September 2006

The Reformed doctrine of Holy Communion is one of great comfort to the Christian. The Christian is called to enter into the heavens to sit with Christ and to commune with Him. O to be with him and to learn at his feet. May he teach us something of the greatness of his majesty, the fullness of His love, and the depths to which he went to satisfy the demands of the law to pay God’s righteous penalty for us to have eternal life. Blessed be the Holy One of Israel.
“Your eyes are looking at bread and cup. This is the evidence before your physical sight. But your faith must be instructed concerning it – this bread being Christ ‘s Body and the cup containing His Blood. Though perhaps these words may be enough to initiate faith, faith must be further instructed in accordance with the Prophet’s words:
‘Believe that you may understand’ ( Is 7:9).
-St. Augustine of Hippo

This is a comment from Chuch Weise from Dutton United Reformed Church. Mr.Weise was commenting on the Emergent Church movement in response to a question concerning the Reformed response to this movement. His comments are quite helpful so I am (without permission) giving it to all of you.

In my opinion the best resource available is a book by D.A. Carson called “Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.” He does a good job providing an honest critique of the movement and particularly McLaren’s book “A Generous Orthodoxy.” I would also recommend reading McLaren’s book as well as Rob Bell’s book “Velvet Elvis” to get an understanding of where they are coming from. Both end up saying things you would expect to hear from Robert Schuller. Neither seem to have much theological training.McLaren seems to want to define Christianity in the beginning of his book with the Nicene Creed but then critiques Calvin later on for executing Christians who disagreed with him. The only person I know of that Calvin had some part in the execution of was Servetus who was anti-Trinitarian.

It is interesting that McLaren’s harshest criticisms in the book seem to be directed at Calvinism. He seems to be very positive towards the other groups he refers to. McLaren even spends some time apologizing for those horrible masculine pronouns in the Bible.

Bell’s book is heavily influenced by the teachings of Ray Vanderlaan and I think the Reformed community in general needs to be very careful in how it uses Vanderlaan’s material. Bell claims that when Peter is rebuked by Jesus for his lack of faith it is not for lack of faith in Jesus but lack of faith in himself. This is one of the things lifted from Vanderlaan. I don’t think Bell has any real training in Hebrew but he almost leaves the impression that you can’t have any understanding of the Bible without it. He seems to think that the Talmud should always be read back into the Bible.Bell does bring up some important issues, such as the need to study the Bible in community but he does not provide any real guidelines in how to do that.

Keith Mathison’s book “The Shape of Sola Scriptura” addresses the same problem but deals with the issue in a more in depth and Biblical way.Both McLaren and Bell seem to be mostly writing about themselves which is common in evangelicalism. Everything is related to some experience they had or how they feel. McLaren claims to be writing in the spirit of Chesterton but Chesterton was very harsh towards such self-centered people who couldn’t tell you about anything except in relationship to themselves. When I read McLaren and Bell it reminds me of reading Plato. They are good at showing real problems in evangelicalism but when it comes to providing solutions they don’t really have any reasonable ones.

I hope that the movement causes Reformed Christians to look back to the 16th Century Reformers and embrace the ancient traditions that the Reformers did. The more Reformed Churches start looking like evangelicalism, the more their members will be easy prey for the emerging church movement. The Reformed Churches should also recognize the need for a strong community of believers. Church can’t just be a place you go to twice on Sunday.It’s important to realize who these people are reacting against. They are both critiquing evangelicalism but both still working within and evangelical mindset. They are not the root problem, the evangelical paradigm is. Their methodology is no less Biblical than the common evangelical one. They are starting to question things in evangelicalism and that is good and hopefully will lead to dialog with the Reformed community.

Chuck Wiese
Dutton URC
Grand Rapids, MI

Quite possibly the dumbest thing ever said by a minister of the Gospel.

This love [for Christ] will cause a minister to pray much for the congregation and pray that he himself might receive grace to communicate this to the congregation. He will study for his sermons prayerfully, and he will prayerfully traverse the street towards the pulpit. His prayer is not that he may avoid disgrace or shame, nor that he may speak in a manner pleasing to the congregation, rendering him honor and respect and enabling him to draw crowds. If such is his secret motive (even if he does not say so expressly) and he pretends to have another motive while praying for the honor of God and the edification of the congregation, he frequently does this to satisfy his conscience, but his own honor is his primary motive. Love, however, will cause him at all times to pray for the congregation, thereby seeking her benefit. “Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith” (1 Th. 3:10) [II: 134].

I have found a Hebrew Tutorial that I think will help me with my studies. I am also receiving private tutoring from Dr. Bilkes who is a master of these Semetic languages. I am having a difficult time with it though. Semetic languages are strange because there is NOTHING recognizable about them at all.

When I began Greek it was a bit easier since there is a lot of similarity between Greek and English roots. If you saw that Big Fat Greek Wedding you can recall that everything goes back to Greek.

.llew sa gnisufnoc etiuq era sretcarahc eht dna sdrawkcab si ti ecnis werbeH ot kcab seog gnihton tuB

It seems as though the so-called Bishop of Rome has offended the Muslims. He referred to their practice of Jihad (holy war against Jews, Christians, and other ‘idolators’) as evil. Amongst the dying words of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, were “All Jews and Christians must die”.

Does this sound evil to you? Is a hate-filled religion that fosters fear and violence an evil religion? Is a religion that denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God evil? Is a religion that that has a God who is arbitrary and will damn you on Monday but redeem you on Tuesday evil?

Are the number one outward enemy of Christianity since the middle-ages, who dipped the blood of Christians onto their fez hats…are they evil.

Well, the Pope thought so..until the heathen raged… now he is deeply sorry for the offense.

Here is the text of his apology:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The pastoral visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today.
I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this Pastoral Visit.
As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday’s general audience.
At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.
These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.
Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words.
I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.

Pope Apologizes to Angered Muslims

In [the] church there is both glory and elegance. For a moment give attentive consideration to the glorious state of that kingdom and its true subjects. The earth and the nations are enveloped in darkness; however, wondrous light is to be found in the church. The glory of the Lord illuminates this city of God and the Sun of Righteousness enlightens it with His light. Outside of her is nothing but pollution, abominations, and ungodliness; however, within there is her holiness, purity, and glory…. Ought not everyone therefore to delight himself in Zion, and be desirous to be a member of this church, a fellow citizen of the saints, and a member of the household of God? Should not everyone be desirous to submit himself to the protection and government of this King? For not only are all the these things said concerning this kingdom and this King, but all are most certainly true. (II: 58).

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