‘Reflections’ on ‘emerging’ IKON

Last year Pastor Gary Gilley was our invited guest to speak around Northern Ireland on 2 subjects in particular – (1) The ‘Purpose Driven’ Movement and (2) The ‘Emerging Church’ Movement.

In the run-up to Gary’s visit he mentioned to me that there was a local [in Belfast]  ‘Emerging Church’ group called IKON that was headed up by a man called Peter Rollins. Gary asked me if I knew of him and I said ‘no’. Subsequently I did a web search and came across a website for this group called IKON and as I browsed their site I saw a web page listed under a subheading of ‘The Last supper’ and that somehow ‘rang a bell’ for me. On further investigation I found out why.

This is how ‘The Last Supper’ is described on that web page – ‘The Last Supper is a monthly gathering in which twelve people gather informally over food and wine to question an invited guest about what they believe and why they believe it. If the guest does not prove convincing it may turn out to be their last supper’. Listed also on this web page are links to all those who have been guests at this monthly ‘Last Supper’. Here is a short extract of the names listed –

  • Ciaron O’Reilly (Catholic Worker and political activist)
  • Brett Lockhart (Local Barrister)
  • Prof. Tony Campolo (Sociologist and one time pastoral advisor to President Clinton)
  • Bishop Pat Buckley (Rouge Catholic Priest and gay activist)
  • Cecil Andrews (Fundamentalist and founder of ‘Take Heed’ Ministries)
  • Christopher McKnight (Atheistic Philosopher)
  • Prof. Vincent Geoghan (Political Theorist)
  • Dr William Crawley (BBC Presenter)
  • David Ervine (Leader of the PUP)

Now I knew why ‘The Last Supper’ heading had sounded familiar to me. From my own diary records my ‘guest appearance’ at the ‘Last Supper’ had been on 1st December 1998. In truth my recollections of what took place were not overly detailed. I had been invited along to meet with students who had an interest in ‘spirituality’ and who were mostly attending Queens Univeristy.

We had a meal and I was then asked to outline my ‘spiritual pilgrimage’ and so I gave my testimony and told of how the Lord had brought me to establish ‘Take Heed’ Ministries. This was followed by a question time and it was only at this point that it began to dawn on me that I was not actually in the company of fellow like-minded believers. They were certainly not rude to me but their questions were certainly probing and for me at times they were intellectually and philosophically rather baffling.

When I came home I shared with Margaret my ‘confusion’ of mind of how I had been with people who were friendly and inquiring but who were certainly not dedicated advocates for the Gospel of Christ and who were at times quite hostile to and dismissive of the unique claims of Christ and Him crucified. Little did I know that this group would eventually ‘give birth’ to a ‘Faith Community’ called IKON.

Today, according to extracts from their website, this is how IKON describe themselves under a number of headings –

‘ICONIC At Ikon we endeavour to view our religious beliefs and traditions as icons rather than idols, not approaching them as some scientifically correct rendering of Gods mind, but rather as wounded, worshipful constructions, formed in the glorious aftermath of God, which allow us to reflect upon our interaction with that which can never be reduced to the conceptual realm…

APOCALYPTIC The word ‘apocalyptic’ simply refers to the incoming of a singular, unrepeatable event that is absolutely inconceivable, an event that could not have been predicted in advance of its coming and which defies all expectations. At Ikon we wish to reclaim and celebrate the apocalyptic nature of God…By recognising that our religious traditions and beliefs are icons rather than idols it follows that these traditions must embrace the pseudo-concept of God as one who cannot be contained in any concept.. At Ikon we recognise our dark tendency to reduce God to an object like other objects…

HERETICAL Building upon the idea of our religious traditions as iconic discourses that recognise and celebrate the apocalyptic nature of God, it follows that Ikon acknowledges itself as a heretical community…we endeavour to hold our current understanding of God lightly, allowing both the Spirit and other people to challenge what we believe…In addition to this we acknowledge our heretical stance in relation to the larger Christian community…a heretic is one who comes from the same tradition but who reads it in a different way…we acknowledge and celebrate the multiplicity of ways that one can read Christianity…By doing this we also endeavour to be a place of refuge for those on the edges, or outside, the traditional church system, yet who desire God…we view this as a creative force that allows for a critical, two-way interaction with the larger church…

EMERGING Flowing naturally from the previous statements Ikon does not view itself as having reached some final destination/destiny but rather as being on a journey…we would prefer to call ourselves a community becoming Christian rather than a community of Christians…The term ‘emerging’ should not then be thought of as a provisional one that will some day be replaced with the word ‘emerged’…By recognising ourselves as pilgrims and sojourners we endeavour to regularly meditate upon the direction of the movement and be open to the divine call that would draw us down paths we have not yet discovered…

FAILING Finally Ikon acknowledges that it constantly fails in its desire to be an icon of the invisible…our community is deeply committed to interacting with the mystical realm and demonstrating love in the world…it would be inauthentic for us to sit back and declare that we have accomplished what we have set out to do…we remain mindful of the fact that our attempts at forming a community of individuals who radiate divine love are, at best, the forging of a poor icon through which people can dimly perceive God’.

Having read this self-description of IKON you can perhaps understand a little why at times at my visit to the ‘Last Supper’ I found some of their questions to be, as I put it, ‘intellectually and philosophically rather baffling’.

Just a few brief comments from me on the above description of IKON. I find them to be quite open and honest about their situation and intentions and I believe they are reacting to what they perceive to be the hypocritical failing of much of professing Christendom to be what Christians ought to be and I will comment more on this later as I come now to give details of my latest encounter with Peter Rollins of the IKON community – a community that meets on a monthly basis in ‘The Black Box’ that is apparently a small theatre with coffee bar facilities in the Cathedral quarter of Belfast.

The Belfast Telegraph 9th June alerted me to a seminar being held at the Irish School of Ecumenics in Belfast on 13th June. The speaker was Dr Peter Rollins and his topic was ‘IKON. A Local Theology in Northern Ireland’. Another handout given to me when I attended the seminar also referred to ‘IKON: Forging a faith community with/out God’ and again I will comment further on that description shortly.

Peter Rollins spoke for 40 minutes and early on he identified what was a motivating factor behind IKON’s search for a form of Christian spiritual reality – it was their observation of a failure by professing ‘Christians’ within professing Christendom to demonstrate a life-style clearly different from the ‘non-believing’ world round about them. As a result of this I believe that Peter Rollins has an understandable  misconception of what Biblical Christianity is really all about and in consequence he tends to present a caricature of genuine Biblical Christianity. For most of the 40 minutes or so he churned out at great speed ideas and quotes from a vast range of philosophers and philososphies, theologians and theories. He was very conversant with ‘tales from the Talmud’ and ‘myths from the Midrash’ and he certainly held the attention [if not always the understanding] of the dozen or so of us that were present. It was very clear that Peter Rollins identifies with the ‘Postmodern’ generation – in his book ‘The TRUTH War’ Pastor John MacArthur made this very succinct comment on page 24 – ‘Postmodernism is simply the latest expression of worldly unbelief’.

How have we come to such a situation as this. Well I do believe that ‘Professing Christendom’, many of its leaders in particular, have a great sin to answer for. Over decades they have slowly but surely eroded confidence in the Bible as being the inspired, inerrant and infallible living Word of the living God. Year upon year, men who at their ordination affirmed such belief concerning the Bible, have then proceeded to shamefully deny and to sermonically shred the great historic and foundational truths of Biblical Christianity.

They have poeticised and back-tracked on belief in the truth of the literal 6-day creation by God. They have acquiesced to the elimination of God from education classes in favour of Darwinian theory and speculation. They have allegorised away man’s ‘fall’ into sinful depravity, preferring instead humanistic, psychological excuses for aberrant behaviour. They have peddled the lie of ‘we’re all God’s children”. They have in essence denied the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ by equivocating on His virgin-birth and bodily resurrection. They have with philosophical pride questioned the gracious atoning value of His sacrificial, substitutionary death. They have paid derisory and scant attention to the wonder of imputed righteousness. They have adopted sinful immorality-tolerant attitudes and actions and their singular ‘God is love’ mantra has virtually extinguished the fires of everlasting hell. They have bowed to political expediency and have ‘pinked’ at bowing to scriptural authority. They have recanted of the blood-stained Reformation gospel-truths and have pursued paths of pagan ecumenical compromise.They have sought to incorporate worldy, unbelieving notions such as ‘evolution’ into God’s scheme of things and perhaps without realising it have in consequence totally undermined the foundation of all God’s biblical truth about Himself and His creation. In short, preferring “the wiles of the devil” they have failed to declare ‘thus saith the Lord’ for fear of appearing foolish in the eyes of ‘the world’.

With ‘Christian’ leaders such as this we should therefore not really be surprised that unbelievers looking on see no visible difference between their lives and the lives of many professing ‘Christians’. In recent decades the ‘downgrade’ within perceived ‘evangelical’ Christianity has gathered breath-taking speed as movements such as ‘Ecumenical Crusades’, the ‘Health and Wealth’ movement, the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ and ‘Pensacola Revival’ movements, the ‘Alpha’ and ‘Purpose Driven’ movements have produced a harvest of professing ‘Christians’ whose lives, although perhaps ‘cleaned up’ in some areas,  are at heart still as worldly ‘as the day they were born’ and who may well one day hear the chilling words of Matthew 7:22-23.

Easy-believism has reduced being a Christian down to a simple prayer-formula that many are told will guarantee the best this life has to offer.

With such a scenario it is not at all surprising that a ‘Postmodern’ generation has sprung up and is seeking to find a new ‘way’ when it comes to understanding what it means to be a Christian. Having lost all conviction that divine truth is available and understandable communities such as IKON are springing up to explore ‘the divine’ from a loosely ‘Christian’ perspective. For many ‘emerging’ groups, ‘behaviour’ takes total precedence over ‘belief’ because they perceive that those who claim Christian ‘belief’ [according to the bible] do not actually exhibit Christian ‘behaviour’ [according to the bible].

I recently had an exchange of emails from a professing Christian father who was concerned at my article on the upcoming ‘Summer Madness’ event in Belfast where ‘emerging guru’ Brian McLaren will be the main speaker. The very way he signed off his first email spoke volumes – he wrote –Yours In Christ [the guy less concerned with doctrine and more with his children’s needs]

You can see from that, that where his children were concerned, ‘doctrine’, in other words, ‘belief’ was very much a secondary issue. I wrote back and sought to explain and share my convictions about how ‘from the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden there has been an ongoing ‘Truth War’. I received a very gracious and at times open response to this email and at one point, this professing Christian father, who is involved in church-plant work, wrote – ‘I guess I have started believing that God may be as good as his Word [as in scripture] but we only see this in action and not in written word. But here is the crux of the matter: I don’t have a clue. I am stumbling in the dark. I believe certain things about God and Christians and they might be justifiable but they might also be by-products of a distancing from God. I just don’t know…’. This, for me, was a very real example ‘in action’ of the widespread loss of confidence, within professing Christendom, in the Bible being the inspired, inerrant and infallible living Word of the living God.

You have already read extracts of how IKON conduct their spiritual journey, their spiritual pilgrimage and their search for spiritual reality. So what is the biblical Christian answer to these ‘Postmodern seekers’?

I think we can learn some very simple truths in Acts 17 from how Paul addressed the philosophers of his day on Mars Hill in Athens. Amongst his hearers were the deep philosophical thinkers of his day, the Epicureans and the Stoics. Did Paul try to preach some ‘hard to grasp’ convoluted philosophy? No, he kept it simple and biblical.

He proclaimed the God of creation in verses 23-24. This creator God he declared to be the sustainer of all life in verse 25. From verse 26 we learn that this creator and sustaining God views all manking as ‘sons of Adam’ and that He sovereignly controls rulers and nations [in their rise and in their fall].This revealing evidence for His existence is explained in verse 27 as being designed to compel man in conscience to “seek the Lord”. Man’s ignorance in the search, where he was prone to fashion idol ‘gods’,  was graciously “overlooked” for a period of time by God but not any longer declares Paul [verse 30].  Why was that? Because of God’s ultimate and supreme revelation of Himself through the life, death and resurrection of His beloved Son, “the man whom he has ordained to judge the world in righteousness” [verse 31]. Paul’s message to his listeners from God was short and to the point – “Repent” [verse 30].

They were commanded to repent of their foolish philosophies and with a repentant heart and mind embrace the redeeming truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul was pleading with his listeners to believe in and have confidence in the God who had revealed Himself in and through the Old Testament scriptures and who had fulfilled all that was prophesied in the Old Testament scriptures in and through the life and person of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today’s philosophical seekers are no different from those of Paul’s day. They too are ‘sons of Adam’ and so, because of ‘original sin’ they are alienated from the creator/sustainer and coming  judge/God that Paul preached about. Their minds are blinded by the ‘god’ of this world [2nd Corinthians 4:4].

In a recent article dealing with ‘The God Delusion’ views of evolutionist, Professor Richard Dawkins, I examined this question of ‘the mind’ and I will now quote extracts from what I wrote as they have application to the ‘Postmodern seekers’.

What process has the devil used to stop him from believing? We find the answer I believe in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 where we read “But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world [the devil] hath blinded THE MINDS of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” and then in verse 6, rather appropriately seeing that we are considering a man who is opposed to the idea of biblical creation, Paul writes “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”.

Why do believers possess “the knowledge of the glory of God”? In 1 Corinthians 2:14 the apostle Paul explains why the natural/unregenerate man [like Richard Dawkins] does not understand God’s truth – Paul wrote “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither CAN he know them because they are spiritually discerned”. Paul then goes on to talk about the ability of believers to know the mind of the Lord and he writes in verse 16 “But we have the MIND of Christ”. In Romans chapter 7 Paul outlines the struggle that he has as a believer between obeying or disobeying God and he writes in verse 25 “So then, with the MIND I myself serve the law of God”.

When appealing to the Christians in Philippi to be humble just as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was, Paul wrote in chapter 2 verse 5 “Let this MIND be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. When appealing to Christians to live holy lives the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:13-15 “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your MIND, be sober…As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance…be ye holy in all manner of life”.

The bible shows clearly that the devil seeks to ‘deceive, mislead and beguile’ the MINDS of people. We read in Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, who DECEIVED the whole world; he was cast out into the earth”. Setting forth the various meanings of ‘deceive’ Vine’s Expository Dictionary says on page 151 of the New Testament section ‘to deceive by leading [to mislead] into error. In John 7:12 the Lord Himself was even falsely accused of deceiving people and Vine’s comments on this particular usage are ‘leadeth astray’ [misleads].

According to God’s truth, the bible, the devil clearly ‘deceives’ and ‘misleads’ people. He also seeks to ‘beguile’ them for Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve [again how appropriate that this is a reference to God’s creation] through his subtlety, so your MINDS should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ”.

The full article can be accessed on – 

http://www.takeheed.info/deluded-dawkins/

Paul in his 2nd letter to Timothy 4:2 outlined the divine prescription for such situations – he didn’t tell Timothy to organise a debate and try to reach some consensus; he didn’t encourage him to put on a bit of a show with trendy music, dancing and drama The command was to “Preach the word” just as he himself had done on many occasions and faithful preaching is the antidote for today’s ‘Postmodern seekers’. They have no confidence that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant and infallible living Word of the living God and who would blame them when they hear what some modern-day preachers are trotting out as ‘preaching’ [and a recent broadcast ‘sermon’ from East Belfast on Radio Ulster springs immediately to mind] and when they see the ’Christian’ lives of many who profess to belong to Christ.

The word ‘preach’ is quite unique when it comes to Christianity. A ‘preacher’ is one who is meant to ‘proclaim’ or to ‘herald’ and be ‘bold’ in his speech as he delivers divine truth. I jotted down my own ‘definition’ like this – to preach is to proclaim with conviction “the truth of God” and “the God of truth”.  As Biblical ‘truth’ is preached and proclaimed it has, through the sovereignly controlled and determined energising power of God the Holy Spirit, the dynamic ability to demolish “strongholds” [2nd Corinthians 10:4].  Some of these “strongholds” are identified in Colossians 2:8 as “philosophy and vain deceit” [worldly wisdom and spirituality that is devoid of divine truth] and that is precisely what many of today’s ‘Postmodern seekers’ are held captive by.

At the end of Peter Rollins’ presentation there was a short question and answer session. It was interesting that the first lady who spoke and who claimed not to be in the ‘evangelical’ Christian tradition stated that really what she had listened to was not new and in that she was correct – we had listened to much ‘philosophy and vain deceit’ [worldly wisdom and spirituality that is devoid of divine truth].

I was able to say to Peter Rollins that his observation about the inconsistent ‘Christian behaviour’ of many who profess to be ‘Christian’ was a fair comment but I said that if a genuine conversion to Christ has taken place then there will be clear evidence of a changed life and that converted/changed person will be ‘salt’ [a non-corrupting influence in the world] and also ‘light’ [an illuminator of divine truth to those in spiritual darkness.]

I then had the opportunity to ask Peter Rollins if he viewed the biblical truth of what God’s people understand as ‘penal substitution’ [that Christ suffered at the hands of God the Father as their substitute to save them from sin’s condemnation] in the same light as Brian McLaren and Steve Chalke, namely that in their opinion, that constitutes ‘cosmic and divine child abuse’.

I was pleased to hear Peter Rollins say that he did not share their views on ‘penal substitution’ and he then proceeded to say that within IKON there were a variety of understandings about what did or did not happen on the cross. I pressed him to state whether he believed that Christ’s death was an atoning, redeeming substitutionary sacrifice to save sinners. He was honest enough to admit that he had not come to a final conclusion on that – ‘the jury was still out’.

The chairman of the meeting wanted to end proceedings at that time but I was able to make one final point and it was that when someone is genuinely converted to Christ, God reveals to their mind and understanding the biblical propositional truths about the deity and death of Jesus Christ.

Privately afterwards I spoke with Peter Rollins and encouraged him to ‘de-clutter’ his mind of much of the philosophical ‘baggage’ that he is currently carrying around as it is ‘blinding’ him to the truths [“the simplicity that is in Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:3] contained in the bible – a book that he regularly quoted from in his talk. I mentioned to him that I was hoping to write something in response to 2 “REFLECTION’ articles posted on the IKON website – one written by Peter himself and the other by a Ricky McQuillan.

Peter’s short article is called ‘Sins Of The Father’ and Ricky’s is called ‘The Sins Of The Father’. Here is what Peter wrote –

Sins Of The Father

From Ikon [by Peter Rollins]

On judgement day a summons went forth to the sea, commanding that she give up her dead, and a voice called out to Hades that the prisoners be released from their chains. Then the angels gathered up all humanity and brought them to the great white throne of God. All creation waited as a great angel opened the books. The first to be judged stood up and approached the text. As the accused looked at the charges all humanity spoke as one, ‘When we were hungry you gave us nothing to eat. When we were thirsty you gave us nothing to drink. We were strangers and you did not invite us in. We needed clothes and you did not clothe us. We were sick and in prison and you did not look after us’.

Silence descended upon all of creation as the people pronounced their judgement on God.

Here is what Ricky wrote –

The Sins Of The Father

From Ikon [by Ricky McQuillan]

I was hungry for love, and you ignored me

I was thirsty for encouragement but all I received was criticism

I was naked – ashamed with no self worth; you couldn’t even look at me

I felt like a stranger in a strange land – you did not make me feel at home

I was sick with depression, and all I felt was your condemnation

I was in the prison of the soul, and you were silent

I tried to sing, but my songs did not touch you

I spilt out my inky soul onto pages, but you would never read a word

You were there, but all I felt was absence

Your presence was my desert

The image of you tormented me, for it became a memorial

A reminder of love’s privation

The absent father, who was there, but was not there

Cursed are you in your abstraction – for there you can mean nothing to me

I remember that day I sat down in front of you

And asked you to say that you loved me

For any father should love his child

But you just looked back at me blankly…

…you made a bastard out of me.

I’m sure, like me, many of you will be somewhat shocked by the ‘punch-lines’ in these 2 pieces and wonder how on earth anyone ‘spiritual’ could hold and express such judgmental views of the God of all creation. Old Testament Job endured a catalogue of heartbreaking disasters and, unlike these modern-day responses, we read of Job in Job 1:22 “In all this Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly” [‘with folly’] and in Job 2:10 “In all this did not Job sin with his lips”.

As I considered what might have driven Peter and Ricky to write such pieces I was persuaded that they are apparently the victims of flawed thinking [or even teaching or preaching] that expressed itself in the very titles of their pieces. Both of them would appear to have imbibed the unscriptural view that‘God is THE FATHER of everyone’ – something that I referred to earlier as often being a mark of scripturally-illiterate ‘Christian’ leaders.

If it were true that God was ‘the Father’ of everyone then perhaps there might be a just case for the views expressed in these pieces but the reality is that such a view is neither scriptural nor true.

God’s ‘family’, those who can truly refer to Him as “Father” is restricted to those who have been brought into a saving, eternal living relationship with Him, grounded on the atoning work of Christ on the cross and brought about through the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit. When someone undergoes a genuine work of Holy Spirit regeneration one of the many “spiritual blessings” with which they are “blessed” [see Ephesians 1:3] is that they are then “adopted” into God’s family and can rightly call Him “Abba – Father” [see Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:14-16 and Galatians 4:4-5}. It is only those who have been truly “born again” [see John 3:3-7] who can joyfully and confidently affirm “Beloved, NOW are we the children of God” [1 John 3:2].

Overall today there is virtually a universal failure on the part of the unbelieving, unregenerate world to accept the truth of God’s creative work as told to us in Genesis and to understand or accept the damning ramifications of ‘The fall’ brought about through Adam’s sin.

On the following link – 

http://home.att.net/~sovereigngrace/ruin.remedy.3.html#tragic.results

an article entitled ‘Man’s Ruin – God’s Remedy’ states the following under a sub-heading of ‘The Tragic Results of the Fall of Man’ – ‘Adam’s sin corrupted human nature, both mind and body, and poisoned the whole race of mankind contained in his loins. The streams of all mankind, which have flowed from Adam, are corrupt, because the source or fountain was poisoned by sin. Adam naturally transmitted that sin, guilt and corruption to all his posterity, for, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” (Job 14:4). Children are not born innocent, as many believe, but come into this world with a sinful nature, which discovers itself very soon by attitudes and actions. Fallen Adam begot a son, not in the moral image of God, but in his own corrupt moral image and likeness, according to Genesis 5:3 and 1 Corinthians 15:22,49-50. Adam naturally fathered a race of guilty sinners, all of us under the sentence of death and destruction (Romans 5:12-19; Ezekiel 18:4).

The article continues under another sub-heading of ‘Fallen Man Is Now In Spiritual Darkness’ to say – ‘Fallen man now cannot, without supernatural help from God, understand spiritual truth. In Adam’s fall, the spiritual light went out in his heart, and this is the awful spiritual condition of every child of Adam’s race ever since. God is the all-glorious Supreme Being in Whom all of us should find our greatest delight, but now, because of sin, we are by nature utterly lost from that personal knowledge of, and fellowship with, our Creator… Because all of us, by nature, are in such spiritual darkness, salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, GOD’S REMEDY, is a supernatural inward change, wrought by the power of God in our hearts. Listen to how the Word of God describes this inward change. It is being “called out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It is an “opening of the eyes, and a turning from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18). It is “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18)… The power that God puts forth when He brings a soul out of spiritual darkness is that same power that He exercised when He commanded the light to shine out of darkness in creation (Genesis 1:3), according to 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Finally, from this article, under a sub-heading of ‘Fallen Man Is Now Under Satan’s Power’ we read ‘Modern man generally regards the Divinely-inspired record of Adam and Eve and the fall of man in the Garden of Eden as a myth, a mere fable or tale. The Biblical account of man’s creation and the entrance of sin into the human race is laughed at and scorned by many today… In the inscrutable and unsearchable wisdom of God (Romans 11:33-36), Satan was permitted to enter the Garden of Eden, and to utilise his deceptive methods in an attempt to seduce our first parents to disobedience to God’s command. As we have seen, Satan attacked Adam through Eve, and though she was deceived, Adam wilfully and defiantly chose to reject the rule of God over him, and in deliberate rebellion, fell into transgression and condemnation. We have already learned from God’s Word that in his creation, Adam was constituted by God as the federal head and representative of the entire human race contained in his loins (Romans 5:12-19). By this one act of rebellion against His Maker, Adam not only plunged himself and all his posterity into ruin, but he… became, along with all his posterity, bond-slaves to Satan, who now rules as a usurper… The shocking and startling truth is that this rule of Satan over fallen man is SO EXTENSIVE that the Apostle John states in I John 5:19, “The WHOLE WORLD is under the power of the Evil One” (Amplified New Testament), and in Revelation 12:9, the same Apostle refers to him as “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the WHOLE WORLD.”… Since we are all as fallen sons and daughters of Adam born into Satan’s kingdom of darkness, and by nature live out our lives under his rule and domain in disobedience to God (Ephesians 2:2), as his [Satan’s] spiritual offspring (John 8:44), GOD’S REMEDY is a MIGHTY DELIVERANCE by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Gospel… The glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ brings DELIVERANCE from Satan’s power, and [deliverance] out of his kingdom, according to Colossians 1:13, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”… It is through this blessed Gospel that the Lord Jesus puts forth His mighty power “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins. . .” (Acts 26:18).

As I mentioned earlier, when I spoke to Peter Rollins I said that I hoped to write this article and I also shared this with him. I mentioned how several centuries ago the great ‘revival’ preacher, Jonathan Edwards had preached a famous sermon entitled –

‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’.

I shared with Peter that I believed these articles on the IKON website could be titled –

‘God in the hands of angry sinners’

I sincerely hope and pray that if Peter and/or Ricky should happen to read this article that they will readily understand that I am not writing it ‘in anger’ but out of genuine Christian love for their eternal well-being for ‘there but for the grace of God go I’.

Concluding thoughts.

Peter Rollins and IKON are, according to their own ‘stated aims’, ‘Forging a faith community with/out God’.  A true Christian faith community can only be forged by people who possess true Christian belief that does result in true Christian behaviour. Communities with ‘faith’ in the only true God, the God of the Bible, were identified clearly in both the Old and New Testaments. When you read God’s inspired Word in Nehemiah 10:28-29 and Acts 2:42 you see that absolutely central to these ‘faith communities’ was their total confidence in and obedience to the inspired, inerrant and infallibleliving Word of the living God.

In Old Testament times God’s people looked forward to their coming Messiah and deliverer – the one promised by God in Deuteronomy 18:15. Through the sinless life and substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ, God fulfilled His promise of that Messiah – the Lord Jesus Christ Himself affirmed this truth when He took the downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus through an exhaustive study of the Old Testament scriptures and according to Luke 24:26 He said “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory” and in verse 27 “He expounded unto them, in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself”.

Religious leaders and philosophers at the time of Christ were in ignorance of both His person and His mission and the Lord identified why this was so – He said to them in Matthew 22:29 “Ye do err not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God”.

When the first lady to speak after Peter Rollins had finished his presentation said that ‘really what she had listened to was not new’ she was in effect identifying the same ‘thinking’ that Christ encountered in his own day and His diagnosis then still ‘holds water’ today – I would say with the Lord to Peter Rollins and to those associated with IKON – “Ye do err not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God”.

What is ‘emerging’ in IKON and in many other ‘emerging’ faith communities around the world is the latest expression of Satan’s challenge to Eve in the Garden of Eden – “Yea; Hath God said” [Genesis 3:1]. In response to this challenge I will begin to close by quoting what the Lord said to the disbelieving of His day – “If ye believe not that I am he [God’s promised Messiah] ye shall die in your sins”. To expand what it is necessary to “believe” about Christ, let me quote an extract from the email exchanges I mentioned earlier that I had with a Christian father. I wrote –

In John 3:36 we read that “He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life”. When it comes to “believing on the Son” God’s Word clearly identifies some non-negotiable, propositional truths that are embraced by true converts when they “believe on the Son”. [in] 2nd Corinthians 5 we find 2 absolutely core essential and non-negotiable truths concerning The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote in verse 21 “For he [God the Father] hath made him [God the Son] to be sin for us [suffered, at the hands of The Father, as prophesied in Isaiah 53, as our substitute] that we might be made [have imputed/credited to us]the righteousness of God in him”. Put simply, Christ’s ‘substitutionary death’ is accepted by God for true converts as ‘their redemption’ and Christ’s ‘sinless life’ is imputed/credited to true converts as ‘their righteousness’

A regenerated sinner who truly believes this about Christ will evidence clearly a change in his behaviour for “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” [2nd Corinthians 5:17].

I made reference earlier to the famous sermon of Jonathan Edwards entitled – ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’ and I can think of no better way of drawing to a conclusion this article than by quoting these words from that sermon preached on 8th July 1741. Taking as his text,Deuteronomy 32:35, which reads, “To me [God] belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time. For the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste” Jonathan Edwards said –

‘Whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural [unregenerate] men’s earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction…natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them…the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them…The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons…You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it…if God should withdraw his hand…your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell…and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock…The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present…The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string…The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight…but…God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell…O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in…Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity…he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand…And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners…many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood…How awful is it to be left behind at such a day!… Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again?… Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous…let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence…Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come.’

I do pray the God will be pleased to graciously enlighten many ‘emergents’ with His saving truth so that they will in consequence ‘emerge’ from Satan’s grip and Kingdom into the ‘faith community’ of those redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s promise to His redeemed people reads –

“Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour”.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 15 June 2007

 

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