Friday, September 14, 2007

A Bold Orthodoxy Proclaimed Humbly
...John MacArthur speaks the straight truth to EC guru Doug Pagitt

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. ¶ But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves." -2 Corinthians 4:1-7

In these few brief words, the Apostle gives us the blueprint for genuine ministry: humble servants of Christ, proclaiming the treasure of the gospel. It is the marriage of humility and orthodoxy; demeanor and doctrine brought into partnership through the ministry of the Holy Spirit so that we may be vessels fit for the Master's use.

IMHO, this is John MacArthur's manner and mandate wonderfully exemplified in the above YouTube clip.

John MacArthur does an excellent job at speaking biblically, authoritatively, succinctly, in confronting the "twisted Yoga infused faith" (pun intended) of EC leader Doug Pagitt. The interviewer at CNN rightly quoted from the Merriam-Webster definition of yoga:

"A Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation."
And Pagitt thinks this can combined with biblical Christianity in order to feel whole in body, soul and mind?

I posted an article about this last month that you might want to reread to gain more insight in this discussion.

Orthodoxy Proclaimed Boldly
This video clip also helps crystalize an issue being discussed in various ways today pertaining to the phrase "humble orthodoxy." This phrase combines two important words for all of us today: the character we are to have in ministry: humility; and the uncompromising dedication to the truth claims of God's Word: orthodoxy. The phrase was created by Eric Simmons with New Attitude. NA is doing great things today for the gospel in equipping young adults with solid doctrine and tools to address and minister to a postmodern moral pluralistic culture. I thank the Lord for them and all they are doing for the kingdom.

At the same time, I have struggled with the phrase "humble orthodoxy" at face value because so many within the EC movement have hijacked those terms to mean that truth must be uncertain and therefore, "modest"; that truth is to be liquid, changing, fluid, adapting, ever-changing, etc. (their words - not mine). IOW, can we really know what is orthodox or not? Can we really know what Scripture is truly saying? Is truth subjective and dependant on the culture to find its interpretation, or is it something that is objective, knowable, and not dependant upon the shifting sands of any culture of any generataion? I believe the later and reject the former.

Theology matters; doctrine matters; truth matters.

I personally like a phrase that was emailed to me this morning in helping to put legs to "humble orthodoxy" that simply says, "humble servants proclaiming orthodoxy boldly." That weds perfectly the character of humility and the uncompromising biblical truth claims of our faith; and I want to wholeheartedly affirm and believe that this is what I think our brothers at NA are saying.

Pagitt (as well as McLaren, Ward, Burke, Sweet, Jones, etc.) denies much of orthodox Christianity to reinvent the faith by the lens of postmodernity (I won't go into his errant distinctives at this time). I have heard people say of him, "he is so humble and he represents truth that is also humble; he doesn't speak authoritatively at all and doesn't claim to know everything; he seems to respect all faiths and beliefs..." blah, blah blah. I.e. - the philosophical claims of Yoga.

So while we all, by God's grace, strive to have a "humble - orthodoxy.", may we take the time to unfold the meaning of those two tremendous words; for the devil is in the details and in today's postmodern world, clarity is to be cherished. Amen?

"Lord Jesus, grant us humble men of God who are not afraid to speak the truth in a biblical, uncompromising way--."

Yours for the Master's use,
Romans 1:16-17


rpavich said...

Nicely done. Johnny Mac is the epitome of "speaking the truth in love"...

I wish that more Pastors on TV and elsewhere were this direct about what we believe...

Thanks for posting this, Steve. I appreciate the hard work you put into this blog...

Bob Kauflin said...


Thanks so much for clarifying from a previous post how you view the phrase "humble orthodoxy." Rightly understood, that phrase effectively captures what ambassadors of the risen Savior should pursue - a humble presentation of unchanging Scriptural truth. While what we know will always be dwarfed by what we don't know, that doesn't affect mean we have to jettison what God has revealed to us in his Word. There will always be one eternal Gospel by which we are reconciled to God through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.

"The devil is in the details and in today's postmodern world, clarity is to be cherished."

Well said.

Humble orthodoxy is "humble servants proclaiming orthodoxy boldly." Amen.

FX Turk said...

I would also like to thank Steve for being clear about his view of the guys at NA in this post.

Here's the only thing I bring up at this point. Steve said this:

I have struggled with the phrase "humble orthodoxy" at face value because so many within the EC movement have hijacked those terms to mean that truth must be uncertain and therefore, "modest".

I agree the terms were hijacked by the unorthodox and the barely-orthodox. They have also hijacked terms like "church", "forgiveness", "mercy", "justice" and so on.

What should we do when we ought to use those words, Steve? For example, what if I started a league of bloggers called "Forgiveness". If I don't line out at the top of the page that it's a costly forgiveness bought at the price of Christ's blood, and is only available to the repentant who are elect, what should happen?

donsands said...

I would like to ask Pagitt where he draws the line, if in fact he draws any lines.

The "end" of feeling good about ourselves, (self worth), justifies the "means", I suppose.

That's just where Satan wants us, ain't it. I know it's true for me.

As far as humble orthodoxy, I'm not too worried about that particular phrase. Like I am Christian Yoga.
I wish they could have debated this a little longer.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you my brother for these comments. I too wish more pastors were as direct (a bold orthodoxy) as John is today.

Also, thank you for reemphasizing the importance of balance in this issue; truth and life; doctrine and demeanor; precept and personality.

May the Lord grant us the wisdom by His Spirit according to His Word to always be clothed in the humility of Christ without ever weakening the intensity and passion we should have for proclaiming the gospel and His Word.

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

SJ Camp said...

Good to have you here in the COT combox--and Happy Birthday to you.

As to your question: "What should we do when we ought to use those words, Steve?"

Use them with clarity, use them circumspectly, and mostly use them biblically. We don't have to surrender those words; and more importantly, their meaning. BUT, I think how we join those terms in communicating in our day is also very important. IF today truth is no longer honored as being authoritative; doctrine is a matter of culture and experience; theology is personal convenience; and the Scriptures are just telling someone's story, then how much more do we need to make absolutely certain--knowing in advance those terms have been hijacked--that we be as lucid and biblical as possible.

I have spent a lot of time these past 2 1/2 years reading and listening to virtually everything from the Emergent camp I could find. And some of that time has been spent on one to one conversations with some emerging leaders. Words in that discussion mean everything!

And we should not give them up or quickly pull the trigger on what we say in response.

You also asked: " If I don't line out at the top of the page that it's a costly forgiveness bought at the price of Christ's blood, and is only available to the repentant who are elect, what should happen?"

1. Live with the ambiguity that would obviously ensue;

2. correct it by briefly defining what forgiveness is as succinctly as possible with a verse or quote;

3. OR be prepared to have to define to everyone who asks you "what exactly did you mean by that - I'm confused..."

Here is part of the problem here: adjectively, orthodoxy is usually not given a human attribute (humble, modest, proud, etc.); it would usually carry with it something more descriptive: accurate, true, uncompromised, historic, bold, etc.).

So in this case to "personize" orthodoxy seems a bit out of the norm from historic treatments and claims; but again, the definition of it from the NA guys to some of the commenters at TP I can perfectly agree with.

Hope this helps a bit... Thanks for your feedback here brother...

Let me know your thoughts,
Psalm 90:12

SJ Camp said...

"I'm not too worried about that particular phrase. Like I am Christian Yoga."

Most certainly.
Col. 2:6-10

candy said...

I might be wrong but I think the term "humble orthodoxy" was coined by CJ Mahaney. NA, I believe, was started within the Sovereign Grace ministries. I think I remember that CJ used that term around the time he wrote his book on humility.

FX Turk said...

I have to admit, Steve, that I like your point that orthodoxy is not "personal" -- it's really a top-down function of God's truth, ontologically. But the point in saying "humble orthodoxy" is really to refute the idea that the -doxy is ortho- because I said so.

One of the things people say that gets me really fired up is the idea of "mere" orthodoxy -- because that phrase, as Lewis coined it, means "bare-bones orthodoxy". "pheh" upon that, as I might say at my blog.

But this idea of "humble orthodoxy", insofar as they have lined it out at so far anyway, isn;t talking about mereness -- it's talking about whether or not I am humbled by orthodoxy, and whether or not I an trying to shaoe orthodoxy or whether I am being shaped by orthdoxy.

That latter is a powerful challenge to pomos and ECs everywhere. And while I think the video here of Dr. MacArthur and the nutty professor Pagitt is a great example of what is wrong with Emergent, what is working out is not Pagitt's goofy-doxy.

Can we agree that this much is true -- that what they are trying to express is not an EC idea, and that they are trying to expressing it both broadly and carefully?

Terry Rayburn said...

Since EC leader Doug Pagitt has already compromised the truth, it is no wonder that he is embracing more error.

Postmodernism says that we can’t know absolute truth. But when a Christian avoids truth, or allows false teaching into the Church, then he has the same effect as postmodernism because he is not promulgating absolute truth either.

If you compromise with significant doctrinal error in your church, then you are in effect doing the same thing as postmodernists. You are saying to everyone “What is true for those who are in error is not true for me”. So, our inconsistency in allowing significant error into the Church leaves us open to embracing more error.

By the way, I agree with you, Steve, regarding authority vs. conversation. "Conversation" always sounds like "what this passage means to me".


SJ Camp said...

If that's true - I didn't know that. But now that you mention it, it does seem to have a "CJesque" ring to it...

Thank you.

Did you and I just agree on something? We need to mark this day down in infamy my brother. :-). Hopefully a trend of things to come--at least I would like to think so.

You said, "But this idea of "humble orthodoxy", insofar as they have lined it out at so far anyway, isn't talking about mereness -- it's talking about whether or not I am humbled by orthodoxy, and whether or not I an trying to show orthodoxy or whether I am being shaped by orthdoxy."

I don't know entirely if that is what they mean--but I really liked how you just said it and I wish they would have said it half as good. I'm in full agreement.

Here is a sentence from their website that I think deserves pondering though: “We at Na would like to be a voice in the conversation going on. Not a loud voice, not an authoritative voice, but a voice nonetheless.”

This is not entirely directed to the Na guys, but when did ministry become simply "a conversation"? I understand not having a loud voice, but a tempered, measured response--that is fine. But what raised the red flag for me was "not an authoritative voice."

This seems to contradict what Paul said to Titus: "These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you."

I believe that when we are speaking biblically and clearly through proper exegesis and careful study of God's Word, then we speak with authority AND authoritatively. If one cannot, he shouldn't be preaching. It's one thing to be a part of "a conversation"; it's quite another to say, 'thus saith the Lord."

(To clarify: when I speak of authority, I don't mean "we know it all"; BUT, that we shouldn't stutter about what God has spoken clearly.)

I agree with you that Na is not trying to represent an EC philosophy; but I also see how ECers, could misinterpret the Na phrase if it is not understood and carefully explained biblically.

Titus 2:15

PS: My 18 year old son Max won his football game tonight... 35-14. He had at least 14 tackles tonight. Go Rebels.

Carla Rolfe said...

As for the phrase "humble orthodoxy", I don't recall ever hearing that or reading that from anyone until I began to diligently research the ECM nearly three years ago. In that time I read it rather often as it pertained to their understanding of truth not being knowable. (And in all fairness, this came generally from the more "out there" voices among the ECM).

If anyone outside of the ECM used that phrase to mean a bold orthodoxy proclaimed humbly, as you suggest, I'd never heard of it. (Which doesn't really mean anything other than I'd never heard it being used by anyone outside the ECM).

While it may not apply to this phrase, it does appear to me that a pattern of sorts has developed in that the trendy lingo so commonly associated with those in the ECM has been slowly but surely adopted into the written and verbal language of those that are truly orthodox. In a way it seems odd to suddenly hear men and women you know to hold sound doctrine, using the same buzz words formerly associated with the ECM.

I do think it's important to define terms, especially when we're in a time where the idea that "truth is not truly knowable" has such a wide audience among evangelicals.

My .035 Canadian cents, your exchange rate may vary.

SJ Camp said...

Well said.

Do you have any foundational source that would point to the initial usage of a phrase like "humble orthodoxy" to the ECM? (It has been suggested by Candy that CJ Mahaney could have been the originator of that phrase.)

I do totally agree (and it concerns me too) that orthodox believers are now using ECM nomenclature to describe the faith. The ECM has removed "the ancient boundary stones" for a more trendy form of ministry not based on truth, but on the times.

Grace and peace,

SJ Camp said...

You said, "If you compromise with significant doctrinal error in your church, then you are in effect doing the same thing as postmodernists. You are saying to everyone “What is true for those who are in error is not true for me”. So, our inconsistency in allowing significant error into the Church leaves us open to embracing more error."

I agree. A little leaven, leavens the whole lump. Satan doesn't want to fight the church, he wants to join it; and infiltrate it with error. The ECM has opened itself up to much error and has tried to normalize it by presenting it as biblical Christianity.

Doug Pagitt's words on this video really drives that point home. He has a faulty view of justification, regeneration which leads to a corrupt view of sanctification as well.

Thank you for your thoughts here...

donsands said...

I spoke with some Christians who use yoga for exercise. They use the stretching to help their back muscles, and so on.
I asked about the Hinduism connected with it, and they said, they have nothing to do with that, they simply use the technics of stretching for exercise.

I couldn't argue with that.

Sort of like Karate I thought to myself.

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thanks.

Bob Kauflin said...

I wasn't aware of "humble orthodoxy" being used outside of Sovereign Grace until these posts. All I know is that my good friend, Eric Simmons, who now leads New Attitude, coined the phrase a few years ago in response to the phrase "generous orthodoxy."

What I'm happy to report is that this discussion is causing the folks at New Attitude to revisit how that particular phrase is used and presented. The last thing we want to communicate is that truth is up for grabs, or that humility means waffling on the Gospel or biblical convictions.

Bob Kauflin
Sovereign Grace Ministries

Carla Rolfe said...


this came up last night in discussion with some friends. Most Christians who use yoga techniques for the physical benefits will say exactly what you stated, that they leave the religion aspect completely out of it, or that it doesn't affect them because they're not doing yoga for the same reasons the eastern religious adherents do.

What people don't understand about this is that the physical aspects of yoga are an integral part of the whole mystical experience. They (yoga rituals) are as much of a part of Hinduism as our (evangelicals) expressions of our Christian faith are, such as water baptism and the Lord's table.

In yoga, the physical position of the body means something, the stretching, the breathing, the focusing - it's all based on mystical religious (pagan) ritual to line the body & mind up with the "super soul" or to become one with the "divine". While there may be some kind of physical or medical benefit to these things, the simple fact that evangelicals would borrow such a pagan ritual to begin with, seems outrageous to me.

I hope that helps.


I'm really glad to hear (read) your comment. Considering the phrase was used to counter the term "generous orthodoxy" as coined by McLaren, I'm guessing the phrase was likely "hi-jacked" as some have suggested, by those among the ECM. The timing seems to suggest it's certainly possible.


first, sorry for the length here. I wish I could remember which sites specifically I first began to read this term, but it's been so long and I no longer have all those early resources (thanks to a hard drive crash last fall). If memory serves it began to pop up around the same time many within the ECM began to distance themselves from McLaren and his more liberal, heretical statements. These were sites owned by folks that still wanted to remain associated with the larger "emerging" stream, just not too closely connected with McLaren. Again, going on memory alone, that began to happen about 2.5 years ago. The exodus away from McLaren (sites where he was once prominantly linked to, speaking engagements heavily promoted, books endorsed, etc.) was sudden and quite obvious.


FX Turk said...

Steve --

Yeah I know. I don't really want to let it get out that we agree. I had a feeling we did, but if we agree on something it'll spoil the week for like 90% of the blogosphere, and I don;t want to ruin anybody's week.


Anyway, my opinion is that these guys are trying to engage the same demographic the EC dudes are engaging (and look at that: those people need to be engaged, and one side is deep in the thick of it -- unfortunately, it's the wrong side), and for them to use words like "conversation" (especially in our unecclesiastical age where you can't really convene the presbytery or a meaningful synod) to meet the challenge isn't bad.

The question is if it goes past that. And let's be serious: it goes past that. The issue of orthodox living after orthodox teaching is -critical- and -central- in the Christian faith. If we know what Paul says in 1 Tim 1:5 but we don't do what Paul said to do, we're the bad guys and not the good guys.

We have to be after the behaviors which are in accord with healthy doctrine. And I know you're not opposed to that, but we have to chase out apologetics all the way to the "do" from the "know".

Peace be with you, and it's great when our kids make us proud. I wish I made my son proud half as often as he makes be glow with contentment.

SJ Camp said...

To All:
What a joy it is to interact with so many of you of this important issue. May we remember to pray for each other for strength for the journey as we provoke one another to love and good works.

As one author has said, "The love which is genuine must proceed from a holy heart. The commandment [God's Word] was not designed to secure merely the outward expressions of love, but that which had its seat in the heart."

I think we have all made too much of postmodernism. Nothing has really changed on that which is important and vital in life and ministry: sin remains the same; depravity remains the same; the true nature of saving faith remains the same; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever more; the character of genuine local church ministry remains the same; fellowship of the saints remains the same; the gospel of sola fide remains the same; the Word of God remains the same, etc.

What has changed is the veneer of culture of our times. It is not primary, but a secondary matter. The "conversation" that many EC types pride themselves in I have had most every day for years with people right where I live. I think many of you could say the same thing. It is not hard, difficult or a mystery on how to talk to people about the Lord and His gospel in today's world.

But when we think our gimmicks, techniques, methods, plans, strategeries, programs, etc. are the key element in people coming to Jesus and being regenerated than that is the height of arrogance.

THIS is the issue within the ECM that is most deadly; and the other denominations are being lured and seduced by it.

"The gospel IS the power of God unto salvation..." Do we really believe that? De we really trust that? Frank is right... the goal of our instruction is love out of a pure heart, a good conscience and a faith unfeigned (1 Tim. 1:5).

The Word of God, rightly divided and taught, lived, and believed, that comes from a holy life, free from guilt and an unhypocritical faith is a powerful witness and great in ministry.

Authentic ministry is not pooling the best from the panjandrum of evangelical or emerging subcultures; but it is found in every day people (like you and me) equipped with the Word of God willing to live it out daily in the sphere of influence that the Lord has sovereignly placed each of us in humility, truth, holiness, and courage.

May we know nothing among us save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Trust in anything else is a distraction from the world, the flesh and the devil.

Pray for Doug Pagitt that he comes to true regeneration through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

2 Cor. 1:1-7

donsands said...

"The Word of God, rightly divided and taught, lived, and believed, that comes from a holy life, free from guilt and an unhypocritical faith is a powerful witness and great in ministry."

This is how we love God. And we love Him, because He first loved us.

Thanks Steve.

Thanks carla. I appreciate your good thoughts.

God bless you bob kauflin. I've visited your church. What an incredible light you shine upon this dark world. Keep on.

And I have really be blessed by the dialouge between Cent & Campi.
To excellent examples to us all, and to fine brothers in Christ.

Have a blessed day in the Lord's presence on the Lord's day.

Suzanne said...


Thank you so so much for your blog. I am newly committed to Christianity. I've always considered myself a Christian but never really had a really life changing dedication to be a Christian, in the way of confessing my sins, having faith in Christ, and hungering for learning the scripture and finding others to grow my worship until just recently. I attended church sporatically and stopped around the mid nineties. Now I had this change and wanted to return to the church, find a church to call my own.
What I have found in my search are these emergent, "purpose-driven" churches, void of scripture and coming off more as a Dr. Phil session than church.. throw in a rocking band in church, and a 'hip' comedian type minister who wants to relate to what you are going through in life but never offering scripture to back up what he is saying.

Needless to say, I am so aware of this deception and it scares me!! We need more ministers like John MacArthur. This world is turning away from God and I am still searching for a true Christian church.

If this keeps up, I'll have to move to the Pennsylvania country and join the Amish. LoL. At least I'll know they havent given in to the great 'marketing' deception going on now.

Please keep up the good work with this blog!