Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ern Baxter on the Rent Veil

Anyone who has been following my blogging train of thought recently will know that the concept of the veil that was torn in two after Calvary has been on my heart recently - a lot. God first spoke about it dramatically when Pete and I met together for fellowship with God. Then the whole concept again was appropriately referred to in Pete's awesome article on "Liberating Leadership". It is my genuine concern that many church leaders (even unwittingly) are establishing themselves as mediators between God and His people and preventing them from entering or coming into the Holy of Holies - the very Throne Room of God. An example? I was concerned when Bob Kauflin - the SGM Worship Leader - wrote;

"So as I’m standing in front of the church, leading them in songs, Scripture reading, and prayer, my goal is not to "lead them into God’s presence," but to help them remember ... what Christ has accomplished ... through His atoning death".

So suddenly worship becomes something not dynamic but more memorial. Now to be fair myself, Julie and Pete left some comments questioning what Kauflin meant and he did admit that he believed in the concept of God's active and manifest Presence being different from His omnipresence and there should be a place for hungering for God to come down. He said in a comment;

"We need to keep a healthy tension between celebrating his promised presence and eagerly anticipating and crying out for his active presence".

But my concern remains. So I was thrilled to be able to find this video clip of Ern Baxter preaching on this very issue - and was interested that he too noted the same concern. That some leadership (largely Roman Catholic but creeping into Protestantism) isn't eager for every lay Christian to realise their God-given, Christ-paid right to enter into the Throne Room of heaven in experience boldly.

Here is the clip:

The clip comes from the "Priestly Clothing" series that Ern preached at Anglia Bible Week 1983 - organised by my home church, New Covenant Church in Dunstable. The sermon was "The Linen Breeches" - and you will be able to see the model of the priest that Ern used to illustrate his messages behind him.

We MUST realise that we are securely and wonderfully and FOREVER in the New Covenant - and that gives us a right to walk into God's manifest Presence with Christ's imputed righteousness added to our account and when God sees us the sceptre of His acceptance is pointed at us and we are WELCOME there! And that means that every benefit that Christ has from sitting in God's Presence is ours also! Being seperated from God's Presence meant that Jesus Christ cried out in terror and loneliness on the Cross; "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?!". I wonder if some of us as Christians would even know that terror and loneliness if God removed His Presence (which He will not).

The price is paid! Why are we standing in the Court of the Gentiles looking from afar? Why are we listening to leaders who seek to tell us that that worship is simply about memorials to a past event? Of course we must celebrate the Cross of Christ - that made it all possible! But Christ died for a PURPOSE! And that purpose was made so clear in Hebrews 10:19;

"Therefore brethren since we have CONFIDENCE to enter the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus ... let us draw near with a sincere heart in FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH, having our hearts sprinkled CLEAN ... and our bodies washed with PURE water".

To simply remain "remembering" and going no further would be as ridiculous as the High Priest sacrificing the lamb at the Brazen Altar and yet remaining there watching the lamb burn, rather than taking the full benefits of the sacrifice it made and going on in to the Holy Place and then the Holy of Holies - God's Manifest Presence and God Himself. We are CLEAN! When God looks at us, His justice is SATISFIED! Let's go in! Let's go and commune with our heavenly Father who is passionate to meet us!

Surely to not do this is to make mockery of the sacrifice and the Cross of Jesus Christ. Let's go in. The veil is torn in two - forever! FOREVER!


A Concerned Friend said...

Hi Dan (hope you won't mind me staying anonymous but I see Sovereign Grace-ers aren't hugely popular around these parts). I think you may have been a bit swift to judge Bob Kauflin. I am a long term member at Covenant Life Church and have seen Bob's leadership gift over many years (rather than just a random blog) and I can testify that I think he really does seek in his leadership to lead us into the Throne Room of heaven. I guess his emphasis in that particular post was to seek to remind his readers of the value of the Cross and how it really is the foundation for all we do.

Hope that might help.

Dan Bowen said...

Hi "Concerned Friend" - no you have absolute right to remain as anonymous as you wish. I am glad that Bob Kauflin's ministry is of blessing to you but obviously you will appreciate that those of us who aren't in Covenant Life Church can only really see his blog and what he writes on it so that is all we can really go on.

jul said...

Hey, concerned friend, I've met Bob a few times and have worshipped as he's led several times. He's a great worship leader and has always been very kind to me. That doesn't mean I agree with certain teachings he has about worship, but I still respect him as well as many others at SGM. I think it's important to remember we can all disagree and still be part of God's family together, even with serious disagreements. IMHO, SGM was not the very strong in the area of intimate worship, though in other areas they do very well...

A Concerned Friend said...

Hi julie, I see from your blog link that you have some history with SGM the same as Dan. Interesting that you have met Bob. Why do you think that SGM aren't very strong in the area of intimate worship? I must admit ... I think a lot of CLC's worship tends to me more "declaring" rather than "engaging" but I would be interested in your thoughts.

And if if we aren't very strong in intimate worship - then why?

jul said...

friend, the reason why they aren't strong in intimate worship is because they purposely avoid those kinds of songs. All in the vein of "God is not my girlfriend/boyfriend". I've been to several songwriting workshops as well (which were helpful in many ways) that gave me a good idea of how they judge and evaluate what songs are 'approved' for worship. Also, a while back Bob posted his thoughts along these lines on his blog when the whole debate about the song "Draw Me Close to You" was going on, you might be able to find it in the archives. C.J. has often made comments about the language that is appropriate to use when talking about God, pretty much banning any intimate language whatsoever, giving the impression that he could never be as intimate with God as he is with his wife. I find this appearance of fear of intimacy with God a little worrying personally, and did even back then when I had C.J. up on a major pedestal.

Dan Bowen said...

Yes I would agree with Julie's perceptive comments. I've got some observations and I've found those links Julie referred to.

A couple of years back C J Mahaney was the guest speaker at John Piper's "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ" conference. I was startled in watching to C J's session called; "Sex, Romance ..." to hear him take some time to make comments about the Book of the Song of Solomon. He argued very strongly that the historical view that the Song of Solomon was first and foremost about the intimate relationship between God and His Bride the Church. He actually laughed at it.

Rather he argued that the Song of Solomon was a sex manual for a married man and a woman to take for themselves.

I wrote more about it in detail here;

My point in mentioning this? The Song of Solomon is probably the most demonstratively intimate book and even if you didn't mean it as such, if you remove the point of that particular book of the Bible, then your way of Christian living is going to be altered.

The comment Julie made about the debate on "Draw Me Close To You" can be found here on Kauflin's blog;

I'm glad you are hear "Concerned Friend" and we really appreciate your comments and your input - would be interested in your feedback on these points.

Concerned Friend said...

Thanks for this info Julie and Dan, I must admit to some ignorance of these issues. Which is slightly worrying seeing as I am in Covenant Life Church. I find Dan's connection between the view on the Song of Solomon and intimate worship intriguing. I never really picked up on that view of Song of Solomon in C J Mahaney's preaching - but I do remember back in the TAG days we used to hear verses from Song of Solomon in worship, prophecy etc and so on.

That's pretty much stopped. I've read Bob Kauflin's blog tho. I can't understand where this change in view is coming from. One can see a definite ... "Once I was ... now I am".

You've given me much food for thought people. Thank you. I hope this doesn't come across as slanderous or gossipy. I have deep appreciation and love for Kaulfin and Mahaney. But something just doesn't quite add up.

Eric S said...

Gosh Dan you certainly show no fear in questioning the "big guns" of religious society. Yesterday Terry V and now Bob! I think perhaps you have taken some of Bob's comments out of his general ministry context on his blog and have formed the view that Bob discourages or dislikes passionate praise and worship. I can testify that he doesn't! And indeed I think he WANTS people to engage with God! So be free from fear, my friend - perhaps listen to a few wider sermons that Bob has preached and you will get more of his heart than a simple blog post that was directed to dealing with a particular issue.

Dan Bowen said...

Thanks for your comment Eric - I am sure you have a fair point that that there may be a wider context of Kauflin's preaching but I've heard quite a bit from various sources that concerns me.

That's great if he does want people to engage with God, but I think that the church is facing a real problem (and I don't just aim my comments at SGM) - I think we need to beware of seperating head concepts from heart experiences. Desiring encounter with God doesn't make us charismaniacs. And swallowing Systematic theologies doesn't make us better people.

Surely Paul speaks of wholeness in the book of Ephesians - we desire knowledge of God of course. In any relationship we want to get to know the One that we love. But what is the good of any relationship if you limit yourself to just reading love letters from the One you love? And get shirty about feelings?! It's unheard of. So why is it any difference with God Himself? Who loved us so much that He gave His only Son for us that we might know Him?

diane sgm pastors ... oh you get the picture said...

I know for myself I always felt that something was missing in Bob Kauflin's leadership. He seemed to go thus far and no further. Yes all well and good he and C J would do that duel "prophetic song" act but no matter how desperately I hoped I would be the category to which the prophetic song would be aimed, it never was me. I think fear is the key factor. Fear of what might happen if a particular line is crossed maybe. Fear of surrendering control to the Holy Spirit so that the choice of where the meeting goes no longer rests in the hands of the "worship co-ordinator" or whatever he calls himsefl.

Ellie said...

Some very interesting things to think about here.
Diane - Bob and CJ did a duet prophetic song act? Did CJ sing?

Concerned - are you the same concerned friend from over at the other blog? Good to see you again, if you are. :)