Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stuck In The Middle With You

A very interesting comment thread has been made by an Anonymous. I will call him/her "A" for brevity. A has made some comments on my post called Donald Miller Line By Lie. A's comments and questions were so substantive and so important that I have spent a great deal of time and effort answering them. A also seems to be sincerely interested in the truth. A seems to take the Bible as authoritative, but still has some postmodern ideas common in the Emergent. A has been a real sport, answering and taking my jokes and putting up with my questions. A is worth answering. My last answer was so long and included so many important things to get out to people considering the Emergent, fighting the Emergent, or stuck somewhere in between that I decided to post my answer here:

Dear Anonymous,
Well, I thank you for your patience in all of this. I know I have put you through some paces, but not out of meanness. I pray you will see the points I was attempting to make as I now take the time to give you a more thorough answer.

Let’s take a look at Miller’s “gospel” outside of its context as a part of Miller’s work. Next, we will take a look at it in the context of Miller’s work.

Standing alone, apart from the rest of Miller’s work, it lacks a number of things that are unique to the gospel and are indispensable to it.

First, it lacks the idea of a substitutionary atonement. In I Corinthians 15 we read, “...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...” In your summary of Miller’s we read, “...Christ came to earth to fix it...” Not exactly an adequate explanation to anyone not already educated in Scripture.

Second, it lacks any mention of sin and God’s anger toward us, the reason for the gospel. In I Corinthians we read, “...for our sins...” In the summary of Miller’s “gospel” we read, “The relationship was damaged in the garden.” The absence of “sin” is significant. Miller is not about to tell us that we disgust God. Sin means that in both who we are in Adam and with our individuals acts of rebellion against God’s law, God is angered. His judgment is coming. As a result, many in our culture will not even get the idea of God’s anger. The gospel seems irrelevant to those who think they’re innocent.

Third, it lacks any reference to the resurrection. In Paul we read, “...and that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures...” In Miller’s gospel we read...well, nothing about the resurrection.

Fourth, it lacks reference to the observable, objective truthfulness of the account. In I Corinthians 15 we read, “...and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” What do we find in Miller that would indicate any sense of urgency because this actually happened and has eternal, personal, and cosmological significance and impact? In Miller we read...well, nothing. In fact, we read that we don’t even have to believe it, according to Miller, a detail which should shock you.

Fifth, it lacks any mention of the fact that it is ours by the authority of the Bible. In I Corinthians 15 we read, “...according to the Scriptures...according to the Scriptures...” It seems like an emphasis to me. In Miller we read that we don’t have to believe any doctrine of Scripture.

Taking a look at Miller’s “gospel” in the context of Miller’s own work is also revealing and I have already mentioned the first problem with Miller’s schema. These problems are endemic in the Emergent milieu of ideas and doctrines. Yes, though they often scoff at doctrine, they do have their own. But theirs are okay, it seems. Miller’s context for the “gospel” provides the following problems:

First, as I already mentioned, whatever the gospel is according to Miller, we don’t even have to believe it. He wrote, “If we hold that Jesus wanted us to ‘believe’ certain ideas or ‘do’ certain things in order to be a Christian, we are holding to heresy.” This is bunk. Jesus said in Luke 8:37-38, “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

So who is right? Is Jesus right when He said He required His followers to believe and confess Him and His doctrines? Or was Miller right? Remember that you said the Bible has the right to tell us how to think. What is the biblical answer? Not the Emergent, or Catholic, of Baptist answer–the biblical one? And remember you said there is such a thing as a right answer.

Second, Miller’s work includes a lot of banging on “propositional truth” and “formulaic” understandings. The Emergents play a really clever trick here, a verbal shell game. I have often seen definitions in Emergent writings indicating that a proposition is simply an if-then sentence. Grammatically, that is a conditional sentence. It is not what is referred to when a philosopher says “propositional truth.” The idea of the conditional sentence being a proposition comes from common usage. “If you marry me, then I will be happy.” Or in business, “If you pay me $25,500, then I will remodel your master bedroom and kitchen in the following manner...” These are propositions in the common sense.

Philosophers speak of “propositional truth,” or, more precisely, “propositions” that transmit “truth” in words, phrases, and clauses. In this usage a “proposition” is merely a declarative sentence that the author or speaker proposes as true, and “truth” is the quality of reflecting something of reality as accurately as is indicated by the words, grammar, and syntax used by the author or speaker, according to the understanding of the author or speaker.

The Emergent line is since the Bible has little or no propositional truth in it, we don’t really have to pay that much attention to accuracy. After all, God doesn’t. It’s more of a feeling thing or a doin’-the-right-thing thing.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is getting hard on the brain, I know. So let’s take a mental break and just ask a question. You don’t have to answer this, but just think about it for your own edification. Do you spend more time reading Emergent stuff or the Bible? Another way to ask is this: Do you tend to look at the Bible through Emergent glasses or do you look at the Emergent through biblical glasses? Don’t answer to me. Just think about it. back to the hard work of sorting out propositional truth.

The Scripture is chock full of propositional truth. Remember a proposition is simply a declarative sentence, or statement, like, “I saw Spot run.” It does not include questions like, “Did Spot run?” or commands like, “Run, Spot, run.” If the sentence is a statement and true, then it is a true proposition.

The application to all this is simple. Poetry is mostly propositional in the Bible. It is intended by the author to be considered true. Narrative is a collection of true propositions about what happened to so and so back when... What the Emergents have done is to take the idea that much of modern poetry is non-propositional and applied it to the Bible. And since much of modern narrative, such as screen plays, short stories, and novels, is not propositional in nature, then biblical narrative is not propositional, according to the Emergents.
To repeat, all that makes a statement propositional is whether or not it is presented as true. It does not depend on being poetry or prose. It is not dependent on whether or not it is narrative. The narrative in a novel is non-propositional. The narrative in an accurate history of an era, people, or civilization is propositional.

I am not saying that all Emergents are necessarily lying about this. (The smarter ones are.) The postmodern philosophical movement which seeks to deconstruct language has lied about this as well, many times in order to negate the idea of absolute truth or any ancient writing (read Bible here) that purports to be absolutely true. It’s a trick, much like the linguistic analysis of A. J. Ayer, and as such, postmodernism is already dead in many quarters of the academy in Europe. It is dying for the same reason British linguistic analysis did: it is self-contradictory and people eventually catch on and get embarrassed by it despite its usefulness in our fight against the knowledge of God.

The long and the short of it is, the avoidance of propositional truth is unbiblical and intellectually dishonest for those that know better. Miller is shot through with this.

Third, Miller and the Emergents refuse to take the Bible as authoritative. The tool they use for this the most is their little trick about propositional truth. Another tool they use is long winded, often tear-jerking stories they use to grease the skids before they lay out a doctrine so ridiculous you’d laugh if you just thought about it for a second. Miller did that for an entire book in “Blue Like Jazz.” McLaren does it. McManus does it. I call these fibnarratives.

Fourth, Miller denies the importance of specificity and accuracy in doctrine, including the doctrine of the gospel. Miller said we “hold to heresy” if we think Jesus required us to believe “certain ‘ideas.’” In contrast in I Corinthians 15, we read, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for...” That sort of urgency for accuracy and specificity has no place in Miller’s schema.

Fifth, Miller’s schema makes for a devaluing of the spoken or written word. The ins and outs of the biblical view of this are dealt with elsewhere in this communication, but I will point out two sub-problems of this. One is the casting about to use all sorts of silly stuff and calling that evangelism. For instance, you mentioned that you have seen paintings that communicated the gospel. So...what exactly did they say? (Sorry, but you have to admit...) The other problem in devaluing the written or spoken word is that God has granted authority and the power of the Holy Spirit to those who speak the gospel to others. The biblical method is proclamation, not conversation.

Lastly, Miller has come up with a “gospel” designed to avoid the persecution that Christians are asked to volunteer for. Take a look at his “gospel.” You called it “friendly.” It is. However, it’s not very loving. It is so nondescript, so vague, so unclear that no one can get mad. It doesn’t mean anything. And, after all, you don’t even have to believe it. If you believe in the doctrine of universalism, his “gospel” will work for you. God loves us all. If you believe Jesus died as an example for us to follow, Miller’s “gospel” is fine. If you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead figuratively but not actually, Miller’s “gospel” will not contradict you. You can’t get any friendlier than that. Satan himself will not object.

Miller’s “gospel” lacks the self-sacrificing love that will tell someone to repent from their sins in order to avoid hell even if they are likely to spit on us for it. This is not the gospel that got Paul beaten most places he went. This is a coward’s “gospel.”

Dear Anonymous, you once told my I was wrong because I thought I was right. Did you think you were wrong? Does not Miller think he is right? He accuses those like me of holding to heresy. Have you called him to object? You also have now admitted that right answers are possible. By what tortured legalism is it okay to forbid the telling of the truth? Is it more righteous or loving to be silent? Paul told Timothy that in pointing out false teaching to his brothers he was a “good servant.” I Tim. 4:6. And by what odd calculus do we measure the accuracy of our “gospel” by how pleasing it is to others when the true gospel doomed our Lord to death, as well as all the apostles, save possibly one?

Also, you have made much of how one ought to “lure,” in your words, the current generation into the fold. That has never been the biblical approach. Scripture tells us in Romans 3:10 that we all avoid and hate God. “As it is written, There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” Paul’s method was the proclamation of the gospel. In Romans 1:16 we read, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (despite what Miller says), to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Miller remark added–I don’t think Paul actually knew Donald Miller but I’d never be propositional about it.)

In I Corinthians 1:21 we read, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

Trying to change your glasses,
Phil Perkins.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the thorough post. You're put a lot into it and I appreciate it.

Thanks also for defining what you mean by "proposition." That helps us at least continue the discussion on the same page.

That said, let me clarify a few things you apparently think about me.

First, you ask if I read Emergent stuff more or the Bible more. To be honest, I've never read a single Emergent book. I've only recently entered into this debate.

I plan to read "Blue Like Jazz" soon. And I also want to read D.A. Carson's book on the Emergent, as I trust Carson quite a bit.

But my desire is to find that with which I agree in the Emergent movement and use it for the kingdom, not to adopt a philosphy wholesale. My fear is that you throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater (more on that below).

Second, you claim I said you were wrong to think you were right ... as if I were making some marshmellowy, non-committal claim about truth.

I never said you were wrong to think you were right. I think you are wrong in the manner in which you say you are right. I perceive an arrogance in you, a desire to sort of "corner me" into a complicated set of logical traps, and when I say something with which you disagree ... AH HAH! Now you've caught me!

If I'm wrong about that, forgive me. But that's my perception. And while I'm at it, let me propose a questionto you before proceeding. Wouldn't it be tragic if a non-believer were to get that same impression from you and reject your message as a result?

You have a lot to say to the world about the Lord - I think it would be tragic if they rejected your message because of it's packaging. That's just a friendly "iron-sharpens-iron" admonition.

Third, you say the idea to "lure" non-Christians to the faith has never been the Biblical approach. Please, then, explain to me the following passages (mentioned in our earlier thread) :

Matt.5:16 - "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Col.4:5-6 - "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer eery one."

1 Peter 3:1-2 - "Wivers, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives."

Matthew, Paul, Peter ... all three on record teaching us to "lure" non-Christians to the faith. Please explain whether they are wrong or whether you would like to qualify your earlier comments.

One final request : Please tell me what you find helpful in the Emergent movement, and which of their arguments do you find to be the strongest.

This is a fairly standard debate method whereby you are required to take the "other side" with the hope that your view will be sharpened in the process. Those who have a hard time doing it aren't really intellectually honest as a debater - they are merely opinionated and narrow-minded.

I recently asked Ken Ham of "Answers in Genesis" this same question about his opponents, and he had an immediate, honest, genuine answer ... and in doing so he gained my respect.

I'd like to think the same of you, Phil.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

That definition of "proposition" is not mine. It is what is meant in philosophical and logical circles. The Emergents are misusing the term puposely to unbuckle us from biblically expressed doctrine.

On reading the Bible or Emergent stuff, that was not for a response, but for your own consideration and for the consideration of other readers.

You said, " desire is to find that with which I agree in the Emergent movement and use it for the kingdom..." Two problems with that. First, purity. Deuteronomy 12 tells us never to borrow from false religions in verses 29-31, and Paul said something about lumps and leaven. Second, he also said something about the Scripture being sufficient to equip the man of God for every good work. So if you needs it you already gots it. And Deuteronomy 4:2 strictly warns, "Do not add to the word I commanded you and do not subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh, your God, which I command you." Proverbs 30:5-6 says, "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you and you will be proved a liar."

On the manner're getting into some really sticky stuff. The Pharisees said John the Baptist was too harsh and that Jesus was just a drunk and a glutton.

If you think I'm too harsh, you have the right to think that. What would you say to Elijah? Or Paul? Or Jesus?

Here is my standard that I have gleaned from the examples of the prophets, Jesus, and apostles--see what you think: To erring unbelievers speak directly and accurately without perjoratives. To and about false teachers speak directly and accurately with perjoratives, but only those that communicate something true about the false teachers and their teachings. This is a standard I have recently come up with, so if I am wrong biblically I will take correction on the matter. In fact, I will welcome it.

On the three passages--context, context, context. In Matthew, this is said by a Man who spent much of His time preaching and teaching. So evidently, living in a way that is compatible with the gospel communicated is not a negation of actually communicating the gospel. And the same holds for the other passages.
Peter and Paul preached the gospel. Surely, they are not denying the importance of the verbal message. Paul, in fact, said, "How can they hear without a preacher?" Peter is simply admonishing a wife to use her obedience and so forth as an apologetic for the gospel, not to never say it or take the man to church or Bible study.

On the best arguments of the Emergents, we have already covered them and you have made some of them. And they are simply wrong. I don't know what you want me to say. They purport to be bearers of truth and they are simply lying just as fast as they can write articles and books.

There are two arguments not covered. First, is the everyone-else-stinks argument. They really lay in hard against the evils in the Evangelical church. The ones I like most are the accusation that we have reshaped the gospel to be like modern culture. That is compromise. However, they are doing the same only with postmodern culture. And the other is the commercialization of the gospel. Heavens, how right that is. But, again, they are selling their wares through all the same venues, except they are not on TV yet. I'm sure they soon will be.

Finally, I see that I have offended you with the question and answer thing. Sorry. I know it's irritating. You should get a medal. That is partly due to my teaching. It is the Socratic method. Questions are asked to spur thinking. If I can lure (there's that word again, ha) a student into discovering something they never forget it and they own it as their own. If not, the student can express himself, and I have the opportunity to show the fallacy. It works. You have to admit I had to dig and dig to get you to commit on some important things and if I hadn't asked, I would have had to assume you agreed with the positions you were defending.

AND sometimes a good question can say more by implication and irony than a whole paragraph of propositions.

Going to bed, now. You made me work too hard today, A.

God bless,
Phil Perkins.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding finding areas of agreement with Emergent rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water ...

You said : "Deuteronomy 12 tells us never to borrow from false religions."

Borrowing from false religions is precisely what the Apostle Paul did on Mars Hill in Athens : "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar to an unknown god. Now what you worship in ignorance, I am going to proclaim to you." (Acts 17:22-23)

I guess you'll have to correct Paul on this point when you get to heaven.

Regarding your manner ... forget about it. Sorry I brought it up.

Regarding the "luring" method of evangelism...

You said : "Peter is simply admonishing a wife to use her obedience and so forth as an apologetic for the gospel, not to never say it"

Unfortunately, that's EXACTLY what Peter is saying to wives in this circumstance. Live in such a way that they may be won "without a word."

Peter certainly believed in the preaching of God's word, as did Matthew and Paul (and the rest). But they also knew that there were certain contexts in which such preaching would be of negligible use, and that a godly life-picture would be "worth a thousand words."

Sorry, Phil, if that doesn't fit your model, or if it has been twisted by the Emergent to an unwarranted extreme. But it is a biblical truth nonetheless.

Regarding my request that you acknowledge the strongest arguments of your opponent ... once again, forget about it. You have clearly decided that everything out of the mouths of Emergent leaders is de facto wrong even before they speak it. The few examples you cite are done so in a condescending manner to make the Emergent look even worse, which was not the point of the exercise.

And I'm sorry you feel that way. I think your arguments would be sharpened were you to find common ground. I think your students would be the better for it as well. But it's apparent you will have none of it. It appears to be a one-way street for good.

Regarding the Socratic method,

You said : "If I can lure (there's that word again, ha) a student into discovering something they never forget it and they own it as their own. If not, the student can express himself, and I have the opportunity to show the fallacy."

I don't have a problem with the method, per se. I have a problem with your assumptions; namely, that my only alternatives are to either accept your conclusions or have my own views corrected. You apparently leave no room for the correction to go the other way.

You drive on one-way streets, Phil. Teacher to student ... You to the Emergent Church ... you to me, etc. That may be accepted by your undergrads because they may not know any better. But a two-way dialogue is more productive in many contexts IMO.

Thanks again for the dialogue. It's been fun.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

I think the Peter passage is hyperbole. It has to be unless you really think Peter forbids the speaking of the gospel by a wife. Remember that Priscilla and Aquilla instructed Apollos. And again, in context of the NT no one can be saved without the propositional preaching of the gospel. Her husband has to hear and understand it, even if she remains muzzled.

Remember that this was brought up because you said that one did not have to believe some propositional passage of the Bible to be saved.

As to your desire for me to say nice things about the Emergent, okay. I would guess most of them love their kids and pay their taxes.

You compared their doctrine to bath water. It's a chamber pot.

For instance, you have been defending Donald Miller all the way through, even though he said we don't have to believe anything to be saved. That alone makes him a false teacher. We are to have nothing to do with false teachers. Remember II John 10 and 11? Bringing him or his teaching into the church is a sin. Are you really going to do that?

As to Mars Hill, Paul used the altar to the unknown god as a starting point to propose the gospel. He did not borrow their religious practices or doctrines. We are to get our doctrines and practices strictly from Scripture. It has the right to tell us how to think, right?

In Christ,
Phil Perkins. Ps--In my standard for manners "erring unbelievers" should read "erring believers."

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess my last reply got lost or something. So I'll try to reproduce it again and hope it doesn't show up twice.

First, I don't think Peter is using hyperbole. He is telling wives in this circumstance to keep their mouths shut and live a life that softens the husband to the Gospel.

Sure, the husbands have to hear the good news. But Peter is saying they shouldn't hear it from the wife. Pretty simple when you just read the passage with an open mind.

Second, I did not, in fact, say that one did not have to hear some propositional passage to be saved. I said they could learn about God without it. Please don't be as sloppy with quotes of me as your are with quotes of Donald Miller.

(I do wonder, however, whether the criminal on the cross actually heard a propositional preaching of the Gospel, or if he merely saw the Gospel incarnate.)

Third, I didn't ask you to say "nice things" about the Emergent. I wondered if you were big enough to engage in a common debate technique whereby you argue the opposing viewpoint, if only for the sake of your own view becoming more sharpened.

And you are not - you are obviously only able to bang the same anti-Emergent gong repeatedly. Clang!

"Love their kids? Pay their taxes?" Get real. I expect your undergrads would have more aptitude for mature debate than that. Sad.

Am I wrong about you? Then I challenge you to take one class period and spend its entirety arguing FOR the Emergent Church. Research hard and honestly line up the strongest pro-Emergent arguments. Have your students grill you with criticism, but you defend the Emergent to your best ability.

Maybe you learn something in the process. Or maybe you just come away more able to defend your own views. Either way, I bet you and your students come away the better for it.

But my guess is you are unable and unwilling. Clang! Clang!

Lastly, Paul did, in fact, borrow a pagan religious practice on Mars Hill. That is the plain reading of the text. He found one of their false altars and said "that which you worship in ignorance, I now proclaim to you."

"This is your altar, I'm usurping it for divine purposes." Same thing Chistians did with the Winter Solstice - they turned it into a celebration of the birth of Christ.

You are twisting the passage to fit your blog, when you should be twisting your blog to fit the passage.

Here's the sad part for you. You can't even see how you are the very reason the Emergent Church is becoming so popular.

Your one-way street approach to teaching, your unwillingness to express any ambiguity, your non-stop firing of the doctrine gun, and your wreckless, unrelenting sarcasm towards your opponents, only serve to drive the younger generation towards McLaren and his ilk.

And the more you bang your clanging gong, the more they emerge (1 Cor.13:1).

Sleep well. Clang! Clang! Clang!

8:40 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

That's a really long comment, mostly rehash, which you're free to do on this blog within limits.

First, you brought up something you have been sort of hinting at for a long time now and I think, in order to keep things peaceful I'll concede the point. You're right. Here's my concession:

I'm a really ugly, horrible, dirty, rotten, dirty-sock-sniffin', no-good, immoral, stupid, has-bad-breath, deserves-to-die, foul, idiotic, bigoted, uneducated, moronic, socially-challenged lunatic that should be shot.

There. Now can we go on?

On the Peter thing, that is not something I'm willing to go to the mat for. I've stated my view on the passage and you have now admitted that the husband does have to hear the gospel. I would imagine the thief on the cross was in the same boat.

Your quote from Paul at Mars Hill is not relevant for two reasons. First, it does not confess that he worshipped at that idol or that he took up their beliefs. Second, Paul never said all that. I even checked the Mess by Eugene Peterson in Acts 17. Fill me in if I missed something.

As to advocating for the Emergent as your test to see if I am a good guy, you've already concluded that I'm a really ugly, horrible, dirty...well you know. You're cheating a bit, though. You have admitted that the Bible has the right to tell you how to think. And it says plainly that we are to never let false teaching or false teachers into the assembly knowingly. So you say it's a test of "big"-ness. The Bible says it's sin. Are going to keep your commitment?

Looking for ambuguity? I think it's rather ambiguous as to whether or not we should insist on ambibuity if we are to be consistent, don't you?

In the beginning was the Question--or not--and the Question was with God--or not--and the Question was God--or not. Huuummm.

Jesus said He came to give light and to be the way. If I want confusion, I will visit an asylum or get drunk. I know this is sarcastic, but do you see the point?

One way streets. Truth is like that. There is only one true way to God. Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
He didn't make much wiggle room.

Now this goes to basics: Would you really apply your insistence on the search for ambiguity to any real field of human knowledge, like physics, logic, or chemistry? Bet you'd flunk math. Most fields want to come to conclusions, not ambiguities.

Lastly, you said I have been sloppy in my quoting of Miller. I have quoted him verbatim.

On the other hand, I notice that you have not weighed in on the theological consequences of his claim that Jesus did not require specific beliefs.

What say you, A?

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Oh, I forgot.

You're right. The Gospel makes folks really mad and they do harden against it. If Paul had been just a little ambiguous, they would not have hated him. Notice that on Mars Hill, the response was split. Some wanted to hear more. Some sneered. Was the sneering Paul's fault?

Yes. He didn't have to insist on presenting the God they didn't know as the only Way. But he did because it's true.

A, I don't even know your name, but God loves you through and through. But He also hates ambiguity. Either be for Him completely or you're against Him.

Christ really bled real blood. It's true. It really ran down His thigh. It really dripped from His hair and beard. It reall was red. It really was warm. It really was sticky. It really was wet. It really fell to the ground and was trampled. It really is the only tool God will use to save your soul. And you really have to believe it.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm a really ugly, horrible, dirty, rotten, dirty-sock-sniffin', no-good, immoral, stupid, has-bad-breath, deserves-to-die, foul, idiotic, bigoted, uneducated, moronic, socially-challenged lunatic that should be shot."

There. Now can we go on?"

I guess you can add disingenious to the list.

"Lastly, you said I have been sloppy in my quoting of Miller. I have quoted him verbatim.

On the other hand, I notice that you have not weighed in on the theological consequences of his claim that Jesus did not require specific beliefs.

What say you, A?"

I have made the assumption you've quoted Miller verbatum. I plan to read the book myself and discern whether you've done so fairly, or if you've cherry-picked a quote out of context.

Have you even read Miller's book yourself, or do you simply dredge the internet for negative quotes?

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think God is quite as threatened by ambiguity as you.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Sorry for the omission. Tell me if you'd like to expand on the theme.

Well, if you assumed I quoted him word-for-word, just follow the links back and read the article. He expands on it and pounds it really hard. AND I did write about the context of his work. I have the book, Searching For God Knows What. If you reread this post, the quote is dealt with both in and out of the context of Miller's other work. There are numbered points under each heading.

And if you give him the benefit of the doubt, why are you angry with me until you check it out? I've read parts of Blue. It's easy reading and all, but it's a long winded narrative with little or no point except that you are to mistrust anyone that has doctrinal certainty. And don't get drunk or smoke pot.

Anyway, you have skirted the issue. He does call anyone who thinks Jesus had doctrinal requirements one who holds to "heresy."

To be a Christian do I have to believe something? And if so, where do I find these things I must believe and what are they?

What say you?

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really need to expand on your omission, I suppose. Your words speak for themselves. A disingenuous stream of self-deprecation misses the point, and you know iit.

I'll have to trust you on Miller until I read the book for myself. My experience tells me that context is usually a most important, and mostly ignored, element.

But like I said long ago, if he is as you say, I'll disagree. In fact, I'll come on here and say I disagree. How's that?

Yes, you do have to beleive the Gospel to be saved. Knowledge about the Gospel is found in the Bible.

But, again, the challenge really isn't convincing me. I already believe.

The challenge is reaching the hundreds of thousands of people who don't buy into propositional, objective truth.

Much as I'd like to reach them through a simple presentation of biblical propositions, it just doesn't always work that way anymore.

As for you role-playing an Emergent for your class and letting them try to debate you ... I guess you're satisfied letting your own view, as well as your students, miss out on the benefit.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

You said, "I don't think God is quite as threatened by ambiguity as you."

Ambiguity doesn't occur to God, because He knows all things.

We, too, don't have to live with ambiguity or uncertainty either, since His Spirit will guide us into all truth--John 14-16.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.
PS, I don't know what is going on with blogger today, but comments are disappearing and others are showing up out of order.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Man, A,
Neither one of us has a life. Do you realize we are coming up on almost 40 comments.

On the self-deprecation, I was making a hint.

You said, "The challenge is reaching the hundreds of thousands of people who don't buy into propositional, objective truth."

No. That's not the challenge. The challenge is faithfulness to the gospel. God will save His own.

You also said, "Much as I'd like to reach them through a simple presentation of biblical propositions, it just doesn't always work that way anymore." Which contradicts this statement by you: "I already believe."

How can you believe the gospel and think it doesn't work anymore?

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, let me rephrase.

The challenge is staying faithful to God's word by presenting the Gospel creatively so that the hundreds of thousands of people who have rejected Christ because of Christians will give Him a fresh look.

I do believe the Gospel still works. I'm just saying there are challenges with presenting the Gospel to a postmodern culture.

Surely you can acknowledge that the methods used on you and me probably will be of no interest to a younger crowd. Right?

Of course you can ... neither one of us grew up reading blogs! :-)

Truth be told, I really think you and I are closer than we have let on in these 40+ posts (yes, we need a life).

And actually, the banter has been a welcome release after difficult workdays ... I hope you feel the same way.

Let's leave this an open conversaion, at least until I can read "Blue Like Jazz."

And while I'm extending olive brances, please reconsider my earlier request that you tell the strongest argument on the Emergent side. It makes it less believable when you try to paint them as being laughably wrong in every single aspect.

Heck, Even non-Christians have good reasons for doubting God ... aka, evil in the world, random acts of suffering, death, etc. Surely the Emergent mind has SOME valid point from which we can learn.

Seriously, I'd lend your views more credibility if you weren't trying so hard to convince me of the absurdity of the opposition.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

I just put up two of your comments. I see one showed up here. Weirdly, it was not in my email, like it is supposed to be.
I accidently found it by being signed onto blogger.

Sorry. So if things are out of order and so forth, it is not because I have been sensoring you.

What part of the country are you in? I'd really like to meet you sometime. I'm in Montana. Me, a dozen other folks, and a whole lot of road apples.

In the love of Christ,
Phil Perkins.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

South ... and have never been to Montana.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

This evening sometime, I am going to make either a comment or a post on an objective, propositional, biblical view of love. I think you will be surprised. I have to work the rest of the day, but will be back soon.

God bless,
Phil Perkins.

8:15 AM  

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