Friday, April 18, 2008

Questions That Deserve an Answer

Several entries were posted to the previous thread. They have been copied and posted to this new thread. I didn't want them to get lost.

29 comments:

Craig said...

David Maxwell said...
Hmmmm - so let me get this straight.... you think being nice to someone is more important than being used by God to bring them to Christ through leading them through the Gospel?

You make so many arrogant and intolerant remarks toward Christians that most people obviously see you for what you are... but unfortunately, you dupe some. You make big assumptions that Christians are racists or hold prejudices. Let me correct this straw man you hold up... if you are truly a Christian then YOU ALREADY LOVE THOSE OF ALL RACES, ETC. IN CHRIST, there is NO race or gender, etc. - remember - those were Paul's words.

You also make goofy statements like how being nice to people is more important than trying to save their souls. Ummmm, last I checked you CAN'T SAVE ANYONE'S SOUL. That's the work of God. Not you. Sorry, hate to disappoint you, there.

Please - before writing a "Christian" book - or before giving another sermon - please actually OPEN A BIBLE.

You're probably going to take this as an insult - and I really don't mean it to be. I just can't stand silent while you arrogantly blast Christians.

If my Hindu neighbor died tonight, it wouldn't matter how many times I fed him french fries and enjoyed a cup of coffee with him. The only thing that would matter is if I cared about him as a person, became his true friend, and shared the Gospel with him.

March 29, 2008 8:47 PM
Anonymous said...
You replied to all previos post within a day, but not to David Maxwell's. Do you only respond to favorable comments? What a shame. Why have a blog if you can't accept criticism and respond to it?

April 15, 2008 5:06 AM

Craig said...

David,

Sorry I didn't respond to your earlier post. It wasn't that I wouldn't respond (as anonymous suggested), it's simply that I had not looked at the blog in awhile.

You say that I will probably take your comments as an insult and you don't intend them to be...would you be insulted by a blog entry like yours? It's a shame that trying to capture what's in our head and reducing it to writing is such a difficult task. We (and by that I mean I) don't always communicate what is really in our (my) heart. There is no way for me to know what is in yours. So I'll accept your comments at face value.

I'm sure that the style in which the book is written will seem 'arrogant and intolerant' to some readers-not at all my intent. It's the challenge of putting down on paper some of what seem to me to be the sins of the contemporary church and those who call it home. I'm one of those people.

I have been a believer, a churchman, and a pastor for a long time. I believe what I believe very deeply-as most Christians do-whatever their beliefs. I simply stand by the observation that I think the Christian Church is defined by how we judge much more than by how we love. Simply put, I don't think we love very well. I don't really think serving coffee and french fries has much to do with it. I DO think loving our neighbor has much to do with it.

If you feel that you are loving others deeply-showing it by your lifestyle-then God bless you! In my view you are accomplishing a great deal more than most of us are accomplishing. In my experience, most of us just tend to judge more than we love.

And although I note your sarcasm, sincerely, I can assure you that I never preach a sermon (not did I write this little book) without opening my Bible.

Craig said...

Last night was the third annual Tearing Down The Walls concert in Memphis.

It began as an event hosted by 3 faith communities: Temple Israel, New Direction Christian Church, and Hope Church. What grew out of the relationships with Rabbi Micah Greenstein and Rev. Stacy Spencer was an incredibly rich, diverse, and talented group of 12 pastors. Black and white, leftwing and right, Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic, this group of men and their wives have been the highlight of my life.

We began meeting last year with no intention of discussing theology or doctrine, we simply wanted to start a dialogue where clergy would have a safe place to talk about our lives with people we knew could understand. No one knows the trials and tribulations a pastor lives with but another pastor. It has really been profound to me.

Tearing Down The Walls last night was an expression of our new relationships and a great example of our diversity.

These relationships are those that I encourage in the book. I'm truly honored to know these men and women as friends.

David said...

No, I wouldn't be insulted by a blog entry like mine - why would you ask that? I don't get your rhetorical question.

You wrote that you did not mean to write Rethinking Reason in an arrogant style but you realize some will take it that way. Yet in another post, you express frustration that people weren't more up in arms over your teachings in your book. Did you mean to provoke and offend or not?

In your reply you wrote "whatever Christians believe" pertaining to essential theological issues (at least that is the context). How can you say "whatever Christians believe"??? There is only 1 interpretation of essential Bible theology. When Christ gives us the Great Commission, and gives it as a command, this clearly is not a non-essential issue. You write "I've been a churchman for a long time" - that sentence doesn't make you right, only stubborn (if you still refuse to obey Jesus).

You write in your reply "I don't think we love very well" and the we pertains to Christians. May I suggest that you have perhaps raised a flock of immature Christians or worse, a congregation of those who you allow to assume they are Christians when they are not. If they are Christians, they WILL HAVE love for others - even others of opposing faiths. This isn't new - that's how this nation was founded - by tolerant Christians! Please don't assume Christians to be unloving - rather, assume the unlovely to NEED TO BE PREACHED TO WITH THE GOSPEL.

That's what it all comes down to. Christ - and Him crucified. Nothing else really matters.

Lam said...

I couldn't agree more with David's comment. The Bible is very clear that once we belong to Christ and are born again, the Spirit begins a work in us. Paul teaches in Romans that this process is called sanctification. A born again person who is daily sanctified by the work of the Spirit will NOT be unloving (though he will remain a sinner). If Craig is suggesting that his congregation of mature believers is unloving and that the church comprised of mature believers is unloving overall, then he must realize that what he is teaching flies in the face of Paul's teachings. Who should I believe? Craig or Paul... and keep in mind Paul was inspired by the Spirit when writing the letter to the Romans which became Scripture.

On the other hand, if the unloving Christians are immature believers, young in their walk, then the antedote - and the church leaders goal - should not be to write books such as Craigs but rather to train up these young believers the way Paul trained up Timothy. You are correct, the only loving thing to do is to love them and share the Gospel message with them.

In fact, I suppose Craig is also ignoring the Scripture that reads "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ." His theology seems very similar to those who hereticaly teach "Why pray? If God is in control of everything, I don't need to pray." That's what he's saying when he says, "I don't need to share. They alreayd know about Jesus."

And further, let's for a moment give Craig the benefit of the doubt and assume he only means that people will come to Christ (let's assume for the moment that that's his goal after all) through watching his actions not hearing his words. Well, that's pretty arrogant to assume that his actions will bring people to Christ - that his work is so good that people will come to Jesus because of his good. No, it is only the Spirit which convicts us of our need for the Saviour. Not Craig's good works.

And I'd also suggest that Craig is wrong in his assumption that the non-Christians already know all about who Jesus is and don't need to be told again. Rabbis, lay people, etc. of other faiths do NOT have a clear understanding of who Jesus is. They THINK they do, but they are mistaken. Ask a Jehovah's Witness who Jesus is and you will NOT get the correct answer, but the Witness will THINK he is correct. Remember also, scripture teaches that the cross (and indeed scripture itself) is foolishness to the world and only makes sense to Believers. So Craig's goal should indeed be to preach Christ. After all, isn't he a preacher?

Craig said...

Sorry, but I can't see that either of you recent 'posters' have addressed my comments at all.

It's easy to sit on the sidelines and critique what you 'think' the church that I pastor is all about but what are you doing that makes a difference for Christ?

Your comments feel a lot like theological 'posturing', not love in action-however you define it.

It saddens me that most Christians today are unwilling or unable to examine their own lives for ways to actually become more Christlike. Instead, we spend most of our time and energy defending our Christian beliefs-whatever they may be. And as I say in the book, when you have to be right and anyone who disagrees is heretical, your circle gets smaller and smaller.

God bless you both. I don't think we're going to find any common ground.

David said...

Please don't say that Ian or myself haven't addressed your comments when we have - and only used the Bible to do so. But you have answered none of our questions. You call it "theological posturing" when we simply ask you to justify your teachings on the basis of the Bible. You have not done so. I don't even know what "theological posturing" means but I suppose you meant it as an insult and it's funny you used that when we simply asked you to explain how your teachings flow with Scripture (not our desire, but SCRIPTURE).

It's also funny how in one post you comment how you're all upset that there wasn't more controversy surrounding your book. Then, when three people just question you, you block anonymous postings, get defensive, and shut down the conversation.

You wrote in your "closer" comment (and in your book for that matter) that when people have to agree with you else they are heretical, your circle gets smaller and smaller. As if that's a bad thing. Didn't Jesus teach that was a good thing????? And as for your horrible theology concerning this - your "it's not heretical, we can all disagree on issues and that's ok" theology, please consider what scripture says...

"if anyone preaches any other gospel to you other than what we preached, let him be eternally condemned" (Galatians 1:8-9)

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality..." (Jude 1)

I could go on and on...

Anyway - it is clear by your last post, you have closed the door to any further conversation.

But to answer your question, what have I ever done for Christ.... well, for starters, I don't twist His words around in front of an entire congregation and an audience of readers.

Emily said...

I am sitting here...I can't even find the words. I am in DISGUST of the words that have been typed on this post. Let me say, first and foremost, in the most basic words that I can find..."shame on you". That is, "shame on you, David Maxwell and Iam". Interestingly enough, I believe that by your posts, you are only proving Craig's point entirely! I think that you both are writing the types of things that turn people off from Christianity and the church most. I literally have a pit in my stomach. Arrogant? Really? That word doesn't even touch the way that you are both acting. I don't believe that you have thought for one second, how it would feel to be in a fishbowl 24/7...how ridiculous of you to ridicule him for not taking anonymous posts!!! If you are posting to this site, if you go to Hope, then you know his name, his face, who he is. Yet you want to sit in your little corner from home and blast someone that you don't even know (by the way,how UN-Christian of you) and remain anonymous?!
I apologize, because I did not intend to come on here and read that and call people names or be offensive (although I feel CERTAIN that was your intent). Does the quote "You're probably going to take this as an insult and I don't mean it to be" even deserve a comment???
I will say this: I know Craig personally. I have known him for almost 30 years. He is NONE of the things that YOU have so arrogantly called him. The entire premise of his book is about judgmentalism and you are proving him right with every letter that you type!!!
I can assure you that he is fully familiar with the Bible. He went to years of seminary to have the privilage of teaching that book to everyone that he came into contact with. And he has done this every day for the last 30 + years. Unfortunately you are making accusations about a man that you don't even know publicly as your pastor, let alone, personally as a friend. So, no, I don't assume that you would know that about him. You also wouldn't know that he is actually humble enough to have challenged himself to reach out to people of other races and religions in an effort to show Christ to them more. Yes, this is something that if you were a "Christian" you would already do...are you telling me that Christians are above sin? That they don't find themselves in their "comfort zone" of their Christian circle of friends? I think by your lack of answers to Craig's questions, I can envision who YOUR friends are.
You wouldn't know that he and his wife have opened their home to more random people that have no association or advantage to them. They have had an entire family of Hondurans living with them at one point, only because they needed a home. This isn't even unusual for them...it happens all the time. You wouldn't know that they are constantly looking for ways to love and care for their family, friends, their church, their neighbors. Sadly, I can see, again, because I know him, that even though your original post was offensive AT BEST, he wrote back something humble and loving and didn't attack you with the same disregard as you did him. Trust me, he is much better "versed" in the Word than you will ever be. He is also humble enough to not meet you with a "verse war" if you will. He wouldn't make a mockery of God's word like that.
I have never known a man to be slower to anger and more quick to love...someone who would give the shirt off his back in one second to a man on the street. What's interesting to me, is as I'm writing this, I realize that this is a moot point. Again, your intentions are clear. My intentions were to come on here and defend someone I know FAR better than you. But, I know already that you will not hear a word. And it's something that needn't be typed on a blog...if you knew him, you would know this. I also know that I took his book as a challenge. Not to challenge my belief system, not at all. I know what I believe. And I assure you, he knows what he believes: that Christ is the son of God, that he came to earth as a man, died on the sin for our transgressions, and rose again. I know this, because it's what he taught me. Just in case your were wondering...
I took it as a challenge to invite someone into my home...to be intentional about relationships with people who are different than me. Once I began looking at things from that perspective: you cannot love any one person too much, I believe that is when I felt like I was doing what Christ has called us to do. This doesn't mean that I haven't told them about Christ. I have, but let me ask you this: do you think that if someone were here, reading your posts, curious about this "Christianity" thing, that your words would be an encouragement to them? I can't think of anything that would turn them off more.
Again, I don't even know what else to say because I am so disgusted. Craig's entire point, which you have proven so wonderfully, is that if we were to all sit and discuss theology, we could go around and around and around. There are no ends to theological differences. I don't believe that Christ will care if we sat around arguing those points as Christians. What he DOES care about is how much we showed love to one another: "Love others as Christ first loved you".
I encourage you to re-read your words. Maybe you have not failed that commandment yourself with the people that you have met in your life, although I find that hard to bleieve. You have definately failed it here.
Also, there are thousands of people at Hope Church that have been encouraged and inspired by God. Craig is just a vessel. If you went to Hope, you would know how unique it is...the people there demonstrate God's love every day. If you knew this city, its' racism, the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and how we served a free hot dinner to every Katrina victim every night, for months. There were literally TONS of clothes, furniture, toys, medicine, etc. etc. donated to relocate people to this city. There were funds distributed, strangers hugged and cried with, new friends made. This is the type of congregation that he leads. We follow the Lord that he represents. That is the love of Christ in action. That is exactly what his book is about.

lam said...

Emily, wow - talk about overreacting!

This is strange for me because I am indeed familiar with Craig's teachings and I passionately disagree with his teachings. Some of his teachings fell outside what I consider basic Christianity so I excused myself from his congregation. It's strange for me because I am usually the one others say is overreacting when talking about Hope / Craig. But here I am advising all of you to stop overreacting.

It's clear from your post that you are a friend of Craig's so you got defensive rather than engaging in an adult debate forum. I understand that kind of defensiveness - that's probably why David wrote what he wrote. He felt Craig was misrepresenting and attacking his Lord. Therefore, he got defensive himself. I don't know David but I must assume. I didn't find his post angry or harsh at first, however I did find Craig's lack of a real response in bad taste. Like Anonymous said, why have a public forum only to refuse to listen to anyone who doesn't love everything you say and think just like you. Who is being intolerant and judgmental? When we can't have an open and honest debate, we are left with a religious system that resembles fringe sects led by manipulative dictators. Let's all work to avoid that!

Unlike the other posters, I am familiar with Craig's teachings. Hope wasn't the church for me. For many reasons. But at the top of the list was weak teaching and Craig's personal attitude toward people who challenged him. He was certainly not slow to anger as you suggest.

You wrote that neither I nor the other poster answered Craig's questions. He didn't ask any questions. I didn't really ask Craig any questions either. David did if I remember, but his were the questions that were unanswered.

You wrote "are Christians above sin?" I'm not even sure where you were going with that. Made no sense to me. Obviously no. What was that all about?


The only reason I write today is just to tell everyone to chill. All David did was disagree with Craig. Nothing else. But it appears Craig is unwilling to allow people to disagree with him. As if he owns the corner market on what is Christian. I'd suggest he let Jesus define that, not himself.

With complete respect, let me offer that Craig's response about the circle getting smaller and smaller when we don't budge on basic Christian theology is frightening. You don't have to write a tirade against me for saying this. Please be tolerant of my faith. It's frightening because it appears to me by his statement and his book that Craig is more interested in having a whole lot of friends and popularity than he is in the Word. He seems willing to forsake the commands of God for the sake of being a friend to the world. Jesus Himself told us that "The gate is narrow and FEW WILL FIND IT." This isn't my "theology" as Craig suggests. This is what Christ said. Further, in that same passage, Jesus tells us that if wicked men insult and hate us all because we hold to HIS teachings, then blessed are we!" So again, I'd rather obey Christ's command to spread the Gospel IN LOVE and not ignore this responsibility.

I want to be a disciple like Paul was - one who simply believes that to live is Christ, to die is gain. May everything I say and do point people to the CROSS of CHRIST.

And that SHOULD BE all of our goals. So please don't take my 2 posts as mean-spirited. And please re-read the other posts by the other posters. Removing yourself form your personal friendship to Craig and looking at their words objectively will show you that they only wanted an open discussion and were not being harsh as you suggest.

If you still disagree with me, that's fine. You don't have to be rude about it, nor do I toward you.
I'm just here defending my Lord Jesus to be who HE claimed to be. If I didn't that wouldn't say much about my own faith, would it?

Craig said...

Iam said: The Bible is very clear that once we belong to Christ and are born again, the Spirit begins a work in us. Paul teaches in Romans that this process is called sanctification.

Iam, I couldn't agree with YOU more. The question for you (and all believers)is 'what is the spirit doing in you'? John says:

1 John 4:7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son£ into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for£ our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

My point here Iam, is that many of us TALK a good talk but we don't really DO anything to live out our faith. We TALK about love but we don't REALLY love.

It' doesn't have to be a theological debate. Why do we live in a city where the Christians can't seem to set an example that the city can follow? Why don't we find radical ways to love?

Wil said...

I have to start by saying that I have never written to a blog before. I was really stunned by the comments I read and feel compelled to put in “my two cents worth”. I have read Craig’s book and found it very thought provoking. I have been a Christian – yes, asked Jesus to come into my heart- for around 40 years. I grew up very active in my church and para church organizations. I think we would all agree that as Christians we start as “babies” and grow and mature through reading our Bibles, teaching in our churches, prayer, and fellowship with other Christians. I would say that my own journey in faith has been through many seasons. Times of feeling distant from God – not God’s fault but my own. Times of great comfort and closeness during sickness or death of a loved one. I think we would all agree that we never “arrive” this side of life. There is always some area of my life where God needs to bring change in me. ALWAYS will be.

I’ve lost track of who said what here, but the last response I read to Emily’s post, Iam (?) said she overreacted to their words, that they were only wanting an open discussion, not meaning to be mean-spirited. I have to agree with Emily, there were sarcastic and hostile things said - maybe he should open a Bible? That’s just insulting. Do you really mean to insinuate he doesn’t open a Bible???? Iam, when you responded to Craig’s comment that people watch our actions and he hopes to lead them to Christ through them – you don’t really think he expects people to come because of “his good works”. When I was in Jr. High my youth leader told me to always remember I might be the only Bible someone ever reads. I understand (and I think Craig does as well) that there are people watching us in every situation of life – school, dating, at work, in a grocery store….you get my point – that we may never have the opportunity to share the Gospel with verbally. We hope that our lives glorify God wherever we are. It is Christ “in” us that they see and will be drawn to Him. Also, I don’t quite know why you say Craig “refuses to listen” to your criticism. Just because he didn’t do an about face and retract everything he said in order to “accept” your criticism doesn’t mean he didn’t listen. I would be very disappointed if he abandoned his thoughts in the book just because some of you didn’t agree with him.

David says that if you are “truly” a Christian you already love others. David, you say Craig is “allowing people to assume they are Christians”, that if they really are Christians they WILL have love. I don’t know about you, but I don’t presume to judge whether someone is “really” a Christian. God and God alone knows our hearts. Reverting back to my Sunday School days, I think there is very clearly such a thing as “head knowledge” vs “heart knowledge”. I also know that I am to forgive my brother 70 times 7. Does that mean that I don’t still hold a grudge against a friend that hurt my feelings? That I don’t carry harsh feelings toward a parent who wounded me as a child? Forgiveness is a choice I have to make, to be obedient to God’s word, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit I struggle with this often. So my point is that you can be a Christian and “know” that Christ calls us to love our neighbor, but I would frankly be disappointed if one CLAIMS to “love everyone” immediately and completely upon salvation , never to judge the worldly, avoid the obnoxious, gossip about the sins of others,……I know I couldn’t make such a claim. Craig once asked who in your circle/acquaintances doesn’t know the Lord, would be someone you could invite to church with you. Aside from total strangers (the teller at the bank, the salesperson in the store) I could only think of ONE person I knew that didn’t already go to church somewhere. I have surrounded myself with likeminded friends and family, people I am naturally drawn to, who support me and encourage me in my walk with Christ. Well, to Craig’s point, I’m doing a good job of being “not of the world” but not too great a job of being “in the world”. I think this is what Craig is trying to say. Couldn’t we all reach out to people who we are NOT naturally drawn to? I think this does take being intentional, otherwise I will look up in 25 years and have the same circle of friends- missing the blessing of learning about other cultures, faiths, denominations, races, genders, generations – in other words, broadening my world, not narrowing it down to a small circle. I don’t see where this flies in the face of what Paul teaches. In fact weren’t Paul’s letters written to encourage the churches to love each other? Jesus asked us to go to every corner of the earth testifying about the Gospel. Maintaining a “smaller circle” seems contrary to that to me.

When asked the question, “what have you done for Christ” someone answered, well, I’ll tell you what I haven’t done is twist God’s words to a congregation……………. Again, you are just using this forum to criticize another brother in Christ. Nobody said there is just one way or one place to worship God. If Craig or Hope’s worship style don’t minister to you, that’s fine. But I hope you aren’t insinuating that God is only present in the church of YOUR choice, that He doesn’t work in many different ways, through many different people. Again to Craig’s point, why can’t we just wish each other well? Craig tried to do that in his first response to David. He said that if David loves people deeply than “bless you”. Then Craig is accused of closing off the conversation. If you were sitting in a classroom and the teacher said there was cheating going on and what the consequences were to that. If you had not cheated, you could say “this lecture doesn’t pertain to me” and say it with confidence. If anyone reading this book says “I’m a Christian and none of this pertains to me” then fine, but I know many godly people who could love better – myself included. I challenge everyone to be willing to ask God “does ANY part of this pertain to me”? Is there a kernel of truth in Craig’s words that I could grow from? Craig was clear in his book that this is just part of his faith journey. Again, going to judge what God is doing in someone else? Ever taken a 6 week Bible study class only to have a single thought stand out? Thought this is the one reason God lead me to this study. Some scripture you have read a hundred times, but TODAY you saw something different in it, something God wanted to say to you? Perhaps there is just one small point in Craig’s book that God wants to say to you.

I have to agree with Emily that some of you are more anxious to criticize than try to understand another. We will all stand before God one day and He will examine how we lived our lives for Him. That seems to be one of the more important questions we need to wrestle with here. Am I living the way God wants me to, doing all I can to bring others to a relationship with Christ. That’s between me and God, between you and God.

Jack said...

Wow. The power of Blogging, right? We can answer a comment as quickly as we can type. I admit, I've slept on my comment for 2 days now…and I'm glad I did. What I was going to say 48 hours ago is now irrelevant. What I see here now is that we all need to relax! It seems we all have common ground: We all beleive that Jesus is the only son of God, He came to earth, died for us and was raised again. We're all Christians, shouldn't we celebrate that? We definitely disagree with the details and we should respect that. I can remember in elementary school arguing if Jesus was white or black! Now, as an adult, I wonder with a laugh at my stupidity "what did it matter?!" Reading these posts remind me a little of that. The he said/she said name calling is a complete waste of time. David has his opinion, Iam has his, Craig has his, Emily has hers, Wil has his, I have mine and others will have their own. Just respect it. Ultimately we all beleive Jesus for who he is so…hooray! See you all in Heaven! Maybe we'll grab a cup of coffee there.

I know there will always be bickering. Heck, even the apostles argued over who was Jesus' favorite. But I really hate to see it. Especially when it's among Christians. I'm not calling anyone out either, so don't take it that way. Sarcasm and opinions have a really hard time coming across in text, which is why a lot of times feelings get hurt and things are taken out of context.

I'm simply trying to be a voice of reason to get these comments back on track. That way questions can be answered and ideas can be shared, all without spiraling out of control and into a fight.

Don't like my comment? I respect that.

jdf4743 said...

Interesting blogs. Some are disturbing. From what I read in Scripture, people were drawn to Jesus because he loved. Aren't we still the same? Paul's books are full of instruction for the very reason that we have to grow in Christ. We don't wake up one morning having it all together. We become disciples of Christ and it's a journey. If we think we "should" be there already, I think we delude ourselves.

Love has always been the key to the hearts of people. It's the demonstration of it that varies. The postings from David and the other gentleman are not of a variety that makes me want to know them any better. Frankly, my non-Christian friends are more respectful of human beings than the sad writing of these men. If their texts are close to their hearts, then I'm afraid of the representation of Jesus that is made to our world by men such as these. Disagreement is far better expressed and received when delivered with kindness and forbearance with each other.

My only other comment related to the work at Hope is it is the first church where I have so freely invited those who are outside the church to come and learn about our Lord. The fruit is everywhere and those who have come, come back. We love to sit on sidelines and criticize but I see the proof of the kind attitudes and servant hearts that I see there. I have yet to find a serious theological error in the teaching and I say that from a very broad background in denominations and in studying Scripture. While sermons are geared for those who are new to the faith, there are plenty of avenues for those of us who are not. And I never walk away from Sunday mornings without being encouraged, having something to ponder and identifying areas I can change.

Lastly, I can say that there is not one person I wouldn't invite to come with me to Hope, because I know they will be welcomed, accepted, loved and encouraged to know Jesus Christ. I think that is what the Great Commission is all about and if we're doing that and loving people while we are introducing them to the faith, then I think Jesus would not be ashamed of us.

David said...

OK - First of all, please hear this:

Craig, and your buddies you got to write to puff up Hope: I am only here following my faith. If you guys can't handle a little criticism, that's pretty sad. Stop being intolerant and telling me what I can and can't believe. I honestly am not concerned how comfortable you feel inviting people to Hope because they make you feel so good about yourself, or how people who come tend to go back, etc.

Am I not free to have my views? For your mistaken information, I have written everything with love and hope that the church would repent and turn back to the basic message of Christ and Him Crucified. So stop blogging about me if all you can do is bad-mouth. At least Craig had the decency to be honest and say that he won't find common ground with me. The rest of you are just not being honest with my posts at all.

So... IF you are interested in why I believe what I believe, then read on and we can debate this matter with dignity. Otherwise, please don't bother writing if all you can do is resort to name calling.

The New Testament (and Jesus) teaches that we ARE TO LOVE AND KEEP COMPANY WITH NON-CHRISTIANS... for the primary hope of bringing them into our FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. But it also teaches us to JUDGE those who are in the church and are acting out in opposition to the will of God. So while we can indeed (as Craig teaches) befriend those of other faiths (and we should... for the purpose of CHRIST), we are to JUDGE THOSE WITHIN THE FAITH (or supposedly within the faith) and possibly EXCOMMUNICATE them. We are told not to even hang out with them!

Consider these verses - which, unlike Craig's teachings, put a HEAVY emphasis on practicing discipline and learning theology.

Matthew 18:15-17
15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

1 Timothy 5:20
Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

Titus 1:9
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Titus 1:13-14
Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith (doctrine) and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.

1 Cor 5:11
But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

1 Cor 5:12-13
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

1 Tim 1:19-20
Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

1 Tim 6:3-4
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.

2 John 4-11
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

I could go on and on. I'm quite certain based on your responses to my posts that you'd bash me had I written these things. You'd call me unloving and other choice words. But will you be so quick to bash Jesus, Paul, John, etc.?????

Re-read my posts in light of these verses. The tone and language of my posts aren't too different from these verses are they?

You prove my point that you have fallen away from sound teaching in your reactions.

So... let's stop all the name calling, etc. Here - in a nutshell - is the point of my post:

We are to SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE.
We are not to carry only love - we will love people right to hell.
We are not to carry only truth - we will have no love to show the fruit of the Spirit within us.
We are to speak the TRUTH in LOVE.

What is the truth?

The Gospel. Simply put, the Gospel. This is why Christ put such an emphasis on the Great Commission.

Now - with this said, we should go and befriend non-believers with the only hope that they come to Jesus and realize their sinfulness.
And we should correct those within the church who stray from this teaching.

That's Bible.

Again - not trying to be rude. And I've done no name calling. I write this simply to wake up a modern church who has strayed far away from the basic message of Christ and Him crucified.

jdf4743 said...

David, most of this last post I appreciate since what you seem to be calling for is balance within the church between love and discipline. I also agree that deep roots take deep study and a serious approach to Scripture - as I mentioned before, it's a journey. What I do find as a byproduct of salvation is a desire to know God more deeply, more fully.

I'm not sure where the disagreement is for you (meaning David) since I find there are many avenues for deeper learning at Hope. Btw, I'm not personal friends with Craig - just a visitor at Hope for the last year checking it out. I came in from a teaching church that is one of the best in this city, so I was somewhat skeptical on the teaching at Hope - afraid it was too shallow, etc. I'm glad I took the time to evaluate it. I haven't found anything to be up in arms over and I can invite my family who are not churched and were intimidated at my other home church (where I have been for 20 years). If I'm criticized for being on the bandwagon for Hope's approach to our community, then praise God!

I'm sure the truth is any body of believers can be criticized over the weak areas - my other church was fantastic in teaching and weak in service but I loved it anyway. The very teaching that fed me was not appropriate for new believers or non Christians - they were lost and embarrassed at their lack of knowledge.

Bottom line - Hope fills a needed place in our community just as many other churches do in other ways.

A point that David brings up is a good one - how does discipline work these days in our churches? In my Church of Christ days, they disfellowshiped members - it was almost always due to unrepented adultery. My other home church (the one of 20 years) publicly did the same thing and in 20 years, it happened about five time - again, adultery was the cause.

What I do find in our culture is a loose attitude about discipleship. Singles live together and go to church - not talking about new believers. The morality of our world has infiltrated our churches - I'm teaching my 15-year-old about abstinence knowing that is not the world of the youth. When I teach him that God's intention is never divorce, I know he lives in world where half the marriages will end. I have the Biblical standard to hold up in a river that has turned to whitewater and flowing against me. There are times I feel I'm drowning in it.

How do we really encourage believers (the church) to be holy, courageous and deep in the faith? Take it beyond the point of accepting Jesus - I'm talking about living the life. :)

David said...

jdf4743,

Thanks for actually understanding the reason I'm writing these posts. Emily and Craig were very defensive (and frankly, so was your first post to me) - you actually seemed to finally read my posts and understand that my only intention is to honor God and love his Word. By doing that, I'd obviously love people. I just think Craig has the order backward - the priority backward. And I found that disheartening coming from a Christian teacher / pastor. His posts and replies on this blog alone is enough to show me that his theology doesn't line up with the Bible that I read. And given the choice between mushy feel-good theology that we all want to hear (no wonder his congregation grew so large teaching that) and the truth of scripture (which is hard for us to hear since we are indeed an offense to God in our sinful state) I'm going with the truth of scripture everyday. And my reason: it's not to be an arrogant jerk as one or two have suggested on this forum... it is because 1) I want to honor God and 2) because for 2000 years, it has been the hard truth of scripture that DEMONSTRATES CHRIST'S LOVE and brings people into an ETERNAL relationship with Christ. If I don't hold fast to scripture, then these non-Christians will see I don't love God enough to obey Him nor do I love them enough to want them to be in heaven with me. I'd fear this image of these people that I was "nice to" all my life getting to the end of life and at the moment of death and judgement, seeing that they were "loved on" by Christian friends but never loved enough that these friends made sure they knew the Gospel and were saved. They'd head to hell, and perhaps all it would have taken was one of these people who wanted to show love so much showing the kind of love that leads to eternal salvation.

Craig's premise "why does someone have to be wrong for someone else to be right" is frightening to me and I had to post about it. To me, this flies against all of the Bible. Those couple of people that replied in anger and harshness toward me never really read my posts the way you must have. Thanks for taking the time to read it and communicate back with respect and sincerity. I have major disagreements with Craig (and I'm sure with you as well since you support his ministry) but I respect you in your tone, approach, and willingness to honestly discuss this rather than resort to name calling. It was truly refreshing. I had stopped visiting this site because I thought it had become a place where honest discussion was out of bounds. Thanks for steering this back on track.

Craig said...

David, I appreciate the spirit of your most recent posts.

I have had the good fortune over the years of being involved in two very different Christian groups. I grew up in Christ with a great Christian group that did a marvelous job of reaching out with the Gospel to high school kids. I saw many, many come to Christ. I myself grew enormously from their ministry. However, I found that many times we built relational bridges to kids and then weren’t quite sure how to cross them-a weakness, I think, of the organization.

Later in life I had the good fortune to learn and then teach an evangelism course that is the best I’ve ever seen at actually sharing the Gospel with friends and even strangers. It was very good evangelism but much weaker discipleship.

I’ve learned much from both of these groups and there are many fine Christians in both.

However, as I say in my book, I still feel like we as a Church have done much more judging and much less loving. There are many, many passages of Scripture that make that point as well. I’m listing some of them here.

I didn’t particularly start the blog as a place for theological debate. It is simply an attempt to say to brothers and sisters in Christ from a thousand different denominations-all of whom believe a little differently-that if we found this common denominator-love-and focused our attention there, we could make a significant difference for Christ and we’d get many opportunity to share His love along the way.

Peace,

Craig

Matthew 7
1“Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. 2For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. 3And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

John 13:34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Romans 13: 8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
1 Peter 1: 22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 John 3: 11This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3: And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1 John 4: 7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

David said...

Craig,

Wow! Thanks for personally responding!

Regarding the church not loving, I've got to take issue with you there. I think no one in the world but the church has shown any love to anyone hardly (well, the USA itself has, but I think that's only because of the large Christian voting block and legacy of this nation). When the world has a need, be it a tidal wave or other natural disaster, an inhumane dictator who keeps his citizens in bondage, a war torn country, a nation repressed by governments and keeping its citizens in bondage, etc. who comes to the aid time and time again? It's almost always the church. Bring it home to the USA. Ask anyone from N.O. after Katrina - who really helped (not just promised gvmt $$$ that was never properly distributed bit I'm talking about real help)? It was the church. Same with the tornado victims in Jackson, TN recently. The church time and time again shows compassion and offers love for the sake of Christ.

The best the world has to offer usually ends up (if it goes anywhere at all) as a failed gvmt program or something.

Look even at counseling agencies - some even teaching court mandated classes. The overwhelming majority of them are offered in churches.

If it weren't for churches, I wonder what the world - not just America - would look like? I shudder to think.

The church is the Body of Christ. Our head is Christ. Or, use the olive tree analogy. If the branch isn't true, doesn't Romans say the branch will be cut off? So I'm very hesitant to criticize "the church" - that's Christ's Body you're bashing. I'd be more prone to believe that the people not showing love are people who were cut off and need to be grafted back on (see Romans for my analogy). How do they get grafted back on? By accepting Jesus Christ. The ONLY truth - the ONLY right way. And yes, even though it's not in fashion these days, I believe He is the only judge and no one who doesn't look to Christ as Lord and Savior is going to go to hell. That means that yes, all other worldviews and religions are indeed wrong.

So my biggest difference here is this: what you are criticizing and calling "the church" I'd say isn't the church at all, perhaps, but the "world." (I use "world" in Biblical sense, not global). It appears to me you are blaming the "world" for not being loving when you shouldn't expect them to be loving when they don't have the author of Love - Jesus - leading their lives.

Teach Christ and people won't be able to help but love others. Teach love and you might be confused with any other good-deeds based philosophy. I know many people of various religions and also atheists who are among the most outwardly loving-seeming and generous people I've met. But they don't show me the unlovely side. THey hide it. But I know it's there because we all have the same sinful nature. What they need to truly be loving and revolutionize the world and show love as they've never even been capable of before is Christ.

As for the verses you posted, the only thing I have issue with is your out of context stance on two of the verses.

#1 - Judging. You reverted to the old "judge not least ye be judged" response. You know what this refers to and you also know that just a couple verses later, people who reject the Gospel are referred to as pigs (that's judging, isn't it?) Clearly, this scripture can not be used to mean don't judge right and wrong people. If you used it that way, then the Bible would contradict itself (see 1 Cor 5, for an example of a command we have to judge others).

#2 - love one another (John 13) - You surely are aware that this is within the church, right? It says so in the verse itself: they will know you are mine by your love for ONE ANOTHER. (not your love of the world). Now, this is not to say we aren't to love the world - we are indeed commanded to love the world - and we are to love them enough to bring them the gospel that leads to salvation. Assume for a moment you were "nice to me" but it stopped there. To use your own words, "you didn't particularly share the Gospel with me because you thought I already heard it before." Then I die. A non-believer. Assume for a moment I can look back at you in the land of the living. Look back at you one last time before I enter the punishment of hell - for eternity. Do you really think I'll be happy about all the "nice things you did for me" while I was alive? Or the "pleasant conversation"? No, I think my only thought would be why you didn't share the message of salvation with me - and I wouldn't even realize at first the fact that I already had revelation of the truth which I rejected. I don't want your friends to end up in that spot. That's where I was headed. The Lord saved me from the darkest depths of sin. I will spend my life telling everyone about his Man. This Man who died for me so that I might LIVE... and this Man who died for the world so that all who received Him as LORD AND SAVIOR will certainly live.

The bottom line for me is that good deeds will ALWAYS come from true Christianity. James makes that clear. Hindus can be loving. So can any cultist or devotee of other world religion. The ONLY think that separates us from their religions and philosophies is the Cross of Christ. I just think we need to emphasize that defining point.

The problem with the church today, I believe, isn't that the "church is unloving" but that the church has lost its focus away from Christ (and that has produced unloving attitudes from people assumed to be Christians but who are really still following their own selfish idols). Rather than focusing on the hard message of Christ, we focus on buildings and large congregations, fluffy theology that makes people feel good about themselves (why should the world feel good about its predicament?), recreation centers, athletic depts, youth trips, music production, etc. etc. - meanwhile, the simple wooden cross is practically overlooked by people who "don't particularly share the Gospel." All the baseball games and guitars and beautiful buildings won't satisfy - only Christ and Him crucified will satisfy.

Anyway - glad to see that you too aren't viewing me as unloving now as you and a couple others did before. I was pleasantly surprised to see your comment "I appreciate the spirit of your recent posts." Thanks for engaging and understanding that I only want to see God glorified.

spendomai said...

A wide array of comments. I'm a little late jumping in based on the dates so no one is probably looking at this topic anymore... so only one quick comment.

My brother started going to Hope in 1998. He and his wife like it so they invited my parents. My younger brother then followed and came to have a personal relationship with Christ through the ministry there.

My parents went from being people who lived their Christian lives as stagnant believers doing pretty much nothing, to people who were so motivated by the ministry going on at Hope that not long after they started attending there I could no longer reach them at home when I would call - because they were at hospitals holding babies, or downtown delivering supplies to families that need them, or at small group building community, or at some other ministry they had plugged into at Hope.

My dad hated church before Hope. I now work at Hope. I have a seminary degree and let me assure everyone of a few things: 1.Hope preaches the gospel according to the Bible 2. Hope has grown not because of watered down teaching that people "like" but because they are giving people the opportunity for the first time in their lives to have faith in God and not feel terrible about themselves. 3. If at any point the things posted on this blog became true of the head pastor or of the church itself I know I would not be there.

This said, if Craig says the church has a problem loving people and you disagree than I suggest doing some church history, not that much is needed. Of course Craig is not saying that there are no churches doing the job right and that every church out there is failing to love! By no means is that said - that sort of thought is an absolute and is mildly frustrating. One example and then the history lesson will be up to your own pursuit.

We live in Memphis. Many (notice I did not say all, but most) churches in the South actually used the Bible as a source to defend the institution of slavery when it became in issue in the United States - worse yet the churches that were against slavery did a terrible job using the Bible (again for the most part) to abolish slavery. No matter what your views and what you think - slavery is inhumane and wrong! The church was not only behind the issue but a good part of it was on the wrong side (and they were using the Bible to say so).

Just a quick example. The point is not this example but the fact that from the institution of Christianity (following Christ) the Church has always had a difficult time staying on track - especially on the issue of remembering to love one another. Humans find it easier to kick people out (or kill people) than to work towards resolve, and the Church has been no exception.

Finally, having worked at Hope now for over two years and having been around it for close to eight now I will conclude with this statement: Hope of all the churches I have been to in all of my experiences comes closer than any other to what I think a church of Christ should be - that does not mean it is not without fault. But its pastor and leadership is hard at work for the kingdom of God and it is amazing to watch.

David said...

I have lots to say about your post (and am wondering why everyone who decides to stick up for this author works with him or has known him, etc.) but really it's all peripheral. There's just one issue at hand. Please clarify rather than our continual beating around the bush:

Are you saying that Craig and you and the rest of Hope's staff believe and teach that the people Craig shares his stage with are indeed heading to hell for eternity due to their denial of Christ? (I'm not being judgemental, I'm talking Bible)

phil said...

To David and Iam:
It is your type of Taliban-"Christianity" that drove me away from having anything to do churches for over 3 decades.

Thank God I have found a couple of churches in the last 10 years that actually work at using the Bible as a comforter and not as a brickbat to beat people over the head like you guys do so well. Hope is one of those churches of light in a sea of confusing dogmatic darkness that you spew.

David, just entertain the concept (if you can get past the addiction of serial confrontation), if EVERY minister said next Sunday from their pulpits: "Our's is A way to know God, but maybe not the ONLY way to know God. Come and let's walk together for awhile."

Can't you just see the judgements evaporate and watch the peace and love and Christlike acceptance flow from every door. Imagine the other religious funtamentalists laying down their own human judgements and bricks as well. Imagine the people that stumble around day and night struggling with their mental and emotional baggage finally finding it safe to come out to places of light and hope.

Yea, I wrote Hope. The place is packed with those that have felt it safe to come out to a church that speaks of hope and love. Millions around the globe want a safe place to come together. They've been looking for a place they can come and not get stoned for their transgressions by that brick in your hand you call a Bible.

Until I started reading this blog an hour ago, I had no idea of the amount of crap (I get to call it that. Craig wouldn't) that Craig must have received from "Christians" like you over the last +20 years of steering this huge church of change and healing. I just pray he keeps on his Christlike course of bringing people together and has the wisdom of Solomon when communicating with "Christians" like you that love throwing rocks in from the street.

The people that cleaned the church wax from their ears and actually heard Jesus were changed forever. Those who continued to worship their church dogma thought him evil and stayed lost.

David said...

Wow - talk about intolerant!

So if I'm not a theological liberal, then you have to spew hatred toward me? And you have the audacity to tell me that Hope is a place of love and acceptance???? You have demonstrated Hope's true colors very well. Craig invited everyone to an open discussion. But when people don't agree with his theology, you guys have to verbally brow beat us? At least Craig eventually did engage in the discussion like an adult rather than a name-calling child as you have done.

If you can stop your addiction to serial confrontation (like that?) and open your ears and mind for once, please re-read your own sentence from your post:

David, just entertain the concept (if you can get past the addiction of serial confrontation), if EVERY minister said next Sunday from their pulpits: "Our's is A way to know God, but maybe not the ONLY way to know God. Come and let's walk together for awhile."

OK, Phil. That sentence is EXACTLY the kind of stuff I was debating in the first place. If you want to respond, please do so like an adult and don't resort to childish name calling.

MikeH said...

Craig..

As a new visitor to HOPE.. I am amazed at the open GOD based love and kindness that the church radiates. While I hate to see comments out here like I've read for the past hour from bloggers like David and Iam... I realize that GOD created all people equal. It's in how we chose to live our life whether we make a positive difference or not in the lives of others.

While I'm not an highly educated scholar in gospel or theology at this point in my life... I am educated enough to know when I see someone that simply wants to tear down with words because they apparently have no better thing to do.

I'm a voice of one............. ( a renewed one) and I chose to lift up what you're doing at Hope!! There is hope for sinners like me at Hope !!! My prayer is that GOD will continue the good work he has started in you. Your leadership is true, rich and meets me right where I am... so I can pick right up with on you the journey toward eternity in heaven.

GOD will continue to rain down his blessings on you and your leadership because the work you do is exactly what he wants you to do !!

Mike

Craig said...

Thanks Mike,

In many ways, you've caught the essence of what I was trying to communicate in the book.

Welcome home!

Peace,

Craig

David said...

Here's a question that deserves an answer. Why is Craig Strickland involved in a event along with the Jesus Seminar founder John Dominic Crossan and other Fellows of the Jesus Seminar? Don't know what the Jesus Seminar is? Follow this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

That's the kind of people Craig associates with.

Craig said...

That's the kind of people Craig associates with? David, I'm not exactly sure what you mean?

I speak many places that host speakers with views that are radically different from my own.

Most speakers do. Calvary is known for the diversity of their speakers. I've spoken there before and if asked, I'll speak again. There are conservative and liberal speakers on their lineup every year.

To be honest, I had to look up the article to see who the gentleman was that you mentioned. I've never met him, and I've never been to his seminar.

However, Andy MacBeth, Steve Montgomery, Stacey Spencer, Frank Thomas, and Micah Greenstein are all friends of mine. So are Chris and Fred Bennett, John Siebling, Maxie Dunham and Sandy Willson.

My friendships as well as my involvement with others are not based on theological agreement. I'm simply trying to live out the principles that I write about in Rethinking Reason.

God Bless you.

Wil said...

David, I saw your comment about "just what kind of people Craig Strickland hangs out with". I was curious because I've never heard of this man John Dominic Crossen (?) or his organization. It took me some digging to figure out your connection between him and Craig. I'm assuming it is because they are both speakers at the Calvary Lenten Series? My understanding from reading Calvary's website is that their purpose is to offer a diverse group of speakers every year.So my hunch is that this group is just that - diverse. It sounds to me like you are just trying to get a "rise" out of someone?

Jack said...

I have never heard of Crossan or the Jesus Seminar either. Thanks for including the link. As far as questions deserving an answer, I think Craig was clear. I think it's a bit unfair to say Craig "hangs out" with these people. The Calvary Lenten Preaching Series (at Calvary Episcopal Church) lasts from February 27 to April 3. There are 19 speakers featured throughout the speaking series…from a variety of different denominations and faiths. I'm sure the speakers will all have a VARIETY of topics. Crossan will be there March 2-3 and Craig will speak March 13. They're not even crossing paths! I'd say a good majority of the speakers won't even see or speak to each other as they all have different speaking dates and times. For anyone wanting to know more about the series or the speakers, visit www.calvarymemphis.org.

phil said...

To David:

I've been away missing all the fun for a while and saw that you finally took a break after my post 'till you made your classic, "That's the kind of people Craig associates with" quote. Wow. Back like a lion, Dave.

A another beautiful example of Taliban "Christianity" that makes my point again. It's even a good Inquisition line. If our dear democratic republic ever turns into a theocracy, it sounds to me that you'll have big fun stoning me.

He definitely doesn't need me to defend him, but just leave Craig alone. The obviously beautiful job of walking the Christ-like talk that he teaches, speaks volumes to a wise leader ministering in a very challenging city.

Now as for me:
--I am tolerant of you. As a matter of fact I allow [big difference].
--I don't hate you buddy. I actually see you as an innocent child of God.
--Yep, Hope is a place of love and acceptance. We're not perfect like you, but we really really work on it.
--I'd NEVER have the audacity to assume that you were going to hell.
--Your quotes: "you guys have to verbally brow beat us" and "(I'm) a name-calling child." Aw, come on Dave. For a big boy that's been throwing bricks for as long as you have, I really didn't know you were that sensitive. I'll try to pull back.
--I won't resort to childish namecalling, like, er, the term "childish" that you laid on me.

--Now for the debate.
You apparently want to "debate" that I said, "Our's is A way to know God, but maybe not the ONLY way to know God. Come and let's walk together for awhile."
?Are you going to say it doesn't jive with your interpretation of the Bible? I got it.
?Are you going to say again that hanging uot with and befriending "sinners" is not Biblical? I got it.
?Are you going to say we shouldn't talk to non-"Christians" except to pull the Bible out and try to convert them? I got it.
I got it loud and clear Dave.

There. I was tolerant and kind. I saved you time and energy. Now you don't have to mail me back lambasting my "liberal" views.

I agree with Craig's model of doing the best that we can to express love and caring and compassion to all of god's children that we meet. As individuals and as a group we work on doing that. That's exactly the message of Jesus's that I didn't hear for decades. And that's exactly the message of Christ-like love that I hear from Craig.

Craig, keep up the awesome work that you do, and the tough challenges that you must meet head-on every single day.

Phil