It seems that as I prepare for the next year of Sunday School (this September), I begin to mull over the potential curriculum for various classes. We have great teachers in our church and I thank God for the gift of teaching many of our 'volunteers' have. It is a true blessing.
However, I continually struggle with the standard, turn-key, watered down curriculum simplistic "MILK" we have to choose from. There is nothing theologically wrong about it, but for the most part it doesn't challenge people. I will say that it is true that there are many who take this curriculum and do wonders with it.
We mostly struggle with the children's area. It is terribly weak. It doesn't give children a true 'Foundation'. How many times do our kids learn about Adam and Eve, the Apple, Noah's Ark (two of each kind? read it again!), Dave and the five rocks, the three wise men (only three?), and of course Joseph, Mary and Bethlehem.
Sunday after Sunday, Month after Month, Year after Year...
We started one class with an Answers in Genesis class. Something very different. Wow! It has been excellent. These kids (Jr. High) are learning the absolute Foundation of Everything. The pastor and I want to use this curriculum church wide, but are taking a more pragmatic approach.
We are beginning an Expository series of Genesis. One of our members has an incredible gift of teaching and Creation Science background. His first adult class was this past spring and we had an average of 25-35 people in it. It was an incredible study. He is starting part two, "Genesis 1-11, Verse By Verse".
What ever happened to Expository Bible Study? Since growing up in the 70s and 80s, almost all of my Bible Studies have been 'Stovepipe'. Topical. A little here, and a little over there. No foundation.
Alistair Begg is quoted as saying in a recent Hebrew's study that my wife and I are listening to that the primary purpose of a pastor is teaching his flock (Hebrews 5:1-4). Teaching the foundation of the Christian life. Not allowing heresy into the church. John MacArthur has said numerous times that expository Bible Teaching should be the rule not the exception. Unfortunately, it is very rare that expository teaching is the Rule anymore.
Of course, 'Exposing' the Word of God will (and should) make us uncomfortable in our sin and convict us to draw closer to God, not ourselves. It should Expose the false teachings that we hear and see IN THE CHURCH today. It should Expose the Scripture, inerrant and pure and without error. It should EXPOSE the total depravity of ME and that without Christ's Blood Atonement on the Cross and the Holy Spirit's drawing me towards Him, I am but the chaff destined for the fire.
Unfortunately, most of us don't like to be Exposed. We are dirty, filthy rags. Only because of Christ's Blood are we washed white as snow. Because we don't have a foundation of Faith, we fall for false or questionable teachings in the Church.
The whole Purpose Driven Program is a dangerous result of years of this 'Milk Theology'. PDL, and the other PD's are, in my opinion, a whole lot of Milk, and very little steak. Paul warns us of not moving beyond dairy products.
Honestly, I have struggled with Celebrate Recovery (a PDL product). We have had many people come to know the Lord and have turned their life around in the program. However, I still believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking to me every time someone mentions it in Church. I believe that lives are changed through this program. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't critically look at it from a Biblical perspective and ensure it doesn't conflict with scripture for the future. I have two serious points to start off with:
1. I have a serious problem with not being able to correct people in the small group when something needs to be corrected. When someone questions a basic doctrine of Faith and 'crosstalk' is prohibited, that is a problem. Jesus did plenty of 'crosstalk' during His 33 years on earth!
2. The 'CR' Bible: it contains SERIOUS translation ERRORs!
3. New Age psychology. Your path to your Higher Power. Now I understand that Rick Warren uses it to mean Jesus Christ. But if it is coming from an "Evangelical" Pastor, why use New-Age Terminology?
4. We are 'Delivered' from our sins. Period. We don't need to continue in a small group rehashing it over and over again. I don't need to get up in front of people and say, every time, "Hi, I'm Harry, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I am recovering from Food Addictions/Co-dependent relationships/Anger/etc. Where is this in Scripture? It seems that many who are sold out to CR try to convince EVERYONE that they have something that they need Recovery from. This is not Scriptural. Our sins are forgiven and they are removed as far as the East is from the West. We need discipleship. We need accountability with one another, yes. But not the ongoing perpetual recovery that never seems to end.
5. The 12-step program is based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Whose founder was a spirit channeler who was given a vision, during an drunken binge, to stop drinking and do it using 12 steps. This is where the "Higher Power" comes from. This guy's higher power was a spirit guide. Does this belong in a church?
I am not one to jump on or off publicly without discussing, praying, studying and researching it. This whole PDL movement has for some reason bothered me from the beginning. I've read the books, discussed some of these points with others.
Here is a link I just found that compares some PDL/CR issues from a Scriptural perspective. It is a very short, yet concise description of the serious theological problems with PDL/CR.
My bottom line is this. We have gone through the Wide Gate onto the Wide Path with our teaching and preaching for so long that we don't even recognize Scriptural error anymore. Solid, expository preaching and teaching is offensive in most 'Evangelical' churches.
Read the Pilgrim's Progress. We got our copy through Truth For Life (www.truthforlife.org), Alistair Begg's ministry. Get the one with today's English, not the King's English! It has Scripture References and is a great picture of a Christian's journey. They have a kid's version, too.
The Christian life and witness is too serious to be 'stovepiped'. Scripture is too important to be brushed off as 'too difficult' to read verse by verse (Homilies, anyone?). We need to Expose each verse, Expose false teaching, Expose our Sin for what it is. Sin. Not shortfalls, mistakes, psychological defects, etc. No. It is rebellion against Almighty God. That is sin. Jesus' Blood Atonement on the Cross fulfilled the cost of my sin. When I bring up my sin that I have already asked for forgiveness for over again (and not recovered from), I'm basically saying that Jesus' death on the Cross wasn't good enough. NO! I am Delivered from that Sin. What I need is to be discipled by Godly people on a daily basis.
Not a gimmicky, smarmy intro line that is plagiarized from AA. Not a program based on the occult.
We are called to be the Salt and the Light. Don't let the salt become bland and worthless.
Teach the Word. Verse by Verse. Expose Evil.