Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Manifesto II

Continuing our conversation on "An Evangelical Manifesto" (, here's the next section (from the Executive Summary of the full Manifesto):

Third, we are concerned that a generation of culture warring, reinforced by understandable reactions to religious extremism around the world, has created a powerful backlash against all religion in public life among many educated people. If this hardens into something like the European animosity toward religion in public life, the result would be disastrous for the American republic and would severely constrict liberty for people of all faiths. The striking intolerance shown by the new atheists is a warning sign. We call on all citizens of goodwill and believers of all faiths and none to join us in working for a civil public square and the restoration of a tough-minded civility that is in the interests of all.

Fourth, we are concerned that globalization and the emerging global public square have no matching vision of how to live with our deepest differences on the global stage. In the Internet era, everyone can listen to what we say even when we are not speaking to everyone. Global communication magnifies the challenges of living with our deepest differences.

As the global public square emerges, we warn of two equal and opposite errors: coercive secularism and religious extremism. We also repudiate the two other positions. First, those who believe their way is the only way and the way for everyone, and are therefore prepared to coerce them. This position leads inevitably to conflict. Second, those who believe that different values are relative to different cultures, and who therefore refuse to allow anyone to judge anyone else or any other culture. This position sounds tolerant at first, but it leads directly to the ills of complacency. In a world of such evils as genocide, slavery, female oppression, and assaults on the unborn, there are rights that must be defended, evils that must be resisted, and interventions into the affairs of others that are morally justified.


Brian Emmet said...

I appreciate and agree with Joseph's comments about avoiding the wrong kind of partinsanship. Sucn partisanship is a symptom of our "putting our trust in princes" rather than in the Lord. At the same time, we are partisans, hopefully in the right sense, of the kingdom: because of our allegiance to the kingdom, we hold some passionate convictions that are out of sync with our culture. For example, the Catholic Church is fiercely partisan on the issue of abortion. While recognizing that there is a spectrum of pro-life issues, those issues are seen to be secondary in importance to the Great Evil of abortion. The "sharpness" of that issue is not moderated by progress on capital punishment, care for the poor, etc., good as those intermediate steps on related pro-life issues may be.

steve H said...

I would think we all agree that God is neither Democrat nor Republican -- that both parties fall short in their platforms as well as in what their candidates usually do when they come into a little power. I would hope we agree essentially with the Manifesto's statement about partisanship.

It seems to me that, in addition to trying to call Evangelicals to a wiser and more Biblical position, the Manifesto is also seeking to establish some common ground for serious followers of Jesus to stand together in the light of the current cultural and global realities.

It also seems like the writers are trying to find a place from which they can actually bring a Christian / Biblical point of view into the larger dialogue and not be automatically shutdown.

I can see wisdom in this approach. And I also wonder, on the one hand, whether we "evangelicals" can actually dialogue fruitfully among ourselves about specific issues, with the motives to truly understanding one another and to try to hear God more clearly about those issues.

On the other hand, if we really embraced the radical reality of the gospel of the kingdom and proclaimed it, would we create dialogue or trouble? Would we be the aroma of life to some and the aroma of death to other?

In some ways the gospel of the kingdom seems to me to be quite "partisan" It's either Christ or Caesar.

Frankly, I find myself torn, sometimes thinking we should work for change within the systems (in a non-partisan manner, of course), and other times thinking we should simply seek to live as communities manifesting the life of the kingdom and of the age to come as a prophetic witness and call (i.e. 1 Thess 4:9-12).

Perhaps, Joseph, we should all become Amish.

smokin joe said...

perhaps, I am leaning toward the Society of Friends myself ... I attended an old-line Quaker church back in the early 70s when I was a conscientious objector. After 25 (actually 30) years of preaching every Sunday morning, I now actually like just sitting in silence on a Sunday morn.

Both you and Brian made very good and insightful comments that I agree with. Going back to an earlier comment by you, Steve, on pluralism, I think the issue is no longer whether cultural pluralism is good or bad, it is most likely bad...but the fact is that now, "pluralism is" ... it does not really matter what we think of it... we had better learn how to live in it, and give witness to the resurrection in a pluralistic enviroment.

You said:

It also seems like the writers are trying to find a place from which they can actually bring a Christian / Biblical point of view into the larger dialogue and not be automatically shutdown.

Great insight! I agree with you ... in a polite conversation one must listen before one has earned the right to be listened to ... not only must there begin to be respectful dialogue between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Christians and secular people -- in a world of blogs, cell phones, text messages, and a university campus full of Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, secular fundamentalists and fornicating hedonists ... We simply MUST find a way to have a civil conversation on moral issues that goes beyond asserting that we are right and they are wrong. Does not matter at all whether we like pluralism or not ... it is here. To modify a quote from one of McLaren's book titles: This is the mess we find ourselves in.

John M. said...

Steve, you wrote, Frankly, I find myself torn, sometimes thinking we should work for change within the systems (in a non-partisan manner, of course), and other times thinking we should simply seek to live as communities manifesting the life of the kingdom and of the age to come as a prophetic witness and call (i.e. 1 Thess 4:9-12).

I identify with the temptation to withdraw. I've wrestled with that tension most all my life.

But, I would submit that it is not an "either, or", but a "both, and."

Randy R. said...

I was recently visited by someone conducting a survey. I was asked if I thought that there was too much apathy in our country? I told them,"I don't know, and I don't care," and I shut the door.

JP said...

Brian's comment about the stance of the Catholic Church. Why not have an Evangelical stance, a spokesperson. Why is one of the opening lines that no one speaks for Evangelicals especially those who say they do? Catholics have had pedophiles and even some Evangelicals hasve 'fallen' before. Do we want to dissasociate ourselves and create distanmce from the bad but still keep the name and the association of the good.

Randy R. said...

Brian and Joseph, as our moderators, I respectfully submit this next entry to you. I don't want to take us off course; therefore, if you feel that my comments do, then feel free to suggest that folks not respond. However, I wonder if the selection of Gov. Palin represents the challenge that we (the church in the West) face today. Bear with me, I am not trying to be political, but I feel that this relates to the entry that Brian copied from the Manifesto. Her selection is an immense challenge to the liberal establishment, because she is exactly what the feminists have been arguing for for years . . . a wife, mother, and an activist. The only problem is that she is a Republican! Quite a dilemma! Yet, she also represents what conservative Christians have cried out against! A woman with five children (the oldest pregnant and therefore a soon to be grandmother and the youngest handicapped) should be investing her time and energy at home with her family and delay any aspirations of success in the workplace (politically or otherwise) until her children are at least all in school and preferably out of the home. However, the "Conservative Christians" have flocked to her support. To me this epitomizes the "mess that we find ourselves in" (Father Joseph and Brian MC).

Bama Stephen said...

Following up on Randy's comment, I think all believers should be concerned with the "reverse politicization" of Palin's beliefs - or for that matter, of any candidate.

While I abhorred the comments of Rev. Jeremiah Wright (and many of the core ideology of Black Liberation Theology), I was queasy at the way that Obama was blamed for the sermons of Rev. Wright, because I felt this could be applied in other ways to other politicians. Sure enough, the media soon attempted to tar McCain with his own "preacher problem" in associating with John Hagee and Rod Parsley. There were also attempts to tie Hillary Clinton to "the Family" (the fellowship in Washington DC launched by Herb Coe). Now, of course, we have attacks on Palin because she "believes God has a plan" and prays for the troops. One of my fellow columnists on Newsvine said, "If they find a video of her speaking in tongues, her career is over."

I would think that all Evangelicals - regardless of political affiliation - would shudder a bit at these developments. The respect once afforded John F. Kennedy and other candidatges following JFK's famous speech on his faith seems to have evaporated. Faith is now once more fair game.

Brian Emmet said...

I like Joseph's phrasing, "the mess we find ourselves in" and understand the "pull" of the Amish (although think it misdirected...)

One of the points the authors of the Manifesto made is that we need to find a way to carry on public discourse in a context where no one shares the same worldview--or better, where ther are many divergent and irreconciliable worldviews operating. This is a challenge worth some serious pondering... as Joseph made clear, pluralism is the cultural water we swim in, whether we like it or not.

JP,one of the "problems" of Evagelicalism--not dissimilar from Isalm!--is that there is no one central authority. Neither has the same "voice" as the Roman Catholics hear in/from the Pope. To my mind, this is a very mixed blessing: it is a blessing, but it is very mixed, too!

Happy to discuss Palin's candidacy. As Randy pointed out, she elicits some hypocrisy from both the conservative and liberal sides, which may simply indicate the ideology, or political pragmatism, trumps "values"?

Bruce said...

Would it help to distinguish our roles as Citizen-Rulers (as if we were in Caesar's senate) under Christ, and individual saints trying to lay up treasures in heaven?

Randy R. said...

Quick footnote: I am not suggesting we discuss whether or not Palin is a good choice or good candidate. My offering was more related to the theme expressed in the Manifesto and reflected by comments that our brother, Stephen made. Hey, we haven't heard from him in a while. I think that I may have hit a "hot button"! Welcome, Stephen!!!

Brian Emmet said...

Bruce, I think the Manifesto is after finding a way for "the evangelical community" (maybe "evangelical communities"?) could find a way to both speak with something of a unified voice, but without being seen as beholden to any political party or ideology. This goes back to JP's point about where we might find "the" evangelical spokesperson. I think the Manifesto is attempting to say something corporately that would allow for individuals to then participate in the public square without fearing censure for their religious (or non-religious) worldviews.

Bruce said...

Ok so far. I suppose that the more particular one gets with saying what to do, what not to do, the more the other side (of those positions) will pigeonhole the speaker.

James Dobson for one: he was meticulous about avoiding aligning himself with political parties, and instead only said what he had to say. I for one found him consistent and courageous and a role model for me. It turns out that at least one major party and several minor parties had political positions based on moral positions contradictory to Dobson's uncomplicated reading of the Bible and biblical-informed polity. So they say "Dobson is a Republican." It's not his fault. Then people like us who believe the Bible are pushed to disidentify with Republicans to the effect that we embrace all kinds of minor implications of the Bible's teachings (I mean Emergings here) that coincide with minor planks of the Democratic party.

Jesus *did* experience this tension. One side calls him a messianic revolutionary (Is it not better that one man should die for the nation than that all of us die?). Another exchange finds Jesus reproving the Pharisees for keeping the minor points while skipping over the major points. Is that not analogous to favoring long term ecological policies while ignoring abortion?

You can also consider the Fundamentalist mores which could inform a polity (no debt, care for your neighbor quietly, work with your hands, shun entertainment). You could also consider the Catholic history of the Holy See's opposing priests who get involved in Marxism. Both of these views are strongly Biblically informed and are pigeonholed by their Cultured Dispisers.

John M. said...

Bruce, personally, I would hold Rick Warren up as an example of one who has entered the public dialogue with biblical, Kingdom values, and apparently without a lot of negative reaction. In fact he seems to get quite a wide hearing. I thought his questions to the two Presidential candidates, were creative, colorful, disarming (at least in the style he pressented them), and yet unflinchingly uncomromising.

I used to be a Dobson fan, but I think he has become (or maybe always was, and I've changed? Not sure.) more of a knee-jerk ultra conservative who has chosen to fit into the negative stereotype -- more like a Christian Rush Limbaugh, who only speaks to the choir, but who really doesn't carry much weight out side his conservative Christian circle.

Bruce said...

Au contraire, mon ami. Rick Warren interviews. I'm not idealizing Dobson, or any of the other guys, you have to admit that anyone who has taken an aggressively clear position, informed by Biblical thought, will look knee-jerk. "Awww, that guy is always talking about 'saving the babies' and other political crap."

I admit that it doesn't help that Dobson has in the past few years elevated the issue du jour to the status of saving or losing the country for God.

Bruce said...

About the document itself. Tough minded civility is a by-product of a resilient faith that contains civility as an ideal within it--such as American versions of a contentful Christianity (Reformed, Catholic, Fundamentalists so-called, e.g.--the conservative versions of them anyway). Those open to civility are already doing it, those not open to it remind me more of playground bullies who are nice until you refuse to give them your lunch money.

Brian Emmet said...

From the manifesto: "we are concerned that globalization and the emerging global public square have no matching vision of how to live with our deepest differences on the global stage."

Any thoughts on "how to live with our deepest differences"? Any models from or in church life... or from elsewhere? Any reasonably successful models--a university faculty? Political party? A liberal and a conservative in a foxhole?

John M. said...

Yes Brian. Talk to each other face-to-face. One of the best examples I know of is what Paul Petrie and Dennis Coll are doing in the mid-East, getting young, emerging Israeli and Palestinian leaders together in a retreat setting with numerous meetings over time and letting them befriend one another, talk about their differences and propose what they would do to resolve the conflicit that their groups are in.

I would assume that the liberal and the conservative in the foxhole are friends and commrades who respect each other's differences of opinion, but don't let it keep them from risking their lives for one another and covering each other's backs.

It seems that when we get personal and know someone eye-to-eye and face-to-face; when they have a name, and we know their personal struggles, that it is much harder to demonize them with an ideological paint brush.

Bruce said...

Senator McCain has that kind of relationship with his good friends Senators Clinton and Biden, and used to have it with Senator Obama, I understand.

Randy R. said...

Brian made reference to speaking "face to face," and Bruce spoke about John McCain. Hey! I am writing from Annapolis, where I am attending my 35th Reunion. John McCain is expected to be here for his 50th reunion! If I get to speak with him, is there anything that you would like for me to ask or say to Senator McCain?
Also, I would value your prayers as I am scheduled to speak tomorrow at a special service. At our 30th Reunion, it was held in the Chapel and attended primarily by believers. I was asked to deliver the message then, too, which was a great honor and a very rich experience. However, the planners have run into a lot of hassles this time, and it has literally come together in the 11th hour at the hotel where most of the folks are staying. The service is scheduled following a class meeting; therefore, there is a good chance that a lot of the guys who stay for the Memorial Service may not share our faith. I am GREATLY looking forward to this opportunity. Thanks, in advance, for your prayers!

Bruce said...

Please reassure him that God rules in the affairs of men and nations, and that God will help him to do what He gives him to do here and now. And that many are praying for him (including me).

Bruce said...

Please go back to steve h's post, the second one here. I think he had a good take on the issues, and we could revisit Brian's #1 and Steve's #2, to go back on point.

Bama Stephen said...

I want to be clear: my comment wasn't so much about Palin as it is about the way that people are using her faith against her ... a faith that is shared in many ways by others blogging here. Regardless of one's political leanings, we might be concerned about the idea that a person would be considered disqualified for believing certain traditional Evangelical or Charismatic doctrines.

In the meantime, I think one reason Rick Warren has so much credibility is that he is not viewed as a hard partisan and has been able to work with many diverse groups in order to accomplish much "mercy ministry." Those ministries of Jesus mentioned in Luke 4:16 ff are very difficult to argue with, regardless of one's ideology when they are being manifested tangibly.

Dr. Dobson, in my opinion, has become increasingly irrelevant politically over the past 15 years thanks to ... and forgive me for being blunt, because I love him ... his ham-handed way of handling issues and a generally tone-deaf method of communication.

Having critiqued an icon of the Evangelical Right, let me now shift my attention leftward: sometimes, I find the Evangelical Left to be a bit disingenuous when they claim that only the Evangelical Right has a political agenda.

Bruce said...

Dr. Dobson is probably a better example of a archtypical prophetic voice--a frequent subject of CovThinklings, being prophetic--than any of our guys. First you take an unequivocal moral position based on the revealed Word of God. Then you get in the face of your enemies and just say it.

Jesus was kind of laid back in this regard, but he didn't shy away from going up to Jerusalem and calling Herod a fox. John the Baptist got all political--mixed politics with his religion--when he told Herod that he couldn't have his brother's wife. John couldn't even vote.

So what if Dobson says we're going to hell in a handbasket because we make porn mainstream, or disallow the 10 Commandments, or kill the weak, old and small, and legitimate homosexuality, and delegitimate marriage, and won't shut up when they revile him? And hands off his ministry to others, so he can keep speaking in public about public things?

We think we're being prophetic when people look at us cross-eyed for speaking in tongues.

steve H said...

It seems like we are back to one of the big dilemmas. Is our role in the culture prophetic or participatory? John the Baptist took prophetic approach although the focus of his prophetic critique was on things Jewish, not on the broader culture.

Jesus also for the most part challenged the Jewish establishment, but he was the friend of sinners -- publicans, prostitutes, and Roman soldiers.

The early church of the first three centuries or so, insofar as I can tell, believed that the "last days" had come and therefore they did not spend much effort trying to change the system or to save the culture. They appear to have believed that the systems and cultures had been judged already and were coming to an end. They appear to have believed that the new creation had begun with the resurrection and enthronement of Jesus and that the church was the "new creation" already here, living in "the time between times." Thus, for them the church was the prophetic announcement that "the old is passing away and the new has come."

Then Rome fell and gradually Christendom developed. We are dealing with the remnants of that.

So what is our role -- primarily to be in your face prophetic, as we try to re-establish the "Christian culture" (which Dobson and others seem to be doing)?

Or should we try to enter into the pluralistic dialogue and bring an evangelical viewpoint into the discussion (as the approach expressed in the Evangelical Manifesto seems to suggest)?

Or should we seek to "live prophetically" as the sons of God manifesting the age to come (as fully as possible in the power of the Spirit) while the culture and systems are coming apart?

Since God has not let us know how long the last days will be...

Since we don't do well at predicting history (let alone prophetic events)...

Perhaps there is room for all three approaches. Perhaps there is a diversity of callings in this regard.

smokin joe said...

Thanks Steve, you sparked some thoughts in me …

When Charles Simpson gave his series on leadership for epochal change back in the late 1980s (which I find just as relevant if not more now, 20 years later), he highlighted two kinds of leadership; revivalistic (my words not his) leadership looking backwards to a better time in the past (King Josiah attempting to lead a restoration of national Judea around a renewal of observance of the law), and prophetic leadership looking forward toward the future (for better or worse) such as Jeremiah.

Jeremiah understood that there was no going back, that no national “revival” would restore the previous status quo. God had already determined to carry of his people into captivity in order to scatter them into the nations. He was given the task of prophetically preparing the people of God for living in captivity in a pluralistic environment. God told him up front that the people would not listen to him.

Between Jeremiah and Daniel we see that there were basically three groups: Daniel and his 3 young friends who embraced living in Babylonian pluralism in a redemptive way, and serving the gentiles with excellence; the second group were those who wept by the river kaybar – those who went along unwillingly into Babylonian pluralism while looking back over their shoulder longingly for a better time in the past, and refused to integrate into Babalonian society; and 3) those who became radicalized, stayed in Jerusalem, persecuted Jeremiah and eventually fled back to Egypt rather than submit to Babylon.

All three responses are evident in our contemporary situation as we move into a pluralistic age, and God prepares to scatter the people of God again, for nearly the same reasons he did back in Jeremiah and Daniel’s day.

I would say that most evangelicals are in the second category … finding themselves in captivity in a pluralistic society, and very unhappy about it and longing and praying for revival … gathering into safe ghettos and flocking to places like Lakeland when there is any hint of revival. A another less numerous group are analogous to angry fundamentalists who refuse to make peace with living redemptively and creatively in a pluralistic environment and choose to flee back to Egypt, whatever that may represent in our contemporary situation. A few people accept the change and enter into Babylon University in order to learn the skills to serve with excellence in Babylon. They are generally criticized by the second group and may even suffer violence (at least verbal) from the third group.

As far as I am concerned, this series given (in 1989) by Charles was not only extremely insightful but truly prophetic, unlike a lot of stuff that has gone by that name since then. Bob Mumford’s more recent reference to the ‘kairos’ moment is basically the same idea put in slightly different terms. The future will not be the same as the past, and ‘business as usual’ will be a recipe for extinction.

smokin joe said...

clarification: when I said: "unlike a lot of stuff that has gone by that name since then"
I was referring to prophecies and prophetic teachings, NOT Charles' teachings since then.

There have been constant prophecies of a coming national revival in America since the mid-1980s which has yet to marterialize. I have come to the conclusion that these prophecies are based on faulty assumptions about God's ultimate intent.

Bruce said...

I've tried (at times) believing and living as if only one of the three were the way to go. I always ended up banging my head against a wall--being frustrated with other Christians not getting it, not understanding the crisis and the importance of going this one way. I DON'T think that people can blend them. I used to think my kids would be a blend of my wife and me and then I saw that they were mostly me or mostly her. Steve Clark's got a real handle on developing an entire counter culture in a pluraistic Christian environment--in his movement Sword of the Spirit. He may be right, too--it's all hell in a handbasket out here while we're playing church, so we have to build a counter culture with the realities of the moment, the gifts of the Spirit, the history of the church, all given room.

Re Dobson, rather than describe his project as "re-establishing a Christian culture", think of it as "discipling the nations."

I don't exactly know what the third option is/was, but I think it is the Jeremiah prescription--live normally, keep your head down, be in society but not too much in society, keep associated with the people of God but not too radically separated from the world, and mainly worry about how the church is doing in small scale, and how oneself and family are doing, again small scale. And do the individual ministries that God gives to individuals.

All three DO have Biblical justification. I'm willing at this point to say that there's no overriding mandate from God to do any one in particular.

Note in response to John: I don't think it's possible to work for change or improvement without being partisan about it. As in the letter of I John when the Apostle said that there must be divisions so that it's obvious who is approved.

steve H said...

Here's a link to an interesting opinion piece in "World" magazine:

The article "Give us a robust public square" addresses topics related to the Evangelical Mandate and the current presidential campaign. It may even shed a little light on our conversation here.

John M. said...

Hey Bama Stephen, welcome back. Glad you're here. Good comments on Warren and Dobson. I agree.

Joseph, very insightful read on Steve H.'s well-done statement of our present reality as a Christian community.

I think Joseph is accurately discerning the times, as have, as Joseph mentioned, Simpson and Mumford in their past presentations.

I am with him that we cannot go back. I think there is a hankering in every human being and every Christian that wants to "go back to the garden". Everyone has thier own version of what that utopia is, but most of those utopian ideas are backward looking. The fact is that we are not going back to anything. God has destined us to go forward to the new heaven and new earh. In the meantime, I believe that he wants us to live prophetically (with discernment, insight and wisdom) and redemptively (showing God's compassion, justice and healing) in the present with our eyes lifted to the horizon.

I raise my glass, "To the present in which we live and the future that God has called us to."

John M. said...

Bruce, I think that we should definetly be living out our faith on the "small scale" as you defined it, but we should also be thinking and seeking God; and attempting to discern and do something avout thelarger picture as well. That would include engaging some of the issues that McClaren and others are raising.

The slogan, "Think Globally, act locally." really ain't too bad, if it is coupled with a biblical world-view.

Bruce said...

Me too, on both? points. Otherwise I would be even more troubled than I am.
I once quoted "Think globally, act locally" in a class studying a marxist homosexual philosopher, and found out that those guys were the source of the saying.

Well it's still good.

Brian Emmet said...

Well! Sounds like everyone had a bit of free time on a Saturday morning!

I agreed with Stephen, until I read Bruce, and then I decided to take my agreement elsewhere. (Kidding). I think Dobson is a good and faithful man who may hold some faulty theological and political assumptions, which is kind of like saying he's just like me! (Kidding again, but maybe not this time).

I was interested by Jospeh's Daniel--River Kebar--Jerusalem- dwellers model, and want to think about it some more: not sure the middle group is off the mark in the way I thought Joseph implied, but it will require me to reread Ezekiel, and maybe understand him this time, and I'll need a couple of minutes to do that. And then I might say something that would both get Joseph's dander up and make his blood boil, and nobody wants that (and I am in a light-hearted mood this afternoon!)

But does it feel like we are moving on past "An Evangelical Manifesto" into our next discussion? If so, would anyone like to attempt to frame a/the question for us?

If not, let's keep at it here, and you can make whatever jokes about me you think I deserve.

smokin joe said...

before you body-slam me Brian, I just want to put out a humble disclaimer that nothing I said in my post was original with me ... I got it straight from Charles .. especially the part about the middle group. Of course that was 20 some years ago, and I don't want to try to misrepresent him as feeling that way now ... but that was what I got out of him message at the time. Obviously, it made an impact on me although I had sort of a delayed reaction to it.

It seems odd to me at times how thanks seem more ocntroversial when they come out of my mouth than when they originally came from one of the teachers.

Regarding the next post, I would say just put up the next section of the manifesto and let'er rip.

smokin joe said...

Believe it or not, I had not been drinking in the above post. Just a little fatigue. Maybe I should go have a drink now ....


"I got out of HIS message at the time."

"It seems odd to me at times how THINGS seem more COntroversial ..."

sorry about that. By-the-way, if the Bama Man is still reading along, maybe he could helps us track down that series from 1989 ... one was called the "Daniel Model" and the series was called "Leadership in changing times" or "epochal change." I would love to listen to it again. I think it is more relevant now than than ever.

John M. said...

Boy Joseph, you have a good memory. That must be why you're getting a Phd and I'm teaching 7th grade and still trying to finishg McClaren's EMC!

Bama Stephen said...

Hehehee, just sneaking a peek here to see what's going on, and I don't have too long to reply, so I will just respond quickly to Joseph first: yes, "Leadership: The Daniel Model" is still available, I'm pretty sure, and it is indeed still very relevant. Nice job of recapping it and framing it in our current context, by the way. If anybody here wants a copy of that series, e-mail me at and I'll see what I can do in scoring you a free set. I know a few people, ya know.

Perhaps I was a bit hard on the good Dr. Dobson. I did mention that I love him. I should also say I respect him. It's just that I believe he has lost some focus and as a consequence, has lost a great deal of relevance in terms of having a place at the table of national dialogue. That's not all his fault; certainly, his ideological enemies want to deny him that place.

But, his methods sometimes remind me a bit of the British Redcoats who marched into battle in neat, orderly rows against wily American Revolutionaries who knew the land and fought in innovative and asymmetrical ways. Of course, the "Red Coats" were also not a great idea either, in retrospect.

John M. said...

Stephen, I share your sentiments regarding Dr. Dobson. I love and respect him, but don't really hear his voice anymore, because I don't listen to his show any longer. I can take only a few minutes of either him or Rush. I can't take the attitude.

When I do hear Dobsomn through the internet or a public statement, I, many times cringe -- Like when he said he could NEVER vote for McCain, back in the primaries. That, of course, has changed now that McCain is the ONLY ideological choice.

Your analogy is perhaps precient. Could it be that Dobson, as part of the "middle group", is still fighting the culture wars of the 80's and 90's? Railing against "enemies" who have morphed and blurred, and wringing his hands over a "moral majority" and a Christian Right that has also morphed and blended?

This will be the first election since the rise of the Moral Majorituy and the Christian Right that Evangelicals will not vote Republican as a block.

Around our conservative Christian school faculty/staff lunch table this week, the conversation turned to politics. One teacher's mother, to the teacher's chagrin, was voting for Obama. Another teacher was strongly for Obama. One leaning that way. Others supported McCain as the lesser of two evils. Several silent by-standers.

Everyone, by the way, liked Sarah Palin, worried about her actually being President, and were pretty much unmoved by her in how they planned to vote.

I think that the framers of the Evangelical Manifesto are correctly discerning the ocean we're swimming in and are trying to carve out a peice of the dialogue for themselves and their colleagues. Dobson and the reminents of the "Christian Right" seem to want the whole dialogue or nothing.

Randy R. said...

Interesting! I have enjoyed reading the "Saturday Evening Post"! I will add some comments soon, after I have had my second cup of coffee! Love you guys! RR

John M. said...

Hey Randy, give us an update on your reunion. How did it go? The chapel service? Did you get to talk to McCain?

Randy R. said...

Hey, John, thanks for asking. The short answers are the chapel service went extremely well, and I not was able to see McCain. However, I have never seen more Secret Service agents before at a football game in my life!!!!!

The longer answer is that this has been a very rich and fulfilling weekend. The service was attended by about 50 men and women, and I don't recall when I have ever felt more liberty in my sharing. I was able to connect, encourage, and challenge my classmates gathered that morning . . . some of whom are retired Navy captains and admirals! Thank you, Father!

On a more personal note: the Academy creates an unusual bonding. When you have been through four years of stuff with the same group of guys, it really does make a "band of brothers." Twenty-seven of us graduated from the same company, "Thirsty Third." Seventeen were at the reunion, more than any other of the 36 companies. Of those men, including myself, several came to faith while at the academy or have come since we graduated 35 years ago. In fact, at the larger reunion, one guy cornered me, asked me if I remembered him from our German class, had apparently learned of my faith, and proceeded to share with me his life story and how he had come to genuine faith in this past year!!!! Within my own company, when I came to faith, several of my "friends" became very antagonistic. I prayed for them, and one in particular had a dramatic conversion some years later. He was that the reunion, and his wife gave me a big, warm, hug, saying, with tears in her eyes, "Thank you for praying for Brian!" Those of us who share the same faith, agreed to band together and pray for our company classmates who don't yet know Him! Rich! Absolutlely love it!!!! More LORD, more!

smokin joe said...

Ok. I was already tired as you could tell from my atrocious misspelling in the post above. Then around 9:00 pm last night, through tragic series of comic errors I broke my toe in two places and needed 6 stitches to close a wound between two of the toes. Debbie left a box with a new light fixture sitting beside our kitchen cabinets. I got a class of water, took my evening meds, and was walking around the corner, headed for the bedroom, and whacked the box with my right foot between the 4th and 5th toes, tripped over the box, spilled the water out of the glass, just managed to catch myself and get my feet back under me, THEN slipped again on the water with my feet flying out from under me, feel flat on my ass with my head at an angle against the wall…and let out a blood curdling scream and a stream of unrepeatable syllables (not tongues). Amazingly, I never dropped the glass!

When I got up and hobbled to a chair, my right foot was bleeding and leaving footprints. My son John took me to the ER where I read straight through 75 page of Florencia Mallon’s postmodern history of Peasant and Nation in Latin America while waiting for them to clean and stitch my wound (Don’t laugh, I wrote the last 9 pages of my masters thesis in the waiting room while Deb was having surgery). We got back to the house about 4:30 am this morning.

We must be doing something right…around here...the devil seems pissed. I’ve got my foot up and bandaged. I’ll put a photo of later today on www.friendsforthejourney.

Great discussion guys! Bama Steve, the series that I heard Charles give was presented at PDI, C.J. Maheny’s annual leadership conference. I would love a copy if you can score one, as well as the Daniel Model. I'll be happy to send a check.

Brian: all metaphors tend to oversimplify and break down at some point. I am sure there are many more valid responses to postmodern pluralism than the one I shared. I think Charles’ teaching on this points out two dangerous or wrong types of response … similar to Mumford’s “going transitive.” However, I am sure we can nuance a number of constructive ways to redemptively live within a pluralistic environment. My main goal is to move us past discussing the evils of pluralism (which is pretty much irrelevant at this point) to discussing “how shall we then live?” within global pluralism.

smokin joe said...

awesome Randy!! Your experience is a beautiful example of faith at work sowing seeds in the world and advancing the kingdom.

Brian Emmet said...

We're mourning the Patriots first regular season loss in over a year up here in New England, but since nobody on this blog seems much of a sports fan, we'll pass by this sad event and hurry along to...

..."How can we live with our deepest differences?" This from the Manifesto we're discussing. In one sense, I wonder if enjoying the liberties of a democracy makes this harder? When we were a small, persecuted sect under the Roman boot, nobody really cared about our opinion on anything and we lacked any kind of "political" power or influence.

But now: we get to vote, we have a say in the public square... we can be coopted by politicans, we face the temptation of seeking to impose our view of "the good" on folks who may not share it... but then, someone's vision of "the good" ultimately gets implemented.

So here's a question: in the realm of current US politics, what do we feel are non-negotiables for us as followers of Jesus(if anything?), and perhaps more importantly, how do we "stand" for those without misrepresenting our King and the way his Kingdom operates?

Brian Emmet said...

Joseph, sorry to hear of your injuries. Glad it was nothing too serious, and that you are bearing it with your usual good humor!

steve H said...

Brian, whether or not there are sports fans may not be all the issue. There hasn't been a lot to be excited about for a while for fans of the Bengals and Reds. KY football has been providing more to cheer about and you don't really want to get KY basketball fans started, do you?

Randy R. said...

Wait a minute, what do you mean "not much of a sports fan"? First of all, I cannot believe how the mighty have fallen! For team that had the best record in the NFL last year, in a record setting season, to lose to the team who had the worst record in the NFL (whose record would have even been more horrible if the Ravens had not let them win a game), what an incredible, humbling, loss!!!! One could argue that if Tom Brady were playing the outcome would have been different, and I might agree, if it were a close game. But the Patriots received a spanking! Meanwhile, the Ravens are looking GOOD! I have been saying for years that if they could only get a decent quarterback, not great, just consistently good, that they would have a contender. I believe that these last two games have proven that, along with their new coach. The two are not unrelated. Following our Super Bowl win, Jan. 2001. The team dismissed their quarterback, something that has never happened before in the NFL, and I hope never happens again! I believe that Brian Billeck brought a curse on our team. Hie proud, arrogant attitude was the Raven's downfall. Now it is a NEW season, literally!

smokin joe said...

hi guys, sorry, I have nothing to contribute to the sports topic. My bad...

there is an interesting discussion this morning on about young evangelical college students who are converting in large numbers to liturgical churches - RCC or EO. What do you think about this? Has evangelicalism run its course and beginning to implode or fragment even further? The whole article is not long and is well worth reading. I'm pasting in the first paragraph below:

More on the Liturgical Turn

"What is going on? There is a rise, a burgeoning rise, of young college students converting from low church evangelicalism, with its anemic, unhistorical ecclesiology, to the great liturgical traditions: Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Three students this semester have already told me they are considering converting. I have spoken with professors or chaplains at a few colleges and they are seeing the same thing. The numbers are not large, but the students themselves are often some of our brightest and best. So, what to say?"
(read more…)

Bruce said...

Steve H is the go to guy on this Lit-Church subject. I say that the way to resist PoMo relativity is to affirm the transcendent and universal stuff (gospel, kerygma) and to strongly affirm the historical community.

I guess the anti-embodiment spirit of Modernity infected the Reformation (at first a revival movement inside the Catholic Church) and was full blown in American revivalism who looked at the bible as descended from the skies. Now on the otherside of Modernity, is some ways anyway, we want to reaffirm the embodied historical community of the church.

As Garrison Keilor once said about a lady at the Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church who sang "I Believe," the tune from Carousel, that he didn't think that raindrops and flowers were the reason the church split. My point is that in the present moment, if the evangelical church doesn't have anything better than our historical predecessors, then we have no legitimacy in our distance from them. (The Reformed folks at Sovereign Grace and Ligonier Ministries say Yes, We do have something better. But not the emerging guys, in my estimation.)

The downside of real communities ought to be kept in mind always. Original sin has not been repealed. And uncle wilbur keeps blowing his nose at the dinner table--not sinful, just gross stuff among the saints that real community makes us live with.

Randy R. said...

Responding to Joseph's post: I actually brought this subject up early in our blogging on Covenant Thinklings. I don't believe that the "Evangelical Movement" is imploding. The author of the article points out that there are not a lot of students leaving for the RC or OC, but that those who are leaving are some of the brightest students. He points out, as I too believe, that this fits into the emerging church paradigm: "Paradoxically, I see this as part of the emerging movement. One of the themes of the emerging movement is made up of several threads: weariness with evangelical bickering, a yearning for liturgical form, and an awareness of the value of the ancient fathers of the Church." The last two points are what I believe have been most influential. I am personally aware of three situations: One former young man (now in his early 40's!), who was the best academic student we graduated in the ten year history of our high school, later went to law school at CBN, converted first to RC and then to OC, which is where he has continued to practice his faith. In fact, the leader of the congregation, Fr. Gregory Matthews-Green, is the husband of Frederica Matthews-Green, who is quoted in McL's book. The second is the son of a close friend from the Academy, who was instrumental in my coming to the Lord, and with whom I had wonderful fellowship this weekend. Also, Gary and his wife were part of our stream of churches most of their journey, with the congregation in San Jose, CA, now lead by John Issacs. His son and new bride are part of the OC, and I just learned this weekend that he is in training for a possible leadership role in the church. Finally, one of our own outstanding young men, who attended the leadership training school with Mike Bickle in Kansas City, who later married a RC and has made that expression of faith his home church in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Footnote: Fascinating website with lots on interesting insights regarding the OC and Frederica's journey:!

smokin joe said...

good points Bruce. So, are you saying that for us 'conservative' evangelicals, the only two valid options are to go liturgical or go 'Reformed'?

By-the-way, in the blog posting that i mentioned by Scot McKnight, he includes a deepening appreciation of the the historic church tradition as one of the features of the emerging church.

I would have to say that in 1975-76, our 'Covenant' group was the 'emerging church' of the 1970s ... is it possible some of the suspicion that I sense in our blog community toward the ECM is a sort of sour-grapes jealousy? Aside from some of the political leftward leanings, I find that a lot of what the ECM is trying to say is reminiscent of our guys.

So what do we do? Do we just go join the liturgical and/or Reformed church of our choice and try to start getting ready for retirement?

Bruce said...

"good points Bruce. So, are you saying that for us 'conservative' evangelicals, the only two valid options are to go liturgical or go 'Reformed'?"

My answer: No.
But whatever the option we pick, it has to include digging deep.
Sour grapes? Maybe.
Retire in spirit? I think that would be about as unfaithful as not signing up for Jesus in our 20s, because we have too much living to do before we put our hands to the plow. Derek said once that God commands all men to repent, not just young people--in response to old people complaining that they are too old to change. So, nope, no matter what we do, we're not off the hook.

smokin joe said...

Bruce, I am not specifically responding to just you but the overall conversations we have had in here for several months. So I am addressing this to the whole "thinklings" community ...

What I am getting from what I have read in our conversations over these last few months is that:

-Most of us admire the confessional or liturgical churches, but we don't actually want to go so far as joining one of them.

-Most of us are suspicious or critical of the so-called Emerging church (excepting me and John M.)

-A few of us may admire Reformed theology but we are critical of their tendency to ignore the first 1500 years of Ch history.

-I think it would be safe to say, that most of us are concerned about the superficiality of the mega-church consumer syndrome.

-No one in here that I know of likes the Quakers accept for me.

-I think most of us would agree from past conversations that Covenant churches are declining and probably will not exist in a recognizable form in the next generation.

-No one in here is particularly thrilled with the low church, 'Organic church' approach with the possible exceptions of me and John and neither of us have been particularly effective at it.

so.... my question is, where does that leave us? What is the way forward? It seems that we have negated all possible avenues other than "business as usual" and
"long obedience toward incremental extinction."

Randy R. said...

One correction to Joseph's summary comments: I am NOT critical of the emerging church, their "Pope" maybe, but not the expression! In fact, the leadership of our motley crew has agreed to use Rob Bell's videos for our Growth Groups this fall! Fred showed a Utube clip one Sunday as a promotional. I don't have the address handy. However, Rob Bell was being interviewed by a British Talk Show host. He characterized him (Rob) as the leader of an Emerging Church (Mars Hill, www. Rob's response was amazing! He said that he doesn't like titles or labels; therefore, he would NOT call them an Emergent Church. Furthermore, he is interested in breaking bread and sharing fellowship with anyone who shares a similar love for Jesus. A position which I believe all of us share. Although, an OC Priest or a RC Priest could NOT break bread with us! Interesting! :-}

Bruce said...

I'm awestruck by the summary and diagnosis.

I think your string of conclusions are inescapable, and require something,


smokin joe said...

Randy, sorry that I mischaracterized you regarding the ECM, I really had not heard you comment on it much.

Bruce "... something...something..." I am with you there. My old daddy used to say "DO SOMETHING, even if it is wrong..."

This week I keep thinking about the title of Shaeffer's book, "How shall we then live?"

and the pssage from 1Chronicles 12:

"men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do"

it is not sufficient for us to know what the people of God should NOT think, believe, or where they should NOT attend ... the key question is, what should we DO?

Bruce said...

About doing just any old thing: zeal without knowledge is not a good thing
About not doing anything: you can't steer a parked car...

Listening to the news this afternoon, and the bail-out noise, even I who don't react to news am feeling iffy.
What I think God is saying is this, prophetically:

don't go off like the Israelites who took matters into their own hands
but seek your roots deep
and strengthen your relationships
and strengthen your kin
and strengthen your cities
and strengthen your countries.
God will move as He wills,
we can stand firm while He does what He wills.

Laurel Long said...

Hi guys,
I am very late to this discussion. And, I do not have the breadth of experience and knowledge that you all do but here is what I think of the doc.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE AN EVANGELICAL- is that the question?
We must all, from time to time, evaluate, reassess, and reiterate what we believe. This process cleanses our souls, purges our spirits, and alters our activities. If we are blessed to have brethren in our lives who are like-minded and willing to participate with us in this type of self scrutiny, the benefits can be immeasurable and inspirational to those who are timid about this type of personal and collective analysis. I for one would like to honor the sort of courage that these brothers have displayed by allowing us to “listen in” on the dark night of their collective Evangelical souls.” It is obvious when reading the Document that they are very concerned what their legacy will be in the annals of church history; and their concern is that they will be recorded as being faithful to the call they received. Nothing could be more commendable. And, in light of the fact that many Evangelical church fathers are now passing away, a time of spiritual individuation is appropriate. It is true that when parents pass away, siblings must face each other for the first time without the arbitrating or unifying presence of their parents. We can often ignore one another until that time. This may be what our good brothers want to confront in anticipating the departure of their spiritual patriarchs. I don’t know. We may need to do the same.
I have only read thoroughly through #1 and #2.
They have invited us; “Together with them (us), we are committed…” -and I accept their invitation because I am also “thoughtful about our calling in today’s world” (pg. 2). I will try to honor, but at the same time, question their need to use, defend, define, apologize, and use the extraneous term Evangelical. They seem to feel a desperate need to distinguish themselves from “our counterparts,” very much like the favorite son or daughter must remind their siblings that the parents or parent really preferred them because…
They have a need to be acknowledged for their doctrinal attributes. I am certainly glad to do so. I can wholeheartedly give them this satisfaction in the 7 foundational truths (pg 5-6). They are my heart and Life as well.
They make a claim to speak for themselves (pg. 2) and on this promise they deliver in abundance with the emphasis on the personal pronouns:
“Our fellow Christians around the world”
“…we are distinct and distinguished from our counterparts…”“our calling in today’s world
“clarify where we stand”
“our concern is not for approval…
“our purpose is to make clear”
“We wish to state what we mean”
“to affirm who we are”
“we ourselves are those”
“our purpose here is to make a clear statement”
“we are who we say we are”
“Yet we hold to Evangelical beliefs that are distinct from others in important ways…”
“is unique to us”
All of the above reveal an unacceptable pride of distinction from other Christians that will necessarily and ultimately be reduced to the humbling reality that whether we like it or not, in the eyes of the world and its old and new orders, we are not welcome in their courts of arbitration, we are at odds with their agendas. No matter how exquisitely we defend ourselves, we remain vehemently opposed to the ways and means of accomplishing the same. We have different ways and different means and a different agenda.
The 7 Evangelicalisms can not be argued. The only thing missing is the Power of the Lord in doing the 7.
I applaud the 12 “All to oftens”; we are occasionally guilty of the same. And I have responded tearfully to the 6 “humble calls.”
#3, and all of its apologetics, I must leave with you dear brothers to sort out.
I have done my best, guys,
Your sister and friend, Laurel

Bruce said...

Hi Laurel. Good to hear your voice.

steve H said...

It would be of interest to know if these conversions to EO or RCC actually make up a large number or a trend; or if there is a steady trickle or flow; or if the types of people converting is what grabs attention. I know there was a fairly significant move in that direction back in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I'm not current with it now.

It would be interesting to know how many who convert from "covenant" or other similar churches are actually going back to their own or their parent's roots. There were quite a number of RCCs who joined Pentecostal, Charismatic, or Evangelical churches not that many years ago.

I certainly think there are great riches in the content provided by some of the historical liturgies. I "feel" the attraction to historical roots. I appreciate the compatibility of the intellectual and the mystical that I have observed in a number of EO writers.

However, to me there seems to be a disconnect between the "ways" of the early centuries of the church and what happened later when the churches (east and west) took on the Roman Empire's model of organization, and eventually that model of government (the Roman style government was stronger in the RCC, of course).

I think I understand the hunger that motivates many of these moves. However, I can't help but think there must be some major frustration for those who change to find some idealistic situation when they increasingly have to deal with the actually reality of flawed hierarchies, as well the great number of cultural or nominal Christians in the historical churches. (I recently was with some RCC friends who are in an ecumenical community. It was interesting to hear them speak freely about fellow Catholics needing to be "saved." In the late 1970's one well known Catholic Charismatic theologian wrote that about 75-80% of Catholics are baptized pagans.)

My current thinking is that "original Christianity" (oh, for a better word) was more of a kingdom movement that produced local communities of the people of God (followers of Jesus, if you will). Gradually it seems like building "churches" took precedence over the kingdom movement. I am thinking, based on some degree of evidence, that the very understanding and use of the word "ekklesia" changed substantially as the focus moved from the kingdom to the "church."

I wonder if the covenant movement and other such movements have not gone through similar changes, and if that is not part of why we are struggling. I doubt that it is in our DNA to become highly organized, buy have we become less involved in a kingdom movement and more wrapped up in building and networking "churches." If the latter is the focus, there are groups that have done it longer and better than us. Why start a new one?

smokin joe said...

Steve, I find myself resonating with your comments. Could you possibly speculate a bit about what it would look like 'practically' for us to move from a 'church' centered focus to a more 'kingdom' centered focus?

Brian Emmet said...

OK, we're going to move to a new topic, "From Church to Kingdom?", which will follow on the most recent set of comments here. Alert the world that it's time to get ready to blog on and chime in!

For my part, I pledge to do everything in my power not to repeat stuff I've already said! (Call me on it when I fail.)

steve H said...

What just happened? In response to a question from Joseph, I just wrote a post for the new thread. When I sought to publish it, I got an error message. Now the whole thread has disappeared!