Is the "Third Way" a term you have heard in your church meetings, or perhaps from the pulpit? If so, let me give you a synonym as a way to understand what it really means. THIRD WAY = COMPROMISE. I hope that helps. When we apply the Third Way concept to the modern church, we must keep in mind that there is no compromise when it comes to God's Word as timeless, eternal, breathed out truth.
And yet this Third Way is now being used as the frosting on a cake many Post-Modern pastors and elders would like to spread on that cake they want to eat and have too.
It's not a new idea, but it has always meant the same thing:
The Third Way origins
Generally, Third Way is any ideology that claims that it lies in between two traditional camps that people who are uncomfortable with conflict believe are too extreme. It almost always is pushed by progressives and rejected by conservatives.
Americans first heard "third way" rumblings from progressives in the early 20th century, and again in the 1950s by German ordoliberal economists. But the name became main stream in the 90s via Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister (who now runs the global Tony Blair Faith Foundation , a concerning ecumenical formation he spoke of at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit). His ideology in 1994 helped spawn his New Labour Party which supposedly married two extremes of socialism and capitalism, to create a modernized form of social democracy. Blair said "My kind of socialism is a set of values based around notions of social justice."
The Third Way in the Post-Modern church
When Pastors Tim Keller and Rob Bell both endorsed a book from an emergent writer titled, Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, the few discerning folks at the time asked not "what's up with Rob Bell," but rather, "what's wrong with Tim Keller?" The 2009 "third way” book claimed to cut a middle path between two warring camps, trying to get "a couple of generals from either side to meet on the cover and shake hands for the cameras is a real diplomatic coup—a symbol that maybe, finally, managed to broker a settlement that will issue in a lasting peace."
Problem was, the two "generals" on the one side were sons of the devil. Heretics, who deny and continue to deny Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sins:
In the book’s introduction, (author) Belcher recounts a meeting between Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and John Piper. The meeting ended badly, with Piper telling Pagitt, “You should never preach,” because Pagitt rejected what Belcher strangely calls “Piper’s view of atonement,” which I have to assume is penal substitutionary atonement. As Piper summed it up, because they rejected penal substitutionary atonement, Pagitt and Jones were “rejecting the gospel in toto.” (source)
This week, another Progressive Christian voice attempted to pit two "extreme" Christian sides in the gay marriage issue, once again using Tony Jones on the Left and Al Mohler on the conservative side.
Recently, Al Mohler blogged that when it comes to gay marriage THERE IS NO THIRD WAY.
His curmudgeonly Neo-Fundamentalist take is the right-wing mirror of Tony Jones’s position from the left. Tony, too, believes that there’s no third way. It’s a moment of agreement between the two poles that pretty much proves the accuracy of the fundamentalist label I’ve recently argued for.
Again, you can't put a Bible-preaching Christian against a heretic son of the devil and come up with a Third Way. Tony Jones does not qualify as a third leg of this Christian stool, as he disqualified himself by denying the atonement of Christ's blood on the cross for our sins. Notice too, that those who believe and teach the authority of Scripture as truth are now "extreme." And yet the Patheos blogger concludes:
The third way is to put the theological position in its place – by submitting it to love, inclusion, and equality...Ideally, third-way denominations and movements would officially make room for gay relationships and gay marriage, but encourage congregations to discern their own policies locally, and demand an atmosphere of mutual submission and understanding among their family of churches. Sure, there may be denomination-wide boundaries involved – say, the belief that the New Testament is clear on covenantal monogamy and chastity before marriage – but there would be a recognition that LGBT Christians are real Christians and real evangelicals, and no congregation has the right to deny that absolutely.They may not be able to perform weddings or theologically affirm the relationships, but they would practice inclusion and support civil rights.
The Third Way Propaganda
I submit to you another exhibit of how the Third Way is going to evolve your church. This particular video was made to sway Catholics. But if you think Catholics are more gullible than your Evangelical church, take a look at this Third Way video and tell me that pastors who once were thought to be solid won't cave when these stories pitting the evil fundies against the sweet victims on the other side pull on their heartstrings;
[vimeo 93079367 w=499 h=278]
Dipping a toe in: the Third Way strategy
What the Third Way really is involves a 5-year strategy plan straight out of the Matthew Vines Reformation Project playbook, designed to get your church to "have a conversation" about the Third Way, so that eventually the abhorrent idea of twisting God's Word to make gay marriages happen becomes more palatable.
And this strategy accomplishes something else: it gives a way for the cake-having-and-eating elders and pastors to retain their likeability; and keep many of the tithers glued to their pew seats, because after all, their church is all about love and tolerance, and who doesn't want to belong to that?
I don't. And I hope you don't either.
The "Third Way" is a lie from the pit of Hell.
There. Someone had to say it.