Monday, March 30, 2009

Study Bible Notes Compared 5: John 1:16

This time I’m going to do something a little different. All my previous posts have focused only on the notes of particular study Bibles. This week I will look at the translations also. The NLT reads “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” (Note how different the first part differs from the first edition of the NLT “We have all benefited from the rich blessings he brought to us—one gracious blessing after another.”) The ESV reads “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” The NIV reads “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” The NET Bible reads “For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another.” The TNIV reads “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” The phrase in question is the last part which reads literally “grace instead of grace.” The NET Bible note shows three different interpretations: “1) love (grace) under the New Covenant in place of love (grace) under the Sinai Covenant, thus replacement; 2) grace ‘on top of’ grace, thus accumulation; 3) grace corresponding to grace, thus correspondence” (en loc). They note that the second interpretation is the most popular and it is also the one they favor. The NLT Study Bible gives this note: “Or received the grace of Christ rather than the grace of the law; a literal translation is received grace upon grace.” The ESV Study Bible combines the note to cover vv. 16&17. The note favors the first interpretation as given in the NET Bible. I like the coverage in the NET Bible though I favor the first interpretation myself. None of the other study Bibles noted the difference. But here is a curiosity I found in the TNIV Study Bible. You can see that the TNIV is the only translation that adopts the first interpretation in its translation which is a change from the NIV. But the notes in the NIV Study Bible and the TNIV Study Bible are exactly the same. So the note reads in the TNIV Study Bible: “grace in place of grace already given. To the blessing that came through Moses has been added the greater blessing that has come through Jesus (see v. 17; see also Heb 1:1-4 and notes).” This note suits the NIV translation well but does not quite go along with the text of the TNIV. I have found this in one other place. Notice the difference between the TNIV and the NIV in Mark 1:41 (NIV = Jesus is compassionate; TNIV = Jesus is indignant, but the note is the same which comments on Jesus’ compassion). To be sure, these are not major problems but it does show the difficulty in just transferring a set on notes designed for one translation to a different translation.

Michael Wittmer Visit - Reflections

Michael Wittmer spoke this past Friday night on his book Don't Stop Believing. He said the book was intended to reach out to those in the Emergent church and to say "We hear you" and we can learn from you but we can't use orthopraxy as an excuse to throw away orthodoxy. The question he has asked Emergent leaders is "whether there were any beliefs that were necessary to follow Jesus. If so, what are they? And if not, why not?" He's never been given a straight answer. This seems to be par for Emergent people. When Pete Rollins was asked if he believed in the resurrection of Jesus he answered "Every time I feed the poor." Wittmer says this isn't an answer. It's being cute. The issue is too important and the answers continue to be evasive. Wittmer has found that too many simply want ammunition in order to show why this or that one is wrong. That's not his intent. His solution is not a middle way but rather "both and." Why must it be belief or practice? Why not both? Wittmer said he worked hard in the book to avoid taking cheap shots at his opponents. That does not help the dialogue. As a matter of fact each chapter begins with a problem he recognizes in his own tradition. It's not as if we were not doing some of the things the Emergent people are talking about, it's that we could do it better. Wittmer says the movement seems to be getting more liberal with regard to doctrine. As an example Wittmer points to the fact that original sin has now been abandoned by Tony Jones. The next domino to fall, says Wittmer, is the deity of Christ. I came away from this event with a lot to think about. But one thing sticks out. Wittmer commented on some of the various interpretations some in the Emergent community have come up with on passages in the Bible. He asked Brian McLaren for reasons why he interpreted Matthew 7:14 (For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few) as referring to the Roman Empire instead of the traditional sense of salvation. McLaren said, while he could be wrong, it might just be right. Wittmer observed that this is no argument. No rationale is given other than he "might be right." Wittmer then referred us to a parable told by Kierkegaard on the "kings decree." I found the reference in the book he cited, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, by Kevin Vanhoozer. A king gives a decree and instead of complying with it the "king's subjects begin to interpret. Each new day sees new interpretations of the ordinance; soon the populace can hardly keep track of the various offerings: 'Everything is interpretation--but no one reads the royal ordinance in such a way that he acts accordingly.'" (16) Wittmer said he sees this same thing happening by those who don't want to face the reality of what a text is saying so they propose another interpretation with little or nothing to support it. I couldn't agree more with this assessment. The evening went very well with many excellent questions raised by those who came. Wittmer is a great example of someone who can dialogue with graciousness and still hold firm to certain fundamentals of the faith. Those who would like to know more can visit Wittmer's blog. You won't be disappointed. For comments from another person who was at the event go here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Michael Horton Visit - Reflections

Michael Horton's visit to the store was most appreciated. Attended by about 40 people we listened as Mike gave some summary statements about his new book Christless Christianity. He spoke for about 20-25 minutes and the remaining hour was given to Q&A. Horton began by saying he didn't have all the answers. This was good since so many think those within the reformed community believe they have all the answers and there are no loose ends. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, not having all the answers is not the same as not having any answers. Too many today are making doubt a virtue and pride themselves in creating as many questions as possible. The first questioner asked Horton if the problem he describes in the book was true in reformed communities as well as other faith traditions. Horton said the problems existed across the board. "We've all made mistakes and contributed to the problem." Part of the answer lies in restoring the gospel to its proper role and centering the Church around Christ rather than various programs. The question was a good one since Horton's criticisms are mostly pointed to those in non-reformed traditions. The important point here is that Horton is not criticizing them for not being reformed, per se, but for offering an alternative gospel. The quote that I've pondered the most since I left was this one from J. Gresham Machen, "There can be no applied Christianity unless there is a Christianity to apply." I came home and read the entire quote from Machen's book Liberalism and Christianity. He continues, "That is where the Christian man differs from the modern liberal. The liberal believes that applied Christianity is all there is of Christianity, Christianity being merely a way of life; the Christian man believes that applied Christianity is the result of an initial act of God." (Christianity and Liberalism, 155) Machen's voice is a refreshing one and cannot be simply dismissed. We can't just sweep the great truths of the faith under a rug as if they don't matter and simply encourage people to love each other. It's true we can't reduce Christianity to doctrine and simply believing. But the solution is not to reduce it to ethics and simply doing. The two are fundamentally united in Christianity and is what makes Christianity unique. I want to thank Michael Horton for coming and speaking and to those who came out to hear him. I look forward to tonight's event with Michael Wittmer.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Christianity in Crisis - A Review

Hank Hanegraaf has updated his best seller Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century. In this book Hanegraaf dismantles the theology of many in the faith movement. The most commonly critiqued are Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Crefflo Dollar, Frederick K. C. Price, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, John Avanzini and Charles Capps. So what’s new to this updated edition? A new introduction provides an overview of the issues and shows the “similarities between pop sensations such as Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now. Another chapter called “Cast of Characters” has been significantly expanded (11 pages in the first edition is now 70 pages) which gives a list of the most prominent faith teachers with a summary of some of their teaching including some rather outrageous statements some have made. Included in this is the statement by Benny Hinn saying that he wish he had a “Holy Ghost machine gun” so he could blow the heads off his critics. Later he apologized for the statement but then came back with warning his critics saying “You have attacked me, your children will pay for it.” (emphasis his, 31) A new section ends each chapter called “Error Begets Error” which shows how “the heresies of original faith proliferators have been not only perpetuated but often exacerbated by the new breed.” (x) Finally, the book as a whole has been “interspersed with quotations from current stars in the faith constellation.” (ix)
Hanegraaf has been criticized in the past for being too quick to judgment and for focusing on extremes. This updated edition would have been a golden opportunity for him to clarify and defend his position against some who have attempted to answer him. His bibliography, extensive as it is, shows no awareness that William DeArtega has updated his own book, Quenching the Spirit, which includes a response to Hanegraaf. This is significant because this work has been identified as “the only scholarly work defending the Word-Faith movement.” (The Word-Faith Movement Controversy by Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Baker Books, 2001, p. 245). If Hanegraaf is truly writing for the 21st century then one might expect that he would interact with those who have come to the defense of those in the faith movement. This is especially so since apparently there aren’t many of them. There isn’t even a mention of Robert Bowman’s book (cited above) which is critical of the faith movement but carefully nuances and corrects much of what Hanegraaf says. In this second edition Hanegraaf simply extends his critique to those who are in the current spot light of the faith movement. The problem is that the more informed readers may conclude that Hanegraaf does not have answers to his critics. Those who have taken the time to interact with Hanegraaf deserve something more than just silence. I’m not talking about the ranting that he documents in his book from on-air critics but the more thoughtful written critics. For those who want to see the faith movement at its worst read Hanegraaf. For those who want a thoughtful critique of the movement read Bowman because, as he puts it, “This way, what is being refuted is not the worst possible representation of the teaching but the doctrine at its best.” (30)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Christless Christianity - Review - Part 3

Horton’s fourth chapter, How We Turned Good News into Good Advice, is the longest of the book. Fundamental to the chapter is the crucial distinction between law and gospel. “Everything in the Bible that reveals God’s moral expectations is law and everything in the Bible that reveals God’s saving purposes and acts is gospel.” (109) Too often many in the modern American church draw a distinction between law and love. But this isn’t quite right. Love is a summary of law (134). To tell people that it’s not rules that are important but love is to miss the point of what love is. “In the Bible, the law simply nails down what it means to love God and our neighbor.” (134) “’Just love God and people’ is not the gospel; it is precisely that holy demand of the law that we have grievously failed to keep.” (136) Horton is clear; “The worst thing that can happen to the church is to confuse law and gospel.” (122) If Osteen was the target in previous chapters the Emergent church comes under scrutiny in this one. “For all the Emergent Church movement’s incisive critiques of the megachurch model, the emphasis still falls on measuring the level of our zeal and activity rather than on immersing people in the greatest story ever told. It may be more earnest, more authentic, and less consumeristic, but how different is this basic message from that of Joel Osteen, for example?” (119) Horton recognizes many of the criticisms that have been brought against the church by those within the emergent church such as Brian McLaren (111). Nonetheless, Horton sees many of his critiques as “against caricatures, real or imagined, of at least fuller forms of evangelical Christianity.” (112) “Radically different from the narcissism and individualism of Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel, McLaren’s message nevertheless shares important similarities. It translates sin and judgment into actions and attitudes that we can overcome with the right agenda in order to transform ourselves and the world. Whereas for Osteen the reference point for “sin” and “salvation” shifts from God to the happiness and betterment of the self through moral improvement, for McLaren the frame of reference is global warming, poverty, AIDS, and capitalist greed. . . the emerging Religious Left seems just as prone to enlist Jesus as a mascot for our own programs of national and global redemption.” (114) But this is only illustrative on the fundamental problem of failing to distinguish law and gospel. Our natural inclination is always to fall back on law because we want to rely on our own strength. We are comfortable being given instructions to follow. The Bible becomes reduced to an instruction manual. Be bold like Daniel, lead like Nehemiah, pray like Moses, don’t screw up like Saul is the rhetoric of the popular pulpit. “The Bible is nothing like Aesop’s fables: a collection of brief stories that end with a moral principle.” (149) “Regardless of the official theology held on paper, moralistic preaching assumes that we are not really helpless sinners who need to be rescued but decent folks who need good examples, exhortations, and instructions.” (151) So is there no room for exhortations to godly living? Of course there is but it must be rooted in the truth of the gospel. “If you are regularly treated to the feast of God’s works and the zeal that consumed our Savior in the service of our redemption, the exhortations will no longer be an unreasonable burden but a guide to expressions of thanksgiving in which our gracious God delights.” (156) I found this chapter extremely well written and it gave me much to think about. I practically wore out my highlighter and the margins are full of questions and comments. I’ve read this chapter about three times and in some places four or five times. There is so much here that it is hard to summarize and it is the chapter that has challenged me the most. But what I’ve found so far I really appreciate.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gary Burge on "The View from the Mastaba"

Gary Burge, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, has written an excellent article for "Books and Culture." For those who have had questions about the increased popularity of some of the Jewish things about Jesus this is a healthy dose of sanity. Much of what is spreading today as Jewish tidbits and helpful background material is based on inferior sources or documents that were compiled hundreds of years after the time of Christ. Burge rightly observes that caution needs to be exercised in the use of many of these materials. Burge praises the work of Kenneth Bailey and in particular his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. I'm all for gaining a better understanding of Jesus in his cultural environment and his Jewish roots and I'm happy when I'm pointed to those who have worked on the subject with discretion and caution. May their tribe increase. (If you want to know what a "Mastaba" is, you'll have to read the article.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Christless Christianity - A Review - Part 2

Today we’ll continue our look at Michael Horton’s book Christless Christianity. In his third chapter Horton deals with “Smooth Talk and Christless Christianity.” There is a litany of people and movements associated with the smooth talk and flattery of American religion. Among them are Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer. But the one that holds pride of place is Joel Osteen. Horton describes Osteen’s message as “Law-Lite: Salvation from Unhappiness by Doing Your Best.” (69) For Osteen there is no wrath of God, no condemnation, no sinners in need of salvation. “Rather, we are good people who just need a little instruction and motivation.” (71) I quote Horton at length “In this context, Jesus becomes whatever you want him to be in your life. If one’s greatest problem is loneliness, the good news is that Jesus is a reliable friend. If the big problem is anxiety, Jesus will calm us down. Jesus is the glue that holds our marriages and families together, gives us a purpose to strive toward, and provides wisdom for daily life. There are half-truths in all these pleas, but they never really bring hearers face-to-face with their real problem: that they stand naked and ashamed before a holy God and can only be acceptably clothed in his presence by being clothed, head to toe, in Christ’s righteousness.” (73-74) “Make no mistake about it, behind all the smiles there is a thorough-going religion of works-righteousness.” (87) As Horton points out you really don’t need Christ for the things Osteen and others preach. You could do just as well with Tony Robbins. In the end because Osteen does not “face the bad news, [he] does not really have any good news.” (99) Osteen encourages people to do more and to believe more in order to get God’s blessings. Horton responds, “Is this a kinder, gentler God or a more than slightly sinister tyrant who keeps raising the hoops for us to jump through before he gives us what we want?” (97) Horton understands that Osteen is responding to “the scolding legalism of a previous generation, which beat people down with rules.” (91) But “the answer to bad law-preaching, is good law-preaching, not its elimination.” (79) “The best news that Osteen has for us in these books is that by following seven steps he has been given good parking spaces, the best seat in a restaurant, and an unexpected upgrade to first class on the plane. But the gospel tells us that God has taken all of the steps down to us, saving us not from discomfort or the ills that are common to humanity in this present age but from the penalty of sin and death.” (99) In the next chapter Horton addresses “how we turn good news into good advice.” That will be our next topic.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Deliberate Simplicity - A blog tour with Dave Browning

This is my first "blog tour" and I was honored when my former co-worker, Andrew Rogers who now works for Zondervan, asked if I would participate.

Deliberate Simplicity by Dave Browning, founding pastor of Christ the King Community Church, is a bold attempt to charge the church with reducing the level of complexity. This reduction is large scale. “Deliberate Simplicity advocates restricting the activities of the church instead of expanding them.” (37) They have chosen to “forego meetings, bazaars, programs, fairs, potlucks, conferences, and other activities typically associated with church so we can have more energy available to put into our priorities.” (43) A guiding principle is “What is the simplest thing that could possibly work?” (40) Part of this includes reducing doctrinal matters to only the essentials. At Browning’s church (abbreviated throughout the book as CTK) they have four statements: 1) God and his Word are trustworthy, 2) Christ is the Savior and King, 3) There is hope for the future and forgiveness for the past, and 4) The church holds the hope of the world in its hands. (41) Their priorities are reduced to three: 1) worship, 2) small groups, and 3) outreach. (44) Illustrations abound from American corporations and the manner in which they streamline their businesses by reducing complexity. There is much to learn from Browning since many churches have burdened themselves with more than is necessary.
One of my questions concerns being a “doctrinal minimalist.” (40) Browning wants to major on the majors and says that “first-century Christianity was simple and uncluttered. Early Christian teaching cut through the complexities of culture and allowed what is primary and essential to surface.” (41) The problem is that not all doctrinal development, and the complexities that go with it, is bad. As Michael Wittmer notes, “Doctrine typically develops in response to heresy. The church states what it believes when it must refute what it doesn’t.” (Don’t Stop Believing, 153) The church fought some hard battles with heretics to clarify and defend some important truths about God and Christianity. To simply bypass those years and look to the first century is not wise. It may sound nice, and simple, to say “God and his Word are trustworthy” but how is “God” defined and what is his “Word?” Elaine Pagels would be right at home here with her gnostic idea of God and a “Word” that would include the Gospel of Thomas. Furthermore, what is God’s Word trustworthy for? Some might say they trust it as a guide among many others on a spiritual path to enlightenment but it may not be the most trustworthy guide. Eckhart Tolle would grant that God’s Word is trustworthy in so far as he interprets it. I appreciate Browning wanting to focus on the majors but I fear he has overly simplified them. To merely define the essentials of the church by the standards of the first-century church is not the answer.
Addendum: After writing this I visited the church website (same as above but given here again for convenience). There I found a 10 point doctrinal statement and a separate article on Baptism. Here it is clearly spelled out that the church believes in the Trinity and the Scriptures are defined as both Old and New Testament. I was very happy to find this but left rather confused because I was under the impression from the book that the Church made no statements beyond the four listed (I do see that it says "the essential matters are summarized in these four statements" (40)). So what role does the doctrinal statement serve? The article on baptism is a standard expression of baptism from a traditional Baptist perspective although it does not address mode or recipient. When Browning says in the book that people "from every conceivable church background. . . have found a home at Christ the King" (he lists 18 different denominations, 40) do they all now hold to this view of Baptism?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Time Magazine and the "New Calvinism"

Time magazine has listed its "Top 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now". Who would have ever thought that making the list, at number 3 no less, was the "New Calvinism!" The entire list is as follows:
1. Jobs are the New Assets
2. Recycling the Suburbs
3. The New Calvinism
4. Reinstating the Interstate
5. Amortality
6. Africa, Business Destination
7. The Rent-A-Country
8. Biobanks
9. Survival Stores
10. Ecological Intelligence
Those included in the category of new Calvinists will come as no surprise to many: John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler. Other things noted are the ESV Study Bible and the Reformed blog Between Two Worlds. While Calvinism is certainly enjoying a resurgence (especially in the United States), I'm not sure what they are using to determine it's changing the world. The article concludes "Calvin's 500th birthday will be this July. It will be interesting to see whether Calvin's latest legacy will be classic Protestant backbiting or whether, during these hard times, more Christians searching for security will submit their wills to the austerely demanding God of their country's infancy." The description of Calvin's God as "austerely demanding" is common among those who are more interested in propagating long-discredited notions rather than read for themselves Calvin's works and find a God much more compassionate and glorious than most would recognize as coming from his pen. Just this past week I read, "Yet whatever earthly miseries and calamities await those whom God has embraced in his love, these cannot hinder his benevolence from being their full happiness." (Institutes III.2. 28) Quotes like this could be multiplied into the hundreds and then we could move to his sermons not to mention his letters. But, like I said, far too many who scorn Calvin have seldom read him. The loss is theirs. May God indeed change the world through the gospel which Calvin preached with a sincere heart.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Christless Christianity - A Review - Part 1

In preparation for Michael Horton's visit to our store I read through Christless Christianity again. I want to spend a couple of posts working through this important work. Horton says that God is "not denied but trivialized--used for our life programs rather than received, worshiped, and enjoyed." (24) What's killing us is not heresy but silliness. The mantra of many in the church today is "do more, try harder." (17) We have a religion that uses God as a personal resource with any number of steps and keys to personal victory or life fulfillment. We have little use for the apostle Paul but want to focus on the Sermon on the Mount. The focus is then "What would Jesus do?" rather than "What has Jesus done?". (26) Hence, "This is the steady diet we're getting today, and it is bound to burn us out because it's all about us and our work rather than about Christ and his work." (26) The God for many in the contemporary church is nothing more that a "moralistic, therapeutic deity." Once the issue of sin is removed as our fundamental problem Christianity is leveled to merely religious ethics. "The key to my criticism, however, is that once you make your peace of mind rather than peace with God the main problem to be solved, the whole gospel becomes radically redefined." (39) Furthermore, Christianity has become privatized and relativized (I know Jesus lives because he's in my heart and that may be a truth for me but not for you). (50) Theologically, the emphasis is on the "freedom of the will" and the "innate human goodness." (59) God is never angry, only loving. People are victims or lacking direction but certainly not in need of salvation. (57) In the end we have a religion with nothing more that can't be found in "secular alternatives." (60) I think Horton's diagnosis is right on target. Before someone too quickly charges that this is just more Calvinistic elitism you should note that the forward was written by William Willimon, Bishop of the United Methodist Church. That doesn't mean he agrees with everything Horton says but that both camps have much to learn from each other. As Willimon observes, "Therapeutic, utilitarian deism is named, nailed, and and (sic) defeated with the best weapon God has given us--the gospel of Jesus Christ." The next post we'll look at "Smooth Talking and Christless Christianity." (chapter 3)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Perspectives on Christian Worship: 5 Views - Review Part 6

Anyone familiar with worship styles will clearly recognize that there are more than five views. The Zondervan counterpoint series book has six views (Even though both books have a chapter on "blended worship" they are not the same but have significant differences.). This book narrows the discussion to five. It further narrows it to five protestant views. Kimball says the book should have been called “Perspectives of Conservative-Evangelical-Primarily-White-Suburban-Middle-to-Upper-Middle-Class Worship.” (p. 216-17) Two essays mention the “regulative principle” of worship. Essentially this principle means “whatever is not commanded in Scripture is forbidden.” It may be too quick to conclude that those who don’t hold to the regulative principle are not Biblical. Rather, some hold that “whatever is not forbidden in Scripture is permitted.” Still others (both Wilt and Kimball expressed some concern here) think the notion of what is “Biblical” is a fluid one and easily abused. Quill says worship is an adiaphora (Greek for “indifferent things.”). Both essays that mention the regulative principle treat it as if it were a fairly simple principle without any complications. Nothing could be further from the truth. John Frame has written an excellent essay which should be required reading for understanding the regulative principle (Frame says “there is no human act that is morally neutral. Every human act is either right or wrong, either pleasing or displeasing God.” So for Frame nothing is adiaphora.) I understand that the constraints of a book like this make detailed explanations difficult but I would have liked a little more definition and justification of the principle. Wilt is the boldest critic of the principle saying, “The kind of theologically founded praxis that I hear in the Regulative Principle, in my humble estimation, could be hindering the evangelical church from being the viral influence that we are optimally designed to be in the world.” (p. 280) Each author seems to be aware that there is an underlying theology at work. To really grapple with many of the issues means going deeper and questioning the theology that supports them. Another question is the relationship of the Old Testament to the New. God was very particular as to how the tabernacle and the sacrificial system were to work. How does that relate, if at all, to New Testament worship? Are there principles that carry over even if the particulars do not? What about reaching and accommodating to the culture of the day? What sort of freedom is allowed in attempting to reach the unsaved? At the end of the day for someone like Kimball what matters most is changed lives. Rather than getting hung up over worship styles let’s look at how the Spirit is changing people (although he does say we should not go against Scripture p. 295).
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The essays were cogent and well written. Quill gave me the most to think about. But that is because it is the tradition I’m least familiar with. I come away less convinced of my own inclinations but grateful to have had the hardened sod of my mind freshly tilled on an important subject.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Perspectives on Christian Worship: 5 Views - Review Part 5

Dan Kimball is the last essay we will be looking at and on the next post I will offer some general comments on the book as a whole. Kimball begins with a brief look at worship in Scripture. He shows from Acts 2:42-47 the following practices were part of early Christian worship: teaching, fellowship, prayer, miracles and healing, sharing of life and eating meals together in homes. (p. 291 He later identifies these as the “essentials of worship.” p. 294) Kimball believes that the Scriptures themselves “have limited information about what a worship gathering originally looked like and what was supposed to happen.” (p. 293) He does say that our architecture and design of worship spaces “reflect our values and even our theology.” (p. 293) Kimball goes so far as to say “one really cannot make a case from the Scriptures for what a worship gathering should specifically look like.” (p. 294) Scripture tells us what must be part of our gatherings but it does not direct us how to do them. This leads Kimball to say we “should be more concerned with how people’s lives are being changed by the Spirit as they encounter God in worship than the ways we actually practice worship.” (p. 295) Emerging worship is “simply expressions of worship that are culturally sensitive to our emerging culture.” (p. 298) Along with Wilt’s comment Kimball says none of us are worshipping the way the early church worshiped. Kimball explains that since people have different learning styles therefore our worship should be cognizant of that and adjust accordingly. He uses a painter’s palette as an illustration of how the various elements of worship can be “painted” with different colors. Communion and baptism are not part of the palette because they are not simply colors rather they are a holy sacrament. The responses each had a different concern. I’ll focus on just one or two from each. Quill says “one cannot simply appropriate desirable bits and pieces in an eclectic manner as if going through the line in a cafeteria.” (p. 339) Furthermore, he questions if the church is still emerging “what will finally emerge? It is a dangerous thing to experiment with the church of God as if she is one’s personal plaything to shape according to one’s own desires.” (p. 339) Duncan, I think, doesn’t believe Kimball takes seriously enough the sinfulness of people’s hearts. But Duncan leaves this comment hanging in the air without further comment. Since Kimball is not satisfied with enough direction from Scripture he turns to an old Chinese proverb. Duncan is firm, “I cannot fully express my concern over turning to pagan literature to better worship the Living God.” (p. 341) Wilt’s greatest concern is “being converted by the culture.” (p. 345) Wilt is careful to note that while he “is a strong proponent of rampant creativity in the church and in the culture, I still sense a high degree of novelty, experimentation, and ‘let’s try this . . . now, let’s forget this . . . “ occurring in emerging worship streams.” (p. 346) Lawrence and Dever take issue with Kimball’s comments about different learning styles. They assert that “pedagogy and doxology are not the same thing. So even if Kimball’s observation is correct (and we think it is), it does not automatically follow that our public worship must give expression to the various learning styles.” (p. 350)