10 July 2005


Leftovers from a week to remember:

  • Turns out the first three bombs exploded almost simultaneously. The "official" timeline, cited in the note I added to my Day Seven post, was wrong.
  • Steven King (features editor of the Belfast Telegraph, who is a totally different kind of writer from horror novelist Stephen King) was in London during the terrorist attacks, and he wrote a fascinating personal account. (HT to Peter Epps, who helped sort out the facts on this one.)
  • Here's another personal account of the London bombings that particularly interested me. It's by Jon Mackenzie, who was in town to attend the same conference Darlene and I had come to London for. (As a matter of fact, Jon was very graciously bringing me a bag of Minstrels, which I hope he enjoyed. He needed them more than I did anyway. And, after all, it's the thought that counts.)
  • To those who have complained because my negative assessment of "Live 8" was so wantonly and callously inattentive to the normal conventions of political correctness, I want to remind you that just the day before, I had made a post in favor of whirled peas.
  • All week, I was continually asked to give my opinion of the "emerging church" movement. Here's the short answer: I think it's little more than the twenty-first century equivalent of "The Church of What's Happenin' Now," and the movement's true patron saint is Reverend Leroy. You can put whatever pretentious mask you want on it; you can dress it up in a tweed jacket with a pipe and teach it to speak in avuncular tones; or you can put it behind a pasty-white complexion and dress it in Gothic black with a full array of tattoos and body piercings. But at the end of the day, it still owes more to Flip Wilson than to 1 Corinthians 1:21-25.


Jeri said...

Great assessment of the "emerging church'!. I think there are some beneficial ideas and observations that have come out of the movement, but I think the description, "the church of what's happenin' now" says it very well.

By the way, I have linked back to you since the day you started blogging, and I even stole one of your graphics to use as a nifty clickable icon so people could get to your page more easily, but you've never blogspotted me.

Douglas said...

The emergent church is bringing the eastern mystical occult into the Church. Most Reformed Christian's do not see this fact!

In fact, most people do not see this happening, but I can assure you, it is!

Cindy said...

Why don't you tell us how you really feel (re: emerging church), Phil! :)

Actually, I'm one of the pests that e-mailed you for your opinion several months ago.

Phil Johnson said...

Hey, Bass--

For some reason, neither Technorati nor Google has brought me to your blog. I'll link to it in the next blogspotting post.

Also, I noticed your blog says you are also waiting for permission to post my "Dead Right" transcript in .pdf. You have my permission if you want to post that.

Andrew said...

hi phil

thats funny! and i am old enough to remember Flip Wilson.

california almost always disappoints me - there are some great churches there who are connecting with emerging culture (the best ones are the most invisible) but over the past 15 years of going in and out of California, some of the biggest disappointments have also been there - and your description would fit - although "the church of what happened 5 years ago" might be more accurate.
Maybe we all expect more from a big state like California that is well connected.

Hope you get to travel out again to expand your emerging church horizon . . . and if you get out of America to check out the more mature, more integrated emerging church scenes then please let me know and i will recommend some worthy movements and churches.

LOVE THE GRAPHICS ON YOUR SITE, except they make me feel like i have to sort out my own


burttd said...

The IMonk said today, "Actually, the book that needs to be written is an exploration of why the reformed are increasingly acting like the most insecure, argumentive group in Christianity? We don't even know what the emerging church IS. 99% of the Reformed have never been to one or done anything beside read a Mclaren book, and yet the EC is the declared enemy of the month."

And at nearly the same time, Phil says here, "All week, I was continually asked to give my opinion of the 'emerging church' movement. Here's the short answer: I think it's little more than the twenty-first century equivalent of 'The Church of What's Happenin' Now,' and the movement's true patron saint is Reverend Leroy. You can put whatever pretentious mask you want on it; you can dress it up in a tweed jacket with a pipe and teach it to speak in avuncular tones; or you can put it behind a pasty-white complexion and dress it in Gothic black with a full array of tattoos and body piercings. But at the end of the day, it still owes more to Flip Wilson than to 1 Corinthians 1:21-25."

Phil, let me give you an open invitation. If you ever find yourself in Bablyon-on-the-Potomac, stop by my church. I'd say we fit in the "Emergent" camp, by accident if not design. Our pastor used to work for RTS. We use the 1600's Book of Common Prayer as the template for our worship - that means that *every week*, we use the *Nicene* Creed, public confession of sin, reading of the Scriptures (OT, NT, Psalms), and communion (closely tied by the liturgy to Christ and His cross). Those who preach, preach the Word and the Gospel, every week. And if I were to visit MacArthur's church, I'd probably hear the same songs sung in worship there as in my church. We're not Flip Wilsonites, McLarenites, or any other label you want to slap on us. We just have a conscious priority to reach out to the poor, to build a vibrant covenant community, and to reach out in ways that best reflect Christ to this culture.

I'm starting to take all these EC insults a bit personally. As you can tell...

davido said...


Truly love your new blog...and just wanted to register my comments on "Live8," etc.

In my humble opinion, Live 8 is nothing but another worldly movement...these have ocurred since time immemorial (witness Bangladesh, et. al) and intentions may well be good, but still is just "works."

RE: Emerging church. If the modern emerging church movement were not so tragic, it would be comical...unfortunately, once again, much of professing christianity will be deceived. Seems to me that many want always to address their "felt-needs" than seek the True and Holy God of the Bible. They must be prayed for.

As an aside; I just finished reading "Fool's Gold," and highly recommend it to all who want the truth about the current emerging church.

pgepps said...

I'll let you and Doug sort it out, but that should be an interesting dialogue if you choose to have it.

My only comment is that the horror writer you refer to is *Stephen* King. Having done a thesis on H. P. Lovecraft, I take misspellings of horror authors' names rather personally.

"The rats! The rats in the walls!"

Glad y'all made the trip to England and back safely.


bloggo said...

Perhaps some of us are tired of the Church where "nothin been happenin in 50 years" and are looking for authentic commmunity and vibrant Church life. Having spent 27 years pastoring in Baptist Churches I can tell you, from the view in my pew, that most Churches are sick and many have died and they don't even know it.

I don't think the Emerging Church is the solution but neither is keeping things the way they are. Dysfunction is so rampant in Churches today that it is a wonder that ANYTHING gets done to advance the Kingdom of God.

IMO, the best thing that can happen is that there is a wholesale Church die off in America. Perhaps then, God will raise up Churches who are committed to following Jesus. Churches who are interested in community. Churches who value people more than their denomination.

Bruce Gerencser


Phil Johnson said...

Peter: Of course. Thanks. I'll fix the misspelling first chance I get.

Doug: you don't have to take it personally. You probably shouldn't. If you do, you'll only reinforce negative stereotypes about the hypocritical notions of "tolerance" that dominate the postmodern "conversation."

Bruce: I wouldn't know. I haven't been in one of those churches where "nothin been happenin in 50 years." Good to see you.

pgepps said...

Oops, problem isn't your spelling. It's just that this isn't the horror writer--he's a UK journalist.

And I do think there's a lot to be said for some serious re-examination of how we "do church." I'm not persuaded that what I'm seeing from the professed EC types is what Christ had in mind, though.

Take care,

Phil Johnson said...

Peter, thanks for the fact-checking help and the heads up. Good eye.

Doc said...

Oops--sorry 'bout the 'test'; wasn't sure if I could post or not.

'Most everyone else is posting on the EC bit; I know little about it, but every time I read something, even sympathetic bits, there's that relativism thing going. Y'know, where they make the truth claim that we can't/shouldn't make truth claims. That always raises a red flag to me. There are some things that I know are true, and I make no apologies for them.

I'm more interested in the terrorism bit. Here's a question for y'all:
What should, and/or what will, the US do if/when we are attacked again, on the scale of 9/11 or bigger? Include in your thinking, please, what if it involves nuclear weapons, either out-and-out or of the 'dirty bomb' variety? I hear this topic discussed very seldom in public, but it seems to me to be an obvious question to ask.

Here's my (tentative and perfectly willing to be shown why it's stupid) answer:

Immediately inform the government and citizens of every nation in whom a significant percentage of the citizens are dancing in the streets because of the attack (i.e., every majority Muslim nation from Algeria to Indonesia) that the game is over. We can no longer afford to allow them to aid, either materially or morally, those who attack us, so we're going to invade. However, we're not sending soldiers, we're sending mostly administrators. We're going to reform their nations so as to, as much as possible, reduce the ability of our attackers to hit us again. And we will plead with these nations: don't attack, or allow to be attacked, these administrators. If they do, then the B-52's will fly. First goes the capital city, then further if necessary. I suspect that we'll have to do this once, maybe twice. Twice was all it took with the Japanese, but they had the 'death before surrender' thing, which I don't think most Muslims have. An interesting side point is that, should we have to do this, thanks to the much-maligned (by all of the Left and some of the Right) war against Saddam and his forces, our flyboys will be happy that they won't have to fly off the Kitty Hawk; they'll have Baghdad International, convenient and centrally located to Riyadh, Damascus, Tehran, and points both east and west.

Any thoughts?


centuri0n said...

oh man -- Flip Wilson!

Pastor, I wish I was half as funny as you are because then I'd be twice as funny as I am now.

Sled Dog said...

I'm in the same boat as Bruce, in that I'm really not satisfied with most of the models of church available today.

Regarding the postmodern church, I appreciate the vibrancy and openess that the EC movement has brought about, but the political undercurrent of trying to create "heaven on earth" is worrisome to me. The whining gets old, too. And the theological tinkering, for no other apparent reason than to rearrange the furniture is crazy.

But the modern church is burdensome as well. What I see most in modern congregations is the same things Jesus condemened in Ephesus: They have lost their first love. I rarely come across people in these churches who flat out love Jesus. Instead they love arguing theology and building walls between themselves and other believers. The power of the Holy Spirit isn't pursued, but instead confined. Too much God in a box.

Denise said...

Douglas, you're right. EC is indeed bringing in mysticism into the professing church. Some people still don't see the danger of EC, which is sad, b/c by the time they see the danger, it may be too late for their church.

The EC movement is one we must take seriously. Like many other fads and theologies, the EC movement has crept in quietly under the guise of wanting to 'do church' better (I just hate that phrasing "doing church"), all the while leading people into the occult and other pagan practices. Then again, the professing church has accepted other religions as "Christian" such as the Oneness Pentecostals. T.D. Jakes who is a Oneness Pentecostal is one of the the best selling authors in Christian bookstores. In addition, Philips, Craig, and Dean music group are all Oneness Pentecostal pastors and they are also one of the best selling music groups too.

I'm beginning to think that once Roman Catholicism was accepted as 'just another denomination' even though they have a different gospel and a different God, it was a matter of time before professing Christians accepted cults as 'just another denomination' like they have Oneness Pentecostals. So, when EC came along, its no surprise that their heresies are being accepted as 'just another way of doing church'.

God help us.


Fred Butler said...

I noticed that you replaced the stern faced, suit wearing picture of yourself with the more jovial, "come on over to my place for Bible study and bar-b-que."

I like it.


Hip and Thigh

MTG said...

What a scream on Emergent Church!!! You hit it again.

ding ding ding...we have a winner!!!

Sled Dog said...

I think summarizing of the EC as "the Church of what's happening hits some of the EC movement, but there is another element that is the church that is "sick and tired of what's been going on." They've had enought of celebrity pastors, massive building programs, denominatinal wars, cheesy programming and cookie-cutter christianity. I'm not saying all they've come up with is good, but I just feel the need to point out that much of what goes on in the EC is not just a fad, but a reaction. Church history is full of pendulum swings.

Darryl said...

Love your blog and your other stuff.

I suspect an evaluation of the ec has to be a bit more nuanced than you suggest.

I have always thought the ec asks great questions (questions that should resonate with those of us who are Reformed) even when we don't always agree with the answers.

I also suspect that the ec doesn't arise out of a desire to be trendy but from distaste with some of the things that sled dog has listed above.

Jeri said...

Hey Phil! If you look at the "Comments on Fundamentalism" sub-heading in the left frame on my blog, you will find a linked reference to the excellent "Dead Right" article, posted at the top of the list.

The link *used* to be in bold faced font, but so many people have clicked on it that they have worn it back to normal font.


Douglas said...

"Frankly, I'd prefer a labyrinth to "Judgement House" any day."

Sir, maybe the "labyrinth" will be your "Judgment House?" Never to find your way out again? The exit bolted tightly shut. Forever?

Can you repent?

Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Jeri said...

Hey doc, while you're pointing guns at every Moslem nation for possibly supporting terrorism, better point a few at Washington DC. Our government has been propping up the corrupt and despotic Saudi infrastructure for decades; hence supporting a significant contributor to terrorism. We've also been entangling ourselves in the policies of Israel and engaging in actions that have certainly provoked anybody sympathetic to Paelstinians, who committed no crime and did not deserve to be driven off their lands without even a cent of compensation for the loss of their homes and livelihoods.

The notion that because the figureheads of terorrism, the spiritual leaders of terrorists, and their chief strategists are holing up on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, all the while being financed by Saudi Arabia, therefore we must invade Iraq, is senseless. Sun Tzu called it "camping in the quagmire." Abbott and Costello called it "Who's on first".

If you want to kill and capture terrorists, find Osama bin Laden and his cronies and you will have made a good start. And they're not hiding in Iraq. Nearly four years after killing 3,000 of our countrymen and women, they are still alive and free. And that is a travesty of justice and a shame to this country. If we had taken the mountains apart to hunt them down and bring them to justice, we would have made a much greater and more dreadful impact on our enemies.

John Haller said...


There is a reason we entangle ourselves with Israel: it's right. If it goes away, you have another terrorist state. You don't want that to happen. If you think getting rid of Israel will solve the problem, you're naive. Don't understand why you can't see that.

As to the Iraq war, we can debate the wisdom of that. I will note that we are engaged in a "war on terror" and that includes it in all of its forms. Perhaps you should read this article:


and then see if you feel the same. Saddam was a notorious supporter of terrorists. That makes him part of the "war on terror." It's much larger than taking out bin Laden. It won't be over in our lifetime.

As for problems in the church, they are there, but dispensing with truth and adopting Eastern mysticism is not the solution. It is intersting to me that the EC seems willing to engage in a pretty harsh critique of the evangelical church practices of marketing the gospel and being seeker sensitive, but then it caters to postmodernism in an attempt to be relevant. It's just another form of seeker sensitive. It will never admit it, but it's just the latest fad.

Phil Johnson said...

Let's not veer off topic here. Please note rule 3 in the right sidebar.

Cindy said...

On a lighter note :), thanks, Phil, for necessitating my looking up the word "salmagundi." I love learning new words!

Paul Lamey said...

Great stuff on the emergent folks. Did you see the PBS special? By the looks of things, I think the emergents are going to drive up the market on candles.