Friday, September 21, 2007

The Emerging Streams Just Got Muddier


The 3 streams of the emerging church:

1. Guys Mark likes.
2. Mark.
3. Guys Mark doesn't like (his "friends").

Yes, only guys, but that's an issue for another day.

In my reading this evening I came across the fact that Mark Driscoll spoke at a southern baptist conference this weekend. The reports I read so far indicate that Mark has confirmed the southern baptists' fears concerning the emerging church, and maybe thrown a few old friends under the bus.

From conference attendees:

"He talked about how Brian McClaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell are basically sell outs when it comes to Scriptural integrity. He presented a strong case and held nothing back. Interesting stuff. Without a doubt, this is the most direct, I've heard Mark address these issues.

He specifically cited their views on the Atonement, views on homosexuality,rabbinical study, their influences, and theology. There were some very vivid conversations and references to the virgin Mary and McClaren's new organization, "Deep SHIfT"."
(Travis Johnson)

"We just witnessed history".
"Mark Driscoll just shared a message unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Mark definitely drew a line in the sand and brought up a lot of inconsistencies with Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Doug Pagitt - essentially the Emergent Village and movement."
(Clint Carter)

Driscoll stood up and for an hour and a little more, called out heretics by name. Usually, it’s against my nature to call names and really just speak to the “issues”, which is what Mark had done up until last night. It seems as if the influence of the guys mentioned is simply too great to ignore them as individuals. The guys Driscoll pointed out as teaching false doctrine were Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell. The first two were gimmes. But for a long time, people have lumped Rob Bell in with guys like Jon Burke and Erwin McManus because of style and creativity. It is simply not true. The theology of Bell is completely off base, and Driscoll really dissected it all last night, likening them to the Ebionites of the early church, and to modern-day paganists. (Derek Brown)

I want to include here some wise words from Brother Maynard (at Bill Kinnon's post, Scornucopia) concerning critique. I am not accusing Mark of using scorn in this case, but it appears that his intent is create distance.

"...there is a clear distinction between scorn and critique. The former is to deride and demote, elevating oneself and the views one holds. It creates distance. The latter is to correct what is seen as an errant viewpoint — it is offered with respect and an openness to dialogue about the matter being critiqued in the hope of finding agreement. It closes distance. One is anti-relational, the other is pro-relational...I'm all for critique aimed at closing distance, bringing understanding, and yes, correction as needed."

In discussions of doctrinal difference, at what point is it valid to accuse brothers in Christ of lacking Scriptural integrity, teaching false doctrine, and to label them heretics and paganists?

JD Greear met personally with Mark to discuss the emerging church. On his blog he describes the 3 streams Mark sees in the emerging church.

About the third stream, Mr Grear says:

"The third stream are those who have compromised some of the essential doctrines of the faith. Driscoll mentioned a number of guys--his friends--whom he said, sadly, now were in this stream. They included Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and a few others. He cited numerous statements and excerpts from their works that demonstrated that the Gospel has been compromised in their ministries. It's worth at least hearing."

Honestly, if Mark just spelled out doctrinal differences, there is nothing wrong with that. However, it should be done in a manner in which the people hearing the message don't walk away calling the other guy a heretic or false teacher. In other words, if we are going to critique, we should go out of our way to affirm that the brothers we disagree with are as sincere as we are in their love for the Lord and the teaching of Scripture.

Fasten your seat belts folks!


Israel Anderson said...

I don't recall any reformation that wasn't messy.

sonja said...

Hmmmm ... I think everyone ought to consider that source.

The man is a media hound ... he will do whatever and I do mean ... whatever ... it takes to remain in the spotlight. If it means scrunching people or "throwing them under a bus." So be it ...

travis johnson said...


The context was respect and passion for the Scriptures. What I did not properly convey was Mark's expressed love and personal affinity for these men (minus Rob whom he said he didn't not not know personally). What he shared was his angst that they had failed to affirm these basic issues and their affirmation/endorsement of books such as Ken Wilburs' "The History of Everything." His citations were extensive.

It came across direct. But, if his citations were correct, he should have been.

paul said...

a couple of thoughts that struck me: the emerging church isn't one homegeniuous movement, theres at least 3 or 4 main schools/groupings if not more.

We've always appreciated being able to disagree - so if mark feels that he has a different position to brian et al than he's free to share it - it might actually help the rest of us in our own thinking to have differnet view points.

Finally the audience is always a factor, given he was speaking to southern baptists i'm sure these things can exagerated, your always careful about making too much mess in your hosts bathroom.

Oh and i wasn't there so one person's seismic sell out is another's passing remark:)

Bill Kinnon said...

Mark needs to take the time from his incredibly busy schedule (see one of his blog posts on how tired he's become) and sit down with his former compatriots to have it out with them. To the best of my knowledge (and I asked McLaren this a year ago at a Toronto event he was at), Driscoll has never down this. Instead, he takes shots at these guys from a distance.

I'm not saying Mark is wrong or right in his critique of their theology - but these guys were close friends of his. He could make a "meeting" take place...if he really wanted to. Sometimes its just easier to shoot from the "high ground". (Would that I never did that myself.)

Maria said...

I'll admit my ignorance and say I have only a passing knowledge of who Mark Driscoll is, so his pronouncements don't scare me. Frankly, someone's edicts about another person's theological credentials is not that interesting -- it's part of the old game where being right was more important than living out the values of the kingdom. I have a long way to go on the latter, and that's where I'm choosing to invest my energies.

Andrew said...

Hmmm... Brian or Mark...

Mark- obnoxious, loud, brash. He reminds me of the old 70's commercial where Robert Conrad is daring you to knock the battery off his shoulder.

Brian - Reasonable, metered, conversational.

Whose traits would I rather emulate?

Jeff Greathouse said...

This has been brewing for awhile and I hate to see that it may have hit the boiling point.

The thing that troubles me is the following: Even if Brian, Doug and Rob are heritics - they should have not been called out on the carpet like that.

Mark could have called a meeting with his old friends and talked to them about the problems.

Heck, let's be a little scriptural and have Mark go to them one on one and then take a few brothers with him or ....

I thought Mark took some shot in his latest book as well. In the end though, his comments and their reactions (if anything) is not going to intefere with my walk with Jesus.

Makeesha said...


anyone feel like waffles?

I really don't care what Mark says and his "friends" are going to have to decide what they want to do about this personally (because if they really ARE friends, I imagine they'll work it out or part ways. end of story)

...but it sure is a sad demonstration of Mark's TRUE character...or at least what he has become. sad.

Jeff Greathouse said...

Also I have read a few of the bloggers from the convention and have not see it yet ... does anyone know if a CD was made and if we can get the CD even though we were not attendees.

I would like to hear his thoughts and hear it directly; sI can evaluate more effectively.

traveller said...

I am all for the waffles, Makeesha, when do we start?

The statement that MacLaren, Pagitt and Bell have some of their theology/doctrine wrong is no doubt a true statement....for so do all of us....we just do not know it until the Holy Spirit points out our errors. Claiming they are "heretics" just because there are differing views on the interpretation of scripture is a bit of a stretch.

Paul, you are correct that to claim the entire "emerging" church is somehow defective even if these three "emergents" are heretics is carrying things too far as well. It is a hetergeneous group that spans a fairly wide spectrum of thinking.

Notwithstanding the rather circumstance of taking potshots at one another, the Reformation has started and has a life of its own. The ecclesia in 10, 20, 50 years will look radically different than it does today no matter what happens to these three, or four, guys.

Jonathan Brink said...

I appreciate the comments above. Mark should have gone to Mark and Brian first. Not doing so just looks bad. It makes him look arrogant.

It saddens me that Mark would attack Rob. I read both of Rob's books and listened to his podcast for the last two years. His books push the limits in some respects but a label of heresy sounds pandering to an agenda. Calling people to an active discipleship based upon love will get you attacked I guess.

rich said...

I think Mark has some legitimate concerns and the fact that he uses such bombast to get them out there shouldn't bother us as much as it does.

I could post emails I have received from heavy hitting emergent types after asking simple questions that are very similar. So let's not think this is only Mark.

I will say this. On the spectrum, Mark is the hardest with McLaren being the softest as far as attitude and graciousness. But as for knowing what these people beleive and what they are really saying? The rest aren't even on the continuum with him.

It's time to move the conversation forward a bit and for the Mclaren's, Jones's, Padgitt's, and Bell's of the world to start put something of substance out there. You can only be wishy washy for conversation's sake for so long.

rich said...

"In discussions of doctrinal difference, at what point is it valid to accuse brothers in Christ of lacking Scriptural integrity, teaching false doctrine, and to label them heretics and paganists?"

Well, go to the scripture and let's handle it the way it tells us.

Andrew said...

"It's time to move the conversation forward a bit and for the Mclaren's, Jones's, Padgitt's, and Bell's of the world to start put something of substance out there. You can only be wishy washy for conversation's sake for so long."

I don't believe this comment to be accurate. I think they say plenty of substance, it may simply not be where your growth edge is at the moment- so it means little to you. That is not the same as being non-substantive.

travis johnson said...

If Scripture is not inerrant and not authoritative, what does it matter if Mark Driscoll did not follow the Biblical mandate for confronting sin? (just a question in light of the prevailing funk)

If the Scriptures cannot speak authoritatively to the virgin birth, a literal hell, or homosexual activity as sin, who are we to be upset at Driscoll's method for confronting those who appear not to affirm Scripture as authoritative? Just asking for the sake of equity.

Andrew said...

Travis - Probably nothing... nevertheless, I think it is acceptable to expect those who propose to live by a set of values to seek to fulfill those values as long as it is within their ability. If they want to advocate those perspectives in any case.

All in all, I think we can always hope for goodness and kindness from everyone.

One may consider it boldness to "hold nothing back" for the sake of the Gospel, but to most observers it still comes off as an attack and one could assume many motives other than charity were prompting said statements.

Joy said...

Wow, I was really missing ol' Mark. Guess he needed to stir something up to get him back on the radar. Too bad he doesn't actually ADD anything to the conversation.

grace said...

Thanks for your comments everyone!

I don't plan on responding to each one this time.

Tossing my opinion in...

I would not have a problem with Mark critiquing their doctrinal differences in public if it were done in a way that didn't also impugn their character and motives.

Yes, if they have relational issues that are the source of the attitude being projected, they should deal with those issues privately. However, realistically, the doctrinal differences will likely remain, but that's not an excuse for creating unnecessary division.

Teaching that is public can be critiqued publicly. However, when doing so, one must be especially careful to clearly name the specifics and source of the statements being critiqued, and to avoid generalizing and implying motives or intent about the person or an entire group of people.

When this is done correctly, the listener should walk away with a better understanding of the differences involved, but not an implication that the other person is a heretic or a pagan.

If Mark is one of the talking heads for this "movement", why isn't he leading the way as an example of respectful doctrinal disagreement?
And why assume when someone doesn't agree with you they disregard Scripture?

grace said...

BTW, there is a link at Mark's website where the message will be available.

Makeesha said...

I just wish that people would lay off the heretic and "false teacher" accusations. SERIOUSLY! Just say you disagree ... no need to add "oomph" to it by slapping on a scary sounding label.

travis said...

Hmmm.....could they be the new Benny Hinn:-)

sacred vapor said...

The two questions I would have for Mark are "now what?" and "so what?"

Inheritor of Heaven said...

Perhaps I will have to just stick with my "traditional" heretic church. Though my guess is that we too will distance ourselves even further from the institutional umbrella we are partially included under. Still, how can 500 years of heresy be all wrong?

brad brisco said...


Good analogy with Robert Conrad! I know Mark's ministry is bearing much fruit in many wonderful ways, but I am growing weary of stuff like this.

Anonymous said...

Still, how can 500 years of heresy be all wrong?

Unintentionally revealing.

Look, I fail to see the logic or sense of folks whose rule of faith is "individual intepretation of Scripture" hurling "Heretic" labels at one another.

Guys, your Reformation Religion is BASED on people having the "Right" to interpret Scripture as they see fit.

How in the world can one Intepreter turn and tell another Interpreter that he's a heretic? Where does Interpreter 1 get the authority? Or Interpreter 307, for that matter?

And don't say, the authority is inherent in Scripture or self-evident, or Scripture interprets itself.

Because with thousands of Protestant denominations, it obviously doesn't.

I'll stick with the 2000 years of Orthodox non-heresy while you guys (and the Anglicans, and the Lutherans, and the...) implode, thanks.

Inheritor of Heaven said...

I thought the wink at the end would serve notice that it was more intentionally revealing than you suppose.
It is Christ and the Holy Spirit who interpret scripture.

Is it possible that many of the things that divide us are really not related to our salvation? Not really related to our living as the Body of Christ? Could they be more related to the fact that perhaps we are more spiritually akin to infants than we like to assume?

Paul says it in 1Cor2:9-16
However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

After that he launches into the fact that there are divisions in the church. It seems the things dividing them were similar to what divides still today. We boast in men and forget that all things are ours and that we are of Christ and Christ is of God.

grace said...

Amen to that!

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

If what Driscoll said was true about the teachings of these men, well, the responsibility of that knowledge comes upon every believer.

Mike Corley said...

I have only learned of Driscoll's appearance at SE Seminary today, but will listen to his message and the group forum tonight. Some may this next question is apples and oranges, but Driscoll actually the word "heretic"? Just curious.