Archive for October, 2008

Difficult to go into here but the meeting wasn’t a disappointment as we didn’t have expectations.  It came down to the pastor saying he didn’t agree with our assertions.  We didn’t bring a copy of the letter, so therefore, we couldn’t share from it quotes.  I understood his thinking was that we were saying the church didn’t preach the gospel.  We used a “trace to the roots” kind of thing to show connections by taking what a pastor quoted in one sermon (and claiming a pattern) that there were emergent leanings coming into the church.  He did not agree, most sermons are taught by him and are not of the same style, which he is right about.  He preaches differently and doesn’t quote philosophers and these authors.  We granted him that.  Still, if you positively quote authors to prove a point and use those terms by that author, you are making some connection.  He said Paul quoted poetry of pagans.  I would have to look at it, but I am sure Paul used what he could in an appropriate way in order to evangelize.  This is not what I am talking about.  The pastor is not quoting a pagan poet in order to get people to hear.  The pastor is using similar writing as the author of books (emergent authors) and is presenting that in his sermon, he’s presenting the philosophy of these people not in a quote but as the way God wants the church to go.  It’s hard to explain, and we didn’t do it well in this meeting.  

Confrontational statements or questions went like this:

1.  Have you ever written an article that was published.  My answer, yes.  In a local paper  Pastor then says, So, since that local paper has funded xyz who performs abortions, then you support abortion?  Ummmm…that’s not the kind of connections we were pointing to in our letter. 

2.  (I may word this wrong, but I’ll just give what my understaning of the question was…).  Do you often find these same kind of issues a problem for you in churches where you hear preaching you don’t like so you back out of the church?  No, definitely not.  We have only left churches because we’ve moved.

3.  It’s good we’re leaving because we are no longer teachable.  We are no longer learning because we’re just being critical in our listening.  We cannot be open to hear what Jesus wants us to learn.  Yes, I agreed.  We cannot listen to a sermon in that church any longer without hearing things we have to check out constantly.  That’s why my husband could no longer stand it and we left rather than stayed to fight.

I wish we were both better at getting our point across, stronger maybe.  We’re not good at confrontation in face to face situations.  My husband hates it, and I am not a debator.  I feel the pastor basically concluded I (mostly me as I’m more vocal than my husband) am blowing things out of proportion, am perceiving things that aren’t there, and am making associations that are not there.  He implied several times that we did not talk to people but decided just to leave.  He did acknowledge by the time we ended that we had spoken to people in the line.  We had gone to elders and eventually to one pastor.  We have so many leaders and pastors in our church that going from one to another would have been perceived, in my opinion, as being divisive and spreading rumors…etc.  We spoke to a few elders and it only confirmed things we were thinking or didn’t clue us in to what was going on.  When we wrote the letter, we filtered it through a pastor.  So, if the letter was so wrong, why did this pastor not say something? 

So now, I’m not sure what was accomplished.  My husband didn’t want to do it because this result was what he expected.  I think it’s possible the pastor just chalks me up as a bit  paranoid or something(and more specifically me as I’m the vocal one…though my husband did say things in the meeting).

I did ask about spiritual disciplines and the like and the pastor did say that they are used in the formation of a person to be Christlike or something.  I wish I had written it down so I could recall.  It probably is what the church is teaching when they bring up disciplines.  However, we didn’t even know what disciplines were until we began researching outside the church.  Our internal research didn’t bring it up. 

I don’t know, it was a rambly kind of meeting where the pastor said some of what he was trying to say.

I do know we were told that if we say our old church isn’t preaching the gospel, the pastor said we are sinning.  I say that I don’t believe they aren’t getting the gospel in there.  I’ve heard it there.  However, we have the gospel AND.  May have to look back in my letter, he really thinks I said the church isn’t preaching the word of God.  I would agree, these subjects like disciplines are not the word of God (though I didn’t think to say it in the meeting).  I do think some people have become true Christians and are saved who attend the church.  I also think (though I didn’t really say this) that the direction of the church is away from glorifying God in that it’s focusing on “mission” and focusing on spiritual formation programs/disciplines.  However, this is all subtle.  It’s not overt enough for people to see it outright.  It took us years to notice.  Once we saw it though, we couldn’t undo it, it was revealed and couldn’t be hidden. 

Confusing enough?

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Today, I walked my neighborhood for some political campaigning.  One candidate helped me a lot with a bill (it became a law) and I’m happy to help him out (even if it’s hard lugging around my  children while I do it).  I came across a neighbor friend who is also a minister at our old church from the youth side.  We have no beef with him as we don’t really know what he’s preached or taught the teens, we don’t yet have a teen.  We do not know for sure what’s up on the youth side, have heard rumors of Rob Bell and Nooma (not that they played the Noomas, but that the minister/pastor types have read them and maybe promote).  We cannot rely on rumor though.  We know some have left the church based on their experience on the youth side…or what they think about it.  We’re not sure what people really know, what they think they know.  We just know that we like this minister, he’s a great guy, his wife is great.  Still, knowing we recently left the church, knocking on his door did make me wonder how it would go.  I don’t know, I think we were both awkward.  I told him we had a meeting with the lead pastor coming up and he gave me the “good luck” kind of response I’ve gotten from a few, and the comments were that meetings of this sort with him can be interesting.  He did give me a sort of heads up that he had spoken with my husband, and the pastor had listed us as a family who left the church.  He said he gave the pastor one brief comment my husband made which was the problem of not knowing where the ship was going.  We were on a path going somewhere, but there was not a clear indication where and when we had asked about where we got similar answers that people really didn’t know for sure.  That’s a true statement, we did have an issue with the fact that our church seemed to be going somewhere, and we didn’t know where exactly.  I think we’re getting a better picture of where now.  The movement appears to be further away from glorifying God, away from the focus on Christ and his word.  That’s really enough to make us want to go…period.

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Pirate Christain Radio…

John Ortberg at a Willow Creek Conference teachings Revealed


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I realized recently that I’ve been a bit frozen in everything since I started really learning about the things getting into Christian churches and ministries (or things that had been getting in for a while).  I now am unsure of many ministries.  I used to listen to Focus on the Family on the radio every day, as well as Hank.  I used to listen to CCM frequently, but now I am frozen.  I cannot figure out where I am safe to listen.  Now that we’re in a new church, I still cannot relax.  We’re just still trying the church, and so it could go anyway.  No where am I comfortable any longer.  Reading scripture and prayer is riddled with thoughts about this whole mess.  I want to learn in my reading time, and I want to pray and feel confident as I had before.  I am full of questions, full of frustration, sometimes sadness.  I do not really feel confusion.  I just want to be sure I am where I’m supposed to be.  I don’t want to live by experience, I want to live as God would have me live in His way, in His word.  I realize I have faith in God, and because He’s given it to me, my faith is stronger even than when I started this whole thing.  However, my faith in men is really low.  That’s good in some ways, as men will fail.  However, we are meant to fellowship, we are meant to learn from others.  I do not believe this “lone ranger Christian” nonesense everyone is saying to keep people from going off for a period of time to test the spirits.  I believe that line is being used as a guilt trip, not giving people a chance to analyse things.  However, unless there is absolutely no church available, I believe it’s important to continue to meet in order to worship, fellowship, learn, and finally, serve.  People keep telling me there is no perfect church, true enough.  However, there is the perfect church for my family somewhere because God is in control.  The “universal church” is something I believe in.  There are people who are saved in grace and mercy by faith, who follow Christ and who are studying and learning about God.  There are people in the church who are following the Lord’s commands and are making disciples.  I believe this.  I just want to be a part of this church.  Maybe our old church is a part of this body, but has let doctrines seep in and yet is still okay.  Maybe.  Maybe where we fellowship now is part of the body, maybe.  I don’t know.  I just want to get my footing back.  However, I know I have not lost my place with God.  Nothing can snatch me from His hand.

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In research, and reading, I’ve discovered a lot of attack going on (some resolved) in blogworld.  So, as Christians, how are we to handle our blogs and what we say in defense of the faith?  I must admit, I probably could have thought about this BEFORE I started my personal blogging life in 2001.  I try to keep most situations anonymous when it comes to people I have actually met. I must be careful in how I handle disagreements with pastors I personally know.   I do believe I’ve assessed situations correctly, but admit that it’s often easy to misunderstand someone’s intent, mishear a statement, or someone may have misspoke and would never mean what was heard.  So, some things I’ve written here about my pastors at my old church have been kept anonymous because I would hate for people to leave the church because I said something misrepresenting them in some way.   So, as to blogs, I think putting a name to a critique is dangerous and must be carefully handled.  If I put a name on here (of someone I know personally) you will know I really believe the person is doing such terrible damage to the body of Christ, they need to be revealed.  (This means in recent days…early on I may have put a name out there but I hope not).

As to bigger public figures like Hybels, Bell, Warren, and the like…I say we can critique their books, their sermons, their writings openly online.  I know none of these people (or other published writers/publically known pastors I’ve written of here).  I do not intend to judge whether or not they know Christ from their actions unless something becomes public.  I will judge, however, if their writings/sermons are in line with what I see in scripture or if they are in line with falsehood or some other religious practice.  The tricky thing these days is the lies are subtle.  I often wonder if the person preaching them is not even remotely aware of the lie.  They actually believe it based on the fact that they love the person they learned it from. 

It’s very tangly out here, in blogland.  Who do you believe out here?  It’s important to consider this.  I am still sifting through what I believe about the ministries I’ve been questioning.  I began questioning these ministries when I didn’t like the effect they had in my church.  I later found critiques online in other ministries.  I believed some of those, and now have to continually see if I believe them also.  It can be very confusing.  Even if the critiques are correct in pointing out false doctrine, I worry when I see labels and namecalling…though I also am tempted and have created labels of my own for some groups.  Is it okay, to label.  People were called a “brood of vipers” and other choice phrases in the Bible, only of course, after they proved themselves to be against Christ. 

What I see in blogland, to be honest, is a lot of anger toward the dumbing down of Christianity, the replacement of Christian doctrine with immitation, and the shift of many churches to follow some prominent pastors’ plans for the church.  There is an anger because there are those who claim to be following Christ on a spiritual journey who are not Christians (and wouldn’t use that term anyway) and who deny basic doctrine such as the return of Christ physically or of hell in the afterlife.  It’s not an anger toward a different religion altogether, but an anger toward people who have gotten notice as insiders who are shifting the church in one direction or another away from biblical doctrine.  There is also an anger toward the plans and visions of man that some are claiming are from God.  Speaking out against this is fine.  What is hard, is knowing if the names applied are accurate. 

Those who critique or who watch and warn need to spend time in careful thought as they are writing.  I need to learn this.  Think, is what you are writing true?  Is what you are writing clear?  If you don’t have clear evidence, do you word things in such a way so your readers know you are speculating at the moment?  I hope to learn properly how to make accurate charges, how to make clear when I am speculating and when I am pointing out another’s error. 

This is overwhelming to me sometimes.  I just began this to record my experience in my church.  I never intended to read what I’ve read, to have to let go of so much man has written, and to see what I see now.  I always feel I need to recheck myself to see if what I’m believing is true.

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I’ve been told by someone that yes, Rob Bell, Pagitt, Foster…Donald Miller are Emergent and the practices/statements they make are not Biblical, but Warren/Hybels, Dallas Willard, and even Brennan Manning are good guys and not into that stuff.  They are not in the same league, according to some.  They say the associations are weak.  Maybe they are on different paths when it comes to religion, but I think not (especially Brennan Manning).  I believe Warren/Hybels teachings are like entry drugs.  Maybe it’s an easy smoke or a pill to pop.  They are not hard core up front, but still are stepping into false teachings.  People will say, “no one is perfect, no person is a perfect preacher or writer.”  True, but I believe there are people who make mistakes and then there are those who are misleading many, many and not changing or willing to hear that they are misleading though the evidence is there.  Of course, I’m told I have to be willing to hear and maybe I’m the one not listening.  I believe Willard comes with his spiritual formation and disciplines as a bridge (like a bit harder drug, don’t know personally so I don’t know what would be an inbetween drug).  Then, when you’re hooked, you might actually go for some  Mike King, Manning (who appears to be nice on the surface too), Pagitt, Bell, and more.  Eventually, you might actually become a Buddist Christ follower.  Why not, you’ve already gone this far.  Of course, I’m sure your children will become agnostic/atheists.  After all the confusion, how could they not? 

Of course, I could be jumping to conclusions…especially since I am talking about associations and possibly misunderstand contemplative prayer.  Though it looks and sounds like meditation (new age type) because it’s centered around a verse or the name of Jesus, it couldn’t possibly be bad, right?  (sarcasm)

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Meeting with the pastor next week.  At least we have until next week to pray!  Just glad for an end to this for now….

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