Tim Keller: "God seems to use all these kinds of churches"

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Zenas

Snow Miser
I'm an uncharitable type of guy. *shrug*

I have no patience with that type of non-chalant attitude with regard to Confessional Protestantism when one holds themselves out as a Confessional Protestant. Viewing church government as some sort of suggestion that you only need in certain settings doesn't fit well with me. He holds himself out to be a Presbyterian but... well, you read the statement. If the harshness offends you, I apologize, but I don't retract.

From said statement, I get that he wishes the rules were more flexible in dealing with a church his size. I do not see where you somehow read, something along the lines of, "everyone do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it."

I'm not out to "get" Tim Keller. I've gone to see him speak and felt he was quite solid at the time. My RUF campus minister was/is a big fan of him as well. I've heard he was a little less than TR and this seems to affirm more than that suspicion.

The issue is not the calling out of people whenever you believe they are wrong. The problem is the making every problem/issue/sin equal to the worst sin imaginable.

CT

When it's someone like Keller, a small drift away is something to make a big deal about. Apostacy and liberalism don't usually start with someone making the switch overnight, it's a slow process. When a big-time teacher like Keller starts to exhibit leaning the other way, I'm going to point it out loud and clear.

The tone I got from the statement is the BCO is restrictive of the type of church he wants to pastor, one that, from the tone of his interview, seems more "inclusive". His attitude toward Romanism is gut-wrenching as well, and adds to the suspicion that he is a pluralist of some sort. At the very least, I no longer think he is an orthodox Protestant due to his friendly attitude toward Romanism despite the glaring heresey present in their view of Justification.

Stephen's critique of the article is more telling, which quotes like this little gem:

This puts me in a position where I don’t want to defend just one kind of Christianity. I think I want to defend the Apostles Creed. And I want you, as a nonbeliever, to buy the Apostles’ Creed, and then after that figure out where you want to go. I really think I can do that. But, at the same time, I don’t believe I can possibly speak to a lot of these things without [doing so from] within my particularity. So I actually say that there are certain chapters in which I’m going to be speaking as a Protestant because there’s no way not to speak as a Protestant or a Catholic.

When Sproul writes an apologetic's book, it's from a Reformed Protestant view and he's unapologetic about it (no pun intended). I expect that, becase Sproul's goal is to defend Reformed Protestantism because contained therein is the Biblical view of justification by faith alone. The same with James White. James White is a Reformed Baptist, and his apologetics are going to be slanted that way. In either instance, both are arguing for justification by faith alone explicitly. They aren't sending out a call for folks to go join a Pentecostal or Unitarian church, and definately not to join a Roman Catholic church. They want them to have a biblical view of justification, i.e. by faith alone in Christ alone. Keller is obviously deviating from this and adopting a pluralistic approach to apologetics.

Time Keller appears to be admitting he wishes he could write a book without a Reformed Protestant skew, so that he can call unbelievers to any view of justification that has Christ mentioned somewhere therein. That's not kosher man. Not at all. If I'm a bad person for calling the kettle black, then I'm a bad person. I'll own that label.
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
When Sproul writes an apologetic's book, it's from a Reformed Protestant view and he's unapologetic about it (no pun intended). .

If we are speaking strictly about apologetics, Sproul will be writing from a Thomist Catholic view, since he is a classical apologist. I do know what you are getting at, though. I also mention that because in some eyes, Sproul has made a small move away from Reformeddom in regards to methodology.

I am not knocking Sproul. I listened to RYM the other day.

I have mixed feelings about this thread. I am not particularly fond of Keller, and you really can't justify him violating the BCO, but I am open to the fact that the Spirit is moving in other churches (no, put the torches down. I am not saying Rome is all hunky-dory).
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
When Sproul writes an apologetic's book, it's from a Reformed Protestant view and he's unapologetic about it (no pun intended). .

If we are speaking strictly about apologetics, Sproul will be writing from a Thomist Catholic view, since he is a classical apologist. I do know what you are getting at, though. I also mention that because in some eyes, Sproul has made a small move away from Reformeddom in regards to methodology.

I am not knocking Sproul. I listened to RYM the other day.

I have mixed feelings about this thread. I am not particularly fond of Keller, and you really can't justify him violating the BCO, but I am open to the fact that the Spirit is moving in other churches (no, put the torches down. I am not saying Rome is all hunky-dory).

My point is not in his approach, but rather to the substance of what he's defending. I'm well aware of the fact he's a Thomist but he doesn't argue for the validity of the Roman view of justification, or in order to get people to move in that direction. My point was not that Keller was using a Thomistic Catholic approach to apologetics, but that he wants to offer an apology non-specific to any view of justification, just a view of justification.

A far as Sproul goes, I'm not aware of the move, but I don't keep myself abreast of his situations anyway. I would expect people to throw a bigger fit if he came out and said things like this. I certainly would.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Matthew,

The Machen quote can be found in J. Greshem Machen: Selected Shorter Writings, ed. by D.G. Hart, p. 314. I got this from the "Machen on Presbyterianism" thread (from Andrew Myers, post #9): http://www.puritanboard.com/f35/machen-presbyterianism-21621/

The quote Machen was responding to can be found in (search for the pertinent words):

http://www.theologian.org.uk/downloads/ChristianityandtheToleranceofLiberalismbyLeeGatiss_000.pdf

The Presbyterian Controversy ... - Google Book Search

Steve
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
What is contextualization, and it is biblical?

We must never compromise biblical truth. We must, however, express this truth to widely varying cultures. Contextualization is this bridging process. The missionary seeks to impart the meaning of the Gospel in a meaningful way to a new audience. He leaves behind his cultural biases and even adapts the form of his message to provide better points of commonality between the Gospel and his target audience.

Definitions of Contextualization from Leading Missiologists

Gilliland (1989) defines contextualization in the following manner:
The way in which the Word as Scripture, and the Word as revealed in the truths of culture interact in determining Christian truth for a given people. For the purpose of missions there must be a maximizing of the meaning of Christian truth for the particular situation in which and for which the message is developed.

Darrel Whiteman’s definition contains the concept of process and continuance in one’s own culture:
[Contextualization] attempts to communicate the Gospel in word and deed and to establish the church in ways that make sense to people within their local cultural context, presenting Christianity in such a way that it meets people's deepest needs and penetrates their worldview, thus allowing them to follow Christ and remain within their own culture.

Samuel Escobar explains contextualization this way:
It refers to the way in which the text of the Bible or Christian theology is understood within its own cultural and historical context in order to apply its meaning in different contexts...However, the term contextualization may also be understood in a more general way as a movement that seeks to affirm local cultures in their search for autonomy and full expression, as a reactive process in contrast to globalization.

David Hesselgrave warns that definitions of contextualization focus too much on cultural relevancy rather than Biblical faithfulness. Hesselgrave, therefore, crafts a definition contextualization that focuses on cultural “meaningfulness” rather than on “relevancy.”

Hesselgrave writes:
I define it [contextualization] in terms of “cultural meaningfulness”...I will use the term to refer to the process of communicating the biblical Gospel in such a way as to make it meaningful to the people of any given cultural context.

I could list many other worthy definitions. Contextualization as “the attempt to communicate the message of the person, works, Word, and will of God in a way that is faithful to God’s revelation...and that is meaningful to respondents in their respective cultural and existential contexts,” as advocated by David Hesselgrave and Ed Rommen.

Charles Kraft emphasizes the role of God as “The Contextualizer” and speaks of “receptor-oriented language.” If God’s Son became incarnate, lived and spoke in a contextual way, God’s representatives ought to display the Gospel in a way that becomes incarnate in the target culture too.

Elements in common with all these definitions include (1) A transcultural Gospel, (2) communicated in varying ways (3) with an aim to make the trans-cultural message meaningful to varying cultures by the use of varying forms.
Missiologists also sometimes emphases the following: (1) we must not change the basic content of the Gospel, only its presentation, (2) our aim is effectiveness, meaningfulness and sometimes relevance, and (3) our practices are in line with the practices of Jesus, the Apostle Paul and other NT writers. Finally, (4) there are also dangers of not contextualizing.


Section III – History Of Contextualization

Contextualization is a new word but not a new concept. Contextualization has been practiced throughout the history of the church as it has spread out to new cultures. Dean Flemming explains:
Although the term contextualization was quite recently minted, the activity of expressing and embodying the gospel on context-sensitive ways has characterized the Christian mission from the very beginning.

Ancient examples of contextualization can be seen in the Greco-Roman world as early apologists argued for the rationality of Christianity using Greek logical categories. The early church Fathers took their queue from the Apostle John’s use of “Logos” and crafted a distinctively Christian philosophy. Many of the early apologists worked in the world of Greek logical categories and vocabularies. If Christianity had first traveled East rather than West the Athanasian Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Formulation of Chalcedon might never have been written since immersion into Greek thought influenced Christianity to develop along creedal lines and scholastic formulae.
Douglas Hayward locates one of the oldest examples of contextualization among the Heliand, where “The Gospel was rewritten as a ballad and was sung in the mead halls of Saxon Germany in the 9th Century.” Todd Johnson mentions the efforts of Alfred the Great, Saint Patrick of Ireland and Roberto D Nobili - who became in appearance a Hindu holy man in the 1500’s - as examples of early contextualization. The China Inland Mission missionaries took on the dress and habits of the Chinese. There are many other such examples.
Who coined the term contextualization? Though practiced long before the word was coined, the actual coining of this term occurred in 1972. Shoki Coe first used this term in a World Council of Churches’ publication, “Theological Education Fund Report,” in the book Ministry in Context.

Todd Johnson describes this first usage:
A few short years ago, in 1972, Shoki Coe first used the term "contextualization" in a publication of the World Council of Churches. "

The rise of contextualization paralleled the rise of postmodern thought. It carried with it the same matching blessings and curses. These matching concepts helped demolish the myth of a monocultural Gospel, but some slipped into the false belief that transcultural items are rooted in culture as well. We have a God who has accommodated to culture, but we still have a God above culture. Some advocates of contextualization have forgotten this. While missiologists explored this concept as a key to enter resistant cultures with the Gospel, liberation and feminist theology also utilized contextualization as a means to spread deviant theologies.

Hesselgrave analyzes the aftermath:
When administrators of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches launched its Third Mandate Program (1970-78) to encourage the “contextualization of theology,” most who responded to that challenge were Third World theologians of a liberal or neo-orthodox persuasion. Their resultant contextualized theologies displayed a profound appreciation for indigenous cultures and religions, including black theology, African theology, liberation theology, waterbuffalo theology, third-eye theology, and the theology of the pain of God.
However, these contextualized theologies invariably left a great deal to be desired when measured against the biblical text and biblical theology.


The Lausanne Consultation on Gospel and Culture met at Willowbank in 1978. Controversy ensued. The results: “several papers drew sharp criticism and had to be revised.” Charles Taber created the Journal, The Gospel in Context in 1978 and David Hesselgrave included a chapter on the subject in his 1978 book, Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally. Later, Hesselgrave devoted a whole book to the subject in 1989 with the title, Contextualization. The first popular book discussing contextualization was Charles Kraft’s Christianity in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, published in 1979. Hiebert, in 1982, also begin to speak of “critical contextualization.”
In the years that followed, contextualization affected nearly every area of missiology in almost every location and people group around the globe. Now, its influence seems to be everywhere and it is one of the most discussed and debated issues in missiology.


Section IV – The Biblical Data

As Stan Guthrie points out, “Contextualization may be a new term, but it is not a new concept. It has been around for as long as the Bible.”
The Old Testament:
The transcultural God enters culture. He does so in understandable and culturally meaningful ways. He spoke to Ancient Near East audiences, and they understood. One example, very simply put: God gave Moses his law on Sinai on tablets of stone, not on floppy disk!
God accommodated to human culture, working through social patterns of that day. Meredith Kline and other reformed scholars even point out that the structure of whole books of the Old Testament, such a Deuteronomy, were patterned after Ancient Near East Suzerain-Vassal treaties.

Douglas Hayward often demonstrates God’s Old Testament divine contextualizing by giving this curious assignment:

One of the interesting assignments that I give to students in my classrooms is that of asking them to read 50 of the Psalms and to record all of the images of God that they can find. This typically includes terms such as “my high tower, my shield and my sword, a rock and a high place” along with a host of others all indicating mental and cultural images that were important to a pastoral culture and an emerging nation-state. Then I ask them to record all the images of God in the Gospel of John. They discover there that God is spoken of as: the Word, the Way the Truth and the Life, the Door, a Vine and its branches, as well as other images that reflect a mercantile culture...”

Adequate space prevents all that I could write. Summary: God contextualized. He entered the cultural forms of the Ancient Near East to make His Divine Plan understandable.


The New Testament:
Dean Flemming recently detailed the New Testament occurrences of contextualization in great detail. I’ve listed only a few key examples here, but many more exist, the New Testament being rich in contextualization. The prime example: Christ himself - the Son of God incarnate as a Palestine Jew.

Christ communicated Himself to others in a contextualized way worthy of study. As Hesselgrave writes:
Though our Lord ministered within the confines of the worldview of Judaism, He nevertheless adapted to interests, needs, and “points of view” within various contexts. He did not communicate with the rich young ruler in terms of the new birth, or with the woman of Samaria in terms of “selling what she had and following Him,” or with Nicodemus in terms of the Water of life. All three approaches would have been valid as concerns God’s eternal truth, but they would not have been valid as adaptations within the respective contexts”.

Jesus contextualized Himself as a Jew, abiding by Jewish custom and using local language to express truth: “From the beginning the gospel was voiced in local, culturally conditioned forms.”

Want a divinely penned example of contextualization in action? The ministry of the Apostle Paul is a case study of “Apostolic Adaptation.” Look at Paul in both Acts 14 and Acts 17. These two sermons, studied together, provide an inspired case study of how the Apostle varied his subject matter, manner of address and illustrations - all to make the Gospel meaningful to different audiences. He even quoted local literature – pagan poets - and appealed to local myth. The Gospel writer Luke, of all the sermons which Paul preached, picked these sermons to record. Why? To give a clear model for engaging “foreign” cultures.

Do you know that Peter contextualized the Gospel too? Peter’s apostolic adaptation to different audiences is often overlooked, but just compare Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 with how he interacted with Cornelius in Acts 10. Also, Peter’s two epistles to poor, persecuted saints also focus on Christ’s suffering as an example for us. Peter displayed a Christ living a holy life under persecution, a fitting model for an audience undergoing similar circumstances.

The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 drove the nail in the coffin for anyone who values culture over Christ. The resounding verdict: one did not need to first become a Jew in order to become a Christian. The Gentiles did not need circumcision; only those particularly troublesome cultural sins for the Gentiles were forbidden. We need not export “civilization” first before we give “Christianity.”


The New Testament displays one long record of contextualizing practices. The New Testament writers had the habit of “dipping into pagan vocabulary.” Paul paints Jesus as the “pleroma,” a term widely used by the Proto-gnostics (Colossians 1:19). Christ is He in whom all the fullness of God dwells, forever recapturing this word from paganism. Paul quoted pagan poets (the Phaenomena of Aratus the Stoic). The Apostle John redefines the “logos” for Christian use. Ralph Winter concludes “we must not suppose that the message of Christianity, clothed in the new garments of the Greek world, was damaged by this new clothing.”
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I am going to get in trouble for this quotation, but I can't resist:

Contextualization be damned. We have our own story. And if it clashes with the stories we find around us, so much the worse for the other stories. After all, our story is big enough to encompass every other.

Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 58ff.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
AREAS WHERE CONTEXTUALIZATION CAN AND SHOULD BE PRACTICED


Areas of Application

Contextualization should be applied to areas such as the following:

1. Dress, behavior and lifestyle of the missionary.
2. Types of development projects, which if inappropriate, might be interpreted as 'inducements' by the non-Christian community.
3. Language, including the Scripture translation, used in evangelism and worship.
4. Thought patterns and communication style as found in the new culture (e.g. story-telling or use of indigenous music).
5. Initial selection, sequence, and emphasis of certain aspects of the gospel relevant to any culture. (e.g. the different way the early apostles shared the gospel with Jews versus the way they shared it with Gentiles.)
6. Worship posture and expression in prayer, music or formal discourse, allowing for various forms. We need to be careful, however, that we do not overlook the delicate relationship between form and meaning. We should avoid inadvertently encouraging a form or practice which is perceived by the worshiper or his unconverted acquaintances as having a meaning which is in conflict with Biblical truth. (e.g. Certain kinds of music in African culture are related to evil practices. The posture of prayer may be much more significant for a Muslim than for a former Catholic.)
7. Discipling and training methods, keeping in mind the past experiences and future needs of new converts.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
God contextualized did he not even by giving these stories?


"Though our Lord ministered within the confines of the worldview of Judaism, He nevertheless adapted to interests, needs, and “points of view” within various contexts. He did not communicate with the rich young ruler in terms of the new birth, or with the woman of Samaria in terms of “selling what she had and following Him,” or with Nicodemus in terms of the Water of life. All three approaches would have been valid as concerns God’s eternal truth, but they would not have been valid as adaptations within the respective contexts”.

Jesus met people's "felt needs" and was very "relevant." Also, cf the Apostle Paul in Acts 14 and Acts 17, same man, same theology, but a different approach. That is contextualizaition in action.
 
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raekwon

Puritan Board Junior
The incarnation of the Son of God is the single greatest example of contextualization there is.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am going to get in trouble for this quotation, but I can't resist:

Contextualization be damned. We have our own story. And if it clashes with the stories we find around us, so much the worse for the other stories. After all, our story is big enough to encompass every other.

Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 58ff.

:up:

Whatever issues there may be with Leithart, it's certainly nothing like this posted by Pergy that tells us the forum in which the term contextualization was first introduced:

Todd Johnson describes this first usage:
A few short years ago, in 1972, Shoki Coe first used the term "contextualization" in a publication of the World Council of Churches. "
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The incarnation of the Son of God is the single greatest example of contextualization there is.

Interesting observation. May I suggest another? The context into which the Son of God became incarnate was a people whom God separated from the rest of the nations for the explicit purpose of ensuring His message would not be confused with and absorbed by the multifarious God-rejecting cultures of the world.
 

biblicalthought

Puritan Board Freshman
Does anyone here have a reliable source regarding FV at NYC Redeemer Pres? Allegedly it is an associate pastor of Keller.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
I am going to get in trouble for this quotation, but I can't resist:

Contextualization be damned. We have our own story. And if it clashes with the stories we find around us, so much the worse for the other stories. After all, our story is big enough to encompass every other.

Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 58ff.

Don't apologise. He had a good point.
 

raekwon

Puritan Board Junior
The incarnation of the Son of God is the single greatest example of contextualization there is.

Interesting observation. May I suggest another? The context into which the Son of God became incarnate was a people whom God separated from the rest of the nations for the explicit purpose of ensuring His message would not be confused with and absorbed by the multifarious God-rejecting cultures of the world.

Was it really? Did the Son became incarnate among a people whom God had already separated to himself, or was the context that He entered into a rebellious, God-rejecting people in whom he had to effect such a separation?

What I'm trying to say is that Jesus came as one of us. Instead of saving us (or not) from his rightful place at His Father's side, He entered into our story, so to speak, as a man. This is what is meant by contextualization. Not receiving every aspect of a culture as good. By no means. But to reject every aspect of a culture as evil (which seems to be the conventional wisdom here -- correct me if I'm wrong) seems wrong-headed. There are morally neutral aspects of every culture that can be received as is. There are others that must be rejected as unbiblical and un-Christian. There are still others that can be redeemed.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What I'm trying to say is that Jesus came as one of us. Instead of saving us (or not) from his rightful place at His Father's side, He entered into our story, so to speak, as a man. This is what is meant by contextualization.

Yes, I picked up that you were advocating a universalist incarnation approach. Hence I gave a counter-observation from a particularist incarnation approach. Jesus was made of a woman and made under the law. He came in fulfilment of all God had promised to the nation of Israel. The gospel is Judaeo-Christian. It begins with Jerusalem and moves out to the ends of the earth. The Christian story is never divorced from its God-made cultural context of Old Testament Israel.
 

tellville

Puritan Board Junior
Doesn't monergism.com give Tim Keller's most recent book a glowing review? They even have him as their monthly focus. Not that monergism.com is perfect, but I thought they were pretty good at providing only good resources. And I know for sure that many of the statements said here are in his book. Was I wrong about monergism.com?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I am going to get in trouble for this quotation, but I can't resist:

Contextualization be damned. We have our own story. And if it clashes with the stories we find around us, so much the worse for the other stories. After all, our story is big enough to encompass every other.

Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 58ff.

:up:

Whatever issues there may be with Leithart, it's certainly nothing like this posted by Pergy that tells us the forum in which the term contextualization was first introduced:

Todd Johnson describes this first usage:
A few short years ago, in 1972, Shoki Coe first used the term "contextualization" in a publication of the World Council of Churches. "



Hello.......read the WHOLE thing about contextualization. It is practiced by many good and bad men alike.

Respond to contextualiziation not merely react to Shoki Coe and the WCC Bunch (sounds like a pop band doesn't it).


I gave some examples of how Jesus contextualized the Gospel. Address those.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The very reason we are posting about the Bible in ENGLISH is due to the contextualization of the church in the past - making the Gospel understandable as it bridges another cultural context.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
For what it's worth, I am with Keller when he favors planting churches not of his denomination. There needs to be more gospel-centered churches, period. When I lived in DC, our church supported in prayer, fellowship and even financially the planting of a PCA church because we recognized the importance of having a good Presbyterian church in the area despite our doctrinal differences.
 

SEAGOON

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Stephen,

Does anyone here have a reliable source regarding FV at NYC Redeemer Pres? Allegedly it is an associate pastor of Keller.

Assistant Pastor Matthew Paul Buccheri, friend and supporter of FV guys, Save Our Seminary, Presbyterians and Presbyterians together, the NT Wright brigade, Norm Shepherd, etc. and not surprisingly a fellow graduate of WTS East.
 

SEAGOON

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi elnwood,

For what it's worth, I am with Keller when he favors planting churches not of his denomination. There needs to be more gospel-centered churches, period.

Well then, if that is our desire and we want to be good stewards of God's money. Why don't we get the evangelical denominations together and rent or purchase large buildings in the city and plant "buffet style churches" so people can select whatever kind of polity and doctrine that appeals to them. At 8:00 AM we can have an Anglican Service, 9:30 AM Presbyterian, 11:00 AM Baptist, 1:00 PM Pentecostal, 2:30 PM Independent Charismatic Contemporary and so on.

Experience shows modern people love Malls and the many choices that come with them. Also, this would have the advantage that if one of the individual churches in the buffet failed, we could just invite in a different one to fill it's spot and not lose the building, resources, etc.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Hi elnwood,

For what it's worth, I am with Keller when he favors planting churches not of his denomination. There needs to be more gospel-centered churches, period.

Well then, if that is our desire and we want to be good stewards of God's money. Why don't we get the evangelical denominations together and rent or purchase large buildings in the city and plant "buffet style churches" so people can select whatever kind of polity and doctrine that appeals to them. At 8:00 AM we can have an Anglican Service, 9:30 AM Presbyterian, 11:00 AM Baptist, 1:00 PM Pentecostal, 2:30 PM Independent Charismatic Contemporary and so on.

Experience shows modern people love Malls and the many choices that come with them. Also, this would have the advantage that if one of the individual churches in the buffet failed, we could just invite in a different one to fill it's spot and not lose the building, resources, etc.

I hope you're not suggesting that this is what I'm suggesting.

If I may explain, the fact is that there are more people who need to be ministered to by the gospel than the current number of good gospel-preaching churches today. I live in San Diego and attend a PCA church. It is a large, metropolitan area which needs good churches throughout the area.

Our strategy is to plant as many churches in the area as possible. We don't want to set up one big church downtown and have everyone commute to it, as is the mega-church model. Many churches within the surrounding neighborhoods is a better way to reach people for the gospel. It is NOT about, as I think you are suggesting, giving people what they want. It is NOT a seeker-sensitive model.

So far, our church has planted eight locations in the county, but our church recognizes that the PCA does not have enough resources to effectively reach all of San Diego county. Therefore, we support and partner with other like-minded gospel-centered churches that are not in the PCA.

Others may think that having one perfectly WCF-complaint, exclusive-Psalter church in a major city is enough for God's word to reach people, but I don't think so.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi elnwood,

For what it's worth, I am with Keller when he favors planting churches not of his denomination. There needs to be more gospel-centered churches, period.

Well then, if that is our desire and we want to be good stewards of God's money. Why don't we get the evangelical denominations together and rent or purchase large buildings in the city and plant "buffet style churches" so people can select whatever kind of polity and doctrine that appeals to them. At 8:00 AM we can have an Anglican Service, 9:30 AM Presbyterian, 11:00 AM Baptist, 1:00 PM Pentecostal, 2:30 PM Independent Charismatic Contemporary and so on.

Experience shows modern people love Malls and the many choices that come with them. Also, this would have the advantage that if one of the individual churches in the buffet failed, we could just invite in a different one to fill it's spot and not lose the building, resources, etc.

I hope you're not suggesting that this is what I'm suggesting.

If I may explain, the fact is that there are more people who need to be ministered to by the gospel than the current number of good gospel-preaching churches today. I live in San Diego and attend a PCA church. It is a large, metropolitan area which needs good churches throughout the area.

Our strategy is to plant as many churches in the area as possible. We don't want to set up one big church downtown and have everyone commute to it, as is the mega-church model. Many churches within the surrounding neighborhoods is a better way to reach people for the gospel. It is NOT about, as I think you are suggesting, giving people what they want. It is NOT a seeker-sensitive model.

So far, our church has planted eight locations in the county, but our church recognizes that the PCA does not have enough resources to effectively reach all of San Diego county. Therefore, we support and partner with other like-minded gospel-centered churches that are not in the PCA.

Others may think that having one perfectly WCF-complaint, exclusive-Psalter church in a major city is enough for God's word to reach people, but I don't think so.

Speaking for myself, I'd have to throw my hat in with Don (Elnwood) on this one. :) (How 'bout 'dem apples, Don?)
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Hi elnwood,



Well then, if that is our desire and we want to be good stewards of God's money. Why don't we get the evangelical denominations together and rent or purchase large buildings in the city and plant "buffet style churches" so people can select whatever kind of polity and doctrine that appeals to them. At 8:00 AM we can have an Anglican Service, 9:30 AM Presbyterian, 11:00 AM Baptist, 1:00 PM Pentecostal, 2:30 PM Independent Charismatic Contemporary and so on.

Experience shows modern people love Malls and the many choices that come with them. Also, this would have the advantage that if one of the individual churches in the buffet failed, we could just invite in a different one to fill it's spot and not lose the building, resources, etc.

I hope you're not suggesting that this is what I'm suggesting.

If I may explain, the fact is that there are more people who need to be ministered to by the gospel than the current number of good gospel-preaching churches today. I live in San Diego and attend a PCA church. It is a large, metropolitan area which needs good churches throughout the area.

Our strategy is to plant as many churches in the area as possible. We don't want to set up one big church downtown and have everyone commute to it, as is the mega-church model. Many churches within the surrounding neighborhoods is a better way to reach people for the gospel. It is NOT about, as I think you are suggesting, giving people what they want. It is NOT a seeker-sensitive model.

So far, our church has planted eight locations in the county, but our church recognizes that the PCA does not have enough resources to effectively reach all of San Diego county. Therefore, we support and partner with other like-minded gospel-centered churches that are not in the PCA.

Others may think that having one perfectly WCF-complaint, exclusive-Psalter church in a major city is enough for God's word to reach people, but I don't think so.

Speaking for myself, I'd have to throw my hat in with Don (Elnwood) on this one. :) (How 'bout 'dem apples, Don?)

I officially declare that I have now seen everything! Paul and Don actually agree on something! :banana:
 

SEAGOON

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi elnwood,

I hope you're not suggesting that this is what I'm suggesting.

If I may explain, the fact is that there are more people who need to be ministered to by the gospel than the current number of good gospel-preaching churches today. I live in San Diego and attend a PCA church. It is a large, metropolitan area which needs good churches throughout the area.

Our strategy is to plant as many churches in the area as possible. We don't want to set up one big church downtown and have everyone commute to it, as is the mega-church model. Many churches within the surrounding neighborhoods is a better way to reach people for the gospel. It is NOT about, as I think you are suggesting, giving people what they want. It is NOT a seeker-sensitive model.

So far, our church has planted eight locations in the county, but our church recognizes that the PCA does not have enough resources to effectively reach all of San Diego county. Therefore, we support and partner with other like-minded gospel-centered churches that are not in the PCA.

Others may think that having one perfectly WCF-complaint, exclusive-Psalter church in a major city is enough for God's word to reach people, but I don't think so.

No, that's not what I'm suggesting, I was just using the example to make a couple of points. First, although the model I was suggesting might be successful, it presupposes that issues like polity, worship, and doctrine are more the result of tradition and preference than anything else, and that it doesn't really matter what we practice in regards to these things, as long as the gospel is being preached. It presumes that the Bible doesn't teach things about them and that God doesn't really care much about them at all. They may be important to us, but they aren't important to Him. If I believed that, I'd cease to be a Presbyterian immediately, because I'm not Presbyterian because I was born into it, or I happen to like it's traditions. I'm a Presbyterian because of my conviction that it is the best expression of the theology taught in the Bible - and yeah as irritating as we are to the world I'm a Puritan, not a Latitudinarian, when it comes to theology.

As it so happens, I believe many Pentecostal and even Anglican churches preach the gospel, but I also believe that their worship is unbiblical and produces a harvest of bad fruit. Frankly I don't want to use the resources that the Lord provides to us to teach people Dispensationalism, Arminianism, Pentecostalism , and so on, even if a gospel presentation is tacked on. I don't want to have started churches where there are no elders, or where the Minister is appointed by a Bishop, or where there is no Confessional statement by which the Minister is held accountable, or a constitution that protects the rights of members and provides them the ability to receive a fair trial and even an appeal. I don't want to start a church whose governing body has no higher court keeping them accountable via review and control, and so on.

To put it quite simply, if I were able to plant churches of any stripe, I would be forced to say that the 2000 Puritan ministers who chose to be kicked out of the Ministry in 1662 because of their refusal to accept the Act of Uniformity were wrong, and I don't, or that Jenny Gedes should have bit her tongue and stayed on her stool. They said that things like church government, worship, Christian liberty and so on are not things we should compromise on in order to see that the gospel gets preached.

Now before someone misunderstands me, I have had wonderful fellowship with more Pentecostal, Baptists, Independent Fundamentalists etc. brothers and sisters in Christ than I can count, and I'm sure I'll see them in heaven, but while there is much we agree on, I have no desire to spread abroad their theological distinctives, some of which, I consider downright dangerous (Pentecostalism in particular). And lets face it, how could I in all seriousness say that I subscribed to the idea that as WCF 28.5 says "Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance" and then plant churches that do exactly that.

Now I'm not saying I want just one Presbyterian church in every city, I'd like to see many planted. I want to see as many solid OSP churches planted as we can.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Hi SEAGOON,

No, that's not what I'm suggesting, I was just using the example to make a couple of points. First, although the model I was suggesting might be successful, it presupposes that issues like polity, worship, and doctrine are more the result of tradition and preference than anything else, and that it doesn't really matter what we practice in regards to these things, as long as the gospel is being preached. It presumes that the Bible doesn't teach things about them and that God doesn't really care much about them at all. They may be important to us, but they aren't important to Him. If I believed that, I'd cease to be a Presbyterian immediately, because I'm not Presbyterian because I was born into it, or I happen to like it's traditions. I'm a Presbyterian because of my conviction that it is the best expression of the theology taught in the Bible - and yeah as irritating as we are to the world I'm a Puritan, not a Latitudinarian, when it comes to theology.

Where we differ, I think is that I don't think church government and certain doctrines are essential for cooperation and mutual support.

You write that the view "presupposes that issues like polity, worship, and doctrine ... doesn't really matter [and] that the Bible doesn't teach things about them [and] God doesn't really care much about them at all." I disagree. I don't think a Presbyterian church supporting a Baptist church or vice versa (and I've been a part of both) means that either compromises their view of the ordinances or their polity.

I understand your desire to be fiscally wise in planting good churches and the desire not to plant churches that support doctrines you believe to be unbiblical. I don't want to support any doctrine I believe is unbiblical either, but as of yet I haven't found anyone who agrees with my theology 100%. Doctrinal perfection should not be demanded. I think our differences is that I am more lenient on many issues, in particular polity, than you are as far as cooperation.

In a country like the United States, there are many different denominations, and we have a lot of freedom to partner with like-minded churches, and we can make restrictions based on polity, ordinances, etc. If I were in a country with just a handful of Christians, though, and the only churches within a hundreds of miles were my church and a Pentecostal church (which is quite common because quite frankly, Pentecostals in general have been more aggressive in church planting than my Reformed brethren), I would quite happily partner with them to bring the gospel to that region while not compromising what I believe to be taught in Scripture.
 
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