24 May 2018

Phil's Back

by Phil Johnson

It's been more than six years since I retired from the blogosphere. For half a decade, whenever someone would ask if I missed blogging, my honest answer was, "Not at all. Never even once." There wasn't a single moment in all those years when I thought, I wish I were still blogging so I could write something more than a Tweet about this issue. In my seven years of blogging, I had posted on practically every issue I really cared about. I ran out of opinions.

Some History
I began blogging in 2005 because I was concerned about my fellow evangelicals' blithe acceptance of the so-called Emerging Church Movement. It seemed as if every elite evangelical agency—from Christianity Today to the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC)—was foolishly hoping the Emergent Narrative would be The Next Big Thing. They were practically cheerleading for the movement! D. A. Carson was a rare voice of dissent, but his reply to the Emergent idea was (in my view) much too tepid to be an effective critique.

I had tried posting some opinions in the comments sections of a couple of popular blogs, but they made it clear they were not interested in dissenting views. One famous blog closed their comments completely when I tried joining their discussion. So on the last weekday of May 2005 I formally opened my own blog. My main goal was merely to articulate and catalogue my own misgivings about the drive to postmodernize evangelical Christianity. I had no expectation that anyone outside my circle of friends (and my Sunday school class) would be any more interested in my opinions than those blogs that had shooed me away when I commented.

My first real blogpost went live the day after Memorial Day that year. It was a poke at the "Young, Restless, Reformed" movement, though I wrote it a year and a half before Christianity Today and Collin Hansen gave that movement its name.

Right away, readership far exceeded what I anticipated. I immediately realized that I had inadvertently jumped into the deep end of the pool without any floaties.



PyroManiacS: The birth of the Group Blog
So six months in, I invited Dan Phillips and Frank Turk to partner with me in the effort. I'd never met either one of them before, but I'd read their comments on line, and I knew 1) that they shared my views about the folly of postmodernism, and 2) that they were gifted writers with minds full of verbal mischief, more than capable of the kind of critique I wanted to level against the Emergent movement. So we launched the team blog in January of 2006.

We wrote a lot of good, thoughtful posts attempting to provide Emergents with the "conversation" they were saying they wanted. But we quickly noticed a couple of surprising trends. First, the more purposefully rational and irenic our content, the less discussion our writing evoked. Second, no matter what we wrote or how we wrote it, there were swarms of smug postmoderns prepared to deconstruct our prose, pleading for every kind of "tolerance" other than tolerance of others' ideas, preaching love and kindness while eagerly spoiling for a fight with us.



The High-Water Mark
Frankly, making fun of postmodernism's foolish inconsistencies did far more good than trying to reason with postmoderns. Looking back, it seems to me that the Po-Motivators® may well have done more to open readers' eyes to the dangers of evangelical postmodernism than all the text we wrote combined. I'd hate to think those posters were the blog's high water mark, but it's true that the advent of the posters marked the turning point after which our postmodern critics dropped some of their trademark arrogance, and some of them actually left the Dark Side and joined the discussion we were having.

Anyway, the Emergent movement finally died, and we're thankful for that. When we knew the fad was well and truly over (that the popular movement phase had passed, anyway), blogging seemed less urgent and less appealing. I formally retired in 2012 on my 59th birthday, and most of the evangelical blogosphere breathed a deep, cosmic sigh of relief.

At the time, I remarked to anyone who raised the subject that although Emergent was dead and discredited as a movement, it had unleashed countless postmodern ideas and deconstructionist methodologies into the evangelical community, and these would bear some nasty fruit within a decade or less.

I see the fulfillment of that prophecy in a myriad of ways today—including the emboldening of Andy Stanley, the rise of a quasi-evangelical brand of Critical Race Theory, eroding definitions of "biblical inerrancy," evangelical waffling on the moral questions raised by people who classify their own "sexual orientation" as LGBTQ, evangelicals still craving academic recognition or popular esteem from worldly minded people, the recent drift of Russell Moore and the ERLC—and other related or similar issues.

So Here's the Thing . . .
I suddenly have the itch to write about some of these things. Not every day, of course, but from time to time—perhaps weekly or so. Dan Phillips is now blogging to a bigger audience at PJ Media, and Frank Turk is more determined than I to maintain his retirement from controversial social media. Still, I'd love to get occasional contributions from them—or from others, such as Darrell Harrison, Justin Peters, Josh Buice, or anyone else who shares both my passion for biblical Christianity and my contempt for every effort to make the evangelical movement more politically correct. Consider this an open invitation to submit articles you think might be of interest to my readers. If you write enough blogposts that fit, I'll give you a set of keys to the blog and make you an official PyroManiac.

Watch this space for my first actual issues-oriented re-entry into the blogosphere. If the Lord wills, I'll post it sometime next week.

Phil's signature


48 comments:

Mike Riccardi said...

Welcome back, Phil!

Sharon said...

All I can say is . . . "Let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly." (Psalm 68:3)

Welcome back, Phil!

jen said...

Welcome back! Looking forward to it!

Patrick said...

Welcome back Phil! Missed your blog posts

Randy Talley said...

1. Welcome back! You've been missed!

2. Thank you for going beyond 140 characters, or whatever Twitter allows these days.

3. Fantastic points, as usual.

4. In what I've read elsewhere, I'm still not convinced that the people pushing these fads will stay more interested in that than serious engagement with the scriptures or anyone standing firm on them... regrettably.

5. Welcome back! You've been missed!

Keith Belcher said...

Why does this feel like an old boxer coming out of retirement press conference? Here's hoping you fair better than most of those guys and are able to keep most of your mental prowess.

The Squirrel said...

WooHoo!

Dave said...

Yay!!

Pastor Jack said...

Welcome back! Glad to hear it. Made my day.

Curt said...

Oh.My.Goodness! This made my day, Phil!!!

Jon said...

This will be a day long remembered... First the end of the Emergents and now the destruction of all things justicey!

DJP said...

Great post.

(c;

Jonathan said...

yaaay!

Mark Trigsted said...

Welcome Back!

Jonathan said...

Yay! Getting the band back together!

Well, actually, this is more like 'one of the founding members, who still legally has rights to the name of the band, gets a bunch of new guys and goes out on tour.'

But I'm still looking forward to the show!

TulipGirl said...

Oh, wow! I've missed the old skool blogging from the mid-00s. . . I've dipped my toe back in to it from time to time, but it feels different.

Glad to see you back.

Chris Dean said...

My initial conversion to Reformed theology didn't come through Phil at Pyromaniacs/Team Pyro (though partially from Phil via The Spurgeon Archive), but unequivocally Pyromaniacs/Team Pyro/Phil taught me how to think and then act Reformed. Right orthopraxy always follows rightly held orthodoxy. I have always seen that as the hallmark of Phil & Co. So looking forward to your return Phil and your consistent clarion call of Truth.

The Lone Dingo said...

Oh, just
THANK YOU GOD!!!!

Frank Turk....please, please, please pick up the pen again!

The Lone Dingo

Daron Roberts said...

Thrilled about this! It was your voice on this blog—in many ways—that God to use to help rescue me from the folly of postmodernism and Mark Driscoll methodology. My dear Pastor and mentor of 10 years, Jerry Wragg, was the one that turned me on to your blog. He told me “Anything Phil writes, you need to read!” So here I stand, I can do no other...blog away, comrade! -Daron

Morris Brooks said...

Heeees back.

Phil Johnson said...

👍🏼

Jim Pemberton said...

It's alive!!

Tracker said...

Glad to see you are back. I learned a lot when you guys were blogging regularly.

eric fehrman said...

Phil,

Grateful you are back. Evangelicalism needs a bold, biblical, balanced voice to address issues like...
(1) The rise of social justice in evangelicalism
(2) Racialism in the church
(3) The rise of the "gospel issue"
(4) The approving view of celibate same-sex attraction
(5) "Discernment" blogs
(6) "Survivor/Abuse" blogs

Daryl Little said...

Hey hey!! Loving this announcement. Looking forward to what will come from your keyboard.

Just like old times.

Wayne MacKirdy said...

Phil, a number of years ago John did a series on Discernment. I latched on to that, and make it a regular part of my teaching in Biblical Worldview classes. I still consider that to one of the major weaknesses in the Church today.

There are many who were not early readers here, and it is so important that we develop reasoned discernment. Your writing consistently has informed me over the years, and I am so glad you you have decided to jump back into the fray.

Pat Quick said...

Soooo looking forward to Phil being back

Michael Herrmann said...

You just filled a Phil shaped whole in my life.

Gilbert said...

When I read this, I fell backwards on the floor and started writhing uncontrollably. Must be that squid spirit again...

But, seriously...I look forward to your posts, Phil, and hopefully a few more Pyro-worthy bloggers to join you. Edification of this saint is always welcome!

Drew Irvin said...

Time for more Phil's-osophy? Sounds great! BTW I looked back at your first "real" post. note who the first commenter was.

Tony Byrne said...

Again, welcome back! Too many Christians have invested time posting things on Facebook and other social media, which is like a giant Etch-A-Sketch. There is no permanency to it. On Facebook it quickly passes away, and is often difficult to find links to things posted. It's information that fades away in a matter of days, and their search feature is of little use.

Not so with blogs. Christians should return to posting information and insight on blogs, like it was around the peak of blogging in 2006-08. It has lasting value, unlike things posted on Facebook. And one can easily scan for good comments, such as Eric Fehrman's topical suggestions above.

Tony

Will said...

As Joker said: “And... here... we... go...”

Welcome back, brother.

RonaldCMarks said...

Greatly welcome news.

Bill O'Neill said...

This blog has been such a blessing to me over the years. I’m grateful for its timely return. God bless you.

believr said...

So happy to see the Pyro blog active again! I left it in my feed "just in case" and was delighted to see a new, shiny, fresh post. Looking forward to more excellent content as the days and weeks go by. You, Dan and Frank were such a blessing to me and so many others.

Susan S. said...

YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mary Palshan said...

I love this blog. Glad you decided to return,
Phil!!! I just wonder if some of the oldies will still be around, like Donsands? I sure wish Dan Phillips would post articles here once again!

ibcarlos said...

Woohoo!

SLHelm said...

I’m really glad to see this. I enjoy hearing you on “Too Wretched For Radio” with Tood, as well as listening to your sermons. You are always so clear and easy to understand.

And I feel like I know you a little...my son was in a dessert line next to you last year at a conference in Saskatoon:)

Thank you for your strong, effective voice for the actual Gospel!

Alex Jordan said...

Great to have you back, Phil. This blog has been a help to many by keeping the focus on the true biblical gospel and by analyzing and warning of trends and people drifting away from it.

Kent McDonald said...

Been a near constant lurker since 2006. So glad to see you are back. You have been missed.

Adrian Warnock said...

Phil, genuinely glad you are back. We all missed you. I still fondly remember our coffees at Waterloo and the day you kindly arranged for me to have a tour round all the Spurgeon memorabilia at the tabernacle. Thanks for not telling them I was a charismatic or else I doubt I’d have been let in!

I do sometimes wonder whether the internet with comments trails is the best forum for genuine interaction and irenic discourse. And for sure the more controversial a piece the more interaction sadly.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a quote on truth and love by Stott which Challies dug out and I shared the context of.

I feel that over the years perhaps I have also been guilty at times of allowing my truth to be too hard. Maybe it’s not my natural tendency to allow my love to become too soft. But anyway I offer the Stott quote and would be interested in your reflections on it.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2018/05/stott-on-watchbloggers-liberals/

St. Lee said...

I look forward to this being a blessing, just as your writing has been in the past. A number of times recently I came close to deleting the Pyro bookmark, but did not actually go through with it. Even at that I just became aware that you are back to blogging by way of a comment on Blog & Mablog (which had finally replaced Pyromaniacs as my first stop during daily lunch breaks). Looking forward for your words of wisdom.

John David Joseph Lionel Taggart said...

Time to set the world on fire!!!

Good old song too as I recall!!!

May the Lord Bless the effort!!!

Amy said...

Our long national nightmare is over.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back Phil. I've missed your awesome graphics!

The Blue Raja (Sharad Yadav) said...

Hopefully the yelling here provides a brief respite for the kids on your lawn.

The Blue Raja (Sharad Yadav) said...

(Welcome back!)