Okay, sorry for the long title but I couldn’t resist. Let me explain the title first off:
Why Worldly? – Dan Kimball bases the success/failure of The Church’s evangelism efforts solely on the World and its reactions to them.
Why Overreactionary? – Dan Kimball builds a philosophy in reaction to the mistakes of a certain group of Christians in their method and practice of Church and evangelism. Yet Kimball overreacts and overcompensates.
Why Fundamental? – I am not referring to the actual meaning of fundamental but of what Fundamental/ist/ism typically has become: those who hold mostly to original fundamentalist doctrines of God, sin, man, and salvation but have embraced a more hyper-conservative, legalistic, Pharisaical philosophy which has led to a more man-centered view of God, sin, man, and salvation. Kimball is reacting to the failures of this movement. And rightly so.
Why Arrogant? – Because typically, not always the people but the doctrine and practice of these Fundamentalists is fueled by arrogance, pride, stubbornness, and a refusal to consider anything outside of itself.
Why Sectarian? – Because this Fundamental movement has a distance-righteousness view of holiness. The more distance from culture, the more holy one becomes, the more pleasing one is to God, and the more effective one is in their witness for Christ. Its a proximity-sanctification which ends up turning almost into a works-based sanctification. The closer to culture, the more compromised and disobedient a Christian becomes. The farther from culture, the more holy and righteous a believer becomes. So righteousness becomes about location rather than about the unchanging, immutable, perfect obedience and righteousness of Christ.
Dan Kimball of Vintage Faith Church wrote a book called, “They Like Jesus But Not the Church – Responding to Culture’s Objections to Christianity“. In the above video, you’ll see a 7 minute summary of what Dan Kimball, his book, his church, and his philosophy of Christianity really is.
“Dan Kimball is a pastor, author and known to be part of the Emerging Church movement. Kimball uses the phrases “Vintage Faith” and “Vintage Christianity” for how he expresses his perspective of going back to “vintage” values of the original Christian church and teachings of Jesus – yet at the same time moving forward to what it means to be church in a very different culture today”(wikipedia).
My goal, as always, is not to slander, judge, attack or nitpick Dan Kimball. I don’t know the guy and I haven’t read his book or blog. So all I can do is base my case off of this video. He seems to genuinely care for people and for the work and image of the Church. And has a desire to return to the vintage teachings of Jesus. Although I wonder if his love for people and desires to redeem some bad views of the Church are bigger than his love for God and desire to see people born again! I watched this video and for me, it was enough to understand his basic philosophy on the Church and evangelism.
As you watch this video (also viewable above), you’ll hopefully notice several things. If not, then I’d like to at least share some things that instilled serious concerns. My goal is to analyze and hopefully redeem some wrong thinking about Jesus, the Church, and Christianity.
ASSESSMENT OF VIDEO
- Dan Kimball, “Jesus is becoming pretty popular out there in our culture and world, kind of as an ICON today”.
Not to sound sarcastic, but really? Because if Jesus is becoming “pretty popular” anywhere and at anytime, it makes me think of one question: Jesus who? I mean if “Jesus” is becoming huge and famous and starting to be an “icon”, then I think the Real Jesus of the Bible has been somehow replaced, don’t you? Especially when you are using the Jesus bobble-head figurine as proof of His so called “new found fame”.
- “I believe in Jesus and I think his teachings were very inspirational”.
You hear this a lot. Now I don’t know anything about this person or the status of their heart toward God. But typically when you hear this phrase, people are speaking of how Jesus had some generally influential and motivational teachings. As if He was a great motivational speaker and teacher, but not the Savior of the World or God in the flesh.
It’s not totally about how the world perceives us. We can’t build our theology and methodology on the world’s perception of us. If we do, than any changes we see that need to be made to better their perception of us so we appear more acceptable to them will be man-centered and catered to them. We are not called to love others so that they will feel comfortable around us and about us. We are called to love them in a way that causes them to glorify our Father in heaven. But that doesn’t include compromising our theology to one that embraces them as they are, especially embracing their sin, specifically their unrepentant sin. But includes one that loves them because we are commanded to and we genuinely care for their soul. We can /should love them as they are but not for what they do. True we can learn something from the world about how well we love them, but that lesson is to be a possible litmus test not a permanent foundation to build our love and its effectiveness on. Because then we judge ourselves according to them and their assessment of us rather than to God and His standard of love.
- “Bible-thumper, that’s the first thing I think of. Pseudo-Christian people trying to tell you what they believe and then what you should believe”.
This girl is in line with many bystanders of Christianity. Unfortunately we have been given these titles because we show the world we care more about ourselves and our beliefs then them. The world would rather have us love and tolerate them then hold on to our beliefs. Yet there is a razor’s edge medium to walk on: love them, hate their sin, love truth, don’t compromise the truth. That edge can be walked on if we love God FIRST and love our neighbor as ourself SECOND. Unfortunately this girl is probably more right then she knows when she says “Pseudo-Christian people” because many people among our Church and in our Church buildings are in fact fake Christians. We should never stop verbalizing or communicating our beliefs or persuading others to believe the same. But it must be done lovingly.
- “When I think of Christians, I think of dogmatic, close-minded individuals”.
Oops on our part again. Or oops on their part? You see there’s a mixture of oops going on here. First you have the world telling us that we have been close-minded and arrogant. And indeed we have. But sometimes what they consider close-minded and arrogant is actually us being confident and unapologetic in the truth we believe. For example, when the world says “you’re so intolerant”, what they mean is “you need to accept me and my beliefs as truth too”. But often when the Christian is being “intolerant”, they are really refusing to compromise and expressing belief in absolute truth. Worldly labels aren’t always accurate.
Secondly, the oops on our part is the fact that often we have been close-minded and arrogant. I’m speaking of the times when the world is actually correct in their assessment. If we could pray for God to give us a Humble Orthodoxy and a good mixture of love for doctrine & love for people, those labels would slowly fade. Not entirely, but slowly. We are called to believe and know the truth, to let it humble us, and then spread it. Our problem is we find the truth, boast in the gift and the gift-getter rather than the Gift-Giver, spread the “truth” that others need to live like us instead of like Jesus, and end up pushing people farther away from the cross. We must be bold, confident, and humble. Close-minded in doctrine, but open-minded in methods and love.
- “I think of this thing that Ghandi said, ‘I would’ve become a Christian except I’ve never met one’. I mean I haven’t met very many true Christians in my life.”
I’m not sure what Ghandi meant by that. Either he was saying he’s never met a true Christian and doesn’t know who/what they are; Or he knows what/who a true Christian is and because of that knowledge, knows that he’s never met anyone meeting those qualifications. This statement is pretty accurate as well. Again, true born-again believers are often hard to find. Most people in this country that call themselves Christian have not met personally with God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. They’ve had a religious experience involving superficial superstitious requirements. In fact, the world doesn’t know what true Christians are either. They only have their own idea and perception of what true Christians are to look like: tolerant, lovey-dovey (meaning tolerant), kind, compassionate, concerned mostly for the physical needs of others like homeless, the hungry, the widow, etc. But there’s never any room for holy, righteous, selfless, lovers of God and truth in the world’s definition of a Christian.
- “For the most part I think people should be taken out back and shot because they don’t apply the ‘love is everything’ message of Jesus”.
Either this guy has obviously had some bad run-ins with some “Christians”, met some true Christians who treated him wrong, or he got upset at some true Christians for telling him the truth. Either way, his angry reaction does make a point: some way or somewhere somebody left an impression on him. Be it good or bad. But chances are his “love is everything message of Jesus” doesn’t include absolute beliefs like God is holy, angry at sinners, full of wrath, intolerant of sin, sending sinners to Hell and Judgment, and loves Himself and His glory more than anything.
Saints, love is being honest with someone about reality. And then sharing that truth with them in a loving way. Love=truth with love!
Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 where I’ll examine the 6 Key Issues Kimball addresses with the problem of “loving Jesus but not the Church”.