Wednesday, September 24, 2008

White Horse Inn - Who Needs the Church?

A recent broadcast on the White Horse Inn 7/27/08) asks the question, Who Needs the Church? That question was prompted by the writings of George Barna - author, pollster, researcher, church growth guru, etc. Here are some direct quotes from his book, Revolution:

"Believers do not need to find a good church, but they should get a good coach."

"In just a few years we will see that millions of people will never travel physically to a church but will instead roam the internet in search of meaningful spiritual experiences."

"Based on our the 2010, 10-20% of Americans will derive all their spiritual input and output from the internet. Ours is not the business of organized religion: corporate worship or Bible teaching. If we dedicate ourselves to such a business we will be left by the wayside as the culture moves forward. Those are fragments of a larger purpose to which we have been called by God's word. We are in the business of life-transformation."

This broadast is part of a larger series on Pelagius and Pelagianism: the teaching that mankind has not really fallen from grace and we are capable of making ourselves right with God without divine assistance or initiative. Woven into this discussion is the theology of Charles G. Finney which is an updated version of Pelagianism.

Against the backdrop of Barna, Finney and Pelagius, Dr. Michael Scott Horton summarizes modern trends and contrasts it with Biblical (and Reformation) theology:

"When you put Pelagianism and Gnosticism together you get the inner light of the Quakers. Basically, if it's an interior works-righteousness, (then) I am creating the church: I and you and all of us as an aggregate are creating the church by our activity. What we are saying is...The Church is the creation of the Word...When God speaks his word, primarily through preaching, when he preaches Christ a community appears out of nowhere."

Click on the link for a thought-provoking discussion on the biblical basis for the church. NOTE: this discussion includes comments on race, apartheid, and niche demographics and their negative effects upon the church: White Horse Inn (Dr. Michael Horton) - Broadcast Archives


Wayne said...

I like to remind people that Pelagius was essentially the Rush Limbaugh of the late 4th century. :-P

Dave Sarafolean said...


In what sense? His enormous popularity?

Wayne said...

Pelagius' popularity was due to a generally perceived notion of cultural decline. This notion was especially strong among a class of "cultured" Roman Christians who had experienced a level of prosperity by way of their mixing the Christian faith with traditional Roman family values. The dominant narrative among these Christians was the need to return to those values that once made Rome great. Pelagius viewed the orthodox doctrine of grace as a threat to the virtue of self-reliance and self-industry. From the vantage point of the late fourth century, Pelagius was very much a voice of "cultural conservativism."

It took the voice of a North African - someone far removed from Rome - to smash this dominant paradigm. :-)

Dave Sarafolean said...

Got it. Your classical background is coming through :)

Wayne said...

Two outstanding works that are simply a delight to read are:

1. Christianity and Classical Culture by Charles Norris Cochrane


2. Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown

These two are worth the price of ten books randomly selected from my pastor's library.

Dave Sarafolean said...


Thanks for the tip on additional reading. I'll add them to my growing list of titles to read. Now if I could only get caught up on the books that I've already purchased...