11 August 2008

Stream of consciousness

A short interlude in that series about evangelical fads
by Phil Johnson

ome random but loosely-connected thoughts about the Fad-Driven Church® have been accumulating in my subconscious while I've been reposting those old entries about evangelical fads. So I've decided to interrupt the process of reposting old entries and take a load off my mind today:
  • Warning. Irony ahead. Tim Keel is irritated that a "Christian" band ripped off a secular band's album-cover concept. But isn't that a perfect metaphor for the contemporary Christian Music industry itself? Ditto for every quasi-evangelical fad, including Emergent religion and all the other expressions of Christianized postmodernity promoted so enthusiastically at Tim Keel's blog. Keel promises that when the CD cover for his community's music comes out, it's going to be different. Not just so-quirky-you-might-not-get-it different. Oh, it will be that, of course, but much more: "When this deal comes out, it will be art," he grandly announces. "It has a voice."
         We'll see.
  • Speaking of art. . . Has anyone else noticed that Emergents seem especially prone to confuse art and cliché? That's what I was pondering at the very moment when Tim Keel's page led me to gary aronhalt. (gary had actually commented about the album-cover ripoff before Tim did.) Meanwhile, gary, like countless others in the Emergent generation, likes to type as much as he can in lower-case letters. Very e. e. cummingsish. You know—artistic in that cheesy, schoolgirlish, trite-and-unimaginative way post-evangelicals seem to prefer making their expressions of cultural awareness. And we don't need to single out gary aronhalt. Lots of Emerging types have written lower-case-only entries in the Pyro-comment threads over the years. And they usually excoriate us for our lack of theological originality.
         To be clear: I don't really care whether anyone uses his or her shift key. I'm actually amused by the faux-humility of always lowercasing one's own name so as not to draw undue attention to it. But the popularity of the practice is yet another fitting symbol for just about everything that is currently fashionable on the evangelical fringe. Why is it that those who seem to talk most about originality are always so lemminglike?
  • Take Erwin Raphael McManus, for instance. (Is there anyone more pretentious in all the world of postmodern religion?) Surely no one talks more about "innovation" than McManus. Yet no one seems to work harder than he does to keep in step with the spirit of the age. He more or less epitomizes the unimaginative, second-hand style of three decades of evangelical faddism, always limping far enough behind the world's fads to be just a little bit embarrassing. (Even McManus's writing style is "bland and derivative," to quote a famous blogging friend.) It's all quite the opposite of "innovative."
         But McManus's "me too" mentality is (by definition) disturbingly contagious. Someone wrote me last week asking what would be wrong with adopting McManus's methodology as long as we're careful to overlay it with a high view of Scripture.
         It's pretty hard for me to see why anyone with a high view of Scripture would want to adopt a methodology whose whole raison d'être is rooted in a low view of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. It's a methodology that systematically subordinates Scripture to a secondary or tertiary role in the life of the church. Sez McManus: "Well, I build my life not on the Word of God, but the voice of God." He believes his role is not to teach the content of Scripture to his people. That's a "modern" idea. Rather, McManus's goal is to share his own life "through the Scriptures." I'm not sure how one would do that without deliberately reading into Scripture things that are not there. But I'd much prefer to be taught the truth of Scripture instead of having Scripture used as illustrative material (or whatever) for McManus to give me insights into his life (especially given the hyperbolic terms he always uses to describe himself). It seems to me that a pastor's life ought to be an instrument for teaching the truth of Scripture, not vice versa.

         I confess I do not understand the near-reverential respect McManus's admirers lavish on him. Sure, if you read his own PR about himself, you might think he is the most wonderfully creative and forward-thinking guy ever to grace a platform. But I can't think of a single idea he has proposed that is not somehow adapted from the standard seeker-sensitive repertoire, cherry-picked from Emerging postmodernism, or purloined from some neo-gnostic playbook. Can you?
         I've always thought it mildly funny (and seriously bombastic) that McManus likes to label himself a "futurist" instead of a pastor. Yet despite his use of that title, he seems to have little or nothing to say about the future from a biblical and eschatalogical perspective. Instead, his main areas of interest are conspicuously earthbound and worldly—contra Colossians 3:2.
         For example, it's not easy to find any emphasis on holiness in his teaching. In a YouTube video featuring McManus talking about "purity," the rationale he gives for staying morally chaste is entirely man-centered. It's all about "relationships," and specifically human relationships, with no reference to the holiness and righteousness of God himself.
         McManus even makes the hackneyed claim that "to God, the central principle of the universe is relationship. . . There's nothing of greater value to God than the way we treat each other." He gives zero biblical authority for that claim, of course—because there is none—but he delivers the line as if it were the key to gnostic enlightenment. He clearly believes it's an idea more important than any old-fashioned notions about holiness. McManus makes one scant and completely oblique reference to Scripture in the whole video. (He says, "You are the temple of God," but he seems to apply that idea to believers and unbelievers alike; he doesn't actually say he is referring to any Scripture; and he purées the statement together with his own unbiblical remarks: "There's nothing more core, more central" than sexuality "because you are the temple of God.")
         In the current version of his website bio, McManus has dropped the title "futurist" in favor of a longer list of occupations ("author, speaker, activist, filmmaker and innovator"). There's nothing in the bio that identifies him as a Christian, much less a pastor. McManus's whole website actually reads like a parody of the kind of pretentiousness that has become his trademark. You have to follow all the links on his main page to learn everything about Erwin: "the author; the speaker; the artist; the leader."
         I've never had much to say about McManus, mainly because most of what disturbs me in his teaching are ideas I have already critiqued when I have dealt with postmodernism and the Emergent Conversation. Even though McManus bristles when such labels are applied to him, he has dabbled in and around the edges of the Emerging-church sideshow almost since its inception.
         Still, my fundamental quarrel with McManus is not about whether he repudiates this or that label. It's not even about the menagerie of high-flown titles he does load his resumé with. It's this: clear gospel truth is almost impossible to find in the material he publishes and posts for public consumption. And in that regard, I don't see a whole lot of difference between Erwin McManus and Joel Osteen. He's Osteen with blue jeans and an occasional soul patch rather than a shiny suit and a perpetual grin.
         Am I being too hard on McManus? I expect we'll get lots of commenters (including the usual suspects and some first-time drive-bys) who will insist that I am. McManus seems to have lots of passionate devotees online. To them I say: Welcome to our blog. Convince me. It should be easy to do if I'm wrong. Simply show me a few places where McManus makes the gospel plain and clear for his audience, with straightforward, biblical explanations of sin, atonement, and justification for sinners—including a distinct and compelling summons for sinners to repent.
         Yes, I realize that is historic, confessional, old-style doctrine—and it's not at all the sort of thing a "futurist" likes to talk about.
         That's my point.
  • Also in the category of Things That Parody Themselves: The Soliton Network. "The Soliton Network is an invitation to the rhythms of hospitality and generosity as well as to share resources, laughter, dreams and friendships. Soliton events are informal opportunities for people to reflect on the edges of Christian spirituality and practice—all are welcome, and many have been surprised by how rich the experience is. Speakers/facilitators at previous Soliton events have included Brian McLaren, Erwin McManus, Greg Russinger, Christine Sine, Doug Pagitt, Si Johnston, Jo Coles, Gareth Higgins, and many more."
         Riiiiiight.
  • And finally . . . The incredulous words of former presidential candidate John Edwards give us an important lesson that hasn't yet dawned on most American politicos and postmodernists: "Being 99 percent honest is no longer enough."
Phil's signature

197 comments:

Rick Frueh said...

Good points all. The avante-garde approach to "evangelism" and "discipleship" is so outside Scriptural parameters that most professing believers who cannot see even the most minute problem are probably beyond convincing. It will get much worse in the coming days as a generation arises that has been nutured by these Biblical facades. What will the "children" of MacLaren, Spencer Burke, and the rest teach when projected from their brand of Biblical thought?

Many emergent teachers today have some sort of evangelical roots that overtly or subliminally affect their journey into the unknown. The next class of teachers will not be tethered to any of that archaic orthodox thought, and the people will "love to have it so".

And what of Biblical evangelicalsim? We must be aware that just as the evil one is working his deception among so many, he is simultaneously attempting to lull us to sleep confindent in our own doctrinal orthodoxy. Our calling is not to be so consumed with a voyueristic addiction to the falling away, that we fail to recognize any stagnation in our own midst.

Let us pray that repentance and freshness keeps all of our eyes on the prize which is Christ Jesus Himself.

The Bible Christian said...

99% of the Gospel is not the Gospel

Frank Turk said...

Tim Keel's web site is inexplicably down -- it won't load in my browser, anyway.

But that said, I'm going to embrace everything that Phil said here and repudiate "the Bible Christian"'s drive-by maxim.

If TBC wants to clear it up for me (and all of you), I welcome his elaboration. What he said here is too broad to make any sense.

Dan Paden said...

Heh. Sad as it may seem, all I could think about was a short conversation with my father, back when I was in my early teens and letting my hair grow out. He asked why, and I said I wanted to be "unique."

"Just like everyone else," he said.

It's been kind of hard to be concerned about how I look ever since.

Kim said...

Rather, McManus's goal is to share his own life "through the Scriptures."

This was glaringly apparent to me last November when I watched a video of McManus and his wife as they did a "conversation" style presentation of the two of them talking about marriage and "relationship." He talked about himself a lot; and so did she... talk about herself a lot.

It was my first exposure to McManus and it didn't encourage me to want to know more. In fact, I went home that afternoon, feeling very discouraged that my church had played this horror to a group of women, some whom were newly married, single and very impressionable. Marriage counsellor material, he's not.

Frank Turk said...

Kim: I'm going to ask Buggy whether your marriage is all about you or not ... :-)

greglong said...

John Edwards, 2008:

In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs.

Barack Obama, 2004:

GG: What is sin?

OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.

GG: What happens if you have sin in your life?

OBAMA: I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.


So, sin is being "disloyal" or "out of alignment" with a person's own values.

Hadassah said...

I'm feeling kind of dumb. Because I have no idea what the "edges of Christian spirituality and practice" actually are.

I think it is very exclusive and unchristlike to make people feel dumb.

Barbara said...

From one of your many out-links (one to Relvant Magazine):

I kept thinking to myself, it seems that contemporary Christianity doesn’t really get it: a person isn’t brought to Jesus through the weight of evidence. God has leveraged the human spirit to move in His direction, and all the material we need to bring a person to the realization that they were created by God actually already exists inside that person.

There we have the two primarily divisive issues in a single point. Wow...just ....wow. I'm just glad to see something pinned down among all that wavy talk they do.

greglong said...

Good point, Barbara.

His own bio, which Phil linked to, says:

Erwin is also the catalyst behind Awaken. Convinced that the world is changed by dreamers and visionaries, Awaken serves the purpose of history by maximizing the divine potential in every human being.

wordsmith said...

I don't think being 99% honest was ever enough.

Justin said...

Dan Paden's comment above nailed it for me. Anybody who has ever lived through their teen years should immediately recognize all of the material at the links for what it is: Somebody trying to be "cool." What is strange to me is that they apparently haven't grown out of it like the rest of us did.

JOYce@pfg said...

A bit Zen, I know ~

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes[i.e. portrays???] your destiny[and also your god(s)/God???]. Or something like that that Kay Arthur, me thinks, once reflected.

Solameanie said...

Let me add another oddity. How about the Emergent sub-strata that doesn't wear shoes in church? The point they say they're making is that they're standing on holy ground like Moses.

SolaMommy said...

Thank you for this post, Phil! Not too many people touch on McManus b/c they're so focused on McLaren, Pagitt, and Bell...but McManus is equally dangerous.

David Milton said...

Bravo, bravo, well done. Finally.

On a personal sidenote, my father-in-law would have been very disappointed in his alma mater - Golden Gate Seminary in Marin County - to learn how revered McManus is held there. Then again, that's typical of the rudderless SBC with whom McManus likes to dance around the fringes to lend supposed credibility. Nashville hath everything to do with Rome.

Thanks for taking this guy on. He is doing a great disservice to good, godly young men who want to pursue genuine seminary training, yet are influenced by the peer voices of their time.

Ken Silva said...

Some might find this to be of interest concerning Erwin McManus. I have a source who was one of the people in the Terra Nova Project back in 1997 where Doug Pagitt was asked by Leadership Network to bring together 10 youth pastors and youth ministers who were trying to reach a "postmodern" culture.

From that TP the emerging church movement would extend with perhaps its largest and most influential branch being Emergent Village. This source told me that Erwin McManus was originally selected to be a part of TP. However, McManus was dropped very early on from further, not for theological reasons, but for personality conflicts with some of the others.

Polycarp said...

As usual Phil, the succinctness and spot-on accuracy of your post is amazing! As busy as you are pursuing so many lofty commitments as a pastor, theologian, archivist, researcher, writer, editor, guest preacher, etc., it is really quite amazing how thoroughly you know and understand this "bubble gum," postmodern culture...and the tragedy of the way in which so many within it, who identify themselves as Christians, fail to understand, interpret, or apply the long-established doctrines of the faith that were so cherished and embraced by men of faith before us, upon whose shoulders we stand today: Spurgeon, Lloyd Jones, or Morgan, just to name a few! These men of God loved to be reminded of the genuine smallness of themselves--as sinners before a holy God--these doctines of grace so directly reinforced! Indeed, they hardly needed the lower-case letters on a keyboard to achieve this end!

While I've mentioned bits of my own life experience before I became a Christian, and while I do not intend to exhaust the point unnecessarily, I'm compelled by this post today to reiterate the glaring observation I make every time I see faux-cool in action among emergents: self-proclaimed, "authentic" pagans do paganism better than the wannabe pagans of the ECM in every instance (from an artistic or intellectual perspective)--at least, I should say, I hope they are wannabes who (simply) need to repent of acting like pagans rather than being the genuine article...who are neither talented nor regenerate. My prayer for them is that they are in the former category and not the latter. I mean, if exchanging the incorruptible for corruptible is not sad enough, then not even being able to do corruptible as well as the pagans is sadder still!

Trinian said...

So, sin is being "disloyal" or "out of alignment" with a person's own values.

I guess when your god is you, the only one you can sin against is yourself.

David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Jones said...

Funny picture of Crowder! and a good post but I have to complain about the lack of originality regarding criticism of Erwin McManus. Sounds a lot like stuff i have heard before from a lot of emerging church people and readers of http://mosaicofpaincontinues.blogspot.com
/
so come on Phil, surely you can do better than that!

Tyler said...

speaking about adventures in missing the point...

DJP said...

Yes? Speaking of them, what? You apparently lost your internet connection before you, you know, made a point.

Bo Salisbury said...

So, let me see if I understand you, Phil... we probably shouldn't have McManus speak at our upcoming men's conference? And, SHE is probably not a real solid resource either?

Bo Salisbury said...

Andrew Jones... Tall Skinny Kiwi?

I'm Mike's neighbor down the street... Mike from the ministry house in SF.

Fancy meeting you here!

Phil Johnson said...

Andrew: "I have to complain about the lack of originality . . ."

See, we don't pretend to be either original or artistic. We acknowledge our "creativity" for what it is: ham-handed kitsch. Like the velvet-Elvis rendition of Dan Kimball in the above graphic. When we're cheesy, we do it boldly. And sometimes badly.

However, I hadn't spotted that "Mosaic of Pain" website until you pointed it out. Wow. And ouch. And yecccch. It's an instructive read, but in all honesty, I didn't have the stomach to get through all of it.

Stefan said...

I don't know the man, but this seems to be a rather telling comment, from the linked Relevant Magazine article:

RM: When did you start thinking differently about church and the individual?

EM: Well, for one thing, I didn’t grow up churched. I was a good solid pagan. So, I didn’t have to rethink my Christianity. But ... when I came to Christ, it seemed to me that a lot of Christians were out of touch with reality. There would be all these beliefs that were stated as if they were objective realities that no one could argue with, and I’m looking at it going, "You’ve got to be kidding me."


Part of the molding process for me as a new Christian was learning to subordinate my own worldview to God's, and to abandon my own man-centered views of Scripture, and approach it instead as the Word of God.

It wasn't an easy process—I had proudly chosen to define Jesus Christ and the Bible on my own terms for years as a non-believer. In fact, I was doing just the sort of "rethinking my Christianity" that Mr. McManus "didn't have to do," except it was in the direction from secular humanism to orthodoxy.

If after one surrenders oneself to Christ, one doesn't change one's perspective a single jot or tittle on the abiding truths of Scripture, doesn't that say something?

Phil Johnson said...

Bo:

What's "SHE"? It's prolly something real obvious, but I haven't figured it out yet. Sorry.

Bo Salisbury said...

Phil:

It's new to me, as well:

http://shecommunity.org/

Pardon my lack of sophistication, but when I look at emergent stuff, it comes off as contrived.

approvedworkman said...

Trinian hit it dead center:
"I guess when your god is you, the only one you can sin against is yourself."

Genesis 3:
4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Genesis 3:
22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—"


Genesis 11:
4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth."

Phillipians 2:
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Jesus never had to grasp at equality with God, as He is God.
He laid down His glory in order to be exalted.All of this is done on His own.
Much like laying down His life and picking it up again in John 10:17-18.
Unregenerate man on the other hand will always be striving to be as god unto himself. Phil's excellent post here proves that over and over.

On the other hand, the unregenerate (e.g. Mc Manus;Obama;Edwards) will finally accomplish the goal started in Genesis 11:

Rev 18:
5for her (Babylon/Babel) sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.

They finish their tower.

For those who are His and have the same mind we have this awesome promise;

James 4:
6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Didn't mean to give a scripture class here;just some things I have been studying and praying over.

Chris P.

Matt said...

FINALLY - TeamPyro takes on McManus and Mosaic! Great post Phil, and the "I can't believe it's not biblical" graphic, as well as the two new posters were also highlights!

The Bible Christian said...

Frank

First time I ever commented on a blog and I get repudiated, I actually had to look up what a drive-by maxim was, I was running late for work. My comment more deeply is leaving any part of the gospel out minimizes it, softens it up, and therefore completely takes the power of God out to save those who would believe. The historical Gospel is lost in the contemporary gospel for most Christians. Why? Jeremiah 6:13-16

“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for gain,
And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
14 “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
But there is no peace.
15 “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time that I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the LORD.
16 Thus says the LORD,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.

DJP said...

So, are you saying:

1. One must preach the Gospel in exhaustive detail, getting absolutely every doctrinal detail right about everything, or it's a false and damning Gospel?

Or are you saying...

2. One must preach Christ as Lord and sole sufficient Savior, calling people to look to Him alone for salvation, in repentant faith, making no compromises to kiss-up to the world, or it's not the Gospel?

Dan
A Uniter, AND a divider
(c;

Shay said...

I tried commenting earlier, but to no avail...

I saw this interesting comparison last week that I thought might be relevant. This happens all the time...

Thanks for the clear communication on this subject Phil.

The Bible Christian said...

Dan

#2

Just preach Christ, no man made models. The word of God will not come back void. I heard it said like this, it will either save those who would believe or harden hearts that won't, but it will not come back void.

Chris said...

"But isn't that a perfect metaphor for the contemporary Christian Music industry itself?"

Yes, yes and yes! This was one of my first observations in the christian music subculture after having come out from a full time career in the secular music industry. One can find the Christian version for almost any secular band one likes. Why the uproar over the album art then? i don't get it.

donsands said...

Erwin is another one that drives me nuts.

Thanks for the good insight on him.

Jesus said there would be false teachers. We need to know them by their fruit.

And it's not easy at times. Satan is an angel of light.

And yet there are brothers in Christ, who are surely off track, but still brothers, who have fruit, and love Christ.

I pray God would reveal all the hidden things. And that we could see the fruit of the Spirit, and the fruit of humanism, and how they are different.

The Seeking Disciple said...

To me the emergent movement is a bunch of mad youth pastors who want to teach the "church" a lesson. Their blogs and books are all the same: mad, "creative", and avoid using any biblical language whatsoever to appear cool.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dan

A Uniter, AND a divider


Dear DJP,

That's my blog handle! Why?
Because that's what Jesus does! And let's remember that!

DJP said...

Yea, but you didn't copyright it.

Susan said...

If it weren't for your post today, Phil, I would not have OD-ed on Mosaic knowledge by following some of your links (and also Andrew Jones's) and ending up watching McManus videos on Youtube. The scary thing is that I actually know people who left their original church to go to Mosaic for various reasons, but that was way back when I knew virtually nothing about Mosaic (other than what a friend had said about her liking their creativity). Still don't know everything about McManus, but a taste of his teachings is more than enough! Thanks for the post! (I think I will now detox my system with good ol' fashioned Scripture reading and meditation....)

Dani Girl said...

Oh, I just loved this post.I have always said that emergents are the people who always wanted to be cool, yet never were. Since I was an unrivaled, alternative, cool, pagan, artist girl before I was rescued by God, I think I can speak with some authority on the matter of coolness, and I guess I can understand why emergents want to find a way to fit in so badly(by way of being lock-step,uniformly misfit, cause that's cool). What I can't understand, however, is how they believe this has anything to do with the church. Since so many emergents grew up in the church, which I wish was my own experience,they must be trying to make up for lost time. I mean, the same old thing is pretty boring, and "the church" was one of the contributors to their being uncool in the eyes of their peers in the first place. Oh right, they would have been uncool either way, but you get the idea.
The grappling on to artsiness bit is also a joke. What is apparently esteemed to be art is not even ripped-off well.
And as far as Christian music, well, I always say that if the music were just a bit better, I might listen to more of it.
Here's the formula, as I see it, for becoming an emergent, should anyone be considering it:
1)Take one bored, uncool, middle-class, white, questionable "Christian"(please don't miss the qoutation marks here)who does not like to sit in uncomfortable chairs
2)Add some contrived affectations
-- a dash of grad school also helps for credibility and meely-mouthedness during group discussions. Be sure to use words that sound smart, even though you may not be, and speak softly. This will give you the upper hand in any civilized wanna-be discussion, as well as reinforce your pseudo-humility, or small "s" self; however, be sure to think of yourself as self with a capital "S"! After all, you are important and very, VERY special.
3)Top it off with a messy, outdated hairdo or go bald if you are already receding(remember that when you are uncool, you are always a day late and a dollar short with the image--don't forget the thrift shops, though, which you think might actually help you) and some "intellectual glasses". Unfortunately,although you may want to look like one of your many wordly heroes, Bono, you probably look more like Austin Powers--because, let's face it, you are just not cool! But keep trying, because I just know you'll get there!!!

4)Above all, always remember that ART(however trite your understanding of it is or however lacking in actual talent you are) and SOCIAL JUSTICE(even if you don't really care, it looks good) are all that matters, and that you have the POWER to bring it all about yourself. That way, you barely have to consider God or that pesky Bible, or should I spell God with a little "g"????
Even if you do consider the Bible, it's really fun and artsy to twist God's words around, mix-up lethal yet creative concoctions with those words, and then call everyone who reads the Bible accurately intolerant and lame.
(By the way,adopting the habits of swearing and drinking can also help ease the tension of the truth that you happen to be missing!!!)
So, you are living the KINGDOM NOW!!
And since everything you are is of the world, who can fault you? Awesome!! Carpe Diem!!

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Phil, you should start a spin-off blog called "Stuff Emergents Like." The way you capture the group thinking of the movement is hilarious. Keep it up.

eastendjim said...

I bought one of McMannus' books once and never finished it. I think I made it through one and a half chapters before I said, "nah!".

The margarine tub graphic is great! It should be available in Pyrogear.

MOPmember said...

For a better understanding of what happens when an Erwin McManus is allowed to apply his practices go to:

http://mosaicofpain.com/

freelygivenlife said...

"Well I build my life not on the Word of God, but the voice of God."

My closest friend has put up a "shelfari" on her blog and she has both Brian McLaren and Erwin McManus as recommended must reads. I have never read any of the works of these authors, but I noticed that at every Bible study or social event she is now accusing me of quoting Scripture too much, and she is angered at my "resisting the spiritual fabric of being culturally relevant to non-believers who want to connect with believers." But what I see happening with her and with others in my women's ministries is a license to party without reserve with everyone and anyone-no longer being separate in any way from the world- and absolutely not sharing the gospel message in any way so as not to create an atmosphere of "spiritual resentment" amongst the unsaved.
Until I read the above quote from your post, I didn't understand what she was talking about. I do now. Thanks, this was a very sad, but informative post.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP,

I guess my previous comment wasn't very clear. What I tried to say, albeit ineffectively, is that Jesus was a Uniter and a Divider and that's why I selected that blog handle. By all means, please do say that you're a uniter and a divider too.

Incidentally, I agree with Phil about the near-reverence that McManus followers have about Erwin. I have heard both a youth pastor and a senior pastor rave about McManus and wishing they had the "erudition" and "insights" that McManus has so they could write the books and articles that he has so they could "effectively" evangelize and reach out to the postmodern emergents using emergent "methods" that Jesus would obviously approve of since they're such "loving" methods.

And by golly, the gospel Message is never distorted by these loving emergent methods.

Dani Girl said...

Take heart freelygivenlife, you are not alone. I was part of a church that was en route to "emergence". The worship leader, a really ultra-hip female, asked me to go drinking with her and the girls,which she did throughout the week, while her husband sat a home. She looked at me cross-eyed over coffee when I asked her about her persistent cursing and told me that there was nothing in the Bible that addresses profanity-- she seemed indignant that I didn't want to go out that way, too, to clubs and bars, with or without my husband. Needless to say, it was a short-lived friendship, but I am so sorry to hear that this is your best friend.

DJP said...

TUAD, I was being lighthearted, as I thought you were. I was just playing on the hackneyed pol's phrase, "I'm a uniter, not a divider," and saying I was both. I guess I clumsily found out why you chose your handle! No infringement meant. You were definitely first.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

MOPmember,

I went to the website you referenced and read the interview with Jose Arroyo.

IMHO, Jose jumped from the frying pan into the fire by leaving Mosaic and going to All Saints Pasadena, a notorious pro-gay Episcopalian church.

freelygivenlife said...

Dani Girl-
Thanks for your kind-hearted encouragement. God bless you.

Phil-
Thanks for the post. It's given me pause to pray very specifically today.

Phil Johnson said...

Ochuk: "you should start a spin-off blog called 'Stuff Emergents Like.'"

That's pretty much what this is.

________________

Thanks to all who have commented, especially several first-time commenters. This comment-thread has really surprised me (in a good way). I was braced for a strong reaction to this post and a very long, heated comment-thread. But so far no one has even tried to challenge the McManus-Osteen comparison.

That's significant, I think.

Robert W said...

Dani Girl:

Great comment. You've got these folks nailed. Let us all know when you begin your blog.

Also, you may want to add to 3) an essential part of the uniform: the little Frank Zappa thing under the lip.

Dani Girl said...

freelygivenlife..
Thank you for your heartfelt post and God bless you, too. The Lord saw fit to open your eyes to this. It took a long time for me to understand that something was just not right, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I have heard this described as nailing jello to the wall, and I think it's true.

robert w...
Thanks for the comment. You are right. We must add that to the description. Those little dribble hairs under the mouth, is that technically a goatee?? Either way, it must be pretty culturally relevant--10 years ago relevant!!

Solameanie said...

Hmmm. "Mosaic."

That could well be some fodder for some pointed comments, especially when you look at the definition of "mosaic." For some reason, the very word makes me think of the logo used by a local Unitarian-Universalist congregation. But we shouldn't take word-match or verbal Rorschach tests, should we?

Razzberries aside, Rick Freuh began the comments with his observations about the "avant-garde" approach to evangelism etc, and that many EC teachers have evangelical roots. In my opinion, these guys have forfeited whatever claim they had to being evangelicals. Malignant root rot has set in, and it's metastasized.

farmboy said...

If the emergents had a higher view of Scripture thay might have noticed Solomon's words: "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV. Solomon provides both a reason for studying history and for conserving the wisdom of the past so that it can be passed on to future generations. It may not be novel; it may not be trendy; but from the perspective of common grace, it is the bedrock of preserving humanity until Christ returns a second time.

Tyler said...

Dan, my earlier comment was in response to Andrew Jones' comment right before mine regarding 'lack of originality in criticism.' I thought Phil's post was awesome, though I suggest that if you want to see pretentiousness in action, you ought to check out this very touching video of Jewish Emergents with Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones (and even Tim Keel!) talking about how diverse they all are and trying to fit as many emergent buzzwords/phrases into a sentence as possible. It's basically Romans 9.1-5 translated into Emergentese. My favorite part is when they combine orthodoxy and orthopraxy to form orthoparadox. I was so impressed I wet my pants. I seriously want to have Dwight Friesen's babies after watching that.

DJP said...

I think you meant Dani instead of Dan, but... that video... wow. All the squeaking.

It does answer the question: can you talk for ten minutes about deep truths and life and meaning, without actually dealing with any deep truths, life or meaning?

Johnny Dialectic said...

I don't know about the McManus-Osteen connection, but the video "Mosaic Five Core Values" is so embarrassingly bad, from a purely filmmaking/comedic standpoint, that Joel actually comes out looking a little better vis-a-vis cultural relevance. If this is what is being offered, emergently speaking, the EC will die an inevitable death. The next generation (Y) will look at that and give the same disgusted shrug EC's give to Seeker Sensitives.

Hoist on their own petard, as it were.

christplaysnz said...

Phil, my name is Seth, you were a long time friend of my father, Tim, before he became a baptist pastor in New Zealand. He speaks very highly of you and it was he that originally tuned me into your station, so to speak. I am a great fan of spurgeon, and a bit of theology and philosophy geek, so I seemed to fit your demographic well. But I confess, I am a more and more of a loss to defend or justify your behaviour on this blog.

I am at a loss to justify how a man so intent on peaching the supremacy of Christ would take so little heed on Christ's teaching on how we are to speak to our brother... Tell me, when you called Mr. McManus, "pretentious" did you ever stop to ponder and apply Matthew 5:22-4. When you write off a mans entire ministry as mere Public Relations, did you temper that judgment with the teaching of Paul in 1 Cor 4.

When you allow your commenters to post gossip "I heard someone somewhere say noone liked him" without reproach or let your commentors theorize on the high-school social standing and/or artistic talent of a fellow worker in Christ. (Friends, have you never read James? or for that matter 2 Cr 12:20 to temper your favoritism, your outbursts, your factions or your gossip.) Tell me, did you think your blog post "Stream of Consciousness" gave you some permission to be dismissive and to allow, in fact facilitate, malicious and smug talk against fellow christian?

I am lost Phil. I am lost as to where you give yourself the license to begin, partake in and bask in such divisive conversation.

I profess no great admiration for McManus himself. I thought "An unstoppable force" an good book about the church. I thought his speech at the veritas forum ("the character matrix" on gratitude was insightful. And I have eavesdropped on his church services (through the magic of RSS/podcasts) and been challenged about serving God in concrete ways - because faith without works is dead. All of these were beneficial to me beyond "preteniousness"

But I confess that I would have found your post offensive and lacking in grace, had I known nothing of the subject.

Mr. Johnson I wish to honour you, and the role you played in my fathers life, as that also allows me to honour my father. But posts like this make it difficult. I have asked my father about your blog "He doesn't live with the venom with which he writes" was the reply.

Thus he is forced to defend your destructive tongue at the expense of your honesty and integrity.

Perhaps I am too harsh, perhaps my father is too kind. Perhaps we must all be wary of what we say, and measure it carefully, for the tongue is set on fire by hell. (A humbling thought for a team that styles itself upon matches, flames, and deliberate fires.)

David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
christplaysnz said...

I have read many if not the majority of posts on this blog over the last year and a bit. As has Andrew Jones it appears and for me you commit to "flaming" hasn't proved infectious.

I studied philosophy and literary theory for many years and read them still, and know when soft-soap is being spoken about them, especially in regards to scare-quoted words like "postmodern". There is a great deal of that here, soft-soap, easy judgements, the burning not of error, but of strawmen - built to be burned. The problem with burning you opponent in effigy is that, if he truly deserves to be burned, you havent succeeded in burning him at all.

This blog is often the site of intelligent and useful critical analysis of liberal christianity as a whole and the emerging movement in particular, but it often decends into to a lynch mob.

You may belive that you are fighting for truth; but I say many times you are just fighting for the sake of it, lighting fires for the pleasure of watching them burn. Which explains blogs title.

Mr. Rudd, I was quite aware of my interest in the emerging church when I wrote the post. I have found much in that conversation that was life-giving and compelling. Why that means that you are reqired to give no real response to my questions is beyond me.

David, You response begins "Allow me". Now, Phil may consider what you said a response and allow you the final word. But I pray he doesn't. There are many questions he could answer for me, not only in that comment, but in a respectful and genial conversation that could follow. So for my part, you are declined permission to speak for Phil. I request that Phil be allowed to speak for himself.

Phil. He has me pegged correctly as "one of those emergent types" but I did not comment from any indentured salvery to postmodernity, I commented from a long history of respect between our families, and from scripture itself. My blogroll, I submit, is of little import.

Phil Johnson said...

Seth:

Thanks for the note. I wonder how much Spurgeon you have read and whether you are a selective fan or someone who truly appreciates Spurgeon's entire ministry. Because if you'll check the backlist of Spurgeon quotes here on the blog, I think you'll find that Spurgeon himself has addressed virtually every issue you raised. I've read bits of your blog, too (not just your blogroll), and I rather suspect that whatever it is about Spurgeon you admire, it's not his theological point of view or his polemical style. I also am guessing you don't really think you fit our blog's demographic all that well. :-)

I love your mum and dad, by the way.

But your dad often disagrees with me and I with him, and I know him well enough to know you weren't raised to think all criticism is inherently unloving--including even harsh or sarcastic criticism when warranted. (And you surely realize that the same Jesus who gave us Matthew 5:22-24 also gave us Matthew 23. I hope you can understand that there is no contradiction between the two passages, and that there is a very serious reason Jesus warned us about wolves in sheep's clothing.)

Besides, your own comment is strongly accusatory, so you obviously don't have a problem with dealing out strong criticism per se. I know you are mature enough to realize that the test of whether someone's criticism is "malicious and smug" or not isn't settled merely by determining whether it's in agreement with your point of view.

So before judging me uncharitable, the fair question to raise about my post is whether the harshness of my criticism is warranted. The word "pretentious" seemed to stick in your craw, but you did not actually address the reason I gave for posting such a strong criticism (even though I put it in boldface)--viz.: "Clear gospel truth is almost impossible to find in the material he publishes and posts for public consumption. . . Convince me . . . if I'm wrong. Simply show me a few places where McManus makes the gospel plain and clear for his audience, with straightforward, biblical explanations of sin, atonement, and justification for sinners--including a distinct and compelling summons for sinners to repent."

That should be an easy thing to do for any legitimate, biblically-oriented church leader--and even more so for someone who has published and recorded as much material as Erwin McManus has.

On the other hand, for a church leader to neglect the proclamation of the gospel while constantly employing hyperbolic expressions to describe himself is pretentious. Unfortunately, there's no milder word for it. There are stronger words for it, but I didn't use them.

With regard to our comment threads--I don't monitor them exhaustively and simply can't, but I don't see where anyone said, "I heard someone somewhere say noone liked him"--or I would have reproached that commenter. Can you point that comment out to me? I did a search for all the key words in your sentence, and I can't find that or anything like it in the comments.

Andrew Faris said...

Phil,

I, like Seth, appreciate your blog quite a bit. I think most of your writing is great and you all often have helpful insights.

But I, like Seth, was a little frustrated with this post. Much of your criticism of McManus is understandable. Frankly, I agree with most of it. But the tone does seem needlessly harsh.

I also really enjoy Spurgeon, but that doesn't mean he was not at times overly polemical. I'm actually surprised at your appeal to him as an authority on the issue before you went to the Bible. I understand why you did (i.e. vis-a-vis Seth's apparent interest in him), but I just don't think it that helpful, no matter how much you like him.

Regarding Mt. 5 and Mt. 23, let's keep in mind that Mt. 23 is directed ultimately at non-Christians who appear to be Christians. If you are coming out and saying that McManus is not a true believer and is leading true believers away, well then I understand the harshness. We have a true wolf in sheep's clothing in that case, and he, like the white-washed tombs of Mt. 23 and, say, the Paul's opponents in Galatia, deserve the harsh words. We must look out for our brothers first.

But if he is a believer, perhaps we ought to at least be a little less incendiary? Maybe we could learn something from the EM on this point: not everything needs to turn into a dialogue, but isn't calling him "pretentious" a little over the top. Indeed, "pretentious" stuck also in my craw, and frankly I think your justification for it is horrendous. "Pretentious" just doesn't mean "lacking a consistent appeal to the gospel." In fact, I'm not sure how that isn't outright slander.

I don't know McManus's stuff well, and I suspect I would disagree with most of his stuff. That said, a whole post devoted to bashing his and other Emergent lack of orginality just seems needless. More importantly, I wonder if you could ask yourself, since you have this blog that many people read, how have I actually helped in this discussion? What have I offered to it?

Critiquing theology is one thing, but who does it help to call the Emergent movement pretentious and unoriginal? To be honest, as a total non-Emergent, I think much of their art is far more original than ours, and I'm grateful for it.

And hey, if there is a genuine attempt at humility by lowercasing a name, maybe we could even applaud a brother for trying to do something concrete to remind himself of his place. Maybe that would be the charitable thing to do.

Even if we disagree with some of his theology.

Respectfully,
Andrew

christplaysnz said...

Phil, thank you for your reply. To directly answer your question to me. I was comment from "a source" from a commenter that said

"However, McManus was dropped very early on from further, not for theological reasons, but for personality conflicts with some of the others." - Which I think is just gossip. Albiet gossip dressed up in the wordstock of journalism.

As to spurgeon: You are right. I sometimes have to forgive Spurgeon his sharp-tongue. I love his turn of phrase, more than his polemic. As to his theological stance: I am no commited calvinist but I have read enough Spurgeon to know he had a handle on grace. But I don't think respecting someone means being a sell-out to his "entire ministry". (I reserve the right to disagree with even great men, following Milton who believed Heresy was any belief you haven't actually fought for.) I've read Spurgeons lamentations against liberal christianity, but I read them knowing that I am not who he is preaching against. I am no Spong. I would call myself orthodox (though you might question that.)

In fact unlike you, who sees paralells to Spurgeons critiques everywhere, I rather think that spurgeons voice won the day. I don't find many liberals like Spurgeon railed against in any of the circles that I travel in. Most of the emerging church folks i know are pretty conservative in their theology, they just aren't combative with that theology; and they get offended by people who are.

As for me: I just read widely and then read scripture. The Holy Spirit through the scripture often critiques whatever I'm reading himself.

As for your challenge: I cannot fulfill it. Not because I believe he has never given a gospel appeal, but because he has never given an appeal in the formats that I have read/heard him in... a book on ecclesiology, a lecture at a university, and a sermon on serving God. What he would say at an easter camp or at the closing of an evangelical crusade is a question I've not heard him answer. I'd like to. Perhaps that is why this conversation should have started as a far more respecful conversation between you and Mr. McManus himself.

As to your other comment. Yes, I was raised to know that all critiques aren't unloving. And I trust you can accept that my critique was in love. But I also trust that you understand that criticism is not the be all and end all of the Christian life. That prize goes to loving God (heart, soul and mind) and loving Others (as I would love myself).

Myself, I'd hate to think that someone was sitting on a website dismissing my entire ministry. So I won't love people that way.

Oh and..

I love my Mum and Dad too..

Phil Johnson said...

Andrew Faris: "If you are coming out and saying that McManus is not a true believer and is leading true believers away, well then I understand the harshness. We have a true wolf in sheep's clothing in that case, and he, like the white-washed tombs of Mt. 23 and, say, the Paul's opponents in Galatia, deserve the harsh words. We must look out for our brothers first."

I don't think the stark dichotomy you are drawing is as helpful as you think. I'm not obliged to make an explicit judgment about the state of Mr. McManus's soul in order to point out that his teaching is devoid of gospel truth. That's a serious worry, whether he is in fact a believer or not. He is a public figure, writing and marketing books--not about matters merely peripheral to the gospel but about reaching unchurched people and "churching" them. And yet he has little or nothing to say from a biblical perspective about sin, atonement, justification, regeneration, or other matters essential to the gospel.

That is an extremely serious (i.e., dangerous) deficiency in his teaching--no matter what you might conclude about the state of his soul.

Here is a year-old letter to McManus making the same point, from someone who used a much more tender tone than I did. That writer's goal was to plead with McManus to reconsider his omission of these truths. I wrote what I did for a different reason--for the sake of people (like the guy who wrote me for advice on the matter) who can't quite grasp what the problem with McManus's approach is.

How long would you let an issue of this magnitude go unaddressed by McManus before you think it is legitimate to speak candidly about his neglect of the gospel (and, arguably, his twisting of it)?

Other questions for you: Do you believe wolves in sheep's clothing exist today? Do you not think the expression "sheep's clothing" implies that Jesus was describing people who would profess to be Christians? Do you think some principle of charity obliges you to take every profession of faith at face value, even when the person lacks a credible testimony involving conviction and repentance from sin, assumes a teaching office in the church, declares himself an expert on matters of outreach and church growth--and yet never actually affirms, explains, or teaches the gospel in biblical terms?

Phil Johnson said...

Oops. I was going to reply to this part and forgot:

Andrew Faris: "Indeed, "pretentious" stuck also in my craw, and frankly I think your justification for it is horrendous. "Pretentious" just doesn't mean "lacking a consistent appeal to the gospel." In fact, I'm not sure how that isn't outright slander."

Pretentious means "ostentatious, making excessive or unwarranted claims about one's own merit or importance." When you have someone who claims to be an expert in postmodern church growth methodology and says he is called by God "to have influence and shape the ways that churches relate to the future"--and that person never actually explains the gospel--that's pretentious. Add all the inventive job titles McManus bestows on himself (not to mention the stuff he says about himself in interviews--especially how he compares himself to others) and I'd be willing to stand trial and defend myself against the charge of slander before any jury in the country.

I thought I linked to enough source material so that no one would think the statement slanderous, but if you can read what McManus says about himself here and not think it sounds more than a little bit ostentatious, I wonder what someone would have to say about himself to make you think the adjective actually fit.

Last week, before this ever came up on our blog, a commenter here said this about that bio: "As I read McManus' bio I actually laughed several times out loud. It reads like something from The Onion or Lark News. Then, I read again Solzhenitsyn's interview alongside the self congratulatory pompous postmodern tripe of a bio of one of our 'evangelical' 'leaders' and I just wanted to cry."

I gotta agree with him.

Andrew Faris said...

Phil,

Thank you for your quick response- I'm still pretty amazed at the ease and speed of communication in the blogosphre.

I'm also frustrated by your response though. We can probably chock this up to my own lack of clarity, but I think you may have missed my point. I actually get really frustrated by the "he's my brother" response to all critiques. That's not what I'm saying.

What I'm saying is that while you strongly critique dangerous theology (and I too believe it arguably quite dangerous, though again I do not know McManus's stuff hardly at all), it is needless to slander him in the process. McManus's public-ness has, as you said, made himself open to critique. But "pretentious"? Really? Pretentious?

So in one respect it doesn't matter if he's a Christian or not. Dangerous teaching is dangerous teaching. But you can strongly refute someone's teaching without calling him names.

I also feel like you've avoided some of my questions, which makes me a little hesitant to go right after yours. Let me ask you one more, then I'll answer yours, and maybe we can call it even.

Here is my question: if Erwin McManus went to your church but publicly spoke as he has, would you handle this the way you have? Obviously the situation is not totally analogous, but my guess is that whatever you would do, you would not call him pretentious on your blog. Obviously these situations are not totally analagous, but I think there is something to it. He is still your brother.

And that's where I think my distinction is at least partially helpful, or at least helpful enough to respond a little bit to your comment to Seth about the same Jesus using both Mt. 5 and Mt. 23.

As for your questions, I absolutely think that we still have wolves and sheeps' clothing (e.g. Joel Osteen). I think we should strongly respond to their teaching, too, for the benefit of the church. But the blogosphere was an unseen possibility, and I think it requires us to ask some questions in the process.

Further, a profession of faith to be sure does not necessarily indicate true faith. You'll get no disagreement from me on that. But it is especially interesting to me that you on the one hand will not comment on McManus's genuineness, but will basically imply that you think it is in question all in the same comment. Doesn't that you too, at least to some degree, in fact do agree with my dichotomy?

Thanks again for your response, and while the internet is always hard to judge on things like this, I mean nothing condescending by my tone. Just responding to you and trying to be clear.

Blessings,
Andrew

Andrew Faris said...

Phil,

I saw your second response only after sending my last comment, and understand a little more of where you are coming from. I appreciate your clarification and it makes more sense to me.

Again, I'm not super familiar with McManus and given the time I'd go back and check more of it.

That said, is it necessary to call him pretentious on your blog? What's the point of doing so? That's my real question. Where is the line between providing helpful commentary and critique of someone's public voice and cutting him down personally?

Just as you have asked me some clarifying questions about when the use of some words are appropriate (good questions, I might add), I ask you if critiquing bad and dangerous theology can ever actually slip into something sinful? When is it ok to call potentially another Christian "pretentious" even if he is so on a public blog?

Thanks again, Phil. I appreciate so much how willing you are to interact with some random commenter/reader!

Andrew

Polycarp said...

Seth:

To note the rip-off you have on your own website of Phil's poster design, only with an antithetical view of postmodernism than Phil 's in your celebration of it, you write "postmodernism...not being afraid of unanswered questions" in a Byronic, anti-heroesque tone. Well, to address your own credo, I think you may very well be correct in your assessment of yourself regarding the absence of fear over the unanswered; however, I think it is within the realm of the answered, the absolute, the undeniable...the TRUTH that strikes real fear in you and in all the other postmodern antiheros who embrace a relativistic worldview and speak about it in such cavaleir fashion.

By the way, your video on the website--in praise of Obama--is also quite telling of your worldview as well, as it is by no means a nuetral perspective to be sure. I added this because of the tone you try to establish throughout your post, pleading with Phil as some sort of bridge-building moderator or UN ambassador for the Christian church who simply seeks to encourage brethren to live in the harmony Jesus taught us. Nice try, but in typical emergent fashion, you paint criticism towards you or your party as "cruel," whilst deeming the criticism you hurl at your opponents/brethren as either justified (here) or humorous (your site). Actually, you can see this expressed perfectly in the two (authentic) posters Phil made entitled "cruelty" and "humor".

Lastly, I have no desire to toot my credentials (it was the last thing I wanted to add here), but the reference you made to your experience with literary and social criticism/theory--as the basis for your enlightened authority as one qualified to really know the deep meaning of postmodrnism--just made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. The impulse to laugh comes from recalling all of the silly, wide-eyed liberal profs and colleagues I knew throughout graduate school who likewise embraced their relativism so seriously, yet did so with such a sheepish, underhanded, and ever-so-subtle elitism. For what its worth, I am qualified to speak on this matter because my BA and MA are both in English, and my doctorate is in (higher) education, so I can say with certainty that I've had enough liberalism for a few lifetimes.

Barbara said...

I think there comes a point when we have to sit down and biblically define "brother in Christ" vs "Neighbor" vs "False Teacher" - so much outcry when people stand up against false teachers and there may be some guilt spread around when it comes to how we handle thier presence in this day and age of "false teachings overload" and the media explosion - and I think that handling starts with the word of God and under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There are enough warnings against false teachers and a few discussions of how they are to be regarded, but not very many regarding how they are to be handled in a public forum. Paul and Peter wrote warnings to their churches, but those were letters to individual churches and not online for all the world to see. I wonder if it makes a difference. I also have to wonder - when Paul said that if anyone teaches a different Christ or a different Gospel to let him be accursed, and when John warned us not to even extend hospitality to them lest we be guilty of encouraging these teachings... I think there needs to be some sort of uniformity and accountability in how we handled these matters in the blogosphere and beyond, a means to keep ourselves in check so that we don't overstep biblical bounds in these matters and bring coals into our own laps, and that it needs to be a biblically based consensus, perhaps with voluntary participation by bloggers as a means to check ourselves.

I've been guilty myself, more than once. And it's easy, so easy to get stuck in the mire and watch it as a train-wreck; fascinated, awed and disturbed by the destruction of truth and the smoldering embers of decorum throughout the seeker-sensitive, prosperity, word-faith, and emergent postmodern groups (did I miss one?). And I do believe that it is of utmost importance that we are made aware of their dangers and are informed in order to be able to educate others who are at risk or are being seduced by them. I also believe that it is of importance to know which authors/pastors are identified with which movements/teachings so that the dangers can be avoided in, say, a bookstore.

I knew that it was sucking me in and I've been praying for the right way to view and handle this, and I got a little bit of conviction last night from the writings of one John MacArthur in the notes of a particular study bible under the section of Luke 9:55, in his mention of Jesus' rebuking the disciples for suggesting that fire come down from heaven and consuming the Samaritans for not receiving them. I wouldn't have thought of that applying to this kind of thing until I read the background notation by John MacArthur, the gist of which is a provision of the background of the Samaritans' pagan/Jewish worship mixture (sound familiar?) and their intolerance for anything else...and yet Jesus "would not retaliate with force against them. Nor did He even revile them verbally. He had come to save, not to destroy, and so His response was grace rather than destructive fury."

Ouch.

Dustin said...

gosh, to be honest Phil, it's clear you've never been to anything Mosaic has done, not a church service, not the Origins conference, nothing. Watch a few You Tube clips and you're an expert on anything huh?

Wow. If you had actually seen anything they did, there is no way you could say that he hasn't done anything "creative". They are incredibly creative and your ignorance shows more than anything else in this post. But that is something many of us already suspected. Thanks for confirming. I'm sure you'll delete this so no one else will know the level of your ignorance though. Again, nice work.

DJP said...

It's so hysterical that you'd go there. You accuse Phil of not experiencing the awe and wonder that is Mosaic, and commenting out of ignorance... then smack him with this juvenile charge that he'll delete your comment because it's embarrassing. Every regular reader, right now, is rolling his eyes at you. I'M rolling my eyes at you. Phil NEVER does ANYTHING remotely like that. He drives his critics nuts precisely because his responses are consistently measured, pointed, mature — and he doesn't open his mouth (or tap his keyboard) unless he has the goods.

A quality you'd be well-advised to join me in trying to emulate.

Dustin said...

will it be as mature as this blog post was? gee i hope so!

Mike Riccardi said...

Every regular reader, right now, is rolling his eyes at you.

Yup.

Dustin said...

thanks for the eye roll guys.

As someone who has been deleted before, I'm rolling my eyes right back.

DJP said...

Let's see, Dustin; if we define "mature" as "vastly better-considered and more contentful, and less hysterical and knee-jerk, than anything Dustin has contributed to this meta," then yes, I'd say it's pretty much a slam-dunk.

Dustin said...

thanks for your contribution Dan.

Dustin said...

so back to the point:

When was the last time you attended Mosaic Phil? Or the Origins conference?

Because to know if someone is truly "innovative" or "creative" you'd probably have to know something about them in their setting right?

So, I'd love to hear about what made your experiences there so upsetting.

Mike Riccardi said...

So, are you contending that all the videos, and links which led to more links that Phil referred us to, all of that was just uncharacteristic of what goes on there, or the type of... "stuff" that's propagated from the likes of McManus? That all of that is just the exception to the rule? Is that what you're getting at?

Or is it just the recurring postmodern notion that you can't know anything unless you know everything?

Phil Johnson said...

Andrew Faris: "As for your questions, I absolutely think that we still have wolves and sheeps' clothing (e.g. Joel Osteen). . . But it is especially interesting to me that you on the one hand will not comment on McManus's genuineness, but will basically imply that you think it is in question all in the same comment. Doesn't that you too, at least to some degree, in fact do agree with my dichotomy?"

Well, I didn't comment on Osteen's "genuineness" (i.e., the state of his soul) either. What I disagree with in your dichotomy is the implication that we must settle that question definitively before publicly criticizing a teacher who talks all the time about coming to Jesus but never quite manages to dip his toe into actual gospel truth. Paul rebuked Peter publicly for a much less conspicuous offence, and I don't think he actually questioned Peter's salvation.

What I'm saying about your dichotomy is that we're not obligated to assume someone is a Christian just because he applies that label to himself, and we're especially not required to embrace as a brother everyone who portrays himself as an evangelist--especially if he gives no clear testimony of conviction, repentance, trust in Christ alone--while repeatedly neglecting to teach the gospel in the very contexts where that ought to be his message.

Now, beyond issues related to "style," I see no significant difference between Osteen and McManus, but you seem to think the differences are profound. What is it about McManus that makes it less of a problem for him to omit the gospel than for Osteen to do it?

Andrew: "That said, is it necessary to call him pretentious on your blog? What's the point of doing so? That's my real question."

If you think I did it merely to be insulting, I'm sorry I haven't been more clear. But McManus's practice of salting his own resume with so many superlatives while saying so little about Christ's redemptive work is to my way of thinking an extremely serious matter of concern. A proclivity to self-promotion and the use of great swelling words about oneself are characteristics Scripture tells us to be on guard for. See Jude and 2 Peter.

Andrew: "I ask you if critiquing bad and dangerous theology can ever actually slip into something sinful?"

Sure it can. But the fact that something is harsh doesn't make it automatically sinful. See Titus 1:10-16. Nothing I said even approached the Pauline measure of a sharp rebuke.

Andrew: "When is it ok to call potentially another Christian "pretentious" even if he is so on a public blog?"

I think it depends on how pretentious he is, how public he himself makes his pretension, how influential he is among people whom I have pastoral responsibility for, and perhaps some other subjective factors. In other words, it's definitely a subjective judgment--I'll grant you that. But I'm convinced the time to blow he whistle comes long before our postmodernized, politically-correct, pathologically-nice neo-evangelical subculture would ever be comfortable with it.

Dustin said...

I'm saying there is a big difference between guys speaking at conferences and speaking at their own church. I imagine you would agree with that.

All I'm saying is that the strong statements that Phil makes implies that he has a real knowledge of what goes on at Mosaic so I would expect him to have at least been at their church a few times. If not, then I'm guessing he doesn't have the knowledge that it would take to make those statements (if all he has are some clips from conferences on You Tube.)

Andrew Faris said...

Phil,

One last comment and I'll leave it at that, because I already appreciate the time you've put into this enough and we might have to agree to disagree on this.

My only point, which I still think you might be missing, is that you can be flamingly harsh about a lack of the gospel in McManus's teaching. I have no problem with that. But the tone of your whole post is snide and, in my opinion, condescending. You don't have to do those things while you rip his teaching.

Maybe the reason this really troubles me is that I am no postmodernist or Emergent who feels a need to be slow about pointing out such problems. I am quite willing to be strong in my assessment. I just can't see how the phrase, "Is there anyone more pretentious in all the world of postmodern religion?" isn't outright condescending and a little mean-spirited. In fact, that whole paragraph basically calls McManus names without really helping anyone.

As you go back and read that paragraph, do you honestly think that you've helped anyone with analyzing his thinking? Or have you just ripped his character and style? Again, I just don't see how this is useful commentary and not name-calling.

Now, where you continue to go with that, including your links, becomes more helpful on his thinking and theology. But that paragraph is not a useful correction.

Thanks again for the time, Phil.

Andrew

Phil Johnson said...

Dustin: "Wow. If you had actually seen anything they did, there is no way you could say that he hasn't done anything 'creative'. They are incredibly creative and your ignorance shows more than anything else in this post. But that is something many of us already suspected. Thanks for confirming."

I'll certainly grant that Erwin McManus is more creative than I am. Artistically, I'm sure has better taste than I do, too. The questions I raised about that, however, were 1) whether he really uses his "creativity" to be counter-cultural rather than merely fashionable, and 2) What, precisely, has he contributed to the realm of evangelical church growth that is both original and helpful?

He himself once answered that question by saying other seeker-sensitive megachurches--especially all the multitudinous churches named "Mars Hill"--are merely reaching people already inclined toward Christianity. He says they are just doing Pentecost-style ministry while he is doing true Mars-Hill-style ministry, because (in his words) "our evening gathering is at a club called The Mayan where there are a thousand Mayan gods carved in the entire auditorium and that's where I teach every week."

I'm saying if that's the profoundest example of Erwin's "futurism," it doesn't strike me as particularly original. As for the quality of Mosaic's drama and music, one can see (even from a handful of Youtube clips) that they are a cut above the average church's variety show in terms of the quality of the performance. I'll grant you that. The earth-wind-fire-water-wood video is--well, extraordinary.

But it still doesn't answer the questions I was raising about why the gospel seems to be missing from McManus's strategy and why so much of his published material has more to say about Erwin McManus than it does about Christ.

Libbie said...

Why is there a difference between men speaking at their own churches and speaking at conferences? (Unless the conference was about vent-insulation or dry-stone walling...)

Dustin said...

"1) whether he really uses his "creativity" to be counter-cultural rather than merely fashionable, and

I'll agree that the whole "futurist", "worship architect", etc.titles are a little over the top, one may even say pretentious.

As for your question it seems as if it goes back to another question, "can you do something that is fashionable (something people like) in a way that is faithful in message?" I would say yes. While the "medium is the message" blah blah blah, i don't think all mediums that happen to be popular are bad.

I don't think we start doing things that are "unfashionable" just to make sure we're being counter-culture. Being counter-cultural doesn't mean it has to suck, or it has to be from the early 1900's.

I guess I need an example of what you think of as a counter-cultural creative "form"? I'm having a hard time thinking of something myself. I do think fashionable forms can be used to be faithful in presenting the gospel message. And the times I have been at Mosaic visiting while in LA I was impressed with how they used them to present that message.

2) What, precisely, has he contributed to the realm of evangelical church growth that is both original and helpful?"

I think more than anything he has created a passion for evangelism. Mosaic is a community that baptize many true converts into Jesus Christ. It goes well beyond where they meet, it's the people who are attending. Erwin is a personal evangelist, he's always talking with people about Jesus and many people are coming to know Jesus because of that. It's his passion for evangelism that is his biggest contribution. I knew one couple specifically, Mike and Beatrix who were living together, not following Christ, heard about Mosaic, started to attend and got to know Erwin and he led them to the Lord. Convicted by the Spirit of God, they moved out and found separate apartments until they got married, started serving others right away and brought several of their friends to know the Lord. They were a couple that moved to NYC and helped me start a church there. They are phenomenal Christian leaders and they too are gifted evangelists. That is just one of many like stories. Sure, they have some Christians shuffle in who want the next best thing in town, but they also have an extraordinary amount of people who don't know Jesus but are seeking something in their life. I'm thankful that there is a guy like Erwin who is there to lead them to Jesus.

They have also helped many church plants get started, like ours, they gave us guidance, they helped us think creatively as to what the gospel looks like contextually in an urban environment, and prayed for us. So in that way, they made a huge contribution to us, and many other church plants.

Those are the type of things you would see if you were there for a while. It's easy to watch some You Tube clips and take swings at people from a distance, but it's another thing to see God at work in a church community.

Phil Johnson said...

Dustin: "I guess I need an example of what you think of as a counter-cultural creative "form"? I'm having a hard time thinking of something myself."

I'm not talking about "form" as much as content. Simply preaching the gospel, and stressing the vital parts that people are least inclined to accept and be comfortable with--like sin, righteousness, and judgment--would be sufficiently countercultural for me.

To soften the message so that it's all about how God loves you and you just need to find the love that's already inside you is to corrupt the gospel, not merely "contextualize" it. However, it is always the case (or seems to be) that those who become obsessed with style and form soon lose sight of the message itself. That is the connection I have tried to draw--not merely in this post but in three-plus years of blogging about it.

And then it's just doubly ironic when someone who talks so much about "originality" is so blatantly derivative when it comes to style.

Dustin: "I think more than anything he has created a passion for evangelism."

But it's not "evangelism" at all when the gospel is omitted--no matter how many baptisms are performed. I hesitate to refer to this again, but yesterday someone linked the "Interview with Jose Arroyo," which makes the point rather vividly that sometimes "conversions" are false conversions--and if Mr. Arroyo's description of how he was dealt with at Mosaic is anywhere close to typical, even McManus's idea of "talking with people about Jesus" is deficient. "Talking with people about Jesus" when you don't actually give the gospel will always breed false disciples.

I don't know how many more ways to say it, but the point I am making is really fairly simple: The gospel itself is paramount. Crowds of appreciative people, large numbers of baptisms, visible tokens of worldly "success," and reams of best-selling how-to books do not make anyone a legitimate expert on church growth. If the gospel is so difficult to find in a person's repertoire, that person is neither a true evangelist nor a true expert on church growth. He is a danger to the long-term health of the church.

Dustin said...

"But it's not "evangelism" at all when the gospel is omitted--no matter how many baptisms are performed."

-Again, I don't think it is. I think Erwin talks about all of those things, I think he uses different language for it, but I've heard it.

"sometimes "conversions" are false conversions"

-True, so how do we know a true disciple? Fruit, right? Well, I've seen a whole heck of a lot of fruit from those disciples.

"The gospel itself is paramount."

-Agreed.

"large numbers of baptisms, visible tokens of worldly "success,"

-I don't call dying to self and coming alive in Christ "worldly success" so there we would disagree.

"reams of best-selling how-to books do not make anyone a legitimate expert on church growth."

-How to books? Have you read Unstoppable Force? How is that a "how-to" book?

"If the gospel is so difficult to find in a person's repertoire"

-when it's difficult to find on you tube? Right.

greglong said...

I'm thinking of calling myself an "ancient-futurist." I think that's even cooler than "futurist."

Back to the discussion...

wordsmith said...

Regarding the use of the word "pretentious":

From the given links, that shoe seems to fit McManus fairly well.

A few other words also come to mind (one of which is perhaps Bill O'Reilly's favorite word).

I don't understand what emergents are all upset about, anyways - after all, it's just a word, and words can be deconstructed to mean whatever one wants them to mean, right?

Dustin said...

"I don't understand what emergents are all upset about, anyways - after all, it's just a word, and words can be deconstructed to mean whatever one wants them to mean, right?"

the stereotypes that some of you guys wield around amaze me. seriously, pick up an actual book or something.

Phil Johnson said...

Dustin: "How to books? Have you read Unstoppable Force? How is that a "how-to" book?

Erwin's own publicity for the book promises that it will: "Offer practical ways for your church to find its unique voice and identity to express Christ’s love and faith to your culture [and] Present interactive questions in each chapter to foster discussion about the life of your church, its focus on Christ, and how it can be a richer influence on your culture." SO he basically says it's a how-to book.

But let's not descend into nitpicky definitions of what constitutes a particular genre of popular books. Scratch that adjective altogether if you don't like it, and if you really do want to get nitpicky about definitions, let's talk about how we define the gospel. Because that's the real issue on the table. And the problem is not merely that the gospel is hard to find "in [Mosaic's] Youtube videos." It's missing from the books, the preaching, and the interviews as well. And no one has offered (or even seriously attempted to offer) any evidence to the contrary. You've come the closest, by saying you're pretty sure the gospel is in there somewhere, but you think Erwin uses different language. . . Than what? The Bible?

Let's talk about that: What, precisely, is the language McManus uses to explain why no atonement is possible without the shedding of blood? Where does he explain that? Where does he explain in what sense Christ bore our sins? And by that I mean, where does he explain it without watering the message down to make it sound like Christ gave us an example to follow rather than vicariously suffering what we deserve?

wordsmith said...

Nice of you to comment on my reading habits from your lofty position of omniscience. For the record, you don't have to drink a whole gallon of milk to discover that the jug went sour.

It seems a tad ironic for someone to use the phrase "some of you guys" while complaining about stereotypes.

Dustin said...

"Erwin's own publicity for the book promises that it will: "Offer practical ways for your church to find its unique voice and identity to express Christ’s love and faith to your culture [and] Present interactive questions in each chapter to foster discussion about the life of your church, its focus on Christ, and how it can be a richer influence on your culture." SO he basically says it's a how-to book."

You're smarter than that Phil, or maybe you think I'm dumber than that, but you know the author doesn't write front flap or back cover copy, the publisher does. Actually, I do, for Thomas Nelson so I know all about it. But this isn't anything close to a "how-to" book but it's possible that you haven't read it and are critiquing it in ignorance, much like you are critiquing Mosaic without ever stepping through the doors and seeing the fruit that people are bearing by the gospel.

This argument that you're using sounds like the one that says unless you present every aspect of the gospel and have an invitation in every service for people to come forward, you're not being faithful to Scripture or to the church. It's a bogus argument. Again, once you show up at Mosaic and hear Erwin preach the gospel, you let me know. But until then, keep making your speculations and arguments from silence. Those are always strong ones.

Dustin said...

again Wordsmith, thanks for your insightful contribution, there's so many helpful people on this blog!

greglong said...

So, Dustin...

I guess that means you're still not able to meet Phil's challenge?

Dustin said...

considering i don't have Erwin's books, and his Mosaic sermons all right here, I guess not.

So i guess because I don't have that, we can all conclude that Erwin doesn't preach the gospel.

That's good logic.

witness said...

Dustin could you produce one example of a Gospel presentation made by Mr. McManus? I have never heard one personally and I would like to read/hear one to better understand.

candyinsierras said...

I will have to read this post more in depth when I get back from vacation.

i just want to say i'm bummed about the lower case case. it means i have to actually work harder to type.

oh well. off to wilder ranch beaches in santa cruz to look for sea glass.

as some of you know, santa cruz is SO lower case.

Mike Riccardi said...

But, you were all up in the mix at Mosaic at least a little while ago, right? You should have some idea about how he talks about things. Especially since you know how he uses different language than sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Dustin said...

I'll tell you what guys, why don't you just email him and ask?

That way, you wouldn't have to take my word for it (plus I wouldn't have to risk misrepresenting him), and that way you would know for sure if you're right!

How does that sound?

Habitans in Sicco said...

That's good logic.

It certainly makes more sense than suggesting that it's unfair to complain about the missing gospel in the books we have read and the megabytes of online material without first listening to every word of every sermon and read every page of every book to see if there's a scrap of something buried in the pile that might be interpreted as "gospel truth."

If the gospel isn't any more clear or any more obvious in the material all of us have easy access to, Erwin McManus deserves criticism for that.

I'm 100% sure I could find SOME gospel language even in Osteen's online material. It's curious that you can't even say that about McManus, but your defense of him is that you think he has hidden the message somewhere where we just haven't found it yet.

DJP said...

Dustin: Since you don't seem to be so much "listening" as "acquiring targets," I'll tell you how it sounds to me:

Stupid.

What difference would it make? You tell Phil he's ignorant. I tell you he'll prove he isn't. He proves he isn't. Do you apologize? Not unless I missed it. You just change tactics, over and over.

So it would be stupid, UNLESS you can prove that all the videos, blogs, interviews, and vid-clips DO NOT represent McManus, WERE NOT created by nor with the approval of McManus, ARE INSTEAD appalling and repellant to McManus, AND finally that McManus keeps trying desperately to post text or vid or ad or autobio that features the clear and unambiguous preaching of the Gospel which has been requested again and again.

Otherwise, what's the point, besides another stall/evasion tactic?

Now back to you for another pouty retort.

DJP said...

Tag, Habitans.

trogdor said...

"I'm saying there is a big difference between guys speaking at conferences and speaking at their own church. I imagine you would agree with that."

Why would we agree with that? Wouldn't that actually be a cause for major concern if he preaches one message publicly (in all his books, promotional materials such as youtube, and conference messages) and something completely different at the church? Seeing how much of an uproar "pretentious" caused, I can't imagine the reaction if I call him "two-faced", but... wouldn't that type of public/private dichotomy be completely and utterly two-faced?

And I am utterly floored by the insistence that the books and promotional materials don't represent McManus or the church. I dunno, maybe I'm influenced too much by my business experience, because when we put out promotional material (our website, flyers, presentations, ads, etc) we try to make it as representative as possible of what we actually do and what services we actually provide. For some reason that makes sense to me, maybe I'm crazy. I just can't conceive of how McManus preaches the gospel solidly at his church, yet in his books and conference messages and promotional youtube stuff he either neglects it entirely or preaches an antithetical message. How does one come to the decision to be a solid gospel-based church, yet promote itself proudly sans-gospel? Is it not more logical to conclude that, if the gospel is conspicuously absent from copious amounts of material designed to promote the church and his teaching, that the gospel is missing from the church and his teaching as well?

witness said...

"-Again, I don't think it is. I think Erwin talks about all of those things, I think he uses different language for it, but I've heard it."

Dustin, when you heard Mr. McManus present the Gospel what did he say? I think the reason you are having a difficult time is because... just maybe... you would have as much a difficult time as anyone finding the Gsopel in Mr. McManus' presentations.

Phil Johnson said...

Dustin: "I'll tell you what guys, why don't you just email him and ask?"

I'm not particularly well-known like McManus, and my Youtube videos and online sermons are lots harder than his to come by. But if someone needed to e-mail me to find out whether I have actually preached the gospel somewhere and ask where, if ever, I have dealt with issues like sin, repentance, and justification, I'd wonder if I need to fold up my evangelistic tent and seek a different calling.

The point here is that if your specialty is church growth and you present yourself as an expert in reaching the unchurched, the gospel ought to be woven into the warp and woof of practically everything you do. That's not really such an outlandish expectation, is it?

Polycarp said...

Dustin:

Your stated requirement that a physical visit to a place is the only way for someone to truly "know" that place is nonsense. You obviously hold little regard for the research process. For example, I've never been to the state of Maine, but would very much love to visit one day (I probably never will because my wife has made it abundantly clear that does not do cold places). Anyhow, no worries for me in my pursuit of knowing what Maine is about and appreciating it (knowing it), as I absorb every image, website, travel channel program, and article on Maine I can find. Granted, my wife's lack of enthusiasm about going there might deprive me of a Maine experience (emotional fulfillment), but I certainly know as much about the state as many Mainers who live there. I will admit that living through a winter in Maine might put a damper on my idealized images of Maine in August; however, this is a place in which experience makes a practical impact on reality (i.e. whether or not I would enjoy living there, or even my visit to the state). The same is not true with regard to your suggestion that Phil must visit Mosaic in order to truly know it. As Dan said, Phil does not speak without facts (research) to support what he says, and on this matter he has done his homework--rest assured. If the use of technology makes the process of researching ministries and/or leaders quicker and more efficient, then there is no harm/no foul in utilizing such mediums to find out what they believe. You see, unlike my visit to Maine example, we are talking about something that is simultaneously more complex and theological (matters of orthodoxy and orthopraxy) and yet also much more simple to draw conclusions without ever needing to experience a place firsthand. Without ever utilizing such technological conveniences to hear leaders speak verbatim, via you tube, or research their ministry through various websites, articles and blog forums, Phil may have just as easily written a letter by hand requesting the doctrinal statement of Mosaic/McManus, conducted a series of interviews with people who have been involved with the ministry, etc to arrive at his conclusion. Why? Because--just as he made explicitly clear to you--it is one's beliefs and/or stance on Truth that matters most in our present age of deception. Not some generalized sense of truth in lower case and dependent upon strong pathos to stick, but TRUTH in all of its capital letter, specific, difficult to swallow (because of pride), intricacies as revealed in God's Word and correctly discerned by those humbled in His holy presence (which Phil is), not contracting with Him as some sort of buddy, business partner, or supposed equal. Hence, if personal visits to Mosaic would make all the difference, as people plug into the artsy vibe and become moved through its appeal to pathos, then it would further validate how spot-on this post is with regard to the displacement, or disregard, for biblical TRUTH because truth would then be dependent upon emotion to give it validation--like a U2 concert or something. Oh, I almost forgot, U2 concerts are also sacred to emergents!

witness said...

After scouring the Mosaic website I finally found the only thing that comes close to what may be considered their "gospel presentation"...

"Jesus is the only hope for a lost and broken world."

If I was lost and desperately seeking to have my crushing sins forgiven, they have only told me what I alreay know! How is this Hope appropriated?

If, on the other hand, I wanted to know something about Mr. McManus... well there's tons of fluffy stuff about him. Lot's of high praise for him from others and such, but nothing about the only Savior of the world. Hmmm

Dan said...

It is sad that men like McManus and other emergents, in their attempt to return or regain "Authentic Christian Faith" have left the very doctrines that historically have been fundamental to being Christian. The trouble is that the message that the emergents and seeker-sensitive church are preaching sounds good, both to the unregenerate and to the undiscerning believer.

Dustin said...

http://mosaic1.edgeboss.net/download/mosaic1/lifes-toughest/audio/04-life-questions.mp3?ewk13=1

here's a good start, from a clear Arminian perspective, but nonetheless.

Did he use the big reformation systematic theology words? No, he didn't need to. Are there nitpicky things I disagree with? Sure, but that doesn't lessen his gospel presentation.

Would I like him to be a little more clear in places? sure, but I think for the audience he has, this is good stuff. He pretty clearly lays it out at the end though, "If you confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart...." The last 15 minutes are great.

It was pretty easy to find and accessible to me, it's easier to find when you're not just looking for ammunition against someone.

Dustin said...

shoot, how do i get that link to fit?

Dustin said...

oh, it does work i think.

DJP said...

Dustin's link

Dustin said...

YES! thank you Dan.

Polycarp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
witness said...

I have made it a fourth of the way through this sermon and it already proves itself to be a poor choice to use if one wanted to show the "Gospel centered" side of Mr. McManus.

In considering the big questions of "How can God send someone to hell without knowing Christ?" and "Does God care more than we do?", Mr. McManus chooses that he would like it if all religions prove to be right in the end.

Not exactly Gospel, or God glorifying. So far it would seem that Mr. McManus would approve of Jesus' declaration of being "the way, the truth, and the life" to prove false.

I am going to keep listening and give it a chance to right itself...

Dustin said...

polycarp - i have no idea what you are talking about whatsoever.

witness - keep listening. don't shortchange it.

Dustin said...

"Mr. McManus chooses that he would like it if all religions prove to be right in the end."

I don't want people to go to hell either honestly. Is that so wrong?

Polycarp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dustin said...

polycarp, i'm still over here baffled and kind of laughing about the comment. One, because i'm clueless on this one. Two, because you're using a lower case for your name too.

I can't believe you've started interpreting motives by whether a name starts with a lower case or not. Wow!

Polycarp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
witness said...

"I don't want people to go to hell either honestly. Is that so wrong?"

Dustin, I would respectfully suggest that not wanting other people to go to hell is completely different than wanting other religions to be wrong.

I want all other relgions to be wrong as they are false and seek to shift glory from God(Creator) to glory for man(created). At the same time I weep for those who have hitched their wagon to those religions that lead from God. I do not want them to go to hell.

Dustin said...

"Actually, humbling you, or any emergent, out of your irreverance seems about possible as mixing oil and water.

I actually wouldn't associate myself with Emergent.

"Anyhow, what is your rationale for not capitalizing your (great) name? Dustin or Polycarp...hmmm?"

Laziness perhaps? An error when i started my blog account 6 years ago? I honestly have no idea. I doubt I had a rationale behind it back then, but who knows.

So anyway, where did this random personal attack come from?

Polycarp said...

Shall I assume from your last remarks that you were only referring to the second comment ("comment b"), which was really just a postscript to my first. Maybe you could try and defend your stance on the importance of place, and Phil's need to visit Mosaic before passing judgement, in light of what I've said to completely dismantle such nonsense?

DJP said...

Wishing other religions to prove to be right (abstracted) is like saying, "I wish my wife were another woman."

You see a problem with that?

Dustin said...

...i fail to understand this early church father and am resigning because of apparent hostility...

Anyway, back to Erwin... Sheesh.

Dustin said...

"Wishing other religions to prove to be right (abstracted) is like saying, "I wish my wife were another woman."

You see a problem with that?"

Absolutely. And like I said, there are definitely things in here that I don't agree with or I would have said differently but I appreciate the last 10-15 minutes.

ChiefsSuperfan said...

Ummm...I don't care if you use lover or upper case guys but thanks for prepping for the inevitable sibling spats I will be officiating in just a few upon my arrival at home.

Dustin, thanks for the link. I listened to the last 15 minutes although I downloaded the whole podcast.

McManus' message was not the Gospel inasmuchas he did not define it as the death and resurrection of Christ (unless I missed that).

McManus' message could, however qualify as "pre-evangelism." He discusses issues of concern to non-believers (and some believers for that matter).

I also felt uneasy about his handling of "I am the way, the truth and the life" as not being a call to exclusivity. He argues that Jesus is the only way, but so do many universalists who suggest that Jesus appears in many ways.

What I would like to hear from McManus is questions related to the literal nature of hell, the ultimate disposition of the heathen, and the definition of evangelism.

Frankly, I'm going to look for them. And, I will try to listen to more of his stuff.

You know what guys, to be honest with you all, I have been in pastoral ministry for nigh unto 20 years and I did not see the whole emergent thing coming. I thought today's apostate would be far more secularist--a Modernist on steroids. Instead post-modernism caught me a bit off guard.

Am I the only one?

DJP said...

My honest answer would be "No, because (A) it already came, more than once, long time ago — and failed; and (B) I wouldn't have thought anyone would be so dim as to suck on that particular rotten egg again."

Polycarp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dustin said...

there's that early church father again! :)

Dustin said...

Polycarp, now that you're crazy self mentioned it, i went and looked at my blog settings and sure enough I DO have my name capitalized!

It turns out that if you look at the comments section here, EVERYONE's name is in lower case because that is how blogger handles comments.

Fascinating discovery.

witness said...

Dustin, I have finished listening to Mr. McManus sermon(conversation) and I would first like to understand what you see as essential elements to a true Gospel message. What, in your words, makes the Gospel good news?

Thanks for taking time to talk to me.

Polycarp said...

well, as I mentioned, I would have it no other way in using Polycarp's great name as my own...so it worked out. Never noticed that with Blogger actually, but thanks for the discovery.

Also, I went back and noticed you use both caps and lower case randomly, so there may have been nothing to my comments towards you being one of those people who do use the lower case intentionally with a philosophy attached to it. I'm sorry for this sidebar distraction, as I was clearly in the wrong on this one.

However, I'm still curious about your response to that first comment regarding the supposed inability of people to make a judgement without visiting a place in person.

christplaysnz said...

Polycarp:

I find it interesting that you needed to search through my blog to find "the real Seth" as opposed to some fraudulent me you felt I was portraying. I wrote as me. You may feel that through eight or so blog posts you have read that you can assess my real intent or my real agenda lurking beneath the waterline.

I don't advertise my blog, nor do I assume anyone is reading except my mother. Who 99.9% of the time is the only one who is... Your hostile eye was an unintended audience to those words, but nevertheless a welcome one.

You can point out an Obama video and a blogroll and try to draw me as a strawman. Am I really to be shunned because I believe healthcare should be nationalised? Is that the test by which commenters are welcomed or rebuked. I have no intention of getting into a polical debate now, precisely because politics is not what we are talking about. And if we are to discuss the issue at hand, i'd perfer to it to be an honest discussion, rather that chatter masking "research" to "unmask the emergent types".

And here's the real problem, I don't assume you are "that" kind of red-neck, Bush-party, right-wing, bible-thumping, caustic and non-compassionate conservative that "my types" like to draw. And I haven't read your blog hoping to find any hint that you might be. And I'm not some incense-burning, tree-hugging flashback hippy with a loose paraphrase in my hand and a looser understanding of scripture. I don't agree with Derrida and I'm not a hedonist or a relativist nor disciple of deconstruction. J. Hilis Miller said that "All good readers are and always have been deconstructionists" and insofar as deconstruction means reading in such a way to be aware of silences and dissonant voices in a text, I am one. But when someone tell me that deconstruction denies all truth I reply that they are confusing the tools of the philosopher with the beliefs of the philosopher himself. Using Dewey's decimal system doesn't align me to his pragmatic monism, does it?

Polycarp, I don't want to talk in stereotypes and denunciations, mainly because I actually want to talk. But that means that you'll have to actually listen to and respond to what I say here. Not search behind my words for some hidden malicious intent.

I'm glad you went to university for a long time. I did too. I met some fantastic thinkers who, though in no means postmodern themselves, saw in postmodernism a critique of a certain hubris of thought, that they found compelling and useful to open up texts for further exploration. I'm sorry you didn't.

As for a motivational poster, I think the TeamPyro guys were playing on a long established theme. See here.
So I dont think that questions of authenticity can be raised.

donsands said...

I saw Erwin on TBN, and he was sharing how he spoke with a an atheist girl.
She said she didn't believe in God.

he said to her, "Your soul is seeking God, and your mind is way behind, and it needs to catch up; and it will."
Erwin then said, "And the girl began to weep".
The audience applauded, and Matt Crouch was wowed!

I just smacked my forehead, and said to myself, "What is he talking about?"
This guy drives me nuts.

BTW, I did write to Erwin, but never received a reply.

Dustin said...

"I would first like to understand what you see as essential elements to a true Gospel message. What, in your words, makes the Gospel good news?"

Hey Witness:

I would define the gospel as God's work in redeeming and reconciling humanity to himself through the work of Jesus Christ's death on the cross and his resurrection.

[The facets of which include the forgiveness of sins, being in a justified state before God, God's wrath being satisfied, evil being defeated, etc.].

Obviously Erwin did not go through all of the facets of the gospel, but I feel like in the scriptures he read and in the statements he made, especially in the end he made it clear that this salvation is through Jesus Christ alone and it is because of what he has done on our behalf that we have this salvation. So in that sense I feel like he proclaimed the gospel, not every single implication of it (or even close) but he proclaimed the foundation which is Christ work.

Glad you got a chance to listen to it.

Hey Polycarp,

I'm just giving you a hard time, no big deal. I had never noticed the blogger thing before either but I thought, surely not all of these people use lower case for their name. So, in any case, no prob.

As far as the other issue, I don't think it's impossible to make a judgment about someone's teaching from a far, but I think it is much easier to misread someone and their teaching when you're not listening to it every week, not involved in the life of the community, and not seeing the fruit of discipleship in people's lives under that teaching. So I'm not saying it's impossible, but it certainly makes it difficult and because of that difficulty I think Phil missed it here a little.

DJP said...

So, one thing we've established is that Blogger is EC.

witness said...

Dustin I have to go, but I would like to continue again later, maybe tomorrow. The most glaring fault with what I heard is that we should love God because He loves us, rather than we should repent of our sin and trust in the Savior because God hates sin and promises to punish it.

The Scripture quotes were right on... but of course they are, God said it. I believe Mr. McManus just suffers from a man centered view of things rather than a God centered view.

To quote him "Jesus didn't come for followers, He came to make you His friend". I think Mr. McManus just needs some good Bible teaching.

Dustin said...

"The most glaring fault with what I heard is that we should love God because He loves us, rather than we should repent of our sin and trust in the Savior because God hates sin and promises to punish it."

yeah, i could see that. I think we should love God and repent for both of those reasons. Because he loves us, and because God hates sin.

Listening to it, for a while I thought he was going in a "Moral Theory of the Atonement" direction but he kind of brought it back around.

Anyway, good chatting.

LeeC said...

Ok, lets be plain.

How can I be saved?

I don't want to feel better, I don't want to think everythings is OK, I want to be SAVED.

How?

If you can't/don't/won't do that then there is a big problem. Anyone who claims the promises of Jesus and can't/don't/won't do that needs to do some serious soul searching about there own relationship with their Creator.

If that person is a major public figure, especially if they are a public figure due to their affiliation with Christ, then welp Houston we have a big problem.
1 Corinthians 5 comes to mind.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dustin: "Mosaic is a community that baptize many true converts into Jesus Christ. It goes well beyond where they meet, it's the people who are attending. Erwin is a personal evangelist, he's always talking with people about Jesus and many people are coming to know Jesus because of that. It's his passion for evangelism that is his biggest contribution. I knew one couple specifically, Mike and Beatrix who were living together, not following Christ, heard about Mosaic, started to attend and got to know Erwin and he led them to the Lord. Convicted by the Spirit of God, they moved out and found separate apartments until they got married, started serving others right away and brought several of their friends to know the Lord. They were a couple that moved to NYC and helped me start a church there. They are phenomenal Christian leaders and they too are gifted evangelists. That is just one of many like stories. Sure, they have some Christians shuffle in who want the next best thing in town, but they also have an extraordinary amount of people who don't know Jesus but are seeking something in their life. I'm thankful that there is a guy like Erwin who is there to lead them to Jesus."

I've been mulling this statement by Dustin for a while. In fairness, the same sentiment could also probably be extended to Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, John MacArthur, RC Sproul, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Phil Johnson, etc... and including many mainline liberal Prot pastors.

So what's the difference I ask myself? Well, that's a big question with a complex, multi-faceted answer. Probably an incomplete and unknowable answer to boot.

What's inescapable to me is that it is biblically mandated to discern and identify false doctrine and false teaching. It's a responsibility, an obligation, a duty to God, especially so for a pastor-shepherd to protect his flock from false doctrine. Therefore, PJ is well within his biblical obligations to express his deep concerns about Erwin McManus and his teaching.

Then I ask myself, "What about the fruit question?" After all, all these leaders listed above are bearing fruit of some kind or another. Remember, according to Dustin, "Mosaic is a community that baptize many true converts into Jesus Christ."

At face value, this would be evidence of good fruit, yes? A mark of an authentic Christian is the bearing of good fruit, yes?

But one might ask, "is this really good and genuine fruit?" Or someone may ask, "God in His great mercy may bring someone to Him despite the preaching of a false teacher."

Does anyone have thoughts about this? I want to be charitable, but at the same time I realize that too much charity can be spiritually deadly. And besides, there is a biblical precedent for rebuke, admonishment, satire, and correction for false teachers.

P.S. What puzzles me (and Pyro regulars can help me here) is whether false teachers can bear (good?) fruit? Or no?

donsands said...

"is whether false teachers can bear (good?) fruit? Or no?'"

There's false fruit from false plants.
"Every plant that was not planted by Jesus' Father, will be uprooted". Matt. 15:13

I believe there is humanism that looks like Christianity. The Church is a people-centered Church, and humanistic church in our day, for the most part. It says, "God is not happy unless we make him happy". There's even a song on CCM radio about making God happy.

Surely there is a truth here, but it is so incredibly subtly unbalanced.

It's man's way, and of course Satan is an angel of light, and has ministers of righteousness. Satan is still the god of this world.

The genuine born again heart & spirit, loves Christ, AND his Word, the Bible. He also loves everybody else, the family, the church, and even our enemies.
Also, the true believer always rejoices in the truth, and would go to the mat for the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Holy Scriptures.

i don't know if that helps.

christplaysnz said...

"What puzzles me (and Pyro regulars can help me here) is whether false teachers can bear (good?) fruit? Or no?"

I'm sure someone once said

"15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."

Which would seem to answer the question directly, would it not?

christplaysnz said...

Psst...

Don't tell Polycarp, but that emergent guy, ChristplaysNZ, just quoted Scripture and acted like it was the authority for life and practice...

He may get in trouble...

Dustin said...

Don't go breaking stereotypes, ChristplaysNZ, that's not playing fair :)

LeeC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LeeC said...

On the other hand there is something to be learned from Gen. 50
"20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

I have met people who were given the Gospel by pastors who later went full blown atheist apostates.

Polycarp said...

Seth:

Real Seth, fake Seth? Nope. Consistent entirely I must say, from your blog to this one :^)

As for the blogroll, I must say you have a great collection of mixed nuts present and accounted for, that's for sure.

As for typecasting, I'm not interested in such trivialities for the sake of merely creating labels. However, because I work among self-proclaimed liberal and pagan academics in a secular institution of higher education every day, and thus encounter the "meat" of their surface-level labels they like to boast in, I can say with quite a degree of certainty that whenever I encounter anyone who holds to a little postmodern leaven more often than not carries the whole lump. The characteriastics of rebellion, irreverance, fashionable doubt, academic speculation, pluralism, feminism, marxism, etc. are all ungodly and nowhere found in scripture. The whole lot of that rubbish is what characterizes higher education, especially since the 1960's, and you know exactly what I'm talking about if you've spent any time in it! You don't need to look like a "tree hugger" to embrace all of those beliefs that characterize a spirit that couldn't be more opposite that the spirit we are encouraged to have throughout the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Hence, the emergents--or any marriage of liberalism with Christianity--cannot bring about anything good because it is an unholy, humanistic union from the start. Francis Shaeffer describes the common denominator we see both inside and outside the church today as a life below the "line of despair", as he called it, which is a shift towards destitution that began with Hegel and Kierkgaard in philosophy and spread into the arts with Van Gogh and the Dadaists and then into theology through liberal theologians like Karl Barth and his promotion of religous existentialism (read "The God Who is There" if you want to learn more of this). Therefore, as I see it, subscribtion to one or more of the key tenets of postmodernism is almost always indicative of a "package deal" of sorts. Call it broadbrushing if you like, but I describe it as calculated inference, and it is absolutely true from all my observations and experiences.

Susan said...

(Wait...the comments more than doubled overnight! Lots of reading for me!)

Polycarp said...

Dustin = Seth? Who knows really.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Thanks for the biblical reference ChristplaysNZ.

The question remains whether McManus and Mosaic are "good" fruit-bearing trees. By PJ's post, he doesn't think so. But you and Dustin think McManus and Mosaic are bearing good fruit, particularly with Dustin's claim which I quoted and excerpted above.

Polycarp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dustin said...

gosh, you are one of the more suspicious bloggers i've met polycarp.

I've bet you've got some fantastic conspiracy theories.

You can just click on my link and see exactly who I am. I certainly don't live in NZ.

Mike Riccardi said...

Dustin, ChristplaysNZ,

If we can all agree that Joel Osteen, for example, is a false teacher -- a bad tree, in the language of the passage you quoted -- do either of you intend to mean that it is impossible for anyone going to Lakewood to get saved?

In other words, having the elect called to life in one's church is probably the pinnacle of bearing good fruit. If we can agree that Osteen is a bad tree, is this good-fruit-bearing impossible?

Dustin said...

"The question remains whether McManus and Mosaic are "good" fruit-bearing trees. By PJ's post, he doesn't think so. But you and Dustin think McManus and Mosaic are bearing good fruit, particularly with Dustin's claim which I quoted and excerpted above."

I've seen it with my own eyes.

Phil's is just speculation from what he sees on You Tube.

Big difference.

Dustin said...

"If we can all agree that Joel Osteen, for example, is a false teacher -- a bad tree,"

-Agreed.

"do either of you intend to mean that it is impossible for anyone going to Lakewood to get saved?"

-No.

So the question seems (if you're looking to hunt heretics)to be more about "does Erwin Mcmanus bear good fruit in his life, rather than does his congregation bear good fruit?" And if that is where this logic leads which it seems to, you'd have to know the guy, or actually step inside his church.

Mike Riccardi said...

OK, that's fine. That just means that pointing to Mike and Beatrix doesn't deliver a verdict for us pro or con.

Dustin said...

"OK, that's fine. That just means that pointing to Mike and Beatrix doesn't deliver a verdict for us pro or con."

Yeah, I'll accept that.

But the fact is, none of us have the "data" to be able to make a verdict if we're talking about fruit. If You Tube is all we have to go on (which I'm guessing we can't judge a person's spiritual fruit from), then we're going to have to go with a "no decision".

DJP said...

Susan - (Wait...the comments more than doubled overnight! Lots of reading for me!)

Yes. And quiz tomorrow, at 8am PT, sharp.

LeeC said...

I disagree.
The Gospel is to be proclaimed. Boldy.
Doing that is the ultimate expression of the fruit of the Spirit.

But hey, who am I eh.

Dustin said...

and I believe he is proclaiming the gospel.

So you are saying, knowing the seriousness of the charge of apostasy, that based on the data you have about the person of Erwin Mcmanus, based more clearly on the sound bites that you have heard on You Tube that you would be willing to stand before God himself and say, "this man is apostate and a heretic." ?

Dustin said...

"Doing that is the ultimate expression of the fruit of the Spirit."

--really, I don't see that in the list in Galatians? huh. Are you adding to the Word of God?

christplaysnz said...

Dustin:

I wasn't aware that we are the same person. When these guys say emergents are all the same people I had no idea they were pointing toward a metaphysical reality. I always thought I was just an overweight geek from Matamata. Seriously though, from your profile, you seem a kindred spirit.

Phil:

You should call my dad and tell him the wonderful people on your blog just exposed his son as a guy in portland, Oregon.

Polycarp:

I don't argue with conspiracy theorists. I am Seth. A cursory reading of the comments in this thread would have alerted you to the fact that I am in New Zealand, and that my father, a baptist pastor in New Zealand is a long time friend of PJ's. He can vouch for my actual existence and location.

Dustin said...

"I wasn't aware that we are the same person. When these guys say emergents are all the same people I had no idea they were pointing toward a metaphysical reality. I always thought I was just an overweight geek from Matamata. Seriously though, from your profile, you seem a kindred spirit."

-yeah, now who is getting all "new-agey" on us? Yes, i feel we would get along well.

Dustin said...

alright, we'll i've got a Cubs game to go watch, I'm outta here.

Habitans in Sicco said...

"Fruit" isn't measured by the number of baptisms registered. It INCLUDES the question of whether smeone preaches the gospel or not. "By their fruit you shall know them" means when you see someone substituting a message BESIDES the gospel, you can assume he's a hireling and not a true shepherd.

I listened to that mp3. He did not preach the gospel. He talked a lot about Jesus. He quoted some Scriptures that had gospel truth in them, but then he twisted more gospel truth than he made clear, so this is not a good or valid example of gospel preaching.

Mike Riccardi said...

Ok... but here's the problem with that.

Deciding the goodness or badness of someone's spiritual fruit cannot be limited to their thoughts and their relationships. In other words, where's the bad fruit in Osteen's life? It seems he has a loving marriage, takes care of his wife, and doesn't cheat on her. He certainly provides well (tongue-in-cheek) for his children and seems to care for them. You don't hear much news about him berating random people in his every day life. He could struggle with sinful thoughts, but he'd be the only one to know about that, so that's not a criterion for good/bad fruit -- cuz no one knows that about anyone unless they confess it to them.

So where's his bad fruit? It's borne in his "ministry," and how he presents the truth of Scripture. As the elect coming to faith under one's ministry is probably the pinnacle of good fruit, errant doctrine and its product (false converts who blaspheme the name of God every day) is probably the pinnacle of bad fruit. Now, errant doctrine is very seldom 100% error, and so in God's mercy we have some true -- albeit very immature -- converts being saved in Lakewood. So now we at least have a mix of good and bad. So what do we have to go on?

It's got to be the fruit of the man's study and meditation with the things of God found in Scripture. What comes out of a pastor's mouth is the fruit of his relationship with Christ. If what comes out is far enough away from what Christ Himself says, we should start getting suspicious. When we can point to specific things that have been said and show how they're not only false and nonChristlike, but also dangerous to other brothers and sisters who might be less discerning, we warn those brothers and sisters against such a person, for fear that he is a wolf. And if it's without a doubt in one's mind that a man is a wolf, the only reasonable thing to do is warn people sternly, unwaveringly, and severely.

That's what I think Phil did here. And I think it especially on-target that he invited correction for his notions. "All I can see are the fangs, but show me the wool and I'll be OK," is what I got from this.

And honestly, from that link you provided earlier... I only listened to the last 15 minutes or so, but that didn't leave me as scared as I thought I was going to be. Don't get me wrong, he said some ridiculous things that would qualify as heretical in a heartbeat (the universalism) and others that are just seriously off-base (God wanting and waiting for us to choose Him as opposed to "You did not choose me, but I chose you," and "I know My sheep, and they know Me, and hear My voice"). But for the most part it just sounds like he's immature and needs to be taught. Certainly shouldn't be a pastor with some of the conceptualizations of God he has, but, in my estimation, probably not a deliberate deceiver of the brethren. Granted, that's my assessment of that one message, so I hope no one reads that as an endorsement.

All this is to say that false teaching itself may be all the bad fruit one needs to discern a bad tree.

LeeC said...

Wow, a lot of words put in my mouth after ignoring my clear question...

"and I believe he is proclaiming the gospel. "

OK, WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?

"So you are saying, knowing the seriousness of the charge of apostasy, that based on the data you have about the person of Erwin Mcmanus, based more clearly on the sound bites that you have heard on You Tube that you would be willing to stand before God himself and say, "this man is apostate and a heretic." ?"

I never even inferred it.
Someone asked

"What puzzles me (and Pyro regulars can help me here) is whether false teachers can bear (good?) fruit? Or no?"

I pointed out that God can, and does use even our sinful actions to bring about good things. And He can even use people who aren't saved to bring salvation. You put all the rest of that in, not me.



"Dustin said...
"Doing that is the ultimate expression of the fruit of the Spirit."

--really, I don't see that in the list in Galatians? huh. Are you adding to the Word of God?"

You don't?

Again, can you have the fruit of the Spirit without being saved?
Are you saying that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control do not come from being saved, and that we are saved by the Gospel?

Whats with the catty word games?

Christ saved me while I was a disgusting wretch. I want others to be saved, and I pray I do not shrink from telling them the good news every chance I get while they have time.

I have made very neutral comments,that you have responded to in what I find a rather suprising fashion.

Unless, the Gospel is not being proclaimed boldly.

Phil Johnson said...

I'll definitely vouch for Seth that he's a real person. And if you follow Dustin's links it's easy to see he's a different person and (no doubt) just as real.

Seth:

As I said yesterday, I don't and can't police commenters, and that works both ways. I didn't whack Dustin, or even say anything about the tone of his first comments here, and I didn't impute his attitude to you just because he took your side. Please show me the same courtesy and don't assume that everyone who takes my side of a disagreement actually speaks for me.

I don't delete anyone's comments unless the person egregiously and deliberately violates our simple posting guidelines after being warned and thus gets banned--or unless the comments themselves contain profanity. Commenters are responsible for their own remarks, so except in extreme cases, if you have a complaint about the tone or content of someone's comment, you'll need to take it up with them, not with me.

However--

To all who are sympathetic with the position I'm taking: can we try to keep the barbs and carping comments at least at a high-school level or older? Sarcasm and zingers are fine in their place--but divorce those things completely from all the emblems of intelligence, charity, civility, or maturity, and they don't really help. This isn't a schoolyard.

And can we now drop the issue about lower-case/upper-case spelling? I'm sorry I brought it up. As I said in the post above, I really don't care about that. I just think it's incongruous for people to boast of originality and then be like lemmings. But there's no sin in lowercasing your comments. If someone wants to do that here, they officially have my blessing.

And Dustin: the Cubs game is rain-delayed. Sorry.

Strong Tower said...

"Using Dewey's decimal system doesn't align me to his pragmatic monism, does it?"

Dewey whoie?

The Dewey Decimal System is a proprietary system of library classification developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876. Mel was known for his anti-Semitism and his file system and verticle hangers but not his philosophy.

John Dewey on the other hand is as the NEA claims the father of the failed American education system as it exists today, and the hero of their no one really knows anything so why bother teaching the kids knowledge ethic. He was a proto-fascist who advocated only teaching an elite group to read so as to stifle dissent within "the system" and though he was a monist he was of particular kind. He was not a theistic monist, but a materialist, that is, atheistic. His utilitarian mechanistic humanism fit well his pragmaticism. As a modernist, he thought that the only truth was that derived from scientific experimentation. We understand where that led, to utter failure and resulted in Nietzchesque post-modern whateverism.

Just thought I clarify, dewd.

Phil Johnson said...

Correction: The Cubs' game is postponed, not merely delayed.

christplaysnz said...

@Strong Tower.

Wow. I'm so gonna have ahrsh words with my Primary school librarian.

I stand corrected.

I was trying to link a useful tool with disreputable philospher. Dewey did flirt with monism (isn't materialism a subset of monism? If all is matter, that is a monist outlook, is it not?) but as he's not the Dewey decimal dewey, I'll have to find another example.

A simialr point could be made with the encyclopaedia and the outlook of Deridot etc... But the point that I was making is that when you read a philosopher/theologian, sometimes the tools that that person uses are more useful in the long run than the conclusions that they come to. You can take logic from socrates or science from aristotle without becoming a disciple of either.

Strong Tower said...

I got your point, was just having fun. What you say is true. Many principles of higher criticism we not developed by friends of the faith, yet they are useful nonetheless.

I contribute to and will draw from Social Security eventhough it was Mussolini's brain child. Simply because we use tools developed by others shouldn't makes us guilty by association.

Like I didn't know that Mel invented vertical file hangers which I've used. I hope no one thinks me anti-Semetic for it.

BTW, I used to make the same error in attributing the file system to John.

Dustin said...

"And Dustin: the Cubs game is rain-delayed. Sorry."

Dang, I wish I would have checked before I drove across town to watch it. Shoot.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Wow! What hath McManus wrought? (Apologies to Samuel Morse. And God)

I've actually been to a service at Mosaic. I wanted to see what the EC was about. You know what? It was pretty basic. It was actually sort of seeker, but with blue jeans and untucked shirt. Erwin preached from the Bible. I spoke to him afterward, and he said he views the church as Baptist.

The "public face" of McManus is therefore, I think, more of a marketing tool. I don't know if it's pretentious or not. Maybe untrusting of the power of the Gospel, as in many a Boomer church.

I think that's the thing that gets to me. Methods and jargon over trust in the Gospel.

Stefan said...

Dan: As long as the quiz is at 8 a.m. PT, and not 8 a.m. ET, which would make it 5 in the morning for us poor folks on the West Coast.

Polycarp said...

To All Concerned:

This post certainly took some twists and turns today, and I apologize for the ventures off the beaten path, into the woods, I was responsible for taking (and subsequently leading a few into as well). The lower case thing? I'm not really sure why that bugs me so much (nor my deep-seated problem with that bowing thing I mentioned also), but it was definitely off target and embarrassing quite frankly (I'm sorry Phil).

As for the identity question--no, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. It is simply the fact that the two of you are indeed "kindred spirits," as one of you described yourselves earlier, and the liklihood of such kindredness, especially here, at the same time (in real time) was quite uncanny to be honest.

Well, I certainly learned some lessons about keeping wisdom and discernment in my comments from you today, and about keeping my mouth shut long enough to process my thoughts before I type--thank you Dustin and Seth! I mean that with all sincerity! Please forgive me for any statement that hit below the belt. I cannot, however, say that my convictions and/or my thinking have been altered in the least through our exchanges with regard to McManus, Mosaic, Emergent, Postmodernity, or anything of that sort

Strong Tower said...

Poly- you've given me a great idea for a post at one of my blogs: Steam of Consciousness.

MOPmember said...

"Dustin:

gosh, to be honest Phil, it's clear you've never been to anything Mosaic has done, not a church service, not the Origins conference, nothing. Watch a few You Tube clips and you're an expert on anything huh?

Wow. If you had actually seen anything they did, there is no way you could say that he hasn't done anything "creative". They are incredibly creative and your ignorance shows more than anything else in this post. But that is something many of us already suspected. Thanks for confirming. I'm sure you'll delete this so no one else will know the level of your ignorance though. Again, nice work."


This is typical Mosaic replyness...

As in, "If you really looked closely at the Black Velvet you would see that it is really creative Black Velvet."

P.S. Dustin, look it up.

MOPmember said...

"MOPmember,

I went to the website you referenced and read the interview with Jose Arroyo.

IMHO, Jose jumped from the frying pan into the fire by leaving Mosaic and going to All Saints Pasadena, a notorious pro-gay Episcopalian church.


Truth Unites,

Probably very true, but the purpose of MOP is to call out McManus and Mosaic for their past abuses of leadership and extreme emergence.

We are praying for Jose and his continuing journey with God.

Ironically, based upon his own words, he was practicing celibacy while trying figure some things out at Mosaic. And, it seems they pretty much ran him off to a more liberal church, rather than deal with him. : (

ChiefsSuperfan said...

When the dust settles what remains is whether we preach the Gospel or not.

Dustin, the mp3 I listened to did not contain the Gospel. As I said before it may qualify as "pre-evangelism." Your definition of the Gospel earlier in this string was fine. It wasn't preached in the sermon I listened to.

And, this is alarming to me: Where does McManus stand on universalism versus the exclusivity of the Gospel? Universalists say, "Jesus alone" but by that they mean something different.

I heard him use the word "exclusive" but it was in an antagonistic way. Did you hear that, Bro?

Phil Johnson said...

Dustin:

I listened to the .mp3 twice, and I'm going to listen to it again today on the airplane just to make sure I didn't miss anything.

But you could hardly have chosen a more fitting message to illustrate the problem I'm trying to point out. It's one of the few McManus messages I've heard where he specifically discusses the gospel (or an aspect of it) rather than some other topic.

However, his treatment wouldn't even qualify for "pre-evangelism" in my view because of the number of issues he confused and truths he completely butchered. For example, he totally contradicted himself regarding the sovereignty of God, equating Calvinism with fatalism in one place and completely dismissing it, extolling "free will" in almost pelagian terms--and then at the end suggesting that "God chose" where you would be born and live, etc.

Worse, he said nothing to explain the cross or the principle of atonement for sin. He mentioned "sin" a couple of times but treated it as something that happens to us rather than something we are guilty of. He mentions guilt only as a feeling and seems to suggest it's a mistaken feeling.

He kept saying that Christ "came for you," but never explains what that means: that He came to die for others' sins--as an atonement, not merely an example of self-sacrifice to follow. McManus makes the problem of sin sound like it's bad only because it keeps us from loving God, not because God himself hates it and is angry at sinners.

Anyway, perhaps if time permits I'll do a thorough analysis of the message, but for now I'll just say that it thoroughly epitomizes what I'm talking about here, and anyone who can listen to it and think it's an adequate presentation of gospel truth needs to get his head out of trendy Emergent books and take some serious time to study what the gospel really is.

Robert said...

I found it! Someone even more pretentious than Erwin McManus! How about a blogger who stands in judgment and condemnation of a Christian brother's ministry? Now that's pretentious!

Also, even more cliche than (the often-derivative) contemporary Christian art and music might just be people who are still critiquing the seeker movement and speculating about the Emergent "fad" (if you can call Evangelicals finally re-discovering the Early Church Fathers, 1800 years of liturgy and the church calendar a "fad"). Like boy bands, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, and the heroism of Rudy Giuliani, the conversation has moved on, kids.

Ron Foster said...

Hello Phil and fellow servants,

I ran across this entry last night. I happen to be a former Mosaic member and have written some articles on Erwin's theology, including some analyses of his sermons. Phil, Erwin has a sermon entitled, "Is God in Your Future?" where he also completely misrepresents Calvinism. Here is my analysis, if interested:

http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/2137/Brannon-Howse/Ron-Foster

My blog, www.vain-hopes.blogspot.com also have articles regarding McManus's theology. Here is the link for the group of articles for anyone interested:

http://vain-hopes.blogspot.com/search/label/Erwin%20McManus

Blessings to you all,
Ron Foster

greglong said...

Hear McManus compare Calvinism to humanism, universalism, and Buddhism:

You have to choose between legalism and love, and fatalism and freedom. Myself, I cannot move towards any belief system that in the end says everything is fatalistic, everything is predetermined, and there’s nothing you can do about it as a human being.

And in the end, humanism leads you there. You’re just dust. You die. It’s over. You have no control; no way of changing that.

Universalism says no matter what you believe it all leads to the same place, so don’t even sweat it. It just goes to the same place. It’s all predetermined.

Buddhism says it’s all just a cycle. It’s not going anywhere.

By the way, Calvinism says it doesn’t matter, in the end, what you choose, because God has already chosen who belongs to Him and who is damned.

And they are all the same—all those different religions. They are fatalistic—that everything is already predetermined.

And what the Scriptures tell us is that God allows a freedom to choose, because freedom is required for love to thrive.


(about 2/3 of the way through the sermon)

donsands said...

I have heard Mosaic Christians say things like "Jesus would love to come to earth to wash our feet. Of course referring to the Last Supper.
Man, does that drive me nuts.

How about if Jesus came here, He may just bring a whip, and star turning over our desks, and throwing our computers out a window.

There seems to be this nice guy theology, that of course is true, for Jesus is loving and kind, and gracious. But he is an angry Lamb of God as well, against all falsehood, and sin. Rev. 2&3

I believe the Christian needs to exaime whether He sincerely loves Christ jesus, and loves His Word. These two can not be seperated. The Spirit bears witness to our Spirit.
"Man shall live by every Word of God". The Word of God is more important than turning a stone into bread, so that one can eat after fasting for 40 days.
That's mighty important, and essential.

McManus seems to neglect God's Word; or takes it lightly.

He may be a wonderful Christian, but perhaps he needs to step out of the pulpit. Especially if he isn't teaching and preaching the Bible.
My three cents, or maybe four.

DJP said...

What I'm hearing, Greg, is that it's still all about him. That Adam-born lust for autonomy that the Cross is supposed to nail hasn't yet let go of the scepter.

F. F. Bruce (no pillar of orthodoxy) said well, "When someone says 'I can't believe in a God who ___,' he is telling us something about himself, and nothing about God."

Mike Riccardi said...

Wow... Greg, thanks for that snippet.

It's funny, because if you listen to only the last part of the message, where all he really does is quote a bunch of Scripture (even though his commentary is lacking in many areas), you kinda get the idea, "Hmm... if this guy reads this much Scripture, he's probably just lost as to how to interpret it."

But when I read stuff like what you transcribed, I feel the need to take my "no deceiver of the brethren" remark off the table. I can buy that Arminians are true Christians, though misguided and untaught. What I can't buy is a genuine believer repudiating sovereign grace, which is the Gospel itself. (Click here, do a search for "nickname".)

Jose Arroyo said...

I came across your article after it was linked on the Mosaic of Pain site. Reading your comment on Erwin McManus, I have to say that I agree with everything. After all, the man is a narcissist, egocentric, chameleon who likes to re-name himself with a new title every 15 minutes. Imagine my surprise then to come across your implication made that I, myself am proof of his false fruits:

"...someone linked the "Interview with Jose Arroyo," which makes the point rather vividly that sometimes "conversions" are false conversions--and if Mr. Arroyo's description of how he was dealt with at Mosaic is anywhere close to typical, even McManus's idea of "talking with people about Jesus" is deficient. "Talking with people about Jesus" when you don't actually give the gospel will always breed false disciples."

You are the type that gives Christians a bad rep, so sure of yourself that you can proclaim who has Christ in their lives, and who doesn't. Now, who is the pretentious one?

Polycarp said...

Thanks Greg:

What I hear in this--and I'm so tired of hearing the same ol' with varying points of emphasis--is an apology for God He does not require. It is a rotton form of apologetics, for issues the bible does not give liberty to answer the way they usually are, by people who are incapable of delivering a good apolgetic to a legitimate issue/doctrine.

In a church we once attended, I sat through the worst sermon I've ever heard as I heard this spineless pastor give one of these messy apologetics in defense of Paul's supposed misogyny. As he plowed deeper and deeper into the mire, you'd think Paul was actually saying women were always intended to be pastors (can't you see that??) Well, he got the feminist vote that day...and we left.

Phil Johnson said...

Jose:

I won't do what you complained Erwin McManus did and be evasive about my convictions. I believe Scripture is absolutely, unmistakably clear: homosexuality is sinful, and an unrepentant lifestyle of that or any other willful sin demonstrates an unregenerate heart (1 Corinthians 6:9). If taking Scripture at face value seems "arrogant" to you, imagine God's perspective on those who purposely twist Scripture and explain away clear biblical texts in order to accommodate their favorite sins.

I am sympathetic with your feeling of betrayal, because from your testimony it seems you were deliberately misled by people who knew better. But if you're saying the maintenance of your homosexual lifestyle is more important to you than Christ, and that you would never have been part of any church that you knew believed such a lifestyle is sinful, I fear you have merely been inoculated by a false gospel when what you desperately need is to be transformed by the truth of Christ.

I say that without rancor or hostility and with nothing but compassion for your situation. But it would not be true compassion to encourage you to continue in a lifestyle the Bible says you need to repent of.

In fact it would be the supreme arrogance, and an act of spiritual treachery, for me to tell you you needn't worry about a sin Scripture says damns those who practice it.

I do understand how difficult--impossible, really--it is to submit to Christ's demand that we relinquish beloved sins. Everyone who truly comes to Christ struggles with that. I'm praying for His enabling grace in your life.

Polycarp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strong Tower said...

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."

The hardest thing that we have to do is to repent. Who is it that does not have "beloved sins"? Paul instructs as did the Lord that this life we have in the flesh, no matter how good, or how bad, must be brought under subjection to Christ. We are without excuse then when we defend our ownership of ourselves, for we are his to do with as he wills. But, what is there that we want to hold on to? If in this life only we have hope then we are the most miserable of creatures for this life holds only death. It is for freedom that we have been called forth from bondage, should we then bind ourselves through our own desires? By the Word of truth we have been set free, by the Word of truth we have been sanctified. Should we then deny the truth which was spoken to us? Without holiness no man will see God, then we should shed all that this life promises. What Paul says is that he did not deserve such a great gift as salvation and surely not apostleship. He could not remove the past as one who persecuted the church and put death the saints. That he would always be, but he did not grant himself the freedom to live as he was. Instead he counted all things as lost, indeed he counted all that he was as worthless including all the good for that one prize. He "beat black and blue" his body into submission, 1 Corinthians 9:27 (I wish that I could say that). What does it take to lay down our lives for a friend in that way? It takes the greatest love and as Phil has said that is impossible for us. However God shows us his love in that while we are yet sinners Christ died for us and no greater love has any man than that. It is not that we love him first, not even that we are capable of love toward him at all, but by shear mercy he has shed abroad the love of God in our hearts. That love seeks what Paul so eloquently states, to gain Christ, to put him on, to become as he is, the Righteousness of God revealed from heaven. That is our goal. It is not to hold on to sin as if it were more precious than Christ, not even to hold on to our lives as if they were precious in any measure. No, as Paul, we must count all things lost to gain Christ. Christ will not receive our persons. It is not correct that God accepts us just the way we are. He sent Son to destroy the works of the flesh, all of them. He hates what we are and demands that we hate what we are too, black and blue. Repentance is hard for us, for we love ourselves and unless God gives us his love for him we cannot turn away from our sins. What are we to do? Pray, pray, pray, and know that God's grace is sufficient even in our weaknesses, to humble ourselves and he will lift us up. But we do not look back. We look above and not below -to our heavenly dwelling and not the earthly- and stretch toward that mark, the high calling which is found in Christ Jesus. But, God forbid that we preach any message that would encourage us to remain earthbound.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Phil Johnson to Jose Arroyo: "I'm praying for His enabling grace in your life."

Amen brother. Jose, I'm reproducing my comment from the Mosaic of Pain blog thread to increase the probability that you read the links which I hope you'll find useful:

"This post is for Jose Arroyo. Although your time at Mosaic had its highs and lows, I think the teaching and doctrine at All Saints Pasadena is clearly worse.

Just go to this search engine and type in a key word like "All Saints Pasadena" or "Susan Russell" or "Ed Bacon".

Also, here's a link that might be helpful for you from an Episcopalian priest who made the journey away from same-sex behavior: Pastoral Considerations For Homosexuality.

Here's their website: Redeemed Lives.

Peace and blessings."

Darren Schlack said...

The gospel message of Jesus Christ is variously described in the NT as the story of Jesus Christ and the message he lived, taught and preached. It relates to Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom (Mt 4:23) and its implications for the poor, imprisoned and oppressed (Lk 4:18). It also refers to Jesus’ life in general (Mk 1:1), and Paul’s summation of Jesus’ life and work in his death, burial and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-4).

Given this varied depiction of “the gospel” in the NT, the message of the Gospel can be conveyed by telling the story of Jesus (using the Gospel narratives) just as faithfully as when using a more Pauline approach (i.e. 1 Cor 15). The tradition of Christian preaching has been mostly to prefer the Pauline formula of the Gospel, kind of like a distillation of Jesus’ life and teaching. It has been thought that the highlights of Jesus’ work have to do with the most explicit items related to redemption (the cross and the resurrection). But is someone not preaching the gospel if they fail to mention these two items? Isn’t there more to Jesus than these most explicit components of the faith? Traditional preaching insists on sermons designed in such a way that scriptural topics or passages must somehow converge on the death and resurrection of Jesus, even if it stretches the text. This seems to me a theological straightjacket that can distort the gospel message.

Our Christian language can also hinder the message of the gospel. If we are constrained by using words like “confession” and “repentance” when we talk to non-Christians, then we are giving too much sanctity to King James English and our own tradition of using such words, instead of the meanings of these words as the Holy Spirit breathed them. Why shouldn’t we instead prefer other English words to express greater meaning to the audience of today? While maintaining the meaning of the original language as best we can, we should hold the original meaning in tension with an eagerness to communicate it in new ways to new audiences. Isn’t refusing to change the language today sort of like the Roman Catholic Church resisting translation of the Bible into the vernacular during the Reformation? The unfortunate fact is that many non-Christians have an aversion to words like “confession” and “repentance” because of how these words have been misused by Christians to persecute nonconformists (i.e. the Inquisition). Why should we assume their rejection of our message is due to anything else but the negative connotations surrounding these words? If we truly claim to lovingly speak the truth without quarreling about words (2 Tim 2), I don’t think we can assume such things until we try using other language to show people how it’s the meaning of these words that is important. Our goal in preaching should be to painstakingly get at the meaning of the Gospel through all scriptural resources; and it’s a message that transcends language.

I don’t know much about McManus or his style of preaching, but if your criteria for judging his orthodoxy is his conformity to traditional preaching, then I think you are being too harsh. Additionally, I don’t think the language of “confession,” “repentance,” or other Christian terminology should be the standard of judging the content of a Christian message. The content of the message should be judged, not just by how the message matches up with Paul, but also by its fidelity to the message that Jesus preached and the life he lived.