As I mentioned in the earlier post, someone recently decided to write a letter to the editor of our local paper about the dangers of a book entitled The Hole in Our Gospel, written by the president of "World Vision", Richard Stearns. The letter created a bit of a controversy, here locally - much of what I expected once I read the letter. I have been watching the emergent church debate among Christians for several years now, and I felt that this is exactly where this letter would lead. The author of the letter did not name the book or ministry as emergent; I believe she was simply concerned that the book was an attack on our faith.
The particular book mentioned in the letter was one with which I was not familiar. Yes, I had heard about "World Vision" and the new direction they were beginning to take, but I had not heard about this book written by "World Vision’s" CEO. I decided therefore this would be a good resource for me to read, to see for myself just exactly what is capturing so many as a wonderful new truth, and causing so many others to cringe in the thought of heresy. I had already read a number of books and articles on the dangers of the emergent church, but this book I wanted to read and analyze on my own. At the time, I wasn’t sure the author would be actually promoting an emergent doctrine, but I did suspect it. I want to note that Stearns’ book is not so much about the work of "World Vision" as it is about what he believes is the problem within the Christian faith and that is the issue I seek to address. It is a bit of Stearns auto-biography, but it isn't simply that. He seeks to bring us along to join him in his belief system. It is not my intention to single out any particular ministry with concerns over the emergent church. It is the general philosphy with which I am concerned, but as this is the one that brought discussion through our local paper, this is the one I chose to read.
I ordered the book, which came in no time, but I put it on my shelf for the time being until I could finish two others books I had been reading. Not long after I had received the book in the mail, though, the company where I had ordered the book sent me an email saying “Jan: Based on this purchase, (the one I had just ordered – The Hole in Our Gospel) we've hand picked some titles you just may find impossible to resist.” There below their email a number of books were pictured just waiting for my purchase. I got a good laugh; every single one of the books pictured was written by an emergent church author. Ok, so it is as I suspected, The Hole in Our Gospel will be promoting a social gospel. But it only piqued my interest, so I decided to start reading this book right away. I wanted to find out just why this division is so easily occurring and manifestly growing at a rapid pace.
Even at my first glance through the book, I found there was so much I wanted to comment about, that I almost felt overwhelmed. I read more, and started making notes and doing more research. I did not want to be wrong in blogging about this book - especially if it would be something that was simply a minor doctrinal issue. No sense in joining in controversy over something that would fade away in time, as so many minor differences have. I prayed about blogging these thoughts and gave it some time. I don’t believe we should go around bashing other ministries at will. That is destructive and hurtful and most often only sets the recipient more firmly in his beliefs. I simply have no desire to do that; but I do believe the “blog” can be a proper forum for this type of discussion. No one has to read it, and that is what blogs are all about. If one does want to read, it is a good place to trade thoughts and ideas. I do welcome in-put, thoughts and comments.
I had planned on commenting chapter by chapter of this controversial book, but I think I will hit a few general highlights first and see if the chapter by chapter blog posts will continue to be something I want to do.
First I want to give a little history about "World Vision", which I will attempt to do in my next post. Again, this is not to point out whether "World Vision" is a worthy ministry or not. I simply want to share the history that I learned. As with anything, there is good and there is bad.