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22 February, 2007 / theexpositor

Review of a Blue Like Jazz Review

A June 2005 article in SBC Life reviewing Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz epitomizes the problem within the nation’s largest protestant denomination, and that is the growing trend and attitude among many, especially its leaders, to be unwilling to take an absolute position on any issue whether it be theological or not.

Dr. J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, writes the review titled The Emerging Witness and appeared in the June 2005 online edition of SBC Life. With all due respect, it is difficult to respect the pastor’s opinion when it appears that he personally likes the book, even admitting to even carrying “the book about town reading delightful paragraphs to my wife, friends, and complete strangers.” but later concludes that the book in without foundation.

 

He goes on to write,

 

“I loved reading Miller’s book and would recommend it to almost anyone — Miller’s wit, sincerity, and candor make its pages a delight. I giggled all the way through it. My copy is ruthlessly underlined and earmarked, and I have carried the book about town reading delightful paragraphs to my wife, friends, and complete strangers. I was moved, challenged, and encouraged. Miller’s book encapsulates the best of what the emerging church has to add to our gospel witness.”

Then just a paragraph later, Dr. Greear states, “Miller’s defense of Christianity to unbelieving friends conspicuously avoids any evidential or logical foundation.”

So what conclusion would one expect to make from such conflicting views, especially someone who may be questioning the faith? What should anyone conclude when in the same breath someone says Blue Like Jazz is a great book, makes me laugh and I even read portions out loud to others. But on the other hand, it avoids any evidential or logical foundation and is “simply not consistent with the New Testament presentation of truth.” Black and white people, black and white.

Then my question is why in the world would we give credence to a work like Blue Like Jazz, let alone promote it and even use it as curriculum in our churches? I know of several churches that have chosen to use BLJ as a way to “understand the postmoderns”. Is that the reason or is it a way to ease in the emergent philosophy into a church? I loved the comments of one person who when asked about chapter 5 of the book, where Miller makes the comparison of his faith in Christ to watching penguins have sex on a TV nature show, said that he wasn’t bothered so much by the penguin sex analogy as he was offended by the fact that the chapter ended with the two people in the conversation toasting the discussion with a glass of beer. What?

As Dr. Greear’s article progresses, he makes some valid points, ones that we should listen to intently. He points out that while Miller makes some valid observations about the state of the church, he, as Greear so poignantly puts it, “He seems to me to have thrown out the bathwater, the baby, and, in some ways, the institution of bathing altogether.”

Let me make my stance clear; are all people in the emergent church lost or apostates? No. Are all voices in the emergent church without value? No. But the big voices, the Millers, McManus’, Padgitts and Bells know full well what the truth is and they, in my opinion, refuse to accept, acknowledge and proclaim it. And that is a big problem, because so, so many are taking what these people are saying as gospel, when in reality it is anything but the Gospel.

Dr. Greear’s final conclusions were accurate. But can we declare that a work that is being promoted as a legitimate tool of the faith, to be enjoyable, delightful and recommendable, and at the same time say that it is void of any theological value and has no logical foundation? At the same time, the attempt to do so, again epitomizes the emergent church itself, in that there are no absolutes, no black and white, only grays and “subjective truth”.

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to all those who believe..” Romans 1:16

  

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35 Comments

  1. J.D. Greear / Feb 22 2007 14 56

    So… since “black” and “white” are our only two options… if we had to characterize all of your published writing and beliefs, would we say “all white” or “black”? J.D., author of BLJ review in question

  2. Pastor Ken Silva / Feb 22 2007 14 56

    Hello Brother Mike,

    Thank you for being willing to cover this issue. And as one who has studied this Emergent rebellion against the Bible for nearly two years now I can tell people you are dead on when you say: “But the big voices, the Millers, McManus’, Padgitts and Bells know full well what the truth is and they, in my opinion, refuse to accept, acknowledge and proclaim it.”

    For those of us who do know Biblical Truth we immediately recognize how utterly shallow, superficial and centered on self the teaching of these men truly is. As I have said before, this Emergent Church is like spiritual “know-it-all” fourteen-year-olds. When told “no,” they run to their rooms, slam the door to pout as they blast their music to drown out reality.

    Sadly, this new cult of repainted liberal theology is a clearcut case of 1 John 4:5 – “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.”

  3. Joe / Feb 22 2007 15 22

    I’m curious. Do you intend to answer Mr. Greer’s question?

  4. Mike / Feb 22 2007 15 56

    Dr. Greear,

    With all due respect, it my prayer that we all be found to be scripturally faithful and declaring our commitment with clarity, boldness and in love.

  5. Rick / Feb 22 2007 16 07

    Is it possible to enjoy a book and at the same time disagree with or find fault with it? I disagree with the writer of this blog, but if I were to meet him, I may find him witty, personable and enjoy spending time with him. Would that make me as a person, “difficult to respect?”

  6. J.D. Greear / Feb 22 2007 16 18

    Mike, I tried (albeit maybe poorly) to do just what you said. But I don’t think “black and white, folks, that’s all she wrote.” Nothing but holy writ can ever be only black or white. But just because your writing is not “all white” does not mean i put it in the black category.

    Scripture wants us to be discerning, does it not? Miller makes some outstanding points, as you concede. In many ways, his book addresses some deep concerns that any faithful Christian has about the church. I applaud him for that.

    While carte blanche dismissal of those who disagree with us gets a rousing chorus of Amens from the faithful in the choir, it is not effective, and really, not Christian either. I think we should humbly hear the critiques of those, affirming what we can, and critiquing what we can.

    There is a mystery of faith that Miller latches on to. He is wrong to seperate that from the logical foundations of Christianity. But, his wonder at the mystery of God and faith is beautiful, and worthy of affirmation.

    Charity toward our brothers should dominate our discussions. When we have to seperate ways for the sake of the Gospel, we must, and tearfully.

  7. Rickie / Feb 22 2007 16 33

    Mr. Corley’s last radio show had less than 15% scripture, or discussion of scripture. Just as much time was devoted to begging for funding the rest was dedicated to tooting his own horn at the NRB show, bashing other Christian ministries he disagreed with, etc. I would definatly put that in the “black” category. I find it funny that men like Ken Silva (and Mike is quickly moving towards this) pride themselves on “not being ashamed of the gospel!” but usually devote less than 25% of their airtime/blogs to the gospel. and then they wonder why people aren’t accepting their message.

  8. Jon / Feb 22 2007 16 37

    If I may respond respectfully, I have battled this issue for quite a while. My old school hosted Mr. Miller to speak. I was rather upset about what I had studied concerning him. However, the dean challenged me to read ‘Searching For God Knows What’. I did, to be fair, and ended up more upset then initially. Here is my problem. I agree that he does present some truths. BUT, he presents so much error also! And my continually unanswered question is, at what point can we simple reject his writings and move on to other Godly writings? And in my opinion, he has back stabbed so much of the church, that I am disinterested in ever reading him again. I am not comfortable mixing truth and error frequently and cunningly. To any Christian not rooted deeply, he would likely be a great author. Because he draws the ‘amens’ from the worldly aspect, while throwing in enough ideas of ‘the beauty of God’ to appease the rest. And that makes me uncomfortable.

    Acts 20:30
    Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
    2 Corinthians 4:2
    Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

  9. Jon / Feb 22 2007 16 44

    To be fair, who do I like (besides The Word)? John Piper, Alastair Begg, Rob Turner.. to name a few

  10. Phil / Feb 22 2007 16 45

    I have to wonder what major errors people are finding in Miller’s writing. I’m a campus pastor and have read all of his books and have recommended them to countless students. Do I hold them up as theological masterpieces? Of course not. To me he represents a Christian who is at a certain point in his life and is writing to share about that. I don’t portray them as anything else to students. If God uses that to bless people, then I can stand behind it. I particularly thought his last book about growing up without a father was very good. I think it speaks to so many kids I’ve worked with.

  11. nathan / Feb 22 2007 17 03

    Phil, with most people here it is all or nothing… black and white. to be completely honest with you, I don’t think most of of them can get past the fact that Miller drinks beer (and obviously is going apostate and is causing alcoholism all over America to spring up like wildfire). Look at how they treat the “penguin sex” metaphor. I have yet to see them break-down the metaphor. It’s the simple fact that he used those words that make them mad.

  12. Jon / Feb 22 2007 17 39

    You almost have it Nat. Nothing like going to the extreme instead of a healthy, challenging conversation. I have a beer on occasion (and enjoy it). I do not think it is sinful, but do think it is an area we should be cautious with as Christians. And the Bible gives warning to that. My preference would be that he not brag about it in a book on Christianity. But that’s the last thing I cared about. It did not offend me at all. He just consistently trashes fundamentals, conservatives, and anything traditional. Now I know a small share or legalistic (if you will) Christians who may not portray Christ correctly. But DM essentially labels anyone with deep convictions as offensive fundamentalists. He takes shots at them over and over. My take on his writing style in short, he’s saying:”hey, I have gay friends and party friends, I’m ashamed of Christianity and how it’s judgmental. Yeah, those things are sins, but hey, Christ covered it so we’re good!”
    I think repentance and turning is necessary in there somewhere. The way I see it, extremists are demanding repentance without love (or a sort of legalism). Emergents (post moderns, seeker sens, etc) are encouraging love (and grace) without repentance. Neither is correct. Both are necessary.

  13. Phil / Feb 22 2007 18 50

    Jon, are fundamentalists willing to admit that they might be wrong on anything? I grew up in that environment, and I’ve found that fundamentalists are quick to ask others to repent but slow to do it themselves. I know I’m over-generalizing here, but what’s good for the goose and all that.

    As far as your quote, ”hey, I have gay friends and party friends, I’m ashamed of Christianity and how it’s judgmental. Yeah, those things are sins, but hey, Christ covered it so we’re good!” I didn’t get that feeling at all. I don’t think he’s saying we can’t have strong convictions – I never got that vibe from him. Having strong convictions doesn’t excuse people from being jerks and showing love though. I actually think that I would summarize his belief as this – we (Christians) need to be willing to live lives of humility and repentance ourselves before expecting everyone else to do it.

  14. Paul / Feb 22 2007 19 35

    Even Donald Miller would have to agree with the good Doctor that being black and white ain’t all that. After all, he no longer sticks his favorite neo-marxist organizations in your face when you visit his site–i.e., Moveon.org, Greenpeace, the ACLU, etc. Maybe Miller thinks it’s better to be mysterious and let people believe you are something you are not.

    I agree with Dr. Greear that Holy Writ is indeed black and white. However, Don Miller would never agree with that statement–nobody in the emergent crowd thinks that. First you wrestle with whatever is difficult in Scripture, then you come up with your own conclusion. “Whatever works for me” is the new hermeneutic. Somehow I don’t remember ever being able to make Shakespeare say whatever I wanted him to say–the teachers always objected.

    Lastly, I’m glad that men like Athanasius and Augustine didn’t have a cavalier attitude toward heretics like we do today. Read “Proceedings of Pelagius” by Augustine if you want to see what is black, what is white and what is gray. However, if you have emergent sympathies, don’t read it–Augustine was very mean!

  15. nathan / Feb 22 2007 21 09

    Agreed Jon, I did take a little too strong of a tone. I am just deeply grieved and saddened that the church has become a place of outright civil war, rather than a place of fellowship and restoration. I don’t believe that Donald Miller would say that all conservatism and fundamentalism is wrong. I do however believe that conservatism and fundamentalism has lead several people to an unhealthy place. Abortion clinic bombings, gay bashing/killings, hanging black men, and shunning whole-heartedly the pagan from the community of faith is usually attributed to more conservative camps.

    At the same time, a FEW E.C. leaders have allowed the pendulum to swing the other way. They have taken scripture as suggestion, rather than authoritative and timeless. I don’t know how long you have been in the discussion with the discernment camp, but they have done a good job of outright attacking anything that even smells of a more modern method of ministry.

    I think the quote sums it up: “Christians are the only humans that eat their own alive”

  16. Jon / Feb 22 2007 21 23

    Phil,
    I understand where you come from. I also grew up in an almost legalistic environment. I still do hold conservative views on most things. I think Christ did also. I also have had to admit (and still do often) when I’m wrong. It’s not always fun, but it’s about being like Christ that matters, not my own pride or embarassment.(Easier said)
    That said, legalism is awful. A few short years ago, God changed my thinking on the entire issue though. I was trying to live up to the Bible. And of course it never occurred. It couldn’t and I can’t do it. What God reminded me was that He was WORTH living for. And when I seriously believed that, I WANTED to live by the Bible. Not as a rulebook, but as His guidelines to bring Him the most glory. That said, His commands never changed, regardless of my thinking. And in a thousand ways, I want to show the love of Christ, even to those who are in sin. But I think a key problem with this post-modern thought is, if it offends someone, then it’s judgmental and fundamental. And that’s where I part ways. People were offended when Christ spoke. Truth hurts, even when spoken in love. It hurts when it hits me where I am sinning. I’m the first to admit it. But that doesn’t make someone else judgmental or hypocritical if they speak the Word truthfully. God’s Word is God’s Word is God’s Word. It doesn’t change. The difference is, if we profess Christ, we should WANT to live out the Word, not feel obligated. If we feel obligated, then shame on us. We must not have a high view of Christ.
    And, I know very few of the Christians that you and DM describe (fundies, non-repentant), and many more in the footsteps of Christ. His blanket statements are incorrect.

  17. Jon / Feb 22 2007 21 37

    Nathan,
    Good post.
    I understand somewhat, your thoughts. One thing I would add however, is that the tragedies you have mentioned, while often in the name of a ‘god’, have been extremely rare. I hear people very, very often quote the abortion bombing. But first, that is a rare occurrence. And second, I have not heard one person defend any of those actions, but rather condemn. So I would argue that those actions are not from genuinely ‘conservative camps’.
    One recent illustration that may give some validation to both of us. Recently at my church (Christ centered, contemporary worship, etc.) we supported a local women’s center that offered alternatives to abortion. A personal testimony was included. This woman had several abortions already, and all her pregnancies out of wedlock. She testified at the care she recieved from Godly people and how she was never ‘judged’, just loved. And how Christ saved her ultimately. While we felt for her collectively, in my opinion, no one treated her in a legalistic fashion. We were simply overjoyed that Christ had made a difference. But what the teaching pastor did say, was that he felt many times, we don’t care enough about the mothers, only the babies. We fight to protect children, but don’t care about the mothers. And that may be true. It does not change my belief on the subject (we should protect children), but I did find it plausible that those trending toward legalism could have anger at the mothers with no love. So I can see that side.
    Anyway, something worth discussing…

  18. nathan / Feb 22 2007 23 19

    Good post too.

    I don’t think you would go as far as Mike, Ken and some others would, basically saying that the more contemporary church is a complete abomination to the gospel. They have made it their sole mission and dedicated their lives to see men like Warren, McManus, Bell and Miller recant their “heresies”. I can COMPLETELY respect someone who says that the contemporary church lack deep biblical teachings in its services. I can have a discussion there. But, when someone says that they are basically not Christian and leading society to hell, I take HUGE offense to that, because I think God does too.

    You church sounds like it is doing some very innovative and effective stuff! But, the likes of Ken Silva would say that a church has no business partnering with an organization like that. That we are not called to be out in the culture, but to stay behind the fortresses of our church walls.

  19. nathan / Feb 22 2007 23 26

    Jon,

    about your post concerning legalism. I agree for the most part. I don’t think that churches ministering to the postmodern world –note: I don’t think most of these churches are “postmodern”, they just minister to the postmodern world. Most churches today are still trying to minister to the modern world which no longer exist. Anyhow, I don’t think they would find anything offensive as legalistic. I just think that they start with “love people” and then move them towards Christ. The “modern” structure for evangelism is as follows:
    1. make them a christian
    2. change their behavior
    3. bring them into the community.
    The “postmodern” structure for evangelism is as follows:
    1. bring them into the community
    2. show authentic love
    3. lead them to Christ
    4. Help them grow in their walk so that Christ changes their behavior

    It’s basically the difference between starting with “If you die tonight would you go to heaven” or “hey, you want to come to dinner with my family tonight”

  20. Mike / Feb 22 2007 23 44

    Nathan,

    Your statement that Ken Silva and I think all the contemporary church is an abomination to the Lord is completely asinine and without any foundation whatsoever. The ministries of the McManus’, Bell, Pagitts and the like are called into question because they are not consistent with Scripture, plain and simple. If I am wrong, then I call on these men or others discussed, to prove it in the light of SCRIPTURE, not feelings or experiences but by Scripture. And not with one or two verses taken out of context from some obscure translation. Now do you have any of substance to bring to the table or do just want to take your ball and go home?

  21. Anna Stasia / Feb 23 2007 1 26

    This is a wonderful and lively discussion. I didn’t know if anyone wanted to read the initial review in question. It is here on Dr. Greear’s site, http://www.jdgreear.com, in a panel on the left side called “The Emerging Witness.”

  22. Chard / Feb 23 2007 1 35

    I still want to know if Ken is going to reply to J.D.’s question:

    “So… since “black” and “white” are our only two options… if we had to characterize all of your published writing and beliefs, would we say “all white” or “black”? J.D., author of BLJ review in question”

  23. Paul / Feb 23 2007 3 03

    Mike,

    I think the “emergent church” and their so called leaders are completely asinine and without any “real” foundation whatsoever. Unless of course, “Hath God really said?” is an “authentic” foundation.

    It wasn’t all that long ago when even the unabashed, liberal detractors of the Church revered history. “Those that fail to learn the lessons of history (attention emergents: you have to learn history before you can pretend to learn the lessons of history) are doomed to relive them.” And no, that is not a good thing.

  24. Chard / Feb 23 2007 5 41

    Paul said “Those that fail to learn the lessons of history (attention emergents: you have to learn history before you can pretend to learn the lessons of history) are doomed to relive them.”

    What Paul probably doesn’t realize is that he’s quoting a devout athiest in trying to prove a point of theological impurity.

  25. nathan / Feb 23 2007 7 17

    Mike, are you kidding me? Anything that remotely looks modern in the church you lambaste with blogs and radio shows! You have a blog category dedicated to bashing the purpose driven ministry. What about worship, evangelism, missions, discipleship and ministry is so heretical that you dedicate so much time to bashingit. You almost did a spot on your show about video projector in church, for cryin out loud! You have dedicated your life, not to the power of the gospel, but the power of disproving those whom you disagree with over the gospel.

    If you are prepared to say that what all of Bell, McManus, Miller, etc. is completely against God, then God help you. Have you watched a NOOMA video? Have you read all of their materials? I know you haven’t had a conversation with them. I apologize for my intense tone, but our time here on earth is too short to dedicate it to actively seeking out and trying to destroy others that we disagree with. If you dedicated as much energy seeking and serving the lost as you do searching the web for some good “dirt” to blog about or broadcast around the world, the church would be in a much better state.

    Again, I apologize for my hash tone. I am sure it will be the brunt on Silva’s next joke about how the E.C. are all angry, bitter people. But, you are hurting people and the world is going to hell in the meantime.

  26. Phil / Feb 23 2007 13 36

    Jon,
    I don’t feel like it’s fruitful to go back and forth on this much longer. You are certainly free to have your own tastes. I am glad you are in a church family that sounds like it has things in order. It seems they are harder and harder to find. I wish I could say that interaction with judgemental Christians was limited, but unfortunately, that’s not been the case. You are right, though, that doesn’t give anyone an excuse to be judgemental in turn. As far as DM, my main point was that I never read any of his stuff and came away with the feeling that he was being judgemental. There was definitely some poking fun, I suppose. Honestly, it’s been a while since I read the books now, so I can’t remember every detail, but I do remember liking all of them very much. I guess the reason a lot of people like his writing it that verbalizes things that a lot of people have thought about already, but wouldn’t have the guts to say on their own. That’s my take anyway.

    God Bless.

  27. Pastor Ken Silva / Feb 23 2007 13 49

    Nathan said: “the likes of Ken Silva would say that a church has no business partnering with an organization like that. That we are not called to be out in the culture, but to stay behind the fortresses of our church walls.”

    Ah, no he wouldn’t. For years as a Christian I worked with kids in my local community through coaching and umpiring little league baseball. Then further by teaching, playing my music for, mentoring and coaching these kids in football for a secular middle school. The school hadn’t won a game in three years prior but these kids went 13-2 in their two years there.

    All the while as pastor of my local church I overtly taught these kids Christian principles and openly spoke to them of Jesus right in school and before their parents. I then followed them up to the local secular high school where we reinstated a varsity football program that had been shut down. The school had basically been known as thugs in uniform prior to our coming there.

    I insisted they do no trash-talking and play only by the rules. In the weight room I told them, I’m a Christian and I follow Jesus Christ and I don’t care if everyone of you laughs at me. I want you to know that a real man stands for something. And as long as you play for me we play according to what Jesus taught: You treat other teams the way you want to be treated.

    They were instructed to play very hard but play clean. The Lord be praised that our first year back in varsity play we won our first game. We took our lumps that year but we won the award for the best sportsmen in our division. And the very next year went from 2-7 all the to the state championship game losing by a field goal with but seconds left. That school hadn’t gone to that round since the 80’s.

    So don’t tell me about sitting behind church walls, that’s just another Emergent straw man. I’ve taken the Gospel with me everywhere I go, even as street musician in Los Angeles. There’s absolutely nothing in Reformed Biblical theology that excuses the laziness of so many who claim Christ. But we don’t jettison doctrine, we preach harder so that the driftwood either catches the fire of the Holy Spirit or drifts out of the Church and stops wasting God’s resources.

  28. Politik / Feb 23 2007 16 44

    I think we have to look at what’s exemplified in the Bible, as Jesus’ dealings with what was considered “black & white”.

    Fundamentalist, conservative, liberal…. Is all this labeling of our feelings on spiritual matters, what Jesus came to blow out of the water??? The examples are endless, down to the very lineage He chose to be born out of.

    Philosophy, logical foundations, theology… are these not terms to describe man’s way of trying to figure out His creator? To quote scripture (and I know… anyone can quote scripture to prove about ANYTHING)…”The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.”

    You can believe this or that about any given issue. You can debate “contempory, 1950’s, 1800’s, or early (beginning) church”. Does any of that REALLY matter in the whole scheme of things??? Jesus told society of his day to not stone a woman, (who by their Biblical standards, deserved it), and approached the situation differently. I’m no scholar or poet who is eloquent with words to express what I feel. Bottom line, I feel…. Are you in constant contact with your First Love / your Creator, and SEEK Him with every fiber of your being? When I am, I find myself attacking view points that oppose mine less, trying to understand where they are coming from, & loving more.

  29. Paul / Feb 23 2007 20 08

    Nathan writes:

    The “postmodern” structure for evangelism is as follows:
    1. bring them into the community
    2. show authentic love
    3. lead them to Christ
    4. Help them grow in their walk so that Christ changes their behavior
    ___________________________________________________________________

    The “postmodern/emergent” church has certainly shown the ability to effectively carry out number one. Further, the leaders and their churches also seem to reach out to people in love. However, I see a chasm between number two and numbers three and four. Unless the social gospel is supposed to fulfill numbers three and four.

    The Bible has much to say about discipleship (number four). Postmoderns like to use the phrase, “spiritual formation.” But a disciple is NOT a “Christ follower.” Man people followed Christ hoping to see a sign. Rather, a disciple is a pupil. “If you continue in my Word then are you my disciples . . .” said Jesus.

    Paul outlines the model of discipleship in Romans. Contrary to “postmodern” thought, orthodoxy preceeds orthopraxy. In Romans, orthodoxy produces a heart of gratitude expressed in doxology which results in orthopraxy. If you strip away the orthodoxy, what you have is no different than a moral/ethical system that is not unlike the mormons, the buddists or any other works oriented religion. There is nothing supernatural (true mysticism) about it and therefore number three will never happen. Without number three, all you have is a club membership. The only club that matters is the one that is run by God the Father, accessed through the Son by the Holy Spirit.

  30. J.D. Greear / Feb 26 2007 15 30

    Mike’s original post was lamenting the SBC’s “lack of stance” on an issue like the emerging church. He used my article as an example… and demanded “black or white, folks”.

    My objection to Mike’s article is not his concerns with the emerging church. I think we would, for the most part, share them.

    My objection is to the hyperbolic statements that “it’s either black or white” or “nobody in the emergent crowd would agree with the statement that Scripture is pure and undefiled.” Such statements are not only untrue, they smack of self-righteousness, judgmentalism, and do not bespeak Christian charity.

    When I say “untrue”, I mean: There are some emerging church leaders who have sold the farm: Brian McLaren the chief among them. There are others who don’t really know what they think… and then there are some who are very clear on historical Christian (even Reformed, sometimes!) doctrine. Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, et al.

    When I say “self-righteous”: nothing but Holy Scripture is ever “completely white.” When i asked Mike if his writing should be considered “all white”, he didn’t seem to answer the question. Of course, he cannot. It’s much easier to categorically dismiss a whole movement of people than it is to extend charity and evaluate the thinking of each.

    When I say “judgmental and ineffective”: when people are categorically dismissed, without having their legitimate concerns addressed, we push them away unnecessarily. Even Paul found common ground with the pagans! It’s just strategery and charity.

    I stand by my original article. Miller’s book has a number of problems, just some of which I tried to point out in my article. But Miller raises some great questions, and his love for Jesus and humility seem clear to me. Or at least clear enough so as not to set myself above him as the judge. We will ruthlessly evaluate his statements, but we will not commit an equally foolish error by saying “all black or all white.”

    In conclusion, isn’t it ironic that Mike did the same thing with my review that I did with Miller’s book? He said in the end there were a number of things he liked about my review while disagreeing with some points. Black or white, Mike, black or white 🙂

  31. nathan / Feb 26 2007 21 34

    Well, then maybe you really are shaping culture with the gospel of Christ

  32. Tim / Feb 28 2007 5 26

    Paul,you said
    “I agree with Dr. Greear that Holy Writ is indeed black and white. However, Don Miller would never agree with that statement–nobody in the emergent crowd thinks that. First you wrestle with whatever is difficult in Scripture, then you come up with your own conclusion.”

    i have to disagree with you there, and i think that Donald Miller would too.

    first of all, what do you mean by black and white? do you mean that you have everything comepletely and perfectly figured out? or that everything can be easily and simply interpreted and if anyone has a different interpretation than you then they are wrong? because if thats what you mean by black and white, then i disagree with you.

    but if you mean by black and white that the Scripture is the Word of God given to us, and that it should shape our lives and that it is our authoritative book from God, and that is the only completely perfect book then I agree with you there. and im almost 100% sure Donald Miller would. and maybe even others in the emergent/emerging movement. Dan Kimball? Mark Driscoll? John Burke? what about them? maybe even, God forbid, Brian Mclaren himself. gasp! =O

    and btw, Donald Miller is close friends with Mark Driscoll(mark the cussing pastor) and Mark himself has disassociated himself from the Emergent movement. in fact, Mark has referred to himself as an emerging reformed fundamentalist christian.

    and a lot of people seem the think emerging and emergent are the same…well theyre not. emergent is the “heretical” “conversation”, while emerging is more of a movement to get back to living a communal, missional, loving, Christ-centered and Christ following life.

    and i recommend reading DM’s book Searching for God Knows What. im actually reading it right now, and what ive read so far is very true, especially the chapters on the formulaic gospel of Jesus. i really dont understand the fuss over Miller…but oh well. could someone help point out his “heretical” biblical errors? that would be nice…

    and by the way, Miller purposefully wrote the book honestly and said what happened, which is why theres drinking, smoking, etc. He doesnt really drink much. dont worry guys.

    and, no, Blue like Jazz is not perfectly inerrant. but then again most books arent. maybe not even a John Macarthur book!!!

    and…has anyone cared to ask him what he believes, or clarify things? you could try that…maybe

    why cant we carry out Jesus’ simple command to love one another?

    anyways, Blue like Jazz is a good book. ive already handed them out to a few friends, and i plan on getting a lot more copies sometime to give away at my high school. i definitely recommend it, to be sure.

    love in Christ,
    tim

  33. Paul / Feb 28 2007 23 16

    Tim:

    Don Miller is indeed emergent. Although he is friends with Driscoll, they do not agree on doctrine.

    Re: black and white–emergent practices a dubious hermeneutic. While people like to say that you can make the Bible say anything you would like, when was the last time you heard someone say, “You can make Shakespeare say anything you want?” When MacBeth said, “Get thee to a nunnery,” the interpretation, so far as I know is unanimous.

    Why is that? The literary scholars employ a consistent hermeneutic.

  34. leslie / Mar 5 2007 2 47

    blue like jazz is a book written by a man.
    treat it like one.

  35. Leanne / Mar 13 2007 3 47

    I am huge on theology, correct teaching, and read Donald Miller’s books with that in mind, scrutinizing everything he said. However, I not understanding the upheaval over his ‘theology’. First of all, he’s not writing a theology book, he’s writing a collection of thoughts, excerpts from his life, his relationship and journey with Christ, – I even find him here and there clarifying himself (true, in small sentences, or paragraphs, but his books are not about that) emphasizing his desire not to neglect or deny ‘systematic theology’. To be honest, I could not find anything (unless ripped out of context perhaps?) that would be theologically disturbing (can anyone give any examples with page no’s please?).
    Also, are we really going to judge a man’s book, or person, or even his faith as I have seen in these discussions – based on minor differences? Is Don Miller really less of a Christian, not worthy of having his books read, because he drinks beer (different discussion, but truly, differing opinions, one truth in Scripture), ‘cusses’ (which, unless the Lord’s name is used in vain is really a cultural phenomena, what might be a cussword in the US might not be in Germany, China, etc. or vice versa), and does whatever else??? If we do, we sound an awful lot like the Pharisees, who despised Jesus, because he was doing exactly that which they thought was unpleasing to God and unscriptural. It makes me want to ask some of you when the last time was, or if you ever would, invite a homosexual for dinner, hug a prostitute… lets not be so quick to judge, both person and (his/her) work.

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