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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible | Main | A Tale of Two Mediators »

    Emerging Conversation

    A conversation with an emergent may go something like this:

    Is the written word of God, for you, in your life as a believer, the final authority in all matters of your faith, and practice?

    God is the final authority in my life. I can't confine to the bible because he clearly is so much bigger than the bible itself and of course he is God and can really do as he pleases. The bible is not the beginning and end of God.

    So then your answer to this question: “Is the written word of God, for you, in your life as a believer, the final authority in all matters of your faith, and practice?” would be NO, correct? Just trying to establish some basics here.

    I suppose it would. The bible is not the final authority in my life God is. Do you believe that God can only do what is mentioned in the bible? (From Examining Emergent Blogspot)

    Not a chance, however, we can only know Him as he has revealed Himself to us, and the Scriptures are the source of that revelation. All else, that is, all other means of obtaining information about God is unaided human speculation, which is the fastest way to heresy in existence ...since we are inclined as human beings to always formulate God in our own image and to our own liking. This is not to deny the importance of historical studies in an aide to understanding, but it denies it as revelation. That is why David Wells says, "In religion of a Christian kind, we listen; in spirituality of a contemporary kind, we talk." Christianity is not a horizontal conversation using democratic methods to decide who God is. He has already plainly made Himself known to us in Christ as revealed in the text of Scripture. The Holy Spirit illumines the text that we might understand. We are not meant to speculate outside the boundaries of Scripture lest we create an idol

    Of these type of speculators the Apostle Paul (speaking of contemporary Jews) said, "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:1-4)

    Posted by John on July 11, 2006 05:05 PM

    Comments

    Great post John! Hard to believe so many people are falling away from the faith once for all delivered, making substitutions for the only sure revelation.

    Are they falling away? or are they attempting to fall more in love? In some aspects, modern culture controlled church has become the enemy of the gospel. Asking questions and being critical is a form of worship and expression of ones love, not turning away from God. This time of emergence is important, every bit as important as the reformation. And emergent minded people are merely attempting to right the wrongs.

    Thomas

    The emergent movement is a reaction against fundamentalism. Which rightly should be criticized. That is the wrong they are trying to right, but they are doing so by making the same mistake the liberals made early in the twentieth century. The liberals accomodated modernism and now the emergent folks are accomodating postmodernism. There is a better way. It is called Monergism which both emergent and fundamentalists reject, but is historic Christianity.

    Interestingly, like most emergent folk you only gave an opinion and did not back up your criticism of the post with anything but a preference. But God is not about preferences. And what is simply baffling is the arrogance I see in those who are so certain about their uncertainty. The lack of humility and intellectual snobbery against those who believe that God has reveled truth in a way that can be appreheneded is profoundly self-contradictory.

    you said >>>>Are they falling away? or are they attempting to fall more in love?

    Maybe falling in love with themselves. For when we create God in our own image we are not worshipping God but the idol we exalt in our heart. To the degree that we misrepresent God, to that same degree we commit idolatry ... and we are all guiltyu of it at some level ... but emergent theology is simply a community of folks who have agreed to use unaided reason as their highest authority.

    Thoams said >>>>This time of emergence is important, every bit as important as the reformation. And emergent minded people are merely attempting to right the wrongs.

    How do you know? DO you have a God's-eye view of things? For someone who has no certainty about theology you sound fairly certain and dogmatic about this. How do you know that the emergent folk are "right" as you claim in your post? By what authority to you assert this?

    No onely is this not as important as the Reformation, it is dead on arrival.

    Shalom

    John h,
    I found it interesting that you said I didn't back up my post with anything but preference, but that's all I see in yours too, no scripture.
    You and I aren't all that different, I get very fed up with Theological snobberry also, I attended the largest Christian university in america, and went into it as a fundamentalist. What I saw there made me sick to my stomach . . . great theologans, but terrible missionaries (needless to say, I was different when I got out). I also worked for several years with one of the biggest fundamentalist christian outreach organizations in the world with thousand of missionarries sent world-wide, I saw and still see more travesties against the Gospel than I can count. Terrible politics, terrible legalisms, terrible judgements against people, Quick to beg for money and slow to offer understanding, and on and on and on . . . That is why I say that this is needed.
    I never said they were right, I said that they were "attempting to right...". When people claim to have it figured out, that they have got it right and everyone better change their ways and adapt THIS ONE, you've missed the point.
    I claim just as much authority as luther/calvin/stanley/ryrie/mclaren/etc... simply the authority of a child of God, reading His word and trying to serve the Lord with integrity.
    I never said I don't have any certainty about theology, I am certain about what the Lord has revealed to me, the only difference between you and I is that I won't tell others what the Lord has revealed to them.

    Thomas

    >>>>the only difference between you and I is that I won't tell others what the Lord has revealed to them.

    But, dear sir, this is exactly what you are doing right here. Your statement cancels itself out. And that is the story of the emergent church: it's so-called theology cancels itself out.

    Furthermore, with regard to the gospel, does the Lord really reveal different gospels as you imply your statement, "the difference between you and me is I won't tell others what the Lord has revealed to them". This statement is quite dogmatic for assumes certain knowledge that God's revelation is subjective and there are different truths for different people. May I ask, how do you know this? Did God tell you this? If so, how did he tell you? How do you know that He reveals things to people at all? Where do you get this information?

    You said fundamentalists have: "Terrible politics, terrible legalisms, terrible judgements against people, Quick to beg for money and slow to offer understanding, and on and on and on . . . That is why I say that this is needed. I never said they were right, I said that they were "attempting to right..."."

    When you say that something is "terrible" (and rightly so in this case I believe) you are by definition claiming to know what is wrong and right. And even if the emergent are merely "attempting to right" it is a claim to know what is better. How do you know what is better? Where do you get this knowledge?

    The problem with fundamentalism was with its hermeneutics and semi-pelagianism. That is why it is legalistic and judgemental against behavior not forbidden by God. It fails to apprehend the grace of God in Jesus Christ as well as the depth of our need of Him. That we are to glory in Christ Jesus alone and have no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3) The reason it does not understand is that it is synergistic - i.e. man cooperates with God to attain and maintain salvation. Unfortunately the emerging church has did not diagnose the problem with fundamentalism rightly and still embraces a semi-pelagian theology, with rare exceptions of course. This is a failure to see the true roots of the problem that was recovered in the Reformation but still seems to be lost both on you and the fundamentalists. I agree with your criticism of the symptoms of fundamentalism but you have failed to diagnose the cause.

    you said >>>I found it interesting that you said I didn't back up my post with anything but preference, but that's all I see in yours too, no scripture.

    I wasn't making theological points in my response to you, but you were. I was deconstructing your self-contradictory theology by asking you questions about it.

    The only theological statement I made was ..."To the degree that we misrepresent God, to that same degree we commit idolatry ... "

    The Scriptural references to the truth of this statement are too numerous to count. There is ample supply so this was hardly an opinion or preference.

    If the emerging church is to be influential they need to abandon their unbiblical synergistic theology and return to the gospel of grace.

    You said you were>>>>reading His word and trying to serve the Lord with integrity.

    OF what value does this have? Why would you do this?


    My brothers.

    I stumbled upon your lovely discussion this morning and I love both of your zeal for truth.

    John H- I think brother Thomas is saying things about "fundamentalists" that he actual was and is repenting from the hurt he actually might have caused because he walks closer with his savior and understands His heart more than he did when he was younger.

    Thomas- It seems that brother John wants to love you in the way that the Lord has gifted him in. If revelation can happen outside of the scriptures, then it might be happening through the words of John. Please know that I struggle in the same spectrum as you in this area.

    The only story of the Gospel that we can know, and that is told in the Scriptures, is the story of people touched by the One True God and changed by accepting His amazing grace through His Son. That is the mystery that Paul speaks of in His letters. The compelling truth of our state in God's kingdom. It may help to own the accusations of fundamentalism as your own testimony instead of applying them to the institution that you were in. Be happy that Christ has delivered you from that belief as I am.

    Above all else, they will know that we are Christians in how we lay our lives down for eachother. I encourage us all to ask ourselves if those we come across are feeling loved?

    This is my attempt at loving you. If you don't feel loved, let me know as a brother who wants to.

    John and Thomas--

    I appreciate the fervor that both of you have shown in regards to this pressing topic. Thomas, I understand your frustration with "fundamentalism" just as I would understand someone's frustration with "liberalism." Either defended or rejected for their own sake would be a travesty.

    As Christians we are called to reflect Christ and be faithful to our Lord. Thomas, while you may read the Bible faithfully, most people in the emergent church can not say the same thing (thinking of McLaren and others who represent the movement) they rely upon different means of "revelation".

    God revealed Himself in a knowable way in the Scriptures, and in those same Scriptures revealed our inability to represent, serve, honor, and glorify Him on our own. That is why Jesus came.

    Still, Thomas, you liken the Emergent movement to the Reformation, but the Reformation was not just trying to correct the problems in the Roman Catholic church for the sake of the problems, but for God's glory. They did this by reexposing the world to God's Word--something the Emergent movement really has neglected.

    Yes, man is made in God's image and we have general revelation, but man, apart from the work of God in their lives can not rightly articulate the truths of God on their own. THe Word was made flesh and dwelt among us to reveal Who God was, and to bring us back into a proper covenant relationship with God--which we could not do on our own. Also, that relationship was among God's covenant people, not in an individual God-and-me-only fashion. Truth was to be shared.

    The Emergent Church's greatest failure in their reaction to "fundamentalism" and the "seeker-sensitive" movement is that they have made "church" about man and about the individual's benefit with a very low view of the church (God enstated through Jesus' blessing of the Apostles, and Pentecost), and not about glorifying God. That church had a structure and hierarchy of sorts in leadership. (Let me say here that I came from this place at one time so I am familiar with the draws but also the problems, and have since studied it more thoroughly--you may want to look into that).

    Furthermore, the desire to change the church by moving outside of the church...is wrong. We should be accountable to each other, but part of that means when we don't like someting we talk about it, but by moving away from it not only have they minimized their ability for influence, but they also have removed themselves from being held accountable.

    I appreciate your concern, and I know your scars are real. I also know that on this side of heaven, and until Christ's return the church will always be full of sinners on the journey of sanctifucation, and none of us can say that we are perfect, but we need each other and accountability. You should not move outside of the church for that, and God still sanctioned us to be among His people until He returns, so we need to do that for His glory, "sharpening" each other.

    There are a variety of "teachings" coming from the leaders of this movement, it is still not well formed, and that terrifies me the most. Whatever they are trying to accomplish it should be done with upholding of Scripture and the glorification of the God of Scripture as unnegotiable goals.

    Thomas, I understand your heart on this, but God's church (which He loves so much He gave His only Son for) is at stake, and that is a high sacrifice.

    Soli Deo Gloria

    It is not the business of the church to adapt Christ to men, but men to Christ.

    -- Dorothy Sayers

    Dorothy, I agree with the first part of your quote, but I believe your quote would be more accurate if it stated that it is GOD and the HOLY SPIRITS business to adapt men to Christ.

    I'm not necessarily sure that it is the business of the church to change people at all, but to reach them so that the Lord can.

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