It seems that since emergents cannot defend their positions biblically, it follows that they must resort to other tactics in order to deflect people from their weak and indefensible doctrines and ideas. They have to have some sort of answer for those of us who are attacking their ideas– and I stress, not them personally.
For example, at the Richmond Examiner online edition, Nazarene pastor Scott Marshall attacked my post on the Trevecca labyrinth and retreat story, which is fine with me. He is entitled to his opinion. But it is the nature of his criticism that I question, and that seemed to come from the same old playbook that is used by those who love the emergent agenda. Here is what he said:
‘While there is a place to discuss differences, I don’t think this group of people–from what I have seen–are going about it in a kind or helpful way. For instance: the Concerned Nazarene’s website allows only comments that have been emailed and moderated to be posted. No dissenting opinions are listed. The Facebook fan page is the same. If they are “right”, why keep the discussion out of it? I wish they’d spend the time they are spending “defending” Nazarene doctrine on making disciples and serving the poor in their local contexts. As it is, they are doing little more than fear-mongering. To a person, the people who’ve brought it to my attention don’t know the discussion involved and so are naturally concerned. Based on the one-sided arguments, I’d be concerned too. The problem is that they’ve made the Emergent Church into a theological monolith and its anything but. Anyone who reads voraciously will tell you there is plenty to be listened to from those labeled Emergent, and plenty to discard. How is this different than ANY theological articulation? It’s not! As such, they are asking people to fear and tear down a straw man’.
As to the article about spiritual formation, I have two thoughts.
1 – Everyone who has studied spiritual formation will tell you its a tradition based on Scripture, not something directly out of Scripture. That is nothing new. The thinking is that all truth is God’s truth, so we embrace it wherever we find it (otherwise, we risk putting God in a box of our own making). If they are so against this sort of practice, then they need to leave their church buildings, never again be part of a denomination, never again read the Bible alone, and never again take a Faith Promise offering or host a visiting evangelist for a week of revival meetings. All of those are traditions based on Scripture. The logic is flawed. What’s more, meditation, silence and the like are referenced repeatedly in Scripture.
2 – From what I’ve read, I think the people need to leave the Nazarene Church and join the ranks of the Reformed tradition. I have nothing against that, I just think they’d be a lot happier there. The experts they interview I saw on the website were all Reformed. The view of authority of Scripture they espouse is Reformed, not Wesleyan (I read one scholarly article they referenced arguing otherwise, but that is a minority opinion at best). I say, please leave and make yourself happy. You are doing more harm than good by trying to stay and bring a foreign view into Wesleyanism. What comes to mind is the people Paul says to distance ourselves from–the argumentative and dissenters.
Some of their excuses or reasoning they use are right out of the Emergent Church playbook of demonizing the opposition. By the way, the following phrase is getting rather worn out: “…we risk putting God in a box of our own making.” The old and tired, “you can’t put God in a box” statement. Not sure which emergent first coined it. Have you ever heard that before? Well, here are the Top 10 from their playbook:
1. Distortion of facts or outright misrepresentation. If you go to the Trevecca post I wrote, you will see nearly 200 comments that were allowed. Roughly half were comments that did not approve of my article, yet he says “no dissenting opinions are listed.” Really? He also makes a similar erroneous case for our FaceBook page, neglecting to note that the FaceBook group specifically was set up for support of Concerned Nazarenes, and not for useless debate with emergents and their vain philosophies.
2. Forcing people to make a false either/or choice. “I wish they’d spend the time they are spending “defending” Nazarene doctrine on making disciples and serving the poor in their local contexts.” Emergents often make this argument as if we can do one thing, but not do the other choice at the same time. As if we must either defend doctrine, OR serve the poor. What about if we do both? It seems defending biblical doctrine is anathema to emergents, because that would bring their whole house of cards crashing down! Doctrine is a four letter word to them.
3. Ad hominem attacks without support. “…they are doing little more than fear-mongering.” or “Based on the one-sided arguments..” Yes, throw these comments out when nothing else can work, including refuting what we are saying with scriptural support. Other commonly used words are” divisive”, “unloving”, “hateful”, “un-Christlike”, “Pharisees”. They would not have liked Paul much if he was around today, would they? Yet he brings up Paul at the end of the comments. (Which reminds me of this; humorous but dead on accurate).
4. Blatant distortion of Wesleyan and Nazarene tradition. Pastor Marshall said: “The view of authority of Scripture they espouse is Reformed, not Wesleyan.” and “You are doing more harm than good by trying to stay and bring a foreign view into Wesleyanism.”
This is either an outright lie, or Pastor Marshall got his training at a very non-traditional Nazarene seminary, which may be the case nowadays. John Wesley clearly believed in scriptural inerrancy; but emergents have a disdain for scripture which is mind-boggling, and makes me wonder how they get through the day without distrusting what God has promised us in scripture. Their efforts to re-write history is consistent, but we will be just as consistent in challenging this fabrication out of whole cloth.
5. Suggesting that WE leave the denomination. Their thought is, “if you don’t like it, leave!” He says: “I think the people need to leave the Nazarene Church and join the ranks of the Reformed tradition.” I would make a suggestion to Pastor Marshall: how about if all the emergents leave the denomination, so that they don’t continue to poison the minds of our children with their mystical doctrines and low view of scripture? Is he aware of the lives that have been disrupted by the emergent ideology and its false teachings and practices?
6. Vague Reasoning. “Anyone who reads voraciously will tell you there is plenty to be listened to from those labeled Emergent, and plenty to discard.” They say things like this, but never give the specifics as to what it is that should either be listened to, or discarded. You can’t pin them down! Whereas, I certainly will tell you where I clearly stand, Pastor Marshall. How about you? In favor, or not in favor,of prayer labyrinths?
7. Stating that scripture proves their case, without using scripture to prove their case. “Everyone who has studied spiritual formation will tell you its a tradition based on Scripture, not something directly out of Scripture. That is nothing new.” Oh, really? How long has this been in the Nazarene tradition, including the use of such things as lectio divina, labyrinths, or retreats to Catholic monasteries? I would love to have you explain that to us, as to how these have been long-standing Nazarene tradition, in the Wesleyan heritage. Boy, did my dad miss something there? And you are wrong, it is not a tradition based on scripture.
8. You are all nothing but a bunch of extremist fundamentalists or Calvinists. Reminds me of Dr. Boone’s analogy, and the likes of Rick Warren, who seem to have disdain for “fundamentalists”. Such are the emergents, who use fundamentalism like a dirty word, who laugh at those of us who dare to say that we believe in scriptural inerrancy, or that Adam and Eve actually existed, or that there are absolute truths in the Bible. If that’s the case, I am certainly glad to be called a fundamentalist! And do you think only Calvinists believe in scriptural inerrancy? Just read the Bible, sir, and you will find that it affirms that it is inerrant by its own testimony!
9. How dare you judge others? Only God should be the judge. A weak, lame argument that is unscriptural. It is ignorant of scripture at best, and disingenous most likely, in order to try to shut people up from questioning their very questionable ideology. Pastor Marshall did not use this, but it is a common ’emergent playbook’ selection that is always refuted and fails, yet they keep coming back to it. Is that not the definition of insanity?
10. Finally, a real classic which was not used but is common: You don’t have the educational background or degrees that we have. First of all, what about those who have even more education and studying than you, but who disagree with you? And since when does having many degrees and years of study automatically equate to being spiritually wise? This argument cannot stand the test of scripture either, for it is not intellectual reasoning or educational degrees that make us better Christians, it is the power of God’s word and the Holy Spirit guiding folks who are humble enough to admit they don’t know all the answers. or that they cannot understand everything about God, but they will trust who He is, and trust completely in His word. Emergents have a hard time doing that. (“ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth”)
I could list a few more, but this is fairly representative. Emergents cannot get too far in conversation with us, because they cannot have a starting point as we do. That is, they cannot state that scripture is the only and final authority for any and all debates as to what is right for our Christian faith and practice. If they did, that would force them to leave out their own intellectual ideas and reasoning. That would be unacceptable to them.
“Ephesians 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”