Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Emerging Church
...by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-Teacher

Just a few months ago I had the opportunity and privilege to meet Pastor Gary Gilley and minister at his church in Springfield, IL, called Southern View Chapel. It was a tremendous honor to preach the Word of God and worship the Lord in song with that precious congregation. I came to know very quickly from many there that Pastor Gary is a powerful writer and preacher of God’s Word.

At the conclusion of my visit, I asked him if he would be willing to email me and allow me to post his insights on the emerging church. He graciously agreed.
This is the first of a three part series on the Emerging Church that I know will be enlightening and stirring to the readers of COT.

In the aftermath of the two part Driscoll articles and one Quote of the Day featuring the Driscoll/Schuller quotes (all three articles generated a significant response of well over 500 comments) I thought these installments by Pastor Gilley would give helpful clarification on the emerging church and the concerns that we both share.

I highly commend his following words to you.

Grace and peace,


2 Cor. 4:5-7

The emergent church is a rather slippery name for a rather slippery movement. By slippery, I mean that the movement is so new (originated in the late 1990s), so fragmented, so varied, that nailing it down is like nailing the proverbial Jell-O to the wall. There are no official leaders or headquarters; some have said that there are thousands of expressions yet only a few churches have sold out to the concept; and even those claiming the name can’t agree on what is going on. Brian McLaren, the closest thing to a spokesperson for the movement so far states:

Right now Emergent is a conversation, not a movement. We don’t have a program. We don’t have a model. I think we must begin as a conversation, then grow as a friendship, and see if a movement comes of it.

Having said this, there is still much common ground that can be identified. The name “emerging church” speaks of a church which is, guess what, emerging from something. This means, it is coming out of the more traditional understanding of the church and emerging into a postmodern expression. What it will actually become is still a matter of speculation, but its adherents see it as a postmodern church for a postmodern culture. Of course, even this gets tricky because the prefix “post” has become all too trendy. We hear not only of post-modern, but also of post-Christian, post-Protestant, post-analytical, post-liberal, post-conservative, post-everything. The problem with “post” is that it describes what you are not much better than it describes what you are. If you are no longer modern or Christian or liberal or conservative, what are you? McLaren believes that defining postmodern is premature – we don’t yet know what form it will take, so defining the postmodern church is even more problematic. Emergent church leaders do not all agree on where the church goes from here but they all believe that it must go somewhere, for they believe the modern church cannot connect with the postmodern mind. How this fleshes out will be dealt with later in our study; for now we can say the emergent church is a movement chasing a culture.

Dan Kimball, author of The Emerging Church, says this is necessary because “the basis of learning has shifted from logic and rational, systematic thought to the realm of experience. People increasingly long for the mystical and the spiritual rather than the evidential and facts-based faith of the modern soil.” Kimball suggests that the seeker-sensitive church, the church that chased the last generation’s culture, is already out of date: “The things that seeker-sensitive churches removed from their churches are the very things [postmodern] nonbelievers want to experience if they attend a worship service.” The postmodern wants to reconnect to the past. They want traditions and religious symbols rather than slick excellence, polished performance and state-of-the art structures found in modernity. That translates into a very different look and feel. For example it is not likely that you will find a sign along the highway pointing to the First Baptist Emergent Church. Names like Baptist and denominational ties are too modern. Popular emergent church names are Solomon’s Porch, House of Mercy, The Rock, Jacob’s Ladder, Circle of Hope, Ikon, Vintage Faith, New Beginnings and Mosaic. They sponsor websites like vintagefaith.com, emergentvillage.org, and theooze.com. The emerging church appears to be the latest flavor of the day in a church age which allows itself to be defined by its culture rather than by Scripture. D. A. Carson reminds us:
What drove the Reformation was the conviction, among all its leaders, that the Roman Catholic Church had departed from Scripture and had introduced theology and practices that were inimical to genuine Christian faith. In other words, they wanted things to change, not because they perceived that new developments had taken place in the culture so that the church was called to adapt its approach to the new cultural profile, but because they perceived that new theology and practices had developed in the church that contravened Scripture, and therefore that things needed to be reformed by the Word of God. By contrast, although the emerging church movement challenges, on biblical grounds, some of the beliefs and practices of evangelicalism, by and large it insists it is preserving traditional confessionalism by changing the emphases because the culture has changed, and so inevitably those who are culturally sensitive see things in a fresh perspective. In other words, at the heart of the emerging reformation lies a perception of a major change in culture.

How does the Christian community go about chasing down the culture? Either through methods or message. The emerging church does both. Beginning with methodology, the leaders of the movement view the under-thirty generation as profoundly spiritual. They are interested in religious experiences and feelings. They want a sense of the supernatural. They are not interested in systematic theology, tightly woven apologetic arguments or logical reasoning. But they are attracted to spiritual mystery. Kimball quotes Garrison Keillor, who makes no claim of being a Christian, as saying, “If you can’t go to church and at least for a moment be given transcendence, if you can’t pass briefly from this life into the next, then I can’t see why anyone would go. Just a brief moment of transcendence causes you to come out of the church a changed person.” Despite the fact that Keillor could not be more wrong if we are interested in true biblical transformation, the emergent leaders see this as the gateway to reaching the postmodern generations.

The Baby Busters (born between 1965 and 1983) and Mosaics (born between 1984 and 2002) are tired of “church-lite,” consumer spirituality, church buildings that look like warehouses or malls, CEO pastors, educational programs structured like community colleges and church services that are reminiscent of a Broadway musical. They want the transcendent, as Keillor says. So the emergent church loads up on such things. There is a return to what Kimball calls the “vintage church” which combines some excellent things such as singing of hymns, display of the cross and reading of Scripture with (questionable at best) medieval ritual, prayer stations, labyrinths, candles, incense, icons, stained glass, contemplative prayer, mantras, Benedictine chants, and darkness. Kimball makes the point that postmoderns want to experience God with all five senses – as the vintage church did. It should be pointed out, however, that the vintage church to which Kimball refers is not a return to the New Testament church. The vintage church has been waylaid by medieval Catholicism, which we must remember may have experienced the spiritual through the senses, but nevertheless was an apostate religion. Simply providing an unbeliever with a religious experience, which they might interpret as an encounter with God, may do them more harm than good. But just as the seeker-sensitive church saw felt-needs as the means of linking with unbelievers, so the emerging church sees spiritual experience as that means. The philosophy is basically the same, just the methods have changed.

Emergent leader Leonard Sweet describes the emergent church with the acronym EPIC.
  • “E” stands for experiential because postmoderns desire more than listening and thinking. They want to enter into worship as an experience of the senses. This is why medieval rituals appeal to them.
  • “P” speaks of participants as opposed to observers. They want an active faith. Rather than a sermon they might hold a “conversation.”
  • “I” relates to image-based. Projected images, artwork, film and video are all attractive to this generation. They are sight-oriented.
  • “C” means communal. They desire a strong sense of community. They are “people” persons. Instead of going to church they want to be the church. There are some good things here but there are problems in the details, as we will see.
If this was the end of the story we might even find comfort in what is basically a reaction to the stripped-down model of Christianity that the seeker-sensitive church has given us for the last few decades. But as Rob Bell is quick to inform us, “This is not just the same old message with new methods. We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life.” This is something new in the cultural-identifying churches. The seeker-sensitive church loudly proclaimed that they were fine-tuning the methodology but were not tampering with the message of the evangelical church (even though they were). The emergent church is concerned about methods but they are even more concerned about the message. They believe that conservative evangelical Christianity has it all wrong. From the Scriptures to essential doctrines to the gospel itself, the church so far just doesn’t get it. And the emergent people include themselves in the same camp. As Brian McLaren states, “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be saved?... None of us have arrived at orthodoxy.”

Emergent Philosophy

Before we jump into the doctrinal distinctives of the emerging church we must first detail the philosophy that undergirds the movement. What we see, read and perceive is filtered, at least to some degree, through our presuppositions and worldview. The worldview of the emerging church is decidedly postmodern. Attempting to combine postmodern philosophy with biblical theology is a tricky business, as one might imagine; we should not be surprised that unanimity in the understanding of this attempted merger will not be found. Nevertheless, some common threads are evident throughout the movement.

Truth Claims
Truth claims are held with suspicion within postmodernism and we find a precarious juggling act in emergent circles as they try to reach a wary culture with the claims of Christ. The emerging church is concerned about presenting genuine Christianity in a way the postmodern culture understands. Since the very heart of postmodernity is rejection of absolute authoritative truth, yet Christianity claims to be the proclamation of absolute authoritative truth, a head-on collision is almost unavoidable. What is to be done? Something has to give and that something seems to be truth. McLaren presents their view:
Ask me if Christianity (my version of it, yours, the Pope’s, whoever’s) is orthodox, meaning true, and here’s my honest answer: a little, but not yet. Assuming by Christianity you mean the Christian understanding of the world and God, Christian opinions on soul, text, and culture…I’d have to say that we probably have a couple of things right, but a lot of things wrong, and even more spreads before us unseen and unimagined. But at least our eyes are open! To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall.

This is almost a complete capitulation to postmodernity’s concept of truth. After 2000 years of the study of the completed Canon, we Christians find ourselves in a position of having maybe a “couple” of things right – and I am sure that those couple of things would be up for grabs. This uncertainty about the truth carries over to the Scriptures themselves, of course. Rob Bell and his wife Kristen, in an interview with Christianity Today, reflect this view. They started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself – “discovering the Bible as a human product.” “I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible,” Kristen says, “that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means, and yet I feel like life is big again – like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.” To the postmodern mind it is more important to, as Rob Bell says, “embrace mystery, rather than conquer it.”

But how does a truly postmodern Christian live? How do they know what to believe? How do they deal with the issue of truth? How do they assimilate the realities of life? By creating their own reality. McLaren, if he could have his emergent dream come true, would “help students construct their own model of reality, their understanding of the universe and story we find ourselves in. And – this is SO important – we’d teach them that their model isn’t reality; it’s just a model. It must be open to correction, adjustment, improvement, even revolution” (emphasis his). Experience, not Scripture, becomes the basis for truth. “People today,” Leonard Sweet writes, “are starved not for doctrines but for images and relationships and stories.”

There is no absolute truth or ultimate reality in the emergent agenda. Even Scripture is appreciated for its mystery, not its presentation of truth. Yet one has to wonder what Jude had in mind when he wrote, “I find it necessary to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (verse 3). The emergent church leaders are asking us to embrace a faith without truth, a Bible which has value due to its mystery, and a reality that is individual, subjective and changeable. This is touted as a new and improved version of Christian living. I fail to see the attraction, not to mention that no such understanding of truth is supportable by the Scriptures.

The scholar would define deconstruction as Carson does: “It has to do with a literary approach, that hunts down tensions and inconsistencies in a text (those who deploy deconstruction insist that all texts have them) in order to set them at odds with each other and thus deconstruct the text, to generate new insights that might actually contradict what a text ostensibly says. At the other end of the spectrum, Humpty Dumpty gave his version, “When I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” In everyday language deconstruction means that we can never be certain that we have the right interpretation of words. What matters then is not what the author or speaker said, because that doubtfully can be discerned; rather the important thing is what did the reader/listener experience. Deconstruction guts words of their meaning and redefines them according to one’s own preference. This is obviously convoluted but it is a central piece in postmodern thought.

How does this work out in the postmodern church? In order to be consistent with absolute truth (or, better, lack of truth) the emergent thinkers must dispose of dogmatic truth claims (i.e. doctrines). They must purge the church of an exclusive gospel, an authoritative Bible and irritating doctrines such as hell. Also on the cutting floor is the doctrine of original sin. McLaren writes, “The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.” Before the emergent church leaders are done all the essential teachings of the Bible have been deconstructed, redefined or dismissed. And what has been put in their place? Oddly, but consistent with postmodern thinking, nothing but mystery and questions. Even McLaren admits, “What will appear beyond the deconstruction remains to be seen. Perhaps something better will emerge – that is my hope and prayer, but the outcome is by no means certain even now that I have finished writing this book.”

Pluralistic Relativism
If nobody is right then everybody is right. This is the logical conclusion of the postmodern worldview. The emergent church thinkers are reluctantly willing to accept this concept, at least for a time. McLaren states:
Because I and others, while we aren’t “for” pluralistic relativism, do see it as a kind of needed chemotherapy. We see modernity with its absolutisms and colonialisms and totalitarianisms as a kind of static dream…. In Christian theology, this anti-emergent thinking is expressed in systematic theologies that claim…to have final orthodoxy nailed down…. Emergent Christians see pluralistic relativism as a dangerous treatment for stage IV absolutist/colonial/totalitarian modernity (to use language from cancer diagnosis), something that saves a life by nearly killing it.

Since truth and Scripture have been deconstructed all that is left is relativism. Until we figure out where to go from here we will have to be content with that. We may or may not arrive at a better place some day, but at least objective truth claims are being eradicated – and that is a good thing. So says the emergent church leaders. More next time.


Dan said...

I'm afraid that the author of this article has never been to my church and his description of it is about as far from it as one could imagine from what they would experience if they went to it. It is almost humorous (in a sad way) of reading what is he is supposing we do. We preach 35 minute sermons - usually books of the Bible or sections of the Bible (right now we are teaching through the Parables Of Jesus), we don't "chant", we don't have icons, we use some candles, but I bet any wedding or Christmas Even in the author's church would use candles. We just use them more. We just spoke a few weeks ago on the importance of "doctrine" and we are starting a School of Theology because of the importance we believe in studying Scripture.

So to say we just are giving people an "experience" is not a true statement.

Anyway, I wish people would ask me if they have any questions about what I personally do in our church. Feel free to come to our church and visit or ask or if anyone wants some of our teaching notes to see what we teach, contact me and let me know and I will send them to you.

Peace in Jesus,

Dan Kimball

4given said...

Here is an e-mail I received today: "Thomas Merton, a Roman Catholic monk who is long dead, is quoted more often in the Emerging Church today than just about any other person. His writings fuel the quest for religious esoteric experience by those who promote "Contemplative Christianity." ... in the decade of the 00s, the latest craze in the church today, known as the Emergent Church/Conversation, is bringing a revival of mysticism into Evangelicalism. These EC leaders write books quoting the very mystics like Huxley who in the past sought God in all the wrong places. These books point Christians to the mystical practice of what is called contemplative/centering prayer that was popularized by one of Huxley’s contemporaries, the late Thomas Merton. Merton was a Roman Catholic Trappist monk and a anti-war peace activist during World War II. He was a prolific writer who coined the term "centering prayer" to describe the style of mind-emptying meditation that seeks to empty oneself and lose oneself into the void he interchangeably calls "the life of the spirit" and Nirvana. He held to the belief that all religions had the same basic truth and Christianity could not lay claim to the whole counsel of God."

I quote this because there are alot of accusations out there. And if it is true for some, why would a church that does not practice such heresy align themselves with those who do? The little research I have done on the Emerging church is disheartening. I know the biggest argument I hear is that we cannot lump all of these Emerging churches together and say that this or that is what they all believe. Isn't that the problem?

Here is one Emerging church pastors answer to the question, "Do you Evangelise?": "Good question - I hope not! I wouldn't want people to feel they were being targetted and that we were tricking them."

Here is the same pastors definition of worship: "It is a Celebration of life with God! We are exploring ways to worship and pray that reflect the kind of people we are coming across. We do not want to say to people - "here's what we do, come and do it with us"; we prefer to ask "if you came to worship and pray, how would we do it?" They won't necessarily know the answer, but we'd work it out somehow."

Quite honestly... I am confused, very confused as to the "kind of people (they) are coming across."

I type this because I do not want to be walking around with blinders on. I really want to know. Not for the purpose of being unjustifiably divisive, but because the popularity of this movement is showing itself to not be just a passing fad. I am gathering that the appeal to this church movement is that they have a broad and inclusive vision of Christianity. Let this not be so.

Larry said...

I think perhaps the key thing here is the beginning where he rightly say that the emerging church is so broad that it defies definition and categories. There is no such thing as "emerging church doctrine" per se. There are some emerging churches that are completely heretical. There are others than are completely orthodox, or at least mostly orthodox. We need to be careful about broad generalizations.

He talks about what the church is emerging from. I think most emergents would characterize it as a church in emerging culture. I don't think most would say that the "emerging" aspect deals with the previous manifestations of church.

But his comment that it is a movement chasing a culture is a very good comment, and worthy of some thought. There are parts of that chase that are merely cosmetic, and therefore non-problemmatic. There are other parts that are clearly wrong. We need to pursue the proper distinction of those things.

The nature of truth is a key distinction that McLaren and others have compromised on. But not all emergents have compromised on that. We should also distinguish the idea of the nature of truth from the presentation of truth. We can preserve the absolute nature of truth while presenting it in a dialogical way that is designed to convince the hearer by answering their questions, rather than demagogue the hearer by answering our questions.

I will look forward to the rest of this article when it is posted.

SJ Camp said...


Thank you for posting on this blog--you are always welcome here.

When I speak of you to others in regards to the EC movement, I always try to emphasize your love of doctrine and the Word of God. You are certainly not in the same camp as McLaren, or Padgitt, Sweet, etc. And I appreciate that tremendously.

BUT, there are things Dan that still remain confusing within the EC movement that leaves many of us wondering about the "core values" biblically and pomo-methodology that permeates so much of its function.

Question: would you be willing to help us understand here at COT some of the constant misperceptions of the EC that you think are unfair and skewed characterizations; and by answering some of the questions/concerns that Gary has raised in his article?

Proactively, would you be willing to list for us biblically, a few of the essential things that comprise and define "the church" and how the church biblically is to function in our post-modern world without compromising the Word of God? (I realize an entire book could be written in answering that question, but a thumbnail would be beneficial).

As always, we don't feed the trolls here, but want to be fair and edifying on this blog from a biblical worldview and you can be used by the Lord to that end...

Lastly, considering Driscoll's silence to even private email correspondence, your engagement in this "conversation of faith" is a welcome breath of fresh air.

I remain,
Yours for the Master's use,
Col. 1:9-14

donsands said...

Looking forward to a great discussion.
One question I have: Have you, Dan, read Don Carson's book, and if you have, could you share your thoughts.
I thought it was excellent. And it helped me to understand in a better light.

donsands said...

Sorry. Forgot to give the title; Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.

SWilson said...

One only has to back up in history to the beginning of the Pentecostal movement --- or more recently the beginning of the "seeker sensitive" movement --- to see the same being repeated again. Whenever, wherever, however and for whatever reason we see fit in the church to purue the culture with the culture (I think of Paul - 2 Cor 10:12 - "but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise) we only succeed in becoming like the culture. What is especially troubling to me is today we make no apology for such a pursuit.

All of this while knowing that men are "growing worse and worse" and their minds/hearts "will not endure sound doctrine". So we read God's Word, we see His plans unfold, and still we capitulate to the times. It seems, at least to me, we must consider that we have not believed what we have read.

Thanks, Steve, for challenging/inviting Dan to give a more able defense that is rooted in the foundations of the once for all delivered faith. I will be anxious to read his thoughts.

A Heart Made Glad by Grace,

Steve Wilson

scripturesearcher said...

Gary's article is something every
Christian (and leaders especially)
should read.....

Thanks for sharing!

Dan said...

Hi again -

I don't speak for everyone in the "emerging church" circles. It is so broad and it would be like making a blanket statement about all Christian singers and lump Steve in it. So as many are realizing that is one thing that many who make accusations are not aware of.

Secondly, for me and our church - we hold to the orthodox historical Nicene Creed. We teach from the Bible weekly, usually books of the Bible or sections. Mostly all our mid-week community groups all go through books of the Bible. We believe in the substitionary atonement, the inspiration of Scripture, the deity of Jesus - not sure what you specifically want to know about us.

The person who said that the emerging church is not about evangelism - maybe the person she asked about isn't (whomeever that was) but most leaders I know are passionate about evangelism, and for me, it is the reason we planted the new church 2 years ago.

I am actually on vacation and don't want to get too caught up right now in this, but if you want to ask about any specific beliefs that we hold to or teach, just ask me or email me dan at vintagefaith dot com

Thanks for listening -

Kester said...

Yawn... Here we go again. Everyone desperate to validate themselves by aligning themselves with the touchstone of Word-of-God-preaching evangelicalism. Gary is a 'powerful preacher of God's word' and Dan preaches every week from the bible.

There's no movement beyond this, or no voice without flying this flag... Is what Gary says God's way? And how can we test if it is or not? He hasn't done his research, according to Dan... And so the arguments will cycle.

And I find that worrying. Why? For a number of reasons. Mostly because people like Gary are demanding too much of a fledging movement that is trying to find its feet. Like Carson, he's too quick to knock down, and not quick enough to admit that these responses, however failing and fragile, are genuine attempts to re-imagine a church that has genuinely got stuck and is bleeding people like there's no tomorrow.

You can get your big academic hammer and bash away; you'll impress many with your wise words and clever turn of phrase. But help few.


Breuss Wane said...

Dan Kimball wrote:
>It is so broad and it would be >like making a blanket statement >about all Christian singers and >lump Steve in it.

Unfortunately, this is the all-too-common response from those identified with the EC. It usually amounts to: don't label me with my own label. The Catholic church has been saying this for thousands of years. We're not monolithic, therefore any criticism regarding our doctrine is automatically invalid.

There are many reasons to reject the "don't pigeon-hole us" mantra recited at just about every criticism of E.C. I've seen in the public forum. The fact is that there *are* some legitimate, identifiable traits common to those whose choose to identify with the EC movement, some of which have been chronicled by Steve (and now Gary) here. And this includes those claiming they stick closer to the scriptures than some who are openly deconstructing the text (McLaren, Miller, Webber, Bell, and Pagitt come to mind).

So while all of Gilley's sensory examples may not apply to all of the EC's, what surely applies to all is an unhealthy and unbiblical emphasis on experiential spirituality (those who protest “unbiblical” being applied usually toss out some proof texts that sound “experiential” but are nothing of the kind).

Part of the problem is that those who claim to "hold high Scripture" have themselves succombed to similar deconstruction in shifting the text's own prescription for the proclamation into "cultural" norms. i.e. The idea that preaching is merely one means of communicating the Proclamation is itself deconstruction of the text.

It's interesting that Dan chose to engage Gilley's general description of the EC than Gilley's direct quotes from his book. IMHO, Gilley was dead-on in his assessment of those quotes.

For most of us, the problems with the EC isn't *just* about engaging the postmodern culture or changing the ways we communicate with and in that culture. It's in the *how* that culture is engaged. The ECM is right to suggest Truth is first and foremost a Person. But even the conservatives in the movement *seemingly* have a tough time affirming that that Truth is still an Absolute Proposition who is making exclusive claims on all people everywhere. Even His narrative in His text, ultimately, is an absolute truth claim. One cannot simply sweep the prescriptions given in and by the Text under the modernity rug.

just my two cents

Breuss Wane said...

>you'll impress many with your >wise words and clever turn of >phrase. But help few.

This is precisely what the Corinthians said to Paul. And his response was 1 Corinthians 1-3.

Luke Britt said...

People who want to categorize everything have a hard time with things that are way too broad.
Take the term "basketball player." Are all basketball players the same? NO.
Or closer to home, "baptist." Are all baptists the same? NO.
Emergent. Are they all the same? NO. Some are great and helpful. Some are heretical and dangerous. Just like Baptists, Presbyterians, Reformed Baptist, Lutheran, Methodists...geez, you get my point...
All orthodox Christians hold to a certain set of beliefs, but they are not all the same. They differ greatly.
The difference with EC or EV is that it is a cooperation among all of these denominations, which makes it more complex, more diverse, and harder to pinpoint. This makes some guys' blood boil because they are compartmentalizers. I am one such person. This makes others smile and move on. I am one such person.
When you eat fish, don't eat the bones.
Also, let's live in humility, not egomaniacal orthodoxy.

scotty said...

There is a world out there not going to your churches. Some of us have chosen to follow the Lord's example and the leading of the Spirit and are going to them.

I hope and pray that more time is spent praying for these people you have named and this movement that you critique than was spent putting this post together. How much time have you spent with any of these men or their churches or any other EC for that matter? How many meals have been shared. How much time praying together with them?

If there is really interest or concern it seems it would be more fruitful to stop talking about them, stop reading about them and spend more time with them. Praying, laughing, eating, reading scripture and witnessing personally some of the things the Lord is doing and the people He is reaching through them.

Maybe I'm wasting my time typing this

stu Mcgregor said...

it really is troublesome that there's all this talk about the ec not claiming Absolute Truth. not even postmodernism (in it's softer form) claims this. what the ec will claim is that our understanding of that absolute truth is limited by our subjectivity. which is actually a thoroughly Pauline position.

I believe wholeheartedly in the creeds, the love of God, the exclusivity of Christ for redemption, that we are the body of Christ. I believe in absolute Truth.

don't argue against us on that front...it just shows a lack of understanding. there are plenty of other legitimate areas for criticism, but Truth claims is not one of them.

donsands said...

"I really want to know." -4given That's a good heart.

Blogs like these are great for people who really want to know. If some yawn at discussions like these, that's fine with me.
As for me I feel like I really want to know.
I want to, more than anything else, grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that I can live for Him.
Also, I need to know who the heretics are. Jesus says, "There will be false prophets, teachers, and even false-christs, so that even the chosen may be deceived." Satan comes as an angel of light. He's a mastermind of deception. Humans are no match for him, and he is no match for the Word of God, when wielded by the Spirit of God through His called ones in love.
Paul says there will be wolves in sheeps-clothing that rise from within the church.

On that Day when we all stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, we surely will be judged on what our hearts held to, and what our lives reflected.
Did we hold with all our might, by the grace of the Lord, to the truth. Did we live a life of humble obedience to the King of glory, in order to bear fruit, and to bring glory to our Father in heaven.
And that's the bottom line, the absolute bottom line; the glory of God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saabinmike said...

Maybe I'm up too late reading this, but it seems to me that this bickering about who is right and who is wrong only hurts the image of Christ in the long run.

As an outsider (read non-christian), I would see these debates, shake my head and go about my business.

I see the seeker-sensitive church as a long overdue backlash to the fire and brimstone hell and damnation preaching churches.

The emeregent church is panning out to be reprocussion of the seeker sensitive/charsimatic church.

This pattern will continue and can be traced throughout history as well.

What I'm saying is that the fire and brimstone churches scared people into believing or attending.

Eventually, that no longer worked. I'm painting with broad strokes here, so bear with me. So how does the church bring people in? They offer a no commitment, easy-to-swallow pill that is flashy, comfortable, and the people start showing up again.

Well, in this 10-minute attention span world of ours, that wore off quickly and so now you have people trying to go back to their roots, hence the emergent church.

That is my take on it. I may be wrong. But the core issue isn't. How to keep people in the church and bring in new ones has always been an issue.

The Reformation happened and people left the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church holds the Council of Trent to do what? Reform themselves to stop the people from leaving.

So no matter what it's called, its trying to keep people in church and recruit new ones.

And its wrong. And that is why it will be argued until we all turn blue in the face.

While we all argue about this creed or that doctrine we miss what we were called to do.

Reach those who are sick and dying in this world. I mean seriously, its the unloveable who most need us. And we are trying to reach and maintain the mose popular demographic at the time, who lets be honest, are more like the young ruler who doesn't want to give up all of his riches to follow Christ. We create an ideal place for that rich demographic. Come in, feel all tingly, maybe cry and hug...and then head out to the nearest trendy resturant for a bite.

Here is a personal example. Next door to me is the lady whom I bought my house from. She is 86 and is scared to death. She is scared of everything. She isn't very educated and watches a lot of game shows. She sits at her window and watches my kids play in what used to be her mother's yard. We call her to tell her when we are leaving for the weekend because she stays up all night worring that something happened to us otherwise.

Now let me broaden my neighborhood for you. Two houses down is 4-Square Church who has absolutely no impact on my neighborhood. Everyone who attends there drives in from other parts of the town. In fact, they told one kid in the nieghborhood that he couldn't play on their swingset unless he went to Sunday School.

Now that may not seem to be relevent to this post, but it is.

As we argue about the form, we miss entirely the fuction we are to have in the world. Form should follow function in this case.

The church should be about equipping those who attend to reach out to those who are hurting. To those who aren't cool. To those who don't know what a Podcast is let alone a Blog.

I'm not saying that we should neglect the affluent demographics. But let's be honest, that is who we cater to.

I have been labeled an 'organic church' because it has formed slowly out of my home. It is small. And immediately, I want to invite those people I know who are like me, have the same interests, ect. And when they show up, it's a good time. And when they leave, I wonder what was the point.

The term church is meant to be organic, it is a bunch of parts, it is messy, it is vulnerable, but is can move. The term church as we know it means a building, or something you go to. Words matter, and when we continually refer to it as a place and not as ourselves it is VERY easy to forget what we are supposed to be doing everyday in our lives. Church for many becomes something that we do not what we are.

Ultimately, we aren't training people up to go out and reach those who need to hear about Jesus the most. Somehow, in the midst of all this arguing about who and what is right, we have relegated reaching those who are 'uncool' to those who 'have a heart' for that 'type of ministry'.

And because we argue only about the form, there will always be malcontents in our ranks ready to go out and 'emerge' from something. The problem is they have no idea what they are looking for so they rehash whatever it is they left into a new form of 'chruch'. They are malcontent because something more is drawing at their spirit, but they haven't been taught what that drawing is and where it leads.

It doesn't matter what form the church takes. I remember Jesus saying that wherever two or more are gathered he is there with them. I think it is that simple and that simplicity scares us. We have to put a form to something that maybe should be formless.

I heard someone say the church is like a dam, when it should be like a school. A dam catches and keeps all the water, releasing only a little bit at a time. A school trains up an individual, with the intention of sending them out into the world with the skills necessary to perform a task.

Anyway, if you are still reading, this is what I'm struggling with. I'm hoping to get some answers.

4given said...

There have been some interesting and challenging points brought up here. Much to think about and pray about.

Sidenote: "Wherever two are gathered in His name, there I a with them" in context has to do with when a brother sins against you. Matthew 18:15-20 goes together.

Breuss Wane said...

Unless I missed it somewhere along the way, Gilley (nor I) isn't making broad swipes at E.C. He is interacting with specific quotes from Kimball that represent unbiblical notions within the E.C. movement. One need not visit an E.C. church to interact with published quotes that are fundamentally unbiblical (such as Kimball's "the sermon is one part of the experience of the worship gathering").

For starters, "seeker sensitive" worship services are unbiblical. Period. One commenter here put it this way: "There is a world out there not going to your churches."

Bingo. And that's the way the Bible says it should be. The church, as an assembly, has been "called out from the world" in its union with Christ to give honor and glory to the Christ that called her. Such a calling is exclusive of the world from which the church has been called (Hebrews 10-12).

That's the text talking, not the E.C. critics. That's the same text that calls us to spread the glory of God to all people groups. However, the task of "reaching the sick and dying" to which we have also been called should not be confused with or assimlated with the primary purpose of the assembly which is a celebration of our union with Christ in being called out from the world.

So yes, there will always be bickering over how best to accomplish this task so long as we have those who understand wrongly that the fundamental task of the assembled community in worship is to "reach seekers". Some of us are committed to make sure there is bickering as a challenge to these unbiblical notions of assembly, worship, purpose of the church, etc. etc. And some of us realize that *that* draw-the-line-in-the-sand idea runs counter to the implicit/explicit ecumenism inherent to the E.C. movment... an ecumenism that many of us believe is unbiblical.

Evangelism is a result/consequent of proper worship in the church, not a mitigating circumstance for worship in the church.

Breuss Wane said...

>ec will claim is that our >understanding of that absolute >truth is limited by our >subjectivity.

This is a pragmatic denial of absolute truth. IOW, absolute truth is unknowable.

> which is actually a thoroughly >Pauline position.

It's actually foreign to the Pauline and especially Johannine understanding of Christ as Truth (2 Timothy 3:10-17, 1 John 2:18-27).

This claim that the knowability is limited by subjectivity highlights the incipient gnosticism that plagues those attempting to gel postmodernism and Christianity. And it also explains why many in the E.C. have gravitated toward the unbiblical apophaticism of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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

IMHO, the ultimate *crime* of the E.C. movement is that it is categorically and patently Arminian.

McLaren acknowledged the E.C.'s inherent Arminism early on. Some who think they are being "reformissional" are either not as Reformed as they think they are or have yet to discover the incompatibility between Reformed (biblical) doctrine and Arminianism and its ecumenism.

Luke Britt said...


nick said...

from reading books and exploring the EC world on the web, i don't find that the movement opposes claims of absolute truth in the bible. it is nonsense to claim that we cannot know the truth, and the whole of it, for we all will one day. however, it is true that sincere christians everywhere disagree on how they interpret parts of scripture. i think basically the EC is founded on the concept of "unity within diversity" in regards to all areas of faith and practice. this is simply the acceptance that we are not all going to agree on everything, so let's not lable people "heretical" and claim that our interpretation is the absolute right one. the emergent church could be also termed the "opening church" or the "exploring church". EC people see themselves as pilgrims on a journey rather than settlers. it takes a lot of humility to realize that you could be wrong, and it takes a lot of love to accept others in their journey. i suppose the big question is "what are the primary points of theology that must be safeguarded as fundamental to Christianity, and what are secondary points of theology that can be accepted as less than essential for the life and mission of the Church?" i believe this question can be answered if we all worked together in humility and love.

candyinsierras said...

1. I am thankful this comment section is more gracious in tone than previous comment sections.

2. It took probably about 3 years for me to fully transition between an Arminian viewpoint to a reformed viewpoint (after 25 years of being a Christian). There were lots of lively, spirited, but respectful debates and lengthy conversations with people. Slowly the pieces fit together. If someone states they are becoming reformed in their belief, or questions reformed Christianity, let's pursue that with them in all respect. Please, let's keep snide remarks and arrogance out of the conversation that we might honor Christ in our conversation. Humor is allowed of course. :)

Sparks said...

Why is it a common response these days "you haven't attended my church so you don't know" when a person's public/published beliefs/theology is questioned in any way?

To me it seems that they are saying what they write and speak publically is different than what they say/do behind the doors of their churches.

Breuss Wane said...

>”let's not label people "heretical" and claim that our interpretation is the absolute right one.”

Open theism is a heresy. Denial of inerrancy and inspiration is a heresy. Denial of the resurrection as an historical (brute) fact is a heresy. Arminianism (faith precedes regeneration) is a grievous error. Denial of the 5 Solas is a grievous error. It *is* possible to claim that our interpretations of the above statements as defined by Scripture are the absolute right ones.

If the conservatives in the E.C. were truly proponents of knowable absolute truth inherent to the gospel, they would stop endorsing the books, stop appearing on the same conference platforms, stop sharing/swapping pulpits, stop laughing at the jokes (Miller), and stop the general pat-on-the-back kudos of those who are espousing the above. And they would start labeling themselves that which is heresy and grievous error in cutting off from their fellowship and ministries those who espouse heresy and error. IMHO, the E.C. could use a healthy dose of disunity in diversity for the sake of the gospel. IOW, stop hangin’ with Schuller, McLaren, etc. and we might begin to believe that the conservatives in the E.C. really care about truth and the gospel.

>“i suppose the big question is "what are the primary points of theology that must be safeguarded as >fundamental to Christianity, and what are secondary points of theology that can be accepted as less >than essential for the life and mission of the Church?"

Bingo. And many of us here believe that conservatives in E.C. have shown an unfortunate inability to correctly answer those two questions. Open theism is not a secondary point of theology. Culturalization/deconstruction of the text is not a secondary point of theology. Resurrection as merely a “belief” rather than a “fact” is not a secondary point of theology. Denial of Sola Scriptura is not a secondary point of theology. Denial of the Trinity is not a secondary point of theology. Denial of the primacy of preaching in worship (seeker friendly worship services) is not a secondary point of theology. Denial of sola fide is not a secondary point of theology.

John said...

Chad – isn’t there a touch of “religious arrogance” in the assumption that we can grasp “absolute truth?”

Paul was generous. Human spiritual perception is far murkier than looking through a glass darkly. The very nature of an infinite creation/creator should remind us that what we “know” is infinitely miniscule compared with what remains to be known.

The “emerging church” is an unfortunate label that some are using to describe a far broader dynamic that’s sweeping through all segments of mainstream Xn religion. Call it what you wish, Christ-followers are questioning their assumptions anew. The Internet is a primary catalyst for this blossoming curiosity. It is healthy.

Author Gilley, in his insistence on the “primacy of NT apologetic” via “2000 years of completed canon” forgets that the original expression of Xn community is, in virtually all ways, vastly different than today’s modern culture-bound church.

The first 50+ years of Jewish Christ-followers had no “canon” except the Torah (OT), and on occasion someone would actually read portions of it to the church. Most of the time, the Jewish Jesus People would simply recount Jesus stories they heard and OT memory scriptures. If they were fortunate, they might also have a parchment from Paul or a revelation.

The first church was comprised of Jews who never renounced their Judaism, yet followed Jesus, who himself never renounced his Judaism. The early church had no “canon” as we have today, yet most would agree that the early church embodied authentic faith.

Why, then, do we assume that our “2000 years of completed canon” brings us closer to authentic faith than a church that shares little canonical similarity with us today?

Without downplaying the benefits of textual history, let's not forget that salvational faith can exist without 2000 years of canon, lest we start worshipping our bibles.

David said...

I can't decide if this conversation is healthy or disturbing, so I'll give the benefit of the doubt and go with healthy. Anytime something 'new' comes along, humans, especially churched-humans, tend go to great lengths spending a large amount of energy and time holding onto the 'old'.
As an Anglican English Bishop says, "If God wanted the new, He wouldn't have given us the old!"
As preposterous as that comment is, most of us at one time or another have lived it.
I was one of them not too long ago. Then I helped plant a church (from a pastor who came from Kimball's church) that leaned heavily 'emergent.'
What I discovered is that they were sound in doctrine, evangelistic, and held onto the foundations of the faith. In fact, many (dare I say most?) emergent churches are affiliated with denominations or associations like Baptist, E-Free, or the Vineyard.

Even after we had moved on to help with another church (non emergent) I still had some doubts. Over the past couple years however I have gained a deep appreciation of the emerging movement. My wife and I are starting a second service geared toward the very generation that emerging reaches so my study has intensified.

One of the things I have found is that the emergent movement, not only sound in doctrine, is reaching un-churched people. How many evangelical churches can say that most of there church growth was from new people coming to the faith and not church attending transplants?

Something must be done to expand the Kingdom of God into our generation and our culture. Something must be done to reach a hardened spiritually seeking people that have been disenfranchised by church as usual. Something must be done to bring believers into a place of active faith and not pew sitting.

The emerging movement may be new and fuzzy and controversial, but they are effective in changing lives and spreading the gospel.
So if this is a healthy discussion about a new move of God and the questions it may generate, this is a good thing. If this is an attack, and subsequent defense, of emerging, I would ask that maybe in spite of our differences we could work together and truly be the church of the 21st century.

One cannot stop the emerging church. It's here to stay and it will grow. I think it will be what church looks like in 30 years. My question then, is will these people (including myself) be willing to ride the next wave of the church after emergent is the status quo? Or will we stand fast and resist and hold on to our emergent ways? Which is of course the human, the churched-human thing to do.

john said...

> Chad said.. "..it IS possible to claim that our interpretations...are the absolute right ones."

Sure, we can "claim" anything that seems right to us. We can even find others to form a community around our specific truth claims.

The problem with having the “absolute truth” is that 1,500 distinct faith-groups in North America alone all claim to have such absolute truths. Call me an idealist, but I’m convinced that Jesus died for something far more important than our interpretations of absolute truth.

donsands said...

"Jesus died for something far more important than our interpretations of absolute truth"

How do we know that?

Breuss Wane said...

>How do we know that?

Indeed, how do we know Jesus died?

One simply cannot have it both ways, regardless of the 1500 interpretations. Only one is right, and that one right must be knowable... Christ's death and resurrection make it so.

nick said...

we must remember that our best knowledge, as Paul said, is like looking into a mirror dimly. still, we realize God is contiunally moving humanity foward towards fuller revelation. so we should not be surprised by the process of enrichment and reform, in which the EC is enmeshed.

we must grow as hearers of God's word for our particular time and culture, for interpretation is an ongoing and unfinished task. here are three reasons why Christians should welcome, not be afraid of, the theological openess and exploration of the emergent church:

1) the nature of divine revelation is the gracious self-disclosure in the history of Israel and more clealy in Jesus Christ. so revelation does not refer to the Bible, it is rather God's activity in history. remember it was the strict literalists in Jesus' time, who were so rooted in traditional textual understandings, that could not bring themselves to recognize the Messiah. revelation is dynamic and personal, not static propositional.

2) scripture is a meta-narrative, and by this nature is not a propositional document for us to pin down all the rules to obey and doctrines to believe. its character as story opens it up to theological exploration. it is the authoritative grand story of God's revelation through Jesus Christ. the bibles authority is the narrative, and it calls us to inhabit the story, engage with it imaginatively, and grow into Christ-likeness within it.

3) the bible is of composed diverse material with significant amibiguity. metaphor, parable, hymns, and poetry are not always easily discerned for God's desired message for the Church. texts may simply indicate direction, not neat and orderly systematic doctrine. together we can reflect on the Word and by His grace allow it to transform us into servants, not fill us with pride and animosity.

4) the illumination of the Spirit upon the Bible allows us to reveal true meanings from the text. we can trust in Him to form his spiritual body on earth by on ongoing unveiling of truth for our time and place. its not new meaning that is unveiled, but deeper and more contextual insight into eternal meanings.

adapted from Clark Pinnock's article "Biblical Texts-Past and Future Meanings". JETS 43/1 (March 2000) 71-81.

nick said...

uh, i mean 4 reasons.

also i think gary has some good points for must realize the danger of immature and uncontrolled subjectivity of interpretation. but don't we also need to see the danger in any of us assuming that the Bible is simply clear-cut objectively assertained Truth.

i appreciate everyone's love for the Word shown in this thread.

SJ Camp said...

This has been a good conversation so far. I have wanted it to unfold before injecting a few brief clarifying comments.

1. The Scriptures are objective truth (Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119:160; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

2. Scripture is eternal and does not change with the times (Psalm 119:89; Heb. 4:12-16; Jude 3).

3. It is a more sure word than anyones vain imaginings, personal experiences, or cultural moorings (2 Peter 1:16-21).

4. One question any serious student of God' Word must ask when studying Scripture is: what does it mean in and of itself? IOW, what does it mean if I were dead? Our personal baggage, personal experiences, personal cultural contextualizations, etc. mean absolutely nothing when interpreting God's Word (exegesis) and learning what IT is actually saying. The application can be varied--but not the interpretation.

5. The lens of postmodernism offers only an infantile approach to truth; and does not alter the meaning of Scripture for our time one iota.

6. The EC is arminian (anthropocentric) and it is troubling.

7. Doctrine/theology in EC nomenclature is liquid, fluid, and adaptable; "resurging to meet the needs of a new generation."

8. The primary purpose of the local church is not about finding a new technique, understanding postmodernism so we can attract a new generation to its doors, it's about the glory of God and His worship alone.

9. No one is attacking the EC here, but evaluating it. Anonymous suggested I haven't done my homework... Anyone who can't reveal their true identity which is a violation of the rules of this blog doesn't deserve an answer, but a deletion of their post. Sorry mate; when you don't post anonymously in the future, fill out a blog profile and can engage in more than just hyperbole, then we will take you seriously. I don't allow drive-by posting.

Play by the rules or get off my blog--it's that simple.
Until then, you may not post here.

Grace and peace,
Col. 1:9-14

john said...

> Josh said "...regardless of the 1500 interpretations, only one is right, and that one right must be knowable."

I'm not a much of a gambling man - 1500:1 is pretty risky odds.

On this 30+ year journey of faith, there are some constant spiritual truths I've found:

1.) Jesus is my unfailing companion, friend, and lord - who does not change.

2.) My understanding of truth is always changing, ever open to new revelation. I have no reason to think this pattern will change any time soon.

Funny, that old John Keller book on addictions just came to mind: "Let Go, Let God." Perhaps there is a kind of “religious addiction” that keeps us overly dependent upon our own understandings; this need to be "right."

(p.s, thanks, MC, for being a gracious host, and allowing all participants to share their heart.)

Breuss Wane said...


Mr. Anonymous did post his name at the bottom of his post. :-) I remember his first name was Andrew, I think. He might be due some slack.

Breuss Wane said...

>revelation does not refer to the >Bible, it is rather God's >activity in history.

>revelation is dynamic and >personal, not static >propositional.

This is not accurate or biblical on both counts. God activity in history through Christ *resulted in* the Bible. The Bible is God's *written* revelation to man, and thus the sixty six books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:7-14; 2 Peter 1:20-21). The Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Timothy 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God breathed. They are fully self-authenticating, not relying on any external proof for their claims. Since all of Scripture is spoken by God, all of Scripture must be “unlying,” just as God himself is: there can be no untruthfulness in Scripture (2 Sam. 7:28; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Because God is the Bible’s author, we are to accept its authority and submit ourselves to it in faith (2 Pet. 1:19,21, 2 Tim. 3:16, 1 John 5:9, 1 Thess. 2:13).

All the words in Scripture are God’s words. To disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. The essence of the authority of Scripture is its ability to compel us to believe and to obey it and to make such belief and obedience equivalent to believing and obeying God himself. The word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures is the only rule of knowledge, faith, and obedience, concerning the worship of God, and is the only rule in which is contained the whole duty of man. The Scriptures have plainly recorded whatever is needful for us to know, believe, and practice. God’s word is the only rule of holiness and obedience for all saints, at all times, in all places to be observed (Col. 2:23; Matt 15:6,9; John 5:39, 2 Tim. 3:15,16,17; Isa. 8:20; Gal. 1:8,9; Acts 3:22,23).

God’s Word is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness, because Christ, THE WORD, is sufficient (Eph. 1:3, 23; Deut. 8:3/Matthew 4:4/John 6:48-51; John 1:14,16). Because THE WORD is life himself (John 11:25, 14:6; Colossians 1:15-20), The Word is living and active in discerning and judging the actions and thoughts of men (Hebrews 4:12). Christ, as THE WORD, is Wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30), which is *why* the word is sufficient for all of life (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 2:6, 3:18; Colossians 3:16). Christ’s sufficiency for all of life is best summed up by the covenantal promise/fulfillment: Christ is our God and we are His people (Revelation 21:3,7). As THE WORD, Christ himself is the grace that is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:7-10; John 1:14, 16, 17).

Because the Resurrection is a brute fact of history, revelation is inherently propositional, for it is the Revelation as both act and revelation of God that stands over and above all truth claims that do not conform to the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. It is the resurrection that gives The Word from THE WORD its life-breathing characteristics, united to Christ through His Spirit.

>scripture is a meta-narrative, and by this nature is not a propositional document for us to pin down >all the rules to obey and doctrines to believe.

This is also not biblical. While the scriptures inherently contain meta-narrative, the various narrative forms, using various Jewish literary genre, are themselves propositional in nature and scope. Again, because the Resurrection in revelation and act is an historical brute fact, the narrative becomes its own proposition, standing over against any and all thought that would attempt to hold it captive. Propositional truth claims are *not* merely the product of reason and modernity. Propositional truth claims are as old as the Jewish text itself.

>are not always easily discerned for God's desired message for the Church.
>texts may simply indicate direction, not neat and orderly systematic doctrine.

Again, these are simply unbiblical on both counts. While not all texts are interpreted with equal ease, the very inclusion of a text in the canon, by default, presumes knowability (and yes, I impute to the comment a capitulation to “unknowability”). All texts are occasional. These historical contexts presume an original audience with whom we participate in the same redemptive story. Thus, if the original was knowable to the original audience, it necessarily follows that it is knowable to us for precisely the same reasons as the original audience (we share the same redemptive historical context as the early church – the already/not yet).

And, because there is a common meta-narrative inherent to the whole of scripture (the redemptive story pointing forward to and fulfilled in Christ), it necessarily follows that there is a logical analogy to the whole of scripture which is to be exegeted and preached. Among many other things, THE WORD by its very definition is THE LOGIC of God and is to be found everywhere exhaustively in the Jewish text (something the Second Temple Judaism school fails to properly account for).

>adapted from Clark Pinnock

Quoting from proponents of blatant heresy (open theism and process theology) isn’t exactly a commendable practice and is an example of our concern about E.C.

Apologies for the long post Steve. :-)

Breuss Wane said...

John asked:
>Chad – isn’t there a touch of “religious arrogance” in the assumption that we can grasp “absolute >truth?”

No. it is precisely this kind of knowledge of the sacred writings Paul commended to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 so that he could rebut and refute those in propositional error.

> the original expression of Xn community is, in virtually all ways, vastly different than today’s modern >culture-bound church.

The false presumption here is that the canon is the product of (expression of) the Xn community, rather than a gift to the Xn community.

>The first 50+ years of Jewish Christ-followers had no “canon” except the Torah (OT)

This is false. Peter commends Paul’s writings as canon (2 Peter 3:16). While it is true that the canon for early believers primarily consisted of the Torah and the Prophets (Luke 24:27), those scriptures pre-figured the ultimate proposition that transcends all cultures and ages, Christ himself.

> Most of the time, the Jewish Jesus People would simply recount Jesus stories they heard and OT >memory scriptures.

Not only is this conjecture, this isn’t reflect in Paul’s comments to Timothy. The Pauline churches had Paul’s writings and they were considered authoritatively canon from the get go (IOW, the idea that the church had no canon for the first 2-3 hundreds years is a Gnostic myth.

>The first church was comprised of Jews who never renounced their Judaism, yet followed Jesus, >who himself never renounced his Judaism.

This is false... propaganda from the Second Temple Judaism school and the New Perspective on Paul, no doubt (which has much in common with the way the Emerging Church is interpreting the text). Stephen was stoned precisely because the Christ event smashed Judaism as a true religion to smithereens. Christ, as the fulfillment of Judaism, made Judaism obsolete... thus the necessity for Romans, Galatians, Colossians, and Hebrews, all of which are polemics against the continuance of Judaism as a legitimate system of belief.

> The early church had no “canon” as we have today

This is only partly true. The church had a canon. Yet it was not in its complete form.

> yet most would agree that the early church >embodied authentic faith.

No, we wouldn’t agree that the early church embodied authentic faith. This is a good example of the deconstruction of the text that endangers the gospel. The early church was the physical presentation of the Resurrected and Ascended Christ on earth. Its faith was a gift from Christ himself, not a generating force for the canon.

Our “faith” is not the main point of the canon. Christ and His resurrection *is* the main point of the canon, an historical event that stands over, above, and outside of ourselves. That event is prior to and authoritative for “our faith”. The historicity and authenticity of the Christ event, including his resurrection and ascension are not dependent upon our faith. That event, in fact, created, sustained, and elicits that faith via a very real union in a physically ascended Christ by His Spirit.

>Why, then, do we assume that our “2000 years of completed canon” brings us closer to authentic >faith than a church that shares little canonical similarity with us today?

Because we don’t assume that the early church shared “little canonical similarity with us today”. The assertion otherwise is liberal higher criticism at its finest, and historical, orthodox Christianity at its worst.

>Without downplaying the benefits of textual history, let's not forget that salvational faith can exist >without 2000 years of canon, lest we start worshipping our bibles.

While we don’t worship our Bibles, we do worship Christ and in doing so, recognize that The Word flows from THE WORD. The two are inseparably objective and propositional, over, above, and against our subjectivity. The Bible is authoritative because it is a product of and a gift from Christ in the Christ event. It is not the product of the church.

nick said...

breuss, you sound as if you believe you know exactly what God is communicating throughout the entire Bible. how is this not blatant arrogance?!

the bottom line is that you don't. holding this attitude i imagine you are only comfortable with fellowshiping with people sharing all your points of doctrine, and that is sad.

i think what is so sad about the above article and those who share its views is that it seems to come from feelings of superiority, ambition, and control. i know this sounds harsh as well, but this crap is causing division in God's Church, and that ticks me off.

hamo said...

You said

"Anonymous suggested I haven't done my homework... Anyone who can't reveal their true identity which is a violation of the rules of this blog doesn't deserve an answer, but a deletion of their post. Sorry mate; when you don't post anonymously in the future, fill out a blog profile and can engage in more than just hyperbole, then we will take you seriously. I don't allow drive-by posting.

Play by the rules or get off my blog--it's that simple.
Until then, you may not post here."

Thank you Breuss for remembering that I did actually leave my details.

Steve's comments regarding my failure to sign in are hair splitting. I just couldn't be bothered jumping bloggers' stupid sign in hoops.

I actually left my full name, my blog and my church's website because I challenged him to verify his criticisms by actually checking things out.

I will say again that this broad brush of the EC is a gross generalisation and simply does not hold true.

As an Aussie and one deeply involved with this so called 'emerging church' I reject this assessment wholeheartedly as it simply does not describe even a fraction of the churches in my part of the world.

I doubt it even describes the US scene accurately.

Anyway - this will probaby get deleted or castigated as hyperbole, because it dares to question and criticises some very poor research methodology...

If you want to offer critique hen please do some decent research people.

And hey look - I signed in this time. So can I stay on your blog now please?

nick said...

sorry, by crap i meant the arrogant and divisive nature criticism, not the people.

im all about debate but its the EC people calling people heretics, its the EC opponents

God's purpose of community between His people must be higher priority than seeking to homogenize the entire Church's interpretation of the entire Bible. i submit that you cannot do the latter without forsaking the former.

candleman said...


You state: Arminianism (faith precedes regeneration) is a grievous error. Denial of the 5 Solas is a grievous error. It *is* possible to claim that our interpretations of the above statements as defined by Scripture are the absolute right ones.

This is something I really have been attempting to wrap my hands around for literally months now about those in the reformed blogesphere. When you make statements like this and bloggers like The Calvinist Gadfly, labels as Arminian (and therefore herectical) the likes of Charles Stanley, Ergun Caner, Jerry Falwell, Jack Graham, Tim Lahaye ect. and James White plays sections of Paige Patterson's and Al Mohlers conversation on Calvinism and rips into Patterson at every opportunity; And other ministers of the Gospel like Billy Graham and Adrian Rogers who certainly do not dot all your theological “i’s” and cross all your theological “t’s” ; Do you believe these men are going to Hell, or as for Mr. Rogers is in hell, because they do not fully subscribe to what you believe to be so plainly taught in scripture? Do you believe their grievous error, rises to the level that Christ will not say to them, “Well done thy good and faithful servant”, or do you really think it will be “depart from me I never knew you”?

Please explain.



James White said...

and James White plays sections of Paige Patterson's and Al Mohlers conversation on Calvinism and rips into Patterson at every opportunity;

Excuse me, but may I ask you to document this statement? Does "rips into Patterson" mean "examines his statements and demonstrates inconsistencies"? Or does it amount to "ripping" someone to point out that they misquoted Matthew 23:37? Or does the term "rip" have no meaning at all? I'd like to know. Thanks. :-)


Saabinmike said...

Wow, this has turned into way more of an argument than I had hoped it would. Good luck to all of you.

The one thing that I find sadly amusing about the further comments here are how desperate everyone sounds in trying to win.

Bruess, you say that all 66 books are inspired by God. Of that I do not doubt. But whenb you say this:

The Bible is God's *written* revelation to man, and thus the sixty six books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:7-14; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

You use I Corinthians 2:7-14 as a backup to what you say. I don't see how, considering that the book right before it, Romans was written AFTER I Cor., and there was no NT at the time it was written, so I'm not sure how the NT fits into what you are saying. The same goes for 2 Peter. The NT wasn't finalized until well after the date it was written, so when Peter and Paul talk about the scriptures, aren't they referring to the Tanak?

Also, you talk about inerrancy, but all the various translations that have been corrected over the years, I guess those we don't look at?

The Murderer's Bible, printed in 1801, declared: "these are murderers" (instead of murmurers) and continued, "let the children first be killed" (instead of "filled.")
Perhaps the error in Psalm 119 verse 161 in a 1702 version summed it all up: instead of "princes" it read, "printers have persecuted me." It is known as the Printer's Bible.

So what constitutes inerrancy?

I'm not trying to be spiteful, just bringing up some issues that I haven't ever gotten a decent response to.

Saabinmike said...

Also, I tried to post this earlier, but Blogger wasn’t cooperating.

4given, thanks for the correction. I am reading that scripture again and am seeing it in a new light. Maybe all of these arguments/discussions stem from this. Maybe as some people started to wield more power it was harder to go to them with correction. Instead of them being treated like a corrupt tax collector, those who tried to correct a problem were then outcasts. I think Martin Luther is a pretty good example. Thanks for that.

Bruess Wane, I appreciate your comments. I sometime feel lost in this whole journey and that my voice is sometimes lost in the din, so that you responded means a lot.

You said, "That's the text talking, not the E.C. critics. That's the same text that calls us to spread the glory of God to all people groups. However, the task of "reaching the sick and dying" to which we have also been called should not be confused with or assimilated with the primary purpose of the assembly which is a celebration of our union with Christ in being called out from the world."

I agree. It was late and I didn't really expand on some of the things I wrote. The problem I see is that those two issues are blended together in today's church.

Many church-going people think the Sunday service, or any service is all they have to do. They tithe and they have done their part. The 'church' will do the rest.

So I am having trouble coming to terms with how Jesus modeled creating disciples and how that is accomplished today.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says to go and make disciples of all the nations.

I guess this is getting closer to the root of my internal debate.

Is Jesus the example we are to follow in terms of creating disciples?

And isn't that where we should focus our energy?

Worship services are great, of that there is no doubt, but when they become the focus, have we missed the mark?

Didn't we see this in the 1st century church? The Jewish Christians looking down on the Gentile believers?

And going back to the top of my post, instead of trying to correct one another and be humble, creeds were written and practices were cemented and we end up where we are now.

And the established churches see a new form of worship and lifestyle and they puff their feathers and cry heresy.

And those in new form of worship dig their trenches a little deeper and the divide just gets wider.

I read Shawn Claiborne's book, The Irresistible Revolution. He really shook up my world. Two things he said really stand out in light of this debate. First, and he said he borrowed this from someone else, is that Christ is coming back for a bride, not a harem. Second, Claiborne mused if during the final hours before Christ's crucifixion was he given a glimpse of all that would be done in his name and Satan tempted him by asking if that is what he wanted to die for?

Please don't take these postings as inflammatory. It has just been recently that I have gelled my thoughts together enough to start asking questions of others.

candleman said...

James White:

Sure, I will love to document what I mean by my statements concerning Dr. White. But first it seems you would need to follow the rules of Steve's blog and fill out a profile, instead of just having a link to DrOakely, which provides no further info about who you really are.

Grace and Peace!

{{{Candleman}}} ;)

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for actually reading this blogs rules and for complying. It is not a small thing... And yes, comment at your hearts content.

One point of clarification: I have had an ongoing dialogue with Dan Kimball for over a year now; I have virtually read every book written by most, if not all, of the prominent and influential EC authors; I am on their blogs every day, have read countless articles, and have listened to several hundred messages, etc.

It is always the case with ECer's to think or assume that those of us who are Reformed asking legitimate questions of them have not done our homework. May I suggest that you do your homework sir, before posting here again... (I have written over 2,000 pages on this blog alone the last year--you can begin here.)

BTW, I have read your blog and website this evening as well. Thank you for the information. i can see why you're "swimming up stream."

Dr. James White is a personal friend and a well known and highly respected Christian leader. He does not have to jump through the hoops that I require of you.

I would highly encourage you to be respectful of Dr. White whose pastoral faithfulness, personal integrity, and biblical knowledge and writings speak for themselves. I will only say this one time: do not be flippant here with this man of God--you are not afforded that freedom.

With grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

candleman said...


I also have a great deal of respect for both you and Dr. White, and I don’t see where you think I was being flippant with him. I was merely attempting to draw attention to what I thought was a hard and fast rule around here. Before attempting to substantiate what I meant in my post, I wanted to be sure I was actually interacting with Dr. White. Since he is a personal friend of yours, and you seem to be indicating that this is Dr. White posting here, then that all that is needed. I will be back in the next day or so with my response to him.

Grace and Peace,


Carla said...


you said "It is always the case with ECer's to think or assume that those of us who are Reformed asking legitimate questions of them have not done our homework."

Indeed this is one of the more frustrating aspects when trying to have any kind of useful exchange with someone in the ECM.

It would seem that the implication is, if we (the critics) had done our homework, we would be far less likely to disagree with them.

And yet, the exact opposite is true.

I think Pastor Gilley did a very thorough job in presenting a variety of descriptions of the ECM. Truthfully, there are different "streams" within this movement, ranging from the more conservative, to the extremely liberal.

If anyone wants to see Dan Kimball's church, for example, all they have to do is go visit it on the web. It's located right here. Thoroughly read the site, take the time to look at the pictures in the photo gallery, and be sure to check out the links.

In other words, go to the source, do your own homework and see why Pastor Gilley says what he says.


PS - Yes Candleman, that is in fact the real James White. I shared your comment with him personally, just before he commented. I found your description of his treatment of Paige Patterson a bit odd, since I've heard him discuss this and found "rips into Patterson at every opportunity" completely inaccurate and rather inflammatory.

donsands said...

"God's purpose of community must be higher priority" -nick

Community is something that happens because of the truth of the Scriptures that we hold so precious. In other words, the Lord's people love one another, and "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace", only when we have the Word of God as our first and foremsot priority.

"To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice." John 18:37
"Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister in Israel for the truth of God, to confirm the promises". Rom. 15:8

The people of God need to have the Bible, the whole Bible, as our hearts greatest desire, next to the Lord Jesus Himself.
This is where genuine Christ-centered community has to develope.

john said...

Morning, Chad. Yesterday, you posted:

(me): “Most of the time, the Jewish Jesus People would simply recount Jesus stories they heard and OT memory scriptures”

(you): “Not only is this conjecture, this isn’t reflect in Paul’s comments to Timothy...The Pauline churches had Paul’s writings…”

Yes, yor are of course correct. But my original paragraph affirms this:

“…if they were fortunate, they might also have a parchment from Paul or a revelation.”

Chad, if you’re going to assume the role of bible answer man (anyone here remember Walter Martin?), please exercise greater journalistic integrity. Nobody desires conversation in which their words are inappropriately manipulated.

There are further examples from yesterday’s exchange (re: non-renunciation of Judaism, early church as authentic church, etc.), but I trust the point is made.


SolaMeanie said...

Reading through these comments has only served to reinforce what I and many other critics of EC theology have been saying for months. From Brian McLaren on down, the frequent refrain is that "our critics don't understand us" or "we haven't done our homework." (and yes..I recognize that the EC is not monolithic and that Dan K. is on the conservative end of the spectrum.)

This is beginning to get quite tiresome, especially when such remarks are made in the direction of careful scholars such as Don Carson and James White. We have had the privilege of having James as a presenter at Mount Carmel Outreach/Institute for Christian Apologetics conferences in the past, as well as on our radio program, and he has always been a great blessing.

If the EC is so badly misunderstood after countless books, magazine articles, radio interviews, conference seminars and a host of other venues, then I suggest that they stop publishing and making public comments until they invest in some communications and comprehension courses. Unfortunately, I doubt that this will do any good. We understand the inherent philosophy and theology behind it all too well.

Even now, when I read the counters to some of the concerns, I see a lot of emoting rather than dealing with the plain truth and plain text of Scripture. The Apostle Paul would have no sympathy whatsoever with postmodern thought despite implications to the contrary.

Christianity is not to conform to postmodernism, premodernism, modernism or any other type of ism. Christianity confronts these things with the truth of God's Word. God alone has the right to set the standard for what truth is, and we also shouldn't assume that God is so incompetent that He is incapable of revealing clear truth to His creation AND enabling us to understand it.

hamo said...

Thank you Steve.

Any time you wish to ask a question of who I am or what I am about I will be happy to respond.

I appreciate that you have read my blog and our church site and are in touch with where we are coming from. Maybe you can see why some of this post would leave me less than thrilled.

Carla - you've read Dan Kimball's site? Feel free to read ours also and let me know if you see us theologically heading up the garden path.

James White said...

Greetings Candleman:

I am sorry, but I do not have a lot of spare time to be posting in comments threads (I do not know how Campi does it, but hey, he's Campi) as evidenced by the fact that I do not have comments on my own blog. I barely have time to get a few short posts up a week!

I asked you to document what you said for the simple reason that I admit becoming tired of seeing inflammatory language used of me even when I have bent over backwards to show appropriate care in responding to those who attack Reformed theology. I have repeatedly said that Paige Patterson is on a different level than say a Dave Hunt or an Ergun Caner; he clearly knows much more, but that only makes some of his statements all the more puzzling, since he must know there is far more to the issue than his statements indicate. For example, I see no evidence in his presentation that he is seeking to provide a response to the scholarly data on the meaning of the verb "foreknow," yet he could not possibly have missed that information in the level of study that he has, in fact, done.

In any case, I felt your language was inappropriate, and wished to see what you think "ripping" into someone is in light of what I actually did on the DL. Carla had dropped me the link, which is really the only reason I saw your comments. I am *trying* to find time to finish writing a book, so I really do not have a lot of time to be reading outside of that narrow area of interest right now.

Now, if you would like to hear me "ripping" into someone, listen to the DL today. Dave Hunt has once again demonstrated that he hasn't the first desire for accuracy or truth, and given that no one on the planet has as much ground as I upon which to criticize his continued campaign of misinformation, I will, in fact, be "ripping" into recent public comments he has made. I think you will be able to see a clear difference in style between my comments about him and my review of the Patterson/Mohler discussion.


Breuss Wane said...

>Nobody desires conversation in >which their words are >inappropriately manipulated.

IMHO, nothing was manipulated. Your point was that the early church would have been "lucky" to have Paul's writings. My point was that this is both conjecture and inaccurate. The various writings of the NT authors, esp. Mark (the earliest), were commonly circulated through the churches. In fact, in some instances Paul is not only quoting the OT, he is quoting Mark or one of the other gospels... IOW, he expected that the churches he was writing to had more than just the OT manuscripts (One of the reasons Paul uses "sacred writings" in 2 Tim. 3:15 is because Timothy had access to more than "the Law and the Prophets"). Paul and later writers presumed upon their audiences a knowledge of the gospel story that in some instances would have required access to what we now know are canonical writings.

The churches weren't merely "lucky" to have NT writings. Most of them had authoritative writing from the apostles.

David said...

I'm continuing to read this with great interest (although it's getting a bit long to wade through).
Are there concerns with the emergent church? Of course! Some posts would answer that question quite clearly. But I would also contend that there are concerns with church as is. I'm not arguing truth verses relativism, I'm trying to convey the idea that methods may indeed change to advance the Kingdom in our age.
We don't have to follow the 'ism's' so to speak, but we must be contextual, as Jesus, and the early church was.
Yes, the primary focus of the church should be to worship God, and I don't think Dan and the other emergent defenders would argue with that. But, can there be a new way to worship? Can we re-discover how?
Personally, I'm learning from both camps - which means I'll probably get shot from both sides!
To admit, I am still in the process of discovery here so I probably sound a bit like an intern among brain surgeons, but sometimes this conversation sounds a bit like two drunks arguing who's the better football team, Nebraska or Oklahoma...albiet with much more charm.
The emerging church has risen due to not just the change in culture, but the rebellion against the cookie-cutter seeker-friendly mall-looking mega-church. The cookie-cutter seeker-friendly mall-looking mega-church was a reaction to the hard-lined hard-nosed religious come clean and wear a tie fundamental church, which probably was a reaction to the dying liturgical church. I'm making gross generalizations here but the point is, the church changes. Truth is explored in a new light, and although we should be cautious and not follow after the wind, and hold to the truth of the Living God, we should allow this metamorphosis to take place and see where God is moving among His people.
If we never did that, we'd still have to be circumcised!

So, the biggest thing I've learned from this blog? Do what God tells you to do, learn from each other, sharpen one another, but if it turns into an argument, leave it alone and move one. No one will change anyone's mind here (and probably shouldn't) but we all just end up defending ourselves - which is why I'll say no more regarding this issue.
You can all take shots at me now! hehe.

Breuss Wane said...

David wrote:
>can there be a new way to >worship?

I agree with most of what you said. But, at the risk of sounding as though this is beating a dead horse, most of us who consider ourselves reformed would answer the above question with an emphatic "no". Because we believe the Scriptures do not give us freedom (despite the best efforts of deconstructionists/postmodernists to make John 4:24 say something it isn't saying) to worship God as we see fit. The scriptures dictate to us the *how*, *what*, *where*, *when*, and *who* of worship. We are not free to use our own imaginations and create *new* forms of worship.

Jedi said...

I'm always a little confused when I read these discussions. Maybe I'm not in tune with the Holy Spirit, but this "conversation" is always the same. Real theological discussion is not allowed because Calvinist will blow the wistle and yell "out of bounds" then the heretic will end up on the "Slice of . . ." - where the good "left behinders" will burn them. All the while the poor soul is yelling - "I believe in absolute truth(with a shot of subjectivity). I really didn't mean to hint the the 4th and 5th persons of the trinty(Luther and Calvin) might not have read romans correctly. Oh no, did someone just swear, or did you just mention Nt Wrights name . . . no that was merton .. . oh, o.k. - yes that is lighter fluid - hold still.


~Mark said...

"No one will change anyone's mind here (and probably shouldn't)"

~Why not? Isn't that a part of sharpening one another?

donsands said...

"Real theological discussion is not allowed" -jedi

I see just the opposite. A lot of challenging goin' on.
The whole discussion to me is why do we go to church?

I believe with all my heart, that the Lord is the reason for church. I go to worship Christ, and to thank Him for His awesome mercy. I go to hear His Word, so that I can grow in my faith. I go to encourage other believers. We need to be built up in a generation that hates Christ and the truth.
And I love to sing praises to My God with my fellow servants of the Lord.
Church gatherings is not for evangelism, but for worshipping in Spirit and truth.
This is what has been discussed, as well as other things, and I have enjoyed gleaning from all the comments.

Breuss Wane said...

>(Luther and Calvin) might not >have read romans correctly.

At least Jedi recognizes and acknowledges what the historically reformed find contemptible about the New Perspective and its kissing cousin... the E.C.

stu Mcgregor said...

SolaMeanie said...
Reading through these comments has only served to reinforce what I and many other critics of EC theology have been saying for months. From Brian McLaren on down, the frequent refrain is that "our critics don't understand us" or "we haven't done our homework." (and yes..I recognize that the EC is not monolithic and that Dan K. is on the conservative end of the spectrum.)

This is beginning to get quite tiresome, especially when such remarks are made in the direction of careful scholars such as Don Carson..."

No, no, no! From "Brian McLaren on down"? that statement in itself shows you don't understand what the emerging church is! this is so frustrating..."along with brian mclaren" is far more accurate.
Don Carson is a very careful scholar, but he's got this one wrong. his book is really not very good at all. I have his commentaries on my bookshelf and use him for sermon prep all the time. The Carson in "becoming conversant" doesn't seem to be the same person.
it seems that everyone is trying to categorise us...even we're trying to categorise us, but we just aren't there yet. why the rush!
emerging church is expressed right across the board of denominational streams. there's catholic, baptist (southern and kiwi and australian who are all very very different), anglican (episcopalian), methodist, pentecostal, bretheren and the list goes on.
i think the most important distinction that can be made here as a generalisation is that we are prepared to wear what we think on our sleeves for the purpose of enriching dialogue. if you dive deeper into many other congregations you'll find the same stuff and questions being articulated internally but not externally for fear of being "in error".
i think there's more integrity in open dialogue...after all, isn't that what theological discourse is all about?

stu mcgregor said...

while i'm here...the original article says:
How does this work out in the postmodern church? In order to be consistent with absolute truth (or, better, lack of truth) the emergent thinkers must dispose of dogmatic truth claims (i.e. doctrines). They must purge the church of an exclusive gospel, an authoritative Bible and irritating doctrines such as hell.

Nope. I haven't seen the need to follow your path of logic actually. there doesn't need to be a slippery slope.
can i exist with questions about hell but no conclusions? oh wait. I am existing...yep...pinched myself...still here. still got the questions...still love Jesus, still got messages to preach to a congregation about confession, adoration, thanksgiving, petitioning to God, still got messages to speak about good news of redemption...yep, even the last one doesn't require a heavily formulated doctrine of hell...i can just talk about eternal separation from God...which is what you'll find in many reformed articulations of evangelism.
yep...still here...
still got questions...
but i'm baptist? wait...i think i discovered these questions coming from a pentecostal theologian written in the eighties actually...oh but because i identify myself as being emergent then it must be an emergent understanding of hell? nope. it's just more questions from around the globe that have been being asked for centuries and they resonate with me.

Breuss Wane said...

>even the last one doesn't require >a heavily formulated doctrine of >hell

Thanks for making Gilley's point clear for all to see.

SJ Camp said...

Hell is not the absence of God; but His wrathful presence poured out upon Satan and his demons and all who reject the gospel--who were appointed unto destruction from all eternity past in unmitigated fury and gall forever without relent.

Even in His righteous judgment of sinners, He will be glorified (Roms. 9:18-25).

stu Mcgregor said...

Steve, thanks for sharing you understanding of hell. fair enough.
breuss, um...i don't know what to say.
it looks like you've gone for the doctrinal critique to put me outside your schema and ignored the heart of my discussion point. my comment was not about the nature of hell or not, but to illustrate that divergence is part of Christianity. Somehow you see this justifying your position...frankly that's obtuse and unhelpful.
I are you implying i am a 'heretic' for having questions about hell and having an unresolved doctrine around it when in principle we are talking about similar ideas?
if i am not a heretic, then what am i to you that i deserve such vitriolic discourse? if i am not a heretic, then i can only conclude that i'm one of your brothers in Christ, in which case, where is the love and charity and humility and serving? where is the peace between us if i am a Christian?

stu Mcgregor said...

incidentally steve, just had a quick look at romans 9 again and noticed that it's not about hell at all really...it is strong on God's punishment of the wicked and his sovereign will...but not about hell specifically (though I can see how it provides some insight into your understanding of hell). this is an example of divergence.
we see the same text and find different emphases. I don't feel a need to resolve that divergence in the same way some people do. Especially in a case like this where it could be applied to hell, but that's secondary to paul's argument in the chapter.
anyway...I appreciate the dialogue (if it is that, which i hope it is).

Breuss Wane said...

Stu wrote:
>it looks like you've gone for the doctrinal critique to put me outside your schema

It’s not my schema. It would be the schema of every major historically orthodox document in their interpretations of scripture.

Stu wrote:
>divergence is part of Christianity.

Historic Christianity is not as divergent as you and the E.C.er’s would like to make it seem. Divergence is a deconstrutionist thought/presumption that doesn’t stand the test of historical orthodoxy. Sure, there have been diverse voices *outside* of orthodoxy. But then again, many in the E.C. don’t recoil at the notion of being heretical.

Stu wrote:
> are you implying i am a 'heretic' for having questions about hell and having an unresolved doctrine >around it

Only you can be the judge of that. I would hold it out as a possibility.

Stu wrote:
> when in principle we are talking about similar ideas?

With the little you’ve given in your post, IMHO, we’re *not* talking about similar ideas.

Stu wrote:
>if i am not a heretic, then what am i to you that i deserve such vitriolic discourse?

There is a third option that has been employed quite often in historical orthodoxy, especially since the reformation: errorist. This is one who is not necessarily a heretic, but is proclaiming either a grievous error or heresy (i.e. making a distinction between the person and the doctrine). History is littered with those who may have indeed been brothers, were never indicted by a church court, or disciplined for their error out of their churches, but they themselves proclaimed an anti-gospel.

I do not believe it to be vitriol, though it may feel that way to you. My polemic isn’t against you but against your grievous error. I pray there is peace between us. But I (and others here and elsewhere) will continue to defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints against notions such as the one you have articulated here.

Gilley pointed out that some E.C.er’s want to put doctrines inherent to the gospel on the table for discussion and up for grabs, including hell. You proved his point by suggesting that hell indeed isn’t as clear in the scriptures or as fundamental to Christ and His gospel as the historically orthodox have affirmed throughout history. This is precisely Gilley’s (and ours) cause for major concern.

FWIW...The souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day (Luke 16:23–24, Acts 1:25, Jude 6–7, 1 Pet. 3:19). The immediate presence of Christ, beholding the face of God, and hell are the only two places acknowledged by Scripture as places for souls separated from their bodies.

The bodies of the unjust will, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor. The bodies of the elect, by His Spirit, will be raised to honor and be made conformable to His own glorious body (Acts 24:15, John 5:28–29, 1 Cor. 15:43, Philip. 3:21).

All men will be resurrected physically and bodily, the saved to eternal life (John 6:39; Romans 8:10-11, 19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Revelation 20:13-15). The souls of the unsaved at death are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Luke 16:19-26; Revelation 20:13-15), when the soul and the resurrection body will be united (John 5:28-29). Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10) whereupon Christ, who is the Judge of all men (John 5:22), will judge the great and small at the Great White Throne judgment (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:11-13). The wicked will be cast into hell, the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41-46, Revelation 20:14,15), cut off from the life of God forever (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) in an eternal conscious punishment.

Breuss Wane said...

I would also add that for your view of hell to stick, one would also have to call into question God's omnipresence. David said even if he were sent to Sheol (the place of the dead, in this instance, a negative reference to a place for those outside* of the covenant because it is set over against "heaven"), God would be there. This isn't mere metaphor for David. This is poetry as theology. Thus, even hell, in some sense will have God's presence, albeit in judgment. God's omnipresence, not to mention his intentional wrath poured out on the wicked, requires it be so.

Makeesha said...

I decided to follow the general rule of respect by not having conversations in someone's blog comments and not being mean spirited by commenting in my own blog. I'm not going to engage in debate over there but if you're interested to know what another "emerging" person thinks of this kind of ignorant bashing, pop over.

candleman said...

Dr. White .... Greetings,

The DL programs I referred to dates back to 6/30 and 7/11, and I must have felt that way at the time of my initial listening to these programs, but after re-listening to them in the past 24 hours, my using the term “ripping into at every opportunity”, was inappropriate, and I apologize if I misrepresented you. At times on the 7/11 program I felt you got rather animated with your interactions with Dr. Patterson, but it did not rise to “ripping into at every opportunity."
Perhaps I was thinking more in line of how you treat Dave Hunt, which you pretty much admit to ripping into, and yes I certainly did hear the clear difference in style on today’s DL.

Dr. White, I believe I am speaking for a large, segment of people who do not come from a reformed church perspective, but for the first time have been confronted with aspects of the Doctrines of Grace, mainly due to the power of the Internet, and are being confront for the first time in our lives with statements like:

1) Just because you came to a point in your life that you “accepted Jesus into your heart”, does not mean your saved.

2) It is impossible for you to receive Christ, you are a filthy, rotten sinner, and you played no part in your salvation.

3) The only reason why you are saved is because God ordained it from the beginning of time to elect a select group of people for salvation, and dam the rest to an eternal torment in hell. This is done solely by the will of the Father for as it is written …

The problem is, after we are confronted with these things where do we go with our questions? I have seen many people leave interaction on this blog and others, because of being treated flippantly and harshly. I, my self have been told to go read Romans 1-16, and come back later. Steve Sensing who concluded it wasn’t possible to interact with Steve and others decided to pack it in and decided to search things on his own. I have seen this occur all across the Christian blogesphere. The Calvinist Gadfly wonders if those who subscribe to Armininism have a mental disorder or just have a moral problem.
Your interaction with Dave Hunt reads rather disrespectfully , to man who is senior to you, in spite of your programs opening announcement of “be prepared to give answers, but do so with gentleness and reverence.”

It seems to me that once the reformed position is stated, that is all there is. There is no possible counter. And we attempted to question, clarify or give reasons for why we may believe differently than you on these issues, the conversation goes awry, nothing is resolved and at all.

Phil Johnson has stated here in this message The Story of Calvinism: A Historical Survey 10/23/2005 that it took him almost 12-15 years of struggling with the doctrines of grace before he believed them in total. If someone of his intellect and knowledge took that long to grapple with these Doctrines of Grace, before truly understanding the fullness of them, what exactly do my reformed brethren expect of the laity who attend churches who have never been taught these things from their pulpits?

You gentleman are calling for a new reformation. I believe, in part it is here, and you folks are missing it, and as we come to you, after you have shocked us out our complacent Christianity by making statements like are mentioned above at my points 1, 2,3 and make us question and ponder for many of us the first time in decades about the state of our eternal salvation; we are treated as if we have no brains, have a mental disorder, or as a piece of gum you just flicked off your shoe. It all seems to be a game of one-up-man ship, and soon the name calling starts, and things rapidly descend down hill. And so we move on… hoping… praying that somewhere, somehow, someway these doctrines of Grace can be respectfully laid out to us without rancor and discord. If they truly are God’s only hope of salvation, for sinners as you folks plainly state, then where do we go to have our questions answered?

Dr. White I have purchased quite a few of your MP3’s, and was quite ready for what I perceive to be your occasional bombastic approach you take on your blog or on DL, and I listened for this approach to also be present in your speaking style. I was pleasantly surprised as to your utmost, Christ-like behavior you exhibited to your debating partners, even under extremely trying circumstance with the atheist, Brian Lynch and with your debate with Barry Linn, among others. Of all the debates I have purchased, I have never heard you lose your cool, give a cheap shot back to someone who just gave you one, or speak harshly with your opponent. So why is it that your posts on the blog, email interactions, and some Podcasts lack this demeanor that your debating style does not? Do you believe these are different forums, and therefore call for different ways to interact? Why is it appropriate to “rip into” Dave Hunt, but treat Dr. Patterson in a very different way?

So, this is where I am, and I believe I am speaking for an unspoken group of people, searching for Biblical truth in these matters, after being made aware of them by my reformed brethren, but ultimately end up treading water and realizing that if the answers come, they will come by going it alone.


Steve – if you feel I have overstepped my bounds on your blog, in my questions to Dr. White feel free to delete this post.

Dr. White – I realize you have a book to work on, and are limited with time to engage any issues I have raised, which is Ok with me. Perhaps I will try to call in on the DL next week when the crew is back and your taking calls again.

Until then,
May God Bless,


donsands said...

Two thoughts hit me as I read through the comments.

"Wherefore if your hand or your foot offends, cut them off, and cast them away; it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather then having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if your eye offends you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire." Matt 18:8-9

Very, very, serious words from our sovereign Lord. Scary, in fact.


I am simply responding for myself, for I have had many debates with non-reformed friends, and it sometimes gets heated. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me, and sometimes the other party's emotions get the best of them; this is especially true when debating the Bible about election, predestination, and limited atonement. We surely are not programed to be mild mannered at all times. Our emotions are from God. We need to be self-controlled, but it's alright to be passionate.
When I do lose it, then I repent, and ask for forgiveness.
Enjoyed reading your thoughts.

nick said...

hey chad and steve

if i am an arminian, am i a heretic in your opinion? just curious.

SolaMeanie said...

Um, Stu...no I do NOT misunderstand the emerging church. A great example of postmodern quibbling over one phrase and missing the point of the entire post. I could just as easily say YOU don't understand the subject because you didn't differentiate between "Emerging" and "Emergent." Get my point now?

I do not have the time or the inclination for exhaustive point by point examinations of every EC leader/author/speaker out there. Some insist that you must do that to credibly discuss the issue, but that is patently ridiculous. The larger issues of truth, doctrine, careful handling of Scripture, orthopraxis, biblical methodology are my concerns. I have seen and read enough of the key EC to reject much of it. As is often the case, the focus seems to be man-centered and not God-centered.

Breuss Wane said...


What word did I use in describing Arminianism?

Heresy? No. Error? Yes (and in varying degrees... see James White's comments on Dave Hunt and Paige Patterson).

stu said...

sola meanie
"from Brian McLaren down" implies hierarchy. which is simply false. if you want to claim to speak for Truth then speak in truth.
emerging and emergent...in new zealand they are interchangeable...so no i don't get your point. in the states i think there's a distinction, but it's not universal.
you didn't comment on my approach to carson which was a significant point. no one has responded to my questions about how i can claim to believe in absolute truth, or that i still make contribution to the kingdom through my preaching ministry.

5 point Calvinism is just as anthropocentric in its origins as any other theology. Surely that's why it's called Calvinism not Jesusism?

this is not a discussion, and I accept my part in aggravating it...but it's best i bow out. i would like to tack on "peace" at the end of this post, but it's far from what i'm feeling.

Breuss: Passionate? perhaps. But I hope you regret the tone with which you write as i regret the tone with which i wrote my posts. I was being reactionary and unpleasant. Which i'm really actually sorry about.

My behaviour has distracted away from conversation. But i'm going to go now.

molly said...

I am the wife of a minister and someone who is keeping a close eye on the emerging movement... There are elements in it that are VERY attractive to us...

To me, the modern church with it's 3 point answers for every question is stifling (at best) and laughable at worst. Every group stands so firmly on *their* version of what True Christianity is (Calvinist vs. Armenianist debates being just ONE example), the dissenting brothers and sisters being "lesser thans."

I think this is one of the biggest reasons why the Emerging Church struggles with promoting a doctrinal stance. There are a WIDE variety of opinions within the movement...and there are points where a person has to say, "Doctrinal discussions and debates are all well and good, but when they are promoted above loving eachother (1 Corinthians 13), something is terribly wrong."

I agree with some of the concerns...I personally would like a bare bones doctrinal creed (Nicene, perhaps?), some sort of basic standard (not meant to be exclusive, but meant to give a framework)...I would be much more interested in stepping into the Emergent Conversation if there was a bare bones framework of that sort.

I do have concerns with some emerging churches...sometimes what I read sounds like postmodernism is put above Jesus, and not the other way around.

But postmodernism is not evil incarnate, though you will hear many preachers say otherwise. It is just the newest cultural wave...it is the way the entire civilized world is going. The church cannot keep yelling about it and shunning it, becuase this IS what people will be (and what many already are).

It is what it is, just like modernism is what it is. So (as the EM does) calling the church to task on where it has been worshipping modernism is...healthy and good, I think! But let's not replace modern-idols for postmodern-idols, you know?

Some emerging folks have me standing up and cheering. Some have me scratching my head and a little nervous. Some have me rejoicing in seeing God-made-flesh in His Church...and some have me wondering if these people ever crack a Bible?

So I'm just someone who is watching the Emerging Movement carefully, very interested, but also a bit wary. There are things to be concerned about, yes. But the attitude in which it is done, as Candleman put so succinctly above, is all too important. Too many times I see conservatives in a bloodthirsty bashing match, NOT listening, not hearing, not seeing if the emerging movement has anything good to say but just quick to defend what they see as an attack on their own personal view (which they view as God's view, therefore the vehement defense).

Breuss Wane said...


I will grant that I was reacting to your attitude and for that, I too, apologize.

However, what I hope is not lost is that there are fundamental (and I mean fundamental in the sense of critical, vital, etc.) differences in belief that go as far as and deep as the gospel between the historically reformed and the emerging church. This is a hermeneutical and ecclesiological debate-discussion-argument-conversation over which the gospel itself is at stake.

r_y_a_n said...

Dear molly,

I like your post.


James White said...

Dear Candleman:
Well, you'd be welcome to call, if you wish. Yes, we should be taking calls next week.
Just a few things. I can't speak to the statements you mentioned, since I did not make them, and in fact, I wouldn't make them. I do not know their context, but without a context, they seem a bit...odd. In any case, I have written a number of books on this topic, and would be in a better position to respond to objections/questions about what I have actually said than about what someone else has said.
As to your question about Dave Hunt. Yes, he's my senior. And that is why, for years, I sought to reason with him on these issues. If you will, in fact, go back that far, you will find that to be the case. Have you listened to the radio program I did with him as a guest back in the summer of 2001? I then wrote personal letters to him once I heard he was writing a book (which eventually came out as What Love is This?) encouraging him to reconsider the path he was taking. Even after the book came out, which is not only filled with the most egregious errors of exegesis, misrepresentations of Calvinism, and simply laughable historical sophistry, but contains numerous personal attacks against me, by name, I continued attempting to reason with Dave. Have you read my open letter to him which I wrote after I received my personal copy of his book? It is here. http://aomin.org/DHOpenLetter.html But as time passed, and Hunt showed no willingness to admit even the grossest errors, to show anywillingness to learn, to grow, or to simply be honest, yes, my "tone" changed. It had to. How could I continue to address a man as a respected brother who refused to behave as one after repeated attempts to get him to consider his ways? The man has not only damaged his own reputation and ministry, he has shown himself an utter slave to tradition, and has begun to step over the boundary of orthodoxy (mainly into Pelagianism, let alone his full-on embracing of the Hodges/Wilkin heterodoxy) in his dogged crusade against the evils of "Calvinism."
So do I see a difference between himself and Patterson? Of course I do. Do I have grounds upon which to be very strong in my comments on Hunt? Given that I know the man personally, have discussed this with him multiple times on the air, written to him on the topic for years, and co-authored an entire book with him on the subject, I would certainly say so! But it took years for me to finally come to the conclusion that he was beyond reason. I tried for a very long time, and can document that rather easily.
The Dividing Line is a conversation with my friends. My blog is too. If folks are intent upon listening/reading in such a fashion as to make me out to be some big mean ogre, I can't stop them. And to be honest, the older I get, the less it bothers me. Life is short, time is precious, and we live in a day where discernment and clear thinking are scarce commodities.
Thank you for correcting your initial statement that I "ripped into" Paige Patterson. Unfortunately, it is that kind of statement that gets repeated ad nauseum, leading to the kind of "reputation" I have to deal with all the time. "Hey, now that I've gotten to know you, you aren't half bad at all." "Oh, why did you think otherwise?" "Well, I read this fellow who said he heard from a friend that...." It's my burden to bear in life, I guess. :-)

donsands said...

"bare bones doctrinal creed ... basic standard (not exclusive..)" -molly

Could you elaborate on this a little? I am not quite sure how this would be done.

molly said...

I'm not either! *grins*

But I think they (EM)are having the same problem.

All I'm trying to say is that often the conservative modern church chides the EM for not having a creed...and I'm just saying I do see a little bit where they are coming from in choosing to NOT have one. That's all.

Now if it was up to ME (if I was leading the world, muhahah), I would have one. And though the goal of having one would be to invite and give a framework, it would also, of necessity, divide (be exclusive).

I guess my reference to exclusivity really comes from growing up in modern Christendom in it's more conservative forms... Seems like we exalt our doctrinal differences over just about everything else, often using them as sledgehammers in an attempt to bash our brother's differing take on the Scriptures.

Many times it's just a big "we're right, they're wrong" but the name of God is attached to it (scary)

There has GOT to be a way to pursue doctrinal truth, to seek after God in the Scriptures, WITHOUT having to form a hard and fast "This Shall Not BE Questioned" framework within which we use as a bastion to both insulate and attack.

When it comes down to it, there are some foundational truths (which I believe are addressed in the Nicene Creed, for example) that can give us a barebones framework to work from, still allowing us the liberty to pursue after understanding God via the Scriptures, but yet also advocating having GRACE to those who may search the Scriptures but come to a different conclusion.

It would be a beautiful thing if the Calvinist could enjoy his Armenianist brother without thinking of him as a "lesser than," or thinking of the Arminianist camp as "the enemy," don't you think? I just have this funny feeling that God doesn't place our denominational preferences on quite the high plane than we do. I have a feeling He's looking for something else altogether...


Breuss Wane said...

One of the reasons we have a Westminster Confession is because the Nicene Creed was not enough in delineating truth from error.

donsands said...

"if the Calvinist could enjoy his Arminianist brother, without thinking of him as a "lesser brother", ...or enemy" -molly

This goes both ways for sure. I have had Arminian brothers who thought I was causing harm to the gospel with my Reformed doctrines, which I hold very dear.

I also serve the Lord with some dear brothers and sisters in Christ, who are not reformed.

However, we do have a firm statement of faith, which we do not apologize for. Surely we encourage questions, and we are willing and ready to go to the Holy Scriptures to answer any and all questions about our doctrinal statement.
There is genuine liberty in having a committment to certain doctrinal truths.
And love is always understood to be the whole purpose behind all that we do, so that the Lord receives all the glory. Amen.

I just got home from VBS, and i need to chill now.
I appreciate you sharing your heart.

~Mark said...


great post! It's that kind of well-explained openness that helps us all to get to understand each other better, and it's refreshing.

Ironically, I've been listed by at least two aggregators as an Emergent blog and I can only assume that's because I've expressed displeasure with the current condition of churchianity, and the many divisions we suffer, but I've always been clear about my belief in the infallibility of God's Word.

I guess I'll always have to accept a level of misunderstanding no matter how hard I try to be clear, and I think that's something that occurs in people seeking Christ, too.

SolaMeanie said...


Sorry you have to bow out. But I'll answer what I can anyway.

I won't attempt to talk about what goes on in New Zealand. But here in the States, there is an Emergent organization with a board of directors and CEO. It seems to me that the term "hierarchy" as you put it is applicable. The movement that isn't a movement but rather a conversation that has organized. Hmmm.

As to Don Carson, you basically impugned his scholarship without providing specifics. Just where is he wrong?

I make no comments or claims as to your beliefs. If you believe in absolute truth, wonderful. That's a start. It will be evident in time if that belief has legs or not.

As far as Calvinism being anthropocentric, that is a charge that is easily flung at anyone. C.S. Lewis said once that labels can become an attempt to avoid thinking. If the words "Calvin" or "Calvinist" weren't applied and you were just looking at Scripture, what would you see? You would see total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption, irresistable grace and the perseverance of the saints. I didn't see these things myself at first, but one day I ran smack dab into Romans chapter 9 and I was off and running. :)

If you get overly into making everything anthropocentric, you might as well throw Scripture out and not bother. This assumes that God cannot preserve His Word, nor reveal its meaning to His children through the indwelling Holy Spirit. God indeed uses anthropomorphisms in Scripture to help us identify and understand, but this has nothing to do with core doctrinal matters. Salvation by grace through faith is orthodox theology. Salvation by works is heterodox theology. No ifs, ands or buts.

I understand how it is to be really jazzed and turned on to what seems to be the fresh, new thing. And I understand how angry and disappointed you can get when people criticize what you think is a great thing. But we have to weigh everything in the light of Scripture, let Scripture form our worldview, and let Scripture define and evaluate our experiences. Whatever does not line up with Scripture must be rejected, no matter how many warm fuzzies it gives us.

And that leads me to respond to Molly's comment about postmodernism not being "evil incarnate." Assuming you are using "evil incarnate" as an expression rather than meaning it literally, I must say that postmodernism is a philosophy right out of the pit of Hell. The very nature of postmodernism is a denial of objective truth, authority, clarity, etc. It is diametrically opposed to biblical Christian doctrine and thought. Christianity is not to adapt to, or adopt, such philosophies. Christianity is to confront those philosophies and false worldviews with the truth of God's Word. The truth of God's Word transcends culture and holds culture accountable to it, not the other way around. If the church compromises on this, we might as well lock the door, turn the church into a skating rink, and go home.

molly said...

(Just a note: all this is said by a person who enjoys this conversation and isn't "raging" or foaming at the mouth, but is appreciating the dialogue)... :)

Regarding the last comment about postmodernism being from the pit of hell, how is it any more so than modernism?

What if postmodernism has some good things to bring to the table?

What if it is a human "age" made up of both truth and untruth...and what if Modernism could be defined the exact same way---simply an "age" made up of both truth and untruth.

No one can deny that modernism has brought us great things...and yet we also have to look at what it has done to DAMAGE the Gospel.

Modernity, with it's claims that science and rational thinking will solve everything...Neatly collect the right data and walla, problem solved! Systematic Theology and badda boom, we've got God all figured out, right? Modernity, with it's medical system that divides the human body into parts and says that's all it is.

As an example, my second child's ears were perpetually infected so they said to get surgery and have tubes put in...when I discover (after reading some naturopathic books) that it was a milk allergy, that's all -- which I had asked about at the Dr's and which question they scoffed at... Hey, ears being blocked up can ONLY have to do with the ear canals, not with diet, right? Wrong...

[The postmodern view is that the human body is a whole thing, an interconnected weaved-together thing, not merely (the modern view) a collection of seperate parts. And they look at the Church and the Gospel in the same way. This brings GOOD things to the Church, not evil]!

Modernism has done so many things RIGHT and yet it has equally done so many things wrong! The postmodern view on life is just like that: it has LIES and it also has TRUTH, and, if I may humbly say it, I think we look like fools when we champion modernity and say it is of God whereas postmodernism is Satanic.

The Emerging Movement is at least, at the VERY LEAST, dealing with the fact that we have an entire culture on our hands that is NO LONGER modern, and it will only grow the more so until Modernity is looked at in the same way we now look at the other various ages man has gone through.

Think of it---the Medievals thought that their view of the world was RIGHT...we look now and see good things in that era...but we also see where they were blind.

Can we be so bold as to say that the Modern era is the first age that has been totally right? Is it possible that, just as men in the other ages totally missed the boat in some areas of truth, that Modernism equally fails to provide a perfect framework for humanity?

And, if so, if an age offers both good and bad things (and plenty of medium/grey/neutral), then postmodernism isn't the devil...it's just a new era. And it happens to be the one that the world is entering into NOW.

The Church MUST DEAL with this.

We have to be the church to the postmodern world, and saying that postmodernism is from hell is...not a good way to do it.

So the Emerging Movement is looking at the Church and asking,

"What is the true Church and what is simply a Modern interpretation of what "the church" is?.

And I say that is a VERY valid question, not one to be scoffed at. We have to ask it---we are being forced to ask it.

We need to be able to look at the Church and find out what the eternal truths are, and what are simply expressions of an era, expressions that may have been powerful at one time, meaningful at one time, but not "Necessary Bastions of the Faith."

For example, I will lose track of my fingers and toes if I had to count how many times I've heard people talk about hymns as if they are a Bastion of the Faith, that they are all Christians should sing, that they are the True Worship Music... (I like hymns, mind you).

It's amazing to think, if such opinions are true, that the Church somehow suffered through centuries and centuries without those aforementioned Bastions of the Faith songs since said songs didn't yet exist! ...Somehow they didn't sing what we know today as hymns, yet they still managed to be Christians. Huh. Amazing.

The way I look at it, I want to see God shining through His Bride. That's what I see in the Scriptures: God wanting to be manifested in a people, to know and to be known...and the Church is to be the Body, the visible expression of her Head. The Church is to be Jesus, in that sense, to the world, right, His hands and feet, etc?

So looking at the Church and removing stumbling blocks that are simply tools to speak to Modern people, but a rock of offense to Postmodern people? Well, it just makes sense.

Let's keep what's of God, and let's dump what is of Modernity, because the Postmodern crowd STUMBLES over the Modern Church.

If people stumble over Christ, well, we've been told that will happen and it's just a sad fact. But if people stumble because WE are saying that following Christ is something you can only do if you are a Modern, that you can only follow Him if you speak Modernese, if you think Modernese, if you "do Church" in Modernese style?

That's a travesty, at best.

Like I've said before, there are elements of the Emerging Movement that excite me and there are elements that grieve me, and I'm just somebody in ministry (in the modern church) watching from the sidelines. But I cringe when I hear the EM being trashed, being made to say what it isn't necessarily saying, etc.

There may be elements that deserve criticism, but there are other elements that slap us in the face and rightly so. We need to be grappling with some of the questions they bring up----we HAVE to.

candleman said...

Greetings … Dr. White,

I did not realize the long standing nature of your relationship with Dave Hunt, so I can certainly understand more clearly why he gets you so agitated. My quest to more fully understand the Doctrines of Grace, began this past fall, and I think I first ran into your ministry was early spring when the first Canner emails at the Founders Blog hit, so I am somewhat new to the extent of your history with him. I have printed out the link to your open letter (wow – 22 pages as a Word Doc) So I’ll be reading up on that this weekend, and I will also see if that DL program with Dave Hunt is still on the archives somewhere.

What I was trying to relay to you concerning Dave, is when people like myself are searching around for information on the Doctrines of Grace, they will more than likely come across your ministry at some point. While you may certainly have a justifiable right to deal with Dave in a harsh manner, due to the circumstances you describe in your post, people who are offended by your treatment of him, are going to move on and not stick around and attempt to get to know you. They are not going to get the benefit of your deep understanding of God’s Word, and your ability to explain it like few others I have ran across in my search. And that, I think you would agree, is not a good thing.

I actually got to meet Dave this spring myself, (he was at my local church for a prophesy conference), and there was a luncheon one afternoon where he had a Q&A session. I found him to be an engaging and charming guy, (I even got him to sign my copy of “Debating Calvinism” (AAhhhh, now I’ll probably never get you to sign it!) ), however most questions where about prophesy, and not Calvinism.

It has been a real treat to interact with you, and I appreciate your time spent in both reading my concerns and responding to them. At least you have not attempted to execute me, the way Pyromaniac did! Hhhaaa!


Stu Mcgregor said...

breuss, thanks for your apology it means a lot. looks like Molly is making much more sense in articulating my views anyway!

And for Sola Meanie, i think you'd be surprised how conservative I am . . . as I'm sure I'd be surprised to see how liberal and gracious you are in person. C'est la vie that this is how we met.

grace to all.

donsands said...

"It looks like molly is making a lot more sense"

Perhaps it's me, but I have no idea where molly is coming from.

We need to speak the truth in love. We need to have doctrinal truths stated without apology, and even be willing to die for, if needs be.
Many of Christ's saints have forfeited their very lives over truth.

Seems simple enough to understand, but I don't understand what molly is trrying to say.

Bill Arnold said...

Well, I think Molly is making lot sof sense.

She wrote: "No one can deny that modernism has brought us great things...and yet we also have to look at what it has done to DAMAGE the Gospel."

As one who sympathizes with the emerging church in general, I do not simply conform to postmodern philosophy. If anything, I side with Nancey Murphy, who makes a distinction between Anglo-American and Continental postmodernism.

I think the point is that within postmodern thought, there are correctives to the damage that has been done by post-Enlightenment thinking.

donsands said...

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes unto the Father but through Me".

My doctor told me he believes we can acheive peace in this life through all sorts of religions.
I said, yes, you're right. But what about after you die?
I share this verse with him. He said, I don't remember hearing Jesus say that.
I said, do you have a Bible. He said yes. I said go read John 14:6.

I told him to die without Christ means eternal damnation, and hell is the destination for all who reject this truth.
I was right, and he was wrong. i surely care about him, but I was right, and he was wrong.

molly said...

PS. Off topic post script: I was not saying that McLaren is like Tilton!!! I was just trying to make a point, that of picking out a few voices and saying, "This is the sum total of the EM's viewpoint" is unfair, at best.

yes2truth said...

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 'Emerging Church' as you call it is without Churchianity.

Most of us do not attend and the reasons to me for that, are obvious. Yes, there are some True Believers within it, but in the main they are outside it.

If you read and study closely what is written here on this blog, you will then understand why they are without and not within Churchianity.

The problem is religion and Bible intellectualism or theology. You know, the same problems Jesus Christ had i.e. The Pharisees (The Religious) and The Greeks (Intellectuals)

Nothing has changed in 2,000 years.


Breuss Wane said...

One cannot be a true believer and continue to avoid participation in a local assembly of believers (Hebrews 10:19-31... where "gathering" is equated with "house of God" and those who don't are warned that they will "fall into the hands of the living God".

The visible church is Christ's pre-ordained means of saving His people (Eph. 2:18-22)

yes2truth said...

There is only one thing that makes a True Believer a True Believer and that is the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. We are then perfect in The Father's sight because of Jesus Christ's death, which took all our sins and His Resurrection, which gave us a new life as a Spirit Born Son of God.

Once Born Again, we are The Church - The Ecclesia - The Called Out, and membership of any other organisation is of man - not of God. In real terms, surplus to requirements.

More importantly we are commanded to be likeminded and there is the problem, for I am not likeminded with most of Christendom and for good reasons.


Breuss Wane said...

Hebrews 10:19-31 is speaking of a visible organization of believers. To not be part of one is to subject oneself to the prospect of damnation (Heb. 10:26ff). The idea of an invisible body without the visible church is a pagan/gnostic myth.

And nowhere in Scripture is "true believer" exhaustively defined by "indwelling of the Spirit".

yes2truth said...

Ah yes, Hebrews, the false minister's favourite book for spiritually abusing his flock. Don't they just love it and they misuse it in the same way you have to keep their flocks in bondage to their non-gospel.

Leaving a first century Church would be leaving the real thing I haven't done that, I have left a counterfeit church.

Sinning willfully for your information is turning one's back on The Lord Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with me leaving Churchianity to be a Christian -free under Grace.

I am responsible for my Spiritual welfare and Churchianity is bad for that welfare.

I will repeat what I said about being likeminded and by the way you are misteaching Scripture I could no more be likeminded with you than jump over the moon. Until you have repented of course.

Indeed, I am only reassured that I did the right thing seven years ago.

I suggest too a quick read of Acts 2 just to get up to date on what being Born Again means and how True Believers have The Holy Spirit dwelling in them.


Breuss Wane said...

Acts 2 doesn't mention "born again". Nor does it mention "indwelling of the Spirit". I must be using the wrong translation.

You have yet to use any scripture to back up your claim that Hebrews is *not* talking about the gathered assembly (or any other passage for that matter... Eph. tells us that God's salvation specifically comes to his people through the visible, local assembly).

yes2truth said...

Being filled with The Holy Spirit is not being Born Again.

I have now heard it all. You probably are using the wrong translation, most blind guides do -
it helps their condition.

No wonder I left Churchianity. Many thanks for confirming I made the right decision.

I have proved my point and like all men of religion you can't see it, for you are Spiritually blind and your last post proves it.

I suggest you read the story of Nicodemus as you obviously need to go back to the beginning.

Unbelievable!!! You couldn't make it up! The problem is, you have!


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


You have yet to engage the text. Can you show us where "filled with the Spirit" = "born again"?

You are presuming your own opinion onto the text rather than allowing the text to define its own terms.

yes2truth said...

When people, or better, blaspheming sons of the Devil, remove the posts of a Son of God, it is time to dust off my shoes.

Woe to you Chorazin!


donsands said...

Man yes2truth!

I think you need to calm down a little.
Don't you think you're a little over the top with a statement like that?

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, a heart of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a complaint against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also you must do.
And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness." Col. 3:12-14

john said...

I think Molly is making perfect sense, and speaking with great wisdom.

To Chad (Breus), thanks for keeping us on our theological toes, though I'm convinced that the religious experts (whom Jesus called snakes) held rigidly to this same idea that "authentic faith" can, and should, be reduced to a "rigid schema."

In replying to Stu, you claim that you are simply espousing "orthodoxy" as shared by "every major historically orthodox... interpretation of scripture." Do you really mean this? Have you really studied "every major historically orthodox movement" to the depth necessary to make such a claim?

Respectfully, I think you've got it backwards. The reason we have such divergent theological opinions is precisely -because- there is significant divergence in historical orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

And to yes2truth, I'm sensing some deep hurt.

To Part 3 of Gary Gilley's essay on postmodern Xnty, what happened to the objectivity he observed in Part 1? With statements like "the emergent church is not excited about truth," I'm afraid it's hard to take seriously much of Part 3.

What's most disturbing (to me) is how Gilley treats a handful of writers, most notably McLaren, as the "leaders" of some "thought movement." A quick review of www.Zoecarnate.com shows something like 5,000 websites now discussing Xn faith in a postmodern context. There are no "leaders" of a new "movement" afoot. This is the beauty of what the Internet is facilitating. What’s emerging is a true conversation among peers, among Christ-followers who don't always agree, but agree to keep talking and sharing their mutual love for Jesus.

Again to Steve Camp - thanks for facilitating an important conversation. Certain blogs (one in particular on your "blogroll" list) would have censored a majority of these pro-EC posts.

And to all: may we flee from the conformal, lest we forget what it was like when we first discovered Jesus as our short-circuiting, conscience-shifting, unboundedly-loving, eternal source of life. Gifted with authentic freedom from the mediocre, we somehow allow ourselves to become attracted back to the roots of our bondage – the pharisaical urge to be right. A God formed by skillful language and logic should not become the image of our worship.

“The god who made the world and everything in it...is not served by human hands. The diving being is [not] an image made by man’s design and skill.” (Paul on Mars Hill, NIV)

Breuss Wane said...

>The reason we have such divergent >theological opinions is >precisely -because- there is >significant divergence in >historical orthodoxy and >orthopraxy.

This simply isn't the case. There has always been 1 faith once for all delivered to the saints. There is only one right interpretation. And throughout history, there has been either adherence to or deviance from that one interpretation.

Does that mean any one of us at any given time have it 100% correct? No. But that fact, contrary to the ecumenists and E.C., does not undermine the reality (see the Dallas Willard article mentioned in the comments section of Post 3) of the 1 authoritative and absolute interpretation. Why? Because that truth exists outside of ourselves. It is not dependent on us for existence.

While there is give and take on some of the minors, there is no give and take on the majors. And throughout history those who are not orthodox are heterodox (and historically, that heterodoxy includes the Eastern Orthodox church... which is where this conversation usually ends up).

Breuss Wane said...

>A God formed by skillful language >and logic should not become the >image of our worship.

While in and of itself, this statement is true, the context in which it is given is not. God reveals himself through an objective language and logic in scripture. The text demands we conformed our language and logic to its own... therefore, to know God is to study, know, and affirm the language and logic by which he has revealed himself in scripture.

Breuss Wane said...

>rigidly to this same idea >that "authentic faith" can, and >should, be reduced to a "rigid >schema."

The scriptures reduce themselves to a "rigid schema". "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received (the canon in oral form from the apostles), let him be accursed".

iggy said...

Have you notice that much of the same argumental styles used against emergent... was used against people like Keith Green, Petra, Larry Norman and other artists back in the day...

I remember when Bob Larson wrote that one book... and many others against the evil rock music invading our churches... they argued that we were modernizing the Gospel that needs no updating...

I just hope that you are still "after God's own heart" and not following some man's teachings... and you remember that we emergent’s would take "don't tell them Jesus love's them, unless you are ready to love them too" as serious as can be.

I have found that we do not hold to a "cheap grace" and hold truth to a higher standard... I would say that many of the Jesus movement were in a way just like the emergent’s of today… seeking something REAL… not just churchianity. I see that they are seeking Jesus Himself… as the church has clouded the Holy Spirit with programs and other things we call ministry. Can God use these? Only if we get out of the way. But, it seems we want program driven lives… or we seek out a purpose, when we really need to realize our purpose is to serve and love Christ. We from emerging see the modern church (who used to be the enemy in the pre-modern time) has failed… just as the Jesus people saw that those who desired to come to Jesus were told to “clean up” before they could come to the Lord.

God desires growth… He doesn’t want us to stagnate in the quagmire of religiosity.

I see that in emerging…

I see those who can see, and hear are coming out of Religion… and coming to Christ… wanting to lay down denominational walls and seek the unity that Christ prayed we would come to… (John 17). Modernism with its emphasis on “being right”, which when boiled down is really self righteousness as we set our own “righteousness” over another by saying they are wrong… Instead we should seek doing good and serving one another… not adding to divisiveness but seek the ministry of reconciliation… (2 Corinthians 5).

I know I have rambled a bit, but I am tired of the out of context abuse and divisive accusations against emergent’s… who are just people trying to find Jesus in a crazy world.


Bill Arnold said...

Thanks, Iggy. I appreciate your "ramblings!"

luvvom said...

I agree with what I did read of the post. EC and the purpose driven church are on the broad road to hell. I am alittle concerned with the worldly "decorations" of your blog. I know when you click on them they just lead to more of what you have to say and not to, for example, Jim Carry (I think that's how you spell his name). However, God has called us to be in this world but not apart of it. Not just alittle separate or not just a lot separate but completely separate. The more of the world we let into our lives the more we become like it. I have to say that I followed a link from a friend's blog to here and thought I had stubbled upon an emergent church's site. Not a good witness. sarah

littlegal_66 said...

Okay, now I have to chime in.


What specific "decorations" are you referring to? (And I'm not just curious; I have a personal interest in that question).

Satirizing popular culture and popular icons is one thing; endorsing them as Biblically relevant (i.e., "Jack Bauer as a type of Christ" [sorry, Chad :-)]), is another thing altogether.

"....thought I had stumbled upon an emergent church's website....?" That just proves how muddy, cloudy, and confusing the emergent water out there is becoming. Personally, I don't see anything here that could give someone that impression.

And while I'm at it...."iggy," before I respond to your last comment, are you saying the same argumental styles are being used, or the same arguements are being used?

Breuss Wane said...

>(i.e., "Jack Bauer as a type of Christ" [sorry, Chad :-)]),

Do we have to bring *that* up again??? :-)

iggy said...


The point is that "modern" churches which is a very broad word... but broken down a bit can mean simply "Americanized Gospel", or one based on the scientific style and approach to scripture, trying by it's very theology, to keep certain people out of the church, and away from Jesus.

So it mean can be both...

1. Argumental styles. Based on false assumptions... or out of context quotes or a tainted world view of what the scripture is. People have redefined the scripture to fit their culture instead of letting the scripture define them and then go to reach out to their culture. (This is often missed in the anti writings). It is more common in the modern churches than the EC as we see it as a way to reach others, instead of using it to make money as in how modern churches riding the coattails of the Davinci Code with anti books and marketing… instead of just looking in scripture and seeing this has already been dealt with… and teach a deeper life in Christ. I think we Christians marketed Davinci Code better than David Browns own marketing company did!

2. Arguments. Some of the arguments used against those of the early Christian music camp (pre over commercialization that exists today) many were not accepted and were not allowed in churches because it was the devil's music. Also many of the "Jesus movement" where not allowed in churches because of how they dressed, smelled, or what ever the "normal" churchy folks felt made them feel uncomfortable. If it wasn’t for Larry Norman and other longhaired Christian rockers I may not be a Christian today. As I was told I could not attend a Christian school if I had hair over my collar and played electric guitar. This was back in the early 80’s.

The case for each was made with the first post by Dan Kimball… we are told that “he does” (fill in the blank) and the truth is the person who made the claims never has looked into it himself. So where is the credibility/integrity of researching something before making accusation? This is symptomatic of the “modern church”… as if it does not fit their paradigm it is not true… to me as I look at it from coming out of it I see a parallel to the Pharisee (as with the post above stating “decorations” ) attitude. I see a lack of love and charity and grace toward EC people. I see more given to those outside the church than to us and accusations and innuendos… I have been called many nasty things not because of what I teach, but because I have a little green box that says “emergent friendly” and some links to Brian McLaren’s site. It seems that just having those things makes me an apostate/liar/dishonest/homo loving/myspace.com using/child molester. Which is only some of the things I have personally been called. Of course this was all said as they were “truthing in love” and “rebuking me” so I would “repent”.

All it does is alienate and make one feel that if that is the ‘church’ then you can have it as I prefer to follow Jesus and live as He desires.

Really I am shock at the self righteousness and hate that has come at me, because I have decided to seek Jesus deeper and speak out against these sorts of things… in hope to regain the purity of the faith, not tainted by “rose colored Americanization/commercialization of the gospel”.

Jesus was not a conservative… the Pharisees were though, Jesus was not a republican… no, He was doing the work of His Father… Jesus was not apolitical, just focused on the Kingdom of God rather than creating and defending His very own kingdom like most of us have done. Jesus was a radical, subversive who stood against the religious system that had developed and stood opposed in purpose to what God desire. He stood against the commercialization of the Gospel… much as Steve did at one time as he stood with Keith Green and called out in a once prophetic voice, the their music was a gift and should be given away to those who could not afford it and sold to those who could… Somewhere I fear Steve may have lost that… which even for then was very EC in thought… yet what I think would happen to day is that if EC caught that as a value, EC would carry it out in practice unlike the modern church.


a simple bloggtrotter said...

DId my post get deleted...or did I miis it and any responces?

littlegal_66 said...

:-), Chad--
Sorry, it was the first example that came to mind. ;-) BTW, you're doing a wonderful job with this topic.

a simple bloggtrotter-I think you were looking for the The Emerging Church (Part 2) thread.

littlegal_66 said...


Thank you for your response (although I'm not Sarah, I'm Stephanie).

You stated: "Based on false assumptions..." Conclusions that we are reaching are partially influenced by the actions, statements, deeds, and words we've witnessed from and by the leaders of the emergent movement (or emergent conversation, or emergent friendship, or whatever moniker is preferred).

Yesterday, I read an interview with Tony Jones, who was attempting to emphasize how politically diverse the emergent movement is. Here's a quote: "We have no politics. We have everything you could imagine. We have Texas Baptists who don’t let women preach, and we have lesbian mainline pastors in New England. It’s not that kind of a thing. Our politics are 'get engaged in the world.'" Later in the interview, when asked further about the lesbian mainline pastors, he responds, "Why would you break fellowship with someone because you have a different understanding of the atonement than they do? Or a different understanding of human sexuality than they do? It seems nonsensical that we’d give each other tests and try to hang it over someone else’s head and say, 'Hey, dude. I’m going to break fellowship with you if we can’t come to agreement on this particular issue.'"

These are the types of comments that contribute to our conclusions. There seems to be a fear of calling sin "sin," because it might offend the sinner. (BTW, isn't a lesbian mainline pastor a "triple whammy?")

You said Jesus was not a conservative. But I don't believe He was exactly politically correct, either. He was not above bluntly and frankly calling people to repentance for sin, not above correcting erroneous thoughts, beliefs, and teachings. He didn't necessarily go around promoting feel-goodism and perfect harmony here on earth. (Matthew 10:34). If someone was wrong, He addressed it. In Matthew 16:23, we see Him rebuking one of His most beloved disciples, calling Him "Satan," and a "hindrance." (ESV). In Mark 9:19 (and BTW, I quote the Word at the risk of appearing to have a "tainted worldview of what the scripture is"...[or is that an 'Americanized' view?].....but I digress), He expresses His frustration with the unbelief He is witnessing, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?".

And in one of my favorite incidents, when He went into the temple to minister and found the money-changers, He didn't "engage" them by buying them a latte at the temple's cappuccino bar, or try to "relate to them" by setting up His own booth and selling autographed copies of Old Testament scrolls, nor did He decide to be "hip" by pitching denarius' with them. Rather, He harshly rebuked them, upended their "flea market," then turned around and started healing the sick and afflicted. (Matthew 21:12-13).

You referred to the "commercialization of the Gospel." Commercialization of the Gospel could also be defined as subtly (and maybe even subconsciously) sacrificing the quality of the Gospel for a larger rate of return--in this case, this possibly could take the form of rapid church growth, etc. That is, in a sense, watering down the Gospel to give it more of a mass appeal.

Finally, you asked, "So where is the credibility/integrity of researching something before making accusation?"
Oh, iggy, I would encourage you to take your own advice to heart, here, because if you were to do more research, and you did it earnestly & thoroughly, you would come to the conclusion that you yourself may actually have expressed/posted some misconceptions in your last entry, particularly your last paragraph.

I've posted far more than I should at this juncture. Thanks for reading my input, iggy.


iggy said...


Thank you for your thoughts...

I have the perspective of once being very entrenched in modernism, seeker/purpose driven and now EC... I have been active in the conversation for the last 3 years and have talked personally to some of the ‘leader’ of the so called movement (I am one who does not like it to me called a movement as I think it diminishes what God is doing).

So I may have wider understanding than you realize. I have been on both sides of the fence so to say… (I know someone will surely twist that last statement! LOL!).

In that I have very much and carefully considered much that is said and done, and I do not agree with ALL of EC as you would not agree with ALL modernism ( at least I would hope not as the end result of modernism is science is god and that there is no God).

It seems you and I agree on much, whether you see that or not. Yet, you still took my statement out of context of the whole… it was that the accusations against Dan Kimball where not true as presented in this post… and in that I said what I said… with the backing of facts presented here. I have seen this over and over.

One must realize that Tony Jones and Brian McLaren may be the loudest voices, but they are only two in a much larger conversation going on. Tony’s comment again is surely being miss understood… partly because EC doesn’t speak the language of the modern church, and to understand takes some time. He is not condoning homosexuality, only that it is presenting the conversation… and isn’t it great as those of us now have a chance to help some understand that homosexuality is a sin and that they can find their identity in Christ versus their sexual preference. It seems much of the modern conversation on this issue is, “Your Gay, your going to hell!”. Without love… we are a annoying gong.

It is in the context of conversation we can reason truth and help others come deeper in their faith… again to just judge and condemn… (Which is God’s job not ours) will not help the gay/lesbian. come to Christ… it will only alienate them further… These are people that Jesus died for so I think they are worth reaching with the gospel unto salvation.

Also I may have posted some misconceptions in my last post, yet I am speaking from my experience… so in that way it is what has been dished out to me to see… it may have been a blanket statement, yet in my experience it has proven true… in that you can not invalidate my experience anymore than I can yours.

Again, as I said… there are conservative and liberal and moderates in EC some love Rush Limbah and some like me see him as a sell out to the Republican Party. (I am more an O’Reily/Hannity guy). So I am more the conservative voice. Yet, within the conversation respect of the person is held as a high value in EC thought. I see and experience little of that from the modern church, I see “being right” as more important than if the person can understand. Who cares if we are “right” if no one is saved… beside the scripture teaches “no one is righteous, not one” and that is why we all need Jesus and His imputed righteousness for He IS the ONLY ONE Who is right(eous).

I can see that your mind is already made up and this was most likely a waste of time… yet I thank you anyway for your time and an opportunity to dialog with you. I will most likely not be back to this blog.


iggy said...

Mr. Camp,

BTW "To any ECer worth their biblical salt" is a little condescending. I think people like NT Write are very well versed in scripture. And I think many are very well read, often much more so than what I have found in othre movements. This sort of rehtoric cuts across the vein of your comment "No one is attacking the EC here, but evaluating it."

It assumes we do not study or hold the scripture as high as you... it is placing yourself above us...

You said,

"In fact, when you think about it, the EC has created its own language; its own subculture; its own books; MP3's; websites; conferences; music; and methodology that has generated millions of dollars and produced a few mega-churches to boot. "

yes, and it is the fastest growing "movement"... and most "modern" churches are shrinking... reminds me of hte words of Gamaliel in Acts 5:33-35.

I would say more but this as other anti emergent blogs is turning into a "us versus them dialog which will close done most" style of dialog which is truely not a fruitful way of communication.


Bill Arnold said...

That's what upsets me the most about these conversations...that they are for the most part so adversarial.

Whatever happened to humility or meekness? Whatever happened to bearing with one another? How about letting our speech be gracious and seasoned with salt? (see Colossians 3-4)

Having said that, I confess that I don't always live up to it. I'm praying I can do better.

littlegal_66 said...

Iggy said: "These are people that Jesus died for so I think they are worth reaching with the gospel unto salvation."

Definitely!! We agree on that point, but what we seem to disagree on is the methodology.

And as for the misconceptions I was referring to....perhaps in time you'll figure them out, but if Steve Camp himself doesn't see the necessity of clearing them up, then I won't expound on them further.

I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you as well, but please don't abandon this blog on my account; I am but a student myself, here.....ever-learning, and, believe it or not, I am willing to consider all sides of an issue. There is much here to think and pray about. I definitely don't have all the answers....(I really wish I did, though, because that would mean that I was finally home with Him).


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

SJ Camp said...

I've updated my comment slightly for you for clarity's sake. Let me know your thoughts...


PS -I'm curious, is Iggy your real name? AND, the ONE campaign is an effort in futility. Look to those really making an impact... As a pastor you should be better informed.

john said...


Can you elaborate on why you feel the One Campaign is an "effort in futility?" or perhaps provide a link to an objective study on this? Tx.

iggy said...

on one hand you look like you are attempting to try to reach out, yet on the other, your rethoric is still very assuming and condecending... you seemed to have changed from the days of Great America... we talked years ago...

You would not remember me, I was just one of many...

iggy is my nickname...

I will not return here as I do nto see any genuine attempt at dialog, to me it is just casting pearls before swine...

Take care, and love you in Christ, Seek Christ over Calvin and John M.
It is Jesus by His Spirit that opens our eyes to scripture... not men. Seek the Spirit.

For they can't save you... nor doctrine nor theology... only Jesus can... remember the words to your songs...

"Don't tell them Jesus loves them, until your willing to love then too." Please get that back to your heart...


SJ Camp said...


I expected this reaction from you brother. ECers tend to bail on a discussion when the heat gets turned up. They do not want to be challenged or enter into the "conversation" if the "conversation" they say they want isn't going their way. How predictably postmodern of you... And they usually do what you have done here, make a character judgment on the individual, attack the person and not address the issue.

This is part and parcel of the "feminization of the church." Where are the real men of God that will stand and be counted on issues of faith and doctrine.

"Pearls before swine?" - nice try, but as you know you have taken those words completely out of context. Just a cowardly response to not being able to face EC issues plaguing your movement.

FYI, evangelism has never left my heart nor a genuine love for the unsaved. I am involved in many ministries to this day that reach out to the poor in third world countries, to those suffering with AIDS/HIV, to locally in having Bible studies with some of the young men on my sons football team who have questions about the faith, etc.

BTW, the ONE campaign that you have plastered all over your websites isn't working, doesn't work, will never work. Why? Jesus said, "the poor will always be with us." No one can eradicate the poor from this world. Another case of rhetoric over reality. BUT, if you're really interested in making a difference in this vital area of ministry, why not take several of your congregation down to Haiti this year for a month to dig wells, build latrines, establish local medical labs, etc. Or you could go to Uganda and minister to many infected with HIV and care for the thousands of orphan children that no longer have a mom or dad due to this disease.

Or you can continue to put ONE links on your website and pretend you're making a difference.

Contact Food for the Hungry, Compassion Int'l to begin with, they are always looking for volunteers.

Grace and peace to you Iggy,
Col. 1:9-14

iggy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
iggy said...

No Steve,

We bail, not because of "heat" but because the other is condescending and has no real idea how to converse, but desires to argue and have veiled accusations and even abuse... even your nicest statements on this blog are really double talk... you say it nicely though.. or at least seem to try at it... yet you do not see you do not come across loving at all... only self righteous. It comes across pretty plainly your stance… I have better thing to do with my time than to argue foolishness with someone else just as the bible says we should not do… I have better things to do with my time. Thus the Pearls reference. It is funny that I am criticized often as I am trying to carry out what the Bible teaches and see over and over moderns, who claim to believe it literally only give word and yet disregard what they want.

You have no intention to evaluate from an open mind, only from one that has pre-decided and pre-judged. And you know that is true.

So, if that is the case, why should I continue to waste my time explaining my view to you when I will only get veiled attacks and put downs? Why share my walk and journey and struggles and searching and hurts when you really don’t care? So why should I make myself vulnerable to you? I see you have no real interest in me as a person… but that I am just an apostate EC that need to be saved from hell…

But by you? I prefer it to be Jesus, Steve.

So, though I did give it one last try and saw that instead of saying goodbye nicely and respectfully you just did as all have done before… you cast out on last stone. Sorry it did not hit me, but it did hit Jesus.

Your songs no longer match your values as far as what I have read here and in our exchange… and I am heart broken.

As for you assumptions about me not doing anything… I prefer to stay with the sheep and not throw out to the public my works as you have…


SJ Camp said...


Good to see you still engaged, but your reactions here are purely emotional...

Lay out your case here biblically brother and then be prepared to be challenged and enter into true conversation about issues of faith from the Word of God.

Let me ask you one question that not one of you Ecers have ever addressed: Why haven't you and others (Driscoll and Kimball too) called for church discipline against McLaren for his aberrant and heretical beliefs?

I await your response...

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

iggy said...


this will be my last response.

You win, your right.... now go and award yourself whatever prize you are trying to get....

Since all I said is being reduced to emotionalism... it must be all wrong.
Hope you feel better.

I don't care for your abuse.

I will not annoy you any more...


SJ Camp said...


A few quick thoughts for you to humbly consider:

1. Are you going to answer the question about McLaren and church discipline? And if no, why not?

2. What I have said to you is not abuse, but dialogue. I thought you EC guys prided yourself on being able to engage anyone in a conversation of faith?

3. It's not about winning; it's about the truth of God being honored.

4. You have said three times in a row that "this is my last response..." Glad to see that you don't believe all that you say either.

Grace and peace,
Col. 1:9-14

Bill Arnold said...

Wow...you're going to taunt him for coming back after he said, "This is my last response."

That's sad.

john said...


“Bailing on a discussion when the heat gets turned up" isn't necessarily an "EC issue." Bloggers of -all- persuasions often cut-and-run when things get hot, but I don’t perceive Iggy leaving due to a lack of material. Besides, characterizing “bailing” as an “EC” issue is like saying EC’ers are selfish and sinful, when in reality we’re -all- selfish and sinful.

As I read all the replies to Gilly 1/2/3, I'm sensing something more subtle here than common theological debate. The pro-EM replies seem, umm, somewhat ambivalent towards static definitions of God. I suppose some might consider this a weakness, or “effeminate.” I don’t. But I can certainly understand how others might.

Chad will probably jump all over this, but words can be murky – they are the glass in which we “see through dimly.” What the broader EM seems to be saying is that there is more to faith than can be found in the imperfect logic of words, and they seem intent on seeking the depths of a more perfect faith beyond the textual realm. Maybe what we’re seeing in these pro/anti-EM dialogues is the emergence of a heuristic that cannot be effectively expressed in words.

The NT is not without a certain amount of mystery. What I see generally are those EM’ers who agree with the obvious text, but are also looking at some of the more transcendent passages of God’s Word, such as Jn17, and actively seeking/praying to be participants in a more complete sense of the Word, beyond words. Some might say that our faith, while informed in part by words, must eventually embrace a Holy Spirit not entirely encumbered by words.

Perhaps those who see Xn faith as a foundationalist exercise in "rightly dividing the word" (relying on increasing intellectual rigor and strict logical precision) ultimately risk linking salvation with I.Q.. I'm sensing in the pro-EC dialogue a desire to step back from a total reliance upon logic and intellect (I.Q.) and place a bit more emphasis on spiritual concepts such as mystery and heart – the unseen – relying more, like children, in simple trust of their father.

Much of the anti-EM dialogue here has been well presented, and I hope well received by all. I know I've grown from this exchange (tks to Chad, Don, etc.), but am not convinced that either "side" of the debate has presented "truth" any better than the other, though I see a terrific amount of good fruit in the attempts.

How we each interpret our relationship with Jesus is certainly open for ongoing debate, but I sense that when we finally stand before Christ, he will judge us only on the depth and maturity of our love for him and others, and not by our intellect, logic, reason, or debate skill.

Many of us (me included) can tend to live our faith as an intellectual exercise. But I’m ever reminded that my “first love” had little to do with keen intellect, and everything to do with a revelation of divine unity that, alas, revealed as a subset my collection of logical/theological/religious information.

Perhaps authentic Xn maturity is better defined by ever-growing love and deepening unity, and less by accumulated knowledge “piled higher and deeper.” If there’s anything I’ve received from the EM dialogues, it is this.

Dave Taylor said...


Is there the slightest chance you could get over yourself and grow up just a little? Honestly, I don't know whose vanity and self-importance is more insufferable (and ridiculous), yours or Phil Johnson's.

I have attempted more than once to try to read things posted at this site, but I find it difficult to get past the aforementioned (as well as the annoying cant and hokiness). I assume you want others to listen to and be persuaded by your views. Your personality—that is to say, your life—gets in the way.