Hmmm, an interesting way of describing it.

March 25, 2009

A very perceptive article by Kevin DeYoung, a pastor who lives in East Lansing, Michigan, and who’s church is highly accessible to students at Michigan State University.  He has a handle on that generation, and the varying forms of worship that appeal to it.  He has also co-authored a book about the Emergent church movement.

The article though captures a concept that is trans-generational.  Just out of curiosity, of my handful of readers, how would you categorize yourself?  Take the poll below.


Nooma – without the nuance

February 13, 2008

Those who know me are familiar with my skepticism and in some cases outright criticism of certain aspects of the Emergent Church Movement.  (NOTE: I said Emergent, not simply emerging as that is something related, but decidedly different)  Additionally, readers of this site may have seen my comments regarding Emergent Village leaders Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones.  And in my role as “pastor” to the college-aged staff at the youth camp that I serve on the board of, I have taught about the diminished view of scripture and the dismissal of orthodox doctrine that seems to characterize much of the teaching that is present in the Emergent churches.  And until they provide evidence to the contrary, I will remain skeptical of their authenticity and caution against anything other than a critical engagement with their fellowships.

I have also written about Rob Bell.  Bell is a pastor in Michigan, who claims no specific affiliation with Emergent Village.  But theologically, his “non-member” status is a distinction without a difference.  He preaches much the same message, which I will call a “partial Gospel.”  Bell has become well known outside the Emergent circles through his Nooma video series.  I have also written a less than complimentary article about one particular Nooma video titled Bullhorn.

Greg Gilbert, who is director of research for Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, has written three articles on the subject of Rob Bell’s Nooma videos.  Gilbert’s articles are thoughtful assessments of Nooma and well worth the time spent reading, particularly if you have any contact with the audience to whom these videos are aimed.  Use the links below to Greg’s articles.  Be informed!

The Scoop’a on Nooma

Part 1          Part 2          Part 3


Warning – video contains Emergent “conversation”

January 10, 2008

Earlier this week, I used this video as a point of reference to teach a group of college-aged students about the dangers of Emergent.  While the length and breadth of our discussion went way beyond this video, it certainly was instructive as an introduction to revealing the squishiness of their theology.

At the conclusion of the video we went back and analyzed most all of the comments made by Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones.  However, there was one comment in particular made by Pagitt that really sums up not only the video, but the Emergent “conversation” itself.

At the 7:08 mark in the video, Pagitt says:

“It’s more important for us to feel like we’re representing a beautiful expression of our life with God than it is to be right about everything.”

I can’t think of a more important obligation for the leadership of a “church” than to get it right when it comes to matters of doctrine and faith.  Because if that “church” is failed by its leadership in this regard, I submit it will be impossible for its members to be a “beautiful expression of their life with God.”

According to Time: A Marvelous Tinkerer

December 10, 2007

Time Magazine, in its December 6, 2007 edition, has an article on Rob Bell.  Credit to Justin Taylor from Between Two Worlds blog for finding the article.  The Time profile is largely a puff piece that is very flattering to Bell and his ministries at Mars Hill Church in Michigan and his Nooma video series.  The entire content of the article can be read at Time’s website.

There are a couple of items in the article that bear mentioning.

First, the writer notes that Rob Bell “thinks that only those who have gay friends are positioned to judge homosexuality.”  Interesting.  Using that line of reasoning, no one is in a position to judge murder, short of having a friendship with a murderer.  And since homosexuality is ostensibly a sexual sin, by Bell’s reasoning, no one is in a position to judge adultery or other sexual immorality, short of having a friend who is engaged in those behaviors.  (Sadly, with respect to adultery and immorality, we may all have such a friend or acquaintance.) 

Bell’s point of view is troubling.  But let’s assume just for a moment that he is right.  What are we to do?  Well a good default position might be to simply see if God has anything to say in Scripture about homosexuality, murder, adultery and any number of other types of conduct and behavior that God might find to be out of bounds.  If we look, we will find specific teaching on each of these matters.  And it would take considerable effort to conclude those types of behavior are acceptable to God.  So, in what was probably an unintended way, Bell was right.  People don’t NEED to judge homosexuality, or murder, or adultry…God already has.

Rob Bell’s arm’s length approach to dealing with what God obviously calls sin may be a cordial way of dealing with his congregation.  But his lack of confrontation on such serious matters may also be subjecting his membership to an unfortunate eternity.  As much as Bell and others of similar theological bent like to avoid the discussion of a future judgment, there will be such a day.

I must say that there was a refreshingly honest perspective offered of Bell near the end of the article.  He has just completed his second national bus tour.  He concedes that “the exertions aimed at large crowds and good book sales” can be at odds with his teaching ministry.  At least he honestly admits to a striving for audiences and sales.   

In that same conversation, he then uses the unfortunate messianic metaphor of the Eucharist to describe his teaching, whereby he “breaks himself open and pours himself out.”  While I really do understand what he is intending to say, it seems that the sacredness of the image really ought to be reserved for the Savior, and not be used by a man who doesn’t have the courage to agree with God and declare that which is SIN, to be SIN.