Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Master's Seminary Takes On Emergent

A couple of their newest faculty lectures dealing with the Emerging Church are available on the The Master's Seminary website (click the picture above). John MacArthur introduces the topic in relationship to Biblical authority while Dr. Larry Pettegrew addresses the philosophical "paradigm" of the emerging church. Soon to follow are messages by Trevor Craigen on emergent views on man, sin and salvation, Dick Mayhue on emergent ecclesiology and Rick Holland on emergent worship and preaching. Check it out and please post your comments!


wulffenstein said...

I've been anticipating this for sometime. I was interested to see how they would deal with the issues.

So far, to be honest, I have been a little disappointed. I think they are hitting around some of the key issues. For instance, as Donald Carson has pointed out in his book, this "movement", "conversation", or whatever you call it is extremely diverse. McClaren and Pagitt only represent a sliver of the movement. Unfortunaley they are the most vocal and published.

Another thing is that it is a reactionary movement, but not just to conservative evangelicalism/fundamentalism. This is a major issue but I recently bought a book by an "emergent" entitled the "The Great Giveaway". It's stated goal is to talk about how the church has been given away to things like big business, parachurch organization, psychotherapy, and capitalism.

I guess overall what I am calling for is more nuance in the critique.

I am looking forward to the rest of the sessions.

metalepsis said...

For those of us unequipped with pimped out showers, could you post summaries, or just tell us what you think!

wulffenstein said...

One other note:

Dr. Pettegrew's humor at the beginning to great!!

Matt Waymeyer said...


Who would you recommend as more representative of the movement? I'm not sure if I will end up doing any reading of the Emergent guys, but if I do, I don't want to read McClaren and Pagitt if they represent such a small fraction.


Matt Waymeyer

Rich Ryan said...

I feel like I'm on a 24.4 modem with the allotted TMS bandwith. Been trying to download one lecture for over an hour. No dice! Ungh!

I'll post some comments in a month or so after I get one downloaded.

BTW - how does one "pimp a shower?" Must be an "emergent" term ;o)

wulffenstein said...


I would recommend reading McClaren because he is one of the most vocal voices of the movement but as Carson has well pointed out he is one person in a vastly diverse movement. On the pragmatic side of the movement you could read Kimbal, although you won't find theological idea/analysis there.

One issues is who is emergent? Some have labeled Mark Driscoll at Mar's Hill in Seatle as emergent. However recently he has distanced himself from guys like McClaren because of his doctrinal stands. This is the problem that I am pointing out. I think the two best resources if you want to began to read is "Younger Evangelicals" by Robert Webber. It is a descriptive book not prescriptive, however Webber is an advocate of emergent. As well I think Carson does a great job in his recent book describing.

I hope that helps.

TheBlueRaja said...

I have to say that I'm pretty unimpressed with MacArthur's handling of the issue as well. He seems to make it more akin to the seeker-sensitive movement than it really is, and while I share his disdain for the idea of utter indterminacy, he plays into the hands of postmodern criticism by pretending that their are no real hermeneutical complications to be wrestled with in how we should understand Scripture. He's way too glib about his own chosen positions, as if they were self-evident, and his constant reference to "historical consensus" is of course totally ridiculous. He also puts emergent on par with liberalism, and bunches in postconservatism and the New Perspective as if it were the same issue?! He implicates Wright, the Catholic Church and other co-conspirators that weaken any criticism, as he seems to find some way to lump all of his opposition into the same camp! I honestly saw the lecture as a sad, professional over-simplification.

Pettegrew's lecture showed much more of an understanding of the issues, and even though I wish it was more substantive (I'd love to actually converse with him about it), his comments were much more appropriately measured than MacArthur's.

Though MacArthur quotes Frame's review several times, I'd read it for yourself if you want to find some much better stated concerns about McLaren.

Nate B. said...

I was there for the lecture, and in Dr. MacArthur’s defense, I think he set the limits/expectations for his lecture at the beginning of his seminar.

His opening paragraph was this:

"That was a very technical title for this and I hope I can live up to it. It almost sounded like a dissertation title, and perhaps it should be dealt with at that level, although what I’m going to endeavor to do is to give you a little bit of a feel for what these people are saying and try to compare it with the Word of God. There is so much to say obviously we can’t condense it all into one session."

His point, then, was that his critique 1) would be more pastoral/expositional than technical/academic, 2) would be incomplete due to the extremely broad nature of EC, and 3) was intended to give a brief introduction into what some of the most vocal members of EC are saying about “Scripture and Its Authority” (his topic for the morning).

If those limits/expectations are kept in view, than I’m not sure the above criticisms are really legitimate. With regard to #1, I felt Dr. MacArthur gave an adequate Scriptural (expositional) defense for the perspicuity of Scripture. Perhaps it was not as nuanced as some academicians would like, but from a pastoral perspective it was perfectly appropriate. With regard to #2, Dr. MacArthur admitted up front that he would not be able to deal with all aspects of EC. So it hardly seems fair to fault him for focusing on McLaren. And, with regard to #3, I don’t think Dr. MacArthur misrepresented McLaren’s stated opposition to clarity and theological certainty. (Just for the record, I’ve read A Generous Orthodoxy, other material from McLaren, and other works by EC authors. I’ve also looked through John Frame’s review, as well as Justin Taylor’s assessment of EC, and found them to be very helpful.)

Furthermore, in my opinion, Dr. MacArthur has earned the right to see issues in black and white, and to respond accordingly. Is there gray in EC? Sure. I think they even ask some good questions, although they often come up with really bad answers. But that doesn’t mean that every lecture necessarily has to acknowledge the good before attacking what’s bad. Credibility doesn’t demand neutral ground, even if good rhetoric does.

Finally, I think it is incorrect to understand Dr. MacArthur’s statements as confusing NPP and EC as the same thing. His point was that both, in his opinion, undermine the authority of Scripture at a similar level—because they both question what has historically been held as true. It seems to me that theblueraja’s reaction may be due more to the fact that his theological hobby horses were attacked, than to the way in which the lecture was actually presented. (Yeah, I know that was a cheap shot. Sorry.)

Could the lecture have been more thorough, more nuanced, more precise? Maybe. Was it a "sad, professional over-simplification"? Not if the self-imposed limits of the lecture are kept in view.

TheBlueRaja said...

Thanks, Nate. I know my comments were rather harsh, but I don't think the self-imposed "limits" of MacArthur's contribution excuses him from a responsible discussion of a topic. Pastoral translation of academic issues must involve simplification, but it becomes over-simplification when an "introduction to emerging church" refuses to at least attempt to give the motives, driving concerns and inner logic from their point of view BEFORE taking them to task for missing the boat. That has NOTHING TO DO with "acknowledging the good" in it and EVERYTHING TO DO with the difference between a critique and demagoguery. Pettegrew (and Don Carson, for that matter) does a much better job at this. He doesn't give anyone a "feel" for what they're saying before he criticizes it. One walks away from the message wondering how someone could be so entirely stupid to swallow such an obvious rejection of God's word while saying that they love it.

I have no problem with handling Brian McLaren exclusively, as he is at least A representitive of the emerging church, but again, some caveats could have easily been made about the spectrum of opinions (Mark Driscoll might be on the right with McLaren being on the left) within EC before focusing on McLaren - there's nothing un-pastoral about that, and it only takes a minute to do so.

As for his defense of Scripture's perspicuity, I'm not sure it touched on the concerns motivating the scholars he mentioned, nor am I sure they'd deny it in the terms he explained. Many of their concerns are more about adequate methodology (exegetical method, hermeneutics, theological method), which of course is more complicated than what MacArthur addressed (and he'd obviously admit that - if it weren't, we wouldn't have hermeneutics classes, exegetical debates etc.).

Moreover, McLaren's stated opposition to clarity and theological certainty actually have REASONS and LIMITS to which MarArthur didn't speak at all. His conclusions may be wrong, but he's not an idiot. Showing the kind of reasoning that got him there and THEN critiquing him would have strengthened the critique.

All in all, it's not nuance or comprehensiveness that was lacking, but old-fashioned accuracy. One can give devestating critiques and issue grave warnings and share serious concerns while at the same time doing justice to the inner logic of the other side. Doing so, in fact, makes a case more convincing. MacArthur seemed so eager to debunk and so disgusted at the problems he wasn't patient enough to make their case before destroying it. No one can "earn the right" to be sloppy. Being right and being righteous aren't the same thing.

As for NPP and EC, all I'm saying is that comparing the two betrays the method by which MacArthur issues these sorts of critiques - he doesn't care about the WAY a person gets to their conclusions, he just cares whether their conclusions agree with his own bottom line. Operating that way fails to learn from the opposition and it fails to protect the curious who actually know anything about it from wandering down the path. Moreover, the comparison in regard to "the authority of Scripture" is a non-sequitur, since disagreeing about the historical background of Scripture doesn't entail a denial of it's authority (even if it entails an improper exegesis). This is the same old bag as dispensationalists accusing amillennialists of a denial of Scriptural authority because they're not premillennialists. They may be wrong, but that's not the issue. I think it's also important to point out that denying "what's has historically been held as true" is a denial of tradition, not Scripture. And that confusion, of course, gets to the heart of Wright's critiques (not that "he's been the first to get it right" any more than Luther was "the first to get it right").

In any case, while I can admit that the NP has been a hobby horse of mine, I have to say that EC has not. I, like everyone else, have heard of it, read blogs about it, caught wind of happenings here and there (how can one not notice the issue with all the heat it generates?), but I don't much care about trends like these.

I hope you don't see any of that as an attack, Nathan. You're probably not surprised by the response, but I hope you won't see my disappointment with Johnny Mac a disavowal of his amazing contribution in many other ways.

Nate B. said...

One point I just wanted to add, for what it’s worth.

Beyond establishing limits at the outset of his lecture, Dr. MacArthur also understood that his presentation was the first in a series, and that those coming after him would help clarify, develop, or nuance his thoughts (as well as the stated position of TMS).

In my opinion, it is a little unfair to dismiss Dr. MacArthur’s lecture as a "demagoguery" when it was never intended to stand by itself. Instead, it should be evaluated as part of a larger project—which includes several other lectures. If the other parts are successful in clarifying, developing, and nuancing the opening lecture, than the series as a whole proves itself to be successful, and the opening lecture is vindicated.

Dr. MacArthur’s purpose was not to give a "once-for-all" critique of EC, but was instead to introduce the general topic, and then, as the seminary’s president, discuss his primary concerns with the movement. Whether or not one agrees with those concerns is not really the issue.

To say that Dr. MacArthur’s lecture was irresponsible, inaccurate, weak, sloppy, and impatient is itself, in my opinion, irresponsible, inaccurate, weak, sloppy, and impatient. (That was written with a smile.)

Seriously though, because he set limits at the outset of his lecture, and because he intended his lecture as part of the larger series (and not as a stand-alone critique), I think he deserves a little more latitude than some may be inclined to give.

By the way, Sharad, thanks for your recent clarifications/affirmations that you’ve posted on your site. It’s always helpful to know where everyone’s coming from.

TheBlueRaja said...

I understand where you're coming from, Nate. He meant for others to take up the issues more specifically. Fair enough. But my main point was this:

"All in all, it's not nuance or comprehensiveness that was lacking, but old-fashioned accuracy." He was criticizing a farm full of straw men. Part of what makes that so frustrating is because I believe a lot of the logic and methods of the ECM are dangerous and seriously misguided. By not characterizing them properly he cuts the throat of his critique for anyone who is sympathetic with McLaren's project. At the same time he steels his own sympathizers against a label instead of a real position. That's the definition of demagoguery, and for those reasons I still believe the shoe fits.

TheBlueRaja said...

By the way Nate: You're welcome!

Mike Todd said...

Well, thanks for at least getting around to spelling his name correctly.



TheBlueRaja said...


I would say "it's the least I could do", but apparently not, judging by some of the lectures I've heard!

The Confessor said...

I find it difficult to respect critique of a broad, diverse and amporphous group of people who are connected primarily by relationships, not theology or denominational persuasion, on the basis of theology that is admittedly diverse and broad.

It's as if people are saying...
This is a broad group of people, my critique is with the texts of McLaren and then going on to paint all of the group with the brush of your concerns with McLaren anyway.

That's unfair and dishonest.

I have a problem respecting critique, even if it is correct, from people who refuse to have actual dialogue with the very people they critique.
No attempt to connect, give the opportunity to clarify and to explain more fully positions is also unfair and dishonest.
(i.e. Carson's book about becoming "conversant" without ever having any real conversation of substance with Brian McLaren and then leveling sarcasting and sardonic, "intellectual" criticisms).

Despite being driven by a theology of fear by some critics, there are critics who rightly ask questions, engage in debate and do so with a deep concern, not only for the integrity of the Word, but the heart of those with whom they disagree.

To love God and to love neighbor are inextricably connected to each and are the measure of each other.

How we engage each other, or not engage each other, are indicators of holiness and genuine encounter with the life of Jesus, not just affirmation of "correct" positions of doctrine.

Even though I don't agree with every articulation of theology within the EC, I am glad to see and hear a genuine humility in the leaders that do speak about the EC from within their ranks.
Something that is sadly missing in the tone and approach of SOME critics like Driscoll--who call names and make unfair characterizations of people's integrity and heart.

The Confessor said...

I find the idea of Master's Sem. "taking on Emergent" funny...

I don't think they really register in the grand scheme of things, even if a few within the EC notice the little burp from the San Fernando Valley.

It's par for the course in the past year with all the criticism that has been received.

The "battle" really has been lost anyway...major Evangelical "gate keepers" like Zondervan, the National Pastors Convention and Youth Specialties (to name a few) are still deeply supportive.

The Evangelical world is clearly divided, but not in some world rocking way to the larger community.

There was a time when the combined critique of some could have actually frozen some voices out of the picture...but no more.

And for that, I'm thankful.
It might actually force people to abandon their intellectual dishonesty and actual engage the issues in the same room and face to face. To do no less is to try to position ones self with the strength of avoidance and preaching to rooms full of supporters. At least the EC folk will get in the same room with people they disagree with and actually LISTEN, and not just hide in strongholds of the affirmation of disciples of their own making.

Forgive any lack of charity on my part, but it is hard to give credibility to people who are mounting arguments with shadows and straw men--and I do mean MEN, because we couldn't possibly have women at the conversation. =)

scott zeller said...

the confessor... You are articulate and pithy, well done. I would be curious to hear you not only critique Macarthur's methods but address his actual concerns. I think that would actually be interesting.

Also, without going down a laundry list of why Macarthur deserves a hearing and a certain degree of respect, Christianity Today names Macarthur as one of the top 25 preachers of the last 50 years... http://www.christianitytoday.com/anniversary/features/top25preachers.html

While TMS may not be an giant in academia, I think the relative weight of their figurehead gives them a good deal of influence in certain circles.

I do agree with you in some points of your critique so far. And I would be geniunely interested in what you had to say about his actual point which Nate B. touched on.


TheBlueRaja said...

The Confessor,

As far as the unfairness and dishonesty of Mac's critique, I of course agree. I do think there are circumstances where criticism without dialogue is appropriate, though (such as book reviews, etc.), and it's unrealistic to think that words of critcism shouldn't be uttered without some personal contact. The problem here isn't so much a failure to "connect" as it is a failure to accurately characterize what is actually in print or give reasonable limits to his critcism (a particular book, position or whatever). The larger the scope of the critique the more research and possibly even personal contact you'd expect - which is where MacArthur failed miserably.

As for your comments about the silliness of my title, I'm aware that Master's Seminary isn't any kind of beacon of contemporary scholarship (their focus is on pastoral training), and I'm not sure that their political clout within the Christian world has anything to do with their motives for the series in the first place. Steeling their graduates against the ECM is more the goal than reaching anyone within it.

This sort of a series and the tone with which it's delivered is funded by the deeply rooted belief that only a fractional sliver of evangelicalism has remained faithful to the Gospel, and that the evangelical scene is a mostly apostate one, so I'm not sure that Zondervan's support really matters much to them (beyond further proving their faithfulness against the tide of evangelical whoredom). More people would locate themselves in this place among the evangelical landscape than you might think. Take a look at the list Scott mentioned - the contingincies reflected by MacArthur, Piper, Al Mohler et. al. are a little more than a burp.

No need for forgiveness: I don't see anything you said as "uncharitable". I sadly resonate with your sentiments about "shadows and straw men".


Which point of Nate's are you referring to?

Caleb Kolstad said...

Sharad Raja Soylent Green and all you other clones (for those of you who like Jim Rome);

Nate Busenitz did a good job of "defending" Pastor MacArthur's lecture. I thought MacArthur's presentation was right on the money.
It seems to me that you (raja) love to play on both sides of the fence. In that respect you remind me of the Emergent guys....

Phil Johnson, Jerry Wragg, Nate Busenitz, etc. all exert alot of needless energy trying to clarify things for you.

Academically I respect your knowledge greatly. It is clear God has gifted you with a very sharp mind. When it comes to wisdom issues (for lack of a better word) I can’t say I admire many of your opinions/perspectives/controversial blogs/etc.

If TMS is not considered an “academic” institution (and if that’s a bad thing) then I’m glad I choose to attend a loser seminary. TMS is a light weight school only committed to the small task of adequately training bible expositors (sarcasm intended). Outsiders like Steve Lawson have no idea what they are talking about when they praise our institution.
I think it is a lame argument to try and indict people for not dialoguing more with men like Brian McLaren. When leaders like John MacArthur or Rob Bell publish a book they are entitled to criticism. That can take place through a faculty lecture series, a book, a journal article, whatever. I agree with you that it is very important to accurately understand your opponents views before attacking their position. “Straw men” are easy to build and even easier to destroy.
Personally, I don’t think John MacArthur, Al Mohler, D.A. Carson, or Trevor Craigen are guilty of the things you attribute to them.
John MacArthur has been accused of so much over the years i don't even think it effects him anymore.
It's funny how John (the apostle of love) wrote such "unloving" Epistles. It's interesting how our Lord spoke so vaguely to the Pharisees (Matthew 23). Didn't he realize Nicodemus did not represent 2nd Temple Judaism?
Perhaps we need to reconsider what Jesus truly meant when he said, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
With that said, it is a wonderful country we love in. The wide world of blogosphere is no different; nobodies like us get to share our opinions as if they mattered. I guess in that respect we're alot like the TMS faculty(again sarcasm intended).

Paul Lamey said...

I’m really feeling the love here and I hate to break up some of the high fives that are being shared between Confessor and Blue but there is one question that I have not seen answered by emergent/ec/EC/BM/TSK, etc.,etc.

Can anyone sympathetic to EC circles give one example of rapprochement on the part of EC toward a position akin to MacArthur’s? I can give many examples in the other direction. There are some folks who once considered themselves “reformed” (in some sense) or “fundamental” in basic areas of evangelical orthodoxy who have now moved in with EC in a radical direction away from their former position(s). Scot Mcknight would be an example of the former and Mr. Mclaren an example of the latter (both by their own admission).

So is there anyone who has come out of the EC and said, D. A. Carson nailed it in his book and MacArthur may not have articulated things in a way to please everybody but he’s on to something? If not, then calls for face-to-face “conversations” like that from Confessor are disingenuous at best. Since TMS and MacArthur “don’t register in the grand scheme of things” then it seems downright silly that EC and their posse would demand anything from small fries like John MacArthur. Why not just ignore “the burp” that is TMS and the like and get on with the conversation? Am I the only one who sees the irony in Confessor’s statement that he wants face-to-face conversation and in the same breath calls the other side “intellectually dishonest?

TheBlueRaja said...


Holy High School, Batman! Look, this isn't an issue of loyalty for me. Like I said, I love MacArthur. I think he's wrong here. Why is that so hard to put together? It's not "playing both sides". I'm just not really into "taking sides". The whole "stand with me or you hate Jesus" thing is a perennial frustration in conversations about the emergent church (on both "sides") and I'd rather not cave to that pressure. It's school spirit run amok.

I didn't say that TMS not being a beacon of contemporary scholarship was a bad thing. It's not. But it's not their contribution - training men for pastoral ministry is. You took that as a wise crack. It's not. It's a way of saying "don't hold them to a standard they're not trying to achieve". You can disagree with me if you want - but I gave a lot of reasons for my rejection of their critiques. It doesn't mean that I'm "switching sides" or somehow ditching everything I've learned in my time at seminary. I'm not writing off MacArthur. John Piper is my favorite preacher in the world (besides Brad Arnold). I think D.A. Carson is an example of evangelical scholarship. But they can be wrong. Let's not make that the end of the world as we know it! Drawing party lines and demanding that everyone get behind your heroes is the worst kind of Corinthianizing. Chew up the meat; but for the love of the esophagus, spit out the bones!


I'm not a "EC sympathizer" (when will those congressional hearings be held, anyway), but I can say that I heard a couple of excellent presentations from ETS on the issue from people who didn't paint it with the ugly brush. Most of the presentations were by Reformed fellows with philosophies of ministry much like the one Master's advocates. John S. Hammett and Anthony Bradley were two of the names I remember. There are a lot of sane, intellectually honest voices on the issue. I'm not sure if they fit the mold you're looking for, but Mark Driscoll and Dan Kimball issue some critical voices from within emergent circles.

Caleb and Paul,

Is it possible that you are responding out of some sort of apostolic loyalty to your chosen heroes instead out of carefully working through the issues, listening to all sides and judiciously examining multiple viewpoints from the Scriptures? For all of the insinuations of my affection for the emergent church or all things postmodern you may have missed the fact that I am in fact NOT uncritical of either postmodernism or the emergent church. My last post issued a stark rejection to postmodern approaches to theology and interpretation. But the only thing you guys seem to pick up is that your mascots aren't being unequivocally exalted. That's just my impression, of course; I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm mistaken. It wouldn't be hard to dedicate my next post to extolling all of the magnificent qualities about MacArthur, Carson, Spurgeon et.al. -- I appreciate so much about them! But on this issue, I'm just going to have to take what I've heard as less than a papal ex cathedra.

metalepsis said...

Hey Paul!

Can anyone sympathetic to EC circles give one example of rapprochement on the part of EC toward a position akin to MacArthur’s?

Is the only point of conversation rapprochement? What about understanding? What about a love for the other? I am not sure I am catching the irony here.

If we unearthed an example, would converation then be ok? Perahps it is this german coffee that is messing with my mind, but I am not tracking!


Paul Lamey said...

Brian and Sharad,

I was actually asking an honest question. I was hoping anyone would answer. In stead you resort to talking down to those like me who are trying to understand the issues. I think the martyr talk is unnecessary Sharad since 1) I don’t work for Congress and 2) I have no personal beef with you or anyone else. If I did I wouldn’t voice it on a blog. I’m just some hick trying to get a feel for this “thing.” Maybe you’re privy to some information that I’m not but for the life of me I have no idea what you’re talking about.

I have no “apostolic” allegiance that takes precedence over my love for the Triune God. However if you’re mistaking my respect for a man who has spent forty + years in ministry over the invective of some young pastors then you might be on to something. Also Brian I don’t see rapprochement as mutually exclusive with love and understanding. I simply thought I had a legitimate question in light of Confessor’s comments which you seemed to agree with. One thing I learned from my apostolic mentor was never to take such rebukes personally so thanks guys for enlightening me. Grace and peace.

TheBlueRaja said...

Pauly Shore,

I actually DID answer your question. As for the comment about congressional hearings - it was a joke. If you want mp3 files of the ETS seminars I mentioned let me know and I'll email them to you. As for my comments about MacArthur, I'm just pointing out the tendency to make weighing advice more an issue of lining up behind figureheads instead of thinking through issues. The way you can characterize my comments a "young pastor's invective" and his message on EC as "wise counsel" sort of proves my point. In any case, you were given answers, if you care to attend to them (I'd check out Anthony Bradley at Covenant Seminary in particular)! Saying that MacArthur's comments were lame doesn't mean no one else could possibly have a legitimate appraisal.

Paul Lamey said...

Thanks for the tips and I got the joke but you didn't get mine. The "invective" comment was directed at "Confessor." He was anything but charitable and came off as arrogant.

Keep it real yo.

TheBlueRaja said...

Ah. Gotcha. What i'm having a harder time understanding is how you can construe various comments here as "uncharitable" while seeing MacArthur's as . . . what? Charitable? Somehow exempt from the need to be charitable? Accurate and therefore irrelevently uncharitable?

I'm also having a hard time understanding how you can construe my comments here as "high-fiving" a bunch of yes-men, since my reply to Confessor wasn't uncritical (note what I said about the idea of personal contact being necessary in a critique) while at the same time the bulk of your concern seems to be that MacArthur isn't getting enough props because of his résumé.

Keepin' it real,

Peace out.

metalepsis said...

Paul your still upset because I can clean a toliet quicker than you!

Bro I wasn't trying to be condescending at all, I just wasn't sure why you were asking the question? I am sure there will be people who go the other way (so to speak) but the conversation is young, so there has not been a lot of opprotunity.

Peace bro and your kids are pretty dashing!

Matt Waymeyer said...


To help you understand my perception of how you have approached this, let me create a scenario. Let’s say that a bunch of us fellow TMS alumni are hanging out and wondering what to do next, and out of the blue, you say: “Uh, let’s see. I have an idea. Let’s play a game. Let’s all take turns telling the others what we think of, oh, I don’t know, let me see....oh I know: the TMS chapel series on the Emergent Church! Oh, my turn? Oh, okay. Let’s see. I thought the president of our seminary was unimpressive, glib, totally ridiculous, sad, inappropriately measured, impatient, inaccurate, sloppy, unrighteous, the definition of demagoguery, unfair, dishonest, a miserable failure, and lame. But you know, he’s a great guy and everything, and I’m thankful for his ministry, but who would like to go next?”

I offer this in a spirit of wanting you to know how I believe you are being perceived by some of us. A large part of this involves the fact that you are the one who posted MacArthur’s picture, the link, and the invitation on two blogs to critique our professors. I think that if (a) someone else had made the post and asked the question, or if (b) you had invited a critique of the EC rather than of the TMS faculty’s handling of the EC, you would have seemed less eager to tell everyone what a pathetic presentation MacArthur gave.

Sharad, I sincerely appreciate you personally, as well as your zeal for fairness and truth, but I believe you will be more effective in your stand for fairness and truth if you will think more carefully about how you are being perceived and if you will more consistently and overtly show respect for those who have mentored you.

For what it’s worth,

Matt Waymeyer

Caleb Kolstad said...


You make my laugh brother and for that i thank you. You have a pretty good sense of humor even when it's at my expense.

I liked Mr. Waymeyers post. Perhaps you should give it some thought?

I believe you make some unnecessary dichotomies between TMS’ focus on pastoral ministry and the other real “academic” schools of the world. We can agree to disagree on this though.
BTW, my comment was made in light of MANY observations (your previous comments on Phil’s blog, TMS’ blog, expository preaching blog, etc, etc). I have delayed writing you for some time now. Honestly in part because I see the way you interact with men like Phil Johnson and Jerry Wragg. It appears to me (sometimes) you don’t even hear out what others say to you. You are already thinking of a come back without really examining what’s being said. As a young man I struggle with that as well. Perhaps you disagree though?
Let me say when MacArthur, Sproul, Carson, Mohler, Dever, etc come to a similar conclusion on something that (to me) is very significant, I try to listen very carefully. The same can be said of the Master’s Seminary professors (though I understand they come from more similar backgrounds). I believe that the blog site “Emergent No” has done more research on this issue then you and I combined. They seem to agree with TMS’ analysis of the emerging church.
If I get accused of being a MacArthurite then that’s truly ok with me. When someone calls me a Calvinist I normally take it as a compliment. The same is true when it comes to aligning me close to John MacArthur. Do I worship Calvin or MacArthur? I don’t think I even need to answer that.

TheBlueRaja said...

Thanks Matt. That helps.

I guess my problem is that I'm not sure what's wrong with the scenario you described! I wouldn't have thought that my utter rejection of MacArthur's handling of this issue would imply an utter rejection of his ministry, which is so much larger than his take on this issue. I've heard TMS alumni issue some pretty harsh words against, say, Grudem's view of spiritual gifts. Dr. Farnell has issued some pretty hefty backhand slaps to Dan Wallace on the plenary genitive, among other things. Various students and professors have levelled the strongest possible condemnation against women in ministry, yet have invited Dr. Walter Kaiser to conduct a winterim. In other words, this seems like a practice we carry on in relation to others all the time, but something that becomes a hard pill to swallow when aimed at ourselves.

I posted MacArthur’s picture, the link, and the invitation on two blogs before I listened to the lectures. I didn't post them out of an implicit endorsement, but because they are resources on a topic of interest. I didn't form an opinon about them until after I listened to them. All that to say I wasn't "eager to critique our professors", though I can see how it might look that way.

As for the issue of respect, I can understand how some may have wished for some more tempered words of criticism; but the irony in that is absolutely confounding. My understanding of MacArthur's lecture is that it was an unethical and (to say the least) uncharitable presentation which no one "earns the right" to make, no matter how many years they've been in ministry.

To claim that I should be more charitable about saying that while at the same time defending MacArthur's presentation as appropriate seems a little hypocritical to me. If I'm being inappropriate in my criticism, by what standard can you construe him as being appropriate? As I mentioned before, "how you can construe various comments here as "uncharitable" while seeing MacArthur's as . . . what? Charitable? Somehow exempt from the need to be charitable? Accurate and therefore appropriately uncharitable?"

So, at the same time I take your point, appreciate your pointing it out (Iwill endeavor to preface my comments more carefully and temper my criticisms more consistently), I can't help but see a glaring, rather ugly double standard here.

Thanks again.

Matt Waymeyer said...

Hi Sharad,

So now you think I'm ugly. Is that you're saying? Oh, sorry. Got a little carried away there. Guess I'm a little jumpy after a long day.

Seriously though, thanks for your message. I appreciate your humility and willingness to consider my words. Gotta keep this short for now (on my way out the door to go home after Sun eve service). I did want to say that it helps to know that you had not yet listened to the lectures at the time that you posted the invitations at the blogs. I'm not totally sure, but I may have assumed that you had, which is not fair to you, and for that I do sincerely apologize. Your other points call for a longer discussion than I have time for at present (but you'll just have to trust me that at any point that you and I disagree, I am completely right and you are completely wrong!). Perhaps a phone call at some point would be easier. I should mention that I have not had time to listen to any of the faculty series, but I hope to do so at some point.

Gotta fly. Blessings Sharad.

Matt Waymeyer

P.S. I really do like you. Or maybe it's Sameer that I like. I can't remember. But I do like one of you. It's the other that gets on my nerves. Or maybe both of you get on my nerves about half the time. I don't know. I can't remember. I'm all confused.

TheBlueRaja said...

Thanks so much for your kindness, Matt. I really can see how my comments would be taken as simply bashing the school, especially because I haven't ever said anything on record which I've appreciated about it.

And as for my comments about the "double-standard" to which I've said people have held between MacArthur and his critics, it may also appear that I am applying a double standard (i.e. I'm calling MacArthur to be more gracious in a less than gracious way). I think there's a difference in that my critcism with MacArthur isn't about his ungracious "tone" but in his misrepresentation and inaccurate generalizations. My ungraciousness has been in my choice of words and tact of delivery - but not, I think, in the substance of the issues I've raised.

With that said, ungraciousness of any kind isn't appropriate, and I'll just have to redouble my efforts to tone down my comments. More than that I plan to simply stay away from criticizing others in general, and to instead make more positive contributions. I had intended to do this before, after my personal Phil Johnson debacle, but as I said, I hadn't listened to the lectures I posted until afterwards, and was subsequently asked my personal opinion about them in the commments section. I'm seriously thinking of pulling the plug on my blog to simply avoid the possibility of such wrangling in the future.

Eccch. I need to cleanse my palate with the sherbet of Psalm 119. Thanks again!

The Confessor said...

Well, I certainly must have lit a match while standing in a pool of gasoline.=)

I would really encourage people to check out www.emergentsocal.blogspot.com, email me and then come hang out with me for a night with Tony Jones, the National Coordinator for Emergent-US. YOu could ask questions, etc.

He and I don't agree on everything, but at least you can do the legwork yourself.

Also, I have friend that I don't agree with theologically on a lot of things...but they are always welcome to my life.

I would love to invite all of you to be able to actually "come and see" for yourselves.

To be clear...
1. I'm not "high fiving" anyone.
I don't know anyone affiliated with this site.
This is more important to me than some school yard round of tit for tat.

2. I don't necessarily disagree with some of the critiques raised of the EC. I have a problem with taking the critique of certain authors and taking care to not paint anyone within relational proximity as guilty of the same things.

That is the nuanced difference--no argument from me against criticizing those that write books.
You put yourself out there, you get to be analyzed and disagreed with.

3.My main point about conversation and actual dialogue was specifically about Carson, sorry for not being clear and thus, inadvertently, becoming guilty of what I complain about in #2.
I still don't know how you can become "conversant with emergent" (i.e. a whole group of people) by never having actual conversations with them and then expanding, by implication or accusation, all of your problems (some of them legit, some just a failure to listen) with McLaren to the whole. I stand by my complaint of "intellectual dishonesty".

4. Just so people know, my parents are grads of Trinity and we are personally familiar with Don Carson. I respect the man, but even a group of heavyweights can be wrong.

5. Interesting dynamics played out in the wake of my comments:
One person didn't see my comments as uncharitable, but others saw it as arrogant, etc.
It's interesting how when someone has a perceived "tone" around what you like to hear--then there is no problem with your tone. But if the same tone is perceived around what you don't like to hear, then the speaker is arrogant.

I'm all for vigorous and honest dialogue and stating of positions, but the comment section alone proves the point that human beings are profoundly bound in their hermeneutical limits.

It should call all of us to humility, openness to "I could be wrong" and patience with those whom we disagree.

That underlying value may be present in alot of people, but it certainly doesn't get highlighted the way it has within the EC circles that I have observed.

6. If you're not totally angry at what I just wrote, please join me in San Diego. Just email me and let's keep talking.

All God's best.

Nate B. said...

For anyone interested, I posted a few more thoughts on Dr. MacArthur's lecture over at Faith and Practice.

I guess I just can't leave well enough alone.

puritan said...

thanks nate for the comments.
They were succint, true and to the point. I enjoyed it and also found that what MacArthur was trying to say had some really well points, that deserved to be pointed out.
Good Job!

Your quote...

I think they even ask some good questions, although they often come up with really bad answers.

was the overall best way of describing the EC and their views and thoughts.

flathead said...

At the heart of the EC movement is reform (de-construction and re-construction) according to the spirit of Scripture. For this, they are to be admired. No doubt the movement within the 15th and 16th century was similar in focus, yet on the fringes there were extremes. If there is anything that the Reformation has taught us is that we must take a long hard look in the mirror every once and awhile. Double thumbs up for being Luther-like EC!

Caleb Kolstad said...


Since you can not respond to further discussions regarding TMS and the EC i will try and keep this to the point. I agreed with Nate B when he said MacArthur's lecture needs to be listened to in context (Part 1 of a 5 part series).
I think some people assumed i was agreeing with Dr. MacArthur simply because he is one of my modern day heros, because of my past relationship with him, etc, etc. No one knows how much or little i have studied the E.C. movement prior to this lecture series (which was even a little late in my opinion).
I recently heard Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and others toot MacArthur's horn in a big way. Just because they claim to be huge admirers of his does not mean when they defend him they are doing so out of "blind loyalty." When they agree on a hot topic issue does that mean they have not studied the issue at hand for themselves?
As a young pastor and bible scholar do i take what MacArthur, Sproul, Carson, Mohler and others say and hold their opinions/perspectives/convictions in high regard? You better believe i do. Do i agree with everything they teach/believe/hold? Of course not.
But as i mentioned earlier, when men like this AGREE on something as important as the new E.C. movement does that impact me in a big way? Again, sure it does. I don't think the points i mentioned above are contradictory...

Thanks for keeping me honest though. Just because i disagree with some of your blogs doesn't mean i'm not interested in any of your thoughts. Clearly you are a smarter man than I. You read wider than i read and are interested in some things that i find rather boring. None the less that's the beauty of our God's creative power.

Together for the Gospel,