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The Emergent Church: Emergence or Emergency?

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1 The Emergent Church: Emergence or Emergency?
Copyright by Norman L. Geisler 2008

2 Emerging Figures In the Emergent Church
Stanley Grenz Some Other Names.… Doug Pagitt Tony Jones John Franke Donald Miller Brian McClaren

3 An Emergent Manifesto Doug Tony

4 Donald Miller Brian McLaren said:
“I can think of no better book than Blue Like Jazz to introduce Christian spirituality (a way of life) to people for whom Christianity (a system of beliefs) seems like a bad math problem….”

5 Outline I. Background Stated II. Basic Books Listed
III. Basic Beliefs Examined

6 Outline I. Background of Emergence Stated
A. Key Influence: Postmodernism 1. “Death of God”--Atheism 2. Death of objective truth--Relativism 3. Death of exclusive truth—Pluralism 4. Death of objective meaning Conventionalism 5. Death of thinking (logic)—Anti Foundationalism 6. Death of objective interpretation Deconstructionism 7. Death of objective values Subjectivism

7 I. Background of Emergence Stated
A. Key Influence: Postmodernism B. Key Ideas: It is: Post-Protestant Post-Orthodox Post-Denominational Post-Doctrinal Post-Individual Post-Foundational Post-Creedal Post-Rational Post-Absolute Note: “Post” = “Anti”

8 Postmodernism “But for me…opposing it [Postmodernism] is as futile as opposing the English language. It’s here. It’s reality. It’s the future…. It’s the way my generation processes every other fact on the event horizon” (McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, 70). “Postmodernism is the intellectual boundary between the old world and the other side. Why is it so important? Because when your view of truth is changed, when your confidence in the human ability to know truth in any objective way is revolutionized, then everything changes. That includes theology…” (McLaren, COS, 69).

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10 Outline I. Background Stated II. Basic Books Listed

11 Key Books by Emergent Leaders
Brian McLaren, The Church on the Other Side A Generous Orthodoxy A New Kind of Christian Stanley Grenz, A Primer on Post-Modernism Beyond Foundationalism Revising Evangelical Theology Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith Doug Pagitt & Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope Tony Jones, The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz See also:

12 Outline I. Background Stated II. Basic Books Listed
III. Basic Beliefs Examined

13 A Response to the Emergent Church
It Has Self-Defeating Claims

14 A Response to the Emergent Church
It Has Self-Defeating Claims It aims at something else and shoots itself!

15 A Self-Defeating Statement
“I can’t speak a word in English.” “Didn’t he say that in English?”

16 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism

17 Anti-Absolutism “Arguments that pit absolutism versus relativism, and objectivism versus subjectivism, prove meaningless or absurd to postmodern people” (McClaren, “The Broadened Gospel,” in “Emergent Evangelism,” Christianity Today 48 [Nov., 2004], 43).

18 Relativism Stated: “We cannot know absolute truth.”
Relativism Refuted: We know that we cannot know absolute truth.

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21 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exclusivism

22 Anti-Exclusivism “Missional Christian faith asserts that Jesus did not come to make some people saved and others condemned. Jesus did not come to help some people be right while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion” (McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 109).

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24 Pluralism 1. The Claim of Pluralism: “No view is exclusively true.”
2. The Self-Refutation: It claims that its view (that no view is exclusively true) is exclusively true.

25 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exclusivism
C. Anti-Foundationalism

26 1. The Law of Identity (A is A).
Foundationalism Defined: There are self-evident principles at the basis of all thought such as: 1. The Law of Identity (A is A). 2. The Law of Non-Contradiction (A is not non-A). 3. The Law of Excluded Middle (Either A or non-A). 4. The Laws of rational inference.

27 1. A Categorical Form of Inference
1. All A is included in B. 2. All B is included in C. 3. Hence, All A is included in C. C B A 1. A Categorical Form of Inference

28 Three Kinds of Rational Inference
1. Categorical (above) 2. Hypothetical a) If all human beings are sinners, then John is a sinner. b) All human beings are sinners. c) Therefore, John is a sinner.

29 Three Kinds of Rational Inference
1. Categorical (above) 2. Hypothetical a) If all human beings are sinners, then John is a sinner. b) All human beings are sinners. c) Therefore, John is a sinner. 3. Disjunctive a) Either John is saved or he is lost. b) John is not saved. c) Therefore, John is lost.

30 Anti-Foundationalism
Stanley Grenz wrote a whole book against Foundationalism titled: Beyond Foundationalism.

31 Anti-Foundationalism
“For modern Western Christians, words like authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, and literal are crucial…. Hardly anyone knows …Rene Descartes, the Enlightenment, David Hume, and Foundationalism—which provides the context in which these words are so important. Hardly anyone notices the irony of resorting to the authority of extra-biblical words and concepts to justify one’s belief in the Bible’s ultimate authority” (McLaren, GO, 164).

32 Pluralism The Claim of Anti-Foundationalism: “Opposites (e.g., A is non-A) can both be true.” The Self-Refutation: They hold that the opposite of this statement (that opposites can both be true) cannot be true.

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34 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exlusivism
C. Anti-Foundationalism D. Anti-Objectivism

35 Anti-Objectivism “We ought to commend the postmodern questioning of the Enlightenment assumption that knowledge is objective and hence dispassionate” (Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism, 166).

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37 Pluralism 1. The Claim of Anti-Objectivism: “There are no objectively true statements.” 2. The Self-Refutation: It is an objectively true statement that there are no objectively true statements.

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39 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exclusivism
C. Anti-Foundationalism D. Anti-Objectivism E. Anti-Rationalism

40 Anti-Rationalism (Fideism)
Grenz chided “Twentieth-century evangelicals [who] have devoted much energy to the task of demonstrating the credibility of the Christian faith…” (Grenz, Primer on Post-modernism, 160). “Following the intellect can sometimes lead us away from the truth” (Grenz, PPM, 166). Note: Not following basic rational thought will lead you there a lot faster!

41 Anti-Rationalism (Fideism)
“Because knowledge is a luxury beyond our means, faith is the best we can hope for. What an opportunity! Faith hasn’t encountered openness like this in several hundred years” (McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, 173). “Drop any affair you may have with certainty, proof, argument—and replace it with dialogue, conversation, intrigue, and search” (McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, 78).

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43 Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
“My belief in Jesus did not seem rational or scientific, and yet there was nothing I could do to separate myself from this belief” (54). “My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect…. I don’t believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away… I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons…” (103). “There are many ideas within Christian spirituality that contradict the facts of reality as I understand them. A statement like this offends some Christians because they believe if aspects of their faith do not obey the facts of reality, they are not true” (201).

44 Pluralism 1. The Claim of Fideism: “There are no reasons for what we believe.” 2. The Self-Refutation: There are good reasons for believing there are no good reasons for what we believe.

45 Pluralism The Claim of Fideism: “Knowledge is a luxury beyond our means.” 2. The Self-Refutation: We have the luxury of knowing that we can’t have the luxury of knowing.

46 An Emergent Difficulty
“There is no rational support for what we believe!” “Is there any rational support for that belief?” Dr. Emergent-See Mr. Orthodoxy

47 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exclusivism
C. Anti-Foundationalism D. Anti-Objectivism (of Truth) E. Anti-Rationalism F. Anti-Objectivism (of Meaning)

48 Anti-Objectivism (Conventionalism)
Defined: All meaning is culturally relative. There is no fixed meaning. Meaning is not objective.

49 Pluralism 1. The Claim of Conventionalism: “There is no objective meaning.” 2. The Self-Refutation: It is objectively meaningful to assert that there is no objective meaning.

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51 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Pluralism
C. Anti-Foundationalism D. Anti-Objectivism (of Truth) E. Anti-Rationalism F. Anti-Objectivism (of Meaning) G. Anti-Realism

52 Anti-Realism There is no objective world that can be known. Rather, “the only ultimately valid ‘objectivity of the world’ is that of a future, eschatological world, and the ‘actual’ universe is the universe as it one day will be” (Grenz, Renewing the Center, 246).

53 Pluralism 1. The Claim of Anti-Realism “There is no real world now that can be known.” 2. The Self-Refutation: We know it is really true now (i.e., true in the real world now) that there is no real world now that can be known.

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55 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exclusivism
C. Anti-Foundationalism D. Anti-Objectivism (of Truth) E. Anti-Rationalism F. Anti-Objectivism (in Meaning) G. Anti-Realism H. Anti-Infallibilism

56 Anti-Infallibilism “Well, I’m wondering, if you have an infallible text, but all your interpretations of it are admittedly fallible, then you at least have to always be open to being corrected about your interpretation, right?... So the authoritative text is never what I say about the text or even what I understand the text to say but rather what God means the text to say, right?” (McLaren, NKC, 50).

57 Pluralism 1. The Claim of Anti-Infallibilism: “My understanding of the text is never the correct one.” 2. The Self-Refutation: My understanding of the text is correct in saying that my understanding of the text is never correct.

58 An Emergent Difficulty
“No one knows what the text means!” “How does he know that, if he doesn’t know what the text means?” Dr. Emergent-See Mr. Orthodoxy

59 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exclusivism
C. Anti-Foundationalism D. Anti-Objectivism (of Truth) E. Anti-Rationalism F. Anti-Objectivism (in Meaning) G. Anti-Realism H. Anti-Infallibilism I. Anti-Propositionalism

60 Anti-Propositionalism
“Our understanding of the Christian faith must not remain fixated on the propositional approach that views Christian truth as nothing more than correct doctrine or doctrinal truth” (Grenz, PPM, 170). “Transformed in this manner into a book of doctrine, the Bible is easily robbed of its dynamic character” (Grenz, Revisioning Evangelical Theology, ).

61 Pluralism The Claim of Anti-Propositionalism: “Our view of the Christian faith must not be fixed on propositional truth (doctrine).” The Self-Refutation: We must be fixed on the propositional truth that we should not be fixed on propositional truth.

62 Pluralism The Claim of Anti-Propositionalism: “Doctrinal truth is not dynamic.” The Self-Refutation: It is a dynamic doctrinal truth (of the Emergent Church) that doctrinal truth is not dynamic.

63 But Doctrine is Dynamic! Ideas Have Consequences!
2 E = MC Dynamic Ones!

64 Ideas Have Consequences!

65 Ideas Have Consequences!
Tragic Ones!

66 III. Basic Beliefs A. Anti-Absolutism B. Anti-Exclusivism
C. Anti-Foundationalism D. Anti-Objectivism (of Truth) E. Anti-Rationalism F. Anti-Objectivism (in Meaning) G. Anti-Realism H. Anti-Infallibilism I. Anti-Propositionalism J. Anti-Orthodoxy

67 Post-Orthodoxy Dwight J. Friesen’s Orthoparadoxy
“‘A thing is alive only when it contains contradictions in itself ….’ Just as he [Moltmann] highlights the necessity of contradictions for life, so I declare that embracing the complexities of contradictions, antinomies, and paradoxes of the human life is walking the way of Jesus” (in Pagitt ed., An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, 203).

68 Post-Orthodoxy: Unity Over Orthodoxy
“Jesus did not announce ideas or call people to certain beliefs as much as he invited people to follow him into a way of being in the world…. The theological method of orthoparadoxy surrenders the right to be right for the sake of movement toward being reconciled one with another, while simultaneously seeking to bring the fullness of conviction and belief to the other…. Current theological methods that often stress… orthodoxy/heresy, and the like set people up for constant battles to convince and convert the other to their way of believing and being in the world” (Friesen, in EMH, 205).

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70 1. The Claim of Post-Orthodoxy: “We should not insist on being right about doctrine.”
2. The Self-refutation: We insist on being right in our doctrine that we should not insist on being right in our doctrine.

71 An Emergent Difficulty
“We must avoid making any creedal pronouncements ” “Isn’t that a creedal pronouncement?” Dr. Emergent-See Mr. Orthodoxy

72 Mysticism

73 III. Basic Beliefs B. Anti-Exclusivism C. Anti-Foundationalism
D. Anti-Objectivism (of Truth) E. Anti-Rationalism F. Anti-Objectivism (in Meaning) G. Anti-Realism H. Anti-Infallibilism I. Anti-Propositionalism J. Anti-Orthodoxy K. Anti-Condemnationism (Universalism)

74 Universalism “More important to me than the hell question, then, is the mission [in this world] question." (McLaren, Generous Orthodoxy, 114) Jesus reconciled “all things, everywhere.” “Hell is full of forgiven people.” “Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making” (Bell, Velvet Elvis, 146). “So it is a giant thing that God is doing here and not just the forgiveness of individuals. It is the reconciliation of all things” (Bell in “Find the Big Jesus: An Interview with Rob Bell” in Beliefnet.com).

75 The Claim of Universalism: “All persons (free agents) will be saved.”
The Self-refutation: All persons (free agents) will be saved, even those who do not freely choose to be saved.

76 The Problem With Universalism
“When one says, ‘All will be saved,’ my reason retorts, ‘Without their will, or with it?’ If I say, ‘Without their will,’ I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say, ‘With their will,’ my reason replies, ‘How, if they will not give in?’” (The Problem of Pain, ).

77 III. Basic Beliefs C. Anti-Foundationalism
D. Anti-Objectivism (of Truth) E. Anti-Rationalism F. Anti-Objectivism (in Meaning) G. Anti-Realism H. Anti-Infallibilism I. Anti-Propositionalism J. Anti-Orthodoxy K. Anti-Condemnationalism L. Anti-Inerrantism

78 Anti-Inerrantism “Incompleteness and error are part of the reality of human beings” (McLaren, COS, 173). “Our listening to God’s voice [in Scripture] does not need to be threatened by scientific research into Holy Scripture” (Grenz, Revisioning Evangelical Theology, 116). “The Bible is revelation because it is the [errant] witness to and the [errant] record of the historical revelation of God” (Grenz, 133).

79 Biblical Errantism McClaren rejects the view that: “The Bible is the ultimate authority…. There are no contradictions in it, and it is absolutely true and without errors in all it says. Give up these assertions, and you’re on a slippery slope to losing your whole faith” (McLaren, GO, ). “Hardly anyone notices the irony of resorting to the authority of extra-biblical words and concepts to justify one’s belief in the Bible’s ultimate authority” (GO, 164).

80 1. The Claim of Errantists: “No extra-biblical words or ideas should be used to support the Bible.”
2. The Self-refutation: It is a truth (of Post-Modernism) that no extra-biblical words or ideas (like Post-Modernism) should be used to support the Bible.

81 1. The Claim of Errantists: “No human writing is without error.”
2. The Self-refutation: Emergent human writing is without error when it claims that no human writing is without error.

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83 The Foundation of Inerrantism
1. God cannot err. 2. The Bible is the Word of God. 3. Therefore, the Bible cannot error.

84 The Thesis: The Bible Which is the Word of God Cannot Err.

85 The Logic: The Bible Which is the Word of God Cannot Err.

86 To deny this, one must either--
A. Deny “God cannot error,” or- B. Deny “The Bible is the Word of God,” or- C. Deny both A and B.

87 Jesus declared: "Your Word is truth." (Jn. 17:17)
But God Cannot Err: Jesus declared: "Your Word is truth." (Jn. 17:17) The psalmist affirmed: "The sum of your word is truth.” (119:160) Paul proclaimed: "Let God be true…." (Rom. 3:4) "The God who cannot lie." (Titus 1:2) Hebrews affirmed: "It is impossible for God to lie." (6:18)

88 The Bible is the Word of God
"If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken." (Jn.10:34-35) “Laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the traditions of men…, making the word of God of no effect through your traditions.” (Mk. 7:8, 13) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God…."(2 Tim. 3:16) “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.” (Rom. 9:6)  “’It is written’…by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4)

89 The Logic of Inerrantism
The Bible is the Word of God. God cannot err. Hence, the Bible cannot err.

90 St. Augustine's Dictum: “If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, The author of this book is mistaken; but either [1] the manuscript is faulty, or [2] the translation is wrong, or [3] you have not understood.” (Augustine, Reply to Faustus 11.5)

91 Emerging Problems with the Emergent Church
1. Its central claims are all self-defeating. 2. It stands on the pinnacle of its own absolute and relativizes everything else. 3. It is an unorthodox creedal attack on orthodox creeds. 4. It attacks modernism in the culture but is an example of postmodernism in the church. 5. In an attempt to reach the culture it capitulates to the culture. 7. In trying to be geared to the times, it is no longer anchored to the Rock. 8. It is not an emerging church; it is really a submerging church.

92 Answering an Objection
Emergent Objection: No self-defeating truth claims are being made. Response: Either they are making such truth claims or they are not. If they are, then they are self-defeating. If they are not, then why are they writing books and attempting to convince people of the truth of their views?

93 The Claim to Make no Truth Claim
“You can argue with a man who says, ‘Rice is unwholesome’: but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, ‘Rice is unwholesome, but I’m not saying this is true.’ I feel that this surrender of the claim to truth has all the air of an expedient adopted at the last moment. If [they]…do not claim to know any truths, ought they not to have warned us rather earlier of the fact? For really from all the books they have written…one would have got the idea that they were claiming to give a true account of things. The fact surely is that they nearly always are claiming to do so. The claim is surrendered only when the question discussed…is pressed; and when the crisis is over the claim is tacitly resumed” (Lewis, Miracles, 24).

94 To Re-title the Emergent Movement, It is not--
The Emergent Church but the Submergent Church A Manifesto of Hope but is a Declaration of Disaster Refocusing the Faith but Distorting the Faith Renewing the Center but Rejecting the Core Repainting the Faith but Repudiating the Faith A Generous Orthodoxy but a Dangerous Unorthodoxy The Church on the Other Side but is on the Other Side of the Church A Primer on Post-Modernism but a Primer on the New Modernism Going to Produce a New Kind of Christian by a New Kind of Non-Christian

95 Emergent Church: New Liberalism
“The emergent church is the latest version of liberalism. The only difference is that the old liberalism accommodated modernity and the new liberalism accommodates postmodernity” (Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformation REV, 21).

96 The Emergent Church is the Submergent Church
The Emergent Church is built on sand and will not stand. Christ’s Church is build on Stone, And it can not be overthrown. (Matt. 16:16-18)

97 Works Evaluating Emergents
Adler, Mortimer. Truth in Religion. Carson, D. A. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church. Carlson, Jason. “My Journey Into and Out Of the Emergent Church.” Driscoll, Mark. Confessions of a Reformation REV. Howe, Thomas ed., Christian Apologetics Kimball, Dan. The Emerging Church. Rofle, Kevin, Here We Stand. Smith, R. Scott Truth and The New Kind of Christian. Geisler, Norman. DVD’s (InternationalLegacy.org).

98 International LEGACY Institute
$ 50.00 Value International LEGACY Institute The Essential Christian Trainer with Emergent Church Bonus Lecture $10.00 Conference Special! 5 LECTURE SERIES! Exposing the Emergent Church Moral Absolutes Absolute Truth The Pillars of the Faith The Essential Doctrines of the Faith By: Dr. Norman L. Geisler

99 Free online courses from our “Scholars Alliance” @ www
Free online courses from our “Scholars

100 Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Tritheism heresy: “I asked him if he believed that the Trinity represented three separate persons who are also one” (202).


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