21 August 2007

The Conversation Continues

by Phil Johnson

inistry duties have brought me to New Jersey this week. Today just before lunchtime, I'm going to be meeting with a group of pastors and church leaders who have asked me to join them for a conversation about the Emerging Church. It's an impromptu meeting that wasn't originally part of my schedule for the week, and I'm not personally acquainted yet with any of the pastors who have asked for the meeting, so I don't quite know what to expect.

Just for safety's sake, I'm taking a couple of frozen meat chubs, hidden in some rolled-up posters:





Phil's signature

55 comments:

Dave said...

Hi Phil

I am very new commenting on your blog but have been really really blessed by it for quite a long time now. I am a South African so my perspectives on the emerging church movement might be very slightly different to the North American perspectives. I read your lecture entitled 'Absolutely not! Exposing the postmodern errors of the emerging church" and couldn't agree with you more!

I have done a brief review of the movement for my own benefit, but am trying to get feedback from as many people as I can and would very much appreciate your review of it. It is on my blog site dave1314.wordpress.com. I realize you are very busy but I would count it an honor and blessing if you could read it. Also, all readers of Pyromaniacs, I would also be honored for you guys to have a look at it and give me some feedback.

I will be praying for the wisdom of God to be upon you as you attend this meeting you are going to. God bless all you guys at Pyro - you are all an inspiration and blessing.

Libbie said...

Marvellous. I'm going to have that wretched song going round in my head all day now.

centuri0n said...

I found out last week that "imagination" is a theological virtue.

And I promised that I wouldn't say anything sarcastic about it.

A little help, please ...

Evangelical Regular Reformed Baptist said...

Hi Phil;

I will be praying for you dear brother as you never know the intents of the hearts of men.

I pray that you will bear witness to the love of our LORD, His grace, mercy & compassion - by His perfect justice, holiness and Word.

In our LORD God Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit; our Redeemer - the Word become flesh.

Rob Auld said...

How about this tagline,

"Fundamentalism: How could we control the masses any other way?"

or

"Fundamentalism: They're not giving money to mainline churches so we had to try something."

or

"Fundamentalism: It's hard to scare people into submission any other way."

Phil is this appropriate use of sarcasm? You'd be the judge on that I'm sure.

Rob

Rob Auld said...

I've got another one:

"Fundamentalism: Our ideas don't hold up when debating major thinkers, so we just tell people what to think."

Rob

Johnny Dialectic said...

My experience w/ECers has personally been very good. The "lay people" (if one can use that term in a postmodern context) are by and large sincere and seeking an authentic and viable relationship with Jesus Christ. And doing much good work, actual hands on work, with the poor in their communities.

It's the leadership that concerns me, though I mostly agree with their critique of current church culture. I just don't think the answer is to soften, change or discard solid doctrine and discipline. That's what these now nearly legendary posters are aimed at.

Can't wait to hear your report, Phil. Just don't come back as the "cussing blogger."

Rob Auld said...

I've got another one:

"Fundamentalism: No reasonable person would publish my books, so this was the next best thing."

Rob

Phil Johnson said...

Rob Auld: "is this appropriate use of sarcasm?"

We'll, sure, but I'd say it's a waste of sarcastic energy. When critiquing "fundamentalism" you aren't supposed to try to be cerebral or clever. It's usually sufficient just to show utter disdain and use the label "fundamentalism." Everybody gets that, right? Why try to be clever when simple scorn has done the trick perfectly well for decades?

pro357 said...

"Fundamentalism: Our ideas don't hold up when debating major thinkers, so we just tell people what to think."

I believe Rob did an excellent and fair job summarizing the EC movement for all to understand. Christianity is a "debate" among "major thinkers".

Good luck with that!
Colossians 2:8

pro357 said...

emerging: A debate among major thinkers.

Rob came up with that one first; so you may need to get permission.

Daryl said...

Fundamentalism??? I thought fundamentalists consider Calvinists to be borderline Christians.

Jon from Bucksport said...

We need a poster for Certainty. Something like: "I am certain that there are no absolute truths." Although that seems to be a little less tangy than the previous entries!

DJP said...

pro357very deft. Lights flash, bells go "dingdingdingdingding!"

Tim Bertolet said...

I read the remarks of Cindy under the poster for devotion and I must say this point shocked me: She says "A true community is one where you do need to spend as much energy pursuing your own needs, because you KNOW that the community has your back." etc. etc.
Aside from the obvious self-centered approach, she then justifies it with: "This strikes at the heart of the issue for me, because I believe that the very heart of the Gospel is community- inter-relational communion- as is modelled in the Triune God in whose image we are created" Her first statement I quoted further seems to contradict: "We die to Self to be resurrected into One Body." How can we die to self and see community as a place to 'pursue our own needs'? It is ironic that this "in order to truly love your neighbour, you need to love yourself" permeated the 'modern' Christianity the EC critiques to high-heaven.

With respect the the Trinity, each person of Trinity does not glorify Himself rather the others (see John's Gospel). While I am sure the person means well, it rips my heart to see a view of community as 'exploring my needs' justified from the Triunity of God. Yes, God's chief end is to glorify Himself but this is not arrogant and selfish only for God because God is the highest of all beings, as John Piper so ably reminds us. But in the 'community' [word with some inherrent weaknesses] of the Trinity each person glorifies the others not Himself.

According to Scripture, there could not be a deeper misunderstanding of the Trinity and then community. We misunderstand the gospel if we see one person in the Trinity as glorifying Himself or 'pursuing his own needs' in the Triune community. I want to worship a God whose highest end is to glorify Himself--but I also want to worship the three persons of God each of whom glorifies the other two above Himself. [When I say "I want" perhaps I should say: "Scripture teaches"]. I hope the commentators thoughts were largely unintentional, but it seems like a grave misstep. Part of me wants to weap when the glory of God is detracted from in this manner. Did it bother anyone else?

I also wonder if her operating conception of oneness is more unitarian or perhaps Buddhistic. Perhaps not.

Tim Bertolet said...

Sorry to get on a soap box, but two more thoughts:
Was not the height of Adam's sin to spend energy persuing his own wants?

Second, consider this in contrast to Christ:

NAU Philippians 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard [this?] equality with God a thing to be grasped [harpagmos: to be used to his own advantage],
NAU Philippians 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Christ's primary purpose in the gospel was to glorify and exalt the Father but humble himself and not spend his energy pursuing his own needs.

Daryl said...

Tim,

It almost come across as "everyone else needs to die to self (have my back) so I can pursue my own selfishness" doesn't it?

What did Paul say to Timothy?

In those days men will be lovers of themselves...

Sounds kind of familiar doesn't it.

Regarding Robs posts, what a great way to clarify the right use of sarcasm and what happens when it is used incorrectly. When used correctly, it makes a point and shines some light on things, when used as payback for someone else's point it quickly degenerates into unintelligent insults.

www.emergentvoyageurs.blog.com said...

I just noticed that the second poster links to a comment I made on my blog some time ago. I may be missing the obvious, but I don't get the connection. Any explanation would be appreciated. Thanks!

Peace,
Jamie

Tim Bertolet said...

I should have read more carefully, the post was a response to Cindy but written by Jamie. My mistake.

northWord said...

Prayers for your every step, and for your time together.

www.emergentvoyageurs.blog.com said...

Tim,

I see the problem. I missed a word in the statement you quoted. It should read:

"A true community is one where you do NOT need to spend as much energy pursuing your own needs, because you KNOW that the community has your back."

Note also that I was not referencing a pursuit of ones own desires, but the speaking of the spiritual and pastoral needs that (I believe) are clearly a mandate of the Church to serve. I think you misrepresent my words and intentions, but just my take.

Peace,
Jamie

DJP said...

Just for the record:

These posters just get better and better. The FAITH // DOUBT, and "Greatest love...." ones — classics.

centuri0n said...

Rob:

I think those are great -- pithy, with the right people in its sights.

Now tell me: if the TeamPyro blog a "fundamentalist" blog? If so, how is it "fundamentalist"?

Mike said...

Phil,

Where in NJ are you gonna be, and for how long? I live in Central Jersey. If you want, there's a home-cooked meal waiting for you!

mriccardi23@yahoo.com

www.emergentvoyageurs.blog.com said...

I wanted to make it clear that the failure to add the word "NOT" in the comment that inspired the second poster was a sloppy mistake that I take full responsibility for. Further, given that comments are not usually given the time and energy that full blog posts do, I also acknowledge that several of my statements to Cindy would be misunderstood for my failure to be clearer. Again, this is my own failure.

A special thanks to Pastor Tim Bertolet who took the time to email me to better understand my intentions and clarify his concerns (which were all valid). I doubt this will result in the removal of the poster or my link from the poster, but I wanted to be clear that I own the mistakes in the cited comment which were a result of poor editing.

Peace,
Jamie

Libbie said...

Very good on you, jamie. :-)

Scott Bailey said...

It's a good thing that Jesus never used stories to communicate truth because then he would be an emerging heretic.

Yep, just good old 5 point exegetical sermons unpacking the timeless truths of the Hebrew Bible.

Tim said...

Scott,

I think your response misses the point--though the poster was so brief that I'm not going to blame you. But I do think you're responding to a caricature.

The objection is not to all use of stories, but to their abuse. Studying the Bible in terms of the overarching redemptive story, for instance, is vital. But if stories are emphasized in a way that de-emphasizes the propositional truths taught by Jesus and the apostles and the prophets before them--or if preference for stories comes from a disdain for good ol' exegetical, expository preaching--then we have a problem.

Scott Bailey said...

Tim,

I think your response misses the point--though the post was so brief that I'm not going to blame you. But I do think you're responding to a caricature of a caricature.

david rudd said...

i really appreciate both Jamie's gracious acknowledgement of his error as well as the teampyro's gracious retraction.

thanks for modelling this guys!

Phil Johnson said...

Jamie:

I linked the poster to your comment because of the undue stress you seem to place on self-love. You say, for example: "in order to truly love your neighbour, you need to love yourself."

That's a very stylish thought, but it's a spin on the Second Great Commandment I don't see in the Bible. Rather, the Bible assumes we generally practice self-love far more than we ought to.

Jesus' answer to this issue contrasts starkly with yours. He said, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26-27). There just doesn't seem to be much of that spirit of self-denial in your reply to Cindy.

In my assessment, that reflects one of the more sinister trends that's endemic in the ECM: a deliberate, systematic catering to youthful self-centeredness.

Daryl said...

Let's try this again...

Scott, as Jesus often used parables in order to hide the truth, rather than to clarify it, and the apostles didn't seem to use stories much at all, I think your point isn't really a point.

pro357 said...

"the sort of evangelicalism the Emerging Church Movement is striving for is anabaptist”. Scot McKnight

“The emerging peace church movement is deeply influenced by some of the 20th century's greatest pacifists like Gandhi, Dorothy Day, MLK, and Yoder”. Jarrod McKenna

“Jarrod McKenna and friends are beautiful examples of this new breed of emerging integral leaders. I thank God for them. May their tribe increase”. Brian McLaren

“People want to open up questions. They’re asking questions about how we should understand our relationship to scripture: Is it inerrant? Is it true? And many of the emergent people are saying that Scripture may not be absolute and authoritative and inerrant, but it is the “senior partner” in the conversation.” Scot McKnight

I can't seem to put my finger on what all the confusion is about. If it looks like; smells like; taste like universalism, relativism, pluralism, etc. Than it is!

The above quotes are what the emerging church "conversation" is all about. If you do not agree with the above quotes, you are not part of the emerging movement. I would suggest a nice Baptist Church. I attend one in Winston-Salem and Pastor Hardy would be happy to help as you mature in faith.

I grow tired of hearing "my generation" needs a fresh outlook on "doing church". There are plenty of churches that are following the God-given guidelines for building a church and edifying it's members.

So please, instead of re-inventing, look again for a Bible-based, Christ-centered Church (I guarantee one exists in or near your community; otherwise God has failed to build His church in the last 2000 years)and walk away from the heresy of what the real emerging movement is about.

www.emergentvoyageurs.blog.com said...

Phil,

As my email to Tim tried to clarify, I can understand how you would read my statement in the way you did. What I meant to say (and did not do so very well) was that there is a form of pride that manifests as self-loathing. If you cannot love yourself as Christ teaches (not in self-centeredness), it is difficult to love others.

Now, whether there is a deliberate, systematic catering to youthful self-centeredness in the ECM I will leave to you. Given my explanation, citing my comment as an example of it is inaccurate. If you were a frequent reader of my blog, I suspect we might disagree on a great deal, but I am confident that this "deliberate, systematic catering to youthful self-centeredness" is not something I am guilty of.

Peace,
Jamie

unscrunched said...

Fundamentalism: Because mustard seeds are just BETTER than full-grown trees.

Propositional Truths: Because preachers suck at telling good stories.

Proper Exegesis: Because using too many words to explain away poetry and parable is just what we get paid to do.

Biblical Doctrine: Whatever people who lived in the 16th century say it is.

The Arts: "confused caveman groan"?

Real Christians: Not you.

Jesus: He's no Paul, but he comes close.

Christian Liberty: Church-Sanctioned UnChristlikeness! Woo Hoo!

Spiritualizing Cultural Taboos: How we get away with Church-Sanctioned UnChristlikeness! Woo Hoo!

Emerging Church: Gnosticism that accentuates bringing the physical senses into the...uh oh. Gnosticism that is too inclusive..whoops. I mean, Gnosticism that isn't cerebrial ENOUGH. Wait. I mean...um. Heretics.

Sola Scriptura: Because the word became text and was read among us.

Postmodernism: Because we needed a change from bashing Catholics and Penticostals.

Christian Attack Dogs: Wise as doves, harmless as serpents.

Cultural Relevancy: It's not like anyone in "Holy Scripture" had any. (Tears Acts 17 out of Bible.) (and the "all things to all men" passage.)

Susbstitutionary Atonement: Because big words make it sound more official!

Spurgeon: (adoring girlie scream and faint)

Pyromaniacs: Burn HERETIC BURN!!!!!! I mean, is not my word a consuming fire?

Libbie said...

unscrunched - thankyou for the first response to the posters which has been mostly on target. Really good. Well, I laughed anyway. Are you going to put them on the posters?
I'd really like a copy of 'Spurgeon' and 'Proper exegesis' :-)

pro357 said...

unscrunced said...

"Jesus: He's no Paul, but he comes close".

Am I the only one who feels this was a slap in the face to the Holy Spirit's capability of inspiring Paul.

This is a classic example of separating the Scriptures instead of embracing the truth in it's entirety.

I'm all for fun and creative comebacks; but this one was over the top!

wordsmith said...

pro357:

I, too, have noticed the penchant for pitting Jesus against Paul. Don't know what it is - must be something in the water they drink.

centuri0n said...

I just wanted to say that for all their "turn the other cheek" stuff, the ECM crowd have really turned out a very formidable patch of poster-worthy slogans -- and they proved me wrong: none of the ones I have seen so far have been porn, vulgarity, or blasphemy (although I'd think about the Jesus/Paul one before I repeated it to anyone). I was wrong and I apologize: they can actually make a funny.

The only one I take any exception to so far is "burn heretic burn", but if someone wants to call themselves a heretic, why should I argue with them?

centuri0n said...

Since this thread is getting a lot more play than my post today, I also wanted to note that this is much more representative of Dieter Zander than the link Phil made.

Notice how he is trying to talk about the work of Christ and the value of what Christ has done.

centuri0n said...

Last one and then I have to go work a second job:

I am sure there is a story which refute this guy and his cult. I'd love to hear it.

Tim said...

Scott,

Your parody/satire/repeating-with-a-slight-change-to-make-a-point/whatever is missing an important component of my post. (That is, the satire is incomplete.) Namely, when I suggested you were misunderstanding something, I explained what it was.

That way you have the opportunity to consider my comment and evaluate it, and you could either accept the correction as valid, or point out something you think I'm missing. Or I suppose you could just read it and not respond, if you didn't think it important enough to respond to. Or you could ignore it. (That would be fine, I'm not so egotistical that I think every one of my comments must be responded to. I'm not that important.)

I have a hard time figuring out how to take the way you did respond. You don't seem to care whether I (or anyone else) has any idea how I misunderstood you. You seem to be content to say, in effect "You're wrong." I'm not sure what the point of your replying was at all.

Perhaps you could enlighten me?

joey said...

unscrunched, yours were pretty funny, i smiled at most of them. of course, those in the emergent movement have an inherent advantage in these types of situations. namely, those you satire have actual beliefs to parody.

Dave said...

Unscrunched : I am not sure what the intent of your post REALLY was but as a fundamentalist and NOT emergent, I found them quite hilarious. I truly had a good laugh about them. Humor is not just the domain of some.

Dave
dave1314.wordpress.com

David Cho said...

Cent:Now tell me: if the TeamPyro blog a "fundamentalist" blog? If so, how is it "fundamentalist"?

Fundamentalism: Fundamentalists are low-brow, angry, belligerent idiots and we are not, so therefore we are not fundamentalists.

Sam said...

Phil,

On behalf of the pastors you met with, "Thanks again!" for the great message on 1 John 2, the Q&A on the emergent church, and taking time to meet with us personally. I was reminded again of my responsibility to "contend earnestly for the faith." Bless you brother. Keep up the great work.

In Christ,
Sam Whicker

Mike said...

Sam,

I'm also a NJ resident. Where's your church located? Web address?

MIKE

Sam said...

Mike,

We are actually in Millersville PA(in Lancaster Co.).

Sam

Helen said...

In my assessment, that reflects one of the more sinister trends that's endemic in the ECM: a deliberate, systematic catering to youthful self-centeredness.

I agree this can be a danger.

What's the biggest temptation you (not sure what you call yourselves) see yourselves needing to guard against?

www.emergentvoyageurs.blog.com said...

Helen,

Who are you addressing the question to?

Jamie

Helen said...

Hi Jamie, I guess it was to Phil but I'd be interested in answers from anyone like-minded.

www.emergentvoyageurs.blog.com said...

Helen,

Since a comment I made on my own blog (which was unclear and contained a serious, but now corrected typo) inspired the second poster and the criticism of Phil's that you are quote, I can't exactly be cited as someone "like-minded" with Phil on this, so I guess I'll leave to others.

Peace,
Jamie

Helen said...

Oh, you're Jamie Arpin-Ricci? Sorry, I didn't look to see who you were earlier.

As you say, you aren't one of the 'like-minded'.

www.emergentvoyageurs.blog.com said...

Helen,

I thought that might be the case. I must say it is somewhat surreal to be evaluated so sharply by those who do not know me. It is doubly humorous that the poster was inspired by a major typo and a lack of clarity. Alas...

Peace,
Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Helen said...

Jamie, I'm used to being judged harshly by people who don't know me. I don't like being on the receiving end, so I try not to do it to others (didn't Jesus say something about that? :))...but that doesn't mean I'm 100% successful at avoiding it.