conversations with Ken Silva from Apprising Ministries

 

Ken Silva (@ Apprising Ministries: http://apprising.org/) has graciously been dialoguing with me over the past couple months on pertinent issues directly related to the tense relationship between Orthodox Christianity and the offerings within the Emergent Conversation. Here are a few hilights.Raw and unedited. Feel free to share your thoughts!

 Note: Here is another conversation in regards to extending an Olive Branch to from those in the emergent conversation to those within Orthodox Christianity, such as Apprising.

George: http://theloverevolution.org.uk/blog/
 
it seems like this is what it going on in the church. moreso in the space of doctrine, orthodoxy, dogma, church history, practice and theological development to name a few of the big ones. and to be honest, its sad!
we’ve created sides within. we’ve also created sides without. and there shouldn’t be sides period.

 Ken: “there shouldn’t be sides period.” That’s not what God says; see 1 Corinthians 11:18-19

George: out of curiosity:
 
(1) are you saying that it is ‘biblical’ to have dissention within the body of christ?
 
(2) did god say that or paul? and what is the context within paul is dealing with here? context is key to this passage.
 
(3) so you would be willing to advocate the very thing christ spoke against (e.g., ‘love your enemies, speak to your brother (matthew 18); give your enemy your cloak; the early church was a good picture of people getting it wrong but still working together — are you against that?)
 
thanks

Ken: 1) No; it’s biblical to have division in the visible church, you know, wheat and tares.
 
2) Proper biblical hermeneutics is all Scripture is theopnestos (God-breathed i.e. created); therefore, God is speaking through what Paul writes, and so, God ultimately speaks in Scripture. The context is wheat and tares growing within the church at Corinth; just as they do in the church visible now.
 
3) Who said I’m anything about not loving enemies, or not working together? And Matthew 18 has zero to do with teachers in the public arena, which is what I deal with at Apprising. I, as all faithful Christians, am against false doctrine; I don’t judge the people themselves, that’s God’s job.
 
You’re welcome.

George: (1) so loving your enemies has nothing to do with loving those in the church/those who would differe then? i am defining love as agape; dying to our own ego’s/understandings of scripture is included in our ego….
(2) (i would encourage you to ask a rabbinic scholar for this one; if you want to disprove me that is) — the term god-breathed
assumed that scripture was meant to be wrestled with, intepreted/re-interpreted. to make it mean anything else is to strip of its context.
(3) as you can see here, and even among conservative theologians that jesus might not even have said this… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Tares, it might have been placed in by the early church to deal with
issues.
(4) personal question: what is wrong with mother teresa that you would feel like you need to devalue her/her work?
 
thanks for taking the time to answer

Also… (from George): you say you don’t judge people, but the website seems to call peope heretics or apostates, those are names for people that you use? just out of curiosity, why do you feel the need to do so?

Ken: I don’t judge the motives of these people; I follow e.g. John 7:24 and compare what they say about God to the Word of God. As a pastor-teacher it’s part of my job to defend the faith (Jude 3), correct, rebuke, etc. (2 Timothy 4:2), and refute those who oppose sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).
 
We also are called to mark out those who cause heresies [factions, division] through their apostate teachings (Romans 16:17). So they must be called according to their teachings; it’s nothing personal, just stating a fact.

Also…(from Ken): 1) Who says I don’t love those I criticize? It’s the most loving thing I can do. That they likely won’t appreciate it is often the case (Gal. 4:16). No, understanding of Scripture is enlightenment from the Holy Spirit; ego has zero to do with it.
 
2) I am not concerned with what unregenerate rabbis think. 2 Tim 3:16 is likening Scripture to when God breathed life into Adam. God the Holy Spirit is the Author through instruments He steered (2 Peter 1:20-21). He did NOT dictate what was written; He oversaw it so that what the prophets freely wrote ended up being what God wanted said.
 
3) That text is part of the plenary verbal inspired Scripture whether “conservative” scholars think so or not. Plenty of other scholars would agree with what I just said as well. Bottom line; we humans cannot know for certain who’s been regenerated (which one must be to actually follow the real Jesus), therefore, we are limited in how far we can judge who’s a real believer and who isn’t. That said, we still must do what I said in my other email re. apostates, etc.
 
4) I don’t devalue her work. I don’t see any indication of her ever being a regenerated believer; Isaiah 64:4-9 and Romans 8:5-14 make it quite clear that there’s nothing we can do in an unregenerated state that actually righteous according to God Who judges us, and because they remain “in the flesh” such as these can never please God.
 
As I have said many, many times; I do not hate anyone because 1 Corinthians 15:10 makes it very clear that but for the grace of God I’d be those I warn, rebuke and/or call to repentance. Again; it’s not personal, I’m just doing the job Jesus gave me to do.

George: so to help me understand better. how about this:
 
if i love my kid than i should nag them, call them names (e.g., unregenerate rabbi), and criticize them?
and how does that help again?
 
how do label help, for example, hitler called the jews cursed, it didn’t help them much at all.
 
i am just trying to understand your view and justification of criticsm, when even prominent chrstian, conservative psychologists not only say criticism isn’t biblical but also developmentally scarring.
 
thanks

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Note: This is a current conversation we are both having.

George: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-elerick/sin-isnt-the-problem-with_b_503978.html

Ken: I think you’ve misunderstood the mission of the church George, which is summed up in Scripture this way; Jesus tells us to preach His Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His Name (see-Luke 24:44-47) because He said He “came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10), and also says to us – “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). So this is what genuine Christians do.

George: interestingly enough, all the verses that talk about sin and repentance aren’t directed at ‘the world’ but the religious and the religious systems.

Ken: Then you’re not paying attention to Scripture when you read it. “Sin” is to miss the mark, fall short of the glory of God, to transgress His Law as summed up in “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (see—Mark 12:30-31).
 
The moment we take a breath we sin because that standard is impossible for human beings; it took the monogenes Son of God—the God-Man—Christ Jesus to do it for us. In other words, every human being sins by missing that perfect mark, not just religious leaders.
 
Consider also what Jesus tells us about the heart (inner man) of all human beings:
 
“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ” (Mark 7:20-23)
 
He’s simply following up on what He told us earlier in Genesis 8:21 — “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
 
And God tells us this again through His inspired vessel Paul here:
 
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” …
 
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin… I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 3:10-12; 7:14, 18, 24-25)
 
If I were you George, I’d ditch those emerging boyz because they’ve been lying to you about verses concerning sin being simply about the religious and religious systems. Those last verses were written by a regenerated Christian, and they describe all of us; even you bro.

George: jesus was a jew right? can we agree on this at least.
 
if he was, there is more historical documented evidence proving that there was a better chance than not of him speaking aramaic and ‘maybe’ other languages as well. but aramaic was his ‘street’ language. in the aramaic/hebrew the word sin isn’t just about ‘missing the mark’ (which is greek); in the hebrew it is about personal potential, about who we are and are becoming. a journey, not a word that is static.
 
also interestingly enough in my pauline studies, when paul is talking to the ‘church’ (this is key) he is talking to the church not to the world, he isn’t being universal. like joseph campbell once said ‘we have mistook the ethnic for the universal’…and even conservative theologians/professors have even agreed with that. and just because paul was confessing something, does that mean we need to confess it too? he wasn’t god, or perfect. also, to the hebrew mind (the guys who wrote the bible) — perfection wasnt static it was perpetual.
 
by the way i love this dialogue. and out of curiosity, did i ever say i was emergent?

Ken: In human nature Jesus was a Jewish man but He never ceased being God as well; and God does not change.
 
Yeah, I heard your speculations re. Aramaic, etc. on the podcast link you sent me. Your problem is that the text God inspired, right down to the tenses of the verbs, etc., is in Greek. And I also explained to you in simple terms what sin is: Anytime we do anything less than the Perfect Life Jesus Christ lived. Sinless perfection is God’s standard, everything else is sin.
 
Not all Bible writers were Hebrew e.g. Luke, and Joesph Campbell was unregenerate and had no way to understand the Scriptures so I couldn’t care less what he said. George, you’re free to try and play with the concept of sin but sinful human beings have only two choices.
 
1) They have the free will to choose whatever sinful activities they’ll be involved with; or 2) come to God for the repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, be born again, and become a doulos (slave) of Christ. Slave to sin or slave to God. And no amount of word-juggling and/or speculations of men will ever change that truth.
 
“did i ever say i was emergent?” Did I ever say you did?

George: God changes. Scripture even proves this. ‘God changed his mind’. You can call people unregenerate, it doesn’t make what they say any less valuable or true. What if the authors came to you in a dream and told you that they intended to make a ‘car manual’ approach to scripture?  here’s the thing i see, it seems to me that you are willing to see things ‘your’ way (or what you might perceive to be the generalized christian view, am i wrong?) a lot of the theology I grew up is nowhere in the scriptures, nowhere — ex: original sin (the phrase never shows up anywhere; there is documented evidence that people like st. augustine inspired that ideology). so wh espouse yourself to something like the above, and then use it as a plumbline for others, especially when the verses were directed at churches and those who believed in God? we can’t get away from that reality.
 
if you spoke german and i translated it from the german, to french than english, it will naturally get lost in translation, especially if it is a deeply layered language. as much as you say we have the greek scriptures, we still can’t get away from the fact that they were still ‘speaking’ and originally wrote in aramaic. it would be like me trying to get back to the german meaning of your words. the original intent, the power behind the layering. there is nothing wrong that, and i think what makes a lot of people uncomfortable with it is because it challenges a lot of incorrect theological assumptions we have had for centuries.
 
i thought it was interesting you separated jesus’s humanity from his godhead (not sure i agree with this; where my journey is taking me at the moment) — but the eastern origin of judeo-christian thought doesnt separate it, they thought everything was spiritual. everyone was connected with the divine, sorry, a long story to ask this question — why do you see the need to separate the two??
 
(would love to share some of this on a blog, but want to ask you first, either way, intrigued by it. — thanks!)
 
and yes here is the emergent assumption  — If I were you George, I’d ditch those emerging boyz because they’ve been lying to you about verses concerning sin being simply about the religious and religious systems. Those last verses were written by a regenerated Christian, and they describe all of us; even you bro.

Ken: George,
 
I appreciate your asking first, and I don’t mind if you want to “share some of this on a blog”. If you do, please shoot me the link so I can check it out too, k. You said: “here’s the thing i see, it seems to me that you are willing to see things ‘your’ way (or what you might perceive to be the generalized christian view, am i wrong?)”
 
Couldn’t I also say the same thing about you; you are willing to see things “your way.” What I’ve been sharing with you is the historic, orthodox Christian position regarding what sin is. I’d be the first to tell you that you’re free to ignore it but it is what the Church has taught even before Augustine. 
 
You say: “original sin (the phrase never shows up anywhere;…” No, it doesn’t; however, what does show up is the doctrine of human depravity, which I shared with you in an earlier email. Your analogy re. language translation breaks down because the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture teaches God Himself made sure in the original autographs the writers recorded what He wanted recorded in the language He wanted it recorded in (e.g. see—2 Peter 1:20-21).
 
And textual criticism shows we have those originals very preserved quite accurately. I’ve been in the ministry fields of apologetics, Comparative Religion, and evangelizing non-Christian cults for some 21+ years now, which requires much study into the origin of the Bible, the languages, textual criticism, and church history. I have both the textus receptus and the newer Nestle-Auland texts; so I can very easily evaluate translations of the Bible myself by checking them against these texts.
 
I’m not at all afraid of questions, challenges, and/or examining theological differences; I’ve been doing it for years with people from all kinds of Christian persuasions and other religions. You also said: “you separated jesus’s humanity from his godhead”. We have a bit of a misunderstanding here Geroge as that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m talking about the hypostatic union where Jesus is the only, unique, (monogenes) Son of God: At the same fully God and fully Man.
 
This might help you with where I’m coming from: JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, THE DEITY OF CHRIST, AND PHILIPPIANS 2:5-6
 
And finally, concerning your prior email where you asked: “did i ever say i was emergent?” Remember, I then asked you: Did I ever say you did? So now you said: “and yes here is the emergent assumption” and quote me: If I were you George, I’d ditch those emerging boyz…” I’ve never postulated that you say you’re emergent, which is what you asked. That’s why I asked you where did I ever say you claimed to be emergent, because I’ve never said you do. My comment has to do with your blog roll that contains emerging guys, and they are lying–though not necessarily intentionally–in much of their speculations concerning Christianity.

The conversation thus far…(will post more if Ken is comfortable with it). Greatful to him for the conversation and willingness to share with you here. Hope it has been enjoyable.

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6 comments

  1. Ken Silva · March 20, 2010

    “will post more if Ken is comfortable with it”

    Not problem George. 🙂

    Like

  2. Bart · March 21, 2010

    I find Ken Silva’s whole reliance on the notion of being “regenerate” or “unregenerate” stupefying in its spiritual and moral impracticality.

    First, as Ken points out, he subscribes to the doctrine of total depravity. He says by nature we are completely depraved. He also claims that we have to make a choice about being slaves of sin or slaves of God and that it is a Christian’s duty to preach the Gospel. This is a real problem because so many people preach so many different things in the name of the Gospel -Ken acknowledges this, that’s why he cricizes other people as heretics.

    The nature of the problem of this: uncertain people have to make a choice but they have no way of telling which preacher is right and this is further compounded, in Ken’s world, by our depraved nature. So we have the insurmountable problem of perpetual uncertainty. Or, as Ken puts it, you can never be entirely sure who regenerate or unregenerate.

    Ken isn’t sure if Mother Theresa is regenerate, for example, although he seems sure that Joseph Campbell is unregenerate.

    To illustrate the problem of uncertainty, let’s compare Mother Theresa to Ted Haggert. Perhaps Ted Haggert is regenerate, he certainly appeared to be regenerate by Ken’s criteria: accepting Jesus as his savior, saying he was born again, and preaching the gospel. In fact, we still don’t know which of these people are regenerate. It could be both, neither or just one of them and that is the core of the problem. Ken’s theology can’t make a distinction between Mother Theresa and Ted Haggert. The status of their salvation is unknowable to us. But we live in a real world, where we have to judge people morally, spiritually and ultimately criminally. As adults we have to have standards and Jesus taught people how to develop those standards.

    Ken says he knows Joseph Campbell is unregenerate, I would argue that Ken can’t really be sure because of his own doctrine of uncertainty, but that is a side point. The main point is, as far as I know Joseph Campbell was a moral person. I can judge his behavior and make a distinction between how he behaved and how Mother Theresa or Ted Haggert or Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker behaved. Maybe Ken can make the same moral distinctions but he can’t make spiritual distinctions because he admits he’s uncertain.

    Ken points out God is the one who judges people. But if Ken is correct and acts don’t matter and the flesh is dead, God could make judgments that would be entirely alien to human judgments. God could forgive Richard Ramirez and damn Mother Theresa for eternity. In which case a lot of people would ask God, “why should we worship you or follow your commandments, if you make judgments we can’t understand based on qualities beyond human comprehension? If God forgives monsters and damns saints, then what kind of relationship are we to have with God? Does it even make sense to talk about a God that damns saints and forgives monsters? Yet this concept of an arbitrary God is at the core of Ken’s epistemology. In Ken’s world knowledge leads to a capricious God – a quality which many would argue is ontologically impossible for God and any epistemology which leads to an ontological impossibility must be wrong.

    The doctrine of total depravity holds similar problems. Why would God create bodies and allow us human nature if that nature is anti-thetical to what God wants from us? Why would God consider our bodies dead? Are we some kind of mistake? Why are we being punished for our ancestors’ poor choice? Why on Earth would God presume my nature is the same as Adam’s? If I really am free, don’t I deserve to choose whether I eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil? Ken’s view of human nature leads us to view of a God that punishes our entire species for choices that none of us living ever made. Worse still, Ken constructs a view of God whose greatest creation is a flawed being who utterly fails God’s design. The core of this failure is the core of our nature: choice. Given our own devices we will always choose in a completely depraved way.

    This assertion that we always choose in a completley depraved way is easily refuted by the simple fact that peace, cooperation and harmony predominate society. Look around you, as contentious as we are, murder is the exception not the rule, as are theft, envy, arson or any other number of antisoical behaviors. Overall, as a species we tend to cooperate more than we fight one another. And we are altruistic to satisfy a spiritual desire to be good, to help one another. But in Ken’s world that goodness does not exist.

    Ken cites Mark 7 20-23 as proof of our depravity and ties it to a completely unrelated passage in Genesis. In fact, if we look at the context of the verses Ken quotes we can see that the meaning is not that only evil qualities can come out of us but something quite different.

    The Pharisees arrive and ask Jesus why his disciples aren’t following Jewish cleanliness laws, specifically washing their hands. In response Jesus quotes Isiah to the Pharisees, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” The apostles are confused and Jesus explains, “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean”

    Ken completely misinterprets the meaning of the verses he quotes. Jesus is not saying that only impure things come out people, but that impure acts start from within as impulses or inner thoughts and schemes which we choose to act out. Also, Jesus is using Isiah to rebuke the Pharisees: he’s saying you are worried about people washing their hands before they eat, which is a tradition of men, but you are forgetting God’s commandments not to perform evil deeds.

    Immediately following the verses Ken’s quote, is scriptural proof that good comes out of people, too. verse 24 the Syrophonecian woman asks Jesus to heal her sick child who is possessed by an evil spirit. Jesus answers her by saying “I will do this but first let the children eat, it is wrong to throw their food to the dogs.” The woman replies “even the dogs under the table eat the curmbs that fall from the children’s plates.” Jesus then says “because of your answer your daughter is healed go home and find her.”

    You don’t have to understand this parable to understand that the woman said something good, something that pleased Jesus. His asnwer to her makes that clear.

    In fact, what Jesus is saying to her is first I have to feed (with spiritual insight) the crowd I’m teaching (the children) before I can help a dog (you are interrupting me, begging from me like stray a dog, while all these others are attending my class. The woman’s response is one of tremendous humility -yes, I’m begging for a few crumbs (my daughter’s well being because I love her and care about her so much, I’m willing to beg for her.) and Jesus then responds you’ve shown you really love her and care about her, be at ease, go see her, I’ve healed her.

    When you take the story of Syrophonecian woman in the context of what Jesus quoted to the Pharisees, this story perfectly concludes the teaching. The woman is living by the commandments of God to show love and compassion for others, unlike the Pharisees who come only to rebuke Jesus for not following the traditions of men. But Ken fails to sees any of this.

    In Ken’s world we are depraved and cannot live up to God’s perfect standard of adoration which only Jesus can fulfill. In fact, the purpose of Jesus’ existence was to provide the perfect adoration God requires. As Ken puts it, “Anytime we do anything less than the Perfect Life Jesus Christ lived. Sinless perfection is God’s standard, everything else is sin.” This reduces God and Jesus to some kind of solipsistic relationship. In Ken’s construction, God is basically saying “humans, you guys just don’t love me the way I want to be loved, so I am going to send an aspect of myself down there to do it right. By the way you can emulate him, but it’ll never be good enough, because I made you screwed up.” This sounds more like a bad father from an awful movie than theology, but this is Ken’s world. Yet, one only has to read Mark chapter 7 to see that Jesus’ purpose was to teach us. In Jesus’ words, “I have to feed the children.” That’s us the sppritually hungry. Not only does Ken misread scripture to come up with doctrine of total depravity, he compounds the error by misinterpreting Jesus’ purpose. And it Ken’s misunderstandings which lead him to be concerned about who is regenerate.

    Ken’s idea of being regenerate is laden with a problem deeper on being uncertain about whether others are regenerate. In Ken’s world we cannot know if we are regenerate or simply self-deceiving.

    Mother Theresa and Ted Haggert both thought of themselves as good Christians. So here we have these two good Christians one of whom may have devoted her life to, in Ken’s view, worthless acts, and the other who turned out to be an adulterous sodomite. Neither of them could look at their acts to determine whether they were regenerate because as Ken states God’s standard is perfect following of his rule to love and honor God continuously, a rule we violate, according to Ken, everytime we breathe. Everyone, Ken says, is a sinner except Jesus who led a sinless life. So herewe encounter the second insurmountable spiritual problem for Ken’s way of thinking: you can never really be sure whether you are regenerate or simply deceiving yourself because by nature you are totally depraved and good acts aren’t necessarily a sign of spirituality.

    Ken has put us into Wittgenstein’s beetle in a box paradox, where everyone has a box with a beetle only he can see in it, only Ken has made the situation worse because in Ken’s world we cannot even be sure that the beetle we are seeing the beetle is there.

    This is an absurd way to talk about spirituality, if we can’t have some sense of it in others and ourselves and use that as a guide post, if it is that vague, then it might as well not exist. And yet there is an overwhelming consenus among people that spirituality is important and as a society we have been able to set basic moral standards for ages (even if those standards change over time) – all proof that spiritualtiy and morality are externally identifiable qualities. Indeed going back to what Jesus taught us about Isiah in Mark 7, Jesus clearly could discern spirituality in others and was confident he could teach us the same insights.

    But in Ken’s world spiritual teaching is hermeneutical -based on God’s inspiration, as he writes, “understanding of Scripture is enlightenment from the Holy Spirit; ego has zero to do with it.” Ken claims that due to his regenerate status he is enlightened by the Holy Spirit and he can spot heresies. But this is really problematic because people who take the opposite point of view can just as easily cite divine inspiration as the basis for their beliefs.

    Let’s imagine Ken having tea with his “unregenerate Rabbi” friend. They find they agree on a number of scriptures and then they find they interpret another scripture in completely different and opposing ways. How are they going to resolve this issue? How can they measure who is more inspired or who really knows God’ds mind? Maybe since God operates on a different level God inspired both of them to have opposite truths because for God the dialogue is what’s important but of course Ken and the Rabbi can never know this because they only know their own truth.

    But how can Ken be certain that he is actually inspired and not just an incredibly egotistical fool? How can he or any of us judge him using his system? We certainly can’t take his word for it that he is inspired and knows what he’s talking about because he’s already told us we can never really know who is regenerate. The mere fact that someone thinks they are right is not enough, or Ken wouldn’t be able to call others apostates and heretics, he’d only be able to acknowledges differences of opinions.

    Of course, my view is different. I think that enlightenment comes from reading the scriptures and thinking about them, which is the basis of my comment on Mark 7. I’m not claiming that I have a special power from the Holy Spirit, I think any hungry child can get nouishment from Mark 7. It’s pretty straight forward if you read it thinking about spirituality and morality.

    But Ken is stuck in a different world. A world where one’s interpretation of reason has nothing to do with reason, but rather is a divine enlightenment. Ken might argue that the acts themselves have no spiritual value but that in the context of trying to fulfill God’s commandment to love him and honor him, acts have some spiritual value, which can help someone figure out if they are truly enlightened. The problem with this point of view is Richard Ramirez. Rmiarez justified his acts of violence and murder as acts honorng God. Indeed, throughout history all types violent acts have been justified in this way. Maybe Ken is okay with that, but Jesus certainly wasn’t, since the second commandment was to love our neighbors as ourselves and unless you are into murdering and torturing yourself (which I would argue are acts of self-hatred) you really shouldn’t be doing it to others, if you are trying to be consistent with Jesus’ teachings.

    Spiritual inspiration does precede religion. For the vast majority of us, we have inward spiritual yearnings, which is in itself a refutation of the doctrine of depravity: if we were half as depraved as Ken thinks we are, the Bible never would have been written. There is a reason humanties oldest texts are moral and spiritual volumes, we are spiritual beings. When Jesus spoke it wasn’t like he was blowing a dog whistled that people couldn’t hear. Crowds turned up. People listened. As Jesus put it hungry children came to be fed. We might be spiritually deprived, but we’re not spiritually depraved.

    First there is the relation between God and human, then human for communities of awareness which become institutions of religion. But when we as spiritual people look at these different institutions, we apply reason and our moral compass to figure out which doctrines make sense that is the base of human nature. On an epistemological level Ken’s teachings defy reason and spirituality. We can as Ken points out never really be sure who is regenerate, even in the case of our own self.

    Although Ken doesn’t explain how he does it, he clearly thinks he is capable of overcoming the limits of his epistemology. It’s clear from the fact that he knows when others are heretics and that Joseph Campbell is unregenerate. As he puts it, “I, as all faithful Christians, am against false doctrine; I don’t judge the people themselves, that’s God’s job.” That may work for Ken, but it can’t work the rest of us. Ken is telling us that he is a faithful Christian because he’s sure he’s been born again in Christ and Jesus gave him a job to do doesn’t enable us to overcome his own problem of uncertainty. It’s possible Ken is regenerate and a great critic of heretical ideas, but its just as possible, and I think easily shown, that he is unregenerate and if we follow his teachings we may miss the mark of the Gospels.

    Ken’s appeal is ultimately an emotional one: trust me, I’m right. This may have great appeal to uncertain people who are concerned primarily with their own salvation, but for those of us who are concerned with honoring God and loving our neighbor as ourselves it’s not enough.

    The bulk of adults are concerned with morality not salvation, they expect others to uphold certain values and they themselves try to live by certain moral standards. The Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 25 have resonate with people precisely because they are moral teachings as well as spiritual teachings. The two greatest commandments are the greatest not because they lead to salvation as Ken describes but because in two sentences Jesus gives us guidance on how to live a morally and spiritually fulfilling life.

    Ken seems completely blind to the this world dimensions of Jesus’ teachings, which is illustrated by the way, Ken truncated the first part of the teaching. Reading Ken one gets the impression that the two greatest commandments Jesus said were “Honor God with all thy heart, all they soul and all thy might and the second is be born again in me and read the Bible so I can inspire you.” But of course what Jesus said was the second great commandment was to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Ken asserts that he loves people which is why he criticizes them. That he criticizes people as an act of love is tolerable, that he does it from his self-declared privileged position of enlightenment and regeneration certainty isn’t. Fortunately, Jesus wrote a verse for Ken, that doesn’t take hermeneutical inspiration to understand: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”

    When Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourself, it is a double commandment. It begs the question, how do I love myself? Because how I love myself, how I see myself, how I treat myself is going to have a profound impact on how I honor God and how I love my neighbor. It’s a really deep commandment. To put it simply, one cannot believe one is totally depraved and truly love oneself because to believe there is no good inside you at all is form of self-hatred. To say that the good inside of a person is only Jesus or the Holy Spirit does not honor the part of your being which responds to that presence. You have to honor the part of your being that is good to fulfill Jesus’ commandments.

    Quoting scripture doesn’t make the doctrine of depravity true and recognizing your own and everyone else’s capacity for good doesn’t change a word of scripture. Yet,that simple insight makes the scriptures accessible through reason and contemplation, not strange texts understood only by a special regenerate group, relying on their personal enlightenment.

    I don’t know if Ken Silva can ever give up the false specialness of believing he’s regenerate and enlightened, for the enlightened realization that he is special to God himself because he has the capacity to be a good person, or, as Jesus would say to follow the commands of God. Either way, Ken, we still love you.

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  3. Bart · March 21, 2010

    Hi George,

    I didn’t mean to write such a lengthy comment but I guess I really had something to say.

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  4. Ken Silva · March 21, 2010

    “Either way, Ken, we still love you.”

    Right backatcha Bart.

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  5. iggy · March 22, 2010

    George,

    Great dialog… in fact this is the best Ken Silva has ever sounded… no attacking and name calling which is rare for him. I am rather proud of ole Ken here. Yet, it seems he misses the point over and over again.

    Ken and I go back a few years and believe me I have tried to have a dialog with him yet he seems to only answer me with put downs and accusations as to my salvation (Ken will probably state he never did that but he has and it is easily proven)

    If Ken had more of this sort of manner and approach he may get further in his “views”, yet saying that I see that his theology restricts his ability to see things more fully thought out. That is typical of modernist minded Christians. Someday he may come to realize he does not know all the answers and that will be a major breakthrough in his growth… to give up the role of Judge and leave that to God.

    Keep up the good work and I hope that somehow this dialog will be helpful.

    Blessings!

    iggy

    PS The convo we had is now on my podcast: http://iggyrocks.podbean.com/2010/03/23/a-conversation-with-george-elerick/

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  6. Ken Silva · March 23, 2010

    “his ‘views,’…his theology…modernist minded Christians…he may come to realize he does not know all the answers…”

    These kinds of foolish statements by Carlos “iggy” are the reason that I very rarely will do something like this.

    I’ve clearly said 1) the views I espouse are what the late Christian apologist Dr. Walter Martin, whose doctorate was in the history of first 500 years of the ancient church, so often called “the historic, orthodox, Christian faith.

    Hardly “my” views of “my” theology. And I also said quite specifically, many times, that no one is claiming to “know all the answers.”

    I’m not at all trying to convince anyone here of anything. I am sincerely answering George’s questions as an FYI. That said, if people here aren’t going to make the time to actually read what I say, then this conversation will be terminated.

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