Thus Saith the Radio
Does Christian radio have more influence over your flock than you do?

Sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura,?sola radio? The following conversation is based on true events.

Church member: "Pastor, I'm very disturbed by something you said in your sermon yesterday."

Pastor: "I'm glad you came to talk with me about it. What's bothering you?"

Church member: "In the sermon you mentioned Erwin McManus."

Pastor: "That's right. I quoted something he said about church membership."

Church member: "Well, I'm very disturbed that you would reference someone like him in a sermon! McManus is part of the emerging church, and I have serious problems with their theology based on what I've heard on the radio."

Pastor: "You do know Erwin McManus is a Southern Baptist, and I'm pretty sure his theology is quite orthodox. In fact, our denomination invited him to speak at our convention two years ago."

Church member: "Yes, I know they did, and I'm very bothered by that as well. McManus is part of the emerging church, and the emerging church is involved in all kinds of heresy."

Pastor: "The label ?emerging church' is used to describe a lot of different things, and I know some emerging church leaders are pushing the envelope with their theology, but I don't think Erwin McManus is one of them. To tell you the truth, I've never really considered McManus part of that movement. I think his books are just packaged and marketed to that crowd. I don't think you have to worry about his theology. Have you ever read one of his books?"

Church member: "No, but I don't have to. I listen to Chuck Colson on the radio and he says the emerging church is dangerous. It's not something we should be messing around with, and the fact that you'd quote an emerging church pastor in your sermon is very alarming."

Pastor: Well, I'd encourage you to read up on what McManus teaches and believes, and if you find something problematic, let me know. I'd be happy to talk with you about it.

Church member: "I don't think you heard me. Colson said on the radio that the emerging church is full of heresy. It's dangerous. Why would I read one of those books?"

Pastor: "I haven't listened to Chuck Colson's program, but I can assure you in my study I've found nothing wrong with Erwin McManus, and neither have the leaders of our denomination."

Church member: "Yes, but Chuck Colson is on the radio. I'm just letting you know it really bothered me yesterday. I hope this isn't the start of a trend. I don't know what I would do if this church started becoming emerging."

I've recapped this conversation for you because it jives with something Brian McLaren wrote a few years ago. He said:

August 23, 2007

Displaying 1–10 of 42 comments

Amyobus Key

December 13, 2007  12:17pm

I do not trust anyone who tries to classify others. Share your experiences and stories that allow you to experience the glory of your existence and growth, but keep an open mind when it comes to media that involves promotion. Ask yourself: how does it make me feel when someone has tried to close a door for me, when I know that I can operate a door by myself.

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September 09, 2007  12:02pm

I found the post and the comments very enlightening. Recently, I have been trying to ferret out the false beliefs I have: Silly views of God like He's sitting up there in Heaven like Zeus or Thor just waiting for me to mess up so He can throw a lightening bolt or hammer or other pox on me to punish me immediately; Some kind of Christian "Karma" concept of "what goes around comes around" and "you get what you give;" We can bully God into doing what we want Him to do by "reminding" Him what His inaction will look like to the disbelieving world; That there is truth in the "Hubris of Man" – that if I do anything at all that draws attention to myself (either among people or even God's attention) – then He will send something immediately to knock me back 'down to size.' Rightly, I have determined some of this has resulted from MY UNDERSTANDING and MY BRAIN'S PROCESSING OF INFORMATION taught to me in Sunday School and church growing up. (I think my brain works differently in how it sifts and processes things it is "fed.") A lot of it, though, comes from radio and TV preachers I listened to as a teen. I stopped listening to Christian radio, once and for all, when the NRB decided that the focus of Christian broadcasting is both evangelical AND political; and broadcasters and the programs they air became arms of the government in many ways. As one commentor states – the Word Alone crowd misses the fact that the Word gets interpreted (to the point I can often tell you which seminary the speaker went to ...); therefore we cannot stand on Word Alone – we have to know where the interpretation comes from and whether it is true or not. In such a religious environment, disagreements are inevitable. So, I do not want politics overrun by one interpretation of Scripture that is somehow declared to be more valid than another interpretation. Now, the post WAS about how to handle complaints that are based on something other than scripture; how to handle complaints based on hearsay and not personal knowledge. The writer did the correct thing – suggest the complainer find out for himself whether what he has heard is true (from both the radio "celebrity" AND from the pastor). As I am very fond of telling people: BE A BEREAN. (And if you don't know what that means, here's a hint: Acts 17.)

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September 05, 2007  1:35pm

I find it interesting how eager many among us seem to be to choose up sides as if Christian theology were a Michigan/Ohio State football game. It seems as if we often feel that to validate our own beliefs, or those of one we respect, we must disdain all others, especially those who disagree on some point (or appear to). One of the things that I have always admired about Colson is his willingness to venture into a discussion. Most times I agree with him; sometimes I do not. Having read only pieces of McLaren's and McManus's work, I admire their willingnes to venture into the discussion. Most of the pieces I have read I agree with; some I do not. I have rarely, if ever, found a person (famous or not) with whom I agree on every point...not even my wife, but we're close. ;) Both Colson and those labeled (accurately or not) to be "emergent" are seeking to engage the culture with God's Word, albeit differently. Too many of us are too criticizing and seeking out controversy to get that job done. It's a good thing heaven is big enough for all of God's disagreeing children. What's the old saying? "Those who can, do; those who can't fill blogs with vitriolic criticism." OK...perhaps my adaptation is too liberal.

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Mike Clawson

September 04, 2007  6:40pm

I had a very similar conversation, except in my case it was the Pastor and Elders who were saying the "Church Member's" lines and I was the one encouraging them to actually read and judge for themselves. But that pastor better be careful. If his congregants don't like him quoting McManus, they might fire him if he starts quoting McLaren. ;)

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September 04, 2007  3:51pm

Allie - you said - "What I'm really frustrated about is the fact that so many Christians think their interpretation of the Scriptures is "right" and everyone else is "wrong", to the point of questioning another person's salvation when that person advocates a different view, or asks provocative questions." On the contrary Allie, questioning other's interpretations is wonderful! This kind of dialog lends itself to people delving into scripture deeper, learning more, asking more questions, etc. If we all simply accepted a reletavist view of truth regarding scriptures, there would be little to no dialog whatsoever! We must, however, present these questions and "constructive" criticisms in a gently and loving way. To say nothing and leave one to a twisted or incorrect interpretation of who Jesus is would be unloving and cruel.

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Gary Sweeten

September 03, 2007  2:33pm

The post was about how to handle members who takes the ideas of famous radio folks as the gospel. The issue is how to handle complaints of disgruntled members, no matter what gets them all uptight. The issue of member complaints and criticisms is one that Pastors and othe leaders, as well as husbands and wives, clerks and bosses, must face daily. The answer is to develop a successful style of negotiating that includes problem solving and conflict management. Rarely are these critical skills covered in any schools so by the time we get into a place of leading we are clueless about handling differences of opinion. Yet, Gottman says the lack of such skills is the leading cause of divorce and Golemen says they are foundational or Primal,to all successful leadership. Church splits, trouble with church boards and family conflicts are prevented not by new radio preachers, better theology or scripture memory but by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. So, how does one deal with a member who is uptight over Chuch Colson's rants? First, learn to listen and clarify carefully to the Complainant. Almost all Complaints are not requests for action but requests for the ear of the leader. The person in the post handled the interaction rather well. He listened and clarified and allwed the Complainant to Complain. That is good. Now relax and go about your business. Jesus promised peace to us so do not borrow the Complainant's anxiety.

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September 02, 2007  1:58am

Hmm. I'm immensely frustrated with all the vitriol on McLaren, but that's the tip of the iceberg. What I'm really frustrated about is the fact that so many Christians think their interpretation of the Scriptures is "right" and everyone else is "wrong", to the point of questioning another person's salvation when that person advocates a different view, or asks provocative questions. What's with that? I think it's too easy to say, "So-and-so on the radio says so-and-so is wrong because of x, y, or z" uncritically, without really going to God and wrestling over it with Him. He alone is the Source of Truth, and He alone can teach us what He knows we need to know. Why do so many people (myself included) lose sight of that in either getting caught up in the latest thing (Prayer of Jabez, etc) or in tearing the latest thing down as unBiblical? Just something on my mind.

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Christian David

August 30, 2007  10:12pm

I am one of those people who have been blessed by the radio ministries of people like James McDonald, R.C. Sproul, and Chuck Swindoll. I listen to them nearly every morning on the way to work (I have a long commute, and this is a lot better use of my time than cussing out the people who cut me off in traffic, don't you think?) They preach and teach from the Bible, using the Bible's words, God's words, the Word. And they certainly aren't monotone or boring. Do I agree with everything these men say? No, but I find they expand my knowledge of what the Bible says, and cause me to go check it out for myself. My life has been transformed listening to these preachers; somewhat by what they say, but mostly by the Word of God that they bring to me through my car radio. God bless them for daring to risk the condemnation of a few detractors to bring the Word of God to many people just like me.

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August 30, 2007  11:39am

There is only one source of truth - God's Word breathed, and there is only one true interpreter - the Holy Spirit. To understand one requires the other. And it's free of charge! Tony Amen and amen, Brother! Thus we're going to gain enough understanding to discern the measure of false in McLaren's type of "teachings".

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August 29, 2007  2:39pm

Isn't it nice how the enemy can get us taking pot shots and those who are out doing ministry? Every name mentioned in these posts is someone that is being run down my someone else who claims a "greater" measure of truth or wisedom. I like what one of my teachers once said,"I have learned not to take pot-shots at those whom I don't agree with when the fruit of their minsitry is evident." One more thought. What was in the content of that sermon that had that congregation member trying so hard to discount the message because McManus was mentioned? Too often it has been discovered that the person complaining about the content of a sermon or Bible study is actually really miffed about the pure conviction of the Holy Spirit.

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