My good friend Mark was kind enough to share his perspective on the Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He sent me the following response in an email and agreed to let me share what he thought, but I should also mention this is just his gut response as he has not attended he just read the NYTimes article. I am less interested in his actual analysis of Mars Hill church and more interested in his thought processes as he approaches such issues.
I read the article on Mars Hill but before I make an intelligible response I want to do some thinking. I can tell you that on my initial reaction, I can see why people like and relate to Pastor Mark, and some of the things he teaches from the article sound pretty right on, but only from reading the article and never having gone to the church I get the feeling that he is trying too hard to go the opposite direction of Joel Osteen and pastors of that type, which I understand why he is, because I agree they are extreme and oftentimes watered down and sometimes wrong, but from Jesus teaching, He still wants obedience and isn¢â‚¬â„¢t a let everything go type of guy.
I¢â‚¬â„¢m sorry, but movies like Fightclub as the article mentions, is not a movie you can watch with a completely clear conscience as a Christian or something is not right in your heart. I have seen it and afterwards regretted watching it due to the extreme content. I agree with Mark in that Christians often try to earn salvation by doing all the right things, but I believe that salvation is a gift, you can¢â‚¬â„¢t earn it. But I also believe that the Bible still has standards for Christian living, not legalism, but standards in order to guard your mind and so often have I messed up in my sins, but Christ is always there to forgive. I am adamantly against any teaching that says you can earn your salvation. I am a believer in doing what is right in God¢â‚¬â„¢s sight and I believe the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to sin. Some people have different views, but that is how I see it. This is a long topic to explore and before I actually sit and think on it more, I will let you respond because I don¢â‚¬â„¢t know in what direction you are most interested in taking it. I don¢â‚¬â„¢t want to blab about boring subject, but what parts specifically you found interesting in the article.
Oh yeah, I don¢â‚¬â„¢t remember as much about Calvanism as I used to, but from what the article reminded me about, I believe most of what Pastor Mark said, but I think he takes some of the topics to the other extreme of Joel Osteen. I mean that I believe in predestination, but I also believe we still have an active part in choosing Christ. See the thing is, just because I believe I am predestined to share God¢â‚¬â„¢s promise, doesn¢â‚¬â„¢t mean I am against choice. For example, if someone is predestined by God, they would not know they were predestined until they become a Christian, so if they became a Christian late in life people could say that that person wasn¢â‚¬â„¢t predestined earlier in his life. The problem is that it isn¢â‚¬â„¢t our role to worry about who is predestined, we don¢â‚¬â„¢t know, we just share the gospel with people so everyone knows the truth. For all we know, everyone could potentially be predestined to be with Christ. But if not, then God is the one in control and I trust His judgment. I believe that God is a God of love and truth, therefore I will be comfortable in his decisions. But if everyone took Christ¢â‚¬â„¢s gift in their life, and developed a personal relationship with Christ, technically everyone would be saved, but since not everyone is saved, or will be saved, only God knows the reasons why. God wants us to seek Him, and He promises to reveal Himself to those who do, so I feel confident in sticking to those promises.
I find reasoned Christian responses to be fascinating.‚ Perhaps that is because of my deeply religious childhood, but I always am interested in learning and seeing things from other people’s perspectives.‚ In this case, as a child Christianity was my perspective so it is interesting to revisit it again as an adult from the outside.‚ I would also love to get some very different perspectives on life, such as that of women, racial minorities and transgendered people.‚ I love talking to people and even just people watching.