September 2016

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  


« New STR Blogger | Main | ESCR Confusion: Is the Embryo a Member of the Human Race? »

February 09, 2007


I just read your excellent post on this subject over on your A-Team blog yesterday. It's great to see you posting here, too - keep up the good work!

Thanks, Aaron!

We humans are either God centered or human centered. In a sense, either I am god, or God is God. And in spite of my moments of Christian Atheism (thats when I act like I am soveriegn and omnipotent) God is still God!

There does seem to be quite a bit of self-absorption among EC people. This sort of touchy-feely "faith" has been around for decades in other guises. It is irrelevant in meeting man's primary need - to be reconciled to God. All it does is provide warm- fuzzy feelings for those self-deceived individuals who think warm-fuzzy is the ultimate purpose of life.

This is something I have been watching and struggling with. The messages certainly seem nice, and resonate well with most people. When you raise a concern, even with Christians I often find that they begin to type cast me as a mean fundamentalist. How could I be against community? Feeding the poor? Helping those with aids? Often I try to explain that I am not against these things, but they are not the gospel, rather they are a result of the gospel. I am looking forward to seeing articles and information coming from STR on how to handle these objections from Christians when it comes to the EC.

The problem with today's Church is that on the left and the right side of the spectrum (mainline liberal and evangelical) we've drifted away from the gospel. On the left it's "let's do God's work by feeding the poor, not poluting the environment, and redistributing the wealth and on the right it's becoming a better parent, a better business man (gaining wealth), personal responsility, etc.". All of these things are OK but there's very little mention of sin now days and the theme of the Bible, which is God redeeming his creation, is assumed has been somewhat lost. We need a reformation just like the last one or the Church is in danger of becoming like the Roman Church.

The emphasis should be much more balanced with more emphasis on the Gospel. Oh and by the way, we don't do the Gospel the Gospel is something that has already been done for us.

>>”How could I be against community? Feeding the poor? Helping those with aids?”

You’re right. The problem is when these things take precedence over Jesus and the Gospel. Some church leaders, when listing their priorities for the upcoming year, don’t even mention the words Jesus, Scriptures, Gospel, God, etc. I’ve heard AIDS, the poor, environment, etc. to the neglect of the former.

This is unacceptable and describes no church I want to be part of. There are many ways one can fight AIDS, help the environment, etc. I say, join the Peace Corps, recycle, and donate if you want. Churches have been helping the poor for years and years, however, the Lord should be number one on the list of priorities, year after year after year.

Some churches would rather you lobby for global warming legislation than witness and spread the Gospel.

I have two illuminating scriptures that buttress the 'emergent' claim:

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:11, 17-23).


31 When the Son of man shall come in his lory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his aright hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:31-40)

It seems to be not far from the case that "God is a vehicle for teaching them how to have good relationships with each other rather than being, in Himself, the end and purpose of the community." God is not an end in himself (whatever that means); his purpose, his work is to bring us into community with him, "just as" (kathos) he is in community/unity with Christ. What is the atonement but a bringing together, a cummunion, a binding of what was cut off? This is not just any community, but a divine community. Isn't that the gospel in a nutshell: the establishment of community through perfect love?

Mr. Winters I certainly agree with the charitable actions that many in the Emergent movement practice. Many evangelicals have practiced the same actions for years, but evangelicals are not as skilled in the art of "movement aggrandizement" as the Emergent's seem to be. However, I radically disagree with your notion that God is not an end unto Himself.

Amy, can you help us understand what you mean by "God is, in Himself, the end and purpose of the community"? Whether or not that is true, I am not sure how helpful it is in evaluating community action.

There were definitely things that disturbed me about the video, although I wasn't as impacted by the lack of God-talk as you were. I think perhaps the EC does reflect somewhat of a pendulum swing from the lack of emphasis on community and missional life in the traditional, evangelical church. Often pendulum swings go too far, and maybe the EC has done that. I welcome their voice in the conversation, though, as I try to work out God's plan in my own life and community.

Does the Emergent Church have a statement of faith ? I have tried to find an Emergent Statement of Faith on the web, but there does not appear to be one. Anyone have a link ?

Alan, thats the point. Emergents would generally abhor a statement of faith for the same reason a thief avoids a conversation with a policeman.

The postmodern mindset rejects the constraints and the authority that the words of such a statement would imply. In that view the meaning of the words is not defined by categories of truth, but rather by power brokers, and hence to be rejected.

What you will hear a lot of is "the ongoing conversation of emergence."

Chris, sorry if that was unclear. I merely meant that, in our worship, God is not the means to something else. God is Himself the purpose of our coming together. We exist as a community for the purpose of coming to God--receiving from Him, praising Him, and drawing closer to Him with our hearts and minds.

I've heard people say before that they're Christians because that's the best way to help the poor. In that case, God is the means to the end of their social justice purposes. Instead, we ought to want to be Christians because we desire to know and be with God, and that is where He is truly found. He ought to be our goal (our end and purpose) in everything we do whether it's a worship service, or being in community, or helping the poor. We ought to "do all to the glory of God."

This is not to say that seeking God doesn't push us out to others. On the contrary! His love in us moves us to love others. But even that love for others ought to be done to the glory of God, so He is still our focus, even when serving and loving others.

Hopefully that makes more sense.

So emergent's desire for community is not "for the glory of God"? I guess I'm not seeing the supposed disconnect.

I just watched the video and, even more than before, fail to see the disconnect. The video itself is a collection of sound bites from what appear to be longer interviews. It may show more about who put it together rather than any definitive 'emergent' approach-without-God that is implied in this main post. It seems to be highlighting more about how Emergents differentiate themselves from more 'traditional' approaches.

Which raises the question: how many times do they need to mention God in order for this video to not be open for your criticisms? Does every other word, or every sentence, have to be "God"? I just wonder if there is any clear idea of exactly *how* this could have been different in order for it to escape your negative judgments.

Mr. Winters what - exactly - does the Emergent church believe about God ? Can you provide a precise articulation of who or what is the Emergent diety, and under what terms one can experience such diety ? Your response would be greatly appreciated.

'Does the Emergent Church have a statement of faith ? I have tried to find an Emergent Statement of Faith on the web, but there does not appear to be one. Anyone have a link ?'

In all sincerity I would suggest that you should read the Humanist Manifesto, sorry I don't have the link. Some really good posts.

Kevin, I did concede that this video may not be an accurate representation of their culture. What we hear from them is accurate in their views about particulars (belief, truth, etc.), but it may not be a complete view. This is why my overall point is not about the emerging church movement as a whole, but an exhortation to all Christians to be careful to create things that cause people to see and respond to God when reaching out as a church.

When the response is instead "This film shows that people will always find one another," I don't think I'm being unreasonable to say that this video portrayed a church that is about community rather than God (whether or not that's an accurate picture).

Alan, emerging churches vary quite a bit and can have very different beliefs. Brian McLaren is one of the key players, and if you want to get an idea of where he's coming from, I suggest listening to these interviews:

Part I:

Part II:

You could also read this summary of concerns about Emergent by Brett Kunkle (one of STR's speakers) here:

(For some reason, TypePad won't wrap the URL text, so I had to break it up so all of it would show. Be sure you take out the break when you cut and paste.)

Unfortunately Mr. Winter's stonewall degrades whatever credibilty he and the Emergent's might otherwise have. Another trendy "religion" that evades the eternal aspect of life.


What? So, two or three comments in a blog somehow "degrades whatever credibility" both I and any Emergent might have? How does that work out? It's like thinking one can dismiss all of Kant's thoughts by reading two paragraphs of the Critique of Judgment.

No, what degrades your credibility is your unwillingness to respond with straight answers to the questions I posed. This forum is a dialogue. I asked legitimate direct questions, and would appreciate legitimate direct answers.

I will admit ignorance in relation to your question, so it is not an unwillingness, but possessing enough respect to you and others here to not spout off on things I know little about. I presented what I find to be excellent Biblical texts supporting the general ethos of the Emergent phenomenon, particularly as found in the video Amy cited (and directly relevant to her comments)--the divine work is that of uniting, communing, atonement. I did not comment on any particular Emergent theism, as I don't know about such, but restricted my comments to the Biblical text. So please get off your soap box and don't attempt to attribute states of mind to me that I do not possess.

Thank you Mr. Winters. I have attributed nothing to you. I am trying learn the essence and specifics of the Emergent belief system. I have visited all of the Emergent websites. They ramble without conclusion. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians - all state succinctly who their Deity is and how someone relates to the Deity. If you cannot answer my specific questions, please direct me to someone who can. Is there anyone alive who speaks succintly for Emergents ?


Is there anyone alive who speaks succintly for Evangelicals? The one thing I've learned as I've interacted with many Evanglicals is that there is much disagreement over many matters: salvation (Calvinist, neo-Calvinist, non-Calvinist), God (temporal or atemporal eternity, simple or complex, how to define omnipotence), etc. At the exact time that I parrot the words of one Evangelical to another, that is the exact time that I learn that the one does not believe exactly like the other. Evangelicalism is not monolithic, why should Emergents be? It seems the primary question is how much variety should we allow, not who can we turn to for authoritative answers.

By the way, you did attribute unwillingness to me: "what degrades your credibility is your unwillingness." I hope I have sufficiently cleared up the exact nature of my silence.

You commented on the video as someone who has more than a passing knowledge of the Emergent movement. It was not unreasonable to ask you to clarify what Emergent's - in general - have as their faith/philosophy/dogma. I'm simply trying to learn more about Emergent's. Your silence speaks volumes, but certainly not in a positive sense. Peace.


I claimed no such "more than passing knowledge"; merely using the phrase "the 'emergent' claim" does not equal claiming such a thing and I'm confused on how you came to that conclusion merely from my words in my first comment. I simply pointed out scriptures that explicitly tie "community" with service to God in order to balance what I felt at the time was a precarious judgment on Amy's part (her comments here have dissuaded me from that initial judgment, though I still don't fully agree with her). The focus on community in the Emergent Church is readily apparent even for someone like me who has gotten most of his information (which isn't much) second-hand.

My particular problem with the Emergent Church--again, from the small amount I've read--is that they misunderstand the so-called 'postmodern' thinkers that they supposedly champion--Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault, etc. This, though, is a common enough critique of Evangelical treatments of so-called 'postmodernists,' so it certainly isn't reserved only for Emergents. This causes confusion and inappropriate generalizations that the original thinkers would not have countenanced, especially if they are spoken in their name(s). I will claim "more than passing knowledge" of that.

Hi everyone,

This is my first post. - It seems to me the EC movement is wanting to raise concern and actively help those in need/suffering. Whether this be a "need to belong" or helping those who are sick/hungry. I would think this is in reaction to their perception that Christians aren't doing this to the degree they believe is sufficient. Another concern for them (and this is not always the case for all EC but I do believe is the large majority opinion)is that some long accepted beliefs about God are not neccesarily clear enough to be a "fundamental Chrisian belief". Unfortunately, some of these that are called into question really aren't questionable at all. (ie personal trust in Jesus as God made man, to die for those who would believe/trust in him for the forgiveness of their sins) There seems to be a high value placed on "not" ever knowing for sure what God means in his revelation to us. The problem with this is obvious. What hope can be give them for their desperate need to be restored to God in view of their sinful nature? - This seems to promote an atmosphere that can't be God glorifying since God is to much a mystery. As a result, the community/close relationships/good works seem to be the focus instead of getting to know God more and trusting him in all things. By the way, once a person is justified by God he will then begin a life long process of sanctification that will result in doing these good works and building meaningful relationships/communities. I apologize for such a long entry, I'll keep it much shorter from now on.

I watched this video and one of the things I particularly noticed was when they were approaching Communion. I will try to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the following areas of concern may just have been omitted in editing. Anyway, they appeared to invite all Solomon's Porch attenders to participate with no real thought as to what communion signifies. They appeared to make it just another way to fellowship, rather than a remembrance of Christ and what He has done for us. Like I said, could have been the editing, but it was disappointing, hoping that in at least this area, an emergent gathering might finally demonstrate something that they really believed in, something that set them apart from just another charitable organization.

We should welcome Emergent Church members and take their critique to heart. If there is a large contingent of people who feel underserved and repressed by Christianity as usual and yet still want, in some way, to have a relationship with God then we should not dispute their opinion or deny their experience, but rather see to it that what modifications can be made are made. Making the effort to connect with these who don't feel the connection to the Church would be an application of Jesus' teaching in the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matt 18, Luke 15).

As for learning from the EC, I think, their zeal is much to be lauded as well as their desire to make their religion their own by taking possession of it. This is very much so Biblical (Matt 11:12). Not wanting to rest upon the laurels of others but rather seeking to make a difference themselves is a prime example of the bold and brave attitude Christians should have. Ultimately, we shall have to judge the tree by its fruit and see what emerges from the Emergent Church.

Lastly, I'd like to remind everyone of what is the greatest religion. It is not Judaism though Jesus was a Jew; it is not Christianity though it claims the best Teacher, greatest Prophet, and one and only Son of God; but rather what is recorded in James chapter 1 verse 27, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

I thought that the staff (?) at Solomon's Porch made the issue too political. I found it interesting that they bashed conservatism for being too political, but yet propped up their own political agenda (liberalism). In fact the one lady had the guts ot say that Jesus was not conservative but yet a liberal. Jesus was neither! He is the Son of God who is above all political powers and regimes. Don't water down Jesus to a political strand! This is why I cannot stand the EC. They have made Jesus into a political activist when that was not his goal. His goal was to rescue the souls of man and to present the kingdom of God by pointing to the Father and by allowing himself to be sacrificed for the sins of man. Without that, all the social actions of Jesus are useless. We can care all we want, but without the saving power of the cross, we are just the dumb blind leading another dumb blind off the cliff.


you know what would have been REALLY interesting? If you would have blogged this:

"It seems like an interesting church with a lot of really good people who are seeking to follow God Thank God there are churches full of good people like this."

Hi, Tony. I certainly didn't write anything as an attempt to insult anyone! I'm sure they are a lot of good people, and I wasn't questioning that.

There's some more explanation above in my comments. This is an exhortation to all Christians (including the people of your church), not an insult to a few. Doesn't it bother you that people saw this as "people finding each other" rather than people finding God first and each other second?

I'll be frank and say that my church needs to work on this too from time to time. We can get caught up in the different aspects of serving God and lose our focus when we're presenting our vision and mission to others. When that happened to us once in a visual way (like this) that made this clear to us, it was a real wake-up call.

Tony Jones said "It seems like an interesting church with a lot of really good people who are seeking to follow God". Please show me anywhere in the video where they are a "church" and how they are following God. That video was nothing more than a bunch of latter-day Jesus-freaks showing their distain for conventional church and trying to prove how much "holier" they are than the institutional church by caring so much about poverty, aids, etc.

Jim, thanks for giving us your own "holier than thou" rant...

Here is a link that can be used to evaluate church following God:

It speaks to keeping Christ first.

Going to answer the questions, Kevin? Or just sit there and sneer?

Well, since I only saw one question (actually, it was more of a demand) and since I don't think it charitable to judge them solely on the content that was included in the (selectively edited) video...I guess I'm just gonna sit here and sneer...

The comments to this entry are closed.