EmergentNo goes way too far

EmergentNo goes way too far

Here is a quote from the latest article EmergentNo linked to about Brian McLaren.

“Interestingly, this ecclesiastical milksop who won’t even take a stand one way or the other regarding sodomite matrimony characterizes the American nuclear family as a “waste” of resources and unworthy of the attention it receives in popular Evangelical thought. McLaren hopes extended families and “intentional households” (think glorified communes) will be the wave of the future.

One wonders if Pastor McLaren’s will be as keen on the share and share alike and the what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine outlook when the additional men he invites to reside at his compound have intentions for his wife? Or as most experiments in communalized domesticity end up, will Rev. McLaren be the only one permitted to relish the benefits of the community property if you catch my drift? Jonestown or Waco, anyone?”

This after posting the following.  Carla says she agrees with the a-team which wrote.

 1) Can we give each other the benefit of the doubt that
a) both sides are doing their best to understand one another
b) both sides have legitimate concerns that should be discussed instead of mocked?

2) Can we refrain from taking criticisms of ideas personally and emotionally overreacting?

3) Can we attack ideas without attacking the people who hold them?

4) Can we be specific and clear about what our concerns are, either in criticisms or against criticisms? (Without assuming too much and over generalizing.)

5) Can we remember that in the end what matters most is not how we feel about something but that God is glorified in our thoughts, comments, and deeds?

Update: The post has been taken down

  1. #1 by Paul Johnston on April 15, 2005 - 9:30 am

    This must be a difficult dialogue for many of you to engage in indeed. As a Roman Catholic I don’t feel personally connected to either the “Emergent” or anti “Emergent” camps.

    I like and have concerns with aspects of both and in the end hope you’ll all become Catholic. 🙂

    I think though that it might be helpful to seperate two conflicting dynamics at play in this debate. That being notions of theological differences and civil discourse.

    It is most unfortunate to me that the author of “emergentno” continually makes highly inflamatory and I would agree slanderous judgements of those with whom she disagrees. I have lived on both sides of “this fence” in the course of dialoging with fellow bloggers and neither locale educates or edifies.

    I would suspect that Carla, is motivated by sincere concerns of, dare I say it, heresy or at least the encroachment of spiritual waywardness.

    I think she would do better to first affirm what she feels are essential to the expression of our collectively held faith in Jesus Christ and then express her concerns regarding “emergent” interpretations. Futhermore she must, like all avowed Christians, seek the language of mercy and tolerence when expressing her claims. Fear should not be used to justify anger and insult.

    Likewise also, inspite of clearly inappropriate provocation, the “emergent” follower would do well to seperate his or her feelings in regard to insult from their religeous beliefs and deal with them as seperate and distinct issues

    To respond in a similar manner though understandable, will only lead to further insult and put greater distance between people who at the end of the day both claim allegience to Jesus Christ.

  2. #2 by Darryl on April 15, 2005 - 11:50 am

    I think Emergent No is gradually only going to be read by the already-convinced. It’s losing credibility by the way it is operated.

    That is too bad because I think that we need a site like Emergent No, but it’s just becoming nasty and of fairly low quality.

  3. #3 by Jacob on April 15, 2005 - 5:12 pm

    I find that most Emerging church blogs a generally read by the already emerging.

  4. #4 by Justin Baeder on April 15, 2005 - 5:24 pm

    I read through a bunch of their stuff last night. It’s not that bad without all the comments, which apparently have disappeared because they’ve jumped between different comment systems. I really like Carla’s older posts, because I think she responded reasonably for someone coming from a modernist Calvinist perspective.

    The other articles they quote are quite another story, and I think you’re right, LT, they often forget their own standards.

    BTW, Jordon asked for it:


  5. #5 by the_blacke on April 15, 2005 - 6:17 pm

    I must say, I’m actually a touch disappointed that the post was taken down so quickly. I went to bed with the eager expectation that my questions of “how do EmergentNO feel being associated with people whose methods are so thoroughly dispicable?” might be answered, in a deja vu sort of way. Ever hopeful.

    But, despite having taken down the article and cleaned up some of their referers off the page, you’ll all be happy to know that from EmergentNo we’re still only 3 clicks away from Brainwashing in America and The UN’s secret plan for your mental health. Some things may never change.

  6. #6 by Darryl on April 15, 2005 - 7:26 pm

    Jacob, you are probably right that most blogs are read by those who are sympathetic to the views being expressed. I think Emergent No could be different. It is widely read by many who don’t agree with them, and I don’t think it’s hard right now to be fair and to be critical of the emerging church at the same time. I’d hate to see them lose that opportunity.

  7. #7 by scotty on April 15, 2005 - 9:57 pm

    I guess McLaren asks too many scary questions. I can’t say everything he’s even written is flawless, but he certainly challenges old assumptions and that’s what we need. Welcome to the 21st century.

  8. #8 by Jordon Cooper on April 16, 2005 - 8:03 pm

    Someone has got to discredit me sooner or later 🙂

    About Emergent No. Even the title serves notice that it isn’t about dialogue. The mind is already made up and we are a threat. Not only that but Carla and other’s mean spiritedness is really hard to take. The people she is attacking are people I call friends. People we have broken bread with and prayed together. Those that want dialogue do not talk about other people and their friends like that. As Real Live Preacher said, “There are those that are incapable of love”. I don’t know if that is true in this case, but I do know that some are incapable of listening or dialoging and those are not worth my time.

  9. #9 by Roger N Overton on April 17, 2005 - 12:40 am

    Justin made the comment that Carla’s earlier posts were more reasonable. I’m not sure if this is true, I’ve only been reading it the past couple of weeks, but I’ve also seen some very unreasonable comments by EC people. I haven’t seen any personal attacks by the authors of EmergentNo (maybe I missed them?), but I’ve seen plenty coming from EC people- one to the point of creating “EmergentNoNo” which is completely personal.

    Regardless of what Carla’s said, or anyone else at EmergentNo, I’ve been told that EC is supposed to be more loving, inclusive, etc. than the “fundamentalists” it’s separating itself from. Frankly, it’s hard for me to believe this is true after reading some of what’s gone on there. Certainly not everyone in EC is like that (I haven’t seen personal attacks coming from Jordon Cooper or Andrew Jones), but shouldn’t there be more of an effort to be loving, inclusive, etc. if that’s the thrust EC?

    For the record, I do think some of what’s posted at EmergentNo is unfair, builds straw men, etc., but I haven’t seen anything that would justify some of the responses I’ve seen to it.

  10. #10 by the_blacke on April 17, 2005 - 1:12 am


    there’s been a couple of repeated trends over at eNo, more in the comments than in the posts, which have exacerbated the situation. Particularly troublesome have been the dismissive comments (someone has gone to lengths to explain their view, perhaps even offering biblical justification, and a one-liner comes back “that’s just blatant liberalism” as if, therefore, whatever the first person wrote is unworthy of thought or attention.

    Secondly, the authors at eNo have regularly refused to answer any questions put to them. I have gone to great lengths to explain to Carla that I don’t believe anyone has a calling to ‘expose the erroneous views’ of other Christians, but not therefore also to explain those errors to those same Christians. In short, if there is a fundamental flaw in my theology, one so severe as to warrant the kind of treatment given at eNo, then there is a sibling duty to try and explain that failing to me such that I may repent and correct my ways or views. I acknowledge that many people would not respond well to that uninvited, but I have explicitly asked Carla to take the time to explain to me where my views are in error. That these questions have been ignored is, I think, tragic and lamentable.

    Thirdly, and this most frequently from the author there ‘Surphing’, is the habit of coming straight over the top of whatever dialogue or points might be being made with “What does Scripture say?” followed by reams of versus. Now I think that the Scriptures are very important, but there are significant problems with that approach. Firstly, it is using them like a club to hit other people or their views with. Secondly, Surphing too has refused to enter into conversation about how she interprets those scriptures, or to at least acknowledge that there may be another meaning than the one she is asserting. Thirdly, it shows neither wisdom nor compassion in bridging the gap between these first century texts (or earlier) and the twenty-first century discussion into which she is throwing them (at times, with considerable violence, if you can understand what I’m trying to say). And finally, in much the same way as I have previously commented that the EC-McLaren argument paints EC into a corner, I feel that her wielding of Scripture makes the explicit claim that “I have Scripture on my side”, and so to disagree with her is to disagree with Scripture, which is to disagree with God, therefore conversation over. Of course it ought not be that way, but in light of the unwillingness to discuss or answer questions on correct interpretation of the bible, it makes graceful dialogue difficult.

    One might then ask, why attempt dialogue at all? Simple. The ladies from eNo have made many and varied accusations at the EC, up to and including the charge that some views held are heresies. Now one can use polite sentences, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ as often as necessary, but that won’t lessen the impact that accusing someone of holding a heresy will have (even if, as Carla maintains, you can hold a heretical view without being a heretic). So they have drawn these lines in the sand. EC is wrong. It promotes heresy. It needs to be ‘exposed’ like some scandal. All good and well, they can make such claims, but in the spirit of Christian charity, if not justice, those are charges to which people ought to have the opportunity to defend themselves, just as accusations against eNo should in turn give the eNo folks the opportunity to answer any charge brought against them.

    Does that make sense?

  11. #11 by Leighton Tebay on April 17, 2005 - 8:24 am


    I’ve spent about 3 years blogging. The two nastiest groups of people that comment on blogs are fundamentalists and ex-fundamentalist emerging church people. I’ve had my faith questioned, character assinated and even mocked in song.

    I don’t think the trust of the EC is to be more loving. Many people in this movement are wounded burnt out evangelicals looking for something better. As far as I can tell Christians of all stripes can be total jerks.

    I don’t judge all baptists or all evangelicals based on the nasty things people say in the comments in E-NO, and I don’t believe it is fair to judge the EC on the same basis.

    I’m frustrated with e-NO because they will link to an article regardless of how honest or fair it is. The have linked to a couple of articles by “Chris P” about Open Theism which is no more linked to the EC than the evangelical world. The same Chris P that warmly embraced and affirmed the libelous article this post links to.

    This is particularly disturbing when they take great care not to link to anything they don’t support, especially if it has any coarse language.

    Initially Carla defended posting this article about Brian McLaren.

    She wrote

    “Fact is, those who take the Scriptures seriously, and take Biblical Christianity seriously, are getting fed up with the whitewashed ecumenical garbage being peddled in churches, to our youth, in books, and on the internet.

    In part… this is the result.”

    If this trash is, in part, the result of good bible believing Christians getting fed up with “garbage” then count me out of biblical Christianity!

    The attacks the e-No people are more veiled or generalized. I wrote a post that attempted to sum up their theology. I sent it in an email for their review and possible correction before I posted it. I received no reply, so I posted it as is. Then I see a post on E-No complaining about how people were misrepresenting her views and how one post was so out in left-field it wasn’t worth responding to. I checked technorati and I was the only one that posted anything of the sort.

    This gets really frustrating because the authors at e-No constantly play up their own victimization regardless of how victimized they really are.

  12. #12 by Roger N Overton on April 17, 2005 - 2:52 pm

    For what it’s worth I sent them an email and didn’t get a reply either, and they at least appear to like what I’ve written.

    I’ve seen a lot of those problems you guys are talking about at eNo. I agree they’re over the top sometimes. My complaint is with the people responding who aren’t doing so in good manner. I’m more on the eNo side theologically, but I’m working to improve the tone of the discussion by writing pieces like what was referenced in this post. I guess I’m just frustrated there’s so many people who aren’t making an effort to engage these issues with gentleness and respect, on both sides.

    I’m certainly not judging all of EC on the basis of some of the comments at eNo. It’s just that for a movement that rejects the “hatred and arrogance of fundamentalism” I expect more of its adherents to be less hatful and arrogant. I have a great deal of respect for Ross, for example. You’ve been patient and clear in your responses there and I’ve enjoyed our discussions so far.

  13. #13 by Leighton Tebay on April 17, 2005 - 11:18 pm

    You are right. It is sad.

Comments are closed.