There are six billion people in the world, three billion live on less than $2 dollars a day, 800 million people will not eat today, and 300 million in Africa alone do not have drinking water. So we as Americans are six percent of the population yet we consume 40 to 50 percent of the resources. We are the upper, upper, rich elite. And our way is taking over the world. So we have to first ask the question—how can we take all this wealth and give it away? All the technology and beautiful parts of capitalism and bless the world and the poor—or else we’re in deep trouble.
That’s a quote from the creepy man in the horn rim glasses. No I don’t mean the guy from the show “Heroes”, I mean emerging church guru Rob Bell. The quote is from the interview “Rob Bell on Sex, God, and Sex Gods” in the November 14 issue of the Wittenburg Door.
Act 1: There has recently been a fair amount of concern amongst Christians about Don Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality . One of our supporters sent me a copy of the book because they were concerned about friends that were reading it. After the flood of phone calls and emails I received on the subject, I knew I needed to read it in order to be able to intelligently respond to the queries. As I read it, the 1979 film All That Jazz kept coming to mind. The main character, Joe Gideon (played by Roy Scheider) is no phony – he is plainly his “real self” for all the world to see. There is no pretense. He is a womanizer and has to pop pills just to get him up and going and through every day. Joe is a very creative and famous choreographer (the character was based on the life of the director of the film, Bob Fosse, who was himself a famous director and choreographer). While in his drug-induced states, he carried on conversations with a female god-type character who is completely loving, non-judgmental and only trying to help him see that he might have lived his life a little differently, perhaps remaining true to at least one of the women in his life, for example, or “being there” for his young daughter. All in all, Joe Gideon seems like a Don Miller kind of guy, someone Miller could be most comfortable with and accepting of. But, we mustn’t move too quickly or reveal too much at this point.
Two weeks ago our blog article Willow Creek’s Mixed Signals voiced our concerns that Willow on the one hand seemed to say they were going to begin training people in biblical literacy but on the other hand are planning on training youth leaders in mysticism at their Shift Conference. I know several very solid believers at Willow and hoped that I was misunderstanding what was going on. Perhaps, I thought, Willow’s leadership doesn’t really understand what the Emerging leaders are advocating. A friend who is a long time member of Willow Creek and has been involved in volunteer leadership in a number of Willow Creek ministries over the years sent out an email of concern a few days ago which began:
As an attender of Willow Creek I will beg your prayers as I make decisions on how, who and when to talk with leaders. I have already started a process. I do not have a goal for outcome , just a responsibility to contend for the faith I have been entrusted with. I offer up this resource and my opinion on it for those who are interested:
One of my favorite people is Dani Chaffin. Most of you have never heard of her or her husband Allen. I met Dani in 1997 on a plane to Israel. She was very involved in the New Age. It wasn’t that she wanted to be a New Ager. She had grown up in churches, accepted Christ when she was younger and loved Him. But she had questions and the churches and pastors in her area did not seem to have answers and let her know on more than one occasion that such questions were not welcomed. One must “just have faith,” she was told. This only made the questions more vexing. The face of the faith to her came across as one more of religious superstition and prescribed behavior which excluded the life of the mind. On our flight and for our 10 days in Israel we talked about the various worldviews and how we can assess the truth or falsity of each worldview. We also discussed the fact that our worldview directs how he or she will make the bulk of their decisions. She renewed her love for and commitment to Jesus and has made worldviews and apologetics a mainstay in sharing her faith as well as growing in her faith. One of the lines I have picked up from her which she uses on rare occasions is, “He (or she) wears Jesus well.” When she comes across an individual who loves God with all of their heart, soul and mind (living the greatest commandment) they represent the face of faith in ways that are seldom seen. Dani is one who wears Jesus well. I began reflecting on this when I saw Senate Probes Televangelists’ Finances in the news this week. Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Eddie Long and Paula White are the first names in this investigation. For many non-believers they are also the public face of the faith.
Last week a friend emailed me the Christianity Today article Willow Creek Repents? with the subtitle “Why the most influential church in America now says ‘We made a mistake’” With 12,000 member churches in the Willow Creek Association the question, “What was the mistake?” looms large. This really goes back to April and May of this year when Bill Hybels, Gene Appel and Mark Breaux did their series Unleashed: The Power of Multiplied Impact in which Bill and Gene revealed their shock after discovering through surveys and focus groups that people were attending church because they wanted to learn stuff about the bible. Gene Appel in the message Unleashed to Grow mentioned that they were beginning biblical literacy classes for 150 of Willow’s future small group leaders. I viewed that as a positive step. Willow Creek Repents? points out, the revelations of the survey and focus groups seemed to get Bill Hybels’ attention:
Hybels called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking,” and “mind blowing.”