Dear Readers,

I’ve been asked by several readers whom I respect to ban Darius from commenting on this site. These are not persons who want him banned because they disagree with him, but because he hijacks every comment string to his own purposes. Whether you think he’s a bully or not, his participation does not allow for other strings to develop. We all know where he stands, and his opinion seems to lack nuance or room for development.

The people who have asked him to be blocked have nothing against open debate — one is a philosophy professor at an Ivy League university — but they do want this blog to be a place of healthy dialogue.

My problem is that if I block him, here’ll be the response: “See, those emergent guys say they’re open to ‘conversation,’ but they really aren’t because they block people who disagree with them.” Etc.

So, what do you think? Should I block Darius?


P.S., Darius, you should probably sit this one out.

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  • I wouldn’t.

  • carla jo

    I say no. But, I think those of us who feel like he hijacks these threads need to throw the beverage cart in the aisle if you will. We need to stop taking the bait and stick to the topic ourselves.

    No one is going to change his mind or get him to lay off the slander and it becomes mind-numbingly frustrating to try–I know this from experience. So we need to keep him out of the cockpit by staying calm and carrying on as though he’s not calling you and those who are interested in the emergent conversation Satan’s handmaidens.

    On those occasions where he is willing to participate in actual conversation–the kind where you listen and address each other with civility–then I think he has something to add and we need to hear from him, if only to be reminded that you can’t make this stuff up.

  • Kara

    Tell him the rules on your playground and if he decides not to follow them then he is choosing not to play there.

  • I wouldn’t. I am reminded of that passage of Acts (just listened to it this morning, actually!) where the Sanhedrin is debating what to do about the teaching of the Disciples, and Gamaliel suggests leaving them be, reasoning that if the movement is from man, it will die on it’s own. If it’s from God, then we won’t be able to stop it.

    I haven’t been around this blog long enough to know the history with Darius, but if this were my blog, I wouldn’t block anyone from commenting.

    I reserve the right to delete individual comments if I deem them out of line, but I wouldn’t delete comments simply because they came from a certain reader.

    2 cents from a new reader


  • L. Reese Cumming

    If one cannot handle Darius, then don’t read his comment or respond to his comment if read. For the emergent church to begin to exclude dissenters is to identify the emergent church to a specific theological and philosohpical base. Are you ready for that?

  • Patrick Marshall

    You can’t control how people respond (on blogs or elsewhere). All you can control is how YOU respond to THEM. We need to have enough self-control not to take the bait.

  • Christopher Wurpts

    Long time lurker, first time poster…

    I think that Darius formed his opinion on the Emergent movement (and those within it) a long, long time ago. It doesn’t seem like he’s open to honestly engaging with any other perspective besides his own, unless it’s an attempt to refute and “win over”(?) the lost sheep of this blog. Sure, if you were to block him, it would probably confirm what he has long since suspected about the Emergent “cult”, but how would that be any different than what he believed, before? I mean, it isn’t like he’s on the fence with this one; he’s already staked a claim on what he believes and it doesn’t seem like he’s anywhere near a change in heart. It’s your blog and if you feel like Darius is becoming a nuisance, block him. Just know that there is going to be another scapegoat, eventually, and that in any attempts to vilify him might overlook the fact that no one actually appears to be listening to him (or his arguments/perspectives) with any serious consideration, either.

    Honestly, what difference does it make, anyway?

    Darius, as I know you’re reading this, I wanted to let you know that I understand the open concern and harsh realities you feel led to share with the people of this board. It isn’t easy to watch as other people misrepresent your religion, and it’s even more difficult to watch them turn away from the LORD (and eternal salvation). Seriously. It is a burden, I know, and I commend you for the honest work that you’ve done in representing the message that the LORD has for these people. But man, you’ve got to know that there are better ways of getting the LORD’s message across. An internet message board, really? The amount of time and effort you’ve put into some of these responses aren’t going to be considered with the slightest seriousness by anyone, and I’ve got to believe that a guy like you (with obvious passions and gifts) can find a way to be more productive outside of this shallow virtual realm. Granted, you might be posting simply to drive up visits to your own blog, but given the… masturbatory(?) nature of blogs (ie-people only visit blogs they agree with), you aren’t even advertising your blog to people that will visit and subscribe to it! If you’re about trying to change people’s views towards the right perspective, than you need to stop commenting here, man.

    I’ll pray for you. I don’t think we agree on much, but I hope you find another way to get your message across.


  • It’s been awhile since studying Habermas, but I think there should be some expectation that those who want to participate in dialogue agree to principles of conduct – what Habermass suggests as an ‘Ideal Speech Situation’? I haven’t read Darius’ comments as I rarely get involved in the comments (this is an exception), but it sounds like readers feel bullied. If there is no mutual respect or unrestrained exercise of power (on either side), readers will have great difficulty deciphering truth in the rhetoric. If there is no basic agreement on the rules of communication or a desire to reach understanding (if not consensus) dialogue will be less fruitful than attempting to run Mac Software on my PC – There is no communication protocol to move forward together toward shared understanding. For a short time I dabbled in Presuppositionalisim and came away for an appreciation that if our underlining Axioms-our Presupostions- on which we build our understanding and knowledge is different, and we make no attempt to identify and account for those differences, then arguing about my “reality” or “truth versus yours is fruitless.

    I think your concern regarding what critics will say about “those emergents” stems from a fight you cannot win. It’s a pharisaical trick to trap you in a no win situation. There are rules to participate in a community just as there are rules to participate in dialogue. Peter Block in his Book Community – the Structure of Belonging advocates for an ideal of Co-Creation as a principle that builds strong communities. Being the critic on the border with no commitment to the shared principles of that community is not enough. The rules for belonging to the community involve commitment and accountability to the group. I believe Habermas’ principles are along the same lines for dialogue. If we want to be included in the (authentic) conversation, I would propose that it’s not enough for us to merely have and share opinions. Shouldn’t there be a commitment to create and protect ideal speech situations so we avoid exploiting and conquering each other?

  • I’m gratified to see people willing to let Darius stay in the conversation. There’s always the possibility he will learn something or perhaps soften toward people here. Or not. In the latter case, I think the key is not allowing him to run the conversation. The first rule of online interaction is that you should never feed the trolls. I don’t mean to be insulting, Darius. I have been known to troll. But it doesn’t follow that anybody has any duty to respond to me.

  • Joe L

    I would agree with the banning idea, and had even thought of presenting it myself awhile back. I almost never post here, but I read regularly. Darius’s endless attacks, hijacking of threads, and dragging of every thread down to the level of doctrinal warfare makes me weary of even reading the comments.

    I think this is one of the areas where liberals really get it wrong. Conservatives think nothing of shutting down commentary, on-line or in-person (see the Bush town hall meetings) when it serves their purposes. Liberals rail against this behavior, perhaps rightly, but then find their own efforts at mutual communication disrupted by conservatives that we are too “fair” to shut out.

    I think we’re taking this concept way too far. To build a metaphor, perhaps a blog is like a front porch. It’s a place where people can gather to speak, share some beauty with one another, commune, etc. It is, on the one hand, an open space. Theoretically, members of the public can walk up to it, maybe even enter it and sit down. Some might join the conversation by yelling comments from the sidewalk as they pass; others sit and rest awhile, have a beer, and take part in the ongoing conversation.

    But this doesn’t mean, and shouldn’t mean, that an individual can basically stop by each day and bully, berate, and abuse the people there. It doesn’t mean that this individual should have the right to hijack every conversation and turn it into insults and venom directed at other participants who disagree with them. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you own all the space available for conversation, and can inject yourself at will into any space. It doesn’t turn every platform into YOUR platform.

    Tony, I guess you should consider your goals and desires for this space. It belongs to you…it’s your porch. It’s YOUR platform. I assume you pay for hosting, etc. Is this place intended as a public sidewalk corner, where you stand on a soapbox and preach to passers-by? If so, then of course Darius or anyone else should be allowed to stand in public and interject at will.

    But if you intend this as a “front porch”, a more personal space that, while being open to the public, is mainly a space that you own and intend for the mutual uplifting, rest, and benefit of your friends and those at least “friendly” to you, then I can’t imagine why you should have to tolerate the kind of behavior Darius regularly puts forward. And claims to “open dialogue” and “freedom of speech” are simply smokescreens for selfish abuse of the privilege of using that space.

    To put it simply, would Darius’s behavior be tolerated and welcomed again and again in your home? At your dinner table? In your car? And is this space intended to be like those spaces: an area you maintain so that friends and like-minded individuals can share life together, and where perhaps strangers with an interest might stop by and join in? Or is it simply open space, like a street corner, where everyone has the right to stand and speak their point of view, even over top of one another? Are we a community, or are you “Bullhorn Guy?” Darius strikes me very much as “Bullhorn Guy.”

    And please don’t try to scare me with the boogeyman of “epistemic closure.” We all have plenty of avenues if we wish to hear voices different from ours. I take advantage of them regularly. That doesn’t mean that if I’m not open to being attacked and challenged EVERYWHERE by voices opposing me. Conversation doesn’t obligate me to talk to anyone at all, no matter how abusive they are. And at a minimum, conversation should imply the willingness to “convert”, to change at least some portion of one’s thinking. I never see any such indication from Darius,.

    Anyway, that’s one voice from a guy who always sits at the very outer edge of your fire, and wishes you’d tell Darius to go build his own damn porch, and shut the hell up on yours.

  • tom c.

    Here, here to Bryan Gower’s remark. Conversation between sincere and patient interlocutors is a blessed thing, but sometimes the conditions for such conversation are lacking.

  • Seasoned with Salt

    “Tell him the rules on your playground and if he decides not to follow them then he is choosing not to play there.”

    Except Tony won’t even live by his own rules. He has several times responded to Darius’ comments with obnoxious name calling… and he never apologized for using the “teabaggers” term for his ideological enemies. It would be one thing if Darius was actually doing name-calling and everyone else was civil, but when the blog host is the one most at fault in that regard, it seems like a double standard to block Darius while not taking care of the plank in one’s own eye. But maybe that’s just me…

  • L. Reese Cumming

    Last time I checked the world took a little more effort than to sit on the front porch, share some beauty with one another, and then let the world simply change to their liking. Conservatives at least know a little something about the absolutes of God.

    Alot of soul searching here for a matter that’s already defined by Matthew 18:17 –
    “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    Now we’re not talking about avoiding the pagan or tax collector, we’re talking about the way of Jesus.

  • Dan Hauge

    I’m kind of mixed–blogs are personal, so there’s no inherent wrong being done in choosing to block someone whose comments you find consistently unhelpful and goading (I actually don’t believe Darius is consciously intending to ‘goad’–he just sees his particular issues and perspective as paramount, and behaves accordingly. But there does seem to be a goading effect.)

    On the other hand, I do think that we could just as easily neutralize the ‘hijacking’ if others simply refuse to take the bait. It is possible (though often difficult) to simply ignore a comment and take the discussion in a different direction.

  • Christopher, since yours was a particularly useful and honest comment, I thought I should respond quickly to it.

    For one, as Nathan and several other people on here can attest to, I am quite willing to have a meaningful serious conversation if someone is willing to be civil. Tony has never once been civil in his responses to me, so what is the point in dialoguing with someone who is too close-minded to give the other side a chance to speak without name-calling.

    As to my reasons for commenting on here… I believe I mentioned this to Nathan earlier this week, but my goal is to promote the truth and if I am hated for that, great, Christ was hated for the same thing. I consider it a jewel in my crown to be hated for standing on truth… hopefully I am not hated merely because I am an ass about how I relay that truth to others. I couldn’t care less about promoting my blog or getting people to come read it (as you said, many readers of this blog would strongly disagree with my thoughts there… but not all, considering the positive feedback I routinely receive from fellow readers of this blog).

    My tone is strong, I will grant you that. My passion for truth and for the Gospel makes that necessary. And perhaps my sinful flesh leads me to be TOO passionate and strong in my comments… that would not surprise me. The last thing I want to do is chase people away from the Gospel.

    I’ve actually lurked on this blog for a long time, so it’s not like I comment on every single post. Tony has just decided to promote sin more regularly in recent days, and I’ve found myself willing to contradict his lies. It wouldn’t surprise me if I didn’t comment again for 3 months (I’m sure that would make some VERY happy). It all depends on the content of the posts and my willingness to air my thoughts.


  • By the way, this is the second time I’ve been highlighted on Tony’s blog (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2009/04/the-irony-of-the-young-restless-reformers/) … I’m starting to feel special. 🙂

  • Christopher Wurpts


    I think you and I could have a productive conversation offline. Should you desire, feel free to e-mail me and we’ll continue our conversation (so as not to draw Tony’s ire; this is probably not the time or place for us to deviate from the original intention of his post).

    Look forward to hearing from you.


  • I don’t think there’s a problem with blocking someone who consistently antagonistic. I’ve never blocked anyone on my blog, but i’ve certainly deleted quite a few comments when the comment only existed to be negative towards myself or another commenter.

    deleting/blocking seems like “killing conversation” issue, sure. But guys like Darius aren’t interested in conversation in the first place, nor are they interested in learning or truth. The comments of this negative sort come from a baser, subconscious psychological drive to feel good about your own opinions by attacking others’. On a conscious level, I think the negative “pajama-hideen” know they are not going to convert anyone via their vitriolic vicissitudes anyway. It’s really not about conversation in the first place.

    I usually just give a warning or two, and if childish behavior continues on a blog meant for adult conversation, then put them in timeout until they can play nice, lol

  • Christopher, I don’t have access to your email. Only Tony has that. So either you can leave it on here or, if you’d prefer the privacy of not revealing your email to everyone (including spam bots), jump over to my blog and comment on a recent post and I’ll pick up our convo there. I don’t mind my blog posts being hijacked for useful discussions.


  • Darren

    Personally, I think blocking Darius makes a martyr out of him, and doesn’t do anything at all to diminish his Jesus victim complex (“oh, I’m SO hated, just like Jesus! Yay!”)

    Darius gets under my skin too sometimes. And I’ve found the best way to approach such people is simply to not. Engaging a polemicist and provocateur only causes polemics and more provocation. His opinions are valid, and every once in awhile he manages not to sound like a COMPLETE ass, so let the guy stay.

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that Darius does generally respond well to being civilly questioned about his positions and his attitude. Sometimes people simply don’t recognize how putrid they smell, and need a gentle reminder to apply deodorant daily 🙂

  • Joe L

    “Tony has just decided to promote sin more regularly in recent days, and I’ve found myself willing to contradict his lies.”

    This is exactly what I mean. According to Darius, Tony isn’t mistaken…he’s lying. He’s not promoting what he honestly believes is behavior in line with God’s purposes…he’s promoting sin.

    Someone said that Darius’s opinions are “valid”. If by that you mean he has a right to them, then ANY opinion is valid. But if you’re mean they’re RIGHT, that’s highly debatable.

    But why should any man allow another to repeatedly stand in his own home, his own space, and call him a liar? This is where people like Darius actually have the courage of their conviction. They’d be happy to silence Tony, if they could. And they wouldn’t just silence him here…they’d like to silence him EVERYWHERE. In print, on the internet, in the pulpit.

    Continue to passively allow their tyranny to spread, and watch this nation slide ever close to theocracy and fascism. Tony, if the plight of gays in the church matters to you as much as you say it does, stop allowing your message to be vilified even on the steps of your own home. You have the gentle as doves part down…why not step up the wise as serpents action?

    “Find out just what the people will submit to and you will have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

    Frederick Douglass

  • I have to admit, I’m torn on this.
    On one hand, I find Joe L’s response very well said and compelling. It reminds me of something McLaren wrote (or should I say, a lie which that lying liar told!!) about the boundaries of the Kingdom of God: it’s open to all but cannot accept those opposed to it’s purpose. Like a symphony can include musicians of all kinds but cannot include “people who hate music and just want to shout and scream and disrupt rehearsals and concerts.”
    Perhaps the same is true of conversation here? All are welcome but those opposed to the purpose of the conversation cannot be included? Does Darius fit this description? Some of the time, sure. But all the time? I don’t know about that.
    As Darren writes, I worry that banning Darius makes too big a deal out of him. As others have said, if we learn not engage with him when he tries to thread-jack, perhaps that solves the problem.

    In the end, I guess I say don’t ban him. Let’s try again to coexist.

  • Darren

    Joe, to clarify, YES, I meant simply that he has a right to his thoughts – and some might even think he’s right (though I personally think he’s wrong most of the time).

    I think your very point (that he would silence Tony at the drop of a hat) is precisely why I wouldn’t silence Darius. *I* wouldn’t like to be treated that way, and so, I wouldn’t want to do it to others. Barring him *actually* harming someone, I’m not sure I see much of a reason to ban him from commenting.

    With that in mind, though, I do fear for some innocent, Christian gay kid who’s ashamed of himself, coming along to read one of Tony’s posts about the atrocities of the Church towards gay youth, and heaping on more shame in some delusion that Darius’ views are good, right, holy, or in any way healthy. His comments thus far on such topics are none of those things. Protecting fragile lives from vitriol would be the only justifiable reason for banning him in my book. But I’m not sure that there are a lot of confused gay teens reading along . . .

    Tony, what say YOU?

  • Marusha

    I was just waiting for this! I was wondering how long Tony and his followers were going to tolerate a biblical Christian on here. It lasted longer than I thought.

    I can’t even count how many times Darius has been insulted, gotten the ‘f’-bomb thrown at him and peppered with fallacies. Slander is slander if it is not true. And since this is not spoken, isn’t libel a better word? It’s still only libel if it is untrue.

    I’m not here to defend Darius, he doesn’t need it, I wonder if it is the truth that people have trouble dealing with. How many of you call yourselves Christians but don’t even believe the Bible is true?

    How does one become a Christian? Can you answer this?

    Sorry for ‘hijacking’ this post. It was such a loving one.

  • nathan

    In the past week i interacted with Darius in the comments about some honest questions I had and also made some pretty direct comments to him about his comportment. He received it well.

    I think he’s made it clear where he stands and why he keeps coming here. Do I see something “fruitful” coming from any of it on this blog? No…but it’s his life, it’s his convictions and it’s Tony’s blog.

    I would say No to banning him, because it’s better to live by our own convictions/principles, even to our own hurt, IMHO…and let the worth of our opinions and actions speak for themselves over time.

    That being said, I think Tony Jones is a great guy who has encouraged me to really think about what it means for me to follow Jesus in my zipcode.

  • nathan


    I humbly suggest that it might be a mistake to frame this in terms of “Tony and his followers vs. Jesus and his followers”.

    This is just about fruitful dialogue (that doesn’t mean strong arguments aren’t allowed) and principles that should govern our discourse (especially when we disagree sharply).

  • Ok, here I go, already violating the “don’t feed the troll” rule…

    Marusha, I infer that your comment “this was such a loving [post]” is sarcasm. So here is an honest question: How is this post at all unloving?
    It is a discussion on whether or not to permit consistent disruptions of our conversations to continue. And it has been conducted in a civil manner.
    It’s a discussion on how we ought to conduct ourselves in this space. What isn’t loving about that? I truly want to know.

  • Joey

    I say don’t block him. But EVERYBODY needs to lay off the ad hominem.

    It goes a long way to be charitable to the ideas of others. Being charitable in no sense equals agreeing. But it means creating a space within you that allows the other person to share honestly their concerns and to be listened to. It is only in that trusted space where real dialogue can happen.

    I guess the question to Darius would be, can you enter into a conversation here without pigeonholing other people into your prescribed ideas about them? For instance, the charitable person might disagree with Tony about sin, but would not refer to him as a liar. There is a vast difference here. Saying “liar” removes any ability to learn on either side. But to disagree well could cause growth from both sides.

    I appreciate Tony’s voice and his clarity of thought. But I would ask him the same question I asked Darius. It is easy to become frustrated and respond as such, and sometimes it is refreshing to see real frustration. But apologies go a long way when one has crossed the line.

    Marusha, also you seem to respond with a severe lack of grace and possibly pride. To assume that you are a “biblical Christian” and Tony is ridiculous as I’m sure he loves his Bible just as much as you (and follows it).

  • Marusha

    Nathan, I’m sorry but I asked the question of how does one become a Christian and I hesitate to say ‘Jesus and His followers’ becasue I havn’t had that question answered.

    Dave, yes it was sarcasm. The title says “Darius” and Tony is rallying people to him to see if Darius can still be included. Darius is a big boy and can defend himself but c’mon…this seems like junior high to me.

  • Chris

    I’m a different Chris.

    To ban or not to ban.

    Wow, this hits very close to home in a couple of ways. I was part of a mainline church that was/is very much going emergent. I consider myself for the most part modern (in the philosophical sense) and fairly conservative. What happened to me there was not pretty. Basically my voice went unheard. For all the lip service about ostensible openness and a desire for conversation I found that those that were advocating for emergent values simply had no desire to have their views either questioned or challenged. And believe me I tried as much as I was humanly able to always remain gracious when questioning the ideas of others and to remain open in areas where my own personal convictions were challenged. You don’t always have to explicitly ban someone to be shed of them. If you ignore or ostracize the effect will be the same. I had a great desire to learn from as well as help others, but people went tone deaf. Emergent as I see it is very very close to turning it’s back on what it originally had claimed was a cherished value, that being open dialogue and conversation, and looking more like every other organization that breaks fellowship with their brothers and sisters. So be very thoughtful and prudent in deciding whether or not to ban.
    Sometimes emergents think they’ve heard it all before when engaging more conservative folk, and maybe they have, but I would ask, if every time the conversation rolls around to areas emergents don’t like, say the issue of truth for example, and you just wave me off, is the conversation truly an open one? Isn’t it really more a case of setting up artificial parameters for the conversation in a way that benefits you and marginalizes me?

    Perhaps the issue isn’t really as I’ve assessed it. Maybe the issue is not, do we ban those we disagree with, but rather do we ignore graceless contributors. I probably have more in common, theologically speaking with Darius than most anyone here, but I have sensed a big lack of grace and a condescending demeanor on his part. Not treating others as equals but rather treating people as theological inferiors. There is no excuse for unkindness or a lack of grace when interacting in these venues. That being said, I’ve read nary a word regarding Tony’s unwillingness to respond civilly and without rancorous retaliation as well. So let’s be fair. Yes it’s your home, and yes you have a right to be angry in response, especially considering the gravity of the topic, but I ask, is it really wise and does it reflect Jesus?
    A kind word turneth away wrath. That’s like Jesus.

  • Marusha

    Joey, I never called Tony ridiculous. I have read alot of what Tony has written and I would have to disagree with your assertion that he follows the Bible.

  • Other Chris…

    I am interested in knowing what particular comments showed a lack of grace. Honestly, I’d like to know. Your thoughts would be appreciated since I know it is coming from someone who doesn’t automatically equate conservative views with hate, like Tony and some on here obviously do. Your objective view of the past few threads would be quite helpful to me in maintaining a proper standard of Christian etiquette on blogs.

    Also, in the cases where I have been sarcastic or snide, in what way does that differ from how Elijah treated the prophets of Baal in the the battle over which god could light a fire? I take my rhetorical cues from Jesus and some of the Old Testament prophets, and both were very harsh and very sarcastic when dealing with false teachers and prophets. If dealing with a truly lost person, grace is a necessity. When dealing with wolf in sheep’s clothing… well, as Mark Driscoll would say, you “shoot” the wolf. You don’t hold its hand (paw?) and hope it stops biting people.

  • Marusha

    Also Joey, I take offense that you said I responded with a lack of grace and with pride. Isn’t that judgmental? I’m mostly joking…mostly.

    How does anyone know what is going on in my heart and mind? How do you know whether I sit at this keyboard in front of me and not tremble at the thought of saying anything? I don’t want to be a barrier to the gospel. I don’t want to be the offense. I believe it is loving to tell people the truth about sin and how they can be saved. It does hurt, I went through it myself and the gospel still hurts me sometimes, but I have such joy in me that this wretched, fitlthy sinner can go to heaven for eternity and be with Jesus forever merely because of His grace, because He died for my sins. I no longer love sin. I no longer deny that I sin. I cannot keep this message quiet! It would be hateful for me to keep this from others, to tell them that sin is alright and that there is no danger for them.

  • Joe L

    Once again, note. Darius compares himself to Jesus. Darius compares himself to Elijah. Tony and others who disagree are “wolves”, and wolves exist only to be shot.

    What possible dialog exists there? What possible hope of change. To people like Darius, people who disagree with you are wolves, worthy only of rebuke (Jesus), mockery (Elijah), or shooting (Mark Driscoll.)

    (This of course doesn’t even begin to touch the idea that wolves have a right to exist. God created them; they have a place and beauty in the world all their own. And that the simple fact that they don’t fit into your worldview doesn’t mean they should have to die for your satisfaction.)

    Even the early church met in catacombs, and were very careful about who they allowed into the catechumenate, because they feared betrayal by their mortal enemies. Apparently today we’d feel compelled to invite the Roman soldiers seeking out death on down to the agape feast below ground, since we wouldn’t want to limit their right to openly confront us on the wrongness of our views.

    Mclaren’s argument is right, of course. Simply deciding everyone can come into the Kingdom, including those who refuse it, doesn’t really work, and even God himself doesn’t seem to set the world in that form. I once read that “sentimentality consists of caring about something more than God does.” Continuing to suffer completely pointless personal abuse just to show we’re “better” than those heaping the abuse on us isn’t holy…it’s just stupid.

    And as to Marusha’s concern about how long it would be before “real” Christians were no longer welcome here, I’d imagine it’s a hell of a lot longer than Tony would be welcomed to teach and lecture at her church.

    In reference to the emergent conversation, people like Darius and Marusha are the wolves. I don’t recommend shooting them. But it seems perfectly reasonable to lock them out of the house during dinner.

  • Marusha

    When someone is referred to as a wolf it is a metaphor. A wolf is somoene who teaches things to the church that are unbiblical.

    Tony might not be welcome to teach at my church, you are correct but there is a valid reason for that.

    I don’t mind being called a wolf in regards to the emergent conversation. I would ask though, am I a wolf in regards to the Bible? What does the Bible say a wolf is? What is a Christian? What is the gospel?

  • nathan

    I think there might be a thread to have the conversation grounded in the questions you’re asking Marusha, but this probably isn’t it.

    This thread is about comportment during conversation and the contours of the ethics that should inform online conversations here on this blog.

  • nathan

    I fear this thread itself is starting to go far afield of the initial question at hand.

  • The only way to be rid of a Troll is to quit feeding it (and no, being a Troll has nothing to do with holding an opposite point of view). They live for contention, they love to be insulted, they hunger for hyperbole … it’s kinda like the Rumor Weed in Larry Boy. Blocking doesn’t help, there are plenty of ways around that anyway.

    Quit feeding him…. he will go away.

  • Marusha

    Yes, Nathan, I just realized that I got off track. I was a little distracted and let myself be a hijacker. I think there are people on here who appreciate where someone like me is coming from and I hope I havn’t caused any offense by how I worded things. I hope that you can see past my feeble attempts of conversation on here, it is so easy to take things the wrong way in this medium. I understand the inclination to be suspicious of anything a conservative Christian might say on here, but I hope to think about my comportment more in the future if I comment on here. As I said before, I just want to see people find His salvation.

  • nathan


    I hear you and I hope you understand that, for me, the issue isn’t conservative or liberal, per se. The issue is how we all carry ourselves…and all really does mean all to me. 🙂

  • Joey

    Yes, Marusha, I did not mean to say that you called Tony ridiculous. It was a typo. What I meant to say is, “To assume that you are a “biblical Christian” and Tony NOT is ridiculous…”

    As far as how I know what is in your heart, I do not. I am not above reproach. I have definitely responded out of a lack of grace at times. I genuinely believe your comments to Tony are not filled with grace, or much truth for that matter. Specifically when you refer to yourself as “biblical” as if to say he obviously isn’t. That is not a grace-filled response. It is presumptive. As far as pride that was speculation and I could be quite wrong. If I am, I apologize.

    Look, Marusha, I genuinely want to see people come to truth. I’m just not nearly as convinced about my own ability to be the arbiter of that truth as you seem to be about yourself.

  • “I’m just not nearly as convinced about my own ability to be the arbiter of that truth as you seem to be about yourself.”

    Joey, it’s not about being our own arbiters of truth. It’s about the Bible being THE arbiter of truth, rather than each of our own personal opinions. Furthermore, when you or Tony or whoever claim that we are wrong, you ARE claiming truth whether you want to admit it or not. Denying something is making a truth claim. The difference is Marusha and I base our truth claims (as much as possible) on the Bible. Tony bases his on his prejudices and what the culture tells him is good. He has made this clear time and again. He even admitted as much once when he said that he saw support in Romans for a view he didn’t agree with but still didn’t find it compelling. If that isn’t enough evidence that he isn’t a Biblical Christian, I don’t know what is.

  • Joe L.

    I offer simple but compelling evidence. At the beginning of this conversation, Tony asked that Darius refrain from comment, given the topic at hand. He asked this politely, here on his own blog.

    Now, did Darius comply with that request?

    No, he clearly did not. He has injected himself time and again into the conversation. Why? Because Darius DOESN’T CARE what Tony thinks, or wants, or needs. He doesn’t respect Tony’s right or needs in any way, shape, or form. He isn’t interested in any rules or compromises other than his own. He has absolutely no regard for ANYTHING other than his own desire to drive his ideology down other people’s throats.

    Now which one of you, if you had a guest in your home, and you asked him to give your family a few moments in private to discuss some issue, and he REFUSED to leave the room, would find that behavior acceptable? Are we to really sit and say “Well, Christ told us to welcome the stranger, so I guess we’ll just have to discuss my erectile dysfunction with Bob in the bedroom with us, honey.”

    If this Sunday in your church, a man got up constantly during the minister’s sermon, challenging the minister every few paragraphs, calling him a “false prophet” and “wolf” and claiming he should be shot, how many of you would accept that behavior? And even if you accepted it one Sunday, on the basis that the poor man was mentally disturbed and needed help, would you actually allow it to continue week after week, making it impossible for the entire congregation to worship? Or would you, after multiple attempts to reason with the gentleman, eventually see him escorted out, even if that took the police?

    Could you act like this in a workplace meeting and not expect to lose your job? In a PTA meeting and not expect to be ejected?

    You wouldn’t accept this behavior in your home. You wouldn’t accept it in your church. You wouldn’t accept it in your workplace. Why should it be accepted here?

    Some of you might read Michael Spencer’s blog, Internet Monk. Although Michael passed away recently, his blog has a loyal following, and is quite conservative. And Spencer made it quite clear that he would ban anyone who refused to act civilly, or who kept taking conversations off-topic. And that he didn’t care whether it was fair or not. It was his space. If you didn’t like it, go make your own. And even with many bannings, conversation was varied, energetic, and respectful. And covered all the ground from liberal to conservative, ancient to modern, reform to emergent.

    Rod Dreher, Crunchy Conservative on Beliefnet, same thing. Same results.

    Believing that every voice deserves to be heard is decidedly NOT the same as deciding that every voice deserves to be heard everywhere, and whenever they desire to be heard. I have a right to have a heated discussion with my spouse about birth control. I don’t have a right to do it in the middle of a Catholic Mass.

    Darius refuses to honor even the smallest request from Tony because he doesn’t respect or love Tony in any way, Christian, sinner, or otherwise. Given his way, he would take Tony’s voice, platform, and livelihood. Tony is a Pharisee, to be rebuked. A priest of Baal, to be mocked. A wolf, to be shot. All stated in Darius’s own words, without exaggeration.

    I read Tony’s books, and he doesn’t alternate each chapter with one discussing the Discernment Mafia’s views about what he just wrote. “Here a chapter extolling Contemplative Prayer, and now here’s one where some in the Neo-Reformed movement claim all contemplative practice is of the Devil. Just trying to be fair!” If they want their say, let them write their own damn books.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t love the Darius’ of the world, hard as it is for me to do so. Or that we should seek their harm. Or neglect to pray for them. Or refuse to forgive them, should they ask it. But we surely don’t have to endlessly and pointlessly expose ourselves to their venom, name-calling, and disrespect.

    Whether dealing with Islamist fundamentalists (NOT simply Islam), or our own home-grown version of the Taliban (weakly represented by the individual in question), modern and post-modern thinkers alike need to realize that any idea, value, organization, or organism unwilling to defend itself, at least intellectually, will not survive in the marketplace of ideas. Mark Driscoll has publicly stated that the best way to deal with detractors from your ministry is to “break their nose”; surely we can ban an IP address without fearing that we’ve somehow “stooped to his level?”

  • Jay

    If you ban posters like Darius you just narrow your cult a bit more. I have not interest to read, much less participate in any community like that.

  • Joe L.

    Oh yes, let’s not “narrow the cult.” If we do, then posters who think of people interested in Tony’s work as a “cult” won’t want to come here and insult us anymore.

    In other words “I despise your ideas, and basically only come here to watch members of my team beat up on you. Ban them, and there’ll be nothing interesting here for me to watch. I’ll take my ball and go home.”

    Maybe if we’re nice and give them our lunch money the bullies will let us hang out with them.

    Just once, I’d love to see people in the Emergent Community tell these people in no uncertain terms to “not let the screen door hit you where the Good Lord split you.”

  • nathan


    respectfully, when you make claims that seem like a “gotcha, you really really do make truth claims even though you deny the truth”, it really demonstrates to me that you might not really understand the position people have about how to come to understand truth, etc.

    this trope that there is internal incoherence in people who claim there is no truth as a “truth” per se is off base because it wrongly asserts that the emerging church has ever denied that there is truth, etc. etc.

    I’ve never heard Tony say that he doesn’t believe that there are true things, truth, even “truthiness”. 😉

    As a person who has observed and connected to the conversation for a long time, I’m still at a loss as to why certain gatekeepers persist in this claim.

    I would encourage you to read some of the early parts of Andrew Jones’ blog where he hits this incorrect characterization head on.

  • Derek

    Darius is the wolf in this community. Driscoll’s “shoot the wolves” teaching has to do with people that invade a community for the purpose of disrupting it and spreading what Driscoll would call “false doctrine.” I never heard Driscoll say that Mars Hill Seattle should go invade an emerging church and “shoot the wolves” there. I’m about 50%/50% between a Darius and a Tony Jones so I don’t really have any rancor for either viewpoint, but this is Tony’s blog and he should be able to shape the landscape however he wants. I’m sure Darius gets more readers here than he does on his blog, but when someone starts to dominate and hijack at every opportunity, Tony is well within his rights to put up healthy boundaries. Yes, emergent Christians promote “conversation” but that shouldn’t mean that you should let the conversation become a venue for someone with a martyr-complex to live out a personal fantasy. A wolf isn’t simply a “false teacher”..it is someone invading the community and trying to hijack it with their superior opinions. Sheep are there day in and day out…laughing, weeping, loving and growing with the other sheep. A wolf enters without intending to do anything but say words. But the gospel is not just words, but power, as Paul would say. And guess what Darius? Every false teacher thinks he only bringing the “truth.” So, go back to your own blog, shoot any wolves that come over there and stop being the wolf here. I suspect no one will pay you much attention at your own blog though, which is why you’d rather be here. Or make an effort to disagree without condemning and make friends here. Voice disagreements civilly without the self-aggrandizing rhetoric and make a practice of letting others have the last word. Then you will no longer be a wolf. I’d say the ball is in Darius’ court and if he doesn’t change after this thread, Tony should treat him like a wolf.

  • Marusha

    This isn’t a church or a private home, it’s a blog. I can’t speak for Darius but I’m wonering if we can see past each other’s perceived insults and start thinking about the underlying issues here. There are some very angry people and it seems to have escalated out of control. My first reaction to Joe L. was to try and systematically go through everything he posted on here but, I am going to try and look past it and see where he is coming from. My goal (though I sometimes forget it) is to point people to the Bible and the true God of Scripture to find His salvation. I truly believe this is Darius’s goal as well. I think it would be a mistake to silence his voice on here.

  • Joe L, you might want to try reading a little more closely. I haven’t addressed the issue at hand because Tony asked me not to. I respected his request. The only reason I have commented at all is because people addressed me in their comments and several times seemed to want a reply from me. I have no problem if Tony bans me from his blog, it’s no skin off my back and pretty much par for the course of echo chambers such as this one. Next thing you know, Marusha will get kicked. Whatever, it’s Tony’s blog and he has every right to kick those of us who are “disruptive.” I really wouldn’t be offended… I have yet to defend myself. I’m not here to promote me… I’m here to promote Christ and the truth against the lies that are spread here. I’ve merely asked why I am held to a higher standard than Tony himself is held to. No one has yet to answer that question (though several commenters have noted the hypocrisy, so I know I’m not off base).

  • Ben


    It is a blog… that happens to have an owner.

    Do you believe that private property is to be respected?

  • Marusha

    Ben, yes I do believe that private property is to be respected but this is a public forum. I don’t think we can own any cyberspace. If this were happening in a church or someones home, I would say it was outrageously innapropriate. If somone stole Tony’s private journal and started commenting on it, that would be outrageosly innapropriate. It just seems interesting that all the things Darius is accused of doing is being done to him, to even a higher degree. We need to all take a deep breath and try to soberly look at things…if I may say so.

  • Marusha, you need to first explain how the reason you’re a conservative Christian is because that’s how God made you and you’re just embracing that since God wouldn’t make you like that unless He wanted you to live it out wholeheartedly. Then no one will argue against you… in fact, they will stop trying to bully you and instead make videos about how things will eventually get better for Christians on blogs.

    I can dream…

  • Interesting to me that people say DArius might learn something. Well he might teach something too. I understand how frustrating it can be if u want to play with your own club and someone outside is disrupting you but if you want to be open then that is what you do

    I would suggest to all of us that Jesus railed against only the proud and elitists humility (which I suck at) is needed. In addition the bible says that if a brother is taken in a fault go to him humbly judging yourself so you don’t fall. Of course I am a hypocrite and struggle with this myself

    As to the off topic question I think we are saves, are being saved and will be saved through Jesus victory over the cross and death as we follow him just like the disciples did

    And gasp shock horror I have been an emerging church planter for fifteen years


  • Oh and Darius if u want to review my bible studies u probably won’t like them all but would be glad for your comments as well as all the rest of u


  • EricG

    Another story tonight about another gay teen commuting suicide. Tony tried to get a conversation going last time about what advice to give to a gay teen who was going through tough times, but Darius commandeered the discussion so that question Tony posed wasn’t addressed much. Would a gay teen reading the comments feel like this was a safe place? I think not. I wouldn’t ban Darius off the bat, but would give him some ground rules, to play nice in the sandbox. If he doesn’t follow them, then I would delete his comments. Not even a close call.

  • Joe L.

    Darius, run your scam on someone dumb enough to buy it. Tony’s request was, and I quote “Darius, you should probably sit this one out.” That doesn’t mean “Talk all you want, but don’t defend yourself.” It doesn’t say “Don’t address the message at hand.” It means “Don’t engage in conversation on this topic whatsoever.”

    You know it, and I know it. And when you pretend to not know it, you are lying, which is of course a sin.

    And if banning you were “par for the course for an echo chamber like this”, then there would be no discussion about banning you, nor posts questioning it. It would simply happen as a matter of course. That’s what “par for the course” means. When you have pages of discussion about an action, it’s clearly not “par for the course.” But you prefer to falsely defame the individual who patiently provides space for your tirades and childish behavior, and hesitates mightily about calling you on it. That sort of ingratitude is also a sin.

    Physician, heal thyself.

    But you know all this. Derek nailed it perfectly above. You’re the wolf here, the outsider come in to spread dissension. You get no attention elsewhere, and so fulfill your fantasies of being a martyr and prophet by coming here. I’m not interested in playing with you.

    Hopefully Tony will show the same courage he showed by openly coming out for LGBT Christians by demonstrating that progressive Christians don’t need to keep being held hostage to the abusive, dictatorial behavior of fundamentalism. Sending you packing would be a fine start.

  • Joe L.

    Again, in his response to Marusha above, Darius displays nothing of humility, or understanding, or compromise. He’s right, everyone else is wrong, and he mocks the very people to whose consciousness he demands access.

    And Darius would appear quite sad as he explained to the parents of that dead gay boy, driven to suicide by despair over his abuse at the hands of people who loathe him simply for what he is, that if that boy had not somehow accepted Jesus as his savior prior to his plunge, he’s likely roasting in hell right now.

    Jesus reserved his most harsh rebukes for only one group: self-righteous, religious promoters of the status quo, the rules as written. There’s a Pharisee here, but it’s not Tony. And the fact that I’m a miserable sinner like everyone else doesn’t mean I can’t see it, or call it.

  • Jay

    1: formal religious veneration : worship
    2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents

    Writing comments to someone’s public blog is not like verbally interrupting a private or public meeting. It is so easy to skip over the comments of those you despise. When I read a blog that allows the strong, even ridiculous statements of some posters, I find myself respecting the blog owner more. Of course any obscenity, hateful comments, and name calling should be banned, but I think a lot of tolerance is only admirable. If someone wants to have a blog limited to only those who are permitted to comment or read, that is very easy to arrange.

  • “the individual who patiently provides space for your tirades and childish behavior, and hesitates mightily about calling you on it.”

    You’re really out of step here, Joe L. I assume it’s because you haven’t been reading the threads carefully. I’ve made arguments for my position and Tony has responded with name-calling. Who exactly is the childish one?? Many commenters have noted that Tony is easily the most vitriolic person here… apparently your bias and hate doesn’t allow you to see that.

    • I’m still listening to the arguments on either side on whether Darius should be allowed to comment at will here. Of course, I’ve got other options, like deleting his comments when they are clearly an attempt to change the course of the thread away from a question I’ve asked. Another option is to have his comments automatically placed in a queue for moderation — this already happens for a couple other abusive commenters.

      I think there’s been a very significant ethical issue raised here, and that’s about the struggling gay teenager who comes here to find support and hear the voices of allies. When I write a post about the theological and biblical arguments for and against same sex marriage or gay ordination, I’m happy to have opposing views in the comments. But when I specifically ask what the church can do to keep teens from committing suicide and he (or another) hijacks the thread and answers another question entirely, that is unhelpful and potentially harmful to members of the reading community here.

      As to whether this is public or private space, it’s not really either. It’s more like a newspaper or magazine. Those media publish a variety or articles and reactions, but they don’t publish everything. When letters to the editor are unhelpful or don’t advance the conversation, for instance, they are not published.

      Finally, for those of you who say I should set some ground rules for Darius and see if he abides by them, this post has been a test of that, and he has failed. I respectfully asked him not to weigh in on this thread, but he has. Repeatedly. It is possible not to comment on posts about yourself — I do it everyday.

      I’ll let this thread run another 24 hours and then decide what’s best for the community.

  • Darren

    All due respect, Darius. But you’re full of poo again. You’re NOT just responding in this thread to people who speak to you directly or “wanted a reply from you”. While it’s true you have responded to such people, your previous response to Joey was in response to a comment he made to Marusha, and it wasn’t about you at all.

    This is part of the problem. You want to hold everyone here “accountable” to YOUR truth, but the minute you get called on the carpet for something, you respond in defense and lies. Clearly you are not concerned at all with Truth. The wolf’s sheep-covering is off. You are concerned first and foremost with being contentious and right. It’s completely haughty. And annoying. And please stop pretending like you don’t care if you get booted from here. If you were so over this place, you would have left a long time ago. The fact of the matter is, you’re a troll. And you get off on having drama in your life. You NEED this place, because it’s a great source of sustenance for you.

    Seriously. Full of poo. It’s nauseating.

  • CJ

    Seriously, if you block him. What’s to stop him from coming back with another account. I wouldn’t waste the effort. Just let him continue. The people who take the time to read the blog and who read through the comments will have enough dialogue to judge for themselves what type of blog this is.

    And for what it’s worth, if people want to stop a person from hijacking the conversation, stop responding to them.

  • carla jo

    I think Marusha has summed up the problem well. She says, “My goal (though I sometimes forget it) is to point people to the Bible and the true God of Scripture to find His salvation. I truly believe this is Darius’s goal as well.” I believe it is, too.

    The problem with Darius and Marusha is the assumption that those of us who read the Bible in a way that differs from the way they read it need to be pointed to the Bible–do they have any idea how much time we spend reading the Bible and talking about what we’ve read each week at most emerging churches? They assume that those of us who have a different understanding of God that has grown out of our understanding of the Bible–and in some cases years and years of study and reading and practice and ministry–haven’t found the true God of Scripture. They assume that those of us who ask questions of our God and our faith have not found salvation. Can either of you see how insulting that is? I have a real, deep, meaningful faith. So does Tony. So do all of the people who are here, working it out, searching for others to walk through the doubts with, hoping to find a community of fellow believers who aren’t afraid of ambiguity and change. Why is that so problematic for you?

    I don’t subscribe to the Darius (what he will call BIBLICAL) version of Christianity but I don’t think it’s heretical or false. I’d like to see Darius and Marusha extend some grace and understanding to others. It might be a far more effective way of showing their love and concern for our souls than the constant accusations of apostasy.

  • carla jo

    I’m sorry–that should have said “The problem with Darius and Marusha’s approach”

  • L. Reese Cumming

    “I think there’s been a very significant ethical issue raised here, and that’s about the struggling gay teenager who comes here to find support and hear the voices of allies.” Tony Jones.

    Does this statement creep towards a change in doctrine; that we should not challenge our brother’s sin under any circumstances, or just the ones relative to this society?

  • Joey

    “…vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.
    It’s the end of the world as we know it…”

  • Tony, it is your blog for purposes you have intentionally chosen to pursue. If, after many cautions, someone is not respecting the boundaries that you have every right to place, then I think blocking them is an acceptable choice.

    That being said, I am not sure how effective it will be. While I don’t have the same level of blogging history, at the height of my (e)mergent Voyageur blog, I asked people to not engage any comments they felt were being intentional distracting or off topic. When these people received no attention, their comments were rare and the problem was solved for the most part. Of course, with the level of traffic you get, that might not be helpful either.

    So, if you decide to block Darius, I think that is a fair choice, though potentially ineffective.

  • Jim W

    @carla jo-“I don’t think it’s heretical or false”. Darius (and others) obviously believe differently from you and Tony, et al. In many (if not most) cases-the difference is absolutely night and day. Therefore, one of you is wrong-Darius (and company) or Tony (and company). ergo-one of these beliefs is false and heretical. Can’t both be right.
    You claim that Darius needs to be more graceful in his approach. I haven’t seen him refer to someone as an “ass” or worse as your “side” has done. Darius is blunt, Tony obfuscates. If you like obfuscation, run with it. If you prefer to get to the point, run with it.
    I personally think Tony is exactly what Darius has painted him to be-a heretic, a fool leading fools into Hell. Is that too blunt? Sorry.
    I have no sympathy for people who so obviously disregard the big picture of the Bible and pick and choose what they feel like liking on any given day.

  • carla jo

    I think a person can be wrong or even just have a different viewpoint–I don’t really feel the need to figure out who is right and who is wrong–without being heretical. Speaking only for myself here, I would like to think that faith is an ever-growing thing, which means that there will be times when I find I was wrong about something I once believed with all my heart. At least, I hope that’s the case. If what I have now is the complete picture of who God is and what it means to be a person of faith, then the rest of my life will be kind of a waste. I am hopeful that God is not finished with me and that I still have a thing or two left to learn.

  • Derek

    Neither Tony nor Darius is a heretic. You are only a heretic if you can’t affirm the apostles’ creed. Maybe you could add the Nicene or the Athanasian (sp) creed to that. If you can show me anything Tony has ever said that would blatently (not mistakenly or according to hyper-sensitive legalistic-doctinal standards) condradict the early ecumenical creeds, then I’ll join you in sadly (not gleefully) affirming that Tony is a heretic. But as far as “substitionary atonement” or adhering to Anselm’s explanation of the atonement, as someone with Lutheran roots and an affinity for putting Christus Victor on an equal (if not superior) footing to penal substitution, there’s no way I’d use the word “heretic” when it comes to atonement theories. Anyone who does would be stirring up disunity in the body. Paul says we should not wrangle over words (semantics) because it ruins the hearers. So show me where Jones denies anything the ecumenical creeds say or stop using the word heretic. It’s a heavy word and you cheapen it when you use it so much.

  • Derek

    Jim W. said: “I have no sympathy for people who so obviously disregard the big picture of the Bible and pick and choose what they feel like liking on any given day.”

    That’s funny because Paul did. He said he would rather be accursed himself than have people who disregarded the big picture of the Bible be accursed. That’s why it’s hard to take the heresy head-hunters seriously. They may speak the truth, but they are nothing like Paul or Jesus. Bad fruits, even if the words are somewhat technically correct. But even the devils believe the right beliefs and shudder. Too blunt?

  • L. Reese Cumming

    A heretic is one who has unconventional religious beliefs that run contrary to orthodoxy. One who does not affirm the Apostle’s Creed is simply non-christian.

  • Joe L

    Perhaps a reboot of this topic might prove more helpful.

    Copied below are the forum rules on Internet Monk, an active and well-respected website/blog that runs far more conservative that Tony’s. They are publicly posted, and enforced ferociously. Even so, every flavor of faith imaginable, and none at all, are represented in their comment boxes, all interacting in ways that are substantial and valuable.

    Rather than discussing whether Darius should be banned, wouldn’t it be more fruitful to simply apply a similar set of rules here, and when anyone, including Darius, insists on violating them, they would face the appropriate disciplinary action?

    And note within the first rules: he deletes comments, “especially those that reject the Christian profession of other posters.” “A primary commenting rule is to not engage in attempts to convert other Christians to your tradition or away from their own.” Sound familiar? And this is from a Baptist preacher in Kentucky.

    Rules below, courtesy of Michael Spencer (RIP) and the crew at Internet Monk:

    “I moderate assertively. I delete comments that are irrelevant, too long, off topic, selling things, pimping blogs and especially those that reject the Christian profession of other posters.

    A primary commenting rule is to not engage in attempts to convert other Christians to your tradition or away from their own.

    If I announce a policy in a particular thread, I will moderate assertively according to that policy.

    Comments that denigrate the discussion itself or participants in the discussion will not be posted.

    You do not need to be obnoxious, mean or profane to be placed on moderation or banned. If your comments consistently are obstructive to the conversation, I will moderate accordingly.

    I have no problem banning commenters that offer no positive contribution to the discussion. I have a large audience and I moderate so they can have a civil discussion. I do not have any commitment to absolute free speech on my blog. I have worked hard for the success I have in this medium, and I do not share it or allow others to denigrate or manipulate it. You may participate, but I do not sponsor wars, slander, threats or pointless arguments.

    I’m not a perfect moderator, so if you want to accuse me of being hypocritical or inconsistent, I already agree with you and it doesn’t matter. You won’t win the comment war.”

    I heartily recommend enforcing the same standards here, and then whether Darius, I, or anyone else gets banned will be wholly based on our own willingness to play by the rules of the house.

  • nathan

    is this thread about what constitutes a heretic or about how people should comport themselves in online discussions?

    just wondering… 😉

  • Derek

    It’s a thread about someone who calls Christians heretics. Maybe it was too much of a tangent but the word heretic was being thrown around like it meant something, which in this context it doesn’t.

    L. Reese Cumming: “A heretic is one who has unconventional religious beliefs that run contrary to orthodoxy. One who does not affirm the Apostle’s Creed is simply non-christian.”

    I think it’s pretty obvious that the heresy head-hunters mean “non-christian” when they use the word heretic, not “unconventional.” Because in their eyes it’s damnable.

    So show me anywhere Tony blantently denies the ecumenical creeds or stop using the word.

  • By those rules, Joe L, Tony would have to block himself. He’s been mean, profane, and tried to convert Christians to his point of view. I’ll admit to being guilty of the last one of those… I wouldn’t be a good Christian if I thought everyone was equally right and didn’t need to mature and grow in their beliefs. I sure do.

  • Darren

    I like Joe L’s suggestion here (RIP Internet Monk! A very wise man indeed!)

    L. Reese, who – exactly – defines orthodoxy? The Pope? The Lutheran Synod? The local preacher? You?

    Which categories do we need to affirm in order to be considered “orthodox” and therefore non-heretical? I want to be sure to check off all the right boxes so I can get me into Heaven! Praise God!!!

  • Darren

    Darius, while continuing to do a GREAT job of “staying out of this one” (good on ya!), perhaps you missed the operative phrase:

    “I’m not a perfect moderator, so if you want to accuse me of being hypocritical or inconsistent, I already agree with you and it doesn’t matter. You won’t win the comment war.”

    That should pretty much cover your concern. Now please go back to staying out of this. Thanks 😉

  • Derek, since you asked and since I am one of those throwing out the accusation… he denies the Bible. That’s pretty much enough evidence for heresy. He denies what the Bible clearly states. He ridicules those who actually have the audacity to believe that God actually meant what He said. I don’t know in what way anyone could honestly say that Tony gives clear evidence that he is a Christian. His vicious comportment on here, his lack of grace to anyone who disagrees with him, and his utterly heterodox view of large parts of Scripture… none of those give me hope that he won’t be one of those who say “Lord, Lord” and hear “I never knew you” on that last day of Judgment… oh wait, he probably doesn’t believe in a Judgment Day, so he’s safe :/ I honestly hope I’m wrong. In the meantime, I will continue to fight the lies of Satan that he publishes here. If that gets me blocked, fine.

  • Derek

    Darius: That’s funny because I’ve read a few of his books and they all engage the Bible quite a bit.

    Where does he deny the ecumentical creeds? That was the actual question.

  • Umm, Darren, IMonk said that, not Tony.

  • Since when is the Apostle’s Creed (a man-made document) the checklist to get into heaven? I thought you guys were saying we shouldn’t have to adhere to any doctrines or creeds to get into heaven? You can’t have it both ways, which is it?

  • Darren

    Hmmm . . . still not staying out of this, are you? How do you expect to be respected when you don’t respect others? Fascinating!

    Yes, I understand it was IMonk’s statement, as I clearly noted in my previous post. Joe’s point was that Tony adopt this, which means he’d adopt ALL of it. So your concern that he’d have to block himself is already covered by the above statement.

    NOW will you stay out? Or is that too hard for a troll? (Why do I even bother to ask?)

  • Joe L

    I think many people in the “Emergent Conversation” have become so sensitized to people and topics being excluded from the conversation by the traditional church that they have lost the meaning of “conversation.” “Conversation” is not some guy in the stands yelling “You suck, Rodriguez!” down onto the field every three minutes.

    Demanding that such a person leave the stadium is not harming the game, or denying them their rights. No one has a right, constitutional or otherwise, to repeatedly disrespect someone in their own home. Allowing them to do so simply encourages bad behavior, and brings everyone down.

    With that, I’m going to back on out of this. Tony obviously knows my opinion, for what it’s worth. On a personal level, guys like Darius make me less likely to involve myself in these forums. I’m sure there are other people who feel the same. If you (Tony) feel such involvement might further the conversation or prove valuable, there’s no getting around the fact that letting Witch-Finder Darius continue his antics is driving away at least some of your audience. In your roles as an author, public speaker, and evangelist, I would think that a reason for concern.

  • Silencing others isn’t a good attribute, Darren, in case you didn’t know. Lest you actually didn’t read what Tony originally said: “Darius, you should probably sit this one out.”

    Hmm, doesn’t sound like Tony was telling me to stay out of it, does it? Just recommending that I do. And for the most part, I have stayed out of the issue at hand except when addressed directly, such as by yourself. You bait and goad me and think somehow you have the moral high ground?? Stop hiding behind this comment thread and be a man.

    “Blah blah blah, you’re an idiot, Darius. But you can’t respond or say anything, those are the rules.”


  • “”Conversation” is not some guy in the stands yelling “You suck, Rodriguez!”

    Dude, I know! Now when will Tony figure that out? Yelling “you’re an ass” or “you’re an asshole” or “you’re a teabagger” isn’t helpful or a particularly good way to keep a conversation going. Finally we agree… glad to have you on board, mate.

  • Derek

    Darius: Since when was the Apostle’s Creed a standard for orthodoxy? Is that a question you really want to ask?

    Who’s “you guys”? I’m not emergent. But I can also see that the “emergents” are not heretics unless you judge them by your own subjective standards of hermeneutical approaches one’s particular understanding on controversies that took place 500 years ago.

    The reason this thread exists is because you resort to heresy-rhetoric and equating the opinions of other Christians as Satanic. Disagreements are fine, but the word “heretic” means nothing anymore because of overuse by theological Barbey Fifes of the blogosphere.

    A great book on Heresy is “Heresy” By Alister McGrath (a reformed Christian) in which he makes the same argument I just did. That Heresy is judged by the early ecumenical creeds and everything else is just disagreement within the body of Christ.

  • “The reason this thread exists is because you resort to heresy-rhetoric and equating the opinions of other Christians as Satanic.”

    No, I equate the opinions of non-Christians as Satanic. Big difference. So, Derek, are you honestly saying that as long as someone affirms a creed made up by men that they are a Christian who will be welcomed into heaven? Jesus is going to be standing at the gates saying “check, check, check… hmm, what do you think about this virgin birth thing?… oh good, check. You’re in.”?

    So to follow your logic, one really just has to believe what the devil believes, huh? I thought the Bible said something about that not being enough.

    In your opinion, it’s fine if people sleep around or believe that homosexuality or promiscuity or lying is fine, as long as they affirm some creed. I’m pretty sure Paul spoke strongly against that kind of foolishness.

  • Darren

    Hiding? What do you want me to do? Skype you? How moronic! Darius, I’m more man than you could ever hope to become. Your trolling is officially ignored from here on out.

  • Darren

    P.S. Stop your whining, you little punk. I already called you on the carpet for statements you’ve made which had nothing to do with you. These silly lies you tell about “only responding to people who direct responses to you” is tired and lame. Get over yourself.

  • Darius
    I’ve seen that charge of emergents “encouraging promiscuity and sleeping around” quite a few times, usually seeming to trace back to Driscoll. But having read an enormous amount of emergent literature, I’ve never seen even one line of evidence supporting this (unless you mean some emergents’ stance on homosexuality, in which case you see even married LGBTs as promiscuous).

    Im sincerely wondering: Can you provide any evidence to back this up? If not, could that accusation be stopped?

  • Derek

    Wow…now I’m extremely bored with this interaction. I came to Tony Jones’ blog because I expected a higher level of conversation than the self-aggrandizing, banal rhetoric of the heresy head-hunting blogs. I will pprobably leave now because these comment threads are all about Darius, almost every one of them. Which is strange because I doubt anyone comes here because they want a blog centered around Darius’ subjective opinions on what real Christianity is or isn’t. Actually, it seems that hardly anyone on the planet cares what Darius thinks because if you go over to his blog, most posts have zero comments. After speaking with him, I can honestly say that I would never go to a blog centered around his opinions, whether they be posted or dominating the comment thread. So my advice to Tony would be to ban commentors who try to center this blog around themselves and their own subjective opinions. Because none of us come here for their opinions, we come here because it’s Tony Jones’ blog. Tony Jones is someone I disagree a lot with but respect and listen to. Seeing he has to put up with hundreds (if not thousands) of Darius’ day in and day out, I have to say I respect and admire him all the more, even if he slips up and vents his frustration at times with mild profanity. So my vote is to ban the Darius’ so that the environment will be healthy. That iMonk was on to something, and his blog wasn’t as successful as it was for no reason. A lot of us want places we can have meaningful conversations without the manufactured drama of the theological Barney Fifes of the blogosphere.

  • Marusha

    There is evidence of Tony’s unorthodox views. On his old blog you can find what he thinks about original sin, in that he does’nt believe it at all. Yes, his writings engage the Bible but in the new emergent way called contextual theology. He and other emergents have been working on dismantling essential doctrines such as the authority of the Bible, the doctrine of man, the atonement and universalism is embraced. Yes, this all started out as merely questioning why we believe what we do but it has gone too far when essentials are dispensed with. You may think I am arrogant for asserting that the Bible is true and that I want to know the God of Scripture. This does not mean that I don’t question, it does not mean I don’t grow in faith. I don’t know everything but I believe in a God who does and I can trust His Word as sufficient. I must conform to the Bible not the other way around. I must responsibly read it, not form it into what I wish it to be.

  • Jim

    Hi, I have a suggestion. Well, really, just repeating Joe’s suggestion earlier. Why not establish a set of rules, and ban anyone who breaks them? Then it doesn’t have to be all about Darius. Tony can just say what sort of discussion he wants these pages to be for, and moderate them accordingly.

    For example, Tony’s rule could be, “Every comment must address the main topic of the post.” Then, if anyone lead the discussion astray, Tony could perhaps warn them, and ban them if it is repeated.

    Then there need be no fear about “blocking disagreement.” Tony can just point to the rule. This seems the most sensible way to proceed.

  • Darren


    Who decided that the doctrines you describe above are “essentials”? Where did you get that from? And who gets to decide which applications of those doctrines is “orthodox”, and which are heretical? In other words, who authorizes the essentials? A group of people? The Bible?

    If the Bible, who gets to choose which interpretation is valid? If you happen to go to church without your head covering on, are you not living a feminist lifestyle (or rather, “deathstyle”)? Is that not unorthodox? Heresy even??

  • Tad, that was a theoretical statement of mine. I wasn’t referring to anyone supporting those, but rather that it seems like Derek is proposing that as long as someone holds to some creed, it doesn’t matter what other views they take or what they do.

  • So Derek, no answer to my questions? Interesting.

  • “If the Bible, who gets to choose which interpretation is valid? If you happen to go to church without your head covering on, are you not living a feminist lifestyle (or rather, “deathstyle”)? Is that not unorthodox? Heresy even??”

    Darren, really? You’re not actually stupid, so stop asking stupid and intellectually lazy questions, dude.

  • Tony’s rule could be, “Every comment must address the main topic of the post.”

    It’s never been about that, Jim. I’ve stayed perfectly on point before and still gotten attacked and bullied. It’s about making sure Tony’s echo chamber responds with the tune he wants. He goes “ding”, we’re supposed to go “ding.” Questioning close-minded tyrants always ends up like this. As a favorite author of mine once said, inside each rebel is a dictator trying to get out. Ironic that the Emergent movement supposedly wants to ask honest questions and start a conversation… as long as you agree with them. Differing opinions will be silenced!

  • Marusha

    these are the essentials of the Christian faith: The Bible as the infallable, inspired, inerrent, authoritative Word of God. The Trinity: One God in three distinct Persons – Father Son and Holy Spirit all equaly God yet One. The work and attributes of God: This includes God’s holiness, justice, love, mercy, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence. The work of the cross where Jesus died for our sins and rose again. It also includes the doctrine of man: our total depravity and need for God’s provision through the atonement. If you do not believe all of these things, I’m afraid you need to seriously question if you are a Christian or not. Yes, the theif on the cross did not have time to know all of this and we do not know this at conversion but if we are taught these things and embrace them as true, that is a good thing. If we are made aware of these things and reject them, then we are not in the faith. These are essentials not because I say they are but because they come from the Bible through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Don’t take my word for it, please find out for yourself.

  • Korey

    This has been a fascinating thread. It touches on so many questions associated with the ethics of human interaction. And I’m far too ignorant to address, understand, or offer much. I do see that Darius finds Tony’s views evil. This justifies his comments in his view. Were I to think certain beliefs or behaviors significantly evil and dangerous, I too might participate in public condemnation of such views. Or I hope that I would be willing to do so if I thought it worthwhile.

    I know Darius’s beliefs appear so entrenched that his mind is closed, but I do glimpse hints of an openness on his part however small. Reading a post he made on his blog about open theism (http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com/2010/09/was-jesus-open-theist.html), I noticed an intellectual humility that I really appreciate. Sure, he isn’t altering his views, but he evinces a willingness to reflect on his convictions. That’s probably enough for me to extend respect to him and engage in discussion. But surely his comments might make this forum unwelcome to some individuals turned off by harsh rhetoric (though Tony’s posts sometimes traffic in this area) or intense disagreement.

    I see that Darius and Marusha think affirmation of the historic creeds is not enough for fellowship amongst Christians and indeed intense debate. No, they appear to include further beliefs other than those contained in the historic creeds, because otherwise one isn’t a Christian. And they find these sufficiently critical that those who do not affirm them are dangerous, heretical, and in need of condemnation, not fellowship and discussion.

    Darius, I hope you feel honored that Tony allowed a public commenting and psychoanalyzing of you. Very interesting.

  • Marusha

    As to head covering, when reading the Bible we need to be careful to find out if the behaviour should be followed or the principle should be followed. In this passage it is a principle that must be followed. I must submit to my husband who submits to Christ. When I was in Ukraine, in church I did cover my head because to them, that was an important sign of submission. I would also do it in a mennonite church. It’s all about submission, not some legalistic behaviour.

  • Wow, thanks for those comments, Korey, they were possibly the most honest and charitable I’ve found on here. I do enjoy the psychoanalyzing. 🙂

    You are correct, if an issue isn’t a critical one or if there is some common ground to be found, I usually try to find it. Unfortunately, there is little common ground to be had between “Homosexuality isn’t just okay, it’s God-ordained” and “Homosexuality is a sin like anything else”. Or the claim that Jesus didn’t actually die for our sins by taking them on himself versus the orthodox view of penal substitutionary atonement. These are not really reconcilable. I wish they were.

    “I do see that Darius finds Tony’s views evil. This justifies his comments in his view. Were I to think certain beliefs or behaviors significantly evil and dangerous, I too might participate in public condemnation of such views. Or I hope that I would be willing to do so if I thought it worthwhile.”

    Exactly. The question for me (and Marusha and other Christians on here) is not whether or not Tony’s views are evil or at least very foolish. The question is how to best combat them. Do we stay silent and let unsuspecting people who may not be familiar with orthodox Christianity come on here and think that Tony represents Christianity? Or do we offer our dissenting views on occasion to show that there is another way, a way to peace and freedom as opposed to the slavery to flesh that Tony proposes? Some days, it’s probably best to do the former, others the latter. Telling those days apart isn’t always easy.

  • Darren

    Marusha, who should I find out from exactly?? I assume you mean I should find out from reading the Bible . . . which I do. In fact, I believe about the Bible what it says about itself. But nowhere in the Bible do you read that it is “inerrant”. So you think the inerrancy of Scripture is essential. Great. But who told you that it was essential? It’s not in the Bible (THE authoritative source for you), so where did you get that from?

    As for the head coverings, what you’re essentially saying is that I can’t take it at face value. I have to do some major interpreting to figure out which things should be read for behavior, and which for value. My question to you is, how do you know when you should apply either interpretation? How do you KNOW that the head covering part is principle, and not behavioral? Paul seems to be quite clear on the issue – unless of course you want to start jumping through theological hoops in order to justify your feminist lifestyle.

  • carla jo

    I’ll third Joe’s suggestion of adopting a policy for comments.

  • Joey

    All in favor of Joe’s suggestion of adopting a policy for comments, say Aye.


  • Darren


  • Aye.

  • Marusha

    Darren, I hope you are sincere in your questions. There are some excellent tools to use for biblical hermeneutics. Some that I use are ‘Hermeneutics’ by Virkler, ‘Introduction to Christian Doctrine’ by Erickson, ‘Foundations of Christian Faith’ by Boice. It’s also good to have a good study Bible like John MacArthur’s or Hank Hanegraff’s. I am still trying to figure out the whole principle thing but you can usually tell by what the writer says in the surrounding text what he means. I an not a trained theologian or anything so studying the Bible is tough work for me but so incredibly rewarding. Oh…also if you study the early church fathers with their struggles and also the reformers you could find some very interesting and useful insights. It is also incredibly interesting to study the formation of the Canon.

  • Marusha

    Sorry, I got way off again! Can someone tell me the rules, it’s on a different page or something.

  • Tony,

    Since your blog is not some college class with paying students and a specific agenda, etc., then it does not make sense to block anyone. Someone hijacking the comments section is no big deal in the big picture. Really, if I get bent out of shape because of someone else’s comments, that says a whole lot more about me than it does about the comments.

    However, I would not worry in the slightest about how anyone’s reaction to being blocked will reflect on you or anything emergent. It’s not really about you or emergent or even Darius. People can come an go as they please from your blog. You can stop posting your opinions. You can set up rules and enforce them if you want. All of that is fine at some level. What we all have to deal with is, however, that as people who claim to be followers of Christ (or even just think he’s a teacher worth taking seriously) we are ask to forebear with each other and to forgive seventy times seven. The dilemma is that we rarely realize how much it is ourselves who need to be forgiven. We just don’t see it like we should and therefore need a lot of mercy. I know you know this Tony.

    If Darius (or anyone else) is an ass, then he’s an ass, if he is not and has good points to make then that’s good. If someone seems to have a lot of time on there hands, seems to troll blogs, and consistently takes contrarian positions or is a one-note preacher, well then, welcome to the blogosphere. I don’t know you or anyone else here personally, but I would wish that if I am an ass you would either let me know directly or just ignore me and let me figure it out – and that “figuring out” part can take decades. AND, it’s not really up to any of you to make sure I “get it.” Either I will or I won’t and you get to go on forbearing.

    Also, if anything you have to say might change Darius’ mind then blocking him effectively cuts him off from that chance. On the other hand, if Darius can teach you something then that’s also a blessing, and blocking him cuts you off from that blessing. I am making no judgments here one way or another. It is better to be inclusive, open, forebear each other, and trust that God is bigger than the comments section of one little blog.

    BTW Tony, I like your blog a lot, appreciate your thoughts and opinions, and frequently disagree with you. Just sayin’

    And Darius, I’m not really talking about you in the third person. Just sayin’

  • Darren

    Yes, I am sincere, Marusha. You seem to be a nice, reasonable lady. Anything snarky in my email, believe me, is not directed towards you.

    If I’m understanding you correctly though, are you not defining orthodoxy and heresy by hermeneutic tools written by other people (theologians, Church fathers, etc.)? Isn’t that slightly problematic considering that many of these people don’t agree on fine points? And also because it places these people as a higher authority than Scripture? And from whence does THEIR authority come??

  • Aye!
    Although I have no idea if Tony has either the time or the inclination to moderate as rigorously as Joe’s idea suggests.

    Also, to echo a lament from time immemorial: Good grief: triple digit comments! Would that we could get *this* level of reaction/passion/engagement on justice issues.
    Human trafficking, poverty, hunger, clean water, racism, or, gee I don’t know, maybe…kids killing themselves!

    There’s so much pain & brokenness in the world there’s no reason to fight over which is most worthy…just pick one (or two!) and get to work, please. (If you’re not already, that is.)

  • Marusha

    Yes Darren, I can see where there could be some confusion. I use these tools to help me understand the Bible better. I cannot elevate them above the Bible. If anything is out of line or does not conform to the Bible I cannot accept it as a valid teaching. Even the greatest reformers do not have the same authority as the Bible does. The Bible has written in it that I should test everything according to Scripture, not the other way around. I think it is also a matter of faith the believe the Bible to be all that it says it is. Please do not take this as me saying you don’t possess that faith, I’m just saying that as one continues to grow in Christ, this belief becomes more profound. The Bible kicks my butt alot but I need it.

  • Chris

    Just a little observation.

    Casually looking over some previous blog entries.

    Social Phonics- 0 responses.
    Homer Hanky- 2 responses.
    David Bazan – 8 responses.
    Moltmann – 6 responses.

    Darius and entries where Darius stokes things – 100+ responses.

    A stab at some possible reasons for the lop-sided numbers.
    1) People still like (or like watching) a good brawl and want to see the bully get his ass kicked. Who the bully really is here you can decide.
    2) People are still unsure about their own feelings on certain important issues being brought up and feel the need to wrestle through those issues, even if it means doing so violently.

    I have a feeling Darius has served a kind of purpose because he represents a lot of what so many with an emergent ethos reject. People must, I think, in their heart of hearts feel as though they want Darius not just to listen, but to hear, so people are yelling and lashing out, violently against it/him. Darius (please don’t respond), I honestly wouldn’t take any of the name-calling personally. I think you just happen to represent the thing that people are so fearful of. That being a kind of arrogant certainty that has brought about a great deal of pain, anguish and separation in the past. I know you believe that the real pain, anguish, and separation will be reserved for people (maybe the people here) when they find themselves in hell and it’s your job to warn them. But you will never ever make the slightest difference using words like “liar”, “heretic”, etc. The word grace has been thrown around a lot here too but I’m not really sure Darius understands what it means in the context of conversation in this type (or any other type) of forum. In part I think it means at least once in a while admitting that hey, I really think I’m right but you know I could, just maybe be wrong about certain things. Maybe even a great many things. Otherwise you just come across like, “hey, I’m always right and your opinion really doesn’t matter one whit.” Have you ever been insecure? Have you ever been in the presence of someone who made you feel as though you or your opinions didn’t matter? That kind of person is both obnoxious and repugnant to most people and causes them to run the other way, which I don’t think is what you intend. You have to step outside yourself for just a minute and consider that other people actually have legitimate views and have come to conclusions other than yours and did so honestly. You can’t just default to “it’s not me that’s right it’s the bible that’s right”, because you still have to read the bible and you still have to read the words in it and interpret those words. I actually believe that if God is trying to communicate with us, that is if God is a talking god then it changes everything. That God can actually break into our world and cut through all of our cultural baggage and that there is a possibility of knowing truly, though not exhaustively. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying it is at least possible.

    Anyway, I would advocate for not banning. I would try to get past what sounds like inflammatory rhetoric and look deeper and engage, maybe giving it one or two tries and then move on if nothing positive seems forthcoming. And I would also suggest trying to not let yourself get baited or goaded into replying, especially with harshness or profanity as it just indicates a lack of self-control and maturity in us when we do.

  • Darren

    Oh, I totally agree! The Bible kicks my butt pretty often too! The process of transformation and refining is a slow – sometimes painful – but necessary one.

    I guess what confuses me is that you use the word “heretic” lightly (IMHO) because someone does not fit into what you would classify as an “essential”. Now, you have said that for you the Bible is the ultimate authority. But on one of your “essential” issues – namely, the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture – you have not done what you just prescribed above: to check it against Scripture. Nowhere does the Bible call itself inerrant or infallible. That doctrine is a doctrine of man, not of the Bible. So why do you consider that one an “essential”?

  • Darren, if I may (you need not respond to me if you choose)…

    The idea of inerrancy wasn’t dreamed up from nothing. The Bible clearly supports that idea on several occasions. For one, 2 Timothy 3:16 talks about ALL Scripture being God-breathed, which implies it is completely perfect and correct (unless you think God makes mistakes or is imperfect, which is another issue). Elsewhere, Jesus said “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” He seems to put a significant value on the truthfulness and inerrancy of the Bible. So when you argue against the inerrancy of God’s Word, you’re not arguing against human ideas. You’re arguing against what Scripture lays out pretty clearly and basically assumes. If you can’t trust the Bible, then why do you waste your time studying it? I sure wouldn’t. At least, not as a tool for changing my life.

  • Darren, this video might be helpful on the topic of inerrancy (particularly Keller’s comments): http://www.qideas.org/video/what-role-should-the-bible-have-in-society.aspx

  • Darren


    I strongly feel you are making some fallacious inferences into Scripture, and therefore extrapolating into greater error.

    If ALL Scripture is complete, perfect, and correct, then is David correct when he laments several times through the Psalms that God stands far away from us? If that’s true, what do we make of a Jesus who “never leaves us or forsakes us”? Honestly, Darius, I think that your idolization of the Bible as being equal to God is perhaps far more heretical than anything I’ve heard Tony say.

    However, I do truly respect people who make a consistent stance on Scripture. Darius, do you believe – as Paul clearly stated – that a man with long hair is unnatural (he uses the same word here that is used in Romans 1), and therefore sinful? Do you agree that women need to keep quiet in church, and should always have their heads literally covered (I think anyone who’s honest recognizes that there isn’t much wiggle room in what Paul says – he literally means women need to wear coverings)? And would you agree that divorce for any other reason than infidelity is sinful, and that if divorced people remarry then they are living continually in sin?

    I can only take Biblical inerrantists seriously when they’re actually consistent, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who is. Mostly what I encounter are those who conform the Bible to their preconceived notions, and make arguments for “cultural context” and “good interpretation” when its convenient for them. But if you pass my litmus test above, Darius – without jumping through theological hoops to make the Bible say something other than what’s clearly written – I will have SO much more respect for you!

  • Darren

    P.S. Your words on 2 Tim 3:16 exemplify what I mean about fallacious inferences. Paul here states that all Scripture is INSPIRED by God. What that does NOT necessarily imply is that all Scripture is therefore “perfect”, no more than Adam being “inspired” (i.e., “God-breathed”) makes Adam perfect. You’re making faulty assumptions about what “inspiration” implies. God inspires a lot of things, but that does NOT mean that all such things remain good and perfect throughout eternity.

    And that is the beauty of God. He dares to give life to that which he knows will become imperfect. And that is why I study the Bible. Because the life given to it by God is beautiful, and it is not without value simply because it is not PERFECT. Requiring perfection from a collection of books that clearly does not hold it seems like weak faith to me. It requires you to rely on a good reading. Which means I’m relying on ME. But my faith is in the power of God, and his grace (not to mention a WHOLE lot of mercy for ALL the ways in which my “doctrine” is completely incorrect)! Perhaps maybe this one too. Does that make me a heretic?

  • Marusha

    The essentials above are not my classifications. They are from centuries of struggle and diving into the Scriptures. They are from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit illuminated it for us. Don’t get me wrong, I have wondered about these things. Like ‘how can I know the doctrine of the Trinity is true?’ It is such a mysterious thing that I cannot understand but I can take the Bible’s word for it. One passage of Scripture is when Jesus is baptized by John. You see God in Three Persons at once. How cool is that? Oh man, I still get a little doubtful. Yeah, sometimes I wonder “how can I believe these doctrines that came out of councils of men?” It comforts me when I see what went into the forging of these doctrines, the opposition to false teaching, how they were forced to intensely study the Bible to find what God said. Plus the realization that it was all guided by the Holy Spirit. I can also study the Bible and I find I can safely agree with doctrines. Sometimes, okay, alot of times, I am tempted to merely just accept an orthodox doctrine, but it is so much more rewarding when I find out for myself. Then the Scriptures become a part of my sustenance. I went too long without reading the Bible, what a loss that was. I was starving. Why are the above mentioned doctrines essential? Well, I suppose I would say because being a true Christian involves worshiping the right God as He revealed Himself, knowing who Jesus is, knowing we are sinners who need to repent and put our faith in Jesus because of His atoning work on the cross and there is an interesting pattern you will find in the creeds where they always start with the Bible. These are the things that we must agree upon as Christians. There are other doctrines outside of this that we can disagree on and not be heretics.

  • Now see, that was a very helpful comment (other than the idolizing the Bible part, if you think I’m bad, you should have met Jesus or read what He had to say about Scripture).

    Regarding the different stances you mentioned…

    1) Long hair on men – yes, I’d say it is usually pretty unnatural, but not a sin. Paul also spoke a lot about freedom in Christ, so that’s why the Mosaic laws don’t apply to Christians (or at least, don’t apply in the same way). Jews weren’t supposed to eat pork, but we can eat pork freely. They weren’t supposed to trim the sides of their beards, we can do whatever we want with our beards. We are each (and together) the temple of God, and what is sin to one person isn’t necessarily sin to another (to a limit, of course… murder is a sin no matter what, homosexuality is always wrong, etc.) The bigger issue that Paul was speaking to was that women should look like women and men should look like men. In Paul’s day, the clear distinction between the genders was in their hair (as it still is to some extent). God made men and women very differently, and we should recognize that in our lives.

    2) Women being quiet in church and head coverings – Well, we don’t know the entire context of some of those statements, but I would say that the spirit behind Paul’s words is this: women need to be submissive in the Church and in his context, that meant being quiet and covering one’s head. I personally think we probably have blurred the line of male headship way too much and God isn’t particularly thrilled by it (but still willing to work with us despite our rebellion and foolishness). The head coverings part is another thing where the intent there was to show humility. So in that culture, head coverings was a way to do that. In ours, maybe dressing modestly and plainly rather than like Tammy Fae? Who knows. Plus, if the important part is to have a humble, submissive heart, then merely covering one’s head doesn’t necessarily accomplish that. I could be very proud even with my head covered.

    3) Yes, I agree that divorce is wrong across the board (I’d even include infidelity because the exception given by Jesus in Matthew was likely referring to divorce during the betrothal period). Particularly wrong is divorcing and then remarrying. Merely separating as a couple may at times be necessary. Remarriage should really not be in the picture as long as your partner is alive. That said, I readily admit that even among conservative Reformed Christians, I am in the minority (John Piper is one of the few people I know who espouses basically this same position). I would also say that divorced people remarrying does NOT mean that they live CONTINUALLY in sin. They may sin once, but then it is possible for God to bless that union and use it. David and Bathsheba was a gross sin, but God used that relationship to raise up Solomon. God uses many gross sins (and sinners) for His purposes.

    These issues aren’t easy or always clear-cut, but the general principles remain. And Christians can honestly disagree on them, they are clearly secondary issues.

    “But my faith is in the power of God, and his grace (not to mention a WHOLE lot of mercy for ALL the ways in which my “doctrine” is completely incorrect)! Perhaps maybe this one too. Does that make me a heretic?”

    Not necessarily, but it doesn’t seem like you have a high view of the power of God to speak through human beings without error. You mention His power, yet you (seem) to deny it in the same breath. Do you see what I mean?

  • Darren

    Well that would be the case if I mentioned anything about God not being ABLE to do it. I certainly think that’s possible. But what’s at question here is whether or not God DID do that. And I don’t see any reason why you’d believe that he did.

    Furthermore, let’s clarify that I think it’s perfectly possible for God to speak without error, and I think that he routinely does. That, however, does not mean we hear without error. And I’m not sure why you would believe that everything that’s written in the Bible is somehow heard 100% clearly, transcribed 100% clearly, and then passed down 100% correctly.

    Lastly, let’s work with the theory that the Bible was supposed to be some work of perfection, that humans heard without error. What then is even the point of the Bible? If God can be so clear, why isn’t he just that clear with everyone at all times?

    I just think you’re reaching. And without Biblical reasons for it . . .

  • Dan

    Maybe this is too obvious for discussion, but didn’t Tony specifically ask Darius to “sit this one out” so he could get the opinions of others? And yet Darius couldn’t even wait a day before posting…posting more than anyone else. What does that say about his willingness to ever participate in a civil manner in the future?

    Block him. And then when he uses a different account, block that one too.

  • Reinhardt

    Darius, you need a blog. Put those comments to work on your own blog. If you have that much time and that much to say… Not saying it ain’t good, but it does kind of seem like you ‘hijack’ the conversation. You could interact with all the emerging church blogs on your own blog. If you start a blog, I will subscribe to your RSS feed. 😉

  • Darius does have a blog. Click on his name and you’ll pop over to it.

    That said, I think this topic’s been milked for all it’s worth.

  • Kj

    I am a theological conservative who probably aligns with Darius’ theological bent more than with Tony’s and many who frequent this blog. I read here regularly to be challenged, stretched, to grow and develop a greater appreciation for the body of Christ.

    I want to defend him, but I can’t…his inability to “sit this one out” forces me to vote (are we actually voting?) to ban him.

    Tony, nobody has more skin in the game on this blog than you do, it is yours and you have the freedom to determine when somebody has lost the privilege (not the right) to participate.

  • Sigh.

  • Derek

    Darius: “So Derek, no answer to my questions? Interesting.”

    I just assumed your questions were rhetorical. You basically said that beliefs don’t matter and Jesus doesn’t care about them, or doesn’t base getting into “heaven” on them. In that case, what exactly are you doing here?

    Oh yeah…blog advertising.

  • Eric

    It seems troubling that Darius thrives on this? Why? Why can’t he stay out of the conversation and ironically be engage so little in it? Is this the best platform for him to “Bang his theological monkey”

    The adversarial nature….. The defender of truth kool-aid accomplishes little except giving one self-importance. It seems the basic blog value at issue is dialogue vs monologue.

    I say put him in time out…. its what you do when kids don’t listen.

    • I agree with others that this thread has run its course. And it says so, so much about Darius that he has been incapable of sitting this one out, even though he has been repeatedly asked to do so. Doesn’t Paul tell us that we should “exhibit self-control in all things”? I’ll post more about this on Monday.

  • Okay, I’ve had enough with this. What I’m about to say is not to defend myself… I honestly don’t care, nor am I trying to increase my blog readership (it would be kinda stupid to do so here of all places). I’ve seesawed between Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5, and perhaps I’ve chosen the wrong direction by responding here.

    But I am sick and tired of Tony being such a vile hypocrite who cannot even be man enough to just make up his own mind and would rather stoop to childish playground tactics and hide behind the skirts of others. It is highly ironic that someone who posts against bullying is himself the biggest bully here. “Come on, guys, let’s kick this guy and defame him as much as possible.” In what world do you, Tony Jones, think you possibly represent Christ? You represent yourself (your ego is amazing in many of your posts), you don’t represent Jesus. And I’m not the only one who has noticed this. You, sir, are a Pharisee and unless you willingly repent to the Christ who paid for your sins (which you currently deny He did), you will spend a terrible eternity out of His glorious presence. I pray that you still have time and that He hasn’t hardened you permanently in your rebellion. May we all turn from our rebellion and look to the Cross for the release of our burdens. Our salvation, no matter what Tony may say, is NOT in ourselves or some combination of ourselves and God, it is in the Lamb who was slain.

    If you honestly want to win people to your position, here’s a hint: don’t call them asses, assholes, teabaggers, or whatever other obscene pejoratives that come so easily from your tongue (or keyboard). I know you don’t like actually living by Scripture (just pretending you do), but in case you ever change your mind, it talks about how a kind answer turns away wrath. You would win the respect of many of your readers if you could disagree like a man rather than a child. I’ve made bold (and occasionally harsh) comments, usually backed up with some sort of rational thoughts. Your response says so, so much about you and your position: “You’re an ass, Darius.”

    I’ve attended Solomon’s Porch in the past and while I have been uncomfortable or disturbed by some aspects of it, I appreciated others and was hoping that the Emergent movement would mature and do great things for the Lord. Unfortunately, it has instead become irrelevant to the Christian conversation by falling in for every ol’ heresy already in the books and is basically just another dying mainline church. There are no new thoughts here, just old ones spiced up with some postmodern jargon and made to look new. There is nothing new under the sun. It honestly saddens me, especially when I consider what could have been done if the Emergent movement had stayed on the narrow path. You rightly recognized many of the worst things about American evangelical churches, but your cure was significantly worse than most of the diseases.

    If you choose to ban me, so be it. It’s honestly no skin off my back (go ahead and psychoanalyze that all you want, but it’s true). I simply don’t want honest seekers to be led astray by the lies of Satan. Hopefully your behavior in recent days will give those honest seekers a glimpse into the soul of the Emergent movement and help them turn to Christ instead.

  • Darren

    You know, Darius, I have to admit that if there were a whole blog post devoted to me like this, I can definitively say that I would NOT handle that well . . . at ALL. So, even though you have not thoroughly respected Tony’s wishes, I will hand you that you’ve handled this a lot better than I would have. (Though, I also must admit that I tend to communicate with people in such a way that it would not require such a post to ever be made about me. Perhaps there IS something for you to learn here, instead of assuming that everyone here just doesn’t like your theology. I have now counted at least two folks who’ve stated that they agree with your theological conclusions far more than Tony, and yet they too consider your manner of communication curt, dismissive, and disrespectful. And as much as you rail against Tony for being pejorative, I’ve yet to hear you apologize for doing the same. Logs and motes, ya know? I’m assuming you’re bright enough to recognize that calling someone a heretic is just as pejorative (if not more so) than calling someone an ass. You don’t assume that just because you don’t use “cuss words” that you’re somehow taking some moral high ground that Tony is not, do you?

    I don’t know, Darius. I’ve read some exchanges with you that have actually been pleasant for me. But most of the time, I just find you either acting the helpless victim, or taking an aggressive stance against others (both of which betray how much this IS in fact “skin off your back”, by the way, but whatever). Certainly there’s a better way than that, no? What would it take for you to tone down your belittling and dismissive attitudes towards people here? What would it take for you to address people in such a way that they don’t want to show you how “manly” they are by punching you in the face? Why do you feel you have to address people in a way that gets a rise out of them? What’s up with that, really??

  • Joey

    I would just like to point out that yet another teenager took their life yesterday because of being bullied for their sexual orientation – this time in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

    Something has got to change.

  • Darren, if you’ll notice, my comments that have been harsh toward people (particularly Tony) have come after their responses have been vitriolic and childish. If Tony knew how to conduct himself like a Christian man, my calling him on the carpet would not have seemed necessary and we could have stuck to the issues at hand.

    As for my heretic comments, Paul called people false teachers. Was that unreasonable? I’ve given evidence for my assertion of Tony’s heresy. He merely claims I’m an ass. Ass is not the same as heretic. Heretic means something, ass is just a name a kid uses because he can’t come up with a proper response.

    I’m more than willing to apologize for something I’ve said that was out of line, but every time I’ve asked for specifics, no one has taken me up on it. I guess they prefer to remain ambiguous in their accusations. I’ve admitted several times that I can be a bit gruff or blunt at times and would not be surprised if I have overstepped here or there. But calling a spade a spade isn’t an overstep, it is a Biblically-mandated necessity.

    My biggest problem is that I respond too much with an eye for an eye ethic. If you’ll look, you’ll find that pretty much every one of my initial comments on any of these recent threads were, while strongly worded, not personal attacks or abusive toward others. I may have called this or that foolish thinking, but that’s not a personal attack. As you will notice, when people have addressed me with rational, controlled responses, I have been perfectly able and willing to have a decent, thoughtful conversation with them. You’ve seen it; I think you and I even may have nearly engaged in one ourselves. 🙂 My more personally-directed responses have been when somebody has resorted to ad hominem arguments, like Tony does in pretty much every single one of his comments. That is my sin and my fault that I struggle to be more patient with my enemies and those who hate me. It’s not Tony’s fault that I don’t forbear better. For that, and that alone, I sincerely apologize.

  • Darren

    Well, if it’s any consolation, Darius, I do think you act like an ass quite a bit. I see why Tony calls you an ass. You can be completely insensitive – all head, no heart. It’s as clear to us that you can be an ass as it must be to you that Tony and I are heretics. Just because Tony hasn’t articulated WHY he thinks you’re an ass, doesn’t make you any less of one. But you’re right, maybe this could be avoided if people were more focused in delineating the exact reasons why you’re an ass. But somehow, I don’t think that’s going to make things any better around here. But maybe it might help you. Who knows? For what it’s worth, I appreciate the apology – though I think it’s a bit of a stretch to cast Tony (or anyone here) in the light of “those who hate Darius”. I have the same fault as you – perhaps that’s why I’m willing to overlook you being an ass.

    Meanwhile, lots of kids are being bullied as we speak, and some of them are contemplating suicide. It breaks my heart. I honestly fear one of those poor kids coming along here and reading your words – heaping more shame and hopelessness upon themselves. And that’s what concerns me about your future participation on this blog. Me dealing with you being an ass is one thing, but some poor, confused kid might not be able to do it. And it could have DIRE consequences. Seriously.

    In the end, I have to concur that when approached a certain way, you do tend to communicate more respectfully and gracefully. So thanks for proving that you’re not a complete ass 🙂 If you were to get banned, I do know that it would not make me happy – it wouldn’t be a pleasant thing. I don’t think anyone here would relish you getting banned. (I could be wrong on that – but I’ve yet to hear anyone communicate that they would cherish such a thing.)

  • Darren, I appreciate your irenic tone. It is very wanting on here (and I’m guilty of this as well). What I have tried to convey (only to have my words twisted time and again) regarding the issue of homosexuality is that while it is a sin, it is no different than, say, heterosexual lust. So if some teen is struggling with gay urges, I would approach them the same way as I approach myself or anyone who can struggle with lusts for the opposite gender: like me, you’re a sinner. In fact, the Bible tells us that unless you repent and put your trust in Christ as the one who was perfect in your place and took all your sins on himself, you face a very terrible and ghastly eternity. But the answer to that predicament is really quite simple (but it’s not easy). Repent! Hear and respond to the Gospel. And you will find freedom and joy and peace you never knew while a slave to your own sin. That doesn’t mean the urges will go away overnight (they may never). That doesn’t mean you won’t ever slip up and sin again (either in regards to hetero/homosexual sin or other sins). It means that you now have a Mediator who knows your pain, has taken your pain on Himself, and triumphed over sin and death and desires to speak to the Father on our behalf. If you love Christ, God doesn’t see you and your sinful rags, he sees Jesus and His perfect obedience. It’s so glorious, it’s sometimes hard to understand why anyone would reject (other than the reasons God gives us in His word).

    There is no condemnation from me (or Christ) for any sinner… only hope. My condemnation is for those who lie to sinners and tell them they don’t need salvation or freedom. Instead, they’re told that they need to affirm their own sinfulness and live it out to its utter end. Be slaves to your desires, rather than free in Christ.

  • nathan


    I would respectfully suggest that trying to create some kind of parameters for fruitful dialogue and civil comportment by all is not a “window” into the “soul of Emergent”–a dubious category in itself.

    Tony’s blog is Tony’s blog…I really wish people would stop implying that because of what a few known voices say or do that everyone who is around them are these Borg -like hive-minded drones.

    I think there is a plurality of opinions about not blocking you with a wide range of reasons for not blocking you.

    There’s no monolith here.

  • I get ya, Darren. I really do. I have said the same thing to my wife about the lesbian couple down the street from us. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to leave your sexual and emotional partner because you realized that your relationship was sinful. It makes evangelizing to gays much more difficult than to straights who are sleeping around… cause at least they have the choice of turning their sexual urges in a healthy direction.

    That said, that is why I posted that testimony on that other thread of the former lesbian who came out of that lifestyle. It IS possible, and I’m sure she would agree that it isn’t easy. It sounded very hard for her to deny herself, take up her cross, and follow Christ. But she did, and she found joy like she had never found in the gay lifestyle. She realized that God hadn’t made her that way, but Satan had (or, if I would modify that slightly, it was a product of her fallen nature). And just because someone might have same-sex attraction at one point in their life doesn’t mean that God can’t change those urges and remove them entirely. But as the gal said in her testimony, it has to be done through the Holy Spirit and with a firm repentant grasp of the Gospel. It can’t be done through self-help methods or through self-wrought moralism. You can’t make yourself better. I can’t make myself better. Not really. Maybe for a time, maybe in one area of my life… but in the end, a dog returns to his vomit. More importantly, my efforts don’t get me into a right relationship with Christ. He already did all the work. I’m just to rely on Him.

    I wonder… what is a Christian supposed to do if he believes as I that homosexuality is sin (just like wrongful hetero activities) and sees people going to their spiritual death because they would rather embrace “who they are” than who God made them to be? As the old analogy goes, if I see someone about to get hit by a bus, is it not morally required of me to intervene and let them know about their impending doom? I recognize that in their sinful flesh, they’d rather stand in the street. But so would we all.

    And singleness isn’t a complete curse. Plenty of heterosexuals stay single and celibate their entire lives (and live a fulfilling life!) … if you won’t/can’t marry someone of the opposite gender, then singleness is the road for you. Not necessarily fun at times, but it’s been done millions of times and worked.

  • Darren

    Yeah, I get you, Darius. What I’m not sure you realize when you speak, however, is how much weight those words have. Understand that your theology necessarily condemns people to a life of loneliness. And trying to pretend like there’s this great “freedom” (which few actually acquire, and the ones that claim they do are rather suspect ) when in fact, for the GRAND MAJORITY of gay Christians, there is never any experience of this elusive “freedom” you speak of – only makes things worse.

    Understand that when a Christian kid is struggling with their sexuality, there’s a MAJOR doubt that they will ever rid of their desires (and that’s because of experience they’ve had trying to get rid of them, begging and pleading that God would do just as you say he will – but never achieving it).

    Now imagine you are that kid. You’ve had these feelings all your conscious life. You’ve also felt – all your life – that God didn’t like it, so you’ve prayed for him, ad nauseum, to take that away, or give you the grace to deal with it. And you do everything the Church tells you to do as someone living with those desires – and you are waiting for that “freedom”. And it never happens. IT. NEVER. HAPPENS. Now imagine that some guy comes up to you and says “OH BUT IT WILL!! JUST YOU WAIT! GOD WANTS TO OFFER YOU FREEDOM! LOOK, HE DID IT FOR ALAN CHAMBERS!”

    Do you think that kid believes you?

    No, not if he’s smart. Instead, he knows it’s not going away, and he knows that means he’ll be alone for the rest of his life. And that’s pretty depressing. It makes you want to die. I know – I’ve been there.

    Your words are not words of comfort. Whether you like it or not, whether you think it’s true or not, PERCEPTION IS REALITY. And the “truth” you think you are speaking feels like an emotional death sentence to the receiver.

    And it is THAT which concerns people here with your matter-of-fact theology and feeling on the issue. Unfortunately, what you speak is simply not the reality of the grand majority of Christ-loving, Christ-following gay people that I know. And to insist that “well this is the truth” without regard to how your words affect others, makes you very much seem like an ass. When you boil a conversation about the ways in which bullying makes people want to kill themselves down to a theological argument, it makes you look like an ass.

    Now, I don’t know you very well. But I feel like you are genuinely trying to follow God the best way you know how. But it just so happens that your “truth” IS condemnation to a lot of people. Given that, maybe it’s best you not comment on such things, until you can find a way to get your truth across without making gay people feel worse about themselves. Because while it may seem like you’re “just speaking the truth in love – and some people may not like it”, I’m here to tell you that I think you are genuinely mistaken. The way you articulate your interpretation of Scripture – said to the wrong person at the wrong time – might mean MORE than just them not “liking” it – it might cost them their life. I’m not just making conjecture, I’m literally telling you that if you said to me some of the things I’ve seen you say on this blog at that point in my life when I was really confused about my sexuality, IT WOULD HAVE MADE ME WANT TO KILL MYSELF EVEN MORE THAN I ALREADY DID. Is that really the affect you want to have on people? I feel you’re a decent guy. I feel like you’ll say no. At least I hope so.

  • Marusha

    The grace of Christ is sufficient. We can’t simply ‘pray the gay away’ Christ calls for repentance. This involves godly sorrow over our sins and asking for forgiveness. If we are unwilling to let go of our sins and deny ourselves, we are not saved. I am one who has truly found freedom from the prison of my own sexual sin. Yeah, I still struggle but I hate the sin. How could I sin against the God who saved me?

    This isn’t my own personal interpretation of the gospel. Jesus looks the hurting, sinful person in the eye and says “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light…” The one who is sinless offers us his righteousness and freedom if we would only repent and put our trust in him. It is a miracle! I’ve seen it time and again with people that the world would consider ‘right offs’. I don’t want to see people suffer and die when I know there is this sufficient, powerful grace that they can be living in if only I would care enough to open my mouth and answer the question “how can I be saved?”

    His grace is enough. His work on the cross paid it ALL. I know this because it happened for me. Please see past my faults and look to the One in the Bible who says “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

    All things are possible with Christ. He conquered sin. He heals the broken heart. He is faithful to take you down the narrow road to eternity with Him if you are but willing to see yourself as a sinner who has no other recouse but to repent and trust in Him.

  • Darren, thank you so much for sharing such a painful part of your life journey with us. I’m very sorry for ways the church has added to your burden and your sense of being alone. I’m sure I speak for everybody here in naming the obvious: We’re SO glad you didn’t act on your suicidal thoughts! We’re glad you’re here and appreciate the contributions you make in this space. We hope you are part of a supportive Christian community now. Peace be with you, brother.

    I know better than this, but I’m going to try one more time…
    Darius said, again, in #135 “every time I’ve asked for specifics [on personal attacks], no one has taken me up on it.”

    Once again, sir, call BS. Back on the “It Gets Better” thread I did exactly that, even enumerating which comments the attacks came from. You, however, chose to ignore my comment. Which is fine and well within your rights. Just don’t then come over here and once again claim falsehoods to be the truth. After all, isn’t that exactly what you accuse Tony and the rest of us of?

    I know, I know: “those aren’t personal attacks, those are just me telling God’s truth.” Dude, seriously, when you call someone a liar and an agent of Satan, it’s personal!
    I don’t know about you, but for me, my very identity begins and ends with my faith in Jesus. So don’t try to get away with some nonsense about how calling that faith false isn’t personal. It is very personal.

  • Fair enough, Dave. I don’t recall the particular comment, so perhaps you did. I was referring to those who were more reasonable in their critiques of me. You guys who are too biased to give a fair critique aren’t really helpful. Someone like Nathan, Other Chris, or even now Darren have shown themselves to have useful and fair comments, so take their advice seriously. I don’t recall you doing anything other than lambasting me. If that’s not the case, I’m sorry for accusing you of something you didn’t do. Too many names, too many comments to keep track of who said what… which is probably another strike against long-winded comment threads in general. One suggestion that might be helpful is to just limit comment threads to 50 comments… if what needs to be said can’t be said by then, then maybe that’s okay. After all, when words are many, sin is not absent. I don’t know, just an idea.

  • Derek

    Darius said: “I’ve given evidence for my assertion of Tony’s heresy. He merely claims I’m an ass. Ass is not the same as heretic. Heretic means something, ass is just a name a kid uses because he can’t come up with a proper response.”

    You haven’t given any evidence for Tony being a heretic; you’ve merely given evidence that he isn’t a conservative protestant – something we all already knew.

    You’re right, “heretic” does mean something, but not the way you use it. The age of heresy came to a close with the ecumenical creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene, Athaenaisian (sp)) which were agreed upon to define heresy. After that, the church split and splintered and now everyone’s a heretic to another branch of the church. So you can pretend that the word means something, but when the other party doesn’t recognize your subjective beliefs as authoritative, to consist in what is essentially name-calling IS “acting like an ass.”

    So you’ve given NO evidence of heresy. I’ve asked you to show it to me from the early creeds and you never even attempted to. Because you can’t. So quit accusing us all of not being conservative protestants…we already know we aren’t. But thanks for the reminder of why I don’t ever want to be one.

  • Derek, where do you find this idea that a false teacher is merely one who doesn’t assent to the Creeds? Paul didn’t know anything about no creeds when he wrote against false teachers. If you want to think that heresy only applies to those who who don’t agree with some man-made creeds, fine. Then no one here is clearly a heretic. But some are still false teachers. Let’s rid ourselves of the semantics game.

  • Derek

    Darius said: “You guys who are too biased to give a fair critique aren’t really helpful.”

    I’ll cue the violins. That’s one of those incredibly ironic statements…like when Glenn Beck said, “Hitler? REALLY? Isn’t evoking Hitler going too far??”

  • Derek

    Darius said: “Derek, where do you find this idea that a false teacher is merely one who doesn’t assent to the Creeds? Paul didn’t know anything about no creeds when he wrote against false teachers. If you want to think that heresy only applies to those who who don’t agree with some man-made creeds, fine. Then no one here is clearly a heretic. But some are still false teachers. Let’s rid ourselves of the semantics game.”

    Well the creeds were agreed upon because of heresy. I’d rather appeal to them than YOUR subjective interpretation of Paul. One of the first rules of debate is to find the agreed upon common ground and make your case from there. Do you think Alister McGrath is a theological quack? He makes the case very strongly in his latest book Heresy that the early creeds are the marker for actual heresy. Doctinal disagreement isn’t heresy. That’s not where I got it from, but I’m not pulling the idea out of nowhere. The New Testament DOES give a precendent for the church coming together in councils to address questions of heresy and that’s where the creeds against heresy came from.

    Anyway, the fact that Paul didn’t know the creeds is weak, because of when he lived in history. He wanted unity in the church and gave grace in non-essentials. He’s the one that came up with the Body imagery and chastened the hand that would accuse the foot of not being part of the body. So I don’t buy your subjective interpretation of Paul…it seems very incomplete.

  • Derek

    I know you would say penal substitution is a non-essential. Show it to me in the early creeds or call the early church heretical.

  • Derek

    typo …”non-essential” = essential

  • Marusha

    If we take the Nicene creed for example there are 3 main points that emergents would disagree with.

    1.” …and was crucified also for us…” Tony himself on his old blog posted many posts on his denial of original sin. Why would Jesus die on a cross if we had the potential to be good in ourselves?
    2. “…he shall come again with glory to judge…” there is a denial of a final judgment day. They believe in universalism. This is the belief that Jesus saves all people whether they acknowledge it or not.
    3. “…And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.” Emergents believe in liberation theology. This is the belief that we must work here on earth to bring God’s kingdom to earth. This is done by social programs and protecting the environment. They don’t believe in heaven or especially hell.
    This is merely a small sample based on the Nicene creed itself. It may not seem serious but these things have to do with some of the essential doctrines of Christian faith.

  • I agree that there should be grace in non-essentials. But we’re not talking about non-essentials here. If only we were, if only we were talking about how many times we should do communion each month, or whether or not we should use drums in the service, or if the pews/chairs should be padded or hard-backed.

    Paul also said to kick the sexually immoral man out of the Corinthian church. Apparently he viewed some things as essential that you don’t. The common ground is that I try to say only what the Bible says and no less and no more. You are trying to say a whole lot less than the Bible actually says. You can’t silence it just because you don’t like what it says. As Kathy Ireland (of all people) once said, that is the real arrogance: ignoring Scriptures that you don’t want to see.

  • Joey

    Wow, Marusha. Wow. I am astonished that you honestly believe that the points you just made represent emergent Christians.

    I wouldn’t deny that Christ died on a cross for my sins, and to conquer death. I just don’t equate that with Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Those are not one in the same.

    I absolutely affirm a judgment as well. Of course, my understanding of God’s judgment is most fully realized in the cross – an act of sacrifice and mercy. Judgment has as much to do with making things right, as it does to do with retribution (I would argue it has more to do with making things right but see room for wiggle).

    The belief that we must work here on earth to bring about the Kingdom is not liberal. I’m offended that you would suggest that it is. It’s roots are deeply historical (Paul and James believed this). Some believe a post-millenial sort of hope that the Kingdom will be instilled on earth. Other’s believe that we participate in the coming Kingdom even as we wait for its full realization through Jesus. None of this is liberal. All of this has historical precedent, and is IMHO the most biblical understanding of the Kingdom.

    Please don’t build straw men.

  • “I’d rather appeal to them than YOUR subjective interpretation of Paul.”

    It is YOUR subjective opinion that I’m wrong. Do you see how self-refuting your argument is by appealing to this relativism? I recognize that I bring biases to the Scriptures, we all do. That doesn’t mean that truth is unknowable or that everyone is right.

    Marusha has some good comments, though I’m guessing Emergents would spin all three points to say that they just believe them to mean something different than the original creators of those creeds meant, but they still believe in them.

    Regarding penal substitution, it’s a fallacy to say that the early church didn’t believe in it. I’ve read quite a few quotes on the atonement from the early fathers and while they may have not CALLED it penal substitution, it was clearly in view. Perhaps the idea has been massaged and clarified over the years, but it’s always been in view ever since Paul wrote Romans (and Tony admitted that last part).

  • Joey, Jesus is referred to as the Passover Lamb and the Scapegoat. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the Jewish traditions in the Old Testament, but, in short, those were the sacrificial animals that took the sins of the people on themselves and paid the price that the people couldn’t pay. The entire Bible builds on this principle, that is why the whole Old Testament was pointing to Christ (which Jesus himself said).

  • Marusha

    Joey, if you don’t believe in penal substitutionary atonement, then I’m afraid that you don’t believe at all. Jesus died in my place. He is the perfect God/Man who was able to be the acceptable sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God. Humanity is utterly ruined by sin and we have the wrath of God pointed at us. The only way to be saved is by repentance and faith in the atonement.

    Do you believe there is a final judgment day? There will be one, not just today. I am aware that emergents believe it is merely making things right but there is a hell and people will go there because of their sin. This is why penal substitutionary atonement is crucial.

    Mankind cannot bring God’s kingdom to earth. Only God can. God populates His kingdom through the proclamation of His gospel. This present earth will be destroyed and He will make a new one.

  • Korey

    I’m with iMonk (http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/recommendation-and-review-pierced-for-our-transgressions-by-steve-jeffery-michael-ovey-and-andrew-sach/comment-page-1#comment-172309). If that makes me non-Christian according to you then oh well I guess. I lament the impossibility of fellowship with others I deem Christian.

  • rick


    You wrote – “Jesus is referred to as the Passover Lamb and the Scapegoat. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the Jewish traditions in the Old Testament, but, in short, those were the sacrificial animals that took the sins of the people on themselves and paid the price that the people couldn’t pay.”

    I invite you to study the difference between Passover and the Day of Atonement. These are two incredibly significant and symbolic days in the history of Israel and for Jews to this day. Passover is indeed a ritual remembering of the “deliverance” or salvation of the people of Israel. However, it is not deliverance from sin (at least their own) – it is deliverance from literal slavery to the Egyptians. If the only point of Jesus’ death was that he was our scapegoat/atoning sacrifice, then it would have made much more sense for him to die several months later on the Day of Atonement.

    Marusha – you wrote, “Joey, if you don’t believe in penal substitutionary atonement, then I’m afraid that you don’t believe at all.”

    Please be cautious about judging others’ beliefs. Millions of Christians throughout history have lived and died and not reduced the entirety of the story of the gospel to PSA.

  • Marusha

    C’mon you guys! What is it exactly about the Penal Substitutionary Atonement that you disagree with? If it wasn’t PSA, then what was it?

  • “Millions of Christians throughout history have lived and died and not reduced the entirety of the story of the gospel to PSA.”

    It’s comments like this one which show that Emergents may not really care to understand the other side and be charitable to us. No one has ever said that the entirety of the gospel can be reduced to PSA. That’s a joke. Of course the Gospel includes way more than just that. Christus Victor, ransom theory, Christus Examplar, instituting the Kingdom of God here on earth, and so on… all valid parts of the atonement. But the cog that holds them all together is PSA, particularly since it is the one that speaks most directly to HOW one comes to find forgiveness, know Christ, and share in His glory forever. Exemplar doesn’t achieve that. Victor doesn’t achieve that. Ransom theory, nope. “Social justice” (whatever that term means) doesn’t get anyone eternal life. It merely shows them the power of God.

    Jesus’ miracles were primarily to show that He had power, real power, stuff that you couldn’t just make up. That gave him credibility when he claimed that not only did he have power to heal physical ills, he could also heal the most important ill of all: our spiritual sickness. The healing he offers in this temporal world is merely a peep into what he offers in the life to come. This life will entirely fade away, but the new life in the new creation will last forever (for those who are welcomed into the presence of the Lamb). For those who are rejected because they rejected God, hell awaits.

  • Marusha, I believe it is because they don’t like the idea that there are sins that need to be paid for. They believe God can be merely the justifier but not just. They don’t think mankind is inherently sinful and completely evil like the Bible says. We’re all just a little lost and can all come to him in OUR own way. To admit that there are sins that must be paid for by the blood of Jesus is to admit that those who don’t put their trust in Christ are not under His blood and still face the wrath of God.

    It all comes back to having a man-centered view of God instead of a Biblical God-centered view. God is here for our needs and to fulfill us, rather than we are here to glorify Him and praise Him for eternity. If the former is true, then it makes sense that God wouldn’t send anyone to hell or choose some for glory and some for destruction. Cause that doesn’t care for our needs or put us as preeminent. All of the Emergent views stem from this underlying pre-supposition about the nature of man and our relation to God. If, on the other hand, men are mere ants and there are more important things going on than making sure people are coddled (like, say, the eternal glorification of a Good and Perfect God), and if many of those ants have rejected that great God over and over, even though he killed himself rather than step on one of them needlessly, then it makes sense that God would send some to eternal suffering so that His Name might be glorified. Christ died to save us, yes. But I wonder if the primary big-picture reason for His death wasn’t to make a mockery of Satan and his evil claim that he was better at being god than the true God was. Colossians 2 says almost this exact thing. Now, that doesn’t change the fact that PSA is still the most important aspect of the atonement for US. Christus Victor may have been the overarching reason for God’s plan of salvation, but that doesn’t really speak to our personal need for forgiveness and repentance.

    Any Emergents willing to dialogue a little about this topic? I’m interested in finding out where your presuppositions lie.

  • Joey

    I believe in sin. I also believe in restoration. I even believe in atonement (it is Bible after all). I just don’t accept that PSA is somehow the most biblical explanation of all of those things.

    In fact, the support for it (which you’ve already cited) is well and good but it is partial at best. There is so much more going on in scripture, and even in our understanding of the words used, for me to come to the conclusion that PSA the most full understanding. I actually find it to be a very helpful doctrine. Just not very full. Christus Victor fits much better into the narrative (meta and otherwise) of scripture.

    I’m not getting into an exegetical debate. There have been plenty of webversations centered around this issue that you can look for to see good and biblical engagement on this topic by folks who feel the same way I do about PSA (that it has merit but is not THE explanation). Try Jesus Creed for a few of those.

    Also, as I’ve studied scripture (which I happen to do daily) I’ve learned that I know a lot less than I thought I did. I used to assume that the Bible was quite clear on issues of homosexuality, for instance. But as I’ve studied I’ve found quite a few weaknesses in the ability of English to render good and proper translations. As a result, words like “homosexual” have little (actually no) grounding in Greek. It just wasn’t a word they even had a category for. Aresnokoites is the word that gets translated that way. Even the most conservative scholars admit that we don’t actually know the specific meaning of this word. It is also clear that there were no words in Greek to speak about sexual orientation. Of course, the most clear passages aren’t around orientation, but around activity. That is for another conversation though. I say all of this so that I can beg you, don’t assume that the people on here that disagree with you haven’t read their Bibles. We do. We love scripture. We just don’t trust that we have perfect eyes to see, the same way that you seem to believe about yourself and your own ability to interpret.

  • rick

    Darius and Marusha –

    You seem to think that there is a set group of people who all agree on a set of propositional beliefs that represent the “Emergent/ing Church.” You also seem to think that everyone who reads or comments on this blog is within each of those categories. I’m not sure that’s accurate.

    You also seem to take a very defensive (sometimes ‘offensive’) posture. I have never said anything uncharitable to either of you and have been as intentional as possible to read your comments and questions with an open mind. I actually wrote four drafts of my comment to make sure it was as charitable as possible.

    Please re-read my comment above. I did not ridicule or accuse. And yet I am accused – “It’s comments like this one which show that Emergents may not really care to understand the other side and be charitable to us.”

    I’ve actually invested two hours of my life today in reading the last several posts and subsequent comments on this blog. I have been struck by the insensitivity on both sides (incidentally, I think it’s most often unproductive when the people of God have drawn up “sides”). I think this discussion between Christians saddens the heart of God.

  • rick

    Joey mentioned the discussion on this topic at Jesus Creed. I actually was sharing the following post with my wife last night. Here’s what Scot McKnight wrote:

    “Many readers of the Bible read the whole Bible through the lens of the gospel they believe and this is what that gospel looks like:

    God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
    But you have a sin problem that separates you from God.
    The good news is that Jesus came to die for your sins.
    If you accept Jesus’ death, you can be reconnected to God.
    Those who are reconnected to God will live in heaven with God.

    Every line of that statement is more or less true. It is the sequencing of those lines, the “story” of that gospel if you will, that concerns me and that turns Jesus’ message of the kingdom into a blue parakeet. And it is not only the sequencing, it is the omitting of major themes in the Bible that concerns me. What most shocks the one who reads the Bible as Story, where the focus is overwhelmingly on God forming a covenant community, is that this outline of the gospel above does two things: it eliminates community and it turns the entire gospel into a “me and God” or “God and me” gospel. Who needs a church if this is the gospel? (Answer: no one.) What becomes of the church for this gospel? (Answer: an organization for those who want to do that sort of thing.) While every line in this gospel is more or less true, what concerns many of us today is that this gospel makes the church unimportant.

    I believe this gospel can deconstruct, is deconstructing, and will deconstruct the church if we don’t change it now. Our churches are filled with Christians who don’t give a rip about church life and we have a young generation who, in some cases, care so much about the Church they can’t attend a local church because too many local churches are shaped too much by the gospel I outlined above. To be truthful, the gospel above is a distortion of Romans. More and more of us, because we are reading the Bible as Story, are seeing the centrality of the church in God’s plan and the gospel being preached too often is out of touch with the Bible’s Story.

    Yes, Jesus said something like every one of those lines though he never packaged them quite like that. (Nor did Paul in Romans, to be honest.) Is this the gospel? Yes, this gospel is right. The problem is that it isn’t right enough. I can give a bundle of problems with this packaging of the gospel, but it all comes down to one big problem: this gospel above isn’t the Bible’s Story. It is like taking five stars from the sky, knocking them out of their orbits and solar location, and lining them up like ducks in a row and then saying, “Here’s our starry sky!” The only way to understand stars is to learn their location and their history and their connections and let each star shine in its place in the sky – and the only way to read the Bible is is from front to back. It doesn’t make sense if we don’t read the whole thing and to see how each chapter relates to the whole Story. Once we do we come to terms with the gospel that emerges from the Bible’s Story.

    If reading the Bible as Story teaches us anything, and we need to emphasize this one more time, it teaches us that God’s work in this world is to form communities that visibly demonstrate the power of God at work in this world.”


  • Rick, you accused us of reducing the entirety of the Gospel to PSA. That’s not charitable or accurate. It’s not helpful to put words in our mouths, particularly after we made it clear on several occasions that we would disagree with those words. Otherwise, yes, the rest of your comment was fine.

  • That’s fine, Rick, if you’re merely pointing out that a strict focus on PSA isn’t the full story and that even though PSA is true, there is more going on in the Gospel. That’s fine, and I think we would agree. The trouble some of us are having is that the leaders of the Emergent movement, like Tony Jones and Pagitt, don’t agree with you. They have completely REJECTED PSA, not just said it’s incomplete. If you don’t believe me, look up Tony’s posts from Easter time of 2009. He rejects it out of hand, even while admitting that it is laid out in Romans.

  • rick

    With all due respect Darius, Marusha told another Christian that if they didn’t believe PSA then they didn’t believe at all. I do not wish to be uncharitable, but I also have seen numerous comments where you have not only questioned someone’s faith, but have declared that they are outside the body of Christ and Kingdom of God.

    Let me be clear, I am not attacking you here (or earlier). However, I implore you to be cautious about the words and tone you use. Please be cautious about making judgements about the faith of others whom you do not know.

  • Joey

    Tony’s exact words:

    One thing that won’t surprise anyone who knows about these things:
    John Piper basically equates a penal substitutionary understanding of
    the atonement with the gospel. I am unwilling to do that. I don’t
    disparage that theory of the atonement (see my recent endorsement on
    the back of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Stott’s The Cross of Christ),
    but I believe the birth/death/resurrection of Jesus Christ to be the
    pivot point of cosmic history. Thus, I do not think that one
    theory interpreting that event to be sufficient. Every theory of the
    atonement is 1) human, and 2) bound to a context. The penal
    substitution — while there are seeds of it in Pauline writings — is
    tied to the development of the Western legal mind. Nor am I willing to
    condemn the billions of
    faithful Christians who have lived and died in the past two millennia
    with alternate understandings of the atonement (here see Gustav Aulen, Christus Victor).

  • rick

    Joey – that is Tony’s “rejection” of PSA?

    Tony actually says, “I don’t disparage that theory of atonement.”

    Darius, you wrote – “They have completely REJECTED PSA, not just said it’s incomplete.”

    Again, with all due respect, please help me understand your previous statements.

  • Joey

    That is what Tony wrote (well excerpted) two Easters ago. Here is the post:


  • rick

    Joey – Thanks for the reference. I think this helps keep our discussion honest and on track.

    TonyJ Blog post title – Do I Deny Penal Substitutionary Atonement

    First line of post: “No. I simply deny it pride of place.”

    Last line of post: “In other words, PSA is one theory of the atonement. Beneficial, but not exclusive. Not even first among equals.”

  • Joey is wrong, that’s only what Tony said to backtrack when he got rightly excoriated by Christians all over the world. This is what Tony originally said: “Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God’s wrath burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.”

  • As you can see, Tony was lying when he said he doesn’t disparage the PSA theory. “neither intellectually compelling, spirtually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.”

    Thankfully, people saw through him and called him out in the comment thread of that post Joey gave you.

  • Eric

    This entire conversation is painful. For me its an adventure in missing the point.

    The method is the message…


  • Marusha

    What I am saying is that if you do not believe that you are sinful and in need of salvation, you are not saved.

    If you do not believe in the Christ who is totally man and totally God, you are not saved.

    If you do not believe that He was the acceptable sacrifice who died on the cross and rose again, you are not saved.

    If you do not repent and put your trust in Christ, you are not saved.

    This may offend you, but I am more interested in the truth. The truth offends and hurts sometimes. It still offends and hurts me but I must bow.

    Please do not misunderstand me. Please do not try and read between the lines. Please do not add to what I say and tell me what I said. Please do not twist my words.

  • Jim W

    Marusha, well said. Your last paragraph says it all, though. That is what emergents do-misunderstand, twist, read between the lines, tell you what you said, and add to your words. Shake the dust from your sandals-you and Darius. They have been told the truth, it’s now in God’s ballpark to convict them.

  • nathan


    I would gently suggest that the qualifier “I find that…” as key.

    When I read that original post back then I took it as Tony’s personal description of his experience/view. Then again, I actually have sat across from Tony on multiple occasions…so this didn’t strike me as the wholesale carnage that you seem to feel it was.

    I’m glad he clarified too…but I don’t see that as back pedaling.

    clarifying what I mean when there’s been a misunderstanding between me and my wife requires that my wife be gracious and charitable and allow me to define me, not tell me who i really am and what I really think.

    That, to me, is a basic relational/communication skill for life with everyone.

  • nathan

    @Jim W.

    Respectfully, the “all emergents do…” claim is pretty breathtaking.
    I’ve been around the “emergents” for a long time and I’ve yet to see this be a group that is cohesive in their views/tactics, etc.

    Just like when Marusha claimed they are all into liberation theology…

    not so, not so… 🙂

    It’s when these kinds of claims get leveled in the heat of argument that people just shut down and want to withdraw or retaliate.

    Those kind of claims also communicate to people that it seems some of you would rather traffic in broad caricatures and not actually engage people with who they really are.

  • Marusha

    Okay, to be fair, I really meant that emergent leaders are into liberation theology. I didn’t say that every single emergent believes in it. But do you Nathan?

  • Korey

    Everything you included in your requirements for salvation are either explicitly or implicitly in the Nicene Creed. Why must you recast the creedal statements of Christian identity?

  • Nathan, now you understand how we evangelicals feel when the Emergent leaders write book after book misrepresenting the traditional orthodox Christian positions and characterizing us as a bunch of idiots who haven’t become enlightened enough to know that truth is unknowable. Tony has spent his life and livelihood attacking the traditional evangelical church. So it seems a bit odd to attack someone and then ask why we can’t all get along like brothers. I attended Tony’s church, Solomon’s Porch, once, and it was actually quite surprising how much time was spent as a protest against traditional churches. It was a common theme throughout most of the service.

  • JFC, Tony. I take back my original vote. Please make it stop…

  • rick

    Darius – I don’t think that Truth is unknowable. However, I do have less certainty than you that I have everything figured out. When I was younger, I used to think I knew all the answers and would try to argue people into submission. However, I’ve come to the realization that some things aren’t as black and white as I had previously thought. Although I’m sure I still live with far too much pride, I try to live with a hermeneutic of humility.

    I wish you well. Grace and Peace to you…

  • Joe L.

    Wow. Two days and still going at it. Immensely, completely, 100% off-topic, and completely driven into defending or debating one specific version of the Gospel, the one that Darius and Marusha makes clear we must either accept in the same manner as they do, or we accept none at all.

    Darius endlessly involved, post after post, after being specifically asked to refrain. Everybody tiptoeing and measuring every word so that no “misunderstanding” occurs. Wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of the trolls…that wouldn’t be Christ-like.

    Good Lord, if Christ handled things this way, all the Gospels would consist of would be long speeches from the Pharisees and Sadducees about how screwed up Jesus and his followers were, with occasional interjections from Jesus.

    Jesus: “But, wait, I have this list of people that I think are blessed that I wanted to share.”

    Pharisees: “First explain whether the Song of Solomon was erotic literature or a metaphor for Israel’s relationship with God.”

    Jesus: “Well, it was both…”

    Pharisee: “WRONG! HERETIC!” (Speech continues endlessly, shutting down all other discussion)

    Now a reading from the Book of the Sadducees, Chapter 315, verses 214-1315.

    I play video games. In leetspeak, Darius and crew has completely freaking PWNED this place. (Look it up if you need to.)

    It is simply impossible to have an on-topic discussion, between people who refrain from calling one another’s Christian profession into doubt, regardless of differences in viewpoint, while this circumstance exists.

    All you people voting for Darius to remain, for this frontier to remain lawless…is this honestly the best you think can be done? Is this really what you think things should look like here? “Let’s discuss civility in conversation and whether someone is violating those concepts” has now completely morphed into “People who don’t accept PSA as the overwhelming and central element of the Gospel are heretics and deny Christ?”

    It’s odd…all people like Darius and Marusha profess to desire is to lead me closer to Christ, and yet the more they twist this place to their whims, the better Buddhism looks. Maybe the Sufis have decent moderation on their blogs…

  • rick

    I will go on record that I love the discussions at iMonk and Jesus Creed. There is certainly disagreement, but the discussions definitely have a different feel.

  • nathan


    nope. but does that really matter…?

    I ask because “liberation theology” itself is not some monolith either and could be better described as a constellation of “theologies”–much like most of theology under various headings.

    It would require a lot of study to be able to, with integrity, claim that Liberation Theology was some kind of monolith to be handily dismissed.

    All I know is that the Liberation theology that I’ve read has raised some interesting critiques, but I don’t sign on to the particular readers I’ve been exposed to…

    further, I don’t think that Liberation theologies, in themselves, represent some kind of threat to me or my faith.

    Just like I don’t view the Reformed theologies as a threat…despite that fact that it’s clear there are some “reformed theologians” that would love it if their views became the dominant view within evangelicalism… just say’n, cuz I don’t confuse strength of opinion and force of argument/conviction for a personal threat/attack.

  • nathan


    the last line of my last comment is pertinent to how I would answer you…

    I’ve been around the public discussions of the emergent critique of evangelicalism since the beginning.

    the claim that certain voices are basically saying people are “idiots” for believing the way you do is baseless: Force of argument is not a personal attack. Disagreement is not personal attack.

    And I would also gently suggest that even if such “derision” and “attack” was what I witnessed (and it wasn’t), it’s still incumbent on those who claim the name of Christ to take the high road. If we can’t, then it’s better to withdraw and move on. Not passive-aggressively lob bombs from a distance even…

    for example, I don’t agree with Mark Dever on much, but there’s a video circulating online where he’s in discussion with two other guys that are basically rude in their convo with him. Constantly cutting him off, etc. etc., but he presses on and asks questions, unflappable and gracious.

    That’s what I want to be like and what I’d encourage people toward.
    It’s hard, but it’s something everyone can learn about.

  • nathan

    @Joe L.

    I just died laughing…

    This thread has actually incorporated a reference to leetspeak.

    you’re awesome. seriously.

  • Darren

    Um, can we call a truce, please? This is pretty useless conversation. Darius and Marusha are quite sure the grand majority of us are heretics. So what? They have a pretty low threshold for what makes one a heretic, thus most of Christendom from its inception to now would probably not make the cut. However, unlike those who created the term and stood as gatekeepers in Christendom’s times past – these guys have absolutely NO POWER to do anything about it.

    The one good thing about being a gay Christian out as long as I have been, is that I became a heretic long ago. And guess what? I’m still a Christian, and I still love Jesus, and I still have a personal relationship with him. Darius and Marusha can play Protestant Pope all they want – but how does that stop YOU from serving Jesus?

    Let’s call a truce and move on. If that means you gotta be a heretic, take that mantle with pride. Because apparently, all it means to some folks is “disagreeing with the religious status quo, as demonstrated by an inability to check off X, Y, and Z.” Thus, you join a great company of folks (including Jesus) 🙂

  • Eric

    UNSUBSCRIBE !!!!!!!!!

  • Joe L.

    Nathan, what can I say? Darius and Marusha are clearly members of a tanking class that has an unresistable group taunt on a five-second cooldown. They just spam it repeatedly, and build up so much aggro that no one can pull anything off them. The class design is clearly unbalanced, since it makes it impossible for any other class to effectively play their role. Since the boss mob doesn’t seem to possess enough DPS to simply burn them down, they just stand there, taunting everything around them every five seconds and the fight goes on forever.

    I’ve advised the healers to just stop healing them, but they all just keep spamming their “Feed Troll” button, so Darius and crew never go down.

    I’m recommending that the game master should add some crowd control features that might let us at least lock them down so we can move on to more interesting fights, but for some weird reason he decided to zone in to the instance, throw a fireball, and then zone out again to go burn down small flying critters (that aren’t even worth experience) in Minnesota. Maybe he’s trying out that “Kill boars to level 80” strategy from South Park?

    All I can say is that trying to level an Emergent character is an immense grind, and I can see why many people just give up and go back to playing World of Falwell, or just quit playing altogether.

    Let’s hope Tony fixes it in the next expansion pack, “The Wrath of Rob Bell”.

  • Joe L: I’m way too unhip to get all those references, but I get enough to know that was damn clever and damn funny!
    Oh shit, I swore! Now I’m not a Christian!
    Shit! I did it again!
    I can’t stop doing it! Oh well. Think they’ll let me bring a fan with into Hell? I hate being hot.

  • Marusha

    I don’t recall using the word hereitc. I don’t even have a low threshold for classifying someone as one. If someone doesn’t believe the essential biblical doctrines of faith, then they don’t possess a saving faith.

    The essentials are things that we can be certain about. this is what belief and faith is. If we say that we cannot be certain about these things then that is unbelief. Do you see what I mean? I’m not trying to win some argument or be the debating star, I really am concerned about communicating these things in a plain way. I could try to get into a fallacy war with some of you and it would be a horrible waste of time and would obliterate the message. I’m not interested in that, I’m more interested in trying to see if any of you are willing to look at the essentials and find out what they really mean to you.

    In very general terms, the essentials are the nature and work of God who is One God in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The atonement, the nature of man, and the Bible.

    I know this stream has morphed into some crazy thing but if someone wanted to engage these things with me, maybe we can find some other avenue to communicate or we can just keep doing this. I don’t know, I’m not the boss.

  • Darren

    Sorry, Marusha. Didn’t mean to misquote you on that. See my previous note, and use the word “unbeliever” or “unorthodox” wherever I mentioned heretic, and it’ll carry the same drift while at the same time being more true to the specific words you’ve used. Better?

  • Marusha

    Darren, I don’t even care about that. I guess I must have cared a little to type that before. Sorry about that. I care more about an honest dialogue about faith. I realize that this is probably the wrong place to do it though and its like I’m on borrowed time.

    It truly is not about a checklist. I can see how it may look like that with my feeble communication, but I wish you could see how truly important this is for faith. It’s not about jumping through hoops, it’s a matter of salvation, of walking down that narrow road that so few find. If you have found it, then I rejoice with you. If not, would you allow me to help you find it? Oh man, it’s so hard not to seem condescending! I wish I could speak to you face to face.

  • Tomas

    Why is it when there are 194 comments, it’s impossible to read them in consecutive order?? When I hit “previous comments,” it takes me to a new number 1. Help!! Makes it difficult to follow when one cannot access them all in one place, in order.