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Please note that Jackson never answered my questions. He simply restated his contradictory opinion over and over again. He never dealt with why all men are not saved if God alone saves men and is able to save them through no act of their own free will. He simply stated that some can reject but cannot do the opposite accept and then went on to state that what is effective toward a man's salvation is God's grace alone moving the man (through no act of his own free will) to a salvation that he would have never chose on his own. So he would never have chosen it, but if God is able to save all of these who never would choose it on their own, why can't he save the rest who would never choose it on their own. Clearly anyone who reads the posts can see the contradiction.

As for my snide remarks, I see no difference in the way Christ dealt with people who take upon themselves the attitude of authority to teach all men because their so wise and informed, but gravely wrong and teaching a false Christianity. In the end, Arminian theology is Semi-Pelagian for the reasons I stated. Maybe Jackson should go to Trinity and study under some scholars who will teach him to be consistent in his views.

Finally, I am sorry that Jackson has decided to opt out of the discussion, but his idea that people don't want to listen, but "just want to defeat" is more clearly seen in what he has done than in anyone else he has come against. Notice the way he dealt with the Scripture I gave him. He either ignored it, or stated how right he was about his interpretation without even asking what I was intending to say about the interpretation of the passage he misquoted out of context to fit his preconceived view. This is one interested in learning and dialogue? I certainly concur with him that dialogue with a person who is so fundamentalist/dogmatic in their views without testing them Scripturally and logically does seem to be futile; but then again we are commanded to speak to everyone even though we may be an aroma of death to some and an aroma of life to others.

chris lancaster

tooaugust, you really think jesus would cut people down? don't know what bible you're reading. i don't really see jesus being nasty to people, and if that's what your school teaches, i wouldn't want to go there.

i haven't read all the posts, only the last few, but jackson's answers made sense to me. from what i could tell, he was saying that God wants to save everyone and that he gives everyone grace that will save them, but he also lets people reject that grace if they want to, and some do reject it and aren't saved. so he answered your question by saying that God doesn't save everyone because he lets some people reject grace. makes sense to me. i really don't see the contradiction.

anyway, man, at least he was christ-like to you and respectful. i don't think that being a jerk to him or to emergent represents your view very well, and calling people heretics won't get you anywhere. i think heresy comes through our actions and well as our words, and saying that jesus would teach that we should be assholes to fellow christians seems pretty heretical to me.


then i guess you would be a heretic Chris.

I was commenting on my use of sarcasm with Jackson. Christ wasn't sarcastic in a "what you believe is ridiculous sort of way"? I really don't know what Bible you would be reading. your probably not reading it, and instead going off of your Mr. Rogers view of Jesus. I never cussed Jackson out, so you've "one upped" us all on that one. The only "harsh" thing i said to him is that he is a fundamentalist. I used this term because I know he hates them, but was trying to point out that you can be one without being a conservative one. My point was his dismissal of arguments, ignoring Scripture and refusal to acknowledge inconsistencies made me seriously question his ability to logically think through an issue.

I was simply answering Jackson's constant "Everyone who doesn't agree with me isn't human enough to be worth my time" and "every scholar who disagrees doesn't know what he's talking about." If Jackson made sense to you and you don't see the contradiction, I guess the only answer would be to pray for you because I believe only the Holy Spirit can get past the blindness of this whole conversation, as well as convict you to use language that is reserved for the demonically influenced.


P.S. If you thought Jackson was Christ-like to me, I really want to know what Bible you're reading.

chris lancaster

man, there's no reason to throw labels at me like that. why all the insults? what purpose does that serve?

walt maxwell

Hey folks! Stepped into the discussion for the first time and felt a bit of "chill" in the air. Because I am so opinionated I thought I might toss in a few thoughts in mix at great personal risk to life and limb. My first thought is have we become so arrogant in arguing over the specific details that we have forgotten the bigger story? Maybe that is why jesus spoke of straining for the gnat and forgetting the camel? I know dialogue is great and debate sharpens us all but are we so right that we have forgotten the Good News...JESUS not doctrine IS LORD. I am not here to preach (oh who am I lying to...) yes I guess I am.

Yes its good to participate in the tug of war over arminian verses calvin theology but not to the extent we trample over what question those two thoughts are trying to answer...who does Jesus save? Might I suggest a line of thought for future discussions...first remember Jesus Saves and we are not Him. Just think...relationships are being blown up and destroyed all over who thinks they know better what Jesus was thinking over 2000 years ago? It's great to speculate, negotiate and even debate what we think is right but when it comes down to it we must remember we weren't there and no one but our Lord really knows the truth...heck I guess that is why the scripture says He is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life. I am not trying to be that great negotiator of peace who rides in, throws out his plattitudes and rides off never to be heard of again. I am new to the emergent discussion...I have my doubts...and I want to be persuaded in debate (losing an argument is cool when you are willing to learn).

The final thought I have is this question...is the reason why we have so many church splits is because of "doctrine" or our inability to keep healthy relationships in perspective while in the midst of the discussion? The fruit of the Spirit and (here is where the debate comes in) our allowing it to come out of our actions, choosing to practice and live it or submitting to the Spirit's authority in our lives is the sign of whether or not Christ is evident in our lives and in turn we become a light towards salvation for others.

Being this is my first plunge into the streams of this blog and into the emergent discussion I hope i haven't come across as condescending and rude. Please take my statements at face value without any "hidden meanings". I know that the key to communication is not what is said but what is perceived so if you have any questions or hate speech or criticisms about what i said please put them down. Please know that everything I have posted has been out of my own failures and having to deal with the reprecussions of years of putting my "beliefs" before people...I don't wish that on anybody.


tooaugust, I don't have the willpower or desire to read all of what has been written here, but it seems to me that you are practicing misdirection by your most recent comments. The whole argument between you and Jackson basically centered around your understanding of what Arminians believe vs. his. Quoting scripture is irrelevant to much of what you were talking about.

Interesting that you consider your view, as a history scholar, to be more authoritative than his view, as someone who ACTUALLY IS ARMINIAN. This, by itself, does not prove anything, but I find it...let's just say, "telling."

Where did you receive your degree from? Do you believe that your view of church history and even present day theology is completely unbiased? Or do you think maybe, possibly, you could stand to learn something about historical and present day views, whether you think they are "semi-Pelagian" or not?


I think that Tony makes an interestign observation in the original post. I am not as well versed in the theological distictions between the followers of the various theological "heavy hitters" through out the ages so I will leave that discussion others. From my perspective the main critics of the emerging conversation are those who have adopted the stance that the 66 books of the Bible are the only objective source of data to base any thinking on and from there make the assumption that the "plain truth" of their particular interpretation of those 66 books is the only one that can be right. Starting from this place it is no wonder that emerging theology is seen as a threat to their gospel. Any group, theological or otherwise, that is willing to recognize that there are several meanings in any text and multiple interpretations of those meanings will have to be seen as an enemy.

I wonder, if one of you brainiacs could comment on the connection between pre-Barthian, Evangelical Calvinists and views on the canonization of scripture. From my lowly perspective it seems that once we place all our faith in a narrow interpretation of which ever books we recognize as canonical we have lost our ability to carry on any form of genuine communication. At any rate, when we get to the point that we are willing to condemn people and defend our systems we are on a slippery slope. When we are so certain in the correctness of our theology that God hates all the same people we hate and loves all the same people we love we are beyond the need of spiritual transformation ourselves and that should make us uncomfortable.


"Interesting that you consider your view, as a history scholar, to be more authoritative than his view, as someone who ACTUALLY IS ARMINIAN. This, by itself, does not prove anything, but I find it...let's just say, "telling."

No, Bill, my point was not in debate on whether Arminian theology believes it is not Semi-Pelagian (like Jackson's assertions), nor whether it is true or not, but that it is Semi-Pelagian in its implications. I clearly pointed this out by showing the ability to reject implies the ability to not reject, hence a free will (although this has become, "the Arminian Jackson is the loving correct one in this debate even though he slandered tooaugust a million times, but he is the Arminian, so he's right" to all of the Arminians at least). The fact that I do believe there is such a thing as doctrinal heresy that betrays God and the heart of the Gospel and therefore damns men (which I think is the real unloving thing), I think makes me a little more concerned than those who are persuaded otherwise in this area.

"tooaugust, I don't have the willpower or desire to read all of what has been written here, but it seems to me that you are practicing misdirection by your most recent comments. The whole argument between you and Jackson basically centered around your understanding of what Arminians believe vs. his. Quoting scripture is irrelevant to much of what you were talking about."

No, Bill, it centered around the fact that Arminian theology, REGARDLESS OF WHAT IT SAYS, is an early heresy called Semi-Pelagianism, which posits a libertarian free will of man, declared to be heretical by the orthodox church throughout history (this is THE question throughout the history of the Church and it is always the heretical/apostate movements that take the Semi-Pelagian side (but I believe the Reformation to be true and am not Roman Catholic, and that's why I view Church history this way), the orthodox church, which we have already established over on your blog to be those inheriting the Apostolic teachings from the beginning (although I know you don't agree, and this is where we would have different concerns on this issue), is what I BELIEVE in, not what I can prove in some scientific analysis to be the true Church (the desire to have me prove it seems a little too Modern doesn't it?). Likewise, the idea that we should all consider our theologies to be one of many and not necessarily the true one is a separate theology itself. Are we then saying that unless you have this attitude and belief, you are to be set out, or considered lesser in spirituality than others? That is why all of this talk of ecumenism is self refuting.

I really think it's interesting that no one here, who is Arminian, has a critique for Jackson stating that I wasn't worth his time, a slanderer bearing false witness (i guess that means in horribly sin before God), etc., but I didn't think that I would really get a fair shake here. After all, it is what separates Emergent from orthodoxy.



Somehow I stumbled on your blog. I have been previosly in ministry and left the church all togehter altough I have been reading some cool blogs about emergance and reading a few books on the emergant ys line. I felt more called to walk out into the world and meet people that others seperate themselves from. I am inspired by your observations and your thought which I have read. Thanks for challegeing my thoughts - Sam


tooaugust, (would be nice to call you by name but I often find it is easier to hold convictions such as yours when no one knows who you are)

By a "fair shake", do you mean that everyone here should agree with you? I think the reality that you have dominated these comments and had the opportunity to articulately express your views (which are only loosely related to the original post) indicates that you have had the same "fair shake" as every one else here. If what you are really looking for is everyone to concede the discussion and agree with you, your efforts would be better spent commenting on this post instead, or sharing your own thoughts on your own blog and inviting people to interact with you there.

chris lancaster

tooaugust, do you think jackson might be going to hell because of his beliefs?

dave paisley

Referring way back to Scott C-J:

"For instance, I have read Mainline ecclesial structures described as "demonic" on an Emergent Blog, and have also read exhortations to Emergent folks to applaud and celebrate disaffected member of my own denomination who leave it."

As an Episcopalian engaging with the emergent community for almost a year now I can honestly say I've never encountered anything like that. If anything, most of the people I've met through emergent bend over backwards to avoid giving offense, even under fairly intense provocation. I'm curious about which corner of emergent that was coming from...

Andrew  Jones

thanks tony for being there and for your thoughts.

i will be sure to send any really hairy questions in your direction.

from the other jones


You said that the most criticism of emergent is coming from “pre-Barthian Calvinists” and not from other evangelicals. I think your assessment is accurate. However, I don’t think this is because this has to do with soteriological commitments. I think, rather, it extends through the Reformed tradition as codified in the writings of Gresham Machen (please excuse my ignorant spelling).

The Reformed tradition, in my opinion, is the most divisive and critical strand of orthodox Christianity in church history. Though, I think the Roman Catholic Church, the Pentacostals, and Anabaptists had their radical moments, one thing is for sure, the Reformed tradition has been perpetually filled with discord. Emergent isn’t the only thing that is being singled out by this strand of thought, but also seeker-sensitive mega-churches (see MacArthur), dispensationalists, Clarkian and/or Van Tilian views of knowledge (don’t ask me how that one works), charasmatics, egalitarians, Arminians, and Christian Hedonism. Other controversies include the Sabbath, theonomy, law and gospel, counseling, and the days of creation.

I think the reason for this is because this strand of Orthodoxy puts an enormous value on the nature of truth—that it is absolute, objective, and knowable through Scripture. Therefore, when things “change” they believe that immutability of truth is at stake. Though I am a Calvinist, I have never understood this “absolutism” that comes along with it. Though, I disagree with some of the so-called “emerging church” (as represented by a few of its so-called leaders [they don’t like being called leaders, am I correct?]) strongly, I favor the discourse.

Nevertheless, I feel that the only thing that is really going to emerge is another left/right split. I don’t think they are going to be reconciled in the postmodern vortex, and look for the emerging church to branded “liberal” in the future.



I do not know if you are still following this, but I just want a couple of straight answers to some questions. I think if you would just answer a couple of questions things could become much clearer regarding Emergent. So here they are:

1. Do you personally support an inclusivistic view of salvation (i.e. that people who have never heard the Gospel can go to heaven or taht those in other religions can go to heaven simply by believing in a monotheistic god)?

2. Does Emergent as a whole take any positions on any theological beliefs?

3. Is open theism a position that many or most Emergent folks hold?

4. In a short, concise statement, please share with us what the Gospel is.

Ok, the reason why I am asking these questions is because this is where the whole debate falls down. This is why Mohler and Carson attacked McLaren and why any Evangelical is critiquing Emergent. No one really cares whether the movement is Calvinist or Arminian. We just want to know what the answers to these questions are. So please Tony, I am begging you man to man, answer the questions and let us quit all this bickering.

In Christ,


furthremore - all you calvisinits and emergent/PT (Pagitt's term) people: why don't you just say what you stand for. I pretty much disagree with most calvinism nonesense, but at least i know where they stand. Emergent on the other hand is sitting on the fence of every issue saying, "i don't know, what do you think" What is emergent? what does it stand for? It is to questions such as these that the following blog is devoted to:
your pal, norm

chris lancaster

D.R., I'm not Tony, but I'll answer some of your question, for what it's worth:

(1) You asked this of Tony--who knows what he thinks. In emergent, you'll find a diversity of opinions that run across the spectrum.

(2) Yes. Do you actually read their books, or do you just go by what your profs at Southern tell you?

(3) Some do, some don't--Emergent is pretty diverse. I know the profs at Southern have made it part of their mission to destory open theism, but associating it exclusively with emergent is a bit much. After all, SBTS just hired a custodial cleaning firm that gives benefits to gay partners. Does that mean that SBTS supports gays because some people associated with the seminary do? Nope. Same goes with emergent--do they endorse open theism because some people may hold that view who associate with emergent? Nope. I think a wide variety of theological beliefs are allowed in the conversation.

(4) Let me guess: if he doesn't say (a) the Four Spiritual Laws; (b) the Bridge to Life; or (c) ask the question, "If you were standing at the gates of heaven and God asked you, 'Why should I let you in my heaven?', would you know what to say?" then he's probably wrong, right? If you're truly interested, I'd read A New Kind of Christian to start to get an idea. I doubt that you're really interested, though--you're looking for error to point out. I don't think they're going to play your "let's find heresy and start and start an argument about it with all sorts of labeling" game. It's fun for people at SBTS, but not for busy Christians.

"So please Tony, I am begging you man to man, answer the questions and let us quit all this bickering."

I'm sure all the bickering will stop when he tells you, right? You'll just accept it, say, "oh that's interesting", and move on? I have my doubts about that...


Answer the questions. Would somebody please answer a question? In my opinion Emergent is rapidly losing credibility becuase they are choosing to be vague on everything. If all emergent is about is be angry at their dad's church then fine. But if you want to have any weight in any sort of theological circle then answer a question every now and then. People are curious for the same reasons you were once curious. If you want your books to be respected then don't cry foul everytime somebody has a question as to why you do something the way you do.Or beleive something you believe. Did you have a big secret meeting last year and form a pact and say we will not have an answer for anybody? Just curious. Show people a little respect that were not all out to sabotage you and were not all your enemies. We just want to go to the bible with everything and check it out for ourselves. What's wrong with that? I'm sure I'll get flamed by one of you guys, that's fine, as long as you answer a few of these legit questions that have been posed in the process. That would be great.



First of all you don't know a thing about me. I don't go to Southern. I moved here to do so, but I work in the secular world right now. I graduated with an M.Div from NOBTS, but I am not in contact with any professors from Southern or New Orleans on this issue. And you have no right to assume how I will feel once the questions have been answered. Why would you write that junk not knowing me? It is ridiculous to attack someone for asking questions. You ridicule those who attack the positions of some in Emergent, but yet you personally attack my credibility for asking questions. Is this what Emergent is about? I doubt it. Now, I appreciate your answers, but you didn't give me anything I didn't already know. I asked Tony because I know he is in with the big wigs in Emergent and is privy to such understanding of the positions, not because I wanted a reason to accuse him.

Secondly, I hate the Four Spiritual Laws and the Bridge to Life. I hate tracks! I think Evangelism is not done by giving someone a piece of paper and saying, "Here, pray the prayer on the back and find a church." Is that what people think of evangelicals? AHHHH!

Furthermore, have you been to Southern as to accuse them of sitting around and arguing. There are hundreds of Southern grads on the mission field right now. I just heard from one the other day who is knee deep in Indonesia, preaching the Gospel in areas that before the tsunami were closed to outsiders. He has seen tens of hundreds come to Christ through the SBC missionaries over the past year. The profs and the students are involved in mighty works here in Louisville and the city itself is coming up from the doldrems of years of liberal Christianity and discovering a bright and glorious hope in Jesus Christ. Lives are changing, people are seeking Christ. Droves of evangelical churches in this city and just outside of it are growing as a result of the ministry of Southern seminary. So why bash it so much if you know nothing about it? Because they are calling the leadership of Emergent to hold Biblical positions and to state them?

Chris, honestly I don't know you, but one thing I do know is that it is clear you don't know me either.

And as for Jason's post. Amen, brother thank you for so clearly articulating how I and many of my Evangelical friends feel.

All great Christian movements experience criticism. The true test of their legitimacy is how they handle their critics. Right now, Emergent is not handling the critics very well.




Emergent is not a movement.

chris lancaster

"Why would you write that junk not knowing me? It is ridiculous to attack someone for asking questions."

I think a lot of people in emergent are asking the same thing.



We've heard it's not a movement and that it's a conversation. Well, a conversation has two or more people speaking. Two or more can actually share what they want to and ask questions.

Btw, it occered to me. If Emergent doesn't want to be associated with evangelicals and seems quite content to critique them why do they sell there books in christian bookstores and hold a conference with the national pastors convention. Why are they associated with Zondervan? Just curious.

If it loooks, acts, and talks like a movement it might just be a movement. Just my observation.



from the beginning Emergent as defined itself as a conversation among friends. While I an not part of any team that makes up the core of this conversation I do consider myself a friend of emergent and am a strong supporter of the generous orthodoxy they are attempting to embody. From my perspective some of the frustration I hear coming from you and others who echo your concerns come from the fact that their is not one answer to your question, but multiple answers. (As a side note, I think this article points to another source of the frustration felt on both sides.)

Unlike some doctrinal positions that require strick adherence to a bounded set of beliefs, generous orthodoxy creates a freedom for pluralism, diversity and harmony. So questions like "what does emergent believe about _____?" will not get an answer. Having said that I, as a friend of emergent will give my own answers to your questions.

4.)since the answer to number 1 depends first on some answer to #4 I will start there. I would say that if you think that there is one, short concise statement that encapsulates Gospel I would say that you have way to narrow a view of Gospel. Just a short review of the scriptures will illustrate that there were multiple answers given to this question. The answer that Christ gave the rich young ruler in response to his question of how to enter the kingdom was not the same message that Paul gave to the Philippian jailer. The "good news" that Christ came to proclaim was in fact proclaimed before his death, burial and resurrection. I would suggest that your dissatisfaction with "the emergent answer" to your question is that it challenges your assumption that there is in fact a short concise statement that explains "the gospel". My guess is that if you presented what that was you would get several responses to challenge your view. These might not be "the answer" you are looking for but will bring you into the conversation among friends.

1.)this is the toughest question for me for several reasons. First, I don't think we have decided what Gospel is and second, I do not think the most important part of Gospel has to do with where we spend eternity when we die. Third, this is a question that should cause us to be heartbroken. However, it is my opinion that there is a distinction made between those who are the people of God and those who are not. While I think there are people who are not people of God, it is not my job to adjudicate that case. I think there is a much more qualified person to sit in that judgement seat. Having said that I take serious the call to be an ambassador of reconciliation. I think that if we really believe that there is a place of eternal punishment and seperation from God and that all people are created in the image of God, we would be grieved and heartbroken for those we believed were going there. Instead, I see a lot of people who are so committed to their belief systems that they will express no compassion for those who they feel are in error. I am not as quick to pick up stones as some. So while I am not a universalist I would consider myself a hopefully optimistic inclusivist. My desire is that none would perish and to invite people into an ecclessial community that would initiate them in into following the way of the cross, which I see as a lifelong commitment.

2.)I don't think this is a very good question. Personally, I take very strong positions on theological beliefs and I am very confident that the other friends of emergent do as well. While we may not be in complete agreement on all these things our ongoing conversation and love for each other continues to work redemptively and transformationally in our lives.

3.)I do not hold a well formed "open theism" but I am becoming more comfortable with that position. I guess I am a "leaky theist".

While I question your motives for asking these questions I do hope that you will accept these as my honest attempts at short, concise answers.


OOPS. I just realized that in addition to being a poor typist I forgot to include a link to the article I mentioned in the first paragraph of my last comment. It is an article by Stanley Fish entitled Why We Can't All Just Get Along. While I think it is a helpful article to explain why some of these discussions do not end well I prefer to take it a step farther, as Volf does in his great book, Exclusion and Embrace. Where Fish leaves the two parties in a state of conflict, Volf opens up the choice for reconciliation and Generous Orthodoxy, which in my opinion is the choice most friends of emergent are making.

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