09 November 2007

Doug Pagitt on the forevermore life

by Phil Johnson



'm in Jupiter, FL, where Marc Wragg is being ordained this weekend. Marc served with me in GraceLife and worked at Grace to You while he was in seminary, and I owe him a lot for all the ways he helped me in those years. (He's a longtime reader and sometime commenter at PyroManiacs, too.) So I'm here at his request to be part of his ordination council.

Being on the road means I have very little time to write or comment on the blog, but I want to write a quick post this morning dealing briefly with something that's already two weeks old. Since people are still talking about it, I wanted to add my two cents.

I don't know if you heard Todd Friel's interview of Doug Pagitt on Way of the Master Radio a couple of weeks ago, but if not, you ought to listen to it. I've referred to it once or twice in our comment-threads, and a number of bloggers here and there have remarked about it, too.

Rob Willman, who occasionally comments in our meta, has made a transcript of the whole interview, and another Pyrocommenter, Tim Bertolet, has analyzed Pagitt's remarks pretty thoroughly.

Todd Friel was savaged by several commenters at Justin Taylor's blog for the way he interviewed Pagitt. One of them compared the interview to "a metaphorical burning at the stake," and another (with typical postmodern "charitableness") anonymously called Friel "an uncharitable bully."

I heard the interview the day it was broadcast and thought Friel was extremely polite (though he was obviously shocked and dismayed, as I was, with Pagitt's refusal to affirm that heaven is a real place). Friel even held his temper despite Pagitt's hectoring him about what an unbelievable dunce Friel was for speaking of heaven as "an individual place that you go." Friel repeatedly addressed Pagitt as "Sir," and (I thought) went out of his way to be respectful. OK, he interrupted Pagitt a couple of times when Pagitt was being deliberately evasive, but this was a live radio interview where time is of the essence. No good radio host is going to allow an interviewee to filibuster in order to evade a question. Todd did not "bully" Pagitt.

What struck me as I listened to the interview, however, is an issue that seems fairly important: I wonder how someone can deny that heaven is a place without implicitly denying the bodily resurrection of Christ.

Notice that Pagitt himself began the discussion of the afterlife by saying, "I think we best understand that through the—through the resurrection of Jesus." And then he refused to speak of heaven as a real place. So what is he saying about understanding the afterlife by understanding the Resurrection? If Jesus rose bodily and ascended bodily and will one day return bodily, and if our vile bodies are going to be changed so that they are like His glorious body—then how can heaven not be a place where those real, tangible, corporeal, bodies exist in perfect glory?

Not to mention the fact that Jesus Himself said, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3).

(Silent pause.)

Pagitt (incredulously): "There?"

(unintelligible mumbling.)

Pagitt: See, here we—Oh, boy. Here we go again. This is just not working.

I suppose Todd Friel would have looked like a real Torquemada if he had raised the question of whether Pagitt really believes Christ rose bodily. But it would have been interesting to see what Pagitt's response would have been in a live interview.

He might have played postmodern word games with the meaning of the word "bodily." That's what his performance in the interview itself would lead me to expect.

On the other hand, if he had plainly and unreservedly affirmed the bodily resurrection of Christ, he would have had to drop the ridiculous and feigned incredulity that anyone but a muddled Platonist would think of heaven as a "place."

Phil's signature

139 comments:

DJP said...

Not only "Sir" but, frequently, "Pastor."

Daryl said...

I listened to that interview earlier this week.

Wasn't sure if I should weep or puke...


Can Pagitt possiby think that we believe someone who is seminary trained and grew up in the church hasn't heard that heaven and hell are real places. The duplicity and dishonesty was more revolting than the evasion I thought.

...and people consider him an important Christian leader...why???

étrangère said...

I was gobsmacked (as a Norn Irish would say) at this for a good hour after listening to it the other day. I admit that I didn't like Todd Friel's interview style, but then I don't like Jeremy Paxman's either (sorry, no idea what the American equivalent is) - not that he was impolite as such, but there's a sort of questioning which seems designed to hinder communication rather than help it. But since Pagitt didn't seem too concerned for helpfully communicating, that's by the bye.

What baffled me, amidst all the fog, was how Pagitt seemed to affirm that God would recreate a new heavens & new earth (one of the few things he did affirm), but deny that a new earth might imply physical location. As you've pointed out, that leads backwards into an oversight (at best) of the physicality of our resurrection hope, and Christ's resurrection.

dadx10 said...

Phil,

I have been reading this blog almost daily for over a year but have never commented. Every time I go to the comments there are 17,548 comments and I feel that in order to reply intelligently I need to read all of them. Two days later when I finish (because by this time it is over 20,000) I feel like the subject has been exhausted. I’m not complaining because the comments are as good as the original posts.

Anyway, this time I read your article in the morning (something I usually cannot do) and lo-and-behold shabang ZERO comments!!!!

All I want to say is that I see a lot of Christians across the country struggling to know how to discern truth from error when error is put forth so subtly. I am not trying to say that Pagitt is subtle. I just read a book by Samuel Bolton entitled “The Arraignment of Error” written over 350 years ago. It could have been written yesterday. It is essentially the “Truth War” of the 17th century. He even uses the phrase “truth war”. Have you read it?

Daryl said...

I guess we can be thankful that the more these guys talk, the more they write, the more time that passes, the less they seem to feel like they need to be vague about their belief (or unbelief). I'm not sure how anyone can give these guys the benefit of the doubt they enjoyed just a few years ago.

Good catch on the resurrection issue, just one more way that his ideas re-write Scripture.

Phil Johnson said...

Dadx10:

I have a copy of that book but haven't read it. Thanks for the tip. I'll read it now.

Kim said...

I think everyone who listened to the broadcast should read it, too. Somehow reading it made it seem more frightening to me.

I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it doesn't take a genius to see that Mr. Paggit is well-schooled in verbal tap dancing.

Karen (Rosesandtea) said...

I remember literally shaking when I listened to the interview. It seemed frightening because of DP's irrationality, and upsetting due to the denying and twisting of Scripture.

DJP said...

Strangestrawberryblondegirl is a Narn?

DJP said...

...frightening because of DP's irrationality

Mm, perhaps we could call him "DPag"?

Rob said...

The Pagitt interview was particularly interesting because of his relationship with Rob Bell. Doug recently was asked to preach for Rob at Mars Hill while Rob was ill. Rob's communication style is so polished that I suspect it would be very hard for an interviewer to catch Rob openly denying the physical reality of heaven or hell...or for that matter suggesting that they are somehow not separate entities. We should be careful about proclaiming guilt by association, but the leadership at Mars Hill emphatically endorsed Doug's ministry. Perhaps all those Christians that are running out to buy Rob's books and Noomas should consider who he approves.

Rob said...

who --> whom.

sorry, Mom.

stratagem said...

I have studied Pagitt for several years, and have interacted with some people associated with his "church".

The most enlightening part of the Friel-Pagitt interview came from one followup caller after the interview. This person correctly observed that Pagitt often relies upon a technique of pretending that persons who are coming from an orthodox Christian perspective are so off-base that a normal person (i.e., himself) cannot even understand their questions. That is exactly what he does here. If you watch other interactions of Pagitt with traditional Christians (such as the DVD debates with Bob DeWaay), you see will the same technique at work.

It's as if Pagitt is going on the offense by implying, "wow you're so 'out there' that a normal, modern person can't even understand what you're talking about." Pretending he is the norm, and fundies are the one trying to change things.

I guess he has successfully set himself up as pope of his particular dunghill. Shrewd and clever, but not admirable, in my opinion.

Kevin said...

What struck me as I listened to the interview, however, is an issue that seems fairly important: I wonder how someone can deny that heaven is a place without implicitly denying the bodily resurrection of Christ.

And that there is the PoMo think.

C'mon Phil you need to forget that pie-in-the-sky in the sweet bye and bye. Tap me a frosty mug would ya. It sure is hectic here.

And what's that in his ear?

Sorry for the sarcasm, but how can ANYONE take this guy seriously?

SolaMeanie said...

If Pagitt got his boxers in a bunch over Todd Friel, I am sure he prolly wouldn't appreciate being on the Underground with myself and Kevin Johnson. We are certainly not rude to radio guests, but neither do we allow them to do the safety dance with truth. I personally don't think we have to treat false teachers with either deference or kid gloves. Not to mention the fact that Pagitt is younger than me.

The one good thing about episodes such as this is that it really exposes the true nature of these purported pastors and teachers. How close can one dance to the edge of Lake Apostasy without getting wet or falling in?

Karen (Rosesandtea) said...

Sorry, Dan. I thought the distinguished "J" in your initials was enough to differentiate. (yeah, I'll try flattery). DPag it can be.

BTW I just looked at your avatar and saw you had a sword. For a long while before today, I was wondering if that broom you were holding was the new one that swept clean, or the old one that knew where the dirt was.

Well, it made sense to me.

slinking back to pumpkin cookie- making............

Dr Fin said...

Regardless of which PM or EC fellow I'm listening to, I always finding myself wondering what they're thinking, as in, "What in the world are they thinking?"

I understand (I think - who knows?) PM and the non-foundations upon which it rests, but can any honest, integrated, reality-based person genuinely live according to that belief? I can't see how, not when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of daily life.

Not knowing what else to conclude, I end up believing that they are so smitten with their own intellect - or that of someone else - that they become absorbed in, obsessed by, and enslaved to their ethereal hubris. Are they educated beyond their intelligence, knowing too much that they cannot understand?

Yeah, I think so.

They serve as warnings for me: we, too, are vulnerable to thinking we understand some profound, ineffable things; we all can become puffed up by our knowledge and intellectual abilities. Then we parade and strut around like little boys wearing a grownups clothes, showing our backsides to the world because we can't keep our rational pants up - or zipped.

If we don't have the Holy Spirit enlightening us through the word of God, and allow Him and it to serve as a mirror and to anchor us to reality, then we, too, can drift into a fog of our own conceit, much like the PM and EC chasers of our time.

< /lil' homily >

stratagem said...

Dr. Fin: Not knowing what else to conclude, I end up believing that they are so smitten with their own intellect - or that of someone else - that they become absorbed in, obsessed by, and enslaved to their ethereal hubris. Are they educated beyond their intelligence, knowing too much that they cannot understand?

Or, as Festus might have said to Doug Pagitt: "Your great learning is driving you insane!"

But that's where any analogies between Paul and Pagitt end.

chris said...

I was stunned ("gobsmacked" was already used) by DPag's manner of pretending Friel was speaking some other language, or emitting some series of squeaks and chirps. The incredulity in his voice suggests that DPag might have been wondering whether Frield was making up words.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind if he would answer a question in a straightforward manner. Accusing someone of operating in some sort of hyper-Platonic ideal just didn't do it for me.

This was, on a side note, my first experience with WotM. Maybe I'll listen again. Or maybe I won't. All I know is that I won't be doing anything about it in any sort of place.

Chris Hemmelman said...

McLaren is trying to revive the socail gospel...Pagitt seems to be trying to fit Christianity into pantheism (ala Marcus Borg). All the while historically ignorant people believe them to be promoting something new.

There is nothing new about McLaren and Pagitt's ideas. They are just dressed up differently, replacing the shirt and tie of academia with an untucked shirt and jeans.

donsands said...

"played postmodern word games"

That's what drove me crazy, and drives me nuts.

Another good post on an important cancer within the Body of Christ.

So thanks Phil. Appreciate your contending for the faith and truth and Gospel, and keeping it pure, as Frank and Dan do as well.

A little leaven will spread through the whole lump.
We need to beware of the leaven in the church.

Chris Hemmelman said...

It appears that Pagitt also wants to dress it with a piercing.

johnMark said...

You know, maybe Pagitt should start a radio show called the "Bible Dancer Man" where he attempts to question your questions and label your answers. Fred Astaire apologetics?

Heaven is not a place yet it is going to be recreated along with the earth? So is Heaven a process? A state of being like nirvana?

Good tactic though. Argue about the argument instead of addressing it. Maybe Pagitt doesn't have as much confidence in his position as many give him credit for. He had the perfect opportunity to engage, explain and "correct" Friel. He didn't. Sad.

Mark

Mike Riccardi said...

You know what I was just as gobsmacked by (add this to the TeamPyro lexicon)... was even the implicit notion that Friel was being "unhelpful," or "not facilitating conversation/communication." That's just ridiculous.

First of all, I give the man all sorts of credit for not hanging up on Pagitt when he started doing his 'platonic-dualist' backpedal. Pagitt needed to say nothing else to clearly demonstrate that he was not interested in communicating at all. If we knew all the things Todd wanted to do and say but didn't, we'd praise him for his self-discipline. If it were me, I'd have thrown my phone across the room.

Secondly, though, we need to recognize that Todd's "stepping on Pagitt's lines" weren't rude interruptions. They were desperate grasps at trying to keep the conversation moving in the direction towards something useful. Todd asks extremely simple questions, and then we've got to do so many mental and verbal gymnastics to follow Pagitt that we're left dizzy with sore muscles. If someone sees that happening on their radio show, isn't the thing that shows the most regard for clear, effective, and edifying communication to stop that in its tracks and move it as fast as possible back toward the actual question?

Friel wasn't hindering communication by interrupting here and there. He was doing everything he could to try and get Doug to answer the actual question!!! Dahh!!!!! That's in the service of clarity, folks, not a hindrance of it!

DJP said...

I think what gobsmacks everyone is that Pagitt didn't even try to answer Biblely.

Mike Riccardi said...

LoL... thanks Dan. I needed that.

I was actually trying to think of a way to work "Bibley" in there when I mentioned the lexicon, but I couldn't. But I guess that's why you get the big bucks.

Carla Rolfe said...

Daryl said what I was going to say:

"I guess we can be thankful that the more these guys talk, the more they write, the more time that passes, the less they seem to feel like they need to be vague about their belief (or unbelief). I'm not sure how anyone can give these guys the benefit of the doubt they enjoyed just a few years ago."

Personally, I think these guys should be interviewed more often - and let the light shine on the darkness so that more can see (or hear) for themselves, what these "pastors" actually believe, and teach.

Tim Bertolet said...

Wow, Thank’s for the link, this morning my hit counter shot up and I was thinking 'what's going on?'.

I wonder if everybody is getting too concerned with Pagitt’s vs. Friel’s attitude or how Pagitt deconstructed the Friel and played word games, etc. Yeah, that’s an issue but even more: there really is no gospel if there is no heaven. (It took me six posts on my blog to say that; my wife doesn’t call that ‘pretty thorough’ she calls it “obsessive” ;) ). There can be no wonderful announcement of the reign of God in Jesus Christ if there is no “place” from where Christ reigns over all, commanding that we should repent. There can be no forgiveness of sins if there isn't a heavenly temple. It isn't enough to say 'Jesus is the way, the truth and the life,' if he doesn't clear the way to God into heaven as our forerunner (Heb 6:20).

By Pagitt's own presuppositions we can't even ask: "Where is Jesus?" Or at least it can’t answer the question by the normative orthodox answer. Christian theology right from the New Testament has asked: WHERE did Jesus go? For the NT and later orthodoxy the answer has always been: heaven. As we all know, Pagitt in his interview says that to answer “where” questions he has to go back to Platonic thought.

But consider:
Hebrews 9:11-12 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:23-24 23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;


No heaven no continuing incarnation and intercession either. Did we forget how precious it is to Christianity that Christ is in heaven at God's right hand for me?

Christian theology does not succumb to radical Platonic conceptions of heaven in so much as Christ enters heaven precisely in incarnated human flesh that has been given incorruptible resurrection life. Nevertheless Christ comes in the flesh (John 1:14), and in glorified resurrected flesh he ascends back into heaven itself. Humanity in a body of ‘flesh’ entering heaven would have been horrific for a Gnostic and Platonic worldview.

Given some of the similarities that scholars have pointed out between Hebrews’ and Philo's exegesis, I wonder if Pagitt would argue that Hebrews is Platonic, sort of 'incarnating the gospel for that worldview,’ but since we now know better we should reject this spatial reference. What we get right down to is the issue of and nature of the authority of the Biblical text.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I think a good name for an emerging church would be:

Ambiguity

or The Ambiguous

I can see clouds as the background for the letterhead.

The subheading could be: We don't claim to know.

Or Enjoy the Journey---Who Needs to Arrive

They seem to be heading the Unitarian direction where everything can be the truth all depending upon how you explain it and define the words. The key is that you are having a positive spiritual experience. And who is anyone to question it.

Daryl said...

I'd be interested to hear Dan Kimball's reaction to this interview. A chance to put his money where his mouth is...

lordodamanor said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norn_language

Norn, not Narn-

I'm Ohdarn- an ancient gnomencreature prone to drone and stumble alot.

lordodamanor said...

I thought it was a pool cue! How can anyone play pool with a sword?

lordodamanor said...

good one jeanmaque-

Perhaps they could offer Dancing with the Bizarres with the main competition The Devil's in the Details and the object being to Dance with the Devil through a maze of dead-end dialogue until there is nowhere left to stand.

Lee Shelton IV said...

I think Stratagem summed up perfectly the entire Emergent mindset: "...pretending that persons who are coming from an orthodox Christian perspective are so off-base that a normal person cannot even understand their questions."

wordsmith said...

What's most galling is that by virtue of being a "pastor," Mr. Pagitt is responsible for the spiritual well-being of his flock. That's like having Typhoid Mary be your nurse, and Dr. Kevorkian be your physician.

jojo said...

Okay, this is what you get when you get the kooky fringe from each side of an issue and stick 'em together in a phone conversation.

And you bet, both Pagitt and WOTM each represent the kooky fringe of their respective places in Christianity today.

Both Friel's attitude and Pagitt's presumption that he represents all things "emergent" were absurd.

Their conversation and words were plain silly.

Peregrina said...

Boy, "gobsmacked" is right. I hate to be so blunt...but it's tough to believe that Pagitt really is that stupid. I am referring to those times when he pretended not to understand the questions that Todd was asking. His attitude that "this isn't interesting" enough for him just makes me annoyed.

Todd showed ALOT more restraint than I would have!

Daryl said...

What kooky fringe of Christianity does Friel inhabit?

Further to that...Pagitt is not on the kooky fringe of Christianity, he is outside of it altogether. His is another religion, in no way related to Christianity except in that he often uses the same words (with different meanings mind you)

jojo said...

Friel and Company are kooky in taking Evangelical Christianity to it's outer limits.

A Christianity based on confrontation, an "us versus them" mentality, the sandwich board dude that says "turn or burn" without the sandwich board.

I never saw Jesus do that in the Gospels. He stood for truth, he preached repentance, but the only ones he confronted were the religious establishment that thought they were saved through their own self righteousness.

The tactics WOTM employs are absolutely foreign to any of Jesus' ways or words when He walked this earth.

He transformed sinners by having FELLOWSHIP with them, not debating them into repentance.

Myriads of Christians look at the antics of WOTM and sigh collectively, "Give me a break".

stratagem said...

Hey pyro-readers: Take a look at the first ten seconds of this video of Pagitt's "church", and see if it reminds you more of heaven, or hell?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBWR_FtE8D0

(Strictly Platonic, here).

stratagem said...

I never saw Jesus do that in the Gospels. He stood for truth, he preached repentance, but the only ones he confronted were the religious establishment that thought they were saved through their own self righteousness.

Hmmm... isn't that exactly what Friel was doing in the interview?

Daryl said...

Jojo,

How confrontation is bad is beyond me and in this case Friel was challenging a religiously arrogant false teacher making his attempts to get a straight answer from DPag spot on.

Where is the problem with challenging a heretic to tell him where someone goes when they die? Particular when they resort to lies and false confusion in order to avoid the simple question.

Mike Riccardi said...

He stood for truth, he preached repentance, but the only ones he confronted were the religious establishment that thought they were saved through their own self righteousness.

Can we apply that to today's religious establishment that thinks they're saved through their own ignorance and false humility, and then teaches others to believe this as well?

No matter how many empty words and "You're-so-unlike-Jesus" accusations you throw out JoJo, you'll never be able to square not being vociferously and even forcefully opposed to false teachers and the teaching of the Bible... even if you do try to pit Jesus against the apostles.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Is there a theological term that fits in between "evangelize" and "discipling"?

My reason for asking the question is the nicey-nice, kumbayah-singing, hand-holding part of me would like to regard Emergents, mainline liberal Christians, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodoxers as fellow Christians. And since they're fellow Christians, then there's no need to evangelize.

Because if I think that I need to evangelize and present the *whole* gospel to them, then I am presupposing that they are NOT Christians.

For example, with Emergents let's say, I need to get clarity on whether they are Christian or not. If not, then I should fulfill the Great Commission with them in obedience to Christ. If they are Christian, then let's enjoy fellowship with one another and spur one another on in service and worship of the Lord.

To rightfully judge and discern, (and to risk being falsely accused of being judgmental) or not to judge at all... that is the question.

SolaMeanie said...

JohnMark...

Sing that to the tune of "Secret Agent Man." LOL.

And since I'm making catty musical remarks, I can't help but think of The Beatles and "Get Back" when I see the handle, "JoJo."

That's ironic if you think about it a bit.

Finally, as far as Jesus confronting only the religious establishment, hardly. Just who made up those crowds who heard Jesus preaching? I don't think they were only members of the Sanhedrin.

Furthermore, I see yet again the low view of Scripture held by those who are sympathetic to the Emergent mindset. The Bible is God's inspired, inerrant Word, from front to back. They very cleverly try to separate Jesus from the other New Testament writers, claiming falsely that this nice Jesus was so different from those mean old apostles. Never mind that the Apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were speaking for the Lord Himself.

I love it when people lasso an Emergent and then pin him down, refusing to let him squirm out of the issues and question. The predictable hissy fit is entertaining and instructive.

Kevin said...

Truth,

Is there a theological term that fits in between "evangelize" and "discipling"?

I think the term is "bibley."

Daryl said...

Evangeliscipline?

Daryl said...

Excommunivangelism?

(Kick 'em out so they can be brought back in)

lordodamanor said...

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

From Pagitt's Revisualled Deconstruction:

Well, I'm on my way
I don't know where I'm going
I'm on my way
I'm taking my time but I don't know where

Goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona
See you, me and Julio down by the schoolyard
See you, me and Julio down by the schoolyard

In a couple of days they come and take me away
But the press let the story leak
Now when the radical priest came to get me released
We was all on the cover of Newsweek

S&G can also be adapted for clear bibley understanding:

Sounds of Silence: What every fool needs to know.

Boxer: For the itinerant emergent preacher

For the Charismatic emc'ers, Tounges with interpretation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQbyPcwkhy8

SolaMeanie said...

Daryl,

Before coming up with terms like that, I think we had best define "place." Mr. Pagitt seems a bit confused over what that means. Place as in (topov, topos), not Mary Kay Place.

There's a place for people like that.

SolaMeanie said...

Lord of Manor,

In all honesty, I still think the song that best sums up Emergent theology is "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. Listen to that song while reading "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll and you will have a truly profound epiphany.

Daryl said...

Meanie,

How would he define the statement

Come on over to my place...

May our souls converge in the pre-forevermore state.

lordodamanor said...

tis friday, and there appears to an emergence in the force

meanie solo, you mean like: when the hooka smoking character has given you the call or when logic and purr-portion has fallen softly dead?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Quhj6PEboCU

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Bibley", "Evangeliscipline" and "Excommunivangelism" are the suggested technical theological terms for historically orthodox Protestants (aka biblical Christians or conservative evangelicals) who are dialoguing with Emergents, LibProts, Roman Catholics, EO's in the hopes of helping them grow as biblically sound disciples of Christ.

I would say that my favorite term that's been suggested so far is "evangeliscipline." So if someone asks me why I'm conversing with a staunch Roman Catholic, I can simply say I'm evanglisciplining my Roman Catholic brother.

lordodamanor said...

tuad-

Do you carry a big shtick- and can it be used instead of frozen meat?

Stefan said...

I had a longer comment, but I think I'll just preserve this excerpt from it. There's really nothing more to write:

Holy smokerinos!

stratagem said...

EC's like Pagitt's Solomon's Porch is for those who want endless chin-stroking and woolgathering, never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

I've been told by people who attend Pagitt's "church" that preaching the Gospel is a sin (no, I'm not kidding). Instead, supposedly we should simply be doing nice things and they will somehow come to a silent knowledge of the truth (even though those who go to his church probably wouldn't acknowledge that truth exists). What self-contradictory hogwash.

Like JoJo, they apparently believe in 'Evangelism by Osmosis' rather than by the proclamation of truth.

Scores of redeemed sinners will someday thank God that Todd Friel and Ray Comfort are not dissuaded from their efforts by the desire to be cool, accepted, or popular.

centuri0n said...

I think Pagitt should get some fruit and repent.

Tim said...

Oh my. "Excommunivangelism." I'm in stitches.


jojo: I hope you come back and follow-up on your comment. I'm really curious to know what you're thinking when you read the responses people posted.

VcdeChagn said...

The tactics WOTM employs are absolutely foreign to any of Jesus' ways or words when He walked this earth.

He transformed sinners by having FELLOWSHIP with them, not debating them into repentance.


This betrays a colossal ignorance of what WOTM AND Jesus' ministry to sinners is about. Which is fine, but still lacking in understanding.

Woman at the well-Confronted about her 5 husbands and living with someone

Woman caught in adultery-go and sin no more

Rich Man-Sell everything and give it to the poor

Proverbs-The law is perfect in converting the soul.

From the WOTM BTC-Reach past the intellect, to the conscience to avoid arguments...

So much for arguing people into heaven.

Find me ONE quote or reference (just one in the copious online resources for WOTM) where they recommend argument over using the law to sow seed with?

lordodamanor said...

"I've been told by people who attend Pagitt's "church" that preaching the Gospel is a sin (no, I'm not kidding). Instead, supposedly we should simply be doing nice things and they will somehow come to a silent knowledge of the truth (even though those who go to his church probably wouldn't acknowledge that truth exists). What self-contradictory hogwash." -stratagem

Ah, mysticism, Assisi, do good and if necessary preach the Gospel....

I worked with World Changers, a SBC outreach, when our youth pastor quoted Saint Francis in response to a challenge about what the outreache's purpose was. It turns out that in many city venues the only way that WC can get city cooperation is to pledge not to present the Gospel unless asked. Hmmmmm!

What sticks out is the fruit that pragmatisim is bearing. WWJD versus WHJD. What would Jesus do becomes a substitute for the purpose that he came. So, what Jesus has done is unnecessary. Following that tradjectory, we wind up with meaning being unnecessary as the substance of words, and then what is left is where's there .

SolaMeanie said...

The more I read and hear about this subject, indeed whenever I encounter anything Emergent, the more I feel like this.

What to do?

Mike Riccardi said...

Oh that pic HAS to be modified to say "Emergents" at the bottom. I'd buy that t-shirt.

Mike Riccardi said...

Hey Sola,

Check your email.

Sharon said...

Wow. Wow. Wow.


This is really something.

Eduardo said...

Phil, since you are an expert regarding the book of Proverbs, and since I've been studying the book this week, I wanted to post this verse:
"Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,but the instruction of fools is folly." Proverbs 16:22 (ESV)

I have been studying the ECM and yesterday visited the emergentvillage.com and listened to a conference with jack caputo and I really feel these guys think they are smarter than the rest. They enjoy coming up with big philosophical answers for things already exlained in the Bible. A fool is one who denies God (Psalm 14:1), but also one who thinks he's smarter than God...Just a comment! God bless...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Question. Isn't Phil Johnson's post about Doug Pagitt a form of "evangeliscipling" to Doug Pagitt and other Emergents?

PJ regards Pagitt as a Christian, but off-track. If you really want to cut to the bone, then PJ would regard Pagitt as an Emergent Christian Heretic. But since this Christian brother heretic is still a Christian, then PJ is evangelisciplining.

But if you want to cut down to the marrow, then you'd have to discern and proclaim that Pagitt is *NOT* a Christian which would then require "evangelism" proper.

Pagitt:

A) Christian?
B) Christian Heretic?
C) Not a Christian?

I haven't heard the interview or read the transcript so I can't say.

jojo said...

"This betrays a colossal ignorance of what WOTM AND Jesus' ministry to sinners is about. Which is fine, but still lacking in understanding."

Hmmm...to point out that WOTM is to Evangelicals what Doug Pagitt is to Emergent is "colossal ignorance"? Well, let's go to the examples used in attempt to identify the WOTM techniques as truley that of the Master.

Woman at the well...ironic, Jesus points out her flawed living and then let's her go into the city. Samaritan theology intact. Akin to a Muslim pronouncing Jesus as a great prophet. A failed conversion by WOTM standards.

Woman in adultery...Unlike WOTM technique, Jesus not only ignored the law but essentially said to heck with it at that moment. The Law prescribed she was to be stoned. How ironic to use that as an instance of confronting the sinner to convert.

Rich young ruler...Again, Jesus went straight up with the religious establishment, of which that man was a part.

Yes, there is a place for the law (1 Tim 1). But not to resort to confrontation techniques where we pick off any Joe Shmoe that is walking by, unload our Scripture ammo on him like Mormon Missionaries, and then claim to represent the Master...

My opinion, probably not worth the price of the blog page it's on, is that if the Master were here today and looked at Emergent traditions,Mormon missionaries, Soap box preachers, Hare Krishna propoganda, and WOTM techniques He might say..."it's all so religious. Where's the local shelter, sports bar, or factory assembly line...I have come not to condemn the world but to save it".

Spurgeonwannabe said...

I am running into this very same problem - as a pastor I am always trying to discern partnerships with other organizations. Met with a local YFCer and I asked him what he thought about EM - Long Pause - followed by - How do you define EM?(haha EMers don't have a solid definition - what a shock!) The warning bells are going off core meltdown is imminent and I ask two more questions - which I won't repeat but here were the answers - doesn't matter if you believe in literal hell and yeah we have Catholic volunteers.

Being a newcomer to the reformed scene my Calvy senses were tingling

But my heart broke for this guy - instead of simply just pointing out bad theology I wondered how do I reach someone who has influence over others with truth - the association I belong to is heading in the same direction and rather than running I want to be part of those who through God's sovereign hand turn the tide against such baloney.

But I really have no clue where to start.

jojo said...

Addendum: Jesus' sharpest rhetoric was never aimed at Joe sitting at the bar or walking through the park. You know, "vipers, white washed tombs, hypocrites, ect ect ect". It was for the guys with long flowing robes, giant phylacteries, long winded prayers, and annoyingly vocal and elite.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

JoJo,

Let's have an evangeliscipling discussion. Let me charitably regard you as a Christian.

What doctrines of biblical evangelicals bother you so much? Why do they bother you? What's your alternate suggestion as a better way?

Eduardo said...

Hey Mike Riccardi! Thought you'd like this picture better...here

Daryl said...

JoJo,

DPag is hardly some Joe sitting at a bar. He fit's right into the Pharisee mold : religious teacher twisting Scripture to his own ends, ignoring the truth.

Getting pretty close to a white-washed tomb methinks.

SolaMeanie said...

I think a good place to start is the dividing line between heresy of the garden variety and damnable heresy. These guys are clever enough at vagueness and obfuscation that they seldom come out and openly make a statement that one could qualify as damnable heresy. But in my view, they skate pretty close if not cross the line. Denial of the substitutionary atonement is a good example.

puritanicoal said...

Eduardo - you're right about the erudite attitude with the EC. You should read Tony Campolo's take on election. He "explains it" using Einstein's Theory of Relativity. I forget which book, but it is classic brain garbage.

SolaMeanie said...

Eduardo,

Mike actually emailed me that amended Scanners pix? Are you the clever artist? If so, well done!

Rob Willmann said...

I gotta say, that when I wrote out the interview for my blog, there were sections of what DPag said that I simply couldn't grasp. If you listen to his theological gymnastics that he was going through to evade Todd's questions, it almost makes you dizzy.

Someone needs to hand Pagitt a basic 6th grade english primer and ask him to consctruct sentences with NOUNS and VERBS, not phrases punctuated with "uhms".

BTW, if anyone else interviews an Emergent leader and needs someone to transcribe it, go by my site and let me know and I will do it if I have time.

Rob @ Vibist.com

Tim said...

jojo,

"Woman in adultery...Unlike WOTM technique, Jesus not only ignored the law but essentially said to heck with it at that moment. The Law prescribed she was to be stoned. How ironic to use that as an instance of confronting the sinner to convert."

Wait...What? You're contrasting the WOTM technique to the way Jesus said "go and sin no more"? I'm afraid I can't tell what you're thinking here.

You look at Jesus not punishing her with the consequences of the levitical law and you call that saying "to heck with the Law". OK... And you think that's different from WOTM? Does WOTM advocate stoning?

When you look at how you think WOTM would talk to the woman, what difference are you seeing that leads you to call it "ironic"?


Incidentally, I'm disappointed you didn't reply to what people said about false teachers. Mike said it well:

"Can we apply that to today's religious establishment that thinks they're saved through their own ignorance and false humility, and then teaches others to believe this as well?

No matter how many empty words and "You're-so-unlike-Jesus" accusations you throw out JoJo, you'll never be able to square not being vociferously and even forcefully opposed to false teachers and the teaching of the Bible... even if you do try to pit Jesus against the apostles."

It would also be profitable to see your reply to what people said about your apparent low vew of Scripture.

threegirldad said...

DJP: I think what gobsmacks everyone is that Pagitt didn't even try to answer Biblely.

The B - I - B - L - E (Y!),

Yes, that's the book for me (Y!).

I stand alone on the Word of God,

The B - I - B - L - E (Y!)

Jim W said...

While everyone is tangling up about DPag's use of "there" and wondering about his (DPag's) intents in obfuscating and filibustering, it looks to me like everyone has missed the truly heretical statements he made. Those about "good" Muslims, "good" Buddhists, etc. Stating that God will judge us all the same way shows just how far off DPag really is. At best, he's all about works-righteousness, at worst, he's a universalist.
While DPag's defenders are all over Todd Friel for his supposed rudeness and his "unChristlike" attitude, they completely skip over the heart of the whole interview.
In the emergent world-view, it's OK to be a universalist or accept works for salvation, but heaven forbid anyone be rude! Or as they perceive rudeness, anyway. Needless to say, they have all claimed that DPag was a paragon of righteous virtue and only Friel was a nasty, arrogant fundy.
Having dealt with DPag once in an e-mail exchange, I can safely say that he can be just as sarcastic, mean, nasty, vitriolic, sneering and mocking as anyone. The world can have him.

Hadassah said...

...so do you think that DPag's subscribers will be heaping burning coals on his head in the wherever it is everafter?...

Just askin' cause I was wonderin'

jojo said...

Listen, false teachers must be dealt with. Pagitt is a false teacher in my opinion.

When I talked of "the guy walking in the park" I was referring to WOTM technique of "evangelizing".

There is very little in Evangelical Biblical doctrine that I vehemetly disagree with. I am simply referring to WOTM kooky style. It's not heresy, nor is it false teaching necessarily, but it ironically is anything but "The Way of the Master".

As far as pitting Jesus against Paul (and other NT writers) here is how I see it.

Jesus interprets Paul. Not the other way around. Everything Paul writes should gain it's context and tone through the filter of Jesus. Paul (along with the other writers in NT) was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So if there are things Paul writes or implies that doesn't SEEM to jive with the person of Jesus as seen in the Gospel...it's just a matter of deferring to Jesus until one gets a better understanding of Paul's intent through study or simply the Holy Ghost.

Kapeesh?

WOTM are kooks.

jojo said...

...and so is Pagitt. Which makes for very entertaining radio and blogging!

Jono said...

I'm quite keen to make a photo-montage with a soundtrack for an Emergent Anthem to put on youtube.

Does anyone have any ideas for songs? I've seen JA's White Rabbit mentioned, but there has to be something better. Perhaps I could go through my collection of Simon and Garfunkel as well.

Douglas said...

Imo, nearly every emergent leader that strays from the full authority of Scripture including Doug Pagitt and many of those that follow, remind me of Tortuous Convolvulus. I reckon they should get a copy of "Asterix and the Roman Agent" and study it. I know it is extra-bilical writings but man it packs a punch.

Tortuous Convolvulus
What it means: Tortuous (devious/twisted) Convolvulus (twining plants)
About: Tortuous Convolvulus seems to weed his way out of everything - having the ability to make others argue - for causing trouble he was to be eaten by the Lions, but the lions ended up eating each other! This brings him to the attention of Julius Caesar who sends him to the Gaulish Village, hoping Convolvulus will be able to weave his green-eyed magic there!

Todd Friel is not a "bully." Mr. Friel is a man who is growing in the grace and knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ. He speaks the truth in love and with boldness. At diverse times he uses humour but most of what he says is full of conviction, it convicts the listener. Why? Because WOTM uses the Law of God to reveal the knowledge of and the exceedingly sinfulness of sin so that the sinner is left without any excuses. Many emergents do not like having their sins exposed, they hate it in fact. Torturing the Word of God, as so many of them do, is sinful. They sure don't like to be pulled up on that.

I have nothing against so called emerging folks who have genuine questions (few and far between). It is those that question the validity of the truth and suppress and repress and hold down that knowledge of the truth, deliberately and antagonistically, who are difficult to converse with. It is near on impossible to talk with them because when they get angry they start letting loose with all that flowery language not befitting within earshot of the Queen of England. It's not the Quuen's English they prattle off to sensitive ears. I'd rather proclaim the gospel to bike gang members than to many of the so called emergents any day, at least bike gang members don't profess to be Christians and one knows where they stand with them even if it is a bit of a worry. One may get stomped if one says the wrong thing to them, especially if they are tanked up on booze and drugs. Oh! I have proclaimed the gospel to bike gang members. Piece of cake.

The Emerging Church and the Woman at the Well

Source: Understand the Times with Roger Oakland

"If you listen to the emergent conversation long enough, you will hear a recurring theme: Christians are wrong to confront unbelievers head on with the Word of God. We should instead lay aside our desire to preach or share the truths from the Word and spend more time developing relationships and friendships with the unchurched (a politically correct name for unsaved). They often use Jesus as an example, saying He did not confront people but always accepted them for who they were.

One example is in Dan Kimball's 2007 book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. In his chapter titled "The Church Arrogantly Claims All Other Religions are Wrong," Kimball refers to the story where Jesus is sitting near a well by Himself (the disciples have gone to the nearby town), and he talks to a Samaritan woman. Kimball alters the story by saying:

He [Jesus] stopped and asked questions of the Samaritan woman (John 4) and didn't just jump in and say, "Samaritans are all wrong."

But Kimball is wrong. Jesus did the exact opposite! He didn't ask her any questions, and he confronted her straight on--something Kimball says (throughout his book) is a terrible thing to do to an unbeliever. Listen to Jesus' words to the woman
:
Continued here.

Jesus' Use of the Law in Evangelism
by Massimo Lorenzini

May God continue to bless Todd Friel, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron and all the team at Way Of The Master and the work they do. Praise God for them.

joanna said...

An emergent anthem...Imagine by John Lennan? Seems kinda appropriate for this topic given lines like "imagine theres no heaven" All you need is love, maybe?

jojo said...

How's this for an Emergent anthem?

"You say 'love is a temple,
love the higher law,
love is a temple,
love the higher law,
You ask me to enter,
but then you make me crawl,
and I can't be holding on,
to what you got,
cuz all you got is hurt,

One love, One Blood, One Life,
You got to do what you should,
One life with each other,
Sisters, Brothers"

That song is from U2. Oh wait, does that hit a little too close to home? Was this all supposed to be sarcastic, satirical, and stuff?

Matt said...

"What struck me as I listened to the interview, however, is an issue that seems fairly important: I wonder how someone can deny that heaven is a place without implicitly denying the bodily resurrection of Christ."

This was my initial thought as I listened to the interview as well. I played it for several friends later and they thought the same. Thanks for the article, it's always nice to hear from someone smarter than me who agrees.

Glenn said...

"That song is from U2. Oh wait, does that hit a little too close to home? Was this all supposed to be sarcastic, satirical, and stuff?"

Um ... why would that hit too close to home?

Glenn said...

and - in a meta about the emergent, and where music has already crept into the conversation, just how predictable is it that someone would introduce U2?

Hayden said...

If we must use a U2 song for the theme song, how about "I still haven't found what I'm looking for?"

Hayden said...

Jojo,

Have you looked into the 8 week basic training course put out by the WOTM? I had some of the same reservations that you do about them until I looked at this set. It is a good tool, but not the only way to 'evangelize'. (Even WOTM recognizes that)

Robert M. Warren said...

lordodamanor and jono:

Re: S&G's "The Boxer"

Refrain: "Lie lie lie...lie lie lie lie lie lie lie...lie lie lie...lie lie lie lie lie lie lie...lie lie lie lie lie."

Jono said...

Joanna >An emergent anthem...Imagine by John Lennan? Seems kinda appropriate for this topic given lines like "imagine theres no heaven" All you need is love, maybe?



Yikes (or should I say Wow, wow,wow?), that has a scary resemblance to what has been said lately in the EC.

>Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

When I get round to it I'll use Imagine, I still haven't found what I'm looking for and perhaps a few others. Welcome to the Jungle seems strangely suitable too.

carolczech said...

Here's what I think gets lost when trying to suggest that we should "WLJD" (Witness Like Jesus Did):

"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man" (John 2:23-25 ESV).

Jesus had the unique, (not to mention non-transitive) ability to fully "know" those he was interacting with. He was able to leave a lot unsaid because he could read their thoughts, inclinations and motives. He knew whether or not they were "getting" it - whether they were accepting or rejecting him.

Jesus' interactions with humans demonstrates how an omniscient God-in-human-flesh interacted with humanity. The rest of the NT demonstrates how sinful humans under the New Covenant are to interact with humanity and fulfill the Great Commission.

Dare I say it would be arrogant to say we are to precicely follow the "Jesus Model" in our interactions with unbelievers?

777law said...

Jono,

I had been discussing this same issue on another bolg, and as I did there, I submit the song "We Are The World," as being most fitting for the emergent anthem - enjoy:

There comes a time
When we head a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all


We can't go on
Pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a
change We are all a part of
God's great big family
And the truth, you know love is all we need


[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me


Send them your heart
So they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand


[Chorus]
When you're down and out
There seems no hope at all
But if you just believe
There's no way we can fall
Well, well, well, well, let us realize
That a change will only come
When we stand together as one

Doesn't that just give you emergent warm and fuzzies?

Link said...

I did not hear the interview. On the issue of heaven, though, I find it interesting that the Bible never says we go to heaven when we die. Paul looked forward to the hope of the resurrection. He never said he looked forward to the hope of floating around in a disembodied spirit at his death.

There is one passage in which Paul expresses his willingness to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. From this, some conclude that since God is in heaven, Paul must be talking about going to heaven at his death. But the heavens cannot contain God, so this is not conclusive proof of going to heaven. Those who believe in soul sleep could argue that Paul will be present with the Lord when he wakes up at the resurrection.

I used to live in a predominantly Muslim country. After studying about the resurrection (not 'go to heaven') emphasis in scripture, I found it odd that Christians would ask Muslims if they were going to heaven when they died. Islam teaches a resurrection and a judgment. Some Muslims acknowledge that Christ will judge them at the end of time. (Two hadith say that Jesus will judge you, but are not specific about the time frame.) Since Paul says that God will judge men by the one Man He has chosen, this is a common point Christians have with Muslims. So why don't Christians ask Muslims, how do you think you will do when 'Isa AlMasiy' judges you at the end of time. But I digress.

How much is current Christian thought on heaven influenced by Platonic thought and Grecco-Roman paganism?

Jacob Douvier said...

I read through the transcript and could not for the life of me understanding anything he said. When people who are representatives of a movement, it behoves them greatly to learn how to articulate their thoughts clearly and intelligently.

I have a degree in philosophy and have had to read all manner of nutty ideas on the nature of reality and knowledge, and few, if any, were less coherent than Mr. Pagitt's ideas.

northWord said...

Pagitt- (on the questions Todd was asking): "this just isn't interesting"
I think thats the only thing Doug said from the whole interview that I actually understood.
(I listened when it when it was on)

Give me kooky and Christ centered over a loving handbasket anyday.
(an aside: Todd would be the first to concur with being "kooky")

I'll throw in a nomination for "Comfortably Numb" for Jono's project :)

Jono said...

Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I'm going to set out to string together a selection of these songs to some pictures, hopefully windows movie maker doesn't give me something of terrible quality. Looking to fit some of the Friel- Pagitt debate in too.

As an aside, had the excellent news that our senior pastor (a TMS grad) is looking to bring myself and my co-youth pastor (we're doing the job part time) over to Shepherds conference next year. He feels that it is imperative that we make the trip from New Zealand and also wants us to have a look at TMS. The prospect makes me go Kooky.

Silly Old Mom said...

I wonder how Doug Pagitt and his apologists would interpret the following passages. Do they refer to a literal earth, but not a literal heaven?

"If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." -- 1 Cor. 15:19

And a few more snippets from the rest of 1 Cor. 15:

"If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE.

{snip}

"But someone will say, 'How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?'

"You fool! [Ooo, Paul gets all bullying and uncharitable! --SOM] That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.

{snip}

"There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.

{snip}

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

{snip}

"However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.

"As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly."

These, and the Lord's Prayer. Why would Jesus command His followers to pray that God's will be done in a literal place as it is done in a figurative place? Talk about kooky.

Silly Old Mom said...

Doh! That comment takes up waaayyy too much screen space. I just performed one of my pet peeves. Sorry to make everyone conduct excessive scrolling.

Link said...

Silly Old Mom

Aren't those resurrection verses rather than heaven verses?

Tim Bertolet said...

Link,

To be with the Lord is a reference to Christ, Phil 1:23 also. We know from 2 Cor. 5:8, as you mentioned, that this in death we are away from the body. Where is Christ? Christ still is in an incarnate body albeit resurrected to incorruptible life...

While one can debate the interpretation a little, you do have Revelation 6:9-11.

While you are right that heaven cannot contain God, the OT and First Century Jews did believe in heaven as the place from where God reigned over all creation. That was the special locus of His glory and the true temple, even though He is clearly omnipresent. There was a strong belief in heaven that was clearly not 'Platonic' or 'Greco-Roman'. The culture was quite familiar with people (e.g. Enoch, Elijah)ascending into heaven.

I tried to substantiate this in some detail: For OT see Heaven in a Worldview p2; for the NT and first century Judaism see Heaven in a Worldview p3; and for the clear duality between heaven and earth in the Jewish worldview (I site N.T. Wright here) see Heaven in a Worldview p4. This may begin to answer your question: "How much is curent Christian thought on heaven influenced by Platonic though or Greco-Roman paganism?" To have any notion of a physical resurrected body going into heaven (e.g. Christ) is clearly not a Gnostic or Platonic view. Just because both say "heaven" doesn't make one dependent upon the other.

I think a better question is how much is current exclusions of heaven denying the basic first century Jewish/Christian worldview?

The ultimate hope is the resurrected state, but heaven itself and the temple comes down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2). True Christian eschatology needs the vertical element.

bassicallymike said...

glysicarolczech said...
"Dare I say it would be arrogant to say we are to precicely follow the "Jesus Model" in our interactions with unbelievers?"

You are correct, we do not have the insight Jesus had. However the the bottom line of WOTM is giving "law to the proud, grace to the humble". We do not need the intuition of Jesus to determine the proud from the humble. IMO

Tim Bertolet said...

Link,

Some other verses:

Also Christ has entered heaven as our forerunner (Heb. 6:20).

There is also the notion of "Paradise" which in Luke, 2 Cor. 12:4 and Revelation seems to be "heaven". The equation of "paradise" and "heaven" is common in Jewish lit. The belief that Eden was in heaven now was in the first century worldview of Judiasm. In Revelation the tree of life is in heaven now.

2 Cor 12:1-5, Paul describes being caught up into heaven in a pre-death experience.

We have Stephen's confession in Acts 7:59.

The grammar of Luke 23:43, is clear that the thief goes immediately to Paradise.

We have already come to Mt. Zion, and the general assembly and the church are "enrolled in heaven" Hebrews 12:23.

(And again, Phil 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8 with surrounding contexts).

The intermediate state is not the ultimate hope but the penultimate hope of the believer. If I die before Christ's return I go to be with Christ, who is in heaven.

Silly Old Mom said...

Link,

I'm running my kids to soccer in a minute, but very quickly -- they are verses about resurrection TO heaven. What sense do the references to "earthy" make without the "heavenly" references being real? Is it all just metaphor? And how does the book of Hebrews make any sense at all if heaven's not the real McCoy?

What does it mean in the Lord's prayer that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven?

To paraphrase Alistair Begg, "the plain things are the main things, and the main things are the plain things." Jesus talked about heaven and hell as if He thought they were real, literal places; that's a strong indication to me that we ought to do the same.

Mike Riccardi said...

Tim,

I thought you did a great job giving the Bible's answer to Link's questions.

My sincere thanks to you for that.

SolaMeanie said...

777law...

And just like the Emergents mangle Scripture, so does "We Are the World," co-written by ex-Jehovah's Witness Michael Jackson.

The last time I checked Scripture, Jesus didn't turn stone to bread. The devil tempted Him to do so, but He refused.

I am surprised more people didn't catch that when the song came out.

1-non-emergent said...

I know that Phil provides great gems from Spurgeon every week, so I mean no discourtesy to such great selections by contributing an additional CHS quote in response to Pagitt's ideas. This quote, in keeping with the precision and wisdom of the great preacher, addresses the young emergent who is big on scrutiny, low on ethos, and entirely unclear--to himself and others--with regard to matters of genuine substance. To Pagitt's defense of doubt, Spurgeon speaks right into the 21st century ECM withj the following:

"Some of you are always fashioning fresh nets of doubt for your own entanglement. You invent sanres for your own feet and are greedy to lay more of them. You are mariners who seek the rocks, soldiers who court the point of the bayonet. It is an unprofitable business. Practically, morally, mentally, spiritually, doubting is an evil trade. You are like a smith, wearing out his arm in making chains with which to bind himself. Doubt is sterile, a desert without water. Doubt discovers difficulties which it never solves; it creates hesitancy, despondancy, despair. Its progress is the decay of comfort, the death of peace. 'Believe!' is the word which speaks life into a man, but doubt nails down his coffin"

1-non-emergent said...

While all believers doubt at times, it is only within the ideology of postmodernism that the SIN of doubt is popular, embraced, and even encouraged. IThis practice is such an odditity to genuine Christianity, so completely opposite of all that scripture teaches. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the first time in church history that doubt is not merely a habitual exercise among those who are not in keeping with the teaching of scripture collectively (such as wayward sects ofver the years), but is actually called a a good thing?

If Pagitt indeed believes that heaven is not a real place, then who know what other foundational doctrines he likewise outright rejects. Please pray for him--that he will have his eyes opened to the truth. As Spurgeon asserts, doubt destoys the joy and the life of believers, which is why Spurgeon likewise said that he believed it was the most prized weapon against Christians by the Devil himself.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

John Mark Said:

You know, maybe Pagitt should start a radio show called the "Bible Dancer Man" where he attempts to question your questions and label your answers. Fred Astaire apologetics?


Dear goodness that was funny. I just spit coffee all over my screen!!!

Link said...

Silly Old Mom

Where is the reference to 'resurrection to heaven' in scripture? After the resurrection in Revelation, the saints reign on earth and then the new heaven and new earth appear and John sees the city of the new Jerusalem, the bride.

(Btw, I do not assume a pre-tribulationa rapture since I do not see any evidence for it in scripture, and Paul has the return of Chrit bringing 'you' rest and punishment for the wicked in II Thes. 2.

David Castor said...

While all believers doubt at times, it is only within the ideology of postmodernism that the SIN of doubt is popular, embraced, and even encouraged.

I find the suggestion that doubt is a sin to be most destructive and manipulative tool in parts of Christendom. Not only is it quite untrue and unbiblical, but it is fundamentally faith and soul destroying. I have talked to so many people who believe that they are somehow defective Christians, or that they may not even be Christians at all because they have been encouraged to believe that their doubt is somehow morally perverse. If one has doubts or questions, there are only two ways to respond. Either one can choose to pretend to believe something they have doubts about (a most powerful tool in keeping the laity in line) or one can come to the conclusion that they are not able to believe something without sacrificing their integrity and honesty. By not allowing people to pass through their periods of doubt (which can be periods of doubt and real interaction with God), you and people like you are responsible for people who subsequently lose their faith.

To suggest that the Emerging Church encourages people to doubt is an assertion which is entirely unfounded. If you disagree, you'd do well to back up your assertions with some kind of evidence. We do, however, realise that doubt and questions are natural and are part of the faith journey. Furthermore, we realise all too well that we see through a mirror dimly and will do so until the perfect comes.

Phil Johnson said...

David Castor: "To suggest that the Emerging Church encourages people to doubt is an assertion which is entirely unfounded. If you disagree, you'd do well to back up your assertions with some kind of evidence."

Are you serious? Did you read the first half of your own comment?

Here's some more.

SolaMeanie said...

David Castor,

I suggest you read what James says about those who doubt. Also, review the story (the Emergents love stories) of Adam and Eve. Follow along with these steps:

1. Deception
2. Doubt
3. Disbelief
4. Disobedience
5. Death

Do Christians struggle with doubt at times. Of course. Are we to embrace and celebrate it? No. If we doubt God's Word, we are in essence calling Him a liar.

donsands said...

"By not allowing people to pass through their periods of doubt (which can be periods of doubt and real interaction with God), you and people like you are responsible for people who subsequently lose their faith."

How's that?

Seems to me, to allow for someone to doubt the truth, would do just that, be responsible for letting this doubting seem kosher, when it's not, and could lead to one loosing faith.

Of course there are times when our faith will be weak.

There was a man who believed in Christ, and yet told the Lord, "But only help my unbelief". And the Lord did.

We need to acknowledge our sins before Him, even sins of doubt, and worry.
If we do this then our faith will be purged in the fire, which is more precious than gold.

LeeC said...

Go look up the antithesis of Faith David.

Now, are you telling me that the bible says that it is ok to lack faith?

SolaMeanie said...

I am waiting for this to eventually go into the circular argument down the road. A good example is the Bible's discussion of miracles by the Lord (or the apostles for that matter). The miracle is doubted because the text is doubted, and the text is doubted because the miracle is doubted.

Perhaps someone in the EC will attempt necromancy to call up Thomas like Saul had the Witch of Endor call up Samuel. "Hey, Tom! Are you still in doubt about anything?"

"I doubt it."

Johnny Dialectic said...

"To suggest that the Emerging Church encourages people to doubt is an assertion which is entirely unfounded. If you disagree, you'd do well to back up your assertions with some kind of evidence. We do, however, realise that doubt and questions are natural and are part of the faith journey. Furthermore, we realise all too well that we see through a mirror dimly and will do so until the perfect comes."

David, consider that doubt is the ONLY place your epistemology can lead. Postmodernism has given up the correspondence theory of truth, and that leaves only skepticism. Your "faith journey" will always be in the fog of subjecitivism and uncertainty. There is no way out of this fog, because the foundation upon which objective truth is built has been removed.

This is what fries me most about the dreadful pomo speak of EC leadership. They are robbing their followers of any hope of finding certainty in their faith.

For now, happy sounding phrases keep people thinking they really are on a faith journey. But it's wandering around in chaotic circles. Many will find this out soon enough, because God did not wire us to live in fog.

1-non-emergent said...

David,

First of all, did you happen to notice the chunk of text you cut and pasted? It begins with a recognition that doubt occurs in the lives of all Christians--I recognize that, as does Spurgeon, as does our Savior. Nonetheless, succombing to the temptation to doubt, like succombing to any other SIN, and subsequently indulging in it rather than repenting of it and asking the Lord to "help thy unbelief" is where the emerging church makes one it its chief errors (plural intended). Furthermore, emergent leaders--please, lets avoid the wordplay at this juncture and recognize you folks have "leaders"--are fulfilling the roles of pastors and teachers (which is absolutely scary when I think of some of them). When they indulge in and celebrate their doubts, do they ever consider their role before the weakest among their flocks?

Whether they like it or not, EC "pastors" serve in leadership roles, and merely playing postmodern word games and/or denying their roles as leaders does not change this fact any more than the silly practice among some parents, of trying to be their kids' best friend, changes their role as parents. While parents of this ilk cannot simply resign their roles when or if they discover that such "parenting" is merely an excuse for their own personal "issues," pastors of this ilk can and should most certainly step out of the pulpit (or step off the platform at their "spiritual center") and repent themselves for failing so miserably to lead and for pursuing such an unsuitable position out of their own ambition (maybe they should look to stand-up comedy or teach in the school system or something...just not spiritual leadership).

Just as one post compared such leadership to having Dr. Kevorkian as one's physician, the same is true spiritually of anyone sitting under the "leadership" of one of these emergent leadership figures. As Spurgeon clearly suggests, the role of a pastor is to build up, to breath life into HIS congregation through the wonderfully encouraging message: "believe". In contrast, imagine a struggling believer who is going through a serious crisis in his or her life; they need to speak to their pastor, pray, be encouraged, be strengthed by the assurance of God's soveriegnty, Truth, and Love. What must they do? Jesus answers that question in numerous verses: believe (on Him)! It is a message of life!

So, a pastor who is committed to following and honoring God's Word, despite the personal hangups he may be going through in his own life (which is why the pastorate is perhaps the highest calling in life and very difficult to fulfill at times), stays loyal to scripture by fulfilling his role and giving this believer an encouraging message of hope--that is, to believe. If and WHEN believers doubt, a good pastor lovingly reminds them to repent of it (always the starting point for all our sins), find forgiveness from our loving God (who promises He will), and pray that this doubt will pass from them (which it will...and then return again...like the next angry comment that spurts out of a believer's mouth when someone on the road cuts him off). This is a process, you see, that Christians have practiced throughout the history of the Church. In this process, the sin--like any sin--is dealt with and we are once again humbled by looking in the mirror at our failure to live as God's Holy standard requires; we are thus restored unto the hope of our salvation.

So, when emergent "pastor" so and so says to his (or her?) struggling believer within the congregation who is battling with doubt: "we all doubt, and what's more, we have good reason to question this stuff. I mean, we don't 'really' know how much of it is actually true and how much is metaphor anyhow. In fact, I don't buy this or that myself, as there's a concept called the 'sign' verses the 'signifier' which explains the multiplicity of associations we make with certain terms, and this has occurred in the interpretation of scripture as well (blah, blah, blah)...". What made this hypothetical EC "leader" feel clever and "relevant" (even "caring") just sent the poor struggling brother or sister in Christ away in utter despair. In other words, they come asking for a drink of fresh water spiritually, and this emergent appoach sends them away with a glass of draino!

Hence, the intentional abandonment of true leadership responsibilities, in any aspect of life, is not only unChristian for one who professes to follow Christ, but it is cold and unloving towards those who fall under such leadership--despite the postmodern, warm-fuzzy speak that so often accompanies such rebellion. I hardly think you would think your M.D. was loving if he or she told you that they also had cancer and the best thing you both could do is to:
a) call it something else, b) stop considering it a life-threatening ailment, and c) rebel against other doctors' proactive, yet sometimes painful, approaches to addressing it.

1-non-emergent said...

oops...did not mean to say "in contrast" in par.3

sorry.

Silly Old Mom said...

Link,

When I said, "resurrection TO heaven," I should have said, "resurrection for the purpose of inhabiting heaven."

So, can you answer my questions now?

stratagem said...


You ask me to enter,
but then you make me crawl,
and I can't be holding on,
to what you got,
cuz all you got is hurt,

One love, One Blood, One Life,
You got to do what you should,
One life with each other,
Sisters, Brothers"

That song is from U2. Oh wait, does that hit a little too close to home? Was this all supposed to be sarcastic, satirical, and stuff?


Trying to figure out if this is serious. OF COURSE we have to crawl to enter! You can't come to God or enter his kingdom with your pride intact! That's exactly the problem the Emergents have, they want to keep on thinking good things about themselves, when in fact there is nothing good about any of us.

Link said...

Tim Bertolet

I am on a mailing list of a Greek scholar who argues that the souls under the altar in the Revelation 6 vision are actually corpses. The Hebrew word for 'soul' is used to refer to carcasses, and is translated into the Greek word for 'soul' in the LXX translation of the New Testament. Much of the New Testament is written in a form of Greek that is influenced by Hebrew grammar, thought, and the type of language used in the LXX (Septuigint.)

Link said...

Silly Old Mom

I don't see how changing "resurrection TO heaven," to "resurrection for the purpose of inhabiting heaven" fundamentally changes the issue. In Revelation, there is a resurrection, and the reign of Christ on earth, and then then New Jerusalem coming down.

I'm not saying the visions are without allegory. The New Jerusalem is the bride.

We are to inherit the 'kingdom of heaven' but that is something

1-non-emergent said...

Amen Strategem!

I guess when one's theology is driven, at least in part, by the lyrics of contemporary rock bands like U2, and their appointed theologians are Bono & company (does Bono even know that the emergents has given him this job?), there's going to be just a few inconsistensies with scripture. Let the EC look to the pop charts for their next doctrinal amendment while the church looks to the Bible for God's timeless word!

Silly Old Mom said...

Link,

My questions still stand:

What does it mean in the Lord's Prayer when Jesus says "on earth as it is in heaven" if heaven's not a real, current place?

When you encounter passages that contrast heaven and earth, are you saying that the parts about heaven don't refer to a literal place, but the parts about earth DO refer to a literal place?

I don't care if you're pre-mil, post-mil, amil or bread mill -- I'm trying to understand what is the point of a believer receiving a resurrected body that will be essentially homeless. The heavens and the earth will pass away, being destroyed by fire, with the elements melting from intense heat (2 Peter), so then where do we go?

By your reckoning, it seems even God is homeless, since the heavens can't contain Him. Is *He* the One floating around as a disembodied spirit?

Using your logic, do you just skip over the book of Hebrews?

You seem to get most of these ideas from conversations you've had with Muslims (whose leader played "Bible Buffet" in creating his false religion), people who believe in soul sleep, and from a Greek scholar who says that those under the altar in Rev. 6 are corpses. So "I see talking dead people" is the correct interpretation of that passage? Fascinating.

I sit under the weekly teaching of a Greek scholar, and I have a slight hunch he'd disagree with your scholar's take on Rev. 6. But I don't think either you or I want to play Dueling Experts.

Tyler said...

wow. I always show up late to these things. For what it's worth, this was my brief interaction with Pagitt's sermon on Acts 11 at Mars Hill (Grand Rapids).

Mike Riccardi said...

I know this is a couple of days old, but if you really want to be disturbed, your welcome.

Make sure to see the "Better Together" suggestion title as well.

Tim Bertolet said...

Link,

I'm not so sure about your Greek scholar, I'd need to see some exegetical work. To sustain a case, you'd have to overwhelming prove that the majority of uses of 'soul' in Hebrew are carcasses (or at least a substantial number), then you'd have to clearly demonstrate John clearly has this background in mind. Just because you can find on or two references in the OT doesn't mean a NT author has that in mind. I do know that 'soul' in the Hebrew often refers to the whole living being, but I'm not sure where it would refer to a lifeless carcass.

Then you have to deal with the metaphor of the 'souls crying out'. How do carcasses cry. I think you also have to read 6:9-11 in light of Rev. 14:13 as well (FYI, rest doesn't equal soul sleep).You also have to answer where this altar is: in Revelation, it seems clear this is before the heavenly temple, so is it a metaphor for carcasses in heaven?

The question is not what is the potential background of some rare ussage of the Hebrew and now the Greek (although John is clearly seeped in the OT), the question is what is the most likely reading of this passage.

I also noted that Rev 6:9-11 was open to a little bit of interpretation. For example, it cleraly refers to martyrs. I wouldn't rest the idea of being in heaven before the resurrection on these verses, you still have to deal with Phil. 1:23 and 2 Cor 5. You cannot use a debated interpretation of one passage to dismiss the clarity passages.

Do you dismiss the intermediate state? Do you believe in heaven? If so "where" is Christ now?

Your original question was: "How much is current Christian thought on heaven influenced by Platonic thought and Grecco-Roman paganism?" I think that's been answered: "Not a lot".

Tim Bertolet said...

Link,

Also if you take such a rare reading of souls, you'd have to explain why John didn't just say "dead bodies" as he does in Rev 11:8,9 where he is clearly talking about the bodies of the two witnesses who have been martyred.

According to G.K. Beale, 8:; 12:11; 16:3 (and possible 18:13), 'soul' is a substitute for 'living body' --yet this is clearly not carcass. If it means living body in 6: and 20:4, how can you have headless bodies that are 'living'.

In Rev. 20:4 it is 'the souls' that 'come to life'.

It seems also that in Rev. 20:4 this 'souls of the beheaded' are already reigning in some way.

Suffice it to say, I think the idea that soul refers to carcasses is fraught with exegetical difficulty that leads to fits of fancy with the imagination.

TrothKeepr said...

Teachings of the Emergents: "fogmatics."

Rob said...

Just found your post tonite, while trying to look up some info on the whole "emerging" church stuff. Frankly have been very skeptical and disappointed the more I look into it! It actually makes me almost weep for those who are following these "pastors" (and I use that term lightly)!

I mean have any of these men even taken one seminary class! At the ripe old age of 23, am I "outdated" in believing that pastors should actually read the bible and study it, not just cuss and teach yoga?

The more I look into this whole emerging thing the more I realize how far some will go to assuage their consciences and absolve themselves of absolutes, even in Christian circles! It also brings to mind the verse in Matt. 24:24!

Anyway just my take on this, and realize that I could be considered in this "age" group being 23, listen to loud music, etc! (even in the process of becoming a 2nd Lt. USMC! Ooh rah!) Yet even I can see that anything that is not based upon the Rock and upon God's inspired breath is nothing more than Gnosticism, et all, dressed up as new and imporved "emergent" thought!

Strong Tower said...

Hi Rob, I just happened to still be up.

It is sad, but this form has become like a new revivalism, and kinda Twentyfirst Century Finneyism. Pop crazes are alway a plague. This one isn't just affecting the youth. Many of these "leaders" are 30-40 years old and some in their 50's. The "style" is encroaching across denomination boundaries as more and more it is looking like a fruitful pragmatic way to shore up falling numbers.

No matter the case there is this post-modern come thinking as you are motif of broad unquestioning acceptance. Of course unless you're a rightthinker (orthodox);)

1-non-emergent said...

To Strongtower and Rob:

And, to reiterate what I've said in other posts, this is not just a new angle, a new program, a new approach, a new way of being relevant (as so many EC proponents say it is all about), a "new revelation" even...as all of these examples would be advanced by men who are clearly Christians (as this has occurred countles times over the years), perhaps lost in "bypass meadow" for a time, but safe to assume still that they would be Christians nonetheless who all hold to the same set of absolutes. ....This is not the case with the EC.

While I'm not suggesting that many genuine Christians cannot and have not been decieved by this present theological chaos. I do believe that such will eventually see what they have entertained for what it is through the convicting by the Holy Spirit, repent of their folly, and ultimately run from it.

However, it is key to note in all of this mess that there are many a Judas Iscariot who sit at the EC table and have no desire to advance Christ, His Gospel, His Truth, or His true kingdom (which is absolutely not in the "hectic here and now"). This is why so many other "fads" (or even more substantial shifts) that have come and gone through the church in recent decades have been "in-house" issues (family matters) discussed at the table of believers as it were. This is why I think so many pastors and elders seem to be ridiculously open to the "pick and choose," buffet line approach the whole emergent salad bar. In a spirit of trust, they just seem to assume it is all coming from a good place ultimately, as they refer back to other ways and times God's Spirit has moved before. They think that only a "little" caution, if any, is really all that necessary. "Wrong" I want to shout! Get to the source(s) of all of it! It is the same garden variety postmodern paganism that atheist profs are dishing up in college courses, "spiritual" yogis are "ohhming to," and the general public is finding through consumerism.

This is why I have been trying to convey my background in English Lit. grad studies, along with my present position as a college prof in the Liberal Arts: so much of this ideological garbage is territory I am much too familiar with--not to mention all of my colleagues.

In fact, I was just asking a friend to tell me what he thought the difference was between McLaren and any one of a number of my athesitic/apostate/agnostic colleagues who, interestingly enough, had at one time professed themselves as Christians or grew up in the church but have since become "disillusioned" with the faith. He thought about it for a moment, and then asked for the answer to my leading question. "All of my colleagues I've just mentioned are honest, with themselves and others, about their beliefs" was my reply.

Strong Tower said...

Hi onenon-

Yeah, I did not mean, if that is the way it was taken, that this is anything new, it is the same-o-same-o repackage.

While I agree that the essential elements of the emergent church in not Christian, the "style" or form of worship presented in many of the "church planting" programs of Mainline churches is mimicking what they are seeing as a means to capture part of the infatuation. I do not think that this bodes well for the body of Christ. People tend to be surface, and even Christians can be taken captive to do the will of the evil one.

For instance, I just found out that the Element Church here is a church planting arm of one of the branches of the Methodist's. I need to confirm this, but, if that is true, then some mainline churches are hiding their identities under a cloak of emergent/seeker friendly motifs. Our own SBC local Association, accepted and supports the Warehouse Church. It is a "street people' church", grunge type, and if I might say an emergent style Driscoll wanabe. It is run by a twice divorced, retired Air Force Captain, who is also an ordained SBC minister. It attracts many of the most vunerable youth, even picking them from within our congregations. As the SBC tries to grapple with the excesses of Driscoll like ministries (not all of which are emergent, just look like it), what is the appearance, the commonality, doing to the weak, undiscerning believer, or the unbeliever coming in? This is not just a flash movement, and the real concern, being weak as the SBC is doctrinally, and given to pragmatic forms and methods, is that this will further blur the disctinction between orthodoxy and hetodoxy by lowering the bar of orthopraxy.

Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts. Yours are real concerns. Keep up the good work, I remember well my days as a Social Work student and fighting upstream in an anti-Christian/anti-Western culture. And, you are right, what I am hearing is that this is a move of God, a revival. Go figure.

Love in all grace,

tt

Joel said...

I watched the PBS clip on the emerging church. What I heard and saw was bizarre and sad. How so many people can be so confused has to be the work of Satan. With all of the excellent resources Bible students have at their fingertips, it bewilders me that so many could not understand the clarity of scripture. Keep up the good work of proclaiming the truth.

Trevbot said...

Humorously enough, these lyrics come from a song off of Doug Pagitt's church's website: "Wanna be, need to be, gonna be there" (emphasis added) from a song called "Streets of Gold." I guess they don't believe in literal streets though, or literal gold. What are they singing about anyway? This echoes an interesting comment John Piper made in God is the Gospel :

"The twentieth century saw an explosion of popular worship music. Surprisingly, much of it was riveted on Christ and his redemptive work. I say surprisingly because the lyrics of these songs far surpassed the preaching of those days in God-centeredness and manifest affection for the exalted Christ. "