31 August 2007

Emerging Church: bad as Gutless Grace Girliemen? Worse than Wrongheaded Wrightophiles? Sillier than Leaky Canoneers?

— OR —
Emerging/Emergent Errors; Puerile Pomo Prattle; Abominable Antinomian Aberrations; Novel New-Perspective Nonsense; Crazy Charismaniac Charlatanism; Sanctimonious Sacramentalist Superstitions; Cynical, Condescending Catholicity; Private Prophetic Phantasms; and Seeker-Sensitive Silliness: What Do They All Have in Common?

by
Frank Turk & Dan Phillips, but not Phil Johnson—because you people wear him out

The primary point of this post is to really bring all the people we have had consistent adversarial interaction with out of the woodwork to see if we can't make a comment thread go past the 1,000 mark—because after all, we get thousands of readers every day. Everyone should have something to say for himself.

(There's a possible counter-bonus to being so open about our aims. All our friends among the jolly-raunchers and tongue-waggers and shape-shifters and gutless-gracers might read our goal, and think "Well, I'll be [EC verbiage deleted] if I'm going to oblige those judgmental pinheaded legalistic dead-lettered haters!", and stay away. Net result? We get to whack away to our hearts' content, unopposed. See? Win/win!)

So we're going to write a post determined to engage all of the above categories, and it's going to work like this:
  • We're going to assume that when we type phrases like "inerrant scripture," "personal sanctification," "indwelling of the Holy Spirit," and "regenerate believers," they will be blithely ignored or recklessly misconstrued, and will instantly cause someone in one of the adversarial camps to post a comment which has nothing to do with the point we were making.
  • We're going to take it for granted that all of these groups are actually engaged in more important things—you know: like ministry, or real, high-flown academics—than blogging.
  • We're going to have a calm assurance that, no matter what we say, Steve Camp will find a way to disagree and show us how much better his Kung Fu is than ours.
  • We're going to gratuitously post graphics like this one:




And this one:

Maturity?
Inspired by remarks left in the combox below
And this one:


And this one:



And this one:



And this one:




And this one:



And this one:



But not this one:



And the reason for all of that is this—after our concurrent 3-ish years of blogging, we have come to realize that blogging cannot be serious business. Investing a lot of time in posts which say things like God's provision is usually exactly what we need, or that the sufficiency of God's word far exceeds any experience we could hope to encounter, or that we often discount what God has already done never seems to work out for us. People don't remember them. They're not what people come here to see.

And that, frankly, is a shame.

So no sense in wrecking the rest of our week with prayer, reflection and the real meat of God's word. This is what the people want—verbal meat-chubbery—and frankly, from what we understand, giving people what they really want is called missional these days.

We're down with that, because we've listened, heard, read, dialogued, and it keeps coming down to the same thing: the Bible. It seems to be such a problem for so many of our critics.

If you take the Word at its word, it is God's Word. Because it is God's Word, it is truth (John 17:17), it is inerrant (John 10:35), it is sufficient for every Christian need (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Are you a real disciple ofJesus? The way you treat the Bible tells the tale (John 8:31-32). It is the end result of a long, deliberate process (Hebrews 1:1-2), done through men moved by the Holy Spirit who wrote out God's self-revelation, rather than products of their own will (2 Peter 1:20-21).

And it's markedly complete. No essential God-breathed book has been found that antedates Genesis, nor any that post-dates Revelation. The whole vital, need-to-know story and all the details are there: God, man, the universe, the meaning of life and everything. How it all started, how it all ends, what we're to be believing and doing (and not believing nor doing) in the meanwhile.

And there's so much of it. Sixty-six books chock-full of revelation. So much that most professing Christians (to our shame) have never even read it all.

In the light of that, what explains a movement that in effect trivializes it all? A movement that's fascinated with low-voltage pale imitations, so much so that they will redefine Scripture itself to accommodate them? Why (on their view) did God make this perfect thing, then go mostly silent for long centuries, then recently start muttering and stammering and stuttering? It's like they think God is a one-hit wonder, who made one really great album, and then kept making a succession of tired, hackneyed thrift-shop nothing-bombs.

If these mutterings and burblings are actually meaningful, why did God bother to write the Book in the first place?

Or what of another movement that basically has to stare emptily at so much of the Bible? A movement that makes every imperative into a suggestion, treats the commandments of Christ and the apostles as more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules? That turns every vivid and hard warning into a Nerf-bat? That makes the road to Glory wide and easy, but the road to Hell narrow and hard?

If these commandments, warnings, and conditions are actually meaningless, why did God bother to write the Book?

Or what of yet another movement, a vowel/consonant movement, that reduces the clarion calls, the proclamations, the crystal-clear, black-and-white razor-edged demands of God to a "conversation"? A movement that sometimes seems to love community over clarity, dialogue over die-to-sin, leaven* over Heaven, good feelings over Good News, crass over Cross, reinvention over regeneration, edginess over edges, and hipness over holiness? A movement that has all the wisdom of a 20-year-old who's decided he's smarter than his elders (or smarter than all the wisdom of the ages) and approaches the issues of life as if no one else ever saw anything plainly before him...

...and (more particularly) as if God never said anything about the issues of life, or even if He did, as if no one has wrestled with His words before?

If none of the lines or limits of truth has been discovered, uncovered, and well-covered over the last twenty centuries, it makes you wonder why God bothered to give that Book as long ago as He did.

And if the most central issue of the Bible—how can man be just before God?—has been misunderstood by basically every one of the holiest, godliest, most consecrated and devoted men of God for centuries; if, that is, our most elder brothers in the faith have, every one of them, answered that question wrongly, and only a specialist engaging in specialized sub-category studies can unearth the true answer to this basic question...

...it makes you wonder not only why God wrote the Book, but why He made such a poor job of it. Why couldn't He manage to get it Wright... er, right, the first time? Why didn't He make it plain enough for non-specialists to "get" what He was saying?

And what if we lump together all those bustling, bristling groups that have found (invented) such wonderful ways of packing churches—by substituting arts and crafts, skits and dances, jokes and stories, gimmicks and gewgaws, rather than the red-hot, passionate, truth-full, straight-up, eternal-God- talking-to-you-today (Hebrews 3:7-13) preaching of the Word?

Why, really why, did He bother?

See, we may be really old guys, but we wonder things, too.

Don't you? Shouldn't you, anyway?


*Well, at any rate, yeast.

1,062 comments:

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insert name said...

the average word count per post on this thread 99.66 which from my previous calculations is still with in 1 standard deviation of 136 word count average per post in other threads so even with the 1 word post this is a legit 1000

Unknown said...

Phil,

It's not that "hard to swallow" means "I don't like it" or "It conflicts w/ my experience." What I meant was that, from where I'm standing, I have substantive evidence--internal to the texts themselves--that the Bible is full of tension and minor contradictions. So I withhold judgment on inerrancy, and conclude that it's not worth apostasizing people over.

The analogue would be if said dude found contradictions internal to the creeds themselves. People try to do this, w/ Chalcedon in particular, all the time. I'm convinced, after much painful study, that Chalcedon is metaphysically coherent. It doesn't contain any contradictions so far as I can tell. But if it did, then I'd have at least prima facie reason to conclude that something went wrong there, and that we shouldn't be using it as a standard of orthodoxy.

Phil Johnson said...

Luke: "Here's what in my experience the typical exchange between inerrantists and myself looks like:"

You know someone's not really serious when they resort to inventing imaginary dialogue that far-fetched on about the second round of a back-and-forth discussion. You're tempting me to invoke the troll-rule here, Luke.

bassicallymike said...

To all of those noble folks who have tried to help Helen. Fugitaboutit! I think she has discovered she gets more attention as a skeptic than a believer and is playing the skeptic bit for all its worth. Helen, I equate what you are doing to be the same as a professional panhandler. You are playing to the Christian's nature to be caring and helpful just to get a sick need of your own satisfied. May God have mercy on your sick soul!

DJP said...

Shannon—Scripture says no such thing, so God has nothing to answer for.

Those who openly reject His own explicit definition of prophecy, to smuggle in their fakery, however, do.

Unknown said...

Apologies for the imaginary dialogue. I admit it was a bit over-the-top.

Unknown said...

Luke,
What is the difference between contradiction and differing non-contradictory perspectives? {I know thats wordy} I would hold to the latter due to redemptive history and that God uses human authors.

Since you've constructed an imagery dialogue and accussed the inerrantist of special pleading and sandcastling. Let me break it down to three points:

(1) God's Word claims to be 'God-breathed' and that the words are actually the product of God's will as men were carried by the Holy Spirit. "Men spoke from God."

(2) Since the very words are actually theopneustos, and God cannot lie or make errors, neither can God's Word.

(3) Humans beings can make errors in transmission, translation and interpretation.

I would suggest that martialling difficult passages and calling them contradictory does not prove 'errancy'. I would invite you to demonstrate that theopneustos (for example) means something different and it does not apply to the words but only the ideas. In all honesty, if you believe there are contradictions then what does theopneustos mean? How can Scripture be "not from the will of man" and contain error?

Without reparsing "true" into a new defintion, how can the very words be true and yet contain error?

The inerrantist is not afraid of the "messiness" of Scripture, by that I mean the difficult passages. It seems to me that on one side an inerrantist gets hit for 'simplistic explanations' and not paying attention to what Scripture does and then when one responds to that we get accussed of being to long and convuluted in our explanations.

Unknown said...

And I truly do appreciate your willingness to dialogue w/ me, Phil. In all honesty. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Please excuse some of my earlier sarcasm, I wasn't trying to display any animosity to persons. My attempt was to point out inconsistencies using the medium. {perhaps it wasn't even good sarcasm}

Unknown said...

Johnny Dialectic,
"But it has to go to at least 1015, because of all those silly one word posts awhile back."

Do I get the real prize?

Congrats everybody on the 1000.

Unknown said...

Hi Tim,

I appreciate your willingness to dialogue too. It's not that I think the prima facie contradictory passages "prove" errantism. What they do is weaken my credence in inerrancy to the point where I think I'm justified to withhold belief either way on the whole issue.

So given all the minor contradictions, I become less and less sure that theopneustos entails inerrancy.(There's also questions about what the author of the text in question meant to pick out by "scripture" here, but we can waive those.) Maybe theopneustos means that God inspired the biblical authors to set down an extremely reliable set of documents. I don't really know.

My view is just that (1) I have a bunch of prima facie evidence that theopneustos doesn't entail inerrancy; and (2) I can faithfully serve God within the bounds of orthodoxy without taking a hard stand on the question.

bloggernaut said...

tim - the alternative is to reparse the word "error."

Luke has fallen into the old trap of blindly believing the argument that the Bible is so old and came from primitive peoples shpiel that it seems inconceivable that there wouldn't be errors in it. By errors, I mean of the event/doctrine kind (i.e. there MUST be some naturalistic explanation of the exorcism of Legion). Perhaps we do need a better definition of "error" after all.

Is anyone going to put an end to this misery by finally shutting down this thread?! We've passed 1000, now make it stop PLEASE! Make it stop!

bloggernaut said...

{sounds of crying and groaning and agonized rolling around on the floor}

agonizohmy!

Unknown said...

Well, No. I came to believe that the Bible contained minor contradictions by reading the Bible, not via an a priori assumption that it was written by primitive and therefore mistaken peoples. I don't know what I said that would make you think that.

But I agree: time to bid this thread adieu.

Stefan Ewing said...

Well, hot-diggity! Even with a few deleted posts thrown in and ynottony's deep silence (""), we're well over a thousand! Hoo-ah! And no Great Tribulation in sight...except for the everyday struggles of life in this world of sin.

Stefan Ewing said...

(Or without a Rapture, if that's your cup of tea, unless the life to come looks an awful lot like the old life....)

Stefan Ewing said...

Thanks to Luke for pushing us over a thousand!

(Also have to make up for sb's "1" "0" "0" "0.")

Helen said...

bassicallymike wrote: Helen, I equate what you are doing to be the same as a professional panhandler. You are playing to the Christian's nature to be caring and helpful just to get a sick need of your own satisfied.

Maybe so.

May God have mercy on your sick soul!

I hope so.

I think God likes me (if he exists).

Daryl said...

Well we certainly learned something...

1. Sadly, it's true, the same old arguements come trotting out, still no closer to actually defending non-orthodox "Christianity".

2. Tom Chantry can only be trusted when he's sleep deprived.

3. Man-Hugs ARE a sin. (dealier than most...)

4. Helen is trolling.

5. While there may be strength in numbers...there isn't necessarily wisdom.

6. Canadians really can('t) be trusted.

7. The Bible is errant, yet completely trustworthy...at least where I say it is.

Last one out, turn off the lights...

'night John-boy.

Stefan Ewing said...

There were high and low points, hills and valleys in this odyssey, but I did learn a thing or two of substance from it all (in addition to Tom's aversion to man-hugs).

I don't know if the overall percentage (sorry, Tom) of the Canadian population that holds to Biblical inerrancy is higher or lower than in the States, but hey, we have J.I. Packer!

(Whilst meanwhile you Yankees and Rebels have/had Edwards, Schaeffer, Piper, Sproul, Dever, and MacA—...then again, you also gave the world Finney, and see where that led us!)

Stefan Ewing said...

And you can trust me on that.

Helen said...

Isn't anyone willing to define 'troll' for me?

Daryl said...

I believe trolling falls under the heading :
Posting in order to gain readership to ones own blog and/or generate undue attention to oneself for no reason other than garnering attention for oneself.

(Although I could be wrong...)

Stefan Ewing said...

(Oh, and you guys had Machen, too. Can't forget him.)

Neil said...

Uh-oh, I think I'm a troll.

Jo Cool said...

Helen,
Haven't you learned the value of Wikipedia yet from this comment thread? (I'm making no claims of inerrancy there, though). Perhaps it is that you value the freshness of conversation over musty (albeit virtual) source texts?

Daryl said...

Bug-Blaster,

Canadians, particularly from Ontario, are exempt.

Neil said...

daryl, I was in your town on Monday. It's still very nice there.

Anonymous said...

"I do not believe that, from one cover to the other, there is any mistake in it of any sort whatever, either upon natural or physical science, or upon history or anything whatever. I am prepared to believe whatever it says, and to take it believing it to be the Word of God; for if it is not all true, it is not worth one solitary penny to me. It may be to the man who is so wise that he can pick out the true from the false; but I am such a fool that I could not do that. If I do not have a guide there that is infallible, I would as soon guide myself, for I shall have to do so after all; I shall have to be correcting the blunders of my guide perpetually, but I am not qualified to do that, and so I am worse off than if I had not any guide at all. Sit thou down, Reason, and let Faith rise up".

Spurgeon

lawrence said...

The reason I haven't posted about your anti-Holy Spirit propaganda (that was a joke) is b/c I just don't have enough time to try to convince you guys anymore...I'm too busy rolling around on the ground having visions of glory while speaking in tongues...

lawrence said...

which I'm sure is the same reason not very many other charismatics have said much...peace.

Stefan Ewing said...

LOL to Lawrence.

Daryl said...

...and besides...my definition was imprecise...at least according to Wikipedea

Stefan Ewing said...

Daryl, Bugblaster, Agonizomai, et al...you Central Canadians with your Ontariocentrism!

Daryl said...

OPN,

You could've saved us all a LOT of trouble by posting that before...I love that quote.

Stefan Ewing said...

This post has now achieved the state of self-perpetuation. It just keeps going and going and going....

Daryl said...

Sewing,

I lived in Calgary for 5 years, loved it. Only left for family (kids need grandparents...) But Lotus-land??? Come on. Real people don't live there do they?

Daryl said...

Is this like, critical mass??

Or,

It's the song that never ends...

Helen said...

thanks daryl and jo cool. I hadn't thought of looking in Wikipedia for some reason, even though I do look a lot of things up there. (Maybe it was because I wanted the definition used *here*)

Stefan Ewing said...

Daryl, I knew that comeback was coming, and...I don't have a response for it!

Stefan Ewing said...

Then again, Phil and Dan live in California. How is that even possible?

Daryl said...

The source of all things silly...

Leberwurst said...

I will say this about Canadiens, including the one I worked for for 15 years, you all have a marvelous gift for conversation, and have not forgotten how to speak english...

Here in California I often find it difficult to get more than a grunt or Yo, whassup?" when trying to engage others in this archaic form of communication.

Neil said...

sewing, I lived in Sask for six years, but never on the Left Coast.

Stefan Ewing said...

God has blessed this beautiful land, but there are so many lost sheep in need of their Shepherd.

(Well, that's true at least until you drive a few miles east and hit the Fraser Valley Bible belt.)

The other interesting thing as that, as a rule, it seems to be the newer immigrants who are coming to Christ...I guess because the lapsed/liberal Anglican-Methodist-Presbyterian-Baptist-Catholic multigenerational folks are "post-Christian."

threegirldad said...

opn,

Would you please post the source of that Spurgeon quote?

agonizomai said...

Sewing: Daryl, Bugblaster, Agonizomai, et al...you Central Canadians with your Ontariocentrism!

At least we didn't freeze in the dark as Eastern illegitimates (KJV word replaced) just like Ralph Klein invoked in the early 80's when he wanted to hog all of his oil royalties.

Go hug a tree or something - if you can get a permit.

Helen said...

threegirldad, it's from here:

Micah's message for today

(hint: to find something like that on Google, choose a sentence from the excerpt with big words in and search on the whole sentence in Google - it works pretty well)

Tom Chantry said...

2. Tom Chantry can only be trusted when he's sleep deprived.

3. Man-Hugs ARE a sin. (dealier than most...)


Kind of funny, but having been up from 12:30 to 3:00 last night, I find this hilarious. And I entirely agree. About the man-hugs, that is.

dec said...

.



the end

Stefan Ewing said...

James Bond will return in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Stefan Ewing said...

Please deposit your litter in the trash cans on the way out.

James Scott Bell said...

And please return seats to their upright positions (and if you can return a few heretics to THEIR upright positions along the way, so much the better)

Dude said...

Hmmm, this is the 1060th comment. Why bother? Oh, yes, to say "What a great blog. Excellent post!" The emergent Motivational Posters are probably the most clever 'missional' response using their own 'kung-fo' i've seen. Keep those coming!! Well done!

DJP said...

Maybe our new goal could be, "3000 by 3000!"

Stefan Ewing said...

Or 2008 by 2008?

Alexander said...

Can I say an "Amen!" or is it too early for that! LOVE

Alexander said...

Blogging with Google is new to me! I know that is not profound...or even scriptural...or even staying on topic...I'll be honest...I am testing my Google user name. Thanks much!

...but I do love this post.

Unknown said...

Wow. Over a thousand comments... twenty-five or so that actually say something, and the rest commenting about the commenting.

DJP said...

Or, as in your case, commenting about the commenting about the commenting.

Steve_Mac said...

Gutless Grace Girliemen...

Hmmmmmmm...

Malakosis?

Unknown said...

This is great!!!

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