Monday, April 23, 2007

A Response to the Many Student Comments

Ok, so I'm not going to be the guru of fashion activism at the King's college...Maybe I can start a movement to get NYU students to dress better?

And I've blown out the idea that emergents are weak-knee'd hippies - having blasted a respected cultural leader like your President in public and blogosphere.

So, campus dress codes - a perenial source of complaint and dissent amongst student populations since Christianity invented higher education no longer arouse a peep of passion? OK. Sounds like the administration might be putting something in the food when that many students love the dress code, I don't know, just a little weird at most.

So let me be honest - I already knew TKC students support the dress code. I did think I might find one or two out there that might agree on that point, but I knew the majority were happy with it - how? they've told me that in person. I've been to TKC probably seven times over the last number of years, going back pretty close to when it started. I've sat in lectures held by TKC at the Lamb's theater. I've studied in the library, I've eaten food there. I've known many students in church circles.

And it would be important to note three things before I launch into this long and substantive reply - I'm not attacking the school or the school body - as my post started by saying I've come to know and love a number of TKC students. And secondly, it is well accepted that college Presidents are public figures. When public figures say things in public, it is quite within normality to take them to task in public arenas like blogs. This is not a "broken relationship" between brothers that needs forgiveness and reconciliation.

The third thing to note; do you remember at the beginning of the gulf war when George Clooney spoke out so passionately against the war, and he was on the verge of being blacklisted as mainstream America bristled at his "un-patriotism". Now he is hailed as a man of true courage and patriotism because he spoke his mind against the grain. I have chosen to speak out forcefully about things which I will explain more in this post - you can disagree with me, but when we speak critically about important things an institution is manifesting, it's not that we hate the institution or the people in it, we want it to be it's best by pointing to it's current manifestations - often manifestations have an underlying cause that can use some fixing. Often speaking out against an institutions current manifestations is prompted by wanting it to return to it's founding aspirations. So just think of me as George Clooney.

What is probably my fault in lack of communication skill, is that the article/post was only slightly about the dress code (yes, I do have an ounce of interest in the dress code, but that's about it, and I think I said too much about it confusing things) the article is about the conversation I had with the President of King's College and how he denigrated a large swath of people I am intimately connected to (and that's why I noticed it, whereas no one else then or now seems to have noticed or cared about that denigration - aren't some of you PK's and felt like he dissed your dad?). And it was about how I recognize that he was able to do that in a public forum because he is a part of a culture that affirms that and sees nothing wrong with it (a notable manifestation). Not one single comment here from the students seems to have any problem with the things he said about those groups of people, a very interesting comment (manifestation).

I wrote the post knowing it would stir up some trouble because I am trying to get under the hood of that particular culture and check its manifestations - thus helping it return it to it's original aspirations (God's love manifest in community).

I am all about being free to believe whatever you want to believe. But what I think is important to know, is what you believe in the context of other possible beliefs, and to make a wise, reasoned, prayerful choice to continue in that belief culture and stream knowing where it fits on the spectrum (or what side of the mountain its flowing down).

The flow of beliefs and money in a stream are what create institutions in our society. The Jews in America have a tremendous number of cultural institutions that are well funded and that promote their beliefs (awesome!). The Buddhists have a so so number of such institutions. the Democratic and Republican political parties have their stream of beliefs and money. The media institutions have their streams, the art world has it's streams (more like creeks for most of them), political activists of all stripes have their streams. (and the mention of money in this context is not negative, of course these streams need money, but just noting the stream of money is helpful in identifying the stream and its goals).

One of the most important things is to know what stream you are in and really decide if that is the stream you want to be in. Many people find themselves standing in a stream and they don't really know how they got there or why or what it is.

Fundamentalism, the thing that is currently scaring the pants off most of the world's population, is the belief that your stream is the only stream and that's it. No discussion, get in the stream or you're going to die - either by God allowing you to die spiritually and go to hell, or by God commanding me to kill you. Whether he takes you or I take you, you're going to die if you don't get in this stream (I'm not saying TKC is fundamentalist, but be patient as I build here).

Here's why I do what I do; The church in America is shrinking. There are less Christians today than there were yesterday. Tomorrow there will be less also.

Two groups of people are the one's whose presence is missing from the church and thus it is shrinking - the first group are longtime Christians who find themselves increasingly disenchanted with many levels locally and nationally of Christian culture and are literally streaming out the doors of the church - in order to preserve their faith (not to leave the faith). This phenomenon is well documented by George Barna's book Revolution and by many people's anecdotal evidence all across America and the blogosphere.

And the second group is an entire generation of young Americans sometimes refered to as the post-Christian generation. They grew up with baby boomer type parents who were often atheist (at least functionally) and so didn't expose their kids to religion. They grew up in this transition from modernity to post-modernity (or whatever you want to call "that which comes after modernity"). They are curiously very different from their non-religious parents - they are very spiritual or open to spirituality. Some say it only took one generation of atheist parents to drive the next generation to spiritual belief. But, even though they are very open spiritually, they are also completely turned off by what they see of American Christianity. Interestingly, they are very open to and curious about Jesus - they sense a good vibe about him, but what they see of American Christianity nudges or pushes them away.

These two groups of people, the Barna Revolution Christians leaving church to preserve their faith, and the post-Christian generation together represent the first time in the history of America that so many people are "missing" from the church that the church is shrinking. There are parts of the church that are growing but they cannot keep up with the parts that are shrinking. Evangelicalism is shrinking but more slowly than Mainstream protestants or Catholics. Mainstreamers in particular are porch diving. But evangelical Christianity is shrinking.

That's not a small thing. The Kingdom of God was made to grow. So, of course the big question is, "What's causing the shrinkage?" And then, How can we fix it?

I believe, and so do a good number of others (who flow in different streams than TKC) that evangelical Christianity has become so power hungry after a few decades of growing power and political triumph, that there has been a subtle drift away from the gospel of Jesus, to a gospel of political power or whatever else it might be (of course all in the name of Jesus). When Jesus was on earth, he spent a lot of time prophetically calling out the religious political power holders. The prophets did that also in the OT.

If America is the most powerful nation on earth, and the President of America is the most powerful man in America - when the National Association of Evangelicals has weekly conference calls with the President, and are known to be his power base - then I don't think it's too far fetched to imagine a bunch of people that close to the greatest human power on earth could have been tempted to drift by that power.

Now, back to streams. The Kings College is decidedly, and inarguably in a very clearly known stream of money and influence and belief that is at the very heart of evangelical politic and power pursuit (if you wonder about this, follow the money, it will show you who's in the stream). I'm sure most of you know that. The question is did you know that a lot of Christians have a problem with that? Did you know the church was shrinking? Do you think the church is in need of reform?

If you knew a Christian who left the church because he was really bummed out by it, would that motivate you to wonder about you and your "church stream's" role in that loss of your brother?

Do you know that your generation is the most lost in the history of America?

Is that a crisis?

There are by far less Christians amongst your generation than any other before it. If that is true, does it give rise to questioning the status quo of the church?

Are people who do question the status quo of well known public church institutions and their leaders - in this state of crisis - being mean?

Wouldn't having this knowledge and not passionately questioning the status quo power holders (the ones who caused it and can affect change) amount to a betrayal?

If we have a whole new set of issues with our current shrinking church, compared to the excitedly ascendant church of President Oakes college student days 35 years ago, would that lead us to consider the need for new thinking?

The ascendant nature of the last twenty years of evangelical growth, has left those still hot on that exciting warpath unaware of other things that are happening - runners in a race don't notice the fungus on the trees. When you are trying to build political power and influence, you don't talk much about shrinkage or want to notice that it's there. It's too negative.

Maybe you don't know that the main job of college Presidents is to raise money. That is true of both secular and Christian private colleges. Colleges are essential and need talented fundraisers, of course. Fundraising is essentially selling. I was in sales for years. Sales is a good thing. College Presidents have to sell a vision to donors, a vision of how their money is going to change the world through the fine young students produced. That's the job of college Presidents and it is good and needed. The cost of your tuition is directly tied to how good of a salesman J. Stanley Oakes is, and so you should hope he is good - the more he raises, the lower your tuition. I'm sure he is awesome and I'm sure he's personally saving your parents a ton of money. I loved my years in sales.

But here's the thing about salesmen - they don't notice anything negative. You can't sell negative. You can't be negative. You have to drum up a vision of awesome exciting beauty and emotionally communicate that to your audience - and it's truly a grand sight to behold it done well.

But the thing is that when your ship is sinking - you don't need a salesman to motivate you with a grand vision of your destination, you need an engineer with a keen eye for the reality of the negative situation and a mechanic who can execute repairs on the hole. That's what prophets are known for - calling out negative things that are sinking the ship. We need many, many prophets, all the time, it's no big deal to be a prophet or prophetic.

The reason you guys all love J. Stanley so much (as I would if I were in your shoes) is because he is a grand communicator of an exciting vision - and I am not being cheeky when I say that is totally awesome - super awesome.

But here's the thing. We are in a time of crisis. When I say the church is shrinking, that's the same as the ship is sinking. How long can the American church shrink, before it is sunk? Do you want to be Europe? The ship sunk in Europe.

Imagine if the post-Christian generation never gets turned on to Christianity - the seriousness of that is sobering. Time for that logic class - how long will it take the older Christians to die off naturally, and for the new rising post-Christian generations to populate the country with nothing but post-Christians? If that happens the ship has sunk, we are Europe. It could really happen, it is happening now - the only way to stop it is to reach your generation, or the next one for Christ. This is a total and serious crisis.

This is a time for the church to be deeply quiet and introspective about where we have gone wrong. It is not the time to be running ahead. How can you run ahead when you don't know where to go? How can the church be shrinking/sinking, and we not understand that everything we are doing right now has to stop, be considered, and then reformed?

The stuff we are doing right now, is the stuff that leaders and theologians and pastors over the last 30 years slowly thought up and slowly implemented. What you are doing and studying at TKC is stuff that was thought up twenty years ago - that's how institutions work.

So, this is a time not for salesman to pump us up, but for prophets to lead us towards humble self introspection leading to prayers of repentance and asking God to show us where we went wrong and to move in a new direction that he shows us. Anything else is to be partying on the sinking ship.

So back to college Presidents - I doubt J. Stanley Oaks or most of his main ideological and financial partners that stand in the same stream together even know the church is shrinking (because their type doesn't tend to notice that). They are smart, talented, quite impressive people who are running ahead with all their might. I am sincerely and tremendously impressed with many of their accomplishments - they are all smarter and harder working than me.

But I believe they have drifted off the path, and that maybe a meek guy or two speaking out prophetically can help them to see that people are leaving the church in large numbers, and not coming to the church for the first time in large numbers because of the culture they have created over the last 35 years or so (unwittingly). They need to see the ship is sinking and pull back on the throttle (all their plans and ideas).

I don't doubt their sincere early motivations. I was one of them and watched them build this whole thing. I gave Pat Robertson money when I was a high school student in the seventies. I thought he was awesome. If it was 1983 and I was a college student at TKC, I would probably worship J. Stanley Oakes.

But it's 2007 and good and reasonable people in our general culture don't want the evangelical power elite to take over control of the world. They aren't against them because they don't believe in God, or "get" the cause of righteousness, they just don't want someone taking over society and telling them how to live. No one anywhere likes power grabs. This is the core of the drift that lead us to hit the iceberg. Okay, the ship is sinking J. Stanley and buddies - stop the power grab. Okay, I understand you didn't know, but now you do, so stop scaring people and start listening to them.

When you think differently from those all around you, sometimes we call that a blind spot. As a student when you think you are just trying to get a good education and do well in business for the gospel's sake, yet a chorus of voices all around you are proclaiming they perceive your college and whole stream of leadership around it as someone making a power grab - and you are scaring them and you are not listening to them - then it's time to listen to them - and if you are the college President, then you need someone to point out your blind spot. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when I noticed J. Stanley saying things that I know scare people and make them run from the church. Love for those people makes me want to ask J. Stanley to stop saying those things. Shhhhh, you're scaring the children.

Jesus came to suffer and serve - to build community from the bottom up, not the top down. We need to learn to live in a complex pluralistic society where we make Christ attractive to others because they see the love we have in our midst, not by taking control of the great institutions of power. Christ has never dwelled near earthly power. He has all power, and he expresses it on earth by giving power away, by dying, by letting go - that is our Orthodox example. Christ is always counter-intuitive. We build his Kingdom by drawing people towards loving communities of faith, not by controlling the power in culture and shaping it how we want.

You must understand the chorus of voices who are saying you are scaring them by seeing this in light of 9/11. On that sad September day the world changed, and one of the big things that changed is that a lot of people that used to never be scared got scared. I know TKC is not fundamentalist - but people in the culture don't understand the difference between evangelical and fundamentalist - they are the same to them. I even know mainstream protestants who can't really tell them apart. The rise of super scary fundamentalist Islamic terror has created a deep change in how people in our culture understand people of faith. People are scared of people who do things because God told them to. If you don't understand this one important point you will flounder much in your work for God in todays world. Ascendant evangelical power grabbing has become deeply tied to the fear people legitimately have in their heart towards people doing what God told them to do.

So, you should go to The Kings College and you should study your heart out about business and economics and philosophy and just get super smart and equipped - but we as a church need to take a different approach to how we implement our hopes to change the world. We need to be so freakin' sensitive to the real fears people have of people who want to change the world for God. It's super real and a failure on our part to deal with this reality will fundamentally affect our chance to save one of the upcoming generations and stop the ship from sinking.

This is where we drifted - we started trying to just be present in culture (because we had been missing and that was totally off), but somewhere along the way we got sidetracked. Folks like J. Stanley Oakes have spent their lives fundraising, networking and thinking about how to take power. That's what he told me personally that night, and that's what is obvious to any cultural observer who sees where TKC fits on the spectrum of streams of belief and money. And that's the stuff that scares people bad. You can't lead people to Christ when you are scaring them.

When he said I should just listen to him and accept his judgement because he's been doing it for 35 years - that was a manifestation of him running along this stream for so long, that he doesn't even know the ship is sinking - because that is the kind of statement that says I know what God is telling me to do so don't question it - and that is what scares people today, and also is what just kills the post-Christian generation in terms of not being open to dialog (the whole central political power metanarrative thing) and keeps them far away (I'm sure if he knew that he would never say it - but fundraising is the main job of college President's and it is quite tiring).

When he denigrated all those people that are different from him, that was him saying, "I'm so sure I know what to do with the power when I get it, that I don't really need others input - and I can't even really respect them given they dress poorly, in fact they dress like homeless people, uh, what do you call them...oh yeah, bums" - that's a clear indicator of how power has caused him to drift and put him square in the sights of the need for a prophetic calling out. Telling the powerful and power-hungry that they are arrogant accounts for significant portions of the prophets and the gospels. I'm sorry that your guy got busted, but he said it. And when the ship is sinking and a college President says that - he needs to be rebuked, the stakes are too great.

And maybe the first time you read the post you didn't know of the crisis and that the ship is sinking, and so you just thought I was a jerk...but now that you know your President was partying on the deck of the sinking ship, I hope you'll be more kind to the messenger who went out and asked him to stop.

This is not to say that just going to TKC is an indictment - the church needs to be reformed, not destroyed. J. Stanley Oakes is going to have a huge mansion in heaven - getting caught asleep at the wheel is not that terrible - but it does require some response. If we suddenly wake up and discover that we drifted towards power grabbing and lost our servant based prophetic power to draw people to Christ - then we repent and return to our first love. A lot of us are just now waking up to this drift. I'm no different.

Drift is hard to notice at first. But a whole ton of people are waking up to this drift and they are noticing there are no 18-35 year olds in church(*) and they have a lot of long time Christian friends that don't go to church anymore, and they notice a lot of the society being really annoyed by American Christianity for good reasons and they begin to realize how power corrupts and causes drift. And they notice that the most powerful and wealthy country on earth has been controlled by a political party that is not only known as the political party of the church, but also the political party of the wealthy, and they wonder how Jesus got on the side of the power elite?

Evangelicals are famous for not being strong on social justice, and for being very strong on creating wealth and protecting that wealth through the party of wealth, the Republican party. People notice that and it turns them off. (Once again, just trying to notice manifestations that lead us back to original aspirations - not anti-Republican)

If you're cool being in that stream. Awesome, you'll hear no problems from me (unless you say something really mean and stupid in public - then I might have to call you out).

But do you know the church is shrinking?

Even if you don't notice the church shrinking, or believe me that it is, at least look into it and the fact that a lot of people are talking about these things and so there might be something to it.

And do you know the particular stream of evangelicalism that you and TKC are in? (and how many perceive that stream as the one leaning on the steering wheel while we drifted into the iceberg that punctured the hole in the hull?) Seriously, are you aware that people are scared and that they have coined words like "wingnut factory" to describe TKC - you really have to know that in order to realize the crisis.

I'm not being mean to J. Stanely or TKC, I'm calling you to stop running ahead with a 35 year old plan and start being quiet and listening to the chorus of voices all around you in the culture who are helpful in helping us to see our blind spots - sensitive to the realities of our post 9/11 world and the state of fear out there. And then to be in a mood of quiet attentiveness to God about things like repentance, confession and lots of prayer about the future he is leading us towards.

(*don't be fooled by the amazing growth of megachurches - for every successful megachurch of 5000 people, there are hundreds of other churches that have closed or shrunk that represented 7000 people...5000 moved over to the megachurch and the other 2000 left the church. A net loss of 2000.)


I want to add something about the comment about not being afraid of being excellent and being successful in business and government - of course those are good things. A big part of my life is helping artists of faith be the best they can be in the secular art world, that's my main gig. What has happened is that the church has lost its prophetic call because though we were going in the right direction - to be present at all levels of society, including the high levels, which we had been absent from - we did so while remaining separtist and critical of society in a real ugly and unattractive way.

Ever heard of the culture wars? that's a bunch of Christians not going to see some movie or not buying Palmolive products because their corporate symbol looked weird. We need to be present emotionally, artistically and actually (not in our subculture) before we can be a good member of society who happens to have some strong business gifts and rises to a high level.

When you are a separtist group and you want to take over the world and tell everyone else what to do that is the problem, and that is exactly, exactly, exactly how they view us.

There's nothing wrong with being gifted and doing well politically or in business or in any sphere - but you have to do it if you are a Christian (especially today) from a place that shows people you care about them and are there for their benefit - a true servant. When we don't listen to the voices in the world telling us they are afraid of our grabs for power for a lot of good reasons - we doom ourselves to not being in a place to "ascend as a true servant". If we don't listen to the sound of all the feet walking out of the church by the culture we've created, we won't be able to serve well (if we didn't know so many feet were walking out, were we listening?).

People have a right not to want a separtist group to control them. I wouldn't want Hare Krishna's to take over the government and make me wear their clothes and haircut. Even though we think we "aren't that guy" - we must listen to the world around us who really, really, really do believe we are that guy - and they're scared of us because we have shown some awesome power in political elections. (which brings up the whole point that evangelicalism has really become the dominant political church of our state - we're not really that up and coming anymore, we're already there - note NAE conference calls with the President).

So there is this very long story of how we have to be a present part of the world physically, socially, artistically, emotionally in order to gain the privilege of their trust so we can be leaders in all levels of society - including the high ones of business and government as trusted servants.

This gets into my whole life as a pastor of artists and a voice calling the church to be a part of the art world and culture in general. If you aren't around when the gang is having fun, and then you show up and just want to get your way on the group project, no one will like you. It's like the weird neighbor who never joins others for casual talk out in their yards, the only time you see them is when they are mad at some kid for riding on their lawn - if the only time you see us is when we are denigrating culture and we're not being a part of that culture - if we spend inordinate amounts of time building a whole subculture with our own music and film and books and colleges and then suddenly want to show up and control everything, don't you see how scary that looks to them? We are the weird neighbor.

If you hang out and know everyone in the neighborhood and volunteer to help clean up the playground and generally be present, then no one blinks when you also decide to run for the school board.

This is why though the dress code is not the biggest thing, it is still a part of our lack of "being a part of" physically and emotionally. In your college years, you should be a college student. The vast majority of people who will be filling all the positions of power and influence that TKC students also want to go to are just enjoying being college kids right now and wearing whatever clothes they feel like. I want you to be present among them. Staying separate and preparing for your assault on power by practicing dress up for four years is part of the problem (though a minor one).

You are more responsible for reaching your own generation than you are for the businesspeople in the Empire State Building - there's plenty of older Christian businessmen reaching out to them and because yours is the most lost generation in the history of America - there is just mathematically less people your age reaching out to people your age than there are forty year olds reaching forty year olds. We always have a natural affinity for the people our own age who grew up watching the same TV shows and in your case understand why Myspace exists (which for example, I at age 43 don't understand at all).

Are you exhausted reading this, I don't blame you. I know I am tired of hearing myself think. I'm just a guy doing my best to hear the Lord and live my life and not be afraid to do the tough job. I hope you'll be patient with me if you disagree - if I'm totally wrong and there is no crisis and the church is right on track, I'm sure President Oakes will survive my words and forgive me and I hope you will too. Maybe you'll read some of the earlier posts on my blog where you'll see I'm all about talking about relational love ad nauseum. Many blessings.

19 comments:

Danny Phantom said...

blah blah blah...hey, thanks for playing but this is me checking out of a meaningless fight with a so called "brother". In the end, neither one of us has to answer to each other for we'll stand before God, not our peers.

I really hope that God blesses you and your ministry in whatever way you chose to manifest your calling. As for me and my future family, my ministry will manifest itself founded upon not only the education but the ideals i get from and at King's.

This is the beautiful thing about God, his love and his mercy: it fits all.

I choose to not answer your extensive post because in the light of the grand scheme of God's plan for your life and my life this silly argument is a battle victory for the enemy.

"and it is my prayer that your love may about more and more, with knowledge and discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of CHRIST, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of GOD."

i mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Daniel G. Leiva

d pope said...

After reading your response I thought of saying a few things.

However, I believe Daniel has said everything that needs to be said.

May your ministry save many people, I in no way desire to stand in the way of that.

When we both stand before God at the end of this life I believe we'll find we were both wrong; I cannot hope to fully understand the mystery of my God.

So, as we both set off in this journey for truth, I wish you the same success as I hope you wish me.

To God be the glory, brother.

J. Dustin Pope

Schatz said...

I first want to apologize for the incredible excess of repetitive posts from King's students, we have opinions and like to express them.

I also want to throw something else out there. Just as Jesus worked from the bottom up, so did Paul from the top down. That was true cross-cultural evangelism. Although I don't know much about your theology, having just learned of the Emergent church yesterday, I do wish you the best at reaching your stream for Christ. I, on the other hand, will continue to dress up so that I can someday be not only a business man who attends church but a churchgoer who works in the business world.

About 80 years from now, we'll all be at the same table anyhow, why don't we invite everyone from our own streams to come as well, Matthew 22:1-14 permitting.

Anonymous said...

You are still completely beating around the bush what you wrote was inappropriate and you need to apologize for it...also you are contradicting yourself in this post by saying that it is so important to be in the right "stream" yet it is so very wrong to say that one "stream" is better than the other? You seem to say that no one has any right to say that their way is the best way yet somehow your way is miraculously the divine way...Most of us have already seen Jesus Camp we are well aware of the criticism that the Evangelical church faces...your critiques have been stated a dozen times...so as a pastor of an emergent church I think you should start trying to work with people you disagree with not against. And once again...you really should apologize for the rude things that you said no matter how you meant it...you said it inappropriately...since you are a leader of a congregation this is the least I expect from you.

-Wyatt B.

Matt said...

Jeff,

1. You missed the point entirely, again. Our dress-code is not anti-cultural, nor conformist, but simply professionally-cultural. We're on the same side. I think it is plain as day that "Business/Political professionals" and "artists" dress differently. But artists should not be assumed to own the "christian" way of dressing.

2. You cannot claim that the church is both shrinking, and then claim that Christians are winning elections. Pick a side: Is the church shrinking or growing?

You also assume Christians can lose their salvation.

I also find it doubtful that you cout AND assume that if a Christian church shuts down, and its members don't join mega-churches, then they've lost their faith. I've never filled out a survey when I've moved churches. I hope I'm not numbered among the lost.

3. Lets talk about 'preaching to the relevant culture', if you knew Stan's backround you'd know that he has spent his entire life on "secular universities." He has spoken and trained speakers to witness to Fraternities and Sororities across the nation--not preaching fundamentalism, but there Mere Christianity of the faith. The same thing you are trying to preach. And he has led thousands to Christ.

The King's College is challenging secular notions of the way this world thinks: materialism, legislated morality, the welfare state, big government, etc.

You'd think that The King's College was helping your cause...

4. Stan Oakes did not insult homeless people, or artists, or anyone else for that matter. He simply said that if you want to make it in the professional corporate/political world, you must dress the part.

You assumed two things that are quite serious. (1) That Stan thinks everyone needs to be a businessman, and (2) That the businessmen that are friends of the college are atheists and destructive the Christian faith. Surely you don't think that Christianity is limited to artists.

King's is a Professional School. We're not better than any other culture, but surely were not worse.

Also, we're not an art school--and even though we're not an art school we still reach out to the art community: fashion show, art expos, and the artisan's guild.

5. Claiming that King's is unconcerned with this world is ridiculous. Our courses focus on the "defining questions" such as: Is wealth creation a bless or curse? How do you help the poor? How can the slave-trade be hampered?

I'm intersted in your approach to ending poverty, because Jesus himself always said the poor would exist.

The King's approach is not ignorant enough to think that ending poverty is possible. People will be poor, even if you give everyone a million dollars, because eventually someone will spend their money irresponsibly. The systemic poor are poor because of their socio-economic conditions. Alleviate those conditions and you can alleviate poverty. Micro-loans and outsourcing labor.

6. This is getting ridiculous that you dualisitically claim that King's is destroying Christianity and also fulfilling God's commission to Professionals.

Your new post had the appearance of "unity," but you're preaching the same song: there is no room for Christians in America unless they are emergent, post-modern, and art-oriented.

You continually undermine "traditional Christianity" by purposefully taking things out of context and misquoting them.

King's has recognized that Christianity is bigger than our college, and bigger than post-modernism.

I will admit that some Christians that are traditional in their values do force their faith on others, but it is not fair of you to project that form of Christianity onto all traditional Christians--in the same way, we could only quote the emergent pastors who deny the trinity, the incarnation, and the ressurection and label the emergent movement as heretical. When you debate you must take your opponents best argument, not worst argument, and refute it. Picking fights with 1st graders doesn't prove anything.

7. You can't preach unity at the exclusivity of other Christians that think different from you. That's not unity.

Steve Joseph said...

Matt said things better than I would have been able to

I will put what I planned to say in the Churchill blog, Jeff, if you want to check it out there will be a link at the bottom of the page.

Please just be careful yourself man. Scripture trains us in ways to distinguish between God-sent and false prophets.

My pastor used to say that there are two dogs inside of us, chained up but fighting for control. The more we feed either dog, the less healthy and able the other is to operate in its goals. Cultural conformity and the Emergent Church needs to be very mindful of Christ and and Post-Modern thinking, but it needs to embrace one much more than the other.

I apologize for the students who sought selfish revenge over gentle and wise reasoning.

Anonymous said...

Also another comment (my thoughts always come in waves) you still seem to think that it is okay to isolate and leave the rich businessmen to themselves...maybe because "they already have everything they don't need God" well guess what that's wrong...it is so easy for the progressive thinking individuals of our nation to bash the rich man and make him the scapegoat of all society's problems...but is this Biblical? I think not! This is a problem with emergent individuals...they are so focused on breaking the status quo that they forget that they still are to love and witness to those who continue to maintain the status quo...once again I said this before and I will say it again...its all about balance between the legalist status quo and the progressive anti-Christendom churches...believe it or not the status quo has done some good things and those things deserve to be maintained...in closing rich businessmen are just as spiritually needy as the homeless or the hip NYU student and do not deserve to have Christians turn their backs on them and assume that some older guy will witness to them. Reaching out to the rich and the seemingly needless people of our society is just as important as reaching out to the poor and desolate...rich people have so many superficial pleasures and things that they hold onto as their security and seriously how depressing is that? Rich businessmen are in the end just and needy as the homeless man sitting on the corner...just not in the ways you are looking. So you go ahead and keep on reaching out to the poor and those in need and we will extend our ministry to those who are apparently "not in need" (but really are).

-Wyatt B.

Anonymous said...

Also please provide me with a reference in Scripture that says that Jesus exclusively works from the bottom up and not the top down...because this is new to me.

-Wyatt B.

Anonymous said...

Before I write let me say one thing: I haven’t particularly chosen one side of the debate or other. I saw both anger and tact from both sides, and we all scream for our side to be the “right side”. Disagree with me, I’m okay with that. But, in my opinion, both sides of the argument made valid points that must be paid attention to.



Big Thought:



When I studied theology at Colorado Christian University, I had a professor who mentored me. He told me a story about a church in Europe in the 16th century; I think it would serve us well if that story was told again. Sadly, some of the specifics are gone, but the heart remains the same. At the time, Christians in this country were experiencing great persecution by Militant Muslims and they were overwhelmed with fear. The elders of the church met to discuss their dire situation. They gathered in this large church and began to speak about what to do. They argued back and forth about what they perceived the will of the Lord was. The argument quickly digressed as the elders began to even question the abilities of God! “What is God capable of?” Then argument moved to the silly topic of what specific feats can God accomplish! The argument finally degenerated into, and I kid you not, if God is so powerful, how many angels can he fit on the head of a pin. And while this argument was happening, disaster stuck! The militants came to the town, found everyone inside the church, and burned the building to the ground!



After finishing the story, my mentor said to me “Keep the main thing the main thing.” So in regards to the blog’s that were posted earlier, I say this:



Both sides of the argument have said a lot about a lot different things i.e. dress codes, problems in the world, how to spot a real Christian versus a fake one, how the church is dying in England, and the assertion that influence must come from top rather than the bottom up. But, I don’t recall one of you saying the most important thing: that we must seek God first.



What does the Bible itself say about wealth, power, provision, and witness? Luke 12:31 “Seek first the Kingdom of God, then all these things will be added unto you”.



As one student pointed out, Billy Graham used two things which seem opposed to one another to reach people: broad evangelistic movements and trucks. Mother Teresa used love. Both acted out of their specific connection with the Lord.



Our outrage, which often appears to be righteous anger, is nothing more than an expression of our own thoughts, rather than an outcry about the greatness of God. It appears to be more of a personal defense than anything else. Whether the argument is something like: “I must become culturally relevant before I can speak to these people” or “I must attain power before I can affect things for God’s kingdom,” I challenge both of these thought processes. What withholds us from being effective for the Lord? Where in the Bible does it say “wait until this time, or until you have this influence or these clothes to speak or act in the love of the Lord”. It simply says this



Colossians
Chapter 3



1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

2 Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4 When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.

6 Because of these the wrath of God is coming (upon the disobedient).

7 By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.

8 But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.

9 Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices

10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

14 And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

15 And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.



Essentially, I would like to say this: we have spent enough time crawling over the ins and outs of one blog. Both sided have made broad statements about church “Unity” but no one seems to be actually seeking it.



Take action now to love each other! If the church is shrinking in Europe, help to change that, don’t use it as a quotable statistic to only prove how “horrible things are over there and we’re next.” How many of us are actually praying for Europe? We must pray for Europe because we love the Lord our God and our neighbor as our self. We must pray for the salvation of those in this world and that includes here at home.



The Lord became a man so that he could perfectly relate with us and bring us salvation. This should be the center of our thoughts as we speak with those we come in contact with. As Acts 17:26 says, we have been placed in our specific time and place by the lord God himself, so we must speak about him in whatever setting or arena we are in. To do otherwise can only be characterized as sad. Again, I say that we must speak to those that he has put in our path about the Lord! Be they artists in an emergent church, or be they businessmen on Wall Street – the Lord is full of Love for each! He is no respecter of mans positions or accomplishments or even non-accomplishments! He is the Lord God! Here is a verse I remember from my childhood Sunday School Classes:



“God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” II Samuel 16:7



So I close with this: let us spend more time loving one another, in the realization that our personal views are just that—personal. If our hearts are turned towards the Lord, than we will be mindful of his word and, out of His love, we will know how we must conduct ourselves with one another.



I make this plea, lest we end up like those inside that old church, being too concerned with trivialities and getting lost in argument. Moments like these may end up destroying us in the long run. If we spend time being too opinionated about small things and angry with each other over them, we will look like fools (and rightly so) to the world. For, we are not showing each other the love of the Lord. And we are not giving them what they need—a good example of it. Instead, we show them that we ourselves do not practice what we preach.



Let us love each other as the Colossians have been instructed to do so by Paul. In this way, we will follow the Lord, living in the new life of Christ that he has given us, and showing the world a love which we claim to be more powerful than all of us.




* Written by a Pastors Kid (PK), former pastor, former emergent church member, and Husband to a former missionary to Europe.

James said...

Dear Jeff,

I struggled mightily deciding whether or not your disjointed, rambling, illogical and incoherent blog even warranted a response, but, seeing how so many of my peers decided to so thoroughly ravage your arguments, I knew that I would be in good company in doing so.

I could go on about the countless (not much of a hyperbole) logical fallacies in your arguments, or I could critique your sporadic, ungainly style of insulting the mission, leadership, and students of The King’s College, as well as the occasional Mormon, but I won’t—unfortunately, I haven’t got the time. I’ll leave that to Peter Kreeft, one of our fine professors (if you haven’t heard of him, Google him when you have a minute) who ascribes to the mission and purpose of King’s.

I think most of what I have against your blog can be seen in this little excerpt:

“So, you should go to The Kings College and you should study your heart out about business and economics and philosophy and just get super smart and equipped - but we as a church need to take a different approach to how we implement our hopes to change the world. We need to be so freakin' sensitive to the real fears people have of people who want to change the world for God. It's super real and a failure on our part to deal with this reality will fundamentally affect our chance to save one of the upcoming generations and stop the ship from sinking.”

This just stuck in my craw, as they say “back home.” What is more culturally relevant (what are most people concerned with) than politics and the economy? What is it you would have us students spend our time studying—basket weaving and pottery glazing techniques? Who in the church today is addressing these two mammoth issues of how our country is run and how people in America make and spend their money? How is studying to understand—and eventually shape and change—politics and economics not “a different approach to how we implement our hopes to change the world.”? To me, it seems that if we are to be “so freakin sensitive” to the culture around us, we must learn to engage the institutions that drive it. THAT is the mission of The King’s College. And THIS ship is not sinking—because of the fact (which you brought up) that Stan Oakes is such a fantastic leader and fundraiser (which, by the way, necessitates that he be culturally “in tune” and aware, contrary to the opinions you voiced in your previous blogs). How dare you call into question the character of a man such as he, who has such an incredible impact on society—solely because of how committed he is to the mission of the Kingdom of God—over something so petty and asinine as a dress code (WHICH WE VOLUNTARILY ASCRIBE TO)?? Shame on you. As for George Clooney, I’m not sure he’s the guy you want to equate yourself with. George Clooney does not believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be. George Clooney is in favor of mothers killing their unborn babies. George Clooney is an actor. Perhaps you should find a better role model…a few examples spring immediately to mind.

Is the church in America failing? Yes! That is exactly why we must let go of our preconceived notions of what a Christian’s role in society is and aim to influence our society rather than simply reacting to it!

That is why I am a student at King’s. I am unwilling to sit back and allow American culture to shape my faith, as well as the faith of those around me. I am at King’s to become integrated into a culture that desperately needs the power of the resurrected Christ. I am at King’s because those who began King’s understand that the world needs a new type of Christian leader.

So, while I and my classmates go on to shape the future of American government, education, law, media, and the church, and you are still writing these ridiculous blogs about how oppressive neck ties are, look back at this blog and take to heart the unanimous opinion voiced by King’s students.

By the way, next time you walk past a corner news stand, and pick up a GQ, or a Men’s Vogue. Culturally relevant? Yes. T-shirts, sweat pants or jeans? Not a chance.



James Nordby
jnordby@tkc.edu

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Kursonis,

I'm not really one for intellectual arguments or verbose rebuttals. All I have is my own story and one that I hope shows grace. I grew up in a Christian home but in college became one of these "Barna Revolution Christians." I was deeply cynical of the power grabbing that I saw in the evangelical church as well as the divisiveness in Christian circles. When I applied to work at TKC, I was skeptical that it would be any different. But I did so anyway, despite friends's laughter when I told them I was going to work for a Christian college.
I can honestly say that TKC has redeemed my view of Christians for precisely the reasons you criticize it. Not only are students looking for ways to influence the strategic institutions, they are seeking to radically change the world. They are not looking to promote a worldwide evangelical political party. They are looking at ways Christians can end the sex trafficing that happens all over the world, how to build affordable housing, and how to set up clinics and job training sites for those who cannot afford them. This gives me great hope for the world and for Christians. But what has ultimately redeemed my view of Christians and my own faith is the way I have been loved and encouraged by all those at TKC, especially President Oakes. This whole blog and its responses make me sad because all we are showing is the polarization that turned me and so many others off to Christians in the first place.
I am thrilled to hear about your work with artists in the city and am grateful that the students of TKC will be reaching out to businessmen and politicians at the same time. Great things will happen and people's lives will be changed, just as mine was.

Seids said...

Jeff,

I will start of by saying that I am deeply disappointed that you have given the emergent church such a bad name. I have many friends in this movement, and I too considered myself on the outskirts of it at one time. That is until I read your posts and realized exactly what you advocate. As of right now, I do not want to be grouped into the same category as your beliefs. However, because I do respect two key figures in the movement, I will not give up hope that they can rescue it from the depths you have plunged it into.

Allow me to take a journey through your post and question some of your statements.

First things first, the conversation you had with President Oakes was not a public one. The conversation took place at a private venue that required a ticket for entry. Think of it this way: just because I have a conversation in a "public" restaurant with someone else, that does not mean all I say is fair game for the person to broadcast to whomever else he feels necessary. You have broken the trust of a man of God, and I doubt many who hear about this will have the faith in you to keep things private.

I would like to address your argument that you are a martyr and voice of reason for a cause. This is ridiculous. You seem to support the notion that “because people disagree with what I say, my argument must then be relevant and therefore my opinion and cause are justified.” If this were the case, all irrational arguments would then be valid.

Jeff, I am also deeply disturbed by your self-proclaimed prophet status. My jaw hit the floor when I read that you consider yourself up there with Elijah, Nathan, and Samuel. Just because one person challenges another's norms, does not mean he is a prophet. If that were the case, any person who disagrees with another would be a prophet and the term would cease to have value. I believe you have bordered on heresy by saying that "it is no big deal to be a prophet or prophetic." You tread on shaky ground here, and you should consider rethinking this statement.

I do not want to give you the impression that I disagree with everything you say; I do believe there is room for reform. However, you often make the mistake of claiming and thinking that your way of reform is the only way. This is far from the truth. Billy Graham and Mother Theresa had completely different ways of reaching the lost, and they both worked. Mother Theresa had nothing and simply loved, while Graham had tents, trucks, and cohorts, running from town to town evangelizing. They both worked. The emergent way is a just that, a "way." We cannot be so naive as to think that both ways of reaching the world are the only ways. Additionally, you have been quick to question the motives of the "power hungry republican brainwashed" students, but you seem to ignore the glaring problems with your own movement. You say that Evangelicals don't wan to see the harm of their "warpath," but have you stopped to question your own intentions and the intentions of those around you before you cross the Rubicon? You want to hold all other leaders to an "admit-all-your-faults" standard that you yourself fall short of. You must also answer some tough questions:

Emergent churchers, are you simply caught up in a movement because it has become "cool" to do so? Do you even know what "emergent" means? Do you latch on to thinkers and preachers, giving them "Amens!" but really only hope of being able to write your own book someday that cannot be criticized because it hides behind the title of "new movement?" Are you adopting this theology because you have a problem with submission to church authority? Is conformity always bad? Do you really understand the implications of calling for the head of free markets and capitalism? Does your dress keep you enslaved to a world where you must please men in order to be heard by them? Are you really offering something better, or just offering something more convenient? Have you made your movement your savior, serving it at all costs? Have you become so loving and tolerant that you are no longer willing to acknowledge sin when you see it and counsel those taking part in it? Emergents, these are just some of the questions you must ask yourselves.

Ashamedly, Jeff, you treat Christianity as a teenage lust object that we must be "turned on by." You leave nothing to the power of God and focus only on what man can do. You say this is the time to be introspective, yet I have heard you yourself only pointing fingers and proclaiming yourself a prophet. I am also disturbed by your calling for the reform of "everything." This is dangerous ground, and you must be careful in pushing for this. Let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater. This “unenlightened Christianity” has brought you much; do not fall into calling for its head when all that needs to be amputated is a leg.

Additionally, I was very surprised to read that you believe that in order to reach the world, we must influence art first. A culture that glorifies art is in serious trouble. Do you have any scripture to back up this point? Also, I did not realize that Jesus called us to be discriminatory against generations. You say that we must only minister to those within our own generation, but this is absolutely absurd. How can you advocate this when you yourself are not doing this! (You are not a spring chicken, as you admit. Yet it is okay for YOU to reach out to artists and students, but not for students to try and reach out to those who are older). Also, If you are so concerned with the Republican, Business brainwashing, why do you not see the importance of reaching them? I am not comfortable sitting by and letting the business people of the world go unreached because they are irrelevant and uncool. If we adopted the attitude of, "I'll let the other guy reach that person," we would be left a people of complete inaction, sitting by and waiting for the next guy to do the Lord's work (and not much would get done).

You have also obviously not taken the time to research those you critique. Otherwise, you would know that TKC put on a benefit to stop child sex trafficking (an event that many NYU students attended), that we have partnered with a local high school and do outreach events every month, and that we have volunteered countless hours to the homeless to help them and get them back on their feet.

Jeff, you have obviously closed your ears and eyes to the people you claim to reach with your blog. I am perplexed as to why you are willing to admit that J. Oakes and his cohorts are smarter than you, but yet you refuse to truly listen to his advice. I am even more flummoxed that you do not realize that you have traded your worship of Pat Robertson for a worship of Post Modernism.
You have refused to recognize the logic behind a dress code and you are the one that Christians fear. Jeff, you are the one doing exactly what you accuse President Oakes of doing. You have adopted the attitude that you are a prophet and for anyone to question what you say or believe is wrong. Can you not see your own hypocrisy?

I pray you will receive this criticism well. I cannot read what you have to say, and in good conscience not call you out on your inconsistencies. I hope you will be open enough to accept it.

Anonymous said...

Time to assess the big picture, Jeff.

The office of prophet has changed quite a bit since the Old Testament. As someone who provided leadership in an emergent church, I am not going to get into speculation with you. I do, however, feel you should allow a community to look to its own prophets.

Paul instructs a prophet to prophesy before the body. Assuming he is part of the congregation, something you are not. After you 'prophesied' to President Oakes, you were rejected. Leaving this aside, Paul tells the church that the elders should pray about the message and determine whether or not it is from the Lord. Jeff, where do you come off going straight for the congregation? Chances are the elders in their community would reject your message as well.

If this is not the case, then you are insinuating that King's is either an Assyria that needs to hear from a Jonah or a rebellious Judah or Israel that has bent the knee to Baal. Either way your accusation is powerful, personally I feel you were acting out of the first.

Jeff, you appear to be a hand complaining that the rest of the body isn't a hand. Why? The King's College is very small. Surely if less than 300 students who feel called by God to prepare for ministry in the world of power decide to prepare to "do as the Romans" why are you contesting this? There must be thousands of others who could serve alongside you. Don't tell the foot to be a hand (this in no way reflects what I believe the distribution to be).

If this isn't your mistake, Jeff, then you must be questioning the calling of each of these students. You're telling them you've got it right and they're wrong. You've called their faith into question... surely you can't be puzzled that they jumped to defend it.

There's a lot of good to be done amongst the disenfranchised. But there's also a degree of pride that comes from being the guy who hits the streets with the homeless every night. Plenty of Christians are called to do nothing more than be good parents and love well the people who God has placed in their lives. Instead you call this into question. I thought the emergent church was about "less is more." I thought the idea was to have solid relationships with people and do them well. Not to get caught up in your own head game.

As an emergent church leader you should have better respected community membership. You participated illicitly. You think saying NYU students dress like bums is offensive, maybe it is. But I'm sure there are plenty at the Stern business school who would say it's the truth.

Bottom line, pray about a knight in shining armor complex. When people dislike what we have to say it's very tempting to consider ourselves marginalized old testament prophets, suffering for the faith. The ravens won't feed you. The wind won't whisper to you. And the bears certainly won't come down from the mountain to maul me on your behalf.

I'm not going to call you a false prophet. But I do think you're misdirected. And by the way, by calling yourself a prophet and your message a prophesy, you are already saying God told me to do this. And you wonder why King's students might be afraid or put off by that...

-nance. said...

Jeff,

I can’t help but think that your mental processing is backwards.

People are afraid. They are running away from the Church—the one community that promises life to the full. I agree. That is, in many circles in our country, happening. Some people are leaving the Church.

So let’s get them back in somehow, because we love them and because it hurts us to see them live without the fullness Christ brings!

People are impoverished. They have nowhere to go and no one to protect them. Some people are dying because they have no way to work, and they have no water, food, or shelter.

So let’s get them fed somehow, because we love them and because it hurts us to see them live without knowing that when Christ said “I am the bread of life” and “I have living water” that he did that just after compassionately feeding and quenching the thirst of others.

So, then, the question remains: how?

Here’s what you say:

“This is a time for the church to be deeply quiet and introspective about where we have gone wrong. It is not the time to be running ahead. How can you run ahead when you don't know where to go? How can the church be shrinking/sinking, and we not understand that everything we are doing right now has to stop, be considered, and then reformed?
[…]
So, this is a time not for salesman to pump us up, but for prophets to lead us towards humble self introspection leading to prayers of repentance and asking God to show us where we went wrong and to move in a new direction that he shows us. Anything else is to be partying on the sinking ship.”

This is backwards. This kind of thinking is why people in your “movement” think they are actually combating poverty by creating their own impoverished communities in Philly (a reference to Shane Claiborne). This kind of thinking makes one think that the prophets that you want us to be did not rise up and speak out, often with a very political message. This kind of thinking says, “There is a problem, and it is coming from the top down, so shut up, go to a basement, light a candle, read The Book of Common Prayer because your parents never did, and smile because Jesus loves you! You’ll be safe here!”

If that isn’t separatism, I don’t know what is. If that isn’t ineffective, I don’t know what is. If we are to be prophets—with our hearts, souls, minds, and all of our strength engaged—then, when the Holy Spirit leads us to deliver truth and life to the full to our generation, why should we do so with such timidity and “freakin’ sensitivity”? There is a stark contrast between light and darkness. It is an abrasive one. But light is fuller, and darkness is undesirable in the midst of light. Good ideas, and a real understanding of our mission as the body of Christ, will reveal that.

That’s why I think your thinking is backwards.

Katelyn M. said...

Jeff,

You have grossly distorted many aspects of The King's College, society, the Church, and many other aspects of life. Let's begin:

1) Mission Statement of The King's College:
"Through its commitment to the TRUTHS OF CHRISTIANITY and a BIBLICAL worldview, The King's College seeks to prepare students for careers in which they will help to shape and EVENTUALLY lead strategic public and PRIVATE institutions to improve: government, commerce, law, the MEDIA, CIVIL SOCIETY, EDUCATION, the ARTS, and the CHURCH."

You have defined The King's College's mission statement very narrowly in your post. Many students are not looking to be CEO's of companies or the next Donald Trump. Some want to own their own law firm, becoming Godly lawyers in a society that is in demand for them. Others want to own a small business, improve other countries, become professors and teachers, curb the sex trade of children, become missionaries, and influence many, many other parts of society. Clearly not all of those jobs fit into your "money stream". (Which your analogy doesn't make a lot of sense… what happens to a student like myself who engages in the arts, loves the church, has an interest in business, and enjoys nature? What stream would I fit in?)

Moving on, we are taught in almost every classroom to be prudent and wise. We are also called to be humble. I would say 100% of the students have gone on missions trips, helped homeless people in the city, or reached out to their Christian and non-Christian neighbors. That list could go longer but I think you see my point. We are not focused on ourselves. Our President, who I have an immense amount of respect for, worked with college students in sororities and fraternities for years with Campus Crusade for Christ. If you would sit down with him, instead of pre-judging him the way you have, you will see how much he deeply cares about the students of this school, other schools, our nation, and the world. You must consider what Kings is doing and line that up with it’s the mission statement, rather than extract your own meaning from it. Stan Oakes helped establish a school that would prepare students to be Christian leaders in society. You can see by the passion that has been displayed on this site, that the professors at TKC, the staff, the donors, and yes, the President, who have all invested in our lives, have done a great job.

You seem to forget that they are investing in the lives of college students. Just because we don't attend NYU does not mean we are robots. They are mentoring us to be good and faithful servants for Christ. We are just as human as those students from other colleges and therefore need just as much direction. The King’s College provides that ministry as well.
Looking at the mission statement again we can see that they are preparing students to lead in the church. You are a pastor, right? Hmmmm.....are you not taking on a leadership position also? Jesus was a teacher, isn't that a leadership position? It's perfectly fine to prepare students to lead. It's actually necessary. Since you are so familiar with the school, I'm sure you have looked at our course map, seen how many Bible courses we take, the politics and philosophy courses, and (uh oh) business courses. This is all in order to be better stewards of our minds so that we are not blindly going into the field God has called us. And if you are suggesting that there is no need for Christians to influence these places listed in our mission statement, you are the one who is mistaken. We have all fallen...not just the arts.

To say that Jesus never mingled in politics is false, by the way.

2) You talked about the failing church. Not once did you talk about God's role and how He is sovereign. Oswald Chambers said that one of the greatest atrocities in a Christian's life is to be weak in God's strength. Of course we are not going to fix the church if we take your point. You yourself have become bitter towards different parts of the church (the business men and women). That will not create a strong church. We can't depend on our strength or efforts alone to fix things. It is in God's strength. We all have our roles. You have been called to the arts and so have some of the students at TKC. There are some students that have been called to the business world. Every part of society needs strong Christians to be present in them.

3) Influencing individuals on a micro level and larger institutions & roles of leadership and power are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can work together quite nicely. Some are called for roles in politics. Meanwhile, they are fathers, mothers, friends, children, siblings, and many other roles. I can expand on this but I think you see the point.

4) We (TKC students and faculty) are not ignorant. We are not separated from society. We are studying society. We are engaging in society. This is where we have been called. We are not missing out in the "college experience". We are living our lives the way God has called us. How can you as a pastor be against that? How can you, as a leader yourself, not embrace students exercising their minds and hearts in order to be more effective for Christ? How can you as a Christian bash a Brother in Christ, twist his words, and attempt to create a deeper rift in the church, and then turn around and point the finger at someone else?

Finally, no, TKC does not drug our food to make us like the dress code. In fact, you said yourself you ate our food and you dislike the dress code. I'm a student here and I didn't even know our college served food. Did you eat it from the vending machines?

Anonymous said...

How many Evangelical Christian Colleges do you see going into the heart of New York City?...a place where God has been taken out of the factor on a large scale for many years. Most Christian schools I know of are content to build up their Evangelical empires in the Bible belt in suburban Florida, Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio (I am honestly not bashing these institutions merely making a point)...they take their Bible courses and mingle with their fellow Christians and very often to little to influence the world around them. The King's College has not made it one of their main goals to influence the world around them but it has also been bolod enough located itself in the heart of one of the most anti-Christian areas of the nation...not flock away to the posh suburbs...but go right where the need is. This is highly commendable and yet you not only fail to support this innovative institution but you are content to tear down your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Seriously how low can you go? Do you want Christians to abandon New York City like they have been for the last 30 years?

And to address your line:

"I hope you'll be patient with me if you disagree - if I'm totally wrong and there is no crisis and the church is right on track, I'm sure President Oakes will survive my words and forgive me and I hope you will too."

It's not that the church is "right on track"...by no means there are many problems in the church that need to be addressed...but your criticisms are derived from false premises and they are opinionated and not biblically sound.

You need to show your leadership skills as a pastor and humbly make an apology to President Oakes and the Student body at The King's College, as well as be more thoughtful and rational in your future posts.

some like to call me sean said...

I haven’t read any of the other comments, so some of this may be repeated.

1st Anything but fundamentalism Christianity is not Christianity at all. Or rather it is just a cultural activity. We as Christians do and only believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. As John Macarthur once said, “What do you not understand about ‘I am the way, the Truth, and the Light and no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” So anything else (pluralism, Islam, Judaism, universalism, etc…) is false. As a Christian we must abide by that principle.

2nd I don’t see how the church has gotten any smaller. The Church in China is thriving like never before. Explosions in Africa and Asia are fueling the biggest growth of the Church of all time. You don’t have any facts to support your claims that the church is shrinking. You do quote one book, but is one quoting enough to justify you bashing a whole institution. What if your source is wrong? Then this whole ordeal just proves your own stupidity. (Not saying that you are stupid, but you will be considered so if your source is wrong) Honestly, this is almost impossible to prove, I believe the actual Kingdom of God is larger then it has ever been in Europe (woooo) and the United States. This is because it is not culturally cool to be a Christian anymore. So the Christians that are Christians are true Christians. That means that the people follow Jesus because they believe in Jesus, not because their next-door neighbor does. As with these people leaving the Church to “save their faith,” well that is pretty selfish. I thought as Christians we were supposed to sacrifice ourselves for others like Christ did. So these people trying to “save their faith” don’t seem to have a good faith in the first place. They should be fighting to reach more people and have a church service and leadership team that is putting forth the proper word of God, not running and saying they are trying to save themselves. We as Christians are supposed to suffer, and I don’t think reading the Bible and having augments with other Church leaders is that much suffering compared to martyrdom. The church does need reform, and it will constantly need reform to the end of time. So arguing that point is useless. The whole Old Testament had Israel go through series of reforms, and even then they appointed directly from God (at least through chosen and well know prophets).

3rd The Purpose of the College is to influence the world. I’m sorry, but there is no better way to change a mindset of a culture then to take leading institutions under our power. For example, my goal is to buy Disney (which I will). With Disney, and yes I will have to compromise some things getting played that I would prefer not to, but I will change the company to where it promotes values and culture. More then that, I can fund movies that have Christian ideas or theology in the back of them. I hate to say it, but your Christian art community is dependent on companies like Disney to employ them. Every major artist has sold out in some way in order to gain mainstream appeal. If they didn’t, you would not have heard about them. Even Picasso was a man who painted for the Market. Christian Dior, the same. Even John Galliano (I know who John Galliano is and I am “oppressed” by this dress code. Oh wait most high fashion involves suites. I forgot that half of Armani’s clothing collection is different suits. That is what people wear in real life suits) has said, “I looked at what the market wanted and what they wanted was the real Galliano.” He changed his clothes back to what the market wanted, which luckily for him is his own crazy and innovative style of designing. You can find that quote on the video pod cast from Vogue. (I’m not following MLA in a reply to a blogging post). The point of all that is your artists will surrender to my needs as a producer. Your people are dependent on me and have always been. Your artists will only influence as much as I tell them they can influence.

As far as this whole “people don’t want us to grab power.” Those same people are the people that want to put you out of a job. They want to throw you into a freaking prison camp for the mentally insane. We scare them because they hate us. We are the contradiction to their society. If we don’t grab power from them, they will destroy us. Look at China, USSR, Cuba or any communist country. These people think Nietzsche is the deliver of the truth of the world, and he hates us. Therefore, we can conclude they will want to get rid of us. When we look at the smaller, un-intellectual community of the world, well they don’t like us because those Nietzsche people tell them to hate us.

As far as our school being a separatist school, you should probably actually listen to the kids talk, as we are the farthest thing from a separatist community. If we were a separatist community, we would be in Kansas somewhere rather then Mid-town New York. That assumption is silly because it is not uncommon for kids at the school to go to bars (when they are twenty-one, ok some times we go when we are underage) or the dance clubs or the concerts or Fashion Week or where ever. I have been to Gay Bars many-a-time. The difference is that we go there and don’t try to sin (unless we are drinking under the age).

Ok. Now I will address everyone’s favorite issue: The Dress code. I despise girls that walk into class with sweat pants on. It is repulsing and idiotic. Guys who wear t-shirts everyday seem to know nothing about fashion. Hell, people who wear khakis and polos every day look like slobs. I am surprised from you (a “pastor of an arts church”) would condemn us of this. The best-dressed people I know are artists. They love putting on suits and dresses. On relaxed days we hang out in well-fitted jeans (designer if we saved enough). I personally wear a tie, colored shirt and dress pants nearly everyday to school. After school I put on a pair of jeans- well fitted of course. I keep the tie and shirt to look funky. The problem is, you must be a poorly dressed individual because you think about our dress code. I mean seriously what important person- I mean important, not one of your richer friends, does not wear a suit to work most days. Do you ever see a politician not wearing a suit? I work at Starkbucks in a business district and everyone comes into work with at least a collard shirt. A lot wear suits. This is a silly argument.

So now do you see why your argument has no validity

Anonymous said...

Jeff a.k.a. Mr. Ranting,

My turn. :)

As a parent of one of the so-called "Mormons" it was brought to my attention of your first and second post.

Honestly, sir, if you put as much effort into your spirtitual walk as you do your critical remarks, perhaps you will become a respected leader like the "El Presidente" of TKC.

Let me ask you a few questions if I may?

Do you regard Christianity as a faith or religion?

Do you consider your salvation based on faith alone, by works or both?

Perhaps,and this is just a quess on my part,you have chosen to kick a dirt in the hornet's nest to see what kind of reaction you would get? Keep the debate alive and see what TKC students truly support? Are they really being brainwashed?

You appear to be getting stung by some of the replies I have read.

I quess you found a bike that peddles backwards in the "Big Apple?" based on your rebuttal in the second post? I have seen a few of a few times I have visited NYC.

I believe a few months ago TKC was met with controversy? It had someting to do with being a "real" college? You might want to look up the final results that feud? Oh wait never mind, TKC is still around. :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

You mentioned that it is important to know what stream you are in. We at the King’s college know what stream we have entered and have chosen to swim against the current. It was our choice to come here. It was not forced upon us. You’ve cautioned us against joining a stream that we really do not wish to be a part of. That is good advice. However, I believe it is unnecessary. The students here know from the start of the college career what sort of stream they are entering into.

As Christians it is our responsibility to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This is our desire, and I believe it is yours. We want to live our lives dedicated to the King of Kings. I would ask, why do you say that we “are more responsible for reaching your own generation than you are for the businesspeople in the Empire State Building…”? Yes, I agree that there are older Christians who already are in the business world, but I do recall Paul saying to his young protégé, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” We are not commanded to only reach out to those our own age. I have never read anywhere in scripture that the younger Christians are only responsible for their peers. Why is my generation the most lost? My conclusion to that statement is only that those older Christians have not done their job in teaching and instructing us in the way we should go. If they have failed our generation can they succeed in the business world?

I believe that there is a misunderstanding that we desire to only reach people who have power. We strive to live everyday as followers of Christ. The missionary who chooses to venture to central Africa is not criticized for abandoning the souls of Russia. On the contrary, they have recognized their calling to that place. I would say it is no difference here. The place we feel we can have the most influence for Christ is in these places of influence such as the business world. That does not mean we neglect our fellows along the way.