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Thursday, April 02, 2009
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Thursday, November 09, 2006
The following works like a table of contents to this blog. You can always start from here and work your way through the entire presentation. Welcome!
10 Apr 2006
On Monday, April 10, 2006, I delivered a paper detailing my research into "The Emergent Church" for a local Pastor's Fellowship. The meeting was attended by many different folks, some involved in the emergent movement and others just ...
10 Apr 2006
“Have you heard of this ‘emergent church?’” “Do you have any idea what it is all about?” “What is a ‘missional?’” “What about this McLaren fellow, have you read his books?” These kinds of questions have been asked of me (and perhaps of ...
10 Apr 2006
What is Emergent? Nailing Jell-o to a wall. Stapling wet noodles to the ceiling. You will have about as much success attempting these things as you will at defining Emergent. To begin with, you have to decide what to classify it as; ...
12 Apr 2006
Since EC is a movement among many individuals that crosses virtually every denominational boundary, it would perhaps be helpful to identify some of the more prominent individuals. Most folks by now have heard of Brian McLaren. ...
13 Apr 2006
Diagnosis of One Particular Form of Evangelicalism One of the skills of an excellent physician is the ability to quickly and accurately diagnose the illness. EC certainly has some good diagnostic skill.
14 Apr 2006
The Steady EC Diet – Over-generalization and Guilt-by-Association Brian McLaren paints with extremely wide brushes. He categorizes people and movements with the accuracy of one of those extra-wide rollers you can buy at Home Depot! ...
16 Apr 2006
... and repenting of them is overly simplistic and I propose accomplishes no actual good. Holding them up as proof that we Christians continually get things wrong and need to be always re-inventing, or emerging is plainly misleading. ...
19 Apr 2006
Historical Inaccuracy – Purposeful Revision? This leads us to another habit which is commonplace in EC. My own opinion is that the majority of EC authors are given to purposeful revision of historical matters to suit their own ends. ...
20 Apr 2006
I am not aware if McLaren has actually denied being a Universalist. He certainly never comes out and states that he does believe every person will eventually go to heaven, but I will offer a few extended quotes to demonstrate why so ...
22 Apr 2006
The first part of the issue is summarized in this posting by Driscoll on the Leadership Journal’s “Out of Ur” blog: Well, it seems that Brian McLaren and the Emergent crowd are emerging into homo-evangelicals. ...
24 Apr 2006
Some have argued that EC is fundamentally an off-shoot of the seeker-sensitive movement so popular in the last decade. This is no where more clear than in the EC desire to allow people “in” before they “believe. ...
25 Apr 2006
Warning: for non-Canadians this illustration may not make sense. In the code of honour in hockey, it is the duty of Player B to stand up and fight when challenged by Player A. Player B may not be a fighter, and may even be injured in a ...
29 Apr 2006
Some of these words aren’t even real words (“missional,” “emergent,” and “liminal” all come to mind), just made up phrases and verbal adjectives that make the outsider wonder if EC isn’t just really a collection of angry artists and ...
1 May 2006
Finally, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that for McLaren and many other EC folks, the final source of authority for their opinions are... themselves. McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy is proof in the pudding. ...
2 May 2006
Before I attempt an evaluation of EC, one question begs to be answered: Why is EC so popular? All these blogs and websites give the impression that EC is taking over the world. Okay, that is alarmist, but it is clear that the movement ...
3 May 2006
This paper is already very long and I am fearful that rushing to a solution will not do justice to a topic that needs much more consideration. Just coming to an understanding of what EC is and where it is going is difficult enough ...
6 May 2006
Emergent-US leaders Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones were full participants in a Jewish Emergent Dialogue called Synagogue 3000. From the website: S3K – Synagogue 3000 is a catalyst for excellence, empowering congregations and communities to ...
11 May 2006
Much of McLaren’s “Secret Message” is based upon the idea that Jesus told obscure parables in order to lure people into following Him. From this premise, he goes on to suggest that we ought to do the exact same thing. ...
13 May 2006
He is the coauthor (with Eddie Gibbs) of Emerging Churches: Creating Christian ... He is also the president of Emerging Leadership Initiative (ELI), a non-profit ... Tony Jones is the national coordinator of Emergent US, a growing, ...
19 May 2006
Excerpts from “The Need of Decision for the Truth” A College Address, by CH Spurgeon From the March 1874 Sword and Trowel Magazine We have a faith to preach, my brethren, and we are sent forth with a message from God. ...
Posted by Paul at 11/09/2006 07:37:00 PM
Friday, May 19, 2006
Excerpts from “The Need of Decision for the Truth”
A College Address, by C. H. Spurgeon
From the March 1874 Sword and Trowel Magazine
We have a faith to preach, my brethren, and we are sent forth with a message from God. We are not left to fabricate the message as we go along. We are not sent forth by our Master with this kind of general commission—" As you shall think in your heart and invent in your head as you march on, so preach. Keep abreast of the times. Whatever the people want to hear, tell them that, and they shall be saved." Verily, we read not so. There is something definite in the Bible.
We ought to preach the gospel, not as our views at all, but as the mind of God—the testimony of Jehovah concerning his own Son, and in reference to salvation for lost men. If we had been entrusted with the making of the gospel, we might have altered it to suit the taste of this modest century, but never having been employed to originate the good news, but merely to repeat it, we dare not stir beyond the record. What we have been taught of God we teach. If we do not do this, we are not fit for our position.
Brother, if the truth be in thee it will flow out of thine entire being as the perfume streams from every bough of the sandal-wood tree; it will drive thee onward as the trade-wind speeds the ships, filling all their sails; it will consume thy whole nature with its energy as the forest fire burns up all the trees of the wood. Truth has not fully given thee her friendship till all thy doings are marked with her seal.
Above all we must show our zeal for the truth by continually, in season and out of season, endeavoring to maintain it in the tenderest and most loving manner, but still very earnestly and firmly. We must not talk to our congregations as if we were half asleep. Our preaching must not be articulate snoring. There must be power, life, energy, vigor. We must throw our whole selves into it, and show that the zeal of God's house has eaten us up.
Mere skimmers of the word, who, like swallows, touch the water with their wings, are the first to fly from one land to another as personal considerations guide them. They believe this, and then believe that, for, in truth, they believe nothing intensely.
And now, lastly, why should we at this particular age be decided and bold? We should be so because this age is a doubting age. It swarms with doubters as
The truth is that a few, a very few, thoughtful men, whose thinking consists in negation from first to last, and whose minds are tortured with a chronic twist or curve, which turns them into intellectual notes of interrogation, have laid the basis of this system; these few honest doubters have been joined by a larger band who are simply restless; and these again by men who are inimical to the spirit and the truths of Scripture, and together they have formed a coterie, and called themselves the leaders of the thought of the age. They have a following, it is true; but of whom does it consist?
People who never heard of Strauss, of Bauer, or of Tubingen, are quite prepared to say that our Savior was but a well-meaning man, who had a great many faults, and made a great many mistakes; that his miracles, as recorded in the New Testament, were in part imaginary, and in part accountable by natural theories; that the raising of Lazarus never occurred, since the Gospel of
When a prophet comes forward he must speak as from the Lord, and if he cannot do that, let him go back to his bed. It is quite certain, dear friends, that now or never we must be decided, because the age is manifestly drifting. You cannot watch for twelve months without seeing how it is going down the tide; the anchors are pulled up, and the vessel is floating to destruction. It is drifting now, as near as I can tell you, south-east, and is nearing Cape Vatican, and if it drives much further in that direction it will be on the rocks of the Roman reef. We must get aboard her, and connect her with the glorious steam-tug of gospel truth, and drag her back. I should be glad if I could take her round by
Posted by Paul at 5/19/2006 02:17:00 PM
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Names Closely Associated with EC
Ryan Bolger is assistant professor of church in contemporary culture in the
Tony Jones is the national coordinator of Emergent U.S., a growing, generative network of missional Christian leaders. Tony is also a doctoral fellow and senior research fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of five books, including Postmodern Youth Ministry and The
Dan Kimball is the pastor of
Scot McKnight is the Karl A. Olsson professor in religious studies at
Doug Pagitt is pastor of Solomon's Porch, a holistic, missional, Christian community in
LeRon Shults is a professor of theology at Bethel Theological Seminary and is an author of several books, textbooks, and articles. His most recent book is Reforming the Doctrine of God.
Chris Seay is a leader in the emerging church discussion and highly regarded for his innovative thinking. He was the founding pastor of
Shane Claiborne is one of the founding members of The Simple Way, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in
Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at
Donald Miller is the author of Blue Like Jazz as well as many other books. He is a frequent speaker at colleges and conferences across the country, addressing the relevancy of Christian spirituality to explain and heal the dynamics of the human heart.
Most of the above list is from a promotional piece for a workshop entitled The
Jason Clark (
Matthew Glock (
Sivin Kit (
Claude Nikondeha (
Tomas Yaccino (
Don Crawford (
Gary Dickenson (
Rob Bell - Mars Hill's teaching pastor, Rob Bell, hair tousled and reddish brown, hops on stage in the center of what must have been the mall's anchor store. The huge space has been redecorated in utilitarian gray; a wooden cross reaches from floor to ceiling. Communion elements—the broken crackers and grape juice that are standard issue at Bible churches of every generation—are set at its base.
It's a pithy way of describing Jesus' upside-down kingdom, and it's a striking way of introducing a Communion service at the foot of a large cross. But "Weak is the new strong" is also an allusion to fashion-industry dictates like "Gray is the new black."
Clearly cultural relevance was part of the reason for planting a church whose worship team requires a bass player who can play "in the style of Jimmy Eat World and Coldplay." No generation has ever been more alert to such nuances than the media-fed children of the 1980s and '90s, who can sense uncoolness at a thousand paces. As Rob Bell's wife, Kristen, tells CT in a joint interview after the service, "It's a cultural jump for our friends to come to church. It's a cultural jump for us, and we grew up in the church."
But it quickly becomes clear that these
In fact, as the Bells describe it, after launching Mars Hill in 1999, they found themselves increasingly uncomfortable with church. "Life in the church had become so small," Kristen says. "It had worked for me for a long time. Then it stopped working." The Bells started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself—"discovering the Bible as a human product," as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat. "The Bible is still in the center for us," Rob says, "but it's a different kind of center. We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it."
"I grew up thinking that we've figured out the Bible," Kristen says, "that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it's in color."
The more I talk with the Bells, the more aware I am that they are telling me a conversion narrative—not a story of salvation in the strict sense, but of having been delivered from a small life into a big life. The Bells, who flourished at evangelical institutions from
An earlier generation of evangelicals, forged in battles with 20th-century liberalism, prided themselves on avoiding theological shades of gray, but their children see black, white, and gray as all equally unlifelike. They are looking for a faith that is colorful enough for their culturally savvy friends, deep enough for mystery, big enough for their own doubts. To get there, they are willing to abandon some long-defended battle lines.
"Weak is the new strong," it turns out, is not just Rob Bell's knowing reference to the world of fashion, nor just his clever reframing of Paul's message of Christlike life. It's a roadmap for a new way of doing church, even a big church.
And how did the Bells find their way out of the black-and-white world where they had been so successful and so dissatisfied? "Our lifeboat," Kristen says, "was A New Kind of Christian."
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/011/12.36.html Accessed on April 4, 2006.
Spencer Burke - During the past 22 years of ministry, Spencer has explored his passion for arts, technology and the Church. As an accomplished photographer he has exhibited his work at galleries and taught at the University level. Humorous, inspirational and surprising are words people use to describe his story-telling speaking style. Read more about Spencers story.
He is a sucker for the latest gadget and if money wasn’t an object, he would have the newest, fastest and best in technology at his fingertips.
Spencer now serves at both THEOOZE and at his church, ROCKharbor, in
THEOOZE is a metaphor for Spencer’s ministry—on the move, unpredictable, non-linear, journey- rather than destination-oriented. THEOOZE creates environments where church leaders (traditional teachers/theologians as well as emerging storytellers/artists) can converse about and collaborate on resources and training for the broader faith community. This is done by providing places for people to gather and communicate both online and offline about how to bring the story of Christ to our emerging culture.
Spencer and his five-year-old boy Alden, one-year-old baby girl Grace, and lovely wife of 17 years, Lisa, reside in their turn of the century beach shack in
http://cavepainter.typepad.com/about.html accessed on April 4, 2006.
Tim Keel - stats: 36 years old: married to mimi: father of three great kids: mabry, annie, and blaise: we live in kansas city, mo: pastor of jacob's well church: our community is about six years old: the church is in midtown: we are a group of people seeking to become an authentic, biblical community: we want to experience and express the reality of God's love as followers of Jesus: part of emergent.: glad you're here:. http://jacobswellchurch.org/tim/ accessed on April 4, 2006.
Churches Closely Associated with EC
· Jacob's Well -
· Three Nails -
· Solomon's Porch -
· Church of the Apostles -
· Ecclesia -
· Bluer -
· Vintage Faith -
Posted by Paul at 5/13/2006 06:45:00 PM
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Much of McLaren’s “Secret Message” is based upon the idea that Jesus told obscure parables in order to lure people into following Him. From this premise, he goes on to suggest that we ought to do the exact same thing. Meaning, we ought to learn to speak in parable and create intrigue both by our words and in our actions. It sounds like we are to become something like Eastern Guru’s... creating a group of followers who very slowly begin to understand us (and one presumes, Jesus). To illustrate this I offer the following extended quote:
Maybe then, we have some beginning of an answer to the disciples’ question, and ours. Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why was he subtle, indirect, and secretive? Because his message wasn’t merely aimed at conveying information. It sought to precipitate something more important: the spiritual transformation of the hearers. The form of a parable helps to shape a heart that is willing to enter an ongoing, interactive, persistent relationship of trust in the teacher. It beckons the hearer to explore new territory. It helps form a heart that is humble enough to admit it doesn’t already understand and is thirsty enough to ask questions. In other words, a parable renders its hearers not as experts, not as know-it-alls, not as scholars... but as children.
Now do some of the most famous sayings of Jesus begin to make more sense—about the
This, by the way, is what the problematic word repentance is all about. The word means to rethink—to reconsider your direction and consider a new one, to admit that you might be wrong, to give your life a second thought, to think about your thinking. It means, just as Jesus said to Nicodemus that night, that you have to begin again, become like a child again, be born again. So if the problem is that too many of us are too independent, too self-centered, too set on stubbornly sticking to our own self-determined path . . . if the problem is that too many of us are arrogant know-it-alls, closed-minded adults, overconfident non-thinkers, and altogether too grown up—then the parable renders us into exactly what we need to be: teachable children. No wonder Jesus decides to make his message a secret! No wonder he hides it in metaphor and story!
But not all of us are willing to be so rendered. Some of us want fast, painless, effortless information and not slow, energetic, engaging transformation, thank you very much. What happens then to those who say, “I don’t have time for childish stories about seeds and yeast and sheep. I’m an important person. I have advanced degrees! I’m very knowledgeable!”? Simply put, the parable excludes them. In fact, the parable exposes them. In that sense, while parables bring some to childlike, humble rethinking, they bring out the arrogance, anger, impatience, and ugliness of others.
When I first began to understand that this was part of what was going on in Matthew 13, I felt bad. I didn’t want anyone to be left out. I didn’t want anyone to be exposed. Couldn’t Jesus’ parables be 100 percent effective? Couldn’t there be a happy ending for everybody? Couldn’t they get through to everybody? (More on this in chapter 18.)
In Jesus’ story, the answer was either no or not yet, because many, many people didn’t respond as the disciples did to Jesus’ parables. They didn’t ask questions, they didn’t soften their hearts in a childlike way, and they didn’t seek “the secrets of the kingdom.” Others did get the message, but it didn’t win their hearts1 it made them angry! Once, for example, Jesus told a detailed parable about some people who resorted to horrific violence to maintain control over their little turf. The religious leaders who felt their turf being threatened by Jesus got the meaning and hated it because, according to Luke, “they knew he had spoken this parable against them” (20: 19). Their response was to become more dedicated to their own hostile schemes.
We might wish Jesus’ parables could have won over even the Pharisees. (A few, by the way, were won over—including Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and later, a Pharisee named Saul, better known to us as Paul, who became a leading apostle in the early Christian movement) But, if it’s the heart that counts, then hearts can’t be coerced; nobody can be forced. They can be invited, attracted, intrigued, enticed, and challenged—but not forced. And that, perhaps, is the greatest genius of a parable: it doesn’t grab you by the lapels and scream in your face, “Repent, you vile sinner! Turn or burn!” Rather, it works gently, subtly, indirectly. It respects your dignity. It doesn’t batter you into submission but leaves you free to discover and choose for yourself.
There is much that could be said in response to this, but I will limit myself to four things.
1. The parables of Jesus cannot all be lumped into one category. Some parables were told to rebuke Pharisees. Some were told to instruct disciples and hide Kingdom truth from unbelievers. Other parables were told to be perfectly clear to their intended audience – hostile or accepting. To suggest otherwise is simply to not read the text.
Most often the reason for the parable is given in the text of the Gospel. For example: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector...” (Luke 18:9-10).
2. In many cases, Jesus told parables to complement the Father’s active work of blinding eyes; that is, of hiding spiritual truth from all but those for whom it was intended. This type of thing happened to more than just non-believers, thus demonstrating God’s absolute sovereignty over all things.
Luke 8:9-10 “And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that “seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.”’ Much could be written on this, but it is clear that at least in some instances it was the Lord’s purpose to hide Truth (not just make it illusive, like a riddle) from people and thus He spoke in parables.
A similar type of action was taking place with the Disciples: Luke 18:31-34 “And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to
3. Paul was not saved by hearing the parables of Jesus. He was blinded on a road, heard the voice of Jesus from heaven and was instantly converted. The parables came later when he (we presume) gladly read the Gospels. To intimate, as McLaren does, that Paul was converted through the parabolic ministry of Christ is yet again misleading.
4. Although Jesus spoke in parables, His apostles did not. There are no examples of the 11 or Paul speaking and teaching in this way. McLaren suggests that Paul did not write this way since he was “himself a kind of parable.” This is so stretching that it is pure invention.
The teaching of the followers of Jesus was marked by bold and clear proclamations of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In fact, this preaching is often characterized in the short form as “they preached Jesus.” Consider Paul’s words to King Agrippa as one example: “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in
Posted by Paul at 5/11/2006 03:38:00 PM