Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel

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9780310267133: Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel

How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel If you’re brave enough to take an honest look at the issues facing the culture–controlled church―and the issues in your own life―read on. Do you ever look at how the Christian faith is being lived out in the new millennium and wonder if we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing? That we still haven’t quite “gotten it”? That we’ve missed the point regarding many important issues? It’s understandable if we’ve relied on what we’ve been told to believe or what’s widely accepted by the Christian community. But if we truly turned a constructive, critical eye toward our beliefs and vigorously questioned them and their origins, where would we find ourselves? Best-selling authors Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo invite you to do just that. Join them on an adventure―one that’s about uncovering and naming faulty conclusions, suppositions, and assumptions about the Christian faith. In Adventures in Missing the Point, the authors take turns addressing how we’ve missed the point on crucial topics such as: salvation, the Bible, being postmodern, worship, homosexuality, truth, and many more.

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About the Author:

Brian D. McLaren (MA, University of Maryland) is an author, speaker, activist and public theologian. After teaching college English, Brian pastored Cedar Ridge Community Church in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. Brain has been active in networking and mentoring church planters and pastors for over 20 years. He is a popular conference speaker and a frequent guest lecturer for denominational and ecumenical leadership gatherings in the US and internationally.



Tony Campolo (Ph.D., Temple University) is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in suburban Philadelphia, a media commentator on religious, social, and political matters, and the author of a dozen books, including Revolution and Renewal, Let me Tell You a Story, and 20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to touch.

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Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel MISSING THE POINT: Salvation Brian D. McLaren Are you saved? For people who come from evangelical and fundamentalist backgrounds (as I do), life is about being (or getting) saved, and knowing it. I was taught that the ideal Christian could tell you the exact date---and maybe even the hour and minute--- when he was saved, when he experienced salvation. Are you saved? was a question that everyone understood meant one or all of the following: * You had accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. * You believed that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and you believed his death, not your good deeds, made it possible for your sins to be forgiven. * At the end of a church service, during the 'invitation,' you had said 'the sinner's prayer,' then during the 'invitation' walked to the front of the church---this was the 'altar call'---or perhaps only raised your hand to acknowledge your conversion. * You gained an assurance that you were going to heaven after you died. I assure you, I think it's good to be saved in this way. Yet I also think that the Bible has less to say about these four things than many Christians may think. Consider: * The phrase accept Christ as your personal Savior is not in the Bible. Even personal Savior is absent from the pages of the Bible. In fact, the Bible seems to make the focus of salvation on us as a people, not on me as an individual. * Having your sins forgiven is no doubt a part of (or a prelude to) salvation. But in the Bible salvation means much more than that: if anything, being forgiven is the starting line, not the finish line, of salvation. * Nowhere in the Bible is the term sinner's prayer mentioned, and no one in the Bible ever says it---at least not in the form that prospective converts are taught to say it today. And it wasn't until the last 150 years or so that Christian services included 'invitations' or 'altar calls.' Furthermore, no one has ever or will ever walk down an aisle or raise a hand to 'get saved.' Invitations, altar calls, and sinner's prayers are wonderful and often useful traditions or rituals---I just don't think that salvation lies in them. * If you had asked the apostle Paul, 'If you were to die tonight, do you know for certain that you would be with God in heaven?' I'm certain Paul would have said yes. But he probably would have given you a funny look and wondered why you were asking this question, because to him it missed the point. To Paul the point of being Christ's follower was not just to help people be absolutely certain they were going to heaven after they died. Paul's goal was to help them become fully formed, mature in Christ, here and now---to experience the glorious realities of being in Christ and experiencing Christ in themselves. So if we are missing the point about salvation, what is the point? For starters, in the Old Testament the Hebrew word that is translated salvation means rescue---especially rescue from sickness, trouble, distress, fear, or (this especially) from enemies and their violence. You see this meaning clearly in passages like this one, in which the people rejoice that God has saved them from the Egyptians who had violently oppressed them as slaves for generations: The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:2) Or take David, who expresses the same joy over being rescued from violent people---in this case, King Saul: My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior--- from violent men you save me. (2 Samuel 22:3) A Jewish priest named Zacharias understood salvation in this same sense. At the birth of his long-awaited son (who would be known as John the Baptizer), Zacharias sang a song about salvation--- but the enemies he sang about were certainly the Romans, who oppressed the Jewish people and denied them their full freedom: He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us--- to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:69-75) It's clear that in these passages the speakers aren't talking about being saved from hell. They're talking about being saved from the Egyptians, King Saul, the Romans---about being liberated from violence and oppression and the distressing fear they engender. Not that being saved from hell is unimportant or unbiblical. It is only that I think we sometimes jump to that interpretation of salvation too quickly---and in so doing, we miss the full point of salvation. For just a minute or two, box up your understanding of salvation and saved long enough to listen to a story, as if it were the first time you ever heard it. Back in about 1400 B.C., the Bible tells us, the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt. They prayed for relief, and God sent them Moses, who led them to freedom. Moses didn't take the credit, though---he knew it was God who saved the people from slavery. After the people escaped Egypt and settled in Palestine, many of their neighbors would brutally attack them--- the Philistines, the Amalekites, and others. Again and again, they would pray---and sure enough, God would send them a deliverer (or savior) to save them (or bring them salvation). They eventually faced their most dangerous enemies of all. To their north and east, the powerful and brutal Assyrian empire attacked and destroyed Israel's northern tribes. Some years later the Assyrians were replaced by a Babylonian regime, and they attacked Israel's southern tribes. They prayed for salvation, but they were not spared. They weren't destroyed, either: many were carried away as exiles, or prisoners of war, to be used as servants in the Babylonian empire. When they arrived in Babylon, the Jews kept on praying for salvation---this time, salvation from their exile. Later, yet another regime---the Medo-Persians---replaced the Babylonians, and the Hebrew exiles were allowed to return to their promised land of Israel. The Greeks soon ruled over Judea, and after the Greeks, the Romans. It seemed the Jews were destined to remain under the control of larger, more powerful empires. When would their salvation come? When would their liberation come? After many centuries, the question When? gave way to the more vexing question Why?

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