Monday, April 30, 2007

Will the Evangelicals Please Stand?

I find it frustrating when progressives insist that they are “evangelical.” I have had such people complain that people like me have robbed them of the word. "After all," they say, "we are all evangelical." But progressives use the term in an overly literal, limited sense. When evangelicals such as I use the term, we not only mean we have "good news," we mean some very specific things:
  • Salvation through Jesus alone is our primary message: the Good News begins with Him.
  • The Bible is the only accurate, reliable revelation of God to humanity.
  • We are called to the Great Commission: tell the world about Jesus.
There are all kinds of news items but only some are good. According to Scripture, there is only one perfect good and that is the revelation of God in Jesus. The Good News that came from him, through the apostles, and to us is very specific: the Good News is only through the person of Jesus Christ.

Progressives have altered this term by pointing most often to the prophets of pre-Christian times. Their premise is that orthopraxis (right action) trumps orthodoxy (right belief). There is no question that Jesus used the words of the prophets when He made his pronouncement at the synagogue in Nazareth, but He had a new end in mind.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18, 19)
Jesus was announcing a Good News that begins and endures in Him alone. Progressives, on the other hand, tend to be loathe to share that Jesus Himself is the Good News, preaching that good actions are the Good News. The rulers of the faith in Nazareth tried to execute Jesus because of His statement. They weren’t opposed to good deeds—they were opposed to His claim to be the source of the Good News.

This is the progressives’ most egregious departure from orthodox Christian faith: they have, I believe, substituted right-thinking and good deeds for the power that comes from a life personally transformed by Jesus. Having found a religious replacement for the “evangelical” Jesus, they are freed to reinterpret the Scriptural moral code and, even, reject the uniqueness of salvation in Jesus Christ.
"We don't know God; we experience God....as progressives we are always progressing, never letting it [our theology] get tied down in a simple orthodox answer....Our theology must be based on more than our own [Christian] scriptures…. We are too parochial, I think."
So—back to my frustration over the assertion that we’re all “evangelicals.” If the Good News is not first about the person of Jesus the “evangelism” is no more than a theology of works. Jesus calls us first to faith in Him, and in Him alone.

As an aside, I’ve challenged some progressives who claim to be “evangelical” to do something for me: put that description (i.e. “I am an evangelical Christian; this is an evangelical church) in their bulletins, their church publications, and on their business cards. So far there haven’t been any takers.

Keep praying—keep the faith,
Tom

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tom,

John Shuck is pastor of First Presbyterian in Elizabethton, Tennessee, a congregation which labels itself as "a progressive Christian community."

John wrote Saturday, April 28 in his blog, shuckandjive, that on Sunday he was going to preach on a text from "Treastise on the Resurrection" which is a Nag Hammadi gnostic writing. He also had a posting that April 27 about the congregation's plans to celebrate "Pluralism Sunday" on May 27.

I've read quite a number of John's blogs and his postings indicate he strays quite a bit from orthodox Christianity.

Apparently some find Jesus' claim, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)to be too exclusive for their tastes. (Oops, use of "Father" to refer to God is also upsetting as well.)

Grace and peace, (I guess that's still politically correct.)
Peggy Alexander

Christine Kooi said...

You wrote:

"When evangelicals such as I use the term, we not only mean..., we mean..."

There's the rub, isn't it? Both of the meanings of the term your post discusses can find justification in Scripture, yet what YOU mean by it is somehow more orthodox than what THEY mean by it. Both camps emphasize different aspects of the notion of "good news," yet only the progressives have "altered" it. Your argument doesn't stand up to logical reasoning.

In any case, if you pick either one of these meanings, the term "evangelical Christian" then becomes redundant, and therefore poor English.

Stushie said...

My old professor at Glasgow University used to say that a real evangelical was someone whow as willing to take the Gospel into No Man's Land.

Preaching the Gospel from our pulpits does not make us evangelical - going out onto the street and preaching the Good News does.

Aric Clark said...

The word "evangelical" is just an adjective. Like all words it has a semantic range rather than a single definition. Neither you, nor I, conservatives, nor progressives get to decide unilaterally what the word means. We are further constrained by etymology and contemporary customary usage. The best we can do is define explicitly what we intend when we use it, which I think you've done a fine job of here, but it is futile to complain that other people misuse the word merely because they do not seem to use it in the same way you do.

It seems to me that you imply that progressives who use the term are being dishonest because they don't choose to use it as a primary identity marker. This isn't a territorial battle being fought on lexical ground. In the same way that the word catholic means universal and is reasonably used by all christians even though many christians use that word with a more specific identity defining sense, it is reasonable and normal for people to use evangelical in its ordinary sense of "relating to the good news".

Mark said...

Thank you, Christine.

Mark said...

Dear Tom,

I am a progressive. More importantly, I am a Christian. As a Christian, I am evangelical. And by evangelical, I mean that I believe, live by, and preach that the good news is both Jesus Christ AND what he taught.

You get defensive when "liberals" make sweeping claims about "evangelicals", yet you have no compunction making sweeping claims about "liberals".

Yours in Christ,
Mark

TomGray said...

Christine,
My point was that progressives do not choose to use the term evangelical unless they are trying to dismiss or dilute the specific meaning I and other evangelicals use.

If they are "evangelicals" just like us, as they insist, why would they not always describe themselves thusly.

I sincerely believe that our usage is Biblical (see the Great Commission). I'll believe the progressives when they say that they put a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the first priority in their ministry and lives.
Tom

Anonymous said...

Tom, I've read this post four times and appreciate your attempts to explain the differences between these two camps. I understand almost everything.

You wrote: "Their premise is that orthopraxis (right action) trumps orthodoxy (right belief)." And, "[T]hey have, I believe, substituted right-thinking and good deeds for the power..." I don't understand how these two sentences make the same point, as they seem to contradict each other on the belief/thinking issue.

What do you mean by including "right-thinking" in the second sentence? If my question makes sense, please clarify.

Marie

Christine Kooi said...

Tom,

And my point is that if one is a professing Christian (especially in the Protestant tradition), one is by definition already an "evangelical" committed to the Good News (whether one believes that is the Great Commission or the Greatest Commandment), so the adjective "evangelical" becomes redundant and pointless. An "evangelical Christian" is in effect a "Christian Christian."

As for your argument about progressives using the term to dismiss your understanding of it, I would submit that that cuts both ways. To what extent do conservatives use the term "evangelical" when describing themselves in order to imply or suggest (or even baldly assert) that those who choose not to describe themselves that way are lesser Christians? No wonder, then, you would get upset at such people claiming to be evangelicals, too.

Manipulation of language is a two-way street. Self-proclaimed evangelicals are as guilty of a selective interpretation of Scripture as the progressives they excoriate. Perhaps what progressives who describe themselves as evangelicals are really doing is reminding conservatives that they cannot exercise a monopoly on language?

TomGray said...

I would invite all the responding progressives to answer the following in terms of what they do or do not believe:

* Is Jesus the Son of God; God the Son; God?
* Is the Bible the full revelation of God to humanity?
* Do you join with Paul and the apostles in sharing that there is salvation in no other than Jesus?
* Do you teach that each person will face judgment before God in the last day?

I think that the answers would be revealing. The deconstructionist words I've been reading seem to be a sophisticated way to avoiding commitment to specific belief.

In response to one person's comment that evangelical isn't just from the pulpit, I agree. This is why I personally invite people to follow Jesus. This is why our congregation is learning to and involved in doing the same thing.

This is why we send hundreds of members every year all over Oklahoma, the US, and the world.

They not only serve people medically or in other good works, but are trained to share their faith. One team, just returned from Nicaragua, reported treating almost 400 people medically AND that 60 people made a commitment to become Jesus followers.
Tom

Richard Jones said...

Tom, this is indicative of, and runs parallel with, the current political climate in America. People are exchanging the truth for a lie.

In the political arena we now have liberals trying to pass themselves off as conservatives, and the ultra-left trying to define themselves as centrists. Of course we know that they are ultimately defined by their actions, which truely reveal their inner convictions and beliefs.

While they claim to speak for the majority, in truth they only speak for themselves and a small band of followers, all the while making an attempt to convince others to accept their ideologies through words like "tolerance", "unity", "pluralism", "progressive" and "faith". These words drip like sweet honey from their lips but are really designed to cause division. If one does not subscribe to their way of thinking or their misguided "faith" then you are "intolerant" of others, who by-the-way are "all God's children" or who are "living an alternative sexual lifestyle", or who "have a right to choose".

This same exact thinking has bled over into the Church. In many instances the human experience has triumphed over Scripture. We rely more on our "feelings", or what we "think", to form our beliefs, rather that humbly adapting and molding ourselves to the foundational truths of God's Word. But they will say: "The Scriptures are too narrow and limited to be applied to today's world and culture." and "There are many paths to God." Yet the Holy Scriptures clearly state the opposite when Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 & 14: " Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it." (CEV)

Those who are truely Evangelical are not easily fooled by all the rhetoric and political correctness. Yet the Holy Scriptures say that even the elect will be decieved. In 2Timothy 3:13 Paul writes: "But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." (KJV)

The ultimate answer to this great dilemma of deception comes as we engage the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Scriptures and our meditations of Him. We must put off the old man and put on Christ. He dwells in us, and He, as the Living Word, bears witness through the Holy Spirit to the logos Word of God. As we engage Him in a deep, intense, and intimate relationship, we can hear His voice and the voice of a stranger we will not follow.

Mark said...

Tom,

Here are my progressive answers to your questions:

* Is Jesus the Son of God; God the Son; God?

Yes.

* Is the Bible the full revelation of God to humanity?

No. The Bible is the Word of God written. It is the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ as the Word of God in the Flesh, Son of God, Sovereign and Savior of all creation. The Bible is sufficient for our instruction and guidance in faith. The Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the only full revelation of God, whether or that revelation is to humanity, to the rest of creation, or within the Godhead. To suggest that the Bible is the full revelation of God to humanity is to suggest that the Bible is God, and that is idolatry.

* Do you join with Paul and the apostles in sharing that there is salvation in no other than Jesus?

Yes. And neither you, nor Paul, nor the apostles get to decide how and when God chooses to save through Jesus Christ. Salvation might come in the earthly life of an "unbeliever". It might come after the bodily death of an "unbeliever". It might even come after the final judgment of an "unbeliever". Only God decides. You have no control over--or say in--the matter.

* Do you teach that each person will face judgment before God in the last day?

Yes. I also teach that God does not wait until the last day to judge us. Judgment began through the words of the prophets, the teachings of Jesus, and the movement of the Holy Spirit even to this day. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all been judged lacking. Thanks be to God for justifying us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!

Having said this, it is not for you or me or anyone but God to decide whether or not another person's faith in Christ Jesus is "true enough" and their justification "secure". Your "evangelical litmus test" is insufficient. God alone decides. And in anyone's book, that's Good News.


Just as I'm sure you'll pray for me, I'll pray for you that God's mercy extends even to the likes of us both.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Mark said...

Tom,

Even when I proof read carefully, things slip through. I want to clarify one point that I made in answer to the third of your four questions.

Q3 "...is salvation in no other than Jesus?"

A4 "Yes. And neither you, nor Paul, nor the apostles get to decide how and when God chooses to save through Jesus Christ. ...Only God decides. You, Tom Gray, have no control over--or say in--the matter of another person's salvation."

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Christine Kooi said...

"The deconstructionist words...seem to be a sophisticated way to avoid commitment to specific belief."

And inquisitions about what one believes are an unsophisticated (though very old) way of avoiding an open dialogue with people we disagree with. Because judgment is of course far easier than conversation.

If it is "deconstructionist" to ask questions about the meanings of words, then Christianity is the original deconstructionist religion, since it has debated its words since its inception. Jesus commanded us to love God with all our mind as well, after all. He also told us to be not afraid. Because of our faith we should not be afraid of debate, disagreement, ambiguity or uncertainty.

As for your interrogation, isn't it enough that I answer: I am (or try to be) a Christian?

Peace and blessings,
Christine

Richard Jones said...

Mark, Your answers to Tom's questions are quite revealing.

If Jesus is the Word made flesh, and He is the full expression of the Godhead bodily Who fills all, in all, then the Bible becomes the full expression of God to man.

In Deut. 4:2 and again in Rev. 22:18 & 19, we are commanded to not add to, nor take from the Word of God, lest we have our names removed from the Lambs Book of Life. The reason for this is because you as a man cannot add to, nor take away, from God's comlete revelation of Himself to His creation. Yet you are attempting to do just that.

You further state:

Yes. And neither you, nor Paul, nor the apostles get to decide how and when God chooses to save through Jesus Christ. Salvation might come in the earthly life of an "unbeliever". It might come after the bodily death of an "unbeliever". It might even come after the final judgment of an "unbeliever". Only God decides. You have no control over--or say in--the matter.

This is completely heretical! To say that salvation might come after the bodily death of an "unbeliever" flies totally contrary to God's Word and is blasphemy. In Hebrews 9 it clearly states that, "it is appointed once for a man to die, then comes judgement". It is completely clear as well that salvation comes by grace through faith. We walk by faith and not by sight.(2Cor 5:7) Hope which is seen is not hope, for why would one hope for what he already sees.(Rom. 8:24) Jesus also clearly states in Mt. 10:32 & 33 that, "if you deny Me and fail to confess Me before men, I will deny you before the the Father". Romans 10:9 makes it perfectly clear that what you belive in your heart and confess with your mouth becomes the determining factor in our salvation. You cannot confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ when you are dead!

If that were the case then we are as the Catholics who believe you can pray a deceased loved one into heaven!

Mike Twedt said...

I think the answer to Tom's third question is very revealing. I see no attempt by anyone (especially Tom in the original post) to usurp God's sovereignty in judgement. I do see an attempt to sweep away God's written word as incomplete where it is inconvenient to those who don't want to follow the Great Commission.

I am also curious. Where does the teaching that their is salvation 'after the bodily death of an "unbeliever". It might even come after the final judgment of an "unbeliever".' come from?

Doesn't the use of the word 'final' here put an internal contradiction in the statement?

In His Service.

Aric Clark said...

Tom,

To respond to your questions:

* Is Jesus the Son of God; God the Son; God?

Yes.

* Is the Bible the full revelation of God to humanity?

No. Jesus is the full revelation of God to humanity. The Bible is a witness to that revelation.

* Do you join with Paul and the apostles in sharing that there is salvation in no other than Jesus?

Yes, and i also join with them in affirming that God has been working in and through the Spirit in every age and place and continues to do so, because it is God's desire to redeem all of creation.

* Do you teach that each person will face judgment before God in the last day?

I am still a student and not in a place to teach yet, but I do hold that we will face judgment and thanks be to God that the one who judges is none other than the lamb who was slain. Indeed, the basic sentence of judgment has already been passed over us all. We are guilty in that we crucified Christ, but God raised him up, reversing the judgment of humanity and freeing us for new life.

Richard Jones said...

Mark, To teach that an "unbeliever" can be saved after death, or even after judgement, kicks the door W I D E open to the so called gospel of "inclusion". To say that one can be saved at anytime, even after death, leaves out our place as free moral agents who have a free will to choose life or choose death. God clearly shows us that we alone have that choice.

If we no longer have a choice in the matter, then we no longer have hope, and thus have no reason to share that hope with others, which is evangelical at its core.

Anonymous said...

"No. Jesus is the full revelation of God to humanity. The Bible is a witness to that revelation."

This sounds good at first glance but then I have to ask how do we know about Jesus?...through partial revelation of the Bible? or full revelation of the Bible...but if you don't believe in the Bible fully then how can you believe in Jesus fully?

It seems to me that Mark has changed the nature of the argument by accusing Tom et al. of worshiping the Bible instead of believing the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Sometimes I wish I was more progressive ...it would be so much easier to get along in this world!

Mark P.

Aric Clark said...

Richard Jones said, "If Jesus is the Word made flesh, and He is the full expression of the Godhead bodily Who fills all, in all, then the Bible becomes the full expression of God to man.

Your argument doesn't make sense. There is no logical requirement that because Jesus is the Word made flesh, the Bible becomes the full expression of God. If you intended to make a point here, you have some work to do.

He also said it is heretical to say, as Mark does, that "neither you, nor Paul, nor the apostles get to decide how and when God chooses to save through Jesus Christ"

Please remove the words blasphemy and heresy from your vocabulary until you have an inkling of what is orthodox. We cannot know who is saved, nor when that salvation will come.

"The dreadful doctrine of election permits of no speculation as to which names are written and which ones not, nor how they will come to their fate." Calvin's Institutes 1559ed

"Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Matt 25:13

"But about the day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Mark 13:32

Paul tells us not to worry about others, but to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling. One of the greatest mistakes we make is presuming that we have any right or power to set a boundary on God's grace. Read Jonah. Read the story of Peter and Cornelius from Acts. We have no power or knowledge about the limitations of God's grace and that MUST extend beyond the grave. To have faith in the saving power of God in Jesus Christ is precisely to trust that God is working for the salvation of all God's people and we cannot say precisely how and when that will happen for each person.

It "kicks the door WIDE open" yes! Precisely what Jesus does on Holy Saturday is he descends into hell and kicks the door WIDE open. The gospel message is that there is nowhere God can't or won't go, nothing God can't do through love to save creation from itself. Because God is free in a way we are not we cannot know whether there are limits to God's grace, but even if there are limitations we are not the ones to define them.

In response to Mark P/Anonymous...

How do we know about Jesus? First of all from the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit without which we would never have even come to scripture. Second of all from the witness of the disciples, which we are blessed to have carried through the church and in scripture.

There is nothing strange or heretical about saying the Bible is only partially revelatory, or revelatory in a secondary sense after the primary revelation of Jesus Christ. Read Karl Barth. Read Calvin. Read Augustine. This is mainstream, orthodox stuff, people.

Heck, read Paul: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

God is revealed as Hidden (Karl Barth). We cannot know God perfectly, only God knows Godself, because God is greater than any of our conceptions - even Biblical ones.

We do not and we should not, Mark, "believe in the Bible" that is idolatry. We believe in, have faith in, trust in the God we know through Christ. The Bible is one finger pointing us reliably toward that God, but nothing more.

Christine said...

"...our place as free moral agents who have a free will to choose life or death."

Such an assertion is not in keeping with classic Reformed Protestant theology; both Luther and Calvin in their writings emphatically rejected the Catholic doctrine of free will. Salvation, according to traditional Reformed teaching, comes from God alone, not from what we "choose." Nor, a propos of the post's original subject, from whatever adjectives we choose to label ourselves with.

Peace and blessings,
Christine

Mike Twedt said...

Aric,

You do not need to know the complete Orthodoxy in order to know heresy and blasphemy. To say that we must understand Orthodoxy first requires that we never use the words because our understanding of the true theology is always lacking. The words do have plain meaning and they are applicable in this case. Clearly there can be no judgement after "final judgement."

It is true that we do not know who will be saved or when. But, how do we come to be partakers of the benefits which Christ has procured? We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ has procured by the application of them unto us, which is the work of God the Holy Ghost. See John 1:11-12 and Titus 3:5-6.

Paul said...

The need for and use of descriptive terms for faith communities was a frequent issue when I worked at newspapers. Terms like fundamentalist were pejorative and were not to be used unless the group used it of themselves. Terms like Bible Believing were also off limits; all Christians claim to believe the Bible, and it wasn't the reporter's job to decide who really deserved the term.

We had to pay special attention to the terms orthodox, catholic, and evangelical. Theologically, of course, all three terms apply to all Christians. But in common parlance, each refers to specific streams of Christian practice. And as reporters, we were instructed to respect that usage and to use the terms accordingly.

My teachers and editors were particularly strict about evangelical. In European usage, the term is synonymous with protestant generally or Lutheran specifically. But North America developed a different usage where evangelical describes a specific kind protestant: the kind of congregation that comfortably participates in Billy Graham crusades. And even if we preferred the European usage, our responsibility as reporters to communicate and clarify required us to respect North American usage. Doing otherwise only confused and obscured.

If our goal is to communicate clearly, then we need to use the common language in the way common people use it. Anything else seems to have a different purpose in mind.

Mark said...

Dear Tom,

I submitted a lengthy reply to Richard and Mark P., which either didn't submit properly, or you chose not to post. At this point it really doesn't matter because Aric and Christine did a far better job responding to them than I did.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

TomGray said...

Mark
Regarding Scripture, can you name any other source? If you say the Spirit, I'd respond that whatever one says the "spirit" says must pass Scriptural muster. If you say "nature," you're still dealing only with human subjectivity. The Bible is the only concrete revelation God has given us.

Regarding judgment, your statement that we come under judgement with the prophets is the equivalent of me saying that we are always under the judgment of municipal, state, and national laws. Living under those and standing accused before the judge are very different things. Scripture indicates that all of us will face Jesus as a judge.

Regarding salvation, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that we receive salvation after death. Teaching such a thing is not only unreformed, but misleading. I agree that we do not decide--God does, but we're still obligated to tell people the truth about salvation through Jesus alone.

Like most progressives I've encountered, you tend to say you agree with orthodox theology and then immediately identify how you reject it.
Tom

Mark said...

Tom,

Did you, or did you not, receive the post I submitted on Wednesday evening, in which I resonded to Richard Jones and Mark P.? If you did, please post it because it was lengthy and I don't want to have to reconstruct it. If you did not, I'll consider reconstructing and resubmitting it. I included in it quotes from 1 and 2 Peter which address your concerns for scriptural proofs of God's prerogative to offer salvation to those who have died.

No, I don't base my beliefs simply off of flights of fancy, any more than you do. I turn to scripture, at which time I depend first upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and then upon tradition in order to understand and interpret it. You've shown consistently that you don't accept interpretations other than your own, so I'm not surprised that you don't accept mine.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Arthur said...

Tom,

You said:

"Regarding salvation, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that we receive salvation after death. Teaching such a thing is not only unreformed, but misleading."

We read from the Second Helvetic Confession and the Westminster Confession (plus Larger Catechism) that there is no point in praying for the dead, and that we shouldn't do it. This would imply that their (the writer's) belief is that judgment is essentially instantaneous (from our earthly perspective) upon our death. This may very well be the Classical Reformed point of view, but even the Westminster Confession apparently bases its statement (prohibiting prayer for the dead) entirely on the fact that Scripture doesn't specifically give examples of such prayers being offered. This is a far cry (in my opinion) from an indication that such prayers are ineffectual.

Even Richard Jones' reference to Hebrews 9 (27-Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment) isn't proof that judgment is instantaneous upon our death from our perspective, only that it is sequential.

Arthur

Joe Colannino said...

The biblical text is clear. There is one name under heaven by which we may be saved -- Jesus Christ, Our Great God and Savior. Those who disagree with the orthodox meaning of the text are self-deluded. They clearly believe that it is not possible to understand an author's intended meaning -- a formally false and self-destructive argument. If their arguments were true, they would be at best meaningless and therefore irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Let's hear a critique of this article,
http://str.convio.net/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5230

Thanks,

Mark P.

Brian Huddleston said...

What if all Christians fall into only two groups? What if, on the one hand are Orthodox Christians, and on the other are all other Christians who display varying degrees of UNBELIEF?

Perhaps one can only be an Evangelical if one is evangelical about the right beliefs in the first place?

Mark said...

Oh, but even the orthodox are not a united camp! Split hairs and split the Church, to the glory of yourselves. The "faithful" have been doing it since day one. Why stop now?

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Earl said...

Tom G., Brian H., Joe C., and anyone who cares to respond,

I'm curious...

Do you consider yourselves orthodox Christians?

Earl

Brian Huddleston said...

It depends on how one defines Orthodox Christianity. Are we talking about beliefs that strictly adhere to traditional Reformed Protestant theology? You know, T.U.L.I.P.? If your beliefs are 90% Calvinist, are you an Orthodox Christian?

Earl said...

Brian,

You're the ones who used the term in your previous posts.

The question still stands…

Do YOU CONSIDER YOURSELVES orthodox Christians?

Provide your own definition if you wish.

At this point you're just being evasive.

As points of reference only, try out the following quizzes and report back the results. No cheating, these are “closed book” quizzes.

http://quizfarm.com/test.php?q_id=43870

http://quizfarm.com/test.php?q_id=44116

http://www.okcupid.com/tests/take?testid=5481807635330088917

Earl

phillip j. owings said...

Aric, in one post you said that you did not yet teach. However in this thread and others and on your blog it appears to me that you are trying to teach a lot of people to believe as you do. So are you teaching or just blowing in the wind?

Mark said...

Dear Earl,

Interesting surveys. I answered them strictly according to my actual beliefs, not simply what I've learned or been taught. I scored as follows:

Test 1 (theological worldview)--

You are neo-orthodox. You reject the human-centredness and scepticism of liberal theology, but neither do you go to the other extreme and make the Bible the central issue for faith. You believe that Christ is God's most important revelation to humanity, and the Trinity is hugely important in your theology. The Bible is also important because it points us to the revelation of Christ. You are influenced by Karl Barth and P T Forsyth.

Test 2 (theologian most like) --

You scored as John Calvin. Much of what is now called Calvinism had more to do with his followers than Calvin himself, and so you may or may not be committed to TULIP, though God's sovereignty is all important.

Test 3 (conformity with Nicene Creed)--

You are 96% Orthodox. My test tracked 1 variable. How you compared to other people your age (1964) and gender (male): You scored higher than 99% on Orthodoxy.

All that from a "godless progressive". Go figure.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Aric Clark said...

Phillip,

Interesting that you regard it that way. I have nothing so grand in mind as 'teaching people to believe as I do' in my blogging activities. Among people of my generation this is a medium of conversation. It's a way to get out and involved in debates that interest, test out our thoughts and maybe even meet interesting people who either agree or are willing to disagree amiably.

You have a point though that teaching isn't only done in a classroom or by people with titles. If anyone learns something through my blogging then I say great! but I presume no authority on my part to instruct others, only a freedom to engage in debate with others.

Arthur said...

OK Earl,

I'll rise to the bait (as Phillip J. Owings once said to me).

It's interesting to me that none of the ones you specifically called out (particularly Tom) have bothered to respond to your question.
I agree with Mark, the surveys are interesting, but I don't know how valid they are.

Like Mark, I answered them strictly according to my actual beliefs, not simply what I've learned or been taught.

Here's how mine came out:

My theological World View: Holiness/Wesleyan (75%), Emergent/Postmodern (71%), Reformed Evangelical (61%)

"You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists."



Which Theologian Am I: John Calvin (93%), Martin Luther (73%), Anselm (73%)

"You scored as John Calvin. Much of what is now called Calvinism had more to do with his followers than Calvin himself, and so you may or may not be committed to TULIP, though God's sovereignty is all important."



The Christian Orthodoxy Test:

I am 93% Orthodox.



I've opened up a Blog page on:

http://seekerreact.blogspot.com/

so you can see all of the detailed results of my quiz results.

Arthur

Brian Huddleston said...

Here you go Earl:

"You scored as Reformed Evangelical.

You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical 93%"

Since I was raised Southern Baptist and went to lots of revivals as a kid, I might rephrase that last line as: "The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can avoid going to hell when they die." :-)

Earl said...

Great Brian!

Thanks!

I was afraid none of you that I singled out would respond.

I'm curious though...Why didn't you post the results of the other two quizzes? I think the composite results shed more light on the subject.

Maybe I'm beating a dead horse here, but I'm still trying to figure out if you consider yourself an orthodox Christian.

Is your definition of orthodoxy identical with your definition of Reformed Evangelical? If so, what is your definition of Reformed Evangelical?

It's been my understanding that Reformed Evangelicalism is not particularly orthodox in a classical sense any more than many other Christian "isms" from Liberal to Conservative are.

Both Mark and Arthur seem to have pretty strong classical orthodox ties, but I would classify both of them as Pregressives based on what I've read here.

Are you any more orthodox than they are?

What say you?

Earl

Brian Huddleston said...

Earl,
The second one, not surprisingly, came out as 100% Calvinist, and yes, the horse is deceased.

This discussion reminds me of the joke that goes something like:
"Q: What kind of music do you like? A: I like BOTH kinds of music, Country, and Western."

I like both kinds of Christianity, Orthodox and Evangelical. :-)

Jon said...

Those were fun quizzes. My top results were:
o neo-orthodox & catholic
o Augustine & Barth
o 100% orthodox -- but I pretty much guessed that even before I took the test :)

Presbyman said...

My results (not that anyone asked)

Quiz Number One:

You scored as Reformed Evangelical.



You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical 93%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 75%

Neo orthodox 75%



Quiz Number Two:

You scored as Anselm.

Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'

Anselm 100%
Karl Barth 87%
John Calvin 73%


Quiz Number Three:

You are 98% Orthodox.



I guess I should read up on Karl Barth some more. I didn't expect I would score higher with him than with Calvin. My neo-orthodox score was also higher than I might have expected.

Steve Prefontaine said...

As I sit here and read these comments, i find myself sad. I know that doctrine is important, but these conversations seem to just be spinning our wheels and going nowhere.

Both sides have made their case, both sides say that they are right, both sides use scripture to prove their end. My question is...to what end? At what point do you move on?

There is a whole world out there that is literally going to hell, and it seems we seem to use most of our energy and our time here arguing points in which both sides are trying to prove they are on the right.

Following Christ is messy-we are all saints and sinners-walking and falling over and over again. Just like stewshie said, Being a christ follower is more than just a sermon. I would even go further than to say it's more than just a thithe on sunday; more than a mission trip every summer; it's more than just going down every once in a while feeding homeless people and then hopping back in the lexus and head back to south tulsa as well.

Following Christ is getting your hands dirty and loving the unlovable, the HIV patient, the sex adict, the evil boss, etc. Daily. It is showing those who don't know Christ's love (and those who do but don't show it)and showing them love-in every situation.

Yes, truth is important-dare I'd say vital, but without a relationship with that person, we are just one more noise in a world covered in noise.

I would pose the question to all of us on this site who argue doctrine: Who have you told about Christ lately? What relationship have you built that shows God's love for them? When have you earned the right to be heard in someone else's life? When was the last time someone came to you and said "There's something different about you"?

I pray that we all (including myself) would have His heart for all people: chosen or unchosen; gay or straight; Muslim or Christian, whatever-and show His love for them.

If we aren't doing all this-if we aren't being "little Christs" for the world to see, then what are we?


Tom and church: good luck to you all that is happening-I am praying for you. My advice: Let them have it all and leave. You're the church. Not the building.

Jon said...

My favorite part of this post was about progressives' "overly literal" reading of the word. I don't get to hear that very often...

laughing pastor said...

I am a moderate to progressive minister of the word and sacrament. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. I believe in the authority of the Scripture.

I am Evangelical. I am not an Evangelical in the sense of American Evangelicalism.

Evangelicals have simply been called to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The additional foot notes conservative American Evangelicals have attached do not get in my way of calling my self EVANGELICAL!