Fundamentalists In The Emerging Church?

KarenaA few days ago I heard ex-nun Karen Armstrong speak at Greenbelt Festival on the subject of Fundamentalism and the Battle For God.

No big surprise – | already read her excellent book “The Battle For God”. But it was great to see her in public (and take her photo). Karen made the statement that fundamentalism is basically a “militant form of piety” and a “violent revolt against secular modernity”.

Fundamentalism, she argued, is found in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even secular humanism. It is not orthodox, she said, but rather it is a “new doctrine”, characterized by the two ingredients of independence and innovation. Behind fundamentalism is the fear of annihilation and fundamentalism becomes more extreme when attacked.

She also referred to a time when she was speaking on a panel regarding the church and a loud obnoxious fundamentalist stood up and was yelling out rudely. He was asked to be quiet and (I think) leave the auditorium. As he left, the moderator noted that his dismissal was unfortunate, since he also, was a part of the conversation on how the church is emerging in this age.

Interesting stuff. She seemed regretful that they had dismissed this guy.

It made me think about the emerging church and its relation with fundamentalism. If Karen Armstrong is correct, even the emerging church has fundamentalists. And if her definition of fundamentalism as a reaction against secular modernity [Will Samson noted that “modernism” would have been a better word] is correct, then the two worlds might be quite close. Perhaps what Don Carson was reacting to in his critique of the emerging church was the fundamentalist side when he identified the main characteristic of emerging church as “protest”.

This is how I see it. Inside the emerging church, which is a vastly complex movement, there are probably 3 distinct responses to secular humanism and our current postmodern age:

1. A fundamentalist rejection and protest (isolationism, exclusivity)

2. An unthinking acceptance (syncretism, accommodation)

3. A prophetic response (contextual, missional)

Obviously, its the last one that appeals to me, and the one that I applaud and support. But I have to admit the other streams are also there at the table, just as they are in the traditional church, and probably all the way through church history. Certainly Jesus encountered all three groups.

Richard ColorRelated to this is a speech I heard the day before. Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscian Monk, told us that older believers in Christ should be mature, and being mature has to do with giving up control to God. Old people should not be mean spirited like the Pharisees but instead show their maturity by becoming childlike. We can operate out of fear or love. Love is better. And perfect love drives out all fear.

I like that . . . operate out of love rather than fear. Perfect love.

Hold fast to the truth . . yes . . . but be constrained by Christ’s love.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

41 Comments

  • Scot
    I like her approach of studying a subject (in this case, fundamentalism) in a synchronic way – as it appears side by side in Christianity, Islam and Judaism. I learn a lot through relationships in media and anyone smart enough to run 3 threads of thought at the same time will get the attention of my synchronic brain.
    I may not agree with everything she believes or writes, and you may not either, but I appreaciate her fairness and research.

  • “The Battle for God” knocked my socks off. Anytime someone can take a dry and frightening subject like fundamentalism and make it read like a riveting historical novel, they get my vote.
    I see these three streams unfolding in the emerging church as well, though I think the emphasis among the emerging church on living a missional and contexual Gospel is holding off the #1’s and #2’s for the time being. But as the emerging church becomes just the plain old church, over the next 20-30 years, we’ll probably see growth in these areas. Drat.

  • Andrew,
    I like your “3 responses,” and your comment that they have probably been there in the Church all along the way… And they are probably meant to be there, too. Or, another way of putting it: Might there be both “wheat” and “tares” in each of the three response types? We always have to listen carefuly, because we may be hearing something from God even from an unexpected source; God seems to take delight in talking donkeys.

  • i had to repent today as i harshly responded to a mean spirited comment on our common blog of nonformalists (read emergent re:thinkers).
    god give us grace to forgive and to respond with kind words of instruction when needed.

  • A preponderance of #2 people will create an eventual reaction that will produce more #1 people.
    We need to be very intentional about #3, before that kind of pendulum swing occurs.

  • I think a lot of people either:
    a. Are doing #3 and are accused of doing #2 incorrectly.
    or
    b. Want to do #3, but end up doing #2.
    If you want to muddy the waters, I think we need to do all three actually. Sometimes we affirm things, sometimes we reject things, but our overarching responsibility is missional engagement. The trick is to figure out what that looks like in your own context. That’s something that books and blogs can’t tell you “how to do” and living in that engagement will be one of our greatest challenges as Christians.

  • Interestingly, your three reactions are to secular humanism and the postmodern age. As a traditional church, Paleo-orthodox Reformed pastor, let me suggest that the emergent church will have three similar reactions against the traditional church:
    1) Fundamentalists (nothing good can come from traditional churches — tear them down)
    2) Syncretists (Hey, whatever floats your boat)
    3) Loving Engagers (Build relationships that involve dialogue and critique).
    Honestly, the fundamentalism that I see most in the emergent church is of this kind.
    Russell

  • Andrew,
    The biggest difference is the inability for a fund’y to see beyond his own view… In that regard I pray we never are referred to as Fundamentalists. In my run ins with most fundy’s I have not felt anything but judgementalism. To me the one thing we have in common is that they are against modernism… but do not be fooled, they are very premodern (in denial) and are not usually open to postmodern at all. In fact they have a big tendency to grossly misrepresent PM views.
    I have never had a true conversation… on received rebuke and monologue
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • IGGY,
    You say that they (fundamentalists) have a big tendency to grossly misrepresent PM views. As a fundamentalist, I have seen nothing here that properly represents my views. Don’t you think you are saddled with the same problem you complain about? (HINT: You should think so, or else you are guilty of your first complaint, about not being able to see past your own view.) Not all fundamentalists are the same. Christian fundamentalism has absolutely nothing in common with Judaic, Islamic, or any other kind of fundamentalism. To include them in the same idea is a misrepresentation of church history (and secular history for that matter). The only commonality is that someone gave them the same name.
    My plea is for you to recognize that you just did the very thing you complained about, misrepresented someone because you can’t see past your own view.
    Larry

  • Larry
    a lot of people do not know the history of Christian fundamentalism, or the social gospel issues in the 20’s in USA that gave birth to the postive side of this movement.
    Karen Armstrong is considered a world authority on the subject, and no one would rubbish her critique, but she may not have your angle.
    Could you write up something and come back and give us a link to it?

  • “there are probably 3 distinct responses to secular humanism and our current postmodern age”
    I think there are 3 intepretations (theological) to secular humanism and our current postmodern age but their also are 3 responses (missiological) to these interpretations. eg.
    Reformed Missional
    Isolationist yet syncretism
    If a person goes to brign a “prophetic response (contextual, missional)” what is the message (interpretation) of the message of the Kingdom of God?
    D. Goodmanson

  • Andrew,
    If you will give me a day or so. I am in the midst of building a porch on my house, hopefully to be finished tomorrow, as well as preaching today. I will try to give a short synopsis of what I think the issues are.
    Thanks,
    Larry

  • Larry,
    I am speaking from my own personal run ins with Fundamentalists. These are not in the “terrorists” category, nor do I think of them as such. I can give a personal letter from one who accused me of teaching false doctrine… only because I did not agree with him.
    And he was not the only one. I point out assumption that he based on scripture, showing the possibility he was believing the traditions of man.
    I understand the history, the backlash against modernism. I do not see fundamentalism having to do with PM/E at all. In fact I see that if one is KJV only, anti tongues, knowledge and prophecy, and willing to be judgmental… then on will fit in. Again, these are the mainstream “Baptist” variety I am talking about.
    I find it interesting that that you judged me and my “view”, yet you have no idea what my “view” is. Be carful to point fingers.
    I am open to fellowship with those who are fundy’s, yet; because I am PM/E many would not fellowship with me.
    I know of a local fundy church that kicked an unwed mother out because of her sin… is that Christ’s love?
    I think many confuse the basic tenants of the Christian faith with fundamentalism… they are two separate things. One brings unity, the other divides.
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • I think its really important for any group to have the power to define themselves and to control that definition
    Thats why Larry needs to come back and lay out the whats and whys of his fundamentalism.
    Emerging church people get furious when people accept definitions from critics as though they were fact. And i have shown that many of those were inaccurate – like here where most emerging people said that only 2 or 3 of Theopedia’s 7 characteristics of emerging church were true about them.
    Fundamentalists would not want non-fundamentalists defining them – lest Rev. Fred Phelps becomees the poster boy –
    and yet Karen Armstrong has written a scholarly book and has earned the reputation as “a” or “the” world renown expert on fundamentalism so we do need to take her seriously.
    Anyway, Larry. Give it your best shot.

  • scot – thanks – the other reason I take her seriously and havebbought her books (last year) was because she is recognized by many as THE leading expert on fundamentalism and her books are all over the world.

  • Iggy,
    Thanks for your response. Sorry for the delay in responding. You are correct that I don’t know exactly what you believe. When I talked about “your view,” I was referring to your worldview of PM/E. Perhaps we are just talking past each other on that. Short communication is always hard, and the death of a thousand qualifications takes way too much room and time.
    That wasn’t my point, however. I was simply pointing out that you were painting with a broad brush, using the same techniques you were decrying. Case in point: You talk about fundamentalists being KJVOnly. The vast majority of fundamentalists reject that view. They always have. I believe that a person who is KJVOnly has given up his right to use the name fundamentalist. He has contradicted the very fundamentals he claims to believe. If you were to take time to study fundamentalism, I think you would find this to be true.
    I don’t konw what this guy disagreed with you on, so I can’t comment on that. There are very good theological reasons to be “anti tongues,” etc. (to use your phrase). I don’t think that is a fundamentalist issue however.
    To talk of a church that kicked out an unwed mother is too little information. Why was she kicked out? Was she unrepentant? What were the circumstances? Without more information than you gave, there is no way anyway can draw a legitimate conclusion on that. But the way you said it prejudiced the readers here to a certain conclusion and that is unjust I believe.
    To say that the basic tenets of the Christian faith unite and fundamentalism divides is inaccurate as well. I won’t defend all the idiots who claim the name fundamentalism, as I am sure you probably won’t defend all the idiots who participate in the “emergent conversation.”
    I hope, this afternoon, to write quickly and briefly about what I believe fundamentalism is and should be. With Andrew, I resist people defining me and so I will give it my best shot.

  • larry
    good comment – even if you dont get around to writing something, you have given some good thoughts and provided some helpful boundaries between different kinds of fundamentalisms. I guess Rev Fred Phelps doesnt speak for all the branches of fundamentalism.
    take your time – there is plenty of space here so go ahead and be liberal . . . i mean generous . . . with your writing.
    “the death of a thousand qualifications” – SWEET – that should be a poem or a website. dont you think?

  • Larry,
    I see that one of the very basics of fundamentalism… is isolationism, to isolate and insolate from the modern world. I see that as the foundation of fundamentalism, which cuts across the grain of the great commission. Jesus said to go… “Most” modern and fundamentalist say, “come”. Many confuse the Living Word (Jesus) with the Bible and seem to worship the written word over the Living Word.
    I converse with fundamentalist everyday… do you?
    I have a forum, which has at least 30 plus pastors from various denominations, and with a few are fundamentalist. I read their views, I debate their views and I understand their views.
    Exclusionism and isolationalism are not teachings of the Bible. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would not be taken from the world, but that we would be protected from the evil one.
    To isolate is to express unbelief in Jesus command to “GO”, to be exclusive is to cut against Jesus’ calling of the “whosoever”.
    Again, I fellowship with Fundamentalist, and would, yet many have plainly said, because I do not agree as they do, “Amos 3:3” is always misused at this point by the fundamentalist; I have been called an apostate. Mind you my views are very conservative especially for one who is PM/E.
    I can only tell you from my personal experiences. Books will always tell one story… reality tells another. I agree with Jesus, that by their fruit you will know them.
    I will say this; I respect the attempt at one who is trying to live true to their convictions. I will not though, live my life judged by another’s standard. The core of the evil of fundamentalism is that… pure judgmentalism that leads to the isolationism and exclusionism. “Be like us, we like you. Be different and you are going to hell.” That is the mentality I will always stand against as Jesus did against the Pharisees of his day. This is the attitude and reality that keeps ME from seeing the fundamentalist as fitting into the “paradigm shifted”.
    You speak of a broad brush…of course I am painting that way, yet I am using the paint that the fundamentalist has given me himself… I figure I have the right to use what brush I want.
    Blessings,
    iggy Larry,
    I see that one of the very basics of fundamentalism… is isolationism, to isolate and insolate from the modern world. I see that as the foundation of fundamentalism, which cuts across the grain of the great commission. Jesus said to go… “Most” modern and fundamentalist say, “come”. Many confuse the Living Word (Jesus) with the Bible and seem to worship the written word over the Living Word.
    I converse with fundamentalist everyday… do you?
    I have a forum, which has at least 30 plus pastors from various denominations, and with a few are fundamentalist. I read their views, I debate their views and I understand their views.
    Exclusionism and isolationalism are not teachings of the Bible. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would not be taken from the world, but that we would be protected from the evil one.
    To isolate is to express unbelief in Jesus command to “GO”, to be exclusive is to cut against Jesus’ calling of the “whosoever”.
    Again, I fellowship with Fundamentalist, and would, yet many have plainly said, because I do not agree as they do, “Amos 3:3” is always misused at this point by the fundamentalist; I have been called an apostate. Mind you my views are very conservative especially for one who is PM/E.
    I can only tell you from my personal experiences. Books will always tell one story… reality tells another. I agree with Jesus, that by their fruit you will know them.
    I will say this; I respect the attempt at one who is trying to live true to their convictions. I will not though, live my life judged by another’s standard. The core of the evil of fundamentalism is that… pure judgmentalism that leads to the isolationism and exclusionism. “Be like us, we like you. Be different and you are going to hell.” That is the mentality I will always stand against as Jesus did against the Pharisees of his day. This is the attitude and reality that keeps ME from seeing the fundamentalist as fitting into the “paradigm shifted”.
    You speak of a broad brush…of course I am painting that way, yet I am using the paint that the fundamentalist has given me himself… I figure I have the right to use what brush I want. haha.
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • Larry,
    BTW…
    About the young pregnant lady kicked out of her church…
    It should not matter if she was unrepentant or not if she was seeking help and support from her church. How would she show remorse? Abort the baby? I really doubt that was the issue.
    She was pregnant out of wedlock… needed love and compassion as she made a mistake.
    I think if she was unrepentant, she would not have gone to THAT church or any for that matter. This was her “family”… instead of love she received judgment.
    Did Jesus ask questions of the lady caught in adultery other then who condemns you? Jesus then said then I don’t either… go and sin no more… well this girl was not going out to get pregnant again was she? She needed love and forgivness and compassion and open hearts of kindness to restore her to her Father in heaven.
    Instead she received the stones of judgment from the “church”.
    blessings,
    iggy

  • Iggy,
    With respect to isolationism, I agree. I think some fundamentalists have become too scared of people who don’t already agree with us in worldview. My solution to that is different than yours, I imagine.
    With respect to exclusionism, it is hard to tell exactly what you mean. The gospel of Jesus Christ is exclusive, a “my way or the highway” type of gospel. The doctrines of the faith are exclusive. There are many things about Christianity that are exclusive and we dare not compromise that. But again, I am not sure what you are talking about.
    With respect to separation, when someone is teaching falsely or living in disobedience, separation is the only option, after due process. There is no way to be obedient to God without separating. That is what is so often missed. You don’t have to answer to anyone else’s conscience. But they have to answer to their own. Again, it needs to be handled with grace and tact, and that has not always been done, by both sides. Don’t forget, you guys (broadly speaking) practice your own exclusionism. When was the last conference you were at where a fundamentalist was invited to share his view? I can think of one instance in recent memory. Fundamentalists are typically excluded, but not because there are not well-spoken fundamentalists. It is because your side is often exclusionary.
    With respect to the woman, yes, it matters if she is not repentant. Matt 18, 1 Cor 5, Titus 3, 2 Thess 3 and other passages make it clear that repentance is necessary to avoid church discipline. If this young lady was a professing believer who got pregnant out of wedlock, the church should love her and encourage her to repent. If she fails, the church must love God enough and her enough to discipline her from the body. This is a clear teaching of Scripture. Now, it can be handled with grace and tact, or it can be handled with acid and wirebrushes. The former is the biblical way to handle it. But we cannot just sit back and let it go. She needs help, and the first help she needs is godly sorrow that leads to repentance. When a church tolerates open sin, they compromise the gospel. Now, that is a paragraph description of something that is very involved and takes a lot of time. Please understand that. I know it sounds harsh to read, but space and time constraints have made it difficult to communicate here. I have dealt with a similar situation here, and there is much visiting, and weeping, and tears, and lost sleep that goes into it. I am praying about a situation right now and lookign for wisdom about it. But remember Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor, that the body is one. When one member sins, the whole body is affected. Her pregnancy is not just her problem. It is the body’s problem. Now, if this woman was not a member, we have a whole different issue. I have dealt with that as well, and in fact, have some ongoing situations here that are a real blessing because people are coming to hear the Word. And I don’t pull punches with them. And they keep coming.
    YOu talk of the woman who was caught in adultery and reference the “go and sin no more,” followed by a comment about not getting pregnant again. That completely misses the point. The point is not that the pregnancy was the sin. The fornication was the sin. Pregnancy was the result. And the answer is Yes, she can go and sin again and in fact, at certain times during pregnancy that is a greater drive than at other times (without meaning to be to direct there). By misidentifying the sin, you have drawn the wrong conclusion. Christ did not approve of the woman’s sin. “Go and sin more” was a condemnation of it. What he condemned was the Pharasaical attitudes of those who wanted to condemn sin in others while tolerating it in themselves and their friends.
    I interact with fundamentalists every day. I am embarrassed by some, angered by others, ambivalent about some, just plain disinterested in some of the little intramural squabbles that take place. In the end, I have a ministry here that I will answer to God for, and that is my biggest concern.
    But I have said before (and will close with this), I think one of fundamentalism’s big problems right now is that we expect people to be like us to become one of us. And that is dangerous. We have to start with peopole who are not like else, and welcome them and their questions with open arms, while calling them to wholehearted submission to the King of kings and Lord of lords who died in their place to give them forgiveness, grace, eternal life, and a changed life.
    Larry

  • Larry,
    I have greatly enjoyed are conversation here.
    Here is a true story of grace…
    A woman was having an affair and felt guilty… because she was. She counseled with her pastor who told her she could repent and need not tell her husband… just go back. She decided that that was not enough and went to face her husband expecting the worse. As she began to tell her husband she broke into sobs… He told her at that time that he knew she had been unfaithful, and told her he forgave her w/o a word from her. He only hugged her tightly to emphasize his love.
    They are still together today.
    That is mercy and grace in action. To say a young woman needs to be judged and cast away, when she is in the greatest of need is more of a sin than whatever her sin was. She realized that she had sinned… resulting in pregnancy, yet this was NOT enough. Just because of the hypocritical view that they (this church) must not even appear evil or appear to “tolerate sin” they kicked this girl out. They where as the righteous priests who walked past the man who was beaten because they did not want to be unclean in the good Samaritan story.
    We need to realize Love covers a multitude of sin, not judgment. Kindness leads to repentance, not judgment. We are to seek God’s goodness and in that are righteousness… so many get that backwards and seek God’s righteousness and confuse their self-righteousness with Gods totally missing God’s Goodness.
    I agree that at times there is the need for discipline as the case in 1 Cor concerning the man sleeping w his father’s wife and bragging that it was covered by grace… That man missed the point and need to learn that we are to grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Christ Jesus, not depravity. This man did not come to the church for comfort as the girl did he came to revel in his perversion that was covered by grace… yet even in that whole ordeal Paul never says this man is lost or unsaved… only that his body be destroyed by Satan that his spirit be saved.
    I hope you understand my point.
    Now, if we are not careful Andrew may tell us to get our own blogs…. LOL!
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • no – you guys go ahead
    but i am still waiting for larry to lay out a good working definition of fundamentalism, if he does not like that of karen armstrong.
    or maybe he is expressing it through story

  • Iggy,
    Your story illustrates my point exactly. This woman repented, and she was forgiven. Had that husband refused to forgive her, I would have confronted him with his sin of unforgiveness. That is exactly the way it should work. I am agnostic on whether or not she needed to tell her spouse. I have wrestled with that question, and quite frankly, am not sure what the answer is for a first time offense. But the grace and forgiveness is exactly the right response by the husband.
    Here’s the question: What if the woman was caught and had been unrepentant? What would you do? You see, that is the question I was addressing. If this single woman who was pregnant out of wedlock was not filled with godly sorrow (cf 2 Cor 7), there are ramifications in the body. If she is truly looking for comfort and help, she should be willing eventually to make it right with the people she sinned against.
    Where there is no repentance, sin cannot be kept in the body. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? (And that is not original with me.) You should have already judged this person, Paul says.
    I have a little thing written on fundamentalism, but am editing it and working on crystallizing some ideas. It is about four pages in Word right now. I am trying to decide how to make it better. When I do, I will contact Andrew. I will likely post it on my blog, and if Andrew likes, I can post it here in this comment section (if it will fit). It is rather daunting to try to boil it all down to a few paragraphs.
    I too have enjoyed the interaction. It is always good to be challenged to think.
    Larry

  • Larry,
    What intriges me is that there is even the thought she was unrepentant. Again, to me if she was she would never had gone to “that” church in the first place… this was her home church… her refuge… and they cast her out.
    To assume that she was unrepent to me moves into judging the heart. To me that is God’s territory and I will not go there. Again, even in the relational model if the community deems that one is causing harm to the body as in the man from Corith, discipline is in need.
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • Iggy,
    I didn’t assume she was unrepentant. I asked. I said you didn’t give us enough information. Here is my quote from above:
    >>>>To talk of a church that kicked out an unwed mother is too little information. Why was she kicked out? Was she unrepentant? What were the circumstances? Without more information than you gave, there is no way anyway can draw a legitimate conclusion on that.<<<< There was no assumption on my part. In fact, I defended agnosticism on this. I don't know any of the circumstances, which is why I refused to draw a conclusion. The church may have been wrong. I have no earthly idea. I said you didn't tell us enough to know. Which brings me back to my original point, in a way. Without meaning to be judgmental or mean, I am not convinced you accurately read what this fundamentalist said. It seems that you jumped to a conclusion about what you think I said. You took your worldview about fundamentalists and imposed it on me. Perhaps I am wrong about that ... Larry

  • Larry,
    Foundationally and “fundamentally” I may diverge from both her view and even with most PM/e views…
    I think that God should define the community not the community or groups define itself. I see that often as we define ourselves we set up walls that exclude those who Jesus would not have.
    If a group is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and lets God define them then we do not have the emphasis on the differences, but the uniting elements of the group.
    The Bible already defines us. So we need to acknowledge this definition. The only difference should be in how this works itself out in community living with in these definitions.
    Remember we are to be transformed into the image of Christ Jesus and not conform to this world. The issue again is that most define themselves by denomination or labels such as fundamentalist and conform to it… this misses the very point of why and what our purpose as Believers in Christ is all about.
    So I disagree with her beginning premise. I may agree with her on many other points…but i have not read her book.
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • If I may continue on this idea, I too think God should define the community. In fact, I think He has, and He has given us the responsibility to keep the community as He defined it. That, to me, seems to be teh point of a number of passages on the issue of separation … Keep the community as God defined it to be.
    When you say the Bible defines us, I completely agree. And perhaps were we to discuss it in person (an easier forum), we might find more agreement on some of this.
    Second, on the issues of labels and denominations, they exist as shorthand for a point of view. You could ask me what I believe about the church and I could tell you with a long speech, or I could say “I am Baptist.” The name “Baptist” is shorthand for what I believe about certain key points of polity and doctrine. So I don’t find labels useless or “missing the point.” I think they help, provided they are used right. My problem is that, from what I have seen, Armstrong’s use of the label “fundamentalist” is misguided, a point I will try to make in my comments. But I have not read her either.

  • This present letter is in response to the message from the person named IGGY .
    Fundamentalism versus postmodernism is like godzilla versus the smog monster ! Both fundamentalism and postmodernism are murky, largely weird and wrongheaded ideologies. Postmodernism is in some ways worse than Fundamentalism . And when the two positions start to converge (like I’ve already noticed elements of) look out .
    The problem with Fundamentalism is NOT the complaint that postmodernists have with them –that Fundamentalism is supposedly “judgemental” . The problem is that Fundamentalism often more stock in what preachers and pastors and lousy theologians like John Calvin and Augustine teach then what Jesus teaches . Even Fundamentalists that are NOT full-fledged Calvinists seem to be influenced by elements of the teachings of Calvinism . The weird, bizarre tendency of some Fundamentalist writers to treat the movement called open theism with hostility is a case in point . Concurrently, much of the sensibility of many versions of Fundamentalism (though in all fairness perhaps not all versions) is so alien and so far away from the Jewish sensibility of Jesus. Much of Fundamentalism, has a sensibility more like the “success gospel” of winning the rat race and gaining recognition and acclaim –which takes its cue from the Calvinists and NOT hardly much like the gospel of Jesus . I wish more Fundamentalists would read the story Jesus told in Luke about the publican and the pharisee who both told a different sort of prayer. So much of Fundamentalism seems to interpret the concept of heaven as if going there were winning a game show . Don’t the Fundamentalists believe Jesus when he said, ‘the last shall be first/ and they that are first shall become last ‘ ? Or–do they think the first shall be first ?
    As for the postmodernists.. yikes , eaggad and gadzooks ! Yuck. Postmoderists promote this weird , fallacious belief that the belief or “lifestyle” that somebody supports is somehow part of the person . They are–of course–totally wrong; the belief someone supports is NOT in any way part of the person; the “lifestyle” that somebody supports is NOT part of the person either. A person’s fingers are part of the person; a person’s appendix is part of the person . Belief’s and “lifestyles” are NOT part of a person . Therefore, judging a belief that someone supports is NOT necessarily the same as judging the person themselves . Judging a “lifestyle” that someone supports, is NOT the same as judging the person who supports it .
    Ultimately ownership terms like “yours”, “my”, “theirs”, “ours” and so forth don’t really apply to intangibles like beliefs, goals, outlooks, ideologies, ways of living , and so forth . To think otherwise is the ownership fallacy . I always cringe when people misinterpret the verse that states ‘judge not that ye be not judged, condemn not that ye be not condemn’ and try to claim that it somehow means that we should supposedly respect beliefs or “points of view” —it doesn’t mean that at all . Again, judging a belief or a “lifestyle” is NOT necessarily the same as judging the person who supports that belief or lifestyle .
    We as people should NOT hesitate to be judgemental towards the goofy, superficial, vapid beliefs and lifestyle of this present bizarre decade . We should, indeed, condemn socially entropic, trendy/ pop culture/ yuppie-era garbage like reality t.v. (which is mind-boggling in its worthlessness) , perverse media gossip about tragedies peddled as news and concern, (such as displayed in that bizarre CNN t.v. show called: the Nancy Grace Show), Pop Psychology, creepy yuppie t.v. shows such as ‘Sex and The City’ , MTV , buzzphrases and buzzwords of newspeak, trendy chat rooms and other examples of trash !
    The postmodernist attitude of acceptance is fostering a very ugly, amorphous , suburbanized, polymorphously perverse world of dreary, hideous kitch , and it’s high time we do more to stop it . It is easy to get disgusted when one sees postmoderism infiltrating sectors of civilization that are ostensibly Christian –one can see examples of that in that magazine and website called ‘Relevant’ .
    Postmodernism is ugly : it abounds in metrosexual yuppie creepdom that gives us such squish as Dawson’s Creek, the rubbish of musical sell-outs such as MOBY , reality t.v. , trendy pop psychology phrases that pollute the english language with goofy newspeak words and phrases like: “come out of your comfort zone” , “control issues” , “impactive” and “impactfull” !
    This present bizarre decade ought to be declared officially cancelled !
    Where’s the ticket back to Mayberry ? Where’s the ticket and the bus to a quaint town, perhaps in Nebraska or Wyoming, where old ladies sit on their porchswings and share fresh squeezed lemonade , where the towns people gather in a green park to hear Barbershop Quartets singing, where the children catch fireflies and put them in jars in long summer evenings . A place far away from ugly subdivisions and “sexy” cars !
    Heck! even though I’m NOT a right winger, even hanging out with a bunch of right wing American Legion guys with pictures of John Wayne and Barry Goldwater on their wall drinking Chevys Regal scotch , smoking cigars and listening to Frank Sinatra…. would be far more preferrable to joining in with postmodernist metrosexuals in love with Dawson’s Creek , drinking latte, Moby , and Sex and The City who prattle on about “coming out of their comfort zone” and “upgrading their relationships” as well as having pointless discussions on who will be voted off the island or win “the Amazing race” !

  • POSTSCRIPT TO THE MESSAGE ABOVE
    Furthermore, one of the great perils of postmodernism is that it fosters a bizarre and totally worthless way of thinking called: lateral thinking . Lateral thinking is a lazy-minded way of thinking that tries to mix separate contexts into a catch- all “Big Picture”, it plays fast and loose with language, equivocates, makes broad, loose “comparisons” that barely deserved to be called comparisons, relies on first glance estimations of subjects, and treats just about every pattern of thought AS IF it could be thought of reversibly–by reverse pattern . Ironically enough, I’ve seen some fundamentalists display that tendency too …
    Lateral thinking is becoming frighteningly popular in this present media- saturated decade and has become especially popular with the MTV generation .It’s high time lateral thinking be exposed for the totally wrong thinking that it is .
    By the way, in regard to the magazine ‘Relevant’ (a magazine which often tries to bridge Christianity and contemporary culture) though much of the articles promote an ideology of postmodernist baloney–I must say, that from time to time there is an article–or a book review even in that magazine that is NOT postmodernist in outlook, and is suprisingly quite good . Such rare good articles are like gems amidst the muck ! Recently, a friend gave me some recent back issues of that magazine that did have one article that was quite good–excellent even, written by a young man who had come from a life of wealth , priveledge, and fame and had renounced that “lifestyle” of fame, wealth, and priveledge, and was working with a ministry to teach various skills to the poor . The ministry goes by boat to Africa (and to many Third World nations) and tries to put the gospel of Jesus in effect and helps to restore rural communities. The musings and observations were quite profound and did NOT have the pop psychology new-speak that many other articles have. The young man had a quite profound commentary on some verses on the book of Joel which indicated the Lord restoring the waste years . It was an excellent article !
    The article by the young man was notable , insasmuch, as it did NOT foster that weird sort of doctrine that mis-interprets a number of verses to foster that doctrine –which has become popular recently, a doctrine that claims tragedy and suffering promote some mysterious purpose that supposedly –according to the weird ideology–we aren’t supposedly meant to understand . (Indeed, those that foster the weird doctrine that claims tragedy “is all for the best” , do interpret several verses quite LOOSELY . They misconstrue the verse in Genesis where Joseph told his brothers that ‘God meant it for good’, regarding the work he did in Egypt , they misinterpret the book of Job , and they wrongly interpret several verses in Isaiah, all in order to concoct the appearance of seeming support for that doctrine…but to do that topic full justice would require another message post altogether ….)

  • I am not sure if you are fer me er aginst me… hahahaha.
    The funny thing is I do agree with much you said. And by the way I am only postmodern becuase of the age of time we live in as you are your self. I am a Christian who is finding faith in this postmodern world. I too agree that Calvin was not much of a theologian and see that most fundy churches are more apt to teach Calvin or Spuergen than seek the Bible and what it really speaks of. Even so called Emergent churches I have found are only rehash of R.Warren and purpose drive… with candles and special lighting. Often in seeking to be relevant I have seen churches miss the boat. They confuse beign “hip” with relevancy. They do nto not seek social justice nor speak out for those outside their own fellowship.
    Yet, I have fundy and PM/e, evangelical,charismatic, Catholic,and on and on who are earnestly seeking the faith. Their only desire is to seek God.
    I hope that is your true desire also. As for me as I speak to fundy’s I hear the same reteric, yet sometimes I see a hint of breakthrough.
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • Blessings be upon you brother Iggy , blessings from Jesus of Nazareth –the only Messiah ! I’ve been away a couple of days. I see you sent me an e-mail . When I came back to this present blog –I accidently went into the wrong thread and thought that what we had posted had got deleted . Glad to know it hasn’t .
    I read what you posted in the above comments section , and it is fascinating .Yes, I also seek God . One of the objections probably the major meta- Objection to both poastmodernism and fundamentalism from which all the other objections spring is the tendency of such outlooks to reject consistent thinking.
    Consistency is the mortar between the bricks in the House of virtue . Recently, I read a debate between theologians Chris Hall and John Sanders, on the Christianity Today website, where Chris Hall (and I do wish him well) unfortunately (to make a giant understatement) expressed an attitude of “accepting mystery” and made statements that indicated he was willing to “live with” so-called “paradox” . Hopefully , at a later date, I could post here the e-mail I tried to send Christainity Today, where I quote sentences from the debate exchange with John Sanders . The e-mail got sent back because of some delivery problem, and being I’m borderline computer illiterate , I didn’t know how to resend it. The doctrine that God is intrinsically mysterious and NOT just seemingly mysterious… is insulting to God . What I try to explain, in the e-mail letter I tried to send to Christianity Today, is that this weird, ever so bizarre doctrine (especially popular in recent decades) that CLAIMS that God *pre*-allows tragedies be they natural or the evil that men do for some mysterious purpose that we’re supposedly not meant to know… is insulting to God and, furthermore, that the occasional Bible verses that those who advocate that totally weird doctrine try and loosely interpret as supporting that doctrine , don’t fit that doctrine well at all .
    One of the Bible verses that those who advocate what I call the Weird Doctrine , try and interpret towards that doctrine is Isaiah 55: 8 , ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts , neither are my ways your ways’ . NOWHERE–I try to explain to people who advocate the Weird Doctrine–NOWHERE does that verse state that God allows evil tragedy for some mysterious , essentially unknowable purpose ! NOWHERE does that verse say that logic is a mere invention of man to be referred to as so called “human logic” and that there is a dichotomy of so-called “human logic” and some “Divine Logic” that is different . In truth, deductive logic is pre-existent and is NOT a mere invention of man . The root term in Greek for the word ‘logic’ is Logos a term used in the Gospel of John 1 verse 1 .
    The most plausible interpretation of Isaiah 55:8 and Isaiah 55: 9 (also) it should be argued would most likely be gleaned from the verse *immediately prior* : Isaiah 55:7.
    Isaiah 55:7 reads,
    ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord , and he will have mercy on him: and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon .’
    The most plausible interpretation of what is meant by the statement ‘my ways are not your ways/my thoughts are not your thoughts ‘, is that God is willing to show mercy towards those that repent, unlike humnans who are more likely often to bear grudges. The most likely interpretation of Isaiah 55:7 is NOT that God has an inherently other kind of logic/ nor a mysterious other morality then the morality that humans are familiar with . INSTEAD the more plausible explanation, is that God is Infinitely more steadfast at maintaining the same Logic and morality that humans are familiar with –yet which humans don’t always thoroughly maintain.
    That interpretation of Isaiah 55:7 I just presented makes more sense then the weird doctrine that insults God by INTERPRETING Isaiah 55:7-8 to construe it towards the mysterious purpose for evil/tragedy rubbish that I’ve seen in recent years . It seems that such a Weird doctrine of the so-called mysterious purpose for tragedy we’re reportedly not supposed to know shtick seems to be an offspin of Calvinism . That weird doctrine is inconsistent not only with the benevolent loving charity of God but also with the Idea of a Just God .
    Hence, the problem of inconsistency in doctrines . And if inconsistency is dressed up in fancy euphemisms like that weasel word ‘paradox’ its still inconsistency . I would argue that the very word ‘parasox’ is a misnomer, and that the so-called “paradoxes” involve mischaracterizations of language (often involving statements that are not carefully interpreted, statements that look self-referential but aren’t and other misinterpretations of language .
    It is good of you to engage the Fundamentalists in earnest dialogue where you explore together . I wish the Fundamentalists well in that I wish them no harm , yet much of the ideology that flies under ther banner of Fundamentalism, is so far different from the teachings and even the very world-and-life sensibility of Jesus of Nazareth . As far as Fundamentalists go , however, the Church of The Nazarene Fundamentalists have a better approach –in one area anyway– to other Fundamentalists inasmuch as they try to aspire to a totally sinless life based perhaps on readings (if memory serves rightly) of some verses in the epistle of I John .
    Lately, I’ve been wanting to ask more Fundamentalists who interpret (that’s the key word) 2 Timothy 3:16 as somehow supporting the doctrine that every individual verse of the Bible is infalliable what they make of St.Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:6 stating ‘but this I speak of permission and not of commandment’ when he refers to the verse right before it 1 Corinthians 7:5 . Why does he use the phrase ‘not of commandment’ ? Why that particular phrase ?
    I’d also like them to consider that though 2 Timothy 3:16 states that’ all scripture is of the inspiration of God’ –it does NOT say that all scripture is inspired to the same degree or extent and there may be degrees of inspiration that might very from one Bible verse to another . Is inspiration really like dictation being given verbatim .
    One factor that is puzzling in regard to the Fundamentalist doctrine of Inspiration as it relates to the way that many Fundamentalists deal with the epistles of Paul is the notion that many Fundamentalists have of accomodation or perhaps some of them call it something else . It seems to be a roundabout way that somer of them who ostensibly believer that every verse is infalliable have to downplay the authority of some verses .In all fairness there are some old style Fundamentalists that are likely follow the advice of Paul, in I Corinthians to encourage women to wear hair veils to cover their head when praying in congregation , yet many contemporary Fundamentalists don’t seem to eager to follow that particular verse from Paul !
    I also like to eventually get around to discussing inconsistency in the relastivist/postmodernist crowd that reveres
    ANTI-philosophers like Richard Rorty, Bruce Aune, Michel Foucault and others put forth . One of the topics i’d like to explore, concurrent with such effort is how Kurt Godel’s so-called mathematical proof of the incompleteness of mathematics often touted by the relativist crowd is a lot of hype. Gerhard Gentzen apparently demonstrated that the so-called “Godel’s Proof” was hype with Gentzen’s Proof —but that would take time to discusss
    Have long days and plesant nights Iggy, I look forward to corresponding with you further regarding such deep topics .
    May Jesus bless you ,
    Fond Regards ,
    Jay

  • It is good to discuss with respect isn’t it.
    I agree that one of the characteristics of God is consistency. I see that with our own tainted worldview we often input our own Ideals about God into doctrines or miss the main point altogether. As in Isaiah 57, I see that God is saying His thoughts are on a level that only to know Him may we understand. To know Him is to forsake our evil, turn to God and then He will give us His Way.
    This Way is a Person, or Jesus Himself. He has given us His mind, yet we still often work from the bottom up in logic to find His Way. When one comes to Christ we are exchanging our will for His Will and Purpose. A purpose is given at the inception of a Christian rebirth into Christ. We do not seek a purpose it seeks us as we live in Christ.
    Too often, and I through myself into this camp as often I too fail, we do not look to Christ Jesus as The Truth Absolute. I agree to a point that we finite and fallen creatures cannot understand truth without tainting it in some way. Though we may grasp a part, it is corrupted as it passes through the filters of our mind. In that way I see the Relativists are right. We have had our eyes open to see the difference between good and evil, given statutes and laws that step by step give us all the mercy and grace and forgiveness and blessings of God, yet have the moral consistency to live it out.
    We need something more. That is Truth, or as John said, The Logos of God, came to us and showed us it was possible by a total dependant relationship with the Father, or as I say the Speaker. For the Word is dependant on the Speaker as Jesus was dependant on the Father. I am one with Christ as I am dependant for all things on Christ Jesus.
    I do think doctrine is a good thing; the issue to me is that does the doctrine add too or hinder grace. Either way it takes away from the purity of Grace. Jesus’ Grace is sufficient. We can say the line is here cross it and one is saved; yet the true line is with in each person’s heart… and God only knows when that line is crossed.
    I do believe God is a mystery… yet not as One that cannot ever be known. Rather One that is continually revealing Himself to us. That was the purpose of Jesus to reveal the Love and mercy and Grace of God in His desire of relationship with a fallen creature. There are levels of this great mystery we will have told to us later.
    I agree that it is often a cop out to use “paradox” as a way of explaining what someone does not understand. Honesty is greatly needed these days and a genuine, “I don’t know”, can go so much farther than a lofty “paradoxical” explanation that really makes the person sound either of great knowledge or plain silly. Honesty is much needed in theology.
    As far as evil that be stills man, I see in scripture that God will do some great and terrible things in line of judgment. Did He have His hand in Katrina, or the recent earthquakes in Pakistan? How quick we are to blame God, or Satan or Bush, or whoever. How slow we are to respond with compassion and aid and Love. The way I see God having a hand is in our response. What was our reaction? I look at the scripture and see in Luke 13 Jesus talking of those who died when the tower in Siloam as it fell on them. He asks are these men more guilty then any others in Jerusalem? I ask the same here… if this Katrina was God’s judgment, why were those people’s sin worse than anyone else’s in America?
    We are quick to judge and slow to give mercy.
    God tells us He is not a man that He would lie. To me meaning that He will go back on His word as say the God of Islam may, or man himself who in one breath can smile then kill you as you turn your back. Though we may lack understanding God consistently desires for us to know Him. In that is a greater mystery than trying to fathom whether God is knowable. We serve that God of revelation. Not an arbitrary god like Allah who can be good then bring calamity and have no reason other than he is god. That is what sets our Great God apart from the others.
    I could go on…
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • My apologies as this should read:
    In that way I see the Relativists are right. We have had our eyes open to see the difference between good and evil, given statutes and laws that step by step give us all the mercy and grace and forgiveness and blessings of God, yet have not the moral consistency to live it out.
    iggy

  • Greetings Iggy ,
    Didn’t mean to seem like I had dropped off . You , sir, have posted an interesting response .
    It is the case that mankind is fallen, yet , it should be stated that it is NOT the faculty of deductive logic that is tainted. Instead the emotive faculty as well as the appetites within man that is tainted. Often man allows base emotions like envy and greed –as well as the desire for crass , vulgar activities such as the excitement that results from sexual intercourse–to block out or distract ther higher emotions like charitable love for others , hope, mercy and so on .
    One of the purposes that Jesus came to earth to live among us was to teach us to NOT let those lower emotions and appetites block out the good emotiions, but rather to block out that which is crass and NOT noble . That high standard is what He was appealing to at when He said in the gospels, ‘Go out and find what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. ‘
    Deductive reason helps to discourage those lower emotions, and the appetite for vulgar forms of excitement–forms of excitement without ethical or esthetic value . In that way, deductive logic (aka reason) can be a factor that either helps us to be more nurturing/more loving –or at least to block out irrational desires like greed , envy , status seeking ..that are against being nurturing/loving people .
    The Spirit of God can thus be seen to edify people through deductive logic . To have loving hearts it certainly helps to have minds that are consistent–or at least continually try to be. And being consistent does often mean getting into the nitty gritty of analyzing thin distinctions –what some call “splitting hairs” .
    One way of thinking that for a number of years has made me cringe–and I admire you since I’ve *not* seen you engage in what I’m about to describe–is the tendency for *some* people in the Fundamentalist community to try and refer to reason/logic as the “carnal mind” .
    When St.Paul wrote in his epistles about the carnal mind there is NO explicit indication that Paul was in any way referring to logic/reason ;NO indication that Paul was referring to intellectualism of any kind ! The truth is that when Paul writes of the ‘carnal mind’, or even the word ‘carnal’ –he mentions it in connection with the desire for sexual intercourse and or matters having to do with money ! It truly boggles how glibly some people take that phrase ‘carnal mind’ and try and re-define it to apply it to something that it does NOT apply to . What it doesn’t apply to is reason/logic …or intellectualism .
    Some might cite the warning in Colossians where Paul seems to disparage ‘philosophy’ . Yet it is the view of some in the community of Bible scholars that Paul was NOT warning against formal philosophy –but instead what is called philosophy when the word “philosophy” is used in the loosest sense, and , hence, according to a scholar I read who studied the writings of Paul, Paul was warning against occult practices of astrology and other superstitious practices that were popular in some of the cities of Greece such as the city where the Colossian Christians lived . According to the scholar Paul was NOT warning against ‘philosophy’ in the technical, formal sense of the word such was practiced by people such as Socrates and Plato .
    Of course that is an interpretation on the part of that scholar , granted and he must demonstrate such an interpretation by explicit means . However, such an interpretation is NOT that implausible when we consider that in the book of Acts , St.Paul shows a deep liking for the writings of some of the Greek philosophical poets such as Cleanthes,Aratus, and Epiminides and quotes them NOT disapprovingly, but quotes them with approval .Paul does indicate that these philosophical poets had valid insights about the same God he was proclaiming when he spoke to the Epicureans and Stoics, on Mars Hill, in the book of Acts . It is rather repugnant how people who are ready to dismiss the importance and influence of Greek philosophy on the New Testament writers –downplay that Paul quoted such philosophical poets .
    In regard to Isaiah 55:8 , the statments that you have presented are of interest and *not necessarily* at odds with what I have been obligated to present–I would , nonetheless, like to emphasize for emphasis, that it is mind-boggling how some people present such an outrageously weird notion that MIS-interprets the statement how His ways are not our ways and tries to spin it, to promote the doctrine that insults God by trying to get us to believe that God supposedly pre-allows tragedy even to befall innocent people such as children and infants for some supposedly mysterious purpose—when Isaiah 55:8 does NOT explicitly support that mysterious purpose doctrine at all !
    Furthermore, Isaiah 45:6-7, which I’ve seen twisted/falsely interpreted by people who support that weird doctrine of a mysterious- purpose- for- allowing evil– apparently uses the Hebrew word ‘ra’ which is “translated” into English by being replaced by the word ‘evil’ –often did NOT refer to evil as in wickedness/unethical behavior . Often it simply meant an unpleasant experience–such as an unplesant that would befall great evil doers OR a destruction of some state of affairs . In Jeremiah 24:2 the Hebrew word ‘ra’, that is rendered into English “translations” of Isaiah 45:6-7 as the word ‘evil’, is apparently rendered by the word ‘bad’ in Jeremiah 24:2 referring to some figs in a basket that had become overripe . Thus , Isaiah 45:6-7 does NOT explicitly support that weird doctrine that would mislead us into thinking that God creates evil . Neither does Amos 3:6 –since it too apparently uses the Hebrew word ‘ra’ which can often signify an unpleasant experience , but not necessarily one with a wicked , unethical source .
    Though I agree that God will sometimes use physical calamities to physical destroy evildoers . Not that you are at odds with what I am about to state–but let me state for emphasis that I do NOT think that God will destroy the good doers along with the evil doers–I believe that when God destroys evil doers He singles out those evil doers . The tragedy that befell many people because of hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan –there is NO indication in the Bible nor in natural theology that those events in any way served the will of God and you are right to disapprove of the outlook those who say they did . It never ceases to amaze me how back last year in 2004 when there was the Tsunami in southeast Asia–there was one or more evangelists who claimed that the people who died in the Tsunami was somehow the will of God to punish the sinful . The question that ought to be asked is what about all the sinful pimps who run hideous child prostitution rings in Bangkok , Thailand who *weren’t* drowned by the Tsunami ? Why weren’t they washed out to sea —IF that tidal wave was sent to punish sin doers ? Someone ought to ask such people who make such claims that .
    As for the relativist/postmodernists, I haven’t gathered that they have observed that we as humanity have had the difference between good and evil explained and yet not had the consistency to live it out and objected to that inconsistency much. Rather the relativists like and support inconsistency. They especially like and support inconsistency in thought (what they call being “conflicted”) , though some of them probably don’t mind inconsistency in action .
    In another post, here in this present thread, I would like to re-post the text of an e-mail to the editors of the magazine: ‘Christianity Today’ regarding the statements made by one theologian that promote the acceptance of NON-consistent thinking under the name of so-called “paradox” and how bad that NON-consistent thinking is . I bear that theologian no ill will as a person and wish him well, however, it is quite deplorable that people pass off that NOT consistent thinking in regard to doctrine of theology as some so-called “paradox” . As you point out it is better to say “I don’t know” then to use paradox as a supposed explanation .
    I would argue that “acceptance of mystery”, though, can be also a phrase that can be bandied about in regard to doctrinal topics with just as much of a mendacious cop- out sort of flare as the word “paradox” . I’m NOT claiming that you are doing that –since the statements you have made regarding the prospect of mystery have apparently more nuance than how many I’ve heard use that word ‘mystery’ .

  • BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
    On this present blog is a replica of a text that I tried to send as a letter to the editor of Christianity Today’s on-line Editorial section . For some cause the letter was returned to my e-mail box . Being that I am borderline computer illiterate , I was unable to fix the sending process . So here I will mostly reproduce with some editing the letter and (perhaps) add some additional material . In the letter , I do defend open theism, though the main thrust as to why I’m obligated to reproduce the letter is to help debunk mysteriousness-ist doctrine !
    The letter denounces the weird , bizarre murky sort of doctrine that tries to compromise deductive reason with the murky unwarranted notion that portrays God is somehow inherently mysterious (which is insulting to God) .
    Dear Christianity Today ,
    After reading the debate between apparent Fundamentalist: Chris Hall, and John Sanders , regarding open theism, I wanted to state that as I am a believer in Jesus I wish Mr.Chris Hall well, notwithstanding, I found a particular series of statements made by Chris Hall to be quite appalling , and illustrative of a rather weird brand of theology . Chris Hall.,like a number of Fundamentalists, couples the word : ‘logic’ with the word ‘human’ and puts together the phrase I’ve seen bandied about : the silly phrase “human logic” .
    Logic is logic . The notion that there is a “human logic”, separate from God’s logic is bad theology . Deductive Logic is NOT a construct invented by man it is merely discovered by man . Logic pre-exists . As the Gospel of John chapter 1 verse 1 states,’ In the Beginning was the Logos .’ Logos which is loosely “translated” by the term ‘ word ‘ in English Bibles originally referred to a principle of order, and NOT a word in terms of literal phonetic speech . The term ‘Logic’ is derived from the same word as the term ‘Logos’ found in the beginning of the Gospel of John .
    Some have claimed the Old Testament verse in Isaiah 55: 8, which quotes God as saying, ‘Your ways are not my ways your thoughts are not my thoughts” somehow teaches that God has a supposed “different type of Logic” then so-called “human logic” . That interpretation , however, is completely unfounded . Isaiah 55:8 does NOT explicitly make any statement about God having any “different type of Logic” than the ones humans are familiar with . It would take more time to do full justice to why the verse should not be interpreted that way , but a clearer insight for a more plausible interpretation of the verse can be gained by reading the verse that is *immediately prior* : Isaiah 55:7 which states, ‘ Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him:and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon .’
    A more plausible interpretation for Isaiah 55:8 is that God maintains an infinitely more noble moral standard than humans, inasmuch, as He is willing to show mercy to those who repent instead of holding a grudge, like humans have a tendency to do . That interpretation has a lot more plausibility, than the bizarre *interpretation* which claims that God has some inherently mysterious other sort of logic .
    Mr.Chris Hall makes the quite weird and theologically flimsy statement ,
    “Packer has warned me, both as his student in Vancouver and in many of his writings, to beware of draining the mystery out of Scripture in a misplaced desire for rational consistency.”
    There is NEVER any such state as “too much consistency”!!!!!! . Unless we are going to be anti-climatic about values and Truth, then we should always be willing to take the pursuit of consistency to extremes . Love of truth demands nothing less . Consistency is the foundation and the link between all the virtues–including virtues in the area of abstract thought, as well as action . To want to have a balance between consistency and even a little fuzzy thinking , is lazy-minded and quite frankly a bizarre approach ! I happen very much to agree with the New Testament verse which states, ‘God is not a God of confusion, but a God of Peace ‘ . I also happen to agree with the verse in the epistle known as I John chapter 1 verse 5 which affirms that ‘ God is light and in him is no darkness at all .’ (KJV) What is one of the primary properties of light ? It reveals : it shows the contours and boundaries of shapes and spaces –it makes that which is around it comprehensible .
    Mr. Chris Hall should consider getting another mentor then that Mr.Packer fellow . Mr.Packer is NOT the spokesman for Jesus .
    Mr.Chris Hall cites the verse in Deuteronomy which states , ‘the secret things belong to the Lord ‘ . However, the verse in Deuteronomy does NOT explicitly tell the reader what sorts of subjects are included in ‘the secret things’ , thus it is presumptuous to presume that the relationship between Divine foreknowledge and the free will of created beings, is in any way included in what Deuteronomy calls “the secret things” .
    Chris Hall goes on to say in the exchange with John Sanders ,
    ‘ Hence, I have learned to live with incompleteness, paradox, incomprehesibility, and deep mystery in my relationship with God .’
    One of the worst misnomers ; one of the laziest words in the English language is the word ‘paradox’ . The word paradox is one of those weasal euphemisms like unto the practice of the politician who might refer to raising taxes as “revenue enhancement” . There are NO inherent paradoxes . For there to be an actual paradox there would have to be a demonstratable case of two or more statements which claim opposite propositions about the same aspect of the same context where each of the opposite propositions that are claimed are all confirmed . <----That has NOT happened ! The series of claims that many people tout as paradoxes are either cases of contradictions that have not been reconciled that are euphemistically called "paradoxes" , or are cases of statements that seem to have self-reference but which actually don't from a linguistic standpoint such as the "this sentence is false" routine , or are statements that involve other sometimes subtle fallacies of language . It is quite lazy to appeal to the notion of so-called "paradox" . Furthermore, to *even partially* disparage the quest to have absolute consistency in regard to belief , is a very lazy minded / hazy-minded approach, and one that reminds me of postmodernists who also don't like logical consistency and also cults that dis-courage critical thinking in favor of an emotionalistic approach to belief . If people back in 1978 Guyana , had been more willing to insist on extreme consistency, instead of the *emotialistic approach promoted by Jim Jones* , then they would have rejected the advice of Rev . Jim Jones for the garbage it was and NOT been so willing to drink the poisoned cool-aid . It is worthwhile to note that though Jesus in the Gospels does use a phrase that has been "translated" into English , "the mysteries of the Kingdom Of God" , a more plausible interpretation would be that the word that is rendered into English as the word "mysteries" refers to what might be referred to as 'in depth knowledge', and *NOT* at all some item that in inherently inscrutable or unknowable . St.Paul, in a verse in the epistle to the Romans, when commenting on the relationship between God and the Gentiles , does make the statement , 'how unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out' (Romans 11:33 KJV ) . However, a case can be plausibly made that the statements refer narrowly to the resourcefullness of God in being able to reconcile Himself with nations , and would NOT necessarily be a verse which alleges God's plans in general are somehow inherently mysterious, nor is it necessarily a broad claim about mysteriousness being any inherently any attribute of God . As a believer in Jesus , I find that when the opponents against open theism have to resort to invoking terms like "paradox" , and "mystery" and ,concurrently, disparage the quest for total consistency of thought regarding beliefs then the case against open theism is on flimsy ground ! Since I'm sending this e-mail I thought I'd mention two of the verses that those who are against open theism often cite and how they could be better interpreted in such a way that does not conflict with open theism . Psalm 139 verse 4 David says of God , 'for there is not a word in my tounge but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it alltogether. (KJV) ' Many people who are against open theism presume that the verse indicates that David is claiming that God foreknows what David will say before he says it. However, the phrase 'word in my tounge' could just as well mean what David is saying in the present tense and NOT necessarily what David will say in the future . Then there is Isaiah 46::10 which quotes God as saying that He is , ' Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying my counsel shall stand and I shall do all my pleasure. ' Many of the opponents of open theism have presumed that God is indicating that He predicts the actions of created beings in the verse, yet the verse could very well, instead, indicate that God predicts His Own Actions and what the ultimate results of what His Own Acts of Divine Intervention will be ! There are other verses that seem to be against open theism that could also be more judicially interpreted . Regards , Jason Leary

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