Apologetics Index

Emerging Church – Conversation versus the Bible And Non-“Emerging” Christians: Truth

(Note again that there is much diversity in the emerging church movement. Not all participants should be held responsible for each of the quotations below. Nor do the following quotations fairly represent the proportion of unorthodox statements made by emergents. They frequently say good things.

The following quotations of those who identify with the emerging church do, however, represent the general tone and content of the problematic content in the “conversation.” [25] Because they are not typical of emergents, I have excluded many bizarre quotations by bloggers that I could have used to show the degree to which anything can be speculated upon in the emergent conversation.

If any emergents feel offended by this section, they should note that with the exception of a few brief comments, what follows consists entirely of quotations.

Postmoderns who feel offended should identify which quotes are objectionable, and explain why comparing emerging church quotes with the Bible and non-emerging authors is offensive.)


Emerging Church

“Can Christian theology make any claim to speak ‘objective truth’ in a context in which various communities offer diverse paradigms each of which is ultimately theological?”
Stanley Grenz

“Modern foundationalism, with its emphasis on the objectivity, universality, and absolute certainty of knowledge, is an impossible dream for finite human beings whose outlooks are always limited and shaped by the particular circumstances in which they emerge”
John Franke

“We are half finished, half-baked, and not driven by the need to find final and definitive answers.”
Jason Clark

“When we talk about the word ‘faith’ and the word ‘certainty,’ we’ve got a whole lot of problems there. What do we mean by ‘certainty’? . . . Certainty can be dangerous. What we need is a proper confidence that’s always seeking the truth and that’s seeking to live in the way God wants us to live, but that also has the proper degree of self-critical and self-questioning passion.”
Brian McLaren

“Bono of U2 once wrote, ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ That isn’t a bad place to be.”
Blogger at Postmodern_Theology

“Moving from Absolute to Authentic”
subtitle of the book Stories of Emergence

“I grew up in fairly conservative evangelical circles and have often felt ‘bad’ because, especially since seminary, I’m not willing to precisely nail down my beliefs. I think I’ve always had a fairly intuitive rather than a systematic approach to faith, which is probably why I’ve always felt a bit of discomfiture in the evangelical church.”
Blogger at jasonclark.com

“The problem with the critics [conservative Evangelicals] here is that they think they have a superior, timeless gospel that floats above any culture…”
Brian McLaren

“I can’t see church history in any other way except this: semper reformanda, continually being led and taught and guided by the Spirit into new truth.”
Brian McLaren

The Bible

“For the word of the LORD holds true, and everything he does is worthy of our trust.”
Psalm 33:4

“The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”
Psalm 119:160

“But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?”
John 8:45-46

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
John 17:17

“But to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
Romans 2:8

“But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.”
Galatians 2:5

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Galatians 4:16

Ephesians 6:14

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Philippians 4:8

“And with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.”
2 Thessalonians 2:10-11

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
1Timothy 2:3-4

“But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”
1 Timothy 3:15

“With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
2 Timothy 2:25-26

“…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”-2 Timothy 3:7

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.”
Titus 1:1

“Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands far away;
For truth has stumbled in the street,
And uprightness cannot enter.”
Isaiah 59:14

Non-“Emerging” Christians

“Is absoluteness the problem? God declares, ‘You shall not commit adultery’: that is an absolute. Is it evil? Is the problem absoluteness or human lust to become like God? But doesn’t that lust exert itself under every worldview, every regime, every epistemology?”
D. A. Carson

“Our culture is saying truth is no longer that which corresponds with reality. Truth emerges out of a specific community or culture. Christians have their truth. Muslims have their truth. The New Age advocates have their truth. Individually, truth is that which will produce a better reality for me or give me an excuse for having messed up my present reality. It is my truth if it works for me.”
Don Matzat

“Indeed, the Christian gospel is nothing less than the Metanarrative of all Metanarratives. For Christianity to surrender the claim that the gospel is universally true and objectively established is to surrender the center of our faith…We do not preach the gospel as one narrative among many true narratives, or as “our” narrative alongside the authentic narratives of others. We cannot retreat to the claim that biblical truth is merely true for us. Our claim is that the Bible is the Word of God for all.”
Albert Mohler

“Embracing the worldview of the postmodern age, he [Brian McLaren] embraces relativism at the cost of clarity in matters of truth and intends to redefine Christianity for this new age, largely in terms of an eccentric mixture of elements he would take from virtually every theological position and variant.”
Albert Mohler

“If truth is relative, it’s impossible to lie.”
Gene Edward Veith

“If they [emerging church movement authors] are right that we cannot know reality as it is (i. e., objectively), then we construct the world(s) in which we live. One of the most remarkable traits about their writings is their effort to take their view seriously and consistently. So, to be fair, we should apply their own standards to their own works. In that case, what should we make of these many sweeping, seemingly universal truth claims? There seem to be only two options; either these claims are (1) just expressions of how they (or their community’s members) have made their own world by the use of their language, or (2) they are much more that is, they are claims that they know the way things really are in an objective sense. If the former interpretation is correct, then their many claims are just those uttered from within a particular, local community, one in which its members happen to talk in such a way that that is how they have made their world. But if so, then why should any of us outside that specific, local, community care? If the latter impression is true, then they presuppose what they deny that is, an access to objective reality itself in order to deny it!”
R. Scott Smith

“The business of truth is not to be deserted even to the sacrifice of our lives, for we live not for this age of ours, nor for the princes, but for the Lord.”
Ulrich Zwingli

Opinions are relative to cultures but truth isn’t”
Peter Kreeft

“There are some who feel obliged to capitulate to the most fashionable ideas of the moment, and reinterpret Christianity accordingly.”
Colin Brown

“If the world goes against truth then Athanasius goes against the world.”

“Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.”
Matthew Henry

“Not to take any side strongly is no evidence of a large soul or a great purpose. It is generally an indication of littleness.”
Horatius Bonar

“Tolerance of everything is a mark of an empty head not a mark of agape love.”
Edward J. Carnell

“I am quite sure that the best way to promote union is to promote truth.”
Charles Spurgeon

“The tendency of modern thought is to reject dogmas, creeds, and every kind of bounds in religion. It is thought grand and wise to condemn no opinion whatsoever, and to pronounce all earnest and clever teachers trustworthy, however heterogeneous and mutually destructive their opinions may be. Everything, forsooth, is true and nothing is false! Everybody is right and nobody is wrong! Everybody is likely to be saved and nobody is to be lost!”
J. C. Ryle

“The enemies of Christianity pretend to free-thinking, whereas those are really the freest reasonings that are guided by faith, and those are men of free-thought whose thoughts are captivated and brought into obedience to Christ.”
Matthew Henry

“We are not entitled to infer from the fact that a group of people are drawing nearer to each other that any of them is drawing nearer to the truth.”
J. I. Packer

“Some preach the truth and don’t have love. Some preach love and don’t have the truth. Get the mixture right. You have to mix it.”
Vance Havner

“A half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.”
J. I. Packer

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
Martin Luther

“Faced with such opposition and the pressure it brings, postmodernism is a form of intellectual pacifism that, at the end of the day, recommends backgammon while the barbarians are at the gate. It is the easy, cowardly way out that removes the pressure to engage alternative conceptual schemes, to be different, to risk ridicule, to take a stand outside the gate. But it is precisely as disciples of Christ, even more, as officers in his army, that the pacifist way out is simply not an option. However comforting it may be, postmodernism is the cure that kills the patient, the military strategy that concedes defeat before the first shot is fired, the ideology that undermines its own claim to allegiance. And it is an immoral, coward’s way out that is not worthy of a movement born out of the martyrs’ blood.”
J.P. Moreland

“If I am afraid to speak the truth lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, ‘You do not understand,’ or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying peace, peace where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant words, ‘Let love be without dissimulation’ and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
Amy Carmichael

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First published (or major update) on Saturday, July 15, 2006.
Last updated on February 13, 2013.

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