Throwing pearls to swine

Throwing pearls to swine

The folks at EmergentNo and Slice of Laodicea present a difficult challenge.  How do you talk with people who are so opposed to you that it seems impossible to find common ground?  When two people or two groups of people are polarized communication becomes a problem.  What group a says is not what group b hears and vice versa.  It gets complicated when one group says they are changing to save the church and the others feel they are fighting to preserve it.  Both feel they can righteously hold the position that they do.  Both look down at the other.  Both sides throw pearls and both sides are swine.

I’ve read a lot of stuff at EmergentNo and so often it doesn’t come close to describing me.  Taking accurate criticism is hard.  Finding something useful in inaccurate criticism is nearly impossible.  It becomes even more difficult when you know your critics would disagree with almost every major faith tradition in the church.  Their definition of biblical Christianity doesn’t leave much wiggleroom.  For instance Carla Rolfe has called the idea of women pastors heresy.  That defines everyone from the Anglicans to the Vineyard as heretics.  That leads me to question why are they so concerned with the Emerging Church.  Why not MethodistNo or MennoniteNo? 

I think it is because the Emerging Church is the latest movement proclaiming itself as something new and better than everything else.  At least potentially better than everything else.  That must be very irritating to some.  I don’t know if I’ve ever run in to any one who said that out right but it is strongly implied.  When you leave the estalishment to start something new because the old isn’t working you are implying that there is something wrong.  I don’t know how you can avoid that.  I think the “seeker sensitive” movement went through something similar in the 80’s and 90’s.

I’ve tried to dialogue and debate with these people but things are so polarized it seems futile.  The one thing I would think I hold in common with these folks is an authoritative view of scripture.  Unfortunately I’ve found very little willingness to wrestle over the meaning of scripture.  I’m often stunned and amazed at the vast leaps these people make in interpreting scripture.  One of the more recent leaps involve Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 pertaing to interpersonal conflict.  One person feels as though Christ’s commands only apply when the conflict is between two people in a local church.  How could this only apply in a local church when the church hadn’t been established when Jesus said it!?   

If you attempt to challenge these folks on their approach to scripture they label you a liberal or a heretic and ignore you.  I don’t know if there is anything you can do.  Justin Baeder puts up a blog aggregator at and the folks at  think he is deceptively trying to steal traffic for his own gain.  Didn’t they use the same “deceptive” naming when they put a blog called EMERGENTno.  I for one think neither is deceptive but this just illustrates how silly things become.  When two groups distrust the motives and honesty of each other real understanding is near impossible.  This is even more true when the medium of communication is text.

  1. #1 by robbymac on November 20, 2005 - 5:37 pm

    Yes, the “convenient” nature of their interpretation of Matthew 18 excuses them from having to treat ec people as “brother and sister in the Lord”.

    They also get around the “women in ministry” argument by stating that anyone with women pastors is in heresy (as you’ve noted), but it doesn’t apply to these women judging, rebuking, and attempting to teach everyone (including men) on their blogs — because it’s not a local church, that verse doesn’t apply to them.

    I think you’re right — common ground, and even common respect, is really, really difficult to find. Sadly, so far I haven’t seen much better in the comments at Justin’s blog by pro-ec people, but hopefully as time goes on that will correct itself.

  2. #2 by Jim on December 10, 2005 - 8:45 pm

    Pardon me for cutting in here. I post occasionally on Slice and E-No. I’m sure you’ve thought I am just as deluded as you believe Ingrid et al to be. However, from my perspective, I haven’t seen any love, non-judgement, tolerance, and all the rest of the things you emergents claim about yourselves.

    I see an incredible amount of arrogance, especially from your leaders, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones and some of the others. I see an almost pathological aversion to speaking out exactly on what you believe (when questioned on blogs such as Slice). Yet when I read posts such as the on-going debate about the Jewish-Christian “summit”, you guys are theologically very sound and in fact sound exactly like Ingrid, Ken Silva and others. Why can’t you folks respond nicely instead of posting derogatory pictures and using profanity? Maybe if you would be willing to meet us halfway, some of us would meet you halfway. Yet, on ENo, we all get lumped together by Rob Auld and accused of not caring about the poor, etc. In other words, you (the collective you) do exactly what you accuse us fundies of doing.

    I posted this here, because you appear to somewhat reasonable, even approachable. Yet on E No, you come across as as an overbearing know-it-all. I hope you can understand what I’m saying.

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