emergent · Jesus Manifesto

Defending Jesus Manifesto – Part 3

In the last two installments, I looked how the two different gospels being preached and the nuances between the the two. Now I will look at two more attacks coming from specific sites against Jesus Manifesto. The first, come from A Little Leaven, argues rather oddly by trying to connect Mark Van Steenwyk to Willow Creek:

“The pastors at Willow Creek, rather than obeying the Bible and feeding Christ’s sheep with the word of God are now telling Christians that they should become ‘self-feeders’. What better way is there to ‘feed yourself’ than to join a monastic community?”

But Mark has reminded us here that he is not even a member of Willow Creek. He only spoke once there and did not receive a warm reception. So why are sites posting misinformation about Jesus Manifesto? I think it is not only unwise, but unethical.

On another blog, Preston believes that Jesus Manifesto’s ideas are leading us back in the dark ages. For those who don’t know, Van Steenwyk began what he calls a neo-monastic community called missio dei where they attempt to embody the gospel, as Jesus did, in their community in Minneapolis. Those such as Preston quickly dismiss the efforts of Van Steenwky and others because they do not take the time to understand what they are doing–calling it nothing more than “commune like the 60’s and 70’s.” He says, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, we should simply “preach the gospel.” When Van Steenwyk replied to the blog, he simply said he IS preaching the gospel, but embodies it in a way that much of the modern church has lost (see my last post for more on this). Preston responded by suggesting Van Steenwyk’s communal way of living is unsound and not supported by scripture (to which I am thankful that another responded by telling him to read the book of Acts). For Preston, in his comments to Van Steenwyk, he suggests it is more about “being” something that “doing” something.

I addressed much of this “being” vs. doing” phenomenon in my last post (see especially my paraphrase of Dallas Willard) to suggest that we cannot have one without the other. I think that Van Steenwyk would agree with me that you cannot say you follow God and then not follow God. This is a teaching that has been true since the earliest parts of the church, and with scripture I will end this third installment (please note that I am making Preston aware of these comments, and am inviting him to respond here):

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” -1 Joh


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