Phil Johnson versus the truth…

July 4, 2009

Phil Johnson created a rather interesting yet very inaccurate flowchart as to what the Emerging Church (emerging conversation) is about.

To show how it really goes I created this flowchart. Admittedly Phil has better skills in creating such things than I do.

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So now make your own flowchart and link here to let me know!

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  1. Iggy – I feel somehow compelled to respond to this yet at a loss for the words. I apologize in advance if this feels offensive – that's not me intent.

    Let me start with unsolicited advice – interacting with the Pyromaniacs and their ilk is a waste of good air, save it.

    That aside, the issue here continues to be around what is the emergent church. I'd have to say that >75% of those I've interacted with who label themselves emerg* are at best immature, rebellious children and several are flat out heretics. When I read you however I get the opposite.

    That leaves me in a dilemma; who/what am I critiquing when addressing emerg*? If I am dealing with those I am generally in contact with, then Johnson's chart is not far off. If I am dealing with folks like you, then I think your chart works.

    Frankly, I'm wondering why the percentage like you (whether small as I perceive or large) call yourselves emerg*. It seems to me you are doing what all of us desire to do and certainly many of us did as young believers (a la Vineyard and likely many, many others). Honest questioning is a good thing. Not making status quo a god is a good thing. Etc…

    So why the label "emerg*"? For me it only serves to confuse with some real problem people.

    I tried to liken this to my wearing the label "calvinist". I know that in doing so it associates me with some nut jobs but I live with that negative because there is clear "doctrine" on calvinism and by using the label, you and I could have a healthy discussion around the doctrine if we can get past the outliers. The difference with emerg* is I cannot sort the outliers and if I managed, I think there is no doctrine at the core unique to that label.

    So I'm lost – help me out.


  2. Rick,

    To me I get confused over who these immature people are that you refer to? I mean there are about two that I might consider "nut jobs" out there in emerging…

    The thing that every critic misses is that it is a conversation…

    In a conversations ideas (right or wrong) are discussed. Things are kicked around… some may conclude one way another a different way.

    For instance, Tony Jones and I may agree on many things, yet we differ on the Homosexual debate… I see him as gong off the reservation and he may view me as lacking compassion… yet… that is the beauty of the conversation is that we are talking about it and both trying to reach the homosexual for Jesus without condemnation and judgmentalism.

    To me outside the conversation there are just as many immature (if not more) and most Calvinists I interact with seem rather immature also.

    I agree that Pyromaniacs is not a great representative of what you may see as Calvinist… yet it is what I see as what most Calvinists are like! I see you as the exception… LOL! I find it more and more rare to find a sane Calvinist who can have a conversation without at some point questioning my salvation…

    Yet, when someone points out something which may have a bit of truth in it, yet is really more lies and slander against their brothers in Christ, I want to at least make some think about things like God's word saying bearing false witness against others is sin…. I do not care if I interact with anyone at Pyromaniacs… most the time it is Frank Turk and is self righteous condemnation that comes here… I doubt he has read anything I write outside of my critique of Teampyro… which shows the shallowness and lack of willingness to really look at what they critique.

    Anyway, I appreciate you… and maybe I do need to think about my interactions with some like Teampyro… but then… who really takes them seriously anymore? They sort of discredited themselves with most people.

  3. This is my dilemma – I thought I understood the conversation point but from my perspective I'm wondering how that is different than what any young person goes through and what most old people (like me) think they haven't lost but really have. What's unique about this "conversation" than those we had when we were young, and the generation before us, and …?

    I guess I'm asking what is the value of identifying with emerg*? Using your chart, you could have easily replaced the words "emerging" and "modernists" with other words and this would then have been timeless.

    From your perspective, what is helpful to you when you identify with "emerging"? That is, what are you trying to describe that is unique or more specific than the term "Christian" (as an example)?

    Maybe this is something better suited for email. I'm genuinely interested in why you like the tag. Feel free to email direct or via facebook if you prefer not tying up this post comments … up to you.

  4. Rick,

    My initial interest in "emerging" was that it grasped the concept of Grace as I understand it. The people I met were very smart and I was able to converse with them on levels I had not been able to talk to people in many years.

    Yet, I come back to the grace idea. In emerging we see people as … people… not just saved and unsaved. I see that as leaning toward favoritism.

    I was confronted with ideas such as… pacifism…

    Can a "Christian" be a pacifist without being "liberal"?

    Can someone believe in evolution and Jesus?

    What is more important… a literal belief in the bible or understanding the message?

    These were intriguing questions that introduced me into the conversation… and people were discussing without attacking each other!

    I began to once again deconstruct my faith and my beliefs to see what I truly believed and what I was taught to see see what would stand. Gladly I would say about 95% stayed intact. Most that fell away was attachments like nationalism and such that began to look like "the Gospel and…" or "Jesus and… " which to me diminished the power of both.

    Again, I come to Grace… The people I interacted with were and are still talking about who to live the Christian Life… to be Jesus in the world and to it… to live out the mission of Christ to the world.

    Now not all of those who I originally conversed with I agree with… then or now… yet they had other redeeming qualities or gave other resources to the conversation… Brian McLaren, Doug Paggit and Tony Jones gave a lot of great thought provoking ideas… that later Shane Claiborn added to… such as looking for God in the "other". (Which amazes me that so many fight this idea as it was clearly revealed to Peter through Cornelius in Acts) I am emerging… I can't be otherwise… I am being created in His Image and as I am learning who I am in Christ I so I emerge…

    Again, not all that is believed out there is great… or biblical to me… yet the difference is that I see those as they are… opinions… Teampyro and others see those as doctrine and fall into the same trap as the Pope did with Luther…

    Luther stated, “I am the papal’s ass, ever time of bray, they call it doctrine”. And so those at Teampyro and other "critics" cannot tell the difference between a mere man's opinion and a doctrinal statement.

    Now here is something that has come out of the conversation:

    The Jesus Manifesto

    And that is why I am "emerging"…

  5. Ah yes, grace – I like that! And we clearly don't have enough (but that's not a new dilemma – Christ had to confront the lack of that also). So I applaud your perspective/desire.

    I'll only say I don't see that as unique to nor a distinctive of the emerging conversation. The general reading I've done didn't leave me with, "wow, these guys will be known for their grace." I guess that's because those that really pressed in toward love (which I liked) zoomed right past it to redefining love/god and ended in universalism.

    So based on your insight, I'll keep my eyes more open for that. Thanks – I appreciate the openness.

    Separately, I saw The Jesus Manifesto and thought it was good. I just don't recall Viola as gracious when I read his writings on the Church (although he had some good things to say, grace wouldn't have been a word I would have used to characterize it).

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