Wednesday, May 10, 2006

flamed for Spirit as fire

Graceway, the church I was part of planting, just got flamed by the Sydney Anglicans. It was a worship service I was part of leading (come on Graceway when are you going to update the website that I built. It’s so 90’s :)!), so I’m in the firing line.

Graceway, a church in Auckland, New Zealand, encouraged its members to ‘pray with your hand around a cup of coffee’ as a way of experiencing the Spirit ¬Ďas warmth in your spirituality’ … According to prominent evangelical church leaders, all are symptomatic of a dangerous protest against biblical orthodoxy … “This is not biblical theology,” says Canon Jim Ramsay, Director of Sydney Diocese¬ís Evangelism Ministries. “It’s a shaking of Christian orthodoxy.”

I presume they were cutting one fragment out of this service of worship, in which we focused on the Spirit as fire.

Can I point out that the service order also describes the reading out of 6 different lots of Scripture (Exodus 3/1 Corinthians 3/Jeremiah 20:8/Matthew 3:11/John 21/Isaiah 6:6-7). This was never mentioned in the article. 6 lots of Scripture. And it’s not Biblical theology! 6 lots of Scripture!

Full article here.

Posted by steve at 09:13 PM


  1. I’m sorry. How frustrating.

    Comment by Makeesha — May 11, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how self-appointed critics (the “purveyors of truth”)who have no vested interest in a particlar local body of Christ can take shots from afar of someone else’s worship, structure, approach to ministry, missions, etc., without ever being a part of that body. And we’ve all got some blood on our hands in this regard. It’s like taking scripture out of context to support your argument and of course, we all know that never happens!

    These increasing “pot shots” seem to be standing in the very way of Jesus’ prayer that we would be united in Him and that we would be one. The attitude seems to be “we’re willing to be one as long as you fit within our definition of worship, ministry, etc.” I know it’s hard, but when will we (leaders of the local church) stop analyzing the work in other fields of labor and focus on our own? When is the last time you or I prayed earnestly for an approach or ministry we don’t understand or perhaps disagree over? Our rhetoric couching such criticism as accountability (yes we all need it)seems to have given way to attack.

    When we engage in this armchair quarterback mentality we teach our congregations that our differences are far greater than the incredibly and overwhelming unifying aspects of Christianity we agree upon. Is it no wonder that the church landscape (at least in the U.S.)appears to be more about critique and competition of another church or ministry than personally living out the urgent message of the unhindered Gospel in our speech, attitudes and most of all, our actions?

    I think it’s so much harder to live truth in my faith community than it is to talk about what is or is not truth in someone else’s faith community. Shepherds, CEO’s, leaders, pastor’s whatever we call ourselves, it must begin with us. I’m realizing that God can reveal and winnow out the truth in other ministries and churches without my help. But He has called me to be faithful in my own context. I know I’ve got enough to keep me busy in that arena without analyzing yours.

    Comment by Monty — May 11, 2006 @ 1:50 am

  3. I hope you are feeling encouraged – the fact that Sydney Diocese (noted around the Anglican Communion for its narrow-minded form of Christianity)is misrepresenting you ought to suggest that you are doing some things right. The comment from the Bishop of South Sydney ( if God had wanted us to use anything new, he wouldn’t have given us the old ” is simply a blinder – I shall quote widely!

    Comment by Tom Allen — May 11, 2006 @ 7:05 am

  4. steve,
    i emailed the ‘journalist’ and asked whether my worship (which was also highlighted- though she neglected to implicate mark pierson alongside me) was an example of worship that waters down the Gospel, and if so, how… and in what ways were we shattering Biblical orthodoxy?

    i also think that we need to assume that since we were ripped out of context, that maybe those who were quoted ‘on the other side’ were also taken out of context (more to the point, i wonder if she simply took stuff off websites for them, too, or whether she bothered to actually talk to them. she certainly didn’t to me).

    it was really shoddy, lazy journalism. i don’t trust any part of the story.

    Comment by cheryl — May 11, 2006 @ 8:26 am

  5. As an ex Graceway’er I would like to make some really rude comments about the Sydney Anglican Diocese Article, but as I work for a diocese that has very close connections with that diocese and I get in enough trouble for ‘speaking my mind’ so I will not say anything other than what a load of bunkem. I had a conversation with someone yesterday about my fears for anything that gets tagged ’emerging church’, and my fears were that it will get dismissed as fadish, quirky or whatever else. And in doing so the ‘observers’ will fail to see what is really happening.
    It is not about being trendy but in my opinion a genuine attempt to rediscover some lost aspects of Biblical theology – missio dei for instance which i do not think standard evangelical theology gives enough voice to.
    It is also an attempt to develop a philosophy of ministry for a changing world – and in doing that remaining true to the good news of Jesus.
    The Sydney Diocese carries a lot of clout, and I do hope they would go on from this article to at least attempt to converse rather than judge what is labeled ’emerging church.’

    Comment by Michael — May 11, 2006 @ 9:44 am

  6. Classic! Certainly an unsurprising article from anyone with some insight into the Sydney Anglican Diocese.

    Australian Muriel Porter has an insightful and undoubtedly controversial new book out on the Sydney Anglican Diocese – “The New Puritans.”

    Comment by Paul Fromont — May 11, 2006 @ 10:05 am

  7. i sit in a weird spot here, i have not experience an emergin church so i cannot comment, and i do not necessarily agree with the slander like nature of the article, but i definately do understand where it comes from

    i used to go to a pentecostal church, and eventually left after a lot of disappointment and ended up in an anglican church, which for me was a lot more satisfying. from inside the anglican church, our fear of other church movements is a losing of good solid teaching and strong doctrine. i’m personally very wary of some of these new things, but i always try to hold and open mind, because i realise close mindedness achieves nothing productive.

    while i don’t agree with what he says, i do agree and understand his personal motivation, i see lots of people at my old church who regularly attend church but lack fundamental knowledge of the bible and it worries me…

    Comment by Andrew Brown — May 11, 2006 @ 10:08 am

  8. Andrew,

    appreciate your input, and since you were brave enough to chime in; can I ask;

    1. what do you do with a scripture like matthew 18:15 and following; (my paraphrase) if you have a concern go to that person individually, and then with another person, and then finally go public. do you think this has any application to the way this group are using the media today?

    2. i am not sure that the motivation is as pure as you suggest. if people (these people or you or any people) were really concerned, wouldn’t they contact me? wouldn’t they send me the article and invite my response? wouldn’t they pray and yearn and seek genuine relationship?
    since none of this happened, i wonder how much genuine concern there is about the biblical soundness of my doctrine. or is it just point scoring and putting the boot in to other followers of Jesus?

    i’m not in any way casting dispersions on you or other anglicans, just wondering how honouring this newspaper is to those who bear the name of Christ in word and deed?


    Comment by steve — May 11, 2006 @ 11:46 am

  9. i should say andrew that since i have read the article, I have tried to make contact by emailing them, pointing out the 6 bible readings and asking about the accuracy of their research. i’m still waiting for a reply and will let you know what happens.

    Comment by steve — May 11, 2006 @ 11:48 am

  10. i don’t want to defend them on any basis other than i understand them, not because i agree with them, but the anglican church has this notion (wether or not it’s correct) of informing (in my personal experience either way) their own about what is going on around them. when greg laurie came to town, before he did, a memo was given out at our church by my minister regarding his research into him, he actually pointed out that greg laurie was gospel based and that it was fine, but i can imagine the opposite happening if that would have been the case.

    it’s not so much trying to tear the emerging church down as it is to protect their own, that’s how i understand it anyway, then again, i have had little to do with this so i could be far off..

    Comment by Andrew Brown — May 11, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

  11. Michael, i can’t get my head around the nelson diocese and their fascination with sydney. it is my understanding that sydney anglicans deny any experience of God other than through the Bible expounded. by implication, there can thus be no place for the charismatic, because that is claiming the experience of the Spirit as authoritative. yet there are parts of nelson that are influenced by the charismatic and the pentecostal. i struggle to get my head around that tension.

    Comment by steve — May 11, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

  12. anglicans as a whole don’t deny the experience of God apart from the bible but understand that today is today and the bible wasn’t written today, and the events that transpired back then doesn’t mean they will/should happen today. just because when the holy spirit came onto the gentiles for the FIRST TIME IN HISTORY doesn’t mean we should expect that to happen all the time. it’s not about denile, it’s about not focusing on glory and focusing on the gospel

    Comment by Andrew Brown — May 11, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  13. But Steve, there’s really no coffee in the Bible, so it must be un-Biblical and all that, while everyone knows the Bible is full of projectors, screens and even organs!

    Comment by Tim — May 11, 2006 @ 6:12 pm

  14. and because it doesn’t talk about heroin either it must be ok? that comment really isn’t needed

    Comment by andrew brown — May 11, 2006 @ 6:56 pm

  15. andrew, i think can appreciate this anglican need to protect their own (although i would hope that they would also ultimately be seeking a form of maturity in their followers, all biblicaly grounded enough to think for themselves without needing the pastor to think and decide for them).

    i still don’t see why this group needs to protect their own, as you suggest, by spreading misinformation. i still think that’s not fully “gospel”.

    Comment by steve — May 11, 2006 @ 8:40 pm

  16. i don’t really want to comment much more because i honestly don’t have decent enough knowledge of the situation, just offering my opinion from my experience. oh and don’t assume the minister is ‘thinking’ for the people, well, not in my church anyway, the ministers are extremely humble and will not for a second claim they are correct, and make lots of effort to inform people that this is their opinion from their own research..

    Comment by andrew brown — May 11, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

  17. update: well I just had an email from the Sydney Anglican newspaper in response to my email to them. I would describe it as fair, reasoned and charitable response. I am impressed. Big ups to them for responding. I have responsed, in a way that I hope is equally fair, reasoned and charitable response.

    Comment by steve — May 11, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

  18. would you care to share it, or is it personal?

    Comment by Andrew Brown — May 12, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  19. You can’t understand the fascination with Sydney – well neither can I. I think it whats they call being part of the communion – or is that just finding soemone with soemthing in common to take sides with…

    Comment by Michael — May 12, 2006 @ 8:51 am

  20. Andrew,
    I’d have to ask the person for their permission to post it publically, as they might not have written their words to be discussed in a public forum.


    Comment by steve — May 12, 2006 @ 10:30 am

  21. steve, others…

    the unfortunate thing is that you all missed the lines in the original article that refered to a nudist beach mission, which was a reference to an article posted on april 1, it was mentioned at a couple of times and i think may have been the original angst that the article shares.

    of course the sydney anglicans have a close connection to mr “being conversant with the emerging church without talking to them” Carson and mmay be picking up on some of the issues that Carson seems to have with emerging types of churches.

    Comment by darren — May 12, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

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