Redeemer's bondage to cosmopolitan conceit...

“Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name..." - Genesis 11:4

...if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment... - 2 Peter 2:6-9

We make it a habit to say less than we know when we oppose ministries and their leaders here on Baylyblog. We don't want to overreach. This has been true of our criticisms of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and her pastor, especially.

Back in the early nineties we first started recommending Redeemer to souls moving to New York City, and by now we have close to two decades of listening to those men and women who have become a part of Redeemer's congregations.

Our second thoughts about Redeemer started seventeen years ago...

when one man back for a visit warned us not to assume Redeemer was Biblical simply because it was a part of the national organization of churches called the "Presbyterian Church in America." He said he'd been talking with a member of Redeemer's pastoral staff and had found his support for Biblical sexuality almost nonexistent. It seemed to him Redeemer's pastors had no heart to preach or teach or counsel those under their care in the basics of Biblical sexuality. And as he saw it, their silence was not just pragmatic, but principial.

By now, this is all old hat. Charges have been filed against Redeemer's presbytery for endorsing woman officers and woman teaching and exercising authority over man has become ho-hum within Redeemer and her networks. Ocassionally Redeemer pulls in her horns for a bit, but her commitments have been unmistakeable for many years and church courts don't want to mess with her.

It's the nature of leaven to spread, though, and Redeemer's liberalism is climbing over the top of all her ministries like my butternut squash is climbing over the cantelope in my garden just now. Like mint, doctrinal compromise is hard to contain; like poison ivy, it's hard to kill.

One of the best indicators of a decadent culture is the deification of the arts. A quilter out in the Midwest is only a grandma with time on her hands, but poets and photographers and painters and playwrights in New York City are high priests with museums, opera houses, and galleries their temples, and patrons and subscribers their faithful worshippers pouring sacrifices of dulia, hyperdulia, and latria on their altars to their gods.

Redeemer gets this and through her Faith & Work ministry is calling her congregants to make pilgrimages to symphony concerts, operas, museums and galleries, jazz bars, and movie theaters looking for God's majesty. Congregants will then return and share with other Redeemerites the visions artists revealed to them. Ostensibly, they'll come back to worship prepared to share with their fellow believers all they saw of "God's glory" and the "evidence of His work of renewal" in the works of, say, James Cameron, Tattoo Lou, Woody Allen, and James Levine.

Here's the plan as announced by Redeemer's Faith & Life ministry:

“GLIMPSES” – FRIDAY, NOV 4th, 2011
 
WHAT’S A “GLIMPSE”?
A cultural event (1) based in New York City, (2) experienced in community, (3) which points toward evidence of God’s glory and Sovereignty over all things.
 
WHERE YOU COME IN:
What do you love about NYC? What is an area of interest or expertise for you? Are you moved by the Spirit when experiencing a certain part of culture? How might this point to a “glimpse” of God’s glory and evidence of His work of renewal in small or big ways? Could you lead 10-15 others on an interactive journey and guide their process of re-envisioning a particular aspect of this city?  
 
Each of you has the exciting opportunity to help others see how God is indeed at work throughout the city. When done prayerfully and in the Spirit’s power and wisdom, leading a “glimpse” could not only change others’ view of the City, but yours as well!
 
WHO WILL PARTICIPATE IN A “GLIMPSE”?
New Yorkers, including people from Redeemer and other area churches.
 
>> STARTER IDEAS >> Food Tour · Metropolitan Museum · BAM · NYPhil · Brooklyn Heights History Walk · Brooklyn Bridge Architecture Walk · The Morgan Library · Times Square “Branding” Walk · Off B’way · Carnegie Hall · City Opera · City Ballet · IFC · Angelika · Lincoln Square Cinema · Jazz @ Lincoln Center · Fashion Show · Joyce Dance · B.B. King’s · NY Historical Society · The MET · Rockwood Hall · Living Room · 92nd St. Y <<
 
SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSALS BY JULY 15:
We need to select 30-50 “glimpses” for Friday night, November 4th. These could be walking tours, museum visits, theater, opera, food tours, architectural tours, concerts, or any other interactive experience you create. If one of our ideas above seemed like a good fit, claim it as your own. We need YOU!   
 
 
Chosen submissions will be notified by JULY 30. If selected, you will receive coaching and support from the CFW staff via a training session prior to November 4th.

The conceit of city-dwellers is mind numbing. What bondage! What perfect delusion! Compare Redeemer's message to New York City to the one the Apostle Paul brought to Athens. True believers tremble at Redeemer's precious self-deceptions.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. [So he lifted up his voice among the Athenians, and preached this to them:] “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” - Acts 17:16; 29-31

 

Comments

Nothing shows God's glory and sovereignty like a fashion show or a trip to the MET, right? To me, this is the most telling line:

"When done prayerfully and in the Spirit’s power and wisdom, leading a “glimpse” could not only change others’ view of the City, but yours as well!"

Notice the goal as expressed in this line: to change your view not of God (as glorious), nor of yourself (and low and sinful), but of the city. The city is already glorious, some people just need help "re-envisioning" various aspects of it see the "evidence of His work of renewal." So, we will lead tours with guides to help people see how great the city actually is.

So, really, the glory and sovereignty of God that we are all supposed to see in this so-called glimpse is nothing but the glory of the city of man. No doubt glimpse tours could be held at the Tower of Babel or Nebuchadnezzar's idolatrous statue.

I notice they left off the Yankees and the Mets as spiritual experience...(though I can't really blame them for that)

Reading this reminded me of this glimpse from an earlier time (Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress 1678 [part 1, sec. 6]:

"But that which did not a little amuse the Merchandizers was,
that these Pilgrims set very light by all their Wares, they cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, Turn away mine eyes from beholding Vanity, and look upwards, signifying that their trade and traffic was in Heaven.

One chanced mockingly, beholding the carriages of the men, to say unto them, What will ye buy? But they, looking gravely upon him, answered, We buy the Truth. At that there was an occasion taken to despise the men the more; some mocking, some taunting, some speaking reproachfully, and some calling upon others to smite them. At last things came to a hubbub and great stir in
the Fair, insomuch that all order was confounded. Now was word presently brought to the Great One of the Fair, who quickly came down and deputed some of his most trusty friends to take those men into examination, about whom the Fair was almost overturned. So the men were brought to examination; and they
that sat upon them, asked them whence they came, whither they went, and what they did there in such an unusual Garb? The men told them that they were Pilgrims and Strangers in the World, and that they were going to their own Country, which was the Heavenly Jerusalem; and that they had given no occasion to the men of the Town, nor yet to the Merchandizers, thus to abuse them, and to let them in their Journey, except it was for that, when one asked them what they would buy, they said they would buy the Truth. But they that were appointed to examine them did not believe them to be any other than Bedlams and Mad, or else such as came to put all things into a confusion in the Fair.
Therefore they took them and beat them, and besmeared them with dirt, and then put them into the Cage, that they might be made a spectacle to all the men of the Fair.

Behold Vanity Fair, the Pilgrims there
Are chained and stand beside:
Even so it was our Lord passed here,
And on Mount Calvary died."

I hope your cantaloupe and butternut don't cross-pollinate. That might make for some pretty weird-tasting melons or squash!

I've never been a fan of New York. Give me rolling hills and space (southern Indiana) any day! Something about seeing God's creation in nature speaks more to me of His majesty & glory than concrete....

Big cities always remind me of the attempt to reach God with the tower of Babel.

Rebecca and Carole -

You're really going to hate heaven...

Your comment is simplistic, showing little insight... Read Jonah. Should not God extend His mercy to a city of 120,000 (nevermind NYC's 8 million!), who "don't know their left hand from their right"? Does not God clearly state that if Jonah had compassion for the gourd, then it is much more important to have compassion for (and on) the people?? Are not people of much greater worth?!

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required...

Rich, I'm not sure if you're railing against Pr. Bayly's post, or the comments. In any event: the whole point of the post is that Redeemer is NOT doing what Jonah did. Jonah went through Ninevah preaching repentance, and the Ninevites repented. To tease out the metaphor: Redeemer has bought a house in a middle-class neighborhood in Ninevah, and is busy telling the Ninevites that they don't need to repent; in fact, look at what a beautiful city Ninevah is! Let's look for a glimpse of the glory that we can find in the city, and then on Sunday we can tell each other about the wonderful glimpses that we discovered!

NYC definitely needs a Jonah, but Redeemer isn't him.

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