Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard is loved by many evangelicals, especially those who are embracing the Emerging/Emergent Church. Here's a quote from his own website. This is a hypothetic discussion with a girl. Right at the end of the (hypothetical) discussion, she says:

"But I still struggle with how I should view those who have other beliefs. I'm not sure I am ready to condemn them as wrong. I know some very good Buddhists. What is their destiny?"

Dallas Willard ... on his own website ... responds:

"I would take her to Romans 2:6-10: 'God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.'

What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say 'he can't save them.' I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: 'There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.'"

Interesting ... any comments on this man who was interviewd by Christianity Today and the interviewer said:

"He teeters on the edge of openness theology, saying God can choose not to know the future if he wants to, but he doesn't go as far as many openness adherents, whose views he believes 'slip into process theology.'"

Thoughts, please ....

Red-Letter Christians

Red-Letter Christians? It would be convenient for some to throw out much of what Paul had say, wouldn't it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Patterson, Calvinism, & Revelation

A post on said this about Paige Patterson:

"Very knowledgeable. Very smart. Well-read. If he has a weakness, it may be that his Calvinism definitely comes through too often. This concerns me, b/c calvinists often don't make very good missionaries or evangelists."

Then, on, this was a comment about his forth-forth-forthcoming commentary on Revelation (in the NAC series):

"This volume reminds me of Chrysostom's commentary on Romans. Patterson, like all great exegetes, does not tell us what to believe; he simply gives the student the information he needs to make up his own mind about this book. Regarding the great mysteries of the Revelation, Patterson does not pretend to have the answers, he does not give us what he thinks, he just gives us what he thinks we need. A true wordsmith; the words leap off the page. You will likely never read a negitive review on this commentary, Patterson has seen to that. My only regret is that it is currently unavailable; I seem to have misplaced my copy."

Then there was this one:
"Revelation--a word that strikes terror into the hearts of its hearers. Great minds like Calvin and Luther have skated past the aisle of the apocalypse, passed up a second helping of Great Dragon in a Lake of Fire, and cancelled flights on Air Revelation. But not Patterson. In this timeless wonder of a book Patterson sees this plate of mystery and says, "Yummy." Patterson's revelation is so concise with a kind of scholarly brevity that one wonders, "how did he do it?!" One reads with stupefied wonder, the words "I just can't believe he actually wrote it" going through one's mind. The excellence of the Summa Nihilo cannot be put into words. As Alison Krauss so astutely remarked, "You say it best when you say nothing at all." Throughout his exposition of the depths and mystery of the Revelation, Patterson has ingeniously found a way to retain these mysteries from cover to cover. Still, the profound scholarship herein causes the reader to often ask, "What is he saying?" just before realizing, the true genius is in what he is not saying. His utter humility in acknowledging the vast mystery of the book of the revelation causes the pages to virtually turn themselves. It is almost as if you are through with the book before you even start reading it. The only fitting words with which I may conclude are those of the author himself: "

And finally:
"It is not what you see in this commentary that is so remarkable. It is what you cannot see.
As shrouded as the meanings of the Book of Revelation, so is Patterson's illumination of the text to the prospective reader. The reality of his words must ever give way to the invisible pictures conjured in the mind as one meditates upon the depths of the Book of Revelation and upon the years, even decades Patterson has invested in the commentary's production.
As any commentary is forever a work in progress, this commentary is no exception. Only in the imagination of the consumer and Bible student does this work take full flight. Some would say that what we now see is as nothing at all by comparison. I would differ.
What we now see is what we now have. And what we have may be all that there is.
When that is said of a commentary, what more could be said?
Five stars."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Worship Songs

Christianity Today online has an interesting article about an atheist visiting churches after he sold his soul on ebay. One particular line jumped out at me:

"He was also impressed with the live music, something absent from the atheist conventions he attends. The quality of the words, however, was another story: 'I have no idea who writes the lyrics to this stuff, but it sounds like what a four-year-old could write: "God is good. God is strong." And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.'"

Ouch!!! Let me give a defense of these songs ... well, um ... okay, I can't. He's right. So many of the worship songs used today are written by those with a convenient and superficial theology. Why? Why is it that this criticism, which has been ongoing for years, has persisted?

Well, when 'contemporary' music began to be used in the churches, most churches and schools that were capable of training people how to plumb the depths of the Scriptures were anti-contemporary music. So, who could these people go to? Where could they learn the Scriptures?

That created a problem: those who were writing good (or at least decent) music with so-so lyrics were not going to be exposed to great Bible teaching because they were shunned from those camps. Today, most (not all) of these people are in Charismatic circles (Matt Redman, Paul Oakley, etc). Typically (and yes, I'm stereotyping), they aren't known for their great Bible teaching (though Calvary Chapel has some very good Bible teachers). So, the song writers of today are drinking from a very shallow well ... and I think that is at least partially why so much of the contemporary music is shallow.

Don't get me wrong, I think some of it is GREAT. Some of it isn't shallow, but fairly deep. However, most of it isn't, and this atheist's comments were right on the mark.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Darrell Bock and the gospel

Darrell Bock comments on sin and hell and ends up highlighting a real important distinction in how the gospel is presented today. I think what he touches upon here is one of the reasons we have so many "Christians" that never experience the abundant life ... they are just trying to avoid hell.

"The point is how often do we present that gospel as if the goal is to avoid something rather than to enter into something God desires for us. (I am speaking of emphasis here) When we ask, "if you died today would you know for sure you will be in heaven," it sounds like the core of the gospel is avoiding hell. But to me the key to the gospel is God moving to fix a broken relationship and giving his son to bring us to himself, something that starts before we die and lasts forever. Yes, we do avoid hell, but far more important is the restoration and reconciliation that is the gospel. It is not what we avoid that is key, but what we enter into and get to participate in that is central. Now that is really good news. He rescues us from sin but does not leave us there. So the bottom line is not avoiding a fate, but entering into a new state of unbroken relationship with God. This aspect of the gospel message often needs more highlighting or can get obscured if avoiding a fate is emphasized."

Marvelous! Bock nails this important issue; the gospel really is good news, not just the avoidance of bad news!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Another Video

This one is a little longer ... and a little more cheesy!

I can't get this one embedded, but here's the link:

Monday, October 02, 2006


From The Church You Know ...