Emergent Church Fruit Check

March 24th, 2007 | 39 Comments | Church Issues, Discernment, Emergent Church Emergent Church Fruit Check |  Facebook

This short article was put together by Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries and is well worth reading.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20, KJV)

Tony Jones:

Emergent surely has people in it who strongly believe that there is absolute truth. I’m on the record as laying out a pretty complex understanding of why I think putting the qualifier absolute in front of truth is a modernistic fallacy. Truth is not qualified by adjectives like absolute. So for me personally, talking about absolute truth is a nonsensical way to talk, and surely Christian theologians shouldn’t talk in that way. It isn’t helpful, because it doesn’t make sense. But that’s a book, not a paragraph in a magazine article. The short answer is, “No, Emergent has no statement on absolute truth, and there are people in Emergent who strongly hold to absolute truth.” But, personally, I think it’s a mistake…

I’m even more concerned that people have statements of faith. Statements of faith are about drawing boards, which means you have to load your weapons and place soldiers at those borders. You have to check people’s passports when they pass those borders. It becomes an obsession—guarding the borders. That is simply not the ministry of Jesus. It wasn’t the ministry of Paul or Peter. It started to become the ministry of the early Church, and it abated somewhat in the Middle Ages and blew back to life in the time of modernity. For the short duration of time that I have on this planet to do my best to partner with God and build His kingdom, I don’t want to spend it guarding borders. I’d like to spend it inviting people into the kingdom. Statements of faith don’t do they. They’re a modernistic endeavor that I’m not the least bit interested in.

(Relevant Magazine, transcript on file at Apprising Ministries)

Dr. John MacArthur:

The bottom line in the [Emerging Church] movement is they believe that we aren’t even supposed to understand precisely what the Bible means…it is an attack on the clarity of Scripture…it is a denial that we can know what the Bible really says… They have embraced this “mystery” as if it’s true spirituality…it is at the foundation an unwillingness to accept the clear teaching of Scripture…

All human society, thinking [and] culture is ungodly and anti-biblical. What is so interesting about this [Emerging Church] movement is [it] sanctifies the culture. The Emerging Church sanctifies the postmodern culture as if it is legitimate and says if we’re going to reach these people then we’ve got to become like these people. That’s never been the Biblical way. Never.

The Bible does not change, it’s not a chameleon, it doesn’t shift and change and adapt to culture. It confronts culture…it confronts every trend with fixed unchanging Truth, in every situation. And the Emerging Church, not only is unwilling to believe the clear statement of Scripture, but it’s unwilling to take the clear statement of Scripture and confront the culture. It wants to let the culture define what Christianity should be.

(What’s So Dangerous About the Emerging Church?, CD Rom, Message: GTY107)

For those who have been mercifully given eyes that see by our absolutely sovereign Creator, the LORD God Almighty of Israel, the verdict now appears with crystalline clarity. The American Christian Church listens to pompous Emergent fools like Tony Jones at her own demise.

Don’t say you haven’t been forewarned…

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39 Responses to “Emergent Church Fruit Check”

  1. Wilmo says:

    “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16

    Maybe the Emergent church is right. Maybe the best strategy to defend the truth of God is to raise a generation of soldiers who doubt what they are fighting for and then remove them from the front line to allow the Enemy in ;o)

    Praise be to God that the war is already won. Not by our own strength, but by the grace of God through Jesus Christ!

    God bless

  2. Tyler Smith says:

    It is true that the “emergers” often emphasise mystery at the expense of clarity, but it is unfortunate that many folks wholly dismiss anything that comes out of the movement (I believe it may be called that). The emerging church is reacting against those who have systematized not just the BIble (bad enough) but the Lord himself. Flannery O’Connor said that dogma to her always deepened mystery, and so she did not find it quite so binding as an outsider might suppose. Certainly, things can be known, but not exhaustively and not in the way that the Trinity knows them. The BIble reveals things about God. But it has been my experience that everything it reveals about God reveals more questions as well (kind of like an episode of LOST, and no, you cannot be a good christian if you do not watch LOST. Why aren’t you watching LOST?).

    This does not have to leave the Christian helplessly flailing in the sea of postmodern thought and culture, devoid of any absolute knowledge. I do like what this fella says about absolute being an improper modifier for truth. I had never thought about it before, but yes. Truth is truth.

    Anyway, I think my point is simply that we mustn’t ever develop pride and arrogance just because we have the Word of God. I believe in the perpiscuity of scripture, yes. But though I may understand scripture, I will never really understand scripture. I find that to be a delightful and comforting little truth (call it absolute if you will) that few could deny (if they understood what in the world I am trying to say, which they probably can’t).

    In other news, I am not sure how appropriate the title to this article is. Fruit check? For all of the flaws (i find many) in the leaders in this conversation, one thing we cannot say is that they do not believe in “fruit,” if fruit means good works (which it does). Indeed, one of the problems with the movement is that they talk so much about orthopraxy over against orthodoxy. It is an admirable thing they are trying to accomplish, but yes, this sometimes obscures doctrine. I can see that I am getting off point here, so I will simply ask what this article has to do with good works, which the emerging church seems to have full possession of.

    Thanks so much for this article. I greatly appreciate that people think at all these days.

    Incidentally, I wonder if it will allow me to post so many words. hmmmm.

  3. Ben Davis says:

    Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. When we deny truth we’re not only denying Jesus who said “I am the truth” (John 1:14; John 14:6), but also his promise of us coming to a knowledge of the truth (John 8:32), the Holy Spirit’s ability to reveal the truth to us (John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:14), and God’s will that we come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

    As for the title, one of the fruits of the Spirit is actually truth. We shall know them by their fruits…

    For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
    (Ephesians 5:8-10 KJV)

    Thanks for the comment Tyler, good to hear your thoughts.
    Much appreciated.

  4. We had not yet heard of this branch of modernism. We work with children and common people. To know there is one God, manifested is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is easily accepted. To know that God is holy and I am a sinner is quickly understood. To learn that the Father asked the Son to die in our place is quickly received by a child. The result is a transformation in the heart that cannot be denied. Love, joy and peace are evidence. This is simple and takes very little knowledge.

    I’d have to say that those in the emergent church are either stupid or hard-hearted or both.

  5. Tyler Smith says:

    It saddens me to hear such a comment from John and Verna. “Stupid, hard-hearted or both?” I guess I wonder if you have ever met any of these emerging leaders, or simply those who subscribe to their thought. I wonder if you have ever read what they have to say. It is very easy to disagree with someone’s teachcing when you have only been exposed to it through the critiques of others. It is much more difficult to actually go to the source, to wrestle with their arguments, and then to come to your own conclusions.

    Also, I would still challenge Ben as to the relevance of the title, and the appropriateness of the scriptures used to open this blog. Simply because the word “fruit” appears in the scripture from your comment and from the quote from Jesus with which this article begins, does not mean that they are synonymous. It seems apparent that fruit also can mean outwad acts of piety, which I would suggest is what Jesus had in mind in his sermon on the mount. Also, yes, truth is a fruit of the spirit. Has this particular person with which this article is concerned really denied truth? He denies a modifier for truth, which to me is actually protecting it. Has the emerging church at large denied truth? No. They may aproachi it in different way than you or I, but they believe whole heartedly in its existence and relevance.

    I do not subscribe to emerging thought on the whole, but these men and women are giving us things to think about, and there is a lot of good in what they have to say. It saddens me that because prominent Christian leaders denounce the movement, common Christians simply take their word for it and then invest in condemnatory talk of thinkers within the movement and the movement itself. This works well for facism, but not the Church of our Lord.

    Thanks for continuing the discussion. I pray you will excuse me if this is not very well thought out. There is something about the internet that makes me feel as if I can just spew out my words from the top of my head, give it a quick read-through/edit, cross my fingers and submit.

    crossing fingers, submiting,

    Tyler Smith

  6. Joe says:

    Ben,

    Let me preface this by stating that I am not “pro-Emergent”. That said, I feel that Ken’s article is unfair, and does the Emerging Church, as a whole, a disservice in two ways:

    1) The passage Ken quotes warns of false prophets, and states that corrupt trees will bring forth “evil fruit.” I would challenge Ken (or you) to cite an example of Tony Jones’ evil fruit. A careful reading of Tony’s statements would (to me) evidence his belief that, as the saying goes, “all truth is God’s truth”, and thus the “absolute” qualifier for the word “truth” is not necessary, as truth is by definition absolute, because truth is from God, and God is infinitely unchanging. The second quoted paragraph shows Tony to be more concerned with evangelism than drawing lines in the sand or slice-and-dice theology. I do not understand why he should be criticized for this. John MacArthur’s (whom I have much respect for) quote isn’t particularly helpful as a follow-up, as it doesn’t deal with Tony’s quoted statements. Furthermore, no claim made by MacArthur’s quote could be extrapolated from a careful reading of Tony’s quote. His statements may or may not be applicable to Emergent as a whole, but they are certainly not relevant in response to Tony’s statements.

    2) Tyler’s responses notwithstanding, the other replies to this article border on ridicule. John and Verna think that Emergent “are either stupid or hard-hearted or both.” Wilmo posits (I hope facetiously) that perhaps Emergent goal in defending God’s truth is “to raise a generation of soldiers who doubt what they are fighting for and then remove them from the front line to allow the enemy in.” And why do John and Verna and Wilmo respond thusly? Because of a quote from Tony Jones, a quote from John MacArthur, three paragraphs of text, and a dubious warning in parting. Ken (and Ben), how many of your readers will completely write off the Emerging Church, with no further research, as a result of this article? Tony Jones certainly does not represent the whole of Emergent, and even taking his words in their worst possible sense (truth is relative, no one can know God’s truth with certainty, etc.), I would hope that your readers do not come away from this article assuming that the Emerging Church at large is “either stupid or hard-hearted or both,” as I believe that you would be doing many brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of Emergent a disservice, to the point of (unconsciously, I am sure) building a straw man.

    Ben, I write this in love, not to criticize. I am a staunch believer in God’s truth, which of course, is absolute and does not change. I firmly believe that to know the truth about something requires examining that something, and not what people say about it, but that something itself, and how it squares with the Scriptures. I encourage you and your readers to do thusly with the statements, doctrines, and fruit of the Emerging Church.

    Joe

  7. Joe said: “I would challenge Ken (or you) to cite an example of Tony Jones’ evil fruit.’” Friend, I just did in that no teacher who is sent by Christ (the Truth) makes it his mission to help confuse understanding and thereby obscure Truth.

    And read this article for the end result of this Emergent rebellion against the Bible – “Tony Jones and the Emergent Church: Christian Gay is A-Ok”:
    http://www.apprising.org/archives/2006/12/tony_jones_and.html

    Incidentally I spoke with Tony personally on the phone concerning the quotes in this piece and he confirmed them with me. Joe, please notice the root of your misunderstanding here, it’s when you say: “A careful reading of Tony’s statements would (to me)…”

    With all due respect, I would offer that you are perhaps not in as good a position to understand this issue with the Emergent Church (you’ll see in the above piece this movement had a beginning) as I am. I’ve investigated this Emergent cult of of new liberal theology for two years now and I have talked personally with many of these guys, including one who was there in the very beginning in the Terranova Project itself. I pray this helps…

  8. Joe says:

    Ken,

    You’re right–my choice of words (specifically “to me”) was a terrible one. Worse yet, I may have actually intended them (at the time) in the sense taken, but I submit to you that anyone who reads the quote from Tony and takes it at plain face value would understand that Tony is not denying the absoluteness of truth, but rather the idea that truth could be anything but absolute. I suppose that what I am saying is that one would be hard-pressed to read your interpretation into Tony’s quote. If you believe I am incorrect about this, I am interested in how you support your view from Tony’s quote. Furthermore, brother, I adjure you to support your claim that Tony’s mission is “to help confuse understanding and thereby obscure Truth.” I suggest that all involved in serious discussions such as these would do well to leave hyperbole behind as they seek God’s truth in these matters.

    I have not yet read the article you linked, but I look forward to doing so, and should get around to it this afternoon.

    You may well be right about my position in investigating Emergent (for instance, I have no idea what the Terranova Project is or was–where could I find out more?), but when I see what appears to be shoddy reasoning and outright hostility in dealing with Emergent, I begin to have my doubts that the issue is being dealt with in a correct manner. If only the Bible mandated the use of doctrinal statements, statements of faith, or the term “absolute truth!” My question to you, Ken, is: What do you find to be the single most damning thing about the Emergent Church?

    I realize that this is a lot to respond to; however, I pray that you will respond to it all, and not just any one thing that may stand out as an error in my reasoning or understanding. I thank you for your time, brother.

    Joe

  9. Tyler Smith says:

    Joe, your choice of words was fine. It was humble. It admits that you may be wrong. Don’t give into the tripe that says humility is a sign of giving into postmodern thought. I am certain by saying “to me” you weren’t saying “my truth says this, your truth may say something different” but rather “you know, I could be wrong, but I think this…” God bless you for maintaining a degree of humility in this discussion.

    Ken, I’m not sure that you really have shown an example of evil fruit in Mr. Jones. You say that his obscuring truth is an evil fruit, but you have failed to prove how he has obscured truth. Again, his argument specifically regarding truth is that it has no need for a modifier. In this way, he is accusing those who use that modifier as obscuring truth. If he is correct, you are the one who possesses evil fruit. Well, anyway, getting into the habit of saying something like that is evil fruit is a pretty scary place to go. I am sure that I would disagree with a great many wonderful Christians on some philosophical issues (which this is). But will I say that they possess evil fruit (and make no mistake about it, are therefore going to hell) simply because I disagree with them?

    The emergent cult? How much of this is paranoia?

    Blessings,

    Tyler

  10. iggy says:

    The mystic Hegel, father of the ‘absolute truth’ would be proud of all of you for trusting in his man made doctrine of “absolute” truth… which is contrary to the biblical definition truth…

    Ken is pushing man made philosophies and doctrines…

    Great discernment guys!

    iggy

  11. Nay says:

    Unfortunately in today culture the word truth can mean very different things. Many of us hold to such diametrically opposing views on truth, whether it be universality (absolute truth) or relativism. So there is absolutely nothing wrong in stating that truth is absolute. We shouldn’t have to define truth as absolute, but many people in this wicked and twisted world believe truth is only relative. They are unreasonable and so to are these last comments.

  12. Tyler Smith says:

    am i the only one concerned with the title of this article?

    I could take or leave the argument about truth needing a modifer. Howard’s statement is obvious and true, however.

  13. Ben Davis says:

    Hey Tyler,

    There is no need to be concerned about the title. We should examine all teachings before swallowing them. The title itself isn’t telling you to believe one way or another.

  14. According to the Greek and Hebrew definitions for the two words that I studied for “truth” found in both languages, they both mean the exact same thing and that is this: faithfulness, trustworthiness, what conforms to reality in contrast to what is false.

    This says here that even if something is “true to me but isn’t true to you” then we disagree on what “true” is in this matter. Now, what if what I felt was true was that “blue was orange” and you thought “blue was blue”, well we disagree, “but that’s true for you and not for me”. Just because someone is colorblind doesn’t change the fact that truth, is truth. If something is, then it is, and there is no obscuring that with our lives dictating what truth is to us. If this were so, then I could believe anything opposing you and it would be truth, and so would what you believe. What this does is allow ANY RELIGION TO LEAD TO HEAVEN. Don’t you see this people? Don’t you see where obscuring absolute truth actually takes us? It takes us to the point of never understanding, never knowing, and always wondering. It takes us to the point of many gods leading to heaven. It takes us to the point where the narrow gate and the narrow path are actually many broad paths!

    I agree that Jesus Christ is massive above all the heavens and the earth and far greater than I ever can comprehend, but He gave us a clear and concise truth in The Bible that cannot be altered and we are trying to say that it isn’t absolute!

  15. Tyler Smith says:

    i…

    wah?

    wow.

    this has become absurd.

  16. Dennis says:

    “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20, KJV)”

    “The American Christian Church listens to pompous Emergent fools like Tony Jones at her own demise.”

    Matthew 5:22: “…whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

  17. Ben Davis says:

    Ever read Proverbs?

  18. Tyler Smith says:

    i think it’s a question of the spirit behind the comments. The Proverbs, yes, consistently refer to “the fool.” It is always an abstract idea. The fool is a sort of conglomeration of all fools, past present and future. He is the personification of foolishness. The writer doesn’t single out individuals as fools and use hate speech. I think what Chirst had in mind, again, was the spirit behind someone calling another “a fool.” It’s been depressingly clear that the spirit behind most of the comments on this page has been one of hate, paranoia and ignorance. Is it about Truth, or protecting our beliefs, our assumptions? Are we willing to be challenged? When we disagree with our brothers will we then be blinded to the good they may offer us? Our fear, paranoia, hatred and ignorance will forever prevent us from hearing the good in their message.

    This will be my final post.

  19. Joe says:

    Ben, Ken, Howard, Ryan, and other assorted friends:

    Reading the last of these comments (I’m looking at you particularly, Ryan, as your commentary seems to have little to do with the actual content of Tony Jones’s words), it seems to me as though some participating in this discussion have forgotten the idea that started it. Let me refresh your memories by quoting Tony again:

    Emergent surely has people in it who strongly believe that there is absolute truth. I’m on the record as laying out a pretty complex understanding of why I think putting the qualifier absolute in front of truth is a modernistic fallacy. Truth is not qualified by adjectives like absolute. So for me personally, talking about absolute truth is a nonsensical way to talk, and surely Christian theologians shouldn’t talk in that way. It isn’t helpful, because it doesn’t make sense. But that’s a book, not a paragraph in a magazine article. The short answer is, “No, Emergent has no statement on absolute truth, and there are people in Emergent who strongly hold to absolute truth.” But, personally, I think it’s a mistake…

    I’ve omitted the second paragraph, as it mostly deals with Tony’s disavowal of the necessity of doctrinal statements, and I’m assuming that isn’t the issue here. If it is, and I’ve overlooked some biblical stipulation, please tell me.

    My previous commentary and questions, originally directed to Ken, still stand. Ken is apparently too busy to answer them (although not too busy to congratulate Ben for his encouragement to carefully examine all teachings—something that I pray I am practicing as well), so if anyone else feels like stepping up to the task, I would be grateful.

    That said, I’ll go out on a limb and address Ken once more. Brother, this seems to be very much about your vendetta against the Emergent Church (or Tony—I can’t decide which…or are they the same thing, by your estimation?), and hardly about what Tony actually said. I infer this from phrases such as “…pompous Emergent fools like Tony Jones…”, “For those who…the verdict now appears with crystalline clarity”, and “Don’t say you haven’t been forewarned…”. If this were simply about Tony’s words, such terminology would seem illogical. Sadly, many of Ben’s readers are sure to pick up on your antagonistic bent and run with it instead of “examining all teachings before swallowing them”, as Ben himself suggests we do.

    I imagine Jesus would have a lot to say to and about the Emergent Church, but I am certain that straw men would be absent from His employ.

    Or perhaps this is simply about Tony’s choice of words and your demand that he use the modifier “absolute” in reference to truth. If so, I find it exceptional that your zeal for cultural relevance should surpass that of Tony. In contrast to Tony, who is content to let God’s Truth (John 14:6, John 17:17) stand by its own merit, you evidently feel the need to emphasize the absolute nature of said Truth, lest it be missed by a relativistic society, and to strongly (nay, scathingly) reprimand a brother who disagrees. If this speculation is correct, brother, I question whose “myth” (I Timothy 4:1-5, N.B. v. 4) is being propagated here.

    At this point, I don’t know what to think. You tell me.

  20. Joe,

    You speculate: “Brother, this seems to be very much about your vendetta against the Emergent Church (or Tony…)” In an attemp to help you here it is not a “vendetta,” nor is it “my” desire.

    Then you say: “I imagine Jesus would have a lot to say to and about the Emergent Church,…” O, He does; and I’m one of the men He is saying it through.

    Next an ad hominem: “but I am certain that straw men would be absent from His employ.” This is simply your opinion, which of course you are entitled to, -but unfortunately there are no straw men in the argument Christ presents through me.

    And finally more opinion as you say: “to strongly (nay, scathingly) reprimand a brother.” I must be blunt here. No brother of mine would ever dare speak of my Father’s Word in such a way as Jones does here: “the Bible is an f***king scary book.” Whatever Jones might get he would have coming to him, may the Lord show him mercy.

  21. To make absolutely clear for anyone reading these comments:
    Yes I completely omitted the original topic to address the new issues that were presented via comments by those defending Tony. The article was well addressed all ready.

    In Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior,
    Ryan Patterson

  22. Joe says:

    Ryan:

    Thank you for your attention to clarity. I think you’ll see by my previous comments that we are in agreement about truth. I wonder, primarily, if you could clarify further as to which new issues were introduced, and who introduced them, so that I might better understand what your comment is addressing. Also, who are you referring to with “we” in the third paragraph of your original comment?

    Ken:

    Thank you for your quick response. Your claim to be one of the Lord’s mouthpieces (I know you didn’t use that word, but your statements amount to as much) is certainly a bold one; I pray that you truly understand the gravity of your claims.

    My statement, “…but I am certain that straw men would be absent from His employ” is by no means an ad hominem. I honestly believe that your response to Tony’s quote is a straw man argument (else you’d be responding to the quote itself, and possibly what I’ve said about it), and I’m standing by that. And yes, it is a matter of opinion, and yes, much of what you say is opinion as well. Neither “side” can simply write off the other’s arguments as a matter of opinion. Your statements do not fall into a special “fact” category. I am carefully considering everything that you write, and I pray, continuing to hold it up to the light of Scripture, whose truth thankfully is not a matter of opinion.

    Thank your, brother, for your zeal for truth. I pray that it would be tempered with godly wisdom, grace, and truth. I am saddened that you now refuse to count Tony, whatever your differences are, as a brother in Christ.

  23. Joe says:

    Correction: The end of my second-to-last sentence should read, “godly wisdom, grace, and love.” The way I have it is a bit redundant.

  24. Joe,

    Let me politely say I am saddened that you read into my statements what isn’t there. Please try not to take what I say beyond what I actually say. Right now it’s just best we drop this discussion and agree to disagree agreeably.

  25. Joe says:

    Ken:

    What specifically did I read into your statements? “O, He does; and I’m one of the men He is saying it through”? “there are no straw men in the argument Christ presents through me”? Or have I still missed it?

    We’re not both right. One of is most certainly wrong—that’s the thing about truth. In defense of said truth I would will to continue the discussion, but if you prefer, I will agree to disagree agreeably.

  26. mike says:

    In regards to this conversation, let me say that the major proponents of this movement, (the emerging church) Brian Mclaren, Dan Kimball et al leave a lot to be desired with their theological understanding. In their push to see the emerging church and it’s vintage Christianity flourish, they encourage all the bells, smells and whistles that did not ever accompany the first Christian church. There brand of Christianity is of a more mystical and sensory type and this does not lead one to Christ but eventualy to religion.

  27. Joe: You asked/said: Thank you for your attention to clarity. I think you’ll see by my previous comments that we are in agreement about truth. I wonder, primarily, if you could clarify further as to which new issues were introduced, and who introduced them, so that I might better understand what your comment is addressing. Also, who are you referring to with “we” in the third paragraph of your original comment?

    My original comment was in defense of Iggy’s comment about absolute truth being a man-made mystical doctrine. The “we” refers, in general, to the modern “Christian” church as a whole denying Biblical truth as well as the men, more specifically iggy, on this post who deny Biblical truth.

    My apologies for not being clear with my comment. I will take note of this in my future comments as to avoid these problems.

    In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,
    Ryan Patterson

  28. Joe says:

    Ryan:

    Thanks for the clarification.

  29. Scott says:

    It is interesting to me how few people in the discussions about the Emergent Church or about Truth or Religion or Christianity, actually seem to be listening to what the other people are saying. What I read is many trying to defend their position, place blame, making unsubstantiated truth claims (because I said so), responding from a place of arrogance saying “I have it all figured out” or in reference to Jesus having a lot to say, “O, He does; and I’m one of the men He is saying it through” (as though God could not possibly be using Tony).

    When we are truly listening to one another we are trying to understand the other person and their perspective. This is how Jesus treated people, He responds to the spoken as well as the unspoken, their context and understanding as well as the Hebrew Scriptures. When we act as judges of those who are claiming to be our brothers and sisters we are guilty of pointing out the splinter in their eyes, rather than the log in our own. “For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Not just some, not just Tony, not just those who don’t agree with our views, but all of us, Ken and Ryan and myself included.

    Jesus Himself in human form did not presume to within Himself house Truth, He said that “I do nothing but what I have seen My Father in Heaven doing.” He watched and saw the FRUIT of what God was doing, lives being radically changed and transformed, people with life-altering infirmities being healed and RESTORED into communities.

    Some see the FRUIT in the Emergent Church along the same lines. Those who have been cast out by traditional churches telling them they have to clean up before they come back, have found that they have been welcomed dirt and all into the Emergent community and invited to learn and grow in their understanding of God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the very model we find in Jesus’ own life. He brought in the outcast and the downtrodden, it didn’t end there, He called them to live a life that would be pleasing to God. How do you know, simply because the Emergent culture won’t make truth claims or dogmatic statements, that this is not going on?

    What is the FRUIT of name calling and demonizing or vilifying those who disagree with your beliefs? Division, defensiveness, animosity? Are you willing to bet your own salvation on whether or not you are truly right about Tony and others in the Emergent culture? Are you positive that you have truly LISTENED and UNDERSTOOD what Tony and others have been saying? Simply because you are well-read on a topic does not mean that you understand it. Can you say at the peril to your own soul that God will judge Tony the same way that you have, are you that certain of your own ability to hear from God and understand that you would stake your own life on it?

    For anyone who is not God to make such a claim seems to fall in the realm of arrogance rather than humility. Paul himself said that “I am the chief of all sinners” and “we see as though through a glass dimly…then we shall see in full.” This side of eternity are such adamant acclamations of truth even possible, given our flawed nature and penchant for sin? Can you truly say that there is no pride or arrogance or sin in your own life? For how else can we 100% guarantee that the message we claim to have heard from God has not been tainted by our humanity?

    Submitted respectfully for your perusal and rebuttal,
    Scott Jones

  30. Scott,

    You said: “they have been welcomed dirt and all into the Emergent community and invited to learn and grow in their understanding of God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Put the word “own” in there and you have the Emergent community. Christianity my way, as I see it, as I want it. “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end is destruction.”

    You ask: “Are you positive that you have truly LISTENED and UNDERSTOOD what Tony and others have been saying?” Yes, I sure have. Even spoke with Tony personally on the phone. Nice guy, but he doesn’t know what he is talking about as far as genuine Christianity.

    Finally you say: “Simply because you are well-read on a topic does not mean that you understand it.” I hope you realize this is not really a wise statement. If one is well-read on a subject they are probably in a better position to understand said topic than one who isn’t. Also, it can just as easily be said that just because one is not well-read on a topic it doesn’t mean you understand it. In fact, it would actually be quite likely they don’t.

  31. Scott says:

    Ken-

    The interesting thing is if I apply your logic about being well-read on a topic, then we could say that Tony really does understand what it is to be a Christian because he is most definitely well-read when it comes to Scripture. Knowledge cannot be equated with wisdom; they are not the same thing. Understanding requires both. Being well-read only means that a person is knowledgeable not necessarily that they are wise.

    Your rebuttal: “it can just as easily be said that just because one is not well-read on a topic it doesn’t mean you understand it. In fact, it would actually be quite likely they don’t.” And according to the rules of logic simply because the positive is true does not mean that the negative also has to be true to make it a valid statement, nor does it mean that if the negative is true that the positive can not also be true.

    I would agree with your statement that if someone is not well-read they most likely won’t have a clear understanding of the situation, however, simply because someone is not well-READ does not necessarily mean that they do not UNDERSTAND, there are other ways of gaining knowledge or we wouldn’t know what we do about the world today. Scientists use the methods of OBSERVATION and EXPERIMENTATION to explore this world.

    I would also say that your addition of “own” into my wording is neither what I meant nor really what the Emergent community believes. They come from the position that they are to grow together, that it is the community of faith that exegetes Scripture. The issue of the word “own” aside, the point is not the understanding but the acceptance that these people have received from the Emergent community when so many have cast them out.

    Jesus said “if you do this unto one of the least of these you have done it unto me”. Would these people, dirt and all, be considered one of the least of these? Is it their understanding of Jesus that mattered most to Him or was it their whole being? The disciples didn’t understand what He was talking about half the time (maybe that is even generous) and yet Jesus didn’t kick them to the curb; He continued to include them in His close circle of relationship.

    God uses cracked and broken clay pots to do His work, for “in our weakness He is strong”. It is not our own righteousness nor our own efforts and understanding that allows God to use us. It is our willingness and availability to Him.

    Do you have any response to: “Can you say at the peril to your own soul that God will judge Tony the same way that you have, are you that certain of your own ability to hear from God and understand that you would stake your own life on it?”

    Respectfully,
    Scott Jones

  32. Thanks Scott but I have no intention of quarreling about words with you. It wouldn’t appear we are going to agree here.

    My response to your question is: Can you say at the peril to your own soul that God will not judge Tony the same way that I have, and are you that certain of your own ability to hear from God and understand that you would stake your own life on it?

  33. Scott says:

    Ken-

    I have made no claims of judgment or lack of judgment with regards to Tony. Personally, I don’t think that it is any of my business as God is the only one who can judge the true motivations of our hearts. I am perfectly willing to allow God to do that and therefore, do not find it necessary to condemn Tony or question his salvation or understanding of Christianity.

    I have taken no stand on the Emergent Church movement or Tony Jones in my comments. All I have done is merely point out what I see as the holes and the unbiblical views and actions that I have read in those who have judged him and his writings and his beliefs.

    Ephesians 4-6 is all about the unity in the body of Christ. It does not say that we are all to be the same and believe EXACTLY the same way, but that we are do be of one mind and spirit and that is to serve God to the best of our ability to love Him and love others. I question the way that many have responded to our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith by condemning and making truth claims about their salvation or lack thereof. How is this showing love to our fellow Christians? For that matter what does yelling and pointing fingers to those in various communities who have sinned, gain us? All I see we gain is a reputation as judgmental, hypocritical, unintellectual, ungracious, unloving, and just plain hateful. What kind of witness is that to those who have yet to believe God’s truth? Who have yet to know Christ’s love?

    This is not the message that Christ came to bring! This is not what He set us free for! He set us free to love one another UNCONDITIONALLY, that doesn’t mean only if they agree with us, that doesn’t mean only if they are living holy lives, that means ALWAYS, in EVERY situation, WITHOUT question. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to 1) love the Lord God with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength AND 2) to love our neighbor as ourselves. (This is what I have staked my life on- that we are to love, it may take me the rest of my life to discover what this really means and all the ramifications for my life.)

    The Pharisees believed that faith was about right UNDERSTANDING and about proper BEHAVIOR and forgot about God’s SPIRIT and the spirit of the law not the letter. If we do not learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before us, we are doomed to repeat them. I would say that God loves Tony more than you or I could possibly imagine and I believe that He is grieved to hear how some have talked about and treated his son Tony. I may not agree with everything that Tony says, nor everything you have said, but I am required to try to see you both through the eyes of God’s love. This means respecting the other and not trying to defame, slander, or vilify anyone who is a brother or sister, and it means respecting the humanity of the other person by recognizing our own weakness and joining with them in the shared weakness of the human experience. This is what God Himself did by taking on flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and joining us in our human suffering and frailty.

    I am sure that God is using you even if I don’t agree with the things you say or the way that you say them. You are my brother and because of that I seek only your benefit.

    In Christ,
    Scott Jones

  34. Scott says:

    See also Romans 2:1 “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

  35. Zack says:

    Scott,

    Do not pull the judge not card, please. haven’t you ever read 1 Cor. 5:11-13 which says,

    “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.””

    We are supposed to judge the teachings and doctrines of those who claim to be inside the church. Now, we shouldn’t judge and condemn those outside the church morally for ” For what have (we) to do with judging outsiders?”, obviously. However, we are supposed to test all things to scripture and be discerning.

    So, bad card to pull at this point.

  36. marty mcfly says:

    hey guys, im sorry but i dont see how the first paragraph of tony’s statement cann be taken to mean anything other than “I think that truth is not absolute and its unwise to think about truth that way.” Jesus must be THE truth – and if there is no absolute truth, then there is no THE truth – and we are lost without hope.

    ybic marty

  37. Yeah, I agree. You guys are right. Jacob Prasch has a great article about judging called, “Judge Not” – it’s worth reading!


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