The camp discussed in my previous post was a surreal experience in many ways. It was a Lutheran camp but the leaders knew virtually nothing of what Luther wrote and taught. The camp was run by an arm of the Danish Lutheran movement that is heavily immersed in the teachings of prominent emergent leaders like Brian McLaren - and they invited a bare knuckle reformed preacher like myself to come and minister to them. Not only that, but I was asked to deliver three messages! I don't live under a rock and am well aware that I lived on a different theological planet to these people, and as such, the likelihood of sermons number two and three ever seeing the light of day after sermon one landed on their postmodern table was as likely as Rick Warren getting invited to speak at John Piper's conference . . . hey what's that! Is it a bird? is it a plane? No it's a . . .
Well, it seems that pigs actually can fly! Warren did get invited by John Piper (more about that next week)! And I was preparing three sermons for this "emergent Lutheran" camp. Welcome to the bizarre world of 21st century evangelicalism - just last night I heard John Macarthur preach a topical sermon about making the Bible more relevant by not preaching from it while he rode his Harley onto the stage . . . . . . . but that was just a scary dream! The rest, however, was all true.
I decided the best approach for a clear conscience on my part, was to be explicitly clear about my opposition to the emergent teachers these Lutheran leaders were reading (if the words "enemies of the Gospel" qualify as explicit). I also sent transcripts of all three sermons months in advance so that they would have plenty of prior warning thinking this may deter them. But the flying pig still arrived on my doorstep with the preaching invitation in his mouth and I headed out to the camp fearful in my desire to faithfully deliver Christ's beautiful Gospel but fearless with regards to the reception that may await.
After delivering my first sermon, which can be heard on my previous post, it was readily apparent that a bomb had been dropped. I knew it was a jolt to the audience who were not used to hearing about subjects like God's wrath, judgment, our sinful nature, penal substitutionary atonement, and true repentance. And several third party sources informed me of the strong displeasure certain leaders had at the content of my sermon. But not a single leader at the camp gave me any critique or feedback. The fact that my first sermon was loaded with Scripture and quotes by Luther probably made it difficult for them to censor me. It was also a problem that I had sent a transcript of the sermon months in advance. Nevertheless, the following morning I was informed about a "sudden change of plan" where they needed to have a different speaker on the Friday night when I was to deliver my final message. It would have been nice if they had informed me of this some time prior to the day before the event. Perhaps even prior to the many hours I spent preparing that particular sermon for that particular event. I was, of course, cynical as to whether they had given me the real reason for the change of plans. If there is one thing I have learnt about the "emergent conversation" it is an almost total lack of genuine communication.
After the camp I continually tried to get some feedback as to what was really going on and if the real reason for the late changes was mainly to do with the content of my final message. A response eventually came, albeit after a long wait, which I will discuss on my next post - on Friday.
Go On To Part 18
Go Back To Part 16
Go Back To Part 1