Sunday’s Message

Okay, let me say up front that this is a bit of an experiment & feels a bit strange. A 30 minute video of me talking is not something that I've ever stuck up on this site before. The video itself will explain why we are doing this, but I want to speak a bit to the format.

by bob

Jan 12, 2011

Okay, let me say up front that this is a bit of an experiment & feels a bit strange.  A 30 minute video of me talking is not something that I’ve ever stuck up on this site before.  The video itself will explain why we are doing this, but I want to speak a bit to the format.

We actually did two runs of this.  In the one we’ve used, the distance makes the sound not quite as good as i’d like, and the picture quality is a bit fuzzy at times.  In the one we didn’t use…the sound was great, the picture quality was excellent, but it was suggested that it looked like “a cable access show with me ranting into my webcam” (actually it was a Flip Camera ) (amazon affiliate link)

So, I’m not super happy with how this came out, but as I mention here, this was a message we wanted to make sure was available to everyone who is part of the Ithaca Vineyard.

What about Bob?


I grew up in Western New York and have started and led missional church planting efforts for a little over 30 years. As you might gather, I have opinions about the church, and I share some of them here.

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  1. Pepper

    The centered set salvation model certainly seems different than what most churches teach. Which scriptures can you provide to support it?

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. (and your patience as we were fixing our comment section.) In reading your response, it seems that you have misunderstood the point I’ve been making and are refuting a point that I haven’t made.

    In other words, I agree fully with what the verses you listed say. Being “centered set,” is in no way refuting orthodox Christianity.

    For example, we are in full agreement that the bible teaches that a person needs to be born again in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven. And at the same time we agree that either a person believes and is saved or does not believe and is not saved. I believe that we need to accept what Jesus has done through his life, death & resurrection for our salvation.

    When we talk about being centered set, we are talking, not about how God operates, but rather how a church functions. When talking about a bounded set, or a centered set, we are talking about how a church is structured or organized. These verses demonstrate that God clearly has “a line.” A bounded set says, “takes these steps and you have crossed that line.”

    Here is a way to look at it from a centered set point of view. When was the Apostle Peter born again? Was it when Jesus said “follow me,” and he did; was it when Peter confessed “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16) And Jesus replied “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17); was it on the beach after Jesus resurrection when he was asked 3 times whether or not he loved Jesus and replied he did; or was it perhaps at another point in time while Peter was spending time with Jesus?

    And from a Centered set point of view, I would ask which is more important? When this event took place, or the fact that it had taken place, and how Peter lived that out?

    I hope that helps.

  3. Anonymous

    Let me clarify one other thing about centered set/bounded set. I’m committed to being centered set (I guess you could say that “being centered set” is a bounded set that I’m in…:-) And while I love having dialogue here on the blog…and want that to grow, I won’t be able to devote a lot of time or effort to debating these types of issues. For those who see a bounded set model as a more correct way of doing church, I’m simply not the guy who is going to win that debate (I will be able to point you to people a whole lot smarter than me on the issue.)

    So again, I think in the big picture from what you wrote in your previous posts we are in agreement. I’m content to leave it there rather that getting into some of the minutia of the issues so that we can focus on that.

  4. Liz

    Been following the thread, and thankful for it encouraging me to think more deeply about the subject. I have a few thoughts to add–hope it helps.

    People do cross from non-believer to believer, but from the point of view of the church and church discipline, we can’t be certain of when that is (we certainly all know plenty of cases where people have “said the prayer” and it doesn’t seem to have happened). We do look for outward signs, such as baptism and behavior changes, but we can’t rely on them to know when someone has crossed over. It will only become perfectly clear at the last day when God judges everyone. So what we look for is forward movement toward God, and we continue to encourage people to follow Jesus, to seek God. This encouragement is worthwhile and good and what Jesus commends, no matter whether the person actually is a believer or non-believer, or whether they consider themselves a believer or non-believer (and we’ve all known people who thought they were “Christians” only to realize later that they had missed the mark and were really not truly following God at all). Sometimes the line between not believing and believing is a crystal clear event; sometimes it’s more of a process, like going from being an amateur level violinist to a professional violinist. At some point you can be sure you’re a professional since someone is paying you; it’s not certain when that level of skill was reached, but it definitely has happened.

    That may not be a great analogy, since it involves a learnable skill, but it also involves choice–choosing a lifestyle, choosing values, choosing behaviors like practicing, and that is similar–it doesn’t happen by accident. Nobody considered you a “real” violinist when you started, but if you hadn’t chosen playing violin in the very same way the professionals do (practice every day, go to lessons, participate in orchestras and ensembles) and kept at it, you never would have gotten to be a professional.

    Many people pray, read the Bible, worship, are kind and generous, etc. long before they become “Christian;” they’re trying to figure out if they believe this, if God is real, if they follow Him is he faithful to what He says, and as they see He is, their faith is built up and they realize they can trust Him, and they make a commitment, whether it’s an “Aha!” moment or whether at some point it dawns on them they’ve crossed from being a skeptic to a believer. We encourage them at every step along the way, and encourage them to continue to pray, read, act in love, etc. as they grow in Him. Of course, for some it’s obvious that it’s a night and day difference right away, but not for all.

    Maybe a better analogy is adulthood–people become adults legally at 18 in most ways (although they can marry earlier, become “emancipated” earlier, but in contrast don’t legally drink in public until 21) , and they have the responsibilities of adults. However, many people don’t truly become emotionally and physically mature adults until well after this time (I used to live in a college student neighborhood, and can tell you there’s a broad range of maturities there.) Some people make a conscious decision that it’s time to “grow up,” for some it happens more naturally–it’s normal for them, and for some it never seems to happen. The fact of having crossed a statutory line doesn’t make them an adult in the most important ways.


What do you think?