Thinking Out Loud

June 10, 2010

Christianity Add-Ons

Filed under: Church, Faith, guest writer — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:32 am

This originally appeared here in June, 2008 under the title “Extra=Biblical Christianity.”   Jeff McQuilkin of Tulsa, Oklahoma  blogs at Losing My Religion.   Here, literally ripped from his own website, is today’s post.


Have you ever stopped to think about how much we say/do in Christianity that is not found anywhere in the Bible?

Not saying all of it is bad–I have mentioned in previous posts that I feel the Bible purposefully gives us a lot of latitude in how to “do church”. So just because something isn’t in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But what is kind of interesting–and a bit funny, even–is when we treat our extra-Biblical stuff as sacred, as if it were in the Bible. Things we’re so attached to that we wouldn’t feel like it was “church” or “Christian” if it weren’t there.

Far from being a comprehensive list–below are just a few examples of what I’m talking about. And again–I’m not saying these are right or wrong. Extra-biblical doesn’t mean anti-biblical. So if it works–keep it. :) Just thought it might be fun to take a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the stuff we might take for granted. So…here we go…

  • The term “personal relationship with Christ”. Are you surprised that this is not in the Bible? (Not messing with good theology here–not saying there is no such thing, or that you shouldn’t have a personal relationship with Christ–just saying this isn’t how the early believers would have referred to it.)
  • “Going to church”. In the Bible, the people are the church. (How do you go to yourself? You’d have to be schizophrenic or something…) The church “assembled together”, but people didn’t think of it as “going to church.”
  • Revival. (Also related phrases like “move of God”.) These days, many Christians live from revival to revival, chasing after the next “wave” or the next “move of God.” There are many examples of “outpourings” of God’s Spirit in the Bible (Pentecost being probably the most well-known), but “revival” isn’t a word any early believer would have used. In their minds, the supernatural was normative, and the focus was on following Christ, not manifestations. (The word “revive” means to bring back to life; so if you have to have a revival, it suggests something was wrong to begin with.)
  • Meeting in a designated building. This didn’t happen until the church was several hundred years old–before that, most meetings were held in people’s homes. Yet there are many people today who don’t feel like they’ve “been to church” if the meeting is held in someone’s home.
  • “The Sinner’s Prayer.” This term didn’t come around until the 19th century. There is a strong principle of genuine conversion in Scripture, but the idea of leading someone to Christ by leading them in prayer is a very new concept.

Then, of course, there is the Christian-ese lingo we use, where lots of those terms are found in the Bible, but we’ve lost the depths of meaning by making them into catch-phrases…things like “anointed”, “blessed”, “hallelujah”, “glory”…things like that. In this case, we’re talking according to the Bible, but our usage of the words lessens the value.

So what else do we Christians say or do that’s not in the Bible?

April 16, 2010

April 10, 2010

Currently Reading: Reborn To Be Wild

It was 11:30 PM Thursday, I was getting into bed when I suddenly remembered that about twelve hours previously, I had received a delivery — a white cardboard box — which I had never got around to opening.   I knew it contained books from David C. Cook, but decided to walk back to the living room to open the package.

The book that caught my eye was Reborn to be Wild: Reviving Our Radical Pursuit of Jesus. I had never heard of Ed Underwood.   Never heard of the book.

The back cover offered this question:

Why did the Jesus Movement stop moving?

I was hooked.  By midnight I was about 50 pages in, and I was up early on Friday morning to squeeze in another 50 pages before heading out of town.

Underwood was part of the Jesus People scene in California.   No not that Jesus People scene in 1972.   He was there for the earlier grassroots events that sparked the whole thing in the late ’60s, 1968 in particular.

He tells his story.  But he weaves lots of good scripture into his text. It’s a book that is autobiographical in nature.   It’s a book that has teaching as a primary goal.

And I’m hooked.  And this isn’t even the book review I’ve yet to do when I’ve covered the next 200 or so pages.    Here’s a sample:

Picturing Revival

One sentence inside the story of Paul’s work in Ephesus describes its impact in words I would use to tell people what happened in the Jesus Movement.  “And this continued for two years so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.”  (Acts 19:10a)

Nowhere in the entire Bible is there another report of the love and knowledge of Christ growing so quickly and deeply into a culture.  In only two years everyone living in the Roman province of Asia — today’s Asia Minor — had heard the word of the Lord Jesus.   It’s amazing to me that most of the people who speak in order to help us understand God’s Word, try to explain it away.

In one of my “only for preachers and other smart religious people who know Greek” books about Acts 19:10, the author drones on about how the time reference is obviously hyperbole because it really isn’t possible for God to do something that big, that fast.  He concludes that Paul must have meant to say, “a lot of people” instead of “all.”  In bold red ink, I wrote in the margins, “That’s because you’ve never seen revival.”

I have and it moves just that fast and it penetrates just that deep.

The book releases in June in paperback from David C. Cook.   In the meantime, here’s their rundown:

A long-time pastor ponders why the Jesus Movement stopped moving…and challenges all generations of believers to the radical commitment that fuels revival. Long before becoming a pastor, Ed Underwood was a “Jesus Freak”–a young man transformed by the Jesus Movement in the 60s and 70s. He and his friends threw their hearts into a revival they thought would change the world. But somehow, the Jesus movement stopped moving. How did these radically committed young people morph into today’s tame, suburban evangelicals?

That’s the question that sparked this passionate, provocative book, which aims at nothing less than fanning the flames of enduring revival today. Underwood draws on his personal revival experience and his study of the New Testament to expose six seductive lies that can easily sidetrack a movement and affirms five life-changing truths that can keep it going.

Ed Underwood is a pastor and author whose life was transformed by the Jesus Movement and has never lost his passion for revival. He oversees the ministries of the historic Church of the Open Door in Southern California.

December 14, 2009

World of Dod’s Blog: Charismatic Cartoons

After mentioning this site in December 2nd’s link list, I finally found a couple of  ‘toons on World of Dod’s Blog that were of a size I could screen-shot them for you.   This blog is part funny, part thought-provoking, but you really need to have spent some time in the Pentecostal or Charismatic community to get all the nuances.   And that crowd isn’t known for a lot of introspection, let alone humor.   It’s a whole other world out there!   (Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt…)  So when you find a diamond in the rough…

Here’s another one:

These are just a couple of the recent ones.   Be sure to visit the site at:

All cartoons are copyright of Dod Cartoonist, © 2009.

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