Which One Is Right?

PiperBellMcLarenPlantingaZachariasMichaelWillard

Perhaps it would be a good idea, fantastic as it sounds, to muffle every telephone, stop every motor and halt all activity for an hour some day to give people a chance to ponder for a few minutes on what it is all about, why they are living, and what they really want.”

–James Truslow Adams

It would be good to have an overall view of things, like an aerial view, so that I can fit any aspect of life into the bigger picture. This seems easy but is actually incredibly difficult, especially if you read a lot of books. Eight years ago I had more direction than I have today, simply because I didn’t know much, and if you don’t know much than you can’t be too confused. But because I’ve learned so much the past few years, it’s very confusing trying to piece all of these things together.

John Piper has based his life and ministry around enjoying God. Rob Bell and the Mars Hill Community make it their aim to put Jesus on display. These are different. If they weren’t, then John Piper’s ministry would be called “Putting Jesus on Display Ministries” rather than “Desiring God Ministries,” and Mars Hill wouldn’t be called a “Jesus Community” it would be called a “Desiring God Community.”

Brian McLaren wrote a book series about a new kind of Christian. Cornelius Plantinga bases his theology around a Creation-Fall-Redemption model.

Can you be a new kind of Christian who puts Jesus on display within a Creation-Fall-Redemption model while desiring God?

Ravi Zacharias’ ministry is called “Let My People Think.” We don’t think enough. Boaz Michael and the folks over at First Fruits of Zion focus on bringing Christians back to the Torah and obeying its instructions. We’re not obeying God like the Bible commands. Dallas Willard believes what’s missing in Christians’ lives is discipline. We’re not being disciples of Jesus like we should be.

This is just seven ministries. There are thousands more who focus on different things. All of these different focuses cause confusion in a guy like me who simply wants the big idea. Is there even a big idea? Of course all of these people and their ministries are in agreement on a lot of things, but apparently not enough that they explain their thoughts on life and God in a similar way, otherwise we wouldn’t have seven different names and agendas from seven different men, plus thousands more, would we?

So if we stopped the world for an hour and let everybody think about what it’s all about and why they are living, how many different answers would we get? Ask seven Christians with big ministries and you get seven different answers.

It’s very confusing. I think I’m getting C.ADD – Christianity Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe I’ll go watch Joel Osteen.

Osteen

Advertisements

21 comments

  1. I happen to know Dallas Willard and I don’t know any of the others. I can only say positive things about him. Willard is living the eternal life of God in the here and now. He has so much love, you can feel it sitting across from him. Take his work seriously, don’t idolize Willard as I have, and purposefully start taking on the easy yoke of Jesus Christ (do the disciplines the way Jesus did). I’m sure your life will slowly begin to change.

  2. Great post here. I know almost all of these men. I sit under Rob Bell, study in the Torah Club (Boaz Michael), absolutely love Ravi Zacharias and his logic, fell in love with Dallas Willards book, appreciated Brian McLaren first book in the series of the New Kind of Christian (because I could relate), John Piper and Joel Osteen I do not know unfortunately for me.

    I too knew much less 6 years ago and had many less questions. Now one question (thanks to another guy, Ray VanderLaan “Follow the Rabbi.com”) has led me to ask hundreds. I’ve now own over $2,000 in books and have borrowed several from the Library. All because one question led to so many more.

    For me it’s a new bright world of wonder and beauty yet to be discovered. Oh, and that first question? Still haven’t nailed it down, but at least I could discuss it with the best of them for hours.

    Keep seeking, reading, learning, loving, and living the Text.

    Baruch Atah.
    Marvin

  3. i know this is an older post, and i also havent really been in the blogging world recently (slacker, i know) but this post made me laugh. CADD…. yes. i know this all to well. i will buy you the joel olsteen board game if you find that you still need an outlet. seriously. its out there.

  4. Boaz Michael and FFOZ are, without question, pure in their desire to serve God and live out His Torah, and know that it’s all about Messiah. Their teachings and resources are so valuable to all of us seeking God’s truth. Baruch HaShem

  5. You people are being drawn into a black hole of mysticism and it will end in a very nasty place. Do not be followers of men but of God through His Word. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth.” You do not need anyone other than the Holy Spirit to help you understand what the Bible means. It interprets itself if you will place yourself under the authority of the Word of God. Simple–easy. A child can understand it–our Lord said that we must come to Him as would a child.

  6. jbell, if you are reading the bible in any other language than greek or hebrew then you are already reading it through an interpreter. or if you have a pastor. or read books. or blogs. or live in a human culture.

  7. thirtythousandpeople, I am well aware of the slight nuances of meaning that can come from various interpretation of the original languages but the broad scope of the text is quite understandable and has great similarity from translation to translation. We do not need “priests” to interpret it for us as some now seem to be implying. We have been given the Holy Spirit for that purpose–He is there to lead us to all truth. It seems particularly typical of the younger generations of Christians that they want to be “spoon-fed” from the Scriptures through their lauded “gurus” rather than go directly to the source themselves. This produces a “pattern- of-a-pattern” effect where every new “priest” reacts to every other and now quite shamefully some of them actually bring in the pagan and mystical to shore up their man-centered philosophizing about God. The result is a ridiculous mess of competing “theologies” some of which are leading people away from Christ and into paganism.

  8. This is an interesting article and the subject is a good one. We are to be disciples of Yeshua, and behave the way he did. Which ministry teaches about being a disciple of Yeshua, of Jesus?

  9. Jim R.,
    Great question. If i had to answer your question about “which teaches about being a disciple of Yeshua (Jesus), i’d say Willard. His agenda is to get apprentices of Jesus… people to follow the habits and practices of Jesus. That was the point of “Divine Conspiracy” and “Spirit of the Disciplines”.
    I appreciate Willard a bunch. He and Lewis showed me the importance of seeing and savoring Jesus (though a Piper phrase, i know). Hebrews 12:1-2 “laying aside every sin that so easily entangles us… let us *fix our eyes on Jesus*, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” But despite Willard’s pointing the need to behold Him out, i don’t think He does it as much as points out the need for it.
    In walks Piper. Piper holds up Jesus. Piper’s agenda and passion is God, and our desire of God (I John 1.3-4). He believes that the best way for that to happen is to hold Him up (preach the Word) as clearly as possible (exegetically).
    After a couple of years of reading and listening to Willard, a strange thing happened: I started formulating and trying to share a gospel without the cross. I know it may sound weird… especially coming off my lips as i tried to share it. My version of “good news” was about following Jesus, but i struggled to find room in it for the cross… you know, the cross… the moment in time that divides time itself. That’s when i realized the pendulum may have swung a bit far in Willard’s “apprenticeship”-gospel direction.
    Piper, on the other, exults the cross of Christ. as the climax, the penult, the center-piece of a God-centered God and His Love for His Son and His Son’s exaltation as the Savior of the World and the King of Kings. The cross of Christ is quite close to Piper’s heart. I’m not sure whether it is Piper as much as the default route the mind follows when strolling the streets of Calvanism, but perhaps Willardians would say, “It is easy to miss the forest of Followship through the Tree. So now, a couple of years after listening and appreciating Piper’s ministry, i find myself failing to pursue the life of Christ (His daily habits, etc.) and resting-wrongly on His cross rather than taking up my own and following Him.
    Which now brings me to jbell’s post:
    Aren’t we thankful for the Spirit’s leading… For centuries He has used the Word of Truth… but also a Moses and a Barnabus and a Paul and a Willard and a Piper and guy like you and a guy like me … and has mingled our fellowship and pursuit of Truth into this Christ-life we are learning and living. Fallen as we are… incomplete as we are… needy and dependent as we are… the fact remains: our pursuit is God; that alone testifies to His supremacy above all things. He’s worth it or you wouldn’t be reading this.
    “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Ps 37.4 (And if we’re delighting in Him, isn’t He the desire of our heart?)

  10. I know Boaz Michael. His last name is Detwiler. My family and his family were very intimately involved for a few years together. Let me say this. Boaz is a wolf in sheeps clothes. His life is a facade. His testimony is false in many ways. His testimony changes depending on the crowd he is speaking to. I have confronted him on this and many other issues. HIs response? Gossip and lies about me and my family.

    Stay away from this man. Do not support him. Avoid his website. It is a business first…… and ministry of truth second.

    1. For fear of reprisal,

      If Boaz Michael is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, wouldn’t he appear as an messenger of light, with a big warm smile, a twinkle in his eye and full of hugs and kisses, no concern of rejection, with his hands thoughtfully folded in front of his face, perhaps gently resting on his chin? Oh, I’m sorry, that reminds me of every picture of Joel Osteen! Doh!

  11. I’ve known Boaz Michael for several years now as well, and to speak of him this way is untruthful, vindictive, cowardice and unbiblical. He has been more generous to more people than you will ever know. I see a lot of “behind the scenes” in regard to his personal life and family, and know many things about him that he doesn’t even know that I know and I see his genuineness, sincerity, and passion for The Father and His Messiah. To speak such things publicly is a sad statement of your connection to the Body of Messiah, because we are known for our love toward one another, not by how we devour one another.

  12. You stated, “All of these different focuses cause confusion in a guy like me who simply wants the big idea. Is there even a big idea?” The big idea my freind is that “all have sinned and come short of the glory og God” (Romans 3:23), We all need to be saved, to return and have a relationship with God the Father. That now is available through Jesus the son, in Romans 10:9-13 it states
    “f you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;
    10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
    11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
    12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him;
    13 for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
    NASB
    There is the big idea, now study His Word and His Spirit will lead you into His truth.

  13. Been heavily studying Mclaren, Bell, Piper etc….

    MAN does my head hurt…

    I give up, CS Lewis here I come…

  14. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” 1 Cor 3:6-7

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s