03 September 2008


by Phil Johnson

itness the changing tune (if you can make it out above the background noise).

Tony Jones in 2004:

"Emergent is trying to do something else, something new. We are not trying to get back to what Luther and Calvin were doing. We are not attempting to recover primitivist views of scripture, like the Anabaptists. . . . [T]he emerging church movement has more in common with liberationist thought than it does with the Reformation. That is, we are on a quest to unmask how the gospel has been used to serve the (often oppressive) interests of those who are already in charge. Comments from those in comfortable positions of power, like those above, are to be expected, for they show the subtle ways in which we will be marginalized. But we will not allow ourselves to be marginalized, to be labeled as 'left,' 'right,' 'angry,' or 'immature.' No, we have been disenfranchized. We have taken the blue pill, and there's no going back."

Tony Jones today:

"While you may have differences of opinion with me, I think it’s truly impossible to say that I have landed on a place that is outside of historic, Christian orthodoxy."

Andrew Jones (Tall Skinny Kiwi) swore off the term Emerging Church earlier this week.

Dan Kimball is apparently trying to pull together a smaller, more manageable movement of progressive thinkers who share a theological commonality—i.e., who won't constantly embarrass him. (As Calvin would say: Good luck.) Better yet, Kimball has moved beyond his former Nicene-Creed-oriented minimalism and has decided the Lausanne Covenant "seems broad enough."

I think the old "emerging" movement is collapsing on itself. (See also Scot McKnight's current CT article titled "McLaren Emerging.") That doesn't necessarily mean better things are on the horizon, because I don't think all the recent scrambling, repositioning, and redefining really represents any significant change of thinking among any of these leading figures in the erstwhile "movement." Instead, it's mostly an attempt to move the furniture around, so that everyone has a comfy-chair or sofa to hide behind when critics start pointing out the inappropriateness of the paintings, posters, and graffiti Emergent Village types have hung all over the walls.

Still, I do think its good that these guys (who have never really all been on the same page doctinally, and who generally seemed to think that was a Really Good Thing) are now having to admit—albeit tacitly—that the mischief inherent in that kind of latitudinarianism is not merely fun 'n' interesting, but serious, weighty, and deadly dangerous.

I also harbor a vague hope that all the redecorating being done by these ex-Emerging leaders will cause some of their followers to rethink whether it's really safe to follow someone into the future who always wants to redesign the ambience and change to a new song before the old one finishes playing.

Phil's signature


Keith said...

I think I am more pessimistic about what the future entails for the "Movement formerly known as Emergent." (Now, if only I could design some weird symbol for those people like Prince did I'd be famous.)

The fracturing of the Emergent movement will likely lead some of those involved, perhaps some of those at the forefront, into ever increasing heterodoxy and heteropraxy. Not that there was ever much present, but any semblance of accountability over the individual parties is now lost. The depravity of sinful man will find a fuller expression and these folks will soon discredit themselves further. I hope, as you do, that this will lead to an examination of the theologies espoused, and a turn on the part of the individual to orthodox Christianity.

Unfortunately, I see this as leading some even further from the truth, instead of towards it. Fortunately, a sovereign God is in control.

Rick Frueh said...

Cotton candy tastes good for a fraction of a second and then is gone. And the nutrional value of said cotton candy is zero. It is pretty and big, comes in different colors, and is interesting to watch as someone makes it. In the end it is good for carnivals and fairs, but no one eats it at the dinner table.

Much of the emergent movement has set up shop at the carnival and are feeding on cotton candy while villifying the dinner table. It is true that some of the meat at the evangelical dinner table was overdone and tough, some had grown cold, and some had too much fat. But, sadly, instead of recooking that meat correctly, many stood up and left the table for the doctrinal county fair.

And true to form these doctrinal fairs are set up temporarily, they offer many colorful rides, and they offer many types of artery clogging foods. These fairs were never meant as a place to actually live, but many have set up doctrinal communes and invited people to leave the protection of their Biblical houses and "take a walk on the wild side".

Eventually cotton candy will kill you.

Anonymous said...

Somehow the thought of the Emergent movement as a rotting corpse being consumed by maggots isn't as revolting as the movement itself.

Anonymous said...

One thought I had regarding this transmogrification of the emerg*** movement - all of the earlier publications, statements, blogs, etc are still out there and still being read and embraced by a still increasingly Biblically-illiterate evangelical community. And will be for years and years. That's the legacy left by a movement like this, regardless of how much it eventually collapses and destroys itself and is discredited. And especially so in our age of hyper-media. Error that has been published must be refuted far into the future as new and naive people take up and read.

DJP said...

Phil...the old "emerging" movement....

Subtle irony is the most delicious form.

FX Turk said...

um ...

... it's a sign from God?

Rick Frueh said...

Since you are in California, we easterners wonder is that maid in the picture legal? :)

timb said...

What I am amazed at is that Jones worked so hard to tell us in his Wheaton paper Christian orthodoxy is not "state-able", we are all a little heterodoxical, orthodoxy is dynamic, you cannot say orthodoxy "is", and you cannot point and say 'there is orthodoxy'.

Now, he wants people to look at him and say "Yes there is orthodoxy". First, Jones tells us you cannot land on an 'is' for orthodoxy... now he tells us he "is" orthodox and calls to the carpet any who say he isn't orthodox. For us to judge whether or not Jones is in bounds on historic Christian orthodoxy, orthodoxy has to more than mere event...it has to be 'state-able'.

Mike Westfall said...

Dynamic Orthodoxy!

It's Biblical! See Ephesians 4:14.

Nash Equilibrium said...

So, what would the movement's new name be?
The Retreating Church?
The "What Were We Thinking?" Church?

Andrew Jones said...

hey - remember we are talking about 2 Joneses here.

fact: the movement formerly known as emerging has grown into a massive size and has even made it all the way to USA. Took a while, though.

Phil, words change and lose their meaning [can you still use "fundamentalist" in today's America?] but the ministry of the timeless story of the gospel continues. Having been involved now in overseas missions for over 2 decades, doing pretty much the same thing and yet watching people call it different things until i told them the name needs changing, i would hope people will imitate me as they see me imitating Christ and not because a label gets attached to me.

we will no doubt have this conversation in a few years when "missional" comes to mean "mindless syncretist" but please know that I will still be just doing what God has commanded of me and that is to go into the world and make disciples.

whatever you call it or dont call it.

timb said...

So there are 'two sets of Joneses standing today'? Sorry couldn't resist a bad pun to the song. Obviously I was referring to Tony Jones' comments. I meant no disrespect to anyone by just saying 'Jones'. And I didn't mean for us to confuse the two.

Rick Frueh said...

Orthodoxy is just a way of saying "right thinking" which is used to mean teachings that are within certain parameters identified as Biblically sound. If you suggest there is no identifyable orthodoxy, you are in effect suggesting the Scriptures are unclear about anything.

If the Scriptures are declared to be wet and unmolded clay, then the interpreter can take those Scriptures and sculpt them into whatever he desires. Do you see what has happened? The authority now rests with the interpreter rather than the Scriptures.

It is worth noting that even among those of us who believe aggressively in the doctrinal essence of the written revelation, there is disagreement about many things. And if that occurs with sola scriptura camps, what can we assume will happen when people interpret the Scriptures with not only no agreed upon orthodoxy, but among those who deny that orthodoxy even exists in the Scriptures.

I do believe the emergent church will eventually fall under the weight of its vacillating foundation. I am apprehensive of what movement will them emerge in its place. What may emerge may surprise you, it just may be a great and massive humanitarian movement that appears benevolent but has abandoned Christ.

Mike Westfall said...

Well, if the Emerging Church stagnates, it wouldn't be "emerging" any more. So, fresh orthodoxy is needed to keep the church emerging.

Semper Emergando

Solameanie said...


I think there are already problems that have arisen with the term "missional" and what it means. If you mean simply the church interacting with the community and taking every opportunity to present the Gospel as you demonstrate Christ's love in action, I think we're fine. However, if by "missional" you mean in essence the same old 1960s liberal social Gospel tricked out in a new outfit, we have problems.

When the same people use the same buzzwords, I am sorry, but my klaxon starts going off.

Stefan Ewing said...

Palettes of colours; wet clay; and above all cotton candy: brother Rick, you certainly have a way with the metaphors!

Phil Johnson said...

Tim Bertolet:

Thanks for the link back to your blog. I see you dealt with this yesterday, and I'm late to the party. Excellent post.

I appreciated your point about T.Jones singling out "young Calvinists." (Does that exclude an old Calvinist like me?)

I think if any of the "young Calvinists" have been listening to the Emergent Podcast, Tony Jones might be surprised and embarrassed at the number of unorthodoxies they're going to be able to document. He might regret having thrown down that challenge.

Then again, probably not. My read on Jones is that he would argue that the term "unorthodox" can't legitimately be applied to anyone who is basically Trinitarian.

. . . which of course is why the Nicene-Creed-only standard of "orthodoxy" is practically worthless for measuring anyone's faithfulness to Scripture--especially in these postmodern times.

Chris said...


"i would hope people will imitate me as they see me imitating Christ and not because a label gets attached to me"

Yes, except for one minor little detail: Christ's message was relentlessly aimed at calling people to REPENT of their SIN--to live a life with a vertical focus towards God, not man, which allows believers to see the glory of God high and lifted up in His rightful place of Holiness. Such a focus allows His people to walk humbly before His righteousness and to become transformed by the renewing of their minds, thus giving them the desire to run far from the world's philosophies, worthless vanities, and passing fancies.

Of course, this is the stuff that exists, and has always existed, in faithful congregations around the world, some of which are quite small and full of simple folks who indeed live humbly before a God they love and fear. You know, the places where emergents (or whatever the new word is for the silly movement of rebellion) hope and think people need to become more "progressive" and "evolve" their "archaic" practices and perspectives with postmodern times. The churches liberals/emergents/postmoderns find utterly worthless are the places where true believers are committed to rejecting the world's ways and praising God with continual repentance and forgiveness of sin, always ready to call sin for what it is in plain language because they have such a clear sense of its condemming penalty before God's righteous throne--not reducing the grave reality and consequences of sin down to manipulative wordplay that suggests it is little more than a matter of "broken relationships". It is only because they understand the darkness of sin--their own sin--and repent of it, do they have "authentic" love of their glorious savior!

Kai said...


Strong Tower said...

So Andrew, you don't like to be called Christ like? Or is it you don't want the label just the idea understood? Tell us again how you convey the meaning of an idea without labels? And when people ask you why you do what you do do you us the term Christ? Isn't that a label? Its not a name, its a title, a label. How do you explain the hope that is in you without labels?

If this is evangelism and missions in Europe is, please take it back.

I'm jonesing man, I gotta get a fix.

Andrew Jones said...

polycarp TOTALLY misses it but strongtower asks a good question:
Tell us again how you convey the meaning of an idea without labels?

You guys obviously dont understand much about evangelical missions in Europe so why dont i share with you my dilemma and have you offer me a label.

lets say a young person from your church comes over to Europe for a short term mission with one of our projects or associated programs. we try to explain that the churches we are starting are DIFFERENT, a bit like the early churches in the New Testament. They say OK but when they arrive they have some problems.

Where is the building, they ask. Oh explain, we have no budget for buildings and we generally meet in existing spaces. We have called that organic, simple, house church, emerging, emergent, and many other names but all of those will confuse your supporters back home so you will have to find a name that works

where is the paid pastor of this church? they ask. Oh, we believe in following the example of Paul in not demanding money from converts so we also start enterprises to make ministries more sustainable - like Paul did with tentmaking.

and we also believe in the priesthood of all believers so hiring a "pastor" [which we see as a spiritual gift and function rather than a professional office] is not one of our practises.

how will i explain this to my church without offending them or causing miscommunication? they ask.

i dont really know. words work for a while then someone screws them up.

maybe the commenters at pyros could suggest a name or maybe we will just keep on sharing the story of Christ and discipling people to be his followers and let the people back home come out and actually see it and make up their own mind rather than believing everything they read.

Bike Bubba said...

I couldn't get past the fact that this pastor is bragging about taking the little blue pill. What a brilliant picture of the "vigor" of emergent "theology".

Strong Tower said...


They only get screwed up when you will not take a stand to defend them. And couldn't it be that since you distrust words, it is in reality you who have screwed them up in the first place?

By the way, your theology, is a theology, a bad one and poorly supported by Scripture but a theology nonetheless. You are an ideologue, and the reality as you have put it is that you are a creative ideologue even going so far as to suggest that new terminology be invented willy-nilly as is most convenient for the propagation of your particular fundamentalism. But, that isn't going to create the very thing you wish to avoid, the necessity of explaining what you mean?

I'm jonesing again...

FX Turk said...


The life cycle of "emergent" was 10 years -max-. Comparing that to "fundamentalist" (which still has some traction) which has spanned a century seems a little enthusiastic.

Andrew Jones said...

The life cycle of "emergent" was 10 years -max-.

you see the problem - we in the field of evangelical mission have been using both emergent and emerging for many decades but especially since 1968.

if you confuse the american movement of the 90's with the global movement over my lifetime, then again . . this is why the word is a bad one to use in USA but fine for the rest of the world.

and strong tower, you say "
By the way, your theology, is a theology, a bad one and poorly supported by Scripture but a theology nonetheless."

are you picking on me because I am a Baptist? or working parttime with the Anglicans? Or because of my commitment to the Lausanne Covenant and Statement of Faith of the WEA?

Which of these is poor?

Or are you referring to my understanding of the ministry of Paul in the Book of Acts in which he did not start sunday worship services in expensive buildings, nor employ professional clergy to give oratories and then ask the new converts to foot the bill?

and if this is your theology, please give me chapter and verse.

James Joyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well these might be a start...

I Cor 9:11

" If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?"

1 Tim 5:17-18

"The elders who (AG)rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

Andrew Jones said...

depends what Jack Chick tract I am handing out ;-]

FX Turk said...


honestly, your answer only elicits a "lol" (all lower-case) from me, Andrew. You're saying McClaren and company ever had any direct relationship with the church which has emerged in the third world in the last 50 years?

In what way -- that the Anglo-American theological noodlers concerned with postmodern liguistics and "narrative" theology all bought used furniture for their churches which was once made in the third world?

That claim is among the most far-fetched the emerg*** sect makes, and at some point the facts behind it are going to have to be owned by someone.

David Rudd said...

i think that what andrew is saying is that what is known as "emergent" (mclaren and the usual suspects) in the USA is a product, not a cause.

i think he is trying to point out that what is known as "emergent" in the USA is not the same thing that is called "emerg(pick your ending)" around the world.

you know, it's the old, tired, and disproved "the world doesn't revolve around america" routine...

Anonymous said...

Hi Phil,

**** This is Dan Kimball and I don't post too often here, so sorry for the very long length of this!

The original reason I got into te whole emerging church world was because of the passion for evangelism and making the gospel (1 Cor.15:1-7) known in our emerging culture. I was on staff at a Bible-teaching megachurch and starting seeing more and more youth and young adults drift away. I also started reading the dismal statistics of how many younger people were growing up outside of the church. My heart was aching over this, and I wanted to follow the commands of Jesus when He said to be in the world (John 17:15) and to be on His mission (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:7-9). So that was my entry in meeting others who felt the same and were focusing at that time on emerging generations.

Like missionaries do in other cultures some of us made changes in formats of teaching, whether we stood behind a pulpit or on the ground with the people, or whether we lit the room by candles or fluorescent lighting that wasn't the issue. The issue was how we can most effectively teach, how can we most effectively make disciples (not just converts)etc. Of course we understand it is the Spirit who is the One behind what we do (1 Cor. 2:4) not clever preaching or using candles or whatever it may be.

Like Hudson Taylor and from what we know about St. Patrick - when forms of communication change, whether dress or how one preaches changes in missionary contexts - there is criticism. That is part of the reason why Hudson Taylor eventually started China Inland Mission. When he was changing the way he did things for a different culture, those back in England were convinced church and making disciples should look a certain way. The critics back in England resisted his change and said he wasn't doing it the proper English way. So I understand there will be critics like Hudson Taylor had about forms of ministry. He still went about communicating the gospel and teaching Scripture and making disciples, although how he did it changed and those who were confused by how he did became critics as they resisted the changes he made.

Different population groups even within the USA have different cultures. The church you are part of Phil, is very distinct. You wear suits and ties and it is a more formal approach with pulpits etc. that do not have any biblical origin, but were developed through culture (pulpits, suits etc). But to one group of people that God uses at Grace Community Church it is very effective. To another people group they may see suits and ties in Sunday gatherings as representing or symbolizing power, control and CEO's or politicians or the music as archaic. To those who are part of GCC, it is what they connect with. To others it would be a huge disconnect. There is no right or wrong here - these are surface things. It is different expressions depending on the culture, but in missionary contexts they do effect things.

So for me, how I define and viewed the emerging church world is not about fads or you could say as you change the style of suit as time goes by is a fad and you are chasing fads fashionably (I assume you don't wear the same style suit that you wore in the 1970's today). I'm sure that in your church building you use video projection for slides now and not overhead projectors. I don't see that as you chasing fads, I see you doing that as changing forms of communication and keeping up with culture.

To me the original emerging church was about evangelism and mission and making disciples in our emerging culture and being passionate about not letting forms or "tradition" (that did not derive from the Bible) get in the way of this mission. Depending on whom you are being a missionary to, it changed what it looked like and how things were done including surface things as aesthetics in worship gatherings (which by some got grossly misinterpreted as new age mysticism and I could use the argument that suits can be grossly misinterpreted as power and politics). I know there are some who may go into false things in "new age" as their may be some who wear suits and get into power, authority, control and politics. But for the most part, most of us don't. But the most vocal critics often broadbrushed and created these hyper-stereotypes which were usually far from accurate and I have blogged about this before.

Back to why I started this now very lengthy post. As Andrew stops using the term "emerging" or "emergent", and I pretty much am stopping using the terms because of all the confusion and now baggage created with the terms - the mission of Jesus (Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:7-9)will go on of course with all our hearts, minds, time, prayers and passion. Too much is at stake not to. Whether Calvinist or Arminian or in between, our hearts still should break for the lost.

I wish on this blog, there would be more time spent lamenting lost souls and hearing hearts broken and torn about those who may be spending eternity in hell. I wish on this blog there would be more discussion about how to evangelize in our USA culture and world today and hear comments about efforts whether successful or failed. I wish there was more discussion and compassion regarding those around us in our towns and cities who are without a shepherd and who are harrassed and helpless (Matthew 9:36-38). You probably wish on my blog I had discussion on the sola's or whatever it might be. So I don't want to get too off topic.

But as Andrew said, for those who got into the whole emerging church world because of an evangelistic passion of making disciples as commnaded by Jesus, it will continue all the more. It can't help but continue, although maybe it will be called "missional" for a while, or maybe one day it will be called "Pyromaniacs", or maybe it will be using candles and couches or overhead projectors or video screens or suits or casual dress or whatever it may be. That doesn't matter (as long as it is not against Scripture) and things will change through culture like that. Again, you use blogs as communication and emails. That isn't chasing "trends" that is simply connecting with people in ways that are effective. Things will change through time. Nmes will change through time. I know for a fact, that in the beginning The Emerging Church was not meant to become a marketing term - although it became that for understandble reasons. I imagine that in th beginning for "Grace To You" you wouldn't have thought that you would need the full page on your web site which you have for copyright laws and rules or trademarked the name (I assume you have trademarked it). So some of this is just human reality of what happens. I don't think any of us care whatsover about names whether something is called "emerging" or not. I don't, and I don't think Andrew does by what he stated. We do care that as people use it in reference to individuals and individual churches they are not assuming things that are incorrect though. So that is when I normally write out some treatise on a blog like this or on mine.

The reason we are talking of starting a new network is simply going back to the original reason I got into all this. Evangelism and mission and making disciples and not being afraid of changing forms to do so, again, unless it compromises Scripture. Having learned some lessons, I do feel we need in the beginning to lay out doctrinal commonality for this. That is why the Lausanne Covenant is a good one and includes many key doctrines of agreement and truth.

OK, I again apologize for the length. I hope this makes sense. For me, and I believe others, we simply will continue to rally around the gospel and passion for making disciples in a very post-Christian world all around us and be faithful to teaching people to obey everything and all the commands of Jesus as He stated in Matthew 28:20, and pray for people to repent, and see the Spirit transform them and change them into disciples of Jesus who are passionate about seeing others also know Him and are filled with Spirit with fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentless and self-control (Gal 5:22). Whether it is called emerging, or Pyromaniac, or Johnsonian, or whatever or whether candles or suits or whatever best communicates with truth is most effective in different cultures for the sake of the gospel and mission we are on.


Andrew Jones said...

once again it happens. i say "emerging church" and you say USA/McLaren/applepie/redwhiteandblue

this is why the word is not useful and problematic. i dont want my friends in brazil, indonesia, japan, etc to be judged by what americans are doing.

as for facts, read "The Emerging church" (1968) "The Emerging Church (1970) by Larson, "The Emergent church" (1981) by Metz and see how they use the word. these are published books - nothing far fetched about that.

the word itself has been a good one for many decades but now we will have to find a new one. thats what the issue really is.

Caleb Kolstad said...

Thanks for this quick update/summary.


Strong Tower said...

"Or are you referring to my understanding of the ministry of Paul in the Book of Acts in which he did not start sunday worship services in expensive buildings, nor employ professional clergy to give oratories and then ask the new converts to foot the bill?"

It is your misunderstanding. Paul wasn't doing church, he was intitiating them and instructing them in the forms of assembly given him according to the pattern that he was given. And I am wondering of which new converts you are speaking. Do you mean like the converts who supported him from afar (I robbed other churches) so that he didn't have to burden the Corinthians. Are you saying that his teaching them not to mussle the ox, was to what? Not pay hired clergy? Or with Timothy he was not saying that elders should be paid? And, even when they no longer were able to work?

You see Andrew, you can associate yourself with all kinds of organizations and cherry pick your peculiar doctrine all you want. In the end you end up an adherent to your own fundamentals but dishonestly say that you are different and not like fundamentalists.

By the way, just who do you think supported Jesus' ministry including his ministers, old converts? Ahem, he did not work, neither did they, but their followers did and supported them out of their earnings and they were all new converts. So, following Jesus example, I guess you ought to have the new converts support you or disclaim Christ likeness.

And that house church thing. Well, if that is what you want, get to it. But it is not demanded, nor is a common meeting house or great cathedral excluded. That is just your prejudicial choice, not a command of Scripture. And, if you need Scripture and verse, just tell me: did Paul teach in synagogues? Do you? Why does James use synagogue: "For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes" The word for assembly is synagogue, not house. And synagogues were not normally in homes. The were usually large common buildings for meetings of people too numerous to meet in houses.

And, I am not picking on you, just your sytem of beliefs (ideology). Detach man, and look at it without the eyes of emotion.

Caleb Kolstad said...


As a current Sr. Pastor in Ill and a young man who attended Grace Church for 12+ years you don't have a correct view of GCC church. You critique others for not understanding your church and your movement yet you make the same mistakes in your post.

Grace Church is a church that represents the demographics of San Fernando and So. California well (many different ethnic groups, white collar, blue collar, no collar, different age groups, etc).

If you have not listened to MacArthur's opening address from this years shepherds conference i would highly recommend it. He shares his Biblical philosophy of ministry in a very compelling way. Our job is to be faithful to the Word and to let God do with it what He so desires.

With that said, i do appreciate your desire to reach the lost for Christ. May theology continue to drive your methodology.

In Christ

Andrew Jones said...

thanks Caleb.

"Grace Church is a church that represents the demographics . . .

Did you say "represents the demographics"?

i love that. I have been using silly words like "missional" and "emerging" to say the same thing but now I think i will just say that our new churches are different because they REPRESENT THE DEMOGRAPHIC.


Solameanie said...


I think you entirely miss the point of all of the criticism that has been levied toward the EC over the past several years, at least on this blog, my own, and many others.

You spend a lot of time talking about suits and ties and externals, implying that those things are what the EC's critics are hung up on. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It's doctrine. It's epistemology. It's evaluating the ramifications -- current and potential -- of EC positions on doctrine and epistemology. When you begin from the position that objective truth is unknowable or uncertain, or even seem sympathetic to that viewpoint, that has huge ramifications on the mission of the church, including the proclamation of the Gospel.

In the end, it doesn't really matter what term the EC abandons or what term it adopts. If the philosophy, doctrine and worldview are the same, nothing has really changed. "You say tomato, I say tomahto."

To be honest, while I am interested in why a culture thinks the way it does and does the things it does, that is not going to change the message, nor will it stop me from confronting the culture. If the culture is hung up on a suit and tie representing power and control, then the culture needs to get over it. To me, that's a whiny excuse to avoid facing the true issue. Ultra feminist women hate the complimentarian view of women's roles in the church. Or in a really extreme sense, they want to view the God of the Bible as Earth Mother Gaia, simply because they can't stomach a patriarch in any sense. Do we cave in to that? When does trying to find ways to communicate to a culture become over-accommodating to a culture?

The message of Scripture is what it is, no matter whether anyone likes it or not.

sem said...

Andrew, are you being intentionally obtuse in your response to Caleb?

FX Turk said...

Pastor Dan:

I just want you to affirm or deny this statement for me --

The gulf between Chinese Culture and English Culture in the late 19th century is as great as the gulf between Arkansan culture and Southern Californian culture is today.

Because if you can affirm that, I will understand what you are talking about. You could even affirm or deny that with qualifiers if that helps.

But here's the thing: you are trying to make a comparison which has no places of overlap except that you are comparing one demographic to another in the broadest terms.

It is absolutely absurd to say that a pastor from Little Rock would have to manage the equivalent of crossing the east/west philosophical divide and cross the translation barrier from Victorian English to Mandarin Chinese when he establishes a missionary bible study in Escondido. Patently absurd.

To say you to have to actually talk to the people God has given you is one thing -- because we have to believe, as was said to Paul at Corinth, God has many people in this here city. To say that this is a sociological conundrum on the scale of penetrating 19th century Chinese isolationism and elitism ... that's much.

Solameanie said...


Are churches supposed to "represent the demographic?" If that means simply that many ethnic groups/cultures are represented in the congregation, no problem. But if that means the church is to morph itself specifically to cater to a group, then I am not sure I am comfortable with that.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that whenever the Emerg** church is exposed as a non-orthodox movement because of it's beliefs, it defends itself based on its modes of doing things?

Dan K launched into a lengthy defense of Emergence based on not wearing suits and liking candles, Andrew claims that they're merely repesenting a demographic ala Grace Church. Since when was that the issue?

Sure, people poke fun at the methodological idiosyncracies of the EC but what gets us all hot and bothered is the theology. Where the defense of that?

It appears that the theology is itself a reflection of a demographic. That the mode of "worship" issue is a smokescreen for the unorthodox beliefs.

That's what I'd like to see here. I'd like to see either Dan K or TSJ address the issues their actually being called on, not the issues they wish they were being called on.

Responding to "you've got the atonement wrong" with, "You just don't like my artwork" gets a little tiresome.

Incidentally...Dan K, the Hudson Taylor example is off limits. He changed his appearance in order to have people listen to his message. The EC is changing the message itself.

Rick Frueh said...

Dan Kimball says:

"I wish on this blog, there would be more time spent lamenting lost souls and hearing hearts broken and torn about those who may be spending eternity in hell."

I often get confused when someone who calls himself "emergent" makes such a statement. That kind of statement makes me confused - confused about how many emergents believe that, confused about why someone who has that depth of belief remains within the emergent movement, and confused about how pervasively orthodox someone like Dan actually is.


BTW - All our blogs should have more of that.

Anonymous said...

Good call Rick,

I wish I spent more time lamenting the lost and reaching out.

I also with the EC would start admitting that people are lost, eternally, that there is a hell and that it matters...and more than that, that they would run "leaders" like Brian McLaren and others out the door for denying that it is true and that it matters.

David Rudd said...


it's only confusing if:

you buy that every caricature created in the comments at this blog is a true representation of every person who gets pinned with the "emergent" label.

see, when it's the same people doing the label-pinning as creating the caricatures, it's bound to get a bit confusing when real flesh and blood people talk about their real positions.

Anonymous said...

But that's just it David,

How can you realistically expect that kind of consideration when there is no visible groundswell among those who've been labelled EC to reject McLaren and Pagitt and others and call them the heretics that they are?

And if they are heretics and if they began the movement itself (both of which are true) then why not do as Mark Driscoll has done and walk away, publicly?
Whatever bad rap Driscoll may get (deserved or not), being EC isn't one of them and he was one of the original leaders.

How can I complain that you call me a BlueJays fan when I still cheer when they win and boo when they lose even if I do stop going to the game?

Andrew Jones said...

"Andrew, are you being intentionally obtuse in your response to Caleb?"

hey - i am not being rude. really. no disrespect.

- caleb's phrase is great. it sometimes really is as simple as that!!!!!!!


- i really have given out hundreds of chick tracts but not for many years.
- i no longer use the phrase fundamentalist to describe myself but some call me that

theology? i listed some statements of faith. i have some problems with the same pre-trib pre-mil eschatology that i used to hold but apart from that i have not really changed and still hold orthodox evangelical beliefs

how about you?

Anonymous said...


That's great that you still hold to orthodox beliefs. When were you planning on calling out McLaren and Pagitt for their non-orthodox beliefs?

donsands said...

"The issue was how we can most effectively teach, how can we most effectively make disciples (not just converts)etc. Of course we understand it is the Spirit who is the One behind what we do (1 Cor. 2:4) not clever preaching or using candles or whatever it may be." -Dan


The two verses before this verse: "For I determined not to know any thing among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling."

I don't hear Brian McLaren saying this at all: Neither Doug Pagett, nor Rob Bell.

" doesn't matter (as long as it is not against Scripture)" -Dan

The Bible rules, and must rule our hearts, minds, souls, and lives.

I don't see that in men like McLaren, Bell, and others.

It truly is "Christ crucified" that has become the enemy of some of these so-called teachers. i pray they would see their error. Amen.

David Rudd said...


1)heretic is a strong word, and one which should not be flung around by individuals. i would be nervous about calling anyone in my church a "heretic" unless I had spent due time with the other "elders" in the church examining them and their positions.

2)neither mclaren nor pagitt "started the movement." they wouldn't even say so, and that's the point andrew is making above.

3)i'm not really asking for any consideration here. i'm not in that camp. i was simply speaking to rick's comment about confusion. (if you mistakenly thought you were responding to an "EC" person when you responded to me, that's my point.)

FX Turk said...

I would like to point out, since I have my finger out already, that what Dan Kimball is advocating is that thinking about the doctrine we are promugalting is a lesser concern to thinking about our fashion and our jargon.

I would say that unless we know what we are talking about it doesn't really matter who we say it to.

You know: I blog. I get that people need to hear something in the media they are in the middle of. You have to penetrate that stuff. But you have to penetrate it with the truth -- penetrating it with the merely-interesting or the merely-engaging is for the birds of the air.

Anonymous said...


I can never tell where you stand but no, my reply certainly wasn't dependent on you being EC.
It stands in it's own merit.

I agree, heretic is a strong word. So is Christian. But they are not difficult to understand and apply correctly.
Neither is to be used lightly but when someone rejects the basic tenets of the faith without leaving the church, "Christian" no longer applies, leaving only one alternative.

While McLaren and Pagitt may not have begun the international movement Andrew is talking about, they certainly were/are instrumental in starting and maintaining the movement in North America. They need to be addressed by the EC body at large for that body to be taken seriously.

David Rudd said...


I had a long response, but realized it wouldn't fly here.

Here is something I definitely agree with you on:

when someone rejects the basic tenets of the faith without leaving the church, "Christian" no longer applies, leaving only one alternative.

Anonymous said...

Hello again, and thanks Phil for allowing the lengthy post.


I fully understand the primary issues are doctrine not suits or candles. That has been the bulk of my interaction here normally on this blog. I was specifically speaking of "fads" here (which are more about suits and candles) in reaction to some of Phil's posts about chasing fads and fads die out etc. Doctrine is of course the core important issue- I was simply focusing on some of the fad discussion and also Phil's humorous poster of "Originality" where he put a photo of me on in in an Elvis suit. I could put a photo of him wearing a suit on Donald Trump's body or on Michael Douglas's Wall Street Greed character and write "Originality" in the same way. Or the bearded look and Spurgoen with his face etc. and say "Originality". I understand the fun in that. I was responding to the fad chasing part.

Doctrine is critical and that is why I was tried to defend the times where I felt as applied to me specifically where I was not being represented with what I believe or teach accurately. Again, I did not mean that this web site only raises issues about anything emergent or emerging only about surface things, it is primarily doctrine you talk about. I was focusing on the fads and how Phil mentioned fads come and go etc. and we chase fads.

For Frank,

I get to travel and have in depth conversations with pastors of varying denominations including plenty of Southern Baptists all across the country. I believe it would be foolish to say that there aren't very distinct cultural differences in local geographic areas and nationally that do not drastically make a difference in how we communicate and go about things. Of course not as drastic as China was in Hudson Taylor's time and also remember that they were not dealing with the issues of anti-Christian that we have today which is huge, and in Bible belt areas even huger. (Is huger a a word?).


I was not giving a lengthy defense of "emergence" or perhaps you missed the point I was trying to make and always try to make here when I comment. All the confusion usually stems from how a generalization has understandably developed that if you are at all associated with what has become known as "emerging" or "emergent" (and I and others such as Scot McKnight, and Mark Driscoll see a distinction of those terms) - you can't make an umbrella statement and say everything is the same. That is why you started hearing or reading articles by Ed Stetzer about the differences, or articles or books like "Five Streams of the Emerging Church" or "Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches" or "Navigating the Lanes of the Emerging Church" (which is the cover story of the latest Christian Research Journal). So when you say I was giving a defense of emergence, I wasn't. I was giving a defense or explanation of Dan K., not everyone else. I know that may be difficult to grasp and that is the source of so much confusion in this. I am only talking about myself and our local church here.

OK, thank you again and I will be gone for the next day, so if I am not responding further here please do not take it as I have backed away, I am just not available. If anyone ever has any question or wants clarification on anything regarding myself or what I write or teach, please always feel very free to contact me via email or Facebook message and I will be more than happy to try and answer anything you ever would care to ask or share with me. Thank you for allowing me to dialogue here. It is difficult always in blog comments, but I am doing my best.

Serving on the mission of Jesus with you,


DJP said...

...where he put a photo of me on in in an Elvis suit

You mean... that was Photoshopped?


FX Turk said...

"Huger" we can take -- it's "hugger" that makes us all itchy.

Dan, let me offer this up to you. I have recently had a little encounter with a KJVO preacher at my blog, and on the one hand, if that's what you're worried about, join the club. But if you're worried that Ronnie Floyd or Johnnie Hunt can't reach the culture, look at their churches. Apparently, their churches have reached somebody.

"Yes, but," you might say, "they have reached the upper-middle class republicans, and I'm worried, for example, about the girls who don't have Sarah Palin for a mom who will have to raise their accidental child without that kind of support; I'm worried about the victims of hyper-fundamentalist zeal who have been wrongly driven out of the church and are offended not by the Gospel but by the human cruelty shown to the hurting; I'm worried about the kid who's only exposure to 'Christianity' is what he was on TBN once and realized that was complete bunk. I have a zeal for all the lost, and they come in many flavors -- you Pyros might say many 'tribes tongues and nations'."

Fair enough -- but that's not a culture issue unless you mean that the hyper-fundamentalist culture doesn't really reach anybody. That's not the same as saying -- as, let's face it, you did -- that we have to be Hudson Taylors when we travel from Broken Arrow, OK, to Solana Beach, CA.

Because here's the real irony: the story about Bristol Palin really uncovers how much alike all North American English-speakers are. Nobody heard that story and said to himself, "I don't get it -- I don't understand why that has any bearing on who the Palin family is."

And that's a human story, told by fallible authors, with a lot of prejudicial bias coloring the various versions floating around. But everyone who has any human experience at all gets all the strange flavors of pathos and joy in the many levels of that story. It doesn't need a lot of build-up or contextualization.

So why would that not be true of a story told by an all-knowing and infallible author intent on delivering good news?

I think the comparison to world missions is a completely phony one when we're talking to someone who only lives, effectively, in the next county over. And the issue that we live in a post-christian or anti-christian environment doesn't do much to persuade me that I can't speak English to an English-speaker -- if I am actually speaking to him and not at him or through him, or lecturing him -- and tell him the truth about human life and its chief end.

Nobody who writes for this blog would disagree that we must speak to the lost, work as ambassadors, work as workmen and not snobs or cretins. What we would all object to is trying to find ways to make the effort to do that so complicated and self-effacing that it is in practice an esoteric chat over coffee which only looks like, to the other guy, a bull session about comparative religion.

Tom Chantry said...

"Huger" we can take -- it's "hugger" that makes us all itchy.

Don't think I didn't notice that.

John said...

To Dan:

I've been to Grace Community many times (I live in Ohio but usually attend there when we are in California to visit my in-laws). The last time we were there, and I pointed this out to my wife, that Grace Comm was hands down the most racially diverse and economically diverse church I had ever been in.

Matt said...

Thanks for pointing this out, Phil.

Interesting to see how this new, edgy movement already needs an image makeover. Won't it be more of the same secularized "Christianity", though? Following the golden chain starting with Gnosticism and working its way through the ages to modernism/liberalism and now postmodernism/emergent/neo-liberalism? The image may change, but the common belief of pagan-philosophy-first will continue, I fear.

Dan Kimball - as always, you come across as warm, friendly, genuine, and sincere. Yet you still haven't adequately addressed how yourself and others who have "historically" identified with the EC change the subject to form when the issue of content comes up. If you and Andrew Jones are orthodox, then why not correct those "Emergents" who err? To be honest, I was a little taken aback when Turk took on Piper (however polite it was), but the fact remains that what we have in historic evangelicalism is a willingness to engage on issues that matter (that's not to say we don't have other problems).

With the exception of Driscoll, I don't see that engagement among ECers. And Driscoll's case is much different than your own or Andrew Jones'. While Driscoll abandoned the term "Emerging" because it represented heterodoxy, those who are now jettisoning the term are doing so for more obscure reasons, such as "emergent doesn't convey meaning accurately enough". That shouldn't be surprising, seeing as one of the things emergent was built on was obscurity.

It will be interesting to see how many splinter movements will come about from this. I miss the old days when emergers criticized us for being sectarian and autonomous...

Rick Frueh said...

Even if you are orthodox in all your doctrines, what effect will your communication method have upon that truth? If a preacher was officiating at a funeral and he laughs and makes jokes during his eulogy, would not that alter the things he says? If a man is warning people that the building is on fire, but he seems careless and upbeat and even smiling, will people tend to believe what he is saying.

And if a preacher identifies and tacitly approves other unorthodox preachers, doesn't that impact the way people hear his truth? When the level of seriousness is dramatically diluted, even when teaching the most serious truth in the universe, doesn't that in and of itself not only compromise the truth but in some cases actually change the truth as it is received?

This is why I get confused when emergent preachers catagorically state their doctrinal orthodoxy, and yet remain loosely tethered to radically unorthodox teachers. And changing the name or names of a movement is a meaningless exercise that probably reveals the impotence of that movement.

What would happen if some emergents gathered in vocal opposition to the radical wings in the movement? When Spencer Burke's book "A Heretics Guide..." is reviewed by other emergents as if it is a serious piece of spiritual literature than we know the emergent accommodation precludes even the slightest discernment.

Carol Jean said...

Matt said, "While Driscoll abandoned the term "Emerging" because it represented heterodoxy, those who are now jettisoning the term are doing so for more obscure reasons, such as "emergent doesn't convey meaning accurately enough".

It seems like in some cases the reasons are not so obscure. Andrew Jones said,"Even worse, when I got home, Jenna White who is staying with us, told us that her missionary support had been stopped because a pastor in the Baptist church she attends in USA just preached an anti-emerging church sermon and they put a hold on the money they were going to send her."

That just seems like plain old pragmatics to me. Or duplicity.

I recently had a conversation with a missions pastor of a church and he said that there is no small amount of conflict right now over the place of humanitarianism (is that a word?) in missions. This is just another repeat of the liberal protestant churches bumping evangelism in favor of "doing good." Many independent evangelical missions organizations started at that time to counter the church's dropping of the ball.

Ten years ago we didn't think twice about supporting a missionary from a recognized missions organization - you could pretty much trust that their doctrine and teachings matched that of the sending organization. As we can see from the post above, we're going to have to be a lot more careful if we want to be good stewards of God's resources. Much more - we should be sure that we're not helping to support those who are spreading bad doctrine to the ends of the earth.

Chris said...


I just want to thank you, Andrew, for your words...especially the word in capital letters. Really, I do thank you! You have given me great assurance.

Why? Because your emphasis on the word "totally" made it very clear that you find no "relevance" in everything I said in my comments, or that my comments had nothing to do with your missional gig over there in the EU. In other words, to have someone who delivers gospel-light, or no gospel at all, to those who are thirsty is not someone I want to affirm my position. Well, my comments, which were really just theology 101 basics (as I'm sure so many of the seminary-trained bible scholars, who affirm sound theology, on this site would agree) simply contained things like sin, repentence, a gospel message that must include the previous two elements, a passion for God's Holiness, a desire for humility before God's throne, a healthy fear of God's majesty, immense gratitude for His forgiveness, His righteousness, our need to be separate from the world and not conformed to it, etc.

What I was merely describing is vertically-focused, not the touchy-feely-horizontally-trendy-artsy-carnally-earthly and gospel-less nonsense we see throughout emergent US, emergent EU, or emergent kalamazoo! What a sad day it has become when people "will no longer tolerate sound doctrine"

Chris said...


Yes, I agree with your great point entirely! My wife and I have been to GCC twice now, and are in the process of deciding whether the Lord is directing us there permanently, albeit with a 45-60 minute drive each way with two small kids. We made the exact same comment about the incredible diversity there--a natural diversity that is not contrived or forced through political correctness and liberal agendas. We absolutely love it there as well.

This brings to mind a comment for Andrew and DK:

At GCC, it is quite evident that Truth is taught, Truth is celebrated, and the FULL gospel is delivered in every message (beyond my two actual visits and hearing 4 sermons to date at the actual church, I'm thinking of many other sermons I've heard from JM or PJ). Of course, they are in-keeping with the sentiment contained in the great comment by Spurgeon who said that any message which is not centered in the cross, or take listeners to the cross, is utterly worthless. And guess what boys?.....nobody seems bored with it! To the contrary, actually, as we have never seen so many joy-filled and fully-engaged believers at one church in our lives! It is easy to see why when one observes how God is rightfully lifted High upon His throne by those in leadership--men who love their Lord in Godly fear and come to teach his word in humble reverence--something far deeper than "suits and ties" or "podiums" I'm afraid!

Andrew Jones said...


the word totally meant there was nothing relevant that i could respond to, nothing at all.

i am glad to hear the "FULL gospel is delivered in every message" at the church you are choosing.

Praise God for that.

But the Bible tells us to "preach the word", not just go and listen to it preached on a Sunday morning.

so how will you preach the word? and will those people who respond to your message of Christ successfully transition into that church? Or, if they live on your street, should they really travel 60 minutes for "church" which may seem a homogenous consumer choice and one which is not environmentally friendly or easy on the wallet?
Instead of a commuter church, why not think about starting a church in your neighborhood? a "local" church made up of whoever God brings?

And you dont have to call it "emerging" anymore. You can just call it "church"


Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caleb Kolstad said...


Fair enough. Thanks for the reply.


I wish you would mandate your commenters include their first and last names with any reply. I think some people would interact with each other in a more Biblical way if they had to do that.

Caleb Kolstad said...


When people get saved they should leave the worldly things of their past at the church door (1 Cor 6:11). At the very least, those things should no longer be treasured or be promoted as cool.

Some churches have taken "come just as you are" to unbiblical proportions. I apologize if my reply to Dan was not clear with regards to what I was trying to communicate.

Again i think MacArthur addresses these issues very well in his opening address at Shepherds. My comments should be read with that msg in the backdrop.


Andrew Jones said...

Caleb - glad to talk with you here. you have a different spirit and are obviously named well

We all have to rediscover the cross of Christ and know experientially what it means to die daily - both inherited and emerging/missional - in receiving Christ we lose everything but find all we need in Him. He is our portion. But we walk away from the cross with nothing but him. Hard to get across in a consumer society.

I have appreciated John MacArthurs writings for over 2 decades although i can see another side to the lordship salvation debate, the charismatic chaos, and the 'gnostic' attack on truth and in some cases i am on the other side at this point in my life. but i do appreciate his warnings and teachings.

actually, when i joined the mission ship Logos in 1985, the 2 books i brought with me were the Bible and "The Charismatics" by JM. As it turned out, i was not allowed to start 'truth wars' inside mission teams because they dont appreciate teams splitting up because of disunity over secondary issues. Always messy to break up teams and send young people home.

Funny thing though - I ended up getting sent out to preach in charismatic and pentecostal churches (Latin America is full of them) and I eventually changed my mind about charismatics and now support them and see them as a vital part of the body of Christ - as I do fundamentalists.

I will have a listen when i get the time to the talk. do you have a link???????

great chatting to you.

Andrew Jones said...

oh caleb - i just looked it up and the talk was on contextualization - yes - i heard it online early in the year and blogged about it somewhere.

here is my take on the worldy/syncretism issue

emerging church folk sometimes have cultural blindspots in the area of art and recreation and sometimes there syncretism happens.

inherited church folk [in USA] often have the same blindspots in areas of law, military, politics and the legal system in which they have not fully examined what gets left behind at teh cross and what gets through

can you be an American and a follower of Jesus at the same time?

can you put up an american flag and a cross in the same church without a clash of allegiances?

what must we leave behind to follow Jesus and what gets handed back to us in redeemed form?

interesting discussion. God give us all wisdom.

must go and make pizza. bye.

Phil Johnson said...

Dan Kimball: "This is Dan Kimball and I don't post too often here, so sorry for the very long length of this!"

(Dan also sent me a private e-mail as a follow-up, and what follows is an abridgment of my private reply):

Dan, you can post any comment of any length on our blog any time. You don't ever need to apologize for your participation here. Your willingness to leap into the swirling waters of our comment-threads is why you're our favorite (former) emergent-ing guy.

I still don't think you understand that the differences between you and me have nothing whatsoever to do with style per se. And my complaint about your approach to "contextualization" is certainly not about whether anyone wears "suits and ties" to church. I was surprised that you seemed to reduce our differences to that. (It's also clear that you haven't ever actually visited Grace Church, if you think we function with some kind of dress code.)

My concern with most of the so-called "conservatives" in the erstwhile ECM has to do with a general lack of clarity and substance when it comes to doctrinal content. I don't know how I could be any more clear about this than I have been. See: it's one thing to say you believe in justification by faith, substitutionary atonement, and repentance from sin--and even include those ideas in your formal doctrinal statement. It's a whole different thing to give those ideas true prominence when you are preaching the "missional" message.

Would you be satisfied with the orthodoxy of someone who formally affirmed, say, the deity of Christ in his doctrinal statement but who did not actually preach that Jesus is God incarnate? Would you think such a person is faithfully proclaiming Christ? I'm sure you wouldn't. That's the positive side of your commitment to the Nicene Creed.

But my point about the atonement and the gospel follows exactly the same course of logic. If someone claims to believe Christ's death was a propitiatory sacrifice, and then that person continually portrays Christian faith as a way to get healing for personal hurts--but never (except when pressed) mentions the issues of sin, repentance, and the price Jesus paid to satisfy divine wrath and divine justice on our behalf; that person is not faithfully preaching the gospel.

"Style" only enters the equation in this sense: when the trademark you are known for is a particular hairstyle rather than the clarity and persistence with which you proclaim these controversial gospel truths, some priority is out of whack somewhere. (That's what my ham-handed Photoshopping of "Elvis Kimball" was attempting to say subtly. Thanks for being a good sport about that, and feel free to Photoshop my face onto Jabba the Hut if you're looking to return the favor.)

. . . which, BTW, is not to say that I don't like your hairstyle. It's a good look for you. But I do hope the day comes when the trademark you are known for is the undiluted and unapologetic way you make the gospel clear and preach it in the power of the Spirit--rather than merely cool hair.

SB said...

I appreciated that reply to Dan-definitely don’t want our style to supersede earnest gospel preaching-I think this is a battle in churches- because we are idol factories.

These are some things I have observed from being at both churches-I anticipate correction but this is what I have observed:
There seems to be a Grace Church culture-that supersedes the racial & economic diversity of the church
Churches tend to follow the values &preferences of their leader

There also is dress code -Sunday morning preachers wear business formal (I think the joke about CJ was that he was strongly encouraged to wear a tie and he had almost never worn one)- at Vintage in Santa Cruz wearing a suit and tie would be unusual leading worship with a choral conductor would be out of place-
wearing shorts on Sunday morning at Grace or raising hands during worship would draw unnecessary attention as well.

I think the key is being sensitive to your hosts, examining your motives ,and not putting unnecessary distractions to the gospel. As a wise man said the gospel is the solution to culture.

Chris said...


Did you have someone in particular in mind when you made your suggestion to Phil for the inclusion of first and last names?
Just curious.

wordsmith said...

can you be an American and a follower of Jesus at the same time?

We'll answer that, if you first answer the question "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

Of course, neither question takes into account a full scope of the situation.

Phil Johnson said...

Caleb Kolstad: "I wish you would mandate your commenters include their first and last names with any reply. I think some people would interact with each other in a more Biblical way if they had to do that."

I don't think such a policy would have the effect you hope for. Looking back over three and a half years in the blogosphere, if you asked me to list the ten most irritating commenters, at least eight of them would be people who do use their full first and last names--and it hasn't make them any more biblical in either their opinions or their style of interaction.

We could require commenters to register, or we could simply moderate comments. Either approach would have a seriously detrimental effect on the pace and candor of the interaction here. And it's never really been necessary to do that.

Instead, we've opted only to enforce a handful of commenting guidelines in the right sidebar. Then when someone behaves in a less-than-biblical way, we reserve the right to point it out and encourage readers to give that fact due weight when assessing the rightness or wrongness of someone's point of view.

I haven't read every entry in this thread thoroughly, so I'm not sure what prompted your comment, Caleb, but scanning the thread, I didn't see one particular commenter indulging in unbiblical behavior on a large scale.

To our regular commenters:

I do wish people would make an effort to be more polite and more gracious to guests and first-time commenters who come into our meta with opposing positions, especially when those guests are being perfectly polite themselves.

I don't object when regular commenters attempt to be wry or employ a dose of sanctified sarcasm against a silly opinion. I also appreciate candor and plain speech. But deliberate rudeness or overt disrespect toward someone just for nastiness' sake is something else completely.

That may be what Caleb had in mind when he mentioned "interact[ing] with each other in a more Biblical way." We may disagree with Andrew Jones or Dan Kimball, but you have to give them credit for coming here with reasonable, substantive comments, and not with a taunting attitude or merely looking for a fight.

Let's recognize and honor that, and not treat them as if they came here with chips on their shoulders posting insults. Even if someone does that, lets give newcomers and occasional visitors to our meta the benefit of the doubt before we get indignant about the fact that they might disagree with us.

Here's the deal: when someone comes here and either Frank, Dan or I conclude they are bent only on mischief, one of us will ban them or run them off. But other commenters--even regulars--are guests here, too, so please act like guests and not bouncers.

Note: That's not aimed at anyone in particular, nor is it germane to this thread only. (Like I said, I've only been able to spot-read the comments here, and I don't have time to read them thoroughly today.) But this has been a growing concern of mine for at least two years, and Caleb's question finally prompted me to say it.

Now I'm going to make it a rule and add it to the sidebar.