Metaphorically speaking, my professor did enjoy chocolate chip cookies, but he hated Liquid Drano and he hated the adverse effects of the poison upon the church. Frankly, he loved me enough to disrupt my enjoyment of Liquid Drano cookies and he was courageous enough to criticize those who baked these corrupted cookies for me, even though these actions would earn him the stigma as being unloving, nitpicky, and an anti-cookie grouch.Honestly, I believe that what we need most in the church today is more anti-chocolate chip cookie grouches, for there are indeed a lot of individuals cooking up and distributing Liquid Drano cookies in our post-modern pluralistic context. Furthermore, I believe that it is truly dangerous and foolish when we rationalize in our minds that a little poison won’t hurt anyone and when we attempt to preserve tranquility within a community by applying ad hominem stigmas to those who are attempting to expose stealthy poison.
Definition of eisegesis:
eis·ege·sis noun \ˌī-sə-ˈjē-səs, ˈī-sə-ˌ\
: the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas — compare exegesis
Picture credit: Chris Rosebrough, @piratechristian
Author Donald Miller admits that he doesn’t worship God by singing and that he connects with God elsewhere. At best, this is an uphelpful go-ahead for substance starved millennials to disregard gathered-worship. At worst, it its unbiblical and dangerous. It is my feeling it leans towards the latter.
Denny Burk has written everything I’d hope to say on this, complete with many of the same verses (and many more) than I’d planned to cite. Please take the time to read what he has to say. Denny calls Miller’s method a “recipe for spiritual suicide,” and I agree.
Miller’s words reveal what happens when the subjective experience of the individual is made the climax of Christianity. Paul wrote the epistles in order to rebuke and exhort believers not to forsake the Christian faith and makes it clear that the center of Christian worship is the gathering of believers in a local church, the physical bride of Christ. Where the Gospel is preached, the sacraments tasted and poured, and hymns and Psalms sung — there we find the Christ who follows us into our vocation and lives outside of corporate worship. Christ died for this church, that she would be redeemed and made beautiful.
There is no mention of small group Bible studies or “quasi-intentional spiritual communities” in the New Testament. When a gathering is mentioned, it is the Church.
My good friend Scott put it better than I ever could:
There is no conception of “belong to the Church and not the church” in NT Xianity. If you belong to Christ, you belong to a local assembly.
— Scott Corbin (@scottacorbin) February 3, 2014
I would be remiss if I did not quote Machen in Christianity & Liberalism, whose words could not ring more true:
“Christian experience is rightly used when it helps to convince us that the events narrated in the New Testament actually did occur; but it can never enable us to be Christians whether the events occurred or not. It is a fair flower, and should be prized as a gift of God. But cut it from its root in the blessed Book, and it soon withers away and dies.”
I’m happy to clarify and answer any questions in the comments. I reserve the right to delete and moderate as I see fit.
“Says the Arminian: God certainly foresaw that Saul of Tarsus would believe and repent, and, therefore, elected him. But I say, that if God certainly foresaw Saul’s faith, it must have been certain to take place, for the Omniscient cannot make mistakes.” — R.L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism