29 August 2007

Answer the Question

by Phil Johnson

From time to time we pull classic comments up out of an old thread's combox. This is one of those.

his comes from the discussion attached to one of yesterday's posts. We've all seen the vigor, passion, and persistence with which angry friends of Emergent have been willing to argue and complain about the propriety of the Po-Motivators. I had wondered aloud if there has ever been an equivalent outpouring of passion from so many people inside the broad boundaries of the Emerging Church against the more heinous doctrinal problems that constantly percolate in that movement's left wing.


So far, no one has really answered that question. One poster (whose behavior here has been so obnoxious that he actually got himself banned awhile back) posted some links showing that he and others had at various times expressed polite disagreement with certain abberant doctrinal ideas in the ECM.

That was no answer to my question, I pointed out. Where was the passion and outrage equal to the outpouring of indignation we've received for our critiques?

After yesterday's long and rambling comment threads drew to a close, we are still waiting for an answer to that question. I don't want our regular readers to miss that fact:

Go back and notice the actual question I asked: "Where, precisely, are [the so-called "conservative" Emerging Christians] investing that kind of energy in order to straighten out Jones, Burke, Bell, et al.?"

I'm not asking whether Emerging insiders ever voice disagreement with one another. Of course they do. But I'm asking to be shown where they have employed the same level of energy and force of polemic they have used against the "watchblogs" in their disagreements with fellow Emergers who have gone off the reservation doctrinally?

Scot Mcknight's telling Spencer Burke he needs to go back to church is hardly in the same class with the curses and demands for repentance that have been posted right here in our comment-threads by Emerging Christians and their sympathizers.

As a matter of fact, some of the same commenters who regularly breach our commenting guidelines here have established entire blogs where they mock and attack Ken Silva and Ingrid S. and others who critique Emerging trends from the outside.

Where, precisely, are Emerging insiders dealing that earnestly with the more serious doctrinal meltdown inside their own movement?

Phil's signature


155 comments:

DJP said...

We've all seen the vigor, passion, and persistence with which angry friends of Emergent have been willing to argue and complain about the propriety of the Po-Motivators

I first read that as, "We've all seen the vapor, passion, and persistence...."

Kinda like it my way!

centuri0n said...

Dan-o:

You're just skimming, aren't you? This is like the third time in a week you read a post by me or Phil and felt like we had said something a lot more harsh than we did.

DJP said...

Don't blame me if my misreads are more... interesting!

:^p

(If I were skimming, I wouldn't catch the misread, would I, Mr. Harshboy?)

art said...

I believe that Mark Driscoll has done some internal critiquing of those within the emerging movement, even to the point of saying, publicly, that McLaren, Burke, Pagitt, and Jones need to repent.

Of course, Driscoll is more worried about his missional work in Seattle to continue playing heresy hunter in the emerging movement, so he hasn't had the opportunity to spend as much energy hunting these guys down and tearing them apart. But at least he's one example of someone within the emerging movement who has called others to repentance.

centuri0n said...

"hunting these guys down and tearing them apart".

That's an interesting idea. Who's mission statement does that come from?

steve said...

When one considers the "generous orthodoxy" mindset that prevails among friends of Emergents, it becomes more apparent why more internal critiquing isn't taking place. For internal critiquing to occur would violate the spirit of generous orthodoxy.

In this way and others, Emergents have become insulated against the type of self-examination Scripture calls us to do.

art said...

That's an interesting idea. Who's mission statement does that come from?

Never said I was quoting a mission statement, did I?

LeeC said...

That term "heresy hunting" is usually used as a negative thing. My apologies if that it not how you intended it but I have a few questions come to mind whenever it is used.
If there are heretics (and there are if the Bible is to be believed) and you are the shepherd of a flock, what should you do when you know one is around who might do harm to your sheep?

How much more of a loving heart is there than the desire to protect the flock of God?

Are we to simply weorry about sharing the Gospel and then ignore the sheep and threats to their welfare once they are in the fold?

How loving is that?

semper reformundo said...

Just from the point of view of someone who enjoys McLaren, L. Sweet, Pagitt, Jones, etc:

I think that looking around for "mistakes" in doctrine would be considered an imported concept from "modernist" theology. They are very critical of things that get in the way of "social justice" - but the whole idea of checking everyone's theological arithmatic to make sure everybody carried the 1 and everybody got the "right" answer the "right" way...that would probably seem like a huge waste of time...Narcissistic, even.

I know that idea won't be well recieved here, but its a way of saying that the question in itself (as well as the dualistic concept of conservative and liberal) would be seen as too inhibiting and in need of "re-phrasing."

Maybe the question they would ask (maybe just me) would be: Does obsessing over doctrine mean a thing if it is possible to believe all the "right things" in all the wrong ways? (Many will say "Lord, Lord" etc.)

LeeC said...

So, with that view you cannot "obey" God per se, just kind of do what you think he might like. Or that is how it seems to me.

27"For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.

28"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

29"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;

30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

31"Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.

Is this passage meaningless?

Daryl said...

Lee,

Was Paul, then, "obsessing" for the first half or so of every letter he wrote, only to get on the right track by the time he got to the second half of those letters?

Why the priority on doctrine for Paul? Why does doctrine inform behaviour for him but behaviour inform doctrine for us?

On the same vein, why, in the EC were homosexual sin, vulgar language and casualness in worship etc. (all behavioural issues to some extent) only become an issue AFTER doctrinal certainty was sidelined?

If behaviour really is the issue for the EC (their blogs prove otherwise) then why ignore orthodox belief at all? Whyt not leave it as is and carry on behaving rightly?

One last note, Paul saved his anger for a Galatian church the BELIEVED wrongly. He was far harsher there than with the immoral Corinthians. Why?

Daryl said...

Oops, sorry Lee, that last comment was directed at Semper...

semper reformundo said...

Of course that passage isn't meaningless. But it is possible to go TOO far in that direction - where you are more consumed with exposing wolves than feeding sheep.

So what are the safeguards to prevent that from happening?

Maybe the best way to expose wolves is by making sure the food is satisfying and make the scraps that the wolves have to offer seem paultry in comparison.

Tim Bertolet said...

I think that looking around for "mistakes" in doctrine would be considered an imported concept from "modernist" theology.

Yes, and Ignatius, Irenaus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Athanasius, Augustine, the Cappodocian Fathers [and a whole mess of others] were all just a bunch of modernists when the refuted error in doctrines. Oh, better throw Paul in as a modernist too. [And don't forget the apostle John (1 John 2:18-24, 4:1-3; 2 John 7,8)].

LeeC said...

Not sure where you are coming from Daryl.
I believe that sound doctrine dictates sound behaviour.

As I have pointed out elsewhere.

1 Cor.5:8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote you in my letternot to associate with immoral people;

10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.

11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.

12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?

13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.



I want to obey God, not guess at what might tickle His fancy. I need doctrine to do that, I need to KNOW what He wants from me.

Tim Bertolet said...

But it is possible to go TOO far in that direction - where you are more consumed with exposing wolves than feeding sheep...Maybe the best way to expose wolves is by making sure the food is satisfying and make the scraps that the wolves have to offer seem paultry in comparison.

YES YES. I agree. That's why the church needs to have a healthy ministry of the Word. It must be proclamation and preaching and teaching. --Which is very anti-post-modern.

Ephesians 4:11-15 1 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

I think I've heard James White say his theology is not defined by his opponents and that is why he spends so much time ministering in a local church even though he has an apologetics ministry.

LeeC said...

Daryl,
Got it.

Sempre,

Of course you can go too far, if you neglect feeding your sheep, but that isn't what is in question here is it?

I praise God that when I go to church I see elders who are there on the lookout to both shepherd me in my time of need and admonish me to the point of church discipline if needed. And they are on the lookout for wolves constantly. As any good shepherd knows you must. (see the last passage quoted)

semper reformundo said...

Daryl -

Paul was obsessed with exposing "knowledge that puffs up" - 1 Cor 8.

Knowledge that we can "possess" rather than knowledge that leads to experience is what Paul is railing against.

"Anyone who thinks he knows anything does not yet know as he ought to know" 1 Cor 8.

Interesting that those things were written to Corinth instead of Galatia.

Overall (if you want to talk specifics, give me some passages) Paul seems to see doctrine as one part of the whole - an important part, but also possible to be overly emphasized at the expense of experience.

Daryl said...

Semper said:

"Maybe the best way to expose wolves is by making sure the food is satisfying and make the scraps that the wolves have to offer seem paultry in comparison. "

Don't know much about sheep and wolves do you Semper? Remember, just like real wolves, Paul used the imagery of savage wolves devouring the weak. You don't fight wolves by feeding the sheep, you kill the wolves...don't take that to mean we shouldn't feed the sheep and we should kill false teachers, just understand the feeding sheep and fighting wolves are not the same activity and confusing them would be disastrous.


"...WOLF WOLF!!!!"

"...quick! Get the hay, we've gotta feed these sheep before the wolves eat them..."

semper reformundo said...

tim -

I don't see a healthy ministry of the word as being anti-postmodern. If by the word, you mean Jesus who was "made flesh." Incarnational ministry is very postmodern.

And the charge that the EC just uncritically swallows postmodernism is just erroneous. Like anything postmodernism has good points and bad points. From where I sit, the EC just says - let's take the good stuff, get incarnational, realize that our culture is "post-Christian" and minister accordingly. What's wrong with that?

semper reformundo said...

daryl -

Like all imagery, wolves are symbols for people. Jesus told us to love our enemies and do good to those who curse you. Also to overcome evil with good - if someone strikes your cheek, turn the other, etc.

Unless it applies to theological quibbles?

Our METHOD of "fighting" or as you say "killing" wolves shouldn't go against Jesus' teaching, should it? Can we let the "wolves" define our behavior? Do we have to get wolfy in order to beat the wolves? i.e. get just as snarly and chompy, or is there a better way?

Honest questions here, I'm not being snarky.

semper reformundo said...

whoops! TYPO on the first line...it should read:

Like all imagery the metaphor "wolf" points to something else: specifically "people."

semper reformundo said...

Anyway, I think the metaphor "wolf in sheep's clothing" is interesting.

If the wolf is acting like a sheep and grazing the same pasture...if the food is really authentic, who's to say quality food wouldn't make the wolf more sheepy?

Maybe our problem lies at the general boredom over the status-quo kibbles being offered.

Daryl said...

Semper,

No worries, I never thought you were being snarky. (my post, on the other hand...)
Nonetheless, it seems to me that you (I) are comparing apples to oranges.
It is my understanding the issues relating to turning cheeks, loving enemies, praying for those who persecute you etc. are more specifically applied unbelievers and persecution. While I would hasten to add that we must also love, pray for and be kind to those who claim to be believers yet teach lies, there is another set of rules governing our interaction with them, a far harsher set.

The one which comes to mind is "don't even eat with such a one". That is, judge firmly, harshly even, those who claim to be believers but are not, or are acting and teaching in a way directly contrasted to Scripture.
Look at how Nehemiah treated Jewish believers who were acting/believing like pagans. He beath them, pulled their hair etc. Not very loving...? What did he do to the unbelieving pagan who harassed him? He ignored them and prayed.

Did not Paul even say that we are to judge those within the church but not to judge those outside it?

We as Christians are held to a higher standard and teachers, higher yet.

Tim Bertolet said...

semper-
There is not ministry of the Word (Jesus' incarnation,) without the ministry of the Word (written). Word and Spirit go hand in hand. There can be no conforming to the gospel if there is no proclamation of the gospel first.

With regard to postmodernism: even a old style clock that has no batteries is right twice a day. I don't think everything postmodernists write is inherently evil. For example, Kevin Vanhoozer says "Deconstruction, wholly inadvertently and with some irony, proves that God is the condition and possibility of meaning and interpretation [Is There Meaning in This Text? p.198]. Then Vanhoozer goes on and grounds a Biblical theology to texts and interpretation that resists both modernism and postmodernism.

I have no problem saying "hey our world is postmodern" but we don't resist modernism because "hey now we are postmodern" rather we resist both because in these philosophies [either formally or at the popculture level] because they deny in theory and practice that the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Col 2:3). In short, they are wrong (although there are elements we can learn from them).

There are a lot of ECers who embraces postmodernism far too uncritically. They always say to confessional Christians "your too modern" but I'm not sure we hear self critique too often enough that says "we are way too post modern". That's what the pyros have been pointing out.

Its been said, he would marries the spirit of this age will become a widower in the next.

BTW, I tend to agree with the view that postmodernism is really hyper-modernism, or as Phil says Modernism 2.0. The way post-moderns treat moderns is really nothing more than the pot calling the kettle black.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

A profound question with future implications. I believe eventually the EC movement will divide/crystalize into several sections/camps. I fear, although I hope I am wrong, the divide will center around the definition and scope of the gospel, it seems to be moving in that direction already.

It is true that in these embryonic stages there does not seem to be any doctrinal moorings being energetically called for from within, hence we will see how the coming divide will go down. The concentration of the future prophetic has not allowed for the corrective prophetic from within.

God is redemptive and I pray that some that are respected will see the great need for some kind of core truths to which they must anchor, and it just might be that God will use some of us outside the loosely defined umbrella that is called emergent to speak truth in love that can be used by the Spirit to open ears.

This just might be an incredible test of the immutability of Biblical truth communicated through loving patience.

stratagem said...

The problem with EC is that it uses tons of words, but in the end they say nothing and mean nothing. Then they tell everyone else to stop preaching and get incarnational, do the social gospel thing, but can't explain why.
The big thing that Slice, Silva, Pyromaniacs, etc should start doing is pointing out to those who will listen that the EC isn't a Christian movement any more than the JWs or the Mormons are. To kepe addressing them as though they somehow meet the test of true Christian belief is absurd and has led to all sorts of difficulties. It's time for Bible believers to start getting a lot less generous in regards to who they call Christian.

Grace said...

I don't have time to read the discussion, but I wanted to put in my $.02.

The reality is that no one is going to fill the role of apologist and heresy-fighter in the Emergent movement. At this point it doesn't have a set of beliefs that apply to anyone, much less everyone. Until it does, being a conservative, liberal, mystic, or doctrine-centered Emergent means nothing.

But that's the point, isn't it? To not tie people down to a rigid denomination, system, or creed?

It's all "...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Tim Bertolet said...

Henry, you said " I fear, although I hope I am wrong, the divide will center around the definition and scope of the gospel, it seems to be moving in that direction already."

Here is an honest question: Why do you fear this?

Paul gave warnings in Galatians 1. He rebuked the Corithians harshly for "bearing" with people who proclaimed false gospels (2 Cor. 11:3-15).

It seems Paul was more tolerant of those preached the true gospel with bad motives (Phil. 1:15-18) even though he believes there practice is wrong then he was of those who clearly taught a false gospel.

I admit that some denominations have quibbled over relatively minor points of doctrine. But why fear dividing over the definition and scope of the gospel?

semper reformundo said...

Daryl -

As someone in ministry, I have had to run people off. I hate doing it. I wish they didn't make it the only option left, but it was the LAST option. And it is ALWAYS with the door open for reconciliation.

I try to do a few things before it comes to that. I don't stand up in the middle of a men's group I'm teaching or another group and just attack that person, even if I can tell that person has a definite agenda to sow discord. First, I try to just push HARDER to get things going in a positive direction, and "believe all things" as Paul says love does. Give that person the benefit of the doubt and not yet make the environment hostile to him or her. I definitely do NOT make the next session "a rebuttal" because I don't want that person controlling the direction of the group.

Believe it or not, sometimes extending grace works and keeps things from getting ugly. Sometimes being excepted by the group and the teacher helps that person move from attack mode to "look, I have some questions." In this sense, making things a conversation allows a genuine seeker who might get pegged as a wolf to be vulnerable and get "the inside of the cup and platter" scrubbed down in a group experience.

Sometimes thought, grace extended is refused and the next step is a one-on-one talk, to reaffirm the direction God is calling us, re-establish the dynamics of the group so there is no chance of misunderstanding, etc. After that, if someone DURING the group, does the same thing - I will call them out in front of the group, which I hate doing but usually works. Now, I haven't had to go beyond this - the few times I've done it, the person just stopped coming.

The main thing is not making the classification "wolf" too early and thus attacking a malnourished sheep.

My concern would be FOCUSING on what the other dominination or whatever is doing wrong and defining ourselves by how we avoid being as wrong as those guys. To me, this is paultry fare, and doesn't stick to the ribs. Too much of it and it malnourishes the sheep. Because it all becomes about what the other guy is doing wrong and not what Jesus is doing right in us, together, in community.

To have an open, authentic community - you do have to watch out for wolves but not in a way that you make the sheep paranoid. That's my main concern. And it's easier said than done, as with everything Jesus and Paul say.

Daryl said...

Amen to that Tim. That is exactly where division needs to happen.

centuri0n said...

Art:

That is exactly my point, dude. Since that's not what Phil is asking for, and there's nobody out there making that their business, why say something like that?

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

I fear for the people that will inevidably get swept away, as some have already been. It is also worth noting that among those who are not travelling the emergent path and who disgree with their direction, there is a variety of opinions on the most effective course to speak to the most egregious errors and reach hearts.

There are certainly unregenerate people in the movement, God knows, but there are brothers and sisters who in varying degrees have been deceived. And there are some who ask questions that should challendge all of us without challenging our foundation.

Luke & Rachael said...

'There is not ministry of the Word (Jesus' incarnation,) without the ministry of the Word (written).'

I don't get it. Wasn't there ministry of the Word during Jesus' time on earth? Or generally before the NT was written? And doesn't it make far more sense to say that Jesus grounds the possibility of a written gospel, not vice-versa? I must be missing something.

Daryl said...

Semper,

Good points, but the original question still remains, in the greater EC movement, where are the wolf hunters?

We're not talking about a group like yours where the error lies in a few from time to time, we're talking about a much larger group where the error lies in the many, primarily in those who have been charged with the responsibilities of teaching.
The danger is the greater because of the young age of the majority of the constituents and their seeming willingness to follow after McLaren, Bell et al. simply because they are who they are, not because their teaching has been critically examined and has held up.

(Incidentally, the growth in the EC seems to be mirroring cult growth. Primarily young, dissillusioned or baby Christians looking for a "kinder, gentler" church)

semper reformundo said...

tim -

I'm sorry I don't have time to respond to your entire post; it was excellent and I don't disagree with much of it.

I have no problem with critiquing postmodernism where it needs critique, BUT also to heartily AFFIRM the doors it opens.

But I guess it all comes down to what we see the gospel as. I am getting the sense that you are peging the EC as spreading a false gospel. From what I have gathered, the EC draws heavily on Wright and Renovare (Willard and Foster) who define the Gospel as the ecstatic proclamation of the availability of the kingdom. I have heard it in other places defined as the penal atonement theory and that only. Matthew identifies Jesus preaching the "gospel" as "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel." So I see Wright and Willard really hitting it on the head, letting Jesus tell us what the gospel is. In this sense, the gospel is a way of life. And literally, using the Roman term "gospel" and inverting it as plenty of other implications than the Four Spiritual Laws or Romans Road or whatever, can really give us. It opens a bigger reality, not a smaller one. And how do you communicate that in bullet points?

From my point of view, each view comes from a canon within the canon, but its Wright's and Willard's view that encompasses more.

Tim Bertolet said...

Luke,
What I mean is that we cannot minister the work of Christ today apart from ministering the written Word of God. It is the Word of God written that testifies to Jesus Christ's person and work (i.e. the incarnation, death, resurrection, etc.).

We must as Christians follow Christ and obey him and emulate him but that is not ministering the gospel. The gospel is "good news" something that is proclamed. It is news of something that has happened [I allude to Machen's comments on Faith and History].

Of course, it is the authority of Christ [and the whole Godhead] that grounds the written Word, the Bible. That is "top down" so to speak. But when I was speaking of "ministering" I was speaking "bottom up" so to speak. Our only authority to point to God comes from His written Word which testifies to the verity of His person and work.

Does that answer it?

Luke & Rachael said...

Sure, that helps.

Out of curiosity, how did those Christians who came after Christ, but before the canonization process ran its course, minister the Word?

Tim Bertolet said...

Semper,
You said, "I am getting the sense that you are peging the EC as spreading a false gospel."

Please don't put words in my mouth. I am not sure where all of them stand. We are constantly being reminded they are so different. I will say I have "greater concerns" about some more than others. But even my concerns does not mean they are all unsaved. I do think there are false gospels out there, but then there are false gospels of prosperity and such in more "traditional" churches too.

Gospel is not a "way of life" it is the proclamation of the dawn of the kingdom of God that brings redemption and judgment. It is an eschatological announcement that the LORD has returned to Zion to save His people. This proclamation in fulfillment of Isaiah and such goes out to all the nations calling them to repent now that the the King sits on the throne and has all things under His feet. This kingdom comes to climax in the death, resurrection and ascension of the King Jesus.

Something that is so profoundly "redemptive historical" [the time is fulfilled] is not a "way of life." Yet it does bring implications to the life of those who belong to the kingdom. This kingdom is entered through repentence and confession first before it is a way of life.

I hope we are not talking past each other with that. There seems to be some overlap BUT there is a big difference in the details.

Daryl said...

Semper, you said "Matthew identifies Jesus preaching the "gospel" as "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel."

That doesn't define the gospel. (What is the gospel? The gospel is
believe the gospel...??) but what it does do is reinforce the belief that the gospel is something to be BELIEVED, not something to do. So if your statement accurately portrays the EC view, no wonder they've got it wrong. To believe something we must know what it is, and (more importantly almost) we cannot reject any part of what we know. The EC's stock and trade is rejecting what they don't like in favour of being nice to people.

Question: Did Jesus have to die in order for peopele to fight for justice, clean up the environment, be nice to people?

Exhibit A - Ghandi
Answer - No.

Question: Did Jesus have to die in order to pay the price required by the Father for our sin and fallenness, thus restoring our relationship to God if we but believe it?
Exhibit A - Paul - 2 Corinthians 5 18-20 "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."

Answer - Yes.

So which can correctly be call the gospel? And why does the EC have no one (or virtually no one) championing this?

semper reformundo said...

Daryl -

I agree we aren't talking about a group like mine, but it seems like Paul is.

I guess I just disagree with you that the EC is largely made up of deceived people. You can believe all the right things in all the wrong ways and be decieved. So just because one person can phrase everything perfectly does not mean that person is experiencing the reality the words point to.

As much as McLaren gets demonized, he strikes me as someone who REALIZES the ramifications of what he says and deems them worth saying anyway. I can't see him as some bumbling idiot who doesn't know what he is doing, the poor dear, bless his heart. So the only way he can be decieved is if he is just asking questions you just shouldn't ask. Which makes no sense to me. If you can't articulate your doubt, do you really have faith at all? Or is the fear of your own doubt more of an influence than the faith that can still stand when questions are asked? I read McLaren and I honestly don't know what all the fuss is about.

If McLaren came into a group I lead, I just wouldn't catagorize him as a wolf. Because he allows others the space to disagree with him. He doesn't claim to be right about everything. And in my experience, the wolves are the exact opposite.

So we just disagree.

Tim Bertolet said...

Well for starters: that is why we have apostolic testimony [which is now recorded for us in Scripture]. Apostolic testimony to the events of death and resurrection would have been preached, proclaimed and passed on. [1 Cor. 15:1-4, et al]

The foundation of the church [once for all laid] is upon Christ the cornerstone and then the prophets and apostles.

Isn't that the point of 1 John 1:1-4. Christ's life was manifest, 'we say it" we proclaim what we say and heard.

But today, it is the Word of God which gives us all this apostolic testimony that we need to know. The written Word is sufficient.

See for example: Ridderbos' Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures.

stratagem said...

"From what I have gathered, the EC draws heavily on Wright and Renovare (Willard and Foster) who define the Gospel as the ecstatic proclamation of the availability of the kingdom. I have heard it in other places defined as the penal atonement theory and that only."

The Gospel isn't available to anyone apart from penal atonement. And aside from that, penal atonement isn't a theory, for the Christian it's a fact.

Tim Bertolet said...

Oops, that last post was to Luke.

Tim Bertolet said...

Semper said "As much as McLaren gets demonized, he strikes me as someone who REALIZES the ramifications of what he says and deems them worth saying anyway. I can't see him as some bumbling idiot who doesn't know what he is doing, the poor dear, bless his heart."

I can't speak for everybody, but I think this is precisely why McLaren is such a danger. He is not "questioning the status quo" like a new Christian who doesn't know God's Word.

There is a difference between asking questions because you want to know what God's Word says and using questions to question the authority of God's Word or through doubt upon the words via 'those are interpretations'. The latter tactics are much more akin to Genesis 3. [NOTE: I am not saying McLaren is the devil incarnate.]

"If you can't articulate your doubt, do you really have faith at all? " Again the issue is why articulate doubt: is it to listen to Scripture and have our doubts driven away as we trust Christ who builds us up in assurance {col 2:1-2} or is it to embrace doubt as virtue and essential? I think we see more of the later and that is what concerns me.

Faith drives out doubt. That does not mean we cannot say "I believe, Lord help my unbelief." Rather some ECers embrace a sort of "I believe but thank God I have unbelief." This view sees unbelief has normative and essential to healthy Christianity. Sure, we all struggle with doubt at times, and we should be honest but that doesn't make it healthy.

Daryl said...

Semper,

Clearly we do disagree.

No, I don't see McLaren as a bumbling idiot, by his own admission he uses that front as a means to get people talking and listening to him. Yes, he is decieved, either decieved into believing that he is teaching what the Bible says, of decieved into believing that the Bible is wrong and so he must convince people to believe differently. Either way, he is decieved.
If he is not decieved then he is leading people willfully along a path that he knows is wrong and that scares me more and brings to mind thoughts of millstones around necks for decieving the little ones and stuff like that.

In any case, why is he being followed and not called out? Why do those who claim not to be represented by him still attend his conferences and fill his sessions? That was the original question (more or less) and one that has been repeately asked by the Pyro's and never answered by EC attendees. And that is the sadness of all this.

It seems more and more apparent that the real reason that Bell, McLaren and others are being called out by outsiders only and not by the EC itself (Driscoll doesn't count as he has been attacked by various EC people for not being Emergent enough when he preaches the gospel) is that no one cares, really, for the truth.

What else could it be?

SJ Camp said...

Phil:
Great question you've asked on this post... and it deserves an answer.

There have been people within the EC (emerging/emergent church) movement that have faithfully confronted their own movement's doctrinal error.

I.E. Dan Kimball has been very vocal against some of the convictions and teachings of Doug Pagitt and Spencer Burke. Mark Driscoll has confronted some of the teachings and convictions of Brian McLaren; Ed Stetzer (though SBC he has a high presence in the EC) has been a great voice speaking against the doctrinal shifts and/or lack of clarity in the EC; and I think we could also say the same thing of a brother like Andrew Jones who is a conservative within the emerging movement as well.

One of the challenges for us in the reformed camp is to continue to come along side those who are orthodox within the emerging movement, encourage them; pray with and for them; continue to dialogue with them; learn from them; spend time in the Word together with them, and talking through the issues doctrinally and theologically together. I have benefited greatly from the many conversations, emails and phone calls with several leaders in that movement. I have learned much. It is important that we genuinely make that effort.

On the outer fringe, men like Tim Keller and John Piper have met with emergent leaders as well and continue to be strong voices for orthodoxy to many in the EC.

The tendency to broad brush everyone in this movement is inaccurate by asserting that none of them believe in absolute truth; none of them believe in penal substitution; none of them believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of God's Word, none of them believe in sola fide, etc.; and would be false and a gross exaggeration.

It would be like saying all amill's don't believe in a literal-grammatic-historic hermeneutic; or that all charismatics operate only by their feelings and experiences rather than the truth of Scripture.

After all, if we are honest, even within denominations such as the PCA, SBC, RB, and IFCA there are some real doctrinal concerns and disturbing trends. We can’t even get people in reformed circles to agree on what is the nature of saving faith, baptism, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ in justification, etc. That doesn't serve to excuse the EC issues; but it should give us some empathy for them in their struggle to remain faithful and orthodox according to the truth of God's Word.

I like many of your posters—the graphics are excellent as always and the sayings pithy, lucid and true. Some are much better than others; some I think have missed the mark a bit; but all are very funny and make a point. I, as you, like sarcasm and humor in making a point, and have been criticized myself for using it too. Those that are easily offended by them should develop some thicker skin and not take themselves too seriously.

In a spirit of humility and Christian love, may we give others the freedom to grow, learn, and mature in Christ and His Word, that we hope others would extend to us as well.

VIVIT,
Steve
2 Tim. 2:15

Luke & Rachael said...

Thanks Tim. This sets the stage for all sorts of interesting questions on the relation between Scripture and "tradition." But I don't think I'll go there.

The point I was hoping to make is just that there was ministry of the word without the written word--that it's possible, if not preferable. For example, suppose tomorrow every single copy of the Bible poofed out of existence. Surely we wouldn't have to wait till new Bibles were printed to minister the Word. We could do so by speaking and living in conformity with the Spirit. Anyways, this is tending toward quibbling. Thanks for your gracious responses.

Luke & Rachael said...

Question: Did Jesus have to die in order for peopele to fight for justice, clean up the environment, be nice to people?

Exhibit A - Ghandi
Answer - No.

This assumes that Gandhi wasn't inspired by the Spirit of Christ to act and live as he did. I think we should be wary about making judgments of these sorts, especially when the person involved is Gandhi! He based much of his life and view of the world on the teachings of Christ and the NT generally. Who are we to say he was or wasn't reconciled to God?

David said...

First, just to remind everyone, I have found these posters to be both funny and biblical, and have posted as such.

Having said that, Team Pyro seems to be getting just a wee bit pedantic on this topic.

semper reformundo said...

Strategem -

The problem with the penal atonement is that, if it isn't a metaphor that point to something much BIGGER than itself, itkod out to be a bumbling bureaucrat who is trying to find a loophole to let us off the hook - as if he has something above himself he must answer to. If God wants to forgive us, why doesn't he? He NEEDS to have Jesus die on the cross to satisfy some higher law he is accountable to? Why?

This is what happens when ONE of the metaphors used is exalted to the highest position. The unanswered questions paint a wierd picture of God. One thing we are reminded of us that God's heart was laid bare at the cross. Where was God? On the cross, or hovering above it grinning with the glee of bloodlust?

I accept the metaphor as (with other metaphors) pointing to a much larger reality that none of them firmly pin down. We tried pinning it down once and for all, but an empty tomb on Sunday morning showed definitely that the butterfly slipped through the holes in the net while we weren't looking.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

Sometimes men get addicted to the narcotic of change. They cannot just preach the cross as understood by most of the church fathers, they must come from a creative perspective that sometimes frames the intellect and not the Christ.

Reinventing the doctrinal wheel instead of leading people deeper into that which was once delivered unto the saints. Stand fast for truth while standing fast in love. And where is the demonstrable balance between those two?

I guess it it's at a little hill outside Jerusalem.

Daryl said...

Luke,

On your last 2 posts.

Were all Bibles destroyed, we could only preach what we remember to be the written word, nothing more. So the written word would still be the standard. Just like is is your standard when you don't have it open, same thing.

Ghandi - As one who never accepted the gospel (blamed on poor behaviour of Christians, not very original) I'm certainly MUST judge that he wasn't empowered by the spirit of Christ except, perhaps in the way Balaam's donkey was. If living a "good life" based on the principles of the Bible gains one access to heaven, then Mormons, JW's, the nice lady next door, are all in, regardless of their willingness to repent and believe.

Read Romans, there is no such thing as living a "good life" based on the principles of Scripture. At least not good enough to warrant heaven.

Tim Bertolet said...

Luke,
With regard to Ghandi, I think a distinction between common grace and saving grace is a more Biblical explanation of why Ghandi was so concerned with justice. Those who denote have saving grace can still see the commands say for justice and see they are good because of common grace.

I'm not an expert of Ghandi, as I recall he did like a lot of what Christ did, he didn't like the way christians lived. But I believe He also did not believe the need to confess Christ, which Jesus Himself taught.

The only guideline that I can think of to know if the Spirit of God is at work is whether one confesses Christ (1 Cor. 12:1-3; 1 John 4:1-3).

I can speak only for myself: I am a nobody, you has not commented too much on this thread, so I can't judge Ghandi, yet at the same time Scripture gives me a clear test to know if the Spirit of God is as work. If I don't use it doesn't that make me foolish? [I'm not being sarcastic here]

Daryl and SJ Camp-- great job steering the thread back to the original question.

Phil Johnson said...

SJ Camp: "Dan Kimball has been very vocal against some of the convictions and teachings of Doug Pagitt and Spencer Burke"

Where, exactly? Can you cite an URL?

Remember: this was my complaint with Kimball's chapter in the book he contributed to. All kinds of aberrant views were represented in that book, and Kimball was anything but "vocal" against them. (Driscoll was indeed vocal against them, and I acknowledged that in the original post where I raised this question.) But Kimball continues to extend the pretense of Christian fellowship to people who deny doctrines that Kimball says he regards as "essential." How does that not send a mixed message?

And to all: Please don't turn this comment-thread into a discussion about what Dan Kimball says he himself believes. We've been down that road already, every time Kimball's name comes up. That's still not the question I am raising. My question is very simple: Where has Dan Kimball or anyone else within the Emerging milieu (other than Driscoll) put the same kind of energy into confronting the aberrant trends in their own movement that we regularly see in comment-threads here (and on various Emerging anti-watchblog sites) from people who get angry and indignant when their favorite fads and distinctives are lampooned by conservatives?

Daryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Bertolet said...

Sewing,

I couldn't agree more. I should have probably said OT first before I mentioned apostolic proclamation.

Sewing said...

Luke wrote:

"Out of curiosity, how did those Christians who came after Christ, but before the canonization process ran its course, minister the Word?"

In addition to Tim Bertolet's reply about the spoken tradition that preceded commitment of the Gospel to writing—indeed, in addition to the whole of the yet-to-be-canonized New Testament—there were the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, the guiding texts of Judaism and the emerging (forgive me) Jewish Christian movement. When the evangelist writes of Jesus in Luke 24:44-47, Jesus is of course referring to the Jewish Scriptures*:

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ Himself used the written Word as it was received at the time—explicitly described by him as the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms—to teach what it said about Him, the Word Incarnate.

* I hesitate to say "Hebrew Scriptures," given the prevalence of the de facto canonized Septuagint, although I assume that in Jerusalem and Galilee, the language of Scripture with which Jesus and his Disciples would have been most familiar was Hebrew...I don't know if there is any attestation for an early, pre-Syriac, Aramaic version of the Old Testament.

Daryl said...

Semper,

Unfortunately as the questions become more and more biblical and direct, your replies seem to be getting purposely more obtuse and unintelligible. A simple study on the justice of God and his sovereignty in his execution of Jesus would answer your last post quite easily if you would but see it.

semper reformundo said...

Well, I have a sermon to write today, so I better get off to it. I have enjoyed dialoguing with you all and hope to do more of it in the future.

I hope that nothing I said here was pigheaded or just butting heads for its own sake. If any of it seemed to be that, I ask for your prayers that God would reveal his truth more fully to me.

We may have strong disagreements as we live through these "interesting times" but I praise and thank God for brothers and sisters like you who are truly concerned for me. I believe I am following the call he has put on me but I'll make sure I don't censor your voices from the council I heed.

God bless, and thanks.

Sewing said...

Sorry, Tim, I deleted, edited, then reposted the comment, hence your reply being out of order.

"...with which Jesus and his disciples would have been most familiar..."

Of course, Jesus being a person of the trinity, He is perfectly knowledgeable of everything. I meant the language of written Scripture he would have taught from, although no doubt he spoke to them in Aramaic.

Habitans in Sicco said...

Camp: "The tendency to broad brush everyone in this movement is inaccurate by asserting that none of them believe in absolute truth; none of them believe in penal substitution; none of them believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of God's Word, none of them believe in sola fide, etc.; and would be false and a gross exaggeration."

Yeah? Talk about a "broad brush." Who here ever asserted any of thse things?

Wow.

semper reformundo said...

Unfortunately as the questions become more and more biblical and direct, your replies seem to be getting purposely more obtuse and unintelligible. A simple study on the justice of God and his sovereignty in his execution of Jesus would answer your last post quite easily if you would but see it.

A simple study of the Bible!
Why didn't I think of that???
Don't mean to be snarky but questions arise as the Bible is studied, and the easiest answers are usually the most trite.

Why don't we just study the creeds and toss the Bible out altogether? Isn't it to afford the Bible the opportunity to blow up our creeds if the necessity arises? Sometimes what seems obtuse and unintelligible is just something we need new glasses to see. Sorry if that sounds like a personal attack, but "If you would just see it" isn't much different.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

"Where has Dan Kimball or anyone else within the Emerging milieu (other than Driscoll) put the same kind of energy into confronting the aberrant trends in their own movement that we regularly see in comment-threads here (and on various Emerging anti-watchblog sites) from people who get angry and indignant when their favorite fads and distinctives are lampooned by conservatives? "

Your question is of course pointed and reveals a distinct weakness in the movement. If I went to a local church where many within the fellowship were launching out on doctrinal tangents would the elders be responsible to respond to any error in their midst? Of couse.

So that begs the question why are there not "elders" within the movement that are called by God to have the doctrinal oversight? After all, they claim to be a part of the New Testament ecclesia, do they not? Then they need to come under some authority as it pertains to teaching, which come from the inspired Scriptures that are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.

It is one thing to grow weary of present stagnation, it is another to create a genre of subjectivism that quickly morphs into confusion.

Daryl said...

Semper,

Sorry man, didn't mean to be snarky but insisting that the orthodox understanding of the atonement makes God a blood-thirsty God would didn't really need the cross and could have forgiven people on a whim with no pain, is to grossly undermine his character and the plainess of Scripture. There is no Scriptural warrant for making the atonement a metaphor of anything, and to do so will always make it less than what it is.

steve said...

SJ Camp: That doesn't serve to excuse the EC issues; but it should give us some empathy for them in their struggle to remain faithful and orthodox according to the truth of God's Word.

But, part of the problem is a lot of us don't see them struggling to remain faithful and orthodox according to the truth of God's Word. The general trend is a much-too-casual attitude toward the truth to the point of marginalizing and doubting it.

That's hard to empathize with.

Luke & Rachael said...

I don't want to sidetrack on Gandhi. I think the common/saving grace distinction is fine; go ahead and use it to explain Gandhi's actions. I'm just far from confident that God didn't find a way to bring Gandhi to salvation! This probably stems from my inclusivist leanings, which I'll probably get shellacked for even mentioning.

Daryl said: 'Were all Bibles destroyed, we could only preach what we remember to be the written word, nothing more. So the written word would still be the standard. Just like it is your standard when you don't have it open, same thing.'

My point is that post-Jesus pre-NT, there was no written word. You can appeal to the OT as the standard here, but that implies that the earliest Xians had no standard on JC. That seems false. As Tim noted, they had apostolic tradition. But this raises interesting questions for non-Catholics. If apostolic tradition was the pre-NT authority, and if the Bible is the culmination of the apostolic tradition--not something alien to it, but wrapped and being shaped from within it--it looks like we have a much more fluid and organic view of the relation between Scripture and tradition than most conservative Protestants are comfortable with.

The Bible *is* the tradition; it's shaped by it, judged by its standards, the best expression of it we've got. It always comes to us as part of the tradition, from within it. It's hard to see how to separate them at all. This is the point I was working toward, but didn't want to push since it's way off topic. But there it is.

Luke & Rachael said...

'The Gospel isn't available to anyone apart from penal atonement. And aside from that, penal atonement isn't a theory, for the Christian it's a fact.'

Wow. Then why do none of the earliest creeds explicitly spell it out? Sure, you might think that their soteriological statements make the best sense on penal atonement. But it's far from self-evident. In fact, Christus Victor was the dominant view of the atonement among the Latin Fathers. Penal atonement wasn't even fully spelled out till Anselm in the 11th century.

Daryl said...

Luke,

I'll risk the ire of the big guys here and offer a quick response.

Jesus held the Jews responsible for not recognizing him and his ministry basd upon the OT. He showed the disciples on the road to Emmaus how everything that happened to the Christ was foretold in the OT.

The Apostlic tradition is the NT. It was copied and passed around so people could read it and not have to rely entirely on memory. As I explained to my 8 year old son last night, no one dug a hole and accidentally found the Bible, they had it in hand for years until it was official recognized that what they had was it and there would be no more.

So unless you go back before Moses, there is no time at which the word was not written.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

"I'm just far from confident that God didn't find a way to bring Gandhi to salvation!"

And Ghandi stated he did not need the blood of Christ for redemption. We are prone to human compssion that questions the compassion and justice of God.

Charles Manson and a toddler are walking toward a cliff that they do not see. As they go over the cliff, we agree with gravity as it takes Manson to his death. We cannot see how gravity would not find a way to keep the child safe.

Human compassion does not change the laws of physics. Human compassion should ehort us to witness, it cannot change the laws of God.

Daryl said...

Well said Mr Frueh. That's a great analogy.

Daryl said...

Still, no answer to the original question...

Luke & Rachael said...

Hi Daryl,

It sounds like you're equating the Bible with the tradition, or at least tying them together too closely to distinguish. If so, I fully agree. I thought that would make at least some people squirmy around here, but I could be wrong . . .

stratagem said...

"The problem with the penal atonement is that, if it isn't a metaphor that point to something much BIGGER than itself, itkod out to be a bumbling bureaucrat who is trying to find a loophole to let us off the hook - as if he has something above himself he must answer to. If God wants to forgive us, why doesn't he? He NEEDS to have Jesus die on the cross to satisfy some higher law he is accountable to? Why?"

The answer is simple: Because the Bible said that this is the way the Holy, incomprehensible God of Abraham chose to atone for our sins. You are trying to rebut what God plainly said, by applying your human, fallible understanding of "logic" to it. God spent several thousand years (at least) paving the way to the ultimate act of atonement and reconciliation, but you are trying to dismiss it as a "theory" and thereby cast doubt upon it, add to it, subtract from it, or whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.

By your logic above, Christ would not even be necessary for atonement, and therefore man could find atonement in any religion, or in having no faith at all.

Yes, by all means, go write your sermon; better yet, before you write it, challenge yourself to teach your flock what the Bible plainly says. Right now, you are headed toward trying to make what the Bible says compatible with how you think things should be.

Tim Bertolet said...

Luke,
You said "My point is that post-Jesus pre-NT, there was no written word."

Of course, I would agree here. There was an unfolding process as the Word was written. But even Paul recognizes Luke as Scripture, and Peter does the same for Paul's writtings.

"it looks like we have a much more fluid and organic view of the relation between Scripture and tradition than most conservative Protestants are comfortable with. " I'm not sure what you mean by this. But I agree with you that this would be way too off track to explore.

I simple mean this when I referenced apostolic teaching:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

That is a far cry from some kind of dual authority of Scripture and extra Biblical secret tradition passed on by the magisterium (Rome).

"You can appeal to the OT as the standard here, but that implies that the earliest Xians had no standard on JC. "
Not neccessarily since they saw the OT as culminating in Christ. It pointed to Christ.

"The Bible *is* the tradition; it's shaped by it, judged by its standards, the best expression of it we've got. It always comes to us as part of the tradition, from within it. It's hard to see how to separate them at all."

I don't think I quite understand you. The Bible is the Word of God, fully breathed out by Him. Yet it is also a human book coming in history, time, genre, etc. We don't need to separate divine and human elements. Yet we acknowledge it bears the authority of God, a "thus saith the Lord," as if He Himself had spoken. By referencing apostolic tradition all I meant was that the apostles did speak the Word of God before it was written down and in the process of history they did write it down.

We shouldn't detract from either the humanity or the divinity of Scripture, just as we don't do it for Christ either. I wouldn't say the Bible is judged by tradition. To say the Bible is part of the tradition is open to misunderstanding. I would argue it (including the NT) is progressively revealed, but I don't think that is a point of contention for protestants.

So anyway... back to the emerging church. {Sorry for any thread hijacking, that wasn't my intent; dare I say the conversation evolved?}

Luke & Rachael said...

Hi Rick,

First, we have no idea what happened to Gandhi in the moments after he was shot, as he lay dying.

Second, like our sense of conscience, God gave us a sense of compassion as well. It might not always match up with God's, but I don't think we're warranted to assume there's no overlap--especially among those who are created anew and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. There needs to be some overlap, however imperfect, between our concepts and God for us to even talk about God, or understand the words of Scripture in reference to him, at all,

Third, laws are by definition inanimate and so incapable of emotion. But the Christian God is the God of supreme mercy and love. Justice as well, but love nonetheless. Our compassion can change the mind of God. In the presence of Abraham's compassion, God went from being on the verge of destroying Sodom & Gomorrah without a second thought to being willing to spare it for ten righteous people. Check out the passage; Abraham actually talks God down! In the presence of Moses's compassion as well, God goes from being intent on abandoning the Israelites in the desert to giving them another chance.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

The Bible is the miraculous communication of the Words of God in human language by human conduits. It is innerant in the original but with the interpretation process comes men's opinion, hence the admonition to "study to show thyself approved".

Truth is never mircurial, interpretation can be. But if the written Scriptures are only man made traditions, and the interpretations are man made understandings of man made traditions, then you have man made subjective truth squared. And in a word - fiction.

Daryl said...

wait, wait!!! Don't misunderstand me.

What I'm saying is that what could be called the tradition of the apostles (up until the canon was recognized as closed) was the NT writings. That is, the early church wouldn't have called the NT the Bible, they most likely would have referred to them as Pauls letters, or James' letter, or Marks account, or maybe as a general term, the traditions of the apostles. I see that I'm probably redefining term here to my own deteriment.

What I'm NOT saying is that traditions, apostolic or otherwise, that are recognized today AS traditions have any standing comparable to Scripture expect to the extent that it can be found there.

My point was that since Moses, anything that could be rightly believed about God, was, in fact, written down or in the process of being written down. But if it ain't written, or understood from what is written, don't insist that anyone believe it.

Daryl said...

Luke, check out 1 Sam. 23:19 and let Scripture interpret Scripture

"He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."

So whatever was happening with Abraham, he wasn't talking God down in the sense that God rethought things.

We have no warrant to believe that even though the Bible say's "No one comes to the Father but through me" and "He who rejects the Son rejects the one who sent him", the God would make an exception.

rick said...

Sorry I'm late to join in this 'conversation' but I had to work today. Because of that, I'll admit that I haven't read all of the comments - I would like to focus on the original post.

Phil - the difficulty is the blog methodology. It's worse than email in that it is to a wide audience, there are divergent points, it doesn't lend itself to clarifying questions, timing of responses drive confusion, etc..

I'd like to reply to your question, i.e., "has there been an equivalent outpouring of passion from so many people inside the broad boundaries of the Emerging Church against the more heinous doctrinal problems?" but I'm not sure if I am in the group you refer to as angry friends of Emergents.

The reason I ask is because I'd like to speak for myself and not others but I'm not sure you are talking to me.

I'll assume that since I've openly accused you guys of being deceived on this issue and as bringing damage to the Church that you know of me. I'm the one that Cent said was "a keeper" (which by the way I'm taking as immunity to being banned from commenting unless I get really stupid).

Let me know if I'm in the group you reference or if I am another type of problem altogether.

Luke & Rachael said...

WRT to the Bible/tradition discussion, I fear I've hijacked the thread, and so won't say anything else about it. But thanks guys for the interaction!

Daryl said...

...my apologies for being complicit in said hi-jacking...

(slinks off, tail between legs...)

donsands said...

"Where, precisely, are Emerging insiders dealing that earnestly with the more serious doctrinal meltdown inside their own movement?"

Would this include Steve Chalke's teaching, which compared the teaching that our Lord and Savior bore His Father's wrath for our sins to "cosmic child abuse"?

I'm not that familair with the EC, but I'm learning.

Some good debating going on here. Good stuff to read.

Phil Johnson said...

Rick: "Let me know if I'm in the group you reference or if I am another type of problem altogether."

You might want to quibble about whether you're really part of the Emerging community or not—I don't know about that. You have certainly shown yourself sympathetic with key Emerging and Postmodern tenets. Whether we need to place you in the camp or not is immaterial. I wouldn't. If forced to describe you in shorthand fashion, I'd say you are a Vineyard guy with a monster-truck-tire-sized chip on his shoulder.

But in a way you do indeed embody the imbalance I'm trying to point out here. You have been fixated on our blog for a long time, and you have been mostly (though not exclusively) critical of what we do and teach here—especially when we highlight the heresies and imbalances of the runaway Emergent/Emerging/PostModern subculture. Sometimes, as you yourself have noted, your censures have seemed even to consign us to the flames of perdition. Other times, you plead for a more moderate and friendly conversation. I can't keep up with all your mood swings.

However, I am reasonably certain you would bristle at any suggestion that you are overly tolerant toward the postmodern/post-evangelical drift of contemporary evangelicalism. But read your own blog and I think you will have to admit that you don't engage the doctrinal deficiencies of that movement with the same passion and vigor that you have shown in your manifold rants against us.

I say that's a dangerous imbalance.

Someone, I'm sure, will want to accuse me of a similar imbalance because (they'll insist) all my criticism is one-way, directed at the emerging side of the evangelical spectrum. But that is simply untrue. Search and see: the blogosphere is fairly overflowing with my various criticisms of fundamentalism. My personal entry into the blogosphere was partly precipitated by a two-month-long debate I engaged in at SharperIron.org. If you print all that material out, it will fill a large binder. Happy reading.

So why has my criticism lately been directed almost entirely to the left? Simple: because radical fundamentalists are hardly threatening to commandeer any gospel-believing churches nowadays. In fact (hoping not to scare anyone with the f-word here), I think a healthy dose of classic fundamentalism injected into the evangelical mix would be a wholly beneficial thing.

david rudd said...

okay, i'll bite, but i'll only speak for myself.

phil, i've been critiquing the emergent leaders longer than i've critiqued you. feel free to read. ironically, in one of these posts, i commend you for your interaction with the boars head boys...

maybe this can be an olive branch.

here

here

here

here

here

here

here

opn said...

Luke said:

"This assumes that Gandhi wasn't inspired by the Spirit of Christ to act and live as he did. I think we should be wary about making judgments of these sorts, especially when the person involved is Gandhi"!

Luke also said:

"First, we have no idea what happened to Gandhi in the moments after he was shot, as he lay dying".

Which is it my friend? Did he live a life of obedience glorifying our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; or, did he have a thief on the cross moment?

david rudd said...

Forgot these two. The second is dealing with Marcus Borg.

here

here

Phil Johnson said...

David Rudd:

Yeah, but you keep insisting that you aren't really Emerging, right? I keep praying for you that what you have learned from your biblical heritage will win out over your postmodernized worldview, and posts like the ones you linked to give me occasional rays of hope.

I do wish there were more posts at your blog like that, however, and lots less like this.

david rudd said...

phil,


does this mean your question has been answered?

i assure you that everything i wrote in those posts i still agree with and would still argue for. in some cases i would argue more strongly for them.

most of the time, i agree with your points (i've often said i think you have a blind spot with the emerging stuff). i just wish you'd sometimes take a different tact.

i assure you that i'm not "emergent". we're all emerging though. we should never stop stretching ourselves.

regarding the link you posted. is that topical here? or was that just a dig?

david rudd said...

phil,

one other thing...

those who know me best would laugh to hear it suggested that my worldview is "postmodern".

it may appear that way to you because the nature of discussions places me on further to that side than you...

but it just ain't so.

there is a difference between graciousness and relativism. i probably have too much of one and too little of the others, but to my detriment, my besetting worldview is most certainly more modern than post...

Phil Johnson said...

David Rudd: "does this mean your question has been answered?"

Hardly. Are you seriously going to argue that those posts balance the amount of outrage you yourself have expressed right here in our combox?

David: "regarding the link you posted. is that topical here? or was that just a dig?"

A dig? It's an example of the very point I'm making: The level of passion and energy you display when expressing your occasional disagreements with Emergent aberrations hardly matches the level of outrage you express when aiming barbs at people to your right. And that's true even in the toned-down version of your tirade against a someone in your own church whose tastes were too conservative for you.

david rudd said...

regarding your second statement,
that's a complete misrepresentation of something you clearly didn't understand or take the time to.

to suggest that letter about the tastes of someone "more conservative" than me is one of the overstatements of the century.

the link you posted was a group of excerpts from an anonymous note written to our church. in the link, i clearly stated that i posted because it was humorous not because it was hurtful. (irony there, funny is always funny right?)

but this isn't about me. (and i won't debate this part of the issue anymore) although it would make it an easier argument if it was, because i have no problem acknowledging my brokenness and mistakes.

it's about your original question. here are some quotes from the links i posted:

[regarding Brian McLaren]"as i've been reading through the gospels this year, i've become more and more frustrated with him."

[regarding Tony Jones] "the real issue comes down to two questions.
is the entire NT inspired?
is the entire NT authoritative?
Tony is casting serious doubt on both questions. i don't like that."

[regarding both of the above]"DO YOU BELIEVE THAT RESTORATIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD CAN BE REALIZED APART FROM FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST? (the orthodox answer is "no")
why would i ask this? as i see it, one quote here or there can be misread. even two or three quotes can be taken out of context. but when the same question continues to come up in different arenas, and when given opportunity to clarify, obfuscating answers are given; then one must wonder if there is a reason for the apparent pattern."

"sometimes, emergentesque peeps focus on Jesus to the derision of the epistles. (i know, fundamentalists focus on the epistles to the derision of Jesus…that’s not a good justification) an example would be Brian Mclaren who suggests that Jesus and the first three gospels are in some way “battling” John and Paul. (i know, it’s a “fictional character” that says this, but when you create a fictional character who is a mean character [mean being balanced as in not extreme; not mean as in cruel] and don’t make any effort to demonstrate reason for that characters opinions being wrong, it should be understood that said character is speaking some amount of “truth”) If the same God inspired the Gospels and the Epistles, how can they be in conflict?"

[regarding Rob Bell]"it bothers me that intelligent people who have much more schooling than me are willing to bring up such easily dispelled arguments without presenting any evidence as to why Christians shouldn’t be dragged away by these new “philosophies”…."

i would suggest those are all "earnest" dealings. i'm not sure my comments here really amount to outrage unless they've been misread.

if you've seen them that way, i do apologize that i didn't say them better. it's never been about outrage for me. it's always been about pointing out the places i feel your argument loses weight.

sorry you haven't seen it that way.

opn said...

Luke:

I bring it up because it is one thing for me to display compassion for Gandhi in hopes that he surrendered to John 14:6 in the end.

It is another to use his life as an example for Christian living while it is obvious (based on his own words) he denied John 14:6 throughout.

Phil Johnson said...

David Rudd:

I'm not trying to make this discussion overly personal, David, but the links you posted were examples of your personal criticisms against Emerging aberrations.

I acknowledged at the outset that people within the Emerging movement do often express polite disagreement with MacLaren and friends. So the fact that you, who claim to be an outsider, would likewise disagree with Tony Jones or Rob Bell is really no rejoinder to the point I'm making, which is that the level of polemic energy invested in that disagreement doesn't come close to matching the amount of uproar we see every time we post any criticism or joke about postmodernism, post-evangelicalism, or anything else Emerging.

I'm just saying that statements like these:

"i've become more and more frustrated with [McLaren]"
"Tony is casting serious doubt . . . i don't like that"
"it bothers me"


kind of pale by comparison with the fervor you yourself have put into some of your comments here (not to mention the criticisms of our point of view you have posted at your blog), don't you think?

Or are you seriously arguing that you have been equally passionate and energetic on both sides?

Because (while I'm admittedly not in a position to make an objective ruling about it) it doesn't even look close to me.

And one more question: Given that you clearly disagree with what we stand for here, I wouldn't expect you to be a cheerleader for every cause we embrace. But do you seriously think neo-fundamentalism, classic evangelicalism, or whatever you want to label my position is as much of a threat across the board nowadays as the viewpoints being championed within the Emerging community?

If so, fine, but you need to admit plainly where you really stand. If not, you might want to rethink what you are spending your apologetics units and polemic energies trying to accomplish.

silly old nana said...

It seems 1 Samuel 12 is occurring again today. Man is tempted to be loyal to anything or anyone, but the one, true, living God. The people of Israel got what they wanted. Just maybe the ECM is what the people want or told they need by false prophets and God allows it to happen. Later...
Samuel calls upon the LORD to send thunder and rain...
And he prayed for the people and taught the people.

I can't think of a funny or sarcastic poster about Saul becoming Israel's king and Samuel seeing what it meant when the people wanted a king.

I am not an ECer, byw, but a former charismatic,evangelical, baptist, now PCA and married to a former RC. But there is no boasting in any of those denominations listed. It is the precious blood of Jesus, that has washed my sins white as snow, and all to Him I owe.

farmboy said...

"I do wish there were more posts at your blog like that, however, and lots less like this."

Does removal of the post that Mr. Johnson referenced help Mr. Rudd's case? The post itself was evidence readers could consider and evaluate. However, the behavior of removing the post is also evidence readers can consider and evaluate. Maybe removal of the post from the public square evidences that it should have never been placed there to begin with.

Luke & Rachael said...

OPN, I don't want to seem rude, but I feel I've sidetracked the thread enough already. I'd be happy to discuss Gandhi via email: luke.gelinas@utoronto.ca

Luke & Rachael said...

Phil,

You seem to assume that internal criticism w/in the EC would have to be published criticism, or in some way publicly accessible:

'Where, exactly? Can you cite an URL?'

But why assume this? If I have a problem w/ someone, the mature thing to do, at least at first, is make contact w/ them in private and try to work things out--not run to my computer and type out a blog entry. Even if there's little publicly accessible criticism of the sort you're after, this hardly shows it isn't taking place.

If people w/in, or conversant with, the EC say it's happening, and can cite specific examples of it--which I take it is what we heard from SJ Camp--there should be a prima facie presumption that they're not lying, that it is, as they say, happening.

Demanding URLs is a bit uncharitable in this regard. If the conservative ECers can deal with the wayward ECers w/out becoming embroiled in public internet spats, so much the better. It seems we should be encouraging private admonition, rather than internet spats.

Phil Johnson said...

Luke & Rachel: "Demanding URLs is a bit uncharitable in this regard. If the conservative ECers can deal with the wayward ECers w/out becoming embroiled in public internet spats, so much the better. It seems we should be encouraging private admonition, rather than internet spats."

Odd, no one from the ECM side has ever expressed that opinion to any of the dozens of friends of Emergent who have posted angry diatribes against our views in our combox.

And not one, save Dan Kimball, has ever asked for a private conversation.

So how come disagreement with my opinions is good fodder for public imprecations and vile language from ECMers, but those same people's disagreements with what McLaren, Bell, Jones, et al. are (all of a sudden) best handled privately? Hmmm?

Remember, all I asked for was some evidence that the people who take me to task (while claiming to deplore the doctrinal aberrations being touted within the ECM) have made some good-faith effort to be even-handed.

After two days of dodging the issue, I think it's time to admit the truth: they haven't.

Luke & Rachael said...

'So how come disagreement with my opinions is good fodder for public imprecations and vile language from ECMers, but those same people's disagreements with what McLaren, Bell, Jones, et al. are (all of a sudden) best handled privately? Hmmm?'

But I thought we were talking about *in-house* disagreement. If you have a problem w/ something Frank posts, do you run right out and post on how messed up Frank's view is? Or do you seek him out in private first? The latter. Likewise w/ ECers. If McLaren says something Kimball thinks is batty, Kimball should seek him out an say: "Look, as a fellow Emergent, I'm worried about this. What on earth do you mean by it?"

Ideally not only in-house disagreement, but out-house disagreement, er, that is, out-of-house disagreement, should work like this too. In my view it would be best if those who had real beef w/ you guys, and didn't just want to gadfly like me, contacted you personally and had it out. This is one of the challenges, and perhaps downfalls, of the blog-o-sphere.

Luke & Rachael said...

That is, it makes it far too tempting to spat at a distance, in public space, rather than mano-a-mano.

Phil Johnson said...

Luke & Rachel: "I thought we were talking about *in-house* disagreement."

Yeah? Well, I thought we were looking for evidence of even-handedness and fair-mindedness. Comparing my relationship with Frank Turk to the vast Emerging network is hardly an apt parallel. However:

1. As a matter of fact, Frank has publicly expressed disagreements with me and I with him whenever we've disagreed on a matter under discussion on one of our blogs.

2. If Frank or Dan drifted into rank heresy, I'd definitely get on the phone for a private convo with whichever one was going astray. But I'd also be among the first to issue a public scolding if one of them persisted. And they would do the same for me. I love them for that.

3. Even so, intramural disagreements among blogteam members don't even come close to illustrating the definition of "in-house" you're trying to use.

4. "In-house" seems to be an infinitely flexible term in the hands of Emergent/postmodern/Emerging Christians anyway. When you finger a serious problem in their midst, they tell you, "Well, I'm not really an Emerging insider, but..." And when you wonder why they go silent in the face of glaring apostasy, they suddenly want you to stay out of their "in-house" affairs.

5. Finally, people who deliberately extend in-house privileges to heretics and apostates don't really have grounds for being indignant if they suffer a little bit of collateral damage at the hands of concerned critics. When a rodeo clown gets gored, it's not really the bull's fault.

Tim Bertolet said...

Luke,
You said to Phil, "You seem to assume that internal criticism w/in the EC would have to be published criticism, or in some way publicly accessible".

I don't mean to butt into your and Phil's dialogue, but we are taking about ECers rebuking other ECers in public. There is a time and place for private correction when someone sins against you.

But when someone makes a public statement there is a time and space to address it publically even if you have a relationship with them. Here I think of Paul's response to Peter. For example, Paul says "I oppossed him to his face...I said to Cephas in the presence of all." [Gal. 2:11,14].

There should be a "mano-a-mano" that is public for all to see, especially when core doctrines are in dispute or being rejected by other teacher making public statements.

Helen said...

Phil wrote: When a rodeo clown gets gored, it's not really the bull's fault.

True...but a bull is an animal, not a Holy Spirit led human being. Surely a Holy Spirit led human is more responsible for his/her actions than an animal?

rick said...

Phil - thanks for the explanation. I hope you can trust me when I say that I don’t feel anger. To be transparent, at times I have felt anger and some of those times I have regrettably posted or commented – but normally that is not the case. I really think what I am saying, not just feeling it.

As for quibbling whether or not I am really part of the Emerging community, there’s no quibbling. You (or perhaps it was Cent) rightly said [paraphrased] that if the ECM wants to be taken seriously, it must develop something to hang their hat on. I agree – how can we engage (whether to support or to confront) something that is fluid and moving all over? I still have no earthly idea what this group is really about.

I tried to understand the movement for a little bit and read what I was told was the best representation of the Emerging Church. While there were some nuggets in that, I saw some things that were so wrong they out shadowed anything I found of value. My summary statement at the time (and I still hold to) was that if this is what the Emerging movement is about, it is heresy. I wrote about that a few times and I personally spoke to the few that I know who are sympathetic to this movement. I am not aware of anyone I know personally who is really “in it” – if I did, rest assured I would confront them.

But, via the blogsphere and other media, I run into many people who share some of the Emerging views. You may refer to them as sympathizers if it helps, we can label them anyway you like. But the people I interact with do not share or sympathize with the specific points I take issue with. Therefore I cannot in good conscience accredit to them the theology that I believe is error simply because they are EC or express interest in the EC movement. Instead I interact with them on the views I know they believe. I do not think it would be fruitful to debate with them about something they don’t believe simply because someone carrying the same label believes that?

Net – I have criticized the movement to the best of my limited ability and now I am criticizing you. You believe I have a “monster-truck-tire-sized chip on my shoulder” but I don’t see that. I think I simply believe you are in error in what you are doing.

I think the reason it seems to you that I am fixated on your blog and not the blogs and books of the emergent gang is that I think I have a different approach to life than you do. I perceive you either look a lot for error or you are unfortunate in that it finds you a lot.

I don’t read emergent blogs and books because of my earlier findings. I don’t like them and I don’t learn a lot from them. I only read them as I happen across them. I do however actively read PryroManiacs, John MacArthur, and others even though they are unsympathetic to folks like me. I do this not to point out error, but because I love so much of what you guys write. Over the years, I have probably listened to more John MacArthur books and listened to more of his sermons than any other single source.

I think it seems to you that I am here to be critical. But I think it only seems that way because you are weighing the negative versus the positive in term of the amount that I write and the severity of what I write. I understand how you think what you do. But please realize, often when I agree there’s not much else to be said. Sometimes I put an “amen” of sorts in the comments but that seems lame. Sometimes I have something more substantive to say so I either reference it at my blog or I comment here but that’s it, it’s over.

However, disagreement brings a back and forth dynamic. That’s the nature of this format. If you surveyed the number of times someone disagreed with you against the times you replied, “oh ok, thank you for pointing that out”, I think you will find it to be imbalanced – and that’s a good thing since you are someone who has given thought to what you write and you have a sense of conviction. So if I don’t engage when I disagree, I lose for not engaging. If I engage, the balance becomes slanted to me hanging around for the purpose of being critical. I would like to ask you to trust that I am honest in saying that the bulk of the Pyromaniac material is excellent.

I think the “passion imbalance” is because I stop by here regularly and you are currently writing a lot that I have issue with (and remember, you are inviting engagement). Add to this the point that not many read my blog and I suspect a very few of them are EC’ers and as you know, only a small percent reading blogs are going to comment, blah, blah, blah. Add to that the fact that I do not write (or think) in the engaging style that you guys can. And so on … net, I think it is not a good if you made your assessment based on numbers of posts/comments/etc..

That leaves the severity of the charge. Well, here I agree with you, it is severe. But it’s not a mood swing as you suggest. I am not asking you to not be severe on the points that you think deserve it, i.e., I’m not asking you to be soft. In the past you’ve used heresy, false-teacher, etc words? I think you can/should still do that. I think you (as should all of us) work to do that and maintain humility.

In those cases I may disagree with your assessment but at least I have something to debate.

The idea that you are being hard is not my issue and I’ve said that numerous times. My issue here is that based on the links you provide I don’t always see the connection to the associated poster. I also don’t always find a problem in the referenced article. In any case I cannot engage since you are putting forth a caricature, etc.. When I’ve attempted to engage, I am told I cannot take feedback. I get told I’m only replying because I think you don’t have the right to judge. You even create posters making fun of the idea that emergents cannot take criticism. I don’t know if I should focus my feedback on the referenced article or the poster or the spirit I perceive behind the poster, etc.. I just don’t find the approach helpful.

In addition, my real angst comes in that you generalize a group that not all of which believes what you posit. Much of this has turned into jeering and mocking. Some percentage of your readership (and I believe it is not small) is learning negative generalization toward a broad group without the real information behind that. And most importantly, as you (or was it Cent) said, the EC folk this is aimed at isn’t affected. You are not communicating to them in anyway that is making a positive difference. Instead you are causing people to judge others in a generalized way without the requisite background. And even if you are correct, then I’m not sure there should be joy in that. Read your commenters – many somehow find pleasure in all of this.

So I am not saying abandon your criticism. I am not saying to admit you are wrong in the points that you want to address. I am not saying that the emerging gang is right is all they represent. I am saying that this tact that you have chosen is not good.

That’s my opinion. I’m sticking to it. Disagree. Even believe that I am the one that is deceived. But please don’t discount me as an empathizer for someone in error, or someone with an axe to grind, or someone who is against all that you represent, etc..

While I may be wrong (and please note that I have been guilty of falling into the trap I am accusing you of), I am honestly concerned that you have left your fight for truth, that you have been duped into an approach that is harmful, and that you are too proud to back off to return to a healthier approach.

Daryl said...

Helen,

Hence the reason that the EC must be held accountable, as a whole, when no one from their ranks stands up to seriously confront rank heresy.

Helen said...

Daryl, but if they are to be held accountable then it should be by spirit-led human beings, who presumably do not behave like out of control animals, right?

Daryl said...

Helen,

Who is confronting them like animals, and who is confronting them from within? No one would say that all the critiques are nice, but since when is "being nice" a prerequisite for confrontation?

Not many confrontations in Scripture would fit the description of nice...

The thing is, the stakes are too high and the consequences too great to just "be nice" and hope for the best.

Again, to the question. Where are the insiders who are vigourously confronting the heresy being taught?

Luke & Rachael said...

I think Rick makes some good points about how, in my experience, TeamPyro deals with those they disagree with. At times I've found myself comparing the tenor and tone of this place to Francis Schaeffer's L'abri ministry, a place I've been blessed enough to experience on several occasions.

It's like night and day. At L'abri you can ask anything and, so long as its asked in sincerity and with a desire for truth, you will get a patient, honest answer. You can disagree without getting called a heretic or apostate. The workers will, without ridicule or snyde comment, do their best to explain to you why they disagree, and point you to what they see as being the truth.

I suspect TeamPyro have some regard for Schaeffer. He was certainly serious about doctrine. But what drew so many young people to him, what gave him a chance to share his beliefs w/ so many, was his willingness to open his home and engage tough questions and heterodox views in such a way that people wanted to come back. People felt comfortable facing up to the honest questions and doubts they had in his presence. This is what made, and continues to make, L'abri what it is, an invaluable resource to the Xian community.

I think it's the lack of L'abri-like space in conservative circles that, more than anything, pushes people toward the EC. It's possible for Xians, esp. young believers raised in the Church, to have honest doubts and questions. And the ECers are the ones who are willing to listen--patiently, non-confrontationally--without slinging theologically charged epithets around, giving pat answers, and acting like every sincere question and doubt is really just a stubborn refusal to believe the obvious.

It seems to me that TeamPyro could learn a thing or two from the L'abri model.

donsands said...

"If McLaren says something Kimball thinks is batty, Kimball should seek him out an say: "Look, as a fellow Emergent, I'm worried about this. What on earth do you mean by it?"

Good luck on trying to get any kind of "meaning".

Brian McLaren says things that are incredibly frustrating. Why can't he simply speak plainly?
The Bible declares a truth pure and simple. He looks at it, ponders it, and makes it in to something that has no meaning at all.
Sad.
The Lord has made His truth clear. Satan always tries to obscure God's truth.

The truth will set us free. It may knock us back, and to our knees, but it brings liberty. God's Word is truth.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

Are you kidding me, Luke and Rachel? Look at all the comments you guys have made on this thread alone, some would say borderline overly verbose. And you were allowed to present you positions that were at odds with this site.

Please, say what you will but to say these guys don't provide a forum for opposing views is openly disproven by the ones who made that statement. I have never had one comment moderated and I say things sometimes that I would assume they disagree with, so check the archives, they are some of the most open freewheelers (I said WHEELERS) on the blog scene.

Phil et al, you surely don't deserve that charge.

Phil Johnson said...

Luke & Rachel: "It seems to me that TeamPyro could learn a thing or two from the L'abri model."

Tell you what: You donate a retreat center in the Alps (or better yet, the Sierras) where we can dialogue around tables with coffee and hot chocolate, and we'll give "the L'Abri model" a try. K?

But this isn't L'Abri; it's a blog. We've never advertised our blog as the place for people to come for help and handholding while they work through their personal doubts. (We're happy to offer that kind of counsel when we legitimately can, but let's be honest: the ratio of sincere answer-seekers to people with already-fixed but contrary opinions is really pretty low around here. We do, however, work hard to make the distinction.) If you seriously are contending that we are never patient or thorough with people who raise legitimate questions, you prolly haven't read the blog very long.

Still, we're not here to offer expertise on anything and everything in the realm of philosophical apologetics. (See Triablogue for that, but be forewarned: they aren't always avuncular, either.) We're mainly posting commentary about selected biblical, doctrinal, and church-related issues that we have studied and feel strongly about, along with an occasional note of humor or satire. And then we're providing a forum for the candid discussion of those things.

We do still happen to hold the (ancient, not "modern") conviction that not all points of view are equally valid. In fact, it's our conviction (along with the best of the primitive saints) that the most valid points of view are those that most closely reflect what the Bible says. And we definitely are trying to get closer to that mark. We're not going to deliberately blur whatever seems clear to us just so postmodernized people will think we're "nice."

Remember, people who came to L'Abri in Schaeffer's time usually weren't drive-by contrarians writing graffiti on the walls there, and they weren't people who handed out public scoldings while decrying public scoldings, or pleading for open-mindedness while ending their diatribes with remarks like "That's my opinion. I'm sticking to it."

In fact, visitors to Schaeffer's home at L'Abri didn't generally come to argue at all. Most of them were really, sincerely raising legitimate questions and looking for answers or help to overcome their doubts. When they asked questions, they received thoughtful replies—and they were expected to give thoughtful consideration to those replies. They didn't swarm the place with vitriol and snark whenever they didn't like the answers they received.

That said, if someone has serious questions or doubts and wants to be gently stepped through a series of answers, email me. You'll find that when someone is sincerely seeking help, there are few more patient counselors than I am. But if you're someone already devoted to a lie who just wants to play to the gallery here, you're not going to be mollycoddled.

As I said, we work hard to make that distinction. Fair enough?

opn said...

Driscoll states that the emergent is the liberal side of the movement and the emerging is the conservative. Is it really as simple as either crossing a "t" or dotting an "i" when distinguishing between the two? Or is there more bleed through and that's why the entire movement is catagorized as emerging?

opn said...

Or should they all be classified as emergent? Which is the dominate movement within the movement? Which one better defines the original intended purpose of the conversation?

Helen said...

Phil (or Phil's friends) I have a question:

Why should Emergent Christians yield to you any more than you yield to them?

If they believe they are right then it would be a sin against God to do other than they are currently doing.

If it's a sin against God for either side to yield to the other than isn't this an unresolvable impasse? Isn't it impossible to make any progress here?

Do you have evidence otherwise? Do you have a list of former Emergent Christians who have come around to your way of thinking?

donsands said...

"Why should Emergent Christians yield to you any more than you yield to them?"

We are to yield to the Holy Scriptures, and to His Holy Spirit.

Our side is sold out to the Scriptures, their side isn't.

rick said...

donsands - Our side is sold out to the Scriptures, their side isn't.

It's that kind of statement that is my point. "Your side"? "their side"? How about individuals ... I agree with individuals but when you talk your side versus their side, I don't see it. I know many who go to "your type" of church who are sold out to Scripture but I would not be so ignorant as to say "your side isn't sold out to Scripture". Why would you say this?

I ask especially since one of the issues identified here at Pyromaniacs it that we are not able to find a doctrinal statement that helps define the EC'er. Given that, why would you think "their side" isn't sold out to Scripture?

It's comments such as yours that cause my dilemma. I do not support those that will not uphold Scripture but yet I find myself arguing with you because you make a blanket statement as you do.

I think it would be more helpful to be specific. The folks arguing with you I suspect are those that uphold Scripture. Making a statement such as yours did not answer the question.

donsands said...

"because you make a blanket statement as you do."

It's not a blanket statement.

I was simply going with Helen's flow. She asked the question in this way, and I answered in like manner.
The "two sides" is no more than a "loose" or general statement for discussion.

Hope you can understand that.

I'm hard to understand at times.

Mike said...

I ask especially since one of the issues identified here at Pyromaniacs it that we are not able to find a doctrinal statement that helps define the EC'er. Given that, why would you think "their side" isn't sold out to Scripture?

I just think that's funny...

Given that Emerging crowd does not think doctrine to be of so much importance as to pretty much run screaming in the other direction of anything that looks like a doctrinal statement, I think it's a safe thing to say they're not on par with the psalmist's love for the Word as in Psalm 119.

That may just be me though...

rick said...

Mike - and that's my point. You said the "emerging crowd does not think doctrine to be of importance." Who is the ermerging crowd? I know people that many here would call emerging (or at least sympathizers) and yet I understand that they hold to clear doctrinal statements via their local churches.

So it's when we talk about them collectively that I struggle and therefore I'd rather refer to "those that don't value doctrine" in my criticism over "those emerging guys".

The net is too big and it doesn't help focus on the issue.

It's like, "those evangelicals and their legalism". I'd rather talk about the error of legalism to those who are caught in it rather than to evangelicals as a whole and get side-tracked with the packaging that goes with that.

I'm not defending gap in "low value for doctrine", I am trying to suggest a better approach.

Helen said...

donsands wrote: Our side is sold out to the Scriptures, their side isn't.

I understand this is your opinion.

They have a similar one about themselves. Both sides think they are more right about God's will than the other.

Your assertions won't undo their belief that they are more right about God than you.

Helen said...

rick wrote: I ask especially since one of the issues identified here at Pyromaniacs it that we are not able to find a doctrinal statement that helps define the EC'er.

I think I'm right in saying Tony Jones is against statements of faith (i.e. doctrinal statements)

stratagem said...

The main issue remains that Christians keep treating the EC as though it is a Christian movement. In so doing, we are being far too "generous" in the McLaren sense of the word, and thereby muddying the waters and reducing our own clarity.

rick said...

Helen - so I would say stuff like, "for those of you that do not value statements of faith and for those of you entertaining the that way thinking, danger! danger! danger! and here's why ..."

Stratagem - actually that's a bit of an issue when dealing with any movement. Organizations, conversations, etc. are not Christian - people are Christian and the Church is Christian (loosely speaking). Everything else we try to label in a general way may bring as much baggage as expediency to our conversation.

donsands said...

"I understand this is your opinion."

It's the truth.

The Scriptures are my final, and all sufficient authority. As it is TeamPyro's.

The Scriptures are not that to many in the EC realm.

That's clear, I think.

Many in the EC will not say up front the Bible rules. Some will.

And Phils point I think is for the "somewill's" to tell the "neverwill's", "You dudes are in big time trouble with the Lord, and you're bringing shame to His Gospel".
And this is done for God's name sake, and so perhaps they may turn from their error, of disregarding God's truth, the Bible.

Helen said...

rick wrote: Helen - so I would say stuff like, "for those of you that do not value statements of faith and for those of you entertaining the that way thinking, danger! danger! danger! and here's why ..."

they probably won't listen, right? (I'm just being realistic)

At what point do you say "ok then, I'm not part of the same movement as you because we are too far apart in belief" - shaking the dust off your feet, as it were

Luke & Rachael said...

Phil,

It's not about a study centre in the Swiss Alps. It's about tone and tenor. My point was just that I'm not at all surprised you guys get the drive-by graffiti artists you do. This doesn't justify them. But it's no shocker.

I do appreciate your willingness to allow opinions contrary to yours. But I'm skeptical that you have the ability to separate those who are asking legitimate questions from those who are committed to just stirring things up. Your pessimism about the ratio of sincere answer-seekers to fixed contrarians is something I could never imagine experiencing at L'abri.

I think Schaeffer and L'abri people generally (Dick Keyes, etc) are committed to communicating the truth to people in a way that doesn't provoke hostility or cause blood pressure to rise. And they don't seem to share your conviction that we can psychoanalyze out the genuine seekers from the punks. They have a lot of patience in this regard, maybe you'd say to a fault. But in my experience it's precisely their patience, their willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt as to whether their questions are sincere or not, that accounts for their success at turning young people to Christ.

Let me ask you this. Suppose I've grown up in the Church, but now I'm having all these doubts about the truth and relevance of my faith in the teeth of 'postmodern' culture. My church isn't hip to discussing this sort of thing. So I pick up some EC literature, and it begins to resonate w/ me. One day I wander on to your blog. Do you really think that the atmosphere around here--the tone and tenor, not the content--could even begin to draw me away from the EC and toward the brand of Xianity you guys offer? I think it would do just the opposite. The number of times I see theological slurs like "heresy" and "apostasy" bandied about would immediately indicate to me that this isn't the type of place interested in engaging the sort of worries I'm having. Hitting people over the head w/ the Gospel isn't always the best way to get them to see the light. And it seems to me that, while this blog has many good
points, it's fundamentally committed to using the Bible and certain (highly selective) parts of the tradition as instruments of Xian clobbering.

Helen said...

donsands wrote: It's the truth.

The Scriptures are my final, and all sufficient authority. As it is TeamPyro's.

[...]

And Phils point I think is for the "somewill's" to tell the "neverwill's", "You dudes are in big time trouble with the Lord, and you're bringing shame to His Gospel".


I know you consider yourself to be passing on a message from God. One that needs to be passed on.

Can you understand - I'm not asking you to agree, only whether you understand - that to some people this sounds like you think you ARE God - because only God can be this certain?

When I say 'some people' that probably includes every non-Christian on the planet, as well as some people who self-identify as Emergent/emerging Christians.

SJ Camp said...

Phil:
You said: Can you cite an URL?

No --which means absolutely nothing.

Men of God that we both know, love and respect do not always confront unsound doctrine or specious methods publicly in a blog post. They deal with it privately and quietly one on one. This is especially true when it comes to friends in the ministry who may have strayed in an area theologically. Amputation is not a spiritual gift; and we should wield that knife carefully and circumspectly when it comes to other professing Christians.

But there is a time to break intimate fellowship, even with those that have been friends in ministry, if they are unrepentant and continue to deny key foundational truths of the faith concerning the gospel; the nature of the Godhead; the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ; the veracity and authority of God's Word, etc.

That IS happening with these men. They have walked away from alliances they have had in the past for the sake of the truth of the gospel. Do they trumpet that on their blogs or in their books? Driscoll might, Kimball probably not. But both of these men are standing for the truth on key essentials that the EC has abandoned. I find that they are speaking more and more theologically and less methodologically each day--and that is encouraging.

Also, it deserves to be noted that some of these men have had forthright, confrontational face to face meetings privately with the leaders of the liberal constituents of the Emergent church. They are standing for the truth of God's Word in those arenas and even if it is more private in venue, we should respect that. (i.e. if you were to talk to McLaren, Pagitt, T. Jones, Ward, Burke, etc. about them, they would NOT be singing their praises).

I also know that in public forums at conferences they have been faithful to stand for the truth as well.

You and I are polemical and more public in our assertions, concerns and confrontations. That's good too. But I am not prepared to castigate those who care to address these things in a different manner than you or I.

As you know, I have written vigorously and critically on the EC movement and have taken some pretty significant hits for it. I am not shy in addressing doctrinal defection or skewed methodical pragmatics with anyone--I don't play favorites and I don't play politics as some do.

But at the same time, I have proactively sought out and dialogued with some of these brothers for the past two years from the conservative arm of the EC movement, and to my delight have discovered some dear men of God that are committed to His Word and want to honor Him with their lives, ministries, and churches.

I hope this is an encouragement for you...

Helen said...

Luke and Rachel wrote: Suppose I've grown up in the Church, but now I'm having all these doubts about the truth and relevance of my faith in the teeth of 'postmodern' culture. My church isn't hip to discussing this sort of thing. So I pick up some EC literature, and it begins to resonate w/ me. One day I wander on to your blog. Do you really think that the atmosphere around here--the tone and tenor, not the content--could even begin to draw me away from the EC and toward the brand of Xianity you guys offer? I think it would do just the opposite. The number of times I see theological slurs like "heresy" and "apostasy" bandied about would immediately indicate to me that this isn't the type of place interested in engaging the sort of worries I'm having.

I'm guessing this is how you would be viewed, were that the case:

"You have already sinfully caved in; your itching ears have been too receptive to lies and deception. You don't need sympathy - you need to repent."

But I could be wrong.

And it seems obvious to me that you will go where you are received with kindness. If that's the Emergent Church, pretty soon you will be a card-carrying member of it.

I'm still trying to figure out why atheists treated me better than Christians at a time when I was in danger of giving up on my Christian beliefs. Maybe because I didn't tell the Christians what was going on with me spiritually. But I didn't tell the atheists either. They just - evidently - were more disposed to be kind to me at that particular time.

Helen said...

sjcamp - sorry this is off-topic - I like your songs; your 'mercy in the wilderness' album helped me get through a difficult time in my life - thanks.

Luke & Rachael said...

"You have already sinfully caved in; your itching ears have been too receptive to lies and deception. You don't need sympathy - you need to repent."

And of course my sincere doubts and questions will just evaporate now!

Helen said...

I so know they are already gone, L&R! (In my mind's eye I can see you already on your knees...)

Btw I think there's a typo in your post. You meant 'sinful', not 'sincere', I expect.

;-)

donsands said...

"that to some people this sounds like you think you ARE God - because only God can be this certain?"

The Bible verifies itself. God made it pure and simple.

The Holy Spirit enlightens, explains, and makes clear what God's truth is.

Helen, do you believe Christ died on the cross, and that He rose from the dead on the third day?

If you do, then why not go and read 1&2 Peter, ans see what this man has to say about Jesus Christ and the Bible.
And perhaps read 1 John, and see what this beloved man of the Lord has to say about his Savior and Lord.

If people think I'm saying I'm God, hey what can I tell you, I've had that accusation before.
Thw world doesn't like to hear the truth, and they are quick to bend it, in order to make the one sharing the truth seem like he's something he's not.

DJP said...

Phil — just to say publicly what I've said privately, your comments are always oases of sanity to me, in tone and in content; sometimes more starkly than others. I really admire the way you respond. "What would Phil say?" is entering my mental catalogue.

So to reiterate one of your main points as I understand it: EC apologists and/or enablers are very vocal and public in remonstrating with critics of the EC — critics who themselves oppose damnable heresies.

You're asking to be shown anything approaching that energy, from those same people, directed against those promoting damnable heresies within the EC blob.

Do I have that right?

Sounds reasonable.

Luke & Rachael said...

'The Bible verifies itself. God made it pure and simple.

The Holy Spirit enlightens, explains, and makes clear what God's truth is.'

The Bible verifies itself--to whom? To the numerous people who have spent their entire lives reading and studying it but don't buy it? Sure, once you buy hook-line-and-sinker a certain hermeneutic framework, the Bible becomes simpler (though I still wouldn't call it simple). But there's nothing simple about adjudicating hermeneutics. And if it happens that you find yourself outside the all-simplifying-hermeneutic, there's absolutely nothing simple about it.

The Holy Spirit line is entirely unhelpful. As Helen's been pointing out, it cuts both ways. There's nothing to stop people who disagree w/ you theologically--ECers or whoever--from claiming the very same thing. It's a conversation stopper. We need arguments for why we should think that your version of Holy-Spirit-fied enlightenment is the real deal, more valid than the ECers version.

Tim Bertolet said...

Luke,
"The Bible verifies itself--to whom? To the numerous people who have spent their entire lives reading and studying it but don't buy it?"

I would suggest you read Book 1 of Calvin's Institutes who discusses the nature of Scripture's authority as self-authenticating. Just because we as sinners do not submit to Scripture, doesn't mean Scripture isn't sufficiently clear. Same with general revelation, it declares the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-6) but people reject it because of the veil of sin that blinds us--hence the Holy Spirit.

The only way to test the Spirit is based upon the Word of God and confessions of orthodoxy (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 John 4:1-3).

The sufficiency and clarity of Scripture is not a hermeneutical issue. If the "modernist church" puts too much sufficincy in hermeneutics, many postmoderns dismiss the words of Scripture by playing the "hermeneutics" card without ever examining the words themselves. Should a study of Scripture be the ultimate ground for developing our hermeneutics? Hermeneutics should never be something be bring to the text from the outside, in a sense a good hermeneutic comes from being discipled by Christ in His Word.

It should be the Bible that keeps things from becoming a "He said/She said" argument between any debating groups. I think this is the point some are trying to make here but I could be wrong.

donsands said...

Jesus said you have to be born again to see the kingdom of God. Pure and simple.

When one is born again, then he sees the truth.
Pure and simple.

He sees the Lord Jesus Christ crucified and risen. He sees his own sin.

God makes a rebel His child through the power of the Gospel. And the good news of Christ is pure and simple.

The Bible is God's Word. Even the world has tried to discredit it over and over, but they never do.

It's not in competion with the Koran, or the book of Mormon.

It's a fact that the Scriptures are from God, Jesus told us this is so, and I trust Him.
He's alive and He reigns.

Mike said...

I have a curious question for the Pyros as well as other guys trying to oust the Emerging... whatever you wanna call it.

At what point does the 'pearls before swine' argument kick in?

Daryl said...

Luke,

I'm trying to understand you.

Your arguements against the need for clarity and rightness in EC "doctrine" expose you I think. When you start making the same arguements that Helen (an atheist-no offense intended Helen) is making against the clarity of Scripture, one has to wonder if you are a believer.
If you are not, then your arguements make sense and your frustration with the EC critique is valid (although I'm not sure why you would even care), If you are, then you're arguement confuses me. Why would a Christian argue against the clarity of Scripture, unless they're trying to avoid some aspect of the truth that they don't like?

The Bible is not so fuzzy as all that, difficult in places, certainly, fuzzy (particularly on the primary issues)m not at all.

Seems to me that the real reason for the lack of vocal critique from within the EC movement reflects just that. The teachers are not alone in their attempts to avoid tough doctrine.

centuri0n said...

You know: I take half a day of actual hiatus, and this is what happens ...

Phil Johnson said...

Luke & Rachel:

Jesus Himself used a different "tone" when He dealt with sincere inquirers (John 3) than He did when He was answering people who were merely being argumentative (Luke 11). That was the subtext of my earlier message, too. It wasn't really about real estate in the mountains. Sorry if I didn't make it explicit enough.

But your suggestion that all we ever do is viciously squelch opposing opinions is a grossly unfair caricature. Look at the number of comments in this thread alone. And no here one has been purposely insulting or dismissive toward you, have they? We've listened to and responded to your points of view without threats and without ranting.

Now, if we need to pretend we think all points of view are equally valid before you'll think we're being nice enough, you are probably going to keep being disappointed in us. Join the long line of postmodernized youth (and a few old people) who have made the same complaint before you. We're philosophical troglodytes. We get it. We embrace it. We'll just concede that point, rather than jumping on the pomo bandwagon and trying to look sporty, OK?

Sorry, but we've covered this ground so many times in the past, I'm really not up for prolonging it here. If you like, you can have the last word.

Campi:

I'll say again: your comment doesn't even deal with the question I asked. (Read the whole comment-thread, though. You'll find clear answers to virtually all your points—including the "yeah, but these guys are dealing with it privately" argument. So I won't belabor this.)

It's nice that you have talked to some of these guys. But a private discussion with Steve Camp (passionate as those might sometimes be) still doesn't come close to matching the fervor and energy that we get from the Emerging side right here in our combox on a daily basis. My question (again) was about why there is no corresponding outpouring of outrage over the very serious heresies in that movement.

You seem to be suggesting that it's to be expected if Emerging "conservatives" write public imprecations against lesser-known critics of Emergent; but it's actually a noble thing if some of those same "conservatives" keep their conversations behind a curtain when they "express concerns" to Emergent leaders who deny core doctrines and write bestselling books about it?

Rob Bell's errors are being published and used in churches and youth groups worldwide. Are you seriously satisfied that "private conversations" with guys like Dan Kimball dragged out over the past (what?) three or four years are the right way to address that? And exactly how long do we need to trust the "conservative" Emerging guys to deal with Bell's errors "privately" before we get to point out the inconsistency of their failure to speak out publicly against those dangers—while at the very same time, crowds of indignant Emergers post daily public rebukes (often spiced with curses) against conscientious critics of their movement here and on their own blogs?

DJP: Thanks. Sometimes, reading these comments, I feel like I've accidentally found my way into Bizarro World.

Helen said...

Phil - didn't you already know the Internet is Bizarro world?

Don - I answered your question to me here

Phil, Frank et al, might you have overlooked what Romans 14 has to say? I'm sure you don't think doctrine is a 'disputable' matter - yet, maybe the way we deal with others is, since there clearly is much disagreement over it even among those who share the same doctrine.

If you are strong and others are weak, what does Romans 14 have to say? Anything? Nothing? Is it irrelevant?

centuri0n said...

Steve Camp said:

[QUOTE]

{Phil} said: Can you cite an URL?

No --which means absolutely nothing.

[/QUOTE]

That's an interesting statement, given the rest of your, um, position here, Steve, and your public statements against people like Francis Chan and Matt Chandler.

For example, if you take a look at John Piper's efforts to address (as he frames it) the "right hand/left hand" dichotomy, it culminates his his recent statement [warning: video bandwidth] which says unequivocally, "don't contextualize the Gospel".

Unfortunately, Steve, the problem is that Dr. Piper says what he means both in private and in public -- and guys like Dan Kimball and Mark Driscoll do, too. That's why the response "Can you cite a URL?" is a valid question -- because maybe none of these guys will advance criticism using the flavor or potency of a Phil or a Dan (or, in the worst case, a "me"), but they will advance the criticism if it concerns them. Like against posters.

Let me give you a perfect counter-example: You can't get James White to make a comprehensive statement on eschatology -- and it's not because he doesn't have a belief or a theology there. James will tell anyone, [in words to this effect] "I'm not interested in that debate because it detracts from the real theological and apologetical work I am committed to doing."

Fair enough, right? That's a wise move on his part, and I would ultimately agree with him. So if we go looking, we can find James saying, "I have no dog in the fight over eschatology because I believe it is a secondary issue," and he's not out there trying to disabuse dispensationalists and all stripe of premil and postmil hooligans of their theological and faults.

Why? He says it plainly -- not interested. And in that, it's pure honesty -- he doesn't bother with things he is not interested in.

I say all that to say this: there are no links representing what Phil is asking for because there is no interest from the parties he has listed in dealing with these things.

Having coffee to say, "well, here's a different way to look at that" is not apologetics, not a calling out of error, and frankly not a Biblical approach. It's not pastoring.

Chet Powers' song "Get Together" is not a song, hymn or spiritual song. Public teaching requires public rebuke -- that's a cornerstone of your own ministry in seeking to reform the CCM culture. Coming here, at any time, and telling Phil that we should trust in the secret lives of ECM moderates is self-contradictory at best.

That's all I'm going to say before I violate my hiatus restrictions against sarcasm.

blogger.bizarro said...

Bizarro take offense at agno-atheist and Pyromaniac insult to Bizarro World.

You no Christians. You haters.

Phil Johnson said...

Helen:

Can you be more specific? What, precisely, in my dealings with you or others in this thread do you perceive as inconsistent with anything in Romans 14? Can you quote what you suggest violates that passage?

I realize you claim to find everything "doubtful," so you might be suggesting that every kind of "dispute" violates that passage. That's a common opinion, judging from the comments coming at us from the Emerging side.

But neither you nor the Emerging commenters here actually believe that's a valid application of that principle, else you wouldn't continue your participation here.

So what, exactly, do you see from me that you think is inconsistent with Romans 14?

Incidentally, I'd say some doctrines (including some I personally hold somewhat tenuously) are indeed "doubtful" and aren't worth having a public dispute over. But the Bible quite clearly speaks to the point you seem to be trying to make here: There are doctrinal truths that we do need to contend for.

On this blog, we generally try to stay away from the former kinds of issues and deal mainly with the latter sort. So, in fact, we're very conscious of Romans 14, especially the distinction Paul makes between doubtful things as contrasted with things that are perfectly plain in Scripture.

Our difference with you (and most people who are enthralled with postmodern epistemologies) is that we do actually believe there are many issues about which Scripture speaks with undeniable clarity, and Christians are not entitled to pretend these things are "doubtful."

centuri0n said...

I hate it when Bizzaro posts and wrecks my typing.

"Chet Powers' song 'Get Together' is not a song, hymn or spiritual song."

should be

"Chet Powers' song 'Get Together' is not a psalm, hymn or spiritual song."

Go in peace.

Luke & Rachael said...

Tim,

There's a couple different issues. First, whether the Bible is self-authenticating or 'verifies itself.' I'm not exactly sure what this means, but I take it something like: we can know the Bible gives us the truth about reality from just the Bible alone; we don't need outside sources to establish the Bible's accuracy. My point in response is just that it's empirically false that everyone who studies the Bible concludes that it's in fact self-verifying.

So right, let's bring in Calvin: we need the help of the Holy Spirit to see that it's self-verifying. The Bible is only self-authenticating to those who have the internal instigation of the Spirit. Fine. But this isn't going to get us very far with non-Xians. In such contexts it borders on tautologous: Only those who have the Spirit find the Bible self-verifying is more-or-less equivalent to only those who find it self-verifying find it self-verifying. My point is just that this won't cut any ice w/ non-believers. If Helen is a non-believer (which I don't pretend to know either way), donsands claim that the Bible self-verifying won't get very far.

All this is, I think, different from the perspicuity issue. I take it perspicuity just claims that the Bible is, in its essential teachings, clear. I agree with this, IF we limit 'essential teachings' to those points of doctrine agreed upon by the earliest ecumenical councils. (Even then it's somewhat problematic, given how much controversy and disagreement went down over homoousia as opposed to homoiousia, or the Chalcedonian formula, etc. But let's waive that.)

The problem w/ most conservative Reformed-types is that they don't want to limit perspicuity to core doctrines. They want to extend it to the 53 Articles of Orthodoxy they endorse. But then perspicuity just becomes wildly implausible, indeed, demonstrably false on an empirical level. There's too much disagreement in the history of the Xian tradition for it to fly.

My view is that the text always underdetermines our hermeneutic, though some fit better than others. Still, it's not an easy question. There is, I think, room for disagreement among honest believers within the bounds of orthodoxy.

Helen said...

Phil wrote: Our difference with you (and most people who are enthralled with postmodern epistemologies) is that we do actually believe there are many issues about which Scripture speaks with undeniable clarity, and Christians are not entitled to pretend these things are "doubtful."

Thanks for your response; yes, I do understand the above.

I'm thinking that the way EC conservatives confront less conservative members about their theology could be a 'disputable matter'.

If so then I think Romans 14 says you are to accept their way of doing it.

I realize that there are examples of what I would call 'harsh confrontation' in the Bible and I see that these are understood as giving Christians permission to do the same. However, that's not the same as mandating it.

So might it not be a disputable matter?

If you have some verses saying, no, it is mandated I would be interested to see them. You've probably posted them already and I wasn't paying sufficient attention - feel free to give me a link.

Luke & Rachael said...

Oh, and I think my last post does my best to answer Daryl's questions as well.

Mike said...

The Bible is only self-authenticating to those who have the internal instigation of the Spirit. Fine. But this isn't going to get us very far with non-Xians. In such contexts it borders on tautologous: Only those who have the Spirit find the Bible self-verifying is more-or-less equivalent to only those who find it self-verifying find it self-verifying. My point is just that this won't cut any ice w/ non-believers. If Helen is a non-believer (which I don't pretend to know either way), donsands claim that the Bible self-verifying won't get very far.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 -- Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Daryl said...

Great stuff Mike.
We can't go changing and contextualizing everything in order to convince the unsure. We can remove what barriers we can, when they come up, but if we start to think it's our job to authenticate the Bible for people...that becomes a scary, compromising road.
That, I think is the EC difficulty. Perhaps, in its early stages, it was a love for people and a desire to see them saved that drove the softening of certain things. At some point that seems to have become a love of people at the expense of a love for God and His word.

wordsmith said...

If some restaurant is serving botulism-tainted food, I don't particularly care if the health department has spoken privately to the owner or not. I do care that the name of that restaurant gets published far and wide so people who aren't crazy about getting ptomaine poisoning at least have the opportunity to avoid patronizing said restaurant, especially if the restaurant owner doesn't think he's doing anything wrong and continues to dish up tainted food.

Luke & Rachael said...

Listen, I'm not saying that Xians should get all worried about it when non-Xians point out that the Bible's not self-authenticating for them. I am saying that maybe "the Bible's self-authenticating" isn't the best first card to play in discussions w/ people who don't share your premises. Again, L'abri is a great model, and points the way, I think, to a middle road between bashing people over the head w/ the Bible and going all mushy on Xian essentials.

Phil Johnson said...

Helen: "If you have some verses saying, no, it is mandated I would be interested to see them."

Titus 1:10-13; Jude 3.

Start with those. Follow the cross-references.

This really is the same merry-go-round all over again. I gather the only people still reading are relative newcomers who've never read the reams of discussion we have hosted on all these matters in the past. So I'm going to close this thread and refer everyone to the PostModernism tag, which indexes most of our previous posts on the subject.

Thanks to all who participated.