dimanche 15 juillet 2007

Independent assessment is a sin?

A few of my comments on a sermon by Terry Virgo featured over on Adrian's Blog
were actually published, but this response to Robert has not:


Somewhere in my loft I have a cassette of Terry addressing an apostolic leaders' conference from some time in the 80s or early 90s (in a broader context than NewFrontiers) in which he speaks from the verse which talks about "being of one mind" and in which the emphasis was on the importance of congregations (and church movements) being of the same mind as their leaders.

He introduces the talk by mentioning the then slogan of the Independent newspaper ("it is - are you?") and continues by saying how much today's society values independent thinking and how much that is against Paul's thinking.

I can understand your thinking, but in my experience it's not so much a question of being able to leave if you feel your ability to think is in danger as being forced to leave should it transpire that your "independent assessment" carried out in all good faith has unwittingly placed you at odds with senior leadership and their agenda - something which this sermon could easily be used to support."

(Link to post here).

What I find ironic (and saddening) about this is that it effectively proves the point I'm making in the post. Adrian asks for reactions to his posts and gives an appearance of discussion - but as soon as things become too hot to handle (in the sense of straying too far from the party line) then debate is shut down without any notice whatsoever. I find that deceptive.

samedi 5 mai 2007

Apostles and autonomous local churches??

Adrian Warnock has recently published an interview with Liam Goligher on the Crisis in Evangelicalism, Part Four. Liam says:

I see in newfrontiers, for example, an effective attempt to recreate the balance between the autonomy of the local church and an appropriate, biblical ‘apostolic’ authority. We all need to look at models like that and see what we can learn from them.

In response to this, I posted the response below, which seems not to have made it past moderation to publication:

"The problem I see here is that while in everyday circumstances local elders are left to get on with the job, if push comes to shove the apostolic authority calls the shots. If the eldership as a whole does not "receive" the apostolic line then the church simply leaves the movement, but if there is disagreement in the eldership the appeal is to the apostolic authority. There is no room for outside intermediation because, as the doctrine goes, only the "apostolic ministry" has the "anointing" to deal with the situation effectively.

The hold of apostles over local churches is further strengthened by the teaching that elders are to be appointed by apostles or their "delegates" and not by local membership."

I don't think anything I've said there is untrue, and I'm left banging my head against the wall at the flight from interaction with respect to significant issues.

jeudi 3 mai 2007

Quick update

Just to let it be known that Charity's latest comments did make it onto the original thread, some time after other comments had been published on other threads.

mercredi 2 mai 2007

Complementarianism + discipleship = abuse

The (not) "banned Mark Driscoll video" blogpost here continues to have unfavourable comments modded off.

Charity has been trying to highlight the possible links between complementarianism, discipleship and abuse there. Since Charity's latest comments don't seem to have made it through the moderation, I thought I'd add my take, as heard and experienced in a "new church" setting.

In a leaders' "man-to-man" discipleship setting, leaders are encouraged to be accountable to their seniors in every aspect of their lives (as we hear Driscoll explaining in the video). They are also encouraged, under a variety of guises (including "headship"), not to tell their wives everything (I don't know if that's how it works in Driscoll's setup, but I have first-hand experience of other related settings where it does take place). One practical upshot of this is that a leader may confess a problem with, say, pornography or other sexual misdemeanour to his senior leader and be encouraged not to discuss it with his wife. The result of that is that the leadership end up knowing more about the guy than his wife does - and if things turn nasty, they can 'out' this information with results for the hapless couple that you can imagine. While I've first-hand evidence of this kind of thing happening, it doesn't actually need to take place for this implicit threat to foster loyalty to the leadership over and above loyalty to one's spouse.

One of the things that led to me parting company with the complementarian new church setting I was in was a realisation that I was married to my wife, not the church.

mardi 1 mai 2007

Collateral damage unexamined

Collateral damage unexamined

Well, one of my comments seems to have been moderated off the above blogpost, so I decided it was time to air them elsewhere.

The video shows church leader Mark Driscoll explaining what a tough job church planting is, how senior leaders need to mentor every detail of church planting leaders' lives, and how a "high body count" is to be expected in church planting.

Others have expressed their objections to the 'men-only' approach to church leadership and others again to the insensitive use of a military cemetery as a backdrop to the extended 'soldier' metaphor, so I'm not going to repeat those here.

My comments focused on the apparent lack of self-examination in Driscoll's approach. If his church planters blow up or burn out, it seems it's because they were insufficiently trained or mentored or just not sanctified enough. There doesn't seem to be any place in his thinking for wondering if his approach might be flawed in any way.

In the ensuing debate, I ended up being moderated off. The only explanation I can see for this is that some of my criticisms were perceived as applying to the movement Adrian Warnock is part of (once somebody else had named it).

Adrian is obviously free to run his blog as he sees fit, but what saddens me about this type of moderation is that it reflects a similar mindset to the one I was criticising in the Driscoll video. "If it shouldn't exist, it can't exist". Rather than the interactive forum which it might appear to be, the blog is apparently more of a propaganda tool - and anything which might spur self-examination is rejected. Through the filter of being convinced they have the inside track on the "right", "biblical" way of doing things, these guys can only perceive the causes of setbacks as lying outside their own remit - we know we're right, ergo it must be the other person who's got it wrong, debate over. That wouldn't be so bad if the "body count" (to borrow Driscoll's expression) wasn't so high.