ReThink: Undermining The Church
Since first being asked to humble myself and submit to the sole elder of the church that is studying this book I have taken a firm stand against the book and its author. Subsequently, I have been directed to not return to that church. As heavy as my heart is over this issue, I am relieved because God has clearly answered my prayers in regards to what direction to lead my family. While I am losing fellowship with some I truly love in Christ, it is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the sake of standing firm in the faith. I pray this man will repent f this error and pride. Moreover, I also pray that God will protect that local body and move its members to repentance over studying such vile poison. Please see the first article I published on this topic.
Chapter 2: Rethink the Nature of the Church
A New Attribute?
Mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute
– David Bosch
From the outset of this chapter Brisco works to establish a basis for his flawed view of God. He quotes David Bosch (a liberal theologian from South Africa with ties to the World Council of Churches and a proponent of ecumenism. Brisco seems to take much of his philosophical positions from progressive leftist teachers with ties to the WCC). Bosch asserts that missions is an attribute of God. Brisco goes on to run with this assertion throughout this entire chapter and on into the book. It is clear that Brisco finds that the church needs massive cultural realignment.
The reference to God’s missionary nature being an attribute does not comport with sound doctrine and violates the orthodox views of His attributes. I agree that God most certainly sends us. However that sending flows from His attributes. Missions are God’s grand design to glorify Himself. To make it, missionary nature, an attribute, is Brisco’s way of eisogeting his paradigm shift motif into God’s character.
In wanting to do justice to this chapter I have exhausted the orthodox resources I could find that explain all of God’s attributes. In none of those lists, established by orthodox theologians, can you find a single mention of God being missionary. This language only creeps into the vernacular of the progressive emergent church. As I recently told one young man, to add an attribute that no other sound theologian has ever named is bordering on blaspheme.
When Presuppositions Win The Day
After having spent the entire first chapter of the book ignoring Scripture, Brisco works to eisogete his presupposition into the bible as he quotes passage after passage to support his point. What Brisco fails to understand is what I mentioned previously. Yes, God sends us, but that sending is the result of Who God is, not an out-pouring of an imagined attribute. God is not obligated to send.
Furthermore, the church should be on mission. I would never argue against that. However, when one has to build their premise on the faulty base of a previously unrecognized attribute, they’ve lost their argument.
Therefore, I would posit that we teach biblical evangelism. This can be done by looking at any number of Old and New Testament passages. Moreover, God has given us wonderful examples of what evangelism looked like in the early church. All one need do is read Acts and most of the epistles.
Missing the Point
In the section labeled The Reformation Heritage View, Brisco begins his attack on the orthodox intent of the Church. He does this subtly but with great skill. Brisco is like a surgeon excising a cancerous growth from the brain of a patient, pay close attention:
“While each of the three marks are important aspects of church life, this view has left us with an understanding of the church as a place where certain things happen. In other words, a person goes to church to hear the Bible taught “correctly,” to participate in the Lord’s Supper and baptism and, in some cases, to experience church discipline. Once again, all very good things, but is that the way we want to define the church? Does a place-where-certain-things happen understanding speak to the real essence and nature of the church?”
Note how Brisco puts the word correctly in scare quotes. He is setting the reader up to question whether or not they have actually been hearing the Word taught correctly. Brisco then goes on to whittle away at his own assertion that things like the Lord’s Super, baptism and church discipline are good things. He does this by asking if those things speak to real nature and essence of the church. He even uses cynicism by doing this “place-where-certain-things-happen”.
What Should The Church Really Be Up To
The Scriptures are clear in numerous places that the local church is to be about the business of baptizing new converts, administering the Lord’s Table and even church discipline and especially preaching sound doctrine. As point of fact, Paul emphasizes the importance of teaching sound doctrine to Titus in chapter 2 of that epistle. This emphasis is given in many epistles such as Galatians, Jude, James, and 1 John. Furthermore, Scripture is clear that that is the role of the gathering of the local church, teaching and administering the sacraments.
It is in the teaching of sound doctrine and the administration of the ordinances that the local body is prepared and equipped to Advance the Gospel. Therefore, we do not need to ask ourselves if the real essence and nature of the church is about a place where certain things happen.
We need to ask ourselves if the doctrines we claim to adhere to are motivating and informing our actions. We need to adhere to the purpose of the local church and that will conform us to the image of Christ. That conforming will push us out of our comfort zones. That will in turn push us out into the world to Advance the Gospel.
Stop Building Strawmen Brad
Under the heading of Contemporary Variation View I agree with his assessment of what many see as a problem with what passes for much of modern Christianity. However, his slanderous accusation that the Reformation Heritage perspective is guilty of the same myopic view as the Contemporary View is sickening:
“The church is seen as an institution that exists for the benefit of its members”
This is not a Reformed view in the least and no orthodox non-Neo-Reformed congregation sees church like this. His use of that strawman argument works to expose that he clearly has no concept of the true purpose of the church, either local or universal. See this following quote:
“The alternative vision of the church is to see it as a people called and sent by God to participate in His redemptive mission for the world. The nature of the church—rooted in the very nature of God—is missionary. Rather than seeing ourselves primarily as a sending body, we must see ourselves as a body that is sent. Of course, the church still gathers, but the difference is that we don’t simply gather for our own sake, but instead for the sake of others, or better yet, for the sake of God’s mission.”
Taking A Justified Exception
The reason I take exception to this is because of his faulty and slanderous accusation against the Reformed view of the church. Brisco’s critique may be well placed against most of what passes for church in the West today. However, it is not well suited to those with a proper (read Reformed) ecclesiological position. Furthermore, the idea that the church gathers for the sake of others is wrong on its face. I do not gather for worship corporately for those outside of the church. Believers don’t gather corporately for the services they get out of the church. We gather corporately with whatever local body, to glorify and worship God. That is the primary purpose of the corporate gathering.
The By-Product of Worship
The by-product of corporate worship is the equipping of the saints for works of ministry. Ephesians 4:11-16 puts a nail in the coffin of Brisco’s flawed argumentation:
“11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Who Does The Church Gather For And Why
None less than Paul tells us that the point of the body is that it exists with all of its different gifting for the sake of building up of itself in love. The outpouring of this love then overflows from the church to others. Moreover, the church does not gather for others. She gathers for the proper equipping of the church by evangelists and elders and teachers. This keeps her from being led astray by false doctrine and scheming men. This passage, properly understood, would see Brisco and his teachings kicked out of any sound church with sound elders.
Brisco ends the section on the two models with this apparently beautiful quote from Lesslie Newbiggin:
“The church is the bearer to all the nations of a gospel that announces the kingdom, the reign, and the sovereignty of God … It is not meant to call men and women out of the world into a safe religious enclave but to call them out in order to send them back as agents of God’s kingship.”
Sadly, once one researches Newbiggin they will find he was heavily involved with The World Council of Churches and ecumenism. Newbiggin was influenced predominantly not by Christian theologians, but by secular philosophers. The WCC is to this day a leftist Marxists organization that promotes apostasy and rejects orthodoxy. Knowing this about the man who Brisco quoted we can start to see even more of the issues and problems with Brisco
Why All This Matters; Good Question Brad
Here in the last section (Why All This Matters), Brisco shows this chart:
This chart is then explained by defining what m0 through m4 mean. Each number is a scale of influence of contact and familiarity. The smaller the number the more likely you are to receive a warm reception from the people in that range. The higher the number the more distant or damaged by the church the person is likely to be.
The last section of chapter 2 is almost too much to bear. It is a page right out of Gramscian Theory and has its roots in Intersectionality. The Scriptures do not ever present people in groupings or classes that are at varying levels of acceptance to the message of the Gospel.
One can argue that perhaps when Jesus says “it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter heaven…” there is a bit of class distinction. One may even try and build a faulty argument that “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” makes a class distinction. However, to do so would be further eisegesis. Moreover, it becomes quite evident as time goes on that there are only two classes of people, the lost and the saved. There are those who hate God and those who love Him. Those who hate God and despise the Gospel are all equidistant from God. They are not further in or further out based on their culture or their experiences.
Are There Distinctions Between Unbelievers?
Lydia was a rich woman. Felix was a ruling class centurion of Rome. The eunuch was servant with great power. Peter healed a beggar and saw him converted. Paul preached to philosophers on Mars Hill and in the Areopagus. Jesus went to publicans and prostitutes and to the houses of the ruling elite of Jerusalem.
Moreover, Jesus preached the Gospel to a Samaritan harlot at a well in the middle of nowhere. She then went to her fellow villagers. All of that despite massive cultural differences between each person. Paul preached in the court of kings and in prisons. In all of these cases people were not closer to or further away from God. They did not hate the Gospel because of their class identification. They were all sinners that before the work of the Holy Spirit, hated God and the Gospel. Jesus didn’t cut those who had been abused by the religious elite any slack. Instead He called them and the religious elite to repent.
We have to be completely biblical with how we view people. The scale presented is a secular model built on secular humanism (at best). At worst it is willfully built on Social Marxist theory. Chapter 2 is both philosophically and biblically twisted. Despite the areas where I find myself in agreement with Brisco I am compelled to dig even deeper. I need to expose the roots of Brisco’s man-centered secular ideology. These ideologies permeate his writing and it exposes his position rather readily.
Please feel free to contact me with questions and objections.
Sole Deo Gloria!