Definition and Purpose
In a nutshell, the writer of Lamb’s Harbinger, Sam Kean, is Paleo-Orthodox, Post-Denominational, Post-Evangelical (Anti-Evangelical), Anti-Institutional (regarding expression of Christianity), Pietist, Communal, Anabaptist, Pacifist, Egalitarian, Feminist, an advocate for ChurchToo, BLM, INDIGENOUS, Renewables, LGBTQIA, and politically Center-Left (closest to Social Democrat), yet Non-Partisan.
Lamb’s Harbinger means, “someone who cries out for the [silenced] lamb(s).” This blog exists as a nemesis of institutional “Churchianity” & spiritual abuse. Lamb’s Harbinger cries out for the innocent (lambs), who are being silenced by spiritual cannibals in “the Church.” For better understanding of the name’s literary allusion, see HERE.
Also, a harbinger is one who seeks proper lodging for royalty when the crown travels. Of course, that means the harbinger goes ahead of the royal figure in order to prepare the way, so that when the King arrives, all is ready. Consequently, the harbinger is also responsible for everyone’s knowing royalty will soon grace the city or town. “Lamb’s Harbinger,” indicates Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb of God, as the Royal Person, who wishes to figuratively find a dwelling place in every mind (“heart”).
Lamb’s Harbinger exists to confess the sins of Christianity to the masses in a way that describes how things might have been better said or done. Many people either have been hurt or put off by Christian “religion,” by people who call themselves Christian, or by things done in the name of Church or Christ or God. Furthermore, the Bible, which is apparently meant to be a revelation of God to mankind, often has been misinterpreted, misunderstood or misrepresented, to the abuse and dismay of many. Traditions are commonly placed (knowingly or unknowingly) on the Bible like a bad wood veneer on solid gold. Travesties follow. Only when apology is made for such atrocities and lies, can the Light and the Life begin His freeing work. Only then is the heart opened to understand and “receive” the Lord Jesus. To those, who see this goal (revealing Jesus as the only full, good, loving, and perfect expression of God) as not affirming religious pluralism, Lamb’s Harbinger replies carefully with 4 concepts, which Lamb’s Harbinger wholeheartedly affirms:
A. the sanctity human free will, which authentically allows everyone the power of belief (or disbelief) and choice, cannot be violated to produce a genuine faith; societal pluralism can and should and does exist wherever state church, theonomy, coercion, mandate and force are rejected. In this way, Christians can and do uphold freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
B. the most ancient teachings of Christianity did not present Hell as everlasting, conscious, physical torment, but rather, as a spiritual (inner), supernatural, (i.e. eternal: outside of space/time) negative consequence, determined/pronounced by none except God and exactly fitting or representative of one’s own deeds and choices; [In the words of C. S. Lewis, “All get what they want; they do not always like it.”]
C. organized religion [e.g. institutional denominations, state churches, and even independently incorporated “churches” (and their corrupt hierarchies, patriarchy, many hypocrisies, atrocities, crimes & abuses)] was never the most ancient Christians’ definition or expression of Faith (i.e. “the Way”). The “jurisdiction” of the Church was never meant to extend outside of its own population of adherents (i.e. those who identify as in the Body of Christ);
D. Jesus did make exclusivity claims (as recorded in the Gospels) about both his Deity and mission, and Christians have recognized these claims at all times and in every region where Christianity is found. The scandal of Jesus’ ministry was not his exclusivity but his being inclusive. The historicity of Jesus is not contested by scholars. One must, therefore, decide if the thousands of extant manuscripts (received and reproduced by the earliest Christians) provide accurate record of his sayings and deeds. And then, decide if Jesus was truthful or not, crazy or sane.
Besides the above aim, Lamb’s Harbinger is, at the same time, an exercise in journaling the author’s faith development in almost real time, as he continues to heal from the many systemic abuses (professional) and spiritual abuses and physical & sexual abuses he endured, while growing up in fundamentalist evangelicalism (Independent Fundamental Baptist).
Chances are, despite sincerity, the author of Lamb’s Harbinger will get some things wrong at one point or another. But, this author is still learning. All he desires is for the reader to know and love Christ as He can and should be known and loved. In that effort, Lamb’s Harbinger begs the critic’s indulgence.
Background & Advancement
Sam Kean earned a Bachelor of Arts in Bible (2005) and a Master of Biblical Studies (2008) from the independent, fundamental Baptist College of Ministry and Theological Seminary, which he now rejects as cultish, under Wayne Van Gelderen, Jr. and family. [see here for his interview with TBN and here for his interview with Almost Heretical]. In brief, Kean identifies as a survivor and critic of an Independent Fundamental Baptist cult. Kean rejects fundamentalist Evangelicalism as a movement, due to its negative national (USA) & global connotations and trivial, cultish perversions by the late 20th century, and he rejects conservative (white) Evangelicalism for its national and international hijacking of governments toward theocratic ends (i.e. 1970s Religious Right & Moral Majority, 1994 ECT, Vatican’s Great Evangelical Gamble & Convergence Movement, resulting in Donald Trump).
“[Graham] told Christianity Today in 2011 that, given the chance to do anything differently in his life, “I also would have steered clear of politics.” (Snopes)
Moreover, Sam Kean is post-denominational, paleo-orthodox, and post-evangelical (a former domestic pastor & foreign missionary, having resigned fundamentalist evangelical professional ministry), due to his conscience regarding the corrupt, ecclesiastical paradigm of professional ministers and the movement’s many stodgy and harmful pastoral, ecclesiastical and systematic theologies.
Since his departure from the independent, fundamental Baptist movement in 2010, Sam Kean seeks to “relearn the Bible,” particularly finding agreement with the works of André Gagné, Michael S. Heiser, Peter Enns, Mark Smith, Miroslav Volf, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Gustaf Aulén, Mako Nagasawa, Jon Zens, Greg Boyd, L. S. Chafer, the early works on Paleo-Orthodoxy by Thomas C. Oden, Dan Allender, Jim Wilder, George Barna & Frank Viola, N.T. Wright, Craig Keener, John Goldingay, Francis Schaeffer, Søren Kierkegaard, C. S. Lewis, Scot McKnight, George E. Ladd, Dallas Willard, Norman Geisler, and Ray Stedman.
Examples of poor (harmful, erroneous) theologies, often utilized by white evangelicalism include:
- Augustine’s “Original Sin” inherited through biological semen, or else as physically indwelling Adam, instead of federal view and actionable attribution. In other words, Unless speaking of Augustine’s “Original Sin” doctrine, it is NOT accurate to say Christian Theology teaches humans are born sinful. It is, however, true to note Christians believe all humans are corruptible (capable of evil) & that ALL people manifest this inherent weakness, mortal flaw.[(See also Pete Enns’ article) This subject effects one’s view of infant innocence, paedobaptism, human nature, etc.]
- An erroneous assertion that the Imago Dei (image of God) is some subset descriptor of humanity, instead of being a conferral & pronouncement upon human beings themselves by God toward the inestimable and inherent worth of every human. See works by Michael Heiser [This effects one’s definition of “human” and relates to racial ethics, abortion topics, robotics and germline genetic bioethics]
- An oversimplified “avoiding Hell and going to Heaven” Gospel, which promotes immortality vs. eternal life and selfish escapism, instead of necessary discussions on topics like the ancient Christian worldview, reconciliation and regeneration through Jesus for reunion with a once-estranged but gracious Creator, …and according descriptions of embodying a new identity (“the flesh, old self” vs. new creation in the Spirit).
- An abuse of “The Great Commission” to be Western European colonization.
- No consideration given to the biblical data for inclusive salvation. (See also HERE & HERE; note: this is not to advocate for universalism)
- An insistence on defining Hell as eternal conscious torment, instead of other legitimate and supportable definitions, like the 1st Century view or like annihilation, which find basis in interpreting parables of Jesus as such, and with the ancient understanding, rather than a real account or with a 14th C. Dante’s Inferno view.
- Either oversimplification or overestimation of the value of Baptism, due to not interpreting Baptism according to canonical biblical theology (see Heiser on Baptism); and how it symbolizes: A. death to / renunciation of the influence of fallen angels (under Satan) and the subsequent corruption of mankind; B. Christ’s descent into the Grave/Sheol to preach deliverance; C. Identity with Christ’s Resurrection and ascension in victory (See Didache).
- A view of conversion that is an immediate event, based on intellectual assent to a message, instead of a process (discipleship) leading to an event (repentance/faith and subsequent baptism) that begins another process (sanctification)
- Sanctification presented as either inevitable or crises-based/“second blessing,” instead of faithfully “participating in Christ.” Spiritual formation relegated to either meritorious will-worship or passivity, instead of intentionally participating with God to receive the gift of transformation.
- Insistence on 6 literal, 24 hr days of creation, instead of interpreting Genesis 1-2 according to responsible, biblical theological methods.
- Rejection of the peer reviewed research, done by Christians, for evolution and its harmonization with Christianity’s Creationism via the subject of information origins.
- An incomplete yet overwrought and meticulous view of God’s Sovereignty in combination with a stricture of God’s Immutability, also known as Meticulous Determinism. (Note: this is not to advocate open theism Carte Blanche but to allow for free will and a robust cosmology.)
- Denial of the Divine Council and a resultant anemic cosmology (See Heiser’s Unseen Realm and Knox Seminary)
- Although Penal Substitution Atonement is not to be rejected altogether, it is problematic to reject all other legitimate atonement views other than God’s appeasement of his own wrath via the punitive/judicial (retributive) view of the Cross; being disparaging of a reconciliation or reunion view, of a restorative or medical view, of a Cruciform Aikido warrior/victor view, or of a liberation view theology (See Christus Victor and other resources HERE and HERE)
- Pet denominational and peripheral doctrines, which only serve to divide the true Church, seeing they are not of 1st importance (1 Corinthians 15); and, a subsequent redefinition of the Church as something other than the collective of all regenerate souls everywhere across time—the Body of Christ (the Family of God, named by His name) into which the Holy Spirit places every genuine believer, regardless of denomination (i.e. despite denomination-specific doctrines, erroneous theologies or brand of Christianity). These genuine believers, scattered about and peppering every sect of Christianity, are the Church universal.
- Hierarchical, institutional view of the Church and professional ministry vs. an authentic, relational spiritual organism (See also Revolution by George Barna, Ray Stedman’s Authentic Christianity: Body Life & Marcus Warner’s Fixing the Broken Discipleship Factory; works by Frank Viola; works by Richard Jacobson at Unchurching.com). There is inestimable worth in scholars aiding the Church by providing its pastors reliable content. But, the worth of the Church’s pastors is in their readiness to assimilate & dispense content (FREE of charge) for the relational maturation & spiritual discipleship of believers.
- Service of the Other Master (i.e. money and the influence it gives) among evangelical leaders
- Tithing (mandated, theocratic covenant giving) in exchange for promises of God’s blessings or restraint of God’s correction
- Familial curses apply to 3rd & 4th generation (even if you are a believer in that succession), instead of God’s promise to remember them no more upon repentance of them and faith in Jesus’ grace.
- Practical rejection of soul liberty & priesthood of believers by practicing Lording via emperor-style leadership or organizational hierarchy and church growth / missions models
- Cessationism (see at bottom of this page, under Spiritual Gifts)
- Traditional conservative stance on alcohol, instead of showing all of the pertinent biblical data
- No case for divorce and condescension toward single parents
- A less than egalitarian view of Marriage, combined with reverence for civil marriage & cookie cutter complementarian roles for both the family and church, instead of viewing marriage as a purely religious act shared between those who are both inheritors of God’s grace.
- A warped view of forgiveness and justice, which leads to shaming/blaming or dismissing sexual & domestic abuse/assault victims and forced reunification with the offender / criminal
- Shunning in church discipline & the emphasis of congregational purity and behavioral conformity above a relationally-mature approach to discipleship and restoration of the faltering Christian
- Focus on behavioral and academic discipleship methods, which address only guilt and shame and remain at the attitudes and actions level, instead of heart focused discipleship and mental health treatment (toward which conservative Evangelicals are also skeptical/shaming)
- Replacement Theology & Covenantal Theonomy, Christian Reconstructionism, Kingdom Now & Dominion Theology, which produce Culture War, power seeking, apocalypse driven and otherwise motivated political entanglements & hypocrisy, ostracism, violence and war and encourage or preserve white supremacy racism.
- Hypocritical disconnection between principles of stewardship of the earth’s species/resources and exploitative and destructive consumption and/or unsustainable usage of the same.
- A resultant fixation with winning culture wars in order to “bring in the kingdom” via an American Christian Eutopia… instead of realizing Christians should not rebuke culture, because truth must be handled with care and “inside” the Church is our domain to purify.
- Shaming/guilting and shunning LGBTQ within reparative and conversion therapies, instead of focusing on identity exchange, spiritual health (See also, HERE and HERE for statement on marriage).
- Very “flat” and very “close,” literal and self-focused (“what is God saying to me”) readings of the texts; poor or little use of robust biblical theology or attention to ancient near eastern cosmology, medicine, and literary allusions in interpretative approach to the Bible (see Michael Heiser )
Orthodoxy & Orthopraxy
Without question, the writer of Lamb’s Harbinger is supernaturalist in worldview and theologically a Trinitarian Christian, who seeks to preserve the matters of 1st importance (as found in 1 Corinthians 15), due to their being essential to the mystical (i.e. direct spiritual experience with God, not “mysticism”) Christianity presented in the New Testament and in the earliest (post-Apostolic) “Patristic” writings.
I’m a believer who confesses the Creeds and who doesn’t know of a single accepted scientific theory that poses any threat to Christian faith.
In my theology and philosophy Origen and Darwin get along just fine, and the Nicene Creed and Quantum Physics live in harmony.
— Brian Zahnd (@BrianZahnd) April 23, 2019
Because he identifies as paleo-orthodox, Kean affirms the Apostles Creed (See Britannica) and the Nicene Creed as the historical standards for Christian orthodoxy but sees the tenets of those creeds as having arisen out of a collective of ancient, organic faith communities, which predate institutionalized Christianity (i.e. Roman, Imperial Church as per Eusebius, Constantine & Theododosius I). Kean is post-evangelical & “de-churched” (with regards to institutional hierarchy in churches but not in regards to gathering with believers). By post-denominational, he means: “a refusal to acknowledge those denominations, which deny the Lord Jesus Christ’s hypostatic union (full Deity/full humanity), bodily death & resurrection, His exclusivity and supremacy as mankind’s Savior; the essentials of the Christian Good News (1 Corinthians 15), and/or create “carnal divisions” (1 Corinthians 3; ex. required denomination-specific tenets and “Church membership covenants”).
The Creator of All, incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, (Who Himself—by the Power of the Holy Spirit—revealed the Most High God expressly), this is the One I call my God. —Sam Kean
While Kean affirms the need to love enemies, and while disbelievers are never to be considered enemies, he rejects interfaith organizations and agendas on the grounds of their prohibitions to do good in Jesus’ name, revealing their desire to promote a pluralism that erases not only the distinction and uniqueness of Jesus Christ but also that of other religions. Unity without distinction is uniformity & not true harmony. Selfless love can and must be shown between those of differing faiths, but “official” (organizational or institutional) unity is not necessary for said love to be put into action, …unless people are worried about who gets the credit for show (pomp, political influence or money). Kean likewise denounces as “cult(s)” the New Age (and/or New Thought), Unitarian Universalist, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness organisations, which redefine Jesus of Nazareth in Deity and/or humanity or in some tenet essential to ancient, orthodox, Trinitarian belief. Sam Kean positively describes his faith furthermore as historic Anabaptist in theology and pacifist, Pietist in practice (see also Wikipedia and Britannica for overviews and books list, and works by Søren Kierkegaard on radical pietism).
Concerning the Atonement (See definition (HERE) of Christ & God’s Justice, Kean holds to a paleo-orthodox Christian view, such as is found in the writings of Gregory of Nanzianzus. Sam Kean particularly finds agreement with Mako Nagasawa’s expression of a Medical Substitution View and Restorative Justice View. One’s eternal soul can be forgiven, delivered & healed from its mortal flaws and rerouted from the destiny of a Godless life & eternity, by grace alone, through faith (trust, reliance; not meritorious sacramental rites) in Christ only, to the glory of God alone. This is not to say there is no process of learning, until one confesses Jesus is the Risen Lord, nor that there is no process of spiritual transformation thereafter. Yet, it is to say all of this is based on the minimalist standard for Christian Faith—the Holy Scriptures (Christian Bible), from which we learn of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Kean promotes the biblical data for inclusive salvation. (See also HERE & HERE; note: this is not to advocate for universalism)
[Aside: the Penal Substitution (Retributive Judicial) view of the Atonement can be in harmony with the Medical, Reconciliation and Victor (and Liberation) views, so long as PSA concedes a robust Trinitarian relationship between Father and Son at the Cross, as well as an Aikido aspect of God’s using evil spirits and humanity as agents in satisfying God’s just wrath against an infestation of sin, death & Satan (see works by Gustaf Aulén and Greg Boyd). In other words, the Father did not send His Son to the Cross, but all members of the Trinity agreed that the Son would go to the Cross willingly, where all the malevolence of evil beings—spirits and humanity–was (as a cup) poured upon Jesus, not by the Father’s hands but by the wicked hands of humanity. Though the Father forsook Jesus in that hour for the sake of reconciling all things to Himself, the Father did not abandon Jesus (Is. 53), but instead raised him up from death to ascend to the highest at the Father’s “right Hand.” All of this was premeditated within the mind of the Trinity; and so, though the Jesus expressed abandonment on the Cross, it was a rhetorical expression (to those looking on) of a real happening… in as much as all of Jesus’ crucifix statements are for our learning. This pre-knowledge of Jesus is evident in his statements and defense to his Disciples about his own death & resurrection.]
Jesus interpreted his own death in three ways…
1. A ransom for our FREEDOM.
2. A source for our HEALING.
3. The cutting of a NEW COVENANT.
– And a new religion-free way of being in relationship with God and others.
Friends, we have a lot to celebrate.
— Bruxy Cavey (@Bruxy) April 20, 2019
Regarding the inspiration, inerrancy and the authority of the Bible, Sam Kean takes a conservative-leaning, yet moderate view, consistent with Anabaptist tenets, and which affirm Jesus Christ is the only Supremely Authoritative Word of God. The veracity and import of the Scriptures is not rooted in a pronouncement of canonicity but is rather found in the corroboration of eye witness accounts, preserved in the majority of extant manuscripts, yet without conflation. These complement the historical proof of Jesus’ existence (ex. Tacitus and Josephus) to produce reliable record of the life, words and works of Jesus of Nazareth. While the concepts of inerrancy and authority correlate with inspiration, they are NOT to be equated with inspiration, as fundamentalist and conservative Evangelicals would assert.
— Lamb’s Harbinger (@LambsHarbinger) April 20, 2019
A moderate view of the inspiration (and subsequent import on guidance of faith) of the Bible might say Divine Revelation is limited to only the redemptive concepts, special themes and overarching message present within the Bible. Kean would rather say,
Special, Divine Revelation is more than the words but not without (or, apart from) the specific words.
By this, he means not to lose the proverbial forest, while scrutinizing the trees (as do Fundamentalists & Conservative Evangelicals… and “liberal” text critics for that matter); but also, the author means not to degrade the Bible to the level of subjective testimony as often do progressive and liberal theology. The Bible is a collection of human-divine books that form the Divine Book for humanity; and it must be approached and interpreted as such.
One must concede the humans, who wrote & edited & compiled the Bible, were Divine spokespersons, yet not Divinely inspired in their personhood (ex. omniscient, infallible or inerrant). Moreover, only some of their messages were/are Divinely inspired, and so, are included in the Body of Holy Writ. Likewise, all of their messages are inexorable from the writers’ own Sitz im Leben. In other words, their finite and sometimes flawed understanding of God was limited to what He revealed in the course of progressive revelation as well as their own human assumptions or personal biases. The texts occasionally or even systemically (due to eras of mode in thought) reflect this phenomenon and must be accounted for by responsible interpretation (see below; also, Pete Enns’ talk). The phenomenon of finite authors being thus acknowledged, their evident limitation is surpassed by the Divine breath, which propelled the authors/editors thoughts and intents into recorded oration and text and compilation… even sometimes in ways they themselves did not fully comprehend but which generally coheres with both previous and later special revelation.
These things being held, Sam Kean does not affirm any notion of direct dictation in inspiration, unless indicated in the text and withstanding text critical scrutiny, (ex. “This says the LORD,” or “the word of the Lord came to”), …but neither does Kean affirm any concept of inspiration that refuses to note the real, human-sourced scribal discrepancies—from copying, factual inconsistencies (due to separate curation of oral tradition evident in the originals or apparent human error) or even theological contradictions (paradoxical or not)—present in the texts, by appealing to the originals (autographs, as represented in the majority of extant manuscripts).
Similarly, Kean sees intellectual dishonesty in rejecting the phenomenon of redaction / editor revision or compilation. The work of a compiling / collating editor can be equally as inspired (directed, moved along) by God as the penning of original autograph(s); and just as the Hebrew Scriptures were compiled and approved over the space of centuries, even so, representatives from the churches similarly trusted the Spirit to superintend a consensus of a minimalist Canon of Scripture at Nicaea (325 A.D.).
See Council of Nicaea (325) which provided a minimalist canon to Constantine to send to Constantinople, …followed by the letter of Athanasius (367) Council of Rome (382) Council of Hippo (393) & the Councils of Carthage (397, 419) at which Augustine announced a “closed canon.”
— Lamb’s Harbinger (@LambsHarbinger) April 23, 2019
Just as the Nicene Creed arose out of a collective of ancient, organic faith communities, which predate institutionalized Christianity (i.e. Roman, Imperial Church as per Eusebius, Constantine & Theododosius I), even so, the body of Christian Holy Writ was being discussed prior to Nicea by the direction of The Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ is the Authority of both Holy Scripture and the Church, and He does not lead these 2 into conflict. Despite the repugnant imperial mandate of Constantine to bring the problem of disputed Christian texts to a consensus, a minimalist canon was effectively produced by those at Nicaea, as directed by the Spirit. Having submitted itself thereto, The Church should not contradict itself by asserting itself to be above the historical direction of the Holy Spirit, regarding the corpus of the Holy Scriptures or by diminishing (as secondary to Church tradition) the Holy Scriptures it once hailed. So, Kean upholds the supreme Authority of the Bible for informing one’s faith life, the Soul Liberty (of each believing Conscience), and the priesthood of the believer.
Said Authority must not serve as a tool for dictatorial authoritarianism, but rather, allows for unity among all believers and a minimalist measure to which all believers can hold runaway authoritarian traditionalists in check and balance.
Interpretation should not be confused with inspiration. Conservatives in the doctrine of Divine Inspiration will say the Bible is authoritative in all matters to which it speaks (ex. The Chicago Statement, article XII on Creation and the Flood or other matters of scientific evidence), and while that is perhaps technically true, one cannot and must not assume the Bible speaks specifically, exhaustively or exclusively to current-day matters of scientific discovery. Due to a rejection of scholarship & science, such assumptions are often made by fundamentalists and conservative evangelical Protestants, while they disregard the passages’ contexts, particularly the context of genre (which indicates purpose and demands an appropriate interpretation approach). A Bible passage must be understood by recognizing and bowing to all its contexts and to the presence of literary devices & contours of the text! Theologically, the Bible must be interpreted through the ultimate lens, provided by the Person (words & works) of Jesus Christ. Some have called this a cruciform (cross-shaped) mode of interpretation, or Christo-centric (Christ-centered, Christ-reflecting).
Theologically Informed Politic
Due to his Anabaptist & Kierkegaardian moorings, Sam Kean believes and advocates a freedom of religion that includes the Church being independent of the State, no coercion, no reliance on external pressures to effect an inner/spiritual reality (i.e. no theonomy to bring in the kingdom). In His Day, Jesus condemned monetized and politicized religion.
The Church is the community that redemptively confounds the categories imposed upon it. Right/left, conservative/liberal choices are crucified as the body of Christ is resurrected. To adopt a given ideology decapitates Christ as the head of the church. —@TimothyRGains, https://twitter.com/timothyrgaines/status/1008704447239872512?s=21
We must resist, always, the Culture Wars work of making us see each other as monsters rather than image-bearers. –@danwhitejr, https://twitter.com/danwhitejr/status/1008765022976249858?s=21
Manifest Destiny and the Discovery Doctrine are from the “pit of Hell.” American Civil Religion is both aberrant to and abhorrent of genuine Christianity, and when the Church gets entangled in politics, then politics corrupt and drive the Church. The late Billy Graham warned of this evil in 1981 and openly regretted his own political involvement. Kean is non-partisan, politically, for these reasons.
He supports honorable service personnel & veterans, but he (in accordance with the earliest Christians) does not support the notion of Christians as soldiers or the USA’s war culture, especially use of toxins, experimental vaccinations, biological augmentation (DNA, hormones, chemical substances, bionics) and WMDs, in the name of spreading “freedom,” democracy and/or “greatness.” There is a difference between the War and the warrior; and none should forget the USA government’s long and explicit (and well-documented) history with mind control, psychotropics & psychedelics, and psychotronic weapons. See here, here, here, and here.
Kean is a pacifist in the face of persecution (especially religious) but is proactive in averting the suffering of others, especially the oppressed & defenseless. Therefore, Kean affirms non-combative, reparative/redemptive military service (ex. Chaplaincy, Medic, Medical Administration, Psychotherapy, Morale Entertainment/Performance, Humanitarian Aid & Relief) as a Christian ideology. Some Christians like to think their love for weapons and patriotic militarism is warranted by the Bible and the Christian “kingdom.” It is not. Defense or rescue of the innocent and defenseless is something indeed warranted and expected of Christians. Weapons love and a militant, “Church victorious“ are not taught by Jesus or the Apostles! In fact, what Jesus teaches goes both against Christian love for weapons and against the professional ministry paradigm so prevalent in the hierarchical institutions that masquerade as the Church. If someone wishes to kill a believer over Christian Faith, and one cannot otherwise escape, the pattern which Jesus and all the Apostles give is surrender to martyrdom and express forgiveness of attackers.
The Kingdom of Heaven/God
Furthermore, just as Francis Schaeffer and George E. Ladd understood Christ’s Kingdom is not consummated as institutionally physical/political, until the return of Christ Himself, even so Kean affirms the same understanding (i.e. inaugurated eschatology: “already but not yet”). Frank Viola and Jon Zens put this reality in more contemporary terms. So, neither the democracy of the enlightenment nor the historic state churches of Europe are the rule of Christ. Religiously charged fascism can & does exist on both the Religious Left & Right. Yet, there is no legitimate claim to theonomy, or reconstructionism, let alone a perverted ecumenism, which seeks to engineer society religiously through sociopolitical and governmental means. These ills are rooted in the erroneous and egregious Covenant Replacement Theology and its offshoots. Therefore, Kean is not a religious sociopolitical (governmental) activist but seeks to aid the plights of humanity and animals and ecosystems as much as possible through non-partisan peaceful protest, non-violent civil disobedience, promotion of conflict resolution (reconciliation, mediation) and peace studies, exercise of neighbor love & enemy love, and support of Christian (non-government) organizations that work against war, poverty, disaster, abuse and oppression. When governmental lobbying, activism or advocacy must be done, Kean feels it should be done in a non-partisan platform, as a citizen, and should not be done to advance any semblance of a Christian quasi-theocracy. Being politically informed and voting (according tonconscience & as allowed by democratic systems) hardly ever could be seen as political entanglement or a violation of “in the world but not of it.” However, partisan allegiance and interdenominational or interfaith super-PACs are quite entirely another matter.
Kean asserts the following about the “Kingdom of God/Heaven” and the Church: the collective of each and every believer—genuinely affirming Simon Peter’s confession that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God—is both the space (temple, body, ekklesia) and the subjects (family, friends, bond servants) of God’s kingdom at present. The kingdom of God is within every believer (Luke 17:21) not any institution or collective organization; and, the law of God at present is Christ’s Law, being the laws of (faith in) Christ (Phil. 3:9; Rom. 3:27; 1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 3:11) and agape love (Matthew 5-7; John 14-17). Kean does not affirm Apostolic Succession (as claimed by Rome), because institutions and persons may or may not be true to the Apostle’s doctrine, even though they claim it via institutional lineage / heritage. More than allegiance to persons or institutions, one must be committed to growth in understanding, within a faithful community of believers. The collective of all regenerate souls everywhere, across time, is the Body of Christ, into which the Holy Spirit places every genuine believer, regardless of denomination (i.e. despite denomination-specific doctrines, erroneous theologies or brands of Christianity). These genuine believers—not necessarily “leaders”—scattered about and among every sect of Christianity, are the Church universal.
The Church is designed by God to be (and to function as) a living organism, rather than a hierarchical organization or institution, which separates clergy from “laity” (ref. Ray Stedman). Authentic, non-abusive church leadership is R.A.R.E. these days and rarely taught. The professional ministry paradigm must be reformed, along with our broken discipleship factories, through cultivating unfailingly loving communities via the Solution of Choice; but Unchurching is the more likely route for most awakened believers, while “Churchianity” is slow to release its political power grabs and corporate leadership dynamics.
Agreement with the Reformation but not Reformed Theology
Kean opposes Reformed theology, (a.k.a. Calvinism), even though he sees the Protestant Reformation was absolutely necessary to correct Roman Catholic errors. Therfore, Kean makes strong exceptions with irresistible grace & limited atonement (as opposed to unlimited provision of atonement – see C. Ryrie, L. S. Chafer). Kean rejects the faulty notions of preterition and reprobation, since they each are built on a faulty premise. Predestination is toward the benefits of salvation, not to salvation itself (see The Faith of God’s Elect). Only those who are elect (have already received salvation) can and do say that God chose them “in Christ” (Eph. 1:4). As Christ is the elect (Is. 42:1), even so those who place faith in Christ, at Divine invitation (call) by the Spirit, step into the sphere of that election; and so, receive the title, elect. [please see Jesus Christ, the Elect of God]. God’s foreknowledge does not equate His determinate will (i.e. force). All in all, there is a balance between Divine Initiation (grace) and human responsibility (faith): Ephesians 2:8-9.
Sacraments or Ordinances
Touching ordinances, Baptism and Communion (and foot washing) are not sacramental means (rites, monetized or not) by which saving grace is conferred on a soul, but they are symbolic acts of personal testimony and public identifiers of first obedience, done by those who have already received eternal pardon and new spiritual birth by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and can express such faith in word and deed. Though entire families (including children and servants), in the ancient Roman / 2nd Temple Jewish period, were baptized along with the faith confession of the head of household, 1 Corinthians 7 indicates the presence of the believing party sanctifies (sets apart) others in the household (for the work of the Holy Spirit), NOT the baptism. The statement in 1 Corinthians 7 is an example of the progression of revelation, as witnessed in the person of the Apostle Paul. If infants are to be baptized, then the ceremony reflects the faith and commitment of the family and Church to disciple the child, not testimony to the state of the baby’s faith, nor a guarantee of redemptive faith in later years. In keeping with Anabaptist tenets, the infant should be baptized again, if a informed and genuine faith confession is made later in life (ex. Confirmation).
In his views on Bible prophecy, Kean agrees with Dr. Michael Heiser that all systems have weaknesses and “cheat” to make their system work. Furthermore, “it is not for [us] to know the times and seasons…,” said Jesus (Acts 1:7). Prophecy is not written in order to create timelines and political agendas or alarmist reactionaries. That being said and well noted, Kean holds to partial-futurist (“already-but-not-yet”, or “inaugurated”) eschatological interpretation and is pre-millennial in his view of the return of Christ, finding these the result of a both patristic evidence and personal interpretation. [For an example of this approach applied, please see HERE.] Jesus, having been born and crucified and risen again, and by having sent the Spirit, inaugurated but did not consummate the Age of Peace. There are clear foundations in Bible prophecy as witnessed by early Church patristic writings (ex. Clement) for a future, physical kingdom of Jesus on earth. Yet, one must balance Jesus’ prophecies (Matthew 25, Mark 13, Luke 21) with an honest assessment of Jesus’ words on “the End.” All in all, believers can and should individually & collectively mimic the life of Christ to represent Him & His Life/Way well (and to prepare for service in the future Kingdom); BUT IT MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED that Jesus alone can consummate said physical kingdom, and when “believers” attempt to establish it for him, their efforts result in events and movements, which look much more like Satan at work than God.
Hint: “the Beast Empire” is not entirely a national entity but more so a false religious system of supranational proportions, led by the false prophet and the Anti-Christ spirit embodied.
— Sam Kean (@snkean) August 8, 2018
[Perhaps institutionalized and/or “State Church” Christianity, which came first by Constantine is such an example of the Beast Empire. This has severe implications regarding The Great Commission.]
Israel & the Church
Kean is moderate in his view of biblical covenants and distinctions between Israel and the Church. Currently, as always, those of Abraham’s faith (as distinct from physical lineage) are the children of promise (Romans 4; 9:4-8; Eph. 2:11-19; 3:4-6; Gal. 3:29). The Church does not replace national/ethnic Israel, but the Church is spiritual Israel, yet not to the elimination of God’s Plan for ethnic (national) Israel throughout the ages; which plan is, by national Israel’s “trespass” (or “rejection”) to bring about the redemption of believers from every non-Hebrew nation, clan/tribe, language (Rev. 7:9) …and also the resurrection of all believers at ethnic Israel’s “full inclusion” (or “acceptance,” Romans 11). Furthermore, every believer will know a reward and duty in Christ’s future kingdom, which will be made up of all peoples, glorified and non-glorified. Until that Day, through the Lord Jesus Christ, believing ethnic Jew and believing non-ethnic-Jew (together comprising the Bride of Christ) enjoy all the spiritual blessings promised in the New Covenant to ancient national Israel (the divorcee Wife of YHWH, remarried). Non-ethnic-Jew believers have been made one new Mankind with believers of Hebrew ethnicity through Christ Jesus, and now they are together the branches of the “Olive Tree” (Romans 11), until the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in (when “all [spiritual] Israel” is saved). Moreover, according to a proper interpretation of Romans 11 & 12, the Church (redeemed non-Hebrews + believing ethnic Jews) should be mindful that it is not better than the disbelieving, national/ethnic Hebrew people;
“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” (Romans 11).
Modern, national Israel does not deserve carte blanche treatment from the USA or any other nation. But the modern nation of Israel—once having been recognized internationally as a state, despite the atrocities of war having birthed it—does deserve the same rights and privileges due any other (sovereign) nation, and the Hebrew people should be blessed by Christians… just as all Christians are to love both neighbors and enemies, as Jesus taught. That being said, reparations are warranted to all those, who were displaced by WWI & WWII and all wars subsequent.
Spiritual Formation & Transformation
Regarding sanctification, Sam Kean holds to the Antiochian Orthodox articulation of Theosis, which begs the believer to fully “participate in Christ.” There are four aspects to the Gospel: “Christ our Savior/Redeemer, Christ our Healer/Deliverer, Christ our Sanctifier, Christ our Coming Lord.” While Kean sees the definite prescription for repentance of the sin nature (the corrupt “fallen self”) and for turning from fear-mongering divisive gods/religion—in order to turn toward a conciliatory, unifying and peace-loving God by confessing Jesus (the Christ) as the Way—he does not hold to extreme Lordship Salvation (whereby one must somehow completely do away with sins before he can be saved), but he agrees with scholars like John Walvoord and Zane Hodges… and the Apostle Paul… that salvation is by grace and no works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4). That being said, after someone is redeemed by God’s grace, that person’s character will certainly show fruits of repentance and a thankful love for the Lord Jesus. A believer desires to become like Jesus. Also, if salvation comes by grace and no works, then it is kept by grace and no works (Galatians 3:3). Yet, unfrustrated grace leads to true holiness and a correct definition of the world / worldly. One’s view on eternal security affects both one’s sanctification and reveals whether one truly understands the Good News. For lasting transformational growth, “heart focused” discipleship must happen alongside discipleship of the mind. Both can only happen when the hands do as the mind has been instructed, while the “heart” is engaged relationally. In short, practice empathy and mercy.
Regarding spiritual gifts in sanctification, Sam Kean does reject “cessation” of sign/spiritual gifts. But, he also strongly condemns the abuse of “spiritual gifts” and “spiritual warfare” by charismatic movements, e.g. the NAR & conservative/fundamentalist charismatic evangelicals. Signs and wonders are performed “as God wills,” particularly in situations and communities, which require a supernatural confirmation of a spoken testimonial to Jesus, and especially when other spiritual powers are at play or when the New Testament scriptures and/or believers are oppressed, inaccessible or restricted. The anointing of the Spirit will be evident for the benefit of “the least of these,” as seen with Jesus, …not for riches, pleasures, power or spiritual pride:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that, the time of the LORD’s favor has come. —Jesus quotes Isaiah’s prophecy, (Luke 4:18-19 NLT)
The Spirit has not yet been removed from the earth, and the Bible describes ways and rules to function in (as well as verify) the exercise of spiritual gifts, which are bestowed, directed and empowered by the Person of the Spirit (see Romans 12, 1 Cor. 12-14, Eph. 4 & Whatever Happened to Gifts of Language Prophecy and Healing by CT, Spiritual Gifts by CMAlliance.org, Exploring Spiritual Gifts by Brethren.org, Strange Fire: A Calvary Chapel Response and Spiritual Gifts Chart via Precept Austin).
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