Is Donald Miller part of the emergent church?
The question has been asked, ‘Is Donald Miller involved in the emergent church movement? That question has been asked on several occasions recently, and it was followed with a quick, ‘no he isn’t, no he isn’t’.
Allow me to enter the following article by Ken Silva as exhibit 1.
Donald Miller-Blue Like Emergent Jazz
Their mouths lay claim to Heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. (Psalm 73:9-10)
Blue As Emergent
I have received quite a few questions here and at Slice of Laodicea where this post originally ran asking whether Donald Miller, author of the book Blue Like Jazz, is himself involved with the Emergent Church rebellion against sola Scriptura. The short answer: Absolutely yes! And on a related note you may recall my recent article Southern Baptist Convention Embracing Gnostic Mysticism which discussed Director of Missions Kent Shirley of the Grand Valley Baptist Association in Grand Junction, Colorado.
In this piece I linked to his atrocious Recommended Reading for Pastors & Staff, which is chock full of church growth teachers and men like Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus and Emergent Church Guru Brian McLaren. McLaren is a heretic who has long ago left the faith and denies the inerrancy and final authority of the Bible, the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, and who along with his friend Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster, is also a leading proponent of the Gnostic mysticism. And I noticed yesterday that Brother Shirley has updated his page and now incredibly includes Miller’s Blue Like Jazz (BLJ)
Undoubtedly Miller’s BLJ has fast become a classic in Emergent Church circles and his popularity even rivals that of one of his own favorite authors, a favorite of the Elvis of Emergent Rob Bell as well, the potty-mouthed “Christian” and New Age advocate Anne LaMott.
Some of you may recall a post Ingrid Schlueter wrote about Miller which appeared on Slice last year called Donald Miller: Rising Emergent Star. In it she said, “One of the Emergent church’s rising stars is Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, sort-of comedian and one cool, postmodern ‘Christian’.”
Blue Like Background
Miller, “grew up in Houston, TX,” but is now a member of an emerging church in Portland, OR called Imago Dei Community. Miller left home “at the age of twenty-one,” and then he “traveled across the country until he ran out of money in Portland, Oregon, where he lives today.” Even though Miller was unable to launch “his own publishing house”:
his hobby of writing became a career. Harvest House Publishers released his first book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance, in 2000. After his first book came out, Don spent a few years auditing classes and hanging out with students at Reed College, a college often identified as disintrested in spirituality. It is from this and other experiences that his second book, Blue Like Jazz, was born. The success of Blue Like Jazz ensured Don a writing career for a long time to come,…
Blue Like…well, Blue
Donald Miller is just another of the Emergent new school of so-called “Christians” who feel that because they are the “missional” and alleged true “followers of Jesus” they are somehow excused from having to watch their language and Christian character closely. Last year Zach Dundas of the Willamette Week Online, “a weekly in Portland, Oregon,” did a piece on Miller called Confessions of a Mind.” One would be hard-pressed to think an article about the Apostle Paul would be titled as such.
And as Ingrid introduced that piece she informed us that it would: “have to be bleeped. (Yes, you do have to bleep out language frequently with these Emergent types, in this case, one who is part of the ‘loose network of evangelical thinkers’ with a toilet mouth…)”
The article does go on to point put that Miller’s church is one of “a new breed of churches often labeled ‘emergent’ ”:
Locally, the author is part of a loose network of evangelical thinkers who are trying, as another says, “to talk about faith without sounding like ****oles.” [nice language for a DOM to recommend] In Portland and nationally, a new breed of churches often labeled “emergent” is carving out an alternative to the suburban megachurch.
For example, there’s Miller’s own church, Imago Dei, founded by an ex-college football player named Rick McKinley. The pastor calls people “bro,” sports a goatee and talks in a drowsy, stoned-frat-boy drawl. [Why, one can almost hear our Lord in that description] His church, which has gone from meeting in his living room to holding three crowded services a day at the Old Laurelhurst Church, emphasizes art, music and social activism. Like many emergent churches, it draws a young, hipster-flavored crowd.
“The emergent church is the product of a bunch of people coming to similar conclusions at the same time,” says Bob Hyatt, the 35-year-old pastor of the Evergreen Community, an emergent church that meets every Sunday at the Lucky Lab pub in Multnomah Village. “We’re not going to ignore 2,000 years of Christian history, but we’re not going to do what our parents or grandparents did just because.” [no spirit of rebellion there]
Blue Like Conclusion
However, a much more accurate way to describe this sorry bunch of Emergent rebels that Miller belongs to would be the “network of people very loosely thinking about evangelicalism.” There’s nothing of lasting value for the true Christian here in this Emergent rebellion against the Bible, and there’s simply no real reason for us to waste our time on Blue Like Jazz. O, that is apparently unless you happen to be an SBC pastor in Grand Valley Baptist Association under Kent Shirley.
For the Christian who does have extra reading time beyond God’s Word, at this late hour one would be much wiser spending it reading something by real men of God like a Dr. John MacArthur or an A.W. Tozer.