Tuesday, 28 August 2007

A velvet Jesus ?

A while ago I read A Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. In this book Bell argues for a new Christianity, he desires to repaint orthodoxy. He calls his book velvet Elvis because he used to have a velvet painting of Elvis. He loved this painting but argued if the artist were to appear on TV and say no-one else should ever paint again because his painting is the pinnicale of art that would be insane. He then insists this is what the church has done with orthodoxy. The emerging Church to which Bell belongs suggest that we have domesticated Jesus and thus orthodoxy which was "painted fresh" at the reformation needs painting new in this post modern generation. Bell insists this is should be done not in a superficial way, like fresh worship music but the whole concept of orthodoxy and the Church should be reconsidered. He argued that core doctrines are just unimportant like for instance the virgin birth. He asks if we lose the virgin birth what have we lost? He implies we lose nothing but we lose Jesus! We lose the biblical Jesus at any rate, Jesus who is both Lord of heaven, Son of God and the last Adam. Thus we lose redemption, the atoning work of God on our behalf. Then we lose heaven because there is no way back to heaven without the redeemer. Bell, and Mclaren argue against penal substitution and Mclaren doesn't believe the God of the Bible would send people to hell. What the emerging Church leaders are giving us is a hippy Jesus, a Jesus who loves, but is a watered down lifeless version of the radical Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the emerging church is nothing more than a velvet Jesus, a Jesus who is unable to save, and has nothing to save us from. What they are seeking to do is make the message palatable, who wants to hear about sin and hell? Hell just isn't nice! Of course hell isn't nice, our sin isn't nice, that is why the gospel is offensive, that is why the gospel cuts to the heart, that is why the biblical Jesus is (in the words of C. S Lewis) not a Tame Jesus, he isn't safe but he is good. It is not the Church that has domesticated Jesus but the emerging church.
We should not write off every emerging church however, the idea of reaching out to adults who wish to remain in their teens is a good and necessary calling, however to abandon the faith to win them is suicide. A radical alternative to the emerging church is the new breed of reformed churches http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/september/42.32.html who don't just love doctrine but are passionate for the gospel and for mission. Amongst this new breed of reformers are Mark Driscoll who is often identified as emergent, yet is committed to the faith as entrusted to us by the Bible.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

The worthship of Christ

As I mentioned on my former blog (before I accidentally erased it), that my favourite quote outside of scripture is Jonathan Edwards 'To sin against an infinite being deserves an infinite punishment.' I was talking to my good friend, fellow blogger and fellow Spurgeonite, Dan Paterson this morning about the holiness of God. If we understand something of the meaning of both the words infinite and holy we can understand the justice in an eternal hell for sinning against an infinite holy God.
The word worship derives from the word worthship, and Christian worship is ascribing to the triune God his true value, which is infinite. There is a modern chorus that says 'that's why we worship because he gave his everything.' That is incorrect we worship because he is worthy of worship because of who he is. Yet we can worship because on the cross Christ made a way for us who were not his people, a people who deserved an infinite punishment to recieve an infinite grace.

God Bless

Agreeing with Richard Dawkins

I have been away from the blog for a few weeks whilst we waited for our new broadband connection, now I am back let me begin again with earnest. You might wonder from the title of this post what has happened in these few weeks to take you from a passionate Christ centredness to agree with the world's number one Atheist writer. Well don't worry there are not many areas I agree with Dawkins but here is where I do. Dawkins argues against the idea of Christian children, just because someone has Christian parents doesn't mean they are Christian children. I think it was Michael Harper who wrote in the 70's God Has No Grandchildren. The Bible also agrees with Dawkins on this point, it is only when someone repents and becomes regenerate that they become a child of God. I wonder though, did Dawkins bring his own children up to think critically and examine these things to see if they are as he says? I know my own parents are agnostic about the things of God, when I was 15 I rejected their faith because I became a Christian. If God should bless Joy and I with children we hope to raise them to examine these things and we shall pray that God would awaken their minds to himself, that they might confess Christ as Lord. We shall not presume that they are Christian because they have Christian parents but they will have an advantage that they will sit under the sound of the gospel from an early age.
God Bless
ps, Spurgeon suggested in the C19th that the only reason hetrodox books sell at all is because orthodox Christian's buy them. I think the only reason Dawkins and co sell is because Christians buy it as I don't know any Atheists who have ever read Dawkins.