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Emergent at Yale and Masters

Emergent Conversations have been going on at both Yale Divinity School and Masters Seminary. Never expected to see both institutions in the same sentence.

At Yale, students were interacting with teachings by Miroslav Wolf. Yale Daily News captured the moment and there was some negative Catholic response who someone who wasn't impressed. Bloggers Jason, and Cleave WERE impressed enough to write notes and there is more at Faithasawayoflife,

At the same time, Masters Seminary are doing a series on the Emergent Church. John MacArthur Jnr has been describing the emergent church as the 3rd wave of movements that threaten our clarity of the Scriptures. The first two waves, according to MacArthur were the charasmatic momement (which he tackled in "Charasmatic Chaos" [see also Vineyard Response to Charasmatic Chaos .pdf, and this letter]) and the Seeker Movement (which he confronted in "Ashamed of the Gospel").

BTW - cant find any bloggers from Masters who have their own thoughts on this or their reaction to the professors at Masters. Anyone help? And not only this, but I have not been able to open all the audio files on my Mac. Must be a PC-Window's based audience.

The third wave, says MacArthur is the emergent church movement that he characterizes as believing the Bible is "hopelessly ambiguous" and avoiding debate with anyone except people like himself -who apparently - are the only people true to the Scriptures. [I feel a third book coming on] MacArthur believes the main threat comes from a lack of clarity regarding the Scriptures - that the Bible has never been clear (his take on MacLaren) or is only NOW clear (his take on N.T. Wright) rather than a MacArthurite Absolute Clarity, as expressed when in states in his presentation . . .
"We have the mind of Christ, We know EXACTLY how he thinks!"

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John MacArthur Jnr says the two most popular emerging church books are Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi by David Crowder and Faith of My Fathers by Chris Seay. I haven't read either of these two books (had not heard of Praise Habit) but I know the authors well from previous encounters at their old church. David was the worship leader at Chris's church in Waco. Both great guys. They are both connected to the Baptist General Convention of Texas (moderate) and not the other more fundamentalist baptist stream so sides have already been drawn in this debate.

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However, if a seminary is going to critique a movement, why cant they tackle some of the more weighty books put forward from the movement itself that discuss the missiological basis for emerging church? - say . . "The Shaping of Things To Come" by Alan Hirsch and Mike Frost. Nothing against Dave Crowder - I love that guy - he's a fantastic worship leader and i play his music all the time. But I have a feeling his book on Sushi and Sunsets was not written as an exhaustive apology for the emerging-missional church. Not saying MacArthur is wrong - perhaps they ARE the most popular books on the subject right now. Maybe I should buy them so that i can see where the movement is at right now? I really like Chris and Dave and if their books are rocking America, then fantastic!

As for MacArthur's critique on the emerging church, I don't have time to give a response. But since it is so similar to the previous attacks on the charasmatic movement and the seeker movement, perhaps it would be wise to go back and see if MacArthur's clarity on those situations was well founded before moving onto this third wave.

THIRD WAVE? wow. I guess the emerging church is making an impact in USA after all.

Along similar lines, yesterday, in the bathtub, I was reading TEDS Professor Paul Hieberts excellent chapter on "Spiritual Warfare and Worldview" (from Global Missiology for the 21st Century). He believes that a systematic theology [based on algorithmic logic] on its own is not enough. Its good for tackling subject matter categorically, but we also need a biblical theology (narrative, historical, contextual) AND a missiological theology (applicable, involving phenomenology, ontology, evaluation and missiology, ie, applicable to current context). In other words, its not systematic theology VS all the rest. Its systematic theology when the need arises AND other ways of approaching the Scriptures when called for, or when context demands it.

Another angle, given by Hiebert, is that of tropological theology which is "done in the context of worship and stresses the mystical, sacremental and iconic nature of Scripture." "Tropological methods are essential in studying poetical, wisdom, parabolic, and apocalyptic passages in Scripture. An excessive trust in algorithmic logic also overlooks the fact that all human reasoning is touched by our fallen nature and that Paul warns us against putting too much trust in it (1 Cor. 1:20-25)" (pages 166-167)

As for me and my house, I lean toward the balanced, synoptic approach to Scripture and theology that Hiebert outlines than I do towards the ONE RIGHT WAY of John MacArthur. And I am hoping MacArthur will invest in a few more books on the global emerging church movement before he writes his book.

Related: Proper confidence and Lesslie Newbigin.
Troplogical: Has Emergent Gone Troppo?

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