Posted by: judy | January 9, 2010

Geneva College Promotes Eugene Peterson’s “The Jesus Way”

Geneva College, located in South Western Pensylvannia on the front page of their web site says this:

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  – 2 Timothy 2:15

From the hyperlink “Faith” find:

For 2009-2010 the Chapel Leadership Team has chosen the theme: “The Jesus Way” based on Eugene Peterson’s book by that name.

AND this excerpt from “The Jesus Way” quoted on the Geneva College web site under “Chapel” hyperlink:

In speaking about Ends and Means Peterson notes:

“The end, for Christians, is God’s work of salvation. This is salvation understood as comprehensive, intricate, patiently personal, embracingly social, insistently political. Salvation is the work of God that restores the world and us to wholeness. God’s work complete. Glory. Eternal life. And we are in on it, in on the redemption of the world. Whoever I am and wherever I find myself in history, in geography, in “sickness or in health,” in whatever circumstances, I am in the middle of it. God’s work of salvation. “Kingdom of God” is Jesus’ term for it. This is what is going on….If we want to participate (and not just go off in a corner and do our own thing), participate in the end, the salvation, the kingdom of God, we must do it in the way that is appropriate to that end. We follow Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

After Peterson’s statement fact:

“The end, for Christians, is God’s work of salvation.”

He qualifies/defines ‘salvation’ for his readers:

“This is salvation understood as comprehensive, intricate, patiently personal, embracingly social, insistently political. “

So what does Peterson mean? The definitions I found:

Salvation is comprehensive?  
Definition:  of large scope; covering or involving much; inclusive.

Salvation is intricate?   
Dictionary: having many interrelated parts or facets; entangled or involved; complex; complicated; hard to understand, work, or make.

Salvation is patiently personal? 
Definition:  of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private;  of the nature of an individual rational being.   Hmm, experiential?

Salvation is embracingly social? 
Definition of embracingly: to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly; to adopt.
Definition of social: of or pertaining to human society; of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community.

Salvation is insistently political
Definition of insistently: earnest or emphatic in dwelling upon, maintaining, or demanding something; compelling attention or notice.
Definition of political:  of, pertaining to, or concerned with politics; of or pertaining to citizens.

Simply stated by John MacArthur:  “Salvation”

Wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works. (Jn 1:12; Eph 1:4-7; 2:8-10; 1 Pe 1:18-19).

I really like when teachers use Scripture as the foundation for their theology. Peterson seems to take a lot of liberties with his definition of salvation.

Peterson continues:

And we are in on it, in on the redemption of the world . . . If we want to participate (and not just go off in a corner and do our own thing), participate in the end, the salvation, the kingdom of God.

Could Peterson be implying that we help God in the redemptive work of Christ? We participate in salvation of the world?

And this ideology is forced upon the students at Geneva College — mandatory Chapel which uses Peterson’s book and not Scripture as its foundation.  Listen for yourself to Dr. Dean Smith, Department Chair of Biblical Studies, on September 02, 2009 Introduce students to the year’s theme of Chapel (scroll to bottom and find the podcast dated September 02, 2009.)

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Responses

  1. There you go confusing the issue with facts again!

  2. my heart is broken by your statements,

    i am a student at geneva college, further more i am an RA, and i help lead a worship group on campus, i am a youth ministries major and i love the lord.

    what you are saying is simply not true Not a single idea is ever forced upon us more over we are taught and encouraged to find truth where ever it may hide, and if you think that truth lies only in the bible then you are limiting the spirit of truth (the holy spirit) because God did create this world he rules in it and his truth is placed everywhere. do not misunderstand i believe that the bible is totally true but i do not think that it is the end of truth, for instance gravity which was discovered by newton, who was not a christian, is in fact true but just because it’s not in the bible does not mean that newton was lying in his theorems and writings. but i digress to the original topic.

    Geneva has never in any way forced any kind of teaching on me. this is my third year i know Dr. smith and although these are not his words i know that he would agree with me, he does not has not and will not teach heresy on the contrary the Goals for using the book the jesus way are as i see it to make the students ask questions like why do i believe what i believe and how do i articulate that to others. i have never read the book the Jesus way but i do know this those people who decided on that book did it after much prayer and discernment in regards to what the campus needed i also know that all those who took part in deciding came from many back-rounds and all spoke their voice when this was being considered.

    i do not understand your dislike for Geneva or your attitude towards all of us who are here. and i do not understand why you are so hostile to the material that is being used, the simple fact of the matter is we students are not children and no matter what they tell us we will not just take it on their word no matter how much we respect the faculty and staff here we are still adults who understand how to properly question things that are being said to us and if we choose not to believe them we wont. but i want to assure you as a chapel attendee that no heresy has been or will be preached the messages presented are put forth to reach many people from many denominations or those who do not belong to a church in a general and loving fashion, no matter what your previous beliefs are i would encourage you to attend a chaple service to see just exactly what goes down so that instead of assuming that heresy is present you can make a judgment with your very eyes.

    i hope and pray that my words have been of some meaning today,
    tex

    • Tex,

      Sorry it has taken so long to respond to your comments.

      My heart is broken, as well, for reasons different from yours, I suspect. It is broken when I hear about a Christian college promoting teachers/authors who stray from the foundation of Scripture, and when I hear about Rob Bell’s Nooma videos being used as part of Bible study and Eugene Peterson’s books being used for Chapel. What a sad situation, indeed!

      You say: “…Not a single idea is ever forced upon us…”

      Isn’t Chapel attendance required at Geneva? If so, then Peterson’s views are being ‘forced’ upon the student body.

      You say: “…if you think that truth lies only in the bible then you are limiting the spirit of truth (the holy spirit) because God did create this world he rules in it and his truth is placed everywhere.”

      If this is what you are being taught at Geneva, then my heart certainly grieves. One of the rallying cries of the Reformation was ‘sola scriptura’. In Scripture alone do Christians find God’s Truth. Remember, Paul told Timothy that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16)

      You say: “i believe that the bible is totally true but i do not think that it is the end of truth, for instance gravity which was discovered by newton, who was not a christian, is in fact true but just because it’s not in the bible does not mean that newton was lying in his theorems and writings.”

      All truth is NOT God’s Truth, Tex. Unfortunately, this is a common misunderstanding. God’s Truth is not the same as facts of nature. We are told in John 16:13, that ‘When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you [us] into all truth…”. The ‘you’ in this verse speaks of Christians. The Holy Spirit does not reveal ‘all truth’ to unbelievers because “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (2 Cor. 9:14).

      You say, “we are still adults who understand how to properly question things that are being said to us and if we choose not to believe them we wont.

      May I suggest that you ‘properly question’ the writings of Eugene Peterson. Be a Berean, Tex! (Acts 17:11)

      Blessings!

  3. Yvonne,

    in this response i think that i will work backwards through your comments.
    First of all i have examined the scriptures and i continue to do so, I am quite offended that you would assume other wise. If any idea or theory is put forth that is not in line with scripture i will disregard it.

    secondly, all truth is God’s truth. truth is one of the few Good things left in this world and as it is good it must come from the origin of all good, that is God. if you believe that God is not the origin of all truth, or that truth can come from another place except God than i truly do ask you to re-examine your heart. if not and i have in some way misread this line “All truth is NOT God’s Truth” please let me know. Even the man whom the reformers based and learned much of their ideas from, Augustine, said this “Behold and see, if thou canst, O soul pressed down by the corruptible body, and weighed down by earthly thoughts, many and various; behold and see, if thou canst, that God is truth. For it is written that “God is light;” not in such way as these eyes see, but in such way as the heart sees, when it is said, He is truth”
    God is truth and all other truths must come from him. Even Christ himself said “I am The Way, The Truth, And The Life…” what is important to see here is that he did not say I am some truth or most truth, rather he said i am The Truth or all truth. Moreover the holy spirit may not reveal himself to unbelievers if they are not being drawn to salvation in Christ but he does, has and will forever use un-believers to reveal his truth and many other things to the world. i must also say that John 16:13 allows for un-believers to proclaim truth, just not all truth. and i must say that this quote “the natural man does not receive the things…” is from 1 Cor 2:14 and also that this is speaking about the fact that those who are saved understand the truth that is Christ and his gospel not truth in general.

    thirdly sola scriptura is not directed towards the discovery of truth. sola scriptura in the reformers view means to live by scripture alone, that is not to conform to other writings because they are interesting or well written it does not mean that only scripture is true. when paul speaks of scripture in this passage “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16) He is correct but i feel as though you may have read something into this verse that is not there. in this verse Paul is reaffirming the validity of old testament scriptures as being applicable and he is also stating that all scripture, including NT, is valuable and good for everything he mentions he does not say that it is the end of all truth.

    and lastly i believe that you may have misread what i wrote. chapel attendance is required but we are not required to agree with it or conform to any values that are taught. the purpose of chapel is to provide us an opportunity to grow, in whatever direction that may be whether that is towards or away from what is being taught. if we were being forced to believe all of the things we hear at chapel then we would have tests and assignments that count towards our GPA or something just as ridiculous.

    I will not comment on either bell or peterson, because although i may not agree with their theologies i know that they are Godly men. speaking of theology i would ask you to consider one last thing. there has only ever been one man with an entirely correct theological basis, his name is Jesus Christ. no one has a completely accurate or even intelligent theology except Jesus. i know that in saying this i will make myself a hypocrite but maybe I’m writing it for both of us…. stop condemning others for their faults. praise them for the goodness they have and let them know that you do not agree with the rest but condemnation does not belong to any us.

    • Hi Tex,

      I have also been wanting to respond to you and Yvonne said much of what I would say. I am a parent of a Geneva student. Chapel is mandatory and what you say is the ‘purpose’ of chapel — it is not what their Official Stated Purpose says. Geneva College believes what they are teaching to be ‘Truth’ — wouldn’t you agree? I don’t believe that Dean Smith would ever propose something ‘not true’ to teach and lead students. Which to me says that he must believe (and actually he enthusiastically supports Peterson and The Jesus Way) in the direction of Chapel.

      I have a couple of question to ask you to help understand what you believe —

      You say: “. . . praise them for the goodness they have. . . “ 1.) Does ‘goodness’ exist separate from God, Jesus Christ, Truth revealed in Scripture?

      2.) How much ‘falseness’ does it take to make someones “theology” false or the person not good?
      10% false and 90% are they false teachers? Are they false teachers, are they ‘good’ people?;
      70% false and 30% true? Are they false teachers, are they ‘good’ people?

      As a worship leader yourself (Tuesday night or Thursday night?) you know that you are held to a much higher standard in Scripture than those whom you are leading. The burden is great.

      As our daughter challenged the discipleship coordinator of her building on the theology of Rob Bell — the DC informed our daughter that she needs to be more ‘open-minded’ and immediately ‘attacked’ our daughter for being ‘judgemental’ and as you say — ‘condemning’. Is this the same ‘opportunity’ to which you say students have in Chapel . . .

      “the purpose of chapel is to provide us an opportunity to grow, in whatever direction that may be whether that is towards or away from what is being taught. if we were being forced to believe all of the things we hear at chapel then we would have tests and assignments that count towards our GPA or something just as ridiculous. “

      Really, where is the opportunity for our daughter to ‘disagree’?

      One of the many ‘Official’ houses where students can live must read “New Monasticism” by Shane Claibourne. Students will be introduced to Claibourne’s Gospel of Goodness with this book.

      Geneva says this about themself: “The college’s undergraduate core curriculum emphasizes the humanities and the formation of a Reformed Christian worldview.” How would any support or promotion of monasticism be considered ‘Reformed’?

      The students are surrounded by false teachers and heretical teachings — Nooma videos abound in the small group dorm-centered Bible Studies — The Jesus Way is force fed in Chapel — the mandatory humanities class 100 level is all about Andy Crouch — the mandatory humanities class 300 is all about ‘Creation Regained’ by Albert Wolters.

      Where is the opportunity to grow in a different direction than what is being taught? How about a class on discernment? How about a class that takes what Bell and Claiborne preach and compare it to Scripture. That might be an awesome and exciting class. Why are the students not being taught how to use the ‘fool-proof’ tool of Scripture to examine the plethora of ‘Bible teachers and theologins’ to which Geneva continues to expose you to?

      Every Geneva professor and staff member (at least that our daughter has had — including Chapel time) teaches that particular persons thesis from no other position than full blown, Scripture-supported — Truth. The students ARE NOT engaged nor challenged to be ‘Bereans’.

      In several classes, bible studies, and Chapel students are being fed heretical indoctrination — and no one is challenging these professors and leaders. Students have always championed — the road less traveled, radical (back to the roots) thoughts — The disciples were young men like yourself who ‘turned the world upside down’.

      Tex, examine the Scriptures, be a Berean, be a Timothy — a young man who Paul encouraged to be strong and to remember that Timothy was taught truth and not to lack confidence of speaking boldly because of his young age. You are a leader and you can make a difference.

      If nothing else — give pause to some of the things you are being taught and look them up in Scripture yourself. Our daughter goes to the Upper Room (is that Tuesday?) and she sometimes goes on Thursdays. I will tell her about you and maybe if she is brave she will contact you and the 2 of you can have a discussion and search the Scriptures together. She hasn’t found someone to do this with at Geneva. She thinks for herself — we disagree on some stuff but I respect her efforts to be a Berean.


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