Willard, part 1

This afternoon was the first of two speaking sessions Dallas is participating in this week. The first talk was a “fireside” chat with Dr. Stan Gaede, in which Stan asked questions about the current state of evangelicalism. The talk was very interesting, and I think one of the most intriguing parts of the conversation came when Stan asked Dallas about the emerging church movement. Dallas initially answered that the term “emergent” is a misnomer because the church already emerged 2000 years ago. Though the quip was humorous, and seemed to resonate with quite a few folks in the audience, I don’t think Dallas meant to disparage the movement. But, he did offer words of wisdom in regards to the new movement that I think are worth sharing. Willard went on to state that emergent folks have seen him as a kindred spirit, though he clearly stated his foundationalist philosophical stance (as opposed to the postfoundationalist stance of the emerging movement). What Willard then shared, I believe, is why so many Christians have treasured his writing for so long, and why fundamentalists and “emergers” can both claim him on “their” side. At the heart of his sharing this afternoon was a deep desire to articulate that evangelicalism has moved beyond what Christ intended for his disciples – and that is to be and to make disciples.

To paraphrase Willard’s words, the church has made grace applicable only to guilt, and not to sin. Doing this has taught people that true discipleship is freedom from guilt, when in actuality, true discipleship is a freedom from sin – in essence, holiness. And holiness has become taboo in evangelical circles post WWII because of a shift towards a more Calvinistic faith. Got that?

My mind is still trying to sift through the many topics he covered, though the forum did not allow for much depth. It is a message the church needs to hear, whether emergent or fundamentalist, though one I am not sure it is ready to hear – nor am I necessarily ready to hear it!

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