Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Warning to the New Reformed Movement

The "New Reformed Movement" is an exciting development in church life and in theology. Servants of God such as John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Don Carson, Wayne Grudem and others have helped stir a passion for reformed theology - and that can't be a bad thing! I've been pondering for a while now however the "hero" syndrome especially among these individuals and how in discussion you often hear phrases like; "Well Piper said ..." and a rebuttal; "Yere but Carson demolished that and said ....". Or even; "Did Driscoll really say ... ?". Theological questions are often answered with "So and so said". Is that right? Can any Ephesians 4 Ministry truly "stand in the very stead of God"?

So I was really interested and encouraged to see the following pastoral caution; "What cautions do you have for the New Reformed Movement?" - from John Piper on my Twitter feed today. Piper was asked whether he had any warnings or cautions for the New Reformed Movement and he replied;

"I will give you one that is from a prophetic word given to me yesterday—take it or leave it".

That makes me sit up and take notice for starters - I love the fact that an intellect like John Piper doesn't have a problem hearing and accepting prophetic words - the prophetic and the mind are NOT enemies! Piper goes on;

"My caution concerns making theology God instead of God God. Loving doing theology rather than loving God ... We should be intellectually and emotionally more engaged with the person of Christ, the person of God—the Trinity—than we are with thinking about him. Thinking about God and engaging with him are inextricably woven together".

And then he goes on to make it explicit - emotions/intellect - they're all part of us and all belong together in our worship of God Himself;

"Intellectualism is a species of pride, because we begin to prize our abilities to interpret the Bible over the God of the Bible or the Bible itself" ... BUT ... "The danger on the other side is to say, "All that intellectual stuff, no, no, no. Doctrine, no. Intellect, no. Study, no. Experience, yes!" People who do this wind up worshipping a God of their own imagination".

I seize onto this warning because I've been in danger of this intellectual pride constantly myself since I began reading theology at university. I've sneered and looked down on church pastors who don't have as big a library as myself. I've judged sermons for their lack of quotes. And it is an UGLY, vile pride. Because why on earth does the God-given ability to read make me a better person than the humble, saintly dyslexic cleaner down the road?

By the way - that doesn't mean I'm giving up my books! But it is an apt reminder not to become so focused on theology that we miss WHO the theology is about - the Person - Jesus Christ.


Anonymous said...

It is impossible to have a relationship with someoe who does not exist or is a metaphor . The bible says test the spirit. Try it. Do an expediment with this god or Christ you and the others are having a relationship with. I can assure you, you will regain your sanity and the god given ability to reason again once you realized no one can develop such a personal relationship with a historical figure.. Do you know to go about testing or do you need me to help you to test this spirit?

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure.But He rose and poured out His Spirit that He may be in us,as He is in the Father. You don't reason out the current alive Jesus since He fills all in all. He sits at the righthand of God the Father, yet sustains every atom in this universe by His Word of Power.
We get to know Him because He longs to reveal Himself to everyone, and has now made it safe to do so. Beforehand , there was a good chance we would have died on the spot,but now he has come as a man, and ascended into heaven as a man,He is busy bringing forth His purposes in the earth.

Be renewed in the spirit of our minds is not said to wind us up. it is said because our intellect is wired to the equivalent of black and white TV. It has to be uncoupled and rewired to Spirit to be able to start to "see "the Kingdom of this analogy 3d widescreen colour TV.

Our intellect left to run wild produces the fuzzy confused images of this world:totally disjointed ,fragmentary,incompatible. ie they cannot ALL be which is it???
After you die...nothing
After you die....reincarnation
after you die....purgatory
(None of those are in the Bible.
far simpler to pray
God...if you really are me....because reasoning with my mind doesn't cut it.They cannot all be what is true?

Anonymous said...

You see, you beat around the bush and averted the main issue. The issue here is relationship. Let's assume that you are right and that I have a depraved mind and couldn't comprehend god and therefore will not be able to form a relationship with him like you could. So tell me, setting aside an overdrive intellect less it interferes with your relationship with god, maybe you could enlighten me as to what is the essential key to a successful relationship? And how do you know your relation with Christ is operational or normal?
Hope that is not too cerebral?