06 April 2007

More on the dearth of conviction in the ECM

by Phil Johnson

've suggested recently that postmodernists always run in a straight line back to the notion that we should avoid making truth-claims with finality, clarity, or settled assurance. Everything (and of course I'm speaking in practical terms here, because absolute statements are deemed impolite in these postmodern times)—practically everything is supposed to remain perpetually on the table for debate and reconsideration.

Here's the kind of thing I'm talking about:

In a recent symposium on the Emerging Church movement (Mark Driscoll [et al.] Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007]) Dan Kimball says the only doctrines he is really sure about these days are a short list of credos generally agreed upon by Christians and spelled out in the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds.

See if you don't think Kimball's perspective contains a classic echo of the kind of thinking I am suggesting colors the typical postmodern mind. He writes:

"When we move beyond what the Nicene Creed discusses, I feel that it is not as easy to be saying so confidently that we have things all figured out. I wonder quite often if, beyond the Nicene Creed, we end up shaping some theology or even choosing what theology we believe because of personality and temperament" (p. 92).

The position Kimball has staked out for himself is frankly hard to understand, because the Nicene Creed, in 325 AD, actually marked the start of several volleys of controversy about the person of Christ. In fact, the worst of the Arian controversy came after Nicea. And it wasn't until the council of Chalcedon, 126 years later, that a creedal statement was written which explained in simple terms the hypostatic union of Christ's two natures. That's what finally helped end a more than 200-year-long parade of heresies about the person of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

So it would actually be much easier to understand Kimball's position if he said he thought the Council of Chalcedon marked the final plank of vital orthodoxy. I would still disagree with him, but his position would make a lot more sense.

But he is definite about setting the boundaries of his certainty at Nicea. And the point Dan Kimball is making about this is not just an obscure, offhanded remark that I dug out of his chapter in order to have an easy target for criticism. It is virtually the main point of his chapter. It's also the one point he makes in his rebuttal to Mark Driscoll's chapter.

In short, Kimball gives the distinct impression that he thinks any doctrine not settled by the time of the first ecumenical council is not really worth fighting over.

Everything beyond that, he suggests, is negotiable—or at least he dismisses all differences on such matters as consequences of a person's genetic predisposition, personality quirks, or whatever.

Consider the implications of that: If that's really Dan Kimball's position, then he has in effect repudiated the Protestant Reformation, not to mention Augustine's refutation of Pelagius and the Council of Carthage's condemnation of Pelagianism (which occurred nearly a hundred years after the Nicene Council).

I have my doubts about whether Dan Kimball would really want to defend that position if backed into a corner. Perhaps he would, but it's a position that is certainly fraught with significant difficulties, whether you embrace Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, or anything more orthodox than the Christology of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

If you happen to read the book, let me know if Kimball's chapter strikes you the same way it struck me. Not only does it seem like Kimball has not really thought his position through very carefully; I got the distinct impression he wouldn't really care to give it much more serious thought. Frankly, the message that comes across in that chapter is that he really doesn't want to be bothered with doctrine. Like a lot of postmodern church members, he doesn't seem to have the stomach for propositional theology. I have a hard time interpreting what he says in any other sense.

Here's why I object so strongly to that: Without a commitment to sound doctrine and a strong sense of what is truth and what is error, you simply have no way to fend off heresy. Once you embrace postmodern qualms about the perspicuity, truthfulness, and authority of Scripture, you have already rendered any vigorous, biblical defense of the faith impossible.

Even the most conservative voices in the Emerging Church movement face this problem to some degree, because although they might not be self-consciously postmodern in their own thinking, they are too concerned with keeping "the conversation" going. Once someone abandons his or her doctrinal convictions to the degree Kimball advocates and embraces "the conversation" as a primary goal instead, the commandment in Jude 3 ("Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints") becomes next to impossible to obey with a whole heart.

Phil's signature

150 comments:

Jason Vaughn said...

"Once someone abandons his or her doctrinal convictions to the degree Kimball advocates and embraces "the conversation" as a primary goal instead, the commandment in Jude 3 ("Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints") becomes next to impossible to obey with a whole heart"

Amen, this seems to be the problem: they have strong convictions on irrelevent matters and weak convictions on strong matters.

DJP said...

So, as to the significance of what this day marks, we're confined to "and for our salvation, [Christ] came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried..."?

Well, that's good, but the Bible certainly says a whole lot more.

Calvin observed in the Institutes that precise theological terms not found in the Bible are required to mark truth off from heresy. Arius might agree that Christ is "God" (in his sense); but ask him if Christ is homoousios, and he is flushed out of hiding.

It's just silly to overlook how our grasp of truth has been refined through conflict over the centuries

Although (on reflection) the emergent error gives us yet another opportunity to do so further.

centuri0n said...

I find it hard to believe that the Nicene Creed (and I hope Kimball means the fuller Nicene creed and not the creed which came out of the council of Nicea in 325) is somehow more clear and more accessible than the Bible.

It is useful, but -- as I said over here, and I think Phil is in the same orbit in this current post -- the modern anachronism about the creeds is that they were meant to be comprehensive and unifying. They were in fact meant to be occational (that is, addressing the matters of a specific occation) and dividing.

Those darn church fathers -- dividing "the church"! How dastardly! And with propositions, no less! How gauche! How mullet-like! Were they cavemen or something?

danny2 said...

this seems to be borne out of a mindset with ZERO urgency.

in his most recent post on his blog, kimball speaks of people he's conversed with who "love Jesus, but not the church."

obviously, the idea of loving Jesus and not His bride doesn't work. just ask the apostle john.

but on top of that, he mentions long conversations for years he has had with them. he lays out that they object to the church and feel like people have tried to convert them...and when they resist, the believer then moves on. he says they are turned off by just feeling like the were a spiritual notch on someone's belt.

it seems the same as what he described about the hairdresser in his book. he's so concerned they think positively about Jesus, he's content to leave them with their idol they have formed called Jesus (one who is "all love" and would never judge anyone.), rather than confront them with Jesus' claims.

of course, this "process" requires years of work. are we guaranteed the person (or us) will be alive the next day? don't we risk that they notice we love Jesus, and we applaud them for "loving Jesus," they may think they are already redeemed?

i've watched/read kimball for a couple years now. i kept waiting to hear out right heresy (like mclaren) and it didn't come. i was encouraged and thought this was a good sign....

then i realized i was rarely hearing orthodoxy from him either.

Mark B. Hanson said...

By the way, even the Nicene Creed is not universally agreed upon. Orthodox Christians do not accept that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son", but they believe He proceeds only from the Father. They modify that one phrase when they confess it.

So I guess that leaves us with the Apostles' Creed.

MTR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Martin Downes said...

In fairness to Dan Kimball he does affirm in that chapter his commitment to the authority of Scripture (not part of the Nicene Creed) and to the substitutionary nature of the atonement (although hr doesn't spell out his understanding of this). And when he deals with mysterious doctrine beyond the Nicene Creed he picks, rather mysteriously, women pastors. And he also says that the Bible is clear about marriage, the role of the Spirit in sanctification, and its own authority (again).

So the end of the road for him isn't Nicea (or Constantinople)...but he should have elaborated much more on that. And at least for him the Nicene Creed is not reversible or subject to the changes of culture. Doug Pagitt's chapter however is a different story.

david rudd said...

martin,

thank you for being the "voice of reason".

it is refreshing to hear someone attempt to properly represent an opposing view point before they tear it down...

i agree. there is a world of difference between kimball and padgitt. in my opinion, kimball is finding himself on the middle ground between driscoll and padgitt/jones/mclaren. that's probably a tough place to be.

Martin Downes said...

David,

I'm not sure there is a middle ground. I've read the book in question and it seems to me that Kimball is much more like Driscoll confessionally and needs to affirm a lot more. He certainly doesn't go far enough given his own presuppositions in that chapter. Pagitt (and for that matter Jones and McLaren) from what I have read has an approach to doctrine that undermines all confessional orthodoxy. He really does think that everything should be open for reconsideration.

JSB said...

I have not read Kimball, but this does raise a red flag for me: "When we move beyond what the Nicene Creed discusses, I feel that it is not as easy to be saying so confidently that we have things all figured out."

This statement is one that, in various ways, is given all the time in the ECM "conversation." Indeed, despite protestations that one cannot find any "hallmarks" in said conversation, this appears to be the central tenet.

Think about it. Isn't this really what it's "all about"? Casting off the perceived "narrow, modern mindset" of traditional evangelicalism, the "false certainty," and replacing it with a humble sounding "We can't figure it all out"? That's exactly what a "generous orthodoxy" looks like. One may say, over and over, that he accepts the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, but what people hear (esp. the people sitting under this type of teaching) is that it makes no practical difference.

So, leaving aside the question of the faith/motivation/sincerity of the people who self-identify with ECM, what is the actual consequence of this tenet over time? I firmly believe, along with Richard Weaver, that "ideas have consequences."

And what this "we can't expect to figure it all out" guiding principle must inevitably lead to, it seems to me, is a fraying of confidence in the Word as authority, no matter how many times you use the word "authority"; and from there, on a practical level, a decreasing level of walking in actual obedience, or even a determination to try to.

For when the issue becomes, say, can I live with my same sex partner because we are in love, real love, I will have been trained that "we haven't got it all figured out" and go with my emotions. The restraining power of the authority will not even be an issue for me. And there are dozens of other hot button areas where this will happen as well.

Now, in fairness, I know there are actual ECM communities and leaders who would attempt to dispel this conclusion, but I wonder if by then it would be too late?

And, in fairness, let's recognize that some leaders wouldn't confront this at all.

So the belief that the Word is inerrant and authoritative, that it can be understood and followed, leads to a mindset that errs in the direction of reverent obedience. The other belief, "we can't figure it all out," which feels a little like giving up, pulls in the other direction.

This is why my issue is not with the people living in ECM community, but their leaders and book writers and speakers. If they are laying any foundation at all, it is one that I fear will crack and crumble in moral storms.

michelle said...

jsb,
This is what I was trying to say yesterday! This is it!! Thank you for putting words to my thoughts.

Touchstone said...

Phil,

An important aspect from Dan's position here that you overlooked is one that contradicts your previous claims about the ECM. Yesterday on the previous post meta you said:

The result of a postmodern approach to truth is an ever-diminishing list of biblical truths that Christians are willing to affirm unequivocally as things that are certain, clear, and authoritative.

Now, say what you will about Kimball's position outside of his "non-negotiables", but the fact is, Dan is one who *does* draw a line in the sand, and is *not* on a path of "ever-diminishing list of biblical truths".

I realize your quote above may be again dismissed as hyperbole ("well not really *totally* diminishing"), but this quote comes from your response where you were setting the record straight with respect to a bit of exaggeration previously.

Anyway, my contention is that your quote is false, and that ECMs generally do *not* have an "ever-diminishing list", but simply have a more conservative core than many evangelicals do. Dan, who I've read for a good while is quite adamant (and effective) in his defense of the core, and stands as a contradiction to your characterizations.

-Touchstone

Hayden said...

David,

Here comes the "you don't represent the ECM correctly" trumpet again. I have read you saying things like(notice these are not direct quotes) "that is not what they are really saying" or "you must not have read them well enough" or "I know someone who is not like this..."

Phil, you infer, has not done his homework. Do you know that for sure? Have you met Phil? Have you listened to him preach? (I am asking these questions to you not for an answer, just for you to answer them to yourself)

David, I have no anger or ill will towards you or any of the points that you have brought up. It just seems that you are willing to jump on Phil for anything he may say about the ECM. (Just my opinion) Ask yourself, "Does Phil have a valid point at all?" Look at the article again.

Hayden (Flint, MI)

PS I googled Rob Bell to see if I may be wrong about him being part of the Emergent or Emerging Movement. Though Rob may not classify himself as a "member" of the movement he is interviewed at least 4 times in Christianity Today as a member of the Emerging "movement". His books are classified often as "Emergent" books. I think that firmly puts him in the conversation.

rickB said...

@ Touchstone,
Since you hold to science as it is today as equal to scripture, wouldn't you say that perspective influences your views to scripture "still evolving" versus an evangelical view the word of God is a settled matter? Is not that always going to be the contention between you and this blog?

Dan Paden said...

Of the Emergents that I've dealt with personally, most--not all--of them would agree that the Bible describes absolute truth. However, in their next breath, sometimes, they will all deny that you can know much, if anything, of spiritual truth from it. This is always said to be because even though the Bible is infallible, we are not, or we bring too much of our personal perspective to it to be able to glean objective knowledge from it, or because truth is defined in community, or because the text has been so corrupted we can't know for sure what was originally said (I'm serious--that was said to me once). Ultimately, it has seemed to me that far too often, what Emergents give with the one hand, saying that they agree that the core claims of Christianity are true, they take away with the other in saying that for one reason or another, truth is unknowable.

Steven, said...

Since the "emergent" label seemingly has so much baggage and confusion, perhaps we should drop it and get a new term.

I propose "Christian".

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone:

I don't see the "contradiction" you're claiming is there. "Ever-diminishing" doesn't mean "non-existent." Why do you act as if it does?

What I said yesterday, and illustrated today, is that the things deemed "core" beliefs in the ECM are a vague and moving target, and the target always seems to get smaller. I'm not suggesting there are no lines in the sand, but that the lines in the sand keep moving.

The message of Kimball's chapter seems to epitomize the trend: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).

Glenn said...

Says the great Martin Luther to Erasmus:

In a word, these declarations of yours amount to this - that, with you, it matters not what is believed by any one, any where, if the peace of the world be but undisturbed; and if every one be but allowed, when his life, his reputation, or his interest is at stake, to do as he did, who said, "If they affirm, I affirm, if they deny, I deny:" and to look upon the Christian doctrines as nothing better than the opinions of philosophers and men: and that it is the greatest of folly to quarrel about, contend for, and assert them, as nothing can arise therefrom but contention, and the disturbance of the public peace: "that what is above us, does not concern us." This, I say, is what your declarations amount to. - Thus, to put an end to our fightings, you come in as an intermediate peace-maker, that you may cause each side to suspend arms, and persuade us to cease from drawing swords about things so absurd and useless.

Further, I join him in saying ..

"Leave us free to make assertions, and to find in assertions our satisfaction and delight; and you may applaud your Skeptics and Academics--till Christ calls you too!… "

Steven, said...

...And with the adoption of the new term, "Christian",

perhaps we should emphasize the bold literature at the center of our new movement, or "conversation",

The Holy Scriptures.

I hear it sells more copies than anything by any "emergence" author

-and half the confusion!

Caleb Kolstad said...

Phil,

Let me recommend a book to you it is called "The Truth War" by John MacArthur. :)

Great post!!

Phil Johnson said...

I had to delete MTR's comment (above) because it was an egregious breach of the blogrule against using filthy language. Since that is not his first offense and it was clearly deliberate, he's permanently banned from our comments.

But I'm reposting his parting comment without the offending word here, because it illustrates the paradox of postmodern "charity." While pleading for altruism and tolerance toward dissidents, skeptics, and the heterodox, postmodern benignity is rarely extended toward anyone with a pre-modern concern about orthodoxy. Viz.,

__________________________

MTR said...

Wow. For a long time I thought maybe you guys were a little strict, maybe a little too severely Calvinistic. Maybe you were just borderling legalistic.

Now I realize you're just &#%!@&s.

5:53 AM, April 06, 2007

__________________________

And thus the "conversation" continues...

Sled Dog said...

What is "the faith" Jude calls for us to contend for?

Is it the basic element that salvation is obtained freely through faith in Christ, or does it included all the tenets of systematic theology? Am I really contending for the faith when I go toe to toe over issues of spirtual gifts or church polity?

David said...

I have not read Kimball, but ......

does anyone else find the humour in starting a 10 paragraph comment that way?

Especially when other commentors (who have read Kimball) have allready pointed out that perhaps one qoute does not provide a complete description of Kimball's position?

It struck me as pretty funny.

David (not David Rudd)(but after writing this is thinking about the plank in his own eye)

rickB said...

ok blogger is acting funny I hope this is not a repeat post, maybe this would be the improved version.

@ Steven,

You would need to clarify definitions of those labels. Christians who believe God's word is a settled matter vs. Christians who believe that God's word is not superior over their own judgement, or not superior over science (with respect to evolution. Thus the post modern etc. are needed.

Tim Spanburg said...

Phil

Hey I'm a long time reader first time commenter. I am somewhat surprised that none of the reformed bloggers have picked up on one of Emergent Village's board of directors is denying the primacy of the ressurection. Ms. Butler Bass' blog on sojo.net is an interesting read, although depressing.

Just thought I'd throw that out there...

Touchstone said...

Phil,

"ever-diminishing" *does* mean "non-existent" over time! That's precisely the problem, and that's the rhetorical punch that's got you using the term. You're saying "See folks, it all slides into nothing, abject unbelief eventually!" If you were to say "ECM generally settles on a smaller, more ancient core than Calvinists do", you'd be on firm ground for a change in talking about the ECM, but you'd have lost the demagoguery value of the "no-truth/ever-diminishing/everything-is-relative" meme you're advancing here.

Dan Kimball points at the ancient creeds, and now you have him cast with a "vague and moving target" as his core! The Nicene and Apostle's creed were clear and anchored propositions for more than a *millenia* before Luther and Calvin were even a gleam their mother's eyes. Calvin may have got it right, but across the timeline of Christian theology, "TULIP" is a late-blooming novelty compared to the Apostle's Creed.

If the old creeds are "vague and moving", what might the ECM claim as a confession that *wouldn't* be dismissed by you as "vague and moving"? I can't think of anything that would pass muster for you, if the creeds won't do.

-Touchstone

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone:

I didn't say the creeds are "vague and moving"; I said Dan Kimball's doctrinal convictions are. He was a student at Multnomah, at which time he would have affirmed a doctrinal statement that is much more comprehensive than the Nicene Creed. He's changed.

You seem convinced he has "settled." We'll see.

In any case, the Emerging movement shows no signs of being "settled" on anything. That's my point. It's not complex. (In fact, I think you're about to run out of ways to deconstruct it. What will fill our comments threads then?)

Touchstone said...

rickb,

As a student of church history, I'd say that yes, doctrine and theology are most definitely evolving disciplines. No one in the first century was talking about hypostatic union or economical trinity, or "the noetic effects of the Fall", for example. The trinity -- a core pillar of orthodoxy -- wasn't synthesized as a formal theology until a few centuries after Christ.

As for science, or anything else, truth is truth, and all truth is God's truth. God is Lord of science and the natural world just as much as he is Lord of our metaphysical souls. Given that, I'm not free to maintain cognitive dissonance between what God has ordained in scripture and in His creation.

That said, I don't see scripture and science as being even remotely comparable, save for the underlying affirmation that truth it truth, and God is lord of it all. It would be quite misleading and clumsy to say "scripture == science", or some such.

Hope that's enough to be responsive. I'm on a short "rule 3" leash with Phil, given my stance on his assertions.

-Touchstone

MTR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Touchstone said...

Phil,

On one hand, you're affirm that the Creeds *are* in fact "clear and firm".

On the other, Dan Kimball's doctrinal convictions are "vague and moving".

Yet, your post here is about Dan Kimball standing on the Creeds as his core.

What gives?!?!

His position as a student at Multnomah doesn't invalidate his stand on the Creeds; if you ask him, I'd wager he'd claim to have maintained that "firm and clear" core throughout.

As for being convinced about Dan's integrity in saying what he means, I'll take him at face value. I don't know the future, but I will accept what he asserts as his "core" is really his "core".

An emerging[sic] theme in your analysis on this issue (and others), is a high level of certainty and confidence in your psychoanalytic and mind-reading skills.

No man can pass muster if they are beholden to your "we'll see". It's that corrosive skepticism thing all over again...


At any rate, you've got yourself tied up in contradictions now, to the point where this is very much coming across as double-speak.

-Touchstone

wordsmith said...

The EM "conversation" reminds me of a kid who tells untruths and maintains he isn't lying because he has his fingers crossed. Duplicitousness and prevarication tend to make "conversation" anything but forthright.

rickB said...

@Touchstone

You say that evolution (science) is equal to God's word. I say that you are making today's science equal to God's word in this matter clearly stated as creation. Where science is true, it is following God's word. Where scientist's leave "laws" and hold evolution as "fact" and you are making that equal or superior to God's word. In fact, you Touchstone (by your non de plume even) are making yourself judge is this.

JSB said...

No, it's not humorous, David, because I clearly distinguished the thought that was expressed from the author of it, and said that it is one I've heard over and over. I clearly moved this from being personal about Kimball. That's why I led off with my disclaimer. Do you find honesty "humorous"?

Perhaps now you can deal with the substance of the post?

Glenn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Touchstone said...

rickb,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm quite sure I wouldn't be allowed to venture into a proper response here. We're into interesting territory, but a completely different territory than Dan Kimball and Phil's moving-not-moving core and creeds.

But, I'd surely love to.

-Touchstone

Carla Rolfe said...

"This post has been removed by a blog administrator."

Wouldn't it be great if blogposts dealing with ECM criticism never had to receive this kind of action?

Isn't it rather telling that blogposts dealing with ECM criticism tend to draw (some) commenters that require this sort of action?

Granted, it's been a (thankfully) very small percentage here this time (from what I've seen), but that it happens at all, is just a real shame.

Glenn said...

I see that my post was deleted. My sincere apologies if the words contained in it offended anybody. That was not my intent.

My point in quoting Monty Python was that no matter what point Phil makes, no matter how relevant or true, Touchstone won't admit it as such.

Contextually, I thought the quote was spot-on.

Glenn

Phil Johnson said...

Glenn: "Contextually, I thought the quote was spot-on."

I thought so, too, but the language rule here applies even to quoted material. If it's necessary to post a PG-13 quote or something stouter, make sure the offensive words are bleeped. It's our nod of deference and respect to the many homeschool moms who read this blog regularly. Plus, it's just good manners.

Touchstone said...

Glenn,

Phil makes a lot of good points and makes them effectively. I don't have time to read many blogs, but Phil's one I like to read, and he often will string dozens of meaty posts together that I find no substantial quarrel with, or nod enthusiastically towards.

Phil's just consistently off in the woods with regards to the Emerging Church. I have no trouble with him disagreeing with the Emerging church, or resolutely standing fast on what he's always held to, and pointing to the contrasts between that and the ECM.

But, plainly put, Phil is engaged in demagoguery in a very promiscuous fashion with regard to the Emerging church. That deserves a consistent rebuttal of sorts, even from someone (me) who sees the Emerging Church as a problematic mixed bag -- albeit and important mixed bag.

Even within the bounds of this issue, Phil makes points I can affirm. To wit, this from his previous post:

Furthermore, as I have said many times, if we listen to the Emerging Church Movement's critique of mainstream evangelicalism, we must acknowledge that they are right on target in many ways. I agree wholeheartedly with much of what the literature of the Emerging Church movement says about the failure of mainstream evangelicalism. Many who are joining the Emerging movement have bailed out of the evangelical movement because they are rightly fed up with American-style late-20th-century evangelicalism.

Word.

Nevertheless, Phil's one of a few highly visible voices that are promoting a "Red Scare" of sorts with respect to the ECM; no doubt there were communist infiltrators in Hollywood and the media in the 1950s, but the campaign against this threat was fundamentally misleading and disingenuous.

Like the odd Stalinist script-writer in Hollywood circa 1954, there exists the odd Derrda-ist post-modern Emergent within the bounds of the ECM. Phil is effective in using marginalization and focus on the fringe as a double-whammy of sorts: its scares and entrenches his core audience, and it avoids having to look the substantive issues squarely in the eye.

So yes, I'm squarely opposed to the basic strategy I see Phil deploying here on this issue. It's needlessly divisive, misleading, and only avoids a kind of introspection and self-analysis in mainstream evangelicalism that is sorely needed.

And, it's unjust with respect to a great number of ECM types. I'd be eager to take ECM types to task (and have!) for similarly negligent treatment of Calvinists. Or Mormons. Or Buddhists.

I call 'em as I see 'em. A spade is a spade -- a stance I thought might be appreciated here on Phil's blog. When Phil's got it right -- and he very often does, he has plenty of folks here to power his halo.

-Touchstone

donsands said...

"What is "the faith" Jude calls for us to contend for?"

The Bible, God's Holy Scriptures, the Old & New Testaments, all 66 books are "the faith" to me.

Jesus said, "Man will not live by bread alone, but by "every word" spoken from the mouth of God."

I have enjoyed reading through these comments, and the post is very good.
I have learned much about Dan Kimball. And once again some eye opening statemnets regarding the ECM.
Thanks.

JSB said...

Red scare? Hollywood blacklist? Yeesh, talk about anological overkill.

Seems to me when thoughtful and substantive critique is leveled at the ECM, one of the first rejoinders out of the box is "divisive!"

Well, yeah. When you confront error, it is, perforce, divisive. It divides those promoting it from those who do not. It is what debate is about.

Those who just want to have a "conversation" seem to want to dominate it, leaving out confrontive thought. Then, when those who offer a contrary view dare to put it on the line, they get compared to McCarthy.

Wow.

Steven, said...

Augustine's Letter to Jerome 82.3:

For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine. I do not need to say that I do not suppose you to wish your books to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error. Far be such arrogance from that humble piety and just estimate of yourself which I know you to have, and without which assuredly you would not have said, "Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning!"

Charles Whisnant said...

Remember Carl McIntire in the fifty’s. Remember J.F. Norris? Men who took a stand to point
out error in our religious community. They had an sincere desire to keep truth in place.

While I personally believe truth is untouched by means of men. You can’t change truth. What can be done is having men believe in a false truth that they have come to believe. Our acts often starts out as a desire to accomplish God’s purposes in the church. The compromise of truth comes when we fail to believe the Truth will hold up.

“Everything beyond that, he suggests, is negotiable——or at least he dismisses all differences on such matters as consequences of a person's genetic predisposition, personality quirks, or whatever.” Phil mention. Non negotiable’s are never negotiable to fit our quirks or disappointments in our effort to accomplish God’s purposes.

“Because the Nicene Creed, in 325 AD, actually marked the start of several assaults of controversy about the person of Christ “ Here we are 2007 and the assaults of Christ are still been immersed. Satan knows how to keep a battle going, in the negative.

But we are in a battle field not in a flower garden. And we need those who are willing to put before us error that is been assaulted against the truth.

Charles

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone: "Nevertheless, Phil's one of a few highly visible voices that are promoting a "Red Scare" of sorts with respect to the ECM; no doubt there were communist infiltrators in Hollywood and the media in the 1950s, but the campaign against this threat was fundamentally misleading and disingenuous."

Note:

1. Touchstone (who professes to despise caricatures, generalizations, and hyperbole) caricatures my criticism of the ECM as a kind of religious McCarthyism.

2. When Touchstone gropes to find something—anything—he can affirm in my two-year-long critique of the ECM, the one quotation he can muster is a statement where I said I generally agree with the ECM's critique of shallow evangelicalism.

So I just want to point out (once again) that our anonymous gadfly is not the paragon of open-minded tolerance and fair-minded dialogue he seems to think he is, and that he himself does not actually make much effort to engage in the type of even-handed "dialogue" he claims he wants to see between Emergents and TR-types.

To repeat a comment I made yesterday that got buried at the end of a long-comment-flood:

_________________

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone: "It's impossible to address this topic *without* going there, save for waving your hands and satisfying yourself that these guys just aren't manly enough to believe in truth."

Well, I don't recall questioning anyone's manhood, and I reread the whole thread and can't seem to locate a reference like that from any of the regulars here.

For someone who professes moral outrage at every instance of hyperbole and overstatement aimed your way, you certainly are liberal in your own use of verbal overkill.

Moreover, if I had pointed out every time you have veered off-topic in this thread, we would have 300 comments rather than 150. I decided to cut you some slack and just see how far you off topic you were willing to go in this thread. So it's interesting and highly ironic (and in a way, quite impressive) that you can now straight-facedly post a remark like the one I've quoted above—and simultaneously manage to imply that I'm merely doing a haka.

_________________

I'd also like to add that if I'm a Calvinist Joseph McCarthy, he's a pomo Baghdad Bob.

Steven, said...

Augustine, Letter to Jerome 28.3:


For it seems to me that most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books: that is to say, that the men by whom the Scripture has been given to us, and committed to writing, did put down in these books anything false. It is one question whether it may be at any time the duty of a good man to deceive; but it is another question whether it can have been the duty of a writer of Holy Scripture to deceive: nay, it is not another question—it is no question at all. For if you once admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement as made in the way of duty, there will not be left a single sentence of those books which, if appearing to any one difficult in practice or hard to believe, may not by the same fatal rule be explained away, as a statement in which, intentionally, and under a sense of duty, the author declared what was not true.

david rudd said...

We are quick to exclude from our group those we deem undesirable -- those who fail to flatter us, support our opinions, reinforce our prejudices, boost our pride, feed our egos, or whose style of life is significantly different...Such intolerant exclusivism grieves the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose purpose and prayer was that believers "may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You..."

mmm. tilapia for lunch. yummy.

Phil Johnson said...

"Such intolerant exclusivism grieves the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ"

True enough, but please note that the quotation you cited is not advocating broad Emerging-style tolerance of doctrinal error. Would you like me to cite proof? Did you read the context of the quote you cited?

Touchstone said...

Phil,

1. All analogies break down somewhere. I don't suppose you have the power of Congressional subpoena, or nearly the bully pulpit McCarthy did, the popularity of your blog here notwithstanding. The analogy wasn't given to point at people's lives/careers being wrecked, as happened as a result of McCarthy's campaign. Rather, it was given to underscore the cycnical use of *fear*, and the aggressive use of shame ("unpatriotic" for McCarthy, "unfaithful/unbelieving" for you) in rallying the troops.

But, having read a lot of your words on the subject, I don't think I've caricatured your criticism here. It's fundamentally driven by demagoguery, in my view. In that sense, I believe that part of the analogy holds quite well.

2. I'm sure there's a large number of quotes I can find in your posting history on this that I agree with. You're not controversial *all* the time. The quote I provided was simply *local* - recent, fresh, an example readily at hand in another tab in my FireFox.

If you're looking for a full inventory of things you said on this topic I agree with, I suppose that's possible -- but sounds like 'busy-work' doesn't it? You've no shortage of people to say "Atta boy, Phil!" here, so I don't often feel the need to chip those in.

And you do not have many that provide even nominal critiques of what you post here. I know others have come and gone (some who I agree with, some not), but you maintain the meta here in such a way as make any kind of pointed critique difficult to sustain, due to your inclinations to marginalize and throw ad homs at critics.

That's not too tough to deal with, but it's exceedingly hard to get you to look a critique in the eye -- you're quite adept at making sure things only get addressed on your terms, where you feel safe and comfortable.

But it *is* your blog, and that's your right.

-Touchstone

david rudd said...

i know well the quote.

i believe the context would be related to an established group of believers not being particularly open to a new kind of Christian in the church...

(whoops, i didn't mean to make such an ironic statement, but i guess it's worth leaving)

and, no. i'm certain the author didn't intend it to be used regarding "emerging types"... but perhaps it's worth thinking about.

michelle said...

Such intolerant exclusivism grieves the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose purpose and prayer was that believers "may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You..."

I was reading John 17 last night, and note that when Jesus spoke of such oneness, He also asked that we be "sanctified by Thy truth", further adding that "Thy [God's] Word is truth." I do not think it is a matter of exclusivism for the sake of being exclusive. It is for the sake of said truth. I think we push the envelope just a bit on the "unity" siren by implying it means never delineating what we are uniting for. There is diversity in the body for sure, even on doctrinal issues...but there are certain things that you cannot let go of before you cease to be professing Christianity. It is that truth, which is given to us through the Word, both the written and Living Word, that Jesus desires we be one in.


...I know, I know...I said I was done with this. But darn it! I can't resist...

david rudd said...

why did i stop throwing stones at emerging christians?

John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group.”
Jesus wasn't pleased. “Don't stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
“On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.


i'm petrified of being attached to a millstone.

if i might address the substance of the original post momentarily...

phil, i asked this yesterday in response to a statement you made. you chose to respond to other things... i wonder if you might respond now?

from yesterday:

you've stated your point as:

The result of a postmodern approach to truth is an ever-diminishing list of biblical truths that Christians are willing to affirm unequivocally as things that are certain, clear, and authoritative.

i am not terribly opposed to this statement.

what would you say are those things that are "certain, clear, and authoritative"?

maybe a better question is, "how do YOU determine which things are 'certain, clear, and authoritative'?"

this may help us understand where you and dan k. are divergent...

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone: "you maintain the meta here in such a way as make any kind of pointed critique difficult to sustain, due to your inclinations to marginalize and throw ad homs at critics."

I don't think I've ever censored you, except for one or two cussword infractions. You've posted reams of pompous critiques about me, and I've pretty much let you have your say. If you didn't employ ad homs so liberally yourself, your complaint about that might be worth considering. As it is, it just begins to sound like the grousing of someone who has run out of arguments but hasn't quite run out of steam.

Of course YOU don't think Emerging skepticism is a serious problem. You yourself have a blog devoted to arguing that the opening chapters of the Bible shouldn't be taken at face value. Naturally, you are not going to be deeply concerned if someone wants a minimalist approach to all doctrine.

I'm simply pointing out that your position is a stark departure from historic Protestant and evangelical belief. That's a raw fact, not a scare tactic. You can try to make it seem murkier or portray your position as more benign than it really is, but can we be frank here? That's probably not going to work for your team in the long run.

So when you thump your chest while accusing me of using brute force in place of an argument, or cast me as a McCarthyite whilst you are pretending to deplore ad homs and caricatures, I'm going to point out your rank hypocrisy—ad hominem or not.

David said...

jsb

Phil himself asked those who have actually read Kimball to comment as to if they agree or disagree with his assessment. That is a fair and open request, that a few (two?)commentors actually took him up on.

It would be goofy for me to participate in a discussion on Kimball because I have no knowledge on the subject of Kimball. I do not know if he said those things, nor do I know the context in which they were said, nor do I know what his overall views on anything are.

However, as other commenters have pointed out, it may be that a fair reading of Kimball would lead to a different conclusion than Phil makes.

A fair reading of Kimbell may actually prove that a ECM guy actually has it right on the subject (or perhaps less wrong than other ECM'rs?)

But I have no basis for determining that, because I have never read Kimball.

But that was the point of my comment - you do not either. Which makes it pretty hard to use his words as proof (or examples) for your comments.

David (not David Rudd, because he actually has read Kimball and I have not)

jsb said...

Still not humorous, David.

"But that was the point of my comment - you do not either. Which makes it pretty hard to use his words as proof (or examples) for your comments."

I have read many other self-described ECM books and articles that offer the very same thought expressed by the Kimball quote. So, if it will help you get to the substance of my post, let's just leave Kimball out of it. Pretend his name never came up. Just go from the quote.

Unless you are seriously suggesting that this sentiment is not one commonly expressed by ECM. If that's your position, I'd say you have to read a few more books.

Phil Johnson said...

David: "I have not read Kimball, but ......

does anyone else find the humour in starting a 10 paragraph comment that way?"


Yet a mere 25 comments later, we read . . .

David: "It would be goofy for me to participate in a discussion on Kimball because I have no knowledge on the subject of Kimball. I do not know if he said those things, nor do I know the context in which they were said, nor do I know what his overall views on anything are."

So, does anybody else find the humour in the fact that David is a participant in this discussion of Kimball?

David: "A fair reading of Kimbell may actually prove that a ECM guy actually has it right on the subject (or perhaps less wrong than other ECM'rs?)

But I have no basis for determining that, because I have never read Kimball."


Pomo "logic." Ack.

Dan said...

Hello, Dan Kimball here....

Someone emailed me to let me know that Phil posted some opinions on what I wrote and believe.

I thought I would clear up some of the things being misunderstood or left out of what I actually wrote on the chapter as being discussed here.

For one, the book "Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches" was not supposed to be an exhaustive list of everything we believe. That would take a whole volume or more. We were given freedom to write whatever we wanted to and expand on anything, but we were specifically asked to make sure we covered some core theological topics such as the atonement, the Scriptures, the Trinity and religious pluralism.

So when you read what I wrote, I tried to focus on those core things - never saying that is all I believe nor limiting it to there to only what is in the Nicene Creed. I said after that, I do tread with humility and prayer and wonder about things that godly people throughout church history have had differences of opinions on. But I specifically made sure I said that I do have doctrinal beliefs beyond the Nicene Creed. For those that have not read the chapter, you should be aware that I also stated other beliefs.

On page 105 I specifically said "It is hard to communicate in one chapter what a church believes and practices theologically. I tried to highlight a few core beliefs and share my heart about the importance of theology."

On page 94 I said "Please understand, that as I say I left more to mystery, it doesn't mean I don't believe you can't come to solid conclusions about many things in addition to the Nicene Creed. There are many things mentioned that I believe are clear, such as Jesus' teaching about marriage, the authority of the Bible itself, the role of the Spirit in personal transformation."

I clearly stated in the chapter I believe in a Triune God (pages 99-100), I believe in the substitionary atonement (pages 100-101), believe in the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures (page 94-97), that all religions do not lead to God (page 101-102), an eternal heaven and hell (page 102).

Phil, you rather sharply and in my opinion very inaccurately wrote about my message in the chapter:

"The message of Kimball's chapter seems to epitomize the trend: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7)."

I clearly stated that I have belief in "truth" giving some brief listings of theological positions on very core doctrines in addition to those in the Nicene Creed. I also wrote a section with a header called "We can be bold and confident in what the Scriptures do make clear" (page 99).

I read at your own Shepherd's Conference the flurry of debate about your end times distinct position that was spoken on. Would all those who hold to core doctrines as I listed for myself, but believe in an amillennial position be seens as 2 Timothy 3:7 kinds of people?

If anyone in your circles and frequenters of this blog has specific questions to clarify anything I believe, or what our church practices, please feel free to go to my blog www.dankimball.com and I will be more than happy to respond or to answer questions.

This summer, two students from Masters College visited our church on a Sunday. Afterwards, they said something like "This is nothing like we expected. You preached from the Bible." They listed other things from Masters College that they were taught all emerging churches were supposed to be like. Some of the descriptions were so incredibly sad and inaccurate and I was glad they got to see and experience first hand that some of the stereotypes and accusations were not all true.


Peace in Jesus -

Dan

www.dankimball.com

david rudd said...

now that... is priceless

Phil Johnson said...

The comment-flood on these subjects began because a number of people with sympathies for various Emerging ideas found my remarks about the ever-shrinking commitment to certainty and sound doctrine in the Emerging community "over the top"; "painted with too broad a brush"; hyperbole; exaggerated—and so on.

Yet here's Touchstone talking about "McCarthyism"; david rudd raising the spectre of stoning, and millstones around the neck, and other imagined threats of physical violence.

So what are we to suppose? Do these guys really deplore hyperbole and vivid imagery, or just when the criticism is aimed their direction? I think we know the answer to that.

Anyway,

david rudd: "what would you say are those things that are 'certain, clear, and authoritative'?

"maybe a better question is, 'how do YOU determine which things are "certain, clear, and authoritative"?'"


I've posted repeatedly on that question. See, for example, this post, its comment-thread, and the posts that immediately followed it; this guest-post by my pastor; this post; and this post. There are no doubt many others. The subject is a regular theme here.

Scott said...

So, does anybody else find the humour in the fact that David is a participant in this discussion of Kimball?

No.

My Good Friday good humour has been exhausted, I'm afraid, by those who -- though some have their own blogs on which to rant -- clutter this space with posts which from their quantity, verbosity, and nature appear to have been made only to distract others from the points you're trying to make.

I would be much less forebearing with the comment zapper...

david rudd said...

david rudd raising the spectre of stoning, and millstones around the neck, and other imagined threats of physical violence.

wow! phil, i truly apologize if you took my quote to imply any threat of violence... i certainly didn't anticipate it being viewed that way...

i was only trying to explain how Scripture pricked my heart to stop casting stones at other believers...

my bad.

David said...

Actually, I was not discussing Kimball - I am only discussing the logic and merit of making assumptions as the starting point for ones arguement when one has no basis for making those assumptions. (although my phraseology was, well, not good)

As to my convoluted statement, I think DK just proved the point for me, thank you very much.

David (not David Rudd, but the purveyor of pomo logic since April 6, 2007)

David said...

This whole thread has just become way too funny. It could be a mastercard commercial. Priceless.

Now the thing is, I still consider the basic post to be fine - Phil read the material, gave his opinion, and asked others who had read the material to comment. By my count, two actual readers of it (and the one writer) have commented on the material.

Most everyone else who took a postion on the material or related topic has been hoisted upon their own petard.

Phil Johnson said...

Dan Kimball:

Sorry. You commented while I was writing, and I nearly missed it.

Thanks for commenting. I realize, and acknowledged as much in the post, that if backed into a corner you wouldn't want to defend Nicea as the borderline of what's clear and certain and worthy of dogmatic affirmation in Christian doctrine.

That's why the statement I quoted is difficult to make sense of. (Ditto with your response to Driscoll in that book.) I'm not sure why you keep suggesting that the Nicene council is a dividing line between what we can affirm "confidently" and "what . . . we believe because of personality and temperament," but in light of the prevailing attitude toward doctrine and propositional truth in the broader Emerging milieu, those are troubling statements.

Incidentally, I have no connection with The Master's College, so I can't speak to whatever "stereotypes" the students you met may or may not have heard in the classroom. I do know that some of the faculty at the college are helping plant a local church that's aligned with the Acts 29 network, so the atmosphere over there is probably not as hostile as your anecdote suggests.

Touchstone said...

Phil,

How about responding to the rest of Dan's post? The silence is deafening.

Would you agree that this serves as at least one example of the point I'm making over and over -- that a basic problem at work here is *accuracy* and fair representation, before we even get down to the real disagreement?

It's one thing to face harsh criticism, criticism that is sharp but on point.

It's another thing to mischaracterized, and be torn down for position and attitudes you don't endorse or promote.

You're trafficking in "another thing" on this issue, Phil.

Let the record show that for once the author in question was able to clarify, and rejected Phil's characterizations as inaccurate -- not wrong on principle, but simply inaccurate.

-Touchstone

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone: "Let the record show that for once the author in question was able to clarify, and rejected Phil's characterizations as inaccurate -- not wrong on principle, but simply inaccurate."

Not so fast, Touchstone. Again, for someone who professes to despise overstatement, you certainly love to use it.

How about we let Dan Kimball actually clarify what he meant in the quote I cited before we make a final judgment about whether he was really misrepresented, or whether he himself might have spoken unwisely?

He hasn't actually done that. He has reassured us that he does "have doctrinal beliefs beyond the Nicene Creed."

OK, but I didn't suggest he had "no beliefs" beyond Nicea. I said he seemed to be saying he wasn't as certain about and therefore did not seem to want to fight for his opinions on post-Nicene matters.

Notice carefully the boldface, red-letter section of my post. The typeface is a clue as the relative importance of that statement. It summarizes the central point: "In short, Kimball gives the distinct impression that he thinks any doctrine not settled by the time of the first ecumenical council is not really worth fighting over."

Has he actually denied that this is his position? If so, I don't see where.

In fact, his response to Driscoll consisted of a scolding because Driscoll is too willing (in Kimball's opinion) to do battle on post-Nicene issues.

So before you judge me guilty of misrepresenting him, let's put the question to Kimball himself: Would he be willing to fight for, say, the Protestant position on sola fide, or the authority of Scripture, or the doctrine of penal substitution, or the principle of inerrancy—and if so, why did he scold Driscoll for fighting for issues like that?

centuri0n said...

My favorite part of TeamPyro (OK: Maybe it's just top-5 and not #1) is when other bloggers come here, comment "you can ask me questions at my blog", and then move on.

It keeps my blog hobbying vital.

david rudd said...

let's put the question to Kimball himself: Would he be willing to fight for, say, the Protestant position on sola fide, or the authority of Scripture, or the doctrine of penal substitution, or the principle of inerrancy:

dan writes...

On page 94 I said "Please understand, that as I say I left more to mystery, it doesn't mean I don't believe you can't come to solid conclusions about many things in addition to the Nicene Creed. There are many things mentioned that I believe are clear, such as Jesus' teaching about marriage, the authority of the Bible itself, the role of the Spirit in personal transformation."

I clearly stated in the chapter I believe in a Triune God (pages 99-100), I believe in the substitionary atonement (pages 100-101), believe in the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures (page 94-97), that all religions do not lead to God (page 101-102), an eternal heaven and hell (page 102).

I clearly stated that I have belief in "truth" giving some brief listings of theological positions on very core doctrines in addition to those in the Nicene Creed. I also wrote a section with a header called "We can be bold and confident in what the Scriptures do make clear" (page 99).


i don't know dan personally. i don't care for his hair at all. but i do think that his gracious nature would cause him to shy away from the war imagery phil desires:

phil says:
did not seem to want to fight
not really worth fighting over
to do battle
Would he be willing to fight


rather dan seems to think theology should be done in a discussion, and should be "fun" (a concept not really compatable with "fighting")

dan writes at his blog:
I am someone who believes theology should between brothers and sisters in Jesus, should be a fun discussion and challenge and sharpen each other.

Phil Johnson said...

david rudd: "dan seems to think theology should be done in a discussion, and should be 'fun' (a concept not really compatable with 'fighting')"

Yes, that's pretty much the crux of it.

Class: would someone care to point out to Mr. rudd why theology isn't supposed to be always "fun"?

I propose a test: let's take a sheet of A4 paper and draw a line lengthwise down the middle. On one side, we'll write down every Scripture verse that exhorts us to frendly dialogue with people who oppose sound doctrine—as well as those verses that portray vital doctrine as something to be kicked around a tavern while we all imbibe virtual beers.

On the other side, we'll list all the ones that use militant imagery to exhort us to a defense of the faith.

Then let's consider which is the more biblical concept.

Don't misunderstand: I think doctrine can be and is "fun," and anyone who reads the blog for two weeks will see that.

But I don't think it can always be fun. Especially in a postmodern culture.

david rudd said...

phil,

thanks for the response. i don't disagree. (i can't speak for dan on that)

any thoughts on the first half of my comment?

Phil Johnson said...

david rudd: "any thoughts on the first half of my comment?"

What? The remark about his hair?

I think you're jealous.

Martin Downes said...

Phil's point is a fair one. In Dan's response to Driscoll's chapter his fall back position is the Nicene Creed: "when we go beyond core beliefs with such certainty about a specific system of theology that was developed a long time after the Nicene Creed, that is where we differ. I lean toward more historic Nicene Creed orthodoxy, and I still remain overall conservative in my theology."

The Nicene Creed was not the terminus for the ecumenical creeds, so why make it a stopping point today? There was clearly more to be said in marking the boundaries of orthodoxy and warding off heresy (like at Chalcedon).

The doctrine of the Trinity and the person of Christ were presenting issues that needed dealing with at the time. But it wasn't too long before the Pelagian controversy arose. This was not an issue at the time that the Nicene Creed could deal with. But it needed dealing with or else you end up with two antithetical ways of salvation. Surely (Dan Kimball) you would reject Pelagianism with the same confidence with which you would reject Arianism wouldn't you?

The Pelagian heresy is important to this discussion since it prevents us from traversing a thousand years of church history before we are faced with the need to affirm other doctrines and deny specific errors. The paint was hardly dry on the Nicene Creed before this one needed sorting out.

Falling back to Nicea is not enough.

Touchstone said...

Phil,

You can protest that you really did *nail Dan* in your analysis to your heart's content, that wasn't what my claim was about. My claim was that the ECM types you "analyze" generally don't recognize themselves in what you write about their positions. That doesn't recommend your arguments.

I'm not naive enough to suppose we might settle the question of whether you *did* misrepesent him. You can always play the "Phil knows best card" on that one, and whatever Dan (or I) might say is subject to your "we'll see".

What *is* clearly assertable here is that the author himself believes you have misrepresented him. Like I said, he may be wrong or mistaken in that view, but that *is* the author's view.

That's a much smaller claim than what you're trying to make of it, but it's a good indicator in my experience of the quality of the "analyst" or critic in these matters. When the subjects proclaim the critic hasn't even got the facts right, it doesn't bode well for the analysis.

OK, time for Good Friday events and gatherings here, so I bid you all a joyous and blessed Good Friday!

-Touchstone

david rudd said...

:)

i was really speaking more to the part which addressed your statement below:

So before you judge me guilty of misrepresenting him, let's put the question to Kimball himself: Would he be willing to fight for, say, the Protestant position on sola fide, or the authority of Scripture, or the doctrine of penal substitution, or the principle of inerrancy—and if so, why did he scold Driscoll for fighting for issues like that?

David said...

Phil Said:

"I propose a test: let's take a sheet of A4 paper and draw a line lengthwise down the middle. On one side, we'll write down every Scripture verse that exhorts us to frendly dialogue with people who oppose sound doctrine—as well as those verses that portray vital doctrine as something to be kicked around a tavern while we all imbibe virtual beers.

On the other side, we'll list all the ones that use militant imagery to exhort us to a defense of the faith."


I would like to see that list. My suppostion would be the irenic side would be the winning side, but that is strictly a guess on my part.

I am pretty sure there are no verses that talk about virtual beers. But I am not willing to commit to that postion. My EMC card will be revoked by the SBC

david rudd said...

i have more refined tastes...

where can i find virtual wines? or at least virtual wine coolers?

...virtual mike's lemonaide?

Mike said...

I bet, had the phrase been common in their day, that as they were leaving their city to pursuing their foes, one man of Ai would have looked to the next and said something about the Israelites being "hoisted upon their own petard."

david rudd said...

phil, thanks. i get it.

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone:

I don't recognize my position in any of your portrayals of it. Give it a rest.

david rudd: "i was really speaking more to the part which addressed your statement below"

I didn't see where you said anything addressing that. As far as your quote of Kimball is concerned:

"We can be bold and confident in what the Scriptures do make clear"

...that's all well and good, but in light of the fact that he has already said he thinks post-Nicene doctrine is "not so certain"; and given the fact that he has already expressed discomfort with Driscoll for being "bold and confident" about matters such as inerrancy and penal substitution; I still think (based on everything he has said, including the "clarifications") that it seems unlikely he would say he regards the doctrine of justification by faith as one of those things "the Scriptures do make clear."

David: "My suppostion would be the irenic side would be the winning side"

Seriously? Remember, I specified that we're talking about the defense of the faith and our response to "people who oppose sound doctrine."

If you really think Scripture calls for discussions about those things over tea and crumpets or beers over at The Boar's Head, you need to read through the New Testament again.

Dan said...

Phil, Dan here again -

One last post here, and if anyone wants to ask me something futher please do so on my blog www.dankimball.com which I check daily.

Thank you for responding. In answer to the question, yes I do think you did misrepresent what I wrote and you did not respond yet to the quotes I shared from the book which clearly stated that I believe doctrine is very important and I also stated that the Nicene Creed is not where I only draw lines of belief (You clearly inferred to the contrary).

I shared specific examples from the chapter where I stated additional ones and even where I said I hold to more than only the Nicene Creed. So, yes, that is a misreprentation.


In regards to my comments on Mark Driscoll's chapter, again you only focused on one thing I said out of the whole context. I didn't "scold" him as you said. Anyone reading that, would clearly see I am not "scolding" him. Mark is a friend and the response chapters were supposed to raise differences. So please don't misrepresent what I said as "scolding" to those who did not read it.

The responses to Mark's chapter I wrote said "I don't necessarily feel the same way about the extent of steadfastness and certainty in other theological systems, such as a locked-in system of the 5 points of Calvinism (page 40). I then quoted Ben Witherington where he says that in any detailed theological system, the extreme part of it (such as 5 point Calvinism and believing in all 5 points as certainty) becomes the weakest part of the theological system (any theological system detailed out).

Again, the recent John M. message at your conference showed that godly people have different viewpoints as he taught that he believes amillenialism is wrong.

As for your comment on what I would or wouldn't defend - I have very strong arguments all the time with friends and others who hold different viewpoints. Some are key doctrines to me, and I have no problem saying I disagree with that and defend where I believe the Bible says something different.

If you were to read the chapter I wrote in the Emergent Manifesto (Baker) I even wrote on page 222 "Please understand that I believe doctrine is very, very important. As I shared earlier, in our church we have a doctrinal statement." "..if anyone I know was questioning the resurrection of Jesus, I would go into a pretty strong defend mode. This is the cornerstone of our faith. There are times when I think we may need to take very strong stands about what we believe on critical issues such as the resurrection, salvation through Jesus alone, the atonement and the inspiration and authority of Scripture."

So please do not paint an inaccurate portrait of me and misrepresent me with this. I am taking the time here listing things and quoting what I wrote, as most people reading your blog probably are not reading the chapter, so they only read your comments and then assume it is correct and internet urban legends and stereotypes are formed.


A final thought is this - in our culture there are more and more people, especially younger ones growing up outside the faith, outside the church and have not heard the gospel. They haven't yet understood the saving grace of Jesus and understood the message of the gospel and live in a very mixed up world that way, in what it communicates. Yes, you and I may differ in some theological issues and what I would consider "minor" doctrines. From what I understand, you would agree with me on the core issues of the historical faith that I wrote about and posted about earlier.

But shouldn't we be acting in love and grace towards others who do hold the core historical doctrines of the faith (as I listed), yet might not agree on some minor issues - and instead of posting blogs entries that pretty much slam someone else and instead be linking up together to be passionately spreading the gospel to the post-Christian world around us?

If I was not a Christian, and then read our blogs would I see the fruit of the Spirit being evident in our words and attitude of love, grace, compassion, kindness, respect, hope - or would what we write and say only be reinforcing how even Christians who hold to the same core doctrines like to shoot out negative and poison arrows at each other?

The world around us is in need of knowing the Savior - today is Good Friday. Most younger people have no idea what that even means. Most younger people have no idea what the biblical truths of Easter Sunday are about. Isn't that what we should be passionately praying and thinking about and spending energy on? Instead it seems, we spend more time criticizing and even pretty much condemning others as I feel you did by equating my message with 2 Timothy 3:7.

Blogs are terrible forms of communication. There isn't any eye contact, or voice tone, or dialog back and forth in immediate response. I hope I am communicating what my heart and mind are thinking and feeling - and I would much rather sit down with you (or others) and have a coffee or tea or Snapple or Guinness or whatever it may be and talk about these things in person. If you are ever in the Bay Area please let me know or if I am down your way, and you are interested in meeting personally, let me know and I will tell you when I am coming down there.

Peace in Jesus,

Dan

Dan said...

Oops.... I wanted to respond to what you said here. You wrote:

...that's all well and good, but in light of the fact that he has already said he thinks post-Nicene doctrine is "not so certain"; and given the fact that he has already expressed discomfort with Driscoll for being "bold and confident" about matters such as inerrancy and penal substitution; I still think (based on everything he has said, including the "clarifications") that it seems unlikely he would say he regards the doctrine of justification by faith as one of those things "the Scriptures do make clear."

Again, this is misrepresenting what I wrote. I pointed out earlier that I wrote in the chapter on page 94:

"Please understand that as I say I left more to mystery, it doesn't mean I don't believe you can't come to solid conclusions about many things in addition to the Nicene Creed. There are many things not mentioned in the Nicene Creed that I believe are clear such as Jesus' teaching about marriage, the authority of the Bible itself, the role of Spirit in personal sanctification."

I also go an list what I believe - as I already mentioned in an earlier comment and clearly state beliefs I hold to as ones we can say "This I Know" (page 94) such as substitionary atonement (page 100-101), Trinity (page 99-100), heaven/hell (page 102) etc.

My comments about Mark were not about his core beliefs, as I clearly stated (atonement, inspiration of Scripture etc.) You are inaccurately stating that and that I did not write I hold to other beliefs with confidence outside the Nicene Creed.

It honestly feels like you would be disapointed to hear that I hold these beliefs! So please understand that is incorrect what you are writing there, and I hope I pointed to what I wrote in the chapter to verify that.

Ok, that's all! bye bye again! thank you!

farmboy said...

"What is 'the faith' Jude calls for us to contend for?"

Well, for starters, Paul writes to Timothy as follows: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

So the parameters of the faith referenced in Jude 3 would include all doctrines that flow from careful, thoughtful, prayerful study of Scripture.

Regarding "the faith" as found in Jude 3, Thomas Manton offers the following:

"I now come to the second part, the urgency of the present necessity: It was needful for me to write to you, and exhort you, which is said to show that this epistle was not only occasioned by the fervency of his own love, but the present exigence and necessity as affairs then stood; the school of Simon, the Gnostics, and divers other heretics of a like loose strain and libertine spirit, sought to withdraw and alienate them from the truth, for that was the necessity here expressed, as appeareth by the next verse. Exhortations, the more necessary, the more pressing; need quickens both writer and reader; and the less arbitrary things are, the more thoroughly we go about them."

"Again, observe, the need of the primitive church was an occasion to complete the canon and rule of faith. We are beholden to the seducers of that age that the scripture is so full as it is: we should have wanted many epistles had not they given the occasion."

"First, Delivered, not invented; it is not the fruit of fancy or human devising, but hath its original from God; it was delivered by him to holy men chosen for that prupose, and by them delivered by word of mouth to the men of that age wherein they lived, and by writing for the use of after ages: and delivered to be kept; it is a sacred depositum which God hath put into the hands of the church: 'Keep that which is committed ot thy trust,' 1 tim. vi. 20; and 'To them were committed the oracles of God,' Rom. iii. 2."

Manton devotes 27 out of 375 pages of his commentary on Jude to verse 3. First published in 1658 it remains relevant 350 years later.

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Dan Kimball wrote: "I don't necessarily feel the same way about ...a locked-in system of the 5 points of Calvinism" and "Yes, you and I may differ in some theological issues and what I would consider 'minor' doctrines."

So much of the ECM seems like a reaction to Calvinism.

The problem is, when Dan calls/implies that the issues surrounding Calvinism (amongst other things) are "minor", he is essentially saying: grace is minor, original sin is minor, man's depravity is minor, the nature of the atonement is minor. You'll have to forgive us narrow-minded folks who actually think those things are worth fighting over. And isn't that one of the things that Phil was talking about in his post, when he brought up what Dan Kimball thought was worth fighting over? Dan might feel strongly about a whole bunch of things that he may not think are worth fighting over.

PS: Had I not visited here today, I might never have known what haka is. Thank you Phil!

The Confessor said...

ummmmm....do you think you might be jumping a bit too quickly.

Most people I know that speak of the Nicene Creed are speaking a shorthand that acknowledges and supports the Chalcedonian definition/addendum.

Something you said you'd be comfortable with.

A principled stand against creeds is one thing, for those who are against them, but it seems like this is just some more nitpicking because he didn't speak with a precision some would expect.

That's too bad.

The Confessor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Coram Deo said...

Thanks for this concise, thoughtful and devastating expose of the postmodern mindset of the emergent church.

Thanks also for boiling the "emergent conversation" down to its bare essence which is nothing less than holding a skeptical view of the veracity of the scriptures.

If there's one thing I've learned in my life it's that a low degree of trust in the scriptures results in a lofty view of man and a high degree of trust in the scriptures results in a lofty view of God.

Sled Dog said...

Don Sands,

How could the faith that is contended for be the Bible, when at the time Jude wrote his letter we didn't even have our 66 books of the Bible?

Wouldn't it be more reasonable to say that the faith is the same faith Paul defended so vigorously when he wrote the Galatian church? The once-for-all-time salvation delivered through Christ Jesus, available only through faith?

I can't imagine Jude was referring to eschatology, Calvinism, etc..

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Confessor said: "...demonize people over secondary issues of interpretation/practice..."

And how about those who demonize anyone who stands and fights over "secondary issues" (aka: issues that the Holy Spirit thought were important enough to include in scripture)? Your arms and eyes might be "secondary", but are you sure that you want to imply that those parts of your body are not important?

Confessor said: "...The world is dying for a Savior. If as much energy was spent on ..."

What Savior? What did He say? What did He come for? What does He require of man? What does He do for us? What is man?

How do you detach all of those important questions and just say "let's all just get along and tell people about the Savior"? It seems some things need to be biblically defined.

farmboy said...

"I can't imagine Jude was referring to eschatology, Calvinism, etc.."

So, the faith once delivered to the saints doesn't include the teaching that Jesus Christ will return a second time, that according to God the Father's sovereign plan, life and events on this earth as we know it will draw to a close? This isn't something that Jude would want us to contend for?

Similarly, the faith once delivered to the saints doesn't include the teaching that lost sinners are justified by grace alone through faith alone in the atoning work of Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone for the glory of God alone? The protestant reformers, of whom John Calvin was one, just made this up? This isn't something that Jude would want us to content for?

Phil Johnson said...

Dan Kimball: "you did not respond yet to the quotes I shared from the book which clearly stated that I believe doctrine is very important

Yes, I did. I pointed out that your quotes didn't actually answer the point I originally made. You simply affirmed that you believe more than Nicea. I replied that I don't doubt it; never did.

Dan Kimball: and I also stated that the Nicene Creed is not where I only draw lines of belief (You clearly inferred to the contrary)."

No, I didn't infer to the contrary. Again, I'm not concerned with where you "draw lines of belief." I'm sure you believe lots of things that the Nicene Fathers never even contemplated. But I'm concerned here with what you regard as core doctrines, essential to the Christian faith, important enough and certain enough and authoritative enough to fight and (if necessary) give up your life for. In other words, where do you think the boundaries of essential Christian doctrine are properly drawn? That's what this is about.

I'll say it once more, in bold type: I wouldn't even think to deny that you "hold to more than only the Nicene Creed." I never denied that in the first place. My central point, signified by the red, bold type in the original post, is that you don't seem to regard any of those post-Nicene truths as essential to the Christian faith, and worth fighting for.

Your reply here still evades that issue. To say, "I believe doctrine is very, very important," doesn't deal with the questions I raised in the post, namely, Why did you draw such a line at Nicea in the first place?; and, Are there any "post-Nicene" articles of faith you are certain about enough to regard them as essential doctrines of authentic biblical Christianity?

More specifically (if you prefer): Would you consider the Protestant principle of sola fide essential to a proper understanding of the gospel? And, Would you regard the element of penal substitution as vital to the true meaning of the cross?

Because when you are simultaneously saying out of the other side of your mouth things like: "I am someone who believes theology should between brothers and sisters in Jesus, should be a fun discussion and challenge and sharpen each other"--it still sounds to me like you're suggesting doctrine shouldn't be taken so seriously that we fight for any post-Nicene articles of faith or draw lines of fellowship that include or exclude people based on what they teach about matters like sola fide or substitutionary atonement.

Or, if you want me to frame the same question in a different way, my impression from your contribution in Listening to the Beliefs. . . is that you would most likely embrace as an authentic Christian someone who signs off on the Nicene Creed but also teaches a purely Pelagian works-system of salvation. Is that a correct inference?

If you really want further dialogue about this, I'm game. But please stop giving answers to a point I never raised in the first place and give an unequivocal answer to the actual point I did make.

Phil Johnson said...

Language, people! Please!

I've made this clear many times, but let's go over it once more:

I will automatically delete posts with bad language--even LONG posts that someone worked on for a long time--with no pang of compunction whatsoever.

Remember, we object to the Emerging subculture, and one of the things we're on record objecting to is that movement's fascination with scatalogical language and topics. Please respect that, and show deference to the many homeschool moms who read the blog, or you will be deleted twice, then banned.

If you're not sure what's acceptable and you just can't make sense of Colossians 3:8-10 without instinctively deconstructing the sense out of it, look up The 1930 Motion Pictures Producers production code.

We don't adhere to it slavishly, but it will keep you safe.

JSB said...

It was nice of Dan Kimball to drop by, and I will definitely pick up a book or two of his. I agree with him that it's hard to go into great detail on blogs, which is probably why I'm still not clear on the issue I raised in my first posting. Specifically, Dan K. wrote:

"I also wrote a section with a header called "We can be bold and confident in what the Scriptures do make clear" (page 99)."

That seems to me key. It's a grand principle in theory, but the whole issue, IMO, revolves around whether the "generous orthodoxy" approach allows for much clarity on much of anything. Not on the issues Dan affirmed, which really doesn't involve going much out on a limb; but on, especially, MORAL issues revolving around actual OBEDIENCE. That's where we'd need a lot more than what we've had here today.

Still, I appreciate the start, and will be seeking answers as I read further.

One other note:

"If I was not a Christian, and then read our blogs would I see the fruit of the Spirit being evident in our words and attitude of love, grace, compassion, kindness, respect, hope - or would what we write and say only be reinforcing how even Christians who hold to the same core doctrines like to shoot out negative and poison arrows at each other?"

Too often, I think, this sentiment is really saying, "Please don't disagree too earnestly with me." This may be valid for a church social, but in the realm of debate, esp. written debate in blogs and books and articles, it seems a tad, I don't know... delicate. What ever became of the hefty spirit of debate championed by, say, C. S. Lewis? This seems sadly lacking in today's over sensitive world.

I used to watch "Firing Line" with Bill Buckley. He'd lay out his opponents in no uncertain terms, and they'd come back at him the same way, and then AFTERWARD they'd quaff a brew. But the idea that you cannot disagree with strong words and pointed comments would not have been entertained by either side. Where'd that spirit go?

Which also leads me to disagree with the implication that vigorous debate would be viewed by all unchurched persons as "poison." I can see someone who cares about Truth saying rather the opposite, and digging in to find out who might be making the better argument here. I don't think everyone rallies around the "let's all hold hands" mentality in the marketplace of ideas.

Which is why I believe that in some E churches there will be a falling out, by those who are ultimately let down by the non-confrontive, almost anything goes type of ethos that prevails.

David said...

Phil Said

"David: "My suppostion would be the irenic side would be the winning side"

Seriously? Remember, I specified that we're talking about the defense of the faith and our response to "people who oppose sound doctrine.""

You know, I always have to be careful how you guys are going to parse words.

You win.

farmboy said...

"You know, I always have to be careful how you guys are going to parse words."

Carefully and precisely: That's how words should be parsed. After all, words mean things!

Care and precision: That's the approach one should take when defending the faith and responding to those who oppose sound doctrine.

Care and precision: In general, isn't that the approach one should take in all written and spoken communication?

Unfortunately, I suppose as one attaches less value and significance to any text, it follows that one would use less care and precision in dealing with that text.

I guess one's view of Scripture, one's position on the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, matters after all.

donsands said...

Sled dog,
I was trying to force a point really. Surely the faith is the Gospel, but the Gospel is laid out for us on the whole background of Scripture, don't you agree.

I believe that the faith we contend for is the truth of God that we believe in, The Gospel, and would die for.
I believe for us today that the whole Bible is essential for us to read, study, and know.
For Jude it was the OT, and some of the NT, I think.

I can't seperate my faith from the Holy Scriptures.
The Bible is being whittled down to nothing, don't you think.

And I believe this grieves the Holy Spirit, who is the author of this most awesome gift to His people.

donsands said...

"Blogs are terrible forms of communication." -dan

I have been tremendously blessed from blogging. I am amazed at how the Lord got this computer geek to blog.

I have been encouraged, edified, and prayed for. I am thankful for blogs like TeamPyro, and many others for their uncompromising stance for the truth of God, and the clear and essential doctrines of the Holy Writ.
May the Lord bring more and more of His children here. Amen.
And even more and more unbelievers to hear the truth as well. Amen.

BTW, I appreciate that you came to this blog to share your thoughts. The Lord bless you brother.

John Haller said...

I have not listened to it yet, but Dan Kimball was interviewed by Brent Kunkle of Stand to Reason this past Sunday during the second hour of the show. I believe the subject was his book They Love Jesus but Hate the Church. I'm going to try to listen to it tonight.

www.str.org

S to the Palmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosesandtea said...

s to the palmer said: "I would encourage you and your readers to at least read from and/or talk to the people that they apparently know so much about when it comes to theology, convictions and faith. "

Um, Phil did read the book, or at least the chapter in question. That's why he was able to quote from it and talk about it. And, he asked for others who had read it if it struck them as it did him.

"Your fueling a whole bunch of Chirstians who are more amped up to fight with other believers, then to actually make a difference when it comes to sharing the Gospel with dying world."

That's a strong accusation, and since you don't know what all the readers and even writers of this blog do do to "actually make a difference when it comes to sharing the Gospel with dying world" it's an unwise one.

That seems to be a constant accusation, though, towards those who do think that doctrine is important, and who want to discuss it. There's always these bullets of "you dont' actually do anything for Christ's kingdom, you just sit around and argue" being fired. I wonder why that is (I'm not being sarcky here).

Another issue: "I find it sadly ironic that you sheild your "home-school moms" from cuss words and then verbally destroy Godly pastors who are preaching the Gospel to their congregations and cities (Guys like Dan and Mark Driscoll)."

To the first part of that sentence: how condescending. I am *not* Phil's "home-school mom" nor even one of several. I understand the point you were trying to make,not sure it's valid, but still, it was rather insulting to any home-schooling mom who happens to read here.

To the second part: verbally destroy? Disagreement over something that is public information is destroying? If someone can defend his position then the position is not destroyed, and if he can't defend it than it's not worth keeping. But the person himself is not "destroyed". A man who cannot take some criticism without being "destroyed" is probably not in good shape to be in the ministry.

"While it must feel great to be the theological dragon-slayer for your audience of upper-middle class suburban theologians and "home school moms", it seems like there are more constructive things you could do with your knowledge of Scripture and God-given ability to persuede people."

Back to one of my earlier points on that one - you don't know what all Phil or any of the 'maniacs or any of the readers do to "persuade people" so it's not right to imply that that's all that is done. And who knows but that God is using this discussion itself to draw someone to Himself?

and as for "theological dragon-slayer for your audience of upper-middle class suburban theologians and 'home school moms'" - Wow. No comment - and not because I can't think of a few things to say.


And while I'm at it, I want to say that although I'm not sure I will always agree with all the posts here, I enjoy coming here exactly because the bloggers are not afraid to tackle hard or potentially controversial issues, and wrestle with doctrine. You see, I attend one of those churches (evangelical) who don't have much doctrine, who just want to "love Jesus" and "not get into anything too deep or controversial" and frankly have had my fill of it. The church is filled with sincere, lovely and loving Christians, who don't want to have to think about or talk about anything beyond very basic teaching. Milk, in other words. And they want to "do" for Jesus, and many of them do many things, and try very hard. And some things do get done, the church supports various missions and ministries and many of the people do involve themselves in these ministries. And some try hard to share the Gospel. But there's not a lot of success here, some sometimes, but not a lot honestly. Sunday morning is used as part-worship, and part-evangelistic outreach, and we do get unsaved visitors, but they don't tend to come back. It's not really offering anything - can't compete with real entertainment, and doesn't really offer what is truly needed. Christians who visit sometimes stay, those who are looking for something livelier than most of the standard denominations but not as lively as the charismatics. But personal growth doesn't happen much - there are people there who still don't know if and why Scripture is inerrant and authoritative, or much beyond a basic salvation message, and it shows in their lives. And they wonder why they aren't salty to those around them? My own experience has been that the more I learn from the Word, about God's grace and sovereignty and holiness and and and, the more excited I am about my faith, about God, really, and the more I want to share this faith.

I've got plenty of "don't want no doctrine, or hard stuff, or controversy" in my everyday life. I come here and other blogs/sites for the harder stuff, to find out what is going on in the wider Christian world, and why it's good or why it's wrong, and to read parts of Scripture that are often ignored, and comments on Scripture, and I like having real food to chew on, and to have to work at understanding. (not easy, with little ones interrupting, or mommy-brain, or more importantly, too many years of not having solid spiritual food) I am encouraged to go and check out if what's said is so, according to Scripture. I may end up not agreeing with what's said here - but I'll have benefitted by the mental exercise and you know, even if I decide that something doesn't line up with Scripture (not that that's happened yet, but it's an "if"), I will have at least learned something! And been benifitted by searching in the Word with a little more goal-orientation than just reading my x number chapters a day (which is good, not saying it isn't - but - ). And sometimes there really are wolves, and it's places like this that I learn of them, to make me more alert.

I've gone off-topic, I realize.

for the record, I am Karen, an Okie in England. That's as non-anonymous as I feel free to get here.

DJP said...

s to the palmer contributes yet another self-refuting post.

A pastor (self-descibed as) "in Paradise" attacking Phil (you did) for attacking pastors (he didn't).

"Does the phrase 'white-washed tombs' ring a bell? Just curious."

Oh, that's classy. Way to model what you're so importunately pleading for.

Simple: Phil focused on statements, dialogued just fine with Kimball, didn't get an answer to his central question.

Phil focuses on direct quotation; you provide none.

You assign motives, impugn attitudes, judge a man and his entire audience of "upper-middle class suburban theologians." (Wow. If true, I guess that's really bad; what class would you be, over there, in "Paradise"?)

Which of your oxen did Phil gore?

Tim Wirth said...

This is a side note and I do appreciate what Phil does here.
I also appreciate the fact that Emergent causes us to look more into Gods Word to see what is true, but why is it (seemingly) ignored the occult rituals these folks promote?
I think its a real stretch to call anyone a brother or sister in the Lord who promotes rituals like the labyrinth.
I think Dan is a master of subtle deception and is often given a platform for this subtle deception.
Lectio, centemplative , centering prayer and the lot is not Christian practice but recyled Catholic practice who in fact borrowed it from Eastern religion.
This is very black and white to me because my own mom practiced Lectio, went to Cursillo, Emmaus Walk etc..
Many of you do not know what long term fruit of occult practices bears.
We do need to love Dan as a neighbor of course because scripture demands this and its the right thing to do.
Lighthouse Trail had a great review of Dans book I suggest folks should read this.
Peace
Tim

The Doulos said...

OK, so I am late to the game on this one and the usual cast of commenters have dragged out the usual list of "yes but" and "that's not what he said" argumentums.

But as I read this I was reminded of the truths of 2 Timothy, which we happen to be digging into in our church right now. Paul is strongly and repeatedly exhorting Timothy to guard the treasure of the gospel committed to him, to retain the standard of sound words which he heard from Paul, and to do so by passing them on to faithful men that will be able to retain, guard and transfer that precious deposit to others. In other words, the way we guard the standard of sound doctrine is to clarify it, communicate it to others who will be faithful with it, and who will in turn faithfully deposit it with others who will do the same. This is the same concept commanded in Jude 3. So how can we do this if we begin with an a priori assumption that we can't have any certainty about these core truths and doctrines? Impossible, and I say implausible.

I'd love to have a front row seat in a debate between the apostle Paul, John or James and the likes of Kimball, McLaren, Bell, etc.

Kim said...

roseandtea:

Thank you for addressing the "homeschool moms" thing. And why on earth would that word be in quotation marks? I see no grammatical reason for doing so.

mark said...

there is a word for what's happening to Dan in this post.

Slander.

David said...

Farmboy -

It was not a compliment. If you define the issue far enough down, you get a great picture of a tree, but no view of the forest.

By far the NT talks most love as the most essential Christian attribute - Love for God, and Love for Others - they go together. Way more versus on that than the ones which talk about opposing those whos doctrine is not sound.

If Love is the normative attribute for christian behaviour, then perhaps most of our discussions should be sure that our words and actions are done in love - and that how we conduct ourselves shows that love. And perhaps a few other attributes such as humility and grace.

Which is not to say polemic apologetics does not have its place - but the bible does not demonstrate it as the standard method of dealing with others - and there are far too many people, especially anti emergents who act like it is.

No, not so much here at Pyro. Like I said, I think Phils post is perfectly fine. And there are about 3 posters that actually addressed Kimball having actually read his work.

The rest of the anti - emergents - just piling on while not having anything to contribute about Kimball because they no nothing about him other than a couple of qoutes and the label "emergent"

That behaviour is not loving.

Don said...

S to the Palmer,

You said to Phil: "My beef isn't with your theology, it's with your blatant lack of integrity . . . For someone who apparently champions such claims for proclaiming the truth and does not live them out, makes you hypocrite numero uno"

Uh . . . no. *Those* are seriously sinful statements that you must repent of.

Few people apart from Darlene and his family have more direct contact with Phil Johnson than I do. I work intimately with him five days a week. My office is next door to his. I co-pastor with him. I've seen him in good times and bad times, when he's up and when he's down. I've seen him in a multitude of settings over the past ten years.

During that time, I have never seen *anyone* manifest such consistent humility and genuine personal integrity as Phil Johnson. In private and in public. On the phone and in person. To VIPs and to the mentally disabled. To friends and to foes. When it was convenient and when it was inconvenient. I've seen him receive praise and receive personal criticism with the same, consistent, self-effacing, godly response lacking all self-important pretensions.

You, S to the Palmer, should go back and delete your comment as the fruit of repentance. It's one thing to critique what a man has written and published. To sit on the sands of Hawaii and ignorantly accuse Phil of lacking integrity reflects on *your* character--not Phil's.

Coram Deo said...

To echo DJP's post, (the 2nd on the thread above) the slope upon which the emergents are treading is indeed slippery.

In fact the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would concur wholeheartedly with each point DJP made:

"and for our salvation, [Christ] came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried"

Does such an affirmation make a Mormon a true born-again orthodox Christian in any sense of the word? Of course it doesn't.

The Mormons have redefined the meanings of those affirming words to fit within their corrupted and false theology.

Since the emergents are self-proclaimed "seekers" and "Christ-followers" then what rationale could they possibly advance for not following the Christ of the LDS or the Christ of the Watchtower Society?

I have to be frank here (not Frank Turk) and note that this sort of Jell-O theology is quite reminiscent of the "gay rights" advocates and apologists who defend their type of morality in the public arena.

Interviewer: "So why should homosexual rights and protections be recognized and enshrined in hate crimes legislation?"

Homosexual advocate: "Well, because you know we're discriminated against all the time. We don't have the same rights as other citizens, we're a minority and need minority protections against the bigotry and prejudice we face every day. Consenting adults shouldn't be allowed to be discriminated against under the law. We should have equal protection."

Interviewer: "Let me ask you, should these same types of rights be granted for polygamists? Do they deserve legal protection for their consensual relationships?"

Homosexual advocate: "Oh no, we're not for that. I'm not for that either, that's not our aim."

So why don't the emergents embrace the Jesus of the LDS, the Jesus of the JW's, the Jesus of Arius, or the Jesus of Islam?

What's wrong with those other Jesus figures in their theology? Oops, maybe that's the problem! What is their theology?

To echo DJP's post, (the 2nd on the thread above) the slope upon which the emergents are treading is indeed slippery. In fact the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would concur wholeheartedly with each point DJP made:

"and for our salvation, [Christ] came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried"

Does such an affirmation make a Mormon a true born-again orthodox Christian in any sense of the word? Of course it doesn't. The Mormons have redefined the meanings of those affirming words to fit within their corrupted and false theology.

Since the emergents are self-proclaimed "seekers" and "Christ-followers" then what rationale could they possibly advance for not following the Christ of the LDS or the Christ of the Watchtower Society?

I have to be frank here (not Frank Turk) and note that this sort of Jell-O theology is quite reminiscent of the word games utilized by the "gay rights" advocates and apologists who defend their version of morality in the public arena.

Interviewer: "So why should homosexual rights and protections be recognized and enshrined in hate crimes legislation?"

Homosexual advocate: "Well, because you know we're discriminated against all the time. We don't have the same rights as other citizens, we're a minority and need minority protections against the bigotry and prejudice we face every day. Consenting adults shouldn't be allowed to be discriminated against under the law. We should have equal protection."

Interviewer: "Let me ask you, should these same types of rights be granted for other groups, for example polygamists? Do they deserve legal protection for their consensual relationships?"

Homosexual advocate: "Oh no, we're not for that. I'm not for that either, that's not our aim."

This is the circular logic of our time: “What’s right for me is also right for you, but what’s right for you may not be right for me, so just do things my way and quit asking so many hard questions!” We’ve become a collective “Just Do It” Nike commercial.

But back to the point, why don't the emergents embrace the Jesus of the LDS, the Jesus of the JW's, the Jesus of Arius, or the Jesus of Islam?

Within the emergent camp’s theology what's wrong with those other Jesus figures? Oops, maybe that's the problem! What is their theology?

It must be hard to live on a diet of pure Jell-O, and it doesn't seem very nourishing or fulfilling either.

bob hyatt said...

"If you happen to read the book, let me know if Kimball's chapter strikes you the same way it struck me."

No.
And after reading this thread, I think it's worse than how something has struck you...

Phil- you infer from Dan what he clearly did not mean to imply- and you do him injustice.

He said: "When we move beyond what the Nicene Creed discusses, I feel that it is not as easy to be saying so confidently that we have things all figured out."

You infer from that: "he thinks any doctrine not settled by the time of the first ecumenical council is not really worth fighting over."
and
"Everything beyond that, he suggests, is negotiable—or at least he dismisses all differences on such matters as consequences of a person's genetic predisposition, personality quirks, or whatever."

What he actually said was "IT IS NOT AS EASY." You assert someone hearing you say "ever-diminishing" and taking away "non-existent" is misrepresenting you.
I say you quoting Dan saying "It is not as easy" and then acting as though he said "It is impossible" is doing the same exact thing. "It is not as easy to be saying so confidently" does not mean "there is simply no basis for doctrine or assertive beliefs or the Protestant Reformation, not to mention Augustine's refutation of Pelagius and the Council of Carthage's condemnation of Pelagianism."

Why do you act as if it does?

Let's be clear and let's be fair- Dan BELIEVES plenty of things. In searching for a sense of humble orthodoxy he is tying to get Christians to major on the majors- all things that coming from anyone not associated with the emerging church many would be applauding.

So Dan shows up and tries to set the record straight. He believes things confidently beyond the Nicene Creed! He has doctrine! He loves doctrine!

And movement from Phil?

Nope.

You fell back and regrouped. You insisted you had not misunderstood or taken Dan out of context. You insisted you were simply trying to get at whether Dan believed in salvation by grace alone.

Really...

In the face of Dan Kimball appearing on this blog and completely contradicting your assertion that "he really doesn't want to be bothered with doctrine" you allow that statement to stand in the original post. No retraction, no apology.

But when someone makes an inference you disagree with from something you've said? Pretty quick to correct that!
I don't see the "contradiction" you're claiming is there. "Ever-diminishing" doesn't mean "non-existent." Why do you act as if it does?

Please take more care, brother. When you say things like "Everything beyond that, he suggests, is negotiable—or at least he dismisses all differences on such matters as consequences of a person's genetic predisposition, personality quirks, or whatever" you do damage needlessly to the reputation of a pastor who loves Jesus and preaches the Gospel. I have some other names for that kind of thing, but I'll let it be...

I appreciate your mind, Phil, but you really can be a blow hard- and overly stubborn. Can you just admit that you overstated your original post and apologize for saying things which have turned out, upon further interaction with Dan to be untrue?

Without that, it feels like you are really playing dirty pool here, and more and more, like on the old Slice, allowing commenters to do the REALLY dirty work with comments like "I think Dan is a master of subtle deception and is often given a platform for this subtle deception... I think its a real stretch to call anyone a brother or sister in the Lord who promotes rituals like the labyrinth."

In the words of Gob Bluth: "Oh, COME ON!"

And please don't blame this on vague communication on Dan's part. You took a clear statement "it is not as easy" and ran with it to places Kimball clearly did not mean to go.

I know this, that is to say I, an emerging church pastor assert this as truth, because you left out this important piece (page 94): "Please understand, [he's looking at you, Phil]... it doesn't mean I don't believe you can't come to solid conclusions about many things in addition to the Nicene Creed. There are many things not mentioned in the Nicene Creed that I believe are clear, such as Jesus' teaching about marriage, the authority of the Bible itself, the role of the Spirit in sanctification, etc...
I believe doctrine is important."

I'm at a complete loss as to how you could actually read the above words from Kimball's own hand and then actually say (and allow to remain published) something like: " Frankly, the message that comes across in that chapter is that he really doesn't want to be bothered with doctrine."

I think you owe Dan an apology.

bob hyatt said...

"But back to the point, why don't the emergents embrace the Jesus of the LDS, the Jesus of the JW's, the Jesus of Arius, or the Jesus of Islam?"

Because it's not the Jesus of the Bible.

Again, come on!!! Quit with the ridiculous assertions based on nothing.

centuri0n said...

Personally, I think this thread has gone far afield from where Phil started it.

It's Phil's blog, and he can do as he pleases, but my judgment call is that everyone needs a couple of days off to think about what we are remembering tomorrow. We can resume the intense angry looks on Monday.

Phil Johnson said...

Yeah, look:

This is a busy and important weekend, and I personally have more profound things to think about than replying to people who are being deliberately insulting. I do wish I had waited till next week to make Friday's post, because a marathon debate about those issues shouldn't become a distraction from what we need to focus our hearts on as we reflect on the cross and resurrection.

So don't look for me to comment further on these issues until next week sometime. Then I'll explain, as dispassionately as possible, why Dan Kimball's comments here and at his blog still haven't answered the very specific questions I put to him.

In the meantime, to the flood of angry commenters who are visiting us: welcome to the blog. Thanks for your feedback. Please remember the basic rule of thumb about nasty comments here: You can say whatever degrading thing you like about me—jeer; crack wise; be personally insulting; vent your anger; and make whatever demeaning taunts you need to make to punctuate those pleas for evenhandedness, charity, unity, tolerance, and brotherly kindness. I'll do my very best not to return insult for insult, delete your comments, or even get angry about your personal belittlement. So feel free to knock yourselves out.

But please leave my pastor, family, friends, co-workers, and dog out of the insulting parts, or else I will delete your comments.

To friends of the PyroManiacs and regular commenters at our blog who may feel compelled to reply to the sudden flood of extreme nastiness: Please don't reply in kind. Remember, many of these remarks are coming from people who can't seem to muster any righteous indignation over heresy and false teaching. Be glad they are passionate about something. It's a hopeful sign.

I appreciate the kind things some have aready said in defense of me, but it's truly not necessary. Sometimes there's a valid message from the Lord in the curses of a Shimei (2 Samuel 16:10-13). I'm perfectly willing to read my adversdaries' curses in that light and do some careful self-examination.

Especially this weekend.

Even So... said...

He is risen indeed!

Sled Dog said...

What a crazy thread! I hope things can move away from the emotional and back to matters of substance.

Phil, don't you think the fact that you decided to add a foot to Dan's hair in the photo that you're sending a message? You may not think it true, but your writing style seems to (IMHO) come off with an slight under-current of snarkyness (sp?). If that's true, then the rest of the conversation is only going to get worse.

One of the things I remember reading about GK Chesterton was that he could be involved in a vigorous public debate with an individual, disagreeing strongly with that person, then afterward meet the same bloke at a pub (not a drinking endorsement) and truly enjoy the company.

centuri0n said...

Sled Dog:

Somehow you have reduced Phil's argument to a picture which has no bearing on the argument. Is that logical, or is that something else?

Don't you think that Phil made a joke and you (not even Pastor Kimball, who at his blog seems to have found the picture funny) can't take a joke?

Seriously: for a guy who wants to be more indulgent of unbelievers in their unbelief, how about the smallest amount of indulgence for someone who has proven himself to be a trustworthy pastor and a faithful teacher of doctrine?

Half the fun of this blog is that we aren't trying to grind anyone on a grist-mill of black-clad paleo-puritanical prudery. Live a little. Smile. If Adrian Warnock can stand to be called a "link troll", Dan Kimball and his advocates can stand a little hair-raising. Phil has even clowned me personally here, and while I will eventually take my revenge, in the meantime I can laugh at a good joke like any person who really has a blood-vendetta in his heart.

And while we're on this subject, Phil, I resent that you don't post that picture of me all clowned up here more often. You think I'm some kind of humorless pomo who can't stand a little shoulder-punching? THAT hurts a lot more than being branded non-reformed, I have to admit ...

Dan said...

Phil,

Thank you for taking the time to raise up questions as you have - and I am always someone who wants to be open to questions about anything. No one is beyond reproach and I take serious when someone raises up specific concerns or questions they may have about something I write or say. So I do thank you for that.

At the same time, I see you posted this morning saying you haven't heard my answer about your questions.

Last night I also did go on my blog and post the answer (again)what I thought you are asking to make sure I am responding in a timely manner.

I say this with great sincerity, as I am trying to understand what your questions are that I haven't already answered on my blog and in earlier postings here. So I will try once again to answer what I think you are asking. So here we go again:

1) I think you are asking if I hold to any further beliefs or think you can have doctrinal beliefs in addition to those in the Nicene Creed.

Please read the posts on this blog earlier that I posted. I clearly wrote in the chapter that I do, and even listed them. I took the time to post the page number and quote for you and those who haven't read the chapter in my earlier comments here. I stated in the chapter that I believe in other doctrines that aren't mentioned in the Nicene Creed. I listed them earlier. So being redundant, here is what I believe you are asking me.

When I said I believe in core doctrines as in the Nicene Creed, as I said in the chapter as doctrines you can say with confidence "This I Know" they are:

- the Trinity
- the resurrection of Jesus
- the future return of Jesus
- the virgin birth
- there will be a judgment - heaven/hell

In the chapter on page 94, I also clearly stated:

"..I don't believe you can't you can't come to solid conclusions about many things in addition to the Nicene Creed. There are many things not mentioned in the Nicene Creed that I believe are clear, such as Jesus' teaching about marriage, the authority of the Bible itself, the role of the Spirit in personal sanctification."

I also stated in the chapter that in addition to those from the Nicene Creed (as listed above) other doctrines I believe the Scriptures teach are:

- substitionary atonement (page 100)

- sinful nature, obviously if I believe in the atonement, then it only follows as I talked about the reality of sin (on page 100)

- salvation through Jesus alone (page 101)

- the inspiration and authority of the Bible (page 94-99).

And I also talked about my belief in heaven/hell, that in our plurailstic religious culture that salvation is not found in other religions but in Jesus alone - these were clearly written in the chapter.


These (what I just listed above) are what I would consider "core doctrines" of the historic Christian faith.


I believe you are asking me, where I "draw lines" (as you put it) of what core or essential doctrines are - and the list above is what I believe as these core doctrines.

What types of doctrines do I see as "minor"?

Ones like, whether one is a amillennialist or premillenialist, whether one baptizes infants or adults, the role of women in the church, whether one believes in the cessation of tongues or not, whether one is a dispensationalist or a covenant theologian, whether one is a 24 hour, 6 day creationist or whether one believes God created everything 'ex nihilo' in 6 billion years and the days mean longer time periods.

These are the types of things I believe are more minor doctrinal issues that godly men and women throughout church history have had differences of opinions on. We can still come to conclusions, but like I was trying to say in the chapter, these seem like issues that are not quite as clear since Spirit-filled believers have differences of opinions on these "minor" types of doctrines.


2) You asked what my disagreement with Mark Driscoll's chapter were, and I tried to do that in the response in the book. Mark and I are friends, and for you to say in an earlier comment that I "scolded" him, was extremely inaccurate. The response chapters were to bring out differences. I don't see how you can see that as "scolding".

I said that I agree with Mark on the core doctrines of the faith (as listed above) and I said that where I am not in alignment would to be considered to be fully embracing a specific theological system as Mark does with being a full Calvinist. It was not saying I then go back and don't believe in any of the 5 Points, as when I shared my doctrinal positions in the chapter, obviously I do.

My point was simply saying that I am not in a place to confidently say that any one detailed theological system is one I embrace everything of. My point was that I am trying to focus on the major doctrines (as listed above), believe you can come to conclusions about minor doctrines (as listed above) but that we should approach those minor doctrines with humility and grace and not pit one believer against another or slander other believers for having differences in those minor doctrines.

I also quoted an earlier comment, that I do believe in regards to core doctrines (as lsited above) that we should defend, debate and argue core doctrines as I said in the Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Baker) on page 222:

"..if anyone I know was questioning the resurrection of Jesus, I would go into a pretty strong defend mode. This is the cornerstone of our faith. There are times when I think we may need to take very strong stands about what we believe on critical issues such as the resurrection, salvation through Jesus alone, the atonement and the inspiration and authority of Scripture."


I said this all in earlier, posts - but I think this is what you keep asking me about.

Why don't we talk on the phone, rather than in this impersonal way through blog posts? I would be more than happy to talk in person on the phone, so there is no misunderstanding that blog comments aren't saying.

If you let me know where to call you, and when this week, I think that would probably be best so we aren't going back and forth like this and seem to be missing each other's points.

It is Saturday, and I am heading downtown Santa Cruz right now. Our church has set up an art exhibit right on the downtown streets of the story of Jesus arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. We post the Scriptures and tell the story through rather large art pieces right on the sidewalk. I haven't seen it yet, but there is an artistic recreation of the empty tomb that is 8 feet tall, by 8 feet square. We are moving that to the centerpiece of the sanctuary tomorrow for the sermon. It is really a wonderful expereince seeing hundreds of people downtown reading and seeing the story of the resurrection who normally would never step foot in a church, yet see the story on the streets.

Have a blessed resurrection Sunday, and let's please chat on the phone next week at your convenience to clear up anything I am have not answered in this lengthy and redundant posting.

Peace in Jesus,

Dan


www.dankimball.com

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Dan:

Let me see if this will help put you more in synch with what is being asked. In order to address the question, you'll need to not change words around, or re-structure the question. Phil made this statement:

"In short, Kimball gives the distinct impression that he thinks any doctrine not settled by the time of the first ecumenical council is not really worth fighting over."

So, then to put that in question form, what doctrine(s) that was not settled by the time of the first ecumenical council - do you feel is worth fighting over? What doctrine that was not settled by that time, would you be willing to put up a very strong defense over?

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Dan:

One more quick thought. You offered to talk with Phil privately by phone (which he may or may not want to do, I have no idea) and you just sent me a private email to attempt to clear up any misunderstanding. Speaking for myself and probably a few others, I think we are more interested in seeing issues like this cleared up in a public forum, being that they views that you originally expressed were done so in a public forum. That way everyone has a chance to see how things are being handled and how your statements compare to your book and writings. Just my two cents.

Sled Dog said...

Frank,

My point isn't about folks being able to take a joke. I smile and laugh plenty in life.

Dan's a big boy. I never intended to say he couldn't take a little ribbing. But the content of the post was more than ribbing. Phil took Dan to task on some issues, and if Dan sees it another way, good on him for coming in and saying so.

The point is that there is an edge to the commentary here, and I personally think that sometimes it gets in the way of really discussing issues. I really believe that's partly why the comment thread got all over the place.

I'm glad that Dan let folks know he's three-dimensional, not the "2-D" the post made him out to be.

And above all else, have a great Easter! It's gonna be a great day...

dwayneforehand said...

What doctrine that was not settled by that time, would you be willing to put up a very strong defense over?

I do not understand the confusion? It seems overwhelmingly clear to me that those would be the core doctrines he listed above?

While continuing to hash these items out in public will be beneficial to all of us, a personal conversation between Phil and Dan may help to enhance the quality of said discussion. If a private conversation will enable Dan to more fully understand Phil's questions then Dan will be enabled to answer them more fully in public.

Delighting in Him

dwayneforehand said...

I should also add, "Ice Ice Baby!" ;)

S to the Palmer said...

Phil, Karen, Don, and djp-

Please forgive my harshness. I wrote while frustrated. I am repenting before the four of you and ask for your forgivness.

I still think that Dan is being mis-represented. I personally have visited his ministry and have many close friends who have as well and it is not like you are painting it. There are some pretty broad generalizations being thrown around (some of which I realize I've contributed to on the other side and I'm sorry). Again, not all emerging churches are the same. If we're going to go on the attack here, at least pick a heretical church to go after.

Karen, I appreciate your post. Please understand that I intended no offense with any of the "home school mom" comments. Many of the folks in my own ministry are in fact home school moms. My inclusion of you in my post was only in reference to Phil's earlier posts.

djp- I appreciate your witt as well as the jabs (I really do- I'm not being sarcastic). While the description "paradise" does describe where I live and minister, I can assure you, it's not as easy and breezy as it sounds. The blog title "Palmers in Paradise" is more for the purpose of aliteration than anything. We needed a clever way for our family to remember our blog so they can see updates. In terms of our ministry, I've never been pressed more in the ways we share the gospel, serve the poor, adress substance abuse among our community, etc. I'd love to talk to you more about if you're interested.

Don- thanks. I realize that my own comments were broad and sweeping and I'm in the wrong. However, it does not negate the fact that this is Phil's reputation outside of Grace to You. While he may not be intending harm, he does take quotes, parts of quotes and even internet transcripts (which are even less reliable) and throw them around as fact to prove his points. The problem is that they are void of the context they were written or spoken in. I have personally experienced this with Phil in conferences as well as on this blog. Again, like I said in my original post, Phil has a gift- I was not being sarcastic. He knows the Truth of the Word, knows his theology and his Spurgeon. I just wish it wasn't used to slam guys around who are doing great things for the Kingdom of God.

I understand that "great" is subjective and I'm opening the door for you to insert a witty theological response eluding to watering down truth, etc. But, if you look at the fruit of the guy's ministry (as well as Mark Driscoll), there are people getting saved, believers being baptised, growing in their knowledge of Scripture, worshpping God and living out Godly lives and marriages. What more do you want?

Before you write me off as another post-modern idiot with an affinity for the theology of Rodney King ("can't we all just get along?!"), let me say that we probalby agree more than you know theologically. I am conservative and I was trained right up Phil's street at The Master's College. I am not for watering down the Scriptures or Doctrines of the church. I think that there are plenty of emerging churches that are in fact heretical and for them, no we can't get along.

I do have a problem, however, with how Dan has been portrayed and represented throughout this discussion. If a man (and a Pastor over Christ's bride) is going to be drug through the mud, seems like it should be based on more than a chapter in a book- He should at least get the decencey of a conversation or even an established relationship first.

The areas of Dan's difference when it comes to essential tenants of the faith were articulated (at least at his blog) and do not differ any more than great Godly men of the faith like R.C. Sproul. Do I agree with sprinkling and baptising babies? Nope. But he does. And the fact is, He is older, wiser and much Godlier than I. In addition, other godly men who disagree with him on these issues still open their pulpit to him (guys like MacArthur). This is what Dan is saying. Does he agree with guys like Sproul, MacArthur, Piper, etc. on every issue- no, because they don't agree with each other either. But the differences are not large enough to divide.

I'm affraid that the lines between culture and theology have been blurred here and he's being painted as something he is not.

Coram Deo said...

EMERGENT CHURCH: DAN KIMBALL IS NOT THOROUGHLY ORTHODOX

DAN KIMBALL AND IMAGO DEI COMMUNITY

EMERGENT CHURCH: DAN KIMBALL AND LECTIO DIVINA

IS EMERGENT CHURCH PASTOR DAN KIMBALL REALLY A “CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL?”

Listening To Dan Kimball’s Beliefs Of Emerging Churches

DAN KIMBALL AND DOCTRINE

THE EMERGING CHURCH AND EMERGING WORSHIP

EMERGENT CHURCH: THE EMERGING CULT

Read 'em and weep.

Steven, said...

"We don't adhere to it slavishly, but it will keep you safe."

The new slogan concerning the Southern Baptists' Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to be introduced in San Antonio this summer.

Chauvin said...

@Coram Deo
"Read 'em and weep..."

How is anything that you've contributed done in a lovingly Christ-like way? I'm so glad you're so fixed on bringing down someone who's graciously looked through all of the comments here and posted (and clarified) what he truly means.

I really hope to see more dialog on this after this all cools down.

Rosesandtea said...

s to the palmer
He is risen!

No hard feelings, I understand that you were trying to point out what you saw as irony. I just felt a little like a lap dog though and wanted to let you know it was disturbing. Please forgive me if I responded inappropriately, though, not only on that point but on any others.

I had wanted to say, yesterday, but had said so much and then veered off onto another topic, that your child is very cute and that I hope everything goes well in May (iirc). May God bless your family and keep you all in His way.

Nick Hill said...

I think that it is the case of Kimball and many others is making statements beyond their own understanding. I think that many church leaders, including myself, too quickly make statements and base our ideas on very little study and are too quick to sound like experts. I think a good return to rigorous study of church history, theology, and the biblical languages, would be a helpful corrective. May the pastor's office be replaced by the pastor's study!

Ken Silva said...

Phil said, "Dan Kimball's comments here and at his blog still haven't answered the very specific questions I put to him." And I'm afraid they won't because for whatever reason Dan doesn't come right out with many definitive positions.

And Dan said that if anyone has "specific questions to clarify anything I believe, or what our church practices, please feel free to go to my blog www.dankimball.com and I will be more than happy to respond or to answer questions." This is also a common ploy he uses.

One quick example. Dan and I have emailed off and on for a year and a half. I asked him specifically about the practice of Centering Prayer (aka Contemlative Prayer) and he told me he doesn't know what it is. I find this rather odd because in my article Emergent Church: Dan Kimball and Lectio Divina I quote Dan as saying:

"In the book Soul Shaper, Tony Jones explains a lot of ancient spiritual disciplines and shows how they can be attractive ways of worship for emerging generations. Lectio Divina, which is the practice of repeatedly meditating and praying through a passage of Scripture, and many other spiritual exercises are being reintroduced in emerging worship gatherings." (Emerging Worship, 93, emphasis mine)

Then in my article Emergent Church: Soul Shaper Tony Jones I point out Jones "advocates some sixteen 'ancient-future' spiritual tools such as The Jesus Prayer, Lectio Divina, Silence and Solitude, Stations of the Cross, Centering Prayer, and the Labyrinth."

So are we really to believe that Dan is recommending books with things within them that he doesn't know about? And with Contemplative Spirituality (aka Spiritual Formation) as taught by Richard Foster and Dallas Willard - both called "key mentors" in Emergent Church by Bran McLaren - a core doctrine of this whole emerging church movement, are we really to believe Dan doesn't know about these anti-Reformation practices? I'd say that's a bit too much to ask.

Coram Deo said...

So are we really to believe that Dan is recommending books with things within them that he doesn't know about? And with Contemplative Spirituality (aka Spiritual Formation) as taught by Richard Foster and Dallas Willard - both called "key mentors" in Emergent Church by Bran McLaren - a core doctrine of this whole emerging church movement, are we really to believe Dan doesn't know about these anti-Reformation practices? I'd say that's a bit too much to ask.
7:06 PM, April 08, 2007


Spot on, Pastor Silva, spot on.

This is the central theme that Phil has been returning to all throughout this thread; yet not unlike that of the LDS or JW's the emergent theology turns out to have the consistency of Jell-O and ends up sounding like plain old sophistry.

This is perhaps the most maddening aspect of the dodge and weave tactics so often employed by these self-proclaimed "Christ followers" - which Christ are they following? If it looks like a cult, and smells like a cult and acts like a cult, then it's a cult.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
(Matthew 24:24)

David said...

Ken Silva.

How about this.

Please provide a concise definition of contemplative prayer. No self referential links (i.e. see my post here stuff) and no Guilt by Association attacks (i.e. the Romans do it, therefore it is wrong). Just a plain, simple paragraph or two describing it.

Second, please provide scriptural reference to why you think it is not sound doctrine - i.e. contrary to what the bible teaches. This must be tied to your definition point by point, and not tied to any other link of yours or some evil person or group who does this dastardly deed

So - how about a definition and scriptural reasons why it is wrong? Nothing more, and nothing less.

And yes, I have read you posts on this subject

Neil said...

Coram Deo,

Having read a lot of Silva's missives I concur that if you read them you'll weep.

Sometimes I weep out of laughter, but usually over how nasty one Christian man can be against his fellow believers in Christ.

Neil
www.ChristianResearchNetwork.info

Neil said...

David,

Maybe you are unfamiliar with ken Silva, maybe you are just being funny but there are several things Ken refuses to do and you've asked him to do most of them.

Self referential links and guilt by association are his two biggest tactics. While concise definitions and Scriptural reasoning are not.

Neil

David said...

Neil -

I had several posts on this subject written, and deleted them all.

I decided that if I was demanding that Kimball be treated honestly and fairly by posters here, it was incumbant upon me to offer the same to Ken Silva.

While I have read some of Ken Silva's postings, I have not read all of them. He may indeed have developed his opinion fully and scripturally and I have not yet read it.

Therefore he deserves to be treated with the same respect I was asking Kimball to be treated with.

Ken Silva said...

Coram,

Thank you very much for listing some of my materials and for your kind words.

David,

Ok then, if you've read my posts on these subjects then you've seen ample definitions and Scripture. To paraphrase Pascal, "There's more than enough evidence in my posts to support my positions, but there will never be enough evidence for those who just will not believe."

Neil,

Ad hominem doesn't accomplish anything because it isn't an argument. I say politely to both you and David, you simply did not interact with what I just said above.

Dan wants people to "dialogue" but then never says anything substantive, e.g. he doesn't know what Centering Prayer is. CP is the Quaker term for Contemplative Prayer (the practice of T.M.-like meditation) and yet Dan recommends a book by his good friend Tony Jones which explains all about it and how to do it. Seems too much to believe here.

Neil said...

Ken,

My comments were not ad hominem, I did not attack you, call you names, question your motives, nor your relationship with the Lord (all things you have done with others) I simply stated that it was your M. O. to reference yourself, not define terms specifically, and make rather loose biblical connections.

As for meditation, since this is a biblical concept the onus is on you to show how it is unbiblical employed... on the other hand, this is so far a cry from the original post re:Kimball it's pretty much moot.

Seeing how Kimball has so graciously responded and addressed all the misrepresentations (whether purposeful or accidental) against him only increases my respect for him.

Neil

David said...

Ken Silva:

I asked because I have not seen any such post on your site about contemplative prayer that does either of the following.

1. A concise definition of contemplative prayer
2. Scripture (and only scripture)to tell me why the conduct in the definition is not sound doctrine.

Certainly the posts you linked to did neither.

So - please define contemplative prayer and scripture to support that contemplative prayer is not within the bounds of "sound doctrine"

Since you have prepared these before it should not be difficult to cut and paste them in the comments section here.

David said...

Since Ken has other things to do this morning, I decided to take a crack at contemplative prayer, so we might discuss if it is biblical.

So far as I have been able to determine, there are four basic stages in completive prayer, as well as some preparatory work.

To prepare, pick a consistent time to pray, in a place free from distractions. The concept is to develop a consistency in your prayer life, one uninterrupted by distractions. Next, one picks a scripture, and then asks the Holy Spirit for guidance.

The steps are reading, reflection, response and rest.

Stage one is reading the Word of God, slowly and reflectively.

Stage two is reflection on the Word – letting it run through our brain – ruminating upon it.

Stage three is our response – we try to understand what God would have for us in this scripture – What in your word do you have for me? This is described as an emotional rather than intellectual effort.

Stage four is rest – we give up our ideas, plans and meditations, and focus on trying to hear the small still voice of God. The goal is to let scripture transform us from the inside, so that the Word of God is part of our lives, not just our intellect. The goal is a deeper communion with God.

I have no specific knowledge on CP, so my sources were largely:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectio_divina

http://www.ocarm.org/lectio/lecteng1.htm


To start - does anyone disagree with this definition? If so, how should it be changed?

David said...

Is Contemplative Prayer the same as Transcentental Meditation (TM)?

While this is at least the implication of Ken Silva, if not his out right belief, I thought we might discuss CP v. TM as a begining to see if CP is biblically sound.

From the almighty Wiki:


“Transcendental Meditation or TM is a trademarked meditation technique introduced in 1958 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that involves the repetition of specific sounds, called mantras. According to Maharishi, the technique enables the practitioner's mind to "transcend" to a state of "restful alertness," without the concentration or active thinking of other techniques.

…..

The Transcendental Meditation technique is practiced for twenty minutes twice a day while one sits with the eyes closed. Jonathan Shear, professor of Philosophy at Maharishi University of Management, writes that a distinguishing feature of this meditation program is its lack of effort as contrasted with techniques involving concentration, or those involving contemplation or active thinking. “



So, there are some clear differences between CP and TM

First, in CP the focus is scripture. The primary CP goal is the making of scripture an integral part of a person – it begins with scripture and its goal is the infusing of that scripture into the persons whole being. Quite literally, to focus ones complete being on scripture.

The goal of TM is to induce a “restful alertness, to free ones mind from everything else – clearly scripture is not only no part of TM, but would be considered a hindrance to TM.

Second, CP begins with prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit to guide ones reading and contemplation.

TM begins with emptying the mind of all other thought

Third, the individual in CP is guided by the Holy Spirit and Scripture – to fill ones being with both.

In TM, you fill your mind with repetition of a specific sound, given to you by your Yogi – mindless repetition over and over of a meaningless word.

In conclusion, it appears totally false to equate contemplative prayer with transcendental meditation.

CP is based on scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit, with an active focus on contemplation of the scripture, focusing on infusing your whole person with scripture.

TM is based on mindless repetition of a word or phrase, guided by a yogi, with a goal of freeing ones mind. Indeed, TM practitioners themselves make a difference between their technique and those involving contemplation and active thinking.

However, that does not make CP scriptural……

JoeMartino said...

David, I think you're having a conversation with yourself. I'm afriad this one has blown itself out. I admit I'd be fascinated to hear Ken respond to you and actually answer the questions, based on my interactions with him I'm not holding my breath.

David said...

Joe M

You may be right - but I am not quite done yet.

One more post to research - "Is CP biblicaly based?"

The funny thing is, I have not yet made up my mind. I have only defined it and know that it is not TM. The prepatory stuff, and stages 1 and 2 - I am good with them. Stage 3 - hmmm. Stage 4 is a little "out there" for those of us who have been brought up as good little norwegians - we are more with the cold handshake than the touchy feely stuff

It will be interesting where tonights bible study leads me. Although I do have to get taxes finished

Neil said...

David,

I suspect Joe is right - at the risk of being ad hominem - you probably won't get Silva to actually quote Scripture against this...

What you have described sounds like various forms of contemplative prayer that I've seen advocated. And I too get a little learly at step 3... then again I'm not very touchy-feely either.

And you are right, there is a significant difference between this form of prayer and TM. Though distinctions are often lost when one uses a broad brush to condemn.

I've seen Foster condemned for advocating people use their imaginations or for picturing themselves looking down on the earth... in the former the "sin" was creating a new reality, in the latter it was astral projection.

Both are, of course, complete hogwash if you bother to take Foster at his actual word... that is, if you allow his words to define what he means... yet, those who watch (described here and here) for us tend to fill the words' of others with meanings of their own.

Anyway, keep up the study and remember, even the Psalmists meditated (that is, contemplated) on the Word of God.

Neil

Phil Johnson said...

I haven't had a chance to read the blog all day, but it looks to me like this thread has veered pretty far off topic. Casn we rein it in, please/

Andrew Thornley said...

Emergent theology: apparently its so simple, even a caveman can do it.

David said...

My last post on the topic, to conclude my thoughts - is Contemplative Prayer Biblical?

(and yes, i understand this is far afield - but it was a tangent I at least did not start)

The answer as of tonight is, I cannot say yes or no.

I have spent considerable time reading scripture and other sources, and there is certainly more to our christian lives than just some intellectual endeavor - it is not enough to know who Jesus is, but we must love Jesus - God must become part of our very being - is that not the role of the Holy Spirit?

Yet I am unsettled. Much of my belief comes after I have read and listened and more over processed alot of information.

And at this time I still need to sort out too many things.

So, for the two people still reading, an unsatisfactory conclusion to my study. Yet that is where it will end. At least in this thread.

David

Phil Johnson said...

David: Yet I am unsettled. Much of my belief comes after I have read and listened and more over processed alot of information. And at this time I still need to sort out too many things. So, for the two people still reading, an unsatisfactory conclusion to my study. Yet that is where it will end.

Maybe the whole ridiculous rabbit-trail wasn't so far off-topic after all then, because you have furnished us in microcosm with a perfect picture of what pomo theologizing usually looks like.

Maybe we ought to have a five-year moratorium on postmodern opinions of any kind, while our Emerging brethren rethink what they really believe.

Then, if someone finally figures out whether anything specific can be affirmed as certainly, authoritatively, and definitiviely true, that person can be allowed to speak.

If not, we'll have another five-year moratorium in which they are required to study doctrine, as opposed to opinionating about it.

It would save us from a boatlod of useless pomo blogcomments, wouldn't it?

david rudd said...

Maybe we ought to have a five-year moratorium on postmodern opinions of any kind, while our Emerging brethren rethink what they really believe.

now that's funny...

in an ironic sense, not a haha sense!

David said...

Thanks Phil.

For my edification, just what is pomo about studying scripture and trying to apply it?

In particular with contempetive prayer?

Marcia said...

What types of doctrines do I see as "minor"?

Ones like, whether one is a amillennialist or premillenialist, whether one baptizes infants or adults, the role of women in the church, whether one believes in the cessation of tongues or not, whether one is a dispensationalist or a covenant theologian, whether one is a 24 hour, 6 day creationist or whether one believes God created everything 'ex nihilo' in 6 billion years and the days mean longer time periods.


I love you Dan Kimball, whether or not that is your real hair.

Pomo, pomo, pomo. I love how folks toss this around as the ultimate insult.

Phil Johnson said...

David:

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with contemplative prayer.

Hence my earlier admonition about staying on topic.

David said...

This post has everything to do with Dan Kimball and is he an emergent heretic.

Ken S. brought in his proof that Kimball was a emergent heretic re: contemplative prayer. Since no one else was up to calling Ken on his non biblical attacks on other pastors, I decided to take up the challange.

So yes, this did get off track. But I will not apologize for defending Kimball from a hack like Silva

There may be plenty to reproach Kimball on - Silva's attack was not one of them.

Hows that for a definitive statement?

J. K. Jones said...

All of this discussion has prompted me to go to Amazon and order Listening to the Beliefs …

Thanks.

I still think many of these guys try to use words and sentences to convince me that words and sentences contain no meaning (Driscoll excepted).

Barb said...

I'm not a Calvinist --decidedly not--but I'm reading this book, too --and I find it troubling and addressed it at my blog.