Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lipscomb's "Magical Imagination Tour" for Preachers

Forty years ago, the Beatles ® sang these words; “The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away, waiting to take you away.” ( 1 ) Next month, Lipscomb University is putting on a theological expression of mystery and imagination…not for band students…but for gospel preachers! Unlike similar programs in the past where the agenda was hidden “between the lines,” this gathering proudly announces its agenda beginning with its title:

“Reclaiming the Imagination: The Exodus as Paradigmatic Narrative for Preaching”

Try repeating that three times rapidly! What is going on here? I feel like I’m at a “sit-in” all of a sudden with Ravi Shankar playing the sitar in the background! Let’s examine the stated purpose of the university for this conference as it appears on their website ( 2 ). In order to better understand the very deliberate, muddled and political campaign quality wordsmithing, I have footnoted whenever real, objective and definitional English is required for understanding:

“This conference [“Reclaiming the Imagination ( 3 ): the Exodus as Paradigmatic ( 4 ) Narrative ) 5 ) for Preaching”] proposes that we allow the worlds ( 6 ) imagined in the essential biblical narratives ( 7 ) to dramatically shape our preaching and lives. We believe that preaching reconstitutes ( 8 ) biblical paradigms ( 4 ) when it engages Scripture’s vision by representing ( 9 ) what is absent ( 10 ) and making present what is inaccessible ( 11 ) to the end that followers of God will live into ( 12 ) a God-shaped reality ( 13 ).”

( 1 ) Lyrics via: www.sing365.com

( 2 ) See: http://preaching.lipscomb.edu/default.asp?SID=205

( 3 ) “Imagination” is a concept from the 13th century theories of Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas taught, as did Aristotle before him, that truth comes primarily from our “senses,” one of which…according to the musings of Aquinas…is “imagination.” In other words, “if” you can “imagine” truth…it becomes truth, at least to you. Aquinas’ teaching is a pillar of Roman Catholicism which HEAVILY relies on the “images” of mystery, art, music, sculpture, drama, etc. as does the “emerging” church of Brian McLaren.

( 4 ) The word “paradigm” is a word that has little, if any, inherent definition since people who like to use it do so for the purpose of “pouring in their own “meaning.” Perhaps more than any other, “paradigm” is the quintessential Post-Modern word…a poster child for the celebration of contradiction and confusion. The word calls for constant change. What is right today is wrong tomorrow. Today’s sufficiency is deficient tomorrow. In business it is articulated by the phrase “continuous improvement.” Using such a theory one never reaches the truth, for truth is an illusion to those who embrace the “paradigm.” Here, in part, is what the BBC Edited Guide Entry has to say about this word: “…the word paradigm had its origin as an obscure bit of linguist jargon. It derives from the Greek verb deiknumi, 'pointing out or exhibiting something', and the preposition para, 'side by side', which then becomes para-deigma, a pattern, model or example…Thomas Kuhn was trained as a 20th-century physicist. One day, while preparing for his doctoral dissertation, he attempted to read Aristotle’s Physics, the most influential work in the field of physics until Newton. Kuhn found that despite his extensive schooling in physics, he was completely unable to understand anything Aristotle was saying - in fact, it sounded like nonsense.” See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2280674. As crazy as it sounds, Kuhn then began applying the subjectivity and constant change of Aristotelian philosophy, first to physics and then to business. This is why when you attend a company business meeting and the presenter begins to speak about a “paradigm shift,” you know that the “old paradigm” didn’t work and now a “new paradigm” is needed! By implication, therefore, when the planners of this conference chose this word “paradigmatic,” it is a stealth way of saying that the way we have preached Exodus up until now [singular person and inspired writer, Moses who was transfigured with Christ, wrote the Book of Exodus that is, therefore, inerrant, full of truth and contains no error whatsoever] is no longer useful or valid. In other words, we need a “new paradigm,” one that embraces the “story” / “narrative” and ignores the “details,” which are simply “legendary” and not “verifiable.” By using this word in the title of the conference, the sponsor(s) are clearly stating that there is no ultimate truth discoverable about the Book of Exodus and therefore no objective truth to be found in the study or the application of it. Should you think my analysis is too far “out there,” keep in mind that one of the speakers at the conference is Bro. Mark Hamilton of ACU who publicly contends that Moses did not actually write the Pentateuch, it was actually “compiled” from various “writers” in the 7th century B.C.! “IF” Moses did not write the Pentateuch, why in the world did Jesus Christ say that Moses “wrote of me?” Taken to its rational [I am assuming here that you, dear reader, are rational!] conclusion, “if” Moses did not write of Jesus Christ, would it not render Jesus Christ just another well-meaning, but deluded, religious leader…and turn our faith in a perfect savior into so much theological dust?

( 5 ) The word “narrative” is a post-modern word substitute for “story.” “Story” has been pragmatically substituted with “narrative” for the word “story” carries with it a FICTIONAL predisposition. McLaren believes that the Scriptures are primarily and foremost a “collection” of “smaller stories,” many of which are little more than legend and folk-lore. These “stories,” not to be taken literally, lead us the “greater truth of the whole.”

( 6 ) The use of the plural “world(s)” is an illusionary way to say that there are “multiple meanings” for Scripture and that God has “multiple wills.” This is all via the allegorical interpretive method of Origen whose speculations form, along with those of Aquinas, the foundational presuppositions for this conference.

( 7 ) By heavy implication, since there are “essential biblical narratives,” then there propositionally must be “NON-essential biblical narratives!” Pray tell, Mr. McLaren, which is which and how would we possibly know?”

( 8 ) “Reconstitutes” (“…to restore to a former condition by adding water.” – Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1991), pg. 984) is another post-modern pragmatically chosen substitute word to hide the satanic delusions of “deconstructionim and reconstructionism” taught by agnostic theologian Derrida et al. In other words, we must “deconstruct” the “flawed paradigm” of preaching that Exodus is REVELATION and “reconstruct” a “new paradigm” that Exodus is NARRATIVE, a “story,” a “fable” and a “compilation” of the “legends” of flawed and “evolving” humans…humans that were far less sophisticated than these attending “scholars” with thousands of years of “tradition” and “experience” unknown to the ancients at their whim and disposal.

( 9 ) The word “representing” is an all-telling one. The Scripture, especially Exodus, is NOT written in obscure, clouded and allegorical style! Exodus is HISTORY, real history. However, McLaren and his confederates would have us all believe that Exodus is more akin to apocrypha! Any 1st semester freshman taking Intro to the Old Testament would know the difference between history and metaphor. This is just another example of the fetish that the “higher criticism” school has with symbolism, not only symbolism but personally defined symbolism at that! We, if we buy into this mystic and neo-Gnostic babble, get to make up our own individually defined symbolic “meanings!” [Bro. Origen, you should have never listened to Bro. Clement. Bro. Clement, you should have never listened to Philo. And, Philo, YOU should have never listened to Socrates!] By making the clear, linear and unambiguous Word of God mean something entirely different from its original and singular meaning…all of a sudden we, in our own foolish and “darkened minds” are off the “sin hook!”

( 10 ) Origen and his subsequent Roman theologians taught, as does the “fuller sense” (sensus plenoir) theory, that Scripture contains “hidden messages” and that these “hidden messages” are revealed to modern day readers by the Holy Spirit. In other words, McLaren, LaRue, Dewey, York, Hamilton and Taylor “may” have access to “truths” that somehow have eluded all men in history (including the inspired writers themselves!) until this “imagination tour.” One more salient point: these “hidden messages” and “multiple meanings” of Origen constitutes one of the pillars of Roman Catholicism according to Benedict XVI as he articulated on April 27, 2007.

( 11 ) In line with the previous point, it is heavily implied by the phrase “making present what is inaccessible,” that there is “truth” that has somehow been unobtainable until now. And now, Brian McLaren and his fellow presenters are going to bring us these “truths?” The phrase “making present what is inaccessible” is contradictory in the Kierkegaard mold, celebrating confusion as “truth.” How can something that is “present” be at the same time “inaccessible?” It cannot. Such a statement replicates the manic-depressive madness of Kierkegaard that he embraced as philosophy…a philosophy celebrated by the purpose of this conference.

( 12 ) “Into” is a substitute word for “emerge” which is stealthily avoided by whoever wrote this introductory paragraph.

( 13 ) “A (note the author uses “A” instead of “The”) God-shaped reality” strongly suggests that God does not have a singular will but instead distributes…cafeteria style… “multiple realities,” all equally valuable and obtainable by random choice. To take this line of thinking to its logical conclusion, then the “Christian reality” is just as valid as the “Muslim reality” and the “Hindu realty” and the “Save-The-Planet-From-Evil-Capitalism reality.”

The word obfuscation in this introduction is staggering, so much so that Brian McLaren may have just written it himself! Unless canceled, this conference “is waiting to take you away (from the truth.)” The brethren at Lipscomb need to ditch this existential and narcissistic nonsense and replace it with a preaching conference taught by men who KNOW the truth, not just IMAGINE it! Let the board, faculty and staff know that the preachers of the church of Christ deserve better than a 60’s style “imagination tour.”

“The magical (imagination) tour is waiting to take you away!” What would Peter, John and Jude have to say? Friends, they (by the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit) ALREADY said it in I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John and Jude!

Dear board, faculty and staff of Lipscomb University…please do not let this rank error be spread on your watch! “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” – James 3:1 (NIV)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Who Is Brian McLaren & Why Do You Need to Know? - An Appeal to the Leadership of Lipscomb University

On September 11, 2008, seven years to the day of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we learned that Brian McLaren and other Emergent / Higher Criticism NON CHRISTIAN speakers are slated to headline the upcoming October “Reclaiming the Imagination: The Exodus as Paradigmatic Narrative for Preaching” conference at Lipscomb University.

(See: http://preaching.lipscomb.edu/default.asp?SID=205 )

Men who do not believe in the veracity of Scripture are going to instruct many hundreds of preachers of the church of Christ. These preachers, in turn, will return to our various congregations carrying the baggage of the error of Thomas Aquinas who taught that truth is exclusively discovered through…NOT REVELATION…but by man’s own reason / senses, one of which he falsely identified as IMMAGINATION. Aquinas “discovered” this “truth,” not by the study of Scripture, but by a lifelong obsessive study of the pagan Aristotle. Aristotle's philosophy is summed up thusly; "Nothing is in the intellect that is not first in the senses."(1) Here is what Aquinas had to say regarding the foundational theme embraced by this upcoming Lipscomb conference:

In his Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences (III, 9, 2, 3), Aquinas says that there are three reasons to introduce images [imagination – RM] into the worship of the church:

"First, to give instruction to the ignorant, to recall the Mystery of Incarnation and examples of the saints by their everyday representation; to nourish feelings of devotion, better excited by vision than by audition."(2)

Such a “celebration” of “imagination” replaces the Revealed Word of God with the foolish speculations of a Dark Ages monk who likely imagined he had actual conversations with Jesus Christ.(3) The star of Lipscomb’s “imagination tour” is a man by the name of Brian McLaren. Brian McLaren is not a Christian in the New Testament sense of the word. In fact, theologically, his teachings are further away from the truth than the teachings of Benedict XVI!

Brian McLaren personifies, embraces and aggressively promotes Origen’s allegorization and multiple meaning of Scripture, the “imagination is truth” of Aquinas, the obsessive contradictions of Kierkegaard’s existentialism, the endless questioning with no answers of John Dewey, the anarchy of sensus plenoir, the “irrational is rational” deconstructionism of Friedrich Nietzche, the denial of Biblical inerrancy of Wellhausen, the “truth is but an illusion” of Derrida, the “relevance trumps truth” of Barth, the “mythology is truth” of Bultmann, the “humans are in charge of their own interpretation” of Croatto, the “truth in interpretation is a matter of personal taste” of Gadamer and the nearly agnostic “liberation theology” of Alan Jones, Here is where McLaren stands in his own words through documented sources:(4)

ON THE ESSENTIAL MESSAGE OF JESUS: “The essential message of Jesus is compassion for yourself and for your fellow neighbor.” – March 2006 comments to a United Methodist Church conference in Nashville. For what Jesus Christ says is the essential message see Matthew 22:37-39.

REGARDING THE 2ND COMING OF CHRIST: “The gentle Jesus of the 1st coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent 2nd coming.” – From McLaren’s book, Everything Must Change, pg. 144. For what Paul says concerning the 2nd coming of Christ see II Corinthians 5:10.

REGARDING SALVATION: “What does it mean to be “saved?” When I read the Bible, I DON’T (emphasis mine – RM) see it meaning, “I’m going to heaven after I die.” - Quoted by Andy Crouch in a web article entitled “The Emergent Mystique,” 2004. For what Jesus has to say regarding salvation see Mark 16:16.

REGARDING SALVATION: When asked to explain how conversions work in his home church, McLaren replied: “Very, very rarely does someone have the date and time experience of conversion. Typically, a person comes to us because they’re spiritually searching. They participate in our services, they get to know some people, build relationships, join a small group or maybe even start volunteering. At some point, they connect with God. The gospel makes sense to them. They know that God loves them, and they just say, “I’m in.” – Brian McLaren in Outreach Magazine, July-August 2005. For what Peter has to say regarding salvation see Acts 2:37,38.

REGARDING SALVATION: In a 2003 interview with Bro. Greg Taylor of New Wineskins Magazine, McLaren argues that people are saved with AND without baptism. For what Peter has to say regarding baptism see I Peter 3:21.

REGARDING RADICAL LIBERATION THEOLOGY: McLaren praises liberation theologians Sobrino and Boff in an interview with John Stanley of Mars Hill Seminary. Regarding the politicization of religion, see what Jesus has to say in Matthew 22:21.

SALVATION IS FOR THE “HERE AND NOW” AND NOT THE “HERE AFTER” : “But I’m more interested in a gospel that is universally efficacious for the whole earth BEFORE death in history.” – A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren, pg. 114. Discover what Christ has to say as to whether His kingdom is of this world or the next in John 18:36.

REGARDING THE POWER AND THE PURPOSE OF THE CROSS AS WELL AS THE REALITY OF HELL: “…in the end, God gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.” – Brian McLaren as quoted in bereanbeacon.org. See what Paul says about the power, the purpose and the effect of the cross in I Corinthian 1:18.

There are many leaders in the so-called “emerging church.” Brian McLaren is but one. However, Brian McLaren is the ONLY one that is making a continual habit of lecturing on our campuses, traveling with our preachers, visiting with our writers and attempting to infiltrate the church of Christ in every major city in the United States where she exists.


Dear Lipscomb Board, Faculty and Staff: for the sake of Jesus Christ and His church…remove this man immediately from this conference schedule. Cancel and replace the conferences dubious title. Replace these outsiders with faithful brethren who will teach truth and not just “imagine” it. Our appeal is not speculative, it is biblical. Our appeal is not irrational, it is sincere. Our appeal is not philosophical, it is scriptural. Our appeal is not “off the cuff,” it is documented. Our appeal is not subjective, it is objective. Our appeal is not self-serving, it is for the long term survivability of a great and historic Christian university…Lipscomb University! Most importantly, our appeal is not a mere intellectual exercise, it is an appeal for the real souls of real men and real women for “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”


(1)Aristotle, De Anima, 3.8 as quoted by Richard Bennett in "Alan Jone's Reimagining Christianity: The Way Back to Rome," p. 5, as published on www.bereanbeacon.org/AlanJones/pdf.

(2)See www.arsdisputandi.org. Roger Pouivet, “Religious Imagination and Virtue Epistemology,” page 2. Type in the title of the article on the “Search Page” to read the article. (Emphasis added – RM) The Scripture CLEARLY teaches that “FAITH comes by HEARING and hearing by the WORD OF GOD.” (Romans 10:17) In complete and absolute opposition to the Word of God Aquinas asserted that FAITH comes by SIGHT and sight comes by IMAGES & IMAGINATION. Upon this foundation of sand and straw comes…“Reclaiming the Imagination: The Exodus as Paradigmatic Narrative for Preaching.”

(3)It is reported that Aquinas believed that Jesus Christ actually spoke these words to him, "You have written well of me, Thomas, what reward will you receive?" Supposedly, Thomas replied, "None but yourself." See: Everett Ferguson, Church History – Volume One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), pg. 488. On the same page, Bro. Ferguson’s “Thomistic Triangle” shows that Revelation follows faith which follows “reason.” Were that Bro. Ferguson was on the marquis instead of Brian McLaren! It is not too late to ask him Dr. Lowry!

(4)For more documentation and direct links, contact Russ McCullough.