Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Books Would You Burn?


Let's forget about the silly pastor in Florida who wants to burn the Koran. He has had enough publicity for acting like an idiot.

I am not in favour of burning books. It brings to mind Farenheit 451 and all that. However this crazy thing with the burning Koran has me thinking. If we would want to burn the Koran because it is evil - what other books would you burn?

Here is a list for starters in no particular order*:

Purpose Driven Life
Your Best Life Now
The Prayer of Jabez


*I am not really going to burn these books. I just think they are terrible. Truly terrible. Really, really bad.

21 comments:

Captain Thin said...

I've successfully avoided reading all three of the books you mention. However, I had the unfortunate pleasure of being present when Prayer of Jabez author Bruce Wilkinson addressed the crowds at Breakforth 2006. He had spent the previous night(s?) in flannel pajamas, sleeping on the streets, and growing a beard because "God told me to." A very odd way to start your talk.

During his lecture, he started pushing some nonsense to the effect that if one wanted to become a "true disciple" of Christ, s/he had to come forward to the altar (read stage) at that point. Needless to say, the group I was with (all Lutheran) stayed promptly glued to our seats. After an excruciatingly long period of repeated calls, a few thousand people went forward (at which I was extremely disappointed). Then, he gave the many thousands of us still seated "one last chance" to come forward. When no one moved, he condemned us all on God's behalf. Seriously. For failing to obey his altar-call to Wilkinson-works-discipleship, he was convinced God would pour out his judgment on us. [A quick blog search finds this drivel in favour of that Breakforth talk. Another (more intelligent) blogger considered his sleeping in that day and missing Wilkinson's talk a "highlight" of the event.]

Later that day the founder/organizer of Breakforth (a Lutheran) came out
to do some damage control and correct Wilkinson for his errors. He was very clear that salvation in Christ is by grace through faith alone. It doesn't require obeying some dimwitted author's dimwitted call to discipleship.

So I heartily endorse your choice of Wilkinson. For myself, I would probably choose something by John Shelby Spong. That man is so frustrating, there are no words.

[Incidentally, Wilkinson prophesied that he would never be back in Edmonton to speak. Given the heresy so evident in what he had to say, that was pretty much a self-fulfilling bit of prophecy. No one in their right minds would invite him back.]

Mike Keith said...

I was at the very first Break Forth as a seminary student. I have not been back.

Ken Cyr said...

While I do not endorse the things that Wilkinson said I think it is very narrow minded to suggest that only Lutherans had it right by not going forward. I too believe in salvation by grace through faith alone. But what does that look like? What does that mean? Does it mean we receive our salvation then never do a single thing to share our faith with others? That's just lazy and unscriptural.

Does it mean we never move when God might call us forward through a speaker? Jesus called people to him and if they did not respond they would have lost out on his grace. Can he not chose one of his servants to do that. Must we assume they are heretical because of it. To call someone to come forward is only an action, God is the one who prompts and saves, not the speaker.

Let's remember that while only God can draw a person to himself and offer salvation there are times when action on our part is necessary. Didn't Jesus tell us to "go and make disciples..." isn't that an action on our part? I have learned through God's Word that some of his Old Testament prophets did some pretty strange things. Is it not possible that God can use strange methods today, ones that we don't understand?

We cannot be so arrogant as to believe God can only do it the way we think he should. God is way beyond us as are his methods.

Romans 14:4 tells us "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand for the Lord is able to make him stand.

I am not one who says judgment is wrong because we do need to judge on occasion but your statement does not leave room for any other view than a Lutheran one. That is wrong.

Kelly Klages said...

Wilkinson is wrong because his approach and condemnation is completely unscriptural. We are not wrong or arrogant to trust in Scripture rather than bad modern theology. It is based on the 19th-century legacy of Charles Finney and his "new measures" to create converts and "revival" by means of excitement and emotional methodology. http://www.issuesetcarchive.org/articles/aissar81.htm

It is unthinkable to excuse Wilkinson's arrogant condemnation of Christians who trust in Jesus, just because they did not blindly walk down an aisle at his prompting. God has told us what his means for converting people are. Walking an aisle because some guy on a stage with a mic told you to is not one of them.

Captain Thin said...

Ken, I'm not sure I implied anywhere that refusing to stand up was a specifically Lutheran response (and that therefore all other Christians at Breakforth were in the wrong). There were about ten of us in the group I traveled to Edmonton with. But I strongly suspect that most of the people who decided to stay put in their chairs were not Lutheran. On that subject, I think I'm in wholehearted agreement with those thousands of non-Lutheran Christians who reacted to the nonsense Wilkinson was preaching that day.

As Kelly says, "We are not wrong or arrogant to trust in Scripture rather than bad modern theology." I don't believe, as you suggest, that "God can only do it the way we think he should." But I do believe he wouldn't do it in a way contrary to what he has already revealed in Scripture. And telling people you can't be a "real" Christian unless I come to your altar-call? That's contrary to Scripture.

Ken Cyr said...

Well as I said, I don't agree with Wilkinson's methodology so let me be clear on that (I never once said his method was acceptable). But I have been thinking alot lately if we would have been judgmental when Ezekiel was playing war while laying naked on the pavement for all to see. In fact God told him to do that. Would we be more accepting if we saw someone today do something like that?

Can we not consider the possibility that other preachers (not Wilkinson here) could sincerely be helping people put some action to what God is doing in their hearts? Charles Finny may have said things about excitement that you and I don't like but people came to know Jesus at the time he and others were preaching. How can we judge whether these people were sincere or not. Was there abuse, of course there was. But did real people come to know Christ? Of course they did.

I think it would be wrong to assume that all altar calls are wrong. I have been an evangelical preacher for over 20 years and am not one who does altar calls but I also feel we don't need to judge those who do. Hasn't Satan got enough people doing his work against Christians without Christians throwing bombs at one another?

Theology is hugely important to me and I consider my self an apologist but I also have been guilty of judging others without knowing their hearts. Without considering the possibility that God sometimes chooses to do the unusual. I wholeheartedly agree that scripture is absolutely important and if there is clear abuse than we need to be watchful, but let God judge that. We can get so preoccupied with what others are doing wrong that we also don't do what God has called us to do.

The fact is droves of people came to Jesus when he preached. Perhaps he didn't call them up. But he certainly did call to people. So I am not sure what is theologically wrong (again it was obvious Wilkinson was doing something wrong)with an altar call. Give me some proof text. Otherwise we must stop "...passing judgement on disputable matters." (Romans 14:1).

I know I am in the minority on this subject on this blog but Mike you are a good friend of mine and I hope I don't sound angry because I am not. Just wanting to open wider up dialogue.

Joel said...

Anything by Thomas Hardy! I shudder at the thought of Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Mike Keith said...

Ken,

Your comments are always welcome! It is good to have a discussion among Christians that we might grow in our thinking. As Scripture tells us: "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

I think the theological objection to altar calls is the underlying theology of Arminianism which all Lutherans reject. Since we can never know what is in a person's heart we do not bother ourselves with it. We only evaluate what we hear and see. Therefore if what a preacher says or does is theologically objectionable I will judge it as so. His good or bad intentions are irrelevant, or if not irrelevant, unknowable to me.

Ken Cyr said...

Well I appreciate your sentiments Mike. You quoted one of my favorite verses.

I too enjoy stretching my thinking when a topic like this comes about. We do all hold to some things that are difficult to prove one way or another. I do think that on those "disputable matters" God offers us latitude. On that perhaps we may have to agree to disagree.

I apologize for assuming it was a Lutheran thing. My struggles are based on several times I have heard Lutheran people saying their view is correct without any willingness to debate the scriptures that might disagree. I know there are evangelicals that do the same thing.

But I do enjoy the openness to discuss. Thanks for letting me chat.

Ken Cyr said...

Just one more comment on your last statement. Not everyone who does altar calls is Arminian in their belief. In fact many are not. Many do not even know or care what Arminianism means or stands for. Altar calls is a vehicle similar to any practice in any church which draws us to do something that symbolizes our faith. So while you can say it is personally "objectionable" or objectionable to Lutheran theology, you would be wrong to say it is "theologically objectionable". One can argue about Arminianism but not altar calls because they are seldom connected.

Many many things we do in the church are symbolic of a biblical principles. Just because it is not part of our tradition does not make it theologically wrong.

Mike Keith said...

Ken,

Interesting point. Though I would be surprised if most, if not the vast majority, of those who do altar calls are not Arminian in their theology. The calling of one to exercise their free will to accept or re-commit or give themselves to Jesus, etc. I.e. at the end of every Billy Graham crusade. I find this theologically objectionable. Indeed - I find it to be false teaching since I believe Scripture clearly teaches that our wills are not free in spiritual matters.

So, I suppose it is true you could separate the practice of altar calls from Arminian theology. Though, I suspect, few do.

Anonymous said...

"Not everyone who does altar calls is Arminian in their belief. In fact many are not. Many do not even know or care what Arminianism means or stands for."

So, for a thing to be what it is, it needs to be known as such? A sin is not a sin unless the one committing it knows it to be sin? A heresy is not really a heresy unless the one holding to it knows it to be heresy? Arminianism can't be arminianism unless you know it to be arminianism? Knowing it makes it so? Your statement is a non sequitur. Whether a person who supports altar calls knows that what he is holding to/confessing is actually Arminian theology is a moot point. The false theology behind altar calls stands, whether it has a specific name or not (or is known as such).

Jamie

VT said...

If the altar call is for the purposes of "being saved," then it is clearly Arminian in content, if not in name, and completely contrary to everything I know about God and Lutheran theology. However, if the "altar call" is for the purposes of stating your commitment to something, that is not necessarily contrary to Lutheran theology.

As for books to burn ... The entire Left Behind series would be high on my hit list.

Ken Cyr said...

Thank you VT, well said.

I do not have any particular love for any of the books you have mentioned as being burnable. However, I think it is sad that you would symbolically burn any book written by Christians and not even mention the real serious books out there. Pornographic, Satanic Bible, The Quran, The Watchtower Translation etc,

Like I said before there are lots of Christian books out there where the theology is questionable to me, including those written by some Lutheran authors but does that make them more burn worthy than non-christian religious, cultic, or humanistic books? In fact this blog started out by saying we shouldn't burn the Quran but perhaps we should think of burning these other books. All the books mentioned here are from Christian authors whether we agree with their theology or not. We probably will share eternity with them. We better learn to at least respect others in Christendom.

Nothing wrong with healthy discussion, as has been evidenced here. I do consider Lutherans my Christian brothers. Let's discuss our differences remembering we are in this together.

Satan has enough fun destroying the church of Christ without getting the help of Christians.

Mike Keith said...

Greetings,

With the suggestion of burning books I was seeking to be provocative. By naming some very popular books among Christians I just wanted to get people thinking.

Ken Cyr said...

fair enough, thanks Mike.

Mike Keith said...

one other thought that I had...

Just because it says "Christian" or was written by a Christian does not make it good. For example: assuming Wilkinson is a Christian and assuming he meant good and not evil - does not change the fact that The Prayer of Jabez is so heretical and so dangerous that there can be no good served by it to the Church of Christ. The fact that it became so popular is scary. Really scary.

I would make the same argument for the Purpose Driven Life. However, here I admit, I reject this book because of the fundamental differences in theological approach that a Lutheran takes from how an Arminian theologian approaches it. Nonetheless, I believe, if what is taught in The Purpose Driven Life is what is used to evangelize people, if that is what passes for good Christianity - then it is indeed a dangerous book even if it is written by a very popular Christian pastor.

Same, potentially more so, for Joel Osteen's books and sermons and TV show. His teaching ultimately leads people away from Christ. I am not claiming that is his intention. It is however the necessary result of his theology (the theology of glory, etc).

Ken Cyr said...

Well there are lots of authors you and I would agree are not helpful to Christianity. I don't know if the biggest problem is Armenianism to Lutherans but I do think we could have a case of "hasty generalization" here.

While I too believe as you do that salvation is by grace through faith alone. There is still action on our part. It is minuscule but it is evident all through the scriptures. Jesus said "come" regarding salvation (Matt.11:28; Luke 9:23; John 6:37). What if the people did not come? Would they have been forced to? Would they have been saved anyway?

John 15 uses "remain in me" to describe our action. Jesus said, if anyone "opens the door" (Rev.3:20). God also gave people the choice to do evil as we see with Adam and Eve. So God has permitted choice on our part but the choice has no power to save whatsoever.

Jesus told people who needed healing to "stretch out your hand", "pick up your mat", "get up and walk" does that mean they had the power to heal themselves? Absolutely not. Would they have been healed if they had not obeyed? Probably not.

We have discussed this before Mike. We are probably saying the same thing but our language is different. People who do altar calls or call people to make a decision are simply saying the same things Jesus said, "come", "open the door", etc. The power of salvation is entirely God's and he alone draws people to him. We can call this a "divine mystery" because we don't completely understand it. There are many "divine mysteries" in the Bible because we are finite and God is infinite. On this perhaps we can agree.

Obviously there may be other theological things that cause you concern in the authors you mentioned but 90% of evangelicals are not Armenians in belief. They simply wrestle with this "divine mystery" as best they can. When they call people to action they assume God has already drawn them and of course the power is all God's. It is like being given a new Cadillac. If we never turn the ignition that beautiful car is useless to us. It is all God's gift and power but to make use of the gift we must turn the key.

To completely reject choice is also dangerous. It suggests we should not preach as the apostles did and not go and make disciples as Jesus called us to do. Because each involves action on our part. It suggests we do nothing and simply allow God to do the work of evangelism without any action or responsibility on our part. If it is all God's work without him giving us the responsibility to act we should stop sending missionaries, educating pastors and close the churches.

Ken Cyr said...

Well there are lots of authors you and I would agree are not helpful to Christianity. I don't know if the biggest problem is Armenianism to Lutherans but I do think we could have a case of "hasty generalization" here.

While I too believe as you do that salvation is by grace through faith alone. There is still action on our part. It is minuscule but it is evident all through the scriptures. Jesus said "come" regarding salvation (Matt.11:28; Luke 9:23; John 6:37). What if the people did not come? Would they have been forced to? Would they have been saved anyway?

John 15 uses "remain in me" to describe our action. Jesus said, if anyone "opens the door" (Rev.3:20). God also gave people the choice to do evil as we see with Adam and Eve. So God has permitted choice on our part but the choice has no power to save whatsoever.

Jesus told people who needed healing to "stretch out your hand", "pick up your mat", "get up and walk" does that mean they had the power to heal themselves? Absolutely not. Would they have been healed if they had not obeyed? Probably not....

Ken Cyr said...

...We have discussed this before Mike. We are probably saying the same thing but our language is different. People who do altar calls or call people to make a decision are simply saying the same things Jesus said, "come", "open the door", etc. The power of salvation is entirely God's and he alone draws people to him. We can call this a "divine mystery" because we don't completely understand it. There are many "divine mysteries" in the Bible because we are finite and God is infinite. On this perhaps we can agree.

Obviously there may be other theological things that cause you concern in the authors you mentioned but 90% of evangelicals are not Armenians in belief. They simply wrestle with this "divine mystery" as best they can. When they call people to action they assume God has already drawn them and of course the power is all God's. It is like being given a new Cadillac. If we never turn the ignition that beautiful car is useless to us. It is all God's gift and power but to make use of the gift we must turn the key.

To completely reject choice is also dangerous. It suggests we should not preach as the apostles did and not go and make disciples as Jesus called us to do. Because each involves action on our part. It suggests we do nothing and simply allow God to do the work of evangelism without any action or responsibility on our part. If it is all God's work without him giving us the responsibility to act we should stop sending missionaries, educating pastors and close the churches.

Ken Cyr said...

Sorry for posting twice, my first try I was told it was too long so I broke it in half. As it turns out it accepted it anyway.