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A Clash of Generations

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By Virgil - Posted on 21 September 2006

by Virgil Vaduva
Recently a PlanetPreterist columnist and an old-timer in the Preterist movement obstinately asked me – in an Open Letter mind you – to immediately remove all his articles from this website because he no longer wished to be associated with PlanetPreterist, mainly because “my nose is in the same tent as Brian McLaren” or worse yet, I am “maybe even walking in his shoes.” My whole life I was self-conscious about my nose being too big, but this charge really puts my stilted nose in an awkward position; and my funky feet in shoes that may not want them.Recently a PlanetPreterist columnist and an old-timer in the Preterist movement obstinately asked me – in an Open Letter mind you – to immediately remove all his articles from this website because he no longer wished to be associated with PlanetPreterist, mainly because “my nose is in the same tent as Brian McLaren” or worse yet, I am “maybe even walking in his shoes.” My whole life I was self-conscious about my nose being too big, but this charge really puts my stilted nose in an awkward position; and my funky feet in shoes that may not want them.Now before I even get into the meat of this article, I want to point out how absurd it is for any Preterist to make charges of unorthodoxy when Preterism itself is outside of traditional orthodoxy and it is a heretical teaching in most Christian circles, whether or not we want to accept it. This is not to say that the pot can’t call the kettle heretic, but it seems to me that absurdities and oddities are becoming a regular occurrence in this Star Wars bar scene peppered with everything from demeaning suggestions made regarding my wife and her family, and comparing me with a child molester, to demands to answer questions about “how long I have been a Christian” or “how strong or how weak is my faith.” But I should not be surprised, that’s what comes with being Brian McLaren’s bastard child; my only disappointment and concern is that that I am mostly criticized by losers rather than serious scholars, which could be good and bad depending on one’s perspective.

For all practical purposes, I am deeply honored to be put in the same category as Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Rob Bell and Andrew Perriman; all of whom promote a much deeper understanding of the Scriptures than the superficial and mechanical understanding offered by modern Preterism.

But since most criticism seems to be about the content presented here, I must reiterate that PlanetPreterist has always been presented as a community of people, thus a community of ideas and opinions. That is what makes this website so valuable and important to the Christian conversation; I do not know what part of the purpose and goals of this website it is not being understood out there. If Hugo Chavez would ask to be a columnist here, he would certainly be one, and so would Hal Lindsey, Jack VanImpe or whoever else would want to offer ideas and opinions to the large audience of PlanetPreterist, as long as it is being done in a respectful manner. By allowing open dialogue and exchange of ideas, PlanetPreterist does not insult the intelligence of our readers by implying that they are unable or maybe too dumb to discern truth on their own. I like to believe that users of this site are good readers of character, able to discern and understand the differences between opinions, proposals, research, theories and facts; I like to believe that you, the reader, do not have the mind of a child that blindly listens and buys into everything I suggest, so do not fear, you will be treated like an adult here and hopefully you will also all act as adults.

Jack’s story

During the last Emergent meeting in Dayton, I’ve had the privilege of meeting Jack[1]. Jack is a great fellow for a good conversation; in fact, after more than two hours of speaking with him, we had a hard time saying goodbye and leaving on our ways. But during those two hours I learned something fascinating about Jack. You see, Jack did not find God in a church building, in theology, fulfilled eschatology or a Seminary, in Calvinism or in Arminianism; instead Jack found God in Buddhism. Jack told us about his struggles and his journey; he told us about the emptiness he found in modern Christian churches where judgmentalism and dogmatism take front stage. He told us about the solace he could not find among Christians, but among Buddhists and in meditation.

Now hit the pause button for a second.

So far a modern, self-serving, self-gratifying, judgmental, self-righteous Christian would laugh at someone like Jack; maybe even spit in his face or call him a Heretic and a destroyer of the Gospel; who knows, even call all his friends encouraging them to leave Jack because he did not find God “the right way.” Yet how surprised would all be to learn that as a result of his encounter with Buddhism Jack is now a practicing Christian, serving in an Orthodox Church, professing his faith in the saving blood of Christ? Jack was lost, and now he is found.

Our stories

But Jack’s story is only one out of thousands; we hear the stories of Christians abandoning churches in droves because of hate and dogmatism, theology being placed before people, dogma before souls, and orthodoxy before the community; how many Preterists leave or get kicked out of their own churches because of their newfound eschatology? The truth is that Jack’s story is our story; it’s my story and PlanetPreterist’s story. Many of us have found solace in Preterism…for a time; now we are willing to look at the practical aspects of Preterism and see what the present Kingdom of God is all about.

In the process we have discovered a new group of long-lost brothers looking for the same solace, yet they come into our story from the practical side of things. While Preterist Eschatology leads us to ask questions about practical Christianity, practical Christianity is leading Emergents to ask questions about Preterist Eschatology. This is a point of no-return for both groups, thus a clash of generations is inevitable. For all practical purposes most Emergent Christians are Preteristic in their eschatology; and they will continue be Preteristic whether some Preterists like it or not. There is no Preterist roster that I am aware of, nor is there a Pope of Preterism that allows or denies applications into the movement based on one’s theological accreditations. This will happen regardless of the loud whining being heard from the Star Wars bar scene, or despite the vicious personal attacks against me. It is not up to me or anyone else to dictate the eschatology of the emergent generations of Christians or to dictate who can and who cannot call himself a Preterist; but it is up to me to choose to stand up for my convictions.

You see what is ironic in this clash of generations, is that the well-established, modern Preterists that claim to have all answers, claim to have no doubts, claim to have no theological weaknesses, those who are daily offering us a spectacle of orgasmic theological self-righteousness and perfection claim they have every right to stand up for what they think is right, what they thing is just and biblically accurate. Yet they would suggest in the same breath that we do not have the same justification, we may not stand up for what we believe is right, biblical and Christ-like; when they point out our words they call them “lies” but we cannot do the same; they can mock us but we cannot; they can whine and complain, but we cannot; they can charge heresy, but we cannot; we do not preach the Gospel, only they do; we molest the Gospel, they do not. This list can go on forever.

In some ways Preterism is becoming a movement of hollow theological fanatics that lacks any practical aspect whatsoever; in other ways Preterism is offering a newfound hope to Emergent Christians willing to consider fulfilled eschatology. PlanetPreterist is here to offer answers, avenues for conversations and dialogue. This is the only Preterist place that is willing to extend a welcoming hand to anyone out there, regardless of religion, creed, political persuasion or soteriology, because I firmly believe that open arms are next to brotherhood and conversation is better than hate and mockery.

For those of us having the Elijah complex, I hope that I have made it clear yet again. It appears that every few months I have to reiterate that PlanetPreterist’s agenda will not be dictated by critics or by anyone that is driven by the only desire to be “against” something. The honest zeal for truth has driven a handful of old-time Preterists to proudly wear their horse glasses, making them indistinguishable from the Dispensationalists and Futurists they love to mock and criticize, already forgetting their own story, their own journey and their own friends and brothers.

Jack did not forget his story, and like Jack I did not forget mine, and I will continue to tell my story without shame, hoping to encourage others to do the same: I like lighting candles when I enter a Church building; I like contemplating and praying when I look at an icon; I like speaking with Emergent liberals and conservatives; I like speaking with Universalists and Calvinists; I like being open about my weaknesses and doubts instead of hiding them and pretending I do not have them; I like telling others I am a sinner; I like taking groceries to my friends’ homes to help them out; I like listening to other people’s opinions; and last but no least, I like telling people how Jesus loves all mankind, and how he encouraged us to love even our worst enemies.

The passing generation likes to divide the world of Christianity into tents and like-minded groups; they warn you not to set foot (or nose) into the wrong tent, or maybe by mistake step into someone else’s shoes. This is the mentality at the heart of denominationalism, and it’s ripping Christianity apart. Our faith is not divided in tents or groups where the strongest rule and dictate everyone’s theological agendas – Jesus did not come to build tents; instead he sat at the same table with all his disciples, drank from the same cup with all of them and broke bread together with them. He let prostitutes wash his feet and tax collectors buy him dinner.

I want to encourage all of you to continue to reach out to all people of all backgrounds just as Christ would; listen to others’ stories, see where they find God, and if they are still looking, encourage them, help them, talk to them and point them gently in the right direction. Creating zones of exclusions, withdrawing articles from websites, bashing people’s heads in with hollow theology will hardly motivate anyone to reconsider truth. You will be amazed by how much of your story you will be able to tell just by listening.

[1] Name changed to protect the innocent

chrisliv's picture

Well,

Since we're probably toward the end of this exchange, it has occurred to me that someone could make Preterism into an Idol.

Could someone put so much hope and wish-fulfillment into Preterism that they might attack another Preterist who they thought might besmirch their idealized Preterist idol by putting it too closely to something that they were afraid might somehow dirty their idol?

For example, the perception that Virgil is "placing" the Preterist idol too close to another idol which is percieved as a bad or competitive idol, i.e., the extra-ecclesiastical Emergent association. That might conceivably be a prompting or a trace factor for some of the recent hostility directed at Planet Preterist.

Maybe not?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Virgil's picture

Just one more comment on this since it's a new occurence, some evangelicals pastors and theologicans have created a round table where they answer the question "What do you hope will ultimately emerge from the emerging church conversation for evangelicals? - click below to read some of their answers that seem to be much in line with the general comment here:

Pastors' and Theologians' Forum on the Emerging Church

chrisliv's picture

Well,

Usually it's a kidnapper who holds someone hostage for a randsom of money.

But, today, it is very common in many settings and relationships for people, like a boy or girlfriend, or a family member to hold themself hostage, relationally speaking, while demanding their own randsom. It's usually not for money though.

When I was a teenager I used that one on a girl or two, and a girl or two has used it on me, too. But, I still see that form of social blackmail being used by people well beyond their teens.

I've now noticed, beginning about 6 months ago, that a few posters have been attempting to coerce Virgil to submit to their demands by that same method.

Everyone in a leadership position has to deal with this classic, yet juvenile ploy. And I think Virgil has been very fair and balanced in his attitude in dealing with the issue.

Now, how about some fresh new topics or articles?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Virgil's picture

It's been more like a year and a half, but you've made a very accurate observation - By no means do I want to present myself as a sort of victim or such thing, in fact I admire our columnist for standing up for what he thought was right, however I do believe his decision was wrong and selfish.

Several articles that were crucial in reaching people with the Preterist message are now gone and unavailable to the general public as a result - a few people already pointed out dead links to me because of this and the many comments associated with his articles are now unavailable; Preterism is harmed by this kind of stuff, not by what Brian McLaren is doing.

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

I wasn't so much referring to "Jack" as I was to a few certain people who seem to follow the Great Censor website. I'm a little surprised at "Jack", too.

So, you know, it's not so much about you. It's more about the witchhunt for the likes of McLaren and Emergent, in which you are friendly toward. And, it seems pretty popular for some people to demand that, "You're either with us, or you're an enemy of the Gospel," which is a false dilemma and dichotomy.

Personally, I think McLaren and Emergent is either silent or in denial about the big elephant in the proverbial room, i.e., the State. And that fact will make the Emergent conversation largely irrelevant regarding the forwarding of Christ's Kingdom and making the planet a less-hostile place to live, which amounts to much of the same thing, e.g., Peace and Mutual Respect.

But, the spirit in which Emergent approaches various other topics, including Preterism, is very helpful and non-demanding. I think people who are threatened by Emergent are just manufacturing a Bogeyman to vent their hostility at.

Planet Preterism has some good primary resources at the Tools and Links section of the homepage. All of that stuff: What is Preterism?; Intro to Preterism; Outline to Preterism; Frequently Asked Questions, etc. is really enough to give any newcomer plenty to get a good overview with. Maybe if you located these primary documents, and a few others, at the top left-hand corner of the homepage, you and others here could redirect newcomers or unruly ones to those primary articles to "read first".

In my opinion, there are no really "crucial" articles to be lost about Preterism. If you have between a few and a dozen good Preterist articles on hand, that should be enough for any sincere Bible student to catch the bug about what Christ taught about the 1st century AD timing of His own "Coming of the Son of Man"as outlined at Mat. 24, and elsewhere.

A few people who hang around here are not going to "harm Preterism", and neither should you be tricked into feeling responsible for their actions.

The seeds of Preterism have already been sown, for the most part. A little more sowing may be need from time to time. And, sure, some so-called Preterists may seem to dig up some Preterist seeds.

This is the fun time for you, Virgil, and everyone else who participates in a helpful way at Planet Preterist. Most of the work is done. All you have to do is sit back and wait for the germ of truth and fulfilled eschatology to continue to grow and follow its genetic pattern.

It's unstoppable now. Or, as you say, the cat's out of the bag.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

Flakinde's picture

Virgil:

Before you read this, please empty your mind of assumptions about where I'm coming from, and please do not read this under any other context than what I am writing here, and what I have written to you in the past. I refuse to make you "guilty by association", therefore I sincerely hope you don't commit the same mistake towards me. But anyway, if you do, I forgive you in advance, though if you do fall into this, I will gently try to make you aware of your "not listening" to me.

Is that OK with you? (And sorry about the long disclaimer. :) )

I have interacted with you several times in the past, trying to make the point that "Emergent" is just another temporal movement tied to one particular culture (Americanized Christianity), which is irrelevant to most of the world, and that wants to be forced into other cultures as the "next big thing" in Christianity (as evidenced by the translation and export of merchandising under this banner).

In one of our exchanges, you even admitted that Emergent was a temporal movement, that will eventually die off like the others to make way for the next one (sorry for not quoting you word-for-word, but I believe I remember you correctly), yet you didn't seem to be bothered by this; to me, on the other hand, this focus is extremely disturbing.

I don't have a problem with PP inviting conversation between differing views. I don't have a problem with wanting to embrace others in love, and gently leading them in the right direction. I don't have a problem with being sincere with one another. I don't have a problem departing from denominationalism and embracing transcendent and eternal values (actually, that's my whole thing, as you'll see below). That, in my eyes, is a valid and just approach to things.

What I do have a problem with is . . .

. . . representing Emergent to the point of even posting articles with their logo. Heck, many "emergent" types don't even go that length. I've heard Tony Jones saying he wants to stop talking so much about "Emergent" and move on to talk more about God. Why don't you consider doing the same?

. . . representing Emergent as the prime - or maybe the only - example and model of "practical faith". This is just a sorry example of Pragmatism, with a new set of clothes. The question is, practical for what purpose? I could give you a long list of ways Emergent is practical for a very negative purpose, and how it is impractical in other ways. Just as one example, how Emergent is highly impractical to bridge the cultural gap that exists between Americanized Christianity and the rest of the world, especially the Church.

. . . relating "Jack's" story to a point that it seems (whatever your intention) that Buddhism could be a valid alternative way to Christ. Virgil, I lived in a Shintoist country. I used to practice Shintoist meditation and seeking the guidance of oni (demons) and kami (gods) through it. I have Christian friends in Buddhist countries. I only say all this to show I am speaking objectively: Buddhism and its derivatives are a tremendous obstacle in people's minds to receive the revelation of Jesus Christ, and I am absolutely not talking about denominationalism (this point was also recently made by a brother immersed in Japanese culture on Santa Suburbia - sorry, it's in Spanish).

"Jack"'s experience could be valid for his own life, but it's irresponsible to portray that testimony without speaking about the dangers and harms of such systems. After something like this, I wouldn't be surprised if you brought stories of people finding "god" through Wiccans, Hedonism, or Santería, and criticizing those who make a similar call as I, and thinking that we are saying that they are wrong for not reaching Christ "the right way". That's not my point, so please don't even go there.

Now please, please listen to me. I am not saying that God cannot reach people no matter where they are. I can give testimony to how God is sovereign, even over His methods of reaching people. My point is that His people should stop glorifying merely temporal "alternatives", whether it be BuddhISM, PreterISM or EmergentISM (because your label of "Emergent Christians" is evidence of yet another form of denominationalISM). Let us let God choose how He wants to reach people, especially the lost, and let us, His children, be preoccupied in being a reflection of Him and Him only.

. . . on that point, the misuse of your current influence in continuing to direct people toward temporal things and movements rather than the eternal and transcendent things. You can do whatever you choose with this site, and even ignore me if you want. Let this be just one more voice among the disillusioned.

. . . representing Preterism as lacking exactly what Emergent has to offer. This is baloney. I have absolutely no interest in what Emergent, as a movement and as an entity, has to offer. I have found in the Preterist idea, within itself, a pretty good basis for being as practical as God would call me to be, precisely because it points me upward toward the eternal, and not sidewards to the temporal movements that man makes up; however, I believe I am very careful not to give more merit to Preterism than it deserves. All glory to Christ.

If people in Preterism have turned into "a movement of hollow theological fanatics that lacks any practical aspect whatsoever", pointing them toward yet another movement that will eventually rise and then fall will certainly not help.

I am writing this extensive note (and I apologize for the length) as a last attempt to help you and others see the darker aspects of this emphasis. Believe me, I am not desperate to cut you off or anything like that, but I'm just not going to continue insisting if you're not interested in what I have to say.

I am going to try and translate some articles by brothers and sisters in Latin America that are relevant to what I keep telling you, to see if you can post them here. Maybe their cry will help you understand that I'm not just rambling. I'd rather have them post here directly, but unfortunately they don't write in English.

If my words appear to be negative, think of them as negative in a particular direction or two, as your article is also certainly negative in what you consider to be worthless, and I actually agree on many of the points you make.

And by the way, none of this is meant as a personal offense, and I hope none of my words cause this impression.

Blessed in His rest, your brother,

Alexander Rodríguez

Mick's picture

Alex
You and I have never met as far as I know we have never directly corresponded. I felt a genuine need to respond to you since my name was on an article with the emergent logo.

A place for me to start is to share with you my worldview. While I have shared it at the last two TruthVoice conferences, it has not appeared in written form on this website.

Facts are not neutral. Everyone interprets them based on their own presupposition that is their beliefs concerning the origins of knowledge and truth. An individual's belief of the origin of truth interprets the presented facts. As a result, the presented facts are always biased.

My worldview says facts need examination by the inspired truth of scripture. I believe that the scriptures in their original language and original context are flawless. A simple reading of most Bible passages revels their meaning; others require study to peal away bias that I carry.

My worldview biases me. It starts with a kingdom view that starts Malachi 4:5.-6, which extends through Luke 1.17 to the realized kingdom that we now dwell in of Rev 21 and 22. It includes the paradigm that God defines success. Proverbs 13:22 and Job 42:15-16 I understand this to mean that God defines success not by the results in the current generation but 3-4 generations later. I need to catch a multi-generational vision.

Almost everything in American culture promotes pragmatism and the pursuit of personal pleasure, power and prestige. The Scriptures in my view teach just the opposite, God-centered service and dependence. Again, my worldview sees the solution, to the problems of the family, church and state, as matching bookends. The first involves turning the hearts of the fathers to children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. The second is living in a fully realized presence of God which includes the dimension of salvation from contemporary religious, moral and political cultures.

As you can hopefully understand from this statement I have no allegiance to any particular ism. My heart, at least on an intellectual level, belongs only to Christ.

I believe Emergent has something to add to the ongoing search for the meaning of the truth contained in the Bible. As I perceive Emergent, it is about not being satisfied with the answers that have been traditionally offered.

In my experience too often Christians stop trying to figure out the "difficult" passages of the Bible." Too often passages that say things we don't like are ignored or proclaimed as "cultural" so they can legitimately be "ignored" I perceive that some church leaders don't want to discuss topics or passages because they are afraid of church splits so some topics and passages can be ignored.

I do not want any part of a form of Christianity that finds it acceptable to ignore parts of the Bible. All scripture has value for living to please God (2 Tim 3.16). Emergent is a model just as the JoHari Window is a model to express thoughts in a succinct way.

I was reminded just today of an approach to conversation that I believe is crucially important. I have included a link http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm and will place the entire article on my blog.

Mickey E. Denen

Flakinde's picture

Mick, my pleasure to communicate with you.

I actually wish I could interact more fully with what you share, but my lack of time is playing against me... so I write somewhat briefly.

I fail to see the relevance of your points on ignoring Scripture, to what I have said. Is it I who am ignoring certain parts of Scripture? Maybe you can help me understand you better.

I believe Emergent has something to add to the ongoing search for the meaning of the truth contained in the Bible. As I perceive Emergent, it is about not being satisfied with the answers that have been traditionally offered.

But you see, you really don't need a new movement nor - in my case - a "missionary" from another culture to illuminate me to understand this. These are given in the Bible itself, and my cry is precisely to stop with the corporatizing (as in, separating the body through logos and banners and labels) and just bring the lost to living water, NOT to the new American way of doing things.

Why can't the "missionaries" just point me towards the eternal things (ex. His Word), and LAY OFF the arrogance and pretentiousness of bringing the new thing into other "smaller minded" countries ("we've got what you lack")?

Can't we trust that the Spirit is in His temple just a little bit more (a point that Preterism reinforces, mind you)?

I'm sorry if I sound harsh, I confess I am growing a bit frustrated with the same cycle that begun way back in the XVI century when the "men from afar" came with the new thing, and ended up obliterating the Taínos from the face of the planet, a cycle that just repeats itself with each new movement while my brothers & sisters in Christ refuse to look up to the eternal.

I look forward to talking more with you, blessed,

A&R

PS: I will check your link later as well.

Flakinde's picture

Mick, my pleasure to communicate with you.

I actually wish I could interact more fully with what you share, but my lack of time is playing against me... so I write somewhat briefly.

I fail to see the relevance of your points on ignoring Scripture, to what I have said. Is it I who am ignoring certain parts of Scripture? Maybe you can help me understand you better.

I believe Emergent has something to add to the ongoing search for the meaning of the truth contained in the Bible. As I perceive Emergent, it is about not being satisfied with the answers that have been traditionally offered.

But you see, you really don't need a new movement nor - in my case - a "missionary" from another culture to illuminate me to understand this. These are given in the Bible itself, and my cry is precisely to stop with the corporatizing (as in, separating the body through logos and banners and labels) and just bring the lost to living water, NOT to the new American way of doing things.

Why can't the "missionaries" just point me towards the eternal things (ex. His Word), and LAY OFF the arrogance and pretentiousness of bringing the new thing into other "smaller minded" countries ("we've got what you lack")?

Can't we trust that the Spirit is in His temple just a little bit more (a point that Preterism reinforces, mind you)?

I'm sorry if I sound harsh, I confess I am growing a bit frustrated with the same cycle that begun way back in the XVI century when the "men from afar" came with the new thing, and ended up obliterating the Taínos from the face of the planet, a cycle that just repeats itself with each new movement while my brothers & sisters in Christ refuse to look up to the eternal.

I look forward to talking more with you, blessed,

A&R

PS: I will check your link later as well.

Mick's picture

Thank you for your response.

"I confess I am growing a bit frustrated with the same cycle that begun way back in the XVI century when the "men from afar" came with the new thing, and ended up obliterating the Taínos."

I don’t understand your historical reference. Although thanks to Wikipedia I have some superficial understanding. It is fair to say I am way out of my league as my formal training has been in science and mathematics, specifically in Chemical Engineering and Medicine. See previously suggested article by George Orwell on the link above or my blog. I know I continue to violate the suggestions that he makes in using English, but please bear with me.

I perceive that you and I are saying the same things. American culture and possibly all of Western Society have an arrogant approach to life. It may stem from the idea that "majority rules" or "might makes right." Again, I am way out of my league to make a historical and sociological statement of this type without sufficient study in these disciplines.

In my own Christian walk I have seen people, myself at times included, choose the way of American culture over what I now see as the clear teaching of scripture. I have also experienced multiple paradigm shifts in my Christian walk as what I believed to be true was proven to be false by a search of the Bible and conversations with Godly men. I believe that the Bible describes a culture ordained by God. This culture is beyond human reason and experience (1 Corinthians 1.20-25). It is the way to peace and glory of God. This culture is described poetically in Revelation 21 and 22, but the entire Bible points to this culture.

My belief in this “culture of God” has led me to, as a few examples, homeschool my children, live debt free, to give sacrificially, to train my children to use a biblical model for seeking a spouse rather than “date” and not refuse additional gifts from God, in the form of children, by having my wife or me sterilized. These are all counter to current American culture, yet these scriptural truths can be seen in other cultures around the world and world history. The only way I know that they are truths is not by declaring those cultures correct, but by declaring God correct (Romans 3.4). By the way I left the congregation I was part of for 22 years because I could not speak or teach openly about these things, because they were to “divisive” and “it was clear I had an agenda.” Finally I would point out that I could have learned the correct doctrine (Romans 2.14) of honoring ancestors (many thanks again to Wikipedia) from the Taino which is confirmed as correct only by God (Ephesians 6.2). I could not learn this doctrine from current American culture. When I suggested in my previous congregation it was morally wrong to place family members in nursing homes when the scriptures teach it is the responsibility of the children and the church, with assistance of appropriately trained people of course, to care for their ill parents I was looked at with disbelief and consternation. After all I am a Medical Doctor, how could I imply the current medical practices in the Western world could be lacking anything that could not be solved by technology and money. You see I had to become “post-modern” in my practice of Medicine years before I ever heard the term used use in theological discussions.

Brain McLaren, my apologies, summarized a degree of the problem in one of his books in the "New Kind of Christian" series. He pointed out that when writers try to describe the indescribable they use poetry and when scientists try to describe the indescribable they use mathematics. I could easily relate to this statement as the beauty and complexity of many aspects of God’s creation are described in sometimes simple and other times exhausting equations, only the type a beauty a math person can understand. In Isaiah 6.3 God is called Holy, Holy, Holy because God’s holiness is indescribable in ancient Hebrew. Even Peter reports that the joy we receive in Christ is indescribable in Ancient Greek (1 Peter 1.8). So I go back to my world view which includes the statement, “I believe that the scriptures in their original language and original context are flawless.” Due to the limitations of time and ability none of us will discern all of the truths of the Bible on our own. We need each other so we can live our lives to the fullest Glory of God. Emergent is a descriptive term and the JoHari window, a picture, used to describe a process by which we rid ourselves of our cultural biases or ignorance and learn the way of God more accurately (Acts 18.26). We could just as easily choose to call the process “the Priscilla and Aquila method” or the Berean method (Acts 17.10-11) but these are descriptive terms as well. Maybe living in a modern Western society of “sound bites” and “marketing strategies” catchy terms and pictures are required to get somebody’s attention to look at the Bible as the only source of wisdom and life

I hope this helps you understand my thoughts.

Mickey Denen

Mickey E. Denen

Flakinde's picture

Mick, thanks very much for your post. I direct this to Virgil as well, as I don't have time to write to each separately.

First of all, I want to make clear that I have allegiance to no man made movement, website, or organization. Even in the midst of talking about "speaking openly", when someone actually does speak openly and does it to disagree with the majority, it's easy to percieve him or her as "part of the other guys". This is pure zealotry disguised. I say this in context of the rest of the comments, but I believe you (Mick) have not fallen into this, and I thank you for it.

Secondly, precisely because of that, I have no urge nor need to "separate", "cut off" or anything like that, that's just not my thing.

That doesn't mean that I don't still find some things about these propositions repulsive (not yours specifically, but Emergent and its emphases).

Mick, for the most part, I don't disagree with your post and life example, on the contrary, I would like to encourage you if I still have any power to.

You summarize one of my main problems with all this in this phrase:

American culture and possibly all of Western Society have an arrogant approach to life. It may stem from the idea that "majority rules" or "might makes right."

Not only that, but also economic power that creates dependencies, and historical precedents that make everything coming from the "man from afar" right and good, including his perception of other cultures (as in Buddhism).

As I mentioned before, Buddhism's propositions are an obstacle to many people's reception of Christ's revelation. Though God can use anything He wants to reveal Himself, and so I allow for it being possible "a path", it is nonetheless a DANGEROUS path.

It is a very USA tendency to gloss over all cultures as good, nice, and valuable for whatever means they currently want to push for or that are profitable, which is just part of the facade of superiority that needs to be portrayed to advance the machine. Of course, not that they would ever immerse themselves in any inferior culture, nooooooo, just a superficial understanding will do. That's what allows "Emergent" ideology to be able to say that Buddhism can be a way toward Christ, without speaking about the clear dangers in that path. This I find very irresponsible.

My disillusionment with PP has to do with the fact that I see Preterism's propositions to be foundational for that kind of intercultural exchange within Christ's body, independent of human movements and corporations, and superiority complexes of certain nations. I do not see the current emphasis on Emergent following that pattern, but rather the opposite: a portrayal of Americanized understandings of others as superior, and a satisfaction in superficial understandings of other cultures; an intent of convincing other cultures that where USA is is where everyone else needs to be (Postmodernism, for example); an intent to create and elevate new human superheroes, translate their merchandise, and sell sell sell; and above all, a disdain for transcendent super cultural values (as evidenced in the previous three points) in resignation for "just another stage in human history" (again, assuming that where USA is in history is where the rest of the world is).

Emergent can talk all it wants about embracing and inclusiveness, but its fruits prove the complete opposite. As a Hispanic aware of the Church's past dependencies on the great nation, I certainly don't feel embraced one bit by all this junk.

When you place a logo of a movement on your article, when you speak about Emergent as a movement and emphasize points based on it, when you differentiate between "Emergent Christians" and the rest, to a someone with my background it just has the same fowl stench as what has come before it. It is just denominationalism with new clothes. It is exactly the opposite from what I was hoping conversations within Preterism to turn into (which is NOT just talking about the past, as some have wanted to create strawmen out of my cry), thus my disillusionment with PP's direction.

I make no demands here; again, that's not my thing. You have the right to steer the page to whatever direction you please. I do believe that while I still have an account here, I can respectfully air my wishes, and that is what I have done to this point. My wish is for PP to stop anchoring itself to this stuff, and to look up to the eternal.

Blessed in His rest,

Alexander Rodríguez

Mick's picture

Thank you Alex.
I look forward to your future posts. As I said before I need you and for that matter anybody else whose life is anchored in the life of Christ to help me grow to glorify God.
Mickey

Mickey E. Denen

Mick's picture

Thank you Alex.
I look forward to your future posts. As I said before I need you and for that matter anybody else whose life is anchored in the life of Christ to help me grow to glorify God.
Mickey

Mickey E. Denen

Starlight's picture

Mick,
Praise to God for those dedicated as you are to living the calling in such an earnest fashion. I have a few friends over the years that have been called in such a manner and likewise have left our congregation. I have not always been in total agreement with them in their reasoning but I’ve always recognized their desire was to please God in the manner that they best understood it. My wife and I have made strong efforts to keep the connections alive with those individuals as we find strength from such God seeking people.
I am interested though in hearing about your journey since you left the congregation, have you replaced all of those former congregants with new ones? I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on how you develop relationships, and is it more difficult? How has this impacted you and your family in this new “paradigm”?

I do not feel called in the same manner as you do as I want to work within the current body of believers that I meet with. I do not feel that I can leave nor do I have a desire to do so. But I will say I struggle daily with not being able to freely speak of some of these issues in bible class. But it is not just the church setting that restricts me, it is everywhere I go. I have to constantly monitor my spirit, examining whether I have good motives or is it driven by ego.

I feel God is working his will in me and wanting me to seek him first in my daily life and these thoughts permeate my soul from the moment I arise until I restlessly fall asleep at night.

Blessings
Norm

Mick's picture

Norm,
Thanks for your words of encouragement. It was not any easy decision for us to leave; in fact it took us 6 years of trying to get along before we could take it no more. When we left no one knew there was a problem. Now some 9 months later, outside of the leadership of that congregation very few people know for sure why we left. We went back to “visit” several weeks ago and they are doing just fine without our family. Pray for me though because at times bitterness creeps into my heart when I think about how I was treated.

We are now part of a smaller congregation of believers who love God and are willing to explore all the dimensions of what it means to be a Christian. It is refreshing to speak to and listen to people who are not afraid to challenge paradigms and seek to know God fully.

The move was most difficult for my oldest children. The congregation we left was the only body of believers they ever knew. They left behind friends they had “known’ since they were 2 weeks old. Although they see these friends periodically now, it is not the 3+ times a week they had in the past. Fortunately several of the young adults in their 20’s and 30’s have reached out to them helping my children feel part of a community. I tell you the truth this is the type of relationships my wife and I wanted for my children rather than peer-dependent relationships anyway.

As a dear friend often says, I will trade you prayers.

Mickey Denen

Mickey E. Denen

Starlight's picture

Mickey,
Yes indeed I’ll pray for you and your family knowing that God will honor you and uplift you. Thanks again for sharing with us your God directed life and I trust our Father will provide you and your family with all your needs. Its encouraging to me to witness via this forum your passion for the Lord.
Blessings
Norm

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Mick,

Sorry to butt in.

Your comments here resonate with me. To date, you are the most lucid defender of emergent directions I have seen. I don't know that there is anything in your posts that I could disagree with. In fact, your initial description would fit me and my family to a T.

Blessings,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

Mick's picture

Tim,
Thank you for the encouragement, I have received great benefit from your work and example as well.
Mickey Denen

Mickey E. Denen

mazuur's picture

Well said Alexander. I wanted myself to speak the kind of words you did, but I know I am not a very articulate person when it comes to typing such things, so I resisted. Thank you for speaking my mind with gentleness and sincerity.

However, this Buddhism thing really made my blood flow.

To state that Jack found God in Buddhism is to state exactly what you stated. It is presenting it as a valid path in finding Christ. Heck, we might as well start preaching from the roof tops that to find Christ, just seek Buddhism as it will lead to to him.

(And Virgil you were clear)
"Jack did not find God in a church building, in theology, fulfilled eschatology or a Seminary, in Calvinism or in Arminianism; instead Jack found God in Buddhism."

Jack did not find God in Buddhism. Buddhism was merely another road that lead Jack into darkness and death. Just as all the roads I tried in my life (drugs, alcohol, among others), all of which lead to darkness and death. I am surely not going to tell someone to dive full bore into drugs if they want to find Christ. Jack found God in only one place. In his heart, after hearing the true Gospel preached in those evil Church buildings, and/or from reading the Bible, and/or listening to another Christians witness to him with Biblical truth, which isn't in Buddhism to hear.

I also find it distressing that everyone is slamming the owner of the "letter" because he 1) disagrees with Emergent, 2)wanted to disassociated himself from it (which I don't blame him), and 3) wanted to be on his way. WOW, disagree with the Emergent "ism" and look out.

Rich

-Rich

Virgil's picture

Rich, I did meet Jack and HE told me that he's found God in Buddhism - which is why he is a faithful practicing Christian today. I am confused as to how you know better than Jack himself that his Buddhism experience was invalid and led to death because you disagree with it? How is Jack's faith comparable to "death" because you say it is? :)

Rich, would you worship with Jack today if you had a chance, pray with him and speak with him, or would you reject him because he found God in a way that you consider unacceptable?

mazuur's picture

Virgil,

I would worship with Jack the same way I would with you. I never said Jack hasn't found God. But I know he didn't find him in Buddhism.

Rich

-Rich

Scotty's picture

Rich,

To positively affirm that "you know" Jack (not me) didn't find God in Buddhism, you must be able to demonstrate either (1) there is absolutely no truth at all to any facet of buddhism, or (2) God is not the author of all truth. I am confident that neither of these would be affirmed by anyone in this discussion. If you affirm, as I would, that God is the author of all truth, then you must as a matter of raw logic affirm that truth, wherever it is found, including buddhism, can lead one to see-find-experience God who is the author of that truth. Like eating fish, one may have to sort through some bones, but there is meat there that is edible. Likewise, when we realize that all truth leads ultimately to its source, perhaps we will as Virgil and PP are encouraging be far more open to engage the emergent movement(as well as any other) without fear, knowing that all truth regardless of where we find it leads to God. If we can humbly see that point, perhaps we can be far more succesful in the influence of our faith. Just some thoughts.

Jack Scott

Virgil's picture

Jack, there is hardly something I could add to that. What many modern Christians fail to understand is that we all have been affected by outside influences, some good and some bad, and we are all products of our history and journeys.

Paul has told us that God wrote the Law on the hearts of gentiles long ago, and they instinctively did the things of God, many finding God in the strangest of places and calling him "the unknown God" as the Greeks did, and worshipped him in ignorance. It seems almost as if most of the work is already complete, we just need to extend a hand to those folks and show them love rather than judgmentalism.

Looking forward to seeing you next year brother :)

Mick's picture

Jack,
Well said! I wish I could be so succinct and eloquent.
Mickey Denen

Mickey E. Denen

Paige's picture

God bless you, Jack Scott!

I found truth in your words and have been deeply blessed. Thank you for sharing.

This week our fellowship group was priveleged to meet a man who has been a longtime follower of Elizabeth Claire Prophet (of Livingston, MT). He went on a quest for spirituality, and found a home there for many years. I am ashamed to say that probably 10 yrs. ago, I would have run scared for the hills away from him. Now, who knows how God will lead, but I thank Him for the opportunity to reach people so many think are "unreachable and untouchable". I'm no longer running scared for the hills, and that is in large part due to what has happened in my life as a result of seeing the fulfillment of all things and wrestling with the "what now?". I have many people to thank (too many to list).

Paige

Virgil's picture

Rich, all I can do it to encourage you to be a bit more generous towards Jack and give him a little more benefit of the doubt; he is not uneducated or stupid, in fact Jack schooled me in quite a few things about the Scriptures in the two hours I spent with him. This is the problem modern Christianity has, we like telling everyone else where and how to find God, when God is the one chasing people down in the strangest of places, like Mars Hill in Greece, or the road to Damascus...or even in the furthest place off the map where not even Jonah wanted to go...Ninveh.

Rich, I cannot tell you what to think about this whole thing, and you seem to be stuck on this Buddhism issue, when Buddhism is not the issue and it never was; it was just an example to show how God uses the strangest avenues to bring people to himself, and Jonah's story, Jack's story and my story are all the same. Whether we find God in Buddhism, in Emergent, in Preterism, in Islam...or whatever other whacked out places on this planet or in our minds, he WILL find a way to reveal himself to us and steer our hearts in the right direction.

This is why it is important to reach out to Ninivites, Buddhists, Emergents, Preterists and even Muslims; if you don't sit down at the same table with these people, how in the world will you have a chance to touch their hearts to begin with? And afterall, are we that much better than any of them?

mazuur's picture

Virgil,

Be a bit more generous towards Jack? I haven't said anything toward Jack personally. I merely stated Jack did not find God in Buddhism. The God of the Bible is not found from within Buddhism. Heck, why bother reaching out to the Ninivites, Buddhists, or Muslims. Seems they already have found your God?

You all can go down the path that all roads lead home if you want, I will not, and I have heard all I need to hear. I will now join the ranks of the person who submitted the open letter.

I will send back to you as soon as I can all the video tapes from the conference..

Feel free to bash me too because I do not wish to be associated any longer with PP as well.

Rich

-Rich

Virgil's picture

Rich, I am againg not sure how my encouragement to you to be a more generous Christian would prompt this reaction, but it saddens me to hear you say this, especially when noone here suggested that "all roads lead home."

I hope you will reconsider and that God will bless you in whatever you do.

Scotty's picture

Rich, as one who was in the trenches of covenant eschatology a long time ago, when so few were involved, I would beg you brother to reconsider withdrawing your thoughts and comments to the discussions here. Your voice is important and appreciated. I have benefited from your love for truth and your involvement. All that Virgil or I am saying is that truth has nothing to fear from the light of day and discussion. Every public examination of truth will either reinforce it or demonstrate nuances of our thinking that need further thought. Engaging the emergent movement, or any other for that matter, in an honest dignified-respectful conversation will no more indict me or you or PP with the error they may believe, than eating with them in the same cafe would require that we order-eat the same item from the menu. However, we may gain insight about items on the menu that we personally have never considered ordering. Brother, my truth and yours will only be strengthened by our continued willingness to engage one another and others with every opportunity given to us. Like Virgil and others here, I have for sometime believed that the emergent movement and others could blossom into something far more a blessing to God, with the infusion of our beloved covenant eschatology. As well, I firmly believe the responsiveness of our culture to a more user friendly-practical Christianity model as carried on by the emergent movement carries value we can benefit from. Open respectful dialog requires no more of us than openness and respect; not conformity or acceptance of any teaching-thought we find scripturally objectionable. Imagine the first century consequences if Christ had followed this model...He would have spoken to no one. Surely, our truth and faith are big enough and strong enough to enter them into the market-place of ideas with no fear. I know many in the rutted systems we came from would object, but like you , I have transcended that. I would consider it a personal favor if you would not withdraw your voice and thoughts from our mutual-continuing search for where the God of mystery and truth is leading us. God Bless you brother.

Jack Scott

Kyle Peterson's picture

With all do respect, Rich...

If someone says they found God in Buddhism which eventually led them to finding Christ (either via the NT or witness) and getting saved - who are you to boil over at the thought of such a possibility.

Praise God for working through methods you or Alex may find dispicable.

mazuur's picture

"for working through methods"

So now we are going to change it from finding Christ in Buddhism to God using a path of destruction and death (such as "The Law"- see Galatians) to drive Jack toward Himself, which is only revealed in His word.

Very big difference.

Rich

-Rich

Kyle Peterson's picture

Again, I believe God has revealed Himself to us in other ways.

davo's picture

mazuur: ...using a path of destruction and death (such as "The Law"- see Galatians) to drive Jack toward Himself

Hey Rich, don't forget that IT WAS that very self same destructive and deathly path of the Law, as mentioned by Paul [Gal 3:24], that God DID use to bring them to Christ. Surely the Spirit can and does use any means He so sovereignly deems to bring folk into the revelation of Christ's saving work. Thus "Jack" can imply that in the midst of his wanderings [in his case in Buddhism] that he came to find, or better still, be found of God -- it is amazing where God will furiously pursue us -- often at times nowhere near the four walls of a stained glass building.

There was a certain somebody that Jesus spoke about who in the depths of his own wallowing wanderings came to a certain realisation [revelation] that prompted him to trek elsewhere.

I could be wrong, but I sense that is the real essence of what "Jack" is saying.

davo

Kyle Peterson's picture

What this really boils down to is that Planet Preterist is too big for its britches. Virgil's(and the rest of the staff) vision is to provide a community website where Christians (non are welcome) can come and discuss anything from science, to finance, to theology all from a biblical perspective. As a matter of fact this transition has been going on for over a year now and in all likelihood "Planet Preterist" is no longer the best title for this website.

For some of us Preterism simply brought some new theology. For others it changed the way we think and act within the realization that we are currently living in the kingdom. Some of us are simply moving beyond the booksmarts trying to figure out how Fulfilled Eschatology impacts our Christian living and those around us.

Our paradigmn shift introduced us to Postmodern thinking which allows us to reevaluate some of the things we were taught growing up. If our eschatology was wrong, what else is doubtful? We are interested gaining further perspective by allowing others to have a voice at this website.

We are growing and we invite others to participate. However, for people like Gary DeMar or Don Preston who are mostly interested in the various degrees of Preterism this site will be of marginal interest to them. Of course we will still encourage and publish Preterist articles, but as you've all certainly noticed the topics have greatly expanded.

With that said, we appreciate the concern and sentiment expressed over the increasing flavor of the articles posted on the front page. For those upset at the change, sadly - this may no longer be a place of interest for you. If you are excited about reading how Preterism affects other areas of God's creation we heartily invite you to share dialogue with eachother in a professional and cordial manner despite disagreements.

DarthPreterist's picture

Kyle wrote: "What this really boils down to is that Planet Preterist is too big for its britches."

Very, very true. That being said, I implore you, Virgil, not to allow the Emergent discussion (which I, admittedly, have many problems with) eclipse the Preterist discussion that used to permeate every angle of this website's territory.

Although I am extremely interested in discussing the Emergent angle of Christianity, I fear that if it becomes the emphasis of this website, it will detract from Planet Preterist's original vision as a stepping stone for eschatological seekers into the realm of victorious Christianity.

Now, I know Virgil's created preterist.com for the purpose of providing an introduction to Preterism, but (in all honesty) it pales severely in comparison. In addition, it also lacks the name that helped put preterism on the map, along with Todd Dennis' way-cool website.

Please, please, Virgil ... heed Gary DeMar's advice and keep Planet Preterist's focus on eschatology. Please relegate your Emergent discussions to a sister website. Maybe PlanetEmergent.com. ;-)

Keep a similar look, provide teaser links from PlanetPreterist.com to PlanetEmergent.com, etc. But I believe Kyle is right: PP is too big for its britches and needs to re-evaluate its purpose without forgetting for what it originally became famous.

:::Waving his hand casually:::
This isn't the Emergent website you're looking for.
:::Another casual wave:::
This is primarily a website for discussion about eschatology

~Darth Preterist~

Virgil's picture

Alex,

As always, I appreciate your contribution to the conversation here. A few points that I can address regarding what you have problems with:

1. Using Emergent's logo - that's due to the creation of a new Topic (emergent) just as we have other topics. This is to centralize and better organize the site since more articles on the topic will likely appear here. What would you propose I use instead of their logo?

2. Representing Emergent as the only model of practical faith - I never did such a thing, and if I did I certainly did not intend to do so. I believe there is no such thing as a "model faith" besides following Christ's model of worship and relation to the world. It just so happens that Emergent and Preterism are first cousin in my opinion and they will progress together and grow up together because of their common eschatology.

3. Representing Buddhism as a valid alternative to Christ - hmmmm...again, I must ask where I said such a thing. What I am presenting here is the same thing that Paul presented on Mars Hill when he recognized that all men are looking and searching for God..and even recognize God and his existence in the things we see being manifested around us. Paul even suggested that they were worshiping God in ignorance and used their bastardized faith as a springboard to proclaiming God's commandment and desires for their repentance - Paul even called the nonbelievers standing before him God's children!

Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you...Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."

Buddhism, shintoism, Preterism or whatever other ISM you want to suggest is not an alternative to Christ...there is no alternative to Christ and I never suggested such a thing; but denying that God is in all things and uses all things and all ISMS to steer and bring people back to himself is also misguided.

If you think that my goal is to glorify Emergent as a temporary movement, then I am really curious how in the world you would get such an idea, especially when I believe that Emergent is just another step, and just another part of the journey and not an end in itself.

Also, if you think that Preterism should just be an end in itself and should be viewed as just a static transition in eschatology alone, then we clearly have a divergence of opinions there. I did not become a Preterist to just hold to another theological or eschatological view; I wanted to become a better person, better Christian and better friend and father. If the goals are too lofty then Preterism is not the answer, but I think it has part of the answer; yet in all this excitement all I see Preterists (and this is not directed at you, it's just a general comment) doing is debate, argue and bicker over theology all day...mocking futurists and partial preterists and demonizing anyone and everyone that is speaking out against Preterism.

Well, that is not something I want to be a part of anymore...instead I want to use Preterism as a bridge to promote more than just eschatology that apparently does little to change people's lives...at least not for the better.

So Preterism is not lacking exactly what Emergent has to offer...Preterism is lacking some of the things Emergent has to offer, some of the things Rick Warren has to offer, some of the things Dee Dee Warren has to offer, and on and on. The elitism and arrogant attitude that Preterists have by suggesting they have all answers as a result of their eschatology is doing little to win the hearts of our critics Alex. And even if we DO have all the answers as a result of Preterism, who exactly is listening?

Just as you said, I hope my answer is not offending you, but I did try to deal with the points you raised. This is not to say that I did not consider what you had to say; I did and I continue to do so and continue to listen to you. And as long as we talk the listening will continue on both sides :)

Flakinde's picture

Ok Virgil, absolutely no offense taken, and I can see clearly you graciously understood the spirit of my words. My sincere thanks for extending me grace.

1. Using Emergent's logo - that's due to the creation of a new Topic (emergent) just as we have other topics. This is to centralize and better organize the site since more articles on the topic will likely appear here. What would you propose I use instead of their logo?

Again, I invite you to take Tony Jones' advice. He said once that he wants to talk less about "Emergent". I think putting up a logo moves in the exact opposite direction.

And for Chrisliv's info, I am a graphic designer, so I have nothing against logos per se, but I would recommend speaking less about the movement and using its corporate identity.

2. Representing Emergent as the only model of practical faith - I never did such a thing, and if I did I certainly did not intend to do so. I believe there is no such thing as a "model faith" besides following Christ's model of worship and relation to the world.

Again, your point in the article is that Emergent is all about "practical faith", but again I ask, practical to exactly what purpose? Substantially I have no problem with their vision and mission statement, but I do have an issue with how it's being currently carried out, and how it affects - or rather deepens - intercultural exchanges within Christians.

3. Representing Buddhism as a valid alternative to Christ - hmmmm...again, I must ask where I said such a thing.

You didn't say that, and neither did I. You did imply through the testimony presented that Buddhism could be a valid alternative way toward Christ. I insist that bringing up this testimony, and the "lessons learned" from it, without alerting of the many dangers a decision based on this can cause, is irresponsible.

but denying that God is in all things and uses all things and all ISMS to steer and bring people back to himself is also misguided.

I did not deny such a thing, and as a matter of fact, I think I allowed for that possibility. I could even claim that God reached me through non-typical means. Would I extrapolate from that fact that God will reach anyone and everybody like that? Of course not, so I think we all need to be very careful in how we speak, and I would even go so far as to alert others not to do as I have done in the past, in a spirit of true love and concern for others.

If you think that my goal is to glorify Emergent as a temporary movement, then I am really curious how in the world you would get such an idea, especially when I believe that Emergent is just another step, and just another part of the journey and not an end in itself.

Then I long for the day I can read this from your articles clearly. Actually, I think we'd all be better off by not focusing on "the steps" but rather place our eyes on the whole big picture, which would be more eschatologically consistent, imo. And mind you, I'm not talking about getting stuck in one place, but actually on the opposite, on paying less attention to historical stages and more on transcendental and eternal goals and values.

Also, if you think that Preterism should just be an end in itself and should be viewed as just a static transition in eschatology alone, then we clearly have a divergence of opinions there.

I think it's obvious that this is not my thing, Virgil. Everything else you say is much appreciated, but I think it just doesn't apply to me particularly, or else I wouldn't even care to write all this in the first place.

Let's keep talking, blessed,

Alexander Rodríguez

Virgil's picture

Alex,

1. I agree with you and Tony; in fact last time I talked in person to Tony about this we both agreed that there is too much talk about "isms" which is why emergent-ism, preter-ism or whatever other systems are hardly discussed at those meetings. Instead people open up and talk about what's on their hearts, which is what I did above in this article. Emergent-ism has little to offer to me - I am more concerned with the general framework of the movement and how it can help preterism and what preterism can do for Emergent so that we can better reach people and help people become better Christians and better humans. I don't care about Emergent or PlanetPreterist if I see no tangible results in people's lives as a result of our interactions; if columnists here are only interested in espousing theological constructs, I want them to leave...there is more to this site than spouting off hollow theology.

2. Emergent does not require you to agree with them or not have a problem with the way they do things; instead they welcome your comments and contributions. In my many interactions with these guys and gals I was always impressed by how open they were to my comments and how little they cared about our differences; that is the spirit of Christ and the spirit of a generous orthodoxy that I have been talking about for a while now. Some folks do not like that and they choose to withdraw from the conversation, like our ex-columnist did; that is unfortunate and it saddens me, but there is no turning back for me.

3. See Jack Scott's comment on Buddhism and truth being found in all things because God has created all things. Paul is making the same point when he presents the creation as an obvious piece of evidence for all men to see God in it and worship God. I would suggest that Buddhism (since we are all stuck on this) is a valid alternative towards Christ, but not the way to Christ. A recovered drug addict could also claim that his addiction was a way to recovery, or a way to restoration and to God. We may be talking semantics here, but what am I not seeing here? If there is truth in Buddhism or Islam, is that truth not worth pointing out and used to glorify God?

I am hoping in the future I will do a better job at clearly expressing opinions and issues, especially complex and controversial issues like those things we are speaking about. I don't want anyone to blindly listen to what I say, which is why I appreciate your great feedback here so much.

My goal is not to get people to agree with me, but learn as much as I can, and hopefully in the process teach others a few good things as well, so that we can better our relationships with each other and with God.

From that we can start developing the practical Christianity I have been talking about, approach environmental issues in a new light since our grandchildren will also need clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, talk about social justice and find ways to help the poor without robbing the rich or displaying the social hypocrisy liberals are known for. How can we use preterism and the developing relationships with Emergent (which are happening with or without our approval) to create a better environment for both theological discourse AND a practical development of our faith?

Heh..long winded comment dude...sorry about that.

chrisliv's picture

Gee,

It looks like the offspring of the Great Censor (thekingdomcome.com) is in the house, as a Great Crusade to extinguish even "logos" has begun.

"I am going to try and translate some articles by brothers and sisters in Latin America that are relevant to what I keep telling you, to see if you can post them here. Maybe their cry will help you understand that I'm not just rambling. I'd rather have them post here directly, but unfortunately they don't write in English."

If you "keep telling" this stuff to Virgil, what makes you think the same stuff, only translated by you, will have some new influence?

Do you really think that if you find people who speak a different language, and who agree with you, that that makes your opinion and demands more compelling?

Emergent is nice idea and an ecclesiastical auxiliary. Planet Preterist is primarily focused on Preterist eschatology, I think. But, so what, if Virgil puts some article about Emergent, his Science, or his Technology hobbies on the website. If there's any interest, people will give meaningful comments. There's no need to cry about it.

Is anyone besides me bored, yet?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Flakinde's picture

"It looks like the offspring of the Great Censor (thekingdomcome.com) is in the house, as a Great Crusade to extinguish even "logos" has begun."

Nice job, Chrisliv. You just committed the same mistake I asked Virgil not to, and what he himself cries out for others not to do (guilt by association). Nice.

If you "keep telling" this stuff to Virgil, what makes you think the same stuff, only translated by you, will have some new influence?

Excellent "missing the point" skills. Didn't I just say I would lay off Virgil? If I translate from other people, it's not because "they agree with me" (because they actually don't), but to go along with PP's claimed "spirit of listening". Or do you think we shouldn't listen to Latin American's point of view?

One way or another, Virgil still has the ability to not post it if he doesn't like what it says.

Emergent is nice idea and an ecclesiastical auxiliary.

We obviously don't agree, and I ain't crying about it.

In His rest,

Alexander Rodríguez

chrisliv's picture

Oh,

You're the one committing your own self-evident mistake via "guilt by association" in saying, "don't even go there" and interjecting Voodoo and Witchcraft with your references to "Wicca" and "Santeria".

I mean, why'd you stop there?

Why didn't you go all the way and imply an association with Human Sacrifice or Drinking Human Blood.

Your "keep telling" is very telling, Alex.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Flakinde's picture

Oh, YOOOUUUUUUURRRREEEE the one that _______!!!! No, YOOOUUUUUURRRREEEE the one that _______!!!!

We could go on like this forever... fortunately, I stop here (with you).

A&R

Virgil's picture

Alex, Chris does have a valid point - I may not agree with his sarcastic tone, but the slippery slope argument doesn't have much hold here; to get from Buddhism to human sacrifices, Hedonism or whatever else is quite a stretch. Let's not forget the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church, yet we all know not to judge the faith and the people in it because of what happened.

The two things that come up the most in these conversations I have, and I am not suggesting this is what you do, but this does come up the most: fear mongering and the slippery slope arguments are used the most against Emergent and those who suggest dialogue with them and openness not just regarding Emergent but everyone else out there in general. Let's not forget that the slippery slope thing goes both ways as well; Buddhists can always slip down the slope of Christianity by learning something from us - how is that argument any less valid that the other? :)

Virgil's picture

I don't think Alex is crying, but he is expressing some valid concerns that seem to come from his heart, and his genuine comments are heartfelt, just as are yours. Regarding Emergent, I do see them as more ecclesiastical in nature than any other group of Christian out there, and that does appeal to Preterists that find themselves homeless and on the streets because they have been rejected by churches and families and friends; in fact the word "auxiliary" is a very good description of Emergent's nature. They never fancied themselves as a "church" or a "movement" - in fact their goal is clearly stated on their website:

Our dream is to join in the activity of God in the world wherever we are able, partnering with God as God’s dreams for our world come true. In the process, the world can be healed and changed, and so can we.

How can anyone object to that is something I do not understand; the disagreements therefore seem to be more over the style than subtance or goals.

Again, criticism and valid concerns have never bothered me one bit; what I have always found disheartening were the personal attacks and the demonizing aimed at myself and others who do advocate relationships rather than separation. I am surprised you don't find yourself on someone's black list somewhere either chrisliv!

Virgil's picture

Several people asked about this "Open Letter" from our columnist to be posted here. Here it is; please keep comments civil:

Virgil,

Your response was interesting but also confusing. It must have been six months
ago or more that I sent you an email requesting that you remove my name and my
articles from Planet Preterist website. I used your normal email address, the
same as I had used before, and I didn't receive any indication that I had the
wrong address, since no "unable to deliver" message came back.
Nor did I receive an acknowledgement of your receiving my email request. It was
quite clear that you received my request but ignored it.

Then probably about three or four weeks later, I sent a 2nd request, worded much
the same way, and again no "unable to deliver" message came back, nor any
response on your part. Every indication, again, that you received it but did not
choose to respond to me. In the meantime nothing happened on the website; my
name and articles remained on the PP site and still do to this day.

My thought at that time (and ever since) was that you simply did not plan to
remove my name or articles from the site, even though I had twice requested it.

So now, finally, I will appreciate it if you would remove my name and articles
from your website. Better late than never, right? Thanks very much!

It is not, as you suggest, that I have not read enough of MacLaren's material to
know what he is driving at or believes. It read quite a bit of it in the past.
My previous email was simply saying that more recently I have not desired to
continue reading the material as I considered it unprofitable. This is not a
pre-judgment, Virgil, I know basically what the man believes. But I am not a
follower of his, nor desire to be, and therefore do not continue to read every
word that he writes. Others have taken up the study in more detail recently and
therefore I find it unnecessary to duplicate their efforts.

As to not contacting you about what you believe about what MacLaren teaches, if
my two email requests for disassociation were ignored, what good would it do to
make a third effort to establish contact with you. I think some of the articles
that you yourself have written in response to what MacLaren and others have
written is prima facie evidence that you at least have "your nose in the same
tent" as MacLaren, maybe even walking in his shoes. And if you would tell me
that there are points on which you and he differ, these would no doubt be minor
details and still would not justify you in allowing his articles to appear on
your PP website. By all means keep in mind that both your articles in sympathy
toward him and his own articles copied, can adversely influence young minds in a
dangerous way. Do you really want to promote MacLaren's ideas which are so
contradictory to those of the Bible itself? I hope you realize the damage you
are doing to the Preterist Movement (and more even more importantly to the
Gospel of Jesus Christ) and will, upon coming to realize this, remove the
MacLaren and related materials from your website, like you are about to do with
my articles. Please consider this.

~~****

valensname's picture

Virgil,

Obviously you can run your web sit the way you choose and I admire that you allow divergent views to be presented. Not many web sites probably would (I don't visit many that have postings related sites). And you can have the beliefs that you want and post what you want. If one doesn't like what is posted they can choose to not visit the site or not read that article. I don't read all the articles.

I do agree with one statement the writer made. In my experience you do have a history of not responding to emails/messages in a timely manner or at all.

Glenn

Virgil's picture

And I would be the first guy to agree with that - you guys must remember that I still have a full-time job and a family to spend time with. It is not an excuse for overlooking e-mails or not replying to e-mails, but I don't get paid to run PP, in fact I owe quite a bit of money to other people for books and resources invested in the bookstore on this site, AND most of what I get in exchange from running this website is grief and personal attacks.

To be fair to both myself and this ex-columnist, I did search all my spam and trash folders in my e-mail box and I could not find any e-mails from him requesting his articles to be taken down. I am not suggesting by any means that he is lying, but this would not be the first time when someone mispelled my last name, sent e-mails to a wrong address or perhaps I even deleted the e-mail or ignored it - if that is the case I would be happy to take responsibility for it. HOWEVER, the issue at hand is not over being slow to reply to e-mails...it is over creating separation and withdrawing from the table over theological issues.

To quote another Preterist on dealing with these issues, "My theology doesn't require you to agree with me" That is the issue here. :)

valensname's picture

I agree Virgil, it is over creating separation and withdrawing from the table over theological issues.

And I think it is the best preterist web site out there. Where else could I have spirited discussions with others over issues? :-)

I hadn't realized you had that much on your plate. Again thanks for running the web site. I don't think you need to change anything...well except I still don't understand why the spell check doesn't understand parousia? (just kidding I know why) :-).

Glenn

Mick's picture

well except I still don't understand why the spell check doesn't understand parousia?

I concur. ;-o

Mickey E. Denen

Virgil's picture

agh...not funny :)

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