Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Emerging T.U.L.I.P.
...pretending to be orthodox

The Emerging/Emergent ecumenical movement continues to make inroads in the broader landscape of evangelicalism. From Southern Baptists to Reformed to Charismatics, their influence knows no bounds. Even mainline publishers known for producing orthodox literature and books are signing emerging personalities to produce "theological" works for them.

Well respected evangelical leaders have emerging personalities participate in their conferences--representing them as being thoroughly reformed and orthodox; even to the point of making light of their scatological speech and debasing humor that marks and defines the pulpit ministries of many of the emerging churches brightest stars.

But the most farfetched of claims is that the emerging/emergent seeker sensitive, ecumenical salesmen are Clavinistic--reformed in their beliefs. This constitutes nothing more than a superficial nod at the reformed faith, while the postmodern culture is the real driving force behind this movement.

Here is "Calvinism's TULIP" according to the emerging/emergent beliefs. (You may find a detailed explanation of the real TULIP here).

1. Total Ambiguity
Methodology over message
Truth is embraced, but doctrinally abstract; fluid, and liquid
Conversation over gospel proclamation
Ecumenism over theological and doctrinal specificity 
Contantly inventing a new spiritual meta-narrative

2. Unconditional Pragmaticism
Seeker sensible and seeker sensitive
Whatever works—do it
Numbers justify everything
Program enriched
Felt need, culture-driven

3. Limited Theology
Doctrine diminished and not primary; it is secondary
Truth claims remain undefined
No definitive agreed upon statement of faith
Very little biblical definition of ministry
Recommended reading lists are 

4. Irresistible Contextualization
Truth must be adapted to and defined by culture
The audience, not the message, is sovereign
The focus is to be relevant and relativistic
Being missional is marked by methodological inroads, conversation, and cultural discernment of the times
Emphasis on the humanity of Jesus expressed in crude terms over the reverence and transcendence of the Lordship of Christ

5. Postmodern Perverse Speech
Being known as the cussing pastor is good
Unwholesome talk is cultural not unbiblical
Coarse scatological speech is a matter of personal taste
It makes you cool to other Emerging/Emergents
If you challenge it, you are labeled as Victorian and out of date


Carla said...

Steve... Campi... dude...

You really do need to remove your Victorian era moralistic glasses, engage the community with relevant dialogue, and contextualize yourself.

If you don't, well... you're just not up with the times, dude.

Come now, snap to it.


Marcia said...

Are these actual quotes from them, or did you write them yourself?

I've been on sort of a long journey. I had never heard of emergent/emerging anything until I started reading here.

Then I started hearing about it in a good way on another blog, and I read Velvet Elvis, and while I didn't agree with his conclusions, I liked some of his thoughts.

But the more I have gone around on different sites and the more I have read about these ideas, I am starting to think that perhaps I was deceived. I think I wanted to believe a lot of the emergent stuff because, well, it makes Christianity a lot easier, doesn't it? If I don't have to worry all that much about my sin and my need for repentance and all I have to do is focus on Jesus, well, hey, what's not to like about that?

Fortunately, I am hearing from God through His Word that it ain't so easy, that conviction is okay and even good. Thanks for continuing to shine the light.

And Carla, you made me laugh.

Brian said...

Where did you get that stuff? I know the emergent church is really hard to pin down.

Even so, where could I find documentation about how emergent churches actually like cussing pastors, etc?

SJ Camp said...

I wrote these things myself--but they are all clearly based on the numerous books, blogs, podcasts, vodcasts and websites of emerging/emergent material I have digested directly from emerging/emergent authors and advocates over the past two years or so.

They are not fabricated--that is what is saddening.

As to the "cussing pastor" remark, anyone familiar with this issue knows that it is a moniker that Pastor Mark Driscoll proudly wears and is not grieved by and sees no merit in changing. Donald Miller, author of "Blue Like Jazz" is the one who coined the term for Mark.

Dr. John Piper had Mark in at his Desiring God Conference recently and was unfazed by Mark's proclivity for scatological speech, debasing humor and stories--even making light of it in his introduction of Mark.

Isaiah had a different view of unclean lips when saying, "Is. 6:3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” Is. 6:4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Is. 6:5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

When Isaiah beheld the Lord and His glory then he saw his sin rightly (as we all should). Even unclean lips (which I am guilty of too) Isaiah could not excuse away.

The Puritans had a phrase when describing the pulpit of a church--they called it "the sacred desk." This was not because they idolized the wood that they preached from as some sort of icon, but rather realized the reverence, respect, and godly fear (Isaiah 66:2) that should accompany the preaching of God's Word. It was a "sacred" calling and duty.

The emerging/emergent pulpiteers for the most part treat the pulpit with casualness, the preaching of the Word of God in a cavalier manner, and exposition as poor stand-up comedy. Most do not want to be confined to a well defined and clear doctrinal statement of faith. They revel in ambiguity and are content to be slippery on theological issues. There are exceptions of course on all these points, but this is the overall tenor of things.

Now many in the emerging/emergent camp are claiming they are reformed. This, at best, is by sentimental affiliation or in name only.

Thanks everyone for your comments so far... This is an important issue that is not going away.

In emerging nomenclature, this "conversation of faith" is important to have. Funny though, most emergents only want a one way conversation on their terms with those who only agree with them.

I hope there are some who are man or woman enough to enter into biblical discussion here with us.

2 Cor. 4:5-7

Marcia said...

Why do you have a ministry link to Desiring God if you disagree with them?

(I'm just curious, not judgmental. I have found what I thought was useful information there.)

4given said...

So that totally, like, cracked me up. And it is, like, Carla's fault that I am writing a comment like this. I can't take responsibility for my actions. I am a blameshifter and it is just my nature, ya know. Kinda like just going with the flow... cause, ya know, truth is liquid.

SJ Camp said...

I like Dr. Piper and Desiring God Ministries very much. Disagreeing with them on this one issue doesn't mean I still don't support them in their ministries.

We all don't have to line up 100% on every issue to stand with each other in service to the Lord.

Unity is different than uniformity.

There is much helpful information at DG Ministries that I also benefit from and am encouraged by.

Marcia said...

Okay, thanks for clarifying that about Desiring God.

I briefly thought about trying to be funny like the other ladies, but decided I couldn't measure up. Thanks for the laugh.

Carla said...


that's me, everrelevant. Or something like that. Now if Lisa would stop being liquid, that would be helpful.


I joke about some of this, but in reality it's a very serious issue. As Steve knows, my hat is off to him for stepping up and saying what needs to be said. He and I have had long discussions about all this and we're definitely on the same page here, even if my Victorian glasses are cooler than his.

I do wonder though... how some of these ECM folks understand Isaiah being undone. Why was he undone? What was it about himself, about the presence of God, about God Himself, that caused Isaiah to say that?

If Isaiah was undone, what about us?

Are we more righteous than Isaiah, with somehow less to be undone about?

Just thinking outloud...

Hessel-Man said...

Hi Steve,

Is "Clavinism" the unwitting propensity of theologically-minded musicians to morph musical terms with theological ones? I.E. Clavier with Calvin? Just curious... :)

Your friend,

Marcia said...

Carla, I have hung around here enough to know that you and Lisa both take this very seriously. Your own emergent stuff has been a real help with providing some needed clarity.

Ken Shomo said...


I found your post humorous, and somewhat on target... but the movement cannot be painted with too broad a brush, from what I can tell.

There are indeed different strands to the emerging church movement, some more orthodox and some less so. Driscoll, as I'm sure you know, holds to a very conservative view of Scripture, e.g. regarding roles of men/women, whereas others do not. This is not to defend his pulpit practices, just to point this out to your readers. (I would both criticize and complement his preaching in the same way I would many megachurch pastors, "emerging" or not. I can say more about this if desired.)

The other thing to say is that the emerging church movement is primarily concerned about practice rather than doctrine. In its best form, the emerging pastors want to see the church embracing "missional" practices -- recognizing they are missionaries in their community and acting accordingly.

I find this "missional" component of the emerging movement healthy and biblical. The young pastors who are in this wing of the emerging movement tend to be influenced by people like Tim Keller who is quite orthodox and a solid teacher of the word.

Now, of course every pastor needs to be concerned about doctrine -- the Holy Spirit tells us this (see 1 & 2 Timothy). My point is that the label "emerging" might be worn by those guilty as charged (by you) and those innocent of these charges.


PS: Pastor Steve McCoy's blog at www.stevekmccoy.com is an example, to me, of the better side of emergent/missional movement. Maybe I'm wrong in considering this "emerging," but from what I can tell it falls broadly within this camp.

Andrew said...

hi everyone. i just came over here from some emerging church sites where people, including a few EC leaders, are calling for Mark Driscoll to repent over what they believe are unbiblical views on women. its an interesting conversation.

havent heard the Reformed folk weigh in on the conversation yet.

i would be happy to dive into the conversation and share my insights of what i have experienced with emergigng churches - unless i dont fit the bill and am therefore discounted.

I often think of Isaiah in his identification with the people God had called him to minister to. My people also are a people of unclean lips, but its also true that words change over time and some words are acceptable now whereas other words become offensive.

The most offensive words (look them up in Wikipedia) are usually ethnically oppressive. Spurgeon used the "nigger" word last century and i have never heard any of my EC friends use that. I am sure CHS would not use that word today. We are not to cause offense.

Peace out.

ohhh . . after haggard went down i examined myself and confessed my own sins and repented and prayed - and i played Campi's songs in the background. Thanks Steve for your prophetic ministry in music that still kicks butt in the long tail.

donsands said...

ECM'ers are basically human-centered. They believe, (with varying degrees), that God's greatest desire is human's to be be blessed.
That's my take.
#3 Limited Theology is smack on.

I talked with a brother who says doctrine is a wall that keeps people out of the Church. I disagree completely.

Nice post Steve. My pastor, Roscoe, said he was incredibly blessed st the conference. Thanks for all you do for the gospel.

cyd said...

The Emergent movement seems to be the ultimate religious tsunami; an all-encompassing wave of mass chaos and destruction.

May we indeed be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves" Mt.10:16

Thanks for this Steve. Well done.

Grosey's Messages said...

Grat sumamry Steve.. bound to become the standard for classifying emergent churches.

Tony said...


Good stuff.

I have noticed that when those in the "Emerging Conversation" claim to be reformed they also tend to pigeon hole those who are reformed that they disagree with so they can seem to have the whole thing right. Thus they have the right kind of reformed faith.

As far as the language thing I know people who like Driscoll and see no issue with the language he uses or simply blame it on his youth. I was wondering if they like his language because they themselves use it or use the same sort of language because he uses it.

Rae Whitlock said...

Interesting. Every time I've heard Driscoll refer to the "cussing pastor" moniker that Miller gave him, he mentions how much he regrets it and wishes Miller hadn't written that.

Not that this addresses the whole of this post, but just to straighten out that fact.

Tom said...


I'm not certain what category to place myself in, but, I think I have some emergent tendencies. I certainly would like to see the church be more authentic. I certianly would like to see more unity among God's elect, be they charismatic, Calvinistic or Arminian. Some of the things I've read from certain "emerging" pastors concerning the content of the gospel is simply "not the gospel". As far as I'm concerned, I have a great kinship with the "ecclesiology" or many emerging church leaders, but, there commitment to cultural engagement has caused them to alter the message and meaning of the gospel. I am decidedly Calvinistic in my theology. I am committed to verse by verse exposition of the scriptures. However, I do think that the modern idea of "church" and "worship" is way different than anything experienced by the early church. We seem to have lost the intimacy characteristic of that early band of pilgrims. I have a hard time picturing Paul in Priestly garb or in a designer suit and high $$ tie and shoes to match. I have a hard time with the whole Clergy and laity distinction prevalent in so many churches. It seems we elevate certain gifts over other gifts within the body.

We'd all agree in principle that the head is not more important than the toe. But, do we really practice this? Who among us ministers like Paul did in Ephesus. Read his account in Acts 20 and please tell me who among my heros in the reformed faith minister like this. We'd have to go back to the days of Whitfield, and Edwards to find this sort of ministry. We are big on the "public" part of what Paul did, but we are woeful on the house to house aspect of being a pastor (I include myself in this lot).

So, I'm tired of the system of elevated pulpits and irrelevant pews, three piece suits and the parading of the Lord's table, quick and clean "Sunday" Christianity and a huge budget for a huge building. I have a hard time thinking Peter, Paul and John would be pleased with what passes as "worship" even in the best of Churches. Sit quitely in the pew, open the page of the hymnal and sing. Never mind that you are struggling against sin and temptation and have fallen prey to the same ole sin just last night... just sing and smile at your neighbor... who you probably do not know outside of this hour and half on Sunday... probably don't even remember his/her name...

Well, maybe it is me, but, it seems that our structured Sunday Christianity leaves little room for and seems to work against any kind of authentic fellowship within the body. I do not know the answer, but, I'm pretty sure it is broken and needs a major overhaul. What we have in most protestant church meetings is a hold over from Roman Catholicism. Robed clergy. Pew sitting. Little or no real Christian fellowhip. The pastor/teacher or the Sunday School teacher is the only one with anything important to share or say. The other gifts are marginalized or ignored.

Well, I am not a liberal theologian. I am five pointer to the core. I am not really a "missional" kind of guy... at least not in the emerging sense of the word "missional". I am missional in the sense that I think that the proclamation of the gospel ought to be integral to everything we do. I do not think we are sharing the gospel when we adopt a school and give school supplies to children who are lost and going to hell. I think the greatest need of these children is salvation... not crayola crayons.

Not sure what to do with myself. I don't align with the theology of many of these guys, but, I think our idea of church is similar. We need to do a thorough re-examination of Acts 20 and see if "humility", "many tears", "house to house", "publicly", "repentance", "faith toward God", "the whole counsel of God", and "night and day" bear any resemblance to the practice of "church" in most local churches today.

Disappointed and dissillusioned, yet hopeful in Christ,


Jack said...


I'll tell you what to do - get out there and help the church be the church and love her and help change her. But she's going to change from the inside out. Frankly, my church is in need of some good hymn-singing services because it needs some weighty things to think about while singing. Don't assume that just because the church today looks different than 40 AD that it is apostate. I think your desire for the church's practice to be biblical is great, though. Don't lose that, but don't get cynical in your desire for change.

donsands said...

"I'm tired of the system of elevated pulpits"


I can appreciate your heart. A lot of what you say is true.

Here's a thought I had. I believe the Lord is more concerned about His glory than anything else. He also holds His Word high.

"I will worship toward your holy temple, and praise your name for your lovingkindness and for your truth: for You have magnified Your Word above all Your name." Psalm138:2

And if the people of God have this as their hearts motive, which they should, then to build a place where we can come together and worship the Father in Spirit and truth, and to have a pulpit that holds His Word above us, is something the Lord would be pleased with. (I'm not saying all do this.)

It's all about why do you elevate the pulpit to me. Or whatever we do really. What we wear, how we spend our money, etc.
Is it to honor the Lord and His gospel? If so, then this is a good thing.
And we surely need to be taking the gospel to the nations. We should long to see people come to Christ, and be forgiven, and become worshippers of God the Father, and disciples of Christ, and He receives all the glory.

Jack said...

Maybe you've done this, Tom, but I think it's good to research and see why Christians through history developed practices that have remained with us. They often had similar concerns as you (along with a desire to hold to biblical principles) and maybe they had concerns you never considered.

SJ Camp said...


One of the most honest posts I can remember in a long time. Thank you for your thoughts you expressed here.

Much of what you shared I agree with.

Status quo faith gets old; coming every Sunday just to hear three hymns and a few praise choruses; a forced and awkward stand and greet one another time; a 30 minute sermonette for Christianettes; a few prayers; offertory; etc. and then we show up and do it all again next week isn't what Jesus died for. isn't what church should be biblically, and certainly doesn't constitute genuine worship.

There are many good questions that those in the emerging/emergent movement are asking about church today and frankly, that we should be asking ourselves as well - and some of what you have expressed as well. I just don't think their solutions are the ones that will produce lasting change because they are rooted in postmodernity and not in the Scriptures.

Acts 20 is a key text and you are right, we've come a long way from that model.

May I suggest reading through the pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) as a place to begin as to what the church should be.

Grace and peace to you,

Stewart said...


This is Stewart, the tall redhead you met at the Pulpit Crimes conference. Tom (from the comments) is my best friend and Brother. I really appreciate your encouraging words to him in this whole matter. Tom loves Christ and His church and I believe many of the issues he has with the “modern” church would be gone if the “members” of the local churches had his heart. Our problem is that our church front doors are wide open to the unregenerate and there are no back doors. I know of a few men with whom I speak of spiritual things as a matter of course. There are way too many in the local church that won’t speak of spiritual matters, even on Sunday mornings in the buildings we have set aside for these things. While many may say they believe that the Bible is the sole authority, they don’t act that way. They don’t want to preach a Biblical gospel of “Repent and believe, because Christ will judge you” which was the message preached in Acts; they don’t want to examine candidates for local church membership to seek credible evidence of conversion (there are many who would not dare join if this were the case. see Acts 5:13); they don’t exercise discipline, which again would go back to Acts 5:13. Maybe I am naïve, but I believe that a local church that is defined by orthodoxy AND orthopraxy will naturally start to look like Acts 20. What do you think?

Terry Rayburn said...

Some of the sweetest times in the Body of Christ that my wife and I ever had were back in the early 80's with a bunch of ex-Plymouth Brethren who gathered in an elementary school basement (about 25 to 35 of us, including kids).

We arranged some hard-as-a-rock steel chairs in a series of semi-circles with a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine in the center. Our goal was to be led by the Spirit. Nothing "spooky", but we reminded each other of our goal regularly.

We would sing a song "randomly" called out by someone in the group, then maybe another, then someone would pray "as led", then maybe another song, then some exhortation or a request for prayer, then we'd sing again, etc., etc. The kids were included, so we sang "If You're Happy and You Know It", complete with hand clapping, along with "Majesty", often with tears.

When it "seemed right", one of the men would take the bread and wine (a common cup with a wiping cloth) and pass it around, with a brief word regarding the remembrance of the One who gave His body and shed His blood.

Then we took a 15-20 min. break, with chatting . . . sometimes deep theology, sometimes small talk . . . coffee and maybe cake or donuts . . . and hugs.

Then we re-assembled (minus the kids, who were babysat or taught in another room), and one of the men would teach from a Scripture passage. Pretty much always expository, but always with open comments from whomever.

Total time: 2-3 hours.

What's amazing, as I look back, is that there was quite a broad spectrum of theological beliefs. Yet we really were one in Christ, and full of love for one another and for Jesus.

We've never recaptured that, though we've since been in many churches around the country.

But we've never forgotten it, either.

Tom said...

Terry, that sounds dangerous and attractive all at once. I guess in that situation it is possible to see a scenario where we might be called upon to "test everything; hold fast what is good." I like the Lord's supper idea. This seems to me to capture the spirit of Christ's words "Do this in remembrance of Me."


Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

You are bold to refer to the having Driscoll at the DG conference. I believe that Piper seeks the lord and therefore he will see that sometimes we can be well-meaning and wrong. Thank you for lovingly sharing truth, it is not ours, it is his.

Matt said...

As someone who considers myself emergent/emerging, I think some of your characterizations are a little skewed.

However, I think number 2, "unconditional pragmatism", is about as big of a misrepresentation as you can make. Much of the emerging movement is a rejection of the pragmatism of the megachurch phenomenon. So characterizing us as one and the same is not to understand the movement.

bluewoad said...

Mr Camp,

While I understand the humor that is being put forth here, I'm wondering if a more serious post is not in order to actually look at how some of the people you consider emerging actually approach the 5 points. For example, Mark Driscoll has preached a sermon where he denies the limited atonement (while holding to the other 4 points). I'd very much appreciate a response to that, more than a post that just pokes fun. Thanks.

Mike Miller said...

OK, I know I'm late chiming in. I've been pretty much away from the blogosphere (even my own blog) for a few months as I'm working on my PhD. In fact, that's why I'm going to chime in on this blog. For a doctoral seminar on evangelistic preaching, I decided to do a paper on the use of apologetics in the evangelistic preaching of Mark Driscoll. It was a 46 page paper, so I won't bore you with all the details, but I discovered some interesting things.

First, let me qualify my remarks to the narrow sampling of particularly evangelistic sermons of Mark's that I evaluated. I did not analyze any of his typical sermons, which are primarily to believers as he preaches through books of the Bible.

Second, while he did indeed refer to himself in one of the sermons as "foul-mouthed," there was no cussing that I heard. However, he did use crude language a few times that I personally thought was inappropriate. However, as Steve says in reference to Piper, we will never have 100% agreement. I thought, though, that Driscoll's comments could have been just as effective in his context without such language. And again, I must be clear that his crude comments were very few and far between.

Third, all but one of the sermons I evaluated were over one hour in length, and they were filled with meat. He presented the Gospel very clearly (in his latest book, he criticizes the "ermegent" stream of the emerging church for compromising the Gospel), took on rival belief systems (at one time saying of certain beliefs, "You've been lied to"), uncompromisingly articulated objective truth claims (i.e., faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, without Jesus you will go to hell, Jesus is the one true God, etc.), carefully explained theological terms/issues (such as imputed righteousness, the imputation of sin, and justification), and pleaded with his listeners to repent and turn to Jesus.

All in all, the sermons I analyzed were full of biblical reformed theology. I take exception to some of the language he used, but in the small sampling I was exposed to, I heard absolutely no doctrinal issues.

JoeBum said...

i wonder how much missionary, missional, and contextual ministry books you've read.

or even books about or by those coming out of the EC conversation.

does most of this thought come from the blogosphere conversation, or actual involvement and humble discussion with the anyone sympathetic to EC.

it seems to me you have a very basic, superficial understanding of of the emerging, ecumenical movement. but this may just be my superficial reading.

i won't even try to talk about where I disagree with you, because you wouldn't listen, because you haven't listened.

it all begins with the true belief that the western world is now a mission field, and the gospel needs to be contextualized.

mission (of the kingdom, not the church or western xnty) is not about ethnocentricism or accommodationalism/colonialism, but Incarnation...inculturation...

SJ Camp said...


You said: "it all begins with the true belief that the western world is now a mission field,"

I believe this passionately and have taught on it for years. The command in Acts 1 to go to "the uttermost parts of the earth" contextually is in part America.

You also said, "and the gospel needs to be contextualized." This is where I disagree. The gospel needs to be proclaimed. So much emphasis in the Emergent and emerging church movements is placed on either postmodernism OR contextualization within the culture.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 9:20-24 (the EC's favorite proof-text for contextualization of the gospel) never contextualizes the truth of the gospel; not even on Mars Hill (Acts 17). It is foreign from the N.T. record.

What Paul does and is willing to do, is to contextualize himself (be all things to all people); BUT the gospel message was never contextualized through the grid of culture. Culture, however, can and must be understood, through the grid of Scripture.

I have read a dozen books and hundreds of blog articles and listened to numerous podcasts and vodcasts and have spoken directly to several within the emerging movement.

I would suggest you do as much homework on your end before you continue to make your adolescent accusations here.

Think biblically,
2 Tim. 2:15

JoeBum said...

the fact that you say the message doesn't need to be contextualized tells me alot. i would refer on little book by vincent donovan, "Christianity rediscovered."

also, i would recommend any current books in missions and contextualization to find out what the issues are in incarnating the gospel to a culture (kraft, nida, bosch, luzbetak, newbigin are just a few names to start with).

also, the scripture itself shows us that even the message must be contextualized, that's why the gospels are all different. Each written for different communities, and that's why none of Paul's letters address the same issues. this is the difference between one community focusing on discipleship and the sermon on the mount (matthean) and another focusing on the transcendent logos, a Jesus in control of everything (johannine).

its really difficult to say that contextualzation of the message is foreign to the scripture (and we won't even go into the OT), when there is not one single, exact message, but many contextualized versions of the one narrative. the synoptics say a christian is one who follows christ, for john's gospel its one who believes, pistos, for Paul its something like rom 10:9-10, for john in 1 jn., a christian is someone who loves God and others.

my "adolescent accusations derive from my homework in biblical, mission, and theological studies.

and what exactly do you interpret "me end" to be? just curious.

SJ Camp said...


You said, "that's why none of Paul's letters address the same issues."

I'm not sure what version you are reading. but that is patently not true. Everyone of his epistles deal with essentially the SAME issues (the gospel; holiness, truth, the glory of Christ, the character of God, etc.).

I noticed that you did not make your assertions from the pages of God's Word. So may I ask you to cite several passages where the gospel was altered to adapt to the culture?

In the Emergent Church, the audience--not the message is sovereign. That is essentially what you are arguing for--what is at the root of contextualization.

I proclaim the gospel continually in many different kinds of churches and secular places as well. While I try to be all things to all men without compromising the truth of God's Word, it is the SAME gospel that is always proclaimed. Why? The heart of man has not changed and is the SAME around the world. Sin is sin no matter what "community" you find yourselves in.

That is why Paul does not change his message--for the solution (regardless of the culture) is the same-the gospel of Jesus Christ; the power of God unto salvation.

Think biblically,
Col. 1:4-8

JoeBum said...

so you are saying you've read these authors, uhm, seems like you either missed the point, or you just don't know what contextualization is about.

i'll come back later with some "proof texts" (which i hate to treat the scripture so disrespectfully), if you want me to I can.
I would like, since you are a fan of proof text i guess, to show me how the message is the same throughout the scripture. or, to make it easier, simply answer "what is the gospel." is the message of john's gospel the same as matthew's gospel or luke's?

you may have the experience of proclaiming the gospel to others, which i applaud you, but you are still limited to your own context, place, and experience.
I suggest you try proclaiming the gospel to a radically different context, maybe even in a foreign context, and say that the message must not be contextualized.

Will you preach the same message to the poor who live in landfills as you would a rich community in suburban America?

i agree that the heart of man is always the same, but is the face of hope always the same? (no i'm not calling into question the supremacy of Christ), but the way you present it.
also, does salvation mean the same to every culture? heaven? God? Jesus? Home? Poor? Rich? Government? opportunity? faith? belief? religion?
if all these mean the same thing to every one, then no, the message does not need to be contextualized, but if all these are different, even slightly, then the message must be interpreted for the culture.

SJ Camp said...

You said, "Will you preach the same message to the poor who live in landfills as you would a rich community in suburban America?"
YES--if that message is THE gospel. I have been to the poorest of nations around the world; to the soldiers in Bosnia during the conflicts in Yugoslavia; to AIDS conference in San Francisco; to the free-zone in Amsterdam; before the royal family in London; to the punks and treds on the streets in West End; etc. I preached the SAME gospel in all of those venues. Why? IT is the power of God unto salvation.

You also said, "i agree that the heart of man is always the same, but is the face of hope always the same?"
YES. The face of hope is Jesus.

Again, Paul become all things to all people as long as his accommodations did not violate Scripture. I AM different in how I relate with my kids in devotions as opposed to teaching before a group of pastors. BUT, the message remains the same.

I can flex all day long with peoples, cultures, different venues, ethnic groups, etc. BUT the message does not change.

Go to this link to see the message Paul communicated throughout all of his epistles.

I await for you to make your case biblically--not pragmatically.

Grace and peace,
Col. 1:9-4

JoeBum said...

what is the (SAME) gospel?

Steve Camp said...

"Same gospel" - meaning the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; that which I preached consistently in all of those different venues.

The Emergent Church wants to change the gospel, alter its contents; for in the EC doctrinal grid, truth must remain fluid, liquid, always changing, adapting to the culture; constantly reinventing and evolving.

The methods may change; the truth does not--the gospel does not.

JoeBum said...

before, i go on though, i do want to apologize. i think my language has been vague and confusing at times. i DO believe there is a core to the Christian faith (which seems to have gotten misconstrued in this conversation), and I'm pretty sure all, at least most ECC do also. Most affirm the Nicene Creed in the very least.

The point is, is that we've built so many shells around the core, that the message we present is often "our" understanding of the gospel.

So, i do believe there is a core to the Christian faith, but I also think that in contextualizing that core (the face of Jesus...
side note= this an example of ambivalent language, because I do agree that Jesus is always the face of hope) the message takes different shapes.

i just wanted to paint an example of how the message changes.
or maybe I should say the message is the same, but the presentation is different (but i think medium is the message too= hence the reasons for witnesses).
(maybe we're saying the same things on different plains, which could even be the possibility of your critique of EEC).

example: what if you approach a people group who view herdsman as weak and insignificant. for us, the good shepherd in John 10 is very different than how it would present itself to this group who will immediately write off Jesus. Instead, it may be better to declare him as the good farmer, or land owner. (don't know if this helps, hope it makes sense).

I really don't feel comfortable proof-texting my interpretations, because I feel this is disrespect to God's word, so I'll ask you to understand.

Instead, I will point to what I have been asking all along. How do you reconcile the different messages presented in the Gospels.

The three synoptics seem to focus heavily on the presence of the Kingdom of God as Jesus's task. "repent for the kingdom is near,"
but John presents belief in the powerful, all good Word, "Jesus. for God so loves the world..."

also, how come Matthew, writing to a mostly Jewish community, reflects heavily on orthopraxy (right actions) with central attention to the sermon on the Mount, discipleship, and the great commission.
the missionary text of Matthew= matt. 28:16-20.

Luke, on the other hand focusing on a mostly gentile crowd, writes deeply about the rich and poor and reconciliation, and the cessation of vengeance.
Luke's missionary text: Luke 4:16-21. (a quite powerful rendition's of Isaiah's vengeance text).

now, i won't deny that themes overlap, but the two writers present different messages in a sense, with some overlapping themes.

but at the same time, "what is the gospel," seems to be a problematic question to ask scripture. For Jesus it seemed that the Kingdom of God and its presence was the good news, while for Paul the gospel was belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

You seem to assume that just because I don't quote a verse in every other breath, I don't "think biblically" but I ask you to realize that my theology has been deeply informed by scripture, just not your philosophical categorizing of it, or interpretation of it.

I would also like to call into questions the pragmatism of late evangelicalism, which I assume both our heritage's can overlap on this point. Much of the church growth movement, the "worship-wars", mega-churches, the sanitizing of church sanctuary's, purpose driven churches, seeker churches are ALL forms of pragmatism...the beam in the eye of the judger.

The failure of most critics of the EEC, is the inability to recognize their own assumptions and created "untouchable" interpretations. I admit, I often forget humility in this aspect.

the fact that you "proof-text" my comments, makes me feel like you aren't trying to listen, but rather you are trying to find places to disagree with me, "weaknesses" in my line of thought. i acknowledge that this type of online conversation has the tendencies to afford this, but I ask you to read what I'm writing, listen to what I'm saying. you may find that we may be saying the same thing, or that you have wrongly concluded some things about EEC or me.

(I write this in caps only because I want anyone who is reading this to know where I stand and not to judge all of EEC by this conversation).

JoeBum said...

man, sorry about the "stupid" long comment too.