Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Emerging Church is so diverse and even those who would see themselves "within" the Emerging Church don't agree on a lot of stuff. I want to post a few posters that were created to represent how the "Emergent's" think. They are entitled: Emerging Church Motivational Posters for you to see and then I will comment below each one. Though they have been created and fabricated to represent these people, I still take them as examples to show the seriousness of the error within this new "movement":

If our doctrine comes merely from the imagination as this poster advocates, then where is objective and authoritative truth fit in? If my doctrine is a mere fabrication of my imagination - regardless of what the Scriptures say, I have no objectivity to stand upon. Furthermore, this is doing severe damage to one's "biblical" convictions (if you can call it that) if their belief are based upon mere "imaginations." What about dogmatic truth?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Ezra the scribe used the Scriptures as the basis for his doctrine:

Ezra 7:10 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

This seems as if this is the "motto" for the Emerging Church - if you will. They want to be relevant. They want to reach culture. Now, I must preface my statements by saying that there is nothing wrong with reaching culture - in fact, we MUST do this. See Al Mohler's blog for an excellent example of how to do this in a loving, gracious and biblical way. However, if we become SO relevant that we want people to be so comfortable and NEVER be offended - then I suggest that we have done disloyalty to the Word of God.

Let us never forget that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who do not believe. If everyone readily accepts our message, then I wonder if there is NOT something wrong with that message.

1 Corinthians 1:18 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Remember after Stephen preached in Acts 7, his hearers were completely offended by the gospel:

Acts 7:52-54 52 "Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it." 54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.

This is a wicked posterboard. It takes 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." The Westminster Confession says: "What is man's chief end? The answer is: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."

That is definately NOT the message across in this posterboard. What kind of people will this kind of poster attract. Furthermore, What kind of "church" (if we, once again, can call it that) would have this kind of advertisement? If man's chief end is to glorify whatever is lowbrow and to enjoy it forever, that is certainly not a true Christian's heartbeat. If one truly desires to glorify whatever is low (which is the absolute opposite of God, who is the absolute highest Supreme Being), then that is idolatry and this kind of false "glorification of what is low" will lead someone straight to hell - forever.

This is, perhaps, one of the most harmful posters that could ever be published. The so-called "Hermeneutic of Humility" is held by the Emerging Church members and they say that they are SO humble in their interpretations of Scripture that they are unworthy or unqualified to say with absolute authority and dogmatic objectivity that this is what God's Word says.

My response to that is this. Then if you can't know for sure with absolute objectivity, then no one is really saved. If we cannot really interpret the Scriptures with authority and confidence, then who really knew if Jesus died on the cross - and furthermore, if He rose from the dead? If we are just too humble to interpret the Scriptures and we have to continue saying, "I think..." "I think..." "I think..." instead of "THUS SAITH THE LORD..." then we are doing severe injustice to the Word of God.

What do these Emergent's do with:

Titus 3:8 8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

The idea of confidently here is to speak something "with absolute conviction so that no one can deter your view." I sure would NOT want to sit under a pastor (much less, even walk in a church) where a message (surely not the biblical one, at that) is preached saying, "We think that you can be saved because we think that Jesus died on the cross and we think that He rose from the dead and we think that you can have eternal life -- but no one can really be sure."

What kind of hope is that? That is surely not the biblical gospel.

Finally, this poster speaks of community. The first line is not just unbiblical, it is ANTIBIBLICAL. The fact that courtesy and confessions are optional? Do these people read the Bible?

Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Acts 4:32 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them.

Acts 2:42-44 42 And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common;

Need I say more regarding this one?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post...sad case. See ya tommorrow,

Wes said...


I'm a little confused. Do you think these posters are supposed to represent what "Emergents" really think? They were created by men who oppose the emerging church and are willing and ready to make fun of everything "emerging." Yeah, I got a laugh out of some of them, but only because they are CARICATURES. I hope you are not using these as your source for understanding the EMC. Sorry to chide, but I really had to point this out. Maybe it's just a misunderstanding on my part.

Wes said...

To view posters that actually represent the view of the emerging church, please visit

If you have trouble with this link, you can let me know.

Go in grace-

Wes said...

Once you have viewed the other posters, here's one additional thought about them by pastor Mike Clawson:

"The question then is which set of posters would your rather have your faith associated with? (Because in the end, Johnson's posters say more about his own approach to Christianity than they do about the emerging church.) Would you rather identify with those who feel the need to misrepresent and poke fun at other believers, or are you inspired by the vision of faith represented in Emerging Grace's posters? Would you rather mock and ridicule the kinds of things talked about by emergents, or do you resonate with what we really mean by them? Who represents the kind of faith you'd rather have: Phil Johnson or Emerging Grace? Which set of posters do you think best reflects the spirit and way of Jesus?"

Anonymous said...

I would much rather be like Phil Johnson than Mike Clawson after reading several posts on EmergingPensees.

No question about it!

Randy Kirkland

Anonymous said...

well, I went to the Emerging Grace blog and am even more convinced at how empty the arguments are for at least this version of "emerging church" (I'd call it "submerging" instead).

2 excerpts fom the blogmaster of Emerging Grace make the case for me:

The first excerpt is the repugnant “I used to believe in all that stuff then I got so much wiser...those who don't agree with me are blind” category and the second excerpt is more like “don’t trouble me with details, let’s just ‘do church’”.

Here are the excerpts (verbatim)….

First excerpt: "In the time that I've listened to the emerging conversation, I've identified some things that I question about current church structure.

1. I believe that the clergy/laity model hinders church as it should be. I believe that power structures are detrimental to kingdom life.
2. I believe God is grieved with our generous building/salary budgets at the neglect of the poor among us.
3. I believe that our program-driven models produce a separate culture that has little impact on the world we are sent to.

I don't know if I will have the opportunity to be in community (locally) with others who share these beliefs. For now, I simply attend our local church with an acceptance that I see things differently than they do. That's OK. I'm not angry, and I don't believe I'm responsible to bring change to them.

It is helpful for me to remember how differently I saw things in my pre-emergent days. When I viewed the church with institutional glasses, I would not have seen or understood any of the emerging conversation. It was simply out of context to my belief system.

For those who haven't contracted the emerging virus, there is no ability to see. It is like color-blindness, in that what is visible to one person, doesn't even register to another person.

The traditional model is so entrenched in our Christian culture that the idea of "coloring outside the lines" is threatening to them. Unfortunately, those who haven't been infected with the virus will either ignore or oppose everything that doesn't fit the traditional model.

I think it is important for us to understand, that many emerging church critics simply have no context to understand or see the things that seem obvious and logical to us. Often, conversations with the critics are as unfruitful as debating color with a colorblind person.

Let's face it, in the minds of those who have not yet grown weary of running on the program-driven treadmill of institutional church, we simply don't make sense.

In the meantime, even if we have yet to see "where we fit," we can be busy allowing God to shape us into the person He wants us to be and trust that He has the ability to place in the Body."

Second excerpt…

"The question most often asked is 'what it church?'
Why do we meet?
When and where do we meet?
How do we meet?
What do we do in our gatherings?
Who leads? Who governs? Who teaches?

Where do apostles fit in church? What about prophets?
What is the role of elders in church?
And what about the role of women in church?

I have shelves of books about who does what in church. Some going in to detail about what to call people who might have more than one five-fold office (they're supposed to be called hyphenated apostles, or whatever their major gifting is).

There have been volumes written trying to define positions in church, not to mention countless conferences explaining who's who in church. It begins to sound like the classic Laurel and Hardy skit, "Who's On First?"

I think we've been majoring in the minors. We are the church. So how do we be the church in a way that impacts our world? I don't think that continually tweaking our meeting styles and positions is having any impact except to keep our focus internal rather than missional.

Why have we done this? I think it's been easier to attempt to perfect our organization than to get out and be the church. The more inward our focus has become the more we minor in the details of church life.

I would love to see us learn to be the church in the world without all of the trappings that distract us from the mission at hand."

Randy Kirkland

geoffrey kirkland said...


Thank you for your comments and your kindness at checking out my blog.

For the record, I do recognize these were developed by Phil Johnson - who is definitely NOT an advocate of the Emerging Church. My post was to take the posters and critique the Emerging Church because - though it is NOT the basis of my understanding of the EC - I DO believe they are accurate (for the most part.

Regarding your second post, I am having trouble with the website you sent me and the posters from the EC guys...

However, regarding your third post, I would MUCH rather be on the side of Phil Johnson over Emerging Grace. But forget whose "side" I want to be on. I want to be faithful to the Scriptures and the biggest issue I have with the EC (in general) is that they are NOT as faithful as I'd like (yes, I understand I'm generalizing again). I don't see in 1 Timothy 4:2 to "Preach the Word 'and learn to exegete the culture to be more culturally-relevant, etc'. I simply read, "Preach the Word." Now, sure I want to know the culture and understand it, but my job as a preacher of the Word of God is ONE task and one simple task alone - to Preach the Word and nothing but the Word. Only the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit can transform lives and regenerate people...not being culturally relevant.

Furthermore, I have quite a few issues with Mark Driscoll. He seems to be one of the headmasters in the whole EC movement. Why use profanity in the pulpit? Why talk about "beer" from the pulpit? Where is the centrality of the Word of God and the idea of "being above reproach?" (1 Tim 3:2).

Wes, I understand where you are coming from (I think). But my one concern is a big one and a most serious one. Are we being faithful ministers of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by faithfully studying and exegeting the Word of God or am I spending ALL my energies trying to be "relevant" to culture, the post-modern society, etc.

I'm just telling you where "I" (as Geoff Kirkland) am coming from. My one goal in life is to Preach the Word - can I ever say anything else that is of value? For ME, if it is NOT based in the true, living, inspired, and completely and wholly authoritative Word of God, then I will sit down cause I will have nothing to say. But praise God that I want to study to show myself approved, to the glory of God, by preaching faithfully (2 Tim 2:15).

Over the centuries, the faithful ministers and preachers have been those who have preached the Gospel from the Word of God in an exegetical/expositional fashion (Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Spurgeon, etc)... Do I want to preach anything else from the pulpit? No.

Wes said...

I understand and share your committment to preaching the Word of God faithfully. Praise God that you are passionately committed to this!

I am sorry to hear, however, that you think these posters by Phil Johnson et al. are accurate representations of emerging church values. They are caricatures and not characterizations.

Thanks for your reponse.


noneuclidean said...

I completely agree with you that the Emergent church is a fairly dangerous movement. From my own understanding of the movement I would say that they lost their way when they exchanged communicating with a postmodern world from an Biblical absolute foundation with communicating with a postmodern world from a "Biblically" postmodern foundation. This is a tremendously serious error, particularly since the act of coming along side postmodern unbelievers as postmodern Christian means that we would lack a sufficient base to aid them to coming out of their condition. It's jumping into the quicksand to save a friend whose already stuck--the desire to save them is noble, but the method and results are so horribly problematic that the nobility is ultimately meaningless.

Of course, we do have to be cautious, because the E.C. is so incredibly varied that there are some that hold to Biblical sound doctrine while claiming to be E.C.

Just a gentile suggestion, I believe we need to be incredibly careful when addressing opposing theologies and philosophies. There is a tremendous temptation to make caricatures out of those we disagree with. This is not a good way of approaching debates however. It alienates those we disagree with. It can be perceived as unloving. And it ends dialog. While these posters might represent some actually beliefs of some in the E.C., they seem to have a spirit of mockery that does not seem, to me at least, to be edifying or conducive to reproofing them back to Biblically Truth.

geoffrey kirkland said...

Dear NonEuclidean,

Thank you for the post and for the "gentle reminder." I need it and greatly appreciate your feedback.

Keep fighting for the truth.


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