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Posted in: Tangible Kingdom

This review is from: The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Hardcover)

As the previous review pointed out, the strength of `The Tangible Kingdom' is the stories. Halter and Smay include some great anecdotes from their own lives as church planters that illustrate their faith and ministry in the context of modern culture. Their care and love for people is evident. Their real-life examples of being missions-minded, invitational, and outward-reaching are personally challenging to me.

With that said, the book also has a few weak points. They get much of their church history backwards. For instance, they claim "People in the Dark Ages tended to be focused on God. They built their churches in the middle of their towns and lived to survive the day and keep God at the center of their worldview." That might be a good description of the Puritans. However, prior to the Enlightenment, Reformation, and Great Awakening, while `religion' and `superstition' were prevalent, God being the center of community just wasn't the case.

Additionally, they go on to champion the Eastern-mindset as having a radically holistic approach to life - and claim `Christianity is completely, entirely, an Eastern faith.' That's a bold statement. If anything, Christianity, born at the crossroads between East and West has had a significant impact on the West, while having a marginal impact on the East. As a result, the ideals, worldview, and mindset that are reflected in the West, more closely align with the core tenants of Christianity. Those would include the world being separate from God, the world being knowable, the sanctity of human life, life having meaning, and life going somewhere as opposed to life being endlessly circular.

However, the part of the book that most concerned me was their understanding of the gospel. The authors claim the gospel isn't the answer of Jesus to the sin-problem of men and women. Rather, it's "[God's] love and acceptance and vision for every human being... God's love for his created humanity." That description of the gospel too easily marginalizes the passion, crucifixion, and substitutionary death of Jesus. In fact, if the gospel is merely about God's love and acceptance of every human being, then why would Jesus have to die? They go on to claim that the gospel isn't just about God's love, it's about love in general - people adopting children, having block parties, and planting trees... "it's all Kingdom, and it's all good news." While Christians are called to love others, that's not the gospel - that's an outworking of the gospel. The good news in the New Testament isn't a message about us, it's a message about Jesus. The authors go on to claim, we should look for ways to "Witness to this gospel by bringing tangible slices of heaven down to life on Earth, and continue to do this until those we're reaching out to acknowledge that our ways are `good news'." Again, the gospel is not a message about me. It's a message about Jesus, who is more than sufficient for a person has the same problem a non-Christian does. It's called sin, and Jesus provides an incredible answer to it - His life. His good news is about Him, not about me trying to be Him.

In short, I wanted the book to be more about its sub-title, "The Posture and Practices of the Ancient Church Now." I was hoping for an understanding of how the Jesus of then is the same today and how His cross can be known now. Instead, the book focused more on general relationships, inter-personal situations, and caring for people in community. Those are good, but how are they uniquely Christian? How do they differ from the community experienced by people from other faith-traditions? In short, the community in the Tangible Kingdom seemed to be both the beginning and the end.

Posted in: Tangible Kingdom

Diane Dekker "Author of Two Trees of Knowledg...(Kansas) - See all my reviews

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This review is from: The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Hardcover)

I will say right off that if you believe in the absolute truth of scripture, this book is not for you. The main thesis of this book is that there is not only a discrepancy between the Word and Christ, but the Word and Christ are actually in an antithetical relationship. Halter divides the world of Christians into two camps- those who see the person of Jesus through "the literal interpretation of doctrine," and "those who see the Christian message through the person of Jesus." He is among the latter. He states that we need to "realize that truth is important, but according to scripture, truth is not the only thing or the most important thing. The most important thing is whether or not people are attracted to the truth...". The main thrust of this book is to divorce Jesus from his message. Halter states, "Our main contention is that what drew people to Jesus, surprisingly was not his message. It was him. ...His message repelled people. Many people who were drawn to him as a man would leave after he let them in on the message." Halter's solution? "I make it a point to ask people not to be evangelistic. I tell them that I don't want them to try to figure out how to share the gospel with strangers."

Halter is extremely critical of "WestMods," because of their belief in "absolute truth." He claims that Christianity is an Eastern religion and we need to return to believing without proof, believing people we trust. He warns leaders about working with Christians who are biblically literate and who know enough to discern good from evil: "We recommend that, if possible, you read through this book with a group of people--perhaps a mix of Christian folk (jaded, spiritually disoriented, but open). The process probably won't work too well (or maybe at all) with Christians who tend to know too much, talk too much, and judge too much."

How does Halter's theology play out in practice? He filters out mature Christians right from the get-go: "Even in my coffee talk with...visitors, I wait to drop the bomb until I've heard their story. If they're struggling in faith, have no faith or have been hurt in church, then I'm as cordial as Mr. Rogers. But if I discern they have been walking with God a long time, have put in a few thousand hours in church, seem overly religious or more interested in lofty theological debate than in rolling up their sleeves to serve, I get a little more assertive. Before God, I have to protect the missional calling of our church." Quotes from "the talk": "I just want you to know we are not a church...I don't feel any compulsion to feed you spiritually...This mission probably has nothing to offer you." He fills his "church" with "spiritually disoriented" people, but feels no compulsion to feed them spiritually.

To Halter, incarnational living means "participating in the natural activities of the culture around you, with whimsical holiness...Last week I attended an engagement celebration for one of our village was pretty fun to watch our young men navigate the tension of beautiful women, wine and more beautiful women...We all commented on how we "outpartied" the partiers." It also means less focus on family because "over-commitment to extended family" and the "constraints of children" are barriers to incarnational living. If I didn't know better, I'd say Screwtape was the architect behind this "church."

The book gets one star not because I disagree with Halter's theology, but because in his references to scripture, he changes all the details of scripture passages to make them fit his theology. See his version of the woman caught in adultery on page 44.

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful:

5.0 out of 5 starsRadical ideas about living the Christian Faith in our "post everything" culture., April 16, 2008


Andrew White(Denver, CO) - See all my reviews


This review is from: The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Hardcover)

As a Christian who has been involved in ministry as a participant or leader over the last 15 years, I have to say that this book has some of the most fresh ideas about reaching the world that I have ever heard. The odd thing is they are not "new" ideas, they are firmly rooted in scripture and an understanding of the way believers and nonbelievers lived in community 2000 years ago. Halter and Smay communicate clearly the message that if the church is going to grow and continue to be a vessel for change in people's lives, it is going to have to change the way that it relates to people in our modern culture.

In reponse to the review above, never once did the authors suggest that adopting a child or having a block party was a substitute for Christ's redemptive work on the cross. This book was not written as a gospel presentation. It was written to Christians and Church leaders who already know the gospel, but don't know how to make that gospel matter to people who have never been to a church and never care to.

I would reccomend this book to any Christian, especially one in a leadership role, who is interested in having a deeper impact on the people in their communities.


This book and its message do a great disservice to Christ, his purpose & His church.

I would not recommend this book to anyone, not a single person. The mission of these writers appears to be to discredit the entirety of Christianity and organized religion after Constantine. And what help is this?

But as noted by another, they might have spent more time getting educated instead of simply bashing Theology. Their grasp of church history is shallow and distorted. For instance they state that as concerns the early Christians they "...were spreading like a virus...and spilling out into the streets." This is far from history since we know that the Christians were neither befriended by the Jews or the Romans, and suffered intense persecution by both parties. It was in fact this persecution that caused the spreading of the Gospel message outside of Jerusalem and Israel. Further, you cannot simply throw out doctrine - you can only replace it, as these authors do. They decry church doctrine and words, yet create and use their own peculiar versions of the same. We as Christians are not modern islands of truth, somehow divorced from our history, from the labors of dedicated servants of God who carefully examined and explained Scripture for all of us who followed (these 2 authors included).

These authors in their insistence upon condemning the Church claim that " really isn't easier to start a church with Christians. They are generally more opinionated, more critical..." Put aside that amazing blanket statement, these authors once again forget that the Ecclesia, were very simply "the called-out ones". The early church was made-up of Christians called out of their culture, and called together - these were not atheists gathered together, but Christians. The authors once again place blame upon the Church an insist that "...most of the Church is stuck, and has been for 1700 years." Another grandiose claim that does not get evaluated or described. If anything we might point to this "fact" as demonstrating that the truth that is and has been present in Church, has survived the passing of time. A gross and unfair generalization.

This book show open contempt for the Church as a whole, as a building and all its tradition: placing "sanctuary" in quotes as some questionable relic. Worse though in all this is their improper view of Scripture. Since these authors show their dislike of Christian education "We need to care for the poor & oppressed, the hurting and confused, instead of systematic theology..." it should come as no surprise that they reinterpret Scripture to suit their ideals. These authors miss the point of Jesus and instead claim "...what drew people to Jesus, surprisingly, was not his message. It was him. His face, the softness of his voice, the whimsical look he gave children, how he laughed, and how he lived." Following this characterization of God incarnate, they even suggest that Jesus was "...drawing a smiley face" in the dirt while confronting the Pharisees and woman caught in adultery.

But this is false, blatantly false. I'm sorry if you follow Rick Warren's theology, but Jesus did not come to heal, to comfort and laugh with people. Jesus came to save sinners, to offer them life everlasting. Jesus came to offer an alternative to everlasting Hell, to separation from the all-Holy God. Miracles and cures He could have worked through anyone - but to truly remove the offence of sin against an eternal God, He Himself had to come and offer an eternal sacrifice for sin. That is why He came!

That He did perform miracles and did heal many cannot change his message and purpose. It is sad that these authors would diminish both the Holy requirements of an all-Holy God, and his true purpose, and instead replace this with dreamy speculations about how he looked and laughed.

As a final note of contention against the message of this book, God's truth and the Gospel message has always been relevant. We are no different, nor more special or afflicted with "modern" issues than those destroyed by the Flood. The message is still the same and needs no revision on our part. While we should be attentive to proper delivery, we can never suggest it is not relevant. We are still sinners separated from God, in need of a Savior - who alone gives eternal life.

This book was sitting on my pile of unread books for quite a while until I picked it up recently. It came highly recommended, but I was afraid that it was going to be overly theoretical, "postmodern", introspective, and rather too dull for my tastes. I am happy to say that proved not to be the case, and I found the book both interesting and challenging.

Most churches in the West have become increasingly irrelevant to their surrounding culture, and the book tells the story of Adullam, a network of missional communities located in Denver, Colorado. They have redefined church not as a building, or a congregation of people who meet once a week, but as groups of people who live their Christian faith in their daily lives. A weekly gathering usually still happens, but it is not the focal point of the church.

The authors describe a church of sojourners - temporary, spiritually curious but disoriented God seekers - and missional people - those who are committed to the cause of the gospel. Sojourners can come and go as they like within the inclusive Christian community without judgment or pressure, while the missional people live according to clear rules of life. The book provides a clear and timely challenge to church leaders, but it left me wondering whether the effectiveness of the gospel is limited by how effectively I try to act like Jesus.

Keep it Simple, Avoid legalistic roadblocks to our Lord. Christ died for the ungodly and all the sinners in this World.  We shall be saved by His Life. Go baptize your grandchild with the permission of its parents with the free gift of Jesus.  As grandparents you can be instrumental in leading and teaching your grandchildren of  Christ Grace and His Love.

 We  need to restructure the eldership indeed and should build more flexibility in the church order. 

There is clearly a need to distinguish between pastoral elders and administrive elders.

Effective personal support and relationships often exemplifies the positive interdepence that characterizes the healthy church

Healthy churches are made up of needy people. To think otherwise is to misunderstand the nature and mission of the church

To see why this is true, let's take a look at the mission of Christ " God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,but that the world through Him might be saved. Followers of Christ are called to the mission of those who what is means to be broken ,loved,and forgiven.

Our new pastoral care ministry is the result of restructuring the visits, building relationships and more


 Pastoral Care Ministry is a New ministry of our local CRC church which aims at fulfilling the everyday, friendly, dropping by to see how you are doing caring ministry of the church.

This Ministry aims at ensuring that no one is forgotten in the daily life of the church.

Does not replace other pastoral care ministries, rather it works in concert with and supplements the existing pastoral ministry of our Church.


 Pastoral Care Worker (PCW)

Pastoral Care Workers (PCW) are professing members of our church recognized for their pastoral gifts and sensitivity with people and situations, and are appointed by council for a terms of service among the people of our church.

Council will appoint the PCWs forming the Pastoral Care Team

Council will inform the congregation of their appointment

Council will commission the PCWs during a worship service with appropriate prayers and scripture


The Pastoral Care Worker

1. is assigned by the Pastoral Elder and Pastor

2. Engages in prayer, visits, calls, encouragement, deeds of compassion.


(1) the congregation is divided among the care givers for prayer

(2) the ministries of the congregation are divided

(3) any special needs of those under your care


(1) within the first month, the PCW should introduce self to those within their care

 (2) use cards, email, texting, coffee whatever would be appropriate to the situation

(3) make visits whenever appropriate such as, new members, new comers, shut-ins,

widows, widowers, sick - major illnesses and hospital, and so on (but do inform

the pastor if you come to know of illness, impending surgery and so on)


 Encouragement and communication

(1) as you discover special events of families and individuals, and with the permission of

the individual(s), feel free to post these item on a bulletin board which will be

provided. Also communicate these events in a timely manner to the pastor for Sunday

Worship and the Admin for inclusion in the Newsletter

(2) help people address their concerns or ideas or express them in helpful ways so that

these can addressed by the Pastoral Team or Council.

(3) come along side people and encourage them in the daily walk of following Christ.



Communicate directly and as soon as possible with the pastor concerning

a. serious or critical needs and circumstances of pastoral issues – or if you believe that a visit

by the pastor would be helpful in the situation

b. or when there are questions you don’t feel comfortable answering, or you can’t

answer–don’t guess, don’t just offer your opinion or bias, just make the promise, I don’t

know but will find out.

Report suspected abuse to APARC (part of the Abuse prevention effort of our church).

The pastoral Care Elder and Pastor will pray for and encourage each PCW


 The Pastoral Care Team

1. is a team and should work as a team and so should meet often for prayer, encouragement,sharing at times and places organized by the Pastoral Elder.

2. meet twice a year or as often as necessary to assess and coordinate needs and strategy

3. The Pastoral Care Team is accountable to Council and is overseen by the assigned Elder and


4. Call the pastor or pastoral elder in difficult situations

5. Confidentially is encouraged, it is not secrecy. Confidentiality means that only those who should know will know. APARC will explain this, and the limits of confidentiality.

For the PCW, confidentiality means that what is shared with you stays with you and is not to be gossiped around. 

I was looking for something specific concerning the Holy spirit and came across this RC Church handout 

I would love to see a similar CRC Baptism handout specific for parents and Children

Handout: Romans Chapter 7


Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. They refused to believer long ago, while God patiently waited to receive them, in Noah’s time when the ark was being built. In it only a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water. It is the baptism corresponding to this water which saves you now…



1 Peter 3:18-21


Biblical events that prefigured our baptism in Christ:






Genesis 1:1-2


1. Creation: when the Holy Sprit brought life and order to the waters of chaos.


Genesis 6:9-18

1 Peter 3:20-21


2. Noah and his family were saved from the waters of the flood that cleansed the earth of sin, which St. Peter tells us prefigures our baptism in 1 Peter 3: 20-21.


Exodus 14:1

1 Corinthians 10:1-2


3. The children of Israel, fleeing from the Egyptians, passed through the waters of the Red Sea—passing from the old life of slavery into their new life as God’s Covenant people; which St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 is a form of baptism.


Exodus 30:17-21

Numbers 19:11-13


4. The water purification rites of the Old Covenant:

-When the priests cleansed themselves with the water from the laver so that they were ritually cleansed and able to enter the Holy Place of the desert Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem.

-The ritual purification for coming in contact with the dead.


2 Kings 5:1-19


5. When the prophet Elisha told the Syrian general Naaman to dip himself 7 times in the waters of the Jordan River to be healed.


Ezekiel 36:24-27


6. Ezekiel’s prophecy that Yahweh will pour clean water over His people and they will be cleansed and filled with a new heart and a new spirit when God places His very spirit within them.


Joshua 3:14-17


7. The crossing of the Jordan River when God parted the waters and the priests stood midway across the River with the Ark of the Covenant as the children of Israel passed through the waters of the Jordan, leaving their old lives behind to become citizens of the Promised Land.


Mathew 3:4-5; Mark 1:4-5; Luke 3:3-4; John 1:31


8. The baptism of John the Baptist which called the faithful of Israel into the baptismal waters of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah’s ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God.


later than 120AD records:

Regarding baptism. Baptize as follows: after first explaining all these points, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water. But if you have no running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot in cold, then in warm. But if you have neither, pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, let the baptizer and the candidate for baptism fast, as well as any others that are able. Require the candidate to fast one or two days previously." [ Didache, 7. 1-4 ].

Please notice that no where in these instructions is it permitted to baptize without water!

 Jesus taught that no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through "water and the Spirit." In Titus 3:4-8 St. Paul instructs St. Titus: "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior for humanity were revealed, it was not because of any upright actions we had done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own faithful love that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our Savior; so that, justified by his grace, we should become heirs in hope of eternal life. This is doctrine that you can rely on." Paul’s statement reaffirms Jesus’ instruction to Nicodemus in John 3:3-3-6: "In all truth [amen, amen] I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. […]. In all truth [amen, amen] I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through water and the Spirit; what is born of human nature is human, what is born of the Spirit is spirit."

A profession of faith does not replace water baptism as the spiritual rebirth into the family of God [see John 3:5 and for more information see the study on the Gospel of St. John chapter 3]. Faith is the first step in the process of salvation and baptism is the second step in what is a life long journey toward eternal salvation.

The necessity of water in the Sacrament of Baptism: CCC # 694; 1213-17; 1228; 1238-39; Infant baptism = CCC# 1252

Michal Hunt © 2006

Posted in: Genesis - Again!


Ezekiel 37:5

This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

Ezekiel 37:6

I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”


Ezekiel 37:10

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army

Isaiah 42:5

This is what God the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those

Isaiah 42:5

This is what God the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:

Job 32:8

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Spontaneous, Natural, Physical ResurrectionBy rey | Published: July 12, 2011

Oh the universe is full of amazing and wonderful things and very few subjects have been the source of more fiery debates than the topic of evolution. But in all the hubbub of debates about creation, or intelligent design, or cosmological origins one major facet of the Christian faith goes unnoticed: the explanation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Though the evidence for evolution is vast and far reaching and applied to origins, none of the same thinking has been weighed and married to this oft-neglected field.  If we as Christians are failing in our embracing evolutionary models in regard to Creation, we have been woefully neglectful in explaining the resurrection of Jesus Christ in terms of modern science.

In this post, I wish to posit a few possible reasons why the resurrection was not a miracle, but actually quite natural, spontaneous, and purely physical and why the Church must embrace this explanation to prepare for the future, especially in light of the overwhelming amount of data in support of biological evolution.


The proof I can offer is not as nebulous as it may seem. We Christians often supply a few proofs that the resurrection happened so we don’t have to belabor the point. He was seen among witnesses. His grave was indeed empty. His death was sure. And the actual resurrection accounts for the apostolic beliefs.

But this in no way implies that God couldn’t have used spontaneous and natural processes to ensure that this resurrection would happen. We must not allow magic or miracles to discredit the very reasonable faith that we Christians embrace!

First we have to admit that Jesus was fully man so he was limited by the knowledge of his day. He didn’t have a clue how he would live again or even if he would live again. He was under the impression that the “glory” was the process of dying (read the entire book of John) and then he cried about it when he was going to die. That’s not the reaction of a person who knew that they would die and come back.

Second, the disciples were surprised by the resurrection. They didn’t have a clue he would do what he did and that would only make sense if it was in fact spontaneous and natural.

Third, we have perfectly good explanations for a physical, random, non-miraculous resurrection. For example, we know that there are an infinite amount of Earths. Given an infinite amount of Earths, there are an infinite amount of circumstances. Just like our Universe came into being because in an infinite number, the chances of something happening are sure to happen, then the chance of a person dying and coming back from the grave most definitely would happen. In fact, I’d bet in this infinite series of worlds, there’s a good chance that each of us get our chance at resurrecting randomly.

Even if we didn’t posit infinite Christs, we can posit infinite physical universes where the laws of death and life are different.  With science firmly in our grip we can conclude that God used processes—like an infinite multiverse or infinite Christs—to arrive at a natural, spontaneous , physical and non-miraculous resurrection from the dead.

We haven’t even looked at Quantum particles which can be in two quantum states at the same time until observed. So Christ, while observed, w as in an alive state (a binary position of 1) and then he was in a two simultaneous states of dead and alive (0 and 1). If the quantum vacuum can bring something in from nothing, then the chance for Christ going from one binary state to a second one is infinitely possible. Heck, this could be a midichlorian process for all we know.

Fourth, we Christians need to stop being afraid of scientific explanations especially since Science is God’s hands. The very smart people (who incidentally are much smarter than us) have told us that the impossible is just that and if it’s physically possible it’s infinitely more probable than the impossible. We need to stop being unscientific, embrace the sciences which are also God’s revelation, his second Bible as it were, and teach that Christ’s resurrection was natural, spontaneous, physical even if ultimately belonging to God.

In conclusion, we must embrace this lest Science, and the world, moves on in their Copernican revolution leaving us behind mumbling about our magical myths. If we truly want to engage the world and not be relegated to a position of non-importance, we must employ robust scientific thinking with the defense of our faith proving that God is not only reasonable, he is constant. We cannot allow Christianity to become a cult—but this is what will happen if the Church continues to turn its head from scientific explanations!

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