Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rediscovering Repentance

Just a couple of days ago I had another great meeting with John Lynch and we talked about a myriad of stuff regarding ministry and church. During our discussion, I brought up a couple of books that I have been sifting through which address some essential missing components in the church that need to be brought back. In More Than A Purpose author Marshall Davis responds to Rick Warren and the Megachurch Movement.
In his last chapter, Davis states that we need to first recover evangelism and then theology. I agree that there needs to be a recovery of both, but not necessarily in that order (granted, we need to recover a lot of important things in church). I think that theology comes first. People have not received the gospel because they have not really heard it. We offer a gospel that prepares people how to die, but not really how to live.

We are struggling enough as it is getting our theological facts straight. I’m not even talking about big ones like the trinity or predestination. A basic concept like repentance is a good example. Now please understand that I am not trying to pick on Rick Warren here, but his theology has permeated so many churches that I believe this issue to be more than relevant.

Sticking with the example at hand, Rick Warren defines repentance as “modifying one’s way of thinking to conform to God’s way of thinking.” While this involves some truth to it, this does not define it correctly. First off, repentance does not just deal with the mind, but also with the heart. Warren’s definition is so vague that it does not explain in what way a person’s thinking is about. He does not mention sinful thinking (or sinful acting). A seeker could assume that he just needed to develop positive thinking (which is exactly what Warren hopes to encourage by the way).

A simple definition of repentance is totally turning away from your sinful heart and sinful lifestyle and then turning toward a life of loving obedience to God.

My heart goes out to all the newbie Christians out there who have been to taught that they need to “commit” to Christ, but they don’t have the vaguest idea what it all entails. Can you really ask Christ into your life if you don’t know some essential things about who He is as a person? Can you really be a Christian and not have a grasp of confession and repentance?


John Lynch said...

I'm feeling this too, brother. I see a huge temptation among emerging zealots to reject the whole of "narrow-truth" along with the loveless distortions we've seen represent it in the past. But truth is inherently narrow. "The gate is narrow"... that's what Jesus, said, right? I'm really convicted that the minute we turn to "love" at the expense of "truth", we've just killed the Gospel & totally abandoned the mission of Christ. I hope we make this course correction before Emergence morphs into one more powerless bright idea spawned by good intentions & a lack of real abiding in Christ.

Al said...

You say that "We offer a gospel that prepares people how to die, but not really how to live.."
This is such a great way of saying it! I think that the modern church as a whole has been extending a verbal gospel message out to those around us without focusing as much on living it ourselves. Who else will display for the lost what it looks like to say yes to Christ on a daily basis? It is a lot more than praying a prayer, it's entering into a whole new way of living life.