Friday, August 24, 2007

...the biblical answer to the "PC" State of EMERGENT evangelicalism

Truth, by definition is exclusive
It is absolute. It seeks not to negotiate the veracity of its substance by committee or by vote. It is eternal. It is inflexible. It is not opinion. It is not subjective, but objective. The truth of God's Word does not first ask the question: "will you embrace me?" But rather issues the command, "obey me."

Christianity today is being feminized (that is not the language of misogyny - so please relax); but softened as to its truth claims and assertions. Os Guinness is spot on in his analysis when saying: “This… sea change is a particularly important precedent because it was not so much from Calvinism to Arminianism as from theology to experience, from truth to technique, from elites to populism, and from an emphasis on ‘serving God’, to an emphasis on ‘serving the self’ in serving God.”

I know that there are some well-meaning and well-respected pastors that are calling today for a "humble orthodoxy". Though I understand and affirm their definition of this phrase, I think it may also need further clarifying to give it the context, and thus the impact, that it richly deserves.

Postmodernism, at its core, wants to minimize all claims to objective truth and keep it modest, unauthoritative... "humble" if you please. And left unfettered, that kind of application and reasoning can breed what Packer sought to warn us about in past years when saying:

“The outside observer sees us as staggering from gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog, not knowing at all where we are or which way we should be going. Preaching [and singing] is hazy; heads are muddled; hearts fret; doubts drain strength; uncertainty paralyses action…. Unlike the first Christians who in three centuries won the Roman world, and those later Christians who pioneered the Reformation, and the Puritan awakening and the Evangelical revival, and the great missionary movement of the last century, we lack certainty.”
Today, the object of faith is no longer Christ, but self-esteem; the goal of faith is no longer holiness, but happiness; the source of faith is no longer the Scriptures, but experience; and the result of faith is no longer the glory of God, but having a conversation.

Spurgeon addressed this issue in his time:
“A new religion has been initiated, which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as the old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for gospel preaching.”
And Dr. Al Mohler prodoundly speaks to this concern when saying:
“An aversion to doctrinal Christianity has been growing for several decades, along with an increasing intolerance for doctrinal and confessional accountability. Evangelicals have embraced the technologies of modernity, often without recognizing that these technologies have claimed the role of master rather that servant.”
Sadly, that is currently our autobiography.

What is needed in today's religious climate and culture is a bold orthodoxy.
Or IOW, orthodoxy proclaimed boldly. The Emergent Church is proud of their "humble" orthodoxy. Truth to them is liquid, fluid, changing, evolving, and must remain adaptable to the times. By comparison, they without embarrassment mock the Scriptures as being God's infallible, inerrant Word; they wrest the gospel of its exclusiveness; they misrepresent the character of the One Triune God; they reduce the ministry of Jesus to Him being a social engineer or a compassionate advocate for the rights of the oppressed; they deny the existence of hell, penal substitutionary atonement, justification by faith alone, and that church shouldn't primarily be about the glory of God, but about man and his needs.

As you can see beloved, what we need today is an uncompromising, unapologetic, undiluted, BOLD orthodoxy.

BUT, that bold orthodoxy should be proclaimed by humble servants of the Lord.
Not soft, feminized men... but bold men clothed in humility. And there is a difference. It's odd to me that those that champion as a primary concern "the language of civility" in discussions about faith, are usually not the ones on the front lines defending the faith (Jude 3) Many in the EC think that Paul was too abrasive; Jude to negative; Matthew 23 too judgmental; 2 Peter 2 too offensive; the prophets out dated; and the Law, wrath of God, taking up ones cross, forsaking self, and sin in the proclamation of the gospel Jesus Christ too restrictive. They try to elevate tone over truth; demeanor over doctrine; and being "nice" over being biblical. "Can't we all get along" AND "isn't it unloving as Christians to let the world see us disagree about theology" is their mantra.

To be certain, we are to "speak the truth in love..."; but speak the truth we must. Love should be the motive behind the proclamation of truth and it certainly shouldn't mean being tolerant, nice for nice sake, or soft.

Biblically, love is not an emotion and is not conditioned upon a response. Love is sacrificial, unreciprocated, undeserved, unfailing, and unmerited. One of the most loving things a Christian can do is to proclaim the truth of Scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of the error of postmodernity (Titus 1:9). And conversely, it would be very unloving to go on Larry King and purposely dumb-down the gospel or the truth of the Word of God for the sake of being accepted by the audience and embraced by the media.

True love doesn't soften biblical Christianity for the sake of keeping peace; and it doesn't water-down its truth claims to fit in with the postmodern times. In all honesty, The Emergent Church has missed the mark by a country mile. The world, beloved, isn't asking for the church to "relate" to them; BUT, they ARE asking for genuine, tough, honest answers--to their very real and difficult questions; and to see the gospel applied to every area of life in which they function. We live in profoundly dangerous and evil times; and this is not a season for weak, cowardice men absent of strong biblical convictions to try and lead.

It is, however, a time for men of God to stand for the truth with boldness and courage, yet always marked by the humility of the love of Christ for His people, His Word, His gospel, and those without Jesus.

What typifies and represents much of the current state of evangelicalism today, and in specific The Emergent Church, are four key "politically correct pomo" views:

1. Ambiguousness about the nature of saving-faith - justification (Rom. 3:21-26)

2. Awkwardness about the depraved nature of man as sinner and the doctrine of sin (Rom. 3:10-18)

3. Ashamed of the exclusivity of the nature, person and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:1-11)

4. Arrogance against the authority, sufficiency, and veracity of God's Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

The cross of Christ still remains the greatest and most profound example of a BOLD orthodoxy. "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:14).

Arguably, the two most robust and popular theological tracks being discussed today across the board are reformed theology AND The Emergent Church. The former wants to proclaim the biblical gospel and truth of God's Word to the culture; the later wants to reinvent the faith by making culture the interpreter of Scripture.

Throw into this quadrate the "leaven" of the prosperity gospel; patriotism being equated with biblical Christianity; post-modern ecclesiology; pragmatism, a therapeutic form of sanctification, ecumenism, and the self-esteem/human potentiality movement and you have the disastrous recipe for a "PC" version of Christianity. This is a faith which is pleasing to man, but an offense to God. It is not representative of biblical Christianity anymore than The Message is representative of a real bible. Ultimately, it tragically leads to apostasy (Galatians 1:6-9).

We need reformation again in the church in America beloved. God will have to sovereignly work among His people to accomplish this great task for no man may conjure this of his own volition, unction, or desire. May we pray for the Lord to open the heavens and bring the church back to honoring Him again and His Word. And let us pray also for the many evangelical leaders that carry the weight of high visibility in the world that they would remain true to the gospel, true to God's Word, and true to the person and character of Christ.

May I suggest reading here and here for further insight and clarification on this important issue.

By His grace and for His glory,
(2 Tim. 1:6-18)

"The Message" artwork provided Carla Rolfe


gigantor1231 said...


There is no virtue in stating that you might be wrong when you know the truth, simply put it is lunacy and pure sin and false humility.
His word is truth and we need to stand, and once we have done all to stand then continue standing! While all the time in humility, being prepared to hear and learn from His word. We need the truth, we need to know it, it is our life. If we abandon it for 'well maybe' or 'I might be wrong' then we are already dead. Let the word of God be that which directs us and that which corrects us, and let us test every spirit.
Great and timely post Mr. Camp, my heart aches for the 1500-2000 men that will hear the post modern tripe from Donald Miller at this years men's roundup in Oregon. Oh but for the pure un adulterated word of God alone to quench the parched soul, but all that will be offered is post modern, emergent Koolaid.

Thad said...

Thank you for this post. So much of what you said resonates with me.

After reading it I wanted to ask you (and by that I mean sincerely ask, not opine—although I will explain) is there any sense in which the term “humble orthodoxy” can be used positively?

What I mean is this. I think GK Chesterton said something to effect that to be humble used to mean that though I am confident of truth, I am not confident in myself, whereas now humility means that there is no way to know truth (to claim to is to be arrogant).

Do you think there is a way to use the term “humble orthodoxy” positively, in an effort to reclaim the positive side of Chesterton’s statement. That we should affirm an unbending, inflexible truth, but without arrogance and pride—that the offense should be in the gospel, not in us. I know that some who are doctrinally sound are trying to use the term in that way. Do you think that's ok? Or are you saying that these very pastors who are indeed orthodox may be in danger of falling into emergent thought (or inadvertently leading others there) through the use of this term?

I hope that made sense. Thank you again for being so Christ-centered and for making me think.

SJ Camp said...

"There is no virtue in stating that you might be wrong when you know the truth, simply put it is lunacy and pure sin and false humility."

Help me out here: where did I say this?

Thanks as always for your comments.

donsands said...

It begins in the pulpits, and goes out to the world through the congregations.

Nice post Campi. Keep preaching & teaching, it's one of your gifts from our sovereign Lord.

All for the Cross!

gigantor1231 said...


Sorry, my bad! I was simply presenting a common characteristic that I find among those that are emergent or post modern, none of what I stated was meant to be directed towards you. I will make myself more clear in my future posts.
I fully appreciate all that you bring to light in your blogs Mr. Camp. Although I do not consider myself a calvinist, I would have to say that what you present here and the manner in wich you present it gives me much inspiration and joy in being able to read and participate in the discussions. Thanks

John D. Chitty said...

I personally believe that the utter dependence so much of the church has on organized, elementary-age graded Sunday School in the church became an earlier form of the feminization of Christianity. As a Sunday School teacher, I believe the institution is beneficial as a tool for outreach to the children of unchurched families, but the degree to which the parents of the church have relegated the Sunday School to serve as the primary catechetical diet of their children has had a feminizing effect on church by virtue of the fact that women are most commonly attracted to work with and teach other people's children. That's why most churches decry the lack of "male leadership" in Sunday School.

What we've done is gotten away from the state in which the primary catechesis (teaching) of the children of the church is in the home, where families may engage in family worship, learning what Scripture teaches about God in Christ and what duty God requires of us from both of their parents. This provides the balance that is so sadly lacking in organized Sunday School.

I don't advocate throwing out the baby with the bath water, I think we should keep Sunday School as primarily outreach and work hard to promote and reinstate family worship among the families of the church, utilizing the time-tested Reformed catechisms along with our Bible-reading, as explained by the parents on whatever level they may happen to be, prayer and singing the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs of faith together as a family. In this way, orthodox Christians would undo the feminization characteristic of their own churches.

The "emerging" feminization, however, comes from the adoption of liberalism by former evangelicals. For them, it's simply hip to be left, and that ain't right!

jazzycat said...

your are absolutely correct on all counts. I have had some interaction with E. Church blogs. They are basically political liberals first. They present Jesus as a social activist and force Scripture to fit their post-modern world view.

It is really scary to see left-wing radicals attempting to cover themselves as "followers in the way of Jesus."

I believe the internet will be the main battlefield for the truth in the near term and I apprciate your efforts.

Whittier Heretic said...

On the right track for sure! May I suggest Stratiotology to be added to the list of what is needed in today's church?

Stratiotology cures Malakosis. said...


interesting post. I was wondering if you are really that opposed to The Message paraphrase?

I've always understood Eugene Peterson's sentiment behind it as being a paraphrase and in no way does he intend it to be a substitute for holy scripture.

He states this in the introduction.

thoughts or opinions?

gigantor1231 said...

I think the question of the day for all of us should be, are we willing to die for this thing called truth? Is it really that important?
I would hope that we would all 'willingly' lay down our lives for truth, because in so doing we are laying our lives down for Christ who, although God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped Phil. 2:6, He was obedient to the point of death, He laid down his life freely. And let us do the same for Him.
The emergent church movement, from all points that I have seen, have cheapened the truth! They have made it of least importance and place unity above it, but how can there be unity without truth? It can not be.

SJ Camp said...

Great to hear from you and have you post here.

The issue with The Message goes to the integrity of the text.

One quick example: James 4:7-8a says, "Submit yourself to God; resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you..." (ESV)

The Message states it this way:
"So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. 8 Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time..."

Peterson's "paraphrase" no where comes close to representing the text accurately. Submit means to live under the authority of God's Word; to obey Him in all things.

Resist the Devil doesn't mean to shout no to him. It means to stand in the truth of the Lord against him (cp Eph. 6:10). It's not a vocal shouting match, but again the idea of active obedience to God; and the life lived tempered with the steel of righteousness is sufficient to resist the enemy and he will flee.

And then to draw near to God isn't "saying a quiet yes to Him..." Once again, this goes to the intimacy that the gospel brings us in relationship with Him. In context, it is referring to the repentance of sin.

Do you realize that not onetime in all of the gospels, Paul's or Peter's epistles or the book of Acts does The Message use the word repent? THAT should concern us all.

Listen, Peterson's bible is not the Bible. It's his own stream of conscienceness put to paper. The Living Bible is more accurate than what Peterson has written.

It is a concern.

BUT, The Message is the perfect postmodern bible for our times. It is the Emergent philosophy and theology wrapped in the image of Scripture.

Hope this helps a bit...

Good to have you post here my brother. I appreciate you greatly.


Alexander M. Jordan said...

Hi Steve:

As always, a very bold, challenging post. This sounds much like some of the things I have been discussing over at my blog (Jordan's View)-- about the need for bold proclamation of truth and the fact that truth is objective and revealed in the Word of God.

You mention those who "champion as a primary concern 'the language of civility' in discussions about faith." This was exactly the theme of a recent editorial, Attack Dogs of Christianity by David Aikman in the August 2007 issue of Christianity Today (just recently posted on-line--wonder if you read it?). In the article, Mr. Aikman calls upon Christians to be civil, especially when critiquing other Christians. He singles out certain websites as examples of those he thinks are giving Christians a bad reputation by their provocative, uncivil methods.

Although I do think Christians ought to be respectful and gracious as we defend truth, we must indeed defend truth! This requires backbone and a willingness to take a real stand on the truth by stating unapologetically what the the Bible proclaims (as you are stating here).

Several blogs, including my own, wrote articles responding to the article by Aikman. Mine was titled
The Age of Tolerance Calls for Bold Proclamation of Truth.

May God's blessings and grace be with you as you continue to boldly proclaim the Word of Truth,


Alexander M. Jordan said...

Correction to my last comment: the Aikman article was titled "Attack Dogs of Christendom" not "Attack Dogs of Christianity".

gigantor1231 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gigantor1231 said...


In response to Mr. Aikman's article I have left this response, it would be interesting to hear his reply;
If one chooses to spar with swords how can this be done gently? Let the wounds that we inflict and those that we receive be for our training that we might be able to rightly handle the word of God! 2 Tim 2:15.
And while it is true that we should not quarrel about words, those that would teach and converse of the precious word of God should understand that when they present the word it should be honest and true, because when it is maligned and wrongly presented then a quarrel will arise. Therefore, if Heb. 4:12 is true then we know that though gently we tread into battle and skillfully we yield our swords, when we strike blood will be drawn, it is inevitable, then we must go to the great physician.
The truth is not to be trifled with, for it comes at great cost! Wield your sword with skill, lest that wich you sow with it brings forth death where there should be life!

Charley said...

John MacArthur writes in his newest book, "The Truth War", " of the highest values (if not the supreme virtue by which all others are measured) is a particular notion of 'humility'--namely, the standard postmodern species of humility, which starts with the assumption that certainty, assurance, and bold conviction are arrogant and therefore wrong." He also points out that the humility being called for here " actually a form of unbelief, rooted in an impudent refusal to acknowledge that God has been sufficiently clear in His self-revelation to His creatures."

I can't tell you the number of times I have been accused of being "arrogant" based upon stating unequivocally what I believe to be a fact based on Scripture or Scriptural principles. And these accusations sometimes come from people I know...people who are members of solid, orthodox, Bible-teaching churches! Rather than bring Scripture to bear in a debate, they engage in the postmodern style of argument that seeks to stifle debate with the personal charge of "ARROGANT!"...and therefore "wrong." This style of argument shows how slippery these postmodern ideas are and how they have unknowingly slimed under the door of the church in into the minds of otherwise sound Christians....

I know in this post you are dealing specifically with the truth as related to salvation, but this same problem exists in any proclamation of Biblical truth in today's world. I recently wrote a post about that very problem as it exists in our public schools. Anyone interested can find it HERE. (How's that for humble?!)

Blessings to you for your consistent stands for orthodoxy!

Get Serious Blog
HomeDiscipling Dad Blog

Chris Hemmelman said...

"I know that there are some well-meaning and well-respected pastors that are calling for a "humble orthodoxy" -- but may I humbly say, they are wrong. That kind of reasoning is really postmodern at its core."

I am with you 100% when it comes to your critique of the Emmergent movement. However, to suggest that those promoting "humble orthodoxy" (those over at New Attitude) as being in any way a part of this movement is a HUGE stretch!

Justin Taylor? Josh Harris? You think these guys are embracing postmodernity?