On Cornerstone, Ed Dobson and Fuzzy Faces

2 May

Background Here

So Ed Dobson has been given the task of promoting the “Jesus Lifestyle” at Cornerstone. I think that is good. But this is my question: what does he mean by “Jesus lifestyle”? You see this is all the rage now days, with self identified “Red Letter” Christians and the like, and what they typically mean by “Jesus Lifestyle” is all the ethical concerns of Jesus without any of the theological concerns. They want a Jesus viewed only through the eyes of the four Gospels and then only in those words Jesus actually spoke (in the four gospels). The problem with all this is that Jesus did not cease to speak or act or be when he spoke his last words before the ascension. His words are found on every remaining page of the New Testament (and every page of the Old Testament for that matter).

This brings me back to Dr. Ed Dobson. Will he teach the way of Jesus found on every page or will he teach an only ethical Jesus (who by the way is a favorite of the Muslims and Buddhist). Knowing of Dr. Dobson throughout his years here in Grand Rapids my inclination would be to say he will teach Jesus in all his Glory from Genesis to Revelation, however the recent article in the Grand Rapids Press is giving me cause for concern, this is what he said:

“I have a deep interest in promoting the Jesus lifestyle,”

which is good, this however is how the Press explains what that is

“[Dobson] has devoted this year to emulating Jesus. He is growing his beard, eating kosher and avoiding work on the Sabbath, as Jesus did.”

Are these things what Dobson will be promoting at Cornerstone? If it is then we have a major issue. Because in fact, none of those things are the enduring Jesus lifestyle that every believer must emulate (and not just for a year)…Those things are the Jesus culture, we are called to live the Jesus lifestyle. We are not called to live the Jesus culture, just as we are not called to live the American West Culture, or the World War II era culture or any other culture. The only culture we are called to live is the one we are born into. To do anything less is not to live the Jesus lifestyle, it is to mock the incarnation. God has placed us at a time and a place in history for a reason, to be him in that time and place. The best way to do that is to live out both the ethical and theological concerns found on every page of scripture as interpreted through the lens of Christ himself. We are his incarnation (small i) in this time and place. Now I am not saying what Dobson is doing is wrong (it is weird, but not wrong). I just am afraid it is unhelpful, unnecessary and confusing at a time when many churches are abandoning the fullness of the whole Gospel for a piecemeal version. I really see no difference between this behavior and the behavior of the Amish, who while they are cute and make good pies, have a defective and moralistic view of grace. If there is one thing that is an enemy of the Jesus life style it is not Bacon (or as I call it, a secondary sign of the new covenant) it is moralism based upon the concept that what we do will equate to a Jesus lifestyle. The reality is that the only thing that will lead to any of us living a Jesus lifestyle is Jesus, his blood, his righteousness, his grace, his spirit. This is why Romans makes clear that it is God who is conforming us to the image of his Son. Kosher living besides being intrinsically illogical for Gentile believers, is just another form of moralism and another attempt to measure up, and a bad one at that. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that gentile Christians, of whom the unclean food was a symbol are now flocking back to Kosher living? This is a perfect picture of the state of Graceless moralistic faith in general, as moralism is our attempt to make clean what God has already declared to be. I understand the desire to be a subversive Jesus follower who does not let culture control or warp the authentic Jesus, I understand that we will have to be radical to be salt and light! I just believe that to live the “Jesus lifestyle” is a whole lot more radical than adopting his shaving habits.

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36 Responses to “On Cornerstone, Ed Dobson and Fuzzy Faces”

  1. Joel Shaffer May 3, 2008 at 8:03 am #

    I hear you….Actually Paul lived the Kosher lifestyle to reach the Jews (fulfilling Nazarene vows, etc), but I doubt if this is Dr. Ed’s reason in doing so (I’ve been wrong before). I’d be interested if the G.R. press took one look at Dr. Ed and decided to focus on this aspect, because it seemed so unique. There is a possibility that they spinned this to make a unique story, because it doesn’t seem like Dr. Dobson to make such a minor issue and make it major. My interactions with him in the past has been one where he has a good grasp on grace.

    Joel

  2. poopemerges May 3, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    Joel: I am not even sure that Dr. Dobson is making it major…I am just worried given his relationship to several others in our area who have largely turned the Gospel into only a set of ethical concerns that he is being influenced. I hope this is not the case.

  3. poopemerges May 3, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    RE: Paul, that affirms my basic point is that we must live the way of Jesus in our own context…

    D

  4. mhogue May 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    Yes, wearing white robes and sandals and eating kosher doesn’t make you like Jesus. If Jesus would have come to Earth in our day and our culture instead of 2000 years ago, that’s not what he would have looked like.

  5. amybaker May 10, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    Good points, I share so much of the same concerns. I know little of Dobson myself, but it reminds me of so many who practice new monasticism in my city of Philadelphia who tell me things like, “we just want to love like Jesus did.” Then, when I ask them what that means, they don’t really have an answer, just a vague thing about poverty. Some ( and I stress some) of these folks stress this humble hippie version that reduces Jesus’ power, might, holiness and character.
    I actually had one person give me the aforementioned phrase, and when I asked what that means, and how they bring people into the community of a church, they told me that, “the world just needs more love and more sidewalk chalk.”

  6. amybaker May 10, 2008 at 12:06 am #

    I am also reminded of the words of Paul to the Corinthians about becoming all things to all people for the purpose of winning some. My question to the new non-bacon eaters, would be, who are you trying to reach?

  7. Dave May 19, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    I am concerned by “Christian celebrities” and how the Christian community readily accepts their words/actions. I have noted that among the contributions that Ed Dobson has had on the Grand Rapids community are: Rob Bell, Kent Dobson, and now living the Jesus culture. We are in need of discernment and hunger for Scripture as the Bereans.

  8. Carl June 17, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    I totally agree. Theology is so much more important than “lifestyle”. It doesn’t matter if people live a certain way if they don’t believe what’s right. In the end God doesn’t care how we live as much as what we believe. When Ed Dobson gets to heaven God isn’t going to care if he “lived the right lifestyle” God only cares if you believe in Jesus as the only begotten son. God wants you to believe that is all that matters.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 (King James Version)
    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

  9. poopemerges June 17, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    Carl: I am not sure you have a high level of reading comprehension…but you seem to be confused…A person who has no lifestyle does not believe anything.. the two are inseparable. You are right that God saves us, but you are also missing the point that he also conforms us to the image of his Son. By the way our sight has decided to go KJV free, too many cults us the KJV to manipulate people (the mormons and others…) and that is dangerous…we do not want people led away from Jesus, so if you feel led to quote the Bible you will need to use any translation that uses the unified text…

    D

  10. Ray June 17, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    Excuse me for getting late into the conversation but I have to agree that Joel Schaffer has been wrong before. For the married man or woman wanted to emulate Jesus’ lifestyle does that include abstinence?

  11. poopemerges June 17, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    But Joel is so seldom wrong that we have to forgive him 🙂 a once in a while.

    D

  12. poopemerges June 17, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    and it is a good point that you make btw…I wonder if Dr. D and his wife are no longer sharing a bedroom for the year. And my wife points out that he should not even have a house at all… wasn’t Jesus homeless?

  13. Carl June 17, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

    I shall let God’s word speak for itself.

    2 Timothy 3:16 (King James Version)
    16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    Proverbs 30:5-6 (King James Version)
    5Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
    6Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

  14. poopemerges June 17, 2008 at 9:40 pm #

    Carl. honestly brother i have no idea what you are trying to say…No one here would argue with that….we are in full agreement. So please stop posting it everywhere and stay on topic.

  15. David July 28, 2008 at 2:17 pm #

    check out Eph. 2:10 and Isaiah 58

  16. Kay September 28, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    I was at Liberty U when Dobson was a Dean and he was one of my Bible teachers. I have always held him in high regard and the man does know the Bible.
    This article confused me a bit, too, though. I would love to see the campus experience a spiritual awakening or whatever it was they said, but I’m not sure how this will accomplish that. I want to give the man the benefit of the doubt because of my respect for him. But we are all fallible.
    God has miraculously spared his life — he was “supposed” to die years ago. I know God has done that for a reason. I will continue to keep him in my prayers, that he would hold fast to the truth.

  17. Lois Tverberg January 3, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    There is a simple way to answer about Ed Dobson’s motivation is his year of imitating Jesus and his feelings about the emergent church.

    Listen to the talk that at a conference on the emerging church at Cornerstone College in the Fall of 2005. He critiqued exactly the same things you’ve talked about here, and told a powerful story about sharing the gospel. I was there for the talk and the standing ovation he received.

    Listen yourself if you like.

    [audio src="http://grts.cornerstone.edu/media/chapel/2005-09-12-Ed%20Dobson-Talking%20Points%20Session%203.mp3" /]

  18. poopemerges January 4, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    I was there as well. Remember the talk. Unfortunately talks from the past don’t necessarily indicate views for the future. A I could give you a million examples of that. Google the story of Clark Pinnock for example.

    In this case he is wrong. Based not upon 2005 but 2008. And really this has less to do with the Emergent church, and more with a moralistic view of Christian living which is wrong. A view that reduces scripture to plaitutde and makes it about what we should do over what Jesus has done.

    As it is I would guess that your defense has more to do with your affinity for a “Hebraic” lifestyle than Dobson…and my writing has a lot to do with my opposition to a Hebraic lifestyle as anything more than cutesy crap at best and Judaising that gets in the way of the heart of the Gospel at worst.

  19. Rob January 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    What a joke. I saw this guy on Good Morning America today.

    Jesus would vote for Obama? Are you serious? Gimme a frickin break!

    Hello? You need ONLY go so far as a candidates position on the pre born (abortion).

    Do you realize there are tens of millions of abortions in the US alone every year?

    These are humanbeings.

    Do you know in Canada that you can get an abortion up till the day before the baby is delivered and that Obama has said that his first order of business is to pass the “Freedom of Choice act” FOCA which would have the same thing happen in the US. Go YouTube FOCA. You’re mind will be blown.

    Jesus most certainly would NOT vote for someone who supports the extermination of the preborn, particularly up until the day they were born.

    Think it is not murder? Consdier what happend to Scott Peterson, the guy that is in prison for killing his wife and their unborn son. Hello? He got convicted of TWO murders! Why two? Because there was two lives.

    So, how is abortion any different, particularly when you can have it done up until the day before the baby is born.

    I dont have to read ANY more about Ed Dobson to know that he is a moron and a lunatic and he will account for his sins. The penalty for those in authority and those that would lead others astray is HUGE.

    Jesus would NOT vote for Obama.

    That being said, he is now the elected president so I will pray for him. For that matter I will also pray for the idiot Ed Dobson.

  20. poopemerges January 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    Rob, I agree on the issue of the unborn, but if you believe that God is sovereign you must admit that Jesus not only voted for Obama, he chose him.

  21. Heather Fischer January 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    “… if you believe that God is sovereign you must admit that Jesus not only voted for Obama, he chose him.”

    Awesome….

  22. Jane Leslie January 4, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    Just to provide some clarity in Dobson’s actual support for Obama based of the ideas of Jesus as stated in USA today:
    ‘Though disagreeing with Obama on abortion, he said, “I felt, as an individual, he was closer to the spirit of Jesus’ teachings than anyone else. (Obama) was a community organizer, so he was into the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, which Jesus is very much into.”
    It is not always safe to assume that just because one would support one candidate over the other does not mean that they are in total agreement with what they support that candidate for on all issues.

  23. Rick L. January 4, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    Rob, who said Ed is a moron and a lunatic showed how incredibly shallow he is himself. Ed is a highly intelligent and devoted Christ follower. That he doesn’t choose to follow in lock-step with others in the “evangelical” community shows the depths of his conviction.

    You don’t have to agree with him, but you have to respect him for being willing to take stands that he knows will draw heat from the likes of Rob.

    Not that Ed really gives a rip what Rob thinks. Rob isn’t his judge.

  24. Rebecca S. January 5, 2009 at 1:51 am #

    All I must say is that you are not proving What Christ did. Christ didn’t come just to feed the hungry and serve the full.

    CHRIST CAME SO THAT WE MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY.

    I am glad He wanted to seek God in His word…but…kosher foods..no. Jesus came to free us from the law not bind us to it.

    If anyone is reading this comment know that Christ was not just some good man or a prophet, but the holy son of GOD who came to cleanse us from our sins. He died and paid the price whether you accept it or not. We can’t reproduce His life.

  25. Dave January 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    Amen, Rebecca.

    If I had “lived the Jesus culture” as Dobson, I would be called a legalist and just plain weird.

    Do you think the media would be so interested in Dobson had he voted for John McCain, Ron Paul or Chuck Baldwin?

    Jesus had pretty strong language in Matthew 18:6 for anyone who would offend a little one – can you imagine how He must feel about abortion? I seriously question the discernment of the individual who after reading through the Gospels over 30 times, felt Obama best represented the fundamental teachings of Jesus.

    And yeah, it is so cool to go in a bar, have a beer and talk about God. Tell that to someone who has lived through experiences with alcoholic family members – the evils of alcohol is not to be taken so lightly.

    Dobson has the appearance of a prophet – albeit a false one.

  26. Dave January 5, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    I would really like to know where Ed Dobson stands with regards to comments made by his son, Kent, with regards to the Discovery Channel program: “…the ancient scrolls are mum on whether Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child.” “It’s healthy for Protestants to be exposed to a Jesus they wouldn’t have been exposed to…Opening their eyes to a new perspective of Jesus is good, even if they, in turn, reject it.” Kent Dobson’s take about whether Jesus could have been born in Bethlehem and the Resurrection in my view crossed the line.

  27. poopemerges January 6, 2009 at 1:02 am #

    And yeah, it is so cool to go in a bar, have a beer and talk about God. Tell that to someone who has lived through experiences with alcoholic family members – the evils of alcohol is not to be taken so lightly.

    Don’t you mean the evils of Alcohol abuse? I mean I am not going all Dobber and growing a beard…but Jesus did after all make a little wine from time to time.

    I feel you on the Kent Dobson thing though.

    D

  28. a January 6, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    “Jesus had pretty strong language in Matthew 18:6 for anyone who would offend a little one – can you imagine how He must feel about abortion? I seriously question the discernment of the individual who after reading through the Gospels over 30 times, felt Obama best represented the fundamental teachings of Jesus”

    Dave: The problem with this, is that while you may be correct on the Matthew 18 point, there is just as strong of language in the Scriptures regarding other things that many Christians believe Obama will address much better than McCain would have. There is also little evidence that having a pro-life President in office actually does anything to stop abortion.

    The Obama campaign, with input from Evangelicals, has laid out plans to curtail the numbers of abortion. The McCain campaign did not do that, they only catered to pro-lifers by declaring their pro-life status. Not holding them responsible for the “claims’ they make does nothing but create an entire voting block who votes on a litmus test of abortion… That does not actually produce any results.

  29. poopemerges January 6, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    Amy,

    I agree for the most part but if you consider voting blocks and effective government you must agree that the black community has benefitted very little since it became a consistent sure thing for the democratic party, statistics will back this up.

    I of course oppose 2 things: Party politics, and dumb voters. I think Evangelicals and African Americans have both bought into the crap that their “leaders” are selling them to the detriment of thinking and logic. Both groups in fact are enslaved by their respective political parties because when one or the other breaks rank they are disparaged. If you are Christian and vote democrat your faith is questioned. If you are black and vote republican your race is questioned. That is not freedom, it is intellectual slavery, for two groups of people form whom freedom is a central issue in our history.

    D

  30. a January 6, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    Absolutely… both sides know that all they have to do is use key buzz words to label and dismiss the other side in order to win their base. But… they do not actually have to follow up with anything, and little change ever seems to happen.

    That is why I found the battle over the supposed “Latino voting block” so fascinating. The do not fit the neat categories that D’s & Rs’ have been battling over, so it took a lot of savvy from both sides to swing votes back and forth.

    Anytime it’s “yah, duh” about whether or not someone will vote one way or another, we lose something in the political discourse. It’s worse if you are a Christian, because we should not be in the back pocket of anyone.

  31. Rebecca S. January 21, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    a,
    are you aware that Obama is trying to legalize partial birth abortions in which they suck the born babies brain out?

    I would say that does something as being a prolife president.

    I will support Obama simply in prayer because God has a plan for our nation and Obama has been elected believe it or not by God’s will. We can’t know what will happen but we can only pray that God will have mercy on America.

    It is silly to fight about who Jesus would vote for because it simply doesn’t matter. God wants us to live for Him in every aspect of our lives..including politics. Jesus was involved in politics and yes, He wants us to be as well..and I think that we need to remember that we can’t compartmentalize our faiths. Our thoughts, actions, and words should scream our faith.

  32. Andrew H December 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    God chose Obama because we are under judgment as a nation.

  33. poopemerges December 6, 2009 at 5:03 pm #

    Oh brother. Are we under judgement because people like you have made politics your idol and functional savior?

    Lest we forget judgement begins with the household of God.

    D

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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