24 September 2007

Different Gospels

by Phil Johnson

oug Pagitt has explained his scorn for John MacArthur in an e-mail to someone who expressed disappointment about the way Pagitt seemed to sidestep certain gospel truths during his recent CNN appearance. Pagitt's reply to his interlocutor is a rare, and welcome, moment of Emergent candor.

First, a hat-tip to Todd Friel, who featured this on last Monday's second hour of Way of the Master Radio. I get WOTM's podcasts daily but usually have to catch up with my listening on the weekends, so I did not hear this segment (or even know about it) until Saturday, when I listened to it on my way home from a conference in Bakersfield. Since it sheds further light on Friday's post, I decided to mention it today, while it's still timely.

Anyway, it seems this disappointed CNN viewer (someone I do not know) pointed out to Pagitt that Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." What sinners urgently need, therefore, is a new heart and a wholesale spiritual conversion—a new birth, in Jesus' words—not the artificial "wholeness" offered by yogic meditation; not a spiritual calisthenic that doesn't even deal with sin; and certainly not the phony self-help of seeking a connection with "the divine" by looking inside our own fallen and deceitful hearts.

The writer said he felt strongly about this since Jeremiah 17:9 had been instrumental in his own conversion, and he was very concerned about the way Pagitt seemed to gloss over the vital truth that text teaches.

Pagitt replied:

I must say that I see the gospel totally differently than what you conveyed in your e-mail. I was not converted by a verse but always loved and changed (even ongoing) by a fully-participating God who created me in his image. I would strongly encourage you to have a much more full and biblical understanding of the gospel, and not form a faith based on any interpretation of one verse.

I'm not sure you'd be interested in this, but I have just finished a book somewhat on this topic. I think it might give you a more full understanding of the gospel than the one perverted by the likes of John MacArthur. I do not say "perverted" lightly, either. I really think what he communicates is so distant from the message of the Bible that it is dangerously harmful to people. If you heard the interview and his comments about a God who is "above us," I certainly hope you would see this.

Now, I've suggested on a couple of occasions that several of the dominant figures in the Emerging/Emergent Conversation seem to have a notion of the gospel that is altogether different from what I find in Scripture, in the teaching of Christ, and in every historic confession of faith. In particular, the whole Emerging trajectory on the gospel seems to involve a conscious departure from the historic evangelical distinctives that define the Protestant mainstream.

Whenever I have expressed concern about that, I've been scolded and/or shouted down by Friends of Emergent who think such concerns are alarmist, overblown, uncharitable, and altogether unwarranted.

But here is someone who is arguably one of the three most prolific authors in the Emerging Conversation, and he plainly acknowledges that the gospel he believes is so thoroughly opposed to John MacArthur's understanding of the gospel that he thinks what MacArthur teaches about the gospel is a serious perversion—"so distant from the message of the Bible that it is dangerously harmful to people."

He even takes pains to stress that he is not making such a statement lightly. That is Doug Pagitt's carefully-considered assessment of the doctrinal differences between himself and "the likes of John MacArthur."

In other words, Pagitt admits that these are two wholly different gospels. One or the other, therefore, deserves the strongest possible anathema (Galatians 1:8-9).

That kind of clarity is precisely what is needed in the Emergent conversation. It draws a much-needed line in the sand. Emerging leaders who seem to crave the endorsement of conservative evangelicals while maintaining close affiliations with Pagitt and the rest of the Emergent Village posse need to pay close attention to what Pagitt is saying.

Those who are trying to produce carefully-crafted, purposely ambiguous statements of faith that can be affirmed by conservative evangelicals and liberal Emergents alike need to listen carefully to Pagitt; then read Paul's words in Galatians 1; and wake up to reality: the issues at stake really are of eternal importance.



And while we are on the subject, Pyro readers ought to listen to Mark Driscoll's 83-minute message from Friday night's session of the Convergent conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. (I got it on iTunes from the SEBTS podcast. I don't see it listed on the Web yet.) Driscoll likewise drew some clear lines in the sand. As usual, he couldn't seem to manage doing it without being unnecessarily and inappropriately crude, but we'll set that aside for the moment. He called out Pagitt, McLaren, and Bell (among others) for their departures from essential biblical truths and key Reformation distinctives.

Before you get too excited about that, note that Driscoll also took some hard shots at non-Emerging critics who don't approve of the methodology (and scatology) he employs to contextualize his ministry for postmodern young people. Driscoll dismissed all such critics as "fundamentalists" (he clearly doesn't relish saying that word the way he does certain four-letter expressions). He said such people pose a danger equal to that of the heretics within Emergent.

Meanwhile, Driscoll himself is under fire from some of his Emerging friends who don't like his combativeness and claim he fudged the numbers in his description of Mars Hill's "baptsmalooza."

So it seems the "Emerging Conversation" is coming apart at the seams.

Mike Clawson, a self-styled pacifist who clearly favors the leftmost Emergent ideas, says the fault lies almost entirely with the revival of Reformed doctrine. And ironically, he cites a three-year-old piece by Pagitt, appealing for a mild and friendly response to Emergent's critics. It contrasts starkly with Pagitt's actual response to John MacArthur.

Clawson's post seethes with postmodern angst over so much conflict. (Which is a bit odd, really, because Clawson has never really shown himself to be as averse to conflict as he often claims he is. But at least he has the good taste to acknowledge near the end of his post that he's not "always very good" at being a real pacifist, "but I'm trying.")

However you look at it, this has been a seriously hard week for the Emerging/Emergent conversation. I'm thinking of trying to trademark the name "Post-Emergent," because I think it's going to be really, really useful very soon now.



Phil's signature

247 comments:

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Drew said...

ok. I just re-read Isaiah 61, and it does use the word salvation, but I don't really get any indication that it is salvation from hell. Where do you get this?

jasonvanb said...

Emergent Church leaders scare me, too. Maybe I'll post on them in the future.

Meanwhile, I have a new blog, and I have just started a series of posts on baptism. Come and check it out and post away: http://prochristorege.wordpress.com

Drew said...

by the way, I will admit that I am wrong on one point--substitutionary atonement. I have spent so much time reacting against Penal substitutionary atonement, that I tend to read that whenever I see substitutionary atonement. I'm ok with S.A., but not P.S.A.

jbuck21 said...

"I don't really get any indication that it is salvation from hell. Where do you get this?"


Ok...so THIS would be where my concerns for you are based.

What are you, Drew, personally saved from? Pain? Pain to others? Trials?

The Bible teaches that pre-salvation, you were a 'child of WRATH'. The WRATH of God, poured out ultimately and eternally in hell.

I just cannot emphasize enough that, regardless of whether you're missional, emergent, post-evangelical, or a host of other catch phrases, you MUST know with all your heart that you are a WICKED SINNER. That you DESERVE HELL. And that you are saved by GRACE ALONE poured out by a transcendent merciful God through the person and work of Christ. You need all of those pieces for the Gospel to be good news.

Hence, (to get back on point, somehow) Pagitt's problem and why MacArthur's gospel would be a perversion to him. He CANNOT believe the above and make that statement.

We ought also to fear for his soul.

Drew said...

I was asking about Isaiah 61.

I agree that I am a sinner, deserving of hell, and I am only saved by God'd grace.

I just don't see this in Isaiah 61, but somebody told me it was clearly about salvation from hell, and I want to know where that idea came from.

Phil Johnson said...

Luke & Rachael: "I'm not sure I get the main argument of the post. Why, exactly, does anything you mention point toward anything so strong as the dissolution of the emergent movement? Why is it in trouble?"

If the content of the post itself wasn't clear enough, you can get the low-down from Emerging Grace, pomomusings, or any number of Emegergent-friendly blogs.

Incidentally, someone put Emerging Grace's motivational posters on Youtube with music. Very, very nice. I wonder if there's a Pyro regular somewhere out there with the skills to pull off something like that with the Po-Motivators.

First, we need to have a contest to see what the best background music would be. You know--something fitting like "Youth Culture Killed My Dog" by They Might Be Giants.

I was going to suggest that Steve Camp tune. You know--the one that summarized every point of the gospel so neatly and compactly? But I couldn't think of the name of the song.

Someone help me out, here.

lordodamanor said...

"Substitutionary atonement was not even talked about as a model of atonement until Anselm. Was there no church until then?"

Uh, because there were no ec'ers, emerging with counter gospel claims without biblical warrant?

Creed were written, more often than not to counter emerging heresy, no emergents, no need fo da creed.

Cubby Martinez said...

Señor Camp:

This guy who worked for the Spanish Inquisition once wrote--

Yendo, pues, caminando nuestro flamante aventurero, iba hablando consigo mesmo y diciendo: Quien duda sino que en los venideros tiempos, cuando salga a luz la verdadera historia de mis famosos hechos, que el sabio que los escribiere no ponga, cuando llegue a contar esta mi primera salidad tan de mañana, desta manera?

Always makes me tear up a little.

JoeMartino said...

LordODamanor,
Do you have any historical evidence to back up your statements?

Daryl said...

Drew,

If you deny PSA in favour of SA...how do you define SA. What was Jesus our substitute for? To whom was the debt of blood owed?
Why did we owe a debt?

The fact is, we owed God a debt of blood because "his wrath is being poured out on all unrighteousness of men". When Adam sinned, he incurred God's wrath. Afterall, it was God, no one else, who ran him out of the garden.
Just so, it was God, who determined that Jesus would die in our place to avert his just wrath.

All the "penal" in PSA means is that we are under a penalty for our sin. Not that we borrowed some money and owe a debt so Jesus coughed it up for us, but a penalty must be paid.

Where do you differ?

centuri0n said...

So ... many ... punchlines ...

... can't ... pick ...
... just ... one ...

If soccer gets rained out tonight (lightning cancels in U8, folks), I'll roll up a video for public consumption -- and I have a great idea for the music bed.

After that, all I can say is that this thread has simply pulled out all the stops.

And Cubby: citing Cervantes in the original Spanish is frankly out of your league as I know for a fact you can't speak classical Castellano.

GeneMBridges said...

Substitutionary atonement was not even talked about as a model of atonement until Anselm. Was there no church until then?

If it was so important, why was it left out of the early creeds?


1. Because they were more concerned about other things at the time - like survival under persecution.

2. The Church was instiutionally immature, in its infancy. One does not expect a baby Christian to articulate doctrines clearly right off the bat. That's the exception not the rule. One does not expect a room full of preschool children to do Algebra. One does not expect 8th graders to do quantum mechanics, and so on. So, nothing about the relative importance of a doctrine can be discerned from its being left ouf of the early creeds. Drew's argument is a non-sequitur.

3. As specific, highly developed, "theory" with all the "bells and whistles" this would be true, but Anselm himself talked about "satisfaction" of God's "honor."

4. In a creed, no - but then the Apostle's Creed does not talk about modalism either. Should we conclude that the Trinity was not taught, believed, or important prior to the beginning of the development of the Apostle's Creed, which antedates the Nicene? And if so, should we therefore declare that trinitarianism (vs. modalism) is not important?

5. Where is your supporting argument that a creed should form the basis of our view of the importance of a doctrine, and assuming you can make such an argument, what are the rules for adjudicating which creeds or confessions do this properly?

6. As a matter of fact, this little myth of yours gets trotted out far too often. Try its appearance here:

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 100-165), Dialogue with Trypho

XCV — Christ took upon Himself the curse due to us.

For the whole human race will be found to be under a curse. For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them’ [Deut 27:26]. And no one has accurately done all, nor will you venture to deny this; but some more and some less than others have observed the ordinances enjoined. But if those who are under this law appear to be under a curse for not having observed all the requirements, how much more shall all the nations appear to be under a curse who practise idolatry, who seduce youths, and commit other crimes? If, then, the Father of all wished His Christ for the whole human family to take upon Him the curses of all, knowing that, after He had been crucified and was dead, He would raise Him up, why do you argue about Him, who submitted to suffer these things according to the Father’s will, as if He were accursed, and do not rather bewail yourselves? For although His Father caused Him to suffer these things in behalf of the human family, yet you did not commit the deed as in obedience to the will of God. For you did not practise piety when you slew the prophets. And let none of you say: If His Father wished Him to suffer this, in order that by His stripes the human race might be healed, we have done no wrong. If, indeed, you repent of your sins, and recognise Him to be Christ, and observe His commandments, then you may assert this; for, as I have said before, remission of sins shall be yours. But if you curse Him and them that believe on Him, and, when you have the power, put them to death, how is it possible that requisition shall not be made of you, as of unrighteous and sinful men, altogether hard-hearted and without understanding, because you laid your hands on Him?


EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA (c. 275-339), Proof of the Gospel

So it is said: 'And the Lord hath laid on him our iniquities, and he bears our sins.' Thus the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, became a curse on our behalf:

'Whom, though he knew no sin, God made sin for our sake, giving him as redemption for all, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.' [2 Cor. 5:21]

... And how can He make our sins His own, and be said to bear our iniquities, except by our being regarded as His body, according to the apostle, who says: 'Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members?' [1 Cor. 12:27] And by the rule that 'if one member suffer all the members suffer with it,' so when the many members suffer and sin, He too by the laws of sympathy ... takes into Himself the labours of the suffering members, and makes our sicknesses His, and suffers all our woes and labours by the laws of love. And the Lamb of God not only did this, but was chastised on our behalf, and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonour, which were due to us, and drew down upon Himself the appointed curse, being made a curse for us.

HILARY OF POITIERS (c. 300-368), Homily on Psalm 53 (54)

For next there follows: I will sacrifice unto Thee freely. The sacrifices of the Law, which consisted of whole burnt-offerings and oblations of goats and of bulls, did not involve an expression of free will, because the sentence of a curse was pronounced on all who broke the Law. Whoever failed to sacrifice laid himself open to the curse. And it was always necessary to go through the whole sacrificial action because the addition of a curse to the commandment forbad any trifling with the obligation of offering. It was from this curse that our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us, when, as the Apostle says: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made curse for us, for it is written: cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree [Gal. 3:13]. Thus He offered Himself to the death of the accursed that He might break the curse of the Law, offering Himself voluntarily a victim to God the Father, in order that by means of a voluntary victim the curse which attended the discontinuance of the regular victim might be removed.


ATHANASIUS (c. 300-373), On the Incarnation

For next there follows: I will sacrifice unto Thee freely. The sacrifices of the Law, which consisted of whole burnt-offerings and oblations of goats and of bulls, did not involve an expression of free will, because the sentence of a curse was pronounced on all who broke the Law. Whoever failed to sacrifice laid himself open to the curse. And it was always necessary to go through the whole sacrificial action because the addition of a curse to the commandment forbad any trifling with the obligation of offering. It was from this curse that our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us, when, as the Apostle says: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made curse for us, for it is written: cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree [Gal. 3:13]. Thus He offered Himself to the death of the accursed that He might break the curse of the Law, offering Himself voluntarily a victim to God the Father, in order that by means of a voluntary victim the curse which attended the discontinuance of the regular victim might be removed.

GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS (c. 330-390), The Fourth Theological Oration

Take, in the next place, the subjection by which you subject the Son to the Father. What, you say, is He not now subject, or must He, if He is God, be subject to God? You are fashioning your argument as if it concerned some robber, or some hostile deity. But look at it in this manner: that as for my sake He was called a curse, Who destroyed my curse; and sin, who taketh away the sin of the world; and became a new Adam to take the place of the old, just so He makes my disobedience His own as Head of the whole body. As long then as I am disobedient and rebellious, both by denial of God and by my passions, so long Christ also is called disobedient on my account. But when all things shall be subdued unto Him on the one hand by acknowledgment of Him, and on the other by a reformation, then He Himself also will have fulfilled His submission, bringing me whom He has saved to God. For this, according to my view, is the subjection of Christ; namely, the fulfilling of the Father’s Will.

We could add:

AMBROSE OF MILAN (339-397), Flight from the World

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (c. 350-407), Homilies on Second Corinthians

AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354-430), Against Faustus

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA (375-444), De adoratione

GELASIUS OF CYZICUS (fifth century), Church History

GREGORY THE GREAT (c. 530-604), Morals on the Book of Job

SolaMeanie said...

No speaking in tongues is supposed to be allowed at this blog. For shame!

Now, tiens toi tranquelle, comprends tu?

Daryl said...

Solameanie,

How's the recovery coming along?

Gummby said...

And Cubby: citing Cervantes in the original Spanish is frankly out of your league as I know for a fact you can't speak classical Castellano.

Speaking of that...Cent, is there any truth to the rumor that you voted against Cubby as the 5th Pyro since you already had someone who posted regularly in another language?

Changing subjects...

I'm sympathetic to Campi's request. If anyone, particularly a defender of Mr. Pagitt, can find a clear statement from him of what "the gospel" is, I would love to see it posted here, so that we can compare it to the gospel John MacArthur preaches, which (as I noted previously in this thread) is the one found in the Bible.

SolaMeanie said...

Daryl,

I am recovering nicely, albeit some residual tiredness. The tiredness was enhanced by . . . um, no. I won't say it. I shall not take a cheap shot at the expense of my EC friends. Why provoke another kerfuffle?

Thanks for asking!

Now, a comment to steer back on topic. I see that we are now probably going to argue the substitutionary atonement vs. the PENAL substitutionary atonement. Sigh. I feel a soporific heaviness coming on again.

ezekiel said...

sewing,

Excellent scriptures and context! We see the substitutionary atonement in Gen 22:8,13 as well.

Drew,

If you can't look at the OT and see history repeating, I don't think there is anything anyone cans say that is going to change your mind. Apparently, you are content to join others as you try to devise a new Gospel. One where Jesus is peace, mercy, grace and nothing else.

But wait, it is not really new. It is the same basic message that failed Israel. Peace, peace all the way to famine, destruction and captivity. But to see that, you have to come to grips with the truth. That God is a jealous God that simply won't stand for you worshipping some other god or idol. And that He was and still is willing to kill off anyone that does not worship him.

Today, it is the "greeks" turn at bat. We have been grafted in. Yet we seem determined to repeat history, even after He sent his own Son and sacrificed Him to atone for our sin.

Just like spiritual leaders of Israel, you seem to want to tell folks that everything is all right as the world comes crashing down around us. You say you believe in Jesus. Do you believe like Israel did? (Hebrews 3 and 4) Are you going to continue to mold and shape The Gospel to fit your desires?

Or are you going to soften your heart and obey The Gospel?

Daryl said...

I confess I am uninformed as to the difference. I had never heard of an atonement that wasn't as a result of a legal reckoning owed by me, paid by Christ.

Care to fill me in? (Drew apparently will not)

Sewing said...

Gene M. Bridges: Thank you very much for those excerpts. Those deepened my understanding of Paul's teaching on the atonement.

John Haller said...

As I said earlier, get the DVD of the debate between Doug Pagitt and Bob DeWaay. The issue of the gospel comes up there. But, be forewarned, you're going to find out that it's a different gospel.

I 'spose this would satisfy the plea above for a primary source.

Back to Cubby and Steve.

centuri0n said...

Cubby doesn't want to be the 5th pyro. He can't even blog on his own blog.

Just ask him.

wfseube said...

genembridges hits one out of the park! Excellent writeup, gene. I am tempted to recommend "Pierced For Our Transgressions" to drew, but I doubt he would be moved by its evidences - it appears that many of the EC ilk have already rejected it out-of-hand. Us bad ol' conservatives are the only ones who seem to be able to absorb it...

John Haller said...

Is anyone else struck by the fact that a few days after Yom Kippur, the issue of the atonement is so misunderstood?

GeneMBridges said...

Correction:

Athanasius (c. 300-373), On the Incarnation

(New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1993), sect. 8, p. 34.

Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death in place of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.

Ibid., sect. 9, p. 35.

The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father’s Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death the body which He had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. For naturally, since the Word of God was above all, when He offered His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitute for the life of all, He fulfilled in death all that was required.

(Thank you to a reader who emailed me and drew attention to my duplication of Hilary on that one).

SJ Camp said...

To all:

Here is a link to a three part debate that Pagitt did in 2006. It is "definition by piece meal" as to what he believes.

After reviewing all three parts, I will be writing an i depth article about it at CampOnThis hopefully by weeks end and trust you will find it helpful pertaining to this issue.

I also hope to speak with Doug personally as well to press him on several points of biblical truth. Your prayers that God would be glorified in this process.

Here is the link.

Jim W said...

Phil Johnson: I hope you will allow me to paste in this extract of Doug Pagitt's blog. Hopefully, it will provide some of the needed proof that Pagitt "speaks with forked tongue". Or at least, a very slippery tongue.
This is for you, Drew. I have no reason to lie, even as much as I despise the perverted "gospel" that Pagitt sells. I see the links don't translate, but you will be able to find this post if you search Pagitt's archives around the comments dates. You will notice that Pagitt is asked to clarify some points, but he never does. He has a habit of using words that mean something to him, but either mean nothing to those who read his scrawlings, or they totally twist the meaning around to something else.
Way, Truth and Life
I had a conversation today where the typical question presented to people who hold to a non-foundational approach - "Wasn't Jesus' statement 'I am the way, the truth and the life' a foundationalist presupposition"?
I can't count the number of times that people have used this statement to suggest an exclusivist view or foundationalist view (there may well be an argument made for these positions but this passage is not it). (one could try to say that Jesus is making and exclusivist statement, but it is not built on the notion that it is Truthness that makes him so. Whatever it is that makes the Torah the way to God - this is, in my opinion, what Jesus is suggesting).
It is so maddening sometimes, not in the case of this conversation today, but it drives me mad.
It would be like taking the other seven "I Am" statements in John and thinking of them as literal statements - Jesus is really bread, really a vine, really a shepherd, or a door.
All of those are much better than that. Jesus was likening himself to Torah in the Way, Truth and Life. That was how the Torah was referred to, so Jesus was saying that he was as Torah.
There is great significance to this, all of which, in my opinion, are lost by the foundationalist perspective.
So the next time I hear someone say there must be absolute truth because Jesus said he was truth I am going to invite them to my house to hang a Jesus door, or prune the Jesus vines.
Posted by: arongahagan | October 02, 2005 at 08:05 PM
word, truedat, amen, whatever the kids are sayin these days, anyway, I agree. If it starts raining while your friends trim the Jesus vine, ask them if they would rather take shelter under God's wings, or go inside.
Posted by: robbie | September 29, 2005 at 02:38 AM
Okay, I am usually up on stuff, but have been so engaged in earning a living lately that I seem to have missed something...
What is this post about?
How do you define the terms being used (I need a point of reference to grasp the context)?
Someone once gave me this simplified cheat sheet for a Bible Study and it has proven to be right on the money more times than not, concerning Jesus actually being more important as an actual character in the Torah (works only in a KJV or ESV, or Hebrew -- if you know the Hebrew spellings):
LORD God: Jesus in the Old Testament
Lord GOD: The Father in the Old Testament
Posted by: T0V | September 28, 2005 at 11:09 AM
Well, I won't pretend that I am familiar with the terms you use, but I will comment on the context of which you speak. You make an excellent argument, and it stands to reason that you are correct.
However, it also stands to reason that John 1 - "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was/is God..." would lead one to think that regardless of the argument you make, the verse is saying the same thing.
Posted by: ~mike | September 18, 2005 at 12:38 AM
Hey Doug nice piece of writing. Far too often I think we just look at the ink on the page instead of doing the harder work of digging for the contextual significance of Jesus' sayings. We build our theologies on misappropriated terminologies and then package them nicely and sell them as the only real thing. What Jesus was getting at here was so much more than simply a propositional truth statement. I beleive he was challenging the human race, specifically first and foremost his first century Jewish audience, and later, through the canon of Scritpure the rest of us, to become truly human by embracing the way of life and the relationship with the Father and the neighbor that he lived out.
Thanks!
Posted by: Eric Kieb | September 15, 2005 at 11:20 AM
Leslie Newbigin says 'When Christians affirm, as they do, that Jesus is the way, the true and livng way by whom we come to the Father, they are not claiming to know everything. They are claiming to be on the way, and inviting others to join them as they press forward toward the fulness of truth, toward the day when we shall know as we have been known.'
Gospel in a Pluralist Society p.12
Posted by: Neil | September 15, 2005 at 10:37 AM
Yes, they love to use this verse and many others to try and disprove any post-foundationalist epistemology, it is post-foundationalism they despise, as if God only worked in the last 400 years of foundationalism! As an evangelical I have often used this verse as an argument for the exclusivity of the gospel and the need to 'accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.' But this verse doesn't say that, it says that Jesus is the truth, the way and that he is life, it states that Jesus is the way to the Father, but there is no methodology for how that works in the text.
Posted by: Neil | September 14, 2005 at 10:04 PM
So what would you say this means? Are you saying that Jesus is not the way to the Father? Is there another way to become a Christian and live in a relationship with God? I am just wondering because it kinda seems that we want to say that Jesus is not the way and that there are other ways to God. Can you help me out here?
Thanks,
Emil
Posted by: Emil | September 14, 2005 at 04:27 PM
amen and amean.
akin to using the passage about building one's house on the rock or sand as a proof text for foundationalism. akkkk!!!
peace!
Posted by: the holly | September 14, 2005 at 01:44 PM
So, can you post a link to the Christian book store that has a Jesus door and a Jesus vine available?
I assume it's next to the Jabez door and the Jabez vine?
Posted by: J@mes | September 14, 2005 at 01:06 PM
I totally agree with you, but isn't the next verse, "No one comes to the Father but through me," more the favorite of foundationalists?
Posted by: Josh | September 14, 2005 at 12:12 PM
By the way, I think the relational "foundationalism"(there must be a better word to communicate my idea here) applies to the other I am statements as well.
Posted by: Clint Walker | September 13, 2005 at 08:16 PM
Kind of agree with you, especially after my experience last weekend.
I guess I would say Jesus establishes a relational foundation here, but not necessarily a philisophical one.
Posted by: Clint Walker | September 13, 2005 at 08:13 PM
Hey Doug:
How would you define the term "foundationalist" as you're using it?
Thanks,
Justin
Posted by: Justin Taylor | September 13, 2005 at 04:56 PM

7K said...

Fun to see Internet evangelicalism spinning into hyper-protestant schismism. The reaction to emergents is almost funny (almost).
Sock it out, folks, and may the most "scriptural" man win. Don't worry about loving your BROTHER whom you have seen. Just make sure you are right. We all know God likes right. He's watching the contest. Whoever comes out on top is declared winner. Whoopee.

I never was a MacArthur fan. I always found his rightness divisive and superior, no matter what group of believers he was besting. That said, I'm glad he's exalting Christ. Ultimately, that's our message, not who is righter than whom. The Holy Spirit will use him to reach someone, over and above his righteous cause.
MacArthur will wind up in heaven with many of his fellow heretics.

candyinsierras said...

Doesn't anyone else find it interesting that Doug Pagitt titles a post on his blog about "The Battle Begins" and then he stands on his side of the line drawn in the sand and winks. Seriously, he....winks? So to drive home the point (or to be redundant), he struts back and forth on his line of battle and winks. I personally find it very profound.

Oh, and he says wow a lot.

I'm just sayin'.

Jared Wall said...

Let me just say that I am amazed at what passes for "christian." I assert again: Can we find a new name for those who want the warm fuzzy feelings and not the Truth. It makes me wonder why some even bother to stop by and comment. I mean how can you say we don't love others because we say they should hold to Biblical truth while you lob insults and proclaim that maybe some of us will see heaven in spite of ourselves.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"That said, I'm glad he's exalting Christ. Ultimately, that's our message, not who is righter than whom."

Well meaning, 7K, but ultimately (as you ID yourself "emergent") muddy. It's as if some cannot stand the idea that some things MUST be "righter" than others. As if that may "hurt feelings" or become an "act of violence".

Dude, there is "righter" and there is "wronger" and our friend Pagitt here is on the "wronger" side. Take a step and take a stand. There is no victory in "everybody gets a ribbon."

Tyler said...

Phil, do you realize your name is going to be in a Church History textbook 200 years from now in a chapter on the Evangelical-Emergent schism of the early 21st century?

Emergent will never self-destruct, the word "Emergent" is too trendy for people to abandon it completely. Hopefully we won't lose any major seminaries this time like we did last century and have to rebuild all over again.

BugBlaster said...

candy, you're the best wink deconstructer in town

Shawn's Journey said...

By the way, i listened to the audio (you can find it in itunes by searching for southeastern baptist theo. sem.) and I have to agree with the overall premise of what driscoll was saying, but i agree some facts were misconstrued and i believe misunderstood.

Drew said...

Daryl, please forgive me for not responding as quickly as you would have liked. From the last comment until now, I had a commitment in the real world, away from my computer, and at least 9 times out of 10, that will trump an online argument with somebody I have never met whose mind I am unlikely to change. I hope that you all would do the same thing and not waste time on me when there are better things to do (I trust this is the case.)

Please consider delay in response that you are receiving now as a compliment, as you have given me much to consider and I want to be careful and thoughtful so as to avoid mis-steps like the ones I have already made in haste

Cubby Martinez said...

¡Playas Mio! No, I don't want to be a Pyro!

Who wants to be a blogger on a blog where both Steve Camp and Doug Pagitt think you don't know how to speak English?

Drew said...

I'm sorry, I don't think my brain can do the necessary work tonight. God willing, I will provide more of an answer tomorrow. In the meantime, some of the answers to your (very good) questions can be found on that oh-so-reputable source, wikipedia. Of particular interest is the "replies" section. I never thought that J.I. Packer would be such an ally in this discussion, but I like what he adds. Hopefully, you won't dismiss him as a wishy-washy liberal.

SJ Camp said...

Cubby:
Esta conversación es sólo para adultos. Los niños pueden volver al cajón de arena.

Grace and peace,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Phil Johnson said...

Jared Wall: Let me just say that I am amazed at what passes for "christian." I assert again: Can we find a new name for those who want the warm fuzzy feelings and not the Truth. It makes me wonder why some even bother to stop by and comment. I mean how can you say we don't love others because we say they should hold to Biblical truth while you lob insults and proclaim that maybe some of us will see heaven in spite of ourselves.

I got nothing to add to that. I just thought it was good enough to warrant reposting. If I could sum things up that nicely, I'd write lots shorter blogposts.

A. Berean said...

Pagitt mocked the Bible's ability to help us with stress and together with the commentator could find no connection between reading the words of Scripture and stress reduction. This is understandable coming from the (non-Christian) commentator, but is unacceptable from someone who calls himself a pastor.

Stress caused by worry can be relieved through contemplating the words of Jesus to the stressed out Martha. "... you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary..." Stress can be relieved by correcting our perspective about things. Luke 10:41, Matt 6:34, Rom 8:28,29, Heb 13:5 etc the very thing the Word of God causes us to do.

Twisting your body like a pretzel and breathing slowly, are not more relaxing to a mature Christian than enjoying a worshipful Psalm. To lift our hearts in the gratitude and delight inspired by the Word simply has no equal when it comes to stress relief.

It is not just a low view of Scripture, but an ignorance of the true richness of the Word.

Cubby Martinez said...

Dream the impossible dream, ese. To each his own Dulcinea.

The Doulos said...

Wow. It's amazing watching the torturous path this comment thread had gone through. Sort of reminds me of...yoga.

Wow.

candyinsierras said...

Come to think of it. Maybe Doug wants us to THINK he is winking at us, but he could be hiding a......nervous tic!

I'm not sure yoga helps with that.

centuri0n said...

I'm mad as the devil at all of you for not realizing that DOUG PAGITT CAN'T DO THE EYEBROW THING.

He's jealous, and it's looks like a Chiquita Banana fruit basket on his head.

John Haller said...

Does anyone know if Doug Pagitt called Dr. MacArthur first? Before sending out this email?

Warren Pearson said...

Phil asked: "...Steve Camp tune. ...that summarized every point of the gospel so neatly and compactly? But I couldn't think of the name of the song."

Not sure if anyone answered this:

Did you mean "THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS" - great song

Mike Riccardi said...

Ok, am I hallucinating, or did Phil close this thread and then open it up again?

centuri0n said...

I'm closing the thread. You can get your licks in when Phil starts the "Truth War" thread in the near future.

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