Calling Kevin DeYoung to Account [UPDATED]

You may recall that Kevin DeYoung, co-author of the book, Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), was on a panel discussion with me a few weeks ago at the Christian Book Expo in Dallas. I have profound problems with Kevin’s book, the foremost being that 1) The authors completely ignored my published books and quoted exclusively from two blog posts, and 2) Kevin’s co-author attended a small, graduate-level class I taught, pretending to be a student, when in fact he was “researching” the book.

There’s been some buzz in the blogosphere from people who’ve watched the panel discussion, and it’s mostly broken along party lines.  During the panel, Scot McKnight accused Kevin of being uncharitable for cherrypicking his “emergent” sources and ignoring names like John Franke, David Dunbar, etc. I agreed. Mark Galli, the moderator, stopped Scot at that point and said that he thought the charge of uncharitableness was over the line. Mark later encouraged me to apologize to Kevin.

But I didn’t. I didn’t apologize because I think that Kevin was being uncharitable in his writing and his public comments. But it gets worse.

Not a week later, Kevin was speaking at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, his alma mater. In the Q&A time after his talk, two subjects came up among others. The first was the new monastic movement. Kevin has been kind enough to listen to the audio and transcribe his answer.

Question: Speak about the new monasticism and how it relates the emergent

Kevin: Yeah, I’m familiar but much less knowledgeable about the new monasticism.
The name that most people associate with that is Shane Claiborne, who definitely
has overlap with Brian McLaren and the emergent stuff. They share the same
political bent, the same passion for the poor and the least of these, which is
commendable. So on the one hand-and the last thing we want, you know in my own
church, is to so overreact: “You care about Darfur. You must be some emergent
person.” Ok, yes, yes, we want to care about these things. So I don’t want to
just say new monasticism is bad. You know if people are-if your college students
want to go rent some abandoned house in Grand Rapids and live there and have set
hours of prayer. It’s not going to help them any to say, “I heard that’s kind of
emergent. You shouldn’t do it.” I mean, let them. I think some of the danger are
a utopianism you have when you’re 21 or 22 and you’ll go do that. And “oh mom
and dad with their mortgage don’t understand what life is really like.” And then
you go live with seven other people and you start to think this is one of the
circles of Dante’s Inferno here, even if they all do read Shane Claiborne. So I
think we just need to be realistic, and not overreact when people are doing
these things. We need to think what people are hearing. If we just jump on them
they’re going to hear “See, you don’t care about the poor. You don’t care about
social justice.” I’ll say, no. Alright, so maybe go do that. But man, just keep
putting the cross front and center. That’s my beef with Shane Claiborne that it
gets to be sort of pseudo-Marxist, liberation theology lite without a robust
doctrine of gospel reconciliation.
[emphasis mine]

A bit later, Kevin was asked about the future of emergent. The audio of this question and answer allegedly does not exist, but according to witnesses in the room, a part of Kevin’s answer contained this exact quote:

Doug Pagitt,
who is in no recognizable way a Christian.”

In our email correspondence, Kevin has neither affirmed nor denied saying that. Every time I ask, he answers by writing about the context of his comments and what he intended in his criticism Doug. I told him that I don’t want the context of the quote — that’s just relativizing postmodern squishitude. I want to know the plain meaning of what he said. Context doesn’t matter.

Fellow Calvin alumnus Randy Buist was there, wrote down the quote, and immediately stood up to challenge Kevin’s characterization of Doug.

I believe that Kevin is being uncharitable in his comments about Shane and Doug.

Furthermore, Kevin admitted that he has not read anything by Shane, and he has met neither Shane nor Doug.

Kevin is not some blogger in his mom’s basement. He’s a published Christian author and, at this point, a recognized leader in the “young, restless, Reformed” movement. And he is publicly claiming that Shane Claiborne is a pseudo-Marxist without a doctrine of reconciliation, and that Doug Pagitt (or Doug’s theology) is not recognizably Christian.

Some readers will surely think me mean-spirited for writing this post. But, honestly, I write this only to hold a brother-in-Christ accountable. I would rather if Justin Taylor or John Piper told Kevin not to speak about another Christian leader in this way, but I doubt they will.  When I asked John Piper to chasten Mark Driscoll for his inflammatory language against me and others the same way he asked me to chasten Brian McLaren for Brian’s theology, Piper said it’s apples and oranges. He said that Mark’s incendiary talk about fellow Christians pales in comparison to incorrect doctrine.

And I guess this is where we disagree. I think that how we talk about one another really does matter. On this blog, and in my writing and speaking, you’ll hear me rant and rave about ideas. But, please, if you ever hear me publicly say something defamatory about a person, rebuke me.

I suppose that Kevin will respond to this at length. But, in the meantime, I asked him if there was anything he’d like me to include in this post. He wrote,

My point about Doug was that I consider his
theology outside of orthodox Christianity.  I don’t recall saying the quote
you’ve given.  I think if you talked to many others at the event, they
would concur that I repeated several times I wasn’t claiming to know Doug’s
character or heart, but that I believe his theology is heretical.  I went
to find the audio and unfortunately the recording doesn’t include all the
Q/A.  So the final comments about Doug’s theology are not

I conclude with three questions and a post script.

1) Is there something in the “young, restless, Reformed” movement that endorses this kind of talk? Honestly, I know of no other version of Protestantism on the scene today in which heresy hunters are given the microphone.

2) When does ignoring the written work of a fellow author, or speaking harmfully about someone — irrespective of readily available, published information to the contrary — rise to the level of “bearing false witness”?

3) In Matthew 12, Jesus warning is clear: Be very, very careful not to attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to the Evil One. (“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but
anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either
in this age or in the age to come.”) In other words, if something good is happening, we’d better give the benefit of the doubt to God’s Spirit — cuz if you say that a good work is authored by evil, then you’re in really, really big trouble. So my question is this: When do the constant charges of heresy and worse against emergent leaders rise to the level of “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”?

PS: I’m sure some of you will be irate with this post. Others will be thrilled. Still others will be saddened that Christian leaders are engaged in this type of debate. I’m writing this because Doug and Shane are my friends, and they’re clearly disciples of Christ who have led many others to pursue a life with God in Christ. To imply anything else, as Kevin has, is unconscionable. Regardless of how you feel about another’s theology, you just don’t get to parade around and get paid to disparage people. That, my friends, is sin.

PPS: I also resonded to Kevin’s comments because Doug and Shane won’t. Doug is in Guatemala, building homes in a village he’s gone to for a dozen years. And Shane, I’m sure, is doing something equally Christ-like.

Me? I’m not doing anything nearly as noble. Just waiting to comb through your vituperations.

UPDATE: Kevin has written me another email after requesting contact info for Shane, and he gave me permission to post this:

I just got off the phone with Shane.  We had a
nice 15 minute conversation.  We didn’t get to press in to very many
issues, but we were able to talk about some things.  Shane believes in
our need to be reconciled to God through the cross.  I think we have some
different emphases and maybe even some different theology about what exactly was
accomplished on the cross.  But Shane told me he often talks about the need
for vertical reconciliation.  He also explained how he is interested in
wholistic salvation–body and soul–and is critical of liberal liberation
theology.  No doubt, there are many things Shane and I agree on
and some important things we don’t agree on.  All in all, in was
a helpful conversation and Shane was very amiable.  I had not

carefully studied Shane’s writings, so I shouldn’t have spoken as strongly as I
did in my off the cuff remarks.  By God’s grace I’ll be more careful in the

For my part, I applaud Kevin’s action. He and Doug have also been trying to connect, but Doug is currently building homes in Guatemala.

"Have you considered professional online editing services like ?"

The Writing Life
"I'm not missing out on anything - it's rather condescending for you to assume that ..."

Is It Time for Christians to ..."
"I really don't understand what you want to say.Your"

Would John Piper Excommunicate His Son?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Josh

    Tony, I’m glad to hear you address this panel discussion. I watched it a week or two ago and thought that your commentary on the event would be more interesting than the discussion itself.
    I’ve been really shocked by the the venom that is spewed on the internet by young, reformed thinkers, and I’ve found myself unwittingly in the middle of more than one online conflict with young men in that camp. While its been frustrating, its also been spiritually beneficial. Seeing so clearly their close-mindedness, arrogance and vitriol has been sort of like looking in a mirror.
    My interactions with angry, young calvinists and reading posts like this have reminded me that when I make disparaging remarks about brother and sisters that I may be undermining the work of the Spirit, sowing discord or hurting people.

  • Eric

    I was in a group doing a book study of “why we’re not emergent…” and, I have to say, it did not sit well with. Granted, I am what you would call a “friend of emergent” and the rest of the people in the room were not so I have to assume some of my disagreement came from a desire to defend MYSELF. I read through the first chapter, constantly saying to myself “not true” or “tht was way out of context.” That said, I’m sorry your friends are being treated like this.
    I do appreciate Piper and Driscoll on a number of different levels, as I’m sure you do as well. However, I think there is something in the “young, restless, reformed” camp that seems to condone this kind of thing. Mark Driscoll’s “shoot the wolves” mentality (a term used at Piper’s pastor’s conference)for battling ‘false teachers’) gives some sort of license to speak however we want to or about someone.
    The writers of the Scriptures spoke seriously about what the tongue can do. There are several admonitions from the Apostles and other writers of the New Testament that warn against using the tongue too quickly and harshly.
    Peace be with you, Tony, and your friends, Doug and Shane.

  • Eric

    I was in a group doing a book study of “why we’re not emergent…” and, I have to say, it did not sit well with me. Granted, I am what you would call a “friend of emergent” and the rest of the people in the room were not so I have to assume some of my disagreement came from a desire to defend MYSELF. I read through the first chapter, constantly saying to myself “not true” or “tht was way out of context.” That said, I’m sorry your friends are being treated like this.
    I do appreciate Piper and Driscoll on a number of different levels, as I’m sure you do as well. However, I think there is something in the “young, restless, reformed” camp that seems to condone this kind of thing. Mark Driscoll’s “shoot the wolves” mentality (a term used at Piper’s pastor’s conference)for battling ‘false teachers’) gives some sort of license to speak however we want to or about someone.
    The writers of the Scriptures spoke seriously about what the tongue can do. There are several admonitions from the Apostles and other writers of the New Testament that warn against using the tongue too quickly and harshly.
    Peace be with you, Tony, and your friends, Doug and Shane.

  • Intramural Squabbler

    Thank you for standing up Shane and Doug. They are good people – and faithful Christians. I wouldn’t worry too much about the heresy hunters. They don’t get to define what is and isn’t Christian. We serve an enigmatic God who has inspired many different theologies. Enough said.
    I also need to note that I can relate to the passion in your blog post. I, too, have felt unfairly attacked. Your description of the United Church of Christ in your new book was uncharitable. You just don’t get to parade around and get paid to disparage the UCC in such a blase way. That is problematic. There are other ways to make your points. Polemics are not needed. I’m not perfect either. That’s for sure. I think we all need to be more careful and prayerful about how we discuss theology with one another. We have much to learn from each other. But in order to learn, we must be open enough to hear. Perhaps I Corinthians 12 would be a good model for us all. Tony Jones, I’m calling you to account. And myself.

  • Tony,
    I agree with you and I think that Kevin’s speaking in such ways about you, Doug, and Shane is doing much more harm than good. I only wonder who he is really influencing? Is he convincing anybody who is not already seriously inclined to agree with him? Furthermore, what good are we accomplishing by giving this guy the time of day?

  • Tony-
    I think it was wrong the way that Kevin defamed Shane and Doug without reading their published works but I also think calling him out for accountability over the world wide web is not the way to seek the reconciliation which both of you should seek. It seems you have followed Matthew 18 part way by going to him to confirm what he said, but what about taking a brother with you to confront, taking it to the greater leaders of the church as a whole and if he is unrepentant than separating yourself from him rather than a public reprimand. Seems this would only add fuel to the fire to post a blog like this.
    You asked us to call you out so I say although he was wrong and has defamed your friends and colleagues, holding someone accountable should be a private matter not a dot com matter. My hope is that God would impress on both you a desire to reconcile for the furtherance of the gospel and God’s glory.
    Darrell Halk

  • Barry

    Good post. I do wish JT and others would hold Driscoll as accountable as they hold everyone else but I doubt it will happen. Its hard to understand, much less interact, with that sort of spirit.
    I wish this whole thing didn’t seem like a firefight between two opposing sides.
    I can sense your frustration with this issue and I share it.

  • Greg McCaw

    Tony, while I think we in the emergent conversation must do everything we can to be overly accommodating to the fear-based attacks on our varying views of theology, and continue in a constant state of grace, I find no fault in calling those to account who blantently go too far and launch direct attacks on our character and charge us as standing outside of the grace of Christ ourselves. Still, even that must be done graciously, and I think you did so. Thank you…

  • Greg McCaw

    Wow, intramural squabler, please remind me… I read Tony’s book very thoroughly, and I don’t recall him attacking any other church, much less the UCC. And, I would be sensitive to such, since I am closely related to the MCC. What, please remind me, are you addressing here? Chapter? Page? Context? Thanks…

  • Wait a second…what’s wrong with being a Marxist? And it is unfair to say Shane is is into “liberation theology lite.” There is nothing “lite” about Shane’s liberation theology. 😉

  • I don’t know Doug Pagitt, and I’ve not read any of his books (though I have the anthology you and he put together “An Emergent Manifesto” and have not read much of it yet). But I have read one of Shane’s books, and heard him speak a few weeks ago in Albuquerque. I’ve also seen Kevin doing his bit in these videos..
    I think you’re doing good work trying to answer this. Shane, though I don’t agree with everything he advocates (more in a pragmatic way than an idealized way, I don’t think some of it will work in our modern situation) but I am positive he is doing good work, God’s work. I’m more certain that he is doing what we’re all supposed to do more than any Christian I have ever encountered. And so yeah… I’m with you. This ‘heresy hunting’ is, quite frankly, crap and it needs to stop.
    That’s not going to convince anyone of anything – I don’t expect it to. I’ve not gone to seminary yet, I don’t have the language or training to back myself up as well as I’d like, but I know history and one can sense well enough when something is ‘wrong.’ This sort of behavior is clearly a snake and clearly a poison and such things ALWAYS have been and their consequences are as well. But this is the same sort of nonsense Christians have been doing for 2000 years and it’s the same sort of nonsense that Jesus preached against (Mat 7.1-5).
    There’s a reason Jesus was big on not having us judge one another – we suck. Our understanding of ourselves, each other, and God is terrifically bad. It’s not appropriate that we think our opinions are so grand that we castigate others for theirs, call them names, call them heretics or anything else. Among people of good faith, it is simply inappropriate.
    It’s unfortunate that you had to do this. It’s unfortunate what will result in it, but it’s more unfortunate that this sort of behavior continues and continues so ardently in the Christian community. I have not been a Christian all that long – I was Jewish and I thought OUR arguments were bad. But Judaism is a different thing and it has a lot of “let’s go kick some butt” (and often have our butts kicked) in it (and clearly many more noble ideas and traditions). Christianity is built from a man who taught peace and love towards our neighbors, was killed for his beliefs running contrary to orthodoxy and the powers of his time, and THIS is what is made of it?
    What the hell is wrong with you people? Well – I guess now, “we people.”

  • Rev Dave

    Mark VS,
    Maybe that was Kevin’s point; maybe he was trying to say that liberation “lite” just doesn’t cut it, that Shane and all of us should be all in with the oppressed or else prepare to be spit out with all the other lukewarm things.
    Wait, what?
    Good on you, Tony, for defending your friends and doing so sans vitriol.

  • I want to chime in on this because, interestingly enough, I have a group of 20-something friends who live together in Grand Rapids.
    Shane’s writing has had a huge influence on every one of them, but I don’t know many more cross centered people.
    And far from expecting a Utopia, they’ve realized that their experience, while not being like “one of the rings of Dante’s Inferno” has been much like a purgatory. The difficulties that’s they’ve endured in living in such close quarters and with such great reliance upon one another has had a purging affect on them, exposing their selfishness and prejudice.
    For them, Shane’s writing hasn’t lead them to a “sort of pseudo-Marxist, liberation theology lite without a robust doctrine of gospel reconciliation.” It’s led them to understand reconciliation in a completely new way, and to understand their sin in a completely new way.
    For them, Shane’s writing has been a conduit through which the Holy Spirit has worked. So I don’t know if I’d say that DeYoung’s words about him are blaspheming the Holy Spirit, but I would say that fruit that’s grown from the new monasticism is evidence of the tree’s health.

  • Darrell, I understand your call for Tony, et al. to handle this privately, but I want to offer a counter-perspective on that issue:
    IMHO, insofar as an attack is made publicly, it is legitimate for the response to be made publicly as well. This matter is not simply between Kevin and Tony or between Kevin and Doug and Shane. All of us are potentially involved because Kevin’s remarks were made in an open forum that we all potentially have access to. Doug and Shane are not the only ones harmed by this, and the harm done to them (namely defamation) is also of a sort that needs to be redressed publicly since it can potentially undermine their reputations and their ministries. Those who heard and were potentially influenced by Kevin’s words need to know the truth about Doug and Shane, and that is exactly what Tony has provided. I am saddened that it was necessary, but I don’t think it was inappropriate.
    Just my perspective…

  • “Piper said it’s apples and oranges. He said that Mark’s incendiary talk about fellow Christians pales in comparison to incorrect doctrine.”
    This line caught my attention right off. (I realize, Tony, that you may not be conveying the entire context or verbiage of that exchange.) I have admiration for Piper, and I consider him unquestionably a believer, but my understanding of Christ’s teaching is the opposite of Piper’s in this instance. Correct doctrinal understanding is very important, but it is nothing if the heart is hard. In fact (tell me if I am wrong) but wasn’t one problem of the Pharisees that they placed an emphasis on correct doctrine above love – even to the point of blindness? For all the great things the Reformation has done, it has also created a new cast of Pharisee, as it were. It is important that we do not fall into that pit. I know this is true, in part, because it is a weakness of mine.

  • Sheesh…this is just depressing — and painful. I don’t get it. The name-calling and mudslinging, the patently uncharitable comments and angry diatribes. I just don’t get. Frankly, I’m beginning to tire of these sort of conversations (if they can even be called that). They aren’t helpful and they aren’t constructive. They in no way help us understand one another. They just go round and round round. As if God needs to be defended. As if a relatively new approach to theology should serve as a sort of “one size fits all” to which everyone should conform. I don’t get it.
    I’ve read everything Doug and Shane have written and I’ve met and spoke with one of them more than once. They are more Christian than most. “By your fruits you shall know them.” Doug and Shane’s fruits are visible and vibrant. To suggest that they are not Christian and lack a proper understanding of reconciliation is suppose a very, very myopic understanding of what it means to be Christian. And by that logic many of our most beloved members of the communion of saints wouldn’t “qualify.” Not every Christian need be a neo-Reformed Calvinist nor should said group serve as the ultimate arbiter of what it means to be Christian.
    I find it particularly bewildering upsetting that Kevin would suggest that Shane lacks a “robust doctrine of reconciliation.” If any has a robust understanding of reconciliation it is Shane! He doesn’t theologize of pontificate about it in the abstract, he does it, he lives it — and he does it unapologetically. Likewise, to suggest that Doug is not a “recognizable” Christian is ludicrous if not laughable.
    I just don’t get it. And I’m beginning to lose my patience with these skirmishes. It completely misses the point. Completely.
    Tony, peace be with you as with Doug and Shane. And yes, an extra measure of peace be with Kevin DeYoung et al.

  • …and I must add that I am not intending to call anyone in particular a Pharisee – neither John Piper or anyone else. Just in case someone took my comments too far.

  • Ben

    Re. Tucker’s comment:
    “This line caught my attention right off. (I realize, Tony, that you may not be conveying the entire context or verbiage of that exchange.) I have admiration for Piper, and I consider him unquestionably a believer, but my understanding of Christ’s teaching is the opposite of Piper’s in this instance.”
    It’s not the *opposite*… it should be both/and! (cf. Ephesians 4). No truth without love. No love without truth. That’s the end-game, people. When are we going to get this? No more false dichotomies, please!

  • Benjamin

    As a member of the “young reformed” group, i completely agree with you that they very much did wrong in their false-representing of you and your friends. I only wish you would grant your blogs with the same criticism.
    Your lashings against PSA have left me just short of vomiting.(but of course with the label that has been neatly placed on my chest, you already gathered that) I believe the proof you represent is denying basic hermeneutics and lacking any sort of historical and scriptural context. Just because you say they dont, doesn’t mean they in reality do.
    But alas, im regressing to older posts.
    Bottom line; yes, your right, but your also being hypocritical because you employ the same tactic in your references of scripture for your points on PSA.

  • Stumbling Weary Pilgrim

    Grace and peace to you. Your writings and online teachings have given cognitive nourishment to my faith.
    I must admit, presently I am a touch paranoid that if I were to hoist an Emergent flag from my rooftop, I would be lynched by the ‘Calvin Till I Die’ Liberation Squad.
    That being said, why such non-grace between the growing entities of contemporary American Christianity?
    Why the gun being held to Brian McLaren’s head over his stance on homosexuality?
    Why the picket-lines forming with hate-placards outside Rob Bell’s speaking tours/?
    Why the frigging hell aren’t these players being Christian toward each other?
    Should I (could I) label myself Calvimergent and hence, problem solved!?!?
    It certainly appears that the Reformists, the Restless Ones are the more militant – yet, a passive aggressive arm of the Emergent branch seems on the rise… hard to identify though given the non-centralised nature of emergent X-iantiy – but some messages from the camp are starting to sound as if the Emergents are pissed off. Are the Mergies finally growing sick of being labelled heretical? Is the Empire Striking Back?
    I am stunned at the elevation of Accurate Theology over Practical Love, especially given the ‘man-made’ nature of all theology that people shove like a lump of coal into their heart until a perceived diamond is formed. There is such a focus on authorising the application of scripture over the authority of scripture itself… but I guess that’s my beef that I have to contend with.
    This splintering hurts me. It is painful to watch The Bride take to herself with a fork.
    I’m not looking for answers. I’m not trying to find the truth in all this. I’m just tired of watching the church implode.
    Need a Cabernet Sauvignon now… probably the New Pharisees will be up me now for wanting a wine!!!
    Bless you Tony.

  • Your Name

    Hi Tony,
    Did you see the movie “The Wrestler”? This “stuff” reminds me of the choreographed fake fights of pro wrestling.
    There is real evil in world, but taking it on is highly risky to one’s career, if not more. So let’s fake fight, cause it puts fannies in seats and moves product.

  • Rob

    Bottom line; yes, your right, but your also being hypocritical because you employ the same tactic in your references of scripture for your points on PSA.
    But don’t you see a difference between battling an idea vs. battling a person? To me, TJ battles for ideas. Others seem to want to do battle with the people behind ideas.

  • cpd

    I don’t know… this just feels more snarky than Matt. 18. Is this really the best avenue for Biblical reconciliation?
    If I could go back to the panel discussion — one of the main points you made was Kevin and his co-author cherry-picked your writing. But here you state the co-author actually sat in on your class and you seem to think that wasn’t fair. But isn’t that good research-gathering?
    It also seems odd you imply Kevin is somehow withholding the tape of the speaking event. What is this, Watergate?
    You accuse him of neither affirming nor denying he said, “Doug Pagitt, who is in no recognizable way a Christian.” But his email to you states clearly, “My point about Doug was that I consider his theology outside of orthodox Christianity. I don’t recall saying the quote you’ve given.” He was talking about Pagitt’s theology, not his person.
    Calling a brother to repentance is an admirable thing. But this feel more like vengeance than concern for a brother’s heart.

  • Tucker

    “No truth without love. No love without truth. That’s the end-game, people. When are we going to get this? No more false dichotomies, please!”
    Ben, no false dichotomies here as far as I can tell. Maybe you can clarify some more for I may just not be seeing it.
    I am not saying pick either doctrine or love, for they are both important. But I am saying love ranks higher. I say this because I do not equate doctrine with faith or automatically with truth (though it is related). And even then I would say love of truth may rank higher than having truth (or perfect truth). This is not to say that seeking, clarifying, and teaching doctrine is unimportant, for it is.
    Thank you for asking me to look at Ephesians 4. This is a wonderful passage where Paul places an emphasis on faith and love, which is what I am doing, not on getting one’s doctrine exactly right – though Truth is certainly paramount to Paul. In fact, in Eph 4 Pauls gives us a great example of both the attitude and the emphasis we should have towards each other when he says:
    “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
    That language of being rooted and grounded in love is a call to all of us. And of course Paul says elsewhere, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Which is interesting because it appears that faith is, in fact, placed above love by many Christians, and then it’s an easy step to equate faith as being the same as correct doctrine. In that same passage, in 1 Corinthians, I find Paul cautioning his readers to keep in mind that all they do, whether speaking with tongues of men or angels, or fathoming all mysteries, are nothing if we do not have love. I don’t think Paul has in ming feelings of love, per se, rather being loving.
    If Tony is right in his assessment of what is going on, if Driscoll (in the name of being a champion of right doctrine) is being unloving and then being supported by Piper, then I have concerns. I don’t say this to defend or attack anyone, and I don’t really know all the facts anyway, but I am concerned at what I have heard so far.
    The love I speak of in my previous comments, though, includes the love one has for the truth, not just for each other. It is that heart condition that can only come through the work of God’s spirit changing us. The Pharisees had great doctrine, but they did not love the truth, but hated it – though it was hard to tell much of the time. I must be clear, though, that I bring up the Pharisees as a cautionary tale (for myself as well), not to ultimately accuse anyone.

  • Wait, an angry Calvinist, I’m shocked, I tell you – shocked!
    That’s about as rare as an uncivilized and rude Philadelphia Eagles fan…

  • Phil Miller

    All joking aside, I guess the thing that I find most puzzling is why men like DeYoung feel the need to constantly draw lines about what they do and don’t believe, and who is OK and who isn’t. I just don’t get it.
    What does it matter to them that someone like Doug Pagitt sees things differently than they do? I guess it’s odd to me that there seems to be a whole group of people who seem to take it upon themselves to “rescue” Christianity. It’s not only the conservatives who speak this way. I’ve heard plenty of liberal Christians say things like, “we’re rescuing Christianity from fundamentalism”. I just don’t get that mentality. Why not just live what you believe?

  • BCB

    While one’s theology cannot indicate that one is a Christian, it certainly can indicate that one is not. Kevin is pointing to Doug Paigit’s theology, not his character or Christ-like works. This is not uncharitable, but the opposite. If someone were to point out to me where my theology is out of line with biblical orthodoxy (especially if it were to the degree that put me outside the pale of the true Church), I would be grateful and call the warning charity.
    People and their beliefs are not the same things.

  • Martin Downes

    Aside of the particular people involved, it seems to me that “naming names” when it comes to false teachers, and doing that on the grounds that they offer, and teach, an interpretation of salvation that is out of bounds so far as apostolic doctrine is concerned, has NT warrant (2 Tim. 2:16-18). In principle it cannot be wrong, nor should it ever be treated lightly.
    There is a specific charge here about the wrong interpretion of the resurrection. This departure from the truth Paul considers to be so serious that such a man is handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. The appeal that Tony makes about blasphemy really cuts both ways. What settles this issue is the objective content of someone’s teaching when held against the apostolic standard.
    Incidentally, in that chapter Paul doesn’t confine such people to hell but holds out hope that God will grant them repentance “leading to a knowledge of the truth.”

  • Phil Miller

    I would be interested exactly what DeYoung thinks is so out-of-line with Pagitt’s theology. I read his latest book, and I didn’t see anything screaming heresy. I guess if you equate Reformed theology with Christian orthodoxy, then yes, he doesn’t line up with that. Christian orthodox certainly extends beyond Reformed thought, though.

  • Rob Tarr

    I find it sad that Christians (especially those in positions of leadership) would find it appropriate to make negative comments about other in public forums. I have seen several people over the last several years tearing down other Christians just because they are affiliated with Emergent, or because their theology differs.
    How in the world does this benefit Christ?!?!
    When will people understand that? When will we get that this only hurts the work of Christ when we attack each other.
    Tony, thank you for handling this is in a calm, non-inflammatory manner on behalf of Doug and Shane.

  • Intramural Squabbler

    Greg (and Tony) –
    I call Tony’s comments about the UCC uncharitable because his comments don’t adequately represent the diversity of the denomination. For example, he calls the UCC a “notoriously left-leaning denomination.” This label is a gross misrepresentation of the UCC, since the denomination is represented by a vast array of theological perspectives. The UCC is a postmodern denomination that is made up of a diversity of the polities, theologies, perspectives, and peoples from many different contexts: Evangelical, Reform, Congregational, Frontier Christian, Black Church, Rural America, Feminist, etc. So, the UCC is a multiform denomination that seeks unity in it’s diversity. It’s not an ideological denomination that imposes any one agenda. It’s simply not accurate to label the UCC as a “notoriously left-leaning denomination.” A better description might be to label it a “notoriously ‘big tent’ denomination.”
    Tony has used the straw man argument against the UCC in order to buttress his own argument for the importance of the Emergent Church. It’s uncharitable and wrong. Tony’s current post makes it obvious that he doesn’t like it when people like the Neo-Reform folks misrepresent the Emergent Church. So, maybe, it’s time that Tony doesn’t do that to others. He needs to repent from the sin of belittling and misrepresenting the Mainline Church in general and the United Church of Christ in particular. We are not just a bunch of silly liberal people following a cultural version of Christianity. It’s time that Tony recognizes that – and stops using that line of argument against us.
    Tony just don’t get to parade around and get paid to disparage the UCC in such a blase way. That is uncharitable and wrong.

  • Ben C

    Hi Tucker,
    (It’s Ben from before – there seems to be a lot of Bens that post here so thought I’d better change my identifier!) Sorry, I meant to add that I wasn’t having a go at you personally in my earlier comment (was in a bit of a hurry when I posted it – not a good idea!) I was just using an excerpt from your post which expressed a common belief as a launching-pad for my rant.
    My biggest single frustration with Christians is that we tend to be either/or people, instead of both/and people… it’s the never-ending pendulum! Just so you know where I’m coming from. You know… you’re either a liberal or a conservative; an angry Calvinist or a hippie Emergent; a fundamentalist zealot or a bleeding-heart limp-wrister; an X or a Y – I’m sure you know the drill.
    I see where you’re coming from there in your recent comments, and I broadly agree with most of them. However, I still would be reticent to say something like “love ranks higher than doctrine”. To me, in as much as doctrine asymptotically approaches truth, however imperfectly, it simply must be a both/and. Being “rooted in” love is a fantastic figure for us all to contemplate, as you rightly point out. (That’s from Eph 3 by the way – I was confused there for a second!) Love creates a context in which truth can be spoken and shared – to me, they’re inseparable; two sides of the same coin, if you will. The moment we start saying that something “ranks higher” than something else, people tend to miss the point jump on their good ol’ Christian pendulum, and swing to the other side of the tree. Again. That’s my experience anyway… ultimately, I think Christianity is impotent without both truth and love.
    At any rate, I appreciate your tone and willingness to engage! Thanks.

  • the #1 reason why i don’t self-identify as emergent, in fact the -only- reason i don’t self-identify as emergent, is this endless arguing between those who are and those who are not. WHO CARES what Kevin or Mark or anyone else says about emergent? WHO CARES?! and if you care, WHY do you care? what does it matter? they aren’t trying to excommunicate you. they aren’t trying to burn you at the stake. they aren’t preventing you from worshiping or working.
    are you afraid your book sales will suffer if emergent’s critics go unanswered? which is a genuine question. because i cannot think of a single, valid reason to constantly allow those OUTSIDE the conversation to control the topic of the discussion instead of IGNORING them and having a conversation with those who WANT to be in conversation.
    i LOVE reading this blog. i HATE reading the comments. people who clearly have nothing better to do than troll around here and pick fights. i haven’t had a single conversation with ANYONE here because i have to slog through endless pages of bad fruit to find anything remotely trying to be conversational. this is also true on Scot’s blog, and all the other prominent emergent blogs.
    i don’t have a local cohort with whom to be in conversation. for me, its blogs or nothing. which means its basically nothing.
    emergent will not fail if the critics go unanswered. but emergent will fail if it allows the critics to control, distort and eventually destroy the conversation.
    one of the first quotes of Kung Fu-Tzu in the Analects is this (in part) “…Isn’t it the sure sign of a gentleman [virtuous and ethical person], that he does not take ofense when others fail to recognize his ability?”
    remember Jesus’ words to Pilot when Pilot characterized him as the King of the Jews, instead of as The Messiah (whom the Jews misanticipated would be a king) “not my words, but yours”.

  • Darius T.

    Right on, Martin!

  • I think there is a natural human tendency to put things in neat little boxes. The correct doctrine folks are allowing that tendency to get out of hand. I agree with others that Jesus clearly and repeatedly spoke out against that. He emphasized love, he pointed to an obvious heretic, a Samaritan, as showing the way to salvation, etc.
    Part of this is wanting to have order and to think we have a clear understanding. Part of it can be making ourselves gods (also a natural human tendency). We want to set ourselves up as knowing Truth exactly and being able to cast judgments on others for falsehood.
    It is very important to me to continually remind myself that I am NOT God, and that I can never understand it all. Christ doesn’t ask me to. Christ asks me to listen to Him moment by moment, and to follow step by step. I don’t ever expect to fully master that, so why would I go beyond and try to claim to know all Truth?
    Len Sweet often says something like, “God sent a person, not a proposition.” It’s much harder to follow a person than a proposition. But we are called to follow Christ, not a set of doctrines. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” NOT the right set of doctrines is the way, the truth, and the life.
    What has attracted me to the emerging conversation and the attempts to live out faith that it represents is that it seems to focus on following Christ, rather than get tied up in over-concern with correct doctrine, or questioning what Christ says because it doesn’t make sense to our rational, scientific reasoning, or any other such trap that Christendom too often gets caught in. I don’t always agree with Tony or Shane or Doug or Brian, etc., but they all seem to be on that path and their company is most welcome.

  • stephans


  • I thought this pot was rather funny, since I had a conversation about this sort of topic with a friend of mine last night. I was talking about the attacks that are made across political and theological lines on blogs and in writings from Christian to Christian. It seems to me that there is a Christian ethic of debate that we are in sore, sore need of.
    Obviously we are going to disagree on a lot of stuff. Some of it will be whether to have two grape juice lines and one wine or two wine and a grape juice during communion. Some will be much more weighty and important like how do we keep the weight of Jesus’ divinity and humanity equal in our theology. However, through it all, can’t we be mutually respectable?
    I read a post at yesterday. It was a message John Piper gave to his staff about being in unity. I think we would ALL benefit from thinking more about how we confront and talk with one another, especially in a public sphere like the internet. (

  • Your Name

    What has pushed me away from the Emergent Church is the down playing of Scripture and Sound Doctrine. The same thing that is apparently drawing some to it.
    Titus 2:1 – “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
    2 Timothy 4:1-4 – “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: PREACH THE WORD; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
    Is there such a thing as over emphasizing doctrine? You want to focus on following Christ. How can we know how to follow him without reading about what he did and how others have followed him. By reading and teaching scripture (where sound doctrine comes from) we learn how to follow Jesus. By reading sripture we can know who is worthy of imitation.
    1 Corinthians 4:14-16 – I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved Children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
    Paul taught sound doctrine. We can imitate him by doing the same.

  • @”your name”
    i am drawn to emergent. the emerging conversation has gotten me to spend more time reading my Bible to find answers and spent more time thinking very hard about what i -really- believe and -why- i believe it and -if- Scripture backs it up more than any other sect of Christianity ever has.
    find that emerging conversation before tilting at windmills.
    this is childish.

  • Your Name

    Sorry jhimm. I was speaking specifically to Bill. I should have mentioned that. I believe that God draws people to himself John 6:44. If God is drawing you to himself through the emergent church then ok. I have no beef with that. I am just a little disturbed when I hear or read comments from people such as Bill. He is claiming that doctrine is not very important. Sorry again. My fault.

  • nathan

    I guess I just wonder as to why does anyone associated with Emergent have to stand up “now”?
    There’s been far worse things being said for quite a while.
    All this is doing is legitimating DeYoung as a viable voice.
    As if mischaracterization hasn’t been going on for at least 5 years now. Maybe it’s a bit notched up because Driscoll came out of his long silence to rebuild his own rep on the basis of flaming people.
    But that being said, DeYoung and his tactics aren’t new to the game.
    I say ignore him and all other anklebiters.

  • Nathan

    I mean, where a systematic response should have been mounted was with the debacle that was the series of “lectures and sermons” at MacArthur’s Masters, or with that armchair, anecdotal joke of a book by Carson.

  • Darius T.

    “As if mischaracterization hasn’t been going on for at least 5 years now.”
    Exactly. You see that most clearly in A Generous Orthodoxy or A Christianity Worth Believing. Misrepresentation after misrepresentation. You nailed it, Nathan.

  • Your Name

    Are you saying those books are full of misrepresentations?
    If yes, what do they misrepresent?

  • Steve K.

    I like what Jhimm said: “emergent will not fail if the critics go unanswered. but emergent will fail if it allows the critics to control, distort and eventually destroy the conversation.”
    Amen and amen.
    At the same time, I appreciate Tony calling Kevin DeYoung back to Scripture on his judgments toward Shane and Doug. This “shoot the wolves” rhetoric/mentality espoused by Driscoll, DeYoung, etc. is actually pretty freaking scary. We won’t know the full extent of it until someone walks into a meeting and literally shoots one of these emergent leaders. I pray that never happens, but it wouldn’t be a total surprise. That’s the climate being created by these heresy hunters. I commend Tony for having the courage to call it out and ask these salient, deeply theological questions. I pray all those who are so passionate about “defending truth” will have as much courage to consider them.

  • Dorian

    Here’s what I don’t get. Emergents are very often just as uncharitable towards the Reformed, and they just don’t even seem to notice. Tony, your post where you quoted Brad Cecil was very “uncharitable” in this sense, as was Scott McKnight’s endorsement of N.T. Wright’s latest. Honestly, you Emergents need to learn how to handle criticism without whining. It’s almost laughable, scratch that, it’s very laughable how often you respond to criticism by diverting attention entirely away from the content and onto the critic. It never fails. There’s a term for it to, it’s called AD-HOMINEM, your use of ad-hominem is just more subtle than what most people think of when they here the term.

  • Phil Miller

    I honestly don’t see the types of attacks coming from some in the Reformed being reciprocated by people sympathetic to Emergent movement. Refuting a claim isn’t an ad hominem attack. If anything, I think in some ways the reactions to some of these claims haven’t been strong enough. That being said, I do understand the thought that responding to a critic validates his claim in some way.

  • Darius T.

    “Are you saying those books are full of misrepresentations?
    If yes, what do they misrepresent?”
    Basically, everything. It’s hard to give specifics when it’s more a case of when AREN’T those books mispresenting. And anyone who is paying attention to Tony’s recent posts on the atonement see this as well… he (and his commenting followers) mispresent atonement theorists (at least, those who disagree with him) almost non-stop.

  • Michael

    I see this as an “insider vs. outsider” issue.
    In the quote above, this Kevin person, who I do not know, clearly seems to be using “emergent” in an “inside the reformed community” way, and speaking as you do among friends, without apology.
    This kind of locker room talk certainly has happened in gatherings under the emergent banner as well, but with the insider / outsider roles reversed and the word “reformed” maybe doesn’t have the greatest connotations.
    We do have significant theological differences. We do not all believe exactly the same things. I don’t want to pretend that if we all talked enough we would come to a central universal truth.
    I hope we can all figure out how to hold each other accountable, as Tony requests, to learn to speak well of each other. I think it is a bold call, to speak as well of the other when you are safe inside your own community as you do when you are out and about in the world, and I think we could all do well to take up that challenge.

  • Rev Dave

    Previously I commended Tony for defending his friends and I still do.
    But I also agree with recent comments from jhimm and Steve K, that we (if I may be so bold as to include myself here) ought not allow critics to “control, distort or destroy the conversation.”
    The truth for me is that until Tony posted that video from the book expo, I’d never heard of Kevin DeYoung and have no idea who he is or what he does. Certainly that void has been filled in a bit since, but I thought then and still think: who the hell cares what this guy thinks of Tony or any of us trying to be part of this conversation? It seems to me, as McLaren writes, this emerging conversation is open to all but cannot be open to those opposed to its purpose. So let KD take his ball and go home and the rest of us can keep playing in peace.
    Except of course that KD apparently has a following and is being very publicly vocal about his opposition so it isn’t just as easy as wiping the dust off our feet and moving on…it seems the dust keeps trying to jump back on our soles!
    Finally, as I have no connection to KD or Driscoll I have no idea if the whole “shoot the wolves” thing comes directly from them or is someone’s interpretation of what they’ve said…but if it is really what they are teaching then I’m with Steve K in being a little scared that some nutjob will take that literally and show up somewhere with a gun and intent to use it “in the name of God.”
    Language matters! Let’s all (me too!) try to choose our words more carefully.

  • Rob Tarr

    Darius, I think this is part of the problem. These broad strokes of “It’s hard to give specifics when it’s more a case of when AREN’T those books mispresenting”. If there are that many things in the book that are misrepresented, pick one – it should be easy.
    This is the kind of talk that leads to things being blown out of proportion. Someone hears something like that, and then they take that to mean that McLaren misrepresents everyone he talks about, and that turns into McLaren is a heretic…
    Without citing specific issues with what was written, it’s just mudslinging.

  • Paul

    Another sad day for the body of Christ: Inflammatory words that create more and more division. Each side claiming “uncharitable” behavior and word and therefore sending their lackeys into a tizzy. Blogs are wonderful, aren’t they.
    In the future, would both sides please show the spiritual maturity and civility needed? Sit down, have a beer, and talk.
    Additionally, shame on the RCA for RTing this. The denomination has added unnecessary fuel to a fire within the body of Christ. Poor judgment!

  • Darius T.

    Tony, how is this any different than when you condescendingly call certain Reformed people “cul-de-sac Calvinistas”?

  • Darius T.

    Rob, I’ll have to go back through McLaren’s book or maybe I can find some quick links somewhere for you (another good source would be Carson’s Becoming Conversant book… anyone familiar with the Reformed theology rarely recognizes it accurately portrayed by McLaren, Pagitt, or Jones.

  • Darius T.

    I don’t see what Kevin or Driscoll have to apologize for (at least, in regards to this topic). They are following the Scriptural command to fight and call out false teaching and false teachers. Kevin is correct that nothing about Pagitt’s theology is recognizably Christian. And since we are justified by our faith and not our works, it’s pretty important that our faith is placed in a right understanding of God. Calling God a liar (albeit in sly, postmodern methods) or denying large portions of Scripture aren’t what one would call an orthodox Christian approach. Putting up a million homes in Central America will get us no closer to heaven, just as having right orthodoxy but not a corresponding orthopraxy will find us rejected on Judgment Day. Pagitt’s soul is left up to God, but if we truly love him as our brother (and other heretical Emergents), we have to point out his lies and point him to the Savior. If they choose to reject our pleas, then they are Satan’s, but hopefully only for a short while before they turn back to God in repentance. May it be so!

  • Larry

    Kevin is correct that nothing about Pagitt’s theology is recognizably Christian.
    It might be correct to say that there is nothing about Pagitt’s theology that is recognizably Reformed, but that is not the same thing as saying that it is not Christian. I know that Reformed-istas tend to equate the two, but they are not the same thing, and continually shouting out Reformed slogans won’t make it so.

  • Tony,
    First, let me say that I am looking forward to hearing you tonight at Furman–now I know why you were driving by Bob Jones! Check out downtown if you have time, particularly Barley’s Tap Room.
    Now, to the subject at hand: I really do not understand any of the vitriol that exists among Christian leaders on this or any other subject. The debate over these issues is just another example of what frustrates so many people about the church and its leadership. The message of Christ reached people in a myriad of ways from the very beginning. Why is it so troubling that there are STILL many ways that the Holy Spirit works and speaks to people today?
    Christian speakers/leaders are so put off and defensive about anything that does not fit their narrow definition of Christian Orthodoxy (a term that I have never heard adequately explained or defined). We talk about terms like PSA, and many people absolutely refuse to see that views on this may well be “both/and” instead of “either/or.” Until we begin to see the value in the perspective of the other, and understand that there may well be valued truth in those perspectives, we will continue to see childish, sniping behavior among believers. And no doubt, people will be watching.
    Let me add that I doubt any of this has any meaning or significance for the auto worker who has just lost his/her job or the starving child in South America or the teenager who is contemplating suicide–you know, the people who are supposed to be our primary concern.
    As for the response to Kevin DeYoung, I will offer an honest response since you, Tony, seem to be seeking that. I do not disagree with many of your points, but you come across as very defensive and somewhat petty in your approach. I am not sure that you are the one to hold someone from the Reformed movement accountable. Yes, you are both in Christ, but clearly in opposite “camps.” You would be better served to consider how those in your circle should act and respond rather than focusing on those who are beyond it.
    I think a response was warranted, but may have been more effective if you had not “called out” Kevin DeYoung as an issue of accountability. It would have been perfectly Christ-like to offer a defense by offering a simple, affirmative defense. Sharing what was said and what you actually know to be true of these men and their work would be sufficient.
    Just sayin’…

  • Barry

    I’ve read A Generous Orthodoxy so I’m gonna go ahead and ask if you to cite what you are saying with specific passages from the book. If you can, that would provide a lot more clarity to the conversation.
    I don’t doubt you have specific passages in mind but it is too easy to make such broad accusations and I think this is part of us holding each other accountable.

  • Tim Fitch

    I can’t help but think of newtons law for every action there is a equally and opposite reaction. It seems that Emergent theology has a reaction new reformed or vice versa. What I don’t see is how this arguing back and forth is furthering any gospel. When I talk to people who mock Christians this kind of conversation is what turns them off. Tony why does it matter if they apologize to you and others? When you speak the truth of the gospel you will be perscuted don’t stop preaching the gospel as God speaks to you. We need to play with in the meat of the Gospels and ignore those who would rather say rhetoric than the meat of the Gospel. The only thing this has motivated me to do is read Pagits book I like creative theology.

  • Darius T.

    Okay, Barry, I’ll try to find some time to look those up. Meanwhile, for a perfect example just on Tony’s blog, he said this: I find [PSA] neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative. In other words, in non-postmodern lingo, he finds it FALSE.
    Then, in response to the deluge of negative feedback he received, he said this: But because I don’t afford the penal substitutionary theory the status of crushing all other atonement theories, I’ve become the scourge of the Reformed blogosphere.
    That’s a perfect example of misrepresenting the other side (as well as misrepresenting himself).

  • Darius T.

    To be fair, Pagitt was actually quite accurate to the Reformed position the other day on his radio program with Tony. He disagreed with Tony by pointing out that all true Calvinists, be they of the New, Kuyper, or Barth variety, would all affirm penal substitution as a huge part of the Gospel. Pagitt still dislikes the idea and even called it dangerous and worthy of teaching against it. So while Pagitt is more intellectually honest on this issue (or maybe it’s informed) than Tony, he is actually more apostate in his theology than Tony, who is (or claims to be) merely questioning the priority of penal substitution.
    It’s amazing that the core of the Gospel (we are fallen people in need of a savior who will both LOVINGLY and JUSTLY take away our sin problem) can not just be found wanting, but actually DANGEROUS by a professing Christian. That is scary.

  • undefined

    The only thing scarier is those who assert that God as an abusive father is the only worthy model for understanding divine reconciliation.

  • Martin Downes

    Genuine question for those who reject or question penal substitution. How do you interpret Jesus’ words in John 18:11 about drinking the cup that Father has given him in light of the fact that the OT views that cup as symbolic of God’s outpoured judgement against sinners?

  • Echoes of Carson on McLaren & Chalke, Becoming Conversant…, p.186-7:

    I have to say, as kindly but as forcefully as I can, that to my mind, if words mean anything, both McLaren and Chalke have largely abandoned the gospel. Perhaps their rhetoric and enthusiasm have led them astray and they will prove willing to reconsider their published judgements on these matters and embrace biblical truth more holistically than they have been doing in their most recent works. But if not, I cannot see how their own words constitute anything less than a drift toward abandoning the gospel itself.

    I don’t know what Carson and the likes of De Young think the gospel is about, but to me it’s about grace: God’s radical action changes everything. It’s about opening doors — more than that, blasting the gates of heaven and hell wide open so that anyone can join in the party. That’s what God crucified does: turns everything upside down. Divine madness: God believes in me. Wild.

  • I don’t think you have to interpret that phrase that way at all. Imagine this, instead, in terms of Mideastern hospitality – if God offer you a cup are you not going to drink it, no matter what is in it? Just because something is used as a metaphor in one place doesn’t mean it is used the same way later.
    And if we’re going to talk about God’s judgement… in the Hebrew Bible God’s justice PALES to God’s mercy.

  • Martin Downes

    Why did the thought of drinking from the cup fill Jesus with such overwhelming sorrow and anguish? What’s that got to do with hospitality?

  • Darius T.

    “you should know that I am horribly unfair in this book, lacking all scholarly objectivity and evenhandedness.”
    Here, McLaren himself admits to not being fair.
    But in case you want more evidence than the author’s own words, this review summarizes some of my thoughts well:

  • If his cup was to be crucified and die? Denying penal substitution doesn’t mean denying that there was a purpose or deterministic aspect to the death of Jesus, or he didn’t know it was going to happen, etc.
    What I’m saying is that the cup can function as a metaphor for purpose, for the purpose God has given or Jesus sees before him… It’s something like someone saying “it’s my lot in life.”

  • Darius T.

    Great question, Martin. Why was the Cup that He drank in the Garden and on the Cross so sorrowful? The physical part of death was horrible, but He could put up with that. After all, He didn’t die because the crucifixion killed him, but because He gave up His Spirit. The Romans were shocked how fast He died, which gives further credence to the idea that He gave up His physical life before the Cross took it’s natural toll.
    “in the Hebrew Bible God’s justice PALES to God’s mercy.”
    What do you mean by this? God was quite merciful to the Israelites at times, but He also punished them hardly. And He had no mercy on the Canaanites.

  • Darius T.

    Gideon, practically speaking, how does this affect how you look at God and your relationship with Him? How do you glorify a God who doesn’t hold you accountable for how sinful you are? Or do you just not view yourself as all that sinful or that your sin is all that bad before God? Maybe He’s as unholy as He is unjust. I would find it hard to worship a God who was inherently unjust. Thankfully, God IS just and IS holy and IS merciful and IS loving. Do you just reject out-of-hand Romans 3:25-26? Forget Piper, Calvin, and Luther for a minute. Just read Romans honestly and tell me what you think it could possibly say besides that Jesus died for our sins and in our place.
    “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

  • If we’re going all proof-text (and I’m neither comfortable with that nor think it’s an appropriate way to deal with these questions) the Jewish tradition regarding this (and a core issue in Jewish religious thought is God’s justice versus his mercy) refers to the lines in the Torah that refer to how long his mercy or justice extends generationally – his mercy extending far longer than his justice. (I’m in class so I can’t grab the texts at the moment)
    But a lot of this thought seems to have really been screwed up by Christians who imagine God in the Hebrew Bible as this justice-maddened angry God and not the same compassionate and loving God we see in the New Testament.

  • Barry

    “But because I don’t afford the penal substitutionary theory the status of crushing all other atonement theories, I’ve become the scourge of the Reformed blogosphere.”
    Tony’s statement is, as I know it, true. Justin Taylor recently blogged about Tony’s post and had a picture of a wolf covered in sheep’s wool. You might recognize the verse JT is referring to. I had a frustrating conversation with the people on that blog who said everything from Tony being sent to hell, to referring to him leading people astray, to claims of heresy. Read the post and a few of those comments and I think you’ll see what I mean.
    Here is the link:
    As to you quoting Tony’s statements on PSA: how is that any different from your defense of Driscoll and Piper pointing out false teaching? You say they have a scriptural command to do this. And does Tony or any of the rest have any less of a command? We all have the right and perhaps responsibility to speak our convictions. What makes the real difference is the conversation we have about it. Perhaps we don’t agree. Ok, but we can still talk. I think Tony just wants to have a conversation without having himself, Pagitt or others labeled as heretics.

  • Martin Downes

    Lots of people in the ancient world died by crucifixion. Why was Jesus filled with such anguish at the thought of his sufferings? Why did he see in them his Father’s, and his own, purpose? What was the purpose? Why at his arrest does he speak of this cup? I do not see how this cup can be swallowed up in the universal human experience of suffering and death. I would need a more convincing explanation that the OT references to the cup as a symbol of judgement are totally irrelevant to the interpretation of John 18 and the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • Darius T.

    Gideon, also look at 1 Peter 1:18-19. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
    The “without blemish or defect” is language taken verbatim from the Old Covenantal sacrificial system and it’s prescriptions for atoning for sin. And in 1 Corinthians, Paul calls Jesus the “Passover Lamb.” So, obviously, Peter and Paul both believed that Jesus died for our sins. And, in case you are wondering, Jesus also affirmed this view by saying that He came to “give his life as a ransom for many.”

  • Darius T.

    “I think Tony just wants to have a conversation without having himself, Pagitt or others labeled as heretics.”
    That’s fine, he can go start his own cult (instead of trying to warp the Church) and be free of charges of heresy, as then those within the Body won’t involve themselves in that as it will be outside of the Body.
    The Bible doesn’t give Driscoll, Piper, or any Christian the freedom to ignore false teachers. Driscoll isn’t a false teacher… perhaps he’s misrepresented the Emergents, but I have yet to say any evidence of that. Pagitt is a false teacher. A false teacher has never recognized himself as such… just look at church history. Some seem to believe that false teachers will consciously know that they are spreading lies… that is many times not the case. I’m sure Pagitt, McLaren, etc. sincerely believe in their understanding of the Bible. That doesn’t mean that they are any less guilty of false teaching than Arius, another sincere heretic.

  • Darius T.

    “If we’re going all proof-text (and I’m neither comfortable with that nor think it’s an appropriate way to deal with these questions)…”
    That’s fine if you’re not prepared to address the Scriptures, I’m fine with that. But that’s all I care about; your “feelings” on the matter are a distant second. If you can show me how your feelings or thoughts are proven in Scripture, that will significantly help. In my opinion, Emergents are very weak at handling Scripture or including it in their arguments. I don’t want personal opinions, I want to know where you find that in the Bible.
    How do you read Peter, Paul, and Jesus on their understandings of atonement and Jesus’ death?

  • Barry

    I wasn’t claiming anyone to be a false teacher. You misread my comment.
    As to your comments, they are disappointing to hear. When a conversation becomes this mean-spirited towards others, I abandon it.

  • Darius T.

    Tony’s statement is, as I know it, true.
    Wrong, and even some of his supporters have acknowledged the dishonesty of it. He became the “scourge” of some many bloggers because he outright DENIED PSA. If he had simply “dethroned” PSA, he would have had some backlash, but nothing nearly like what he has received for altogether denying the heart of the Gospel.

  • Larry

    That’s fine, he can go start his own cult (instead of trying to warp the Church) — said the Pope to Martin Luther.

  • Darius T.

    Barry, where am I being “mean-spirited?” If Tony or Pagitt are false teachers like I (and Piper and Driscoll and Carson) believe, then am I not Biblically warranted in saying as much? Where in the Bible do you find the “can’t we all just hug and agree to disagree no matter how outrageous our theology is?” idea that you seem to support?

  • Darius T.

    “But a lot of this thought seems to have really been screwed up by Christians who imagine God in the Hebrew Bible as this justice-maddened angry God and not the same compassionate and loving God we see in the New Testament.”
    Gideon, you’re not being fair, dude. What you (and most Emergents) struggle with is seeing it as BOTH, not either/or (just like the Jews of Jesus’ time had the opposite problem, never being able to comprehend a God who was loving except perhaps toward them). And the Cross is where we see this MOST clearly. The JUSTICE and WRATH of God is satisfied through the LOVING and SELFLESS sacrifice of Himself. We can’t forget that God wasn’t just punishing some man up there on the cross, He was punishing HIMSELF. God suffered up on the cross. And He did so willingly.

  • @”Your Name”
    doctrine ISN’T very important !!!
    G-d does not judge us by our doctrine. G-d judges us by the content of our hearts and the actions of our lives. to the extent that doctrine shapes these things to produce good fruit, how can they be wrong? to the extent that doctrine shapes these things to produce bad fruit, how can they be right?
    yes, there are a handful of core doctrines, found in the creeds, which are essential to being a Christian. G-d’s existence, G-d’s role in the universe and in our lives, the triune nature of G-d, Jesus’ uniqueness in human history, his life, ministry, death and resurrection as the central hinge pin of salvation, and the coming of the Kingdom.
    but read those creeds very carefully. they steer completely clear of defining atonement. they steer completely clear of discussions about free will. they steer completely clear of most of the things that we spend most of our time arguing about. and they do this for a reason.
    doctrine is far, far less important than fruit.

  • It saddens me that brothers and sisters in Christ disparage one another when they disagree on theology. NO ONE, including myself, has a monopoly on truth and correct and perfect interpretations of Scripture. We all need to be more humble and loving one another, even our enemies. i think this brings tears to Jesus’ eyes. It certainly doe to me. THANK YOU, Tony, for standing up to this uncharitableness of a fellow brother in Christ. Criticisms are fair and often helpful, but it is the attitude and spirit that speaks volumes about a person’s character.
    Existential Punk

  • I’m comfortable with scripture, but I don’t see scripture as infallible. I see it as a recording of our faith and our struggles with it coming out of historical and cultural processes – so using proof texts to me just means that’s what that guy thought. Was he right? Was he wrong? What’s the context? What were his issues? What did he think he was saying? Ever played the telephone game? I’m not comfortable saying “THIS IS THE CORRECT DOCTRINE” because I don’t think anyone has a bloody clue what it is. I don’t think you’re smart enough and I don’t think I’m smart enough and I don’t think Luther or Calvin were either.
    I think we have to see the tradition as a whole, moderated by our scripture and reason. We have to be aware of the greater movements in the text, shaking off the dust of time and place to try to see as clearly as possible, knowing the whole time that we can only see through a glass darkly. So, I imagine that puts me in a much worse position than Jones from some theological perspectives (not all, of course.. as many of my mentors and friends are Reformed – not everyone in the Reformed camp sees this PSA as necessary either). I’m Episcopalian myself – not aligned with the emergent movement myself yet.
    I see the Christus Victor approach as being much more in line with the Hebrew Bible, the Gospels, and Paul’s text… I think we’ve all been wearing ‘penal substitution’ glasses and have a hard time seeing it any other way, but when I took those off everything seemed much more coherent to me. I think you can certainly view the texts as supporting PSA but I see no reason to go there when Christus Victor appears to do a much better job. I’d suggest Borg and Crossan’s (oh no!) new book on Paul, I think it does a great job explaining the position textually and contextually.
    But I understand other viewpoints arising, and perhaps one of them is more correct, but I don’t think the text (even if we use it and nothing else) supports any one position so perfectly that any of us can walk around with the kind of hubris to say we have it and you don’t. God is aware of our infirmaries, I am not concerned that we may be wrong – if such mistakes in theology are damning, than the vast majority of Christian history is damned. We struggle and live life in Christ and by our fruits we shall be known.
    This theology stuff is fun and educational at times, but we have to be aware that we are always playing at things much greater than us and our comprehension and at the end of the game his ways are not our ways and whatever God may be he is far more than we can fathom. God will mind his own justice, we should mind our own mercies.

    Existential Punk,
    I completely agree with you. It is sad to see brothers and sisters fighting over theology, when we all know that none of us knows it all. It gladdens my heart to know that there are people out there who want to know God more clearly and live out his call on our lives more fully. I applaud that. However, when that means childish things like calling people names and not fully listening or gently giving our own disagreeing opinions, I am greatly saddened.
    Tony, I think that you hold a very important place in the theological conversations that are happening right now. John PIper, Brian McLaren and others do as well. The internet gives us a GREAT place to be able to share our views on Scripture and listen/hear others. If only we all did it not only more respectfully, but also more openly, expecting to learn something new from those we think we completely disagree with.

  • Herb

    This is the best example of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel — on both sides, if we are going divorce into groups. Railing against being uncharitable, misunderstanding sinning against the Holy Spirit, tossing out terms like heresey hunters and New Pharisees…are you serious?
    Go ahead and huddle together, put balm on your bruised egos, and point away at each other.
    All of us…all of us need to worry more about our own sins than the sins of others. So someone was uncharitable to you (me). So what? You (I) have worse sins. So someone is teaching something contrary to Scripture. So what. You (I) have committed worse sins about understanding the Mind and Will of God.
    Do we excuse these things? No. But we do not put others under the magnifing glass without looking at our own glaring misdeeds.
    I’m tired. I’m tired of this. Most of all, I’m tired of being guilty of this as well. Anybody else?
    What do we say, then? What do I say then?
    Nothing but, God, forgive me for my guilt.

  • Tim

    Mud ball throwing time
    Dirty up those heretics
    Christ is on MY side
    Hiaku brought to you by,
    My theology can beat up your theology

  • Tim

    Jesus glasses
    Corrective vision
    Seeing people in a brand new way
    Sharp judgment aimed at religious leaders
    Tender love aimed at outrageous sinners
    From the cross Jesus forgave his executioners

  • Tim

    Hard hearts
    Tender feet
    [= quick to condemn, easily offended]
    Tender hearts
    Hard feet
    [= quick to love, tough enough to absorb criticism]
    Confession: sadly, I’m more often in camp number one when Jesus calls me to be in camp number two

  • Darius T

    “I’m comfortable with scripture, but I don’t see scripture as infallible.”
    There we go, now I can understand you better. So, basically, you ignore verses which you don’t like (or have no confidence in them at least)? That’s fine, that is your right. But I don’t find it, as Tony would say, intellectually compelling. What makes it logical for you to argue for certain parts of Scripture and deny/ignore others? If you throw out some as untrustworthy, logically you have to throw it all out (unless you know of an objective way to differentiate between valid and invalid texts besides your (or my) arbitrary opinion. I believe in a God that is big enough to transcend human weakness and give us the Word, trustworthy in all things. Jesus affirmed that all Scripture was trustworthy and would never pass away. Paul said it was “God-breathed.” Peter said that Paul’s letters were equal to Scripture. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come and help the disciples remember everything He had taught them.
    Scripture seems to disagree rather emphatically with the notion that it can be taken or left as we see fit. But if you want to leave it aside and make our own feelings and inclinations and ideas the deciding factor, that’s fine. I personally don’t trust myself enough to make myself the judge, but perhaps you do.
    So, with that in mind, let’s operate off of your view of Scripture. I don’t believe that God is either merciful or just. How do you know that? I see all the evil in the world and can’t imagine a loving God creating that or allowing it to exist. I see all the times that evil people get away with stuff and are never punished while innocent people are killed… I don’t see how God could possibly be just. Plus, I don’t believe Jesus was God, or that He wanted people to serve others. I just think that was a fanciful idea passed on by his disciples. He most certainly didn’t rise from the dead… that just doesn’t happen. How are we even sure that Jesus wasn’t a rebel against Rome who caused violent insurrections? Of course his disciples aren’t going to tell that part of the story, they’re just going to make him out to be innocent. And not just innocent, completely perfect!?! Like that’s even possible. And don’t get me started on the Old Testament. First God drowns everyone, then he gets a little Middle Eastern tribe to do the rest of his dirty work and kill off anyone who doesn’t agree with him, including babies! Please, why should I believe in that God? He can’t even get an accurate picture of himself across in his holy book. Sounds like a violent, sadistic buffoon who can’t get anything right unless he’s given like five tries. Seriously, what kind of god is that?

  • Sorry you feel that way. I don’t. I think it’s the only intellectually solid way to deal with scripture. I treat them very seriously , and because I treat them seriously I don’t imagine they are more than they are or go in for circular arguments.
    I don’t just ‘ignore what I don’t like’ and frankly I find that claim rather irritating as it is always made against people who take this view, and that is not at all the source or the results of our point of view. It’s a ridiculous reduction and straw man and not at all accurate or sensible to the point of view I hold or the many others who do as well. James McGarth put it quite well recently:
    “For some such Christians, the precision and accuracy of earlier Christians is an interesting and not unimportant question, but neither is it ultimately decisive. Their lives are being transformed in the present, and that is their foundation. Moreover, they have confidence that, just as they are fallible human beings who nonetheless have something important to share, so too the earliest Christians may have written fallibly and yet still have something important to share.”
    If you think those other views must arise from it, or are somehow representative of that viewpoint, I’m sorry. That’s not what I think but I won’t get into an argument about it as it would be pointless.

  • Darius T

    So you choose to ignore (or however you want to phrase it) the texts which claim that the Bible is trustworthy? How do you handle what Jesus and Paul and Peter said about Scripture? Do you not find Jesus’ words compelling when He said that not a single jot or iota would pass away from the law? How do you explain away Paul’s belief that ALL Scripture is God-breathed?
    It comes down to this, Gideon, what is the ultimate standard? The Bible, or your postmodern feelings and ideas? I daresay, this supposed humility toward the text and certainty is actually arrogance, putting your own views and today’s thinkers above or equal to the Bible. Kathy Ireland actually spoke to this very issue the other day when she said she was a baby Christian for a long time and ignored Scripture which didn’t suit her. Then she realized how arrogant she was and began to mature and humble herself before God.
    My last comment was in complete seriousness, especially that last paragraph. Explain to me why you think God is good and not a nutcase. Or why we should do anything Jesus said. And don’t base your answer on the Bible, since that’s not trustworthy.

  • Darius T

    If you think those other views must arise from it.
    I don’t think those other views must arise from your belief that the Bible and God can’t be trusted, but I don’t see how you could argue against them in any compelling fashion.

  • Tony,
    When will you call Todd Friel, from Wretched Radio, back?
    He has been waiting for at least 6 weeks now.
    Please give him a ring at 1-877-529-4722

  • Your Name

    Darius, Gideon,
    What value have you added to anything by having this exchange? Do you go to bed a night thinking you have won some sort of battle?

  • Seriously people.
    Tony needs to stop taking the bait from this DeYoung cat who seems to me like a book pusher of crap I would never care about anyway. The point is that the Christus Victor position is in keeping with centuries of Eastern Orthodox thought – you know, the church that was Orthodox before evangelicals even roamed the earth (see Irenaus). For anyone to tell anyone else that their rejection of the penal theory is somehow to nullify the gospel, also effectively writes off an entire set of faith people in the same body serving the same Lord with the difference being they find a better way to explain how Christ saved them. And this without even considering that the alternative might even be a better way to resolve he problem which is logically unresolvable when you really get down to the evidence. That to me is offensive since it offends the body of Christ. If emergent is anything tangible it is moving beyond these doctrinal and denominational tensions which are really more about social control than “Truth” in order to do the work of the Kingdom of God with justice, mercy, compassion, and service (see Sr. McAuley for that reasoning).
    Wanna know why atheists have their flames fanned over and over again? This sort of ultimately counter-productive foolishness that betrays the purpose of the Gospel for human living. As y’all who are loquaciously getting your respective undergarments in a knot over doctrine continue to “fight the good fight” people still die, go hungry, and the Gospel is not working because no one arguing this stuff is doing the work. Out.

  • Dan

    There is no way to resolve this, because the conservatives and the emergents have a different view of scripture, a different source of authority, a different epistemology. Tony, McLaren, Pagitt, et al, have place all their eggs in the basket of “interpretation” and do no believe the text has objective meaning until it is interpreted. The conservative believes the text has its own objective meaning which humans can know to a substantial, but not perfect, degree.
    The kicker is that if all text only has meaning when interpreted, then the musings of the emergent interpreters have no meaning until interpreted either, so all the consternation about being “misunderstood” seems rather pointless.
    I wanted to give the emergents the benefit of the doubt, but now that several leading figures in the movement have endorsed the “full inclusion” of gays in the church and at least civil unions, now that penal substitution, original sin and other subjects are open for re-imagining, and any attempt to critique this repeat of the slow suicide of mainline liberalism is dismissed as “being uncharitable” with little or no substantive rebuttal, it is clear I am in a completely different universe from Tony, Brian, Doug and most of their followers.
    Might as well be on different planets.

  • Dan,
    There is absolutely no evidence that liberalism equals a “slow suicide”. Liberalism in the late 19th century and in the 1930’s were quite potent and yet attendance and belief in God are quite consistent in longitudinal trends. The liberalism equals secularization thesis proves false so to anyone, I strongly suggest abandoning the assertion.
    To also suggest that the development of doctrine is not a socially conditioned animal is also a fantastically selective view of history that latches onto one historical saga at the expense of everything else. Humans construct doctrine as a social object otherwise it would be just a tad more consistent would it not? Moreover, doctrine is a source for religious groups to levy social control over their own membership and to exclude others. Again, this stuff is axiomatic in the sociology of religion. Unless you would rather reject all of that knowledge as something “worldly” which kind of just proves the point.
    Once more, Irenaus did not see PSA and it is not something widely accepted in Eastern Orthodox circles and has never really been. Calvin, by the way, relied on a lot of patristic material in order to re-establish the lineage of true teaching as the authority. So were they all magically wrong when Anselm codified the PSA theory in the form we have it today?
    The problem is that this is ideology first, evidence second. That’s putting reified social ideas created by people in front of a God who continually judges our ideas incorrect and tentative no matter how right we think they are. Before you say “that’s postmodernist” it’s really not. It a fully modernist notion of critical realism for which we can thank American pragmatists and group of fellows in Frankfurt. If this is not a substantial enough rebuttal, I can give you lots of footnotes. Or read a few posts on my blog if you really care that much and want to engage an actual conversation where the conversants are each willing to change their ideas in the process.

  • Tony,
    While I identify myself as being generally “reformed” (in line with folks like James K.A. Smith who, unless I’m mistaken, are “friends” of emergent too), I find DeYoung’s comments reprehensible. I know that you generally have a hard time finding reformed theology / philosophy intellectually credible but I hope that DeYoung, et. al. are not your only measure for what “reformed” looks like. Speaking for myself I can say that there is at least one reformed-minded Christian who is also a “friend” of emergent.

  • Rev Dave

    Ding, ding, ding! And we have a winner! It only took 100+ comments but Dan finally revealed what all the vituperators are really all huffy about: that some of us dare to consider gay people as actual human being [gasp!] And then we even treat them as actual human beings [gasp gasp!!] And as if that weren’t enough we actually even have the audacity to speak out on their behalf and attempt to persuade others to treat them as actual human beings [gasp infinity!!!]
    Speaking of “just ignoring scripture you don’t like” I think I just saw “love God and love your neighbor as yourself” go flying by. Oh well, probably not that important anyway. Only a loon would try to live that way anyway.
    Also, Darius, did you really write that crucifixion DIDN’T kill Jesus? You cannot actually believe that can you? Holy frak that is ridiculous.
    Drew Tatusko: well said. I’m glad someone here is still able to be calm and reasonable. ’cause obviously I’m not.

  • Benjamin

    its funny that when we’re talking theology, 20 people comment, but when tony goes after a person. we have 105 comments.
    that is proof of original sin if you need it.

  • rob

    If he had simply “dethroned” PSA, he would have had some backlash, but nothing nearly like what he has received for altogether denying the heart of the Gospel.
    I’m curious about something. Since the charge is that us “emergents” don’t handle Scripture properly, I’d be interested in seeing where Scripture calls PSA the “heart of the Gospel”? And I don’t want Romans 3 blasted at me again, since Jesus dying for our sins is NOT in question. PSA as the sole heart of the Gosepel is. Where is PSA defined as that? So that, if I came to the Scriptures with no previous knowledge about atonement theories, it would be “plainly” obvious to me which is supreme?

  • Dan

    Regarding liberalism, the trends in the Episcopal church seem to indicate pretty clearly that embracing every new idea under ths sun and calling it Christian does not promote either harmony or growth.
    Regarding PSA, I care far more about what Isaiah, Paul and the author of Hebrews says about Christ being wounded for our iniquities than I do about what either Anselm or Irenaeus had to say. Not that I discount the fathers or later theologians, just that I am stubborn enough to believe that canon of scripture ought to serve as a canon.
    Last, regarding “full inclusion”, I don’t consider gays to be less than “persons” any more than I consider adulterers or drunkards less than persons. I just don’t see any way the pertinent texts of the Pastoral Epistles can be read to allow an adulterer, a drunkard or a practicing homosexual to be in a position of church leadership, which would seem to be what “full inclusion” implies and is what it explicitly means in Episcopal, United Methodist and some Presbyterian circles. But alas, to be backward and unsophisticated enough to actually read the text of the Old and New Testaments at face value is equivalent to irrational hate to many these days.

  • Darius T.

    Rev. Dave, please tell you’re not an actual pastor.
    And yes, I did say that the crucifixion, at least in a real sense, did NOT kill Christ. Rather than just blather, why not address the evidence honestly and seriously?
    He “gave up His Spirit.”
    “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”
    He died way earlier than anyone expected.
    All of these are hints that He just chose to die. He could have just given up His spirit without any physical agony, He is God after all. And He decided WHEN to die.

  • Darius T.

    Rob, Romans 3 explicitly tells us that Jesus died because of God’s wrath and in our place. That’s penal substitution 101. But since you want to avoid that particular text since you don’t like what it says… try Isaiah, Hebrews, or Jesus’ own words: “My God, My God, why have you FORSAKEN me?”

  • Hey Tony
    watched the expo video last night and think you and scott did a good job holding your cool and representing the emerging church I think it’s pretty spot on to call out Kevin on being uncharitable and reallty he should just be honest and fess up to going for the easy targets and cheap bucks. In reality it looks like there will always be some folks for who there really isn’t room for anyone else who disagree’s with them in the room

  • Rob

    Rob, Romans 3 explicitly tells us that Jesus died because of God’s wrath and in our place. That’s penal substitution 101. But since you want to avoid that particular text since you don’t like what it says… try Isaiah, Hebrews, or Jesus’ own words: “My God, My God, why have you FORSAKEN me?”
    You did not answer my question. My question was:
    And I don’t want Romans 3 blasted at me again, since Jesus dying for our sins is NOT in question. PSA as the sole heart of the Gosepel is. Where is PSA defined as that?

  • Rob

    Note, I’m willing to grant you that Romans 3 teaches PSA (I don’t agree that is necessarily does, but go with me here). Where, I am asking, is that theory of atonement explicity stated in Scriptures as the SOLE and HEART of the Gospel to the exclusion of all other metaphors and pictures of the what Christ did on the cross? That’s all I’m asking.

  • Darius T.

    Sorry Rob, others were indeed questioning the fact that Jesus died for our sins, and I thought you were as well.
    I’m not promoting that it is the ONLY theory of atonement that is Biblical (neither is anyone else, that I know of). I am arguing for it being the heart of the Gospel and the part which feeds all the other theories. Christus Exemplar is an important aspect, but it’s not the heart of the gospel. If Christ merely came to be a good example to us, we’d still be dead in our sins. PSA is the heart because that reconciles us with a Holy and Just God. God was doing a lot on the Cross, but most importantly, He was making us righteous by taking the sin upon Himself.

  • Rob

    But Darius, don’t you see that you are doing what you accuse others of doing? Your statement of:
    I am arguing for it being the heart of the Gospel and the part which feeds all the other theories.
    is an assumption is it not? I’m not even saying it’s a wrong one…but is an assumption. You can’t find a definitive statement about that in the Scriptures?
    Sorry Rob, others were indeed questioning the fact that Jesus died for our sins, and I thought you were as well.
    I don’t think that is fair. I haven’t seen anyone on here deny that. They happen to think, and I would tend to agree, that Jesus dying for our sins does not NECESSARILY equate to PSA.

  • Phil Miller

    IMHO, the argument that because DeYoung publically defamed someone that it is appropriate to address it publically falls short of the turn the other cheek mentality of Christ. Do not return evil for evil. What good does it do for the kingdom of God for Christian leaders to defame each other on the basis of theology, when we are both chasing the understand of the same Christ and how that applies to how we do life?
    Turning the other cheek does not mean you let an infraction go without resistance. Resisting is not the same as returning evil for evil. Certainly the way in which we resist needs to be considered, but I don’t see how refuting a lie with the truth is wrong. Refuting a lie with a lie is what is wrong.
    We are called to respond in the opposite spirit. We do not, however, have the luxury to simply sit and do nothing.

  • Dan,
    “the Episcopal church seem to indicate pretty clearly that embracing every new idea under ths sun and calling it Christian does not promote either harmony or growth.”
    So is it this mythic “suicide” the problem, or is it harmony and growth? At what point in the history of the church have we seen sustained “harmony and growth”? Here’s is your answer – never! History helps with perspective and I strongly urge to to get some here. But this is a red herring. There is no statistically significant evidence that liberalism leads to church decline. Other factors are in play that creates decline.
    In one post you say: “And yes, I did say that the crucifixion, at least in a real sense, did NOT kill Christ.”
    But then you say, “Romans 3 explicitly tells us that Jesus died…” So did he die or not? If he did not die, then the cross is ineffectual. Make up your mind. It would help a great deal.
    “I am arguing for it being the heart of the Gospel…”
    In effect you acknowledge that there are other theories, but you clearly do not accept them as being credible for teaching the meaning of the Gospel. Which is Tony’s point here. The primacy of position with this theory is the problem even if there are credible theories that do as good of a job communicating why Jesus died with various other passages of Scripture.
    The fact is that PSA hangs on one word in Rom 3:25 – hilasterion. By doing so, despite various reasonable and counter-factual arguments on the use of the term. In other cognates the term is used to refer to a gift that a person gives to a god such a as a sacrifice in order to appease the god. In the case of Jesus as “propitiation” we have a problem since it is not clear how it is that God gives God’s own self a gift for appeasement. See here:
    The alternative, more in keeping with Christus Victor, is that the term refers to the “mercy seat” which is the place of God’s revelation. This makes more sense given the Gospel narratives, ripping of the Temple curtain, etc. Jesus is therefore not a gift of appeasement, but the focus and center of God’s new revelation and new covenant with the people. The resurrection ratifies this covenant with the forgiveness of sins.
    Again, I urge you and others to take care to look at the countervailing sources of evidence and not to assume that one interpretation of a term which truly does govern an entire theology and one’s apparent understanding of the entirety of the Gospel is the right one.

  • Rev Dave

    Sorry to disappoint Darius, but, yes, I’m an actual pastor in an actual church. I’ve been with my current congregation for 13+ years.
    We believe, which for us means we strive to live, “love God and love your neighbor as yourself” as the heart of the gospel; as the essence of what it means to follow God in the way of Jesus; and ultimately as the best understanding of what it means to be human. And I dare say God’s Spirit has been, is and continues to be at work in and through and with and around and even in spite of us as we seek to faithfully follow our Lord Jesus the Christ.
    As I wrote last, it seems to me that Drew T has rather calmly and succinctly named the core of our differences. So perhaps further conversation is not possible as we begin with very different understandings about most everything.
    (The whole not dying on the cross thing is really just an aside that seems extremely weird to me. Why is that so important to you? And if it is only something the text “hints” at (read: interpretation!), as you say, how do you justify your belief in that idea while simultaneously vilifying people here for there interpretations?)
    And but so anyway, Darius, clearly you understand that PSA is the plain and clear heart of the gospel. Fine, go with that and may God bless you and yours.

  • Rev Dave

    ah, hell, obviously my previous comment should read: while simultaneously vilifying people here for *their* interpretations?
    Some son of English teachers I turned out to be…

  • Your Name

    Back to the substance of Tony’s original post.
    I’ve read 2 Shane Claiborne books.
    I’ve heard him speak once.
    I’ve spoken with a person who has interacted extensively with the Simple Way community.
    In my opinion, Shane is living with more Gospel integrity than 99.99% of USA Christians. He has practiced the downward mobility of Christ, risked his life for the sake of non-violent peace-making, and refuses to be in any USA political party camp. He deals graciously with those who disagree with him.
    When it comes to choosing ideology versus kingdom living, it is better to choose the later. Tragically, most of us choose the former. Therefore, Tony is correct for holding Keven to account.

  • Darius T.

    “So did he die or not?” Drew, I would encourage you to read my comments more closely. I’m not saying that Jesus didn’t die, I’m just saying that in a very real sense, the Cross didn’t physically kill Him but that He just gave up His spirit and let himself die. This isn’t a big thing (to address Rev Dave), just an interesting thought. Dan is also quite correct that liberal theology always brings decline. Anyone familiar with the Episcopal and mainline churches know that those denominations are in the death throes of their existence. Look at Europe, for goodness sake… they went liberal and they died. History proves this time and again. People don’t care to follow a self-refuting Gospel… deep down, rational thinking wins out. Furthermore, where the Holy Spirit is not, there is no potential for life or growth.

  • Darius T.

    Tim, regarding Shane Claiborne. I admit that he is very challenging and many Christians in the Western world would do good to take his life to heart.
    That said, he does indeed teach a psuedo-Marxist ideology and a liberation theology with a good dose of equating physical needs with spiritual needs. I would point Shane to several texts which say otherwise… for one, when Jesus said to not fear the one who can hurt the body but the one who can damn the soul. Apparently, Jesus views the soul as more important than the temporary physical body.
    If how one lived was the only evidence needed for determining who is a real Christian, then Ghandi and many other Christ-deniers would be considered Christians. That’s why beliefs and faith matter most. One can do all sorts of great things but if they deny that Jesus is the only way, they’re lost. Shane has come very near this view (if not embraced it altogether) by endorsing a lot of Emergent literature which does this very thing.
    I am impressed that so far, Claiborne has been much more gracious than any of his fellow Emergents. I believe he is one of the few selfless Emergents, which is why if it weren’t for the fact that he endorses most Emergent theology, I wouldn’t lump him in with them. Many emergents are obviously interested in getting praise from men and being the center of attention… I don’t get that from Claiborne. And he’s much more gracious than his mentor, Tony Campolo, who was extremely uncharitable in Letters to a Young Evangelical. So I praise Claiborne for that, but he’s still wrong on many many things (both politically and theologically).

  • Steve K.

    Oh for heaven’s sake, please do NOT call Todd Friel from “Wretched Radio” back!
    Thank you,
    Steve K.

  • Your Name

    First, I’m with Steve K: let’s not go down the “Wretched Radio” rode again, please.
    Next, Darius, a couple of genuine questions: What specifically about liberation theology do you find so objectionable?
    You say “If how one lived was the only evidence needed for determining who is a real Christian, then Ghandi and many other Christ-deniers would be considered Christians.” But, as you have questioned me and others here in this manner, how do you reconcile this with Matt. 25? Or “you’ll know a tree by its fruit” or “faith without works is dead” or if someone asks for bread/water/healing and you just pray and bless him but don’t offer to meet the need you have done nothing or…
    Also, it seems to me that Ghandi led a much more Christ-like life than many self-professed Christians, including me.

  • Rev Dave

    Oops, the “your name” at 5:02 is me.
    Rev Dave

  • Andy W.

    The irony is that the more I read your constant squabbling with everyone, the less interest I have in the reformed side of things. I know you mean well and you think you’re doing a good thing here, but you’re actually widening the gap between yourself and others which serves to undermine your very intention. Seek to close the gap brother…that’s what Jesus did! I already know your answer, because everything must first flow through your theological filter for charity, grace and fellowship to be offered. I’m just so thankful I serve a God that offers the latter prior to my own stumbling and ignorance about the former.

  • Drew Tatusko

    I have read your posts and I just read that and it is still not clear.
    “I’m just saying that in a very real sense, the Cross didn’t physically kill Him but that He just gave up His spirit and let himself die. This isn’t a big thing (to address Rev Dave), just an interesting thought.”
    Not interesting because it makes no sense. As we say in my church, can’t vouch for yours, “He was crucified, died, and buried…” Whether he let himself die is irrelevant. He either died and sin with him, or he did not and therefore sin did not die! If he did not literally die, what was he doing in the tomb for three days, playing solitaire? Your POV is coming off extraordinarily non-Trinitarian here. No idea how you would handle Moltmann’s Crucified God, but that would raise a lot of good questions for you, I think.
    And both you and Dan are very wrong about your assertions regarding liberal theology – for which you and I may have different definitions about it. I hate to bring out the “read this” language, but you should because you clearly don’t know what you are talking about. Try Grace Davie, Rodney Stark, Peter Berger, Norris & Inglehart, and even Steve Bruce for a counter-argument that pretty much goes along with this slice of the argument (his issue is not liberalization of theology, but diffusion of religious choice directly counter to Stark). Oh, and David Martin who clearly argues that there is no one “Europe” as if there was some monolithic sense of religiosity that caved with modernization.
    The political tensions with religion are a major point of secularization in Europe along with declining birth rates, relative levels of existential security, etc. Perhaps some form of liberalization can be one effect of many other causes to which secularization regresses, but the causes for secularization are far more complex than any statement that liberalism equates with secularization (or ecclesiastical suicide if you will). For American dimensions of religious decline in the mainline churches, which are for all thing being equal “liberal” esp. as distinct from sectarian movements and groups, just read these little posts of mine for clarification on the causes of it: &
    Evidence beats assertions every time. When you find some, let me know. But what bothers me is that you agreed with Dan based on an ideological assertion since said assertion bears no truth to the evidence in as much as PSA has some serious text-critical and linguistic issues to sort through before anyone should latch onto it as uncritically as you seem to here along with other folks.
    And I am interested to hear your thoughts on the counter-factuals re: “hilasterion” since you conveniently snipped the crux of my former comment which presents a clear and valid alternative to how we read a critical passage that has been used to defend PSA over and over again – even here!
    I am comfortable arguing the biblical text or the sociological dimensions of secularization. I am even comfortable fusing them together in a reasonable way. Now let’s be rational shall we? 🙂

  • I copied and pasted the comments (thus far)responding to Tony Jones’ post regarding Kevin DeYoung into Wordle. Words are sized proportionately to their use. It’s an interesting way to see a conversation.
    Ron Tester

  • Mr. T!

    Darius and his ilk say things like:
    “If how one lived was the only evidence needed for determining who is a real Christian, then Ghandi and many other Christ-deniers would be considered Christians. That’s why beliefs and faith matter most. One can do all sorts of great things but if they deny that Jesus is the only way, they’re lost. Shane has come very near this view (if not embraced it altogether) by endorsing a lot of Emergent literature which does this very thing.”
    Having grown up in the South surrounded by this mindset and being amply familiar with the kind of “christian church culture” it breeds, and now at age 50… having spent the last 8 years in community with Pagitt, Jones, and their emergent friends… I’m happy to say I’ve found an alternative version of christianity in which I can recognize the character of Jesus and also a more hopeful expression of the faith that makes sense to me. I hold a high view of the canonized scriptures and less of a high view of historical christian traditions. My benchmark in either is to recognize more of the person of Jesus in all of it.
    I don’t expect someone who holds Darius’ views to get it. He is so convinced of the rightness of his understanding of the gospel and what the bible teaches that he even sees ungraciousness as grace. If he seems unloving, he’s doing it in the name of love. He has not only put his trust in the name of Jesus, but rather in a very specifically defined theological understanding of how to make sense out of all that Jesus and the bible narrative entails. If one does not understand it this specific way, one is “out”, to be pitied, viewed with suspicion, convinced with argument, judged on scant evidence and lifted quotations, excommunicated, or declared heretical and attacked. That’s the drill. That’s why, to him, beliefs and faith matters most. That is, in his mind, the only entrance point into this Jesus thing. There are no valid scriptural passages pointing otherwise. IF you read them all with that bias. It all fits into a neatly packaged, reductionist theological construct.
    Made by men. It is this man-made part of the theological construct that is crumbling in our age. The inbred insular christian enclave is collapsing in on itself because it is not generative, self-sustaining, or Kingdom-like. One stone shall not be left on top of another. The Gospel itself will decenter those who think they control it. Where is the power of this Gospel when christians seem so Un-christian?

  • @ Mr. T!

  • Liz

    Thanks for standing up for your friends and thank you for doing it publicly. I think scripture has a few illustrations of Jesus standing up “publicly” for some people that the “religious” people of that day were badmouthing. It seems so obvious to me that Jesus was much more concerned about how well people loved than if they had correct doctrine.
    I was thinking about Darius’ remark several comments back:
    “If how one lived was the only evidence needed for determining who is a real Christian,then Ghandi and many other Christ-deniers would be considered Christians. That’s why beliefs and faith matter most. One can do all sorts of great things but if they deny that Jesus is the only way, they’re lost.”
    I was thinking how Ghandi was turned off to Christianity because of Christians. So – let me get this straight…
    Christians act badly and cause someone like Ghandi to not want to be a part of their camp because they act so differently than Jesus so Ghandi is lost, not saved, goes to hell,all that stuff.
    But a Christian who believes certain things is saved, found, going to heaven even though he acts badly enough to make others not want to be a Christian.

  • Tim

    Thanks for the update!
    Bravo to Kevin for contacting and talking with Shane. My hands are clapping for Kevin’s attempt to converse with Doug.
    May we all walk the Walk as we talk the Talk,

  • Intriguing…Have begun reading Kevin’s book, but am alittle more taken back now by this all going down?? Just a reader, observer, and “seeker from the inside out”. Would like to hear more as this progresses?
    Love Shane and his vision…Still like the comment of Campolo about Claiborne at YS this year (not exact quote) “see how long that life last once your married” 🙂

  • Joey

    I too, appreciate Kevin’s action on this. I applaud his willingness to “be called to account” and take action to learn rather than just reacting defensively. Thanks for posting this, Tony.

  • Mick Martin

    “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Good on you Tony.

  • Your Name

    As McLaren has said “Everything Must Change.” That it hasn’t yet is for sure. One has only to go back to the roots of the reformation and look at which reforming Christian groups attacked which others, and which ones-by contrast- were peaceful. There is a certain “spirit of rabidity” which you, Tony suggest may be blasphemous of the Holy Spirit. I am inclined to agree. This spirit of rabidity has “dogged” Christianity for millennia, and is at our heels even now. The stronghold of arrogance is a mighty roadblock to the advance of Jesus’ Great News.
    May we all keep loving the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength; and by doing that, may we find the courage to open ourselves in humility to the God of Peace, the Prince of Shalom. May we ourselves remain free of the spirit of rabidity, and be indentured instead the Spirit of Humility. May we find a way through all of this to truly love our neighbors as ourselves. This is a bold prayer, but I think those of us who are committed to this movement are very clear that that is the main thrust of our call.

  • Sara the Mainline A-Team Christian

    Isn’t it wonderful when people are mature enough to engage in conversation and then admit when they’re wrong. Props to Kevin!

  • .
    It looks like the Emerging vs. Calvinist blogosphere flames have ignited once again. A couple months ago it was Scot McKnight vs. Justin Taylor. Now it’s Tony Jones vs. Kevin DeYoung. Who’s next? Tim Challies vs. Dan Kimball?
    As a means of facilitating some sort of Calvinist-Emergent peace summit where diplomatic talks can take place, would anyone from either side (Scot already did this) care to weigh in on my 5 questions for both camps?

  • So, lets see, you admire Kevin for being willing to apologize for not being precise and careful in his comments about Shane, but you are proud of yourself for your refusal to apologize for your ill-mannered behavior, mocking young men (the Harris twins) who have honestly-held and humbly-expressed convictions, smirking and conversing with others while others commented on the panel and using vile profanity in public “ministry.” Who are you kidding? Is this what you call Christian. You are deceived.

  • Your Name

    Having just learned about Kevin deYoung and this blog (what is a blog? – I’m of the older generation) and have been trying to read EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE by McLaren maybe someone can instruct me on what is the emergent church? Does this church have a theology, if so who has written the theology? McLaren has a chapter “Reintroducing Jesus” which seems to be some kind of reaction to his childhood theolgy. The “reintroduced” Jesus doesn’t come off very well.
    The book CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY by Michael Horton could be a great read in the midst of this debate.

  • Your Name

    Flattery is not Biblical. Guarding against false doctrine is, and so is rebuking a fellow Christian. These two things are exactly what Kevin is doing when he criticizes the theology of your friends.
    “… we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed- God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people…” 1 Thessalonians 2:4b-6a
    “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.” Proverbs 28:23
    Also: Kevin went to Hope College, Calvin’s rival school.

  • Jon P

    While in college I befriended a few guys who strongly identified with the “young, restless, Reformed” movement.
    Although we disagreed on various aspects of theology, one thing that we kept coming back to was that we hoped that the traditional “Right vs. Left/ Conservative vs. Liberal” divide would not continue to exist in the form of “Reformed vs Emergent.”
    It pains me so deeply to see that in many instances this is the case. As you noted Tony, there are many who are “heresy hunters” that accomplish nothing more than furthering an unnecessary divide that serves to undercut the cause of Christ instead of further it.
    Finally, I want to say that I truly appreciated the panel, even if it was at times less than “charitable.” People really need to investigate the Emergent/Emerging movement for themselves instead of relying solely upon angry blog writers!
    Jon P

  • Seems like a lot of conversation in the last few days… I was going to chime in but seems like Tim nailed what I was going to say very well. However, since there is so much chatter, you may have missed it…. so let me repost….
    In direct response to your question…
    If homosexuality is sinful, then engaging in homosexual behavior creates a relational barrier between God and the person practicing such behavior. And this is the case with any sinful behavior. Sin causes a relational rift between God and the person engaged in sinful behavior–thus, preventing them from wholeheartedly following Christ.
    So the key issue is whether homosexuality is sinful. I know you remain convinced that it is not. And if it is not, then it would seem quite natural for you to conclude that there is no outstanding reason why it would create a relational rift between a practicing homosexual and their relationship with God.
    But here are some things I want to throw back at you:
    First, I am not sure there is too much I could say to get you to reconsider your interpretations of the passages that are often sited. You have already concluded that interpretations arguing homosexual activity is sinful are “weak.” But someone may conclude that your interpretations in favor of homosexuality are equally as “weak.” Are we at an exegetical stalemate?
    Second, what basis is there for morality apart from revelation? For me (a finite human being) to determine what is sinful–using theological or philosophical arguments–is nothing short of arrogant. Apart from Scripture it is your reasons against mine? Are we at an intellectual stalemate?”
    Tony, I know your policy is to not comment in the comment sections (unless, it appears, it is someone who is somewhat famous you are responding to). However, I think Tim has posed a wonderful answer to your question that includes some great questions for you. Response or silence?

  • (Not sure what happened here….I tried to post this but your blog pulled a comment I made a yer or so ago and pu tit here instead soI will repost what I was adding to this thread…)
    Hey Jon P,
    I just wanted to chime in as a guy who has investigated Emergent for himself….. A matter of fact, I didn’t know about any concerns with Emergent until I was standing in the sanctuary of Solomon’s Porch the first night of the Emergent Summer Institute a few years back. The defined moment was in a discussion about homosexuality over about an hour and half that I thought was an awesome talk. About a hour or so into it, I said “I really like the testimonies you guys are giving and digging into complexities of this topic. I was wondering of any thoughts on how what you are saying matches up with the Scripture.”
    Jon, the room went silent. You could swear I had just dropped the “F” word in the middle of a VBS class. At that moment, I was that guy…. the rest of the week there were people trying to fix me more than there was people who accepted me and conversed with me (though there were both).
    So, my concern and study of the liberal side (I guess that’s what you call it) started on my own terms..not selected for me by some critics. And as far as the facilitators there the Summer Institute I was at…. it wasn’t any of the names Scot McKnight mentioned but there were those mentioned in Kevin’s book. As far as the books publishers try to get into my Christian Bookstore and those people are reading and discussing….it wasn’t any of the names Scot McKnight mentioned (outside of the occasional Kimbell who I like a lot of his writings)
    (Jon, can you find another way to refer to an educated pastor who addresses Biblical issues through word, writing blogs, writing books as well as many other issues than Emergent (I noticed only two blogs under the category of Emergent on Kevin’s blog). Do we really need to boil him down to just an “angry blog writer” and then say he is the one who’s be uncharitable?)
    OK, enough of that…..
    I just want to say (I just saw the discussion video last night for the first time…I don’t live fighting Emergent so I’m behind the curve) a couple things off of it and this blog…..
    I want to applaud Kevin DeYoung for trying to get the focus on the Scripture and when someone questions his integrity like Tony has done here….I am impressed that he did not just blow it off but dug in deeper even on some charges that are vague and could easily just be a misunderstanding at best or made up at worse. I don’t claim to know which.
    I want to “Call Tony Jones to Account” on his lack of humility to do the same. Man up and explore in the same serious way Kevin did on the effects of your careless speaking instead of getting on a soap box of “I’m right so deal with it”.
    Though I have the same theological concerns I have with Doug Paggit that I do Tony Jones….I give Doug this….he is charitable in his communication. I believe Kevin proved by far that he is charitable in his words and his book (especially the section he read that shot down Scot’s claim that they conveniently ignored him).
    However, I have yet to see a time when Tony is charitable. I have yet to see a time where the person he is talking to (rather it was me or others) didn’t appear to be talked down to. I am constantly amazed at the level of smug that is presented and ask you to step back and really take a look at your attitude, let alone your theological stances.
    OK, I ranted more than I should have. I should be heading out to work. Blessings and Prayers…

  • And then I had some unfortunate typos in my tag line at the beginning….
    – the blog picking it’s own comments to post
    – me making typos
    Maybe God is saying I shouldn’t have posted =)

  • Really, this is phenomenal. Ideas, doctrine, theology, etc. are all fine things to discuss but (and maybe this is silly ol’ me wanting to follow the Bible) I am not going to put someone’s eternal destination in question. That simply is not up to us.
    Under Kevin’s extremely broad definition of Emergents (which seemed to include anyone who thinks that maybe the church isn’t doing all it has been called to do or ever glanced at a Donald Miller book), I guess I am one.
    But his willingness, from the beginning of the book, to cast stones was disconcerting at best.
    Once, way back in the day, there was this guy who questioned the very foundation of the faith and culture he had been raised in. The community said they were about God but really were about rules- so this dude called them all into question… and they killed him for it… if only I could remember his Name.
    Kevin, can you help me??

  • Colin

    Saw the panel, a real eye opener. I’m a young pastor, wasn’t raised in a Christian home, did some stupid things in college, got pretty frustrated with church and the Christian life (I had sin in my life that needed to get confessed). I should technically be with the emergents but I’m not. I can’t. Yes the Church as a whole has some problems, it always has ( James and John wanted to call fire down from Heaven and consume those who didn’t accept their message, that’s a big problematic attitude) but to reach people while giving up core doctrines is not the way to go. I was very surprised to hear on the panel Kevin’s comment about Tony not believing in Original Sin, is that true? If so, then what purpose does Jesus have in your theology? The word ‘reconciliation’ came up alot, but what for if there is no such thing as ‘Original Sin’? These are important questions. Jesus spent most of His time correcting and rebuking false doctrines and false teachers, Peter warned of them, Paul did, and so did Jude. I’m not against ‘doing church differently’ but not at the cost of removing or smoothing over important topics like ‘eternity aka – Heaven and Hell which are real places, Sin has its consequences, Trinity, Holy Spirit filled living, Virgin birth-which is vital to Christianity’s core doctrines, the Second Coming, just to name a few.
    Ranting over, concerned still for the Church