11 August 2007


by Phil Johnson

I've alphabetized the master list to make it more convenient.

Phil's signature


Tom Chantry said...

Doubt. The New Faith. That sums up a lot.

donsands said...

Does postmodernism draw any lines in the sand?

FX Turk said...

Phil --

You obviously have a problem because you can't stop any time you want to.

I'll be staging an intervention at Elmers in Tulsa at the next convenient moment. You be bad.

DJP said...

Put me down for dat.

Kay said...

Charles Spurgeon wouldn't like these, you know. He was never that much bothered with the robust defense of truth. Or so I hear...

Stefan Ewing said...

Okay...serious question. As y'all know where I'm coming from, you know this question is not to reproach, but simply to learn.

If a lot of these emergent types are cradle Christians and grew up in churches that were teaching error (either adding to (fundy) or taking away from (mega) the Gospel), it makes sense that as they grow older, doubt and questioning would set in, and in some cases outright disillusionment.

The problem seems to be that these kids are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because they can't distinguish between the erroneous unscriptural teachings of their home churches, and what God is actually saying to us through the Bible. No doubt this is at least partly because the churches they grew up in deliberately blurred over this distinction.

So the question is: instead of seeing all these disillusioned young people forming "emerging communities" and drifting away from God (even though they don't necessarily see it that way), what can the Reformed* community do—or what is it doing—to show kids who are starting to question their own churches' teachings that there is an alternative that is in fact the true Gospel, and that doesn't involve giving up on Christ?

How can we reach out to them? Through church plantings? Missions to universities and colleges? Books? Radio shows? Or is all this stuff already being done? And how can we do this without selling ourselves out the demon of "relevance" (but without seeming "unhip" in contrast)? Or are the efforts of MacArthur (The Gospel According to Jesus), Driscoll (divisive though I know he is), Cameron, Friehl, et al. sufficient?

What is the answer?

* "Reformed" meaning Calvinist/WCF/LBC 1689/etc.

Matt Redmond said...

I have read a good bit on the emergent....uh, movement(?) but I gotta tell you these posters may be the best commentary yet

keep 'em coming.

Ok centurion, your picture just freaked me out...

Learning Grace said...

So my wife asked the obvious question... Centuri0n, when can we purchase the Emergent-Tees?

Scott Bailey said...

1Th 5:21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good;

Scott Bailey said...

I betcha the Jewish "religious authorities" felt the same way about Paul as you do about Emergents.

Scott Bailey said...

Actually, that was a bad example, probably more how the Catholic church felt about the Reformers.

"How dare you question us!"

FX Turk said...


Some days, that is the only reason we blog -- for the eyebrow thing to freak out yet another new reader.

Thank you for affirming our raison d'arte.

FX Turk said...


I'd like to think we are more like the Ant to our detractors' Aardvark.

FX Turk said...


I'm thinking we can put the slogans on shirts, but not the images. Would you buy your favorite slogan without the pictures?

Scott Bailey said...

What is awesome, however, is the three pictures in a row with eyebrows all raising in unison. Just too sweet!

steve said...

Gosh. Just when I think the posters can't possibly get any better.

The EMCers ought to thank Tom Chantry for that catchy advertising tagline.

Keith B said...

I have really enjoyed the emergent-see posters. Did Phil or whoever made the new convenient alphabetical master list purposely put "P" before "N"? Just wandering.

Keep up the great work.

Phil Johnson said...

Keith P.: "Did Phil or whoever made the new convenient alphabetical master list purposely put 'P' before 'N'? Just wandering."

Good catch.

What can I say? Dyslexia.

Scott Bailey said...

Still... 2nd poster

1Th 5:21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good;

ukrainiac said...

Really "just wandering"? Or just wondering...

Phil Johnson said...


Yes, note: the second half of that verse is as vital as the first. And it assumes we can know "what is good."

I have yet to meet anyone in "The Conversation" who truly "holds fast" to much of anything--and that's the problem.

(Even in the BEST spokespeople in the ECM--those who give lip service to, say, the Nicene creed or whatever--invariably treat their statements of faith as "personal "convictions" and refuse to allow that to determine the limits of their "Christian" fellowship. That makes you wonder what it means when they say they believe something is a "core" or "essential" doctrine.)

Scott Bailey said...

You overgeneralize those in "The Conversation." I am not an "Emergent," but at least I am not so critical that I throw the baby out with the bath-water.

Lip service? Really? Do you greet Christians with a holy kiss, or just pay "lip service" to the text?

Anonymous said...

Is tolerance, acceptance, diversity, etc. "good" for the church? Nobody will argue that (as Christians) we need to be loving toward all; however, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates we should welcome, or allow, conversations and/or compromises into the church.

I think the thing that is most overlooked in this discussion is what some consider "good". The world's definition and God's definition are VERY different.

"I could be wrong", but I feel the emergent caters too much to the world's definition.


Phil Johnson said...


If there's a baby in this bathwater, it has been submerged too long to resuscitate, I fear.

Here's what I mean by "lip service": I don't see what point there is in claiming something is a "core" or "essential" doctrine if you turn right around and bestow that brotherly kiss on someone who denies what you claim to regard as is "essential." If I embrace someone as a brother in Christ who denies justification by faith alone, then I don't really believe sola fide is "essential," do I?

Let me speak clearly: What I'm saying is that the broad, postmodern refusal to hold any conviction as something more than "my own personal belief" is actually anti-Christian. To whatever degree that attitude permeates this movement, it is to precisely that degree a nonchristian movement and needs to be thrown out as decisively as possible.

Sound harsh? I expect some will think so. But compare it with 2 John 7-11.

Phil Johnson said...

PS: If I'm overgeneralizing, show me how. Point out someone significant in the "conversation" who has actually written something serious about discerning the boundaries between authentic Christianity and the anti-Christian counterfeit, and then put the principle of 2 John 7-11 into practice.

Even Driscoll hasn't seriously taken that issue on yet.

The problem is: by definition you cannot do that and still be part of "the conversation."

Scott Bailey said...

In a sense the posters are an over-generalization - that's what makes them not only true but funny (to some).

If someone in the Emergent movement is rejecting sola fide then I agree with you, but who is? And if one person in the movement is that does not negate the others who are not. Or do all Emergents outright reject sola fide?

I didn't mean are you greeting Emergents with a holy kiss, but those in your own congregation with whom you do have fellowship. I'm not positive on this but I think it is commanded something like 4 times in the NT. Why don't we follow the Bible when it tells us to do this?

Phil Johnson said...


Read what I wrote again. You have totally garbled the point.

Scott Bailey said...

I still want to know why some Christians refuse to be faithful to God's Word and greet each other with a Holy Kiss (the ones they agree with)?

Garbled the point. It's possible, but I think both ways.

Daryl said...


Do you kiss every Christian you meet or do you shake hands...

Are you implying that this is on the same level as believing in the atonement or the inerrancy of Scripture?

Scott Bailey said...


Just the pretty ones!

No such implication intended, but if the Scripture is inerrant and it commands you to kiss someone in greeting why do we ignore the Bible and shake hands? Is that part not inerrant?

donsands said...

"Is that part not inerrant?"

Yes it is inerrant. It's also a cultural expression of the time. And today as well in some places.
(My business partner form Israel, who loves the Savior does some holy kissing at times.)

Scott, what do you think our Lord meant when He said if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out?
Just wondering.

Daryl said...


So...do you really think the holy kiss is on par with the atonement? That was really my point.

Scott Bailey said...


Satan is a mastermind. Maybe he just wants you to think it was only a cultural expression of the time.


Of course I don't think they are on par. That would be silly.

Seriously guys, I'm just fooling around a little bit, no need to get riled.

Anonymous said...

(as if you didn't already know this) Scott is trying to pull you into the old, "well if the holy kissing is cultural, why not *you fill in the blank with your favorite unorthodox opinion*." This isn't an inerrancy issue, as the spirit of that command still applies. It is a perspicuity issue, as in,"is Scripture clear enough for us to distinguish from cultural and propositional truths." Yes Scott, it is.

Daryl said...

Who's riled? However, when you present yourself as someone interested in a serious conversation and then switch horses half-way through...that is rilin' material.

Scott Bailey said...


I wasn't trying to drag them into anything unorthodox. Trust me I have a very high view of Scripture and orthodoxy. Thanks for the tip though, I was a little concerned if i could rely on Scripture or not. Whew, the last 35 years of my life haven't been wasted. Sweet.


I truly apologize. I'm Blog ADHD. I just lost interest in the serious conversation.

I did ask one question, however, that I did not get an answer to and I am interested in: do some in the Emergent movement truly deny sola fide, and if so who?

Daryl said...

It is my understanding that Rob Bell, Brian McClaren and other EC headliners, while perhaps not personally (or at least openly) denying sola fide, do not hold that others must hold to it in order to be considered Christian.

For teachers, that line of thinking is wrong-headed and heretical.

That, I think, was Phil's point all along.

Phil Johnson said...

Scott: "I did ask one question, however, that I did not get an answer to and I am interested in: do some in the Emergent movement truly deny sola fide, and if so who?"

Scott, the various attacks on substitutionary atonement within the movement are de facto denials of sola fide.

Probably not the best example on my part, however, because in my experience, even some of the prominent leaders on the most conservative fringe of the Emerging community don't even have enough doctrinal savvy to explain in simple terms what justification by faith entails. They're just pretty sure it can't possibly involve legal concepts like imputation or forensic declarations because, after all, the gospel is supposed to be simple (meaning, apparently "simplistic"), right?

So scratch that example, and substitute inerrancy or penal substitution. Those are doctrinal concepts half of the Emerging movement has virtually made a hobby of attacking, and practically no one on the supposedly-conservative side sees such things as "essential" enough to make them boundaries for fellowship.

Incidentally, in most of the Russian evangelical churches men do quite literally kiss other men on the lips as a greeting. If you're seriously looking for a holy kiss, I can introduce you to some of my Russian Baptist friends.

Anonymous said...

Well Scott, if I have unfairly characterized you I apologize.

Of course, we'll have to see... :-)

Scott Bailey said...


OK, I see your point, and uh, about the Russian guys, I think I'll go with the whole cultural expression thing.

Solameanie said...


In reference to the EC leaders/authors' stance on doctrinal issues and the way they bridle when they get questioned about their writings, an old Monty Python skit comes to mind. It's the one where the investigator confronts the suspect with evidence in his own handwriting . . .

Suspect: "No, no..you can't read my writing!"

Investigator: "It's typed."