August 12, 2020

Riffs:12:06:06 Dan Kimball Responds to Macarthur’s Portrayal of the Emerging Church

logo.gifUPDATE II: Andrew Sandlin with a fine review of the Emerging Church and politics. An outstanding essay. Very helpful.

UPDATE: Bill Kinnon let’s his hair down, so to speak, in this post on Macarthur’s letter.

Dan Kimball’s response to John Macarthur’s characterization of the emerging church stands in stark contrast to the large quoted sections of the fund-raising letter that inspired it. Point by point, Dan states the truth: the EC churches he knows have doctrinal standards, leadership, real preaching and love the lost with the Gospel of grace. In contrast to the stereotypes that drive radio ministry critics and reformed watchblogs, Dan describes the real EC of his experience; a movement that- with some exceptions- seeks to missionally carry out the Great Commission in faithfulness to Jesus.

Read Dan’s response, and let the differences soak in. Deep. (Excerpt)

I am being redundant, but next time you read on the internet or hear someone speaking on “the emerging church” and what it is like, ask them: “How many emerging churches have you actually been to? Where have you actually seen them doing these things you are describing? Have you actually seen in an emerging church people chanting and practicing Buddhist meditation? Or are these simply things you heard somewhere? What specific churches have you seen these things in? Is it one church or only one or two church leaders you are then making a conclusion by for everyone else? Have you asked the leaders of emerging churches for doctrinal statements to see what they actually believe, or do you lump everything in together as assume the majority of emerging churches believes the same thing?” Be a Berean and test those who are teaching things about “the emerging church” to see if what they are saying is actually true.

Pray for Dan, because he is going to be savaged by the TR watchblogosphere. I admire Dan’s courage and his commitment to the truth. I admire his humility, and I know it was a difficult thing to say what he’s said knowing what’s going to come back on him. I hope for better things, but nothing in my experience tells me to expect it. So far, no reply to these critics has been greeted with anything but derision, no matter how calm or humble.


  1. what is the best and most balanced book explaining the EC?
    What is the least and most unbalanced?

  2. One does not have to be a church-going Berean to criticize parts of the Emergent Church. You can be a book-reading Berean, or a Podcast- hearer Berean, or a Blog-reading Berean, or a convention-tape-hearer Berean.

    The Emergent Church provides enough information to criticize it without stepping a foot into their churches. And the same can be said for the evangelical church.

    While there might be many bright and good and healthy and Biblically sound and Jesus loving Emergent Churches out there, there are, by the Emergent Churches own admission some not-s0-healthy ones. And the same can be said for the evangelical church.

    The main concerns of those attacking the Emergent Church are because of the words of some its key voices (Brian McClaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke). And then the words of those who parrot these voices. One does not have to read-far or listen-far to hear or read them.

    And like much of the criticism aimed at evangelical church is because of the very words of their main leaders. If it hadn’t been John MacArthur saying what he did, Dan Kimball would not have reacted they way that he did.

    I appreciate the advice Scot McKnight gave Spencer Burke. It is advice that both sides need to hear.

    “Spencer, you’re a good guy. But I have to say this to you: Go back to church. Go back to the gospel of Jesus — crucified and raised. Let the whole Bible shape all of your theology. Listen to your critics. Integrate a robust Christology, a robust death-and-resurrection gospel, and a full Trinitarian theology back into your guide to eternity.”

    Scot’s quote comes from:( Page 14


  3. My roommate listened to a John Macarthur sermon on Roman Catholicism at a friend’s insistance. His comment afterwards was, “Clearly Macarthur has no idea what Roman Catholicism is.” Looks like is critique of “the emerging church” (which I continue to insist does not exist!) is just more of the same.

  4. ECers don’t write apologias, but if I were to recommend one it might be something by Ed Stetzer or maybe Ray Anderson from Fuller.

    Every ECer I know thinks Tim Keller is the shizzle.

    Saying that Mclaren IS the emerging pope is an instant admission that you don’t get the EC any more than someone who says Billy Graham speaks for all evangelicals or Rod Parsley for all Pentecostals.

    Listen to Listen to The Village in TX. Listen to Mosaic in LA.

    This isn’t the Founder’s conference. It’s not Calvinism and its not a celebration of all things Reformed.

    It’s missionary principles- the ones we all applaud- in our own culture and subcultures.

    It’s not a fundraising letter analysis.

    Amazing, that one.

    If you do a search on “missional” and “emerging” on this web site, you’ll find a lot. Or Read Tall Skinny Kiwiw, and employee of the Baptist Convention of Texas, to see how bad it can get.

    This reminds me of when the pastor actually visits the youth group and discovers that they use candles and hold hands in circles in the youth prayer meeting. Yikes!