Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Phil Johnson on the Emerging Church

Emergent No posts the transcript of Johnson's critique.

Phil Johnson, Executive Director of John MacArthur's Grace to You , is best known for his work celebrating Spurgeon and "Phil Johnson's Bookmarks."

ht to justin taylor.

8 comments:

JSV said...
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Anonymous said...

Well written indeed! He seemed very fair and balanced, offering the good at the end which is rare in critiques of this nature. The essential issue IMO is point 2; It breeds doubt about the perspicuity of Scripture.

I find the timing of this post amazing. I just got off the phone with a friend who basically said we can never really understand scripture because of our bias--both culturally and personally.

I don't know what that means in the slightest.

I see the great departure in the Emerging Movement and many others as imply as this: When you move from understanding scripture in a commom sense hermenutic, you then give way to the mental aspeacts of the Fall on the human mind, that is, each one going his own way in search of understanding rather seeking first to understand BEFORE being understood.

YES...there are grey areas...but many simply refuse to live according to what is clear because they simply want to live life they way they want. I see this really no different than a five-year-old wanting to eat dinner when they want to eat and eat what they want to eat...and if mommy or daddy say otherwise, there is an attack towards authority.

At one time, this was called a rebellious spirit.

JSV said...

Ooops...above comment was by me...Joe

JSV said...

One last thought as I read the comments from, "Phil Johnson: A critical look at the emerging church movement"

Rob said, "That's not me wanting to do the heavy lifting, that's me saying you can't put God in a 3-point box. I think if I were God I get upset at 3-point boxes, if it's all I heard about me."
This has been my whole point...I agree, you can't sum up God or anyone in an hour lecture {church service} ...(which doesn't mean you don't spend an hour becoming more aware), but you seek the whole story of God from ‘In the Beginning’ to ‘Come Lord Jesus’! An expository approach to scripture or teaching the whole bible is what's missing.

BUT...let me add this--I sat under John MacArthur for over 13 years, every Sunday morning, Sunday school, Friday night bible study, classes during the week...that's a lot of messages...and your biblical IQ can be dreadfully far from your biblical I DO. The issues of the heart are rarely dealt with in a church that size. How do you shepherd 10,000 people? It was more an experience of going to bible school over attending a community church.

A church that size is guilty of making a “practical” theology fit around its culture (a huge mega-sized church) by keeping things very cognitive, cerebral and fast paced. Dealing with feelings or heart related issues is messy and it’s just easier to have an answer for everything. The Nouthetic counseling approach fits perfectly with this type of church. Larry Crabb’s approach was a direct threat and they threw out all his books in the late 80’s.

It is easy to attend this type of church for 13 years and never “really” know anybody, or to suppress many of the “real” heart issues one might wrestle with internally…so it is imbalanced in its own way.

Yet the doctrine preached and taught is solid…it’s just the surfacy way it is applied that I had problems with; i.e., “I struggle with anger.” Answer: “Anger is a sin, repent of your sinful behavioral patterns.” In almost all cases, there is no attempt to dig deeper…in fact digging deeper is considered psychology and that is another story in itself! There was little to no appeal to art and other issues that might have been labeled, “worldly.”

Fred Peatross said...

I can't help but pick @ what he (and we)call objective truth which is tangentially relevant to the human condition. Truth is perceived, rather than experienced directly. The validity of truth depends on the accuracy of perception, relative to that which is perceived.

JSV said...

"Truth is perceived, rather than experienced directly. The validity of truth depends on the accuracy of perception, relative to that which is perceived."

Talk about epistemological zig-zagging!

New Christianity Today article on the same subject; http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/111/32.0.html

Anonymous said...

I can’t help but pick @ what he (and we)call objective truth which is tangentially relevant to the human condition. Truth is perceived, rather than experienced directly. The validity of truth depends on the accuracy of perception, relative to that which is perceived.

One by one:

what he (and we) call objective truth which is tangentially relevant to the human condition

Here’s one of those things he (and we) call objective truths (one of many; just pulling this one out of a hat): Man is born into a particular state of corruption that renders him incapable of being received and accepted by God without God’s own particular intervention to remove the effects, and ultimately the presence, of that corruption. This objective truth isn’t "tangentially relevant" to the human condition; it is the human condition.

Truth is perceived, rather than experienced directly.

Tell that to Isaiah:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged."" (Isaiah 6:1-7)

The seraphim declared a truth, an "objective" revelation: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts." But the source of that revealed truth was sitting right there on the throne, and it was Isaiah’s experience of that truth, the reality of God’s holiness, way beyond just his "perception" of it, which caused him to understand his condition: "Woe is me, for I am undone!" (another objective truth, which he certainly "perceived," but also now experienced).

Then followed another objective truth that was both revealed and experienced: Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged." Objective truth, personally experienced – not just "perceived" (postmodern translation: malleable).

This is similar to (and obviously an illustration of) conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit: In all cases, it is an inescapably precise, starkly objective truth that is communicated into the believer’s consciousness by a means beyond mere mental "perception." It is at once revealed objectively and experienced directly.

The validity of truth depends on the accuracy of perception, relative to that which is perceived.

No, the validity of truth depends on the validity of truth, and the accuracy of perception depends on the accuracy of the one doing the perceiving. If the fruit on the branch in front of me is an apple, the fact that I inaccurately perceive it as an orange does not change the fact that it is, in fact, an apple. (According to your rule, it must, but it does not.) What Tom, Dick or Harry "perceive" about truth means absolutely nothing; truth is what it is, and will be what it is, whether or not Tom, Dick, Harry, or any one of us ever existed at all. All this emergent yada-speak about "truth depending on the accuracy of perception" is nothing but epistemological mob rule – every single person on earth an arbiter of truth. But it’s all vanity. If you or I were never born, the truth would not change. Our perception of the truth has no effect on it whatsoever.

I’m no apologist for "modernism," not by a long shot. But I firmly believe that if more of us had genuine encounters with the holiness of God along the lines of Isaiah’s experience, "postmodern theology," in its presently advocated form, would not exist.

JSV said...

Another commentary on the Emergent church is here: http://www.calvarybiblechurch.org/sermons.aspx/audio/20060108