Simultaneous Ecclesiology Dispensations

I am not seeking after novelty or trying to impress, I simply have an idea for you to think about and I would love to hear your thoughts.

I find that many Christians struggle with other Christian traditions that are different from theirs. Yes, this is a pejorative type discussion, we we have all meet people like this. You know, the Baptist that thinks lesser of the Methodist because the sprinkle instead of immersion. The Bible Church’er who with great confidence just knows the Assemblynara_visa_rc_churchof God and Pentecostals are so off on their healing and prophecy beliefs. Or the Charismatic who believes all those churches with boring music and passive worship services just are not filled with the Spirit. No matter the tradition, they all seem to look on at other traditions with an “us – them” mentality. (FYI, I have personally heard every one of these from different people)

So here is my question? What if God is working with all these traditions simultaneously in time and allowing all these differences to co-exist at one time and it all still be considered to be “Truth.”

Now, please know I don’t have so much as a good biblical argument for this idea it is simply something I connected in my own head. No doubt there is work to do to discover this concept to be within God’s revelation, but for now I am just putting the idea out there.

The idea started with thinking about dispensationalism. On aspect of dispensationalism is that God has related to human beings in different ways at different times known as dispensations or periods in history. This is a linear view of how God has interacted with people in different ways. So, in the past, were not the ways God was dealing with his people different from other times? Did God change? No, he simply changed what he was doing. Thus, if God can do this in a linear fashion, why can’t he also do this in multiple ways at the same time…hence simultaneously expressing himself through multiple traditions that do not agree in every area of doctrine but still remaining all truth.

Now, before i go much further, let me assure you that all traditions that are Christian adhere to the core orthodox beliefs of the faith that have been passed down throughout Church history. I am not talking about God changing to this extent. Core beliefs such as, The nature of God as Triune, The Person and Work of Christ as both God and Man, Salvation by Grace through Faith, and the Nature and Effects on Sin. Even within these there is some disagreement within term meanings and how things work.

Now that we have that out of the way, back Mount_Mary_Church_(Bombay)to the point of this post. Perhaps God is so great and so big that he can work through his people through many different expressions and allow for what seems to be multiple disagreeing truths within those traditions and maybe that’s okay. Maybe we should view other traditions that are not like ours and see them as our brother and sister in Christ. Yes, they may not worship like you, Yes, they may not do the Lord’s supper and Baptism the way you do. Yes, their emotions to their loving creator may not look like your emotions. However, we are all unified in the things that matter most and perhaps the idea of Simultaneous Ecclesiology Dispensations can help us to frame what a beautiful picture that God has created in this Church Age.

One more additional thought: I actually thought about drawing the distinction as Macro Dispensationalism and Micro Dispensationalism. That might help some people to picture what I am talking about. However, the idea of Micro didn’t really capture the time aspect of this idea.

Recommended Reads

Well, it has been quite a while since writing on my blog so my apologies to all my followers! 🙂

However, I thought it would be cool to let you guys know some books that I have been reading over the past year and books that I found to be fantastic and transformational.

#1 God with Us by Dr. Krieder – I greatly enjoyed this book and yes I am bias because the author was a wonderful mentor at DTS and continues to be someone I regularly enjoy company with. Apart from Krieder’s published dissertation, I believe this is his first book. God with Us is a great work that captures the wonderful historical portrayal of how God has been with his people. If you are familiar with Jonathan Edwards’ Work of Redemption, it reads much like that. I believe the author’s main point is to observe God with his people throughout history and recognize the humility of God as a major factor. Yes, I said the humility of God! God’s interaction with his people is G61YmpqtLQBL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_od himself humbling (or even condescending) to us. I want to be constantly reminded of this because if God, the great creator, sovereign, all powerful, sustainer of all, is humble… How much more should I be.
Humility on the road, humility in my job, humility with my friends and family. This is a great book! Get it!

#2 Dwell by Dr. Jones – Yet another wonderful professor from DTS who also taught me a great deal about how to be a person with a heart for academics and a heart for the church. However, I apologize that this is not the Dr. Jones seeking after the Holy Grail, nonetheless, Dwell is worth getting and not as difficult to find…thank you 61O+dVlZVYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Amazon. Anyway, Dwell deals with the doctrine of the incarnation and makes for the argument that we should be living incarnationally. Just as Christ dwelt with humanity and was involved and was in the fabric of society, so should we be. There were many things to learn from this book but I mostly came away with his thesis on how Christians should respond to culture. Since Christ dwelt in Culture, so should we. Improper responses would be: waring against culture, running from culture, and assimilating into culture (or adopting and accepting morals and norms). We are to dwell in culture, visit friends…even the ones who are not christians…have people over to our house, get to know your neighbors. That’s a good start! Seek for the peace of the city because in its peace is your peace.

These are great books. Other books I am not writing on here are the Exploring Christian Theology series. These are great and worth getting and dare I say…will replace Ryrie’s Christian Theology (and I do appreciate Ryrie).

I am also looking forward to two publications I have not yet received.

A Critical Examination of the Doctrine of Revelation in Evangelical Theology” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1498201938/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1EHES1YSUCNEX&coliid=I2KDPTYU50RL7B)

“Dispensationalism and the History of Redemption: A Developing and Diverse Tradition” http://www.amazon.com/dp/080240961X/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1EHES1YSUCNEX&coliid=I3239O37J4ZIOD

Here’s links to the other two books.

“God with Us” – http://www.amazon.com/God-Us-Exploring-Interactions-Throughout/dp/1596381183/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440691578&sr=1-2&keywords=god+with+us

“Dwell” – http://www.amazon.com/Dwell-World-Barry-D-Jones/dp/0830836691/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440691621&sr=1-1&keywords=dwell+jones

Serve it Up

We have all either had or heard the question: How do I grow in my faith?

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All my Christian life, I have heard a fairly consistent answer to this questions. If you want to grow in your faith, read you bible, pray, and go to church. I believe these are correct, good, and should be encouraged, but I believe this answer to be incomplete.

Over the past few months, I have been wondering if Jesus himself followed this trifold solution (of course, not that Jesus had any problems…he was perfect). I would like to set out a survey of the Gospel of Mark that looks at the story and attempts to categorize everything with three actions:

Personal Bible Study, Prayer Time, Serving Others.

These terms need to be defined. Personal bible study would be Jesus alone with his bible reading away (my intention is not to discuss what bible Jesus read, that is a whole other discussion). Prayer time would be Jesus going alone to a place to pray. Serving others would be Jesus investing time, energy, and talents to the betterment of others lives. Serving may look like teaching others, healing others, feeding others, etc.

Here is my survey of 8 chapters of Mark in light of this discussion:

Passage                              Basic Description                            Category

1:1-8 John the Baptist prepares the way Serving
1:9-13 Jesus Baptized and Jesus Tempted Praying
1:14-20 Calling of the first Disciple Serving
1:21-28 Jesus drives out and evil spirit Serving
1:29-34 Jesus Heals Many Serving
1:35-39 Praying in a solitary place Praying
1:40-45 Jesus heals a man with leprosy Serving
2:1-12 Jesus heals a paralytic Serving
2:13-17 Calling of Levi Serving
2:18-22 Jesus answers questions about fasting Serving
2:23-3:6 Teaching about the Sabbath Serving
3:7-12 Crowds Follow Jesus/He heals many Serving
3:13-19 Jesus Appoints the 12 Apostles Historical Description
3:20-30 Jesus and Beelzebub Serving
3:31-35 Jesus identifies his spiritual family Serving
4:1-34 A string of parables: sower, lamp, growing seed, mustard seed Serving
4:35-41 Jesus Calms the storm Serving
5:1-20 Healing of a demon possessed man Serving
5:21-43 Dead Girl and a sick woman Serving
6:1-6 Teaches and miracles in hometown Serving
6:6b-13 Jesus send out the 12 and the preach and heal Serving
6:14-29 John the Baptist Beheaded Historical Description
6:30-44 Jesus feeds 5,000 Serving
6:45-59 Jesus walks on water Serving
7:1-23 Teaching on Clean and Unclean Serving
7:24-30 The Faith of a Woman Serving
7:31-37 The Healing of a deaf and mute man Serving
8:1-13 Jesus feeds 4,000 Serving
8:14-21 Jesus teaches about the Pharisee Serving
8:22-26 Jesus heals a blind man Serving
8:27-30 Jesus teaches who he is through Peter’s confession Serving
8:31-9:1 Jesus predicts his death Serving

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Through 8 chapters, we have 2 historical descriptions, 2 occurrences of praying, 0 occurrences or personal bible time, and 28 occurrences of serving others. What can we learn from looking at Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospel of Mark? We learn that by far Jesus spent a great amount of time serving and investing in the lives around us. Next time someone asks you, “What can I do to grow in my faith?” or you yourself are wondering what you can do to grow in your faith…by all means read your bible, pray, go to church, but please do no neglect the reality that we are most like Christ when we serve others.

Lead Small by Reggie Joiner

Here at Mansfield Bible Church, we believe small groups is key to ministry. This is true for all ministries, from children’s through adult. Recently, I read Lead Small by Reggie Joiner and I believe his five aspects of leading a small group for children and youth are beneficial for all who pursue a small group model of ministry. Here is a summary of his five points:

Be Present: Kids and adults need small group leaders small group leader who show up on a routine basis. Preferably, small group leaders should commit to weekly serving because this helps to build deeper relationships, develop trust, and establishes routine. Being present means showing up physically and showing up mentally.lead-small-cover

Create a safe place: In order to create a safe place for small groups, three goals are in mind. First, people need to feel that they are accepted into a community of people. Secondly, there must be a valuing of confidentiality. Thirdly, to have s safe place in small groups we must value honesty. If honesty fails authenticity is lost.

Partner with Parents: Small Group leaders will be spending roughly one hour a week with your group while parents spend 3,000 hours with their kids per year. Parents are the primary disciplers of their children, thus a small group leaders job is to partner with parents in their child’s journey for authentic faith. Always partner with parents in a discussion and help children to follow the direction and guidance of their parents.

Make it personal: When you lead activities and talk about the lesson, it is good to make the lesson personal. The entire lesson should not be personal, but a small 2 minute personal story on how God has worked in your life with connection to the lesson of the day is good. This helps kids and youth to know that bible stories are not simply to be memorized but they are to change our lives and change who we are.

Move them out: Even though you love being a small group leader, there will come a day when you are no longer their small group leader. Move them to the next small group leader, move them to being the Church through service and evangelism, and move them on to the next stage of life.

Short Book Reviews

I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought I would update a few books I have completed this year. These are all great reads. The first one is not from a christian, but in fact by an atheist that I have previously reviewed. The other three are great reads, mainly historically driven. I beleive they will help you to know the faith you have inherited from a great historical past and will help you faith to proclaim the message with a multitude of people.

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

My Response: This is a popular book by a well known atheist. Sam Harris simply lays out all the reasons by he has issue, not with the Christian faith, by with current American Christianity. Simply put, he is facing many false assumptions and misinformed experiences and ideas about Christianity. My response initially to Harris was, “you just need to see the real Christianity,” but then I thought maybe this is our fault. Maybe it is our fault that Same Harris looks at Christianity and comes to his conclusions. That’s what I appreciated about this book. It helped me to look in the mirror and ask myself if I am representing Christ to our culture.

Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll

My Response: One of the key historical books and a must read for all Christians. Want to know why evangelicalism is the was it is? Why our dealings with science, politics, and the seemingly manipulative culture presentations of the gospel exist? Noll’s work is an excellent read.

Retro Christianity by Michael Svigel (One of my favorite professors from DTS)

My Response: Dr. Svigel’s book is a close cousin to Noll’s. The purpose of the book is to deal with a great tension. On the one hand, churches desire to reach back into the past and retain the truth of the historical church. On the other hand, we need to be progressive and interpret the gospel in our present day context. To deny both is to stay stagnate. So, Svigel attempts to breach a proper and biblical way of handling this tension.

Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth by Alister McGrath

My Response: If you have never looked into the heresies of the past, you should. McGrath does a great job of briefly explaining and discussing the heresies of the early church. He also deals with many of the social factors and reasons why heresies arose and their origin. A great read, but if you have never heard of Arius or Marcion, you might get a little lost in the mix, so go slow.

Mistaken Identity

If you have been in an evangelical church for any amount of time, I am sure you have heard the cliched sayings and opinions about other Christian denominations. Being saved in a small Baptist Church in north Texas, I heard many absurd accusations pointed towards other denominations that I simply accepted and myself promoted. However, as a branch of the Christian faith (Evangelical Christians), we ought to make sure what we are saying is true.

Recently I heard this one. You have most likely seen an image of Jesus hanging on the cross. This particular speaker akin this image to the Catholic Church and their supposed belief that they deny the resurrection of Jesus and this image of Jesus on the Cross is evidence. I want to address this issue in two ways: The false implications of memorializing and What do they really believe?

The false implications of memorializing: I believe this is the logical problem with this situation. From the speakers perspective, he sees that Jesus is on a cross thus the implications is a denial of everything that happened after this life event in Jesus’ life, mainly resurrection. Seemingly, since the cross is not empty, this means that the tomb is not empty. Question, during Christmas time, do you place a nativity scene over the fire place in your home? If so, does this remembering of Jesus birth thus imply that your family denies the miracles of Jesus, the death of Jesus on a cross, and the resurrection of Jesus? Of course not! Just because you memorialize something in the form of an image does not mean you disbelieve all subsequent events.

Take for another example the school I graduated from, Dallas Theological Seminary. This statue of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples would mean that the school denies all events after this. Of course not, that would be absurd. But how do we find out what they really do believe? How would you find out what Dallas Theological Seminary really believes? How do we find out what the Catholic church really believes? It’s easy, they have told us. Simply look at their statement of belief, yes, their doctrinal statements.

What do they really believe: The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads,

“The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross.” (Part 1, Sec 2, Article 5, Para 2)

Again we read about the empty tomb,

“The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise. Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection.”

I could go on and on citing various Catholic doctrines, but the point of this post is to encourage evangelical Christians to stop and think about what they are saying about other Christian Churches. Realize the absurdity of their logical that leads them to conclusions that are simply untrue. To memorialize the risen Lord on the Cross in no way is a denial of our Lord’s resurrection. One, realize the logical is faulty. Two, actually go and look/read what they believe.

Think

I have always enjoyed John Piper and when he released a book on the topic of “thinking” I was excited. There have been many great books on how thinking is a God honoring exercise. One such example is Mark Noll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which is an excellent read. Piper’s goal is unlike many other books that venture into this same sphere. He desires to search the scriptures and give a preachers expository approach and account on thinking. Piper saysThink is “a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people” (p. 15).

Throughout the book, Piper talks about his own story of how he went from an academic setting to a pastoral pulpit. The work of Piper in Think is a good overview and read for any Christian who thinks thinking is not what God desires. It serves as a great reminder that thinking is important in a world of relativism and anti-intellectualism, which is tearing the fabric of orthodoxy in evangelical Churches. However, this is not a review of Think, but a few concerns I have deduced.

My concerns are not in chapter 1 or 5 or of any real part of the actual book. My concern comes in the highly unnecessary appendix at the end of the book. Appendix 1 serves as an example of how Think would be applied to a seminary or college setting. Sadly, this appendix has some very poor and ill implications. At the end of appendix 1, you come to a heading titled “Where we stand.” This section lists a number of “hot button” issues in order to tell us what Piper and the school believe on such issues.

So far, so good. As you make your way through the list, everything appears normal. Historical Criticism, Roman Catholicism, etc. Some of the subject list two things that are synonymous in idea and thought (coupling). One example is “Relativism and Pluralism.” Although these are not necessarily the same thing, Piper puts them together as if to say they are close enough that they have no need for distinction. This list becomes problematic in a few areas.

“Feminism and Egalitarianism!” This coupling is outrageous! Feminism is a far cry from Egalitarianism (at least the Christian form). Feminism is a group of movements that started in the nineteen hundreds and has many shapes and forms. For the most general, it is a movement that strives for equal political, social, and economic rights for women. Concerning Egalitarianism, I assume Piper means Christian Egalitarianism and not the political aspect of it because he compares this coupling with Complementarianism, which is a Christian viewpoint of the marriage roles of men and women. Egalitarianism and Feminism share similar ideology in the sense that they both recognize equality among men and women. Christian Egalitarianism is a very new perspective on the roles of men and women. Christian Egalitarianism is held in deep conviction by a number of respectful Christians and should not be placed on the same level as Feminism.

“Arminianism and Open Theism!” This is perhaps the strangest and most egregious coupling I have ever seen. For anyone that doesn’t know, Arminianism is a Christian view mainly dealing with salvation that is generally seen as an alternative to Calvinism (please note that Calvin and Arminius clearly agreed in many areas. See my blog on Arminian Theology.) Open Theism is a recent unchristian understanding that believes God does not know the future. Now, you see how these two are nothing alike. To akin a non-Christian belief to Arminianism simply shows how much John Piper isn’t thinking.

My hope is that Piper will clear up this matter in Think and simply come to better understanding of these topics that he clearly does not understand. I will continue to read and listen to Piper, so I am not saying that one shouldn’t. I simply was so surprised at these errors on a book and area that I thought he would hit a home run.