Mount MacArthur Erupts

MacArthur Erupts

book harshly critical of the emerging church has come out.  I didn’t
read the last one but I may read this one.  Phil Johnson worked on it
and I found some of what he has said to be more substantial than most
other critics.  The only other MacArthur book I’ve read was “Charismatic
Chaos” which ranks around the worst book I’ve ever read.  Regardless we
must always be brave enough to consider what our critics say is true
and that we might be blind to our own weaknesses and faults. 

Dan Kimball responds
to  a letter from MacArthur by saying he doesn’t know of any
churches that fit his description.  I might have a different vantage
point but I think some elements of what MacArthur describes are true.  I don’t have the original letter but Dan posted excerpts.

People who are drawn to the emerging church generally place high value on ambiguity and mystery.
True.  We have a generation of people raised in a confusing cauldron of
contradictory positions.  In this relativistic soup people are tired of
dogmatism.  These people are more attracted to a church full of story
and community than sermons about 3 steps to a healthy marriage.

They reject the notion that God’s Word is clear, and anyone can understand its meaning.
Somewhat true, but it also true of evangelicals.  I have been
disappointed that so few EC bloggers post much about what they have
wrestled with in scripture.  We seem far more interested in musing
about the latest book.  In my house church experiences I’d say that we
would concluded that scripture is best interpreted in a diverse group
with the study framed by someone who put some effort in to preparing
the study.  Some things in scripture are abundantly clear but some
things are not.  If this were not the case evangelicals wouldn’t be
sending their leaders off to seminary to gain a deeper understanding of
scripture.  If evangelicals truly believed that God’s word is clear and
anyone can understand it there would be a much wider range of people
preaching.  I wouldn’t be getting invitations from desperate rural
pastors looking for pulpit supply on summer long weekends. 

That means every doctrine you and I find precious is subject to new interpretation, doubt and even wholesale rejection.
I don’t have to go far to find this.  That doesn’t mean most people
don’t stay within the stream of orthodox Christian faith but lots of
people are free to test the boundaries and they do.

Everything is being questioned and deconstructed.
When you are part of a church that has less influence on society than
society has on it, our ethical behavior reveals our hypocrisy and
thousands upon thousands of people have checked out of church in an
attempt to preserve their faith critical introspection is a good thing

Unlike the noble Bereans who used
Scripture to test what they were taught and refine their understanding
of the truth, people associated with the Emerging Church regard God’s
Word as too full of mystery to warrant handling any truth in a
definitive way.

Not true.  Even among the most “liberal” people in the EC they take
some aspects of scripture very seriously.  They come to the conclusions
that they are very sure of.   Different people sometimes emphasize the
things they like social justice and seem to ignore the things they
don’t like.  However that is just as true of evangelicals. 

The result is a movement that thrives on disorganization,
I’d prefer to frame this differently.  The organic church movement is less “organized” but not all EC churches are “organic”.

lends itself to mysticism,
I think it would be better to define what he is talking about. 

distrusts authority
A lot of people who have been burnt by churches in the past
distrust authority.  Sometimes it is because that authority failed
them.  Give them a few years to heal and a healthy environment and
things get better.

and dislikes preaching,
True of many to a point.  I know that I like delivering a sermon
much more than listening to one.  I think there needs to be a better
balance between monologue, dialog and debate.  I think preaching is
fine when in a better balance with other forms of challenge and

feeds intellectual pride
Probably true of any Christian movement that thinks they are “it”, including the reformed.

and recognizes few (if any) doctrinal or moral boundaries.
This would describe very few of the people I know.

You can see why the movement is so
appealing to college-age people young people – it is fleshly rebellion
dressed in ecclesiastical robes.

I don’t see this at all.  Speaking for myself I’d say I’m part of a reforming movement because the status quo is unacceptable.  Not because most of the churches around me don’t suit my tastes.  It is not about adding more palatable items for the religious consumer.  There is a serious problem with the church, the message it preaches, the ethics of its members and its impact on society.  The easy road for me to take would be to settle down in a ministry, take my middle class income, buy my toys and work towards incremental change.  There are some people that are called to manage incremental change and I don’t condemn anyone for taking that road.  It isn’t my calling though and while that route would make some things easier I know I’d probably become restless if things didn’t happen fast enough.

I’d rather experiment and fail and continue working under all the old assumptions.  I can’t see how that is fleshly rebellion.

  1. #1 by James on December 8, 2006 - 11:50 am

    feeds intellectual pride—I would tend to say that the non-emerging church does more so, with the absolutes so clearly defined. While claiming to believe in the fallen state of man, they interpret doctrines as if unfallen!

    You can see why the movement is so appealing to college-age people young people – it is fleshly rebellion dressed in ecclesiastical robes. Hmm. I guess if you rebel against God’s clear commandments in scripture, but do it in the guise of an organized, established church it isn’t fleshly rebellion?

    His critiques seem to be straw men, constructed simply to destroy while defending what he has built in the church where he is the authority…

    I think I’ll pass on the book.


  2. #2 by William on January 30, 2008 - 11:59 am

    Bravo! Bravo! a very good word…William, Los Angeles, Ca

Comments are closed.