Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Plea of a Pilgrim

It's really been a good weekend, really it has. I've enjoyed the chance to do all sorts of fun things with my friends as we do life together. On Saturday, I got to prayerwalk with students from my church and begin writing a story that I think will become something of a Magna Carta for me. (And yes, I mean Magna Carta, not Magum Opus). On Sunday, I enjoyed just another chance to be at my Louisville church, Springdale. Today, I celebrated Labor Day with some of my most beloved brothers and sisters here at Boyce: Mike Hilliard, Bailey Treherne, Michael Butterworth, John Letoto, Jerf Johnson, Amy Martin, Sarah Cress, and so many others. We grilled, we talked, we played Risk.

But in the midst of all this happiness, something has been gnawing at my insides, somethings as been troubling me severely. I fear that we at Boyce are in danger of passing unrighteous judgment (John 7:24) on many brothers and sisters in Christ, that we are not being Beroean Christians (Acts 17:10-15) and searching the Scriptures in response to a new concept. In short:

I am stunned at our failure to dialogue with the emerging church.

I think we can accept the following: the spiritual condition of America is downright bad. We're the third largest pagan nation on the face of the Earth, beaten out only by China and India respectively. The church is viewed in an extremely negative light. Generally speaking, people don't see the power of God in us, they don't see the evidence of a changed life. Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board said "Wherever Jesus Christ is make known and glorified in a positive witness, people will be saved." Does this help explain why people aren't being saved in America?

This is an invitation to dialogue and discussion. I am asking you to get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ who strongly hold these views and engage them in Christ-centered conversation. Let's work together to evangelize the lost of this increasingly postmodern world, let's actually do it. Let's move beyond drive-by evangelism and move into incarnational, missional outreach.

If you don't have any idea what the emerging church is, I'd invite you to read the book by Dan Kimball, called by that name. I'd also encourage you to read Planting New Churches in a Post-Modern Age by Ed Stetzer, former church planting professer at Southern Seminary. Although Stetzer is not exactly emergent, he does a good job of laying out the need to plant churches that are unlike the ones of the past.

Friends, none of you agree with every single word and every single statement from any given book. Surely as you read your theology textbooks, you realize the Grudem, Erickson, and Geisler are fallable. Give the same grace to authors in the emergent church movement. Grudem doesn' speak for any of us on all issues (at least he shouldn't) and neither does Brian McClaren on behalf of our emergent kindred.

I feel this dialogue is best done face to face, especially over coffee and cocoa out in the lost world. That said, no comments will be allowed on this post. I don't especially want to be waylaid in the halls of Carver either. Let's agree to practice real Christian love, the kind that goes lightyears beyond the tripe of "I love you but I don't like you" label we stick on hate.

Speaking of Beroea, here's the Word's account. Grace and peace through our exalted Lord Jesus Christ.

"As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God’s message had been proclaimed by Paul at Beroea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds. Then the brothers immediately sent Paul away to go to the sea, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there. Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed."

Acts 17:10-15 (HCSB)