Sunday, October 22, 2006

early Christian doctrines

After having my worldview completely deconstructed from reading McLaren's A New Kind of Christian Trilogy, yesterday I decided to start reading a book that a friend loaned me called Early Christian Doctrines, by J.N.D. Kelly. From what I've read so far, it appears that the early church fathers believed what I believed before reading McLaren (including the traditional concept of hell).

Here's the struggle I'm experiencing: I really want to believe the Truth. So am I intellectually obligated to examine thoroughly other worldviews in order to be certain that the one I hold is accurate?

This is my prayer in the past days, from the first verses of Psalm 25:
1To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
3Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.


John said...

I don't think that you can be obligated, intellectually or otherwise, to anything which is not possible. Who has the time to thoroughly investigate every religion and variation thereof?

Armando said...

Hello Jason,

I've been reading your blog regularly for some time. You are doing a good job with it, and making Christians think. I'm also into Emergent ideas, and my own struggle is to find the limits of Emergent. I mean, ok with changing of paradigmes (that's what Reformation was all about), ok with searching ways to be more relevant to the post-modern world ... but my concern, which is apparently yours, is not to compromise values and orthodoxy.

I've read McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy, appreciate his generous approach, though I think I'm probably less generous when it comes to other concerns such as his disappointing stand on homosexuality, published via Out of Ur early this year (

I think we are all searching for God's truth, The Truth ... and reading your blog I have the feeling that His Truth lies somewhere in between all evangelical extremes (from Emergent to classic Protestants), and that, each generation and Christian movement has a bit of that revelation of the truth.

Hope it makes sense! Be blessed!

Jason Woolever said...

thanks for the encouragement and feedback guys.

good to hear from you armando!

Keith Taylor said...


I haven't read Rev. McLaren's books, so I probably shouldn't even comment. But can you give me a "cliff notes" version of what is that he writes that has completely deconstructed your worldview?

I mean, the Truth is what we all seek.

But I reckon I am an Old School Christian. I only need the King James Bible for all the answers that I am looking for.

Are you really obligated? I don't need to read the Koran to know it is a false. I don't need to understand Eastern Religions to know they are false. I don't need to read the Book of Mormon to realize it is a lie. My point is, does this New Kind of Christian reading contradict the what you have learned in the Bible and traditional Christian tradition outlined and frame by the Wesley Quadrilateral? If not, then it is probably worth reading, if not, then why waste your time?

Ecclesiastes Chapter 12:

10: The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.
11: The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.
12: And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14: For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

JD said...


First question, are you a speed-reader? :) Every time I have looked at the blog recently, I noticed you have just finished, or have almost finished another book.

Ok, 'nuff of that. We have been studying the Protestant Reformation in Sunday School for the past 3 weeks. Needless to say, being the former Catholic of the group, the class turned to me for interpretation of sorts. You now ask, "What does that have to do with your topic?" Well:

1. Thanks for the scripture. I believe it is truly something that I can pray each time I delve into a new topic for the blog.

2. One of the most astute observations/brain ticklers made these last three classes was by a friend of mine who is really into the apologetics. He stated that the protestant reformation and the splits of the church, starting in Acts with the Jews vs. the Gentiles, has in one way or another, when built upon a foundation of Orthodox Scripture (my words there), have been a true catalyst to the evangelization of the church as a whole. I have never really looked at it that way before, but since I have been looking so deeply at Christian Church Unity in America and John 17:20-23 (yes, there it is again), it is an observation, per chance a theory regarding the spread of Christianity. When you get down to it, the faith is there in all biblically based churches, the "religion" is a little different.

3. Well, there is no 3; I sort of digress, but I think that you see the point. To be challenged in your faith is a good thing as long as it is an attempt to better understand your role in it. Go back to your post a few weeks back entitled Soul Protection and ask: Is the reading I am doing harming my soul?


PS: Hell – Total absence of God
Heaven – Total presence of God
Purgatory – God lurking in the shadows (little former, catholic humor)

Jason Woolever said...

Keith. Here's a quick nutshell. The Story We Find Ourselves In presents an option to creationism and embraces Darwinian evolution.
The Last Word and the Word After That presents the doctrine of hell as a rhetorical devise employed by Jesus to get the Pharisees to stop being merciless.

Thanks for the Ecclesiastes quote.

Jason Woolever said...

JD. Thanks for the encouragement. I think that is probably true about the split movements both working to further the gospel in some way or another.

Larry B said...


My background isn't religious scholarship, but I think I see equivalent analogies in science all the time. What some people may or may not realize is that in terms of rigorous science, new theories like einsteins theory of relativity, won't pass muster unless they are derived from existing knowledge and shown that they are in accord with existing theories. Secondly they should be consistent with experimental ovservations.

Thus in a way, the enormous body of scientific knowledge we have in disciplines like physics is a product of "scientific orthodoxy" and yet we continue to progress in our understanding. Orthodoxy isn't a prima fascia barrier to progress.

There are always "radical ideas" floating out there that people can build good cases by using pseudo -scientific reasoning that seem plausible on the face of it. They too are usually "shocking" to the established orthodoxy. However when they are througouhly fleshed out and put to the test, they don't hold and can be dismissed as not having represented observed reality and being in accord with established practice. (a popular example might be the existence of "cold fusion")

I think some of the ideas
that McLaren brings forth are similar to these incidences in science that gain popularity but wither under scrutiny of orthodox knowledge.

There's a reason orthodoxy remains orthodox. It stands the test of time and experience. If that isn't an appropriate benchmark test for truth, then I don't know what else is.

So for me personally, If I'm given the choice between the collective wisdom of the body of orthodox knowledge that has been tested, tried and found to be true throughout the ages and someones "new" idea about how Jesus could've/would've/should've done things and why we could/should/would do things differently, I'm going with the orthodox positions.

Jason Woolever said...

good thoughts on orthodoxy larry.

Anonymous said...

Larry B,

Well said. I hold your pretty much to your same view.

Study the scriptures daily. Be Berean -- build up your faith by affirming the Truth.

For me, Jesus is the absolute truth, he taught in a conversational way, in a Socratic manner and also in parables to make one introspective on where they are in their relationship with Jesus. The words personal relationship with Jesus is not in the bible, but the relationships are.

Our church doing a study of the book of Nehemiah and the role of prayer and fasting in his following of God's will. We are also challenging people to get off the pew and come and do God's work.

Your brother in Christ,

John Flores
Frisco, Texas