Monday, July 24, 2006

The Emerging Church (pt 3) Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-Teacher

How those professing to be believers understand the message of the gospel will determine how they view their mission in this life. Since the emergent church sees the gospel not merely as the redemption of lost souls but also as the restoration of the planet and salvation from man’s inhumanity to man, they comprehend their task as Christians differently from that of most evangelicals. They call it “missional”.

Emergent Mission: Missional
Missional is a term that seems to be drawn from the writings of missiologist Lesslie Newbigin who pops up all over emergent literature. It is difficult to pin down a good definition of missional, but it seems to mean that as Christians we exist to serve. We serve by loving and living in such a way that we bless those around us. But more than that, we are to be engaged in changing and even creating culture as we bring the kingdom of God to earth. Rather than calling people out of this world system and into “the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13), we are to bring the kingdom to them. It would appear that the goal of the missional Christian is to transform the “domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) into the kingdom of God. McLaren tells us that his missional calling is summed up in these words, “Blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.” He adds, “My mission isn’t to figure out who is already blessed, or not blessed, or unblessable. My calling is to be blessed so I can bless everyone.” Further,

From this understanding we place less emphasis on whose lineage, rites, doctrines, structures, and terminology are right and more emphasis on whose actions, service, outreach, kindness, and effectiveness are good…. [In order] to help our world get back on the road to being truly and wholly good again, the way God created it to be…. We’re here on a mission to join God in bringing blessing to our needy world. We hope to bring God’s blessing to you, whoever you are and whatever you believe, and if you’d like to join us in this mission and the faith that creates and nourishes it, you’re welcome.
We get a better understanding of where McLaren is headed when he writes, “I hope that both they (people everywhere) and I will become better people, transformed by God’s Spirit, more pleasing to God, more of a blessing to the world, so that God’s kingdom… comes on earth as in heaven.” And what kind of people will populate this kingdom? Apparently people from all faith and religions.
Although I don’t hope all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel so called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus; I believe they should be given that opportunity and invitation. I don’t hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus.
It doesn’t take long to realize that the kingdom of the emergent community is not the kingdom of God, nor the church, as described in Scripture – unless the missional mandate is to fill the kingdom with tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). But once this unbiblical view of God’s kingdom is accepted, what is our mission—that is, how do we live missionally?

Rob Bell writes, “For Jesus, the question wasn’t how do I get into Heaven? but how do I bring heaven here?... The goal isn’t escaping this world but making this world the kind of place God can come to. And God is remaking us into the kind of people who can do this kind of work.” Dan Kimball adds, “Our faith also includes kingdom living, part of which is the responsibility to fight locally and globally for social justice on behalf of the poor and needy. Our example is Jesus, who spent His time among the lepers, the poor and the needy.”

These quotes give good examples of half truths twisted into distorted vision. Did Jesus show compassion and minister to the poor? Certainly, but did Jesus, or the apostles after Him, fight for social justice on behalf of the poor and needy? Not at all. While Jesus, through the transformation of lives, began a process that would revolutionize much of the world in regard to injustice, He never made these things a central platform of His ministry nor that of the church. Jesus said virtually nothing about the environment, political tyranny, eradication of poverty and illiteracy, elimination of deadly disease or other social ills. This does not mean that these things are not important, but they are obviously not the heart of His ministry which was to save us from our sins and enable us “to become the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus could have started a social revolution without going to the cross, but without the cross we could not be redeemed from sin. Our mission is to call people “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

But the missional agenda is different. Here we are to bless people, for that is why God has chosen us – to be a blessing to others. What does it mean to be a blessing? Apparently it does not mean coming to saving faith in Christ, because Bell tells us that “God blesses everybody. People who don’t believe in God. People who are opposed to God. People who do violent, evil things. God’s intention is to bless everybody.” And how does this blessing happen? It happens as the church gives up its efforts to convert people to Christ and simply serves them: “The most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display.” In this way (Bell tells us) the “gospel is good news, especially for those who don’t believe it…. [As a matter of fact] if the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.”

But is the gospel good news for everybody? It may very well be a blessing to have Christian people treat you with the love of Christ, but Jesus and the Scriptures could not be more clear that those who do not know Christ are under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18ff), will perish (2 Thessalonians 2:9), are eternally doomed (Luke 12:46-48) and will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15) – hardly good news to those who reject Him.

Emergent Scripture
Many of the unusual positions held by the emergent leaders stem directly from their theology of the Scriptures as well as their hermeneutical approach. First, insiders of the emerging church “conversation” are fond of expressing their excitement and fidelity to the Word of God, even as they undermine it. McLaren says, “I want to affirm that my regard for Scripture is higher than ever.” Bell tells us that for over ten years he has oriented his life around studying, reading, and trying to understand the Bible. One would have to wonder why Bell devotes so much time to the understanding of the Bible since he apparently agrees with his wife who stated in a joint interview that she has “no idea what most of it means. And yet life is big again.”

In order to press home their views, the emergent leaders must perform some interesting gymnastics with the Scriptures. How can someone express high regard for Scripture yet come up with such fanciful interpretations? First, they question inspiration. Wondering out loud about Paul’s epistles, Bell writes, “A man named Paul is writing this, so is it his word or God’s Word?’ McLaren pulls out the old Jesus versus Paul card, “We retained Jesus as Savior but promoted the apostle Paul (or someone else) to Lord and Teacher…. And/or decided that Jesus’ life and teachings were completely interpreted by Paul.” Bell, in complete ignorance of history and the doctrine of biblical preservation, informs his readers that the canon came about as a result of a vote of the church fathers: “In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is.”

Anyone still clinging tenaciously to the Word, after inspiration is denied, will further loosen his grip when he discovers that the Scriptures are not inerrant, infallible nor authoritative. McLaren said these are words related to a philosophical belief system that he used to hold. But he no longer believes the “Bible is absolutely equivalent to the phrase ‘the Word of God’ as used in the Bible. Although I do find the term inerrancy useful… I would prefer to use the term inherency to describe my view of Scripture.” By the use of inherency he is dusting off the neo-orthodox view of the Scriptures, which taught that the Bible contains the “word of God” but is not the completed Word of God, for God’s Word can be found in anything He “inspires.”

If you have any confidence left in Scripture at this point, McLaren and his friends can take care of that by telling you that you have been misreading the Bible all along. “There is more than one way to ‘kill’ the Bible,” he says. “You can dissect it, analyze it, abstract it. You can read its ragged stories and ragamuffin poetry, and from them you can derive neat abstractions, sterile propositions, and sharp-edged principles.” To the emergent people the Bible was never intended to be studied and analyzed; it was meant to be embraced as art, to be read as a story. The proof is that it is written as narrative and poetry and story. Granted much of it is in this genre but, as D. A. Carson points out, much of it is also “law, lament, instruction, wisdom, ethical injunction, warning, apocalyptic imagery, letters, promises, reports, propositions, ritual, and more. The easy appeal to the overarching narrative proves immensely distortive.” Regarding Scripture, Carson leaves us with a powerful warning: “At some juncture churches have to decide whether they will, by God’s grace, try to live in submission to Scripture, or try to domesticate Scripture.”

Emergent Hermeneutics
With such an understanding of the Scriptures how can the emerging church claim to be in any sense devoted to the Bible? By developing new hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation involving rules and principles that enable us to interpret anything we read, from the newspaper to the Bible, although the word is used almost exclusively in reference to Scripture. The hermeneutic used by most of us all of the time in extrabiblical literature could be called “normal” or “literal.” That is, we believe that words make sense, can be understood and can communicate a message that the author wants to convey. When we read tax laws, as confusing as they might be, we approach them though normal hermeneutics believing that we can and must understand what they say. When we turn to the sports page of a newspaper and read that such-and-such team just won the championship, we naturally believe that a fact has been communicated (the team won) and that we can understand what the author of the article has said, all because we use normal hermeneutics.

But when it comes to Scripture, many are not content to use normal hermeneutics (called grammatical-historical by theologians). Rather many approaches to interpretation have been invented. We have allegorical and devotional hermeneutics which add supposed hidden meanings to words and texts, liberal hermeneutics which deny the supernatural and anything that is not politically correct at the moment, and neo-orthodox hermeneutics which say that anything that “inspires” us is the word of God to us.

More recently new hermeneutical approaches have been invented, each attempting, in my opinion, to circumvent the clear teaching of the Word. At least three new hermeneutics are making the rounds in emergent circles:
1) Postmodern hermeneutics (or hermeneutics of suspicion): Since postmodernism is laced with deconstructionism, and since the emergent church is the postmodern church, it is only natural that a postmodern hermeneutic of Scripture would be developed and employed in this movement. McLaren explains it well, “The Bible requires human interpretation, which was [is] a problem…. How do “I” know the Bible is always right? And if “I” am sophisticated enough to realize that I know nothing of the Bible without my own involvement via interpretation….What good is it, liberals would ask conservatives, to have an inerrant Bible if you have no inerrant interpretations?…”

I trust these abbreviated quotes express the postmodern approach to Scripture. Even if they feign belief in an inspired, inerrant Bible, it is of little consequence because we lack inerrant interpreters. In the emerging church’s view, the Bible may very well be communication of truth from God to man, but since we are incapable of interpreting the Scriptures “truthfully” it matters little.

Of course, employing postmodern hermeneutics renders the Scriptures impotent, and causes us to ask why God bothered at all trying to communicate with mankind? And what did God mean in Psalm 19 when he tells us of the benefits and power of the Word? And why did Paul tell Timothy to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) if there is nothing in the Word that can be taught with confidence? While we will agree that infallible and inerrant interpreters are nonexistent, it does not follow that the Bible cannot be understood, rather the vast majority of the Scriptures are clear and comprehensible.

2) Rhetorical hermeneutics: McLaren defines this as, "An approach to Scripture that among other things tells us that we normally pay too much attention to what the writers are saying and not enough to what they are doing. Rhetorical interpretation would ask, “What is Jesus trying to do by using the language of hell?…”"

In other words, since we can’t understand words, by postmodern necessity we are free to ignore words and try to interpret actions. This is hardly a step in the right direction as anyone who tries to interpret body language could testify.

3) Redemptive Hermeneutics: This is a methodology invented by Dallas Theological Seminary graduate William Webb and endorsed by Dallas professors such as Darrell L. Bock and Stephen R. Spencer, originally in order to provide some kind of justification of the egalitarian movement. Unlike many egalitarians, Webb concedes that, if the Bible is read using normal hermeneutics, men and women are given different roles and functions in the home and in the church. Webb’s solution is to move beyond the written words to the spirit of the words which will allow accommodation for the views and attitudes of our age. “While Scripture had a positive influence in its time, we should take that redemptive spirit and move to an even better, more fully-realized ethic today." Why is this important? Because “Christians have to reevaluate their beliefs due to changing attitudes toward women and toward homosexuals.”

McLaren uses this hermeneutic to teach that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead us to new truth beyond the written word. “I can’t see church history in any other way, except this: semper reformanda, continually being lead and taught and guided by the Spirit into new truth.” Bell uses the same hermeneutic to make this comment on Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, “[Jesus] is giving his followers the authority to make new interpretations of the Bible” (emphasis his). These new interpretations lead to a new church, “It is our turn to step up and take responsibility for who the church is going to be for a new generation. It is our turn to redefine and reshape and dream it all up again.” But they are wrong. It is not up to us to redefine, reshape and dream up the church again; God has already settled this matter.
What these new hermeneutics have in common is the deliberate movement away from the words and message of Scripture to a new message beyond the pages of the Word. In the process, the Bible becomes nothing more than a shell or perhaps a museum piece to be admired but ignored. Scripture as handed down by God has been replaced with the imaginations of man in order to fit better with our culture. But if we have no authoritative word from God, with what is the church left? Nothing but mystery and mysticism.

The emerging church is not excited about truth (as a matter of fact staying true to their postmodern roots, they reject and are suspicious of truth claims) but they are enamored with mystery. Donald Miller writes his book Blue Like Jazz to develop this very theme. He summarizes his thoughts,
At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.
When Rob Bell is faced with giving answers to the pertinent issues of life such as heaven, hell, suicide, the devil and God or love and rape, he has no answers – just hugs. “Most of my responses were about how we need others to carry our burdens and how our real needs in life are not for more information but for loving community with other people on the journey.” But the classic answer belongs to McLaren, who virtually closes his book A Generous Orthodoxy with this statement:
Consider for a minute what it would mean to get the glory of God finally and fully right in your thinking or to get a fully formed opinion of God’s goodness or holiness. Then I think you’ll feel the irony: all these years of pursuing orthodoxy ended up like this – in front of all this glory understanding nothing” (emphasis his).
There we have it. Ultimately, we know nothing. Even though Jesus was clear that we worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), in the emergent church there is no truth, no theology, no understanding of God. However, this does not stop them from embracing the presence of God or so we are told. How does such a “faith” survive? On the basis of mysticism.

Peter Rollins, emergent leader with Ikon in Northern Ireland, says, “We at Ikon are developing a theology which derives from the mystics, a theology without theology to complement our religion without religion.” Emergent leaders can say such things because of their overbearing emphasis on experience. Kimble has it backwards when he asserts, “The old paradigm taught that if you had the right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching.” Carson is correct, “For almost everyone within the movement, this works out in an emphasis on feeling and affections over against linear thought and rationality, on experience over against truth.” The emerging church is a movement in search of an experience, not the truth. They seem to have little realization that an experience based on anything but truth is a mirage. The Scriptures never deny the proper place of experience, but our Lord says, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). The emergent church is a movement that is in bondage to its own imagination, not one held captive to the truth of God.


Carla said...

Thank you for posting this Steve. I hope it serves to benefit those with questions, and to equip more with answers.


andrew jones (tall skinny kiwi) said...

good series, steve. and i enjoyed hearing Gary on Ingrid's podcast.

just a little history on the word "missional"

It was coined in 1991 by missiologist Charles Van Engen and picked up later by the Gospel in Our Culture Network (GOCN) authors. The idea is related to "missio dei" from 1953 (Hartenstein) and the international mission conference held in Willingen, Germany (1952). The idea is that mission stems from the Triune God and we are participators with Him in what He is doing - this reformed type thinking has its history in the 30's (Barth) and before (Robert Speer, 1910).

Leslie Newbigin did not use "missional" and although he was present at Willingen 52, he did not focus on 'missio dei" until the 70's - and even then he held to a more christological focus on missio dei rather than a trinitarian view. But he did challenge the English church to think like missionaries in their own culture and this thinking permeates the current situation of USA and other post-christian nations.

andrew jones (tall skinny kiwi) said...

. . . i mean Lesslie, not leslie. sorry. . . .and ther is more on the origins of "missional" here

rick said...

Steve - I cannot/will not defend the EC "conversation" and I agree with the warnings Gilley offers but I do not think Gilley has done a good job here. I think he does not fairly represent the EC thinking and subsequently critiques what is not being said.

His comment on the McLaren quote regarding Buddhists becoming Christians is a good example. McLaren is simply stating that you can (perhaps should) remain in your culture even after coming to Christ. He clearly states "culturally". McLaren did not say maintain the Buddhist faith and follow Christ.

I'm frustrated by this kind of analysis because again, the warnings are clearly things we should guard against but I am distracted by Gilley's analysis.

I think we should make a lot more effort to properly represent what we are attacking.

Bhedr said...

You know regardless of how MacLaren states is still point blank wrong to remain in a Buddhist and a Muslim or whatever other false religion there is. This thought is what aggitates me and I believe is so dangerous in our day. The lines are being obscured period. We have to tow the line.

The Apostle Paul was stirred to Jealousy at Mars Hill and comanded all men everywhere to turn away from false ideas of God and repent. His message was clear and direct...there was no room or any hint of any doctrine stating that we must infiltrate and remain in order to reach. This is basically a furtherance of purpose of this mindset that New Evangelicalism flirted with years ago. This is the end result. Just like the blues having a baby and calling it Rock and Roll. New Evangelicalism has given birth to MacLarenism.

While there were some truths that New Evangelicalism understood in reaching the lost...they didn't tie in and hold fast to truth as they should have. Now it is so obscured that you can be in Kabballa as Maddonna was and claim to be exclusively a believer in Christ. See Ray Comforts book on what Hollywood believes. We know though that Jesus is not come in the flesh to that religion. Jesus is like a morphing Spirit that continues within the line of the Dali Lama. So essentially how do you really know if a Buddhist has repented of his sinful thoughts and ways and turned to the true Lord Jesus Christ?

Breuss Wane said...


I'm sure I'll be labeled "modern", but I fail to see how Buddhism or Islam has any cultural significance. Most reformed missiologists would reject McLaren's statement as nonsense at worst, and overcontextualization of the gospel at best.

IMHO, such a statement is tantamount to suggesting that a druglord can become a christian and remain a druglord simply because that's his "business" and his "culture".

Had McLaren been biblically faithful, his statement would have read "Arab" not "Islamic" Christian or "Thai" instead of "Buddhist" Christian. The NT authors clearly expected their audiences to give up their Judaism, but not their Jewish identity... which is why they had such trouble with the "Judaizers".

Bhedr said...

And I'm sure to be labeled "Moron":-) but even though I have a Bo Jo past doesn't mean I am a Judiazer. I have been labeled that as well. Quite frankly I don't know what I am at times, but I do know I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and that this mentality is infectious today. It is a growing Tsunami.

Good points Chad.

donsands said...

"what we are attacking"

I don't see an attack. I see contending. I see speaking the truth in love.
Brian McLaren is a fine man. He's a friend of a friend of mine. But he is lost. We need to pray for this man. His theology, if he even has one, is bad.
I believe he has gone out from amoung us, because he is not one of us. If he was one of us he would have continued with us. 1 John 2:19
If this was true for the Apostle, how much more true in our day it must be.

Another very good post. Thanks Steve.

Grosey's Messages said...

Good stuff Steve...

Bill Arnold said...

The point is that colonialist missionaries would have people from other cultures embrace the culture that is doing the mission work. This is not necessary nor is it helpful for the new Christian. From what little i know, it seems that lots of damage has probably been done in the name of "Christianizing" people.

Bill Arnold said...

And by that, hopefully you'll realize I mean "making them more like the culture the missionary is from."

Breuss Wane said...

I agree that we should not Americanize new Christians. McLaren is going far beyond that because he is working from a presupposition that Christianity itself (and all of its propositions) are Americanized.

While we shouldn't Americanize new Christians, it does not follow that one can be a believer and remain in their Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion, not a culture.

Luke Britt said...

While I disagree with B-Mac, Buddhism is not only a religion but also a culture. You do not have to remain adherent to the belief system, but it could be helpful to remain in the culture of those who believe in the system.

Also, it may be dangerous to limit the Emergent Village by using two guys, one of whom who doesn't group himself into the EV.
These two guys are not the pope and cardinal of the EC. It's too hard to define, boss.

joe said...


The end of the second McLaren quote:
It doesn’t take long to realize that the kingdom of the emergent community is not the kingdom of God, nor the church, as described in Scripture – unless the missional mandate is to fill the kingdom with tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). But once this unbiblical view of God’s kingdom is accepted, what is our mission—that is, how do we live missionally?

Isn't actually a quote from him, but you're analysis right? You may want to fix the way it reads in the article.

Bill Arnold said...

Why do you think that he's saying Christianity itself is Americanized? He's saying that many Americans' understanding of Christianity is Americanized.

Breuss Wane said...

If that's all McLaren were saying, I would agree with him. Unfortunately, he believes that an emphasis on propositional and absolute truth is both American and modern.

It is not all he is saying. Propositional and absolute truth is as old as revelation because revelation is inherently propositional and absolute. His idea of "American" or "Western" as he says in G.O., is "authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, literal" (p. 164).

He's dead wrong. Those aren't modern Western values. Those are biblical paradigms that have been exegeted from the text. The text is prescribing for us these "values". We didn't invent them. These aren't expressions of the culture. These are divine constructs that emanate from the text (even if implicitly).

Forensic justification, imputed righteousness, eternal reprobation, etc. are not cultural paradigms in a "timely document", as McLaren claims. They are timeless. And because God is absolute, the truths that flow from THE WORD are absolute.

Breuss Wane said...

Good catch Joe. Steve needs to reformat the page. hint, hint. :-)

Bill Arnold said...

Thanks for your response, Breuss. I don't agree that revelation is propositional because it has been given in narrative form throughout the Bible. A story about Moses can teach us principles, but it is not, in and of itself a set of propositions.

On another note, I'd like to direct readers to a post I wrote today: Colossians 3-4 for Bloggers

nick said...

I can’t speak for the EC in general, but I don’t most EC leaders are placing experience over against truth, or minimizing the reality that truth is the basis of everything, including our experience. I think what the EC is doing, that may somehow appear to be against truth, is seeking to get away from not loving and accepting people where they are at. Too many traditional churches (likely the kind that feel threatened by the EC) simply lack genuine love for people because they don’t agree completely with their doctrines. The EC wants to emphasize Jesus’ values, the fruits of the Spirit, because that’s what shows Jesus to the world, so that they may know the truth also, and be set free. Many churches in taking a stand for truth, forget that they are clanging gongs without love, and they can do great harm to people. There should be no doubt that the EC strongly opposes all forms of relativism in regards to truth, but at the same time they know that Jesus embodies all truth, goodness, and beauty. JESUS is the bond of our unity and the foundation of our faith, not theories of atonement or other issues. It is JESUS CHRIST who we trust, not his cross, not his teachings. I believe the EC is getting back to the basics of avidly following Jesus, being like Him, and putting on Christ in love in order to furthering His Kingdom.

However, I do think that EC leaders are sometimes not acknowledging the danger of postmodernism, particularly its affront on truth and reason.

Here are two components of the postmodern argument against truth taken from the article “Truth in the fire: C.S. Lewis and Pursuit of Truth Today” by Dallas Willard:

“(A). First, there is the widespread conviction now that human consciousness (representation, thought) simply must be interpreted in naturalistic terms. Practically speaking, naturalism means that consciousness must be understood as a feature of either the brain, or of language as a social practice.

(B). The second main argument against "Real truth" rests upon the widespread assumption that consciousness (language, history, culture) transforms its objects in "touching" them, so that they are never "in themselves" what we take them to be in becoming aware of them or knowing them or introducing them into language.”

Willard concludes, “What we must be sure of now, and must act upon, is that only through the rescue of truth--"Real truth" as correspondence with fact--can reason itself be salvaged, and thereby human life sustained in the power and dignity it cries out for by its nature and divine appointment. The excesses and mistakes of Modernity should not be allowed to obscure this fundamental point.”

Breuss Wane said...

The story of Moses is itself a proposition. Narrative *is* proposition throughout the canon. The story of Moses isn't mere principle... it is teaching us about redemption, justification, propitiation, regeneration, resurrection, absolute truth (the Decalouge isn't a list of ten suggestions), imputation, sanctification, the Trinity, creation, etc. etc. Name any propositional truth in the NT and it can be found in the OT in narrative form.

donsands said...

"It is JESUS CHRIST, who we trust, not His Cross, not His teachings." -nick

Absolutely, it's the Lord Himself we trust, but we also, with the same heart and passion, trust what He said, and what He did. I can not seperate these. I keep them all together.

Those who fail to see the Person of Christ, and simply rely on their religion, shouldn't cause us to make statements like your's.

When I survey the wondrous Cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

Breuss Wane said...

Of course the irony is that Willard is himself an open theist. Apparently, God's exhaustive omniscience is not a "real fact".

Sparks said...

"nick said...
I can’t speak for the EC in general.....blah...blah...blah.
(rehash of the same statments made by other EC supporters).

It is indeed tough for sinners to come face to face with their sin, repent and begin walking the narrow road. That Jesus' cross is difficult to bear is not new, and churches who preach the easy (wide) road are misleading the sheep.

nick said...

sure i trust the work of the cross and Jesus' teachings too, but the point i was making is that there are many different interpretations of the meanings of the cross and Jesus' teachings, sincerely held by people who are following Jesus. but what we all do share is our trust in Jesus Christ Himself for the life He came to bring and for the eternal life beyond death. a unity based our common trust in Jesus should be celebrated. but much of the criticism against the EC and other groups does just the opposite. The attitudes and words of these critics belittle our common faith and focus on our differences. the framework of this debate forces people to take sides and creates an atmosphere of divisiveness and animosity between believers! so we must all unite around the person and Lordship of Jesus Christ, otherwise we will be unable to love as we ought to and function as one body. you must realize unity cannot be achieved if its based on exhaustive doctrinal agreement, for this is impossible.

nick said...

yea with intelligent evangelical theologians like Willard accepting open theism, it seems it won't be long before it is considered mainstream.

does anybody know other open theists besides Boyd, Sanders, Pinnock, etc.? i wonder if some have been recently converted. john polkinghorne is also openess. i heard YWAM is openess friendly.

JG Lenhart said...

"sure i trust the work of the cross and Jesus' teachings too, but the point i was making is that there are many different interpretations of the meanings of the cross and Jesus' teachings, sincerely held by people who are following Jesus."

Isn't THIS where this discussion should start? How do you know FOR SURE your interpretation is RIGHT? I realize how much fun it is to consider ourselves right and everyone wrong, but make sure you aren't in such a rush to build something that you are putting it on a faulty foundation.

All we know for sure is what isn't true. The only way to make sure your interpretation is right is to consider all the possible meanings and actively try to prove them all wrong. The one you can't prove wrong is the truth.

Instead, we have people focused on being right and comparative with their beliefs. No wonder every one of these discussions sound the same with the same abstract definitions for the key words.

Your objective is showing when you focus on proving yourself right and make statements instead of trying to prove yourself wrong and ask questions. The only people who don't change their beliefs are the perfect and those who don't want to grow. Which are you?

When is the last time you changed a deeply held belief?

donsands said...

"unity can not be achieved on exhaustive doctrinal agreement, for this is impossible" -nick

I think the word exhaustive need not apply.

However, the essential doctrines of the faith, and those who agree upon them, and are willing to fellowship with others who may have differences on non-essential doctrine, these are going to be the genuine converts.

The essentials of the faith is what makes all the difference between a believer and an unbeliever.

I think it was John Ryle who said on essentials we must have common ground, but on the non-essentials, let us not build our walls so high that we can't shake hands across them.

nick said...

yes but it all comes down to what the are the essentials and what are the non-essentials. im just saying holding Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should be the only essential. i think most EC folks would agree with this. we need to be centered on the center, and that is Jesus. this is what we have learned from mistakes made over many centuries when people are not centered on Jesus, but rather on something about Jesus or other issues.

views of the atonement such as ominicience, hell, judgement, biblical inerrancy, salvation, although important and will always be debated, yet they are secondary to basic trust and active discipleship to Jesus. It just seems that very dew of the EC critics recognize this crucial point.

Breuss Wane said...

There can be no basic trust and active discipleship to Jesus without a biblically proper view of atonement, hell, salvation, or judgment.

Get these things wrong and "discipleship" and "trust" is an illusion/delusion.

nick said...

oops, sorry for the typos and some excessive reiteration.

i disagree with your statement chad. i think discipleship is foundational, and will result in correct theology.

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. - john 17:20-23

Bhedr said...

You must first trust by being persuaded of the truth and then discipleship follows

donsands said...

"holding Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should be the only essential"

The Mormon Church does as much. The Episcopal Church does as much, and ordained a homosexual bishop.
All the differences I would hold with these two groups would be things we disagree over as BROTHERS and SISTERS in the Lord?
Would you agree with this?

SJ Camp said...

The paragraph of the second quote of McLaren has been corrected. I'm sorry for the error and for whatever confusion it may have caused the readers.


molly said...

This post is a great example as to why I'm electing to leave this discussion, to be honest. Quotes are taken completely out of context, no effort (apparently) is being made to hear what the author is saying, but instead guns are drawn and firing.

It's really a travesty, because all it does is further the divide between two groups that really ought to be working together. Debating together can be a part of that, but this is catagoric misrepresentation (in my opinion). Those who are not studying these things for themselves are apt to believe the above interpretations and (then rightly) call the EM a lie from the pit. I would too, if half of these accusations were true.

Consider this part of the post made in response to McLaren stating that even after all our pursuit of orthodoxy, we'll still be in front of God understanding nothing. The author of the post then jumps to a million assumptions (oh, the logical fallacies flying in their finest forms!):

"There we have it. Ultimately, we know nothing. Even though Jesus was clear that we worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), in the emergent church there is no truth, no theology, no understanding of God."

No, that is NOT what McLaren was saying. If a person reads the book, not looking to shred it but actually trying to understand what the author is saying [even if that person ends up not agreeing, and I personally did not agree on some fronts], it would be so clear. McLaren was merely repeating another apparent heretic, who said,

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"

PS. In regard to the comment by Breuss Wane and the NEED for biblically proper views in order to be saved, I can only say this.

Hm. The thief on the cross didn't have his doctrinal ducks in a row. He just believed that Jesus was the Son of God. And was saved.

I would agree that the study of doctrine is profitable. But I would also agree that we take great care that we do not set it above God, and that we also take into account our own ability to err or misunderstand.

molly said...

I hope the above comment I just made came out right. I am not posting with anger, just disappointment. Even if a person disagrees with the EM, they should do it because they understand what it is actually about.

While I'm sure the author of these posts thought he understood the EM, those of us who have read the books he quotes from, who are studying the movement, etc, can all testify to the fact that we feel the EM has been sadly misrepresented.

If you don't like cows, well, fine. But if you don't like cows and then write a blog post all about how you don't like cows (and neither does God, you share), yet are describing PIGS, it follows that a few brave souls might speak up and say that something's not quite right. We're not trying to make you mad. We're just pointing something out, that's all.


Breuss Wane said...

>The thief on the cross didn't >have his doctrinal ducks in a >row. He just believed that Jesus >was the Son of God. And was >saved.

And this would be one more reason why the E.C. doesn't get it. One cannot use the thief on the cross to dismiss an entire New Testament that tells us that one *must* believe rightly about Christ and His salvation or he is no part in the inheritance (Rom. 10:14-17, where "word of Christ" is equivalent to "the doctrine you have been taught, 16:17).

The false presumption here is that the thief knew nothing of Christ before they were crucified together. We know *nothing* of what the thief knew or didn't know about Christ, so to make a statement like this is very poor use of scripture.

Nor is Romans 11:33 a verse that speaks to God's unknowability. Paul does not say that God's wisdom and knowledge are unknowable. He speaks of the decisions that God makes (judgments) and his "ways" speak of his overall purposes and decrees. But the "wisdom and knowledge" are deep, not unsearchable. He has given us his Word in Christ so that we might "know" Him.

This isn't merely a doxology. This last paragraph in chapter 11 sets up chapter 12 where we are called to "renew our minds" and "discern the will of God" patterned after God's wisdom and knowledge. IOW, "renew our minds" and "discern the will of God" are impossible without God's wisdom and knowledge (found in the "word of Christ... chapter 10 verse 17).
Use of Romans 11:33 to justify McLaren's theology of God's unknowability merely proves Gilley's point.

And the idea that "we also take into account our own ability to err or misunderstand" proves Gilley's (and Willard's) point that the postmodernism of the EC has bought into the postmodern's view that truth, even if it is not derived from the inside out, is ultimately unknowable since it is impossible to extrapolate truth from our own consciousnesses and experiences. Such a view of truth is foreign to scripture.

And finally, Molly also presupposes that Gilley and the rest of us are also not reading and studying all of the same things that she and others are studying of EC. The problem isn't lack of study. The problem is what the EC is teaching and preaching in their books and their pulpits.

Rob said...

I'm certainly not offended by this post. I have some real disagreements with what Gary has said, but I think he's done a decent job on research. (Not something I can say for most of the crtics).

In fact, I would have to say this is one of the best researched papers I've seen. It would do well for any critic to have a long conversation with Gary about how to do research.

Anyways, I disagreed with his conclusions but appreciated his research.


Breuss Wane said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Breuss Wane said...

A couple of thoughts about the thief.

Use of the thief on the cross in these discussions is not unique to the E.C. The thief has been used to deny all sorts of truths and affirm all sorts of errors throughout church history (one of the most recent cases is Ryrie's "non-lordship" argument). And use of Romans 11:33 to argue God and his doctrine's unknowability is not unique to the E.C. Romans 11:33 is a staple in the diet of many different groups that have mystic and apophatic tendencies. The "all we need to know is to love Jesus" viewpoint is almost always grounded in Romans 11:33.

One of the methods of argumentation employed by those who use the thief as an example (and this is quite popular to do... in our evangelicalism, the thief has become exhibit A for groups that deny all sorts of NT theology) is to use the exception to deny the rule. This is known as a fallacy. "The rule" in this instance is the scriptures insistence that the substance and content that make up the gospel are indispensable to the gospel. The Reformers used a Latin term to describe the "content" of the gospel: notitia. Notitia describes those *facts* which must be affirmed for saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (for instance, "Lord" presumes obedience to Christ and His commands, "Christ" presumes Messiahship of Christ, and "Jesus" presumes the historical fact of the incarnation... see John MacArthur's "Gospel According to Jesus"). Notitia is a fundamental aspect of saving faith that many in our gnostic, mystic, and apophatic Christianity are increasingly denying.

But I digress. The rule exists (is taught in the whole of the NT canon) in spite of the exception. It cannot be denied merely because of the exception. The "exception" (the thief) is not *proof* that the rule (notitia needed for saving faith) doesn't exist. Such a denial not only undermines the gospel, it places the souls of those who actually believe it in grave danger.

This presumes of course that the thief had little or no notitia. As I mentioned earlier, that cannot be proven. And, as has been pointed out in another comment, the Mormons "just believe that Jesus was the Son of God." Can it be too long before the Mormons are welcomed as brothers by the E.C.?

SJ Camp said...

I have been reading the comments here for the past five days and have been very encouraged by all who have participated.

A few thoughts:

1. The quote initially on the article was a layout error not a research error--Gary, i think, does fine work in his research.

2. The E.C. is really nothing new; just another attempt to relate to culture and draw in a new audience. I do understand this burden (BTW, if anyone is going to challenge to my understanding of the EC movement--I have read everything available by all prominent EC leaders; have read hundreds of articles; joined THE OOZE a year ago and have read it faithfully; listened to many sermons online; etc., etc., etc.

3. The EC ecumenical movement strives for authentic worship, authentic relationships among believers, genuine outreach to the unsaved who primarily have never been to any church, want to be considered orthodox and biblical, yet not be bound by old-school methodology born in a different time from a different culture. All of that we can applaud and say amen too.

4. IMHO, I think the problems lie in four key areas:

a. trying to understand and interpret Scripture through the onion skin of postmodernity, rather than trying to understand our postmodern culture through the onion skin of Scripture.

b. pragmatism, so far, seems to govern the day--not theology, doctrine or biblical truth. You don't have to reinvent the faith or redefine the faith to reach people in our generation.

c. the lack of theological structure and doctrinal specificity and biblical definition that clearly defines what an EC church is and stands for. Because of this, "life and doctrine" are held loosely and aberrant theology is tolerated and accepted ad nauseam. I.e. - why hasn't church discipline been brought against Brian McLaren because of his blatant, unbiblical, heretical views? Why does the conservative leadership of the EC still partner with him in conferences? Where is the outcry from all of the so called "reformed" ECers, continually and consistently, (Driscoll's one little outburst against McLaren though appreciated is hardly courageous and comes off as being more politically motivated than biblically) against the teachings of men like McLaren who continue to operate under the comfortable banner of EC without restraint? Why does the EC treat this kind of sin with such kid-gloves?

d. lastly, the casual, crude and cavalier manner in which most EC pastors approach the teaching of God's Word. Exposition is at a low premium in EC churches. Cultural contextualizations, on the edge illustrations, and in many cases debasing stories and cussing, mark the EC minister (The Reform & Resurge 2006 Conference is a great example of lightweight messages marketed as ground-breaking, cutting edge truths marked sometimes by no sobriety of tongue whatsoever).

Keep pounding on Wittenberg's Door,
Col. 1:9-14

PS - Molly, I have five kids too and I am blessed to be their Dad.

donsands said...

Those were some good thoughts to read. Thanks Steve.

SJ Camp said...

To all ECers weighing in on this thread:

If you really want a hard, challenging, difficult place to minister--try coming to Nashville, TN. For the most part, everyone thinks they are Christian because it is an acceptable cultural norm; where Christianity is marked by affluence and notoriety; and is considered big business - which makes it political. 

Seattle, WA is child's play compared to NashVegas...

In fact, when you think about it, the EC has created its own language; its own subculture; its own books; its own sermonettes for ECettes; its own websites that speak in its own convoluted-manufactured-pomo-terms; its own conferences; its own music (kinda, but not very good); its own ecclesiastical methods, etc. And that very narrow “EC subculture” has generated millions of dollars and has even produced their own mega-churches to boot.

In reality, the EC is not radical at all—I don’t care if its McLaren, Padgett, Sweet, Miller, Driscoll, Jones, Kimball, etc. 

It's just mainstream evangelicalism… their way.

2 Cor. 4:5-7

nick said...

yea, nominal christianity is everywhere in tennessee, i live in knoxville. everyone seems to feel comfortable where they are at.

in response to a comment, yes i would consider gay and mormon christians my brothers and sisters as long as they had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. sure i think their theology is messed up in very important areas, but i am not God and i cannot nor should not judge their hearts.

whats so scary about what i see here is that you guys are so quick to judge other christians. you may have some wrong doctrine too, and some sin to go along with it.

not all the critisim is bad, but words basically excluding EC from the universal church and condemning individuals as heretics is just wrong.

i am emergent friendly, i am an open theist, i don't believe in hell as eternal torment, i don't believe in penal substitution, i don't believe in male headship, i am an inclusivist, i believe the bible is inspired but not inerrant. so in your mind, am i not a christian? do i not have a personal relationship with God? are you closer to God than I? Will i be in heaven forever with God? am i filled with God's Spirit and share in all His promises. i am not his son and servant? chad, is my discipleship an illusion?

Grosey's Messages said...

your last comments sum up the debate well.
I am in Australia, a very pagan environment. As I look on and wonder at you Americans and the way you debate this material, I wonder of the EC stuff is not somehow a product of your hot house evangelicalism.
In the hothouse, sometimes things grow together that ought not.
I think that you have rightly identified that the issue is that some who claim to be evangelicals are in fact not. Nick, to say that you deny the penal substitutionary atonement of the Saviour is to deny the foundations of the person and work of Christ.
Let me be blunt as a foreigner. I live in a place where the vast majority of "christians" hold your beliefs. I conduct funerals for many who hold those beliefs. I do not think they have experienced the new birth.
Phil 3:18 says (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Who are these enemies? Paul defines them as those who do not accept the imputation of righteousness from Christ.
As Paul writes in 2 cor 5:20 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Reconciliation with God is ONLY possible through the penal substitutionary atonement made by our Saviour.
IMHO (I learnt that stands for "In my honest opinion") the trouble with evangelicalism in America is you have too many ducks quacking, and not enough guts to call a duck a duck!
I guess Nick has laid out for us what a duck is. Call it what it is! Unsaved!

Breuss Wane said...

>chad, is my discipleship an >illusion?

Now that I've seen your statement of unbelief, I do believe this is the case. It saddens me, and I pray for your salvation.

To bow the knee to Jesus includes bowing the knee to the Word that Christ has given us, a Word that runs contrary to your statement.

nick said...

you've got to be kidding me. there are many christians who don't hold to the penal substitutionary view of the atonement. they are all unsaved?

it seems you guys think alike. so, what set of particular beliefs are required to be saved (that if you missed one of them, you would not by saved, born again, etc.)?

donsands said...


I appreciate your sharing of your heart. I would say the sure foundation is Jesus Christ absolutely. However, it's also His Word absolutely.
You leave out the Scriptures, or take what Scriptures you think appropriate.
This is a grave error. This is very scary.
The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and this truth is God's Word, His whole Word.
"Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

Mormons serve and worship in vain, for they worship a false god; a false Jesus.

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, .... or another Gospel." 2 Cor. 11:3-4

There are many false Jesus', Gosples, and spirits in this world.
This is a life and death struggle we are in over truth. Satan knows this, and he comes as an angel of light, such as Mormons.

As far as being an homosexual Christian, Paul says, "Don't you know the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? BE NOT DECEIVED: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor covetous, nor drunkards, ... shall inherit the kingdom of God". 1 Cor. 6:9-10

You may choose to disagree with these words, because you don't hold to the Bible as inerrant, but I believe these words mean what they say, as well as all the words of the Bible.

The essential truths of the Scriptures are evident. God made it so. There are those who twist and delete, and add to His precious Word.
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blamless
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given him has written to you;
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which THEY THAT ARE UNLEARNED and UNSTABLE twist as they also do other Scriptures". 2 Peter 3:14-16

Sorry for the lengthy comment. Actually I could go on for quite a while, especially commenting on what the Bible says about His grace and mercy.

I shall keep you in my prayers. Galatians 6:14 Don.

Lee said...

>The EC ecumenical movement strives for authentic worship, authentic relationships among believers, genuine outreach to the unsaved who primarily have never been to any church, want to be considered orthodox and biblical, yet not be bound by old-school methodology born in a different time from a different culture. All of that we can applaud and say amen too.

Clap, clap. Amen.

Seriously, this is so needed. Isn't there some way for this sort of discussion to be facilitated without attacking the participants' faith?

I don't mean the actual participants in the EC, ie, McLaren. I mean those participating in the discussion here.

Sparks said...

If even one passage of Scripture is considered "errant", then all of Scripture collapses under the assumed possibility of being wrong.

If 1 Cor 6:9-10 is not inerrant, the what about Matthew 1:1, or Genesis 1:1?

Consider the possibility that Scripture is merely inspired and not inerrant and you have destroyed the foundation of Christianity.

boxcarvibe said...

Donsands: So well put and with grace. I enjoyed reading your response to Nick.

Nick: I read your comments about your beliefs and your questions about particular beliefs in order to be saved.

You seem to be genuine and I admire your transparency with this issue. No matter what responses you get, you truly have one option...and that's to confirm what you're read and heard with God's Word.

If you've reduced the Bible to something with nice guidelines by which to live...that has errors and outdated modes of thinking...then it wouldn't do any good to dump a ton of scriptures on you. You'd dismiss them as incorrect and/or outdated.

If you're right, then we're all going to Heaven. If you're wrong, then it appears that you have problems. Because what you believe doesn't square with the Holy Bible.

The fact that you're HERE and asking questions me... that the Holy Spirit just might be leading you into the Truth of God's Word. You've seen people react to you with some strong opinions...but you're still here. I admire that. Many have run off already.

Sorry I've rambled...I'm eating lunch at work and am writing you. I hope that you will consider - for a moment - that what you believe about God's Word is wrong.

Nick, know this - I'll be praying that God gives you wisdom and discernment from on High to tell Truth from error. I urge to read the Gospel of John as if its Truth - 100 percent God inspired truth. I believe it well as the whole Bible.



nick said...

no the bible is trustworthy and is the most authoritative book on truth, because it contains jesus' words and those of his apostles. yet is still written by fallen humans (except jesus) and thus contains their own cultural and fallen presupositions, views, and biases. just like i don't trust 100% what any church leader says today, i do not trust 100% what the apostles said. furthermore, what they were speaking to the churches in the 1st century must be understood within that time and place, not to be equally applied universally.

there will be many more heaven then you expect. you can waste your life fighting them or you could work alongside them in love for the Kingdom.

i may be on the more liberal side theologically than most of the EC but i believe there is a strong movement towards a critical realist perspective of scripture and a focus on the center of our theology, not the boundaries. we should keep our eyes on jesus and loving others as he does. i think this is the most valuable contribution from the EC to the Body of Christ.

a community is as healthy as it is centered on the center, and as unhealthy as it is fixated on the boundaries. - greg boyd

Bill Arnold said...

"If even one passage of Scripture is considered "errant", then all of Scripture collapses under the assumed possibility of being wrong."

This is simply illogical. Let's assume your view of scripture is true--that it's inerrant. Let's also assume that all books are errant. By your logic, all other books would be false. You wouldn't be able to trust anything you read.

Reading scripture, like reading anything else, takes discernment. It is inspired by God but it's not a perfect, magic book and I don't believe it claims that for itself.

You have to understand that those who do not claim the inerrancy of scripture do so fo good reasons. I think Fuller Theological Seminary's statement might be helpful on this subject if anyone's interested. Click here to go there.

Bill Arnold said...


You wrote: "There are many false Jesus', Gosples, and spirits in this world."

I think you're right, but we have to be careful because none of us perfectly comprehends the Christ that we put our faith in. In other words, we have to be careful about judging those who claim faith in Jesus. They may not have a perfectly clear comprehension of true doctrine, but none of us do.

Wouldn't you agree?

Having said that, I do believe some peoples' view of Jesus is so far from the actual Jesus that we have to question where they're coming from.

donsands said...

boxcar Steve,



"we have to question where they're coming from"



"And begining at Moses and all the prophets, He [Jesus] expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
... And He said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Pslams, concerning Me.
Then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures".

" And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to Me in heaven and earth.
Go therefore, and teach all nations, ...
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you". Luke 24: 27,44-45; Matt. 28: 18-20

"Every Holy Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: ... for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables". 2 Tim. 3:16; 4: 3-4

The Father gave us His Word. His Word is truth. It's the most precious gift we have, next to the Lord Jesus Himself. And it's imperative that we know it, and live it.

Sorry again for the lengthy comment.

Bill Arnold said...


I hope you'll go to the link I provided above to see why some have rejected the misleading doctrine of inerrancy. They say it better than I would.

nick said...

don't worship a book written by men. men are fallen and therefore it cannot be perfect. only if Jesus Himself wrote it, and we had a reliable copy should we consider it "inerrant".

i think you forget to use common sense, and in forsaking it, you turn the bible into a false idol. God calls us to learn from the bible about God, but He gave us the Spirit and reason to discern truth from error, in any written or spoken word.

the apostle have authority because they intimately knew Jesus, but they are not God incarnate. there is a big difference of authority and trustworthiness between the red and black letters of the bible.

Grosey's Messages said...

Nick, its funny that you should trot out the old tired worn out arguments that my liberal lecturers in theological college trotted out 30 years ago.
Yes there is a divide. it is between evangelical christianity and the sad thing that J.Grescham Machen described 80 years ago in Christianity and liberalism.... He had the guts to say it, why can''t "conservative ECer's. Liberalism is NOT christianity; it is another religion altogether.
It worships a different God, adores a different Jesus, and is based on different scriptures (the truncated scriptures that the EC ers alone have the ability to discern are "authorative".
If you are a conservative ECer, then the charge in 2 Corinthians 6 is clear: Come out from among them.
Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?
15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
16 And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.
17 Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you.
18 I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.

boxcarvibe said...

Black letters from Luke 13:23 - "And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them:

Now the red letters from Luke 13:24 - 30:
"Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying 'Lord, open up to us!', then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from'.

Then you will say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and you taught in our streets';

and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out.

'And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.

"And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last."

All those are red letters; so are these:

John 6:45 - And He was saying (in red letters) "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.

John 8:23-24: And He was saying to them (in red letters)"You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am HE, you shall die in your sins".

donsands said...

"And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name." Psalm 138:2

"no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:21

I read the link. I'll have to ponder it a while. Thanks.

Sparks said...

Okay, I read Fuller's "What We Believe and Teach" article as well as the "Statement of Faith". (Though I had to use the site's search engine to find the Statement of Faith)
Fuller's stance appears to be that Scripture is "infallible" instead of "inerrant".
Princton University definitions:
inerrant-inerrable: not liable to error
infallible-incapable of failure or error
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definitions:
inerrant-free from error
infallible- 1:incapable of error
2 : not liable to mislead,
3 : incapable of error in defining doctrines touching faith or morals.

Based upon these two sources, I can accept that Scripture is "infallible". So I revise my original post to read:
Sparks said...
If even one passage of Scripture is considered "uninspired and fallible" or in error, then all of Scripture collapses under the assumed possibility of being in error.

If 1 Cor 6:9-10 is not infallible or is uninspired, then what about Matthew 1:1, or Genesis 1:1?

Consider the possibility that ALL Scripture is only inspired and not infallible (in error) and you have destroyed the foundation of Christianity.

Bill- since I did as you asked and took the time to read and think about your link to Fuller's statements, I ask you to do the same at the following link:
Jesus Christ on the "Infallibility" of Scripture by Dr. David Livingston

Bill Arnold said...


First of all, I am a non-foundationalist so I don't think that Christianity needs a "foundation." If you want me to spell out what that means some more, I will.

In response to Dr. Livingston's article. "Jesus Christ on the Inerrancy of Scripture," I want to refer you to a post I wrote back in May entitled "Jesus and the Old Testament." I'd be happy to discuss this subject with you further over on my blog.

As for "inerrancy" vs. "infallible," I prefer not to use either word because I think they are both either wrong (depending on how you define them) or misleading, at best. More of what I think on that topic see this post.

Bill Arnold said...

By the way, I hope no one is offended by me linking to my own stuff. It's just that I've already written on some of these subjects and it saves space vs. me trying to rehash the material here.

nick said...

moving past inerrancy...

how am i to reasonably have full confidence that the teachings of the bible are 100% absolutely authorititative or trustworthy?

sure the bible is more trustworthy and authoritative than any other book on truth because it has Jesus' story, his teachings, and the words of his close followers.

but couldn't paul, peter, james, or john teach something that is not alltogether "good" and "trustworhty" and "authoritative" and "infallible" and "inerrant". since they are human, isn't it a possibility that they could have fallen skewed views on important issues that they write about in the bible? after all, not everything they said was backed up by Jesus' own words.

yes its a possibility! so why are so many claiming that the bible can be uncapable of error, or even 100% authoritative or trustworthy?

i am persuaded by reason (and i believe God made us this way), so can someone please attempt to persuade me that the teachings of the entire bible are 100% authoritative and trustworthy.

JG Lenhart said...


I couldn't agree with you more about your emphasis on REASON. If it's not reason, then it must be emotion...and then we are the same as the Mormons, etc.

If you are really interested in understanding how the Bible can be authoritative and trustworthy USING REASON, then visit my website and ask for the first book for free.

The book is the first of three that presents the non-contradictory worldview. Part of this worldview is to show the Big Picture purpose of the Bible and how to interpret it in a non-contradictory fashion using the four principles that clearly identify fact, it will even give you the non-contradictory definition of truth (notice everyone uses this word but no one defines it).

Nick, you appear to be like the 50 other people who have read the books in the last 2 months and are mentoring others.

nick said...

thanks JG, i'll check it out.

Marcia (formerly Lee--I'm going out on a limb with my real name--I never do that online : ) ) said...

I finally finished reading all of this, and it makes me sad. I have thought for a while that there is such a need for conversation about what isn't working in our churches today. I was one who was deceived by a feel-good congregation for a long time, and it was all a lie.

But the lie was in the fact that there was no call to repentance, no call to change my way of life, and certainly no explanation of how that could happen.

Trying to change the meaning of scripture to fit our culture is not the way to get this done. Ugh.

Andrew said...

just a correction to what i said earlier.

"missional" was coined in the early part of the 20th century and was put back into circulation by baptist missiologist Francis Du Bose (who worked with me in san francisco).

this came to light recently. sorry for the confusion.