19 November 2007

Wake-Up Calls, Apologies, and Wrong Turns

by Phil Johnson

    few weeks ago, I made a post about the failure of the Willow Creek strategy, in which I pointed out some of the ironies surrounding this videotaped admission from Bill Hybels.

Consider, for example, that various critics of the Willow-Creek model have been saying these things for two decades:
  1. Polling people to find out what they want and then giving it to them is an unbiblical approach to church growth (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
  2. The so-called seeker-sensitive strategy actually stints discipleship.
  3. It engenders worldliness and false conversions.
  4. In fact, it's filling the church with people who think they are Christians but have no basis for that confidence because they have little or no true understanding of basic gospel truth—and no appetite for studying God's Word on their own.
The critics have given numerous biblical reasons for those concerns. But the Willow Creek staff refused to hear any of it until data from an opinion poll proved the critics right—and then Hybels had the audacity in this video to pretend the data were telling him something he could never in his wildest imagination have anticipated.

That's the main irony I'm talking about.

Here's another one: Willow Creek's reflexive response was to do some more research by polling, and let that determine how they would respond to the collective failure of their many programs. The result is a slick new website, book, and yet another multi-phased program, which Willow Creek is now exporting to the same churches that followed the original—now failed—strategy. And, of course, it all starts with a shiny set of new tools to make it easy for those churches to conduct their own opinion polls.

Anyway, I recommend you listen to Todd Friel's first-hour broadcast on Way of the Master Radio from 1 November. He did a much more thorough job than I did analyzing the Hybels's mea culpa video, and Todd had some excellent exhortations for all of us, as always.

Now (in matters only tangentially related to that) last week, right here at PyroManiacs, Mark "Marko" Oestreicher, president of Youth Specialties, paid a visit to our meta to lodge a (very polite and fairly mild) complaint about my insinuation that his company had a major role in derailing youth ministry, starting some three decades ago or so. Many of you will recall that my chief complaint was about the fun 'n' games approach to youth "ministry," where activities just-for-fun replace biblical teaching as The Main Thing. I referred to this as "the 'Youth Specialties' approach to student ministry."

Marko demurred:

funny -- i was reading the post and agreeing with so much of it. then i got to the last bit and found it ironic that the this "fun and games" approach to youth ministry was being called the "youth specialties approach"! wow, i can only be left with one of two conclusions:

1. either there's a different youth specialties than the one i'm president of, the one that has publicly apologized for our role (decades ago) in promoting a program-approach to youth ministry, and regularly rails against this approach today.

2. or, your only contact with youth specialties was decades ago.

the commenter who flagged tony jones' book with the claim that it is gnostic and neo-hindu (ha, tell that to the early church fathers!) might have a less misplaced "accusation". but to say YS is about fun and games youth ministry is certainly not reflecting who we are, what we say, or what we publish these days.
(What is it with these Emergent guys and their shift keys, anyway? Do they think capital letters contribute to global warming, or what?)

You can read that comment-thread to see my reply to Marko. Just do a search on that page for his name.

But I've been looking for the apology Marko referred to. He might have been speaking of a famous article written by the late Mike Yaconelli: "The Failure of Youth Ministry" (which was later toned down with this apology). I don't think he was speaking of the infamous skit fiasco from earlier this year, in which both Marko and the Skit Guys admitted that one particular bit of fun 'n' games went too far.

Then I found this page of articles about youth ministry, mostly rants by Yaconelli. He had a few good things to say and a lot of really bad ideas. His discomfort with the direction of modern student ministry was evident in several articles. But I couldn't find the place where he specifically acknowledged and repented of the enormous role he and YS had played in bringing the problem about in the first place.

In fact, here's what disturbs me most about both Willow Creek's recent admission and Marko's tacit acknowledgement that YS did indeed have something to repent of: In neither case do we see any of the fruits of real repentance.

Instead of reemphasizing the centrality of Scripture in what we teach our young people, Youth Specialties took a hard turn toward the leftward extreme of the Emergent spectrum. They now publish Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, Spencer Burke, and several other similarly unorthodox authors you probably haven't even heard of yet. And that has been in addition to (not instead of) the fun 'n' games manuals they originally built the company on. Oh, and don't forget their brand-new study guide and "devotional" based on the hit movie, Evan Almighty.

All Willow Creek's rhetoric about their so-called "Wake-up Call" likewise seems only to signal a deliberate, headlong Shift in a self-consciously postmodern direction. It is clearly not going to mean a turn toward a more biblical philosophy of ministry.

I do think Bill Hybels's admission that his strategy has failed needs to be taken at face value. I believe it signals the beginning of the end for the seeker-sensitive approach that has dominated the evangelical movement for more than twenty years. But I'm also convinced that what's coming next will be even worse.

In fact, if you miss nothing else in all the current popular re-imaginings of various ministry styles, please don't fail to notice the absence of any stress on biblical principles of ministry. Coming in the midst of all these confessions of seeker-sensitivity's heedless, reckless failure, that dark silence is noteworthy. It belies the pretense of candor in all these mea culpas. I think it is a harbinger of some truly evil things on the horizon.

Phil's signature


reformed trucker said...

That wolf playing leap-frog is TOO FUNNY! Great graphics!

steve said...

You could do a sequel to The Truth War, and title it The Youth War.

Love the front-page graphics!

marko said...

here it is, phil: http://www.ysmarko.com/?p=1288

Rob Willmann said...

After having gone to a seeker-sensitive church recently for the very first time, I can definitely tell you what was missing: BIBLES!

I attended services at a local church out of obligation for a requirement I had, and I was quite blown away by 3 things:

1) The misuse of a parable of Jesus to show how important it was to give to the church.

2) Only 1 recognizable hymn (no hymn books). All the rest of the worship was one-chord long worship songs.

3) No bibles in the pews, and very few people carried them in.

So when you talk about emergent, seeker-sensitive churches, there's a reason the members fall prey to the wolves: there is no emphasis on the Word.

How sad.


(BTW, my offer still stands. If you know someone who has interviewed an emergent-type, and you need someone to transcribe the show or interview, contact me, and I will do it.)

Kevin Williams said...

Well said Phil.

The seeker sensitive people need to realize there is only One Seeker and that is God and they need to be sensitive to Him by repenting, and stop filling the professing church up with false converts blaspheming the name of Jesus.

Chris Connally said...

Phil said,
(What is it with these Emergent guys and their shift keys, anyway? Do they think capital letters contribute to global warming, or what?)

Your propensity for scathing wit is second to none and is what makes you so great. I woke my kids up laughing at that line. I'm currently reading Truth Wars and have enjoyed it very much. God bless and keep up the good fight.

C.P.O. said...

Ah yes, the fun of certainty and smugness. I remember back when I had everything figured out too. Those were the days... Now those damn emergents and youth pastors are always messing up what we all know is the right way of doing things.

Sharon said...

Rob: Only 1 recognizable hymn (no hymn books). All the rest of the worship was one-chord long worship songs.

This isn't just the "seeker-sensitive" church paradigm. Just tonight, a friend and I were noticing how dramatically the demographics have changed at our Sunday evening services. Gone are the "seasoned saints" (who faithfully support the church financially). Replacing them are the teens and twenties "yoots" who swing 'n' sway to the PowerPoint chorus-fest while the hymnals remain unused in the pews. There's hardly a coat & tie or dress in sight.

Frankly, this depresses me. Am I really that "stodgy" to think worship should include high, lofty hymns and sacred music written by theologians? That classical music has a place in God's house? That a heavy rock & roll drum beat is not a helpful addition to "My Jesus, I Love Thee" or "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"?


A Musician by Grace

Bobby Grow said...


Unfortunately, I'm afraid I have to agree, in general, with your take on these things.

I listented to the Hybels video admission . . . and his surprise at the "data" is unbelievable. Teach people how to be "self-feeders," how to read their bibles, what a concept. Did you notice how their conclusion is to take less responsibility as the "church" (which he seems to think=leadership)to meet the needs of the projected self-feeders. There is no doubt responsibility first lies with each of us, individually, before the Lord (I Cor 12:27). Nevertheless, WE are the church, and it is the "community" in Christ that should take responsibility together (this includes the leadership and laity) . . . it seems Bill just can't escape the "individualism" of the West, and the Market-driven CEO model of church that he and Willow Creek have grown so accustom to. That's to bad.

This almost appears as if Willow C. is trying to reinvent themselves . . . now my skeptical side is really showing. Anyway good highlight.

P.S. Youth Specialties indeed promotes the "fun and games" approach that you assert that they do; all one has to do is visit their website, and that will become quickly apparent.

Elessar said...

Sharon: regarding coats, ties, dresses & hymnals... I'd just like to say in defense that those aren't the only ways to show reverence for our precious Savior! Our small reformed baptist church of about 30-40 people meets in a coffee shop, our 43-year-old pastor wears jeans (when it's too cold for shorts), and the average age in our congregation is probably about 26. However, we hear the true gospel preached for about 55-65 minutes each week, and 60-80% of our worship is hymns off of the powerpoint, chock full of thick theology. True reverence comes in many forms.

On the other hand, I was raised in a very dead church, where we felt pressured to dress up, used our hymnals rather than PowerPoint, and heard watered-down sermons for about 25 minutes. That was about as far from reverent as the "me worship" you tend to get at some of these other churches I'm sure you're thinking of...

pastorbrianculver said...

I went to Willow Creek several years ago with my then 10 yr old son. We were not saved at the time. We left there feeling excited, refreshed (from laughing so much) and totally entertained. We were not edified with God's Word once, we were not challenged to be obedient to His Word once, we were not told to repent of our sins once. We were not told to completely put our faith and trust in Jesus once. Yes, we were entertained, and we were not drawn one inch closer to our Lord and Savior as a result. I am now a saved (and so is my son) servant of Christ. We need to let the world (mostly Americans) know about the deceit that is out there. Thank you pyro for your blog. I really appreciate it. God bless

Jay T said...

Hymnbooks are not more honoring to God than Powerpoint.

donsands said...

"But I'm also convinced that what's coming next will be even worse."

I hope not.

Or perhaps worse would be better; in the long run. Sin exposed in it's ugliness, and not hidden under morality.

I see the problem shall always be a human-centered mind set, whose fruit is a morality, which the world likes.

Without the Bible, (or with only portions of the Bible that suit the man-centered mind set), the Church is doomed to a worldly morality where Christ is not King and has not the preeminence. (Col. 1:18) And the Gospel is not the power of God to change a black heart to a holy heart, but a way of making people happy.

The Bible seems to be less and less loved, and so less and less read, studied, and pondered.

""Odd, the way the less the Bible is read the more it is translated." -CS Lewis

Drew said...

Why should anybody care about pyromaniac criticism, when even when the criticized gets it, apologizes, and changes, they are slammed for not getting it fast enough, or in the correct method, or less than you want?

You are so accustomed to complaining that even when you get what you want, you still complain about it!

For the record, I have observed the change at YS, and I am glad for it. At the same time, I value the games and stuff, too. Not because they are at the center of my youth ministry, but because they are a part of it.

Youth ministry has been working on a flawed model for a few generations now, and YS has recognized this and is trying to correct it. And as someone who has used their resources, I can say that they have done so in a Biblical way.

Marko, my apologies for not defending your company sooner. I wanted to as soon as read the post, but conversation on this board often tires me out and bears little fruit.

Andy's Library said...


Could you tell me your thoughts on the use of "fun-n-games" in youth ministry? Are they every appropriate?

Similarly, do surveys have a place in the life of a church? Is there any scenario where you would use them?


Ben N said...

I think Phil is right in his assessment. Our standard should be God's word, not polls.

@rob willmann: if you ever go to Willow Creek, you'll see that the Bibles are not missing there. There is definetly an emphasize on the new worship songs. But to dismiss them just because they're new doesn't sound too logical to me.
Also, I'm not really sure that seeker-sensitive=emergent. In my opinion we should separate the two in our criticism. They both have issues, but they are different issues.

@puritan ... "false converts blaspheming the name of Jesus"
I wouldn't go that far. I have good friends in some seeker-sensitive churches and they are definetly not the type you are talking about.

@elessar good answer. There are 2 extremes here: 1) the traditionalist who follows a lot of old patterns for which a lot of time he/she has no justification. 2) the rebel, for which everything that is older than 5 years is bad.

@pastorbrianculver I have to challenge you on that claim; I've been several times at Willow too, and I have to say that the gospel has been preached.

@ Phil Johnson
I think that a post that analyzes similarities and differences between an emergent church and a seeker sensitive church would be really helpful.

Willow Creek's "What we believe" does not sound emergent too me:

"The mission of Willow Creek Community Church is to turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

The sole basis of our belief is the Bible, which is uniquely God-inspired, without error, and the final authority on all matters on which it bears. As the Bible teaches, there is one God, eternally existing in three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — each possessing all the attributes of Deity.

God created humans to have fellowship with Him, but they defied God by sinfully going their own way. As a result, we need God's saving grace to end our alienation from Him. Salvation comes only through God's saving grace — not human effort — and must be received personally by repentance and faith.

Jesus Christ, second Person of the Trinity, lived a sinless life on earth and voluntarily paid for our sin by dying on the cross as our substitute. This accomplishes salvation for all who receive grace by trusting in Him alone. He rose from the dead and is the only mediator between us and God. He will return to earth to consummate history.

The Holy Spirit draws sinners to Christ and equips believers for personal growth and service to the church. The church's role is to glorify God and serve those in need. At the end, everyone will experience bodily resurrection and the judgment. Those forgiven through Christ will enjoy eternal fellowship with God."

P.S. I believe that Willow's "how to do church" is a serious problem. But, I also think that we need to be more careful in making a distinction between heretics and confused brothers, between Joel Olsteen and Bill Hybells, and so on.

wordsmith said...

Jay: "Hymnbooks are not more honoring to God than Powerpoint."

Maybe not, but it makes it way easier to sight-read and/or harmonize than a words-only version.

Connie said...

Phil said, "I think it is a harbinger of some truly evil things on the horizon."

Sadly, I must agree and up until recently was thinking (hoping) that the Hybels model was THE worst it could get--not so... :-(

Tyler said...

In other words, the beat goes on and everything stays the same while having the audacy to claim that everything has changed.

Anonymous said...

Todd H said:

"Now those [damn] emergents and youth pastors are always messing up what we all know is the right way of doing things."

If you go to any emergent blog you will find excellent usage of the english language. If your child comes home cussing, don't automatically assume they picked it up in public school. They might have picked it up from Todd at church.

New birth, regeneration, hating what God hates have all become laughable and "legalistic" to some in the church today. They use the terms as a punchline while recommending violent and offensive TV shows, music and/or movies.

The idea that the culture dictates how church is "done" is a joke and we need to keep in mind that the church is designed to change the way culture is done.

LeeC said...

*I* certainly don't know the right way of doing things...thats the point.
God does.

And He has communicated this way of doing things...in a book, fully and sufficiently enough that even dunderheads like myself that get it all wrong on thier own can understand it...if we are indwelt by His Holy Spirit.

Read the link to the fruit of repentance. There is a big difference between saying "I was wrong" and "I was wrong and I repent in dust and ashes." You know how I know this? The Bible explicitly tells me.

When you can come back here and say "Here I stand, so help me God" then I might listen, until then it's just another opinion.

Solameanie said...

Like the old BTO song says, "You ain't seen nuthin' yet."

Amen and amen again, Phil. What will it take to open their eyes? After a while one begins to wonder if it's genuine "not getting it" or genuine malevolence.

candy said...

To get a better insight, check out their website with their catchword, Reveal. In the "Who we are" section they list the credentials of each person. Each person has a business or management background. Not a Bible college or seminary to be found(not that seminary is the end all for all Christians). They talk about "spiritual growth" and joining the "conversation". There is little talk about Biblical truth as Phil mentioned. Even the bottom of the page just has Willow as a logo, not Willow Creek Church. I fear that Phil is right and it is just going to get worse.

Perhaps we need a few more men with a passion for truth to get out there and start good reformed churches. My husband and I drive an hour to go to a biblical church (that sings both hymns and theologically sound contemporary songs). The only churches left in Reno are seeker-sensitive, emergent, dry unto death, or a Calvary Chapel that is increasingly stating that Calvinists are heretics.

Solameanie said...


Was the expletive really necessary?

Phil Johnson said...

Speaking of wake-up calls, there was a spectacular car crash down the street this morning. A guy fell asleep at the wheel and ran up on my neighbor's lawn, demolishing a tree, four cars (one was just purchased yesterday and had 20 miles on it), and the cable-tv system on our street. So I'm without Internet access today and posting this from my phone. Excuse the clumsy-thumb typos.

Now, please remember:

1. No profanity. Even minced oaths are frowned upon here.

2. Please try to stay on topic. This post is not about music, dress codes. or other merely-stylistic matters. Let's talk about the real point, not incidental issues. The mere mention of overhead projectors by one of our commenters does not mean it's OK to pretend that's what this whole discussion is all about. I know some people think chasing rabbits like that is as good as a real argument. It's not.

3. Please read the post (Drew) and make a good-faith effort to understand the actual point before waving it aside.

DJP said...

DrewWhy should anybody care about pyromaniac criticism, when even when the criticized gets it, apologizes, and changes, they are slammed for not getting it fast enough, or in the correct method, or less than you want?

You might make your point more effectively if you'd dropped this rant on a post that you felt illustrated your point, rather than one that refutes it.

Sharon said...

Fair enough, Phil. My apologies for sending the meta off into OT-land.

Just finished Todd Friel's comments on Bill's "sermon." Love his right-on comments!

A Musician by Grace

Nash Equilibrium said...

Youth ministry has been working on a flawed model for a few generations now, and YS has recognized this and is trying to correct it. And as someone who has used their resources, I can say that they have done so in a Biblical way.

Drew, are you serious, man? Who really cares what techniques YS may have used and abandoned, or even apologized for, if the substance of what they are teaching is unbiblical and actually even far worse than what they were teaching before the apology?

Have you been to their website and seen the stuff they're touting? The stuff by Pagitt, McLaren, and Burke? Granted it is mystical and politically correct stuff, borrowed from the world with a Christian-sounding whitewash over it - but, what is Biblical about any of it?

Drew said...

I think I get what you are trying to say, that these, apologies are not really apologies, because said groups are either continuing in the same direction, or making another bad turn following their apologies.

Since I consider much of the emerging church to be the most faithful (although not only) expression of the church around today, I disagree with your assessment. I believe that both Willow Creek and YS have made a turn for the better.

My hope is that they did that because of the call of scripture, but if they did it because of surveys, well, I'm not going to say that the Spirit can't do that.

Strong Tower said...


On your church website the welcome statement contains this:

"We won’t make you do anything you don’t want to, because we don’t think that is the kind of thing Jesus would do."

So, I suppose that you would reject the RPW, or really any commandment. This welcome statement is a dogmatic assertion. Now I suppose that that means that you reject the inspired Word that tells us that Jesus made a whip out of cords, and "made" the money changers leave the temple. And, I suppose you would also reject as inspired Jesus' claim on Peter when he said to Peter: "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

You know, I think that Jesus was telling Peter, that it was time to stop being an emergent youth and grow-up, quit fishing naked and eat what the master command's he eat. Don't you?

Mark said...

I recently made note of Willow Creek's "repentance" from their own words.

Quoting them.

3. Is Willow Re-thinking its Seeker Focus?

* Simple answer – no. My boss would say that Willow is not just seeker-focused. We are seeker-obsessed. The power of REVEAL’s insights for our seeker strategy is the evangelistic strength uncovered in the more mature segments. If we can serve them better, the evangelistic potential is enormous, based on our findings.

I'm not sure if Hybels actually said they repented or not, but it doesn't look like much has changed.


Solameanie said...

Drew: Since I consider much of the emerging church to be the most faithful (although not only) expression of the church around today, I disagree with your assessment. I believe that both Willow Creek and YS have made a turn for the better.

I had to do a double take on the above quote. I am beyond aghast. "The most faithful expression of the church around today." Surely you aren't serious. A movement that specializes in running Scripture through an Asplundh wood chipper or redefining God's Word to suit their desires, and it's "the most faithful expression of the church."

Wow, wow, wow.

DJP said...

Eyes wide shut.

James Scott Bell said...

Putting the best possible spin on YS, Hybels & McLaren, I think they are all motivated by a desire to help the church radically. They see themselves as reformers. I'm willing to grant their sincerity.

But that is not enough. The road to Hell and good intentions and all that.

Neal Postman wrote that influential book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, years ago, about the culture at large. How right he was, as the acid drips into the church.

Lin said...

Seems Willow Creek still views the members of the Body of Christ as 'customers'. Even after the survey. :o)

That says it all.

I was part of the WCA in a mega for years and then one day, it hit me like a ton of bricks. How can one have a 'guest services' department in a church? The 'guests' were the members. (The visitors had their very own department.)

They even had training on 'how to make our guests comfortable during their stay'. Seriously, those words were used.

The problems are so fundamental in how they view the church body, that they will have to start over completely. I doubt that will happen but I do agree what will come next will be worse because they are consumer driven.

The only thing that changed my thinking from seeker to saved was a deep study of scripture and realizing the seeker dots were not connecting in scripture.

Solameanie said...

Have any of you ever read "The Battle for the Bible" by the late Dr. Lindsell? That book came to mind again recently when contemplating the current and apparent disdain for Scripture among all these "visionary" new movements. There were sections of that book that I think might apply well to this current contretemps.

It is amazing that evangelicals -- the movement began ostensibly with the idea of renewing our devotion to Scripture -- now seems intent on getting its directives for ministry from everywhere BUT Scripture. They really should come up with a radio program of their own. Instead of "Back to the Bible," it's "Bored with the Bible."

James Scott Bell said...

Yes, Solameanie. Lindsell's book was prophetic, as was Schaeffer's last, The Great Evangelical Disaster. They both warned that giving up on inerrancy would lead to what we're seeing.

Tony Jones says inerrancy is "not where we [post evangelicals] are going to land the plane."

The crash sites are mounting.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Johnny D., I agree with you that they are sincere. I just wanted to add some information to what you said, so that others who read can have this.

At first, I could not understand how Emergents could abandon the Bible and still claim to be Christians. After all, I reasoned, don't you need some source of information about what you believe? After a lot of debate with Emergents over the past several years, I feel I now understand why they believe the Bible is optional to the Christian faith: It is because they have replaced its proclamations with the messages and so-called "knowledge" they receive through the neo-Hindu type meditation practices universally employed in Emergent circles.

Most of the esoteric knowledge they receive through meditation is not only non-Biblical, it is anti-Biblical. That tells us all we need to know about the source of these messages (Satan).

We struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers... you know the rest of the verse. We can't combat Emergent errors except through prayer, because the messages they are receiving, though very evil, are also very real.

Good stuff to keep in mind.

Drew said...

If you would like to discuss my church's site, we can do that somewhere else. I'd be happy to.

Solameanine: Wow is right. After spending some time around here, I've come to see that you all see the church way differently than I do. I don't see emergents as doing the wood-chipper thing nearly as much as the rest of the Church (I wish I could say not at all), and I don't see them as "redefining" the Gospel at all. More like reforming.

corinthian said...

Just came from the YS conference. There was some great stuff by Chap Clark, Louie Giglio and others, but we ( my team and I ) were disturbed by the presentation by Phyllis Tickle. Reminded me of "tickling ears" that scripture warns us of. She is a fan of spiritual midgets like John Spong and she was put on the main stage. I was truly disappointed by this selection. She calls herself a secular Christian ( an oxymoron anyway) and praises those who worship Sophia. It is really too bad because I have valued Chap Clark, Duffy Robbins, Steve Geraldi and many other speakers they have had, but I will have to find them elsewhere.

Hayden said...


If you think that way, then why do your frequent this site? I sometimes disagree with things posted here, but I always am driven to think deeply.

I disagree that YS and WC are taking a turn for the better. I receive many catalogs and information from YS in the mail and have not seen any serious turn for the better. There is a change, but not for the better.

Drew, people on this website may listen to you better when you provide some some Scriptural basis for your assessment of the 'rest of the church' and drop the snarky broad brush terminology. (By the way, isn't one of the criticisms of the church by Emergents that we have an 'us vs. them' vocabulary. Much like the vocabulary that you just demonstrated :)

Solameanie said...


Churches might well be in need of reforming, but not the Gospel. Jesus did that right the first time. And the whole thing about "reforming" is supposed to be about the church coming more in line with God's Word, not less.

You would be very hard pressed to show me biblical justification for some of the Emergent Church shenanigans. If you begin with the premise that truth is unknowable and determined by the culture, you might as well chuck the whole thing out the window.

It's funny. When I actually lived out in California in the early 80s, I attended a Youth Specialties seminar where one of the hit singles was "Musical Mother Goose." You would sing any favorite nursery rhyme and the end line was throwing the object of the rhyme out the window. Today, the object seems to be the Bible. "The window . . . the window . . . the second-story window. With a heave and a ho and a mighty throw, they threw it out the window."

Drew said...

Solameanie: Good correction. You are right, the Gospel does not need reforming, the church does.

And please excuse me for painting with a broad brush, but I think the broad brush applies here. The majority of the commenters and posters here DO see the church differently than I do--right?

And I wasn't trying to make it "us vs. them" or be snarky. My point is that I see the change at WC and YS differently than many of the people here because I have a different ecclesiology.

Hayden: I frequent the site because it is well written, entertaining, and I think it is worth it to read people of other opinions.


I wonder if Todd H is actually Todd Hunter? That would explain a lot.

stratagem said...
Most of the esoteric knowledge they receive through meditation is not only non-Biblical, it is anti-Biblical. That tells us all we need to know about the source of these messages (Satan).

We struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers... you know the rest of the verse. We can't combat Emergent errors except through prayer, because the messages they are receiving, though very evil, are also very real.


The Willow Creek "drive thru"


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Great, great post Phil Johnson!

I own and have read one of Hybels' books called "Too busy not to pray."

That was quite some time ago. And the friends who touted it to me liked it. And for that matter, I liked it too. Really can't go wrong in exhorting people to pray more.

Youth Specialties is huge in youth ministry work. Yaconelli, et al are the big mucky-mucks. Fun and games are okay with me. Bad theology is not. I really hope that YS is not diluting the Gospel and watering it down. The youth do not need cheap grace!

I've read Schaeffer's last book, "The Great Evangelical Disaster". Highly recommend it. Have never read Lindsell's book. But I have read Woodrow Kroll's latest book on Biblical Literacy which I strongly recommend.

BTW, both Lindsell and Schaeffer are mocked, scoffed, and dismissed by a lot of folks. Nearly all of them are liberal, mainline Christians.

S.G. said...

Used to read Mike Yaconelli when he was anchoring the WITTENBURG DOOR. Was never sure about his faith though I appreciated his ability to let it all hang out.

Then he died in a one man car accident on a California freeway. I sadly wondered about that too. I always thought Mike had the capability to kill himself; I hope he didn't.

Stefan Ewing said...

Let's see...

God's Covenant was delivered through Moses, and there was an immediate falling away.

The Temple was built under David and Solomon, and within one generation, there was a falling away.

There were reforms under Hezekiah and Josiah, and fallings away.

The Temple was restored under Ezra and Nehemiah, and even within their lifetimes, the beginnings of a falling away.

Jesus Christ was the object and agent of the New Covenant, and within five hundred years (a long time!), there was a falling away.

The church was reformed under Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, et al., and now, 450 years later, a falling away.

It seems to fit the pattern....

Solameanie said...


I guess maybe the pertinent question is, from where do you get your ecclesiology? If you get it from Scripture, where?

Biblically, the purpose of the church (assembly) is to worship God, fellowship with other believers, and to be equipped for ministry. Evangelism is not the main emphasis of the assembly.

The purpose of the church (world outside the assembly) is to bring God glory, to proclaim the Gospel to the lost, and to do the works of the Lord. Unfortunately, it seems to many of us that those in the Emergent Church relive the Social Gospel of the 1960s, doing a lot of what they see as "justice" issues but selling the Gospel down the river. I hope my illustrating the dividing line helps make this a bit clearer.

Drew said...

Rabbi-philosopher. A quick search demonstrated your fear to be unfounded http://www.youthspecialties.com/yaconelli/info/second.php

Please be careful with statements like this. While we might be tempted to be glib when talking about a public figure, Mike's son is (was?) following this post, and I doubt he wants to read stuff like this.

Drew said...

I think that this has already been covered.

Most of us in the emerging church would distinguish ourselves from the social gospel movement (which, by the way, was more of 1920's thing than a 1960's thing).

We proclaim Christ, AND seek God's justice.

Aside from that distinction, it seems we are more similar than I thought in the way we think about church.

Stefan Ewing said...


"...It seems we are more similar than I thought in the way we think about church."

It is fair to say that Reformers and Emergents both see the same spiritual malaise in mainstream evangelicalism, and both see it as a problem. The difference comes in the proposed solutions.


"...Begin silently to repeat your sacred word or phrase"
—Mark Yaconelli, Youth Specialties, National Pastor's Convention
Contemplative Prayer aka:
Christian Crack/
Monk Methadone

Spurgeonwannabe said...

moDrew said - Since I consider much of the emerging church to be the most faithful (although not only) expression of the church around today, I disagree with your assessment. I believe that both Willow Creek and YS have made a turn for the better.

Of course they aren't the only expressions of the church because that would imply a standard

EC is not church - and despite the few exceptions how come it filled with mostly twentysomethings?

Where are the senior saints who have prayed and studied the Word of God - if this was the most faithful movement many of them would be going in droves to the EC meeting place.

I have seen this movement creeping into my own denomination and it's pure rubbish - what's more loving - You are going to hell so repent - or be comfortable where you are and die in your sins?

Youth ministry that does not proclaim truth with absolutes is useless and fruitless.

Aaron said...


We're all complainers. You make a good post pointing out glaring problems, and then we all descend on the post and agree and complain and sometimes make fools of ourselves. Are these comments sections really honoring to Christ? I'm beginning to wonder.

Joanna said...

"...Begin silently to repeat your sacred word or phrase"
—Mark Yaconelli, Youth Specialties, National Pastor's Convention
That sounds quite a bit like hindu practice or at least new age, particularly the "sacred word" bit. The bible speaks against praying like this (matthew 6:7) and if they aren't praying what are they aiming for? Very concerning. Is this sermon/article available online somewhere so we can see the context it was in?

Anonymous said...

Polling (surveying) your Church is not wrong in and of itself. A wise pastor would try and understand where his people are and what their need is. Of course doing this might expose some pastors to the ugly truth that there is a complete disconnect between Pulpit and Pew.

While the pastor drones on about the various lapsarian views the Church member is trying to figure out how to get through the week.

I have conducted a number of Church polls (survey) over the years. They have always been helpful in pointing to areas of weakness in my ministry and pointed me towards things I could do different.



@Arron- what says you?

Mrs. M said...

Well, guess what. My church is doing the Reveal survey right now. I took it this morning. Here’s a sample:

Which of the following statements describe what was going on in your life when your faith began to become important to you? (Select all that apply)
I felt something was missing in my life
I was challenged by someone to examine the state of my spiritual life
I was searching for a higher purpose in my life
I felt an almost unexplainable interest or attraction to God and Jesus
I was inspired by the way a Christian I knew lived his/her life
I was experiencing a crisis in my life (e.g. loss of spouse, loss of child, loss of job, etc.)
I was having significant problems in my relationships (e.g. marriage, friendships, family, etc.)
I wanted my children to be exposed to Christianity.
I knew certain negative patterns in my life needed to change (e.g. sins, addictions, anger, etc.)
Other (specify)

(I had to say other. For me it was when I began to understand what the Bible had to say.)

Which one of these reasons was the most important in your selection of your current church? (Select one)
I was looking for a church that was the “best fit” for me
I was looking for the closest church, regardless of denomination
I was looking for the closest church of a particular denomination
A friend or relative invited me to this church
A friend or relative recommended this church to me
I drove by or heard/read about the church and decided to try it
I came to this church because of its children’s/youth ministries
I am a founding/charter member of this church
Other (Please specify):

Listed below are various activities that a senior pastor/campus pastor can perform. Please select up to five (5) most important to you at this time. (Select up to 5 most important)

Helps ensure the church is financially stable
Casts a vision for the church that captures your heart
Motivates congregants to recruit new members
Attracts, develops, and motivates various ministry leadership teams
Promotes and creates enthusiasm for serving activities
Is a recognized voice on important issues within our local community
Preaches inspiring sermons
Is involved in issues of global significance (e.g. AIDS, poverty, social injustice)
Creates a welcoming, open, and friendly environment that readily engages congregants' participation
Identifies and encourages the use of congregants’ gifts and talents
Maintains harmony, handles troublemakers, averts or resolves problems
Provides guidance to individuals about their spiritual development
Counsels people facing major decisions of life (e.g. marriage, vocation)
Ministers to the sick, dying and bereaved

That’s just a sample. It took close to a half hour to go through it. One stand out that was in a list of things we were to agree / disagree with : I seek to grow closer to God by listening to him in prayer.

Mrs. M said...

I winced when I saw that they named their conference "Shift". Having new age family members, it's a term I've seen before. Do a google search on "the shift" and see what comes up.

wordsmith said...

"Maintains harmony, handles troublemakers, averts or resolves problems"

Now that's interesting. I suppose that some gadfly who insisted on things like the 5 solas, etc. could be labeled "troublemaker."

Mike Riccardi said...

Mrs. M,

I'm not sure if you're advocating this thing or saying it's dumb, but I think it misses the point entirely.

Listed below are various activities that a senior pastor/campus pastor can perform. Please select up to five (5) most important to you at this time. (Select up to 5 most important)

And none of those things on that list says, "Proving to be a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of Truth." The closest they get is "Preaching inspiring sermons," and even that panders to the felt-needs, emotional experience-driven model of ministry.

The point about all this is that it doesn't matter what's important to me. What matters is what's important to Christ.

God has told us what's important for members of a church to have in a pastor. He's told the pastors to be those things (1&2Tim, Titus, 2Cor, et al.) and He's told the sheep to esteem the shepherds for being those things (1Th 5:12, 1Tim 5:17, 1Cor 16:15-18).

That is why, Bruce, polling your congregation to find out what they want is wrong in itself. It is not commanded, and other things in its place are commanded to accomplish the goal that these surveys are hoping to accomplish. And again, what the congregation wants has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on what they need and what is most loving, wise, and ministerial to give them. We hope and pray by God's grace their hearts are shaped by grace so that they want what they actually need. But because of models of ministry -- like these -- that don't preach Scriptural Truth in Scriptural garb and keep it totally central, many people who go to "church" want things that will keep them as entertained as they can be all the way to hell.

If I was doing a survey, I'd ask everyone in my (hypothetical) congregation to tell me what the Gospel is. Then, based on their insufficiencies, shortcomings and errors, I'd instruct them from Scripture how the true Gospel differs from theirs.

A quote from John Piper's 2007 Resolved message makes my point nicely. I'll have to substitute the subject of what he said, though, which was the prosperity gospel. I'm wholeheartedly assured that this applies to the seeker/Emerging model (hereafter: EC/WC) as well.

The [gospel of the EC/WC] is no Gospel because what it does is offer to people what they want as natural people! You don’t have to be born again to want to be [entertained, happy, free of guilt, humored], and therefore you don’t have to be converted to be saved by the [EC/WC] gospel! When you appeal to people to come to Christ on the basis of what they already want, 1 Corinthians 2 makes no sense: “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit; they are foolishness to him.” Therefore if you offer to people what they do not consider foolishness in the natural man, you’re not preaching the Gospel! And the [EC/WC] gospel offers to people what they desperately want as fallen people, gives it to them, and grows huge churches.

Anonymous said...

Since I consider much of the emerging church to be the most faithful (although not only) expression of the church around today, I disagree with your assessment.

Perhaps Drew would be good enough to define what the word "faithful" means. I think that -- like many in the EC -- he may be writing his own definitions.

The propensity of those in EC to take that which is clear and make it vague, to take that which is simple and make it complex, and to never give a straight answer when a twisted and convoluted one can be found, and what seems an insistence that ANYONE (no matter their beliefs) can be a citizen of the Kingdom should say much about whether they are "faithful" to the Word of God.

"the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:14

Anonymous said...


Regulative Principle meets Polling practice.

Arrogant is the man who thinks he knows everything that his people need. Does God give him a list every week titled "Bruce needs__________, Jim needs_________" Hardly.

The pastor can preach on anything. The Bible is a big book with lots of prospective material. How about finding out what the people need (or shades of compromise want)

Are Churches so carnal and immature that they can not convey to the pastor what they would like to hear/do?
Are pastors so spiritual that they are the ones who can decide what the Church hears and does?

This issue, from my perspective has nothing to do with entertainment.It has everything to do with best way to minister to people.

Ignorance of the needs of the people is not bliss. It is a recipe for losing Church members.

Many reformed types think the people need 60-90 minute sermons.Only the most astute sermonphile will sit happily through such a sermon. Oh, they will glad hand the preacher and tell him great sermon but they are never asked what they really think.

It is arrogant to think one man (or 3 men) knows everything a group of people needs.

Open communication between pulpit and pew will go a long way to maturing the body. Polls (surveys) are one way of figuring out where to start the "conversation."

I have never regretted a poll (survey) I've done better than a dozen of them. I always learned a lot about where the Church was and where I was failing as pastor.

What are we afraid of?

Silly Old Mom said...


Even in a small church, it's impossible for a pastor to know everyone's needs, and it's folly for him to try to "preach to the test." The Spirit is perfectly capable of using a sermon to speak to a need that we didn't even know we had.

The pastor can't be expected to try to meet everyone's needs. He can realistically pour his life into only a handful of people. That's what the rest of the body is for -- serving one another.

Strong Tower said...

Beside what som said, if a church runs by poll, who will be being left out? The minority? And isn't that one of the central concerns of emergents is social justice? So what emergentism boils down to is oppression of the minority by the majority? Interesting how that works when you try to serve the needs of the people rather than the good of the people.

And it is RPW/NPW vs Polls, kinda like David vs Goliath. There is this braggard challenging the God of Israel, who commands the obedience of all people. That is the real issue. Emergents reject any definitional practice. Instead it is all relative to the will of the demogracy. Kinda like the despair that Samuel felt. It is not us who you are rejecting as king, it is God as your King. Submission is really your problem and the duly ordained authority of the Church governed either by the RPW or the NPW.

This is what I challenged Drew over. His Presbyterian Church is just one such in name, if it believes that God in Christ would not force his followers to obey the good will of God. Now, the question comes down to this: can we know the good and perfect will of God? Even Rob Bell says yes, though he doesn't know what that will is.

In the final analysis you propose something which is outside the boundary of Scripture. And to prove you just deny it.

Anonymous said...

I am not suggesting he meet everyone's needs but he might want to find out what those needs are.

I know this is going to sound bad but.........checking in with the Holy Spirit is good but,too often, the Holy Spirit becomes the pretext for the pastor doing whatever he wants.

The same Holy Spirit can guide the pastor in reading the surveys and point him to the most effective way to minister to the people.

Discernment is always needed. In one Church the surveys overwhelming stated the people wanted teaching from Revelation. This Church was decidedly Dispy/Pre-Trib. Me, being A-mil,Post trib.........it was not a good idea to teach on Revelation. It was a good idea to teach on how we interpret scripture.

Anonymous said...

Strong Tower,

I guess you don't like Emergent types.

You paint with such a wide brush you keep slopping paint all over yourself.

I gladly submit to the authority of Scripture. I gladly submit to the authority of men who govern according to the Scripture.

I do not submit to those conjure up man made doctrines the the regulative principle and who then use that man made doctrine to lord over others.

The problem Emergents have is not with the Bible. Their problem is with the self-appointed interpreters of Scripture. Why should we accept your authority? Is there some evangelical papal authority that we must submit to?

Most Emergents accept and believe the cardinal doctrines of the faith. A few don't. Unfortunately, some people have so enlarged the cardinal doctrines that it leads to divisiveness.

It is unwise to lump all emergents together. After all Ben Phelps is a Calvinist. I am sure Calvinists would resent being lumped together with Phelps.

Strong Tower said...

Okay, I will try, if I can, to use the language of Mark Driscoll, and when I say emergent, then I am speaking the aberrant brand. And when I speak of emerging, I will be speaking of those like Driscoll who have non-aberrant beliefs.

So, then. Give me an example of your doctrine that is not man made. Since, you seem to believe that whatever any one other than an emergent has interpeted Scritpture to mean from which they have crafted doctrines like the RPW is merely doctrines of man, give me one of your doctrinal interpretations that is not a doctrine of man's interpretation!

I am a painter by the way and never get paint where it does not belong. Jez kiddin. My doctrine is not perfect, though I can spot rotted structure a mile away.

Phil Johnson said...

Note to all: This post did not suggest it's a sin to take a poll to find out what people in the church are thinking.

My only point about polls is that it's utter folly to base one's ministry philosophy on the results of such a poll, rather than on Scripture.

Let's all remember to try to stay on topic, please.


Anonymous said...

I mis-stated my view on the man made doctrine issue.

Certainly every doctrinal conclusion we come to is man's interpretation. We all interpret.

MY point is why should I accept your interpretation? In the case of the Regulative principle since I find no scriptural warrant for it at all, I conclude it is a man-made doctrine. (and I have no desire to debate the regulative principle.)

Emergents or emerging's believe in doctrine. They just don't accept your doctrine or your interpretation. And there is the problem.

Emerging types sk questions about things that many think are "settled forever in Heaven." I think the questions are good. What is everyone so afraid of?

Instead of bashing emergents all the time......try another tact....honest, open, non judgmental discussion.

Drew said...

Strong tower: First of all, that message (about not being forced) is directed towards visitors of the church, not members.

Secondly, do you really think that God forces obedience? I always thought that it was a grateful response! From the way I read your logic, it is God's fault when I do bad things, because God did not force me to be good?

You gave one example of Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the temple, and ignored the countless other times when he did not force people to do things, and yet somehow, only emergents are criticized as the ones that twist scripture.

A plain, literal, reading of scripture shows that Christ rarley forced a person to do something, but because that doesn't fit into your category of what the church should do, you justify your practice from one, isolated (and mostly unrelated) incident. And I'm the unbiblical one!?!

Just for the record, what do you think I SHOULD force the people of my church to do? Shall they sing at gunpoint? Shall I sneak up on people to baptize them? Force-feed commununion?

Chad: Dictionary.com gives the following definitions for faithful:

1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker.
2. true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
4. reliable, trusted, or believed.
5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.
6. (Obsolete). full of faith; believing.

Any of them work for me.

Mike Riccardi said...

Arrogant is the man who thinks he knows everything that his people need.

Wrong. Arrogant is the man who thinks God hasn't been clear in telling him everything that his people need through His own clear and authoritative Word revealed in the Bible.

Does God give him a list every week titled "Bruce needs__________, Jim needs_________" Hardly.

Your arrogance before God in this statement is astounding. God has given him a body of Truth that he is to master and be mastered by. In that process, God reveals by His Spirit-illumined Word the various needs of the people. People need Truth. Plain and simple. Bruce needs Truth. Jim needs Truth.

The pastor can preach on anything. The Bible is a big book with lots of prospective material. How about finding out what the people need

They're needs are already outlined in Scripture, and God knows what they need better than your survey will. People need to have the whole counsel of God clearly and authoritatively explained, expounded, and proclaimed. So the pastor cannot preach on anything. He can only preach the Word.

(or shades of compromise want)

Compromise indeed. God is not concerned with what people want, and so neither should His ministers be. God is concerned with what He wants, and so should His ministers be.

Are Churches so carnal and immature that they can not convey to the pastor what they would like to hear/do?

Yes. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick" (Jer 17:9). But even if you cross that verse out of your Bible, it doesn't matter what they would like to hear or do. It just doesn't matter.

Are pastors so spiritual that they are the ones who can decide what the Church hears and does?

No. Pastors never decide what the Church hears and does. God decides that. Pastors proclaim what God has decided, as God has revealed what He has decided in His Word.

This issue, from my perspective has nothing to do with entertainment. It has everything to do with best way to minister to people.

The best way to minister to people is the way God instructs us to, not how those people decide it is.

Ignorance of the needs of the people is not bliss. It is a recipe for losing Church members.

Ignorance of the needs of the people does not come through absence of surveys and polls. It comes because of the neglect of the
Word of God, because -- again -- it is in the Word and Word alone that the needs of the people are revealed.

Many reformed types think the people need 60-90 minute sermons. Only the most astute sermonphile will sit happily through such a sermon.

People need the Word of God clearly expounded and taught. If that takes 60-90 minutes, then the true children of God -- the true sheep -- will hear His voice and know Him by His voice, and will love the Word being preached because it's not the voice of their pastor they're hearing, but the voice of their Savior.

It is arrogant to think one man (or 3 men) knows everything a group of people needs.

It's arrogant to think that your opinion poll knows what people need better than God Himself who's clearly revealed what people need in the Bible.

What are we afraid of?

I'm afraid of doing something God has not commanded instead of the things He has commanded.

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will (F)be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent. -- Lev 10:1-3

"I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, 'I had a dream, I had a dream!' "How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?" declares the LORD. "Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who steal My words from each other. Behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who use their tongues and declare, 'The Lord declares.' Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams," declares the LORD, "and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit," declares the LORD. -- Jer 23:25-32

Anonymous said...


You and I are so far apart I am not sure I can find any meaningful way to interact with you (if that was your intent anyway)

You have a very decided Reformed, Protestant view of doctrine and ministry. You can not envision anyone differing and still being true to the Word of God.

Yours is a small world. I used to live in that world. I understand it. I am glad I was privileged to meet other Christians in a broad context. What a diverse and wonderful body the body of Christ is.

candy said...

Bruce said:Certainly every doctrinal conclusion we come to is man's interpretation. We all interpret.

MY point is why should I accept your interpretation? In the case of the Regulative principle since I find no scriptural warrant for it at all, I conclude it is a man-made doctrine. (and I have no desire to debate the regulative principle.)

Bruce. I am curious if you preach expositorily or topically. If you do preach expositorily, I believe that preaching in this fashion reduces the private interpretation issue a great deal. Also, why are you afraid that preaching in this fashion might not speak to the hearts of the hearers?

Also, why are you so afraid that the Gospel might have a concrete interpretation, clear as the type on the page?

Anonymous said...


I have preached expositorially (most of the time) for the past 15 years. For the 15 years prior to that, I preached textually or topically.I have preached through numerous books of the Bible.

I am not sure we can ever get away from man's interpretation (good or bad) We are the sum of our experience. Our study, our books, our life experience all shape how we preach. No one ever comes to the Scripture in a neutral way. We all have biases, even ones we don't see.

I don't think I ever said expositional preaching doesn't speak to the heart. It can and does. But, I have heard a bunch of preaching in my lifetime.....good, bad and ugly. (some of the bad and ugly was my own) Some preaching is just an emotional ride. No substance but it feels good. Some preaching is nothing more than a seminary classroom. Preaching should always be aimed at the heart.

I believe the gospel is concrete and plain. It is not hidden, nor is it hidden and difficult to ascertain.

Unfortunately, when people mistake Calvinism for the gospel it is they who muddle up the precious message of God's grace.

Thank you for being a reasonable voice.

Strong Tower said...

But, but, but

emergents that is the aberrant ones are not just saying that they have different doctrine, they make it clear that all others' doctrines are unbiblical, as you did with the RPW. And by the way, I do not hold to it. I am studying it, currently half-way through re-reading Reisinger and Allen. The why is probably the same complaint as the emergents have. We do have problems. But, contrary to the emergent, many of us believe that the problems stem from too little doctrine, though, necessarily, wrong doctrine must be a concern, also. Believe me, I have had fifty-year old stuffed jackets tell me that it was arrogant to expect them to believe what I believed. But, if it is truth, why is that arrogant? Are they telling me that I do not have the right to believe it is? And is that not arrogance by the same standard, in telling me, I have to believe their truth that it is wrong to tell them to believe in mine?

Quite to the contrary of your last statement Bruce, I am not bashing the peeps, it is their doctrine. And each time I do, the response is like yours. It is not evidenced from Scripture. Like, honor those in authority, the shepherds that are given watch over your souls, submit to them. Or, charge them not to teach such things. The order in the church is also expressed by, "God is not the author of confusion." All this speaks of regulation. So when you say that their is no Scriptural warrent, I guess what you meant is that you haven't found any yet. But, it is there, whether you know about it or not.

And Phil is correct. Polls are not sin, but utilitarianism as the determinative factor of ministry surely isn't good, either. And that is what polls amount to if they determine the leading of the leadership. We would hope that the shepherds' vision is good for their flock. It cannot be assured. How sure are polls? But, this goes to the other issue, pride. Why is it that the sheperds are assumed wrong? And, what if the shepherd is using polls simply to decieve the people into thinking that he cares? What this simply boils down to is a rejection of authority by people who believe in egalitarian principles and not the Biblical principle of submission.

Anonymous said...

Strong Tower,

I guess that honor and respect thing only applies to ministers you agree with?

We are a bit off topic so I will stop at this point. You are 22.

A stuff shirt 50 yr old

Thank you for the discussion.

Strong Tower said...


I did not make a difinitive statement about all that characterized the life of Christ. But your Welcome statement did, and it is not exclusive as you state, it is all inclusive. It is not I who twisted the Scripture, and you lept off the deep end of logic by bringing in another aspect of God's sovereignty, his determinative will. The point is that in the Church there are certain rules, even for visitors. And you may not like the fact that Jesus does what he wants with his own, but the Scripture clearly makes him Lord over his Church and her children, like, another example, Do this in rememberance of me." I suppose that was just not characteristic of Christ! Are you serious that God does not command us by his Word and that it does not go forth and accomplish that thing which it was sent to do and will not return to him void, and are you serious that you can take the next step and he has not determined it? Posh, you do not know the Word of God, then. My one example is all that I needed to exterminate your definitition of Christ as infected with bias. But, I have about ten thousand others, unless of course you do not believe that Christ is his Word, that is, all that was written in the Law the Psalms and the Prophets, concerning Him.

Strong Tower said...

Actually, Bruce, I am 56 and the stuffed shirt was a bigotted pridefilled Deacon who spit the church over worship styles and kinds of out reach ministries.

I had respect for him until he positted that the truth was only a matter of opinion.

Anonymous said...

Strong Tower,

Sorry about the age. Now I would say you are old enough to know better :)

Thanks for the discussion.


Drew said...

strong tower: I never said that Christ does not command. Of course he does. I said he does not force, and then you said he does.

Strong Tower said...

Thanks, even for the rebuke, and double smiles back at ya.


threegirldad said...

Bruce to Mike Riccardi: Yours is a small world. I used to live in that world. I understand it. I am glad I was privileged to meet other Christians in a broad context. What a diverse and wonderful body the body of Christ is.

Ahhh, yes. Charity at its finest...

Strong Tower said...

Well, look at it like this. The whips were used to force. End of subject. But, we can take his word as force, such as, "Do not fear him who can destroy the body, fear Him who can destroy both the body and soul in hell." I guess one might characterize that as a gentle invitation to obedience, but I don't. And the Scripture says that fear is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. And perhaps we could get into a discussion on how fear is a vital part of love of the Father, but we would just keep going at this and prove the Scripture correct that in the multitude of words there lacks no evil thing.

One of the points of Phil's post, I think, oh a mind is a terrible thing to loose, I wanna call you, Larry, it has been so long and we've gone so far away, was that the Word of God is sufficient in its instruction on how to conduct the business of worship. Why do we need mechanistic devices that are extra-biblical to understand what is required in worship? Why do we need games or toys or sweet honey, teachers and teachings to tickle our fancy, when all that it does is attract flies. Now, this may sound silly, but the Cross is not inviting, but forboding. It is shame to be associated with it. It is foolishness, and a stumbling block. To the perishing is stinks. It is not fun and games, but war. And our job, should you "choose" to accept it, is to train soldiers to die for Christ's sake. Silly huh? Seriously.

Chris said...


Don't you see the big picture in all of your so-called "open-minded" comments and the striking parallels between them and a host of downright pagan, new age movements afoot today? Its all about openness and inclusion and expanding our worlds and "ohmm." With all of your experience in Christendom, as some sort of teacher/pastor, you sound as though you think you know all there is to know and have decided that you needed a promotion of sorts--out of that "small world" you mentioned. Hence, your apparant boredom with the Christian familiar has led you to "expand" or "progress" or "emerge" your thinking (and theology) into the ecumenical and spiritual exotic. Let me guess, you probably think yogi's and Dharmas have something valuable we should include in our ongoing, developing "conversation" as well? In what denomination are you a church leader anyhow? From which denomination did you come? The answers to these questions would help clarify a good deal for us.

A fifty-something huh? It occurred to me the other day that emergents are a mixed bag generationally when one considers the combination of baby-boomers who tend to be the leaders (although the EC denies the existence of leaders) and the gen X'ers or younger who both lead and follow within the movement. They are all postmodern, and the baby-boomer, ex-hippies get a chance to relive and revive the ideologies of protest, freedom, and eastern spirituality once again (as though they didn't do enough damage to our social fabric the first time around); the gen xer's and younger are the offspring of members in the aforementioned generation who fall into two camps: those with parents who were contributors of the social chaos and have thus raised their children with the same quasi-values they had, or those with parents who were opposed to it and found themselves trying to protect their children (to a fault), causing them to seriously rebel from all their perceived oppression. What do they all have in common? They all want to protest and liberate themselves...just like you have expressed in your posts.

Just like the attraction among college students to the self-proclaimed liberators of conformity on university campuses (professors), who are likewise baby-boomers, the kids who are in desperate need of solid role models find their examples in these clowns. This is happening in the EC wherein leaders are baby-boomers; the EC "communities" or "churches" led by the gen xers and younger are even worse, as it is a "lord of the flies" world in these places.

I'm so glad to hear how proud you are of expanding your mind to be more inclusive (not); however, did you ever notice that you are merely repeating the mantras of popular culture and its current fascination with the spiritual anything and everything? Oh, I forgot...EC folks find great joy in following popular culture in every way, shape, and form they can..

Anonymous said...


I am sure you realize you are judging my motives without knowing anything abut me?

Yes, I have a lot of ministerial experience. Comes with being 50. What it has taught me is that I DON'T know everything. I know far less than I did at age 21.At 21, I was arrogant and a know it all. At 50, I am less arrogant and certainly less certain of some things.

I am not bored with Christianity. I AM sickened by the state of Christianity in the west and I do see the emerging Church as an honest attempt to restore health to a dying Western Church.Time will tell if this will be a success.

I love truth wherever it is found. To say we can learn "nothing" from any others but those who are in the same rut as us is arrogant.The Dali Lama just might teach us a thing or two.

Why the interest in my denominational pedigree? It will tell you nothing about me. It will tell you where I have been but not where I am. But for those keeping score. Raised a Baptist. Trained a Baptist. Pastored Ind. Baptist, Southern Baptist and Reformed/Sovereign Grace Baptist. Pastored a non-denominational Church.

Currently seeking where/what God would have us do.

My inclusiveness is not rooted in the spirit of the age. It is rooted in the command that we "all be one." I am sickened by the continued divisiveness within the body of Christ. I am sickened over my own involvement in that divisiveness for many years.


Barna found while 63 percent of Americans do not believe in truth, 53 percent of evangelicals don't either.

survey side note: 63 percent of Americans and 53 percent of evangelicals doubted Barna's findings above. Upon further inquiry- many participants surveyed admitted they were either postmodern or Emergent.

WhimsicalMadCap said...

"survey side note: 63 percent of Americans and 53 percent of evangelicals doubted Barna's findings above"-----LMTO! This is choice, All4! (You didn't make that up, did you? ROTFL!)

Daryl said...

"The Dali Lama might teach us a thing or two"

And maybe we might find some good sandwich meat in the dumpster behind a restaurant, but do we really want to take the risk of contracting disease that way?
What we know for sure is that the Dali Lama can teach us nothing of any importance relating to God and what he requires of us.

A wolf could help us herd sheep too, I mean, if you let the wolf get in behind the sheep, they'll definitely run the way you want them to run. Does that justify allowing the wolf into the pasture?

As relates to the original post, you can change the direction of the sheep by letting another wolf into the other end of the field (as WC has done) but why not kill the wolves and do the work of directing the sheep yourself by following the shepherding manual God has given us?

(Incidentally, the really big issue with saying that we can learn from the Dali Lama, or Brian McLaren, or Rob Bell etc., is that when given insights from a particular person, most people will take that as a recommendation of that person and their teaching in general, and that is a very dangerous position to put our people in.)

anonymous said...


"The Dali Lama just might teach us a thing or two. "

Bruce, please read the following quotes and then tell me what the Dalai Lama could possibly teach you. Psalm 14 says "The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God.”

Bruce, you are supposed to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ. I will pray that the Lord will open your eyes to the truth that you are so desperately seeking. Bruce, you will be held accountable for the untruths that you teach the Lord's sheep. Please be careful about what you are teaching His sheep. This should not be happening in my Lord's church. I am grieved.

“The Buddha was silent on the question of God. What about you?”...Dalai Lama: “Why did the Buddha not say anything about God? Because he talked about the law of causality. Once you accept the law of cause and effect, the implication is that there is no 'creator'. If the Buddha accepted the concept of a creator, he would not have been silent; everything would have been God!”…”Who caused the law of causality?”…Dalai Lama: “About that, the Buddha would say 'the mind', never God or dharmakaya or even the Buddha himself.”…”How did the mind come about?”…Dalai Lama: “The source of mind is nature. The word that been used for existence is 'interdependent arising'. Talking of God, who created God? There is no point arguing. “

The Dalai Lama points out that the central point of Buddhist thinking is the principle of interdependence. From this position an absolute truth is untenable as is the concept of a divine creator.

Dalai Lama: "Jesus Christ also lived previous lives," he said. "So, you see, he reached a high state, either as a Bodhisattva, or an enlightened person, through Buddhist practice or something like that. Then, at a certain period, certain era, he appeared as a new master, and then because of circumstances, he taught certain views different from Buddhism, but he also taught the same religious values as I mentioned earlier: Be patient, tolerant, compassionate. This is, you see, the real message in order to become a better human being." He said that there was absolutely no lying involved since Jesus' motivation was to help people.”

...Bruce...I responded to you in a longer reply on your website.

Solameanie said...




The Social Gospel might have been planted in the 1920s (some say even earlier, LOL) but in the 1960s it came to full fruition.


It seems to be that you are getting your viewpoints about interpretation and truth more from Derrida than you are from Scripture. The whole thing about "interpretation" is a wonderful way that Emergents love to use in order to weasel out of Scripture's hard truths. If truth is determined by your cultural surroundings, everything is up for grabs.

These guys can say they accept core doctrinal truths all they like, but in practice it's very hard to see. Robert Schuller used to love to wave a Reformed doctrinal statement at the camera when people would press him on some of his statements, insisting that he believed the Reformed doctrinal statement. But when he says that Jesus died on the cross to sanctify our ego trip, what does that do to his claims?

And while I am at it, those on the EC end of the spectrum like to accuse those of us who adhere to core doctrine and orthopraxis (not to mention believing in absolute, objective truth) as "arrogant." You should examine some of your own statements here and see how arrogant some of your own statements come across. You've arrived and the rest of us are flat earthers. That's honestly how you come across, and how many Emergents come across. Their pride is in their uncertainty.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Bruce writes: "Unfortunately, when people mistake Calvinism for the gospel it is they who muddle up the precious message of God's grace."

Spurgeon wrote: "Calvinism did not spring from Calvin. We believe that it sprang from the great Founder of all truth."

Note to Bruce: It's a challenge to tread a path between being too divisive and too diluting-down inclusive (in the name of uncertainty).

Solameanie has it right with: "Their pride is in their uncertainty."


Mike Riccardi said...


My heart breaks for those like you who think the Bible is a small world and theirs is bigger.

My inclusiveness is not rooted in the spirit of the age. It is rooted in the command that we "all be one." I am sickened by the continued divisiveness within the body of Christ.

Are you sickened at the divisiveness of Jesus?

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. -Jn 14:6

Are you sickened at the divisiveness of Peter?

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12

Are you sickened at the divisiveness of Paul?

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. ... I wrote you in my letter (not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. - 1Cor 5:6-7, 9-13

For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. - 1Cor 11:19

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. -- Gal 2:11ff

Are you sickened at the divisiveness of John?

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. -- 2 John 9-11

The command that "we all be one" can't happen by blurring the lines and becoming inclusive. Unity that's not based on Truth is a sham. True unity comes from the Word of God.


Carl (not Jung)said the Dalai Lama is a "big hitter" -Bruce, care to confirm that?

I checked out Bruce's site yesterday and it's EC of course (not that theres anything wrong w/ that)- click on the link "Square No More" its Phil Wyman's site (friend of Doable Evangelism- a Brian Mclaren outreach) shhhh NOBODY KNOWS! Especially "Helen" (and she works there) :0)- anyhow-Last weekend Phil is hangin' w/ the Druids&Witches enjoying a pint of ale. Weren't the Druids into human sacrifice back in the day? I guess if you bring the beer to the "gathering" your aura is protected. :)
How bigga boys are those Druid people anyhow?

Anonymous said...

I guess if you bring the beer to the "gathering" your aura is protected. :)

For some reason this reminds me of the Friar Tuck character in that otherwise awful Kevin Costner take on Robin Hood:

"This is grain. Any fool can make grain into bread, but the Lord has intended a more divine purpose for grain. Therefore, let us talk today about BEER!"


Stefan Ewing said...

I spent years trying to find the truth in all manner of belief systems apart from the way of Jesus Christ. I can say without reservation that while the ways of deception are many, there is only one narrow path that leads to salvation.

And lo, what do we see in Scripture? Over and over again, people walking down all those various ways of deception, rejecting the narrow path.

Thus says the Lord:
"Stand by the roads, and look,
     and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
     and find rest for your souls.
But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'"

(Jeremiah 6:16)

Stefan Ewing said...

Even other branches of Christianity came up wanting for me, though I would not go so far as to say that one cannot find salvation in them. But in the end, the only body of teaching that brought this sinner to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ were the tenets and doctrines of historical, orthodox, old-fashioned, Gospel-preaching, Grace-teaching, Scripture-based, Pauline-Augustinian reformed Protestantism.

Stefan Ewing said...

Someone who grew up or spent his adult life in that tradition might not appreciate the value of his inheritance. He might be tempted to graze other pastures, where the grass looks greener. But as one who started out in those other pastures, let me say that they're not all that.

Phil Johnson said...

Regarding Bruce:

Bruce Gerencser was at one time a fundamentalist Baptist pastor of the "Sword of the Lord" variety. In the 1990s, he abandoned that and experimented briefly with Calvinism. I knew him in those days through a couple of on-line forums. He was a tenderhearted and passionate man who had been shredded by independent Baptist fundamentalists. He had a young daughter with Down syndrome (who is a teenager now). From the time I first met Bruce, I liked him a great deal. I had had some firsthand experience with the same branch of fundamentalism that had savaged him, so I had lots of empathy for him.

My advice to Bruce straightaway was that he should leave Internet forums where theology was treated primarily as fodder for debate and spend some time reading, studying, feeding his soul, and building his faith on a stable foundation of firm convictions.

Sadly, Bruce did not take that advice, nor did he remain Calvinistic long. It seemed to me that the excessive zeal with which some Calvinists like to pursue arguments about theological fine points was reminiscent (for Bruce) of the mindlessly militant fundamentalism he had recently left, and he soon responded by turning against Calvinism, too—and ultimately by rejecting militancy of every kind.

Bruce's own spiritual journey illustrates why such a position is untenable.

Read his blog these days and you might get the impression the only people with whom Bruce now has any theological quarrel are those who are still more conservative than he. And (predictably but ironically) that group gets larger as Bruce's views radicalize—so in the end, he probably spends as much time engaging in polemical wars over theology as he always did. He is apparently out of the ministry today and says he has "little hope [he] will ever pastor in an Evangelical Church again." He now supports the legalization of recreational drugs; he recently voted against a bill to regulate adult entertainment in Ohio ("We are TIRED of the morality police in Ohio."); and he has declared himself a "Red Letter Christian," meaning he no longer believes all Scripture is equally inspired and authoritative.

Bruce is one of a handful of people I know who have undergone repeated overhauls of their fundamental belief systems over several years' time, never really adopting any settled worldview for much more than 18 months in a stretch. I've mentioned before that I think that kind of serial paradigm-shifting is seriously dangerous, and eventually I intend to write a post (or a series) about it. In the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to give Pyro readers who don't know Bruce some insight into who he is, where he has come from, and why his views are so radical.

Let Bruce be a reminder to all of us that while we're debating these issues, we need to handle the truth prayerfully and carefully and not engage in debates over trivia just for sport. The tone of this blog is often polemic, and that's deliberate. But we do try to deal with large and important issues, not trivial and tertiary ones. Moreover, despite our frequent injections of humor into our writing, we are not arguing theology just for fun. No one should ever be tempted to regard theological debate as a mere recreational exercise.

It's not.

Anonymous said...

ygdIt's too late for a post like that, Phil. You and your blog is doing just what you pretend to caution others against, out of the left side of your mouth - while the way you do things here with your pomotivators and snarky little photoshop graphics definitely set the tone for "debating trivia for sport." It's funny that you see someone like Bruce as not really giving calvinism a chance when the actuality might be that he gave it as much of a chance as it warranted, in and of itself. Calvinism isn't attractive by any stretch of the imagination, as this blog shows me time and time again. In order to develope an acquired taste for Calvinism, one has to pretend that bad is good and that God's "goodness" is really brutal thuggery and for some mysterious (but wordy) reason, brutal thuggery is actualy wonderful and good when God does it, and so Calvinists engage in it as well - as this blog shows in every post. So don't post the above claptrap with a heavy heart - it's the monster people like you continue to create.


Lord rein me in.
Lord reign over me.

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

WARREN and TRACI Lotter ________________ said...


When I was teaching high school in the early 90's, one of my collegues pronounced one day that he was going to start his own religion because all other religion's were primarily judgemental. It was actually a dig at me since I was open about my faith. I pointed out that his idea was flawed from the start since his own religion would have as it's foundation a judgement, a point he couldn't see. Unfortunately even to say someone is judgemental is to pass judgement. Your response reminded me of that incident.

Phil Johnson said...


I think you missed my point. Jude 3 still applies. I'm not a "red-letter Christian," nor am I suggesting that Mr. Gerencser's ideas about what is essential and what's trivial are a sound rule. On the contrary.

In fact, one of my main points is that doctrine per se isn't inherently trivial and theological disagreements should not be regarded either as merely a fun pastime or as an utter waste of time. Certain doctrines are eternally significant, and at this blog we're not arguing about them for sport.

On the other hand, as I've said repeatedly before, if someone here thinks I'm guilty of "brutal thuggery," then show how and why with actual quotations and rational reasons. Haphazard shots across the bow (like your remarks) always miss. That's what happens, by definition, when you aim at a nonexistent target.

DJP said...

I say it's mean of you to demand proof of your meanness.

Solameanie said...

Hey, I thought that I was the "meanie" around here! :<

DJP said...

Yeah, but you're mean in specific ways.

Chris said...

Bruce (and Phil, after sharing some of Bruce's story),

Thanks for providing some of your background, as I now see where your present perspective comes from Bruce. I am truly saddened to hear about the pain you have experienced over the years, and I will pray for healing of your heart, mind, and spirit. While I am heartbroken over the pain you've experienced as a result of external sources and/or circumstances, please be reminded that our adversary, the Devil, uses such situations to strike the hardest. When this happens, as you know, the greatest threat to our spiritual health comes from within. So much of what I hear in your anger is inwardly-focused, like the world, yet convinced of its seemingly outward interests--which is such an emergent characteristic.

I compassionately say to you that what you express in your posts reflects the fact that Satan has indeed and already striken your heart and has shaped your perceptions. We are all vulnerable to His firery darts and none of us should ever think we stand (on our own) lest we fall, but going straight to the purity of His Word--especially the passages of scripture (i.e. Hebrews) that ECer's like to alter or ignore--is where we find rest for our souls. The unitarian/new age/postmodern/ecumenical/EC approach in which you've absorbed yourself (and only you or those who know your website know what others) has clearly not provided the rest you seek...as is so clear in the tone of your posts. Again, I'm not in any way being sarcastic; I sincerely care about you and those over whom you may have influence. From a seemingly logical standpoint--a human standpoint--and not a biblical standpoint, it makes perfect sense that all of this spiritual rubbish the world sells with a promise that 'bad feelings' won't be included if you subscribe to them has an appeal to you--you've been through quite a bit in your life! However, go to the source of living water, not the cesspools of pagan ideology and spiritualism. The Lord on High knows precisely how to deal with your soul (and you know He does), but you also know what He requires: a humble heart and a bended knee before Him and His authority. Please do not mistake the pain in your heart as humility, which is so easy to do when we are hurting, as it is often the most severe pride that is fueled by Satan's deception.

Again, do you notice that so many of the same comments (i.e. thinking patterns) you make are likewise made by those who are declaredly, openly, and even proudly lost by their own admission of subscribing to multiple belief systems and/or downright athesim--university professors, new age spiritualists, and modern witches just to name a few groups. And they believe themselves to be so humble, open, free. Do they not have a wicked heart as Proverbs tells us we all do? Like anyone who pridefully denies the living God and His authority, they would find great offense in the very suggestion that they are anything less than benevolent seekers of goodness...and that 'goodness' just pours out of them because they have committed themselves to unity. Makes as much sense as "peace on earth" in 2007. Humbly seek the Lord Jesus Christ through the authority of His Living Word (all of the words) while He may be found Bruce; there is nothing He won't forgive. We are all sinners in desperate need of His Grace and Mercy.

James Scott Bell said...

Well, as resident Arminian here, I can say one of the reasons I frequent this site is the mix of seriousness and wimsy managed by the principals. While I may not share the systematic underpinnings of the basic theology, I do appreciate the approach to important issues. As Phil says, it is not for sport. But it IS enjoyable to read.

And it's, for want of a better term, manly. You know what? I don't think there's a better term. I have written abou the feminization of the church, about the preference for feeling over rationality. I don't think I'd change the term after all. I celebrate it, and my name isn't even John Eldredge.

"Snarky" only equals "brutal thuggery" or "a monster" in the realm of "feelings." Just make a case and be done with it, and if possible use a little wit.

JustJan said...

Our church is also using this survey now. I should have guessed that Willow Creek had developed it.

Responses to questions are clearly designed to put people into their preconceived catagories.

There are many questions where my response would not neatly fit into the answers they provided.

There is NO open response area to add any sort of comments about the questions or the survey. There is no place that allows you to give any sort of feedback about the survey either.

The survey is open to tampering. By this I mean that a person or group of people could take the survey multiple times to skew the survey results.

As I took the survey I printed out most of the screens so that I could share the survey with other members so that they had a better understanding of the overall flavor of the survey before they answered it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Stefan wrote: "But in the end, the only body of teaching that brought this sinner to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ were the tenets and doctrines of historical, orthodox, old-fashioned, Gospel-preaching, Grace-teaching, Scripture-based, Pauline-Augustinian reformed Protestantism."

I totally agree with Stefan. And I'd like to build on his comment by asking a question: I am not keen on the following religions:

Liberal Mainline Protestantism,
Charismatic Chaos (See Earl Paulk)
Emergent Church
Roman Catholicism
Eastern Orthodoxy
Jehovah's Witness
New Ageism

Having said all that, should I accept the criticism that I am being too divisive? Not inclusive enough?

P.S. In my charitable, wincing-on the-inside self I regard liberal mainline Prots, Catholics, EO's, emergents, charismatics as fellow siblings in Christ. And if they're open to it, discipling them over to a "historical, orthodox, old-fashioned, Gospel-preaching, Grace-teaching, Scripture-based, Pauline-Augustinian reformed Protestantism."

Solameanie said...


I really appreciate that last comment. It reminds me so much of what C.S. Lewis and his Inklings co-horts tried to do in the Socratic Club at Oxford. One week, an atheist or agnostic would show up and read a paper, followed by critiques from the Oxford Christians such as Lewis. The following week, the believers would read a paper and the doubters would critique. As they put it at the time, strong, sound, hearty, masculine debate, where no one had to worry about hurt feelings and whining.

I would love to see how an Emergent would fare at a Socratic Club meeting.

Drew said...

If you are willing to convene one, I am willing to show up (on-line or in person).

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I would love to see how an Emergent would fare at a Socratic Club meeting." (Solameanie)

An Emergent and a LibProt would cry their eyes dry because their their shallow thinking was refuted, their feelings hurt, and the only way to try and salvage the socratic discussion is to try and make you feel bad for making them cry so hard.

Then the Conservative Evangelical has to spend odious amounts of time second-guessing himself or herself over whether the truthful refutation could have been expressed more softly, gently, and lovingly to the whining, crying, and complaining LibProt and Emergent.

"Why are you crying? All I said was that I couldn't agree with you. That's all I said!

Can't I say that I can't agree with you? Or do I always have to agree with you? Why do I feel like I'm being bullied by an Emergent or LibProt who always claims victimhood?

Alright, alright! Stop crying. Let's all agree that Jesus loves everybody. Do you feel better now Mr. Emergent and Miss LibProt?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Saw this on a blog:

Christ died for the elect and for the elect only; that the value and design or application, the sufficiency and efficiency of it are the same; that Christ in no sense whatsoever died for any that shall perish in hell

The most pernicious doctrine ever. If Christ didn't die for all, the gospel isn't for all. If the gospel isn't for all, then God commanded the apostles to lie. For he says "go preach the gospel to every creature"--but if it isn't for all, if Jesus didn't die for all, he is commanding them to preach a lie. Calvinism calls God a liar, and is therefore neither true nor Christian. It is not just a defective Christian theory, but is is Satanic in origin and will damn all who subscribe to it, for they will blaspheme God every day saying "Jesus only died for some."

Since I believe in "L" in TULIP, I disagree with that commenter's characterization. But I post it so as to alert folks that there is STRONG antagonism to strawman understandings of Calvinism/Reform theology.

Drew said...

yes truth, that is exactly what I would do.