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I De/Renounce You!

I think it first happened at my lunch with John Piper, when he said that he was personally offended by Brian McLaren’s quoting of Steve Chalke’s recapituation of the feminist critique of the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement; that is, that it advocates a form of “cosmic child abuse”. (Yes, my use of too many prepositional phrases was intentional, for it shows the ridiculousness of this entire endeavor.) John wondered why Doug and I would not publicly denounce Brian for his quote. I, on the other hand, wondered why he took personal affront on behalf of a doctrine that he did not invent.

I said that I didn’t say it, so I’m not responsible for it. I then asked why he wouldn’t publicly chastise Mark Driscoll for calling emergent, “limp-wristed, faggoty theology.” Piper responded, basically, that it’s apples and oranges to compare doctrinal heterodoxy to behavior. As you might guess, I disagree.

It’s happened a lot more since then. Dan Kimball was recently peppered with questions about Brian, Doug, and me when he spoke at the Crystal Cathedral. I often get asked to defend Doug’s views on soteriology or the Trinity. And just last week, a caller to a conservative Christian radio talk show I was on asked me how I could be friends with Brian since he practices Buddhism.

Of course, I was shocked to learn that one of my closest friends is a closet Buddhist. Brian, I feel so betrayed. I barely knew ye!

But this demand to denounce and renounce friends has come into high relief in the presidential campaign. And, honestly, I think that most of us can see how insane it all is. In another prescient column, Stanley Fish argues that, of course, we can only be responsible for what we say, not for what those close to us say.

I’ve been doing lots of Christian radio in the last couple weeks, and I’m often asked to re/denounce my friends. Stanley gives me new confidence to not take the bait.

P.S.: I’ve also gotten on some other radio/TV, including the “Think” program on KERA in Dallas. Audio podcast here, video coming later this week.

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  • “I, on the other hand, wondered why he took personal affront on behalf of a doctrine that he did not invent.”


    Unlike many who impose their post-modern epistemology upon Christianity, John Piper doesn’t argue for doctrines that he invents.

    He upholds doctrines that he can plainly read in Scripture, namely, that Jesus Christ became sin for us so that we could be made the righteousness of God in him.

  • Tony, isn’t it interesting how many Christians aren’t asked to defend statements of our friends, when our friends outside of their “Church” circles? I mean, really am I responsible for anyone’s statements or views that I’ve ever met, or befriended?

    I have friends that say things from many different perspectives, do I take them all on as my own? No. I still love them, and respect them even though I don’t always agree with them. It’s so true that we can not be responsible for what people we love say.

    Just yesterday, my father in law (who’s a very conservative methodist) told me that I’m getting too much grey hair. I totally disagree with him, but I still love him.

    While hair coloring is certainly different from theology, it still stands to reason that I can still interact and disagree with people I love and associate with.

  • sorry – I just wanted to complete that thought…

    What I mean to say is, why do Christians give so little weight to people outside the “Church?” If a friend of mine with no Christian association, background or creed says something about their view of Scripture why is their voice so little in comparison to Doug’s view of the Trinity?

    Aren’t we just all selective jerks about who we listen to and who we attribute insights?? A dear friend of mine practices Tibetan Buddhism (and no, I’m not talking about Brian), and still follows the teachings and practices of Jesus. Why would his voice somehow be null and void when he talks about the Trinity as opposed to me, you or anyone else? Why should I have to defend his view of the Trinity just because he said it?

  • I’ve never been asked to denounce any friends. Probably because I don’t have any friends making waves or anything like that.

    But I have been asked to denounce segments of my book shelf. I guess because those we disagree with have nothing to teach us, especially in the areas where we disagree…

  • Ryan,

    Sometimes those with whom we disagree most have the most to teach us. I would not denounce anyone on my bookshelf, instead I would meditate on what is being said (not as a buddhist per se) and decide for myself.

    A halmark of the emergent movement is that we all do not have to agree on every last little piece of theology. We agree in the fundamentals, and then we let other voices come and challenge, teach, exhort and grow us.

    I do not agree with Doug Pagitt on a number of things, but I respect him. I listen, I chew on the ideas, I let them bother me to the point that I have to get to the root of why I disagree, and then there either surrender and say “he is right” or dismiss him all together. That is the beauty of being emergent.

  • Dave,
    I’m pretty sure that Piper believes in the penal substitution theory with all of his heart. He views this as the ONLY theory/theology of classical atonement and thus, adopting another’s thoughts as his own, took offence by this Tony Jones Fellow (since Tony states that Piper had never heard of him at the luncheon).

    My question goes with your comment: “He upholds doctrines that he can PLAINLY read in Scripture, namely, that Jesus Christ became sin for us so that we could be made the righteousness of God in him.” (Emphasis mine).

    “As I recall, there is more than one CLASSICAL theological THEORIES (or theology, take you pick) on atonement (we won’t talk about the newer ideas. Things like “penal”, “Satisfaction”, and “Ransom” ALL come from biblical basis. Equal amount of out-of-context scriptural references can be pulled to “prove” each of them. I don’t think things are as “Plainly” stated in the Bible as you put fort. These are ALL based on scriptural referenced, and each of them ignores other parts of scripture that conflicts with the theory. It just so happens that many evangelicals that are “reformationalists” cling to this theory as the ONLY theory. This is surprising that they pick that moment in Christian history to say “this is THE way we must believe”, ignoring older ideas, and not allowing for newer ideas to “emerge”.

    I agree with Tony’s earlier comment, I don’t think ANY ONE theory can adequately explain the simple complexity that is the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection for the world’s transgressions. What you and Piper spout off as “Plainly” visible and biblical, is all but. Everything is interpretation! Everything is OUR attempts to understand this mystery. Origen, Anselm, the reformation theologians…they all thought that they had devised a “better” way to represent that unexplainable mystery…all from a “plainly” biblical standpoint.

    Why does someone like you and Piper choose (and it is a choice) that spicific one? Why deny other classical ones, or newer ways that have emerged that help add to this conversation of absolution? I don’t have a problem with you or Piper choosing to believe in this single theory over others, but you should acknowledge that it is a choice, it isn’t absolute Truth. We don’t know how it all works…. perhaps we aren’t supposed to know. His ways are higher than our own ways. Perhaps God has kept the workings of that a mystery so that we wouldn’t spend so much time on it and focus on other things that are laid out more “plainly” in the Bible. Things like feeding the poor, housing the homeless, healing the sick, etc… I wonder why Christ spent more time speaking on these things than he did laying out a systematic groundwork for “salvation”?

    I would argue (not really argue, but throw into the conversation), that what you accuse postmoderns of doing: “Unlike many who impose their post-modern epistemology upon Christianity, John Piper doesn’t argue for doctrines that he invents.” Is the same thing that you are doing here and on your own blog. Imposing your modern epistemology on everyone else. I believe you have spoken to me on your blog about “defending THE faith” (my emphasis again), but doesn’t that really mean: “Convincing others that my beliefs are right and to (to use Tony’s words) “denounce” any other beliefs? I see some pot calling some kettle here.

    I think the difference is that (at least in my own postmodern theology…I can’t and won’t speak for Tony (Tony feel free to renounce me if you need to:) ) That there is room for your and Piper’s beliefs in the postmodern conversation. I don’t personally believe that you have to completely agree with me before I can consider you a brother, friend, or even Christian (as people have questioned such). In fact, The diversity of ideas is one of the things that I love about EV.

    I read a lot of Piper in college, and he has a powerful voice. He says some good things that I have taken and applied to my own life. But so has Mr. Jones, Paggitt, McLauren, Conder, etc… I don’t have to completely accept any one of their views to be a part of their community…. to be a brother in the faith…. to be a friend (both in reception and my actions towards them). Such doesn’t seem to be the case with others who make statements such as, “plainly in the Bible”.

    On a note that is personal (meaning not as a prominent figure that represents emergent village and gets the kind of confrontational press as those mentioned above), I personally know pastors, youth ministers, and others fired from ministry positions simply for being caught reading a book by above mentioned. I’ve known people called into a meeting and asked if they agree with their partially read McLauren, or “Manifesto”, and when they honestly say, “I mean, some of the things are really making me think (neither a yes or no since it hasn’t been finished).” They are fired for being a part of that “emergent cult”.

    My prayer is that this idea of “renouncing” (kinda reminds me of my McCarthy, Inquisition, and witch-hunting histories) others will one day (sooner than later) come to a standstill, and we will find our place of Christian unity… once again seeing each other and calling each other “brothers” and “Sisters” in Christ.

    great post Tony!
    May I say that I am surprised as you are with Piper’s group being more lenient on Driscoll. Not that I think ANYBODY should be treated the way you and your friends have…I’m just surprised by the more embracing attitude of that group towards Driscoll. Not being judgmental, just scratching my head on all of this!

    thanks and blessings,

  • It tends to be so much easier to denounce someone/something than it is to enter into dialog with another person. Further, if I (for example) ask someone to renounce ties with someone with whom I am in disagreement, it becomes a crutch protecting me from engaging the difficult work of honest conversation and thoughtful refection. I can maintain my own dogmatic positions without having to test them in true dialog with other followers of Jesus.

    I think ultimately, these wearisome arguments reflect a contrast in values that will probably never be reconciled. I think the majority of the modern evangelical establishment demand everyone’s agreement with/assent to the theological box of whoever happens to be in a position of authority. They value being recognized as “correct” and also those with whom they differ being recognized as “wrong.” They are personally threatened because their assumed position of authority is threatened. (Could it be as simple as a pissing contest over book sales…but I digress.)

    What does emergent village value?
    Emergent Village is a growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

    No apparent need to be recognized by the Pipers of the evangelical world for their uniformity of doctrine. Simply, they seem to value the give and take dialog of true friendship while seeking to love those with whom they happen to come in contact. Sounds like unity to me. It also sounds like Jesus to me. No denouncement intended toward Mr. Piper and his ilk. I grew up in that type of religion. I have many friends and family who still value that type of religion.

    However, I thank God for this other expression of following Jesus as manifested in this “growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

  • Carl,

    I think you misread me. Probably my fault. We agree. I was being facetious. I just have a personal aversion to adding smiley faces in order to make sure the reader knows it.

  • Tony Arens

    “Denounce” sounds like a powerful word – however, I don’t think we need to be afraid of it. Can we reduce it to “publicly disagree?”. Now that sounds better. I hear Emergents publicly disagreeing with those on the conservative evangelical side all day long. Rarely will they publicly disagree with another member of their own posse. This is unfortunate. Maybe to disagree with McLaren is a bad business decision… I don’t know.

    As teachers, Emergents and conservative evangelical leaders need to present their colors to their flocks – it is a serious responsibility for a techer to effectively communicate what you believe and why you believe it. Without this foundation, you’re not really a teacher, but merely a broker of a list of ideas and theories. Publicly disagreeing with another’s view is wonderful, and often results in awesome, eternal benefits to the observer.

    We’re all so easily offended these days. Time to drink your Ovaltine and grow a thicker skin! (me included)…

  • Friends with a Buddhist? What next?

    Tony, your link to Dan’s blog is missing an “e” — might want to fix it before he de/renounces you as a friend.

  • nc

    hmmm…Piper hadn’t heard of Tony? Where I’m at nobody’s heard of Piper….oh well…I guess that doesn’t mean much.

    Tony, thanks for this post…
    Did you try to explain to Mr. Piper why you think Driscoll’s comments are still a problem?

    I still don’t get why people get to be “hurt” when someone disagrees with them.

    I can see being “hurt” by the way someone disagrees, but not by the substance of the disagreement.

    Did Chalke describe the atonement that way and then say anyone who believes it is a jerk and probably an abusive person themselves?


    Anyway, T, what did Piper say?

  • Dan

    I, on the other hand, wondered why he took personal affront on behalf of a doctrine that he did not invent.

    Perhaps because he believes it….

  • Ooh, now the link to Kimball’s blog takes you to a site selling “fine vintage jewelry”! This is a new direction for Mr. Kimball. I like it.

  • Hey Tony, good words. I especially enjoyed Stanley Fish’s post. I’ve been having some discussions about the whole ‘guilty by association’ idea on my blog in reaction to the Barack Obama/Jeremiah Wright deal.

    It’s just a little weird to me that we’re somehow not supposed to associate or interact with people we disagree with. And to denounce them? Seems like Christians should be doing more loving than denouncing.

  • Marcus,

    The question is not whether Scripture warns of those who will “twist and corrupt the Gospel” but rather, who’s doing the twisting to begin with?

    Thos of us within the EC movement think that the western Church has done plenty of twisting and corrupting under the weight of modernist assumptions.

    As a second point, while penal substituition accounts for one aspect of atonement that is discerned from Scripture, there are many other dimensions that are also mentioned- and yet people such as Piper (and perhaps you) seem to miss this.

    Friend, don’t think you can fool anyone into thinking that “the Bible is on your side” and that we emergents are just trying to dismiss it. Its a much more nuanced debate than that. And somehow, I think you know this.

  • Darren,

    Great words…. pulled almost word-for-word what I was thinking…and then turned it into something beautifully and tactfully said! Far, far better than I could have done!:)

    Seriously, you are spot-on with the “who has done the twisting” scenario. That’s what people don’t understand (or at least don’t want to admit to understanding), that postmodern Christianity is all a reaction to what we feel has been warped or “twisted” by modernity’s touch. Not that good things didn’t come out of modernity, but those things are no longer sufficient for the “emerging” Christians.

    The heaven/hell-centric gospel is not (we feel) the intended “good news” of the gospel. So if we choose to folow this belief, we don’t simply make up new beliefs… we return to the source: The Bible, Teachings of Christ, the bigger picture, and a better historical understanding. I think that some people actually believe that someone like Tony or McLauren woke up one morning and said “I think I’ll believe such and such today!” No, what these critics won’t admit is that anything that McLauren (for instance) puts forth as new ideas, he has done the research, spent time in conversing with those he feels can openly and honestly give him constructive feedback and accountability, struggled, and prayed over these ideas long before we ever get the “hard-back” edition.

    Mr. King, Why do these people (in your opinion) pretend that we wish upon a star and receive our beliefs from a magic fairy rather than the inspiration of the divine, and the foundation of the scriptures? I think you are right to point out that a majority of these critics KNOW this, but act as if… well you know what I mean. I have my thoughts, but would love to hear your take!

    Postmodernity, and all that goes along with it, is a reaction and yet a PROaction out of modernity’s influence. It’s a beautiful thing if people would spend less time fighting against it and more time conversing about it.


  • Who else put money down that Marcus would go “ad hominem” on Darren?

    This crap is so predictable one could almost feel clarivoiant.

    I especially like the fair and balanced reduction of what it is we emergents assume.

    BTW…what is “natural arrogance?”

  • Hmmm. Umbrella of Heresy. I suppose that is something that Emergent folk carry with them to keep out the Rain of Truth? 😉

    It is frustrating when someone comes in and claims that they speak on behalf of all Orthodox people from every generation. And then, when someone challenges them, that person is accused of being arrogant.

    Let me step out of the whole postmodern/modern debate for a moment, Mr. Pittman, and address you as an Anabaptist.

    Anabaptists tend disagree with you and John Piper in ways similar to the ways in which Emergent folk tend to disagree with you. In other words, you can be a fairly fundamentalist Anabaptist and still challenge the dominance of the Penal view and also challenge many other “Core” doctrines that were promoted by Calvin and his descendants.

    But from my vantage point, if I were the sort who were quick to use the word “heretic” (which I’m not), I’d be tempted to call John Piper a heretic. But I won’t. The charge of “heresy” is a steep one. And I tend to think you lack the authority to issue it. As does John Piper.

    One can disagree vehemently without being rude or harsh. I find that being hospitable to those with whom you disagree is essential.

  • nc


    “Umbrella of Heresy”?
    With capital letters?
    Is that like “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy”?

    Being part of the conversation saved my faith and my sense of calling…

    I’m in the conversation and I don’t identify myself as an “Emergent” unless what that word means is only this:

    A person connected to a particular broad network of relationships of people from across a wide cross section of Christians around the world.

    If I have to have a “brand”, I’m Anglican/Episcopal.

    As far as the 3 things you claim about the participants in this worldwide network of relationships:

    1. That no one can understand God.
    Nope. I, and others I talk to, just want to be mindful that God is bigger than we can ever imagine. That doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence in my particular denominational doctrinal formulations.

    2. They are smarter then the past theologians of history.
    Again, nope. I, and others I talk with, just think it’s important to be exposed to a broad range of past theologians, not just a certain section of them from a particular period and a particular flavor. (btw, past theologians can be wrong, right?)

    3. Anyone who is not emergent is not well learned as they are.
    Aaaaand again, nope.
    Rigorous argumentation of a disagreement is not, in itself, an indicator of beliefs about someone’s education. It’s not about education, it’s about the substance of the disagreement. (This is like Piper taking Chalke’s comments personally. Disagreement is not an attack. I would’ve expected Piper to handle it better–he’s a smart guy. And people say us so-called “emergents” whine.)

    From a standpoint of pastoral care I have to wonder if someone has personally interacted with you in an unloving way and made recriminations about your perceived education level? I also have to wonder why disagreement with past theologians you apparently agree with is so threatening to you?

  • Marcus,

    As others have eloquently said, its highly ironic how you drop in here – to call emergents heretics – and then call us arrogant simply because we disagree with you.

    I hate to go postmodern on you, but what exactly is your definition of arrogance? It seems you’re getting slippery with Mr. Oxford.

    Secondly, no one called you “unintelligent”, or “unlearned”. In fact, I suggested that perhaps you’re more aware of the nuance involved in Scriptural interpretation and atonement theory that you let on. I gave you the benefit of the doubt there.

    To refresh your memory, it is you who called us “heretics” and “arrogant”, and suggested we lack in “common-sense”.

  • Pingback: Sivin Kit’s Garden » Emergent Strikes Back()

  • Tony Arens

    Wow – what a fascinating volley! From the perspective of someone who is truly on the fence at this point with regard to Emergent, and from the perspective of a non-believer until recently who has for the last several years devoured scripture and have refrained (until recently) from modern and post-modern written commentaries, (thus not a prime candidate for Calvin-brainwashing):

    Assume for one moment that Markus is a committed follower of Jesus, believes that eternal salvation is a life or death decision for humanity, truly is concerned about his bretheren, and respects the biblical responsibility of holding Shepherds accountable to their flocks.

    Now introduce a movement where “everything must change” and everything must be “reinvented”, and that there’s a “Secret Message” that Emergents have uncovered (the list goes on). Commentaries books, blogs, etc. flood the market and mediums from folks who call themselves Emergent. The theories abound – everything from Evangelical Emergent theories to pure Universalist Emergent theories (let’s face it folks, there are many who call themselves Emergent that reflect on pretty whacked out extrabiblical concepts).

    My word, how can you blame Markus that he’s concerned? Let him be concerned for crying out loud, and if you’re so sure about your faith, then the armor of God should be adequate to deflect words like “denounce” and “heretic”.

    I’m concerned as well! My teenage kids attended an Emergent church (which I’ll not name) and after 3 weeks my daughter is now convinced that salvation is guaranteed for all and that judgement is merely a “refining by fire”. She’s uneasy, she’s confused, and now questions her faith and relationship with her Lord, (I’m certainly not faulting all Emergents here…). I would guess that most Emergents out there would applaud this in that questions and “conversation” are more important than a truth foundation. In her situation, I can assure you that this is not a good thing. Without a foundation, without a statement of faith, with relative truth, anything goes, and young minds soak it up.

    If this is a just a conversation about theology, that’s one thing. But if this is a conversation about who God is, what he expects from us, and an eternal view of our future as His creation, then assume that guys like Markus are going to get a little verbose! Yikes!

  • Tony Arens,

    Without getting into a very long response to some of the concerns you raised, I will say that the vast majority of emergents want to differentiate between absolutes – in the abstract – and our ability to absolutely apprehend those absolutes. I’m not trying to be deliberately obtuse or wordy here. I’m just trying to point out that the humility many emergents call for is related to our understanding that any human being has a limited capacity to FULLY understanding the divine- as a consequence of our very nature.

    Also, the vast majority (dare I say, all) of emergents believe in the “truth foundation” that is the overwhelming love of God. That’s not to say that this is all we believe foundationally, but rather to demonstrate that we’re not against foundations altogether.
    Lastly, and very importantly, when people such as Marcus (and critics like him) drop by – calling themselves “Orthodox”, and the rest of us “heretics”, what they’re actually defending as orthodox is NOT what the Church of the first few centuries would have considered orthodox. Rather, people such as Marcus are defending as orthodox, ideas and expressions that have only been around for a few hundred years.

    These conceptions are familiar to them- and they’re believed very strongly because they’ve been adopted in a milieu of foundationalism. But this does not necessarily make them orthodox. But it sure seems like that to these people- again, because their entire superstructure of reality tells them it must be so.

    But history tells a different story. History points towards a centered set movement (Christianity) that has always been enculturated within time and space. We simply cannot pick out one enculturated version of Christianity and call it “orthodoxy” and be true to what history tells us of the broad, deep history of those who have followed in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • nc


    It’s not about being concerned. It’s totally fine to have concerns. It’s about the “way” people deal with the apparent anxiety that’s coming with it and not handling their concerns in a constructive way.

    I mean, c’mon…”Umbrella of Heresy”? This insistence on calling people who talk across artificial boundaries “Emergents” when many of us don’t self-identify like that? The almost genetic need to constantly push statements that are clearly made by individuals to a huge group of people and then demonize us all?

    If someone thinks McLaren, Pagitt, etc. are heretics then just say that…but you don’t have the right to assume or even say that their friends or their readers are heretics too by virtue of their friendship or the reading of their books.

  • nc

    Tony Arens,

    To clarify, I’m not saying you are doing any of the things I’ve just mentioned. I just making the point that there are ways to go about airing concerns that are constructive.

    I don’t see that in most critics of the emerging church. Instead I see inflammatory rhetoric and then when that gets rebuked (deservedly) those whining ironically label us as “whiners”.

    It’s frustrating…

    It’s interesting too that Mr. Marcus isn’t back.
    Drive-by postings reveal a lot.

  • Back to the original post though – isn’t there a difference between 1. being asked to denounce a friend, and 2. using said friend’s viewpoints/quotes from their book to make your point?

    I guess I would expect there to be a line between maintaining relationships with people that we do not see eye-to-eye on, and using their doctrines that we don’t agree with to substantiate our position. Am I just being naive to feel this way?

  • Korey

    All I see being discussed in the original post is the absurdity of being asked to denounce and reject friends. The issue is not what the friend did, be it offensive language or troublesome theology. So as it goes, Tony ought not be denigrated for failing to denounce Brian McLaren for quoting Steve Chalke, nor should John Piper be criticized for not denouncing Mark Driscoll for his incendiary comment, nor should Tony’s reputation be impugned for not rejecting a Christian friend whom one fellow thinks is a Buddhist.

  • I guess I was referring to the first sentence, compared to the rest of the post… I think there is a difference between someone (say McLaren) quoting a source (say Caulke on cosmic child abuse) and someone (Tony perhaps) being held accountable for someone else’s beliefs because they are a friend. I think that the first must inherently imply that they are in agreement on the subject, while the second does not necessarily suggest that Tony is also a Buddhist.

  • nc

    I don’t know if quoting someone means you agree. Context? How you quote them? Is it just a potent quote that demonstrates another point of view, not neccessarily the author’s, etc. etc.?

    It’s just not that simple…

  • Tony Arens

    Darren and NC –
    Good words – I hear them loud and clear. Emergents open umbrellas over many groups as well for many of the same reasons. It’s all very unfortunate. I don’t know Darren, but I do know many very loving, missional giving followers of Jesus that are very very concerned with what “some” Emergents are teaching and the practices that they are introducing.

    Back top the original post – as teachers and leaders of groups, isn’t to denounce, or publically disagree with others something that comes with the job? It doesn’t mean that you toss the friendship – it means that you differentiate your views and beliefs – especially if you are quoting someone – I think it prudent to disclaim that though you may disagree with much of what a person might believe, you find that a particular quote or story is hits a particular mark. Great! Go for it! Use it! But for heavens sake, as a teacher with a grand responsibility to your students, position yourself “under the umbrella” carefully and clearly!

    “Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division ;and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts. ”

    The same man who said this, also said:

    “Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.” I have no problem publicly denouncing Joseph Stalin.

  • Nicole said,

    I think there is a difference between someone (say McLaren) quoting a source (say Caulke on cosmic child abuse) and someone (Tony perhaps) being held accountable for someone else’s beliefs because they are a friend. I think that the first must inherently imply that they are in agreement on the subject,

    Sweet, if this is true, Rob Bell quotes John Piper and even recommends his reading so then it’s time for people (like your friend Dave Marriott) to let Rob alone. 🙂

  • Korey

    I guess I wouldn’t think citing sources always means agreement, but the context of the writing would probably establish why the source was being cited. So I suspect I agree that you could infer if an author agreed with the substance of the source being cited by what the author was trying to convey.

    In any case, I identify with the post because I find the whole matter tedious as I am not so concerned with clarifying what ideas this or that author has ever supported in writing. Perhaps it is because I don’t subscribe to the notion that saving truth falls within strict parameters that I am obliged to monitor for myself and others. Is the world of ideas so perilous now? Am I uniquely suited not only to work out my own salvation, but also to be hyper-vigilant about everyone else’s such that I scrutinize sourcing? I think not, but for the person whom this is important (like maybe John Piper for example), I imagine it is paramount to know if an author strongly affirms those parameters and if it takes examining the sources that author cites than so be it.

  • “they are in agreement on the subject”. I still hold to that. I can agree with my non-Christian friend on her stance on abortion, and disagree with her stance on sleeping with her boyfriend before they are married. Agreeing with someone on one point does not imply total agreement.

    But, it is about the content too, right? Like NC said – there has to be some context. Bell quoting Piper does not mean he agrees with everything Piper says. Bell quoting Wilber does not mean he agrees with everything he says either. But, like my example on Dave’s page, if you are using Buddhism to EXPLAIN Christianity, that is different than just quoting a Buddhist. Do you see what I am saying?

  • James

    It’s interesting that we are continuing to define ourselves by what we are against – only now we have to denounce that which we are against.

    It looks a lot like a new secondary separationist movement. Like the middle school girls we serve here – they struggle with being friends with someone, because of who they are friends with.

    middle school girls also write really long things on the internet….

    Smiling in oregon,

  • I think its important to remember that, to those of a more fundamentalist perspective, what’s being defending is an entire superstructure of Christian belief. And from this mentality comes the idea that any difference in belief is considered a chink in the armor that will necessarily have devastating consequences.

    Those of us in the EC (as well as many other movements, for that matter) don’t see it this way. It seems a little preposterous to us to expect that any two people- let alone an entire movement of people – are going to agree on every matter. And we don’t fear the apocalypse when two different opinions co-exist.

    The bottom line is that the fundamentalist has a much longer, much more defined list of issues that must be agreed upon.

    And because of the Hell question- taken in its most literal, extreme form – these people think that friendship and worldview agreement must necessarily go hand in hand. For them the consequences are just to dire to think otherwise.

    Strange, but true. This is where the denouncement issue comes into play.

  • Korey

    Thank you Darren. I think that sums it up pretty fairly. You capture why this denouncing/rejecting/affiliating thing can be frustrating to many, without belittling why it is of the utmost importance to many others.

  • Tony Arens

    Well spoken, Darren!

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