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May 03, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

I just found out about this, thanks to Dr. Bock's blog. CNN had the story Friday.

The declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed "truth without love," helping create a backlash against religion during a "generation of culture warring."

"All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others," the statement says, "while we have condoned our own sins." It argues, "we must reform our own behavior."

I'm looking forward to reading this on Wednesday - it sounds like something I could get behind.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

RSS Readers

For those who are subscribed to the feed, an apology and a promise. At some point, I changed the feed settings to only post an excerpt of the full article. I regret doing that, and wish I could change it. Problem is, I don't remember what I changed.

I thought it was a Feedburner setting, but I can't find it there. I can't find it in my blog settings with Movable Type. I have no idea what I changed, but I'm trying to find it so I can change it back. Please bear with me.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:41 PM | Comments (215) | TrackBack

May 04, 2008

How Inclusive Is God?

In the comments of my post on Jeremiah Wright (which has been a great discussion, by the way), this statement was made:

The common Christian idea that non-Christians are all damned just strikes me as incompatible with the mercy and justice of God.

The speaker is asserting that the "other sheep" that Jesus mentions in John 10:16 are people who aren't creedal, confessional Christians, but instead are people who are simply good enough, and are trying to follow the "social gospel." I'm probably oversimplifying things a bit; read the comments on that post for a complete picture.

So the question is this: just how inclusive is the God of the Bible, anyway? After all, it says that He's not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, right? God is love, right? So He'll let everybody in, right?

That's what we want to believe. That's what is most comfortable to believe. A God who lets everyone in.

But then we've got a Jesus who says, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness" to people who have done "mighty deeds" in His name. People who have the reputation and the following. People who are doing all the "right things." And they miss out. Why?

Because Jesus never knew them. They weren't His sheep. We become His sheep by faith. Don't believe me? Ask Jesus. John 6

26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
Before we can actually do anything that pleases God, we have to believe on the One whom God has sent. Short of that, nothing we can do pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).

So God excludes those who do not come to Him on His terms. John 3:16 says it clearly -- "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Belief is a condition, according to John.

This isn't a new thing for God, though. Cain tried to come to God on his own terms, and God rejected his sacrifice. The rich man tried to come to Jesus on his own terms, and he went away disappointed. Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Not many people are on the right path. God's justice demands that people come to Him by the path He has ordained. God's mercy makes that path available to all who believe. But it's not an easy path, and the people who actually find it are few.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:42 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

May 05, 2008

Christianity Without Christ

In light of some recent topics here, I present GetReligion's story about Gretta Vosper. Interesting article about an interesting minister.

I almost used scare quotes there, but decided not to. She probably does minister to people. But I think she falls short of the Biblical definition of the term -- she seems to leave out a central need when meeting peoples' needs: the need for a Savior.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2008

The Evangelical Manifesto

The Evangelical Manifesto was released today, and the Christian end blogosphere is abuzz with comment. At the end of this post I'll list the articles I've seen on the subject; I'm certain that there are many more that I've missed, so if you've seen one or written one yourself, let me know in the comments and I'll add it in.

On the whole, this is a very positive document, and one that I support 100%. Evangelicals have been defined by our politics for far too long; it is time we're defined by our theology, since evangelicalism is after all a theological movement. My hope is that it becomes more than just another piece of paper that is ignored in a few weeks; that it becomes a pattern of behaviour among Evangelical Christians.

Just a few thoughts on specific quotes from the Manifesto:

As followers of "the narrow way", our concern is not for approval and popular esteem. Nor do we regard it as accurate or faithful to pose as victims, or to protest at discrimination. We certainly do not face persecution like our fellow-believers elsewhere in the world. Too many of the problems we face as Evangelicals in the United States are those of our own making. If we protest, our protest has to begin with ourselves.
This is an important statement right off the bat, and one I wholeheartedly agree with. We spend far too much time wringing out hands over supposed attacks on Christianity, all the while giving those who attack us the ammunition they need.
There are grave dangers in identity politics, but we insist that we ourselves, and not scholars, the press, or public opinion, have the right to say who we understand ourselves to be. We are who we say we are, and we resist all attempts to explain us in terms of our "true motives" and our "real" agenda.
There are some evangelicals who have a political agenda. These people do not represent the greater body of evangelical thought, and there are often evangelicals who are in complete opposition to them. For example; Constitutionalist Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin is an evangelical; Sojourners founder Jim Wallis is an evangelical as well. I doubt that these two men agree on much, politically speaking.

I like the statement of faith that is included in the document; it should go a long way toward defining who is evangelical, and what that means from a theological standpoint. I found the fourth point particularly interesting, given recent developments within the Evangelical Theological Society; "we believe that Jesus’ own teaching and his attitude toward the total truthfulness and supreme authority of the Bible, God’s inspired Word, make the Scriptures our final rule for faith and practice."

we believe that being disciples of Jesus means serving him as Lord in every sphere of our lives, secular as well as spiritual, public as well as private, in deeds as well as words, and in every moment of our days on earth, always reaching out as he did to those who are lost as well as to the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, the socially despised, and being faithful stewards of creation and our fellow-creatures.
This affirms the social aspects of the Gospel without losing the fact that faith is a requirement to please God in anything.

I'm encouraged that the Manifesto does not condemn anyone outside the Evangelical community, but instead calls us all to repentance. There are areas where we've each had trouble in allowing our practical Christianity to follow our theological Christianity. To live consistently, orthodoxy must result in orthopraxy -- when that doesn't happen, Christianity stagnates. I think that a lot of the problem that many denominations are experiencing today result from the lack of "correct practice" or "correct living" -- living that is informed and fueled by our faith which is the point of this section:

Evangelical belief and devotion is expressed as much in our worship and in our deeds as in our creeds. As the universal popularity of such hymns and songs as ―Amazing Grace‖ attests, our great hymn writers stand alongside our great theologians, and often our commitment can be seen better in our giving and our caring than in official statements. What we are about is captured not only in books or declarations, but in our care for the poor, the homeless, and the orphaned; our outreach to those in prison; our compassion for the hungry and the victims of disaster; and our fight for justice for those oppressed by such evils as slavery and human trafficking.
There are many instances where we are doing this, but it's not noticed. I think particularly of the SBC's Disaster Relief program that I'm familiar with, but there are many more examples. We don't do these things to receive public acknowledgment, but it would be nice to actually have people notice when we do something right -- they certainly are quick to judge when we mess up. Those instances are, unfortunately, much less frequent than they should be. We need to live our faith out on a daily basis, in our own neighborhoods, and around our own friends and family.

"Fifth, the Evangelical message, “good news” by definition, is overwhelmingly positive, and always positive before it is negative." We often forget this, especially those in the more fundamentalist traditions. Forgetting this, as much as anything else, has caused us problems. We must speak the truth, but we must do it in love.

Speaking of fundamentalism

We celebrate those in the past for their worthy desire to be true to the fundamentals of faith, but Fundamentalism has become an overlay on the Christian faith and developed into an essentially modern reaction to the modern world. As a reaction to the modern world, it tends to romanticize the past, some now-lost moment in time, and to radicalize the present, with styles of reaction that are personally and publicly militant to the point where they are sub-Christian.
Couldn't agree more with that statement.

The second section, dealing with reforming our behavior, indicts evangelicals on both ends of the "liberal-conservative" spectrum, and emphasizes what I talked about above; the need to live consistently with our beliefs.

I like this quote especially; "Called by Jesus to be "in" the world but "not of" the world, we are fully engaged in public affairs, but never completely equated with any party, partisan ideology, economic system, class, tribe, or national identity." GOP does not mean "God's Own Party" and it's time we started to realize it, and act like it. We need to hold all political leaders to the same standard, no matter which side of the aisle they sit on. And we need to stop allowing ourselves to be courted every four years, and then abandoned as soon as the election results are in. But I've talked about that before, and won't rehash old posts here.

First, we Evangelicals repudiate two equal and opposite errors into which many Christians have fallen recently. One error has been to privatize faith, interpreting and applying it to the personal and spiritual realm only. Such dualism falsely divorces the spiritual from the secular, and causes faith to lose its integrity and become "privately engaging and publicly irrelevant," and another form of "hot tub spirituality." The other error, made by both the religious left and the religious right in recent decades, is to politicize faith, using faith to express essentially political points that have lost touch with biblical truth. That way faith loses its independence, the church becomes "the regime at prayer," Christians become "useful idiots" for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology in its purest form. Christian beliefs are used as weapons for political interests.
That one stands on its own, especially the "useful idiots" part.

As I said, it's my hope that people read this, and pay attention to it. Non-Christians have a lot to learn about Evangelicals, and the media gets it wrong most of the time. And Evangelicals need to get their act together -- this Manifesto will show us all a few ways to do just that.

My fear, of course, is that this one will get big news coverage for about a half hour, and then vanish into thin air, disappearing as quickly as an evangelist on Day 4 of a three day revival.

Read these articles to see what other people have written about the Manifesto:

Let me know if you find more discussion that I've missed. I found a lot of people mentioning it was out, but not a lot of discussion.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 12:59 PM | Comments (1347) | TrackBack

May 16, 2008

R.C. Sproul on the Exclusivity of Christ

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:00 PM | Comments (220) | TrackBack

The Future Of the CCM Industry

Charlie Peacock has an outstanding analysis of the future of the CCM industry. Go read the whole thing when you have a minute, but I wanted to throw a few excellent quotes out there:

Christian music’s alliances with mainstream entertainment corporations will all prove eternally less than successful, since they all bet first on the power of the market to deliver results and not the hand of God—something God has never been fond of. (See Bible for evidence.)
This has been a common complaint about the state of the industry. Steve Camp has said similar things in the past. The problem as I see it started when we stopped thinking of Christian music as a ministry and started thinking of it as an industry. If it's an industry, you partner with whoever will help your bottom line. If it's a ministry, you realize that your bottom line has nothing to do with money.
When convenient or strategic, Christian artists will return to using the term gospel in order to describe their music. “Ccm” has faded as an accurate moniker and will disappear altogether.
I've seen this already. Artists are either using the 'gospel' label or they describe their music in terms of "secular" genre tags like "emo" or "metal" or "hardcore" -- things like that. There are increasingly few Christian artists who identify themselves as CCM artists; many don't even self-identify as Christian, even those who are explicitly so lyrically and ministerially. If you don't believe me, browse through MySpace. There are still some artists who self-identify as Christian, and some of those are quite good, but by and large the major acts don't do it, whether out of frustration with the industry or because they are trying to be accepted first as musicians, or perhaps some less noble reason.
Christian music with “worldview” lyrics is dead in the church and reborn in the world where Christian indie and major label artists will carry the torch. The majority of Christian music fans and gatekeepers in the church proved too immature or disinterested to discern whether or not a lyric was speaking to a topic from a Christian worldview. The problem of maturity and literacy will continue.
And podcasters will lead the way. Take a listen to The Bored Again Christian or The Habanero Hour for some Christian worldview music that you won't hear anywhere else. And, of course, you can check out The PewCast too. I play a different genre than Just Pete or Brent play is all. But I think that this is the wisest thing that Peacock says, "... the real and trustworthy future of Christian music is Christ. Find out what He’s interested in, and let that be the music’s future."
Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 21, 2008

Give It Away!

Tim Challies is giving away $200 to spend at Monergism.

May Giveaway

What are you still doing here???? Go enter!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Conservatives Ready to Throw Christian Group Under the Bus

A perfect example of why Christian groups need to be cautious when hitching themselves to a specific political party or ideology is the Christian Coalition's battle with free market advocacy group FreedomWorks over Net Neutrality.

The Christian Coalition, along with other conservative groups like Gun Owners of America and the National Religious Broadcasters, is concerned that internet providers will start offering high-speed data transfer rates only to organizations that can afford to pay a premium, adversely impacting grass-roots organizations. The Coalition supports net neutrality, which would make such discrimination illegal. By taking this position, the Coalition finds itself working with long-term foes like, and against folks like FreedomWorks.

Rob Wasinger, chief of staff to Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), went so far as to say that the Christian Coalition has moved "off the reservation," and that net neutrality is not "a red-meat-conservative issue."

Jim Backlin of the Christian Coalition characterizes this as a simple disagreement. "That’s one of the issues where friends get to disagree."

If only it were really that simple. Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks says, "“We would gladly welcome them back into the fold if they all of a sudden realized that 'We have to get back on the right side of the ball here.' Nothing personal.”

The problem, apparantly, is that they don't think the CC is pulling it's weight on social issues. Wasinger is concerned that teaming with people like is adversely affecting the CC's impact.

It seems to me like the conservative powers that be are upset that the useful idiots are having an independent thought, and they're ready to dump them. "Come back to us when you can toe the line, and understand your role." We don't need partners like that.

Net neutrality is an idea I am behind. I don't like excessive regulation of business, but it's clear to me that without some legislation, small groups (including churches, private schools, etc.) are going to be left in the dust. Freedom of speech is at stake. This is where government needs to step in and pass good laws that protect companies and individuals who don't have the clout to protect themselves.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 24, 2008


I'm changing comment systems. I'm sick of having to delete 50+ SPAM comments every day, if not every 4 hours.

I'm going to try to install Disqus, so I am closing all comments on all posts right now. If it doesn't work, I'll look for something else. The existing comments won't go anywhere, and I'm not sure if I can import existing comments into the system yet, so this will be for posts going forward.

Sorry, folks. I'm not happy about having to do this either, but I'm spending way too much time deleting SPAM.

{edit} So I can't do what I want to do. I can mark all future posts as 'comments closed' but can't change the old ones. I'm working on another option, and hope to use Disqus. The more I look at it, the more I like it.{/edit}

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:43 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

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