[#] Tyra Banks and Brian McLaren

Captain IronJaw
Baptist SuperHero
Let me thank Pastor Wilson for his obvious concern for dealing with this topic head-on, as always. Without becoming Pooh-like, I think he has escaped the question by sleight of hand. Originally, he said this:
But in [contend for the truthfulness of Scripture in a particular Trinitarian way], the first thing we must do is banish from our apologetic ranks(emph added) all who confound categories like arrogance and certainty, and humility and uncertainty. Bad whiskey doesn't cease to be bad whiskey simply because bartender McLaren has an aw shucks demeanor about him. If it does not matter to them whether these things really happened (Jesus coming back from the dead, walking on water, David eating the shewbread, Abraham offering Isaac, Adam accepting the fruit from his wife), then the emergents should simply join up with the liberals now and be done with it. If they personally(sic) think that it all really happened, but they welcome others to the emergent conversation who like the Buddha dismiss such inquiries as unedifying questions, then they should not be surprised, and I hope they will not take it amiss, if I have nothing whatever to do with their damned project.(emph added)
That's pretty clear, I think: Pastor Wilson has said here – and rightly, I might add – that those who might not personally believe that all roads lead to God but are unwilling to allow that it’s OK for someone to believe that are people who are involved in a "damnable project". I agree. No question that to dilute the Gospel into one way or one expression of the truth is bad. Very Bad.

And Pastor Wilson goes on to say – which I asked him about – this:
[the afore-mentioned paragraph] does nothing of the kind. It allows for the possibility that the emergents (and McLaren by implication) might deny it, and it also allows for the possibility that they might believe it all. The firm assertion is that they make room in their ranks for those who deny it. Which is why I will have nothing whatever to do with it.
Here he is castigating Michael Metzler for reducing meaning out of his statement – and underscoring not that the Emergents don't believe that Christ is Lord, but that they don't really care if anyone else believes that Christ is Lord. And in that he says, "I will have nothing whatever to do with it."

Axwell Tiberius, 800 lb Gorilla
grab his
"I [will] have nothing whatever to do with their damned project," and "I will have nothing whatever to do with it" seem pretty clear to me: whatever is going on over there, Wilson has a no-holds-barred rejection of it. However, it seems that he also wants to allow that they are still Christians by virtue of their baptisms – objectively Christians who are objectively violating the covenant and are therefore ... what?

He falls back on his "husband" metaphor as one might expect – that a husband is a husband even if he is a lousy husband. The only basis for saying he's a lousy husband (or, for example, an adulterer) is that he is a husband at all. In that way, the Emergents are (if we can apply the terms of the metaphor) "lousy Christians". Moreover, there is the additional matter of Pastor Wilson's additional clarification that "the word [Christian] can be used in more than one way."

Let me say that there is no doubt that "Christian" means a lot of different things, which is why it is so difficult to use it in the discussion we find ourselves in. (get it?) (Listen: if I have to use joke tags for all the really good ones, you people just need to read more books. I'm sure Pastor Wilson got it.) When we are talking about Emergent being a "damned project" with which "we will have nothing whatever to do", we are not talking about it being merely-kooky theology like "Left Behind" dispensationalism and "Piercing the Darkness" spiritual warfare. We are talking about rejection of essential matters of the Gospel for the sake of relevancy. In that, we are talking about the difference between "Christian" and "non-Christian" affirmation – not the difference between stubby or retarded theological musings and the strong right hand of NT theology. Most importantly, we are not talking about the differences in meaning when we say "Christian bookstores" and "Christian orthodoxy". We are talking about rejecting Emergent as a non-Christian belief system because it is opposed to the truth of Jesus Christ – the exclusive truth of Jesus Christ who is Lord of All, whether they have the good sense to bend a knee right now or not.


In the same way there is no baptism to grab onto when we deal with the Mormon or the JW, there is no baptism to grab onto for those who find Jesus' truth claims somewhat unproductive in talking to people about whether they are sinners and will go to hell or not. This is a key matter of incarnational theology! Listen: if someone wants to talk about the church needing to be more "incarnational" by doing more good works, but in the end they admit that the matter of the incarnation is, at best, something that's negotiable when we talk to a Buddhist ...

That gets me onto a sidetrack here: anybody else read about this? So what does the Emergent do when he's faced with a kid who doesn't personally claim to be Buddha but only a "lesser god", and with those who are worshipping him? How do you get "relevant" with that?

... in the end they admit that the matter of the incarnation is, at best, something that's negotiable when we talk to a Buddhist about the exclusive and perfect nature of Christ's work at the cross? It is in that we can see that it is not their baptism which makes them a Christian – unless by "Christian" we do not mean "disciple of Christ" but, instead, "somebody who talks about Christ in a conversational way as a means of encountering people where they are right now."

Pastor Wilson's response to the Baptist objection is, essentially, "it's comparing rocks and oranges: your question doesn't really make sense because you're not comparing like items." I suggest that what has happened is that, in order to maintain an artificial construction of baptism, we are forcing unlike objects into the same box – and for the sake of the baptismal crate, we are forced to accept rocks as oranges.

And, in spite of my usual colorful ornaments, I hope this response comes across in the same spirit this discussion has been conducted so far. It is intended that way, and I value the attention Pastor Wilson has paid to it.