Friday, July 21, 2006

In the words of Semisonic...

"every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end"
This isn't really the end as much as it is the beginning of something new. I started posting on a new blog a week ago, the evangelical free market (place of ideas). This blog will allow me to address a plethora of subjects beyond the scope of the Freechurchman blog. I will from time to time come back here to address issues pertaining to the EFCA and will indicate at the e-free market when that happens.
Until then, I want to recommend a book that I believe will be very helpful as we look forward to the ministerial on hermenutical issues: The Kingdom of Christ by Russell D. Moore. There's a lot to say about this book, but I think the essential component for those of us in the free church is the way that Moore analyzes how dispensational and covenant theologians have moved closer to each other due to a shared appreciation for inaugurated eschatology. Unfortunately the book reads like a dissertation, but if you can plow through the second chapter with your finger in the end notes it will undoubtedly prepare you for our upcoming conversations about the future of the EFCA. You can order the book on Amazon by clicking on "Russell D. Moore."
For the glory of Christ in His Church,
Sean Dennis

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An Open Letter to Sean (from the Freechurchman)

Dear Sean,

As you know (because you are me) attending the EFCA National Leadership Conference was a good opportunity for me to think about a whole myriad of issues relating to the proposed rewrite of the Statement of Faith. While the only “formal” discussion I went to was the first session in which the SHC essentially rehashed what was heard at the district conference it still helped me process a number of things I’ve been thinking about for some time now.

First, it deepened my respect and appreciation for the members of the committee I’ve heard from (Bill Kynes and Greg Strand to be specific). Time and again they have explained the process they’ve gone through to this point and stated the reasons for the process. They have graciously admitted that the process has not been flawless, but have recognized that they’re onto something that can’t be abandoned simply because there has been a mistake or two along the way.

Now Sean, I know you’ve been reading my posts on this site since December so maybe that last statement of mine came as a bit of a shock; take a minute, slurp down some more coffee, and allow it to sink in a bit… Finished? Good. Allow me to go into greater detail regarding “they’re onto something that can’t be abandoned.” Our Statement of Faith needs to be revised. If the denomination fails to recognize the need for revision then we can either expect to become the Fundamentalist Free Church of America – we sit back and say “everything I ever needed to know about God and life in general was summarized in the 1950’s,” or we become the Liberal Free Church of America – and we declare “yeah, we have this statement from the 1950’s that we cherish as a historical marker, but we’ve decided to reinterpret it to mean what we think it should mean for today.” We must have a process for revision and that is precisely why the resolution we voted for at the conference was so important.

So yes, I’m in favor of revision. Does this mean I’m ecstatic about the proposed rewrite? Yes and no. I’m excited that we are having these conversations (and writing these letters to each other); that we’re discussing what it means to be a denomination/movement that is quintessentially evangelical and unashamed. I’m happy to see us thinking about the context in which we minister today (when heresies like open theism exist and the challenges of post modernism force us to examine our epistemology). I’m not excited about all of the proposed changes, but I am happy to know that the Spiritual Heritage Committee is listening to guys like us.

There’s one more thing that was on my mind at the N.L.C.: Classical dispensationalists. I’m not sure how many classical dispensationalists were around or how many there are in the EFCA in general, but I do know that they’re worried sick. In a way, I feel sorry for them. Many of them feel that the denomination they have been a part of for years is abandoning an essential component of what they hold dear theologically. There are a few things I would like to say directly to them like, “Don’t worry there are many other churches and denominations that don’t speak specifically about the tribulation or the millennium but still hold to Dispensationalism (like many Southern Baptist churches),” but this letter is written to you, a historic premillennialist, not to them. So here’s what I have to say to you: be kind and understand that Dispensationalism is an entire system for understanding the Bible. You wouldn’t like it if people in your church or denomination seemed to be moving away from the way that you understand the Bible (especially if it was the way that many of the key founders of the denomination understood the Bible). So do what the members of the Spiritual Heritage Committee have modeled so well – patiently listen to all and pray that God will be glorified in and through this process.

For the glory of Christ in His Church,

The Freechurchman