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Author Topic: The future of Churches of Christ: Are We Moving Toward Evangelical excess?  (Read 6236 times)

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marc

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Briefly, and I'll explain a little more later, even though I am very pleased and thankful that we are leavign our isolation, it does trouble me somewhat that I see us moving more and more into some of the excesses of evangelicism. I'm particularly concerned that I see us at times instead of simply adknowledging our emotions and the parts they play in our service of God, moving on headfirst into a shallow type of emotionalism. Maybe I just still have too much Campbell in me, but this bothers me a little.

I think that one reason this is happening is that as we recognize the larger Christian community we're not always discerning the solid from the ephemeral.  The result is that we are not only adding the blessing of others to our blessings, but we are adding the mistakes of others to our mistakes.

 Any thoughts? Does anyone understand what I'm talking about without my using specific examples that would make people mad?  ::intherain::

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Offline James Rondon

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I think specific examples would be helpful.

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Offline zoonance

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I feel ya.  Specific examples will make some mad... who are likely already preparted to get angry anyway.  Plus it would feed the conversation.  Be prepared though that your central point will likely be lost in arguing the examples.  I hope not.

marc

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People will get mad.  

I'll go halfway.  During services a few weeks back we watched a certain movie that has been widely praised by some on this board.  Everybody loved it.  

Well, almost everybody, but I kept quiet.  I thought it crossed the lines into unrealistic emotionalism.

I think there's a danger of crossing over into shiny happy Osteenland.  Maybe it's just my own somewhat melancholy outlook on life.  Maybe I'm overreacting.  

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Offline James Rondon

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I feel ya.  Specific examples will make some mad... who are likely already preparted to get angry anyway.

Getting mad is just an emotion.

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marc

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My complaint's not with emotion.  Emotion is good, and we've avoided it for too long.  My complaint's with emotionalism. Shallow, manipulated feelings.


Offline Bon Voyage

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My complaint's not with emotion.  Emotion is good, and we've avoided it for too long.  My complaint's with emotionalism. Shallow, manipulated feelings.



There are a lot of evangelicals that are emotion-less, except for anger of course.  The term "evangelical" is or has been moving towards being meaningless.

Offline James Rondon

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One problem I see in more "grace centered" CoCs, Christian Churches, and churches in general is in their willingness to extend the right hands of fellowship to others, some will embrace almost anyone and anything as "Christian", and good.

Offline zoonance

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I don't know what movie that is.   I do know that many have been so dedicated to doctrinal purity through insightful and dedicated study that emotions were considered ... unbiblical as there can be no BCV on the actual personally, just experienced emotion.   Thus, the only emotions that are "authorized" would find a comfortable match in scripture  (Be angry but do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger.  Have joy in the Lord (most evident during worship service, bible study, singing mostly???), etc.     If that makes any sense.

marc

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My complaint's not with emotion.  Emotion is good, and we've avoided it for too long.  My complaint's with emotionalism. Shallow, manipulated feelings.



There are a lot of evangelicals that are emotion-less, except for anger of course.  The term "evangelical" is or has been moving towards being meaningless.

Several years ago I started a thread about the origins of the term because of the way it was used in an old story I read (I think an M.R.James ghost story).  At the time i was told (or decided through research) that the term in England at that time was unrelated to its present use.  Since then I have found out that this is not the case--that the earlier group I found that used thsi was related to the later movement, but that it had changed quite a bit in meaning.  Now it's pretty much become a word that means whatever people want it to mean.

fwiw, I'm using it to refer to the popular branch of Protestantism in the U.S.  Kind of broad, I know.  

Since I'm still confusing people, most likely, I'll give you the initials of the movie we watched:  F.T.G.  

Offline DCR

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I think we are more and more getting caught up in "trendiness."

It seems that certain things become popular, and before long, everyone's doing it.  For example, I'm already tired of the Nooma/Rob Bell videos that seem to be in vogue right now.  I've seen, in some cases, even the same episodes multiple times at various class and devotional settings.  Then, there are certain skits, if they get a lot of positive responses, will be done at different places, because they're trendy to do at the time.  Or, certain "inspirational" videos on YouTube/GodTube will make the rounds.

A few years back, it seemed that everyone wanted to study the Rick Warren books (i.e. A Purpose-Driven Life).

Then, there are new ways to do things in worship settings that seem to catch on.  Certain new songs make the rounds, etc.  Maybe, that's not all bad.  But, I don't necessarily feel the need to do things just because they're the currently "cool" or "in" thing to do. 

That's what it feels like sometimes.

marc

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There are certain skits I have begged people not to do again, but they keep doing them, in part because they need less practice....

The movie we watched was Facing The Giants.  I know, the reaction here was overwhelmingly positive, as it was at church.  But what I saw was a pray-for-it-and-believe-and-work-hard-enough-and-you'll-get-it message.  The capper for me was--spoiler alert--when the couple even ended up pregnant, on top of everything else.  I'm not sure it would have hurt to have God say "no" about something, anything.  He does sometimes, you know.

To me, this was a symptom of the emotionalism I see us drifting into as we embrace those around us.  Sometimes it seems that we are more quick to pick up on the things that I (and I realize it's not all about me) consider less desirable.

But maybe I'm just being grouchy.  I don't forward emails either.
« Last Edit: Tue Aug 05, 2008 - 13:53:22 by marc »

Offline Bon Voyage

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I think we are more and more getting caught up in "trendiness."

It seems that certain things become popular, and before long, everyone's doing it.  For example, I'm already tired of the Nooma/Rob Bell videos that seem to be in vogue right now.  I've seen, in some cases, even the same episodes multiple times at various class and devotional settings.  Then, there are certain skits, if they get a lot of positive responses, will be done at different places, because they're trendy to do at the time.  Or, certain "inspirational" videos on YouTube/GodTube will make the rounds.

A few years back, it seemed that everyone wanted to study the Rick Warren books (i.e. A Purpose-Driven Life).

Then, there are new ways to do things in worship settings that seem to catch on.  Certain new songs make the rounds, etc.  Maybe, that's not all bad.  But, I don't necessarily feel the need to do things just because they're the currently "cool" or "in" thing to do. 

That's what it feels like sometimes.

Why do you think I want Chris Tomlin thrown down the well.

marc

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I would guess that with us it's a pendulum swing.  We didn't beleive in emotion, so now we are so hungry for emotion we grab and devour all we can get.  Problem is, we don't just get the steak and vegetales, we sometimes gorge ourselves on cotton candy.

Offline memmy

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You're being grouchy Marc.








JK!

Offline memmy

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In order for those to relate to what Jesus meant, didn't He have to talk about things happening at that time?

marc

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In order for those to relate to what Jesus meant, didn't He have to talk about things happening at that time?

I'm lost here.  What is this replying to?

marc

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I just started looking around and found out that Kalen reviewed the movie on this site and pointed out the same problem I had with it.  Here it is.

Offline memmy

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He also used senses all the time to help people relate to God.

I mean what how more emotional can you get than to have been sent to this earth for those to fall in love with Him, then have to die a torturous death upon a cross, so many of us to have had to relate just how much God loves us all?

I know, Marc, that is not what you meant, but Gary seems to have a bit of a problem with emotions like that, don't ya Gary? I mean Christ Tomlin kinda scares you, doesn't he?
In order for those to relate to what Jesus meant, didn't He have to talk about things happening at that time?

I'm lost here.  What is this replying to?

Sorry, I was trying to show how some seem to be saying that they don't like the trendiness by using new technology, and innovations to bring the message to others, when Jesus used anything to try and relate to others.

Offline Cliftyman

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I used to have a big problem with emotional display but nowadays I don't understand it.  What is the root problem  with emotionalism in the Churches of Christ?  I just returned from Promise Keepers in Atlanta.... I can easily say its the 2nd most powerful spiritual event of my life (behind me truly coming to Christ at 22)... it was full of emotion.  We watched some really polished videos on the huge plasma screens, the worship was like a concert.  It was awesome.  I've never been more attuned to singing as hard as I could to the Lord then I have in that place.  I've never been more convicted of sin and more ready to get rid of the guilt of sin and get busy with obedience and service to the Lord.

There is nothing wrong with emotionalism.  The bible gives us accounts of great joy being brought on by the Holy Spirit and we as humans all express joy in the physical sense in many different ways... so who can say the emotional outbursts we have from joy aren't biblical?

I understand the apprehensiveness to watered down theology, or the disdain with the doctrine of prosperity.... but if you look deep in your heart that is not a problem with emotionalism.  That is a problem with luke warmness (which is a symptom of greater problems... probably the guilt that comes from sin and disobedience) and the doctrine of prosperity is at its least worthless... a sin of the flesh at worst a false doctrine that denies the gospel of Christ.

Emotionalism, the gospel, worship of God and good doctrine go hand in hand.... trust me.

marc

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I think you're confusing emotion with emotionalism.  Two different things.

Again, I'm talking about empty manipulation of emotions with little substance behind it.  I don't think that is Biblical, although emotions certainly are. 

Offline James Rondon

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It seems to me that emotionalism and relativism may go hand in hand, or that they may be two sides of the same coin, so to speak...

marc

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Now that I don't see at all.  Relativism seems to stem from taking a logical pov that sees all sides to extremes.  Emotionalism tends to be more exclusivist, because the emotion is trusted to the point that it is taken to be certainty

Offline memmy

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How do we separate the two Marc?

Clifty..........I am sooooo excited for you!!! I know what you mean by what you experienced. My hubby came to Christ after one day at PK!

I want him to go every year, but unfortunately unable to afford it with the things that are going on right now. But some day again.....

That is why I believe it is so right to use our emotions to bring us closer to the cross.

Good to see you here again too!

Blessings, Memmy

marc

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How do we separate the two Marc?

Clifty..........I am sooooo excited for you!!! I know what you mean by what you experienced. My hubby came to Christ after one day at PK!

I want him to go every year, but unfortunately unable to afford it with the things that are going on right now. But some day again.....

That is why I believe it is so right to use our emotions to bring us closer to the cross.

Good to see you here again too!

Blessings, Memmy

Self control (a fruit of the Spirit, even).  We don't use the validity of emotions as an excuse to padlock our brains.  We keep in mind that there is objective truth, and that our emotions can play false with us at times. 

We tend to bounce back and forth between extremes that deny a part of us that God created.  He wants us to love Him heart, soul, strength, and mind.  We can't leave any part of it out or we end up with a skewed perspective.

marc

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btw, James, I realize I sort of contridicted myself in the last two posts.  I may see what you mean.  Yet I see the rejection of objective truth that can come with emotionalism to be different from relativism because it still points to truth being one particular thing. It's just that this one particular thing is determined emotionally, not logically (or objectively).  Relativism would deny that truth can be determined at all.

On another note, the admission that we don't know everything is sometimes classed as relativism, but it's something else entirely--humility.  Saying there is absolute truth doesn't mean that I always know it.

Offline Cliftyman

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Again, I'm talking about empty manipulation of emotions with little substance behind it.  I don't think that is Biblical, although emotions certainly are. 

If you manipulate people (which manipulation is knowingly playing with people in a to get a result) you are full of sin.  And from reading your post Marc it seems you are rightly worried about the folks who are being manipulated. With that being said I don't think the problem is the emotion, or the emotionalism... its the heart of the one who facilitates it.

You have to ask yourself, is what you are judging "emotionalism", is that due to a person or group of people manipulating other people, or is it you not being comfortable with the emotion being displayed, or the method that brings about the emotion?  I have asked myself this question a lot and it is a valid question... I'm glad that you continue to ask it and I think we should continually ask it.

When I first got to Promise Keepers... I had a bit of this come up and say "wow this is really produced", but when I saw 8000 men lifting holy hands, singing.... mind you these were men of wildly varying ages and ethnicity.... I knew it was for a good reason.  When I heard the gospel that the speakers taught, the scripture they shared I knew it was good.  I thought about the $80 I paid to attend but then I realized that I was probably more fired up than I had been in 3 years and if I was this way, some of those other 6-8k men were too... lots of production, lots of emotionalism, with a lot of good payoff for everyone involved....

I think this scripture recitation is in order...
Quote
Mark 938"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."  39"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us.


I think "emotionalism" has to be dealt with on a scenario by scenario basis though.... you have to look at the underlying message and you have to look at the results.  If they all pass the test than its worthwhile.   But in all of this, whether the emotionalism is for a good or false cause... we still shouldn't find ourselves judging men's hearts, because as Christ himself said... if we judge, then we'll be judged. 

Its hard though when we see folks like Benny Hinn doing what they do.... its easy to say "he's a fraud".... you see the fat millionaire pads, jets and cars, etc.,etc.  But I like to think that we can denounce behavior without calling into question the heart or character of the people perpetrating the behavior.

I just had a discussion with a pastor about material for classes and what-not.  I think emotionalism can lead to no emotion being expended.  A good example is the Rick Warren stuff.  You know what... I think the Holy Spirit was with Rick Warren within that congregation.... that place grew and grew... but when that stuff was packaged up and marketed to the Church at large I think thats when emotionalism set in.  See without the Holy Spirit to guide and obedience in place.... isn't joy just human emotion?

Thats why I like to see Elders serve out of their own (the Spirits) compulsion... thats why I like to see people with a "calling" start a ministry, not someone who has been selected and had a resume reviewed.... thats why I like it when teachers and pastors come up with their own teaching material... you know their heart and the Holy Spirit is behind it... and that my friend is something that is sure to create righteous emotion.

« Last Edit: Tue Aug 05, 2008 - 16:51:54 by Cliftyman »

marc

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To be clear, I'm not talking about Rick Warren.  While  The Purpose-Driven Life wasn't my favorite book (I didn't finish it), I have read articles he's written that I liked and heard enough about him to believe he's genuine.  Look at what he's doing with his life and with the money he's made from his books.  He's reverse-tithing.  He's using what he's got to help others.

I'm talking largely about Email Forward Theology. I think that our being led by our emotions instead of letting our emotions be a natural part of our selves leads to us creating a picture of God as a wise old Grandpa sitting on the back porch, rocking, smiling, ready to hand us whatever we ask for.  We forget that serving God got James beheaded and Stephen stoned and Jeremiah thrown down a well.  We miss the radical aspects of God and somehow begin to think that he's mostly concerned with our happiness.  We misinterpret "all things work together for good" as "everything will turn out all right if you just trust God."

In this world, bad things happen.  People die--even those we pray for.  We don't always get what we want, not even all the good things that would really benefit us.  We don't always get the kind of life we are absolutely sure we were meant to live. We aren't always happy.

But FWD Theology makes us feel like if things don't work out for us, then we don't have enough faith or maybe we're not really Christians.  In the interest of feeling good it robs some of us of real peace. 

A true relationship with God doesn't consist only of feel-good hand-holding.  It follows paths that sometimes go through dark valleys.  There are days you never even see a hint of the sun. There are even days when it seems as if God is hiding from you. A full relationship with God, I believe, acknowledges all this and acknowledges that He is still LORD.

So when I watch the productions that tell us that when we give our lives to God all our problems will end, and that if we hang in there long enough God will work miracles in our lives that will take away all of our problems, I tend to think that we've let emotionalism take the place of a deeper walk with God.

Sorry to rant.

Offline Imabear

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There are certain skits I have begged people not to do again, but they keep doing them, in part because they need less practice....

The movie we watched was Facing The Giants.  I know, the reaction here was overwhelmingly positive, as it was at church.  But what I saw was a pray-for-it-and-believe-and-work-hard-enough-and-you'll-get-it message.  The capper for me was--spoiler alert--when the couple even ended up pregnant, on top of everything else.  I'm not sure it would have hurt to have God say "no" about something, anything.  He does sometimes, you know.

To me, this was a symptom of the emotionalism I see us drifting into as we embrace those around us.  Sometimes it seems that we are more quick to pick up on the things that I (and I realize it's not all about me) consider less desirable.

But maybe I'm just being grouchy.  I don't forward emails either.
Marc, I watched the movie about a year ago, and had the same feeling about it.  God is portrayed as a genie.  If you pray the right prayers and live life right, you'll get everything you ask for and desire.  It would be nice if that were true, but it isn't. 

Offline memmy

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Ok, Marc...now you are talking.....and making full sense to me, I might add!

Offline Cliftyman

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To be clear, I'm not talking about Rick Warren.  While  The Purpose-Driven Life wasn't my favorite book (I didn't finish it), I have read articles he's written that I liked and heard enough about him to believe he's genuine.  Look at what he's doing with his life and with the money he's made from his books.  He's reverse-tithing.  He's using what he's got to help others.

I'm talking largely about Email Forward Theology. I think that our being led by our emotions instead of letting our emotions be a natural part of our selves leads to us creating a picture of God as a wise old Grandpa sitting on the back porch, rocking, smiling, ready to hand us whatever we ask for.  We forget that serving God got James beheaded and Stephen stoned and Jeremiah thrown down a well.  We miss the radical aspects of God and somehow begin to think that he's mostly concerned with our happiness.  We misinterpret "all things work together for good" as "everything will turn out all right if you just trust God."

In this world, bad things happen.  People die--even those we pray for.  We don't always get what we want, not even all the good things that would really benefit us.  We don't always get the kind of life we are absolutely sure we were meant to live. We aren't always happy.

But FWD Theology makes us feel like if things don't work out for us, then we don't have enough faith or maybe we're not really Christians.  In the interest of feeling good it robs some of us of real peace. 

A true relationship with God doesn't consist only of feel-good hand-holding.  It follows paths that sometimes go through dark valleys.  There are days you never even see a hint of the sun. There are even days when it seems as if God is hiding from you. A full relationship with God, I believe, acknowledges all this and acknowledges that He is still LORD.

So when I watch the productions that tell us that when we give our lives to God all our problems will end, and that if we hang in there long enough God will work miracles in our lives that will take away all of our problems, I tend to think that we've let emotionalism take the place of a deeper walk with God.

Sorry to rant.

Great points... I doubt anyone would argue with you on them.  Thats the same issue I have with the "book of Jabez" fad, the prosperity theology that Osteen preaches.... and yes I don't forward theological e-mails either.  The main reason is I've told my employer that I wouldn't participate in that mess so I'd be less than Christian if I did (even if they were "guilt-ridden" if you are real Christian you'll forward this).  About 80% of those e-mail forwards are full of misinformation and just make the Christians look silly to anyone who is willing to research them.

I won't forward anything unless I've researched it 100%... but truthfully a person who makes it their point in life to forward all this Christian material, say if they sent 1000 messages a day.... well they would probably acheive more for the kingdom by getting in touch personally with one person a day.