04 April 2009

Frustrating, Funny, Fascinating, and Frightening

Monday's Post, Coming to You Early
(Because I am in Omaha and don't want to
get up early Monday morning to post. Plus,
it'll take you some time to digest this.)

by Phil Johnson

ere's eighty-eight minutes of video that is at various times stupefying, thrilling, maddening, amusing, and intriguing. And that's just the opening statements. The key players on this video (in roughly the same order as those adjectives) are Tony Jones, Kevin DeYoung, Scot McKnight, and Brett-and-Alex Harris (Josh's younger twin brothers, barely out of their teens and highly likeable). They're all discussing and debating the Emergent/ing Church Movement. This is a panel discussion that took place two weeks ago at the Christian Book Expo in Dallas:

HT: Joe Coker

My own first impressions:
  • Kevin DeYoung, as always, was right on. I love his patience, courage, clarity, and firmness. Pay attention to him; he is an important voice. At the end, he coined an expression I'll definitely use: "Postmodern squishitude."

  • Scot Mcknight was unusually irritating. Especially his churlish chiding of DeYoung for (of all things) being "uncharitable" in his opening statement—and then McKnight's stubborn refusal to get past that issue and talk about substantial matters. He comes off as cranky and irascible—not anything like his blogging persona. (More like mine, frankly.) He must've been having a really bad day.

  • Tony Jones (he of the "chastened epistemology") cracked me up with his bold (and visibly irritable) insistence that "I absolutely know Augustine." It turns out he "absolutely" knows the Reformers, too, and Pilgrims Progress. (He wrote annotations for an edition of Bunyan's allegory, you see.) He made this stunning declaration about his absolute knowledge of church history immediately after saying that until "a couple of years ago" he never even heard of anyone who believed that Scripture has a "plain meaning." Somehow, Jones gained his uncanny knowledge of Bunyan and the Reformers while remaining blissfully unaware that they all believed in the perspicuity of Scripture. Hmmm. Worse yet, Jones is basically denying that Scripture is capable of being known as thoroughly as he knows Augustine and the Reformers. Arrrrgh. (Epistemological humility turns out to be a really hard position to maintain when people keep pointing out that your arguments are full of holes.)

  • It was likewise a high irony that Jones (who says he despises critiques based on caricatures) utterly misrepresented DeYoung's and other "young Reformed guys'" worldview, insisting that they naïvely think Christianity can and should be culturally neutral. Of course, the "Reformed guys" (especially the young ones) don't really believe such a thing. On the one hand, we don't believe Christian doctrine is so flexible that it can change like a chameleon to blend safely into any worldly culture. We also deny that it's necessary for Christianity to become something totally different for every culture and every generation. But we do believe Christianity should face every worldly culture honestly and confront them all, including our own. In other words, the gospel is about as far from "cultural neutrality" as possible.

  • There is an unaccountable break at about 35 minutes into this video that destroys the flow and context of the discussion for a moment, but when the video comes back, Scot McKnight is working himself into a second diatribe against Kevin DeYoung for being "uncharitable" in his opening statement. Mark Galli (moderator) tries bravely to get the train back on track, pointing out that "uncharitable" involves a judgment of motives. He asked if Scot merely meant Kevin has been "inaccurate." Surely he didn't mean Kevin is deliberately sinning in his critique of Emergent/ing. Scot fulminates and sputters for a few seconds more, and then Tony Jones tag-teams him and pummels Kevin some more, saying (in so many words) there's no question about it: Kevin is behaving wickedly, and it's really ticking Tony off.

  • I think it's funny to hear what criticisms of the Emergent/ing movement get under Jones's and McKnight's skin. McKnight seems to think all analyses of the movement should simply ignore the loudest, best-known heretics (or better yet, the critics should shut up altogether and let Scot do the analysis). Jones is clearly irked by how the critics of Emergent/ing criticize things like candles and couches—and yet in that very same context Jones himself reduces the significance of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Menno Simons to the fact that they were "doing things that were 'cultural.'" (He even "makes" the "quotation marks" with his "fingers"). Jones doesn't seem to grasp the legitimate doctrinal concerns that are at the heart of the major criticisms of the Emergent/ing controversy. I suspect Scot McKnight does understand that serious biblical and theological issues are at stake, but it makes him angry when that's what someone wants to talk about.

  • Perhaps the most uncomfortable moment (in a discussion fairly filled with awkward poignancies) was Tony Jones's analysis of why the Mark Driscoll branch of the early Emerging Movement has renounced the rest of the movement. ("It's not just for doctrinal reasons.") One of the Harris twins (you've gotta like them, right?) later gently chided Tony, saying that remark was "unhelpful."

  • I loved it when the Wesleyan liberal woman asking a question from the floor unwittingly sided with Kevin DeYoung, admonishing Scot and Tony that they need to understand and acknowledge and embrace Brian McLaren's prominence in the movement. (The lady also took a poke at Tony Jones for not including John Wesley in his list o' Reformers & Radicals.)

  • For the umpteenth time Scot McKnight inveighed against Kevin DeYoung ("I told you these things on the phone!") and decried the unfairness of critics who keep bringing up Brian McLaren. Kevin responded by reading a paragraph from his book that answered that charge. Kevin then pleaded for the conversation to turn to something substantial. What are the distinctives of Emergent/ing and how can we assess this movement through the lens of Scripture? (I heard you, Kevin. No one who was actually there in the room seemed to get it, though.)

  • I would like to have eavesdropped on Scot McKnight's thoughts when a questioner from the audience asked Jones about his epistemology. Jones had already said that his discovery of postmodernism at Fuller Seminary was the turning point that thrust him into Emergent/ing-style thought. McKnight usually bristles when critics suggest that postmodern epistemology lies at the root the Emergent/ing movement's agenda. But in answer to this question from the floor, Jones went so far as to say that the quest for certainty engenders "power and violence." ("That could be Christian, or it could be . . . Hitler!"—Jones's very words.)
Well, anyway, listen for yourselves. We haven't had a post dealing with the Emergent/ing mess in a long time, mainly because I think the whole movement is in the early stages of a total meltdown anyway, and I don't want to beat a dying horse. But this video suggests that the critics and dropouts and defectors from the movement have taken a toll, and the "Conversation" is about to turn angry. Phil's signature


The Squirrel said...

Oh, sure! Post an 88 minute video... on the weekend... when I'm out it the woods... with dial-up!



VcdeChagn said...

Obviously I haven't watched it yet, but I like the Harris twins as well. Required reading at my house for my five (as of Thursday Praise God) sons.

Now if I could just figure out how to get myself to do all the hard things they do, much less my kids :) . Did they speak up much? You didn't mention them a whole lot in your post.

Thanks for tweeting the post. Wife is still in the hospital recovering from birth and I'm at home with the other four blessings, so was a nice time to read the post.

I'll have to watch the video tomorrow!

Phil Johnson said...


They didn't say a whole lot. They were very deferential to all. It's really hard not to like them.

Carla Rolfe said...

"this video suggests that the critics and dropouts from the movement have taken a toll"

This is a good thing. The movement was a train wreck from the beginning.

Unknown said...

Scot McKnight used the technique that some NT scholars at Dallas like to use.

They evade legitimate criticism by (1) parading their hurt feelings that anyone would dare question their "great work for the gospel" and then (2) smearing their critics on the assumption that the critics won't get in the mud with them and their readers won't bother to check the facts.

The louder the manipulative cry, the more you know someone is hitting the mark.

Bravo to Kevin DeYoung.

Unknown said...

If you want me to illustrate my point, google "My Take on Inerrancy," click the first link, and read even the first three paragraphs.

Stefan Ewing said...

So Menno Simons got mentioned in the same breath as Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli?

I'd like to think that's a good thing, but given the speaker and the context, perhaps not.

Catez said...

I watched it. It was frustrating. After all this time they haven't got past the whole you-don't-understand-us thing. I really didn't care who had written what books - couldn't they just communicate their ideas? Why was Kevin DeYoung "uncharitable"? If they agreed with the scriptures he read at the beginning then why not affirm them and say "Hey, we can agree on that!"
One of the young Harris guys was spot on when he said emerging seems to be about not having divisions yet the panelists own distancing from some emergents was bringing in divisions and a more "conservative camp". Best observation in the whole thing I thought.

Stefan Ewing said...

Only a third of the way through, and I heard Mr. Jones' statement that Phil mentioned word for word:

"I think it's an extraordinarily naive statement theologically to say there's some plain sense of Scripture."


Morgan said...

Since Tony seems so passionate about "seeing the merit in other versions of Christianity" that he may not agree with, I wonder if he thinks Paul was at any point planning a "charitable" dialogue with the Judaizers' regarding their "version" of Christianity. Does he think John would have scheduled a coffee brunch with the Gnostics to discuss their "version?" I think not.

"But if I, brothers,​ still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" (Gal. 5:11-12).

Unknown said...

Scott McKnight's social gospel is not the biblical Gospel.

The Church was not given the task of changing society and making it a "better place", but with the task of the in-gathering of the elect through the preaching of the biblical Gospel.

Shalom shall be a reality only when Christ reigns physically as the supreme monarch of the world. Until then, the work is to complete the number of those predestined by God to salvation.

Joe said...

I can't be as positive about Harris Twins as you guys. I never heard of them before this panel. It disturbs me that these two guys are voices of todays youth.

Statements they made like.
We like take little from here and a little from there.
Why can't we believe both?
Mark Driscoll is a hero of ours and the people know.

Those statements really bother me without clarification.

I think this Cafeteria or Buffet type of theology is a by-product of Driscoll flow of the Emergent thought and I think might be more dangerous than wacko vein of thought of McClaren, Bell and Jones. Because the wacko vein is easier to point out their errors.

If you guys know about Harris Twins, I'm willing to proven wrong here. But, from what I heard here, I wouldn't want my kid or church youth group going to their conference.

To me, only Good guy here was Kevin DeYoung.

God Bless

FX Turk said...


I think Scot McKnight is a perfectly-reasonable and affable guy -- until you disagree with him. And then he completely loses his veneer of disinterest and objectivity and one can see the man behind the curtain.

I'm thinking particularly on an incident at iMonk's blog where I criticized Michael for "deconstructing" (his word) the Christian life and Dr. McKnight blustered to his rescue claiming I wasn't fair to say iMonk was deconstructing anything. But you see: that was the word Michael used, and I am sure he didn't use it carelessly.

Dr. McKnight was simply wrong, and he corked. When it was pointed out that he was wrong, he simply walked away. No apology or retraction, either.

I don't think he's a likeable guy even in his blogging persona. But of course: there are many who would say the same thing about me, and we all know they are wrong.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

PJ: "Scot Mcknight was unusually irritating. ... He comes off as cranky and irascible—not anything like his blogging persona."

What you saw of Scot Mcknight on the video was really who he is. He is unusually irritating, cranky, and irascible, and his blogging persona merely comes off better than he is because he controls his own blog. He's fooled a lot of people so far but the veneer is coming off and this video shows the real Scot Mcknight.

Unknown said...


Exactly. It's almost like there's something roaring from under the wooly exterior.

Believers are entitled--no, *responsible*--to take such things into account when they evaluate truth claims on behalf of the One who was meek in the face of His accusers.

DJP said...

Another Fuller casualty.

DJP said...

I found a place it can be viewed fullscreen here.

Solameanie said...

I think the Emergent types have always been angry, with red hot lava bubbling under the surface. They're just good at masking their anger and disdain under a veneer of words. And like most veneers, it doesn't take a very hard poke to burst through and expose what's underneath. I've had enough encounters with them both online and in local churches to make this observation. As for keening on and on about supposedly "uncharitable" remarks, this is just the usual diversionary tactic they try to employ when they're getting their ears pinned back.

The truth is . . . they really have a lot of hostility and disdain for churches and individual believers who cling to pure doctrine and biblical truth. They have a lust for apostasy, and they're incensed that anyone would have the temerity to resist their siren song.

Eric Kaminsky said...

Thank you for the post Phil. Although I don't always agree with you, such as issues pertaining to Mark Driscoll. I respect you deeply, and you have helped my faith tremendously. I love your reverance for scripture, knowledge of Church History, and am envious of your relationship of the greatest bible teacher of the last fifty years. Your own John MacArthur

Douglas Kofi Adu-Boahen said...

I'm now bald, having torn out my hair over this.

trogdor said...

McKnight: "If you want to describe a movement, you have to describe it to their satisfaction."

What utter nonsense. No, you have to describe it accurately. The JW's will never admit to being Arian. Nonetheless, describing them as Arian is perfectly cromulent, because it's true and accurate.

Describing the emerg* movement accurately is what matters, whether they admit it or not.

And while I'm ranting, does anyone else find the irony of Tony Jones complaining about being misunderstood delicious?

Anonymous said...

Having never heard any of these gentlemen before, following are my initial impressions.

Tony Jones: I didn't time his intro, but it seemed like it would never end. He apparently enjoys listening to himself. His arrogance was stunning. His response to DeYoung was all over the map. Does he ever shut up?

Kevin DeYoung: I thought he spoke in a very calm, charitable manner.

Scot McKnight: Not sure who (or what) he was listening to when Kevin DeYoung was speaking. He seemed to be somewhat arrogant. He wants critics to accurately define the emerg* movement but no one in the movement can do that. Refuses to answer direct questions.

The Harris Twins: They seemed nice enough but were maybe out of place.

I think it's long past time for the emerg* church to be the flush* church.

trogdor said...

Wow. It just gets worse.

I suppose my favorite point so far is when Jones talks about Luther, Calvin, et al "emerging" and trying to revitalize something that had grown stale.

Sigh. That's what these guys think the reformation was - just taking romism and making it more relevant and less stale? Yikes. I think that sums up the emerg* problem quite well.

No doubt I'm misunderstanding his words, as McKnight will surely whine.

Anonymous said...

Scot McKnight on Hitler:

I know he's the poster child for the Nazi Party but the movement is far bigger than Hitler. Critics focus on Hitler because he's an easy target. He's written a popular book.

DJP said...

Right, Trogdor; I just riffed on that. Criticism always = misunderstanding.

Because if you understood, you know, you'd agree. And vice-versa.

trogdor said...

Jones: "I think it's extremely valuable to be in conversation with those who have gone before us."


I'll be sane and believe that he's not actually suggesting we consult the witch at En-Dor or anything like that. But come on man, could you pick a better word than "conversation" for reading ancient works?

Regardless, this came at the end of a rant about how "orthodoxy" is nothing but an appeal to what Calvin and Augustine and all them thought. What utter rubbish. If we valued tradition uber alles, we'd be papal slaves. What matters is fidelity to truth as God has revealed it in scripture, period.

trogdor said...

McKnight: "We're losing a generation, and it's due to the squishiness of the gospel of the previous generation."


Of course, the proposed solution is... an even squishier gospel? Hmmmm....

donsands said...

Scot Mcknight has a blog, and has posted some good stuff. I have commented there many times, and he simply doesn't post my comments.

I wonder if it is because I'm non-emergent?
I usually respond with Scripture references.
Like today, Scot has the Triumphal Entry of our Lord passage, which was nice to read this morning. he then had one commentor, who looked at the Jesus in a way that i thought was a bit off what the scripture taught, and so i shared that jesus the next day whipped the people out of the Temple, and it is difficult to deal with Jesus' righteous anger. And before Jesus came back, He also cursed a fig tree.

I wonder why Scot wouldn't post my comment?
It's funny he can criticize some for their not giving a chance to the EMC, but he is the same, as far as I can see.

Solameanie said...

Just to throw a light moment in here, I dedicate this to my Emergent friends.

Really, I think it should be their theme.

danny2 said...

wow, that was painful.

i we sure tony jones wasn't a rogue commenter on last week's catholicism posts?

just after explaining how the couches at their church better represent the gospel than pews that used to be in the building and that dialogue better represents Christ's humility to become man than preaching ever could...[???????]

he states: that luther, zwinli, calvin and simmons were emerging from the compost of something that had grown a bit stale in their day and broke free...

really, that's what the reformation was about? breaking out of stale forms or worship?

silly me, i thought it was about calling out heresy and preaching a clear, accurate gospel.

mcknight can complain all he wants about how the emerg* is caricatured by guys on the fringe, but the moment jones said that, he should have protested that he believes the reformation is so much more than that.

Carol Jean said...

I've had the opportunity to be on a televised panel before. #1 hardest thing: What to do with your hands the whole time. Almost becomes an overwhelming obsession. Fast forward through it and watch the poor Harris boy on the right. He is working VERY hard to keep his hands folded in front of him which takes tremendous effort!

Tony Jones: "Because I think we were saying things that not a lot of other people were saying-so we would be approached by-oh, Zondervan Publishing House or someone doing a Christian conference and say 'I don't know if I agree with what you guys are saying, but no one else is saying it and it seems interesting and exciting so will you come speak at our event? Will you write a book for us?' [McKnight stifles a monster yawn]

Jones et al would prefer us to believe that the whole emergent phenomena just oozed up organically out of the collective consciousness of the founding members. This comment reveals that there was a much more organized effort and it's clear that without the promotion by big name "publishing houses" and conference promoters, it would have most likely remained a half-baked idea in the blogosphere.

Can we all please stop sending our $ to Zondervan?

donsands said...

"Really, I think it should be their theme." -Sola

Could be but ...

I Don't Care Any More. That's All.

Joe W. said...

If the Emergent/ing church hopes to build a lasting movement, they need to understand that even heresy must be well defined.

Carol Jean said...

I want to know who (according to Jones) is "so far on the left" that they won't have a conversation with those in emergent.

Stefan Ewing said...

What strikes me is that Messrs. Jones and McKnight took great pains to say that their movement is so much more than Mr. McLaren, et al.; yet Mr. Jones effectively undermined their whole premise by his many questionable statements—with nary a word of difference from Mr. McKnight.

And I'm still greatly perplexed by Mr. Jones' bold statement (which seemed, by the way, to reek of epistemological certainty) that "it's an extraordinarily naive statement theologically to say there's some plain sense of Scripture."

That, dear sir, is what the Reformation was all about! That's what Tyndale (along with so many countless others) died for: making the plain meaning of Scripture available to all, so that even the lowliest plough hand could know more of Scripture than did the clerics, and be "wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 3:15—and that's just referring to the Old Testament!).

His statement, in effect, keeps the Gospel by which we are saved hidden behind layers of obfuscation. That may not be his conscious intention, but that's the implication.

Chris said...

If anyone hasn't done so already, I highly reccommend DeYoung & Kluck's book, "Why We're Not Emergent," for a more detailed explanation of many of the points he discusses here. Given the fact that DeYoung is part of this post, I assumed it wouldn't be out of line to give a plug for this great book.

Not only is it great reading for all the Pyro regulars, who have above-average theological knowlege, but I am actually using the book as a required text in an English class of freshmen and sophomores at a Christian university (excuse me whilst I feel the sudden need to cough suddenly). The students were divided into 3 groups, with each group addressing a third of the text in the form of a presentation and written report as they answered various pointed questions I gave them. These presentations and papers have been quite encouraging, as all of them completely identify with DeYoung and Kluck, asserting in their own ways why emergent is such a joke at best and tragically heretical at worst. Frankly, I'm quite surpised, and impressed, that these students' awareness of truth verses falsehood is so sharp, given the fact that almost every encounter I've had with fellow faculty members at this Christian university (coughing again) has been hardly as encouraging.

Carol Jean said...

First, I apologize for posting 3 comments. I should have waited until I listened to the whole thing before commenting. But I can't let McKnight's comments on young adults leaving the church slide.

As someone involved in youth ministry for nearly 20 years, this just got my blood a-boilin':

Giving them [children] certainty on scripture will not guarantee anymore that they will become faithful believers or not...

The patterns that are demonstrated that are most significant are friends and powerful spiritual role models when they are teenagers and young adults...

Giving them experiences living out the faith is more important than theology.

OK, obviously any good Calvinist will tell you that giving a kid certainty on scripture is not going to guarantee salvation. Indeed, nothing we do as parents will guarantee that.

But to say that perspicuity of scripture and theology are less important than teenage friends, role models, and working at a soup kitchen? That's just bizarre and denigrates the sufficiency of scripture (2 Tim 3:15-17). And how about the Holy Spirit's role?

Scot needs to come out of his uber-educated college bubble now and then and visit the real world, where God uses His word and the Holy Spirit, often in the context of the family and the church to draw individuals to himself and make them "wise unto salvation."

The Harris boy had it right when he diagnosed the roots of the problem as "astounding biblical illiteracy" and
"postmodern moralistic deism."

DJP said...

Good heavens. I wish the panel had started where they only got to at about 78 minutes, and stayed on that. What a crybaby whinefest.

danny2 said...

did anyone else find the comments made about d.a. carson to be a little less than charitable?

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"...that tolerance supercedes Truth, that charity supercedes conviction (of the Holy Spirit), and that community somehow supercedes doctrinal clarity...etc, etc."

Chris...don't know who you are, but that was a slam dunk.


candy said...

Why did it seem that Tony Jones was able to talk more than his co-panelists? Talk, talk, talk, about all of his "credentials" with writing. Why would he write about Pilgrim's Progress? Must have been one of his college assignments.

The Harris boys did fine with what they were given. They were a bit perplexed with being there, and yet they did provide an example of young adults who stayed with the orthodox teaching their parents had provided, unlike Tony Jones who left his apparantly orthodox foundation with which he was raised.

Anonymous said...

The comment about Carson, according to Jones' and McKnight's definition, was certainly uncharitable.

Chris said...


Thanks, but I must admit that this particular bit is a restructuring of a similar set of three binary oppositions I've heard and/or read from others who share our convictions. "Tolerance over truth" is the most common (think I heard it first from Alistair Begg quite some time ago); as for the other two, the same sentiment, albeit w/ different terms have been expressed by fellow critics of the emergent mess.

Brad said...

If this was a debate, Tony Jones would called out on his incessant appeals to authority. One of the things that is most irritating about Emerging folks is their insistence that they know more about Reformed theology than Reformed folks. Tony, we acknowledge your 288 page annotation on Pilgrim’s Progress. Great. But that doesn’t insulate you from criticism nor does it prove that you have a solid grasp of Reformed theology nor does it provide justification to toss around labels that give the air that you're now beyond all other movements/theologies/etc. Ironically, this kind of attitude doesn’t bring anything to the conversation. This was best seen when Jones tried to compare the Emerging movement to Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc. Any first year seminary student would be able to tell you that these men sparked their spiritual revolutions by liberating the Word, not by having folks sit in concentric circles.

Moving along....

Scot’s protestations were maddening. Scott needs to understand that fringe participants of a movement are not equal partners in said movement. Movements are always defined, evolve and emerge from their most prominent members. Guys like McClaren, Jones and Padgett are the face of the movement regardless of Scot’s howls of protest. Though he later admitted as much, he oddly bristled when the big white elephant in the room was brought up.

And Phil, I thought Scot was out of character as well. I’ve followed him for years and was surprised at the angry tone, ironically, even uncharitable at times.

The Harris twins’ participation could have been helpful in a different venue, but they were woefully out of place here - obviously this wasn’t their fault but it added yet another oddity to a very odd workshop. Peace.


Brad said...

But of course: there are many who would say the same thing about me, and we all know they are wrong.

Indeed, Frank, we're out here, but we listen nevertheless and sift appropriately. Peace on you.


FX Turk said...


You're more predictable than a very special episode of "Blossom", Brad.

Paul Nevergall said...


Danielle said...

Great post, Phil. I'd like to focus on the things I found funny as clearly, it was a dreadful panel discussion with mostly dreadful people.
1) Your hilarious review, which made me cry laughing
2) The photos of the pigeon encrusted McKnight and the ever-sinister Pagitt, who looks like one of Batman's enemies.
3)The fact that the young twins did not agree with the emergent twins(McKnight and Jones), even though the old twins stated very little except, "I'm smart!!I'm smart!! Really! and "All emergents are different!" Such profound and sparkling brilliance!
4)Jones appeared silly when he name-dropped someone as silly as Derrida et al.

(and my personal favorite)

5) When the audience members(who also didn't really agree with them) essentially stated that they were not important enough in the movement to be spokespeople and no one was buying their books(unlike McClaren et al).(Not exact words, but...)

Poor, courageous Kevin.He did a good job and his book is great, but sitting on that slimy panel probably made him think, at least momentarily, "Am I in the twilight zone? Someone pinch me, quick! What am I doing here? If I hadn't written that book on emergent, they never would have asked me to come.I had no choice, right? Why does this guy(Jones) keep staring at me?"
He seemd uncomfortable, for obvious reasons.

Note to self:
NEVER write a book on emergent or they'll ask me to be on a panel like that one, and I won't be able to decline.

Brad said...

You're more predictable than a very special episode of "Blossom", Brad.

And yet you slide right in to prove the point, Frank. Thanks for drawing me closer to Jesus with your "flavor" of Christian love and kindness here. I feel tingly all over.


Anonymous said...

I was sucked into this video, argh --- thanks a lot Phil!

Kevin DeYoung certainly was the most "plain" of the group. I think he should've been more "uncharitable" (in "Luther" style), and actually provoke (by way of confrontation) Tony Jones to articulate what he actually does believe on the issues that he only brought up in his closing arguments (in other words, there is a time to be calm, and there is a time to be non-calm).

Tony Jones is an interesting character isn't he? I went to seminary with a guy like him (big into PoMo "ministry); I think there is a real passion and desire to reach the lost, on his part --- but sadly the "pool" he has chosen to swim in is at the wrong end --- the "shallow end." What I mean is that once one drinks of, ironically, Modernities' 'Cartesian Methodological Skepticism'; that person ends up doubting himself (I'm thinking of the so called PoMo prophet Nietzsche). In other words, *Tony*, there is no such thing as PoMo epistemology; all we have is the logical conclusion to Rationalist Modern thought. Postmodern thought is the blossoming of Modernity gone to seed (I write this as if Tony is reading, hehe [sorry I had to get this off my chest somewhere]).

Scot McNight, yeah, I didn't really think he had much to offer the panel . . . except for "bucketing" the whole discussion with some nicely prepared red herring ;-).

The Twins, I thought brought some nice levity; and even challenged Scot and Tony in ways that would not have been received as "charitably" if Kevin had been the one doing so.

In the end, I'm glad you shared this video, Phil!

Anonymous said...

Btw, I'm 'Pure Milk' (this openID thing is confusing . . . I think I've got it now ;-).

Bobby Grow

FX Turk said...

You wouldn't have it any other way, Brad.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

I have to watch the video when I have more time, but I've GOT to weigh in with the biggest "well, DUH!" of them all:

When there is a CONVERSATION, it is usually about ideas or personal feelings people hold individually that they want to share.

The perspicuity of Scripture, the necessity of the Reformation and the foundational doctrines by which we realize Biblical truth are NOT to be 'discussed' from opposite ends of a spectrum. They must be declared, affirmed and understood to be ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for fellowship in the common faith BEFORE any other 'conversations' can be undertaken with any hope of fruitfulness.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Brad said...

You wouldn't have it any other way, Brad.

Have a nice day.

And thus the problem....

Frank, just for the sake of clarification (not that you really care), while I don't find your blogging persona all that likable I do like you. And no, I'm not suggesting my "flavor" of Christian love and kindness is one you should follow either - think John Piper. Peace.


Tom Austin said...

I don't know the personalities

Brad said...

What I mean is that once one drinks of, ironically, Modernities' 'Cartesian Methodological Skepticism'; that person ends up doubting himself (I'm thinking of the so called PoMo prophet Nietzsche). In other words, *Tony*, there is no such thing as PoMo epistemology; all we have is the logical conclusion to Rationalist Modern thought.

Bingo. While I think no one can turn a phrase like our clever emerging friends, when you get beyond the flowery statements that promise the world and begin to complain that their ideas are hollow, you have yet more flowery statements waiting for you. And when you complain about those you’re often ridiculed and/or dismissed for not understanding what was said in the first place. I really see why Phil likes DeYoung’s “squishitude” because when I’ve tried to engage emerging folks in the past I’m often met with this kind of mental scrambling that just keeps the argument alive no matter how absurd it becomes. It's no where near enough to say that faith is about being certain of uncertainties when the Gospel requires we be certain about very specific unseen things.

CGrim said...

I have no problem beating dying horses, if they happen to be horses that we want to make sure stay dead, rather than revive and saunter back into town.

Solameanie said...

Pure Milk..

Re: your note on Tony Jones and his passion to "reach the lost." I honestly wonder if hardcore Emergents believe that anyone IS lost. Some of them skate awfully close to universalism.

Hastey Words said...

Thanks for posting, Phil.

First: Hitler? Really, Tony?

Second: Not only did Kevin seem charitable, he seemed positively heroic given the circumstances. The amount of patience it must have took to maintain patience and composure in that conversation boggles the mind.

@Solameanie: The chaplain and campus minister at my alma mater (formerly a Baptist college) love "being engaged in the emergent conversation." When I was there, the chaplain regularly complained that evangelizing struck him as arrogant and proselytizing was discouraged on campus mission trips.

FX Turk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

So, trying to save everyone 88 minutes of their lives that they'll never have back, here's my summary:

Kevin deYoung — Paul says that there's a specific truth-content that we can and must know, treasure, defend, and proclaim, and the Gospel really matters.

Scott McKnight — I'm so mad at Kevin deYoung! He's so stupid! I'm so smart! He hasn't named every book that was ever written! Did I mention I'm really smart and mad? I judge Kevin for being so judgmental! Oh, and since Kevin brought it up, I believe the Gospel too.

Tony Jones — ditto, only in many, many, many more words.

Harris twins — like, y'know, we, y'know, we're not sure why we're here, y'know, but we really do, y'know, believe the Gospel and think it's, y'know, important, and don't get why these, y'know, old guys don't, y'know, get that. Y'know?

donsands said...

"Harris twins — like, y'know, we, y'know, we're not sure why we're here, y'know, but we really do, y'know, believe the Gospel and think it's, y'know, important, and don't get why these, y'know, old guys don't, y'know, get that. Y'know?"

Now that brought a well needed chuckle and a bit of joy to a otherwise numb heart this Rainy day and Monday.

Daniel said...

I liked how Alex and Brett maintained a connection between the orthodoxy of their theology and the practical application of the same in their daily witness and lives.

greglong said...

What's up with the picture of Karl Rove and the pidgeons?

Carol Jean said...

If nothing else, the Harris duo made Jones and McKnight look and sound old, passe, and out of touch with the emerging generation. Mille Vanille vs. Miley Cyrus. Maybe that's the real reason they were having such a tantrum.

Stefan Ewing said...

I'd hazard a guess that DeYoung, too, is younger than Jones and McKnight.

James Joyce said...

Thanks Dan, y'know?

Larry Geiger said...

Carol Jean

"Giving them experiences living out the faith is more important than theology.

OK, obviously any good Calvinist will tell you that giving a kid certainty on scripture is not going to guarantee salvation. Indeed, nothing we do as parents will guarantee that.

But to say that perspicuity of scripture and theology are less important than teenage friends, role models, and working at a soup kitchen? That's just bizarre and denigrates the sufficiency of scripture (2 Tim 3:15-17). And how about the Holy Spirit's role?"

This is the current thinking in or world, in education, in news media, in just about everything. Knowledge is unimportant. You learn by experiencing, not memorizing a bunch of "boring facts". If you are over 50 it can be really hard to understand this whole thing. It's particularly embedded in our educational system and it's helping create a generation that thinks very differently.

There can't be any objective knowledge, because it must all be tested by experience first. They even try to math this way. Try and read the literature about "Whole Math". Parents are ecstatic because suddenly their students are writing essays in math class and getting A's. It's all very cool of course!

Joshua Seek said...

would you like a picture of Tony Jones, or do you prefer to have Doug's picture in an article that has nothing to do with him?

Anonymous said...


You're right, some are indeed universalists; and some are not.


Yeah, rationalism (as a system of thought --- which flows from the thomist intellecualist anthropology [e.g. which identifies the "mind," contra the will and heart, as THE defining feature of man]) needs to be jettisoned for greener pastures. That's why folks like Tony Jones are so ironic, in their approach . . . they have put down the Grape Kool-Aid only to start drinking the Cherry.

Bobby Grow

JR said...

"Worse yet, Jones is basically denying that Scripture is capable of being known as thoroughly as he knows Augustine and the Reformers."

Salient point Phil.

Notice that Jones' explanation of reconciliation (which was his gospel nutshell) doesn't involve the real why of reconciliation. It tips its hand to they means, which is the cross, but not real clear articulation of why the cross. All we really got from Tony was a single ecclesiological implication: couches.

Phil Johnson said...


No, thanks. Jones got too much camera time in the video. The Doug picture worked better for this post. Hover with your mouse for the caption.

Eric Kaminsky said...

I've had time to really think about Tony Jones non-statements about orthodoxy. I think we need to appeal to scripture on this one. "By their fruit's you will know them." If the orthodoxy pre-reformation was so true and genuine, then the reformation itself would have been an afterthought. The Pilgrims would not be willing to risk their lives to reach a new land so that some day we would have the freedom to even have these inane postmodern discussions about truth and a new kind of christianity.
When the truth of scripture penetrates the right heart, it produces the heart of a prophet who is willing to suffer. Are these emergent types willing to shed blood for their squishy beliefs? What would they have to rejoice about in their sufferings. Furthermore, I see a lack of humility in both Scot McKnight and Tony Jones. I thought PoMo's valued humble character more than scripture itself? very revealing

Barbara said...

Bottom line, everything I hear Jones and McKnight saying is just simply all wrapped up in themselves and on man. If they were more interested in the glory of Christ as a movement and particularly in a panel discussion...

Meanwhile, I LOVED the one Harris boy's analogy of the emergent movement as a bonfire being in the middle room as a type of knee-jerk against the stone fireplace of doctrine to the point that no one wants to start a fire in it, and his generation just wants to get the fire into the fireplace. I think he's' dead on.

Stefan Ewing said...


Yes, that was a very good analogy, on multiple fronts. A knock against the emergent free-for-all, but also against dead orthodoxy! May there be the fire of the pure Gospel in our bones!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I'd like to see an 88-minute video of a panel discussion between the Pyromaniacs (PJ, DJP, Cent) and Scot Mcknight, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt regarding the Emerg*** Church.

Or on any other topic that those two groups of three want to spar about.

(If I was the moderator, high-fiving, woofing it up, and Tiger Woods fist-pumping would all be permissible for the panelists to engage in).

DJP said...

You'd be interested in a Pyro-led blog convention?

The Squirrel said...

You'd be interested in a Pyro-led blog convention?

I'd come!

Finally got through the video. Whinefest extrodonaire!


Barbara said...


Thanks for making sense of that muddle of words and getting to the point of what I was trying to say. I knew what I was trying to say, but my currently grueling work schedule has apparently taken its toll on my ability to articulate much of anything coherently. (I don't complain, though, I'm thankful to be employed)

Pardon The Interruption said...

To know everything you need to about Jones...

In his synopsis of the panel on his blog, he referenced the Harris boys' book "Do Hard Things" with a vulgarity.


Phil Johnson said...

PTI: "In his synopsis of the panel on his blog, he referenced the Harris boys' book "Do Hard Things" with a vulgarity."

Yeesh. I went to that link to see what you were talking about. The comments under this post at Jones's blog are instructive. Look at how viciously the Emergents (led by Jones himself) savage the Harris twins.

Makes me feel better about some of the rancid comments we get here. It seems like there's nothing even the mildest conservative could ever say or do that would not stir the "generously (un)orthodox" to the most angry and outrageous expressions of contempt and vulgarity.

Kinda speaks for itself.

Remember all the squeals for charity and girls crying foul when we published the Po-Motivators® ?

Watching the Emergents treat the Harrises to a little of their trademark "generosity" sort of puts everything in perspective, doesn't it?

terriergal said...

Astounding... did I just hear Tony Jones use the Lord's name in vain?

Brad said...
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Brad said...

Yeesh. I went to that link to see what you were talking about. The comments under this post at Jones's blog are instructive. Look at how viciously the Emergents (led by Jones himself) savage the Harris twins.

Phil, while I couldn't agree with you more that Tony and the gang savaged the Harris twins pretty good. There was this "little gem" from Dan earlier...

Harris twins — like, y'know, we, y'know, we're not sure why we're here, y'know, but we really do, y'know, believe the Gospel and think it's, y'know, important, and don't get why these, y'know, old guys don't, y'know, get that. Y'know?

I guess "savage" (or the appearance thereof) is in the eye of the beholder. Peace.


FX Turk said...

I think we're losing our touch. This post was up for 2 days without getting bumped, and it only got 86 comments.

And the worst that happened (surprise!) was that Brad got offended. I can offend Brad by merely posting the contents of 1 Cor 12-14.

Brad said...

And the worst that happened (surprise!) was that Brad got offended. I can offend Brad by merely posting the contents of 1 Cor 12-14.

lol. I loved Phil's post Frank, no offense there. I just got a kick of out of how you and Dan contradicted yourselves, but it's not like I expect you to actually listen to any criticism nor is it that I take you or myself all that seriously. Outside of Phil, I don't find this a very serious blog anyway. Entertaining? You bet, love what you guys do with graphics. But serious? Nah.

And chapter 13 is still in your Bible, Frank? Wow, when did that happen? ;o) And I thought I was the predictable one.

Enjoy your day, Mr. Turk.


DJP said...

Frank and I contradicted ourselves?
When? Where? Why are you just now mentioning it for the first time, and veiled at that?

Phil Johnson said...

Frank: "only . . . 86 comments."

Perhaps our regulars read Challies.com on Monday and don't want to be discovered gazing upon a critique of something evil.

A more "positive" tone can be found on the recently-relaunched Emergent Village Podcast, which has a new sponsor: The Sierra Club.

McLaren is also very positive-sounding in his views on Genesis: "You don't have to believe in a talking snake." He positively deconstructs Genesis 1-3 in a way that is positively amazing, in a Socinian/Pelagian sort of way.

Anonymous said...


I just listened to that podcast.

Holy Cow. What a smooth and reasonable sounding bunch of bunk.
I mean, he sounds so nice and his reasoning sound so plausible, except that on every point what he is saying is so so wrong.

I see (again) why people fall for this man and his teaching. But I can't, for the life of me, understand why any Christian would call him a brother.

My word verification is "hority" which, following that podcast, makes me think of what the OT prophets had to say about guys like him.


It was good to see Pat Patterson fend off the Von Brauners. Another 80 min and he would have pinned them both. As usual - they got away. :)

Anonymous said...

So, if church influence is so absent until people rejoin the church to raise their babies...why is McKnight not encouraging teen marriage and early babies? Later in the clip he mentioned this, and yet early marriage and procreation is probably not part of the conversation. Imagine the bandwagon churches running their programs with that one!

Solameanie said...


LOL. You know, like..the more I think about how Jones and company yell about "tone," I wonder how they'll feel at the tone they'll get at the judgment?

Whether it's the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Great White Throne is another matter.

Chris said...
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Chris said...


Great point about tone!!

I'd venture to say that the decible level will also be much higher than Jones, McNight, and McLaren usually prefer in their comfort zones...and it will be so terribly "uncharitable" towards them, I'm afraid, when they hear the words: "depart from me, ye workers of iniquity"

Del Sutter said...

It seems to me that Kevin or one of the twins should have looked the emergent heretics in the eye and called them out as men who write and speak as if they are LOST.

sox said...

Mcknight criticizes DeYoung for unsatisfactorily defining the emergent/emerging movement to his satisfaction. But when asked to define the movement, neither he nor Tony could define it. In fact, Tony said he tried to do so over 288 pages of his book and probably failed.