Brian McLaren’s new book

Kevin DeYoung thoroughly (pdf 12 pages long) reviews all ten premises of Brian McClaren’s new book A New Kind of Christianity here. Kevin’s describes his approach at the outset:

I want to be fair with McLaren. I want to understand his ideas and evaluate them based on their merits. If I misunderstand a point or misconstrue what McLaren teaches I want to be corrected. Further, I have no desire to engage in ad hominem attacks. I want to discuss McLaren’s theology without vitriol or sophomoric putdowns. I will not assume the worst about Brian McLaren. I will try not to say anything in the cozy confines of the blogosphere that I would not say sitting across from McLaren over a beverage of his choice.

It’s not wrong to ask a reviewer to be charitable, so long as the love does not have to be devoid of the truth.

So what I will not do is pretend that the issues McLaren raises are non-essential issues or that his mistakes are little mistakes. I will not refrain from serious critique because this is only a “quest” or merely an attempt to raise questions. Moreover, I will not attempt to find a middle ground with teaching that I believe to be heterodox. I will not look for a third way when I see Christianity going down one path and McLarenism going down another. I will state my disagreements with this book strongly and warn other Christians strenuously. I am not ashamed for having convictions, and I am not afraid to write as if I understand (truly though not exhaustively) what the Bible teaches and understand that what it teaches is incompatible with A New Kind of Christianity.

No one deserves to reviled. But some books deserve to pilloried.

and then he promptly and calmly proceeds to pillory what needs to be pilloried.

Tim Challies also reviewed the book. His review is shorter and more brutal.

It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about Brian McLaren and got in trouble. Reflecting on seeing him speak at a nearby church, I suggested that he appears to love Jesus but hate God. Based on immediate and furious reaction, I quickly retracted that statement. I should not have done so. I believed it then and I believe it now. And if it was true then, how much more true is it upon the release of his latest tome A New Kind of Christianity. In this book we finally see where McLaren’s journey has taken him; it has taken him into outright, rank, unapologetic apostasy. He hates God. Period.

Both of these men have done us a service. Books such as McClaren’s need to be deconstructed and called out for the heresy that they are. As Mark Driscoll says, we have a duty to shoot the wolves.

more wolf shooting

Some of you may recall Mark Driscoll’s talk at last year’s Desiring God national conference. I reviewed it briefly here and linked to it. In the talk, Mark made the point that wolves are false teachers who prey upon the flock of God. Wolves do not need to be loved and understood. They must be dealt with quickly and harshly before they hurt the sheep.

Later in the year, Adrian Warnock provided an excellent example of wolf shooting by calling out a false teacher who denies penal substitutionary atonement.

More recently, James MacDonald has done some wolf shooting in a more light hearted vein. He compared emerging church leader Brian McLaren to Palm Pilots. it was funny and it stung because it was true.

Now James MacDonald is taking on the topic of wolf shooting more directly.

I do not view Brian as an ‘erring weaker brother,’ worthy of sympathy or olive branches, but rather as a dangerous false teacher who repackages mainline liberal theology. (Have the past 50 years not been adequate to see how liberal theology empties churches and damns souls?)

More dangerous still is that McLaren packages his false teaching and denials of Scripture as solutions to some of the excesses currently plaguing evangelicalism—the danger being his winning over of young people who have legitimate complaints about the current church, but who lack the discernment to see that his solutions are often unbiblical even when his critiques are fair.

Bottom line: my article was making the point that all denials of orthodox Christianity end up in a theological dumpster, not bearing fruit or winning souls to Christ. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

What was amazing about some of the comments I received was that they were not put off by the critique, but by the naming of the specific person who promulgates these deceptions. Several comments stated in the strongest of terms that it is unbiblical and unwise, even unloving, to name the names of false teachers and opponents of the biblical gospel. Is that true? Is it wrong to publicly call out those who attack the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? Even when their denials are much more public? Let’s see what Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John have to say about how to deal with false teachers. Do they confront it? Do they, in many instances, actually name the people involved?

go check out the quotes that follow. An excellent reminder that the need to shoot the wolves and protect the sheep is scriptural.

high praise for Finally Alive

John Piper’s new book, Finally Alive is earning high praise by reviewers.

Tim Challies says at the beginning of his review:

As I read the final page of Finally Alive I realized that I had found a new favorite book by John Piper. Those who have read my reviews of some of his previous titles know that while I greatly enjoy Piper’s ministry and am indebted to him in many ways, I have not always found his books easy to read. Yet I read Finally Alive with relish, enjoying it from the first page to the last. It is an incisive examination of a topic of profound importance. I think it represents Piper at his very best as an author.

Adrian Warnock says, in part:

By examining the Bible’s teaching on the new birth, John Piper shows us how to be certain our faith is genuine. Because no issue could be more critical, I believe this is the most important book Piper has written. It could be the most important book outside of the Bible that you or your loved one will ever read. I was privileged to have the opportunity to read this prior to launch and it moved me profoundly, challenging me once more to be sure of my own salvation and to appreciate more fully what God has done for me.

John Piper has a Q and A where he explains why he wrote this book:

I am deeply concerned that there are many church members in America and beyond who think they are saved when they are not. Part of the reason for this nominalism is a failure to teach and understand the true meaning of the new birth.

You must be born again. It is a miracle. Many, I fear, don’t even want to think in terms of “being saved” as being in the category of a miracle that only God can perform. They want it to be a decision based wholly on human power involving no necessary miracle. That is deadly.

For those who are truly born again, I want them to exult in what has really happened to them. Many who are truly born again do not know the nature of the change that has happened to them. It is a good thing to know—so that Christ can be honored for the fullness of his glorious work, and so that people can enjoy the assurance of being the objects of that miraculous act.

Finally, I want the new birth to happen more and more. God does the new birth through the word. I pray that the sermons and the book will be a means used by God for the working of this miracle of new birth.

emphasis added

I recently read Spectacular Sins and liked it very much. I think Finally Alive will find a way into the reading rotation.

ten conclusions about preaching

if you have been following Adrian Warnock’s blog over the last month, you have seen his round up of old posts regarding preaching. These have been excellent.

He has now summarized ten conclusions about preaching. Here are a few of them, but go read all ten.

1. Expository preaching should be defined as preaching that seeks to explain the main point of the portion of the Scripture selected.
…..

7. Preaching is entirely dependent on the supernatural and sovereign activity of the Spirit, who equips both preacher and hearers for what is an impossible task and makes the words of the Bible live in its hearers hearts. Preaching needs to be passionate, emotive (though not necessarily emotional), and bring about a holy moment of experiencing the presence and voice of God through His Word.

8. Preaching God’s Word is the primary way He has ordained for people to be saved, taught, equipped, matured, and encounter God. It is the hope of the church, and a restoration of true preaching has always accompanied true revival.

9. Our preaching should be targeted at and have something relevant for each of our different audiences — the unbelieving visitor, the backslidden, the new Christian, the mature Christian, and church leaders in the congregation. But, ultimately we are accountable to an audience of One before whom we must give an account.

shoot the wolves

Many of you may remember Mark Driscoll’s talk at the Desiring God National Conference this year. Item number three in that message is that we have a responsibility to shoot the wolves. As I mentioned here, shooting the wolves means to publicly call out false teachers before they have a chance to harm the flock. Their error must be exposed and publicized to prevent as much damage as can be prevented.

I love the way Mark puts it after quoting extensively from Matthew 23:

Jesus shoots the wolves. Some of you get very frustrated because you want to be treated like sheep, but the problem is you are acting like wolves. We are supposed to love the sheep and shoot the wolves because we love the sheep.

Here is a particular instance of a brave christian leader accepting his responsibility to shoot the wolves.

Thank you Adrian for refusing to accept the invitation to let bygones be bygones on such a foundational matter as Penal Substitutionary Atonement. I know that you know, but let me affirm that you are quite correct that without this pillar there is no gospel.

I love the whole post, but the tone is evident in this bit:

The truth is, there could scarcely be a more important subject. On the one side are people like Steve Chalke who genuinely believe that many evangelicals today are teaching a barbaric pre-Christian lie that is destroying the Church’s witness. On the other hand are those of us who believe that if we were to deny that Jesus took the punishment that was due us for our sin, turning aside the wrath of God by bearing it in himself, quite simply there would be no gospel left.

I can’t see how people who really believe either of those two positions can just agree to disagree and work together as fellow evangelicals. One group must be wrong. Whichever group is right are also clearly quite correct to be very concerned about the opposite group who are, by their false teaching, distorting the gospel and preventing people from coming to a true knowledge of what Jesus has done for them. There are some issues on which we can compromise. This is not one of them.

Piper on Justification

here is a link to an audio file of an interview by Mike Reeves of John Piper on the topic of justification.

Excellent stuff.

Hat tip to Adrian Warnock.

outsider’s view of american politics

Here is Adrian Warnock’s point of view of American politics from over in Great Britain. He has some helpful links including one from Justin Taylor that I will look at more carefully in a minute. First two quotes from Adrian that get right to the heart of the matter:

Basically, we could say, “It’s about abortion, stupid!” What may surprise some Europeans is that the Republicans, to varying degrees, are pro-life and the Democrats are, to varying degrees, pro-abortion, with Obama, it seems, being the most pro-death candidate imaginable. Thus, for many Christians, they are single-issue voters. They want to do anything to try and prevent the genocide of babies that is ongoing.
….
In my view, one thing is certain—Christians have a moral obligation to vote, and to vote remembering God is watching them. Too many Christians do not vote, almost arguing this disengagement from the process is a spiritual act. The truth is we should be grateful for the opportunity to vote; many in this world do not have that privilege. We should also vote recognizing the Lordship of Jesus over all of our lives and becoming fully engaged in the social and political world.

these two quotes by a fellow from Britain show that he “gets it.”