Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Things I don't understand

Everyone claims to be "Biblical." But we might need to revisit the way we read the Bible and some of our presuppositions that keep us from experiencing all God might have for us.

Let me give you one example...

The Bible: "Therefore (this is Paul's summary of a few chapters), my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues [click here]. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."

Missions Organization: "We will not accept people with a private prayer language or someone who speaks in tongues as a regular part of their daily Christian walk. However, if someone in the past spoke in tongues, but it isn’t currently a regular practice, the person will still be considered for appointment." [close to, but not an exact quote]

Here's a great interpretive rule when studying the Bible. It's what I call the "Caveman Principle": If you lock some jungle dude in a cave with the Bible for a year, what will he come out believing?

In this case, will he come out refusing to send missionaries who speak in tongues?

OR, will he come out expecting to see what he just read?

In a class on hermeneutics (the science of interpretation and explanation), you might hear it stated, "If the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense."

Applying that, what is your interpretation of the aforementioned Bible passage (1 Corinthians 14:39-40)?

On what other issues are people (and pastors for example) missing the mark?


Curtis said...

Mark Arant,
I love you! You're just so awesome on so many levels. I'd go on but I don't want to cause you to stumble into pride. Some great thoughts.


Eric Crawford said...

My question that I've pondered a lot the last couple semesters is this. Does TSC and Cornerstone at large unintentionally groom it's attenders to desire and expect a certain style of presentation (church on the weekends, TSC, D6, etc.) so that when it is time for them to move or leave, a fair portion of them fall away or get lost in an ineffective ministry because the can't find Cornerstone's identical twin? All the while TSC and Cornerstone is doing what they do with the attitude of "we want to honor God by excelling in what we do and trying our hardest in every way possible to do things with absolute excellence.

This comes from my observation of former TSC folk who come to The Light once or twice and never come back because, and I quote, "it's just too different." But in my eyes what is worse, is that people don't come to the light because they are told that. So they don't even come one time to check it out.

I hold the observation that The Light is excelling and doing what we do with an equal amount of excellence as all the other ministries in church, it's just that we are drawing talent (and usually anybody that will have the guts to actually volunteer their time and service) from a group of roughly 50 people or so. And that's on a good night.

But my observation is that even looking outside of my experience with The Light, and looking at my friends who moved elsewhere after college, that their walk with the Lord seems to be distant and compromised, or all together missing in action.

So is this something that the leadership of Cornerstone is failing or not doing a good job in? I can't say. I honestly am torn between wanting to honor God by doing things with excellence, and seeing the sometimes adverse grooming to has on people who attend. Cornerstone is an anomaly and is unique, and one will never be able to find Cornerstone 2.0.0. So how does the leadership of Cornerstone see this? I guess that is my question.

Eric Crawford said...

I guess I have one more question that stems in large part from J.P. Moreland's thoughts on how our church services should be run. He writes this in his book 'Love God With All Your Mind'.

He suggests, that in order to engage the mind of the congregation, that the sermon comes as the first thing in the service. A sermon that logically looks at scripture and is taught in a way that cause the attender to think about truths coming from scripture. This time is then followed by a time of worship through song where the songs are more of an extension of the sermon mainly by choosing songs that lyrically support and extend the sermon.

I know Cornerstone's worship through song times do this, but the order is different. 1) Does the way Cornerstone does their service help everyone love God with our minds. And 2) Does the way Cornerstone organizes their service run the risk of, or does it put the main emphasis of the service on the songs and not the message?

I don't have an opinion either way. But it just came to mind.

Anonymous said...

Some critical thoughts about the caveman principle:

Doesnt Peter himself say scripture is difficult to understand? Doesn't proverbs say that wisdom is very difficult to attain? Jesus' own disciples did not usually understand what was being said.

Secondly, this idea might more accurately apply to a ancient hebrew or early first century jewish caveman but we 2000 thousand years removed need to work harder. What does the word "tongues" mean? I have heard it ALWAYS refers to a natural language with no exceptions in known greek texts. A first century caveman might have known, but not necessarily a 21st century american caveman.

Thirdly, if it is so easy, why are there millions of interpretations? I have a hard time believing all of this variety and disagreement could be chalked up to disingenious reading.

Fourthly, this is the method employed in Africa and China and heresies and cults are breaking out like the plague. People, especially teacher and leaders, needs lots of background to understand the bible.

Fifthly, the Bible is not a magic book that automatically dumps its meaning into your head. To think so is to fail to appreciate the human nature of the Bible. It is fully Divine and fully Human, just like Jesus. Beware of a gnostic view of the bible and hermenuetics.

Sixthly, why stick with the lowest common denominator that a caveman would come up with? The Bible is so much richer than what a caveman can appreciate. This depth needs teaching and discipline. Even Jesus asked questions of teachers (Luke2)

I too am unsure about tongues and have not studied it, but I think it, as all questions, should be approach with care and with taking the rest of scripture into account. The word of God is a serious thing.

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts about Eric Crawford's thoughts about why former TSCers or Cornerstoners fall away from faith when they leave Ames. I wonder about a couple of things: were those people true believers when they were here or just looked "good enough" to pass and no one challenged them? Also, does Cornerstone foster a culture of entertainment by having such high production quality and then people go elsewhere and don't get as entertained and then stop attending church altogether? The idea of doing everything with excellence sounds great and I enjoy the high quality, but are there any pitfalls in that approach? I'm hoping Mark will post a response since he helps represent the leadership of Cornerstone and this blog is linked to the Cornerstone website.

Lissa Catus said...

Hey! Quick note ... I'm thankful for this blog because I was just talking to someone today about the IMB's position on tongues, which I'm pretty sure you're referring to and I'm so discouraged by that! I just am so frustrated by our adding to grace and Biblical truth ... I think fences are beneficial in Christianity if they preserve the gospel but when they start to alter its content and add stuff or take away stuff, that's just not right. So thanks for mentioning that you're not squared away with that either! And if you are referring to that organization, what would you recommend if I was considering going with them but don't agree with that? Just don't go with them?

Anonymous said...

What is Mr. Caveman's thoguhts on 1 Cor 11:3-10?

Metropuritan Mark said...

Lissa, all things being equal, I would strongly recommend going through the IMB. It probably warrants a conversation to hear what the other factors might be (i.e. would this totally throw off your life with God and the way He has wired you?). But overall, this is a great organization with God's mission central in their affections. Moreover, the negatives of other organizations would probably outweigh those of the IMB.

Anonymous said...

doesnt the ethiopian eunuch need some quidance on the bible? if a rich and educated man neds help, a caveman would be utterly inadequate. maybe we need less cavemen in christian leadership, who bring the richness of God's word down to a caveman level

Metropuritan Mark said...

I appreciate your thoughts, but here is something to consider...

It seems obvious why the Ethiopian eunich was struggling with Isaiah 52-53... Rich or poor, educated or uneducated doesn't matter if you haven't heard of Jesus. What dude needed was the New Testament, not a New Testament scholar.

Anonymous said...

Caveman is unbiblical?