18 December 2007

Emerging Martyrology

by Phil Johnson


he excerpt below contains every single word from The Truth War that makes any reference whatsoever to Kristen Bell. Note that John MacArthur makes precisely one factual statement about who she is (set in bold type below). That's literally all he says about her. Then he quotes a paragraph from a Christianity Today article that quotes her:

A recent issue of Christianity Today featured a cover article about the "Emerging Church." That's the popular name for an informal affiliation of Christian communities worldwide who want to revamp the church, change the way Christians interact with their culture, and remodel the way we think about truth itself. The article included a profile of Rob and Kristen Bell, the husband-and-wife team who founded Mars Hill—a very large and steadily growing Emerging community in Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to the article, the Bells
found themselves increasingly uncomfortable with church. "Life in the church had become so small," Kristen says. "It had worked for me for a long time. Then it stopped working." The Bells started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself—"discovering the Bible as a human product," as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat. "The Bible is still in the center for us," Rob says, "but it's a different kind of center. We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it."

"I grew up thinking that we've figured out the Bible," Kristen says, "that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it's in color." [Andy Crouch, "The Emergent Mystique," Christianity Today (November 2004).]
One dominant theme pervades the whole article: In the Emerging Church movement, truth (to whatever degree such a concept is even recognized) is assumed to be inherently hazy, indistinct, and uncertain—perhaps even ultimately unknowable.


So here's how Andrew Jones (our lanky, lean friend from the Antipodes) described that passage from The Truth War: "[Rob Bell] seems pretty sound theologically, despite the attacks. I know John MacArthur chewed out Rob's wife in his book for a comment about the Bible. I never heard how Rob's wife responded to the criticism."

Andrew's first commenter, "Adam S," ramped up the accusation several degrees of magnitude, claiming MacArthur had "viciously attacked" poor Mrs. Bell.

A similar complaint arose here at PyroManiacs in Monday's meta, when commenter Art wondered if it's not inconsistent for someone who believes women shouldn't have teaching authority over men in the church to criticize a doctrinal pronouncement made by a woman. I don't get the rationale behind that question at all, but Art continues: "Would you find it out of order if someone brought up some[thing] your wife said, especially when that person holds a view that, biblically, women cannot teach or have authority over a man?"

Andrew Jones was pondering a similar question: "I guess I was wondering what would happen if we were to put other well-known pastors' wives up on the stand and question them. How well would Mrs MacArthur answer the questions? How well would anyone's wife [or husband] respond?"

I have several observations about that line of argument:

  1. Both Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. MacArthur are members of my Sunday school class, and I know them well. They are extremely thoughtful and intelligent women who hold strong, well-informed opinions on matters of doctrine and Scripture. But neither of them would ever volunteer any kind of doctrinal pronouncement for publication in Christianity Today. On the other hand, I am confident that if some wily CT editor managed secretly to coax a doctrinal opinion from either one of them, their focus would be on what they believe rather than a euphoric celebration of their doubts.
  2. I've seen no indication from Rob Bell that he is embarrassed or in disagreement with what his wife said in CT, and that's been in print and in wide circulation for at least three years. It seems fair to take Mrs. Bell's statement at face value as representative of the Bells' worldview.
  3. MacArthur's critical comments were in no way focused on Kristen Bell specifically; he cited a lot of similar comments from Emergent celebrities, and then disagreed with the glorification of doubt. But his disagreement was with the idea, not with any one individual. In fact, he said nothing that could possibly be construed as personal or even specific about Kristen Bell.
  4. Still, it seems like bringing my wife and my pastor's wife into a hypothetical argument violates whatever point our emergent friends might have been trying to make about the propriety or impropriety of making an argument that brings someone's wife into the polemical conflict—and it actually compounds the problem by resorting to hypotheticals in order accomplish the very thing the argument pretends to deplore.
  5. The whole objection is reminiscent of Mr. Clinton's complaint when he scolded his wife's political opponents for not treating her like a lady after she verbally slapped them around. You can't legitimately put a woman on the front line of defense for such a horribly low view of Scripture, and then hide behind her skirts when someone points out that the opinion she expressed to the whole evangelical world is so very wrong-headed. If someone wants to defend Kristin Bell's statement, do it. But let's drop the facile accusations that merely disagreeing with her is somehow inherently cruel.
  6. Emergents seem to have a pattern of this sort of behavior. A few of the most virulent trash-talkers in the Emergent blogosphere are women. I generally try to ignore them, but I've seen the "that's no way to talk to a lady" defense hauled out whenever someone answers them with a firm but contrary opinion.
  7. Note: I'm not the one who brought up the egalitarian/complementarian debate. But now that it's been mentioned, let me say to the radical egalitarians in the emergent movement: You are not going to be able to sustain even the illusion of credibility in the egalitarian position if you want to pretend it's somehow cruel, inhumane, or brutish to contradict what a woman says. It's a contradiction of the egalitarian claim to believe that women such tender souls that to contradict them is to subject them to a de facto martyrdom.


Selah.

Phil's signature

84 comments:

S.J. Walker said...

Phil, I'm hesitant to comment as it seems I am wont to throw water on sparks around here, but I noticed this:

"and it actually compounds the problem by resorting to hypotheticals in order accomplish the very thing the argument pretends to deplore."

That seems to be one of the big problems. Emergent "theology" "works" in a hypothetical sense and nothing more.

Two words not found in good theology: "what if".

Keep hammering,

The Wet Blanket


Thanks,

Wes said...

I read about the emergent church, I listen to their leaders, I have read some of their books, I have dialoged with members and my heart becomes burdensome for these people.

In one sense it is righteous anger and on the other side I want to cry for them. I want to beg and plea that they do not marginalize God's word. I know it has been mentioned here on this blog before but how much more does Genesis 3:1 not throw up a red flag for these people?

But thank heavens there is hope. Here is a great story on a church in FL who has cut their ties to the emergent church and gone back to expository teaching. They are not allowing any more bible studies using any authors who subscribe to the emergent church and are re-centering on God's word. It is encouraging.

http://chriselrod.typepad.com/chris_elrod_dot_com/2007/11/no-friend-of-em.html

Keep up the good work and let the Truth be shouted from the mountain tops (use bullhorn if necessary).

Bruce said...

Any good theologian says "What if" Arrogance keeps us from asking the question.

I for one don't see anything wrong with Mrs Bell's comment.

We all know less than we think we do.A lifetime of theological study has left me knowing less and less.

Perhaps we would be better to follow in the footsteps of Paul....to know Jesus, the crucified one. Let's focus on Him.

agonizomai said...

Bruce We all know less than we think we do.A lifetime of theological study has left me knowing less and less.

Perhaps we would be better to follow in the footsteps of Paul....to know Jesus, the crucified one. Let's focus on Him.


No less a faithful servant than J. Vernon McGee made a comment towards the end of his life about being less certain on some matters than he used to be. But I wouldn't put that in the same category as what Mrs. Bell said.

In McGee's case it was the genuine product of having learned humility by discovering that there were times when he had unknowingly overlaid his own take on things rather than letting God's word speak for itself. We all get things wrong, which is why we need each other. We all grow in grace, which is why our view of God in the wisdom of His Word gets bigger, and that of ourselves smaller.

McGee was humbled by the greatness of the supernatural Word of God and his own nothingness next to it. Mrs. Bell characterized the Word as a "human product" - an attitude highly unlikely to lead her to tremble at it, as McGee and other saints have.

In Mrs. Bell's case the similarity is only skin deep. It looks like humility but it is really arrogance that lurks beneath statements that speak of "discovering the Bible as a human product" but "[it] still being the centre for us" and "want[ing] to embrace mystery rather than conquer it."

The complexity, unity, wisdom, scope, vision, prophetic accuracy and underlying focus of the Word of God can only be supernatural. To think of it as a "human product" is like seeing the window pane instead of the magnificent panorama that it frames. Or it is like admiring the cover of a great classical masterpiece without actually understanding the story inside.

If we have "no idea" what the Bible means then we can have no idea of who Christ is and we are lost. But the depth and complexity of the revealed Word of God requires that we labour to understand it because it can be understood. Not exhaustively in this life, but sufficiently. Giving up on the concept of understanding itself, simply because we do not have the complete answer, is mind-blowingly arrogant. But it looks humble to the undiscerning.

And, I realize that this is getting lengthy, but statements like "following Paul...to know Jesus, the crucified one" sound very pious - but which Jesus should we know? Paul wrote 12 chapters in Romans making it plain, and three chapters in Ephesians. The writer to the Hebrews spent nine and half chapters with innumerable citations from all over the old testament telling us which Jesus to know. The Apostle John wrote a whole Gospel book "that we might know".

But the Bells would rather embrace and celebrate the "not knowing" and call it humility. Puleeese!

[Yes, I have read the book - and the Book]

Douglas said...
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Libbie said...

Yes, this whole egalitarian 'you big meanie for critiquing a woman' falls rather flat when you read what they dish out to women who hold to more 'traditional' viewpoints. Makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Mark B. Hanson said...

s.j. walker said, 'That seems to be one of the big problems. Emergent "theology" "works" in a hypothetical sense and nothing more.'

Kinda like Communism - "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" looks great on paper - almost Christian - but always costs lives when it is put into practice. It's the inevitable practical outworking with fallen people that makes the theory invalid, no matter how good it sounds. Just watch what fruit comes from the Bells' ministry in the long run.

Shades of Orwell as well: "Doubt is faith."

Andrew and Carolyn said...

Thanks for this post, Phil. I for one felt that MacArthur's quotation from the infamous CT interview with Kristyn Bell was egalitarian in and of itself. To me it leant weight to the other arguments which MacArthur makes throughout the rest of the book. Had he have avoided direct quotation from a prominent emergent and her husband (a quote which is well known to many of us before reading 'The Truth War')the accusation of strawman polemics would surely have been levelled!

I've been looking forward to this series of posts on 'The Truth War' for a long time, having read and benefitted enormously from the book. I think that MacArthur is issuing a wake-up call to those who may feel that it is possible to cosy up to emergent error. On reflection, though, I do feel that 'The Truth War' needs Carson's 'Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church' as counter balance - and vice versa. To me MacArthur makes us acutely aware of the dangers, and of the fact that the whole message of the gospel is endangered by emergent ideas. Carson, however, tends to engage a little more with the individuals concerned. Both reach the same conclusions, but just in slightly different tones.

I thank God for men like MacArthur and Carson for the service they are doing in protecting the body of Christ from heresy. And I thank Him too for the work done here on this blog.

God bless you,
Andrew

Tim said...

Bruce, you said:

Perhaps we would be better to follow in the footsteps of Paul....to know Jesus, the crucified one.

To know what about Jesus?

The Doulos said...

Bruce:Any good theologian says "What if" Arrogance keeps us from asking the question.

I don't disagree with this statement, but I also think you stop short of the flaw in the Bells' and other emergent "questions." Yes, any good theologian, or for that matter disciple of Jesus Christ, must be humble and submissive enough to ask questions. Read the Gospels, the 12 were constantly asking Jesus questions. But the questions that seem to be asked by the likes of Mr & Mrs Bell are more or less rhetorical questions - that do not seek for an answer, but rather express and exalt uncertainty as a virtue. Questions must be asked pertaining to spiritual things, but they must be honest questions seeking honest answers based on revealed Truth. They must be question that lead to a deeper understanding of the Truth and the One Who is the Truth.

DJP said...

Phil, I admire that you could even make any sense out of Art's "question."

I read and re-read it, and it still might as well have been "Morp borp klabeegle?"

Kim said...

Yes, this whole egalitarian 'you big meanie for critiquing a woman' falls rather flat when you read what they dish out to women who hold to more 'traditional' viewpoints. Makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

I'm with Libbie on this one.

Some ladies like to have it both ways. They want to engage in debate, pull heavy-duty punches, but then run away, claiming that someone was being "mean" to them. I grew up with three brothers, and I learned a long time ago that if i want to engage in any kind of debate where there are men, I'd better be prepared to not get so easily offended.

DJP said...

What I love about this post:

1. It takes a very accurate poke at false teaching.
2. It takes a very accurate poke at those who hypocritically support false teaching.
3. It takes a very accurate poke at The Nameless One.
4. Agonizomai's back!

donsands said...

"But the Bells would rather embrace and celebrate the "not knowing" and call it humility."

That's what hit me as well.

I long to know the Scriptures more and more, not less and less. Especially the OT. I have this hunger to know His Word, and understand it. This is how we draw nigh unto Christ. And this is how we are set apart. John 17:17

Also God has given evangelists and pastor-teachers to His people, so that we can be equipped and built up "for the work of the ministry, and that we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the tricks of men, and cunning cleverness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive".

My wife says every day that she longs to know what the Scriptures mean in a deeper way as she reads through the OT.
I thought what a blessing to have such a hunger and thirst for God's truth.
And God is faithful to feed us, if we hunger to know His Word.

SolaMeanie said...

Game, set and match!

And let me add another comment for the male Emergent "theologians." If they don't want their writings or views critiqued, then they need to quit writing books, doing magazine interviews and making public pronouncements. Anyone who does any of those things -- male or female -- are fair game.

SolaMeanie said...

Bruce,

Scripture is pretty plain that the longer one walks with the Lord and delves into His Word, the more you are supposed to grow, and that includes knowledge of Him AND His Word. Nowhere are we told in the Bible that spiritual growth means knowing less and less. That's what I call "Oh Suzannah" theology. "The sun so hot I froze to death."

Now "don't you cry" because I said that, meanie that I am.

Chris Hemmelman said...

"A lifetime of theological study has left me knowing less and less."

Less and less about what? This pious sounding statement is laughable in its nebulous nature. Please, ANYONE, show me in scripture where studying God's word acutally leads to LESS knowledge?

Yes, we will always bump up against mystery, we cannot fully understand God. But there is a big difference between saying we struggle understanding God's sovereign will and saying we don't understand what Scripture teaches.

Also, egalitarians want to grant women the same positions as men but at the same time free them from responsibility for their actions. In essence egalitarians have brought women to the same status as children.

centuri0n said...

agonizomai is going to be memorialized in a t-shirt if he keeps this sort of thing up.

and for the record, my guess is that on top of everything Phil said here, any one of the better halves of TeamPyro could prolly provide a meat-chubbing to any of these hand-wringers who think they don't know anything except that they are offended. They are hardly helpless waifs.

Johnny Dialectic said...

It was quite obvious from the CT article that the Bells were talking as one. They were repping a position and direction, and that's all JM was pointing to.

And the outcry is that there was a "chewing out" of the one who happens to be a female?

What sort of perverse, illogical, absurd and ultimately NON "feminist" line of argument is this? The critics of this passage from The Truth War actually grant Mrs. Bell less dignity than JM, who takes her at her word, and responds to her with no personal or gender animus whatsoever.

This silliness is what makes EC theology so laughably bad.

SolaMeanie said...

If any of the Emergent extremes would like to experience a real "chewing out," I could happily oblige them.

But then again, it's Christmas. I have no desire to be a Scrooge, no matter how much I think the Emergent Church is humbug.

DJP said...

Frank -- ...any one of the better halves of TeamPyro could prolly provide a meat-chubbing to any of these hand-wringers who think they don't know anything except that they are offended. They are hardly helpless waifs.

Seven words:

Roger that. And...

I pity da foo.

nolongerblind said...

Bruce:"A lifetime of theological study has left me knowing less and less."

If this has truly been the outcome of your years of study, perhaps you should re-consider whether or not the Spirit has gifted you to be a pastor and teacher, called to equip the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ--as in Ephesians 4:11-12.
How ominous is the warning given in James 3:1: "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgement."
If one is teaching that which he/she doesn't truly understand, then he/she is a blind guide--"And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." (Matthew 15:14)
By the way, Bruce, falling into a pit is NOT a good thing--incurring STRICTER judgement for falsely teaching others is even worse---just in case you aren't sure what these passages mean........

Mike Riccardi said...

If we have "no idea" what the Bible means then we can have no idea of who Christ is and we are lost.

I'd say that this needs to be repeated every 20 comments on every thread about the EC and postmodernism until all EC and EC-friendly folks deal with it honestly.

S.J. Walker said...

nolongerblind,

sssssss....TUNK!!!

That is the sound of a well aimed arrow hitting its mark.

Amen to that.

nolongerblind said...

s.j. walker:
"sssssss....TUNK!!!

That is the sound of a well aimed arrow hitting its mark."

Reminds me of the Monty Python bit, using that very sound, where a knight gets a piece of paper stuck in his chest, looks up and says "message for you sir!"

Have a blessed Christmas, my brother.

S.J. Walker said...

ni!!! ni !!!!

Merry Christmas to you too Bro

Strong Tower said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S.J. Walker said...

I sense a new post coming...

"we are the knights who say..."


hmmm. I'll get back to you.

Bruce said...

No I won't cry I am a big boy. I actually find some amusement in how quick people can judge another person's spirituality by an entry in a blog comment section (or a paragraph in a book)I wonder if Bruce is saved? Are the Bell's even saved? Surely, you can see the false "soul concern" here. What have any of the commenters done personally to "win" these poor lost emerging Church folk? I am waiting for someone to stop by and share with me the good news.

But, you guys can't see that because as soon as the word Emerging is in a title some of you see red and out comes the straw man. And yes, here comes Bruce to defend Emerging honor.

Not this time. Your comments speak for themselves.

On the subject of knowing less and less. Some of you in your grand intellectual superiority (whether God given or naturally obtained) don't seem to understand that you CAN study a matter more and more for many years and know less about a matter because you find out the DEPTH of the subject.

As a young Christian you start wit ha borrowed theology. You then begin to develop your own theology. Many people stop at this point. As soon as their theology lines up with what their pastor or denomination believes, end of story.

Some people keep reading. Some people keep looking. Some people read outside their rut. They then find a vastness to the things of God that they never knew before. In that sense they know less.It is not that they know nothing but that the field of study has become much larger.

I guess if the only commentary set you have is John MacArthur's or John R. Rice's you can probably thin you have exhausted the field of study. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look it, some of us like to read, nd we read a lot.We have learned that theology and doctrine is not as neat and compartmentalized as some would have us believe.

Bruce

Rhology said...

Bruce (almost) said:

What have any of the commenters done personally - like ministry - to "win" these poor lost emerging Church folk?

steve said...

Bruce wrote: A lifetime of theological study has left me knowing less and less.


In 2 Peter 1:6, the apostle Paul exhorts us to "add to your faith...knowledge," among other things.

And at the end of the same book, Paul urges us to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (3:18).

Scripturally, then, it is expected of believers to know more and more, not less and less.

Now, as we grow in our knowledge of the Christ and His Word, it's true we may become more aware of the mysteries that are beyond human comprehension.

But a greater awareness of such mysteries is not the same thing as knowing less and less.

At the same time we are becoming more aware of that which is beyond our understanding, we should also become increasingly confident and steadfast in that which we do comprehend.

There are many, many clear truths in God's Word that, over time, should deepen and enrich our faith. The longer I am a Christian, the greater is my rejoicing and exulting in those truths, and the more precious they become to me as they're contrasted against the backdrop of this temporal, hopeless, and fallen world.

But such a response is possible only when one grows in grace and knowledge.

Phil Johnson said...

Strong Tower:

Your comment, which was clever, nonetheless quoted a song which takes the Lord's name in vain and offends my sensibilities. You can repost if you like, without the lines from "War." If you didn't keep a copy of your comment and need it to repost, e-mail me and I'll send it to you.

While I'm at it (and the following has nothing to do with ST's post; I'm talking to a handful of other regulars and semi-regulars): let's all try to keep the noise-to-signal ratio as low as possible. For example, please abstain from using the meta here as a quick-n-dirty substitute for personal e-mails. I don't mind a little lighthearted repartee, but when you have a hundred comments and that's the dominant type of content, it's not good.

See: I don't think we can accuse the Emergents of staying away from the meta here simply because they don't really want to talk. Sometimes the conversation here descends to a level that keeps even me away. Let's try our best not to turn the comment-threads into Animal House. OK?

Strong Tower said...

Bruce,

I don't read MacArthur...

And, I have only heard and read portions of the War on the radio and on line.

But, this is the thing, what I do read is not foreign to what I have heard of JohnnyMac. That is not true of Bell, et al.

What you have said is true in part. However, we do not jettison what has been established as truth because we discover how little we know. We can gain great amounts of knowledge and by it we discover that the Word of God is deep water. But, we know what water is.

Chris Hemmelman said...

"Some of you in your grand intellectual superiority (whether God given or naturally obtained) don't seem to understand that you CAN study a matter more and more for many years and know less about a matter because you find out the DEPTH of the subject."

More nebulous responses. Please, for the love of doughnuts, give a specific, and biblical, example of what you mean by this.

S.J. Walker said...

Bruce,

Don't worry, I have Matthew Henry too. And if all else fails, I have the commentaries Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Amos, Isaiah, Nahum, Moses, David, Habakkuk, Hosea, Asaph, Obadiah, Joel, Job, Ezekiel, Jonah, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi, Zechariah, Jeremiah, Jude and a few other in-exhasutive commentators.

My beliefs came from these sources, as I have more of than JM, M. Henry, or whoever. Funny that.

S.J. Walker said...

Phil

"Let's try our best not to turn the comment-threads into Animal House. OK?"

Good point. Sorry for my bit. My weird attempts at humor are sometimes overdone and ill-timed, if not inappropriate.

Thanks.

stratagem said...

A lifetime of theological study has left me knowing less and less.

Bruce: Don't worry, I like totally believe you.

SolaMeanie said...

Bruce,

I don't intend to judge your heart or motives. However, I do very much intend to aim at the ideas behind what you are posting. Don't confuse the two, either with me or with others who respond to you.

When you can post in defense of a clearly ridiculous comment made by Mrs. Bell, or to seemingly celebrate a lack of knowledge after a lifetime of study, I think that opens you up to legitimate criticism, if not rebuke. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to understand why.

Will we -- as finite beings -- understand God to the fullest? Of course not. However, there is no excuse for not understanding what He has revealed TO be understood, especially when considering the regenerate believer has the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is especially important with salvific matters, and epistemology plays directly into that.

Make sense?

Andrew and Carolyn said...
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Andrew and Carolyn said...

I think there's a world of difference between realising how little you know, and propounding how little we can know. I've no doubt that many of us feel that the more books and commentaries we read, the less we actually have grasped of our great faith. That's completely different from saying that the more we study the less we can be certain of.

There's a story about Bono's father losing his sense of faith before his death. In conversation with one of the Gallagher brothers (from the British rock group Oasis), Bono shared this - to which Gallagher replied that he was 'one step closer to knowing, then'. This concept made it into one of U2's songs. Such sentiments are excusable in the slush of rock lyrics, but not in the serious realm of theology or Christian living.

I'm happy to say that I feel I know less and less the more I read - that's a reflection on my ignorance. I can't say that the more and more I read the less I can know of God - that's a disparagement of the certainty of Christian Truth.

Bruce said...

Chris,

I gave you a personal illustration of that being true, so I know it to be so.

Statagem,

Well thar ya go. Now you know me.

Solameanie,

Is anyone actually reading what I wrote? :)

I am not celebrating "not knowing" I read all the time. I study. I have made it a habit from my youth to "know" .What I AM saying is that you can reach a point when you finally realize the vastness of a subject that you say "I really don't know anything."

Some posters naively believe that if they just read enough, study enough that some day they will comprehend it all. Only if you stay in your narrow, focused school of doctrine.

IF you read and study beyond your rut you a find a vast world of knowledge that you did not know. To that end I know less and less.

I do not mean to have a big debate on this. I don't want to get in a long comment debate. But I did want to defending my Emerging Friends. Somebody has got to do it.

Bruce
President, CEO and only member of the Bell Fan Club

Chris Hemmelman said...

I fully understand and embrace the depth of God's truth. However, how does this depth create a reverse knowledge effect?

Look at the conclusion of 2 Peter. Peter concluded by telling the believers to "grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." And why? So that they would not be fooled by those who twisted Scripture!

We will never come to fully understand the depths of God's grace, love, and truth. But we are told to make forward progress, to grow!

What an amazing joy it is, whether by small steps or giant leaps, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each time we get a taste of the greatness of God we want more and more.

Bruce, the Bible talks about forward progress in our Christian walk, not regress. Do not confuse the depths of God's truth with postmodern uncertainty.

Brad Williams said...

Dude,

"you CAN study a matter more and more for many years and know less about a matter because you find out the DEPTH of the subject."

To study a matter more and more, and to realize the depth and scope of it is great. In fact, it may bring on the awakening sense that this subject is far larger than you had originally thought. But such a revelation is actually a sign of increasing knowledge, not decreasing.

Not that anyone is reading this still, but there's my reaction.

Chris Hemmelman said...

Bruce,

what specifically about God, scripture, etc, do you not know because of study?

Please, in all seriousness, give me a particular example.

S.J. Walker said...

Bruce,

I'll only point this out and then you can do as you wish with it.

You said:

"Some posters naively believe that if they just read enough, study enough that some day they will comprehend it all. Only if you stay in your narrow, focused school of doctrine."

While I would concur that some folks, like ultra-legalistic people such as Bill Gothard can get too "narrow-minded" to see the freedom from sin that Salvation brings. To clarify, not freedom TO sin, but freedom FROM sin. A side note I know, but I didn't want anybody thinking I preach such rubbish as one can be free to sin under grace.

Anyway, that being said. I am reminded of the verse that says "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."

My "school of doctrine" better be "focused" on that narrow gate it seems.

"Turn neither to the right, nor the left."

Hope that makes sense Bruce

steve said...

Bruce wrote: Some posters naively believe that if they just read enough, study enough that some day they will comprehend it all. Only if you stay in your narrow, focused school of doctrine.

Bruce, I don't see anyone here who is actually propounding this, nor is it propounded in Truth War.

Bruce wrote: Guess if the only commentary set you have is John MacArthur's or John R. Rice's you can probably think you have exhausted the field of study.

Unfortunately, Bruce, resorting to such blatantly misrepresentative rhetoric will only tempt your respondents to do likewise. That, of course, discourages well-reasoned discussion.

Bruce said...

Chris,

Take the doctrine of the atonement. Cardinal to the Christian faith is "Jesus died for our sins according to the Scripture" To many Evangelicals that statement=the substitutionary death theory. If that is all you ever hear and read about that is all you will know.

But, if you really start reading about the subject you find out there are a number of theories about the atonement that still fulfill "Jesus died for our sins" (and no I am not gong to debate the atonement :)

The same could be said for Ecclesiology and Eschatology.

For many in Calvinistic circles their reading starts in the 17th century. It is those other 16 centuries that provide a wealth of material that makes me say "I know less and less"

Read the Church fathers. Read the early Church (non canonical) writings.

People claim Augustine and have never read him. (Calvin=Augustine line of thought)

The Bible and the study of it is inexhaustible.

Strong Tower said...

sunagwniðzomai
katagwniðzomai
eÍpagwniðzomai
a)ntagwniðzomai
wouldn't you like to a)gwniðzomai, too?

I have fought a good fight,I have finished my course,I have kept the faith:

War! The kingdom of God is taken by violence and violent men take it by force....that's what the Word is for.

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

That you may no longer be children but good soldiers able to stand in the day against all the wiles of the Devil, having put on the Armor(my paraphrase).

War!

Sorry to those who I might have offended. Like Cent says of me, my canon is loose.

Bruce said...

Steve,

I didn't know Truth War was the subject. If it is I apologize and I will go away. But I thought I read that the subject was Emerging Martyrology. Did I misunderstand. I stayed away from the other thread because I have not rad, nor do I intend to, read the book.

I could have listed dozens of commentary authors but I chose not to. I thought people would get my point. If you only read in a particular school of thought you never will come to any other conclusion but that school of thought.

To only read the Puritans is to come aways with a skewed understanding of Christianity. To only read Rob Bell will do the same.

These are comment sections not thesis sections so I try and keep my comments short. I expect you to be able to read between the lines :)

Mike Riccardi said...

Bruce,

What would you say to the following?

Let's take it as a given that PSA is the correct understanding of the atonement, for sake of argument. Let's also say I read 1 Cor 15 along with the rest of Scripture and come to that same conclusion. Is it necessary, then, that I read other views on the atonement?

Bill said...

James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

Notice how God says we should not doubt. To 'not doubt' is to KNOW.

Bruce, since you 'love to read' then why not read Dr. Macarthur's book on The Truth Wars?

God bless.
Bill

Strong Tower said...

Bruce,

I agree with you. However, you inferred, that if a person only reads one source, that that is necessarily a bad thing. If we only had Scripture, what would be wrong with that? If what a person reads is right, what's wrong with that? I have read inside and outside the box, and what it has confirmed for me is that once I got into the box I never needed to get out of it.

You should have read the other posts or at least the last, as it was pertinent to this one. Mz. Bell, to use the PC address, was being defended, as if she needed it. It is kinda like Hillarybillary's supporters complaining that she was picked on because she was a woman even though she claims feminista egalitarianism. Emergents claim "power" of superior intellect, but when the guns are turned on them, they cry martyr. It is a ruse to cover their errors.

Poor old Rodney King...if those mean Police officers were just not protecting the right against wrong...can't we all just get along...hey wanna buy some crack? This is the duplicitous positioning of the Emerents. "What?" "Me?" "Now that's mean." "You're bad, so I am clean." It just doesn't wash.

No one is challenging what the Emergents get right, it is what they preach that is false. The fact is, just like Romney, they know it is.

Wanna bya sum dis? Have the authorities really said...it won't kill ya...honest....

This thread was about the War and Emergent Martyrology. You got half of it right.

S.J. Walker said...

I think point that is getting missed is that non-emergents (and I use that broad term very carelessly) don't (for the most part, think or say, or even imply that they(we) can or do know everything. It might be more accurate to say we claim to know ENOUGH.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, HAVING MADE KNOWN TO US THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself...

agonizomai said...

Bruce For many in Calvinistic circles their reading starts in the 17th century. It is those other 16 centuries that provide a wealth of material that makes me say "I know less and less"

Read the Church fathers. Read the early Church (non canonical) writings.


I totally understand your point about the humility that comes from a greater awareness of our ignorance, the deeper we go. It's similar to the experience that the closer we get to God the more conscious we are of our remaining sin - the more grateful we are for grace. I see that lots of others here get that, too.

My objection is not to true humility but to that thing which pretends to humility while denying the knowability of what God has revealed. As I implied earlier, it is mind-blowingly arrogant for mere creatures to take their ball home and refuse to play because there is no chance they will ever know God as well as He knows Himself. Jesus is the Truth and God has spoken to us in Him the fullness of His revelation. (not the fullness of the totality of all understanding of God). All men have a duty to strive to understand what God has spoken so that they can be conformed to it through the obedience of faith. If a person doesn't believe he/she can know the truth I fail to see how he/she can be conformed to it through faith.

Since you mentioned the church fathers (and they were just as fallible as the rest of us) I offer you something from Iranaeus:

But ignorance, the mother of all these (heretical errors), is driven out by knowledge. Wherefore the Lord used to impart knowledge to His disciples, by which also it was His practice to heal those who were suffering, and to keep back sinners from sin. He therefore did not address them in accordance with their pristine notions, nor did He reply to them in harmony with the opinion of His questioners, but according to the doctrine leading to salvation, without hypocrisy or respect of person. Against Heresies - Book III, Chapter V

But that assumes that Iranaeus knew something himself ;-)

Blessings

SolaMeanie said...

Bruce,

Yes, I read what you wrote, and called you on it.

What you seem to be calling a "narrow, focused brand of doctrine" is actually a pretty important brand. It's not something to be readily dismissed as the Emergents seem to do so easily.

Rather than dance around with vagueries, why don't you give us specifics on the doctrines you think are so narrow and focused?

Bruce said...

Bill,

I read all of john MacArthur's books through the one titled "Hard to Believe." Having read Charismatic chaos (and I am a non-cessationist) I suspect Truth War is just a similar book, different subject.

I have heard/read some of MacArthur's quotes in recent weeks about the Emerging Church. I doubt his objectivity on the subject and it hard to read someone who thinks you are a following after false religion. This is kin to reading a book by a oneness pentecostal. I know how the story ends.

Rushdooney wrote a bit on book reading that I've never forgot. He said most books aren't worth reading once let alone twice.It is ok to start a book and say it is not worth reading and stop. There is no nobility in continuing to read a lousy book.

MacArthur is not writing to convince emerging/emergents of their error. He is writing to warn the faithful of the error (at least from his perspective)

Well enough for me. I forayed into Pyroland as long as I can.I must retreat to the safe confines of my Restless Mind.

Bruce

Bruce said...

Solameanie,

Only in "your mind" did you call me on it. I gave the only illustration I need to give....my own life and study.

Tough if you don't like it.

I don't intend to debate it with you. Besides you are a meanie. :)

Adios Amigo.

Bruce

Lance Roberts said...

SJ Walker

Bill Gothard is not legalistic, he just believes in obeying the Bible in all areas of life, and he certainly teaches grace. Obedience is not legalism. Please don't slander him in public.

Bill said...

Bruce,

I understand (and essentially agree) with your comment on not reading a book you think will be lousy to begin with. I do not feel about Dr. Macarthur's book the way you do. Have fun in your restless mind.

Question:
Doesn't the word 'doctrine' in and of itself dictate that there are things that are absolutely KNOWABLE and that we can/should be CERTAIN of and are not up to negotiation, from God's viewpoint? (i.e. God is Creator, virgin virth, trinity, Jesus' substitutionary death etc.).
Granted, there are a lot of things that I do not know but there are also a lot of things that I DO KNOW because the very Word of God became flesh and dwelt among men.

As a matter of fact, my entire faith is built upon Truth, not on some assumption or some gut feeling about some obscure teaching. But rather my faith is assured and confirmed by the very Word is who also the Author and Finisher of my faith.

Praise be to God. Thank you Jesus.

S.J. Walker said...

Lance,

I would differ with you there, But you're right, I could have made my point just as well without bringing him into the mix. As for the other part of your comment, that is for another post, agree?

Bill Honsberger said...

Lance, please read A Matter of Basic Principles by Don Veinot on the subject of Bill Gothard. Not only is Gothard legalistic to the utmost (must be circumsized to be saved, etc) but in fact he teaches that grace must be earned!!!
To friend of Emergent Bruce - I reads the emerging folks and I think of the old folk tale of the Rabbis upon their first encounter with the Quran - What is good-is not new. What is new-is not good. What say you to the rampant universalism, Buddhist and Hindu mantras and yoga, denial of the personhood of God (spencer burke) and so on?
Bill

Daryl said...

Bill,

I don't want to get into Mr. Gothard's teaching however read this quote from his website.

"Circumcision is certainly not required for salvation or for achieving righteousness as a believer."

Please be accurate no matter who you are decrying/supporting.

Again, let's respect the blog rules and avoid further discussion of MR. Gothard or other unrelated material.

Lance Roberts said...

Bill,

He does not teach that at all (circumcision).

His teaching of 'merited grace' is the exact same as Piper's 'conditional grace. Piper just has a better name for it that doesn't raise hackles. Read Piper's stuff if you're confused on the issue.

Veinot rags on anybody who stands for family values, see his attack on Doug Phillips recently.

p.s. I agree with SJ that this isn't the place to get into this.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Emerging Hysteria.

I see a roughly common core among the following worldviews: Theological Liberalism, Egalitarianism, Mormonism, and the Emerging/Emergent Church.

They all seem to monkey around with Scripture in some fashion or another. Either they hollow out words or they promote uncertainty or they think Scripture is insufficient or they employ eisegesis with a social justice or a trajectory hermeneutic. Or their theology is influenced by their political views.

Whatever it is that they do to twist Scripture, I wish they would just stop. So I'm fully supportive of John MacArthur and the Team Pyro guys stepping up to warn sheep of the false teachers. It's a horrendously thankless task, and worse than being thankless, it often sets them up for vicious ad hominem attacks, character smears, false accusations, rumor mongering, back-biting, etc....

Unleashing God's Word one verse at a time will unleash torrents of bile that you are judgmental, pharasaic, harsh, legalistic, divisive, etc.... And they will then cap it off with saying that Jesus had his strongest words of condemnation for the Pharisees, and therefore, by extension, Jesus would have hard words of condemnation for John MacArthur and TeamPyro guys.

Whaddya gonna do? Sigh.

SolaMeanie said...

Bruce,

Well, that is as nice a dodge as I've ever seen. My compliments. However, I don't think it will satisfy. My original point still stands, and you ignored it completely. Whether I "like it or not" is irrelevant. Whether God likes it or not is the ultimate question. I will be interested to see what He has to say when you tell Him you don't understand His Word after years of studying it. You can try to backtrack and parse what you meant, but it won't fly. You made the statement, and you will have to defend it.

Again, I am not ( nor is anyone else here ) talking
about secondary matters, or the few passages in Scripture that are difficult. None of this Emergent discussion has been about those things. The concern has been Emergent handling of Scripture, core doctrine and epistemology -- and the effects of postmodern epistemology on the understanding of Scripture.

Kristen Bell -- a pastor's wife and co-leader of that congregation -- gives an interview to an international Christian magazine where she states that she doesn't know what most of God's Word means. Her husband and the pastor of said church doesn't correct it. You defended that statement. And when you get called on it, you decamp hastily and refuse to take up the gauntlet, even though you are the one who threw the gauntlet down in the first place by making the defensive remark.

You throw up charges about "false soul concern." You're still "waiting for someone to stop by and share the good news." How dare you? You imply that the only things any of us have read are John MacArthur's books. That is a patently ridiculous statement. I guess you assume that anyone who studies at The Master's College or other sound evangelical schools are somehow parrot factories?

Quite honestly, your statements about MacArthur and comparing his books to those of Sebellionists are beyond offensive. As for Rushdoony, and his cute remark that most books aren't worth reading, does he include his own tomes with that observation? If so, I'll be sure to send the quote to his publishing house so they won't waste any more of their money.

steve said...

Bruce wrote: Steve...I could have listed dozens of commentary authors but I chose not to. I thought people would get my point. If you only read in a particular school of thought you never will come to any other conclusion but that school of thought.

Bruce, your rejoinder is moot because, as I said earlier, no one here is advocating reading only a particular school of thought.

Nor is anyone advocating, as you say, that if they just read enough, study enough that some day they will comprehend it all.

Bruce wrote: I did want to defending my Emerging Friends. Somebody has got to do it.

Bruce, if you insist on continuing to mischaracterize what your respondents are saying, you might want to check with your Emergent Friends first and make sure they don't mind being defended in such a manner.

steve said...

We're nearing 70 comments. Still no one to back up the allegation that MacArthur "viciously" attacked Mrs. Bell in Truth War.

Nor has anyone explained why it was improper for MacArthur to cite the Mrs. Bell quote from CT.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Anybody,

What is the (false) attractiveness of the Emerging Church?

Uncertainty isn't attractive to me. And while I understand that uncertainty may be attractive to others as a way of grabbing the moral high ground by claiming that you are humble in your knowledge (IHMO, a false and prideful humility), I still don't get it. Are emergents trying to be popular with the world and still try to claim some sort of Christian heritage? Is that it?

Do they want to be able to vote liberal Democrat policies and candidates alongside their peers and gain social acceptance by voting for abortion and gay marriage while still going to an Emergent Christian Church? Do Emergents want to have their cake and eat it too by keeping one foot in the world and one foot in the Church by claiming false humility, martyrdom, and uncertainty?

Seriously, what's so attractive about being an Emergent? So they can appear hip and trendy, young and fashionable?

If so, thwwpppppPPPt! Archie Bunker style.

S.J. Walker said...

steve,

In keeping with all the non-related commenteering,

I havn't had a banana in a month.

Figured that had about as much to do with the original post as well, anything else I've proliferated today.

Bye bye

Lance Roberts said...

If you don't stand for anything, then you can do anything.

If you doubt there is any objective truth, then there's nothing to call what you're doing a sin.

It's all about sin.

Strong Tower said...

Isaiah 28, has everything to do with why those who flock together in untruth do so. As the next post goes to this, a false confession and a dead confession what's the diff?

As long as you're gruel, you're kewl.

Laura said...

"What is the (false) attractiveness of the Emerging Church?"

From my experience, it seems to be the the lack of emphasis on sin. Most of the people in the Emergent church I used to be a part of were living together outside of marriage, getting drunk frequently, using foul language, and even experimenting with homosexuality. Emergents have such a loose definition of what it means to be a believer that they attract people who are looking for spirituality but not a life change.

Mark B. Hanson said...

I wonder what the effect of this creeping unbelief will be / has been on the "baby Bells" - Rob and Kristen Bell's sons (I write from ignorance here - not knowing what ages they are). Very often a theological shift is driven by a family matter. Of course it may also be parents - Charles Darwin found random evolution congenial because he had a father and grandfather that were freethinkers, and would surely be in hell if the Christian God existed.

I remember hearing a pastor I once respected say, "I am totally pro-life except in two cases: my son and my daughter. I can't say what I would do if either of them got into trouble." One of my pastor friends respected him for that. I was horrified.

Of course, the other "baby Bells" influenced are the members of their church, but often the fruit of theological compromise comes out first in your own family.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"What is the (false) attractiveness of the Emerging Church?"

From my experience, it seems to be the the lack of emphasis on sin. Most of the people in the Emergent church I used to be a part of were living together outside of marriage, getting drunk frequently, using foul language, and even experimenting with homosexuality. Emergents have such a loose definition of what it means to be a believer that they attract people who are looking for spirituality but not a life change.
-----------

Wow! Thanks for speaking from your personal experience Laura. I hope Emergents would tolerate your personal experience and see it as a wonderfully diverse portrait of their pluralistic approaches to the doctrine of sin.

art said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Dialectic said...

I will say that the emergents I know (a few) are sincerely seeking an authentic faith, in contrast to what they see happening in the church at large (usually the "seeker" model). They truly care about following Jesus and being Christ in their communities.

My ire is directed at the leadership. At the pastors and writers who subtly (or not so subtly) subvert the Word of God. They are the ones who will be held most accountable (James 3:1 was cited earlier) They are the ones who are drip drip dripping the acid that eats away foundations of Truth, Authority and Power.

This is why the "movement" is fracturing. In fact, wasn't it downgraded from "movement" to "conversation" a few years ago?

candyinsierras said...

Bruce. On the one hand you say:

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look it, some of us like to read, and we read a lot.

and on the other hand you say:

Rushdooney wrote a bit on book reading that I've never forgot. He said most books aren't worth reading once let alone twice.It is ok to start a book and say it is not worth reading and stop. There is no nobility in continuing to read a lousy book.

So what I interpret from those two quotes is that you read a lot, and read what agrees with your view of Christianity. All other views are lousy. If you care to check half the blogs belonging to people who comment on this thread, you will find many well read and thoughtful Christians, who read more than what just appeals to their belief system. Many Christians read to be aware of various trends and cultural shifts. For example, do a google search on Al Mohler and see if you find that the guy is a bookworm extraodinare when it comes to knowing the various culture trends and issues.

I think one issue to consider is that many Emergent folks have attended really liberal colleges, and it is hard, once indoctrinated with much of the material presented in college, to adhere to a Christianity that defines itself in a narrow but concrete fashion. The good news is that many college age Christians love the idea that their Christianity can be an intelligent Christianity and there are certainly lots and lots of good books to read that reinforce a grounded Christianity based in truth. Which brings me back to you Bruce. Lots and lots of good books Bruce. Truth Wars is one of them. Sure beats Annie Lamott's stream of consciousness drivel (yeah I read one of her books).

Tim said...

Bruce,

You said:
"Not this time. Your comments speak for themselves.

On the subject of knowing less and less. Some of you in your grand intellectual superiority (whether God given or naturally obtained) don't seem to understand that you CAN study a matter more and more for many years and know less about a matter because you find out the DEPTH of the subject."

First, I'll say that I basically agree with "you CAN study a matter more and more for many years and know less about a matter because you find out the DEPTH of the subject." (We should clarify: In one sense, you'll understand more about the subject than when you started. Your study will cause you to grow in knowledge. But at the same time, your awareness of the depth of the subject may grow, and you may realize how little you know compared to how much you have to learn. And even in the things you do know, you may realize that your knowledge is imperfect, flawed--seeing through a glass, dimly.)

To the extent that you were making that point, it's a good contribution.

But I think you're very wrong about the people you're talking to. You're assuming that people don't understand this, in their "intellectual superiority."

I'm sorry, did you fail to read agonizomai's comment, where he referred to J. Vernon McGee? Where he discussed precisely this sense in which we can end up "knowing less", with McGee as an example? He carefully explained the difference he sees between McGee's comments and Kristen Bell's. He pointed out Mrs. Bell's remarks about the nature of the Bible and the possibility of understanding. He said, "Giving up on the concept of understanding itself, simply because we do not have the complete answer, is mind-blowingly arrogant. But it looks humble to the undiscerning."

In short, you are not defending Kristen Bell; she said more than that the Bible is complex and we should be cautious about assuming that our doctrine has all the truth laid out in perfect detail. She went farther than you, and we think she went too far.

Feel free to disagree and make your case, but your accusation of "grand intellectual superiority" is sadly ironic when you're declining to deal carefully and fairly with the actual criticisms people are making.


(Note: You did say "some of you". Maybe you were intentionally excluding agonizomai's comment. But if so, you would have done well to acknowledge its existence, and to acknowledge that some of the criticisms of Mrs. Bell's remarks might be valid.)

wifey said...

I have long been waiting to post a comment about Kristen Bell and her forays into theological matters, and since I am a woman, I hopefully won’t be accused of sexism. Weaker as I am, I am no helpless waif either. =) I have never tried to wield a chub of beef, though.

A little more from this woman, Rob Bell’s wife and influencer in their home…I found a disturbing quote in “Sex God” when I recently and painfully read the book. (Oh I almost forgot I don’t read authors I disagree with and weren’t written before the Reformation. Wasn’t “Sex God” copyrighted 2007?) Sorry, I digress! Anyway, page 46 is where I grab this…

The other day my five-year-old son asked my wife, “Mom what does sexy mean?”

She thought about it for a second and replied, “Sexy is when it feels good to be in your own skin. Your own body feels right, it feels comfortable. Sexy is when you love being you.”

Because it all starts with being sexy on the inside.

This is by no means perhaps the most theologically distressing item I read in the book, although as a mother I found it to be downright horrifying, but Rob Bell praises her ingenuity on page 182 and says she attributes the quote to Bono.

Her statements published in the public forum, very much open her up to scrutiny. And to the emergents--No fair finding fault with everyone’s but your own conversation and shame on you hiding behind skirts or whatever’s trendier than me these days.

carolczech said...

Mark B. Hanson said... "Of course, the other "baby Bells" influenced are the members of their church, but often the fruit of theological compromise comes out first in your own family."

To me, that's the crux of the problem with Kristen Bell's statements. She has been sitting under Rob Bell's teaching from the beginning and this is the fuzzy fruit we get. Barring any mental deficiency in Mrs. Bell (herself a product of a Christian upbrining and college) Rob seems to be failing as both pastor and spiritual leader of his family to impart spiritual truth to his wife.

As a woman who has done a fair amount of public speaking (some in not-so-friendly situations) I'm rather offended by the implication that a woman should be permitted to make drive-by comments and then retreat behind her husband. While I am also a stay-at-home mom and think I understand the biblical womanhood concept, if I'm putting my thoughts out there in the public marketplace of ideas, I ought to be willing to defend what I say.

This emerging martyrology isn't unique to Kristin Bell. Rob wrote a diatribe about his critics and whined about being misquoted & misunderstood, blah, blah, blah... & Padgitt had his whole odd wink thing as a way to dodge his critics.

Exhibit A: there's currently a "Martyrfest" going on in the Padgitville blog about an interview Dr. MacArthur did with Crosswalk where apparently MacArthur stated his belief that Padgitt is a Universalist:

blog quote: "I'm sorry to hear that this stuff keeps coming your way, Doug. It sucks to be slandered, even when the slanderer is someone whose opinion doesn't mean much. We don't do church the same way, but I know a lot of people who deeply appreciate you and Solomon's Porch--even if you're not a church ;)"

Critics on the blog are BEGGING Padgitt to explain his views on Universalism (some very earnestly and politely), but beyond saying, "I'm not," all he will say is, "Buy my new book when it comes out."

http://pagitt.typepad.com/pagittblog/2007/12/i-probably-shou.html#comments

S.J. Walker said...

I think Bruce is gone for this one. I might be wrong.

DJP said...

Since Phil's far too modest, let me just say, on this specific issue:

Game, set, match.

Phil Johnson said...

Note to all (but to one commenter in particular):

1. I don't carry arguments from the meta of my blog into private e-mail, or else I would be answering nattering rogues all the time. If you want to debate with me about something that has been written here, post your comments here and be accountable for what you say.

2. Don't write to me and boast of how "teachable" you are and how willing you are to be corrected—and expect me to take your word for it—if you have never shown an ounce of teachability in your public participation in our meta.

3. That's especially true if I have already answered an argument and you reply by merely reiterating that same argument again.

4. Don't try to shed responsibility for your postmodernist perspective by claiming you "don't agree with everything" this or that Emergent heretic says. No one agrees completely with anyone else about everything, and no one here has ever accused any individual of embracing every one of the multitudinous errors that are getting batted around in the Emerging Conversation. To pretend that we've made that charge against you is a strawman even bigger than the windmills you're currently tilting at.

Bill Honsberger said...

Just as a side note to Lance and a few others, I overstated my statement on Gothard teaching circumcision for salvation (been a few years since I read on the subject - sorry!) but it is a moral imperative for all believers according to him.
As to whether Piper's view of grace is the same under a different title than Gothard's I don't know, but if so then a pox on him as well. Merited grace is not grace!
As to whether Don Veinot "rags" on Doug Phillips, please examine the following letter and sources:

Greetings,

On the issue of circumcision (we talk about this in chapter 4) we quote from his booklet How to Make a Wise Medical Decision on Circumcision (1991). He writes on page 2:

"Because this is one subject which is so strongly commanded and reinforced in Scripture, there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on the matter."

For anyone who would point out that this was a sign of the covenantal relationship between God and His people in the Old Testament Gothard has an answer on page 5:

"It is important to note that circumcision was established before the Law was given. Circumcision goes back to the faith of Abraham. Thus, those who would seek to dismiss circumcision with the Law, have no Scriptural basis to do so."

There is more but he is pretty clear here on this issue. It is something which God so "strongly commanded and reinforced" which predates the Law and therefore there is "no Scriptural basis" which would allow a Christian parent to not have this rite performed and "there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on the matter."

On the issue of Grace. In his year 2000 Definition of Grace he states unequivocally, "In the Old Testament, those who found grace possessed qualities that merited God's favor" (emphasis mine). The Gothard discussion group has this online at:

http://www.billgotharddiscussion.com/grace.htm

On the Doug Phillips question, the original Journal article is on line in pdf at:

http://www.midwestoutreach.org/Pdf%20Journals/2007/spring_2007.pdf

The blog articles (including our letters to them with links to their letters) are at:

Examining the Premises of the Patriarchal Promises

Letter From a Patriarch - Pastor Brian Abshire

Answering Vision Forum

What Gives You the Right to Declare a Teaching False?

That should give them plenty to gnaw on.

Don




Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.
L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr., President

www.midwestoutreach.org