Once were Pentes

Saved!
Saved!

 

I have been reading a book called “Beyond Born Again: Towards Evangelical Maturity” by Robert M Price.  By Evangelical, Price means “Born Again” Christianity in general, including Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism.

 Coming from an Evangelical history and perspective, Price points out the contradictions and difficulties in both the culture and theology of born-again Christianity.  He does not believe that Evangelicalism can honestly go on in the same way it has for the past century and so in the final chapter he gives some suggested ways to go forward.

While I do not agree with all of the viewpoints expressed, I particularly liked Chapter 2 on the “The Evangelical Subculture”.  Price shows how Born-Again Christians separate themselves from others by various social prohibitions and conventions.  The “Saved/Damned” simple dichotomy allows them to see themselves as a small persecuted elite with a unified body of thought, compared to a vast secular agnostic world in total decline and despair.

I think he is right in identifying this attitude as immature, and that there is a need for a maturing particularly in Pentecostal thought in this area.  What are your thoughts?

Chapter 2 of the book is here: 

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/beyond_born_again/chap2.html


29 thoughts on “Once were Pentes

  1. I read through some of that, but was bogged down eventually in the underlying sarcasm and dated quotes. It’s a very 1980’s worldview, really, isn’t it. And written from a secular, psychological perspective with no understaning of what Christianity actually is, especially from a spiritual perspective.

    I was intrigued by his self-penned translation of 2 Cor. 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, there is a whole new world”, which kind of gives the game away for the rest of what he says, in that he doesn’t have a clue what the New Creation is all about. That’s a worry!

    I think there may have been an element of truth there in some forms of Pentecostalism, or Evangelicalism, as far as subcultural ‘ghetto’ mentality is concerned, but, for the most part, the Christian, and, particularly, the Pentecostal world has moved on significantly from the positions quoted of Larson and Jones, and even Schaefer. I think a glimpse at the Hillsong and CCC present the Christian youth culture slams that theory.

    I think there are more subcultures inherent in secular and non-christian religious structures than in contemporary Pentecostalism. I think the main criticism of mega church and contemporary Christianity is the way in which embraces the world in a way no other Christian culture has in recent history.

    I don’t think even Catholicism regards itself as a subculture, does it. I think it is considered by its adherents as the culture to aspire to – the prevailing culture from which all others have fallen.

    That may also be the view of other Christian groups.

  2. FL, I think you have inadvertantly confirmed the existence of an in/out subculture mentality among Pentecostals.

    “written from a secular, psychological perspective…”. Well if you had read the authors “testimony” you would see that he comes from a traditional Evangelical background, and its pretty clear he dosent want to leave that tradition completely.

    “which kind of gives the game away for the rest of what he says, in that he doesn’t have a clue what the New Creation is all about….” Actually that quote is from the New English Bible translation (not self-penned). Read again his testimony and you will see he is quite familiar with the concept and the experience.

    Here you pigeon-hole the author into one of the categories he identifies – the unsaved, secular, wordly expert. In the Pente culture you dont have to say any more, this is enough to convince most Pentes that his views cannot possibly be taken seriously. They are obviously evil, bitter diatribes based on ignorance and possibly demonic inspiration. They are dangerous arguments to even consider.

    While the Pentes are thinking about this and trying to wipe the thoughts out of their minds, you conceed that some minor point may be relevent for some particular churches or at some time long since past. The Pente audience thinks you are extremely generous to the infidel for even conceeding this point. Then you round it off beautifully for them by assuring them that their current Church culture has long since put this behind them. Then go back to your seat on the podium to the relieved sighs of the congregation.

    The fact that current Hillsong and CCC services use copies of contemporary youth culture in their services, marketing etc. does not mean they are not a sub-culture. They are repackaging the world in an acceptable form for their youth sub-culture. This was also mentioned in the article.

  3. Ironically, wazza2, you subculturise yourself with your comments! The anti-pente pente searching for answers to questions long left behind by the rest of Christian thought.

    I never used any of the language you suggest. I don’t think these views are ‘evil, bitter diatribes based on ignorance and possibly demonic inspiration. They are dangerous arguments to even consider.’ I think they are an opinion, and worth considering. I don’t think Pentecostals are trying to wipe his thoughts out of their minds. I think they see them for what they are.

    In fact, I took time to read it because I’m interested.

    My main point is the datedness of the views and references – nothing in this chapter after 1979, and the lack of spiritual discernment of who the New Creation is, or why it is significant to all Christians, let alone Evangelicals or Pentecostals. He may have an evangelical background, but he writes like a tongue-in-cheek sceptic, and uses language which certainly suggests a lack of understanding of accepted evangelical Christian thought. I can’t help that. You hint, optimistically, that he ‘doesn’t want to leave that tradition completely’. I think he’s long gone. I think he’s entered a stage of not only questioning his own faith, but the faith of others, and even faith.

    The 80’s were punctuated by the views of people like Larson, who, in my opinion, took his theology too far. Most contemporary Pentecostals would agree with me on this, although some still feel we need to be so separated from the world that we hermitise our selves in self-protecting enclaves. This is not the current thinking of the Contemporary Church. Hence terms like ‘seeker-sensitive’. Which is almost an overreaction to Larson’s seventies.

    The core values of Contemporary Churches are far more inclusive than this chapter makes out, and the Evangelical, non-Pentecostal church has had a major influence on Pentecostal thought, especially in the areas of structure, mission and a huge chunk of doctrine.

    Let’s just take the Australian experience. Can you really claim that Hillsong, or CCC, or COC , or the current, more contemporary, progressively charismatic Baptists are really ghettoising themselves, a frightened subculture, garrisoned against the wicked world which wants to smash them to pieces with rock music, movies and the like? Apart from the more traditional Baptist churches, none of these churches existed in the 70’s. They are just 20-25 years old! That should give you some idea of why I think this chapter, at least, and the theory around it is out of date.

    You must know that one of the increasingly used means of reaching Christian audiences are messages based on current events, cultural influences and movies. There’s been enough flack issued forth on here and at groupsects to tell you, at least, that contemporary preachers like Phil Baker are delving into the world’s subcultures for impacting illustrations of the gospel.

    You can stick your head in the sands of eighties criticism if you like, but the missionology of the Church has substantially moved on since then.

  4. Whether or not wazza’s description is apt when applied to FL or not, it does pretty much describe a typical approach I was used to hearing when in most Pente churches. I say most, because for some years, I was fortunate enough to be part of a Pente church that did not use that kind of technique to dismiss arguments. I can also relate to it, because for some years, I was one of those in the audience sincerely going through the thought process you describe wazza – it makes me smile to remember it. If only things were that simple.

    However, wazza, you left one thing out. Not only have I heard Pentes – and other evangelicals – dismiss arguments from ‘unsaved, secular worldly experts’, but I have many times heard Pente’s dismiss arguments, opinions and books from ‘non-spiritfilled’ Christians. Which is quite sad.

    The most recent example is that I obtained two books to help me deal with my anger towards my kids better (yes, I get driven up the wall at regular intervals, and would like to handle it better). One was a secular psychology book about anger, another was by an American Christian woman, probably Pente, who claimed to have effectively dealt with this issue. A church friend merely asked me if the authors were spirit filled. That was the qualifying criteria for them when assessing information.

    I have not yet finished either book. And I’m still dealing with anger, but think I’ve made some progress, with God’s help and some of the info I’ve read so far. But that’s another topic. 🙂

  5. BTW – my comment above relates to Wazza’s analysis of the argument technique, not to the book extract, which I still have to read, so have no opinion on yet.

  6. I thought one of the defining aspects of CCC culture was the use of expertise from outside of Christian thought. I was at one of their conferences a few years ago, and they used several contemporary thinkers, not only in workshops, but as main speakers. Phil Baker is known for telling people to ‘think outside the box’, by reading secular authors as well as Christian authors. Mark Connor also comes to mind.

    Overseas, Bill Hybels is a very influential amongst Contemporary Pentecostals, and he researches deep into secular thought to add to his more Biblical considerations, as do John C Maxwell, Rick Warren, and a number of similar writers, all influencing current Pentecostal thought.

    The main accusations laid at the feet of Brian Houston, Phil Pringle and the like, by critics like Phil Powell, is their referencing secular thought and ideas. I fact, he and his ilk are the real hermits of Pentecostal thought in this nation, who would love to take us back to the more exclusive, religious form of the movement. He’d have Larson’s book, for sure!

    Again, one of the accusation levelled at Baker, Houston and others is the close resemblance of their teaching style to motivational speakers.

    What you are seeing, I believe, is an emergence, since the eighties, from a culture which certainly resembles Price’s theory. I agree there’s is an element of what he says still in the Pentecostal church, and probably more defined in the US, in some Bible Belt States, but Australian Contemporary Pentecostal churches are not the US Bible belt.

  7. I spent time in Phil Pringle’s CCC, and also had a lot to do with a bunch of people/pastors from Frank Houston’s CLC. Had a great time with both, despite my later reservations re certain teachings and hierarchical culture. My experience of PP was that yes, he did reference contemporary secular ideas, particularly in the areas of leadership, marketing and positive thinking. These came through to me in both the sermons and the church activities. They were less conservative than CLC at the time. So I guess that’s a reasonable point – in some areas PP was definitely open to secular thinking and ideas. Whether that was good or bad is a different debate.

    However, it is still true that Pente culture also has within it an element of the attitudes towards outside thought that wazza describes. It seems that it can depend upon what the subject matter is.

    At times, I think scripture has been reinterpreted to fit with convenient secular influences. Other times, secular thought with merit is rejected out of hand, when it doesn’t suit.

    Its pretty hard to be black and white about it, in a way. So much depends upon the issue at hand.

  8. By the way, wazza2, how does Price navigate the question if how much influence the Church has on contemporary politics in recent elections in the US and here? Surely that’s a sign that the Church is not detached from the rest of the world, but actually perceived as highly influential, to point of secularists demanding laws which better define separation of Church and State.

  9. This comment will go off on a few tangents, so sorry in advance 😉

    I’d be interested in your recommendations on books to deal with anger towards kids, RP. I’m facing that issue more and more, and my wife is struggling to deal with it as she is home with the kids (especially now the holidays have come).

    Regarding Larson, has anyone seen the episode of John Safran’s series where he dabbles in all sorts of religions and at the end Larson exorcises all the “demons” from him? I havent seen it, but I understand that Safran manifests voices of the spirits that he has come into contact with, and undergoes a very realistic looking exorcism.

    Yes in the 80’s Larson and others scared everyone with tales of the evils of rock music, back-masking etc. There was an emphasis on the power of Satanism which dove-tailed into that too. Christians listened to the back-masking lectures, burned their records and felt safe from the influences of the world. That was the era that I became a Christian.

    This has died off in the last decade, and now the contemporary church has embraced rock music – it is all but mandatory now for a church to have a good band, sound-system and audio-visual equipment. It is still a sub-culture though, otherwise there would be no need for separate Christian bands, festivals etc.

    The in-group/out-group dynamics remain essentially the same, although the criteria for being in or out changes slightly over the years.

    We can see the effect of a sub-culture mentality in organisations like Mercy Ministries, which seems to think it has all the easy answers for other peoples difficult and intractable problems.

    We can also see it in Brian Houstons identification of the current world situation with “The Last Days” http://www.leadershipministries.com.au/pages/default.asp?pid=2531 . Although it is meant to scare people, it also comforts them in that they know what lies ahead and there is not much more to be done than watch and pray.

  10. On the question of influence of the Church on politics in elections on US and Aus, I think Price does not consider this. The book is from 1993 so does not take into account recent politics.

    My own view is that the church has little influence, and probably is more being utilised and influenced by political forces than the other way round.

    Karl Rove was a master at playing off different groups against each other, and gaining blocks of votes. The evangelicals were thus corralled by the skilful use of issues like gay marriage and abortion into thinking George Bush and therefore the Republican administration was part of their subculture. They were encouraged to think that the Democrats were part of the Godless, anti-life other side.

    In Australia also, with the various right-wing Christian lobby groups, I was not sure if the Government was being lobbied to change their policies, or whether the Government was lobbying the Christian groups and through them the parisioners to vote for the Government.

    In short I think that in the in-group/out-group black-and-white thinking of the Evangelicals, certain clever political operatives saw and harnessed an opportunity to translate this into Political power.

  11. Ok so now we have to see how to reconcile this with the Word of God. James tells us that anyone who is a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Jesus tells us that in this world we will have tribulation, but to be of good cheer because he has overcome the world. John tells us that faith helps us overcome the world.

    Jesus also told us that the world would hate us because it hated him. He said, “If you were of the wrld, the wrld would love his own: but because you are not of the wrld, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’!

    Is God, then, through his Son, Jesus, creating a subculture which sees itself as hated by the world, and a world that is hostile to the Church, or is he saying that the whole world is in sin, and that the sacrifice of Jesus will deliver us out of this world of sin, into the kingdom of his dear Son?

    is the subculture God’s eternal kingdom, or the temporal world of sin?

    Is this just Pentecostal doctrine, or is the doctrine of separation from the world a general Christian concept?

  12. The classic read on this is Richard Niebuhr’s book : “Christ and Culture”.
    D.A. Carson has just released a book of his reflections on Niebuhr’s book called “Christ and Culture Revisited” which i am looking forward to reading.
    I have found that one of the vices of Pentecostalism is a dualistic approach to life
    and spirituality which is very much part of Hellenistic and not Hebraic thinking.
    The “Holiness” movement of the 70’s and 80’s greatly contributed to this division of secular and spiritual, and people interpreted the Bible in a way that seperated the Christ community from culture, seeing culture as evil. This is unfortunate, and in my observation very different to the actions of Jesus. Maybe that’s why He was such an offence to the religious, pious ones? Maybe that is why would still prefer to domesticate Him today?

  13. There are many in the category of those who are not friends with the world.

    Arrogant beings like FaceLift are in danger of thinking only Christians fall into this category.

    Why don’t you go out and find those others who are not friends of the world, FaceLift? Do you know where they are?

  14. “Can you really claim that Hillsong, or CCC, or COC , or the current, more contemporary, progressively charismatic Baptists are really ghettoising themselves, a frightened subculture, garrisoned against the wicked world which wants to smash them to pieces with rock music, movies and the like?”

    I have made a few friends with some young guns from Hillsong and CCC youth. It’s really common to see them working or hanging around the streets having their brains fried from their latest church album getting pumped into their heads by their ‘cool’ tithe-earnt i-pod. Listening to it again over and over… Not to mention the metro-wave-fringed hair, tight-jeaned, thin bodied, slightly tanned blokes that go these places. If only they realized what they looked like – tryhards.

    Just went to a random church this weekend and met three youth in their early twenties who just left CCC. One said they just gave up trying to fit in. The other individuals left because they hated playing religion- one of them broke because they were fed the tithing and are now largely in debt because it has now become a stronghold. The pastor at this church, I think she said, was helping her overcome this error.

    If you say you have a problem with Hillsong and CCC you’re treated like you’re against them. No. If that’s the reaction of those who are so busy defending them, then they are not defending the Kingdom of God or the true church. I would say that a cult has grabbed that individual by the balls. Then you have Houston and Phil ‘warning’ everybody about Christian’s online and what they say ‘against’ us. They are defending their ‘values’, doctrines, lifestyles, etc.

    They’re setting themselves apart from each-other, community and other local ministries. As with the peversatisements, they encourage you to get on board with the ‘move of God’. How more set apart do these institutions want to separate themselves from the secular, but take what they want from the world. Fat Cows of Bashan!

    “Can you really claim that Hillsong, or CCC, or COC , or the current, more contemporary, progressively charismatic Baptists are really ghettoising themselves, a frightened subculture, garrisoned against the wicked world which wants to smash them to pieces with rock music, movies and the like?”

    FaceLift. Can you openly claim they are not?
    Remember this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkszPao8xq4&eurl=https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/i-offer-devotion-i-offer-devotion/&feature=player_embedded

    Hillsong and CCC – OF the WORLD, not IN IT!
    They’re making their own Kingdom. Christian CITY Church – what does that name imply? Why do you think they have their art and leadership colleges? It’s because they honestly believe they can be better then the world and prove to the world that THEY’RE IT! (I’ve heard it from their lips! Isaiah 60.)

    I haven’t read over this, but you’re probably wondering why I am pissed off with them at the moment. I’m once again trying to help those who are coming out of these abusive environments. I thank God their eyes are opened to the greater body of Christ, but geesh! This abuse and idolatry has to stop! The kids don’t know what idolatry is and have no understanding how to be led by the Spirit or operate in Him.
    These places are so lukewarm we don’t know how to deal with them.

  15. ‘I have made a few friends with some young guns from Hillsong and CCC youth. It’s really common to see them working or hanging around the streets having their brains fried from their latest church album getting pumped into their heads by their ‘cool’ tithe-earnt i-pod. Listening to it again over and over… Not to mention the metro-wave-fringed hair, tight-jeaned, thin bodied, slightly tanned blokes that go these places. If only they realized what they looked like – tryhards.’

    Maybe they just like the music!

    How do you get a tithe-earnt i-pod? I just bought one for my wife. She listens to C3 music too. Does this mean I could have got one on the basis of tithing?

  16. “I agree there is an element of what he says still in the Pentecostal church, and probably more defined in the US, in some Bible Belt States, but Australian Contemporary Pentecostal churches are not the US Bible belt.”

    You’ve got to be kidding! We’re like IN it. Do you even know how closely tied Phil is with the WoF over their? Don’t you even know that not only did John Howard’s son, who openly expresses his faith, helped Bush get re-elected? Do you not know that through American TV and pentecostal circuits that too many Australian Christians wish to bring the anointing and teachings of America back to Australia? Or to at least unite with the American bible belt to lend support to the whole Israel-Pakistani quagmire?

    We are so bought by the American bible belt, that we don’t even realise it’s here. It’s here alright. I’ve bumped shoulders with the upper class cows of Shaban over here. They mirror the bible-belt culture. Very Hagin and Coplin based plus too many others.

    FaceLift:
    “Ok so now we have to see how to reconcile this with the Word of God.”

    You beat me before I could even think about doing a thread on this so we can discuss it. You made some very valid points Only problem is that comment on James is not making a comment about friends with people but friends with wordly things/pleasures. Actually, it kinda falls in line what we’ve talked about so I’ll post up a slab.
    Did a quick look-up:

    James 4:1-4
    “What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members?

    You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask.

    [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.”

    Very relevent!
    In light of Jesus’ comments, the world does indeed hate us because we continually do not fit their box they’d like to put us in. If they have, it’s because THE TV box did the boxing for us. I suppose because of that friction, that’s what makes the church, relevant, adventurous, unpredictable, peculiar and set apart.

    It’s a great topic to explore. It makes me wonder why Greg started up Signposts.

  17. “How do you get a tithe-earnt i-pod? I just bought one for my wife. She listens to C3 music too. Does this mean I could have got one on the basis of tithing?”

    Because they tithe to the bone, debt-money is what buys the i-pod. And I know the music. There is better music. MUCH better music…

  18. “The classic read on this is Richard Niebuhr’s book : “Christ and Culture”.
    D.A. Carson has just released a book of his reflections on Niebuhr’s book called “Christ and Culture Revisited” which i am looking forward to reading.
    I have found that one of the vices of Pentecostalism is a dualistic approach to life
    and spirituality which is very much part of Hellenistic and not Hebraic thinking.
    The “Holiness” movement of the 70’s and 80’s greatly contributed to this division of secular and spiritual, and people interpreted the Bible in a way that seperated the Christ community from culture, seeing culture as evil. This is unfortunate, and in my observation very different to the actions of Jesus. Maybe that’s why He was such an offence to the religious, pious ones? Maybe that is why would still prefer to domesticate Him today?”

    And I totally get where you are coming from Savana. I’m finding “Church Beyond the Congregation” a real struggle to read. Maybe this book would help. Hellenistic and Platonic thinking is driving the church mad. I saw a quote the other day that simply said “Community isn’t made to be a threat to the church but a gift”.

    If only these big churches lived by this principle! (Lot of local one’s do!)

  19. How can a person ‘tithe to the bone’? A tithe is a tenth. That leaves 90%. Many non-Christians spend far more than this on gambling, alcohol, drugs and tobacco. I think you’re confusing poor stewardship with sensible tithing practice. We’ve tithed for years, and given over and above without a single problem. I know many others who are the same. It’s a choice people make, not a rule. When did CCCOF make tithing compulsory? There’s something not right about this.

  20. Hi S&P,
    I think what you are describing in the youth trend above is a metro city trend – skinny jeans, slightly tanned, etc – so many of my kids’ friends who are not followers of Christ and have nothing to do with church look this this 🙂 And in all the frustration let’s not forget herd mentality and classic behaviour patterns of Gen X and Y. Here is a picture and you can loosely place this over that generation – churched or unchurched:
    1. Desperate need to belong
    2. Belonging leads to group identification
    3. This leads to “herd” behaviour – look the same, talk the same, etc.
    4. 100% commitment to this herd – would die for it.
    5. Disillusionment sets in after several years
    At this point the “herd” will actually reinvent itself or some will leave
    6. The ones who have left become a new herd – normally hating the old herd
    7. And this is funny: eventually all the herds are disillusioned 🙂
    Some truce is formed….. they drink a beer.

    In hearing all your frustration of issued with church culture I think a general understanding of generation culture helps us differentiate from what is cult-like and what is just simple youth/young adult behaviour.

    Sorry, again way too long a post for me – it’s all that talk of beer.

  21. Most amusing and fairly close to the truth for many, Savana. The bit I hope is not true is the bit about the herds ‘hating’ eachother. Hopefully its more of a deeply held suspicion or mistrust. (Did I just say, “hopefully”? What a thing to hope for!)

    _Sigh_ “How can a person ‘tithe to the bone’?”

    Well, I’ve certainly known many who’ve done this, over the years. Try continuing to tithe when your work dries up, your business goes into debt, and you have three kids to look after – plus you’ve already done everything else it takes, eventually moving out of your home and moving your kids into a public school and cutting the family food budget. But through all this, you tithe, because its so important to be obedient and besides, your pastor has clearly said that God can’t bless your finances if you don’t.

    Or how about tithing when you’ve lost one of your two jobs, and all your remaining income pays for your rent and utility bills. But you don’t have enough left over to eat. Still, if you don’t tithe, God might not fix your finances.

    Or what about when you work for the church, in a job at half the normal rate of pay, your other income disappears, you haven’t eaten for a week, and you are still maintaining your building fund commitment on top of that. At least you can pick up some food at church functions.

    Anyway – there are lots of ways to tithe to the bone. It amazes me how popular fasting becomes amongst those struggling to pay their bills.

    Its hard to call tithing a choice if people are told that they will be cursed if they don’t do it, or alternatively, not blessed. Those verses in Malachi have been sorely abused.

  22. My point is that ‘tithing’, as in giving 10% of your income – usually gross income, for seriously committed tithers – is not good news for the poor or those going through a difficult time, or even those at certain life stages. Many of these people should probably be on the receiving end financially. One person who has tithed diligently for years recently asked me, ‘But how can I give to my friends and family in need when I have nothing left after giving my tithe’?. Indeed.

    As I’ve recommended here before, Stuart Murray has written an excellent book, ‘Beyond Tithing’, where he focusses on New Testament giving, as well as looking at all the arguments for and against tithing. He is the person I quote when I refer to tithing being ‘bad news for the poor’ – and hence incompatible with the gospel message.

  23. “The bit I hope is not true is the bit about the herds ‘hating’ eachother. Hopefully its more of a deeply held suspicion or mistrust. (Did I just say, “hopefully”? What a thing to hope for!)”

    Just look at for how many individuals, families, groups, localities, cultures, countries, tribes over the course of human history and into today and for as long as this shall world live are dependant on contrast to the other for their identity and self worth.

    Thank God I’m not like that publican.

    Perhaps the question then becomes in through being in any church our value and self worth comes from conforming (or being seen to) to the individual church mores, or to the leading of the Spirit which S&P referred to before.

    This is not to say that there isn’t difference or that Christians shouldn’t sensibly identify ‘difference’ and operate around that – but mostly difference is used as an implicit justification for us not acting in particular way – such as not going to the pub for a drink with the unwashed (difference).

    I think God is far more inclusive than we are – otherwise why would he have sent His Son? He could’ve trashed us and started again – but He didn’t and here we are.

  24. Savana,
    ‘I think a general understanding of generation culture helps us differentiate from what is cult-like and what is just simple youth/young adult behaviour.’

    That’s well put.

    And the talk of ‘herds’ and subcultures puts me in mind of the way the Word defines people groups as ethnos, ethnic groups. It never shuns the concept of tribalism. In fact it constantly reminds us of how God is working behind the scenes to bring true community out of the many tribes and tongues which have developed over centuries…

    ‘…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him.’

    So out of every tribe and every tongue and every nation, there will be multitudes before the throne of God.

    But the primary ‘people group’, since Christ ascended, is and will be those who have been gathered together in Christ – in fact the Church of the Living God, which makes the Church, not a subgroup, but the primary community of God, to which all other ‘subgroups’ are being drawn, and should belong, through the blood of Jesus; but to which they can only belong through faith in the blood of Jesus.

    The Pentecostals being described here are merely reflecting the tension between the world and the Church at this time, and, indeed, throughout the age of the Church.

    As God says to his people, both in the OT and the NT, “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” 2 Cor.6.17-18.

  25. When we looked at the tithe issue and stopped “tithing”, we didn’t stop giving! Cheerful giving is much more satisfying, we don’t have “worldly”expectations of material blessing because we know our lives are blessed through Christ and His finished work on the cross.

    In saying that, we live a good life, have a lovely home, health, etc etc (and that could change!). My husband works hard, loving every minute of it, and uses his God-given gifts in the financial realm to help others who find themselves in difficulties ( often because of the prosperity stuff they have taken on board.) Once were pentes, now ?? – love it!!

  26. RP,
    ‘Try continuing to tithe when your work dries up, your business goes into debt, and you have three kids to look after’

    Amazingly, that’s when we started tithing! True story! From that day we never looked back. We’ve struggled from time to time, like everyone does, but never had to hold back on our giving arrangement with God. And he has blessed us, despite the times when our stewardship was unwise!

    So there are different sides to every coin in this debate.

    I think it would be wrong for any church to insist on poor families tithing as an act of obedience, because obedience without faith is law, and the letter kills. It’s the Spirit of the Word which gives life, so any act of giving should be preceded by faith, and the knowledge that God is with us in our giving.

    Everything in our walk, including what and how we give, begins with faith in God.

  27. FL, your story is positive, and it would be great if that story was common to every struggling family or individual. Unfortunately the examples I gave are real stories too. Since tithing is not required of us (though some people may feel called to give in that fashion), a good experience of it could not be true of everyone. Plus even if someone hasn’t much money, they still have other ways in which to give, and I can say I’ve been very generously blessed by some of these people in ways that are not financial.

    I am comfortable that when we give as we are called to -whether it be financially or in other ways – God will look after us and supply our needs. But when we give in ways that we are not personally called to, as a result of a false understanding of scripture or false teachings, some people will suffer unfortunate consequences which were not part of God’s will for them.

    Perhaps for these people, a new understanding of scripture, gained over time, will release them from these burdens and help them to climb back into a position from where they are able to be generous in the way Teddy describes. Perhaps this will include tithing, but they would be doing it from a different understanding, and it would be suited to their calling and circumstances. It would also be something that they would pray about and change if they felt to do something differently – an expression of their walk with God, changing according to God’s direction in their lives.

    It is good to hear you affirm again that you would consider it wrong to insist that poor families tithe as obedience etc – this of course has been one of the problems in my experience, and the very first question asked of someone struggling financially is usually, ‘Are you tithing’, as that is seen as the first step in obtaining God’s blessing in resolving their financial issues. Sad but true.

  28. Teddy – its nice to hear about what you and your husband do. I recently got together with a few people from your ex-church – its true that you are not alone in your misgivings about some of the teachings. Several of these people are embarking upon new stages in their walk with God, some still within that church, others now going elsewhere. I didn’t say much about my own change of direction over the last couple of years – it was just so interesting hearing these things from other unconnected people. There really does seem to be a rejection of some of the prosperity teaching and related doctrine, and amongst some highly committed members.

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