UPDATE: Reviewing the Book Part ONE - Is the Emerging Church Really the new skid on the block?
ORIGINAL: Call me a romantic optimist blinded by love if you like but I think John MacArthur's upcoming book on The The Truth War will not be a destructive atomic fundy-bomb dropped on the emerging church. I think John has softened a little since the days of Charismatic Chaos [pdf] where he was described as 'excessively dogmatic" and "unaware of most of the church's history and the legitimacy of differing Biblical viewpoints" [Vineyard response]
but then i might also be horribly wrong. . .
Heres the description of John MacArthur's next book called The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception.
"Right now, Truth is under attack, and much is at stake. In a postmodern culture, Christians are caught in the crossfire of alternative Christian histories, emerging faulty texts, and a cultural push to eliminate absolute Truth altogether. As a result, many churches and Christians have been deceived. Worse still, they propagate the deception that poses itself as Truth! In The Truth War, John MacArthur reclaims the unwavering certainty of God's Truth and anchors Christians in the eternal, immovable promises found in His Word."
I absolutely agree with John. In fact, just last week I was talking about alternative Christian histories regarding the pagan origins of Christmas and I was recommending John MacArthur's excellent piece on Christmas trees where he demonstrates his faith that Christmas trees are not pagan at all but . . " even if a pagan background were clearly established, that wouldn’t necessarily mean we could not enjoy the use of a Christmas tree."
Now I just LOVE that - its missiology in action - the redeeming of a questionable practise for God's purpose which demonstrates a PROPER CONFIDENCE, one that does not waver on known truth but offers an "IF" when historical accounts are suspect or incomplete. There is a place for confidence and dogmatism and there also a place for humble intellectual honesty that presents an "if". And that "if" sometimes opens the door for faith [assurance of things unseen] and dialogue with others who may have alternate pieces of the whole truth.
I hope John MacArthur demonstrates that same sensitivity to varied contexts and alternate histories in his book when he deals with the vast global mosaic called the Emerging Church and the millions of people who are finding new forms of church in the fringe of the emerging culture.
Yes, I realize John has said it is "very diverse and still developing" (Introducing the Emerging Church Part 1) which gives me confidence that his book will be more accurate than that of Don Carson, but John also names the leaders of the EC as the following [all of whom except one are AMERICAN] - Brian McLaren, Mark Driscoll, Spencer Burke, Eddie Gibbs, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Kyle Lake, Erwin McManis [sic], Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, and Leonard Sweet. [link]
Now these guys are all great - and i have enjoyed spending time with every one of them . . .except Doug who still owes me $10 . . . but experience and research on emerging church [which is not rocket science] leads me to movements of equal or greater significance both in USA and outside. If you typed in "emerging church" on Google over the past few years, you would notice that the NUMBER ONE HIT is an English site sponsored by a 200 year old mission agency and published by people who have been doing this thing for the past 20 years. That site emergingchurch.info has only just now become second place to Wikipedia on google.com [still number one on Google.co.uk] and it does cause some light to be shed on the international nature of emerging church and whether Carson was correct in calling the emerging church an "American phenomenon". [i think not]
I love Americans . . I even married one and now have 5 American children . . and I love In-N-Out Burger [God-bless-it] .. . but when it comes to things like the emerging church movement, I have noticed that Americans tend to come late for dinner and then leave before dessert. And during that very brief exposure, they manage to publish a thousand authoritative books on their experience. Lets stay hopeful that John MacArthur, famous for his meticulous and exhaustive research, will buck this trend. And if not, we will just have to treat John's book as a criticism of a very small corner of emerging church which may/may not be relevant to the majority. . . like we did with Don's book.
I have heard some early responses from Dan Kinball and Bill Kinnon, and I have read Phil Johnsons predictions about the book but . . really . . .I am not too worried about damage control for the emerging church. If this book is true in all it affirms then the emerging church, with its strong emphasis on the whole truth in context, its disciplined Berean approach of triangulating research to get the skinny, and its uncompromising commitment to proper confidence, should offer a fine example of how to handle truth in our current skeptical postmodern culture. And if the hat fits, it will be a learning and growing opportunity. Of course, there might be one or two emerging churches that buck the trend and give fuel for a few fiery chapters and a few slices of criticism. There always are, especially when you are dealing with the global emerging church - a 20 year old movement that is comprised of thousands of churches and hundreds of networks in dozens of countries - plenty of material to find a few heretics. But cases of extremity also appeared in Charasmatic Chaos and The Gospel According to Jesus and were dealt by critics as extreme cases rather than the general rule. The latter book is still being discussed at Lou Martuneac's blog called In Defense of the Gospel.
SFPulpit has just started to blog some thoughts from Truth Wars. Start with "Should We Fight For The Truth?" and keep an eye on Phil Johnson who also blogs at Team Pryo. Phil will have the skinny on the book - [which i believe he edited] and i am sure will be up for some discussion after its release. Hi Phil!!!!
- Tallskinnykiwi: Newbigin on Fundamentalism and Liberalism
- Michael Spencer doesnt like the "war" analogy used in the Truth Wars
- Masters Seminary series on Emerging Church which I felt was substandard compared to similar treatments by other seminaries. DTS and Westminster, for example, were more scholarly and accurate.
- Don Carson, who was also harsh on the charismatics, published a book on truth and the emerging church based on a lecture series that I was not impressed with.