30 August 2006

Wednesday is apparently my day

by Frank Turk

I was going to blog about the symmetry between liberal and conservative anti-intellectualism today at TeamPyro (case in point), and how that relates to the Emergent circus tent, but merchandising got in the way.

I'm not going to pander here. I'm just going to link to the Pawn Shop and let you see for yourself what you're missing.

Piggybacking on what Frank said
by Phil Johnson

omeone pointed out that it's been more than a week since I've written and posted anything substantial on the blog. Quotes from Spurgeon don't count, because I didn't write them.

I beg your indulgence for my relative silence recently. It's not that I'm losing interest in the blog. But I've been very busy at work and with various pastoral duties for the past two weeks or so. I haven't even answered most of my e-mail for more than a week. So (if you're waiting for an e-mail reply from me, I'm working as hard as I can.) But meanwhile, be assured: my mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives. And I have some substantial issues in mind to bring up for discussion at PyroManiacs in the days to come.

One of those is apparently identical to what Frank is thinking about.

We Pyros don't consult with one another or plan who will blog about what and when. We all pretty much do our own thing. The chaos of such an approach is part of the fun of gangblogging. And the fact that we almost always agree with one another is icing on the cake.

Now, I have never mentioned this to Frank or discussed it with him, but I've been planning to blog about the very thing Frank mentions above: "the symmetry between liberal and conservative anti-intellectualism."

I think anti-intellectualism is a huge problem in the Emerging/Emergent Church/Conversation/Movement. The literature produced by the movement is shot through with deliberate naïveté about Christian doctrine and the history of heresy.

In my assessment, the Emerging brand of anti-intellectualism is fundamentally no better than the more lowbrow but equally deliberate ignorance of old-style backwoods fundamentalism. (I'm speaking here of the angry independent Baptist variety.) In fact, in some important ways, the two flavors of anti-intellectualism are one another's evil twins.

Here's what I mean: The lowbrow fundamentalists tend to employ angry preaching and a tone of intimidation to compensate for their lack of biblical and doctrinal content. Emergents are the mirror opposite. Some of them are altogether dismissive of the idea of preaching. Most of them favor always-affable group dialogues and an almost inexhaustible spirit of tolerance, which ultimately serves exactly the same purpose as the fundamentalists' high-handed authoritarianism. Both mindless dogmatism and mindless latitudinarianism are expressions of anti-intellectualism that all but eliminate meaningful debate and discussion about doctrine and history.

That's all I have time to say at the moment, but it's a thought worth pondering carefully, and I hope to expand on it in a future post, if the Lord permits.

Phil's signature

Piggybacking on what Phil said piggybacking on what Frank said
by Dan Phillips

Is this synchronicity, or what?

I wrote a post, and was about to put it up this morning, when I saw that Frank had already posted. So, since I never bump Frank, I just left it on our server in "Draft" status, and will sling it out tomorrow, DV.

The title?

Is Christianity Rational?

No collusion. I tell you, boys, we've got this group-mind thing going on!

Dan Phillips's signature


Martin Downes said...

Ever thought of doing a line in heretics? You could do a nice range of fleeces with fur underneath.

Chris Freeland said...

I'd like to see a
"Phil Johnson is my Homeboy" shirt if you don't mind.

Sharad Yadav said...

I think posting a simple definition of anti-intellectualism as it relates to doing theology would be fantastic.

candy said...


Jeremiah Johnson said...

Phil, it's always nice to see a quote from Hedy Lamar.

Phil Johnson said...

That's "Hedley"!

FX Turk said...

Has anyone ever noticed how much Mesa Reject looks like Habitans in Sicco?

Caleb Kolstad said...

Thanks for this post!

REM said...

...all but eliminate meaningful debate and discussion about doctrine and history.

Attaboy, Phil. Keep it coming.

NEB said...

Dan said:
No collusion. I tell you, boys, we've got this group-mind thing going on!

And you consider a mind-meld with Frank a good thing?

Kim said...

You mentioned "synchronicity" and now you've got me singing the song by The Police.

DJP said...

So, I've always wondered -- what is it that crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish lake?

Benny Hinn's toupe?

Michael Herrmann said...

Alright. Who put mensa reject up to be the straight man? I wanted that job!

Oh...and "Candygram for Pyro".

Anonymous said...

Phil, I have been loosely following the emergent emergence and all that has been going on in that realm and was wondering what resources you recommend reading, whether online or in book form, to get a good solid perspective on the Emergents.

Char said...

Personally I think "Beza is my homeboy" has the most pleasing ring to it. Though I would buy the one mentioned over at Between two Worlds with Calvin ye olde homeboy on it.

The posts sound interesting. Looking forward to reading them.

Lindon said...

It is called "Group Think" and it can be either very dangerous or very good.

Carla Rolfe said...

"wondering what resources you recommend reading, whether online or in book form, to get a good solid perspective on the Emergents."

The Bible. Novel approach, I know.

Chris said...

"wondering what resources you recommend reading, whether online or in book form, to get a good solid perspective on the Emergents."

Carla- of course I agree with you in principle, but "the Bible" strikes me as a bit of a non-answer to the honest inquiry that was made.

Benjamin- Drop everything and go get D.A. Carson's "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church." So far it's the "definitive" book on the Emerging church from a conservative perspective. It's informative, fair and hard-hitting. Good stuff.

Deathrow Bodine said...

The EC anti-intellectuals seem to be drawing most of everyone's attention. But I detected that Phil seems to be leveling a double barrel shotgun that is sighted-in on both sides, including the "low-brow fundamentalists." Oh boy, why do I get this feeling that this is gonna' git fun?

I have also tried Battling Evangelical Anti-Intellectualism. I am really looking forward to what Dan has to say to answer the question: Is Christianity Rational?

But if you'uns think either of those topics stir up controversy, you should try discussing the contents of the book by Dr. MacArthur, Why Government Can't Save You with your typical Southern Baptist brothers. Ouch, Ouch, Ouch, I am still smarting from that ill-advised discussion.

I always feel like my work ends up seeming clinical and dead. I am anxious to see you guys put some meat on the bones and bring these topics to life.

FX Turk said...


"anti-intellectualism", as it relates to theology, would be the rejection of the idea that theology matters in theology. It's the blind idea that yopu can say whatever you want to say about special revelation and get away with it because you're in "the ministry". For example, asking for defintions to clarify one's position would be anathema to the anti-intellectual.

Kay said...

So, is this 'unity', then?

Carla Rolfe said...

c.h.h. said "Carla- of course I agree with you in principle, but "the Bible" strikes me as a bit of a non-answer to the honest inquiry that was made."

c.h.h (and Benjamin),

I apologize if it appears my response was a non-answer. I was actually quite serious, but should have taken the time to elaborate.

First, c.h.h. - you recommended the DA Carson book and say it's the "definitive" source. I have to tell you that I (and many others) would respectfully disagree with you on that one.

While the book is (from all who have read it) very good, it's actually not as comprehensive as it could be. From what I understand, this book is comprised from DA Carson's Staley Lectures which were very good, but only focused on certain elements & leaders within the ECM. (I have not read his book, but I did listen to the lectures as soon as they became available, and do highly recommend them).

This is part of the problem that many have with understanding the ECM. There are no "experts", but there are plenty of people trying to understand it and explain it. In the last 2 years I've spent reading, listening & researching, I have to say that Phil's address that he gave at the Shepherd's Conference this past spring was probably the most comprehensive, fair and accurate presentation of the ECM in a general sense (which is not easy to do, I assure you). You can read it here or listen to it here (it's title is Absolutely Not!)

Also, Justin Taylor has a pretty thorough piece on this right here.

But here's the thing...

It is a given, that no matter who you listen to or who you read, that many of the ECM proponents are going to cry foul and respond with "but that's not me/my church/how we do things!". In many cases, that will actually be true, due to the fact that there are several "streams" all coming from the general banner of "ECM". (This is why it's actually better to take in a wide variety of sources to understand it, rather than look for a 1 shot summary from one person). It is also important to understand that emergent and emerging are terms consistantly interchanged, but at the same time, two very different things. There are many that consider themselves part of the emerging church movement or conversation, that have made a serious move away from the Emergent organization. See how complicated this can get?

For this reason also, my recommendation "the Bible". How can you possibly know what any of these men are saying is truth according to Scripture, if you don't know the Scripture for yourself? This is not to say that any of these learned men critiquing the ECM are running around saying unBiblical things, but the bottom line for a believer is to (should be anyway) make the Bible the final authority on these things (fads, trends, movements, etc.). Likewise, how can you know if what the folks in the ECM are saying is true or not, if you're basing your understanding on the words of men, rather than the timeless truths of Scripture?

By all means, do read Phil's seminar transcript from the Shepherd's Conference. Read Justin Taylor, DA Carson, David Wells - and get a copy of Ray Yungen's book (second edition) of A Time of Departing. Read the blogs, read the ECM sites too.

When you read all those however, make sure you're basing your understanding of what is truth and what is error, on what the Bible actually says about the issues that you'll read about (the atonement, hell, assurance of truth, holy living, ecumenism, humility, the pastoral calling, etc.).

I hope this helps, and I apologize for the small novel.


Chris said...

Carla said "I hope this helps." Definately- thanks. Sorry for jumping to conclusions.