this conversation is over

Over the weekend I skimmed an advance copy of an important book by a leading Emergent which is not yet released, so I’m not free to comment in depth or even state the author or title.  But something the author said made it clear to me that any chance of fruitful dialogue is now lost.

The author declared that we who stand under the Bible as our authority are guilty of the same type of thinking that endorsed slavery, anti-Semitism, genocide, homophobia, the Inquisition, witch-burning, and apartheid (the author instead recommends using the Bible as a common library of diverse viewpoints rather than an internally consistent authority over our lives).

I have three brief responses:

1. You know you are out of arguments when you play the Hitler card.

2. D. A. Carson on his worst day never alleged that any Emergent was in the same class as those who commit genocide, so let the record show that for all their self-congratulation on their ability to dialogue, it was the Emergents who lobbed the grenade that killed the conversation.  Our view of Scripture puts us in the same company with those who burned witches?  Really?!

3. I suspect that this book will become a litmus test for the church.  It will be impossible to minister alongside those who hold its views, as the book essentially promotes a brand new kind of Christianity.  The division is now fixed.  There is no going back.  This conversation is over.

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  1. Perhaps one aspect of the conversation is over. What if instead the questions pushed by those associated with Emergent were simply the counterbalance to an extremely modern version of Christianity. What if instead we found a large number of people taking up residence in a middle third way. These people have experienced both extremes and found them to both compelling and lacking.

    You may already be thinking along this vein with your very aptly put line about D.A. Carson never taking this step.

  2. Josh:

    I guess it depends upon what is meant by “third way.” This author argues for a “third way” that is indistinguishable from liberalism. I argue for a “third way” in DSB that emphasizes right doctrine as conservatives are known for and love your neighbor like the liberals emphasize. I was hoping–naively it turns out–that emergent leaders would recognize the inherent biblical and logical rationale for a both/and approach. Instead we hear that people who think like us commit genocide. So much for reason and Scripture!

  3. ‘Dialogue’ and ‘conversation’ are two of those words that serve as trump cards by those who advocate it. After all, who in their right might could possibly disagree with dialogue and conversation? Yet in the end these words only highlight their own hypocrisy, as when you want to dialogue and converse over a point with which they disagree.

    ‘Genocide’, ‘slavery’, (cosmic child abuse?), and ‘homophobia’ and the like are again trump cards that evoke a particularly strong response from those who are targeted. Again, who in their right might would condone these heinous crimes against God and humanity? Yet this only reveals the weakness of their assertion, as if the weight of their arguments are insufficient to prove their point.

    I am thus very skeptical when I hear such language being used. In light of this soon released example that you highlight, it seems my skepticism is warranted.

    I do hope you will give more detailed analysis when the book is ultimately released.

  4. Mike:
    I realize that I am may be a bit out my league here since you have a lot more letters after your name than myself and you have read the book in question here. However I have always found one of the strengths of the Emergent/emerging movement/conversation/blob of jello is its decentralized nature. It wouldn’t be that big of a jump to look at Karen Ward and Mark Driscoll and deem them both as Emergent (even if they have disassociated themselves from that label). With that said would it be possible to say that this author doesn’t speak for all those who resonate with the emerging movement.

    There also seems to be a flaw in the author’s argument about sitting under the Bible and being guilty of all the aforementioned atrocities. Doesn’t this seem to be painting with an extremely broad brush? Putting things into hard and fast categories would seemingly fly in the face of other writers and leaders within the emerging church.

    I am hearing some buzz about Jim Belcher’s book “Deep Church” curious if you have any reference point with that.

  5. Why is it that over the past few years I’ve been getting the feeling that when the word “conversation” and “dialogue” is used it means that I am to sit there quietly and meekly while the “one who has it together” tells me all the wrong and stupid things I do, and why if I protest against said judgements that my protest is impeccable validation and positive proof that I am indeed guilty of said “wrong and stupid things”?

    I find in those cases the fuzzy warm feeling implied in the words “conversation” and “dialogue” rings rather hollow and hypocritical.

    Any author who would make those kind of broad sweeping assertions is engaging in out right slander… When you slam the Evangelical church in such a manner, you are slamming my mother…

  6. Do you think that this will wake up some, or if the change in the message has been gradual enough that the sheeple have already sold their souls to these authors? Is there any source for their beliefs? That’s right, “beliefs” is a bad word.

    This causes me to wonder if this book might have been in another bloggers thoughts when he recently wrote that Martin Luther murdered Jews.

  7. Emergent finally fully revealed for what it is: liberalism. And liberalism is not Christianity, it is another religion as J. Gresham reminds us in his book Christianity and Liberalism.

  8. Please tell me my company is not the publisher.

  9. Just more of the same. No one is surprised, are they?

    Hey! Where are Randy and Tad, defending this schlock??

  10. E.: You can relax. It’s not your people! The book is so big that it’s actually with a secular publisher–to reach a broader audience.

    Josh: from what I hear, Belcher is doing something similar to my project in DSB but with more of a ministry and less of a theological focus. I agree that Emergent is broader than any one person, but I don’t know of anyone who calls themselves Emergent who has or would disagree in any substantial way with this author.

    To the rest: I agree that I’m not surprised by this author’s conclusions–sad as they are–but the slanderous use of straw men is shamefully inexcusable.

  11. Mike,

    I have an off-topic question for you. I recall you (I think it was you, at least) mentioning a few months ago that you were going to read James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom and possibly review it here. Have you got around to reading it yet? Thoughts?

  12. Mike,

    Are you simply pointing out that you are in total disagreement with anyone who considers themselves ’emergent’ in any way, shape, or form?

    If this is the case, are you also claiming judgement upon this author? In so doing, are you also disregarding the biblical text, “Judge not lest yea be judged?”

    In reality, we all choose which parts of the Canon we chose not to live under.
    Grace & Peace.
    Randy Buist

  13. IN RESPONSE to your three ponts:

    1. The “Hitler Card” may be a poor choice, but so is any other atrocity created by people who call themselves Christ followers. The Crusades, Slavery, Racism, Immigration, Greed in the name of democracy and free markets. All of them scream in the face of the gospel message. Simply using the ‘Hitler Card’ doesn’t negate an argument.

    2. Regarding D.A. Carson not killing the dialogue: Before Carson released his book on the emerging church, Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt both invited him to dialogue.

    His response was basically: “I’m too busy.” Please feel welcome to check with Brian, Doug, and D.A. Carson to see if I’m correct on this one.

    So, for the record, it was Carson who chose not to have theological discourse.

    3. While you may hope this book becomes a litmus test, it may be a litmus test for you. The church has a litmus test around every corner, around every issue, around every particular social challenge. There will be others.

    In reality, or choice is to divide the church and choose to partner with those whom hold the truth in a mirrored version of ourselves. Or we can choose to hold to the biblical text – to love Yahweh, to love our neighbors as much as ourselves, to give generously, to care passionately, to shower grace upon others, to seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.

    Will this litmus test mean that following Jesus means less, and correct intellectual belief means more?

  14. Good grief. Perhaps the Evangelical world will finally be ready to use the “h-word” (heretic) for these segments of the emergent church (not all, just some segments). It seems whenever I’ve even brought up the possibility that they are becoming heretical I received the “don’t be too hasty to judge” speech.

    While the over application of the heresy word would certainly damage the body of Christ, it seems the refusal to ever use it would equally damage her.

  15. Mike W.

    Would Dan Kimball and crowd disagree with this author? He strikes me as more mainline evangelical (sort of a trendier and hipper version of Willow Creek). Recently I came across some statements of his that expressed concern over the increasing lack of emphasis on theology/evangelism in Emergent circles.

    I don’t know much of him, but would hope he would strongly repudiate this junk.

  16. Randy,

    Where you aware that the same Jesus who said “do not judge” also said “judge righteously”? Are you also aware that we are specifically commanded by Paul to judge those who claim to be fellow believers?

    Odd, that you would accuse Mike W. of judging but seem to have no problem with a book that accuses all traditional forms of Christianity with holding to the very beliefs which brought about slavery, anti-Semitism, genocide, homophobia, the Inquisition, witch-burning, and apartheid.

    Mike says “gee, that’s not good” and you accuse him of being judgmental and this other guy uses every socially dirty label out there and gets a free pass from you.

    The issue here isn’t that we are advocating theological belief means MORE than theological practice, but neither does it mean less. One can’t legitimately claim to value Scripture’s God while openly devaluing God’s Scripture. That is the message that the Emergent church simply refuses to hear, and thus peddle a form of Christ following that looks nothing like what we see in Scripture. Of course, when one throws out the authority of Scripture altogether this becomes much easier to do…..

  17. Brian McLaughlin October 27, 2009 — 9:21 am

    Randy,

    You have to admit, this seems to be a new level in the “conversation.” You don’t like litmus tests, but at some point there must be something that distinguishes Christians from non-Christians, right? (lest you believe everyone is appropriately labeled “Christian”?).

    In the beginning the emerging/emergent conversation was primarily intramural: debating the nature of the atonement, debating various forms of inclusivism, debating ecclesiology, etc. These debates were intramural because they are debates between Christians – people who believe in Jesus Christ and the Word of God. But when you deny the Bible as the Word of God (which is what seems to be going on here) you are no longer in the Christian intramural dialogue. Afterall, isn’t the Bible one of the primary litmus tests throughout history? I know of no Christian, including Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant in any location or age in history who would speak of Scripture in this manner (we may disagree on its role and theology contained therein, but not on Scripture as the Christian’s authority). In this regard, what Mike has described meets the classic definition of heretic – not simply an evangelical heretic, but a historic Christian heretic.

  18. Well, so much for dialogue, mutual respect and listening to the voices of others.

    No doubt people have used the Bible to prop up all kinds of evil, including these new views of the Bible. But what is said is this is total ignorant of church history: men and women who vigorously held to the authority of the Bible took stands against slavery, apartheid, etc. precisely because they let themselves be mastered by the Bible rather than being a master over it.

    Not only that but this view of the Bible is alien to the historic church which has understood the Bible to be authoritative over it. If we aren’t under the Bible all things eventually are up for grabs–soon it is my voice, or the voice of my club that is loudest of all.

  19. Josh:

    I’m confident that Dan won’t like what he reads here. It will be interesting to hear which quarters speak against, which speak for, and which are strangely silent (acquiescing like Chamberlain to Hitler. Good grief! Now they’ve got me playing the Hitler card!).

    Randy:

    You make the best possible case for my argument. Thanks for your contribution.

  20. I’m not trying to be buddy-buddy with Mike here but given his familiarity with this subject and those involved I am more prone to take his word for it until we all know who the author of the book is and read it for ourselves.

  21. I know who it is…and you’re right. His brand of “a new kind of Christianity” is no longer Christianity. It isn’t even simply different, but wholly other…an other form which the communion of saints and Spirit of God has deemed foreign to the Holy Scriptures and Rule of Faith.

    Lord come quickly…
    -jeremy

  22. Mike,
    I can’t tell me how sad this makes me if Jeremy is correct and I’m afraid he may well be. And you’re right about lines being drawn (I paraphrase) and who will choose to be on which side. I unsubscribed from said author’s blog a while back as it was simply making me more and more uncomfortable – where I once say graciousness I now only saw arrogance mixed with confusion. Too sad.

    Maranatha! indeed.

  23. Today on Brian McLaren’s blog he announced the release date (February 9, 2010) and preorder info for his next book. What a coincidence.

  24. Randy:

    You make the best possible case for my argument. Thanks for your contribution.

    Ooooh, classic Wittmer.😀

  25. Hey Mike — thanks for the generosity! 🙂

    In fairness, you wrote a review about a book you won’t name and an author you won’t name and put it upon emerging church people. This could as well be a fairy tale…

  26. Brian,

    While I agree with your post, it’s entirely unfair to write a review about a person who isn’t named about a book that isn’t named about a publisher that isn’t named and about content that can’t be verified and pin in on the emerging church conversation.

  27. I saw this author (he was a new kind of Christian) speak recently. He spent an hour and a half discussing how we are to alleviate poverty and the proliferation of weapons sales to third world countries. Nay a mention of the gospel and what that says about the world’s suffering and our response to it.

    A friend of mine asked him a great question when we met him afterward. We agreed with what the problems were and that they needed to be addressed. But my friend asked him where the confessional element is in all of this. This particular author proceeded to fudge around for a few random thoughts and tried to make an analogy to a castle with a door on it that confessions tried to close, but needed to be open . . . then he just spit it out: “basically, people know what you believe by what you do.”

    In other words, there is no confessional element to his kind of christianity.

    My question to him was much simpler, I asked him what his ministry advice was to a soon-to-be-pastor. He wrote down the following in my notebook:

    1) Find a close circle of friends
    2) Read Walter Brueggeman
    3) Read N.T. Wright
    4) Read Leonardo Boff

    There you have it: ministry advice.

    He struck me as a Schleiermacher for hipsters. Anyone? It’s a shame, because he was a very nice man.

  28. Hey Tyler,

    N.T. Wright has a pretty good understanding of the gospel as does Brueggeman.

    And Thomas Aquinas said that we should live a life where our actions speak louder than our words. Because your Christian politicians don’t expound on the gospel when they speak doesn’t mean they don’t live confessional Christianity. It means they are focused elsewhere.

    This reminds me of when Amy Grant started singing secular music. Instantly, she was no longer a Christian according to the conservative evangelicals. Simply because someone moved from speaking directly about the life of Jesus to speaking about nuclear weapons doesn’t mean he/she no longer cares about Jesus.

  29. Randy,

    Why would those who claim to be followers of Jesus be repulsed by His Word? How can this be of Christ?

  30. I’m 99% sure I know who you’re talking about. If it is, this is the only Emergent author who has YET to dialogue with me (and he’s had the opportunity). Others around him have, but he simply won’t talk to me because of my orthodox views. So what you’re saying, sadly, comes as no surprise.

  31. well, i got called out along with Randy, so i suppose i have to jump in. Assuming I know the author you refer to, I’ve met him and shared some great wine and conversation with him. You should really get to know him. I’m sure you guys would have much to enrich each other.

    as far as “The author declared that we who stand under the Bible as our authority are guilty of the same type of thinking that endorsed slavery, anti-Semitism… [insert ominous hitler-esque imagery]” – you know he doesn’t say that. Come on, Dr. Wittmer, you know he doesn’t say that you are like hitler if you stand under the bible as your authority. I know you know that this author himself, in fact, takes the bible as his authority too. I’ll assume we all know this is complete hyperbole, and that the actual argument is simply that a the 20th century strand of fundamentalism is closely tied in with the mindset that can devolve into worse and worse things. That’s all. The same can be true for liberalism or any other hard-line camp.

    DA Carson… what a guy. Wrote a whole book on emergents without talking to an emergent or researching first to try to understand the perspectives involved. It’s gutsy- like if sarah palin tried to write a book on politics. I got the feeling he though emergents weren’t real christians and were, therefore, going to hell… which is kindof a lot worse than getting the gas showers, but oh well.

    The question of whether or not you are a fundamentalist, emergent, or what not has been a test in the church for quite some time now. I in fact was fired from a church for not being a fundamentalist, so i can attest that if this book could not become some litmus test, because the litmus test is already there… i think driscoll wrote the litmus test a few years back, if i’m not mistaken

  32. taddelay,

    So that’s what you are rebelling against! You were fired. Let me guess, you were probably driven to Church by your mom and dad against your will also.

  33. lol, no, no rebellion here. I’m sure there are Emergents that are just reacting and picking a side (you’ll find the same thing in the young and restless super-calvinists), but that’s not me. I was always quite into church from a very young age actually (almost freakishly too into church), and have been involved ever since. I love the church and have a huge passion for renewal and the gospel.

  34. Tad:

    I know what I read, so I have to disagree with you. You seem to know it too, because you said that the author was just being hyperbolic. Well, words matter. You can’t say something incendiary and then say “Hey, I was only exaggerating.”

    Your reading of the author is no less offensive. It is still inflammatory if it’s true that all the author meant was that “a the [sic.] 20th century strand of fundamentalism is closely tied in with the mindset that can devolve into worse and worse things.” I grant that there are a lot of things wrong with 20th century fundamentalism, problems which I gladly acknowledged in DSB, but they never did or said anything that might put them in the company of those who commit genocide and burn witches. Are you really trying to defend this? Tell me again precisely how this rhetoric helps the “conversation”?

    As for this person’s view of Scripture, it’s hard to get a coherent read on it. The author says that we should treat it like our community library, offering various irreconcilable viewpoints on our common questions, and yet the author does think the Bible is clear about some things (e.g., inclusive love is the message of Jesus). So I don’t know if the author even understands what he thinks about the Bible.

  35. Mike:
    I think it is quite gracious of you to say the conversation is “over.” When did it ever begin? As you have pointed out, these Postmodern Innovators are using straw men to represent a caricature of the angry pastor, pounding away on his pulpit and calling down fire and damnation on anything and everything. They imagine a very, very narrow band of Fundamentalism, and then force this image on to everyone who isn’t a member of the Emergent Village. They are looking for a monologue (diatribe, actually), not a conversation.
    What is most sad about this, in my opinion, is that these PI’s, who are calling for “conversation” and “dialogue” have actually abandoned the greatest and richest conversation in history. Besides the fact that the Bible is the actual Word of God spoken to us and for us (and what could be better than a conversation with God), the history of the orthodox faith has been one of conversation. All of our core doctrines have been developed by ecumenical councils – large groups of leaders from across social, ethnic, and political boundaries – coming together to share their views and come to an understanding about what it means to be a Christian. One could spend a lifetime reading the letters and sermons that were written as part of this conversation and never even scratch the surface. The breadth of the viewpoints that have been incorporated into the faith is truly astounding. Only the willfully ignorant could deny the history of theology is actually one long, continuous conversation. Consider: the one common characteristic of the heretics is an unwillingness to admit error; it is only those who stand outside the true faith who engage in unilateral condemnation.
    It is sad because when Postmodern Innovators announce that theologians have gotten it wrong for two thousand years, that the Church is the problem, that Scripture is a hindrance, that Christ doesn’t matter, it makes us all look bad. It takes an incredible amount of hubris to proudly proclaim that everyone else has gotten it wrong, but you – you in your humility – have gotten it right. Finally. And anyone who disagrees with you is a narrow-minded bigot. (This is especially true when the speaker has no background in theology or church history. Why is it that we expect doctors to go to medical schools, lawyers to go to law schools, mechanics to be certified, even daycare providers need to take training courses, but we seem to value ignorance in our theologians?) Such statements actually kill conversation and limit the diversity of beliefs within the church. Instead of drawing from a rich tradition of great thinkers and even greater spiritual leaders, Postmodern Innovators would have us turn inward for answers or seek out doctrines that do not cohere to God’s word in order to create a patchwork faith that is not consistent, viable, or grounded. Instead of listening to the voices of two millennia, from all over the world and in diverse cultures and societies, we are asked to contextualize everything according to our own experiences and the experiences we can appropriate from the few people we come in contact with. Our family heritage – our identity as believers, as the people of God throughout the centuries and across the globe – is cut off, discarded, and we are left to determine for ourselves what it means to be “Christian.” We are orphans surrounded by a family that we are not allowed to see. This is not a conversation; it is a call to spiritual suicide.

  36. Jonathan Shelley October 29, 2009 — 2:17 pm

    I wonder how [Brian McLaren] would characterize the work of Wilberforce and Wesley in abolishing slavery, and Mother Teresa in caring for the poor in Calcutta, and Francis of Assisi in his environmental stewardship, and so on and so forth. These are people who gave selflessly and completely of themselves, at great personal expense, because they submitted themselves fully and unashamedly to the authority of Scripture. It doesn’t take a biblical scholar to know that the people who have used the Bible to defend their crimes against humanity were abusing Scripture, not submitting to its authority. It is inexcusably stupid to posit that just because people have invoked God’s name when committing evil that these people are somehow accurate representations of the true Church. It is vicious, insulting, and inflamatory. [McLaren’s] critique is not helpful, it is not loving, it is not gracious, it is not appropriate, and, above all, it is not Christian. To paraphrase Paul in Galatians, I wish this lot would go all the way and excommunicate themselves so people would not confuse these rantings for authentic Christianity.

    Please, either stop calling God a liar and a fiend or stop calling yourselves Christians.

  37. Randy,

    I believe you may have imported some meaning into what I was saying, I’m sorry for not being more clear.

    Boff I don’t care for, in all honesty. I like Wright, though he’s a politician. Brueggeman . . . meh. I’m not condemning them to hell, no need to worry!

    “Because your Christian politicians don’t expound on the gospel when they speak doesn’t mean they don’t live confessional Christianity. It means they are focused elsewhere.” That’s great for a politician, but it will not suffice for a minister of the gospel.

    Jesus said that we would know the tree by its fruit, but those who were bearing fruit were those who were not only doing “good” things, but also confessing Christ as the Messiah and who were responding to his call, “akolouthei moi,” by dropping what they were doing and following him.

    Those who rejected Christ might still go out and do good things, but they would not be bearing the fruits OF REPENTANCE (cf. Matt 3:8). What is repentance? Turning towards God and away from ourselves, specifically turning towards Jesus and away from ourselves. The apostles who did this preached an awfully confessional gospel message all throughout Acts . . . .

    You don’t have to be a red-eyed fundamentalist to have a backbone.

  38. Mike,

    I’m still going to kick back and say it’s not at all inappropriate to infer the fundamentalist mindset can lead to attrocity (important to note: the author is not saying fundamentalists or evangelicals are indicted because of the fringe extreme). Is it not true, for example, that fundamentalists in the US have been very supportive of war, even to the point of excusing the loss of tens or even hundreds of thousands of civilians? Perhaps it would be more appropriate to accuse the Religious Right of this, but we all know that the two are closely tied. I suppose things such as this point to fundamentalism being dangerous. And it is all the more clear how dangerous it is when we look at fundamentalists in relgions different from our own.

    I appreciated the critique of fundamentalism you offered in DSB. I really think that it is more an issue of legality and social acceptability that keeps fundamentalist from the violent solutions of the past. If it were still legal and acceptable to kill witches and heretics, i’m not so sure many fundamentalists wouldn’t join in.

    As far as his view of scripture, isn’t it always hard to nail it down to an exact hermeneutic if someone doesn’t subscribe to inerrancy?

    http://taddelay.wordpress.com/

  39. This weekend I appear on a panel of 4 people in Manitoba who are engaging in what some would describe as in the “emergence” stream. We were all asked where our authority comes from and the first answer we all gave was Scripture. I am not sure one “leader” or his book should be taken represent so definitively the whole conversation, no matter how “leading” they are.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  40. Tyler,

    So, what is confessional Christianity? What is having a backbone?
    We choose which confessions to die for. Some will claim to die for the inerrancy of Scripture. I’ll stake my claim to claims that the biblical text makes for itself.

    I’ll pursue peace and justice and right living between neighbors. I’ll pursue an economy where the poor are not forced into prostitution and where all people have access to doctors.

    If this kind of stuff is secondary to standing for the inerrancy of Scripture, there is also gospel that is missed. Basically, the entire Sermon on the Mount becomes secondary… and the coming of the kingdom as any sort of current reality is overlooked.

    I’ll simply state that we prefer to argue for inerrancy and infallability because it costs us much less than caring for our neighbor. While critics will argue that social gospel is no gospel at all, it was Jesus who asked, “Who is your neighbor?” In reality, it was Yahweh we suggested that love for neighbor is of higher value than the adjectives surrounding the biblical narrative.

    Love for neighbor took second place in the ten commandments. Even the Torah was omitted. What gives?

  41. Jonathan Shelley November 3, 2009 — 9:03 am

    Randy:

    How can one ever hope to be conformed to the image of the Word Incarnate if one rejects the authority of the Word Inscripturated? Jesus Christ and the entirety of the scriptural canon are integrated – you cannot have one without the other. Keep in mind that while love of neighbor was the second commandment, the first was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, MIND, soul, and strength. Three out of four isn’t good enough.

    ~Faith without works may be dead, but works without faith are meaningless.

  42. Randy,

    Who is arguing that loving your neighbor and living out the sermon on the mount is secondary? (except for Jonathon Shelley’s last comment maybe) From the conversations I’ve seen, this whole blog and those who follow it are of the belief that both orthodoxy and orthopraxy are just as important as the other. Mike Wittmer went through great lengths to explain that both are just important as the other in his book and on this blog. I have followed your conversations for several months now and what I see is that you have chosen to develop one strawman to beat down after another with all of your generalizations about the beliefs of those who actually agree with Mike on this blog. Therefore you come across like you are boxing air, arguing with your own view of conservative Christianity (which probably is true about many groups within conservative Christianity, but I’d venture to say that you are preaching to the choir on this blog)

    You probably are not aware of some of the justice activities that some of the people who follow this blog. For example, the church that Zack Bartels pastors has outfitted over 20,000 needy children since its inception throughout Lansing Michigan through their Love Clothing center because they believe that “the righteous care about justice for the poor, while the wicked have no such concern” (Prov. 29:7). He and their church care just as much about loving your neighbor, living out the present reality of the kingdom as you do, but they also just as passionate about preserving historical beliefs of Christianity.

    I run an inner-city ministry in Grand Rapids to over three hundred at-risk teens and young adults, many of whom are gang-members, rappers, athletes, single moms, and etc…. We have helped many of our students obtain employment through job referrals and job coaching. We have helped single mothers in crisis interventions so that they would not become homeless, we have helped families avert losing their houses in this mortgage crisis. All because of the 2000 verses in the Bible that speak of helping the poor and oppressed. In fact I argue that those who believe in the inerrancy and infallability of the scriptures should be the most passionate about helping the poor because they should be obeying all these passages that speak of responding to the needs of the poor, the fatherless, the widow and the oppressed. http://utmsentiments.blogspot.com/2008/04/uneasy-conscience-of-post-modern.html

    Also, many times we have broken up gang fights and helped avert gun battles on the street because we believe in living out the sermon on the mount. I could go on and on, and although I feel uncomfortable about mentioning these things, I feel I need to demonstrate that emergents are not the only ones within the evangelical spectrum who care about social justice.

  43. Randy et al,

    So, you don’t think we are living good enough for you? You are the one who is prejudiced and judgmental – it is your word that is pronouncing condemnation to those participating in this virtual reality.

    When I was new to the Chrisitan faith as a teenager, I was not provided the “pat” answers to the various questions that would be asked of me in the near future by those self-appointed (and not from the U.P.) to interrogate my faith. e.g. If you were to die today and Jesus were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you tell Him? (I was not taught that there would be a Part II of my salvation and that I would soon be facing an oral exam after I died.) or Where are your sins? (If we confess our sins they would be forgiven, and as far as the east if from the west was not correct.) In both instances, my salvation was questioned. I was going it alone anyway and didn’t live by man’s opinion of me – the Word of God was the source of my beliefs. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God provided me with assurance of what I was trusting in.

    For those individuals who claim that the Word of God and beliefs do not matter, by the Word of God you stand condemned already and are awaiting the outpouring of God’s wrath. I would not wish this upon anyone – especially my children.

  44. As a follow up to Joel’s comments, there is a lot that conservative Evangelicals do that they choose to do without the “left hand knowing what the right hand is doing”. If it’s not “trumpeted in the streets” it’s because they are “following Jesus”.

    Back to the original post by Mike: The bloodiest century in history has been the 20th century. It was not Christianity nor any form of Biblical Christianity that brought about the death camps and the gulags and the genocide and killing fields. Those crimes lie squarly at the feet of the secular humanism that spawned the various atheistic “isms” of the 20th century that commited those atrocites. Yes “fundamentalism” was the culprit in those things; the fundamentalism of secular humanism….

    I would appreciate it if emergants would stop telling these damnable slanderous lies about our “Mother Kirk”. If it was not for that “Mother Kirk” you would have never known there was a Jesus “to follow”…. The Lord rebuke you.

  45. Randy,

    Believing in inerrancy hasn’t ever hindered my discipleship, I’m sorry if it’s defenders have upset you. I guess anyone who makes a false dichotomy between defending inerrancy and bearing fruit would cause me grief, too. Fortunately, I don’t know many of those.

    Nevertheless, seek first the kingdom, brother!

  46. […] I wanted to share this post from Mike Wittmer. You can read more of his sold thoughts on the EM at his blog https://mikewittmer.wordpress.com/. […]

  47. I know the conversation has moved on – some doing a massive ” U’ Turn’ back into old certainties being unwilling to continue the Spiritual Quest because of an Accusing Super-Ego,, some falling into a ditch, and others striding ever onward into the Unknown, having burned their bridges with the angry cries of heretic and apostate still ringing in their ears…………but hold on a minute.

    McLaren in my reading is not attacking what could be called a high view of Biblical Inspiration (although rejecting the intellectual torture and philosophical contradictions the hard line Fundamentalist ‘inerrancy’ doctrine….what is attacking in the the way in which some of our genocidal, witch-burning, warmongering and slave owning Christian forebears used and abused the biblical text th justify their wicked way. After all, it is moving from the claim to possess an infallible text to the claiming an infallabile INTERPRETATION of the text and justifying all minds of injustice and crimes against God, humanity and nature on the basis of that which is the problem.

    Or have I messed something here?

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