Monday, November 21, 2005

National Youth Workers Convention

I had an interesting, and somewhat disheartening, experience at the Saturday night "Late Night Theology Discussion." I was asked, in effect, to defend things that I didn't say. That is, a well-meaning woman said, in effect, "In the seminar this morning, you didn't say that you're a realtivist and a universalist, but that's what I heard."

When I declared that I would not defend my own non-declarations, a guy chimed in with, "Yeah, that's what I heard you saying, too, even though you didn't really say it."

Then I got a little more ornery, and I asked why in the world people would impute statements to me that they admit I have not said.

At that point, a couple people shouted from the back, "Way to go, Tony. We love what you're doing. Keep it up!" I said, "Listen, I'm not trying to be a martyr here, I just want to know why is pinning me down so important? Why do you have such a passion to categorize me?"

About then, another guy spoke up: "OK, then why don't you just put the argument to rest and make a definitive statement about what Emergent believes about absolute truth."

I replied, "Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a non-sensical question."


The rest of the convention was good, but I have the distinct impression that lots of people are mad at me.


Blogger Andrew Seely said...

Wish I could have been there. Sorry to hear it was a tough crowd.

Let me affirm that I'm glad to say that your leadership and selflessness will be a great asset as we venture further along our desire to understand God in everyday.

Keep challenging people to reach for the Big and wonderful and mysterious God that sits just beyond comprehension.

chasing christ
Andrew Seely

5:22 AM  
Blogger Mike said...


There are many people who support you. We know it's a lot for you to shoulder this load.

I don't think some truly understand that we don't have to catergorize EVERYTHING to make sense of it. Sometimes it's frustrating when you feel like you have to explain for the 500th time the philosophies and lenses behind absolute truth. I can't stop thinking of Rob Bell's methaphor in Velvet Elvis when he mentioned that to some Christianity is like a brick wall, you find yourself always defending the wall when one brick is threatened, instead of a trampoline, which you invite people to jump on with you. It has springs which hold that mat there, but it flexes and is not threatened when you challenge it.

There are so many who appreciate your have helped me know that I am not alone out here with what I'm thinking about and through about the Kingdom of God.

I think people will continually be frustrated with Emergent b/c they do not "define" everything they believe. That whole idea is very infuriating to many Christians. I am reminded of words that Jesus said in John 8, "You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." If I'm reading correctly, it sounds like you don't have to have a statement about EVERYTHING to follow Jesus, and even suggests that in walking in-tune with living the Kingdom of God-reality here and now is an invitation to discover what the "truth" really is.

Keep pressing on brother, God uses you to bring much healing to many brothers and sisters around the world.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Aj Schwanz said...

Recently I've found myself wanting to be a voice like George Fox: what direction! What leadership! What a clear vision from God!

Except then I finally remember that he spent a great deal of his time articulating those prophetic words in prison because his contemporaries didn't understand him or found his words to be a threat. If people were happy and warm and fuzzy, you probably wouldn't be doing the work God's called you to (God doesn't seem to be a Hallmark kind of God).

I feel like an "obnoxious" voice in my worship gathering but have been blessed to find folks who see the hand of God in my life and voice their belief that I'm on the right path - it seems God's placed a group like that in your life. What is God's will for me? Currently, to be a "punk": sometimes it really sucks, but sometimes it's actually kind of fun. :)

7:42 AM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

wow ... so you had a much easier time in Singapore huh? Take care bro!

8:37 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Tony, don't sweat it. You have the majority support.

It was a question of what so they could decide if they are "in or out," and we both know those categories don't work for us.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Bill Arnold said...

I can't imagine how hard it is to be patient with people like that because I don't pretend to be in your shoes. I think a little non-confrontational clarification might go a long way in a situation like that. Perhaps I should say MIGHT in all caps.

I'm thinking you probably know even better than they do why they're asking the questions they're asking. In some sense, and I really don't want to annoy you by saying this, but it seems like you may be dodging the questions they're trying to ask.

I guess I'm wondering how Emergent can help people to understand its "non-defining" nature in a way that causes less of a knee-jerk reaction.

Could you have answered the objections that were raised with a simple restatement of what you said earlier that day?

Again, I know I'm not in your shoes, so this kind of thing is probably not as easy as it sounds.

10:20 AM  
Blogger PA said...

Why not just answer the question directly?

I mean, I like your writing and everything, some of the things you've done have changed how I do ministry... and how I express my faith.

But what would be wrong with answering questions like that? At least they had the good sense to follow Jesus' example of dealing with things and ask you directly instead of talking behind your back.

So, I don't see the harm in answering a question.

11:08 AM  
Blogger St.Phransus said...

ahhh just tell em we believe wholeheartedly in "absolute truth" as long as it is relative to the Christian community. :)


11:43 AM  
Blogger the POSTER said...

I think … yes I do think and I process slower than the rest … but at the NYWC people are looking for things they can put in a box and bring it home with a red ribbon on it. Then unpack it and fit it into there ministry.

Just like looking for products, it is a ton easier to put people/movements into boxes and say, “this is not new” this Emergent thing. We asked the same questions back in the 70’s as these emergent folks are asking now. Are they the same questions or are the answers different?

NYWC and YS use to be a real dangerous place to hang out. One of the old timers told me that people use to ask him if he associated himself with YS folks. When he said, “Yes” they would cancel his speaking engagement with them. Emergent is bringing that danger back to the YS.

Because people need to be spoon feed, Tony and the other folks need to state clearly that YES their theology (if I am stating this correctly) is birthed from community. But in each community there is the Word of God, different theological books (not just from one theological camp of thought) and context of community itself.

BTW – Everyone should get Doug’s CD from the Convestion!


1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...I have the distinct impression that lots of people are mad at me."

Two possible responses:

a) Get used to it.
b) Even more people don't have a clue who you are. ;-)

2:52 PM  
Blogger gavin richardson said...

i'm not one that is mad at you, i was actually grateful for your kindness in showing me around. too bad some can't go without categorizing

6:04 PM  
Anonymous wezlo said...

Tony, I wish I got it. I really do, but I don't. Just once I'd love to just turn the tables on people and say, "What's your statment on absolute truth, huh?"

I'm just tired of Christians being pissed at each other and tearing each other apart for phrases they might hear or read, but in all likelyhood don't really understand. It seems that all people need to know is that a Christian big-wig "this person said..." - and because people want to be connected to the bigwig they parrot the stuff out and beat up anyone who doesn't do likewise.

I thought we were supposed to be MAKING disciples, not BUTCHERING them.


6:32 PM  
Blogger Jason said...


I really don't know you and you don't know me but I just had to respond to your incident...


I had to say that to keep from crying.

~Jason Pauli

P.S. It just occurred to me how ironic it is these people are also/probably so wrapped in absolute truth.

7:00 PM  
Blogger EL MOL said...

viva tony!

that is idiotic

7:52 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Hi Tony,

I am one of the Southern Seminary students who spoke with you briefly after the late night. I appreciated my time with you.

For what it's worth, I think it's commendable that the lady ASKED you to respond to what she heard that someone felt like you implied, rather than simply returning home to _______ and propagating the heretical beliefs that someone told her that you implied without saying.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Existential Punk said...

Tony, so sorry you went through this, but i appreciated your ornerynous (sp?)! Great story about the dinner party. I guess this is par for the course and something we all need to be reminded of because we will all probably face stuff like this. Hopefully it leads us to grow and mature. You are doing a great job!

8:54 PM  
Blogger Ken Archer said...

The difficulty with holding a nuanced position is that, whenever someone asks if you're a leper, only the leper asks the questioner to define leprosy.

Persecution should be a given, it should be unsurprising. This is because any nuanced position is threatening to people, whether in theology or philosophy. 95% of being a public intellectual lies in what you do about the persecution. Complaining about it is not the way to go and serves no one. Rather, learning how to teach people who want to persecute you is the challenge that makes someone a public intellectual rather than a cloistered academic.

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Eric G. said...

Maybe I'm confused. Emergent is like a dinner party with your neighbors? During a Late Night Theology Discussion? At a National Youth Workers Convention?

Your response was clever, and it does draw attention away from the posed question, focusing it on the audacity of the person asking it. Maybe those curious about such things should find another forum to ask their questions.

If someone thinks you are a relativist or universalist because of something you said, directly or indirectly, why wouldn't you want to clarify for them? Clarifying questions and corresponding responses seem like a normal part of a conversation that seeks to understand.

Obviously I wasn't there, and I don't know the motive of those asking the questions, and maybe you do, but for those really curious, why not answer their questions?

7:19 AM  
Blogger tony said...

Because, Eric, as I see it, YS does not hire me to come to the NYWC and tell people what to believe, or even what I believe. They hire me come and teach people how to reason theologically.

Ken, that's what I'm trying to do: to help people to reason theologically. Answering questions posed to trap me would chill out robust theological dialogue. And talking openly about my experience on my blog is not, I don't think, acting defensively or complaining. If it is, forgive me.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Ken Archer said...

I really like your phrase - "reason theologically". I completely share that mission with you and concur that sharing your true opinions on theological questions may not always help people to reason theologically.

So, how do you get people who seem bent on persecuting you to reason theologically? What's the best way to respond to people like that? I don't think answering or not answering such questions are the only two options. (I don't think you think that either.)

(I hope my comments don't come off as dismissive. It seemed from your post that the conversation didn't go well in your opinion, and the conversation you had is, I think, the types of conversation many of us have with other Christians. And I would like to respond better in such situations.)

8:08 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Don't know if you remember me, met you on the elevator saturday afternoon. What I want to thank you for is the drive you have for individuals like me to not simply take what people in emergent are saying because it sounds cool or it's hip, but to really think through theologically what we are saying. You are doing a great job. Keep it up!


8:20 AM  
Anonymous Eric G. said...

That makes perfect sense, thanks for clarifying. It seems that it will be a continual challenge to help people understand that you're there to help them to reason theologically and not to qualify or defend the position of whatever group you may also belong to (even in an outside context).

Still, it seems like some are confused about things that people associated with Emergent say that seem to relate to unversalism or relativism. Does anyone here know of a book or other resource that can help those with questions understand the issues that they're asking about?


8:38 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...


So many Christians are terribly afraid to "align" themselves with Emergent, if it will bite them down the road.

It reminds me of junior high in so many ways. We didn't want to be friends with the new kid until someone cooler than ourselves declared them to be "in" or not.

Christians fear that supporting Emergent, or even considering the dialogue, could tarnish their reputation down the road.

At Glorieta, I had the priviledge of experiencing community like I rarely have in my lifetime. Emergent is so much more than doctrine on positions. Thank you for continuing to lead in such a way that will never hinder that freedom in community.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous John Musick said...

I think that too often people want you to confirm what they already think or more appropriately - what they've alread been taught. That way they don't have to do the homework or go through the wrestling of figuring it out themselves. If you do not respond according to their presupposed bias, well you are a heretic and can be easily written off and dismissed. If you respond in like kind to what they have accepted to be as true, well then you are one of them and they don't have to filter and test what you say.

The problem with the questions that were asked is that it would take 10 conversations just to get to the bottom of their point, 10 conversations to deconstruct their point, 10 conversations to explain your point and 10 conversations to defend it. All of this is fine, if your committed to the conversation. But if you're just committed to Q&A soundbites or to conversation the lenth of an elevator ride, your going to end up unsatisfied and maybe even angry.

Just as Lewis stated that the Lion isn't Safe...but he is good. Understanding God is's just not easy.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the conference and wasn't near as upset with your comments, or lack of them as this case seems to be, than with your labeling of the entire group in your forum with Duffy. In it you called everyone semi-Pelagian, and when asked to explain your reply was, "Google it!" Are you kidding me? How arrogant to label the whole crowd as heretical and then not even explain yourself. But it seems as though you will have plenty of people on your blog to pat you on the back so I'm sure you'll recover.


1:24 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Mateo -

Tony doesn't need me to defend him, he can do that quite well, but Tony labeling everyone as "semi-pelagian" is not labeling everyone a heretic.

According to Shirley Guthrie semi-pelagianism is a moderate form of pelagianism that seeks to preserve a more biblical understanding of our sin and God's grace. Simply put, "Salvation is by God's race alone, available to all who sincerely ask for it and want it".
(Christian Doctrine Revised Edition, Pg 127-128).

That to me seems like a fairly apt description of what is taught by quote a few people.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Rhett Smith said...


Great story. Seems like a lot of people aren't comfortable living with unknowns, or mystery. But this is why I like Emergent. Doesn't feel like it has to have an answer for everything...thank God.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous trevor Debenning said...

1. Thanks for "conversing" with Duffy Robbins. I felt that you had a room full of disconnected southern modernists praying against you. Was it just me or could you taste the frustration?
2. "Dispensational eschatology is borderline heretical" was easily the highlight of my convention experience.
3. "Just" IS a candle snuffing word.
4. Can I get the powerpoint from the "what in the world is postmoderism?" seminar.
5. Thanks for stepping into a world of enormous pressure and killin it.

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Hey Tony, I like you, I really do. I even asked you a question once at one of those thingys. And while you may have never given answers that definitively said any of the things that people have accused you of, I do see where they are coming from. I mean, of course I wouldn't come into a dinner party and start raving about whether or not you believed in absolute truth or some thing like that. But I would want a clear answer to some of the more mundane questions that you seem to want to evade. Sometimes I don't understand you, and it seems like you don't want to lay your claim on an opinion of your own regarding something. So it gets very confusing, and it almost comes across as if you are a relativist of some fashion. I don't think you are, most of the time. But sometimes I get afraid of your voice in the Christian circles because I can't find a discernable opinion in your opinion.

Having said all that, I will still read yoru blog, read your books, and support you because deep down I think that your a decent guy and wrestling with God just like I am...which in my mind is the only real way to come to grips with God in the first place.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Pedrone said...

I was there at the conversation at YS. I agree with your assessment, and I appreciate the fact that you would not answer. Because if you answer... the conversation is over, the learning is over, and the thought is over.

Way to go! I know some people are ticked off, but at least their thinking...

8:22 AM  
Blogger metafiz said...

what the well meaning woman said wasn't that "In the seminar this morning, you didn't say that you're a relativist and a universalist, but that's what I heard." what she said was that her friend went to the seminar and came out saying that's what you said. she asked because she has read your stuff and had not gotten that from you. so she was asking if her firend had heard or read into what you said something different than what you actually said. the guy that chimed in, likewise, did not say that's what he heard you saying, he said that's what his friend came out saying.

they had heard second hand that you had said something that didn't fit with what they had taken from your writing, etc. they were taking what they had heard second hand to the source. seems a rather good thing. at the seminar, that was obvious and how you answered reflected that. but on your blog here you seem to be slamming them for bringing it up. ironically, why would you impute statements to them that they did not say?

8:30 AM  
Blogger manofredearth said...


It was interesting to "sit at your feet" during the discussion.... I was at the session with you and Duffy, too. I'm really glad that there are people like you who take the time to engage in this way with others even though you have a huge amount of other things to be doing as well. Regardless, I think that one of the struggles people have with Emergent/postmodern Christian thought is that they feel there's this group of overly-intellectual elitist people who are not interested in "spelling it out" in "understandable" terms. There seems to be this rising tide of frustration and I'm not sure if the right answer is to find ways to "spell it out" or if it's to continue to allow them to exist in a state of alienation (whether self-imposed or not). If we're concerned with the marginalized groups, maybe we should be concerned with how our dialogical approach may marginalize those who "don't get it". I guess that's not exactly what Jesus did, though....

I could just be way off base here, but those thoughts had been bothering me for a while. I cringed when you said "Google it" not because I thought you were being an ass, but becuase it played right into the fears/current thinking of those people who are trying to "get it" (benefit of the doubt, here) but think that we're being elitist (and etc....).

Anyway, sorry my wife and I didn't make it to the dinner/lobby/meet-up, we ended up eating with our hosts. Maybe another year.

PS - I don't have a time share, but we've got a couch and we live in Florida. Actually, with a 2 yr old son, a live-in house-guest, and four cats, you may just want to keep looking for a time share.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

I was there for the late night, Tony, and this was my 1st interaction with you. I'm completely new to a lot of the discussions that were taking place, yet very intrigued by your answers/questions/responses to many of their comments.

Although I'm still in a "sponge-state" and mostly absorbing more than I can input, I do remember my 1st response to the girl's statement being "Why is it so important to put Tony in a box?". I thought your response was not only appropriate, but was exactly what we needed to hear. Thank you for not "shoving your opinion down our throats" and for demanding that we develop our own position.

I've purchased "Sacred Way" and am enjoying every minute of it. I was also at the seminar the following morning in the front row (you signed my friend's book) & found it to be exactly what I was looking for.

For whatever it's worth...thanks for having the courage to follow...


8:56 PM  
Blogger Tony Myles said...

How did that line from the Breakfast Club go...

"Just answer the question, Claire."

10:43 PM  
Anonymous ScotMcKnight said...

I posted on this today, and had that post in my draft mode for about a week. The issue is quite simple really: Emerging/ent refuses to be defined by a theology while Evangelicalism does. Until Evangelicalism awakes to the fact that theology isn't the only way to define a movement, it will be frustrated.

What I keep coming back to, and to which you have no doubt appealed, is this: did Jesus define himself by his "theology" or by his "vision"? Was it his praxis or his articulation?

Scot McKnight

5:17 AM  
Blogger samwise said...

having fun yet? the best is yet to come...hang in there. thanks for being you! blessings.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a perfect opportunity to have settled some questions once and for all. Instead the typical EC arrogance reared it's ugly head. You ECers are against everything Evangelicals have done, said, or tried and you make it plain that you have no patience for anyone who would dare to question you. Even if the question is meant in a spirit of trying to understand, you immediately go on the defensive and do your best to demean the questioner. Keep it up. I can see Jesus just shining through your examples.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Brian S. said...

Settle down people! Let's think about something for a moment. Could it be true that all of us are emerging? Could it be that the emerging church will include liberal, moderate and conservative voices? Could it be that there will be those in the emerging church who hold that absolute truth is fundamental to the Christian faith, and those who hold that absolute truth is an archaic way of thinking? Could it be that the emerging church will look like the church has looked for the past 2000+ years? That some will follow Tony? Some will follow Doug? Some will follow Duffy? Some will follow Grenz? Some will follow McKnight? Some will follow Dobson? But, all will follow Christ.

The Emerging Church is the church. The church has been emerging for 2000 years. It will look radically different, with radically different discussions 100 years from now than it does today. But, it will still be emerging.

Get over it.

Move on.

God is big enough for all of us. Are we loving enough for each other?

6:47 PM  
Blogger David M said...

Tony, perhaps it would be worthwhile to have those getting asked this question (i.e. the Emergent board) to at least discuss, "How do we best explain our personal positions SO THAT people can see how that question is unanswerable using our current paradigms?" I know that sounds like a lame question - feel free to find the worthwhile part(s) of it.

Because as far as I can tell, the question comes from a paradigm you don't own. So it would make sense as to why you cannot respond to something you didn't say. But you KNOW that what you say sounds like relativity/universalism to the paradigm of the accusers. Maybe you could help them understand that there are different paradigms . . . like yours (for example).

And to say, "Emergent doesn't have a position ... on anything for that matter" is NOT true (unless I am just not getting the picture). Why does the website list what's valuable (e.g. Belong: Community)? Why are y'all wanting a theological book series? Why do you make statements like, "Dispensational eschatology is borderline heretical" (a statement you'v made to me as well)? -- personal opinion, you have opinions and you speak them, but to then dodge the most common critique . . . hmmm.

David Malouf
Phoenix, Arizona

6:18 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

I am the girl who asked the question at the convention (although as someone else mentioned on this blog, it was actually a friend of mine, not me, who made the complaint). Just for the record, I wanted you to know that I loved your response and am really looking forward to reading your books. I also bought the CD of the controversial session my friend complained about that morning, so I look forward to hearing for myself what you actually DID say. :-) And thank you so much for leading that late-night theology discussion; it led to a continuing conversation with a group of friends (and strangers!) that lasted for the rest of the convention and will be going on indefinitely online...and over Thanksgiving I've been talking with so many friends and family about the things we discussed there, beginning that night. So I truly do appreciate, with all my heart, all that you're doing and that you did last week at YS.

Also for the record, I'm very sorry that my question was disheartening for you, because I honestly was not trying to trap you. I was hoping to maybe be able to correct my friend on her misconception of you, because I think the conversation going on in emergent thinking has a lot that she ought to be listening to, but because of something she thought she'd heard, she was ready to dismiss all of it categorically. So I was glad to be able to tell her, from the source, that her impression was false. But I also honestly wanted to know what you think about "absolute truth"...not to trap you, but because the stuff I've been reading over the past year from emergent folks has challenged my previous position on so many issues that I would really like to reconsider the way I've always thought about truth. And it seems like not a lot of people are willing to address that issue head-on (maybe because the issue itself is not a useful question in the paradigm of their new way of thinking, or maybe just because it's such a hot spot for so many). But I really was sincerely wondering what your thoughts were on the subject, and what you could add to what I've always been taught and thought. So I'm sorry that it didn't come across as an honest question.

Thanks again for all you do, and I look forward to attending all your sessions at YS next year! (that is, if all the criticism doesn't drive you away, which would be tragic.) Thanks for encouraging us all to reason theologically -- I'm working on it!

God's best to you,
lisa t.

p.s. since I've brought it up again...can anybody (tony or anyone) recommend any books on the subject of truth/absolute truth and the emergent church? From the emergent perspective, not the perspective of people criticizing? While I totally agree with your (Tony's) philosophy of getting people to think for themselves, part of the reason I asked the question is because I really respect and am interested in your theological opinion on the subject.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never read such a long bunch of aimless nothing in my life. Who are you people? This brand of Christianity is unrecognizable to me.

Exalt the LORD our God
And worship at His footstool;
Holy is He.

--Psalm 99:5

2:37 PM  
Blogger Gman said...

I'm wondering if any of the critics have read the earlier responds to the EC moevement that Tony and others came out with earlier this summer.
Found here:

I also find it amusing the ANON. posts and have an idea where they come from (Thanks Researchtrailers)

One of the things that concerns me is not the lack of discussion but the pointing of fingers.

I do believe the EC movement is a challenge for the Church to be THE CHURCH. The problem is everyone wants some formula or theological basis or dissertation rather than seek out themselves.

The whole idea of Christianity is that we are different. Fact is Christianity is diverse in its beliefs. (Need I mention eschatology and Left Behind?) And so with some movements come basing their beliefs on Jesus and going from there, not majoring on the minors.

And what happens sometimes is people want all the formula's, doctrinal statements etc spelled out for them which takes away a part of the process of which we call this faith journey - a journey.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Gman said...

Ah, Psalm 99 ... let the earth shake ...when was the last time you shook?

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...


I heard about this second hand in an internet forum and came here to check responses. Just so you know, I have read nothing you have written, nor have I heard you speak. I tried reading McLaren's stuff awhile back, but after he said the same things in each of his books (the ones that I read), I moved on to something else.

I say all that to let you know where I stand. You can categorize me as an outsider to the Emergent Movement. (It's ok, I don't mind labels. I find them rather useful at times.) You can also label me as a critic (though I also criticize non-Emergent Movement "stuff" as well.

So my only experience with YOU is this one post on your blog. Now, given that lack of experience with you and knowledge of the other side of the story, I must say that I think you are at fault here. The way you presented the story made the lady asking sound like an curious inquirer and you sound like an elitist jerk.

I understand it is difficult to succinctly explain one's position on complex issues. (You do have a position on absolute truth; otherwise, you should have just said, "I don't have one," or "I don't know.") However, you must learn if you hope to get your message across. You missed a learning opportunity there.

I might respond differently if you had told me she came at you with finger wagging and voice shrill with accusation, but you didn't.

In Christ,
Sam D.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment on the substance of this quote: “Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth or on anything for that matter…” What disturbs me more than anything about this quote has to do with the issue of absolute truth and the Emerging Church. A quick research into the definitive beliefs of this movement yielded nothing; their beliefs cannot be nailed down. The movement seems to be so postmodern that they themselves do not what they believe and to me that is disturbing. This movement claims to be a shift away from the modern, rational, linear thinking and into a new emotional, inclusive, experiential, image driven way of conducting church. But when a leader of a movement, when in discussion about theology, cannot give a definitive statement about absolute truths and says that his movement does not have a stance, red flags should be going up all around us. If we do not have a firm stance on what we believe to the truth then the Gospel as we know it, is lost to us and we are denying the very basis of that which we believe. To align ourselves with postmodern thinking, which is clearly about non-absolutes, we allow ourselves to engage beliefs that are not truth and open ourselves to syncretism and pluralism. If one does not believe that the Word of God is an absolute and does not make claim that it is, then they deny the Truth of God and have waded into the waters of heresy.

Another quote from Tony Jones lends some more insight into this movement and to their thinking: “[W]e must stop looking for some objective Truth that is available when we delve into the text of the Bible.” (Postmodern Youth Ministry, p. 201) To approach the Bible, the word of the Living God and to say that we cannot find objective truth is a heresy. When we approach God only looking for subjective truth man will only make God into his image and will mold Him into his liking. That is a direct violation of the second commandment and that is heresy.

One might think that I am taking this to the extreme, but I must caution you to careful when listening to a leader of a movement who makes these sorts of claims. This is a leader, who must defend the beliefs of this movement and if he does not make claim to absolute truth than I doubt those under him will either. If the Bible is just another book to find “truth”, than we have made God to be weak, finite, and a liar. If we cannot find objective truth in the Bible where can we find it?

Thank you! Have a blessed day!

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

agree with the bottom comment.
if emergent has no absolute truth, i guess that meanst that it's on the same category as arianism, gnosticism or pluralism? if scripture is not the absolute truth, Jesus never resurrected... or maybe he did... or maybe not. does it matter? no?

9:44 PM  
Blogger TRUE NORTH said...

I would also agree with those on this blog who question your evasiveness on the subject of absolute truth. What is the world do you have to gain as a follower of Jesus Christ by avoiding that question??? And if you and the Emergent Church/Village don't believe in absolute truth then on what authority do you base your "conversation"? Another thing that strikes me as odd on this blog is that there is little turning to the Scriptures to sort this all out. Why is that? According to the Emergent Village website this movement is about "a growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ." Well, how do you define "christians" or the "Spirit of Jesus Christ"? By your experience? By a "conversation"? If those two things are not defined by the absolute truth of the Bible, then how do you know what you are talking about?
And one more thing for all of us to be careful of....using adversity or persecution as a way to validate our message ("if you are being persecuted, you must be right") is a weak argument and a dangerous way to think. -Todd Erickson

6:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing new under the sun. Emergent ruminations about God and faith are nothing new. The further you get from God's word in your reasoning, the more you're going to be spinning your wheels.

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the lady was merely trying to confirm something that was said because she (as any bible-believing christian would do) doesn't want to buy into a methodology created by an unbiblical teacher. If you don't claim to absolutely believe something, what right do you have teaching someone else about an absolute truth? If the Bible is subjective to interpretation, why did Peter say "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Granted I understand that under the circumstances you'd attempt to argue that this applies only to prophecies written in the Bible and not doctrine. However I contend, if prophetic words are esteemed in such a manner, would not doctrine all the more? Are not all prophetic words gauged by doctrine? Does God Himself not esteem His word more highly than His own name? What I don't understand, and if I am incorrect on this then tell me, is that you're claiming to present a fresh and "relevant" revelation to a new generation but you're leaving the surety and hope of the believer out of it; that in this crazy, foolish, unknowing world, there is a way to a solid foundation.
-Is the lack of church attendance in the younger generation a result of the church needing to come to repentance to live accordingly to the Bible to prove that power in the gospel?
-And does one truly have faith in the gospel without claiming it as absolute? The reason I ask this is that I am curious how you could reconcile a church of no absolutes with a gospel that in its most elementary teachings is one of absolute truth-that only Jesus Christ can save us through faith in His grace and that He rose again from the dead 3 days later by the power of the Father. I think if one attempts to make a gospel appealing to everyone that doesn't even teach absolutes is not only confusing, but not the biblical gospel. In any case there is no way of my paragraph convincing you, I leave that work to the Holy Spirit.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Christian faith is absolute and to dismiss that truth is heretical. Jesus is the only way to the Father, and not only did He come 2000 years ago, but He is coming again. When He comes on the clouds, He will absolutely conquer the earth and establish His millennial Kingdom.

Why is it so hard for you to say that you believe that Jesus is absolutely God and absolutely Man? Why is so hard for you to say that He is the only way to eternal life? Unless, of course, you don't believe those things about Jesus. Is that the case?

8:08 PM  

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