Saturday, February 18, 2006

John MacArthur vs. Emerging Church


Somebody read at least a few pararaphs of THIS and tell me what you think. I'll just say it up front: I was frustrated by it. I'm still having a hard time. It's not the first I've seen of this perspective but it's the fullest example I've read. What do you think?

37 comments:

ron said...

Wes, it sad, I used to be a fan of McArthur way back in the day. He, has no doubt a wealth of biblical knowledge. But the problem is I don't think he has taken his head out of the Bible long enough to look at the world around him. I think when you begin to engage the world and culture around you, your theology changes. The truth doesn't change, but the context and how we present it changes.McArthur, like so many, condemn something they don't know a whole lot about. Thanks for the heads up Wes. Pax...Ron+

Jason S said...

I would have to whole heartedly agree with MacArthur's assessment.

SteveW said...

He should change his name to John MaAccuser.

Control and manipulation through provoking fear is really ugly. Sad

WES ELLIS said...

Thanks Ron, Jason, and Steve for reading through it and giving your thoughts.

As I read through each paragraph my heart broke. He's so militant against a movement that I think he fails to see it's validity. I think the emerging Church could deny almost every statement he made about it. If you read MacArthur critially you realize there's very little behind what he's saying. He calls them "attacking the bible," I've never met an emergent who wasn't passionate abou the bible. He said they are "holding on to their sin," I've never met an emergent who didn't think sin was ugly in fact a main focus of the emergent church is realizing that following Christ means dealing withur sin.

I could go on and on... I just hope that people realize that MacArthur is in the minority and that they don't have to agree with him. I hope people read his arguments critically enough to see through someof the more arrogant emotional statements. I hope MarArthur gives the movement a chance.

WES ELLIS said...

Steve,
remember what I said about people not knowing how to disagree? well I think this is an example of that. This is where theology is devisive. It seems MacArthur has separated himself from the emerging Church and put them off limits, we're dividing into "camps"... all because of some simple differences in theology. I wish MacArthur would quit acting like the Pope and let us have some theological freedom.

Mike Exum said...

I really don't know MacArthur, and never had much cause to want to. However, I read through the link and I see a lot of statements, but not much context really. I cannot imagine how the context would change much, but it seems that my criticism of his criticism would be more fair minded if I had that.

I am not enthused about heretic hunters. Jesus did not do that, neither did Paul. Not that there have never been heretics, but I don't see hunting them as productive, and in fact some of the church's most horrible historic faillings coincide with heretic hunting.

I say, treat MacArthur with respect. May the emergent church prove him wrong by their love for each other - the true distinguishing mark of Jesus disciples (John 13:35). With this mark you can know who is Jesus disicples.

Blessings...

WES ELLIS said...

Mike,
Great thouhts. I've tried to have patience with MacArthur and I try to respect him. Maybe I need to do a better job.

Jason S said...

Jesus warned about false prophets that would come dressed in sheep's clothing, but inwardly would be ravenous wolves. He said that by their fruit you would know them.

When you have someone like Campolo who denies the inerrancy of scripture and believes that one can be saved apart from a saving knowledge of Christ, you have yourself a false prophet.

MacArthur is sounding the alarm as Jesus has called all true believers to do.

SteveW said...

Wes, Jesus gave us all freedom much more valuable than what any theologian can ever give us. He gave us freedom to live without the condemnation of ANY man.

WES ELLIS said...

steve,
good thoughts. I agree. It's not exactally that I need freedom from MacArthur I just see it as a shame that because he sees through such a different lense he can't accept the ideas of any other group.

I guess I would take the "wolves in sheeps clothing" metaphore the other way. People come claiming to bring truth and protect the scriptures and end up defiling it and bringing deciet and sivision. I wonder if MacArthur really knows anything about the emerging Church.

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
It's good to see you back on my blog. Welcome. Again I disagree with your opinion about Campolo (and I'm not sure what he has to do with this conversation sinse I've never heard him associate himself direcly with the emerging church). I think you might be taking his words out of context. Guys like him like to sound extreme to make a point. Besides who are we to pick and choose who is saved. My theory is that we're all gonna be suprised by who's there in heaven. I bet you'll see Campolo and I bet I'll see MacArthur. Let's not abandon truth out of paranoia that we might be wrong. Lets not take ourselves so seriousely. We haven't come up with anything so profound.

Let's thank God for where we are united and try not to make any more division. ok?

Thanks for coming back.
Shalom,
Wes

Jason S said...

The true gospel will create division as Jesus promised. His message was and continues to be intolerant. There is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. McClaren denies this statement as he also believes that it isn't necessary to come to Christ to be saved.

False gospel equals false prophet which means unless he repents, he will likewise perish.

WES ELLIS said...

Jesus message was never supposed to create division among believers. If this is what you think it means then I deny it too. What did you read of McLaren's? I've read several of his books and never got the impression that you don't need to come to Jesus for salvation. thanks for the heads up.

Dan McGowan said...

I read most of those comments by McArthur and found them somewhat sickening - not so much for WHAT he said (though I disagree with at least most of his thoughts) but more with HOW he stated his thoughts.

Who is John McArthur, anyway? A man, right? He's "just" a preacher, right? I don't recall Jesus coming down and stating that JMac is His appointed spokesperson for all things Christian. Yet this is how he comes off - rather arrogant.

Seems to me that if the GOAL is to SHOW the love of Christ to a world destined for hell, perhaps we should start by loving our OWN TEAM....

KJKEB said...

The problem with much of what McArthur said is that it is interspersed with bits that I agree with and bits that I do not.

I do have some issues with those that he is speaking out against. And that is that many of these churches have allowed the unsaved to dictate the whole worship landscape of the saved. I am all for making the "church" inviting to the lost. But at the end of the day, the Gospel is a message that says:

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me." John 12:32

What is lifted up? Look to the cross.

~Kevin

WES ELLIS said...

Dan,
You put it very well. I don't mind criticism as much as I do the kind that comes off as arrogant. I can't put it any better than you did: "Who is John McArthur, anyway?"

By the way... Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.
Shalom
Wes

WES ELLIS said...

Kevin,
I can agree with you. It's unsettling to allow people to make decisions that are... let's say... unqualified. But can I be honest and possibly a bit heretical? I am unconfortable putting a "saved"/"unsaved" label on people. I know what you're getting at but I just don't know about it. It's like an in or out deal; you're either in the club or out of it. I don't believe we should put up such a boudary. I don't think it's that clear. I think what's important is that people are part of the journey, and we should continue inviting people on that journey. What we need to realize is that Christians need evangelism as well... Christians need to be reconciled and dive deep into themselves (rather, allow God to dive deep) too. Being saved is not the finish line.

Those are just some humble thoughts. I'd like to know what you think. That was in no way meant to be an attack on you... I just wanted to see what you thought I guess.

Thanks so much for your thoughts.

Jason S said...

McLaren: “This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism (only confessing Christians go to heaven), universalism (everyone goes to heaven), and inclusivism (Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others). Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.” (ibid. p. 113.)

Apparently he isn't cut out to be a minister of the gospel bc Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples of all men baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Wes, you are correct about the gospel bringing division amongst believers and unbelievers. Since Mclaren doesn't hold to the inerrancy of the scriptures, is unsure of what the gospel is, and believes that one doesn't have to come to Christ to be saved, why would you believe that he is a Christian?

Kevin, you are right on when you say that the unsaved should not be dictating how the church is run. All one has to do is read the pastoral epistles to see what the qualifications for a deacon or elder are. The unsaved are disqualified from these positions.

Wes, why wouldn't you put a label on someone as saved or unsaved? How would you know who to preach the life saving message of the gospel?

BruceD said...

Another self-appointed keeper of the truth. I'm not impressed.

I'm not a fan of organized religion, no matter what form it takes. Most forms that I've experienced cause division. That's one of the ways they work to control you and what you think. They want you to look to them as the authority of Life. But, they are only men who have come to their own understanding of God and how we relate to Him.

I'm more and more convinced that none of us were really meant to walk together, down the same path. I think our only desire should be to focus on Jesus and the completed work of the cross, and allow Him working in us to chart our journey. Sometimes the path with bring us together with others, sometimes it will take us to the desert, sometimes it will move us ahead, sometimes it will stand us still. The point is... to follow Him.

If Jesus has really joined with us, we can feel safe listening to Him through our hearts. He will guide us the way we should go. The hard part is hearing Him through all the junk that everyone else wants to heap on us. In Him alone, we have unity. In the junk, we are divided.

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
I guess by you're definition I'm not a Christian and neither is Brian McLaren. So if you want to call me something else that's fine. I consider anyone who follows Christ to be a Christian. I don't think you need to be an inerrantist to be a Christian. Most Christians are not strict inerrantists. Mclaren seems very sure what the gospel is. He hasn't closed the book on it yet neither have I. It's still necessary to examine what the gospel no matter how sure you are. Just because you're an inerrantist doesn't mean you're "unsure."

I think Christians and non-Christians alike need the gospel so I don't need to pick and choose who I minister to.

Thanks Jason. Thanks again for a stimulating conversation.

WES ELLIS said...

Bruce,
Right on. Great comments. I, at least mostly, agree with you. But I tend to hold a much more optemistic view of the Church. Some, yes, have a very distorted view. But some are actually good and don't just want to control people. If you follow Christ you're part of the Church wheather you like it or not. It's better to be acceptng and loving than to separate yourself because you disagree with them. Nobody said that love was easy (isn't that a line from a song).

Great comments though. They're just men with an opinion, they're in the same process we are. It's ok to agree with people but never let them control you.

Thanks Bruce,
Shalom
Wes

Jason S said...

How can one preach the gospel if he doesn't know what to preach? What does it mean to follow Christ? Ghandi, Confuscious and others have stressed the necessity to give to the poor and be humble in spirit. Is this what following Christ is all about?

Those that don't adhere to the inerrancy of the word of God place themselves above the authority of scripture. Afterall, you then get to decide which is God breathed and which isn't. Very dangerous ground to be treading on and denying scripture itself.

Tell me why Christians need the gospel? Shouldn't they already know what the good news is?

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
We've gone back and forth on this topic far too long already. thanks for your thoughts. I think I've expressed an answer to your questions in previous comments on this blog. If you want to discuss something else that would be great.
Shalom
Wes

Jason S said...

What exactly do you disagree with MacArthur about?

BruceD said...

Is it a matter of "following Christ"? Or simply a matter of knowing what Christ did for all mankind, and living in that reality?... i.e. "enjoying life with the Father who loves us?"

WES ELLIS said...

Bruce,
Believe me I love yyour perspective but are you leaving something out? What about loving our neighbor? What about freeing people from poverty and oppression? isn't all that just as important as "enjoying life with the Father who loves us?" Can't we meet needs better together than apart?

BruceD said...

Anything we do from obligation is derived from our own selfishness... from our desire for self preservation.

Only that which flows from the goodness of our hearts, free from our own agendas and motivations, has value.

I don't think God dwells in our sense of obligation. It's only when we're free from the requirement to perform, that His love and compassion flows through us, His empty vessel.

Is it possible that we are acting out the thing we think God wants us to look like? We seem to think that looking like a Christian, thinking, acting, talking, and being like a Christian... will make us a Christian?

I think we fool ourselves. I think that understanding what happened on the cross makes us a Christian. It's all about finding freedom from self. And only a love so perfect, can break those bonds.

WES ELLIS said...

Thanks Bruce,
I can agree with that.

Pastor Art said...

I have read and listened to Mc Arthur for many years. Foundations of understanding about the tenets of being a Christian I have developed from His teaching. However he represents an aspect of the mind of Christ. Then division that comes from basing any belief from an aspect of the whole of any system of though breads illness and brokenness. Paul in 1st Corth. Speaks about the diversity of the body with warning. A hand is not a foot ect.. The multi - faceted dynamic of being the Body of Christ includes many of the parts fighting against one another. The exclusivity has weakened the Church made it a laughing stock and a by word. Does Mc Arthur have valid watchwords yes but so do the “so called” emergent voices. Most of them that I have heard speak about compassion and intimacy social justice sadly missing from the inerrant school of theology - and I hate to say it Jesus and the flow of Scripture has more to say against those who have no errs and no compassion then those who have compassion and errs.
Pastor Art

Luthsem said...

He is erring on the side of Law which most fundamentalists do. Yes we should critique the emergent movement but not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The church stands or falls on Justification by grace through fsith in Christ alone not inerrancy of scripture. Yes it's the risen crucified Christ I'm talking about(they always accuse us of denying him). We are to worship God not a book! Yes I believe in the aiuthority of the inspired word of God but don't put it on the same level as the living Word of God.
McArthur is still living in a modernist-fundamentalist mindset with a dispensationalist-Calvinist worldview.

WES ELLIS said...

Luthsem,
Yes, I agree completely. I've heard this putting the bible over God referred to as "biblilatry." Great thoughts!
shalom
Wes

Jason S said...

How can you begin to know God without the bible?

Jason S said...

What is the living word of God?

Pastor Art said...

Jason

People who see scripture outside of the theological school of thought you hold to do not reject its authority. I myself hold to the complete unquestioned authority of Yahweh’s directives from the first word in Gen. To the last in Rev. however this does not mean that there can not be “insight” or “understanding” unless it is a copy of the very text of Scripture. Truth is unchanging and confined but conveying the concepts of Yahweh’s truth needs setting understanding. We as His people must understand His teaching and the principles therein. Then from this understanding form ways to inform those who do not understand. Like Phillip speaking to the eunuch we have got to find out the existent of the hearer’s understanding and move from that place to the completeness of the Gospel. Not everyone is reading the Bible or has knowledge of it when we approach them. Therefore we who have completed knowledge have to find what is true in their understanding and work from there. In the panoply of the world a Scripture text is not the starting point but somewhere outside often way outside of Christian truth. We must build from the starting point of them not us. Therefore to demean someone or belittle them as useless because the Scriptures hold no sway is foolish - not the foolishness of the cross or preaching but the foolishness akin to expecting a new born to understand quantum theory. Things that are not necessarily quantum theory have got to be made clear first if one ever expects this new born to understand. This is the same with the Gospel we have got to establish foundations of truth from the perspective of the hearer if we ever expect to establish Christ in them. Truth is declared from the Heavens Psm.19 and because of that as Paul says in Rom.1 like a jigsaw puzzle we have to spend time with each culture finding the parts they have acknowledge that what they know that is truth is truth and begin from there like Phillip. Hard work it is much harder then pronouncing everything outside the confines or the Scripture text as unless and errant.
Pastor Art

truth said...

Hey Bro - First off spell MacArthur's name correctly and it will give you a bit of credibility to begin with. Secondly, remember that at 20 years of age you may not know it all.

WES ELLIS said...

Truth,
Thanks for the humbling remarks. I'll take it in good faith that you meant well by them. I do realize I'm still a student. I understand that I don't "know it all" but I'm still struggling with things and searching for insight. I mean not to come accross as arrogant at all but I simply mean to express my thoughts. I try to remain as teachable as possible and if you read often you'll see that I try to learn from my readers as best I can. But I don't always have to agree with my readers. I'm not credible but I use the most credible sources I can find. Thanks so much for reading and responding.
Shalom,
Wes

Danny said...

"First off spell MacArthur's name correctly and it will give you a bit of credibility to begin with."

First off, Wes spelled it the exact same way you did.

"Secondly, remember that at 20 years of age you may not know it all."

Secondly, how old are you?