Monday, March 29, 2010

The Lost Message of Jesus - Steve Chalke

The Masai

Chalke tells a story of Vincent Donovan, a Christian missionary working with the Masai in Tanzania, East Africa. It seems that the Masai believed in a god and that this god favored their tribe above all others. Donovan told them there was a High God above all others and that the Masai should consider leaving their tribe in order to search for this High God. After some time, a Masai elder broke the silence. He asked a very pointed question: Has your tribe found the High God? Have you known him? What an opportunity for Donovan to share the gospel of Jesus Christ! But is that what he did? Did he launch into a sermon similar to the one Paul preached to the Greek philsoophers at Mars Hill? Here is Donovan's answer:
"No, we have not found the High God. My tribe has not known him.For us, too, he is the unknown God. But we are searching for him...Let us search for him together. Maybe together we will find him." [Steve Chalke - The Lost Message of Jesus, pg. 23-24]
Chakle praises this response and claims that Donovan was freeing these people from their tribal view of their god. But in freeing them of this view, what did he provide them in exchange? Nothing! He addmitedly had nothing to offer them. For he too had not found God. Is this the message that Christ sends us out to proclaim? We are to go into all the world and release people from their tribal view of God? In the end, isn't it just as true that Donovon would have free the Masai from their tribal view of God by providing them with the biblical one? Rather than his agnostic approach, the exclusive gospel of Christ would have also moved them from their tribal view of God just the same. But Chalke doesn't seem to take that into account.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Lost Message of Jesus - Steve Chalke

As many of you know, I am in the middle of concluding some academic work in the area of theology, and more narrowly, hermeneutics. Hence, I am writing my dissertation, entitled, "The Evolution of Jesus: Hermeneutical Foundations of the Emergent Church [EC]." To that end, I am engrossed in a variety of the materials from those who are associated with the EC movement. Steve Chalke just happens to be one of those EC associates. Mr. Chalke wrote a book in 2003, entitled "The Lost Message of Jesus." I will be making some epigrammatic and some not so epigrammatic comments concerning the contents of Mr. Chalke's work and the reasoning he employs to arrive at some of his conclusions. Without further ado, I wish to point out a fascinating contradiction at the very outset of "The Lost Message of Jesus." Due to my research load, my comments regarding the EC over the next several months will be more pithy than not, and certainly more pithy than usual. In his book, Chalke makes this assertion:
"It has been said that every great leader or teacher has one core message that permeates everything they do and say.....And it's equally true of Jesus." [Chalke - The Lost Message of Jesus, pgs. 15-16]
Here Chalke asserts that Jesus' teaching can be summed up under one major theme just like that of other great teachers like Marx, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Freud. Yes, Chalke not only does he place Marx and Gandhi within the same class of great teachers, he places Jesus there as well. I wonder what Mr. Chalke means by use of the adjective, "great." Chalke continues with another incredible assertion:
"My aim in the chapters that follow is to demonstrate that the core of Jesus' life-transforming, though often deeply misunderstood, message is this: The Kingdom, the in-breaking shalom of God, is now available through me." [Chalke - The Lost Message of Jesus, pg. 16]
Now let me add this one warning so that people don't run out and purchase this book: anytime an author uses the word "lost," or "hidden, secret message" in the title of their book, it should be seen as a "red flag" which means that what is inside is worth less than the cost of the paper required to pen the message in the first place. Notice that Chalke has now provided us with a summary or theme of what he thinks Jesus' message was and is. The many messages of Jesus can be summed up in this core theme, according to Chalke. But then Chalke adds one more assertion:
"To assume that we have got Jesus "pinned down" or "summed up" is not simply arrogant but stupid, and in the end inhibits our ability to communicate his unchanging message to an ever-changing world." [Chalke - The Lost Message of Jesus, pg. 19]
This is not an apparent contradicition. Rather, it is a violent contradiction of the worse sort. In fact, I am not sure anyone could succcessfully pull off a more violent contradiction than this one. In one breath, Chalke asserts a summation of Jesus' core message and then in the next one, only three pages later, asserts that anyone who does what he has just done is not only arrogant, but stupid. There, pithy enough?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Counterfeits of Saving Faith - A.W. Pink

In closing this first article we will endeavour to point out some of the particulars in which this non-saving faith is defective, and wherein it comes short of a faith which does save. First, with many it is because they are willing for Christ to save them from Hell, but are not willing for Him to save them from self. They want to be delivered from the wrath to come, but they wish to retain their self-will and self-pleasing. But He will not be dictated unto: you must be saved on His terms, or not at all. When Christ saves, He saves from sin—from its power and pollution, and therefore from its guilt. And the very essence of sin is the determination to have my own way (Isa. 53:6). Where Christ saves, He subdues the spirit of self-will, and implants a genuine, a powerful, a lasting desire and determination to please Him.


Again; many are never saved because they wish to divide Christ; they want to take Him as a Saviour, but are unwilling to subject themselves unto Him as their Lord. Or, if they are prepared to own Him as Lord, it is not as an absolute Lord. But this cannot be: Christ will be either Lord of all, or He will not be Lord at all. But the vast majority of professing Christians would have Christ’s sovereignty limited at certain points; it must not entrench too far upon the liberty which some worldly lust or carnal interest demands. His peace they covet, but His “yoke” is unwelcome. Of all such Christ will yet say “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27).

Again; there are multitudes which are quite ready for Christ to justify them, but not to sanctify. Some kind of, some degree of sanctification, they will tolerate, but to be sanctified wholly, their “whole spirit and soul and body” (1 Thess. 5:23), they have no relish for. For their hearts to be sanctified, for pride and covetousness to be subdued, would he too much like the plucking out of a right eye. For the constant mortification of all their members, they have no taste. For Christ to come to them as a Refiner, to burn up their lusts, consume their dross, to utterly dissolve their old frame of nature, to melt their souls, so as to make them run in a new mould, they like not. To utterly deny self, and take up their cross daily, is a task from which they shrink with abhorrence.

Again; many are willing for Christ to officiate as their Priest, but not for Him to legislate as their King. Ask them, in a general way, if they are ready to do whatsoever Christ requires of them, and they will answer in the affirmative, emphatically and with confidence. But come to particulars: apply to each one of them those specific commandments and precepts of the Lord which they are ignoring, and they will at once cry out “Legalism!” or, “We cannot be perfect in everything.” Name nine duties and perhaps they are performing them, but mention a tenth and it at once makes them angry, for you have come too close home to their case. Herod heard John gladly and did “many things” (Mark 6:20), but when he referred to Herodias, he touched him to the quick. Many are willing to give up their theatre-going, and card-parties, who refuse to go forth unto Christ outside the camp. Others are willing to go outside the camp, yet refuse to deny their fleshly and worldly lusts. Reader, if there is a reserve in your obedience, you are on the way to Hell. Our next article will take up the Nature of saving faith.

Pink, A. W. (19--). The doctrines of election and justification. Swengel, Pa.: Reiner.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Use to be Made of the Doctrine of Providence

John Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion

No man, therefore, will duly and usefully ponder on the providence of God save he who recollects that he has to do with his own Maker, and the Maker of the world, and in the exercise of the humility which becomes him, manifests both fear and reverence. Hence it is, that in the present day so many dogs tear this doctrine with envenomed teeth, or, at least, assail it with their bark, refusing to give more license to God than their own reason dictates to themselves. With what petulance, too, are we assailed for not being contented with the precepts of the Law, in which the will of God is comprehended, and for maintaining that the world is governed by his secret counsels? As if our doctrine were the figment of our own brain, and were not distinctly declared by the Spirit, and repeated in innumerable forms of expression! Since some feeling of shame restrains them from daring to belch forth their blasphemies against heaven, that they may give the freer vent to their rage, they pretend to pick a quarrel with us. But if they refuse to admit that every event which happens in the world is governed by the incomprehensible counsel of God, let them explain to what effect Scripture declares, that “his Judgments are a great deep,” (Ps. 36:7). For when Moses exclaims that the will of God “is not in heaven that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us? Neither is it beyond the sea that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea and bring it unto us?” (Deut. 30:12, 13), because it was familiarly expounded in the law, it follows that there must be another hidden will which is compared to “a great deep.” It is of this will Paul exclaims, “O! the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his Judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?” (Rom. 11:33, 34). It is true, indeed, that in the law and the gospel are comprehended mysteries which far transcend the measure of our sense; but since God, to enable his people to understand those mysteries which he has deigned to reveal in his word, enlightens their minds with a spirit of understanding, they are now no longer a deep, but a path in which they can walk safely—a lamp to guide their feet—a light of life—a school of clear and certain truth. But the admirable method of governing the world is justly called a deep, because, while it lies hid from us, it is to be reverently adored. Both views Moses has beautifully expressed in a few words. “Secret things,” saith he, “belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever,” (Deut. 29:29). We see how he enjoins us not only studiously to meditate on the law, but to look up with reverence to the secret Providence of God. The Book of Job also, in order to keep our minds humble, contains a description of this lofty theme. The author of the Book, after taking an ample survey of the universe, and discoursing magnificently on the works of God, at length adds, “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him?” (Job 26:14). For which reason he, in another passage, distinguishes between the wisdom which dwells in God, and the measure of wisdom which he has assigned to man (Job 28:21, 28). After discoursing of the secrets of nature, he says that wisdom “is hid from the eyes of all living;” that “God understandeth the way thereof.” Shortly after he adds, that it has been divulged that it might be investigated; for “unto man he said, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.” To this the words of Augustine refer, “As we do not know all the things which God does respecting us in the best order, we ought, with good intention, to act according to the Law, and in some things be acted upon according to the Law, his Providence being a Law immutable,” (August. Quest. lib. 83 c. 27). Therefore, since God claims to himself the right of governing the world, a right unknown to us, let it be our law of modesty and soberness to acquiesce in his supreme authority regarding his will as our only rule of justice, and the most perfect cause of all things,—not that absolute will, indeed, of which sophists prate, when by a profane and impious divorce, they separate his justice from his power, but that universal overruling Providence from which nothing flows that is not right, though the reasons thereof may be concealed.

The Bully Pulpit and a Culture of Intimidation

On the one side, we have the Christian community, and on the other side, we have the pagan community. The Christian community is made...