Are We A Threat to the Gospel? (Restored)

UPDATE: This is getting a little unwieldy. Can we keep in mind that this is not a matter of baptist church VS emerging church but rather Mohler VS McLaren. And remember that Mohler does not speak for all Baptists, just as McLaren does not speak for all in the emerging church. See a really good response at Reformissionary, Emerging SBC Leaders and also Christdot. Best conversation is at SBC LEADERS

ORIGINAL POST:

“Leaders Call Emerging Church Movement a Threat to Gospel”. “A recently developed way of envisioning church known as the ”Emerging Church Movement“ deals carelessly with Scripture and compromises the Gospel, according to a prominent evangelical scholar and a Southern Baptist seminary president.” David Roach, Baptist Press, summarizing D.A. Carson and Al Mohler.

Al Mohler and Don Carson are both worth reading because they have given attention to us. Al Mohler read “The Post Evangelical” andDon Carson attended an Emergent Convention. [Correction: John in comments says he did not attend but only heard a CD – thanks John] I think its great that they are taking the effort and they deserve our respectful treatment as we respond to them.

“Dr. Carson doesn’t understand us.” says Brian McLaren who gets spanked again, this time with a Baptist rod.

I wish the Baptist Press would critique some young Baptists inside the emerging church scene and not Brian McLaren who would be criticized by Baptists whether he was part of the emerging church or not.

Al Mohler: “The worldview of postmodernism — complete with an epistemology that denies the possibility of or need for propositional truth — affords the movement an opportunity to hop, skip and jump throughout the Bible and the history Christian thought in order to take whatever pieces they want from one theology and attach them, like doctrinal post-it notes, to whatever picture they would want to draw.” Article



So, are we a threat to the Gospel?

That hurts. I have devoted the last 25 years to the living out and telling the Good Story in about 40 countries. I was under the impression that I was HELPING the story get told, not hindering or threatening it. So what about letting me respond to that last paragraph, as one who was raised a Baptist and has also been identified with the emerging church . . .

[update] – ahhhh . . my blogging editor messed up here and deleted the rest of my thoughts. I am sorry! No disrespect intended to those of you who posted comments. If anyone copied and pasted my whole post, please let me know.

(update2] thanks Darryl for the .pdf file. Darryl at dashhouse.com To read the rest of this post, either Download PDF file of this post here. or keep reading the email that Darryl sent me.

(Soooooorrrrrryyyy that is so confusing.)

1. How can we deny the possibility or need for propositional truth? –
the Bible is loaded with it such as “God is love” and “Your word is truth”(Jn. 17:17) and “all who live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” These propostions are true. I know. I have EXPERIENCED them
and they would be true even if i had not experienced them. I think certain Baptist leaders should put down their philosophy books and go to the streets where the gospel is being shared in truth by emerging church people.
Where is this straw man, anyway? How about someone offer a $100 reward for the person that comes forward and says what the critics accuse them of? If there is someone out there, and I dont think there it, i want to have a word with them – they are causing a lot of grief and confusion, even though they are helping to support the evangelical book publishing industry.

2. I was taught at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in a storytelling class by Southern Baptist missionary John Langston that the way to avoid hopping and skipping all over the Bible was to take a more NARRATIVE view of the Scriptures in their entirety as the unfolding story of God. And not only should we read the Scriptures in their written genre (80% is narrative story) but also we should COMMUNICATE it as story also. I was a pastor who preached propositional 3 point sermons in churches for 7 years. And then I switched to a more storytelling narrative style of reading and communicating the bible.
And someone please correct me if i am wrong, but I feel I am doing far less jumping around and piecemealing Scripture then when I was preaching propositionally.

(my wife just agreed with me!!)

BTW – a layman showed me a card file of 30 years of preaching he had listened to, each card representing a sermon, filed under the book of the Bible it came from. He was amused that there was hardly anything from Ecclesiastes and a WHOLE LOT of Romans.

Who’s skipping???? Really?

3. The worldview of postmodernism is something we are responding to in a prophetic way. It is not something to which we are accommodating our theology. For me to argue in the same vein, I would have to say:“Since the modern evangelical church was formed in the modern Enlightenment period, which was founded on humanism, we can safely say that all people in modern churches are therefore ATHEISTS.”

But to say that would be to argue from theory – if we asked real people, we would get a different answer. No- Our forefathers brought good news for modern man, and now we are bringing good news to postmodern people. And postmodern people are hearing the gospel and becoming part of the body of Christ.

Carson, quoted in the article, is right on a few points:

– the emerging church has been reactive in protesting.

This is true, but many young people have experience spiritual abuse at the hands of power greedy ministers who went unchecked under the old system – and these young people may take a few years to get healed. But i can assure you, healing comes, and more advanced stages of emerging church are moving forward rather than looking back. PPPPPLLLEEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSEEEEEE dont spank us just because of one or two angry groups who give us a bad name. If we wanted, we could pick one or two bad apples in your basket too.

– the emerging church has had “a reductionistic understanding of modernism”
yes – very true – but now Carson is likewise treating the postmodern period in the same manner.

– “they give the impression of dismissing” Christianity.“
Thats possible when we are not careful to show that we are only dismissing the baggage and appendages that have outgrown their use. We preach Jesus. Not a cultural form of religion and not a particular methodology perfected in the 1950’s. We preach Jesus. Did I say that already? We preach Jesus! But we also must ask the question- should we bring everything from the old model of church into the next paradigm or are there somethings we need to dismiss? I bet Carson’s church has dismissed a few things – I am glad the Southern Baptists dismissed their ‘biblical’ support of slavery upon which they were founded (and are profoundly apologetic).

– ”an inappropriate dismissal of confessional Christianity.?“
Maybe, but there has been a rediscovery of ancient Christianity, monastic forms, Celtic Christianity and other gems that were ignored during our fascination with the Enlightenment.

He also argues that the Emerging Church Movement frequently fails to use Scripture as the normative standard of truth and instead appeals to tradition.

I have found the opposite – that in my training I am using the Scriptures MUCH MORE than I used to do as an evangelical pastor and much more than my teachers from Seminary did (Bro. Thom Wolf excepted – in fact he modelled it to me, and he also is a Southern Baptist)

I now put more Scripture verses on my projections on the wall than my own thoughts.

CHALLENGE 1:
I challenge traditional and modern evangelical churches to put your 3 point propositional alliterated ideas on a level LOWER than the Scriptures in your preaching, just as we have done. Its time to come
back to the simple, organic, unadulterated words of the Bible, which fade not. Trust me on this one. The Bible speaks more profoundly than our books or sermons or fancy powerpoints. Let God’s word be God’s word again.

CHALLENGE 2:
I challenge Trainers and Educators to move away from the philosophical psychological How-To teaching series and choose instead to just ground people in the Bible – Stop being a motivational speaker and start being a preacher of the Word. Stop your pycho-babble and start giving out the pure word. Less sermon giving and more Bible reading.

BTW – i have talked to pastors about this and they have said that in their seeker driven churches, there is no way they could allow 15 minutes of pure Bible reading. Emerging Churches have no problem with Bible reading – as long as you want. In fact, a church in Prague read the entire New Testament out loud on the streets last Christmas Eve- it took 17 hours.
The people who are sending me regular email support to help me read through the bible this year are from the emerging church . .need i go on?

For a fuller treatment of Don Carson, his criticism, his upcoming book and my thoughts, type these words into your Google search engine

”Don Carson, emerging church“ and see what I have to say.

What do you think? Are we a threat to the gospel? Or do we need to take a really good look in the mirror?

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

55 Comments

  • Andrew, I’m a Southern Baptist. I’ve been doing my best to respond to the growing desire from some of our leaders to demonize the emerging church. I’ve responded to this Baptist Press article as well as others.
    I’ve actually started a website for emerging SBC leaders to start our own conversation about reaching emerging generations and seeing change in the SBC, and I’m going to link to your post for discussion. Thanks for working hard to clarify things.
    Emerging SBC Leaders

  • I’m thankful for your post, Andrew. I’ve recently begun reading “Recaliming the Center (The Conservative rebut of Grenz’ “Renewing the Center”. Sadly Grenz will not be able to address his critics.) and am genuinely disheartened by the lack of understanding shown by the opponents of what we are trying to do. Your post has helped to put into words the frustration that just seems to build with each reading. While there are genuine ideas that do need to be challenged in our circles, to approach the fence of calling us the “H” word (heretic) instead of addressing things in a mature way of conversation is dangerous. Isn’t that where a lot of this began, with folks wanting to find places of dialogue rather than factions and name-calling? I’m saddened that, as far as we thought we had come, the dogs are still nipping at our heels.
    I am thankful for the role that God has given you as a voice both to us who are “emerging” as well as to those who are called to remain in their modern roles. Please keep us up to date on your thoughts about these criticisms. They will help us greatly when the critics begin to take hold of the hearts of those God has called us to shepherd.

  • >. How can we deny the possibility or need for propositional truth? … Where is this straw man, anyway? How about someone offer a $100 reward for the person that comes forward and says what the critics accuse them of?
    Have you read Carl Rashke’s book “The Next Reformation”? I’m sure he could use the $100. He, among others, feel that the Bible does not speak in ‘propositions’, like the Greek philosophers did, but in ‘relational truth’. He feels that by rejecting propositional truth the church can be led out of the enslaving idolatry of enligtenment approaches to knowing God. Hope this helps
    Stephen Gibert

  • However, Steve, I don’t know that Carl would deny the reality of propositional truths such as the one’s that Andrew has listed (among the myriad contained in the Scriptures). Even if the Scriptures were written in a society that experienced reality more through relationship than through proposition, to deny that there were propositions at all would be taking it a little farther that Carl would have gone.

  • I’m a student at New Orleans Baptist Seminary- a Southern Baptist seminary. I come from a mixed background denominationally- Disciples of Christ, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal… and I didn’t even become a christian until I was 18 (i’m now 23). I was raised by a dad who was 41 when I was born, and I’ve learned a lot from him. I think a lot like him. You might call him modern in his thinking, which I guess makes me some kind of mutt (denominationally and thought-process wise). I’m not special. I’m one of those young Christians you referred to as “hurt by the old system.” What I find is that now I am part of a “seminary” church that is effectively sending missionaries across the globe and ministering to the city in diverse ways. They do it almost completely using the old system, mixed with community groups. On the other hand, I’ve become strongly convinced that the emerging church is a force that God is using. I heard Erwin McManus speak about a year ago and having read his books, I’ve learned a lot about his style. I’ve also noticed nobody in the emerging culture claims him. Part of me wonders why.
    In the past, I’ve read blogs that promote certain lifestyles as OK when it is, to me, biblically untrue. These blogs refer to themselves as emerging Christians or associate themselves with the emerging church. One I even found two clicks from tallskinnykiwi.com. I don’t know where you stand on that stuff; it makes sense that you probably do not agree with those other sites. The point I’m making is that I’m trying to find balance between emerging and modern while staying true to the theology I understand. I am Southern Baptist because I identify theologically with them. Otherwise I could have gone to Notre Dame Seminary down the road. Or anywhere else. I guess all I’m saying is- relevance to culture is not optional- as McManus put it. Some cultures are more emerging than others. The lesson I’ve learned over the last year is that you can’t make a bunch of country boys into the emerging church. They are what they are. Maybe that’s the true balance.

  • If anything, I sense that the emerging church calls for a radical return to scripture. A call away from dogmatic thought and doctrine is claimed by the modern church as a call away from traditional Christianity. I personally attempt to rely on Scripture alone. This is a dangerous thing in that you find true freedom in that scripture.

  • Is the Emerging Church a Threat to the Gospel?

    In a recent Baptist Press article, D.A. Carson and Albert Mohler assert that the Emerging Church movement compromises the gospel. Carson has a new book on the topic to be released by Zondervan in June.
    Andrew Jones responds to the BP article in th…

  • I think both you and Doug Pagitt were both prophetic in your prediction that the attacks on the emerging church will intensify over the next couple of years and I don’t think I really believed you until the firestorm erupted over Brian’s Generous Orthodoxy.
    You are correct that many of the same accusations that the modern established church has attacked us with is the same that itself is guilty of and shows some lack of reasoning that I can’t understand.
    Part of me thinks that some elements of evangelicalism is at it’s (fundraising) best when it has an enemy and for now we are it.
    I am looking at a corner of my library now and I am seeing a plethora of “rebuttal” books about all sorts of issues. The books sell on fear and on a fight and I think they only serve to reignite the base rather than any critical engagement.

  • Sometimes, my brother, it is appropriate to get pissed and say things straight out. Not in order to do harm to people in an evil way, but to call out inaccuracy and ignorance when it rears it’s head. Good on you for doing that.
    I’ll add one thing – I take with a grain of Protestant salt who’s saying that “we’re” not worshipping (oops, did I say that) the Bible as they might. I mean, without sarcasm, that the idea of “the Bible as sole authority and life guide” is quite a bit newer than the idea of the Scriptures as God’s Word along with the Tradition of the Church which has flowed along with it through the years. Even what they consider orthodox doesn’t come from the Bible alone, I assure you.
    I’ll proudly say I’m not in the sola scriptura camp, and that I know many people that might be labelled “emerging” who are discovering, along with ancient Christian practices, ancient Christian beliefs. It’s that pesky “post-protestant” thing.
    We do not have to defend ourselves in the arena of the modern Protestant Evangelical worldview. It is not necessary that we retain respectability in that world. That’s just fine. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox as well as some Anglicans have never had proper respect as “real Christians” in that camp. So, if some of us are, again, stepping into much of what was before “the Reformation” and still is, then we should probably expect the same treatment.
    I say we pick our battles. Perhaps we need to let some things go and just let them think what they think. Say what we say and not apologize for it. OK, that’s enough from me. Peace to all in this house.

  • Andrew, Thank you for responding. I’ve only been on the edge of Emergent, but I’ve come under plenty of fire in the last few weeks. I’ve been defending and clarifying what I have known within Emergent every day on my blog. Yours was a much needed post.
    You predicted we would come under fire. I predict this rain of criticism will have a winnowing effect on the Emerging conversation. It is difficult to explore in the freedom we might have while people loom waiting to find the quote that proves we are doing the devil’s work.
    If you are looking for the straw man, Andrew, here is one that my detractors have introduced me to: Harbinger.blogs.com on unicorns and propositions. The Stands-To-Reason folks have been assuming my position is one with this blogger.

  • you found one, Bill? well i am glad i didnt offer the $100 reward myself.
    thanks. i will check out his link and tell him off if he is off base, or as i like to say . . .one tuna cassarole short of the potluck.

  • Andrew:
    For the record, Don Carson never attended an Emergent Convention. However, he did listen to at least one CD from one of Brian McLaren’s sessions at one of the conventions. He has also read many of the emergentYS books. To my knowledge he has had no personal conversations with any Emergent leadership. Which makes the title of his forthcoming book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, a touch ironic.
    John

  • Howdy folks,
    I tend to come down with +Alan on this one. Pick your battles and move on. I guess, Andrew, that you have more at stake than many of us given your association with the Baptist brand. Courage to ya mate!
    What I find comical in these odd ideological squabbles is the insistence that there is something called the postmodern worldview. That very stance communicates the chasm between those critiquing and those being critiqued. Worldview is a convenient fiction from an age of boiled down categorization: useful at a distance as an objectifying tool, but not very accurate the closer one gets to real communities of people.
    That aside, the other item that really piques my interest in discussions such as this is the overwhelming need in some to defend truth as correspondence. Arguing about propositional truth is akin to taking a stand on the human need to breathe. One actually engages in the act of breathing while taking their stand with regard to breathing.
    We are all engaged in propositional truth. The possibility of propositions being true or false depends on the plausibility structures within which the propositions are generated, maintained and encountered. One exists within a realm of givens–of accepted and expected truths–from which arise the possibility of propositions being formed. So to argue over propositions is naive at best. One must begin speaking to the given truths from which particular propositions flow if one is to be party to an act of mutual communication as opposed to an act of ideological war.
    It is the horizon of disclosure that makes propositional truth meaningful. Perhaps it is time to share our horizons more and sift our neighbor’s propositions less. We may find our disagreements less alarming in such a circumstance and in fact may begin to find it easier to carry out one of our Lord’s propositional truths: that we love one another (even in our disagreements).
    Anyhow, as a third culture person I tend to see things cast in terms of the interplay of identity and authority. I think that these may form a useful trajectory of analysis in this case as opposed to the comically blunt binary that the argument over propositional truth ends up being.
    Cheers,
    dan
    theyblinked.com

  • Dan, if all you mean by proposition is a linguistic assertion expressed in a particular language, then of course, you’re right we are all always already committed to propositional truth. (That doesn’t entail a commitment to a correspondence theory of truth, though.)
    But what the philosophically informed conservative evangelicals are wanting is much more than this. They want propositions to be some sort of non-linguistic entity. So far, I have yet to find any remotely plausible account of what this sort of entity is, where we could find it, and how human language and human minds interact with it.
    It’s not an irrelevant debate, since one’s theory of translation and interpretation has much to do with this issue. And for anyone committed to sacred texts that must be translated and interpreted, the nature of truth and meaning is not unimportant.

  • great to have some intelligent and balanced conversation on my blog. thanks for your good spirit.
    for the record:
    i am not angry. I am just following my conscience and standing up for what i see as right and godly.
    “Do not let what you consider good be spoken of as evil.” Romans 14:16
    this week i stood before some influential organizations (at the Southern Baptist led IMB headquarters) and told them that I believe God is true and his word is true –
    “i dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.
    On Christ the solid rock i stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
    I believe in truth but, like the hymn, i am suspicious of myself and others to see it clearly this side of eternity, as people looking through a glass dimly.
    And i will not raise my “frames” or constructs (read “propositions”) to the same level as the name of Jesus which is always true.
    I also said that this is a shared value in the emerging church that i am a part of. I refuse to let one or two misinformed articles and books take away the incredible advances of the gospel from the emerging church in Indonesia, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Chile, Norway, Japan, Brazil, and other countries around the world.
    And i have a very strong gut feeling that both Mohler and Carson have absolutely no knowledge at all about the emerging churches in the countries of which i speak, nor of the fact that if you discredit these networks, you are NOT left with a credible witness among the emerging culture in these countries because the traditional churches just do not know how to reach out to a new world – which is why there is so much cheerleading and raptuous support for the emerging church globally – lets not let a handful of Americans ruin the Kingdom ministry of thousands of ministries around the world!!!!!!
    ok . . . i am a little angry. . .
    Secondly, Al Mohler does not represent all Baptists, neither all Southern Baptists. the Baptist General Convention of Texas – where i act as a consultant, is MODERATE rather than FUNDAMENTAL and are supportive of emerging church efforts in their state and beyond.
    But hey – its easter – and we should perhaps be doing something different today than this.
    I hope that our best efforts towards explaining the emerging church do not always stem from defending it against its accusers.
    but if we must stand up and defend ourselves, let us be an example of Christ, show gentleness and respect, and maintain unity with our accusers. We simply cannot afford to allow the Body of Christ to be charged with disunity. She is BEAUTIFUL, the body of Christ, and we must keep her that way.

  • Greetings, Steve. Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your perspective. Let me ask quickly, what would you mean by proposition if not a linguistic assertion expressed in a particular language?
    As for the correspondence theory of truth: I have to differ with your parenthetical assessment. It is difficult for me to fathom the propositional form outside of a nested series of accepted things to which a proposition would refer (and, conceptually, from which the proposition itself emerges) and then loosely accepted facts about said things to which the proposition may or may not correspond. I, of course, could be quite mistaken in this point.
    As for the philosophically informed conservatives of which you speak: well of course they want more than this! Nevertheless, as you rightly state, I have yet to have anyone with such a desire offer more than trifling answers of probably to my questions of plausibility. What is one to expect? This is the way of the metaphysician: to cast out reified propositions in an effort to maintain (or ascertain) “the secret” that legitimizes their claim to possess a monopoly of truth. All the metaphysician is ever able to do is to make absolute a particular outlook in the name of an Other; a horizon of disclosure objective as if divine. This is a tyranny of the local. It is to mistake the definitional texture of the local for a universal character of truth. It is to disregard or to leave undistinguished the manner in which our lives (actions and their narratives) and technologies (pneumonic device, texts, screens, etc.) are always already situated. Inextricably situated! Making the identity language of orthodoxy and syncretism ways of expressing membership and fear more than truth and transformation. The latter is made manifest in the intricate definition of a life fully lived at the nexus of inheritance and what will be bequeathed.
    I certainly do not think the “nature of truth and meaning” unimportant. Thus my quick notes appended to Andrew’s post this morning. I think it exceedingly important in conversation with particular constituents within certain contexts. Especially among leaders who have part in informing the base artifacts of the human operating systems of particular religious communities.
    When in such a situation I suggest that the crux and crucible of propositional truth is the socio-linguistic community that forms its substance and tacit significance, but that it is embodied truth that is the bridge between linguistic communities and, I would venture to say, the defining characteristic of any community’s legacy.
    I would suggest that atrocities carried out by ideological communities (and which community isn’t ideological) are directly related to a community’s hermeneutical presuppositions with regard to a functional theory of meaning, an idealized truth and their part in bringing these things to bear in the relationships within the boundaries of their identity group and the communities they exist among. If for no other reason than for the sake of eschewing this penchant for atrocity among adamant communities of True truth an ongoing dialogue on the nature of truth and meaning is necessary.
    Trust you are well on this Easter morning.
    Blessings,
    dan

  • Andrew,
    you mention as an example of emerging church having no problem with Bible reading a church in PRAGUE reading NT for 17 hours. Can you please comment on, which church was that? Did they read in Czech or English? I’m Czech and I wonder which church in Prague would be similar in profile to ’emerging churches’ movement.

  • I’m on board with Mohler’s and Carson’s analysis (in general). I don’t think it helps your cause to write them off as ignorant of what you’re talking about. It would be far better to engage their arguments and discuss them. Steve McCoy’s been accusing us of ignorance (myself and another “Stand-to-Reason” person), but at least he’s been dialoguing with us.
    For what it’s worth, I agree with your statement- “I wish the Baptist Press would critique some young Baptists inside the emerging church scene and not Brian McLaren who would be criticized by Baptists whether he was part of the emerging church or not.” The BP article did go overboard and generalize McLaren far too much. Aside from the fact that they didn’t really say anything new. They didn’t help the discussion either.

  • On the other hand, we could just shake the dust from our sandals and move on. To quietly withdraw and patiently continue in the work that God has called us to do is also a viable option, and one that we might want to consider.
    Or not. Endlessly arguing for no apparent purpose whatsoever….oh, sorry….*engaging in dialogue*….well, that’s fun too.
    I mean, honestly…what if we met our accusers in a garden of prayer, with a kiss, with the name of ‘friend’ on our lips….Dear God Above, when will any of us get it?

  • yes- just moving on with the work of our LORD is a great idea. i am certainly doing that.
    but no purpose? what about this purpose . .
    what about the emerging churches inside certain mission groups in Portugal, or certain denominations in Germany, or Brazil or Indonesia who may lose funding or support because their elders come across what the Americans are saying??
    i hate wrangling about words and the Bible warns against it. But there are hundreds of emerging churches around the world who value having a good name (better than riches) and when people endanger their good name, without cause, and without any chance for them to speak back . . . . then . ..
    i will be a voice for the voiceless, i will speak on behalf off the poor.
    Who appointed the Americans as leaders of the global emerging church? Carson said the emerging church was American – NO! – AMERICA IS CATCHING UP but it did not start there and America can learn much from the rest of the world.
    And who appointed American judges over the emerging church to say whether it gets the or ax or not?
    And have these Americans any idea how much progress has been made for the gospel around the world by the next generation of churches?
    are they ignorant? i did not use that word – you did – i said they were missinformed.
    tell me they know and have seen and understand the emerging church around the world, and i will tell you they are not missinformed.
    However, and i would be happy to end this here.
    I do think that this article we are discussing is a case of Mohler against McLaren. And Mohler does not speak for all Baptists, just as McLaren does not speak for all emerging church people. If we can keep that straight, we can probaly just move on.

  • “I mean, honestly…what if we met our accusers in a garden of prayer, with a kiss, with the name of ‘friend’ on our lips….”
    That’s nice, accusing us of betraying Jesus. So much for Emergent being compassionate. I’d appreciate not being demonized, thank you.
    Andrew, it’s a thin line between “missinformed” and ignorant. Call it what you like, it’s a way of avoiding dealing with the arguments. Maybe Carson is “missinformed”, and I agree he’s off on the American issue, but there’s much more substance to his arguments than that. I’d like someone to show that Carson has no idea what he’s talking about, then there wouldn’t be much for me to worry about concerning Emergent. So far, I haven’t seen this to be the case. I’m sure when his book hits the shelves we’ll all have a blast deconstructing it 🙂
    I’m only vaguely aware of Emergent outside of America. What would you suggest for reading of Emergent international?

  • roger,
    ignorant implies that they have not done any research but have spoken prematurely. Missinformed implies that could have had access to more accurate information but may have had bad counsel.
    As a consultant for organizations like these, i take it upon myself to update and inform leaders of the real situations as i see them.
    As for reading of the emerging church international – dont look for books but instead start with the international christian bloggers who themselves are often part of the emerging church. Start at Emergant at follow the links over the next few weeks.
    and there is international stuff at this link.
    you will also find that we have not been avoiding dealing with these arguments but have been discussing them from the beginning. again – type “don carson, emerging church” into google and see what maggi, myself and others have been saying.

  • Roger, why are you worried about Emergent?
    And most of the rest of the world is calling it the emerging church(es) instead of Emergent. You wont find anything about Emergent international.

  • I am neither SBC nor Emergent but I am increasingly interested in the EC. I feel some sympathies with it but have some misgivings about some of what is being said. I am EFCA and attend TEDS where Dr. Carson teaches. I don’t know him personally but I have taken a class with him and spoken to him a few times.

    John wrote:For the record, Don Carson never attended an Emergent Convention. However, he did listen to at least one CD from one of Brian McLaren’s sessions at one of the conventions. He has also read many of the emergentYS books. To my knowledge he has had no personal conversations with any Emergent leadership. Which makes the title of his forthcoming book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, a touch ironic.

    I don’t understand how what Carson has done is a bad thing. His critique may, in the end, be misguided on some points but if he’s read most (all knowing Carson) of what the EC has written what will talking with the “leadership” do? Are they going to say, “Well, ya, Don, we wrote that but we don’t believe it! Here’s what we really mean…”?
    When McLaren says, “Dr. Carson doesn’t understand us” I have to admit that it is a real possibility. But what he “misunderstands” comes from what is written. That is the face being put forward so what else is the guy going to go by? Again, I can’t conceive of a dialogue with an EC leader that whould contradict what they’ve written so far.
    Where Carson and Mohler may be making a mistake is in producing too harsh a critique too early. The EC is after all emerging. Perhaps a word of warning instead of a condemnation.
    As I’ve posted elsewhere, I don’t know if EC (really McLaren) is a threat to the gospel, but what I’ve read in Generous Orthodoxy, I don’t know what kind of blessing McLaren intends to bring to the nations if he wants to be agnostic on hell (what comfort will the oppressed receive if they can’t know that their oppressors won’t get away with it in the end?) and pronounce a gospel without a substitutionary atonement (Jesus got beaten up by bad people so he knows where you’re coming from) while remaining somewhere between inclusive, univerals and exclusive (You may want to convert to Christianity because it might be the only way but I don’t know so if you’re happy doing what you’re doing that’s fine too).

  • Here’s the absolutely novel idea I’m proposing, one that might – just might – prevent the emerging church from becoming a much prettier version of what it’s emerging from:
    Respond to opposition with silence, and prayer.
    That’s all I’m saying.

  • Tim posted:
    “As I’ve posted elsewhere, I don’t know if EC (really McLaren) is a threat to the gospel, but what I’ve read in Generous Orthodoxy, I don’t know what kind of blessing McLaren intends to bring to the nations if he wants to be agnostic on hell (what comfort will the oppressed receive if they can’t know that their oppressors won’t get away with it in the end?) and pronounce a gospel without a substitutionary atonement (Jesus got beaten up by bad people so he knows where you’re coming from) while remaining somewhere between inclusive, univerals and exclusive (You may want to convert to Christianity because it might be the only way but I don’t know so if you’re happy doing what you’re doing that’s fine too).”
    I think hell isn’t a place you want anyone to go to. I don’t believe in the brimstone stuff. Am I an agnostic?
    What comfort will the glorified have if they know their loved ones are suffering in an endless (and pretty pointless) suffering?
    Regarding substitutionary atonement, I just want to comment that it can be overused. You don’t have to go too far to make it sound like God is an ogre who needs to punish somebody and in consequence sends himself to punish. How about the other models? How about admitting that they actually have some worth? How about some of these greats admit that they don’t actually know everything, get off their high moral horses and think a bit out of the box?
    I submit that if we all decided that the ultimate purpose of the cross (and actually christ’s whole life) was to display the perfect example of the sacrificial lifestyle – something that we must all follow if we claim to be godlike… if we all took that to heart then we could not help but change the world. The more we enclose God in the tiny box of our understanding then the more the church becomes irrelevant.
    J

  • rhymes with kerouac,
    Go for it!
    Joe,
    Hell is ugly. It is unpleasant. I don’t like to think about it when it comes to my family who don’t care about eternity. But if we’re Christians and we follow Jesus, we have to deal with hell. He spoke about it quite clearly.
    Tragically, abuses of a doctrine can happen. Evangelicalism seems to have made an industry of it. Hell and substitutionary atonement are two prime examples of abused doctrines. I remember sitting in Olde Time Baptist churches under hellfire and brimstone sermons. They scared me but never made me fall in love with my Savior. Before that I was Roman Catholic and remember the grotesque fascination with the physical torture of Jesus. Neither really follow how Jesus and the Apostles taught. Sad.
    But I don’t think ignoring hell or redefining the substitutionary atonement so that it “was to display the perfect example of the sacrificial lifestyle” is any better! Emerge from the errors but don’t make similar ones in the other direction. I thought that was what I heard McLaren advocating in Generous Orthodoxy and struggling to do.
    Are there other models of the atonement? Sure. CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe depicts the appeasement theory. CS Lewis was a heck of a lot smarter than me. Is there something we can learn from the appeasement theory? Or, is there some aspect of accuracy in it? I don’t know. I haven’t seen much Biblical support for it. That doesn’t mean I exhume and stone Lewis or protest the release of the upcoming movie. I prefer to teach it more clearly. Focus on those issues and try to think like Jesus and the Apostles thought about them.
    In this way I really like with the emergent approach on this. Don’t form doctrine in reaction to error, instead let’s try to think like Jesus and the Apostles and the Church has.

  • hey people
    thanks very much for coming here and for your well thought out comments.
    final thought – lets aim at PEACE and UNITY and continue sharing the true story of Jesus through our lives and words.
    i need to go on a ministry trip tonight and will be driving about 2500 miles around Europe. I wont be able to monitor comments nor respond to them.
    And to tell the truth, you will find me pretty traditional in my theology and not much fun to play with – i guess i have been too busy to really unpack my evang./fundy theological background – and have probably been getting more milage out of it that it was originally designed for (a bit like the vehicle we will be driving around)
    so you are welcome to keep chatting here . . . or you might want to move off at this stage to another blog.
    let me know if i didnt respond sufficiently to anyone. The person asking about Prague has received an email from the emerging church minister in Prague (go Sasa!!!! see you in a few days!)
    you may want to peruse my Skinny on Carson’s tapes or (much funner) my Skinny on Emergent Criticism”
    bless you all! [papal sign crossing chest and face]

  • Andrew, thanks for the links. I was unaware of your previous discussions of Carson.
    In regards to “emerging churches” v. “Emergent,” I think it can be misleading to label them emerging churches. The Anglican church is emerging in Africa, but it most cases is nothing like what we’re referring to has “emerging.” It’s simply an adjective that may or may not have anything to do with this discussion. By “Emergent” I’m referring to a particular movement (or discussion as McCoy would prefer).
    What concerns me about Emergent? In a nutshell, there don’t appear to be any boundaries whatsoever. While it’s possible for many in Emergent to remain true to God’s Word (and I think many have), there’s nothing keeping many from running amuck. Burke’s universalism and relativism, some denying correspondence truth and propositions. All Emergent can do is say “they may be right,” even though it goes against what God’s revealed. I’ll be blogging more on this later this week.

  • Andrew, I promise to play nicely with others!
    Other than that, I agree with Roger Overton.
    Sign of the cross back at ya!
    Ya know, I miss that from my Roman Catholic days.

  • Discussing Emergent: A Plea for Realism and Charity

    Over the past few days I’ve been accused of being judgmental, ignorant, ridiculous and likened to someone who betrayed Jesus …

  • Discussing Emergent: A Plea for Realism and Charity

    Over the past few days I’ve been accused of being judgmental, ignorant, ridiculous and likened to someone who betrayed Jesus …

  • Yeah, okay Roger… that is what you think is wrong with Emergent. But why does that worry you?
    I can’t help but think this is the same kind of reaction people had to the Jesus People movement in the 70’s and the Vineyard movement in the 80’s. Was there theological problems with each of them? Sure, there are always theological problems with any movement with lots of young people. But young people grow up and settle down… and now everything that has come from those movements fits securely into evangelicalism. Relax guys, we’ll grow up.

  • we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places.
    let the intercession continue.
    Lord have mercy upon us and help us to see through the fleshy stuff to see what you are actually doing here Lord. purify our hearts so we can be about reconciliation of your body. teach us to love. help us to keep our lamps lit and our swords high. let us not be distracted by darkness but cling to His Light. keep our gaze on Jesus and the whole body will be purified.

  • we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places.
    let the intercession continue.
    Lord have mercy upon us and help us to see through the fleshy stuff to see what you are actually doing here Lord. purify our hearts so we can be about reconciliation of your body. teach us to love. help us to keep our lamps lit and our swords high. let us not be distracted by darkness but cling to His Light. keep our gaze on Jesus and the whole body will be purified.

  • we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places.
    let the intercession continue.
    Lord have mercy upon us and help us to see through the fleshy stuff to see what you are actually doing here Lord. purify our hearts so we can be about reconciliation of your body. teach us to love. help us to keep our lamps lit and our swords high. let us not be distracted by darkness but cling to His Light. keep our gaze on Jesus and the whole body will be purified.

  • we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places.
    let the intercession continue.
    Lord have mercy upon us and help us to see through the fleshy stuff to see what you are actually doing here Lord. purify our hearts so we can be about reconciliation of your body. teach us to love. help us to keep our lamps lit and our swords high. let us not be distracted by darkness but cling to His Light. keep our gaze on Jesus and the whole body will be purified.

  • This makes me sad. I feel like as we continually try to encourage conversation, we are continually dragged into debate. How much longer will this go on.

  • no longer, trevor. i am on the road (london today, france tomorrow) and cannot be here to answer respond.
    lots of good links here people to click on and follow the trails.
    have fun.
    you can go now – bye
    thanks for coming.

  • Speaking as a baptist and someone who used to work as a baptist pastor, I have to say that is one of the most wonderful, true, challenging and exciting posts that I have ever read on a blog anywhere. You are 100% right. You are not a threat to the gospel, you are a powerful prophetic voice for the gospel in our century. God bless you. What a wonderful time to be alive.

  • Emergent Malaysia

    I’ve been watching the development of Emergent in the US with much interest; I’ve read most of the criticisms, discussions, conversations whirling around it. I am not sure if it is common knowledge to all, but the Emergent conversation is…

  • Emergent Malaysia

    I’ve been watching the development of Emergent in the US with much interest; I’ve read most of the criticisms, discussions, conversations whirling around it. I am not sure if it is common knowledge to all, but the Emergent conversation is…

  • Emerging criticism of Emerging churches (with a Baptist flair)

    For some time, there has been a growing discontentment of Emergent/emerging churches from certain Evangelical circles. The fun hit the big time when Baptist Press reported that D.A. Carson and Al Mohler call the emerging church movement

  • Emerging criticism of Emerging churches (with a Baptist flair)

    For some time, there has been a growing discontentment of Emergent/emerging churches from certain Evangelical circles. The fun hit the big time when Baptist Press reported that D.A. Carson and Al Mohler call the emerging church movement

Leave a Reply