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