lord Jesus Christ Himself. 37″And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38″This is the great and foremost commandment.

    39″The second is like it, ‘(AD)YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

    I understand someone bringing me a discussion of any topic, with this passage in forefront,to be trying to indicate a primary position under the sovereign authority of Jesus Christ. This both addresses comments regarding creeds and church history (this sermon, btw, has nothing to do with either) and questions of reliance or “groundedness” in the gospel. We do well to not forget what Jesus calls important.

    b) He references the “holiness code” of the Levitical law and cites it at around 600bc. On first listen, I stop short, thinking, “No, Moses wrote Leviticus, he’s got his basic facts wrong.” Further research into Leviticus, the Pentateuch and the holiness code reveals broad scholarly debate and significant consensus that a section of Leviticus (namely 17-26) is notably different from the first portion of the book and may indicate that some of the Levitical Law (i.e. some of the Pentateuch) was assembled around the time of Babylonian captivity by the priestly lines of Isreal.

    *note, this is a tiny summary of the artument, which is explained by one source here: http://www.answers.com/topic/holiness-code

    A point Marc makes repeatedly in his talk is that interpretation of the scriptures needs to take several factors into consideration, like the cultural context and the original Greek or Hebrew (which he reminds us is easy for us to find online or in lexicons) and the context of the passage within the bible. It is the historical accepted Christian position that God spoke the 5 books of the law (Pentateuch) directly to Moses and he wrote them down. A more thorough study could acknowledge the scriptural basis of God dictating to Moses the Mosaic Law, but not necessarily the entire Pentateuch, which may have had repetitions and additions of scribes through Jewish history from Moses to the Babylonian captivity around 600bc. I’m not making the case for it, but was made aware that historical and linguistic research in secular, Jewish and Christian circles are considering the argument.

    All this is to say that, yes, I think he took consideration in making his argument and was faithful to it. Was he faithful to the scriptures in the way you would have him resolve his argument? Obviously not. I won’t, however, make the conclusion that what he says is to be dismissed because I disagree with some of his interpretation. It’s a point of view backed by research. If I disagree with his conclusion or methods, that doesn’t force me to conclude that he has not been “faithful” to the text in his study. To go much further into that argument is to have a discussion I do not wish to take up at this time – namely, ourlists of what is sin and what is not and why.

    I would have liked to hear what his sources were when he was speaking, but at least on some of the arguments he is making, he demonstrates a level of scholarship that I will not merely dismiss out of hand. I wanted to do so initially, but you have encouraged me to follow up myself and that has proven to me otherwise.

    2) With respect to the sermon by Jay, two things: a) I don’t agree that he is unwilling to submit to what the Bible says about homosexual practice, nor do I see evidence that he is not willing to submit to what the Bible says about anything. What I do see is his desire to emphasize the topic of love (mentioned 484 times in the NASV) and grace (125 times) over the gay issue (mentioned around 7 times, I think). That’s not an argument for whether it’s right or wrong, but it is an argument for what God seems to think important. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t describe much of this conversation in terms of either love or grace.

    b) He doesn’t seem to be building a case for “homosexual practice” or “same-sex intercourse” – those are your terms, and if I recall the three times I’ve listened to this sermon correctly, he doesn’t say either of those. He does talk about how the church treats the “gay community” and then reminds us (through a self-implicating story) of the fact that it’s not the “gay community” we’re talking about. It’s people. We’re talking about people who have been rejected by the church for who they are rather than accepted and loved by the church that allows God to do the changing. The point I took most pointedly from that sermon was whether we really believe in the power of salvation – that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all sin and if someone – ANYONE – trusts in Him, they are saved and made perfect in the site of God. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t check or correct ourselves in terms of doctrine or sin, but, really, how have we been doing it? Not in love and not by faith in the Holy Spirit to convict and change. I believe that it’s none of my business to interfere on some of these issues in an individual’s life. Rather, it is my whole duty to pray for, minister to, and encourage my brothers and sisters in the love of Jesus Christ.

    We can and should follow our convictions on what is sin and what is not, but we don’t have a right to prevent anyone, ANYONE, from entering into the love of God and the fellowship of believers.

    3) There are several points that I may disagree with a particular church and still hold myself “under it’s teaching.” Case in point: I disagree with certain doctrine that excludes women from ecclesiastical office (deacons or ministers). Yes, I’ve done my homework on diakonos. I think it’s a dated, cultural, misinterpretation of the Bible. It hasn’t precluded me, until recently, from attending a particular church who’s denomination holds firmly to this belief. One can disagree and work with a community for the glory of God. I don’t look at Revolution Church any differently. In fact, even if I disagree with a particular issue (say their acceptance of the gay men and women Jesus loves and died for…along with me), what is the result of this contention? The result is that they fellowship and minister to and love and worship with a community that those who disagree with them don’t. hmmm. The result is ministry, love, worship and fellowship…with our God…who saves those who believe in Him. That trumps my disagreement. If I am wrong, I may have been a stumbling block before the gates of Heaven. If they are wrong, they showed love and mercy and compassion and people still trusted in God and had their needs met and maybe even trusted God for salvation as a result. I’ll take those odds.

    4) He also has a tendency to say things you agree completely with.

    That, I think, addresses what I wanted to regarding your comments. I would like to again pose a reminder that it wasn’t the topic of this discussion. The topic was whether Jay Bakker “knows his poo” and my assessment of Relevant Church. To this point, I have not been dissuaded from my original argument. More power to them.

    I don’t say these things out of spite or anger. I say them to push us to really consider what we are believing and accepting and what are the consequences.

    peace

    -W

  32. Beth

    Amen, Wayne. Well said. I always said I’d dump your a#$ on the curb if you ever decided to become a pastor (I’m so not a minister’s wife), but I’m beginning to reconsider.

  33. You guys ought to read this:

    http://japery.newpantagruel.com/2005/12/05/blogging_kills.php

    xoxo
    Annie F.
    (former ME of The New Pantagruel)

  34. Wayne,

    Thank you for taking the time to discuss these issues here with me. I think that, for the most part, our discussion has been respectful and irenic, and for this, I am grateful. I don’t think that on my end there is anything else I will be adding as a part of my argument. I have attempted to convince you, by way of biblical exegesis, that Bakker and Brown are not men who are likely to fulfill their Pastoral responsibility as it pertains to teaching and proclaiming to you all that God has said. In the end, you have not been convinced, and I respect that.

    Before concluding this discussion, I do feel it is necessary to reiterate and clarify a couple things I have said as I feel that I have either been misunderstood or mischaracterized.

    1. I firmly believe that church is a place where ALL people should be welcome to come and find Jesus. When I say “all”, I mean it. Whatever your past, whatever your sins, whatever your sexual impulses, whatever your political views, whatever your opinion of Windows Vista (); Jesus invites you to come to him.

    2. I also believe that the church is place that has been charged by God with the role of exposing and tearing down the idols of our hearts, whatever they may be (1 Corinthians 14:24-25, Ephesians 5:11). On almost every Sunday, I find myself needing to repent of sins, both new and old. My heart struggles with many idols and I am grateful that the church is quite often faithful in confronting and exposing them. My fundamental charge against Revolution church is that they are unwilling to acknowledge a particular form of idolatry, which demonstrates either a severe incompetence in their ability understand the bible or, worse, an intentional rejection of what the bible teaches. Either way, I find this to be a serious problem, and have argued accordingly.

    I do hope these two points clarify what I have been trying to say. I understand that you disagree, and I don’t expect this clarification to resolve our disagreement. I do hope, though, that you and Beth will both acknowledge where our disagreement lies. I do believe all people are to be welcomed into church; I just do not accept that in order to welcome people, we must gag the mouth of God when teaching his scriptures requires us to expose their idols.

    Again, thank you for the substantive discussion and debate that has occurred here. Though we don’t know each other extremely well, I do believe that you and Beth are making an important contribution to the Kingdom of God, particularly in the arts, and I wish you the best. I also hope that this disagreement and discussion does not impede our ability to fellowship and enjoy each other’s company when our paths cross next. Please do contact me if you feel otherwise and would like to discuss this point further.

    Sincerely,
    Darin

  35. Ahh, the last word. It has been a while, but I will still maintain my right to it.

    Thanks, Darin, for a thoughtful discussion. I still disagree. Unfortunately, I didn’t find your arguments in the the “biblical exegesis” to be a convincing argument that people should write off Revolution Church. It did firmly state your position on the issue of the gay community and the church. Thankfully, they can hear the word preached at Revolution, because there’s not many other places they would even be let in the doors.

    I understand that this raises the hackles of anyone who agrees with James Dobson (I’m not accusing anyone, specifically, here) that gay marriage and abortion are the two ropes God will use to weave His holy handbasket which the earth will go to hell in, but I think it’s important for us to consider.

    To that end, I agree with Darin’s point #1. The church should be a place for all to come to find Jesus. Unfortunately, partially demonstrated in this post, it’s not currently being that place.

    I understand the need for a church to call sin what it is, but I believe the issue of the gay community is more complicated than that. I still don’t want to get into a discussion about the nature of homosexuality, but, as I see it, it comes down to whether the church is judgemental or not. Can we love people despite disagreement?

    I think our first obligation is to love and welcome people, then be willing to discuss and be openly honest when caled upon to, rather than posting our list of what we consider right and wrong like a menu for people to peruse before entering (or avoiding at all costs) the doors.

    My last recommendation (to the millions of readers): Go to Revolution and find out for yourself (or download the podcast). Listen to hear the word (I’ve heard it preached, with no exegetical hickups) and really search yourself as to how you stand at the doors of the church – is it with a welcome or a stop sign?

    -W

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  37. Interesting comments.. 😀

  38. Pingback: What is Normative Church Life? « Up from Fundamentalism

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