So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I hate to say "I told you so" but...

..."I told you so". I've been thinking that for at least 6 years regarding the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference, but now I'm saying it. Ever since we abandoned our hermeneutics and our doctrine of scripture, we've been slowly drifting from our own historic theological orthodoxy.

We've gone from cessationist to charismatic (or Mennocostal, as we like to call it). That's not so much the problem as seeing that I've never had a conversation with anyone, including every Mennonite pastor that I've ever talked to, who could back it up from scripture with a position that withstood any amount of scrutiny.

We've gone from complimentarian to confused, pretending that the Bible is somewhat, if not totally, unclear on the issue of male and female roles in the church. And after the study conference in Calgary, I mentioned to a bunch of folks that our steps away from God's truth was about to become a walk away from God's truth...

...and I was fully wrong. Our walk has become a run. After having some struggles with getting my subscription to the MB Herald sent to Burbank, I finally got my January issue yesterday. I looked at the cover and saw the "What's Hell really like?" on the cover. I was expecting some articles on defending the important issue of Hell against the theological attack of our modern era. I mean, we are the 'conservative' ones who don't smoke, drink and play cards right?

Instead I got Pierre Gilbert's crack smoking article and Marshall Janzen's usual "I'm so smart" tirade.

For those that didn't read it, Pierre Gilberts' article went like this:

1. Hell is perceived as the "outworking of the overactive imagination of medieval visionaries" and makes us look crazy.
2. The notion of a loving God sending people to a place of eternal punishment is offensive to our sensibilities and our logic.
3. The notion of having Hitler or Stalin in Heaven is equally offensive but does finite sin should not require infinite punishment (and he subtly comments on how people are sent to Hell due to their sin natures and not actual individual sins).
4. Heaven is a place of 'getting close to God' and our 'God proximity' will make us happy and completely virtuous
5. God has now forgiven the entire world through Christ, but not everyone chooses him (though they are fully able to).
6. Because of mankind's "stinky" nature, they cannot stand being near God, therefore they want to flee from him because he "smells bad".
7. Hell isn't so much a place as "a condition where everything that makes life enjoyable disappears - love, compassion, intelligence, joy, purpose, freedom, the ability to make decisions".
8. It's possible to escape Hell with one tiny decision, and everyone should.
9. The editor Laura Kalmar also adds an her two cents to the end, commenting that "contemporary theologians disagree over whether hell is eternal punishment, or a temporary state in which God's judgement is executed until repentance and redemption are exercised. They also debate over whether hell is a literal place, or a term describing an existence apart from God".

Now I know the Mennonites are a growingly liberal bunch, but that article surprised even me. I cannot believe such a load of skubalon was printed in the MB Herald, though it most obviously was. Not only is that anthropocentric far beyond being any sort of Arminian view of salvation (he's one step away from being a universalist, and Laura sounds like she's entertaining the idea), but I just cannot believe that they cannot even agree as to whether or not Hell exists. In Marshall's article, he argues for anihilationism, that Hell is essentially a large blast furnace where souls are destroyed. What's worse is that Marshall tries to argue that the doctrine of Hell is a hinderance to the gospel and therefore needs to be re-evaluated (I hear Pagans don't like the "sin talk" much too Marshall...*sigh*). I'm torn between crying my eyes out and wanting to punch him in the face for his arrogance.

Man! How fast have we gone from "We're not sure what the Bible says about male and female roles in the church" to "We don't know what to make about what the Bible says about Hell"?

Looking at church history, I'm guessing that the next issue is universalism, and after that we'll be talking about homosexuals and the church (along with evangelism and the gospel), and most likely both will occur in the next decade (though I'm guessing 5 years is more realistic). After that, we'll start attacking Christ and question the importance of the atonement, with "all this blood talk", much like the Canadian United church was doing a few years ago.

I used to fear that when I come back to Canada, I'd have trouble finding a decent Mennonite church to pastor in. Now I'm beginning to think I'll come back as a missionary...or a Southern Baptist.

Apparently these days my blood has to boil before I begin blogging. Doh! I've got Hebrew to study and I've got other homework to do too! Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


Blogger Frank Martens said...

Wellington is pretty solid. But then again they are the conservative side of that denomination. Just like Bethlehem is the conservative side of the BGC

11:53 AM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Yeah...Willingdon MB is a decent church, but they're going to have to eventually leave the denomination. It's really going nuts.

I'm sad that you had to see Regent too...Jen and I were talking about that the other night. Once Packer and Waltke left, it kinda went to the dogs! DOH! How's Vancouver treating you?

11:58 AM

Blogger Jonathan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:46 PM

Blogger Frank Martens said...

Jon didn't log out of his gmail account and I wasn't paying attention when I posted that comment...

Yea no prob about Regent... As we all know... it's God that makes the school, not man :)

And Vancouver is not bad, I wish we would have had some time to take the ferry :), but it's been a great trip, been able to relax and see a few things as well.

10:48 PM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Can you pick up one or two things for my in Canada if I ask you to Frank? Just wondering if you'll have time to hit a grocery store while you're there. LOL! E-mail me if you can and I'll respond with only 3 things I'd love you to buy for me. I can pick them up March 2-7 when I come to Minn. again. Tee Hee!

Say hi to John for me to, as well as Bobbi Salkeld (at Willingdon). I went to Bible College with her!

10:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog by accident, however, your observations about the MB are correct. I believe that the Canadian MB suffers 'deep' problems of giving in to the ways of the world and accepting the "spirit of the age." Good luck, I hope everything turns out okay.

3:43 PM

Blogger Jen2 said...

Hey Armchair !
You're always welcome to become a Baptist. :)

But....well....then there's "the dancing thing."

5:26 AM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Dancing? I can't dance for beans. As to the results of dancing, let me refer you to my posts on Hell. HA!

12:39 AM


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