Monday, August 28, 2006


We in Emergent continue to get criticized by the conservative Reformed folks. We're recently been written about at 9Marks, in, I think, an even-handed way.

But my neighbor in Minneapolis, John Piper, has invited folks to his conference next month with the words, "We think the post-propositional, post-dogmatic, post-authoritative 'conversation' is post-relevant and post-saving." I assume this is a jab directly at Emergent/emerging.

Now, I'm quite confident that Piper (or whoever wrote this) has never read a word that I've written, so he must be talking about the work of Brian, and maybe of Spencer, Doug, John and Stan, et al. No matter.

What I find the most disheartening, I guess, is the smartass tone of the line. "Post-relevant"? That's virtually meaningless. And "post-saving"? Is that meant to imply that our message is not the gospel, but theirs is? And anyway, who is the author of salvation? I understand the Reformed doctrine to be that God alone is the author of salvation. If that is so, how can our conversation about theology, gospel, and scripture be less "saving" than any other conversation about theology, gospel, and scripture?

FYI, I've sent emails to several of the presenters at Piper's conference next month, inviting them to coffee. As someone writing a dissertation on a doctine (ecclesiology), I think they'll find me quite dogmatic and propositional!


Blogger Sivin Kit said...

"I think they'll find me quite dogmatic and propositional!"

Yes, Tony I've seen that side in action before :-)

I'm looking forward hear how the coffee conversations with some of the presenters might turn out.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

take them to a grape juice bar.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Vitamin Z said...


I hope you do have coffee with them and please post your reactions. I look forward to going to the conference, but I did suggest on my blog and to others involved with the conference that they should actually have someone who is more directly involved in the Emergent Conversation to be involved in a Q and A time or present, etc.

In terms of grape juice... Most reformed guys I know like a good brew!

11:55 AM  
Blogger Anthony J Stiff said...

It sounds like you've seen the ugly side of Reformed social polemic. As a member in the Reformed community I hope you will consider that we don't all carry that same tone. (Having said that I know you must know why Desiring God Ministries is concerned along theological lines and ecclesiological lines since youre a student at Princeton and very knowledgable about Reformed values. Nevertheless I haven't been happy with some of the tones coming out of the communities.

I've been writting a missiology of the emerging churches, Steve Taylor has a posting about it. I know you must be busy writing your dissertation on ecclesiology but I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. I'm completing my MDiv at Westminster not to far from Princeton.

In addition to working on this blog series on the missiology of the emerging churches I'm the student leader of an emerging church conference at Westminster where we'll be having Scot McKnight, John Franke, and Mike Horton giving lectures to our community. My desire to conversate is earnest and genuine.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, I certainly hope they will take you up on your offer to meet for conversation but i won't hold my breath. Some people like to hold to their views in a dogmatic, unbending way. All the best! Adele

5:59 PM  
Blogger Len said...

Good to see the comments back up. Now if everyone will just behave themselves, maybe they'll stay up. ;-) Oh and I will look for you in Austin, consider this your warning.

8:29 PM  
Blogger backyardmissionary said...

hi tony

speaking of reformed folks, next week we are having a conversation with Carson

have you guys spoken with him yet?

i'd like to know if there has been any face to face before we speak

thanks mate

5:36 AM  
Blogger Bloggy said...


You wrote: "What I find the most disheartening, I guess, is the smartass tone of the line."

I've read quite a bit of your blog and other blogs that you have contributed to, and have detected more than a smart ass tone in your writings. I'm starting to believe (well 'starting' is the wrong word...) that you can dish it out but you can't take it.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Jesse said...

Can I just say that not a single conversation is 'saving'...

Rhetorics sometimes freak me out in the current discussions in and around the emerging church. Both inside and outside. Please, let everyone consider their words! And let's not stick to this way of communicating (blogs/emails etc.) let's go see eachother, experience eachothers heart and see what different communities are like, so in that sense i realy hope they show up Tony...

9:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew LaPine said...

Just curious. How did the conversation with John go?

8:48 PM  
Blogger Nick said...


I too would love to hear how you felt the conversation went. Dr. Piper mentioned meeting you, but didn't go into the content of your conversation from the stage.

He did say he liked you. Something about being strong-willed or passionate. I believe you can find some audio related to it here, in their "Conversation with Pastors". :-) He definitely still has lot of concerns.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Beal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Beal said...


You should listen to all of the audio from the DG conference at

I was there, Piper spoke in a very heartfelt tone, not a smartass one.


8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am sorry about maybe your "run-ins" with reformers, but you can not, and do not relate all reformers with what ever you have read or meet. if you do not want others to class you with all of your toher ermergant "buddies" then do not do that to others, thank you very much.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling John Piper's (one of our days greatest theologians) comments, "smart-ass". That is truely unbelievable.

10:50 PM  

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