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John MacArthur Addresses The Emergent Crowd

Was the primary message of Jesus an answer to the question: “How to get to heaven?”

Is it really “silly” (MacArthur’s words, not mine) to expect Jesus to fix the petty problems in our lives?

Is this a “straw man” argument — or is MacArthur truly hitting McLaren on the nose?

Also, is “the truth” of the Bible always and readily clear? Are Emergent folks rejecting the Word because it’s not clear and they don’t like what it says?

Interesting perspective on things…[edit] Be sure to check out TallSkinnyKiwi’s take on MacArthur’s book (mentioned in the video), I believe he’s fair in his critique of what is going on in America.

Part 1 /2

Part 2/2


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

7 responses to “John MacArthur Addresses The Emergent Crowd

  1. daniellui ⋅

    Them’s fightin’ words…

    I’m not sure demonizing another specific leader who doesn’t exactly align with your own ideas is exactly Christian. Is it really that productive to flash pictures of emergent leaders as MacArthur mocks them each?

    What I would like to see is MacArthur engage in direct discussion instead of him picking apart Mclaran’s recorded voice and read quotes by the host. It seems so easy to take the quotes out of context.

    Sure I lean on a more “postmodern” perspective, so obviously hearing these critiques is like a sock in the stomach. Not because of the critiques themselves… more of the way those critiques were expressed. Besides the way these critiques were done in such a mocking manner, the other thing that really bugs me is the position of fear that MacArthur takes that truth is eroding in our society. If the truth of the Bible is really that powerful, why are we afraid its value will deteriorate with some investigation and critique?

    This could be a much longer rant of confusion and angst, but my main point is- I don’t like the way that this critique was done. I have many friends who are not “postmodern” or “emergent” or whatever other trendy word that they use for it now, and they give much more effective, more informed, and for goodness sakes… more polite critique than this radio host and MacArthur. And I actually enjoy hearing it.

  2. Thanks Daniel, I totally get what you mean.
    To me, I think there is much a need to discuss “how” we engage one another as much as the “content” with which we dialogue about.

    the irony to me is that both sides consider the other side, “arrogant” and themselves “humble”, but for different reasons. i think the primary modality of emerging folk are they are more for reaching people who are completely estranged from Christianity or come from a position that is anti-Christianity. whereas I don’t know how much conservatives take that into account.

    the other problem I have is, ironically, the intellectual emphasis. how hard is the Gospel that you have to be of a certain mental caliber to “really” get it? if i remember correctly in school, “C” was average.

  3. Bob B. ⋅

    The primary message of Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” The secondary message of Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Now, those need unpacking in order to contextualize them for today, but as I see it, getting people into heaven is just part of the picture. Jesus did not say, “I came that you might have heaven.” He said, “I came that you might have life and have it to the fullest.” That includes life in the here and now as well as life in heaven.

    “Is it really “silly” (MacArthur’s words, not mine) to expect Jesus to fix the petty problems in our lives?” NO! The Holy Spirit works on whatever hinders us from loving God and our neighbors. Most of the time, it’s the petty things that hinder me the most. Why? Because, instead of giving them over to God, I try to resolve them myself and only make things worse. Silly statements like this one from MacArthur have no Scriptural basis. In fact, I would label such ideas spiritually abusive.

    “Also, is “the truth” of the Bible always and readily clear? Are Emergent folks rejecting the Word because it’s not clear and they don’t like what it says?” Peter, concerning the writings of Paul, mentions how difficult it can be to understand Paul. This is not an new issue coming out of the emerging conversation. This issue is as old as the written Word. Even the rabbinical schools disagreed on some passages. Everyone likes to think that their reading of Scripture is clear and correct, but there are frankly many portions of Scripture which are open to interpretation. (Baptism for instance.) Sorry, but anyone who sees total clarity in the Bible has either allowed themselves to be deceived, is walking on egotistical thin ice, or has never really bothered to study the Bible for themselves and had to struggle over the meaning of a passage or two.

  4. Thanks Bob~ good insights. I like how you pointed out that this tension in biblical interpretation is not an Emergent phenomenon but has had a longstanding and tumultuous history in church. I guess the question is how do we get these two sides to talk to one another? Or is that itself crazy talk?

  5. Bob B. ⋅

    David, I don’t think that getting all sides to talk together is crazy at all. It is, as far as I can tell, the Scriptural thing to do. The problem however is getting the right people together, people who are willing to listen, converse, agree to disagree, and agree to love each other no matter what.

    I grew up in a multi-denominaltional youth ministry and can remember “great theological discussions” at summer camp among the college age leaders. Now, in those days, if you put a baptist, a methodist, a presbyterian, an episcapalian, and an independant in the same Bible camp, sparks were going to fly. And they lovingly did. At the end of camp, even in the midst of the great debate, all were better friends than they had been before. They had a respect for each other’s views and positions, and would not allow their differences to hinder their friendships or the work of Christ.

    That’s part of the problem with the emerging conversation. I do not hear a lot of repect or love coming from the multiple camps involved. Frankly, having respect is hard when with every statement there is fear of being labeled a heretic. The first step in getting together is to stop trying to label each other and learn to listen.

  6. daniel so

    David — Thanks for hosting this discussion. It is good to hear that I am not alone in my weariness and frustration at the tone of these kinds of discussions.

    Not to drag any names through the mud, but I recently viewed a clip of Mark Driscoll inviting people to ask him “anything” — eventually resulting in a sermon series and a book. But it seems like Mark can’t help himself — he has to make sarcastic jabs at people he perceives to be his critics (essentially calling them losers who still live with their moms).

    This radio conversation, to me, carries a similar tone as all the shrill shock jocks that dominate our airwaves. Talk about caving into the culture.

    It is frightening to think that someone with as much clout as Macarthur would so casually think that Jesus *only* came into the world to die. By that very same reasoning, the best we could hope for is a quick death immediately following conversion because, really, what is the point of living anyways. Or, why don’t we completely trash the place, because it’s all going to hell anyways?

    I understand that people from both camps sincerely and passionately believe that the other side is wrong. I think it’s possible to disagree vehemently, even angrily, without descending into sarcasm and spiteful rhetoric. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen enough of that these days (or maybe the more humble voices get drowned out in all the posturing and finger-pointing).

  7. I was reading tonight about how Soren Kierkegaard hated Hegel because Hegel believed that truth was objective to everyone and clearly knowable.

    While I think many of us “know” Jesus, I think there are many people who would claim to know what and how everything happens that follows that. I don’t understand where the hateful posturing comes in. Really, we should be so busy serving and loving one another that these other discussions seem rather absurd at times.

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