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
“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?