Joy Filled Ministries

Veronica Joy Klepadlo

Exploring Postmodern Philosophy in the American Evangelical Church.

Veronica Klepadlo (60419)


Dr. Tony Hobbs

DL341 Theological Project

Project Plan

1. Introduction

2. Postmodernism

3. Christian Postmodernism

4. Emergent Church

5. Positive Aspects of the Emergent Church

6. Emergent Church Doctrinal Issues

a) Theology Should Adapt to Culture

b) Absolute Truth

c) Knowing God

d) The Bible

e) The Gospel

f) Jesus: Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Atonement

g) Judgment, Heaven, Hell and Universalism

7. Conclusion


Christian Relativism may seem like an oxymoron, but within the American Evangelical Church, this type of postmodern philosophy can be discerned as gaining ground. Erickson states that when he first began writing about postmodernism in 1990, there was relatively little being produced on the topic and now a large number of evangelical thinkers are formulating a response to postmodernism.[1] We can observe that proponents within this movement believe for the church to remain relevant in our culture it is desirable that a new kind of Christian emerges. The Emerging Church movement is a movement that is building bridges to non-Christians in American culture, that have a postmodern mindset by sharing in its’ philosophical leanings. This is a cause for concern with some in the evangelical church, because of its incompatibility with key biblical perspectives. We will explore postmodern philosophy through some of the voices in the Emergent Church. Then we will compare and contrast their postmodern philosophical leaning that impacts their biblical perspectives with the biblical perspectives of a group of individuals within the U. S. Evangelical Church. In doing so, one follows Paul’s encouragement to the Colossian church to evaluate philosophical ideas, presumably to avoid an unhelpful impact on the church (Colossians 2:8). Similarly, we will examine the specific impact of postmodernism on the Evangelical church in America, seeking to identify both positive and negative aspects.

The objective of this study is to evaluate some of the postmodern philosophy within the U.S. Evangelical Church. We will argue that in general postmodern philosophy is flawed, but we will specifically address the question, is postmodern philosophy and the beliefs of the U. S. Evangelical Church compatible? We will argue that they are not compatible, because there are core doctrines that will be compromised to join the two.

We will examine postmodern Christian scholarship and the Emerging Church movement by exploring common emergent concepts and weigh them in light of key biblical perspectives. The methodology that will be used is to study the written text as well as verbal communication from individuals within this movement as to evaluate the concepts against the biblical perspectives in line with the core beliefs of the American Evangelical Church.

According to Noll, The American Evangelical Church is understood as a group containing many different denominations that have the same evangelical core beliefs.[2]

In defining the core beliefs, one can look to Bebbington who best describes the evangelical distinctives:

Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a ‘born-again’ experience and a life-long process of following Jesus.

Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts.

Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority.

Crucicentrism: a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity.[3]

Given the loosely organized nature of the Emergent Church, we will be referring to the views of a specific group of people in this evaluation. We will examine the theology of three individuals, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, and Rob Bell because they have had a broad impact through their books.[4] Eric Barger from Take a Stand Ministries, states that he believes the emergent theology is becoming the new normal and, in the least, that emergent thinking is affecting the church.[5] Along with these three, we examine the material of people such as John Franke, Stanley Grenz, Brad Kallenberg, and Spencer Burke.[6] Those with a more conservative approach in the Evangelical Church will be D. A. Carson, Scott Smith, Kevin DeYoung, Ted Kluck, and along with them Millard Erickson, Micheal LeMay, and John McArthur.[7]


Grenz suggests that the term postmodern may have first been coined in the 1930s to define a historical transition taking place in particular developments in the arts. According to Grenz, postmodern concepts did not gain widespread attention until the 1970s through a new style of architecture. Then it entered the academic arena as theories in university English and philosophy departments.[8] As the name postmodern suggests, it is the quest to move beyond modernism. Grenz states that postmodern can be termed anti-modern since it is a rejection of the modern mindset.[9]

According to Grenz, the modern worldview was defined by the Enlightenment project, which sought to uncover a central unity underlying all experience. The source of this unity was human culture, universal history, nature and above all, the self. Grenz states that postmodernity concludes that all attempts to describe a unifying center are doomed to produce only fictions, creations of the human mind.[10] Postmodernity believes that truth consists in the rule that facilitates the personal well-being of the person in the community as well as the community as a whole. In this sense, postmodern truth is relative to the community in which the person participates. They believe that this plurality of truth can exist alongside one another. The plurality of truth entails a radical kind of relativism and pluralism in which the individualistic personal taste and personal choice is the be-all and end-all. Grenz suggests that by replacing the modern worldview with a multiplicity of views and worlds, the postmodern era has in effect replaced knowledge (facts) with interpretation (personal understanding).[11]

Smith’s understanding of postmodernism divides postmodernism into two levels. The first level is the ‘street’ or ‘popular’ level; this is manifested in suspicion toward authority, distrust in hierarchies, and modern science. Postmodern individuals are looking for ‘authentic’ people within communities, people who are not hypocrites but whose lives and deeds match their words. They are looking for a place of belonging that may be the primary basis for the formation of their sense of identity.[12] Under the ‘popular’ version of postmodernism, there is no objective religious or ethical truth that we all can know and is true for everyone.[13] The second level is that of academic postmodernism. Academic postmodern individuals are highly suspicious of human reason and abilities. They claim that we cannot know the world as it is. One is left shaping their world, including religious and ethical ‘truths.’ The shaping of truths occurs within a community, or culture as they use the language of their community.[14]

According to Smith, several core philosophical ideas drive postmodern thought:

1. We can know the real world only by what we know by our talking about it, this because we are on the inside of language and cannot get out to know the real world objectively.[15]

2. There are no universal truths that we may know that is true for all people in all places at all times.

3. There is no essence or nature, to language. ‘There are only many languages.’

4. Meaning is not a matter of what a person means, that is, his or her intention in making the statement because that would infer that we have the same intention in our minds, which would indicate there is universal truth. Instead, the meaning is just a matter of how words are used within a social setting, or community, according to their grammatical rules for their language.

5. Since we cannot know the real world and our only contact with it is by how we talk, then each community makes its social world through the use of its language.[16]

Tony Jones explains the postmodern mindset. He states that objectivity is out subjectivity is in, one should question everything; there is no truth with a capital ‘T,’ truth is in the eye of the beholder because everything is relative. One could say Jones’ view is that nothing is set in stone, and one is not capable of expressing the truth.[17]

Christian Postmodernism

Christian postmodernism is the postmodern worldview bringing its philosophy to affect the mind of the Christian and the Church. A major tenet of this philosophy is Christian Relativism.[18] Smith suggests that it is evident in Western society that many people think moral and religious truths are relative. Smith states that Christians are increasingly accepting of ethical relativism because they are in a culture that promotes pluralism and because of this, there is a loss of the understanding of Christian ethical and religious truths as being objectively true.[19] One can define objective truth as truths that are true for all people, whether or not anyone accepts them as true.[20] Smith argues that Christian postmodernism calls into question our ability to know objective truth.[21]

In Hauerwas and Kallenberg’s postmodern Christian thought, one needs to learn the language of their community. They then state for the Christian, their community is the people within the church, and their language is found in the Scriptures. Therefore, the Bible speaks the language and makes the rules for the language in the Christian community. In itself this is fine. However, they take this idea a step further. They say that there is no way that we can know how things truly are. In other words, there is no objective truth.[22]

Along the same lines evangelical theologians, Stanley Grenz and John Frankie say that ‘foundational’ fundamental beliefs are a dead position.[23] To the contrary, they state we do not inhabit the ‘world-in-itself’ instead we live in a linguistic world of our making.[24] For Grenz and Frankie, we can never know reality because all of our experiences filter through ones ‘interpretative grid’ which is fundamentally linguistic.[25] They believe we cannot know objective reality or whether there is such a thing.[26] We can agree with MacArthur’s summary, that the goal of postmodernism is a systematic deconstruction of truth claims. This deconstruction is done through; ‘relativism, subjectivism, the denial of every dogma, the dissection, and annihilation of every clear definition, the relentless questioning of every axiom, the undue exaltation of mystery and paradox, the deliberate exaggeration of every ambiguity, and above all the cultivation of uncertainty about everything.’ The process of deconstruction causes one uncertainty regarding the Scriptures.[27]

Emergent Church

The Emergent Church/Emerging Church is a movement within the American Evangelical body toward a more postmodern mindset and method, so to engage the postmodern culture. At the heart of the ‘movement’ or as some prefer to call it, a ‘conversation’, is the conviction that the changing culture signals that a new church is ‘emerging.’ Furthermore, Christian leaders should adapt or they will no longer be able to communicate with the new generation.[28] According to Carson, this movement is vague, and its boundaries are ill defined.[29] Part of the appeal of this movement is that it has crisply articulated what many pastors were already thinking.[30] One can agree with DeYoung and Kluck, ‘we affirm a number of the emergent diagnoses.’ ‘It is their prescribed remedies that trouble us the most.’[31] The Emergent Church may be correct about the need for the Church to relate to the culture, but how they want to resolve the difficulties are problematic.

Positive Aspects of the Emergent Church

The Emergent Church has some positive effects on the Evangelical Church, meaning that the outcome is good and favorable.[32] These positive aspects are; firstly it provokes intelligent Christianity because the two core practices are textual analysis and critical thinking.[33] Postmodern Christians approach the Bible with a narrative theology, which helps one keep the reading of the Bible in the correct context so one knows the full circumstances that surround a particular event. Another positive aspect of the Emergent Church is the process of reevaluating what one has been taught through tradition confirming that it is in accordance with the Bible. Jesus and Paul both warn that we ought to evaluate what we are being taught (Mark 7:8; Acts 17:11; Colossians 2:8).[34] Sweet argues that the Emerging Church wants to go back to the origins of Christ and culture and that true originality is not overturning doctrines but returning to the origins of the faith. We will see as we progress that this claim is not the actual outworking of the Emerging Church philosophy.[35]

Another positive aspect of postmodernism is the desire for authenticity, which creates an environment for conductive conversation. This type of authenticity is a safeguard against hypocrisy. Smith argues, ‘we need to heed the postmodern reminder that truth must be embodied, or lived out.’ Like Jesus one needs to live out both grace and truth, speaking the truth in love, this will make for a compelling witness in these postmodern times (John 1:14; Ephesians 4:15). [36] The embodied or ‘lived out’ Christian life in the postmodern mindset is activism, both social and political and this toward good works. As Rauschenbusch points out in his groundbreaking book, Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century, the simplest expression of religion is contained in the words of Micah.

‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
 and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).’[37]

The Emergent Church also has a focus on emulating Jesus and making disciples. They believe that we must go beyond attending events and programs and become disciples of Jesus and reliant on the Holy Spirit. That one should be following the greatest two commandments to love God and others through action (Matthew 22:36-40).[38] Due to the Emergent Church being well informed about cultural shifts, they have an ability to minister outside the Church.[39] DeYoung states he agrees that there must be space for Christians to ask hard questions and explore the tensions in our faith.[40] DeYoung also says that he has taken the advice of Bell that we are to ‘Test it. Probe it. Don’t swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it.’[41] Therefore, we will do just what Bell prescribes as we examine the Emergent Church philosophy.

Emergent Church Doctrinal Issues

Theology Should Adapt to Culture

We have looked at the postmodern mindset among some scholars, and now we will explore the outworking of postmodernity in the church. DeYoung states that it is difficult to pin down the doctrinal issues because one of the Emergent Churches chief characteristics is to avoid definition and doctrinal boundaries.[42] So all that one can do is to look to their statements, follow the doctrinal trajectory and evaluate what they say according to the interpretation of the Scriptures.

According to Burke, Christianity imposes a rigid structure, but the new emerging church gives one the freedom to become one’s true self.[43] In other words, it is about self and the freedom to step out of the confines of rigid boundaries. The journey is self-focus, what one thinks, what one wants, and who one is. Although, the Gospel writers’ presented Jesus as condemning the legalism of the Pharisees, he did not advocate self-focus (Luke 11:37-54). One can see that this is a theology that is adapting to the culture. McLaren and Campolo go even further in stating that all theologies are heresies because we cannot honestly speak of God using our human formulation.[44]The idea that we cannot understand God, or the way of God, does not stand if we look at what the Gospel writers state. They state that Jesus is consistently using the phrase (or something in the same spirit) ‘Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!’ (Matthew 11:15, NLT) This type of phrase is established in the Old Testament in multiple verses (Deuteronomy 29:3-4; Isaiah 6:9; 32:1-4; 48:8; Jeremiah 5:21; 6:10; Ezekiel 12:2).

In the book of Isaiah, it states ‘Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving (Isaiah 6:9).” The Gospel writers are familiar with the Old Testament passages when they use this phrase. What underlies this statement is the implication that it is possible to understand God and the way of God. One can agree that there are some things that are hard to comprehend and understand, but according to Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard, even a simple sincere and uneducated believer can comprehend the central biblical truths, to know God and his way.[45] Chafer and Walvoord argue that it is reasonable and essential that God reveals himself to fulfill his purpose because man has the capacity to recognize and have fellowship with him. They continue in stating that it is reasonable to expect that the Creator will communicate with his creatures to reveal his purpose and will.[46] Within the theme of divine revelation is the fact that God is communicating with his creation in a way that is understandable and knowable.

As previously stated postmodernism is marked by suspicion. Suspicion toward authorities resonates with the Christian understanding that people are sinners capable of great deception, self-interest, and quests for power.[47]Postmodern teachers have become suspicious of the traditional interpretations of Scripture. One example is that of the character Neo in McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christian; Neo is suspicious of the work of Evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer.[48] McLaren states that he had deepening reservations about Christianity as many others do.[49] McLaren states that he began to doubt if any Christian is actually a Christian and in this causing others to doubt.[50] They are deconstructing Scripture and then reconstructing them in agreement with the postmodern mindset. McLaren states that it takes some time for the phase of deconstruction to give way to a new view.[51] For someone like McLaren, deconstruction becomes the search for God and God’s mysteries, because he believes human constructs may be obscuring them.[52]

In adapting to the culture, postmodern philosophy rejects modernity, and part of their rejection is discarding tradition. In this rejection, postmodern philosophy has left the church open to a thinned-out version of the faith traditions that is more ‘suitable’ for postmodern individuals.[53] In compromising to adapt theology to the postmodern culture, they produced a watered-down faith meaning a faith that is diminishing and less effective. Smith states, there are Christians that are advocating that we should understand the faith in a postmodern way. These Christian’s say one ought to contextualize Christianity so that postmodern people will appreciate and understand Christianity. This will enable Christians to reach postmodern individuals with the gospel and with this one can agree.[54] Some take this a step further that we should not only contextualize the faith, but we should postmodernize the faith itself. Jones states that believers need to embody and embrace postmodern ideas and values to be faithful to the Lord in these times.[55] An example of a postmodern notion that is making strides into the American Evangelical church is that declaring truth-claims is intolerant and arrogant.[56] According to Barna, this type of postmodern thinking is thriving in the American Evangelical church.[57] One can be sympathetic to the plight of Jones because it is difficult to reach the postmodern generation with the good news. According to Leffel and McCallum, Christians today face unique challenges as they seek to communicate the gospel.[58]

The idea of joining the postmodern deconstructive philosophy is not shocking since part of the postmodern mindset is to deconstruct modern philosophies. The founder of deconstructionism, Jacques Derrida, says that all meanings depend for their existence upon individual acts of language. The basic notion driving deconstructionism is that within any text there are hidden concepts such as what hierarchical powers are at work in the writing. Our interpretations do not enable us to get to the intended meaning of the author, as though that is something that exists. For the Emergent Church, the intended meaning does not exist because that would be something unchangeable, something that could not be altered from use to use.[59]

Absolute Truth

Jones believes that the absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth, moreover to the point that he insists that we must stop looking for objective truth when we delve into the text of the Bible.[60] Jones definition of truth is that truth is something one cannot grasp. Jones states, ‘Emergents believe that truth, like God, cannot be definitively articulated by finite human beings.’[61] One could argue that one can know the truth because in Johannine theology truth is a major theme; importance is placed on knowing the truth because those who reject the truth about Jesus are disqualified from eternal life. Johannine theology is clear that there is the truth, and there is falsehood and one must remain in the truth they first heard (1 John 2:24).[62]

When it comes to truth, postmodern individuals say that it is near impossible to understand the Scriptures with certainty because we are on the ‘inside’ of language. Grenz and Franke try to get around this tenet of the postmodern belief by arguing that although we are on the ‘inside’ of language because of the special revelation of the Holy Spirit, Christians still can know objective truth in Scripture. The issue is not whether or not God can break through our language game but whether or not we can know the absolute truth. One example is we cannot know the meaning of the text because they existed in a different community. This is troublesome because the postmodern solution to biblical interpretation is to reconstruct the text according to what it means within their community.[63] ‘This can be dangerous because if we seek to understand the Bible strictly through the lenses of our own experience, we run the risk of misunderstanding the message.’[64] Michaels presents that the Johannine writer has a specific intent because he spells out one of the purposes of the written text is to understand, for one to know that ‘Jesus is the Christ, The Son of God, and that believing you might have life in his name’ (John 20:30-31).[65]

Smith defines objective truth as something that is true for all people in all places at all times.[66] Postmodernism believes that no knowledge is certain.[67] When Christian postmodernism speaks of the truth of the gospel they mean it is true only for Christians. So in saying that the Gospel is the truth, they are being misleading. They do not mean that the Gospel is the universal truth for all people; instead, the Gospel is the true story of Jesus and that Jesus is the only way for Christians but not for all people in all places at all times.[68] The Johannine writer illustrates that the Gospel is universal (for all people, in all places, at all times) applying to Jews and non-Jews alike.[69] Hauerwas asserts that the Gospel is true, but there is no way to prove it through history. Instead, the Gospel is truth to the Christian community because that is how Christians talk, so for those in the Christian community, it is true because we say it is so.[70] McLaren says that we need to have ‘bombproof’ certainty of knowing that Christianity’s claims are true.[71] In Acts 17 the truth is presented to the men of Athens that God has given us evidence that Jesus is the true God: In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).’ According to Carson what Paul demonstrates in this passage is finding a way into the values, heart, and thought-patterns (worldview) of those who are biblically illiterate without compromising the truth of the biblical message. Paul, found himself in a culture of large-scale empirical pluralism. Paul used a bridge of understanding in the example of the ‘unknown god.’ Carson argues that it is crucial that the church not compromise with postmodern philosophy but instead find bridges to explain the truth.[72]

Smith argues, here in-lies the problem with postmodern philosophy, the Christian does have the truth. Johannine theology is clear stating what the truth is. The gospel writer states that Jesus said He is the truth. (John 14:6).[73]Some emerging writers, whenever the truth question comes up, want to move away from the content of Scripture and to Jesus as the Word of God. Michaels states that Jesus himself acknowledges that there is truth since John testified to the truth (John 5:33).[74] We can contend that one of the objectives of the revelation of God is for God to communicate with humankind the truth that one needs to know in order to relate to him properly.[75]

Knowing God

If one cannot know truth objectively, Smith argues then one cannot know God as He is. For the postmodern Christian, this is not a difficulty because each group then defines their understanding of God through the rules within their community’s language games. Smith argues, therefore they are constructing their god. They make a god of their understanding. They create a god in their own image by how they talk. Smith argues, that according to Scripture this would be considered idolatry.[76] For Bell, it is the opposite because the Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about things and beings that words cannot describe; our language fails. ‘And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not.’[77] One understands the philosophical position here, but God chose language as the way he communicated his very nature to the chosen people.[78]

DeYoung states; one can know Jesus through the text of the Bible. The idea that we cannot know God flies in the face of redemptive history because nearly every page of the Bible speaks to his people. We may not infinitely understand God, but we can know him because he communicates the truth about himself.[79] In 1 John one is told that we are capable of knowing God; it even uses the phrase anyone who ‘knows God’ (1 John 4:6). The prophet Jeremiah speaks boldly of what Yahweh declares, ‘No longer will they teach their neighbor or say to one another, “Know the LORD,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest’ (Jeremiah 31:34.) Also, again in Jeremiah, we are told that the Yahweh says that ones boast should be that one has an understanding and knows the LORD (Jeremiah 9:23-24). The ability to know God is also a possibility for the New Testament believer as well (1 Corinthians 1:31). Paul tells the people of Athens that the ‘Unknown God’ can be known in Acts 17. Through Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word one can come to know God in a more accurate and detailed way than in any other means of divine revelation. In Christ one is told all the divine attributes that belong to God, which in him is the express image of God (John 1:1; Hebrew 1:3). Chafer and Walvoord argue that it is the central purpose of God that he reveals himself to his creatures through Jesus the Christ.[80]

The Bible

McLaren considers that the Bible is very special and has a unique role. However, he does not think it is internally consistent nor the word of God. He uses logic to discount the Bibles’ authority. McLaren argues that after all, Jesus (the word) never wrote anything except for writing in the dust of the ground with his finger (John 8). To the emergent, what Jesus says in the Bible and the gospels are higher in authority than the rest of the Bible. One can understand how they could feel this way, but this ‘pick and choose’ approach allows them to discount portions of the Bible as though they are not essential. The Bible is the inspired word of God, by this we mean that there is a supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit upon the Scripture writers which produced an accurate record of the revelation, or which resulted in, what they wrote being the Word of God.[81]

One can agree with Wright’s view of the inspiration of Scripture; ‘inspiration’ is a shorthand way of speaking about the belief that by his Spirit, God guided the very different writers and editors so that the books they produced were the books God intended his people to have. Wright points out that God’s word is like an enormous reservoir, full of creative divine wisdom and power into which the prophets and other writers are permitted to tap into through God’s call and grace. This allows the word to come through them, to do God’s work of flooding or irrigating his people.[82]

McLaren views the Bible not as a constitution, but as a community library. This is because a constitution establishes fundamental principles to be governed by, and if the Bible was a constitution it could not be as fluid as he would like. Instead, McLaren views the Bible as a community library, within the community revelation is found, and one can pick and choose what is from God and what is from the un-evolved human.[83] The Emergent Church’s view of the Bible enables them to edit the Bible.

McLaren states ‘What we call the biblical storyline is not the shape of the story of Adam, Abraham, and their Jewish descendants. It is the shape of the Greek philosophical narrative that Plato taught!’[84] One can agree that the New Testament has been packaged in Greek thought because this would make more sense to the Gentile audience. This does not mean that the Bible is a Greco-Roman myth. McLaren explains that the writers of the Bible were at different levels of maturity; therefore they may have recorded things through their perspective. He states that we are all in different stages in our Christian quest. However, those that hold to systematic theologies, personal salvation, and divine sovereignty are less evolved or have not entered the quest for honesty like those in the emergent conversation.[85]

Through this method of evolution, McLaren argues God himself has not changed but that our ancestors’ understanding of God has matured. He uses the lack of understanding of our ancestors as a way of editing out the parts of the Bible that do not fit with his narrative of the character of God. In the Noah story, the ancestor’s view of God in McLaren’s estimation was not morally acceptable, ethically satisfying, and theologically mature. As the ancestor matured, they tell the story of Moses’ salvation from drowning in the Nile. One can sympathize with McLaren because there is a vast difference between the old and the new covenants, but he goes too far when he suggests that this means that God should no longer identify with as a mighty potentate. A potentate who in his insecurity drowns helpless children, but rather the view of God should be associated with the saving of a tiny fragile child who has been condemned to drowning.[86] McLaren’s either-or thinking is an inappropriate way of understanding this Biblical material. The difference between the old and the new covenant is neither that God has changed nor because man has evolved in his understanding, but actually because the old covenant law was provisional. The old covenant law was a shadow of the new covenant in Christ blood (Hebrew 9:13-15).[87] Also, the point is not the developing maturity of understanding, because it is evident that God’s community’s’ understanding of their relationship with Yahweh can be traced throughout Israel’s theological thought, but the origin of God’s word is a different context altogether.

DeYoung argues that there are too many problems here to mention. For instance, if the ancestor has matured and now sees God as only a protecting God, then why does God kill all firstborn sons of the Egyptians a few chapters later? McLaren is setting up and either-or mentality, when God has both characteristics, he is both a just judge and a merciful Savior. The apostle Paul emphasized the unbreakable connection between justification and final salvation. For Paul, salvation is not that we are saved from sin, but we are saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).[88] The book of Hebrews explains the transition from the old to the new covenant, and it is not due to the evolution in understanding but rather the fulfillment of Christology. When taken as a whole, the Bible gives a complex picture of God, which cannot be easily categorized. The God who saves His people from bondage, also sends them into exile; the Son who says He has not come to judge also teaches a message, which includes hell.[89]

The Emergent Church wants the Bible to be fluid (no foundational doctrine) so it can be changed to suit their caricature of Jesus.[90] The Gospel writer states that Jesus proclaimed that he came to fulfill the law and that not one jot or tittle of the law would be erased until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18). The term fulfill (plēroō) is more than obedience. Jesus not only fulfills his anticipated roles, but his interpretation and application of the Old Testament Scriptures complete and clarifies God's intent and meaning through it.[91]

As far as the Bible is concerned Rob Bell and his wife Kristen speak of questioning their belief about the Bible itself and in this quest they discovered that the Bible is a human product, rather than a divine fiat. The Bible is still central in his thought pattern, but it being God’s word is not.[92] Bell states:

‘What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real,

earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb

and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin

birth was just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to

the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely

popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? …Could you still be

a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live?’ 

Bell is sowing seeds of doubt, and in the process, he tells us that the Bible being truthful is just not that important in the scope of things.

McLaren’s logic states that the authoritative text is never about what one says about the text, or understands, but instead is what God means the text to say. So the authority does not reside in the text itself (meaning in writing on the paper), which is open to misinterpretation. The authority lies in God, who is there behind the text or beyond it or above it.[93] He uses the book of Job where Job and his friends have long speeches, and then finally God speaks. McLaren then asks, how can these speeches be the very word of God? They do not even agree with each other, so how do we make sense of Job?[94] This disagreement among Job’s friends does not alter the truth of the word of God.[95] One of the themes in the book of Job is righteousness and God’s judgments, which is a topic that is seldom addressed by the Emergent Church. Since the book of Job is wisdom literature, Walton argues that the reader is supposed to draw conclusions pertaining to God from the final point, not from every detail along the way.[96]McLaren can say these things because he believes in the ‘community library’ where the word of God is a conversation in which one can add to the text, and in doing so the word of God becomes more fluid.[97] The point is not whether or not the story of Job has real characters, or whether or not the friend speeches agree, but that the book of Job conveys a message about God and our relationship with God. The point is that whether or not we have all the answers, we ought to be obedient to God, and the Scriptures are the way to find answers in how to do so.

The Gospel

The gospel is clearly stated,

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which

you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you

hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I

received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to

the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the

Scriptures’ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

According to Gill, this type of language probably reflects the Jewish form of instruction. Paul, in a previous passage, instructs the Corinthians that the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight (1 Cor. 3:19). Paul in an effort to keep the Corinthians from foolishness then lays out a foundational belief of the gospel, and it appears to be an early Christian creed that contains the ‘basic’ Christian beliefs.[98]

The Emergent Church believes we cannot get into the ‘true’ understanding of the gospel. In this movement, the gospel is a mystery.[99] In Christianity Today McLaren states, ‘I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet’ and ‘that none of us has arrived at orthodoxy.’[100] They tend to complicate the simplicity of the gospel. One can agree with Mathewesgreen, as she argues that the gospel is much more abundant than just salvation and that our method of preaching the gospel needs to adjust to the culture. Her conclusion that the gospel must be a changing message is concerning because Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 presents the foundation of the Gospel as unchanging.[101] One can agree with Carson who uses the example of Paul in the book of Acts chapter 17 and states that Paul does not trim the content of the gospel to make it acceptable to the worldview of his listeners. Paul repackages it but does not change the contents.[102] Paul does not soft-pedal the demands of the gospel. Repentance for this group of people would mean turning away from their gods. Also because of the increasing tendency in Greek thought toward the dualistic view of a person, the idea of reanimation of the physical body was repugnant, but Paul does not shy away from proclaiming the resurrection.[103] It is one thing to be creative in one’s presentation of the gospel for cultural understanding and quite another to change the contents of the gospel to make it appealing to the hearer. According to Pauline theology, there is some nonnegotiable content to the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). This content must not be abandoned, no matter how it clashes with some other worldview. If one does change the nonnegotiable tenets of the gospel, then we sacrifice the gospel.[104] According to Erickson, the essentials of the gospel are Jesus Christ’s status as the Son of God, his genuine humanity, his death for one’s sins, his burial and resurrection, subsequence appearances, and future coming in judgment.[105]

Jesus: Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Atonement

According to the National Association of Evangelicals, the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection are ‘objective’ events that took place in history.[106] Within the crucifixion Jesus bore the sins of all people and paid for them in full (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5; 12-17). According to the Christian postmodern view, we cannot know these events as they were. Of course one cannot know them in an empirical sense, but one can know them through their theological outworking’s. It is interesting what happens to these Christian doctrines if we adopt the Christian postmodern view. Smith argues that this would mean that since Christians must make their world, they would have to state it not as an absolute that Jesus really rose from the dead, instead they would have to state that Christians say that Jesus rose from the dead. That changes the resurrection into a construct of one’s words, not an actual event in history.[107] According to the linguistic method of Hauerwas, Kallenberg, Grenz, and Franke, the atonement on the cross for our sin is not an objective reality, meaning reality as it truly is. They argue that Christians make the truth conditions for their forgiveness by how they talk. They talk in such a way that they create a world in which sin and forgiveness are real issues but just in the ‘Christian’ world. However, that will not be the case for alternate worlds, which have been made by others such as secularists or Muslims.[108]

Wright brings new historical evidence about the resurrection through two arguments; the first being through the growth of the Christian Messianic movement, even after the public persecution of the Messiah, and the second through the Christian mutation of the Second Temple Judaism’s view of the resurrection. In the first example, Wright notes that when faced with the defeat of their group leader the group would dissolve. He then asks the questions: Why didn’t the church follow the patterns of other groups whose leaders were persecuted? Why did the church consider Jesus as its continued leader? Why did the church consider Jesus after his death to fulfill Israel’s destiny? Why did it worship Jesus as Lord? Why did it endure persecution? Why did it become such a powerful Messianic movement? What kind of cause could explain this unique phenomenon? The vital cause would seem to be the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus combined with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Wrights second argument of the historicity of the resurrection stems from several mutations of the Jewish doctrine of resurrection prevalent at the time of Jesus because once again Jesus questions the radical mutations in doctrine.[109]

Through the characters in McLaren’s story, he states that the crucifixion is like ‘divine child abuse.’ After all, God could decide to forgive.[110] It follows then that God could decide to forgive without atonement for sin. One could look at this and discern that this viewpoint is built on a false understanding of the character of God because God is both graciously forgiving and just. McLaren argues through his characters that atonement is just a theory.[111]Barrett describes the character of God differently; he states that the Father because of his love sent the Son, who in love willingly went to the cross to fulfill what the book Isaiah outlines (Isaiah 53:4-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:27-28; 1 Peter 3:18). [112] Long makes the distinction that justification is being found just or righteous before God and atonement is how justification is accomplished. Individuals cannot have one without the other. Long argues that Paul presents both the problem and the answer. The problem being that the law of God must be fulfilled because no one can keep the law. Therefore justification cannot be based on the efforts of the sinner but on the atonement of Christ.[113]

When looking at the meaning of atonement to investigate its necessity, there are several elements: sacrifice, propitiation, substitution, and reconciliation. The sacrifice of Christ is likened to the Old Testament Day of Atonement because Christ is presented as the high priest who entered the Holy Place to offer sacrifice (Hebrews 9:6-15). It is necessary that Christ offer a once-for-all atonement for the sins of all humankind (Hebrews 9:28). Propitiation is discussed through Pauline theology because it is part of the Old Testament sacrificial system (Leviticus 4:35). Propitiation speaks of appeasing God’s anger against sin. There are several indicators that Christ is substitutionary; there is a set of passages that tell us that our sins were ‘laid upon’ him, that he ‘bore’ our iniquity, he ‘was made sin’ for us (Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Another line of evidence is the Greek prepositions used to designate the precise relationship between Christ’s work and us. There are two prepositions used, anti and hyper both meaning ‘instead of.’ The death of Christ brings to an end the enmity between God and humankind, therefore reconciling the relationship.[114] This brings us back to McLaren’s statement; After all, God could decide to forgive. Erickson argues that God is not merely a private person who has been wronged, but he is the official administrator of the judicial system. For God to ignore sin without requiring payment would destroy the moral fiber of the universe and the distinction between right and wrong.[115]

Judgment, Heaven, Hell and Universalism

McLaren states that the idea that Jesus is the only way creates fear and hate of other religions. He asks the question; is Jesus the only way? Moreover, he then suggests that we compromise the truth, he posses the question; ‘How can a belief in the uniqueness and universality of Christ be held without implying the religious supremacy and exclusivity of the Christian religion?’[116] Bell argues, ‘A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better.’ It has been communicated that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is to reject Jesus. ‘This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’s message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.’[117] In Luke, someone asks this question, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ (Luke 13:23) The answer is, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to’ (Luke 13:24). Strauss states this idea is not isolated to the New Testament, but it is also discussed in Jewish literature ‘The most high made this world for the sake of many, but the world to come for the sake of only a few… Many have been created, but only a few shall be saved.’ Strauss points out that the symbol of the narrow door does not symbolize life’s difficulties but the exclusivity of salvation that is found in Jesus.[118]

It is difficult to take Bell seriously when his philosophy has marred even the simplest of interpretations. He quotes John 10:16, ‘I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.’ He interprets this Scripture to mean all the other religions of the world because Christians cannot own Christ.[119] Looking at this Scripture in context, it means all gentiles that come to the ‘good shepherd.’ One should enter through the door that is Jesus. Kostenberger states that the ‘other sheep’ are probably gentiles.[120] The Scripture then states ‘those who enter in by some other way other then Jesus are considered thieves, and robbers (John 10:1-16).

McLaren states that many arguments happen among people about the question of who is going to enter heaven or hell. People often ask him, what his thoughts are about the way to heaven. McLaren then states he has a problem with this question because it presumes that the primary purpose of Jesus’ coming is a message about how to get to heaven. One can agree with McLaren that Jesus came for many reasons, but his prime reason was to save the lost. Baugh states that Scripture highlights the purpose of Christ’s incarnation. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).[121] Scripture also expresses that the salvation of sinners is of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3-40) Luke tells us, ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10).[122] The continuing process of salvation ends with the glorification of the believer. The glorification of the believer promises that something better lies ahead. In part, one’s glorification will take place in connection with death and our passage from our earthly existence and the return of Christ.[123]

McLaren believes that when Jesus speaks of hell-fire or the end-of-the-universe statements, Jesus is not referring to postmortem judgment but to the historic consequences of rejecting his kingdom message of reconciliation and peacemaking. McLaren states this happened at the destruction of Jerusalem in CE. 67-70.[124] Bell echoes a similar sentiment, ‘For Jesus, heaven and hell were present realities. Ways of living we can enter into here and now.’ Bells states ‘He (Jesus) talked very little of the life beyond this one.’[125] Shelby argues that there are serious difficulties with this type of realize eschatology. He points to the fact that even Dodd states ‘there remains a residue of eschatology which is not exhausted in the realize eschatology, of the Gospel namely, the element of sheer finality.’[126]

In order for McLaren’s philosophy of heaven and hell to be acceptable, he reinterprets John 14 to fit his narrative. He deconstructs the verse by saying ‘my Father’s house’ means temple, not heaven.[127] This changes the context from having to do with eternal life (heaven) to the kingdom life here and now. Individuals can agree that the Scripture does use the phrase ‘Father’s house’ as the temple, but in John, it is not used in this way (John 14:2). According to the Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary, the word house located in this Scripture is the Greek word οἰκία, meaning heaven.[128] Kostenburger explains the context, ‘[I]n keeping with Jewish patriarchal culture, Jesus, the Son of the Father, establishes his followers “as members of the Father’s household” and makes his home accessible to them as a final place of residence.’[129] Viewing this word to mean temple instead of heaven cannot be justified in context because it simply does not make sense. Jesus says he is going to prepare a place for the disciples, and that he will come back and take them to where he is (John 14:2-3). McLaren fails to acknowledge these verses. Furthermore, the contexts of these verses are that Jesus is comforting his disciples because he will shortly be going to his death on the cross. Jesus is letting them know that they will literally be with him again. According to Kostenberger, this is not unlike other farewell discourses that encourage not being afraid.[130]McLaren sets up an ‘either-or’ narrative that anyone who does not believe in his re-interpretation of John 14 is not loving, is not Christ-like, and they will be suspicious, and disrespectful toward other religions.[131] This paints a false narrative of those of traditional belief.

According to Chan, the way that the first-century Jewish person viewed hell is in the imagery of fire and darkness, where people grieve. Hell is a place of punishment after judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus states that when the Son of Man comes in all his glory, he will sort the people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-32). Some will receive everlasting life and others everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46).[132] Chan argues that these Scriptures do not harmonize with McLaren’s philosophy.


The Emergent Church movement views the Bible and all truth as fluid. Smith argues that one can stand firm, being assured that one’s faith, and its many claims, are absolutely true and that one can know it to be so.[133] What McLaren is effectively doing is subtly placing doubt about the Bible, reasoning that one cannot rely on the written Scriptures as the source of truth.[134] According to Houdmann, the Evangelical view of the Bible is foundational on two axioms: 1) God exists 2) God has spoken to us in the Bible. If this were not so, we would be trying to find objectivity in a sea of subjectivity.[135] It is noted in Pauline theology that there will be false teachers that come and they will say what people want to hear (Acts 20:28-30; Ephesians 4:14-15; Titus 1:6-16; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Emergent Church and their desire to adapt to the postmodern culture have precisely done this. LeMay states that American Christianity has been infected with three major illnesses: a different Jesus, a different gospel, a different Spirit (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).[136] The Emergent Church has adapted Christianity to the postmodern culture, creating a new kind of Christianity that is different from mainstream American evangelical orthodoxy.

The person of Jesus, the character of God, and the truth of the gospel are of vital importance. McLaren states ‘The question is “Who is Jesus and why is he important?”’ ‘The versions of Jesus presented by contemporary Christian institutions could hardly be more different from one another—or from the four gospels.’[137] What he is doing is presenting a half-truth sewing doubt about the reliability of our capacity to know Jesus and his purpose in coming to the earth. Emergent leaders nullify the gospel by insinuating that all roads lead to God.

McLaren and many of the Emergent Church leaders paint a picture of Jesus and God that is one-sided. They do not see God as both loving and also judging the world according to their sin. John claims that God will come in judgment (John 16:8). LeMay states that ‘Jesus is being “refashioned” into a loving Jesus who accepts sin and would never judge anyone.’[138] It is evident that the Emergent Church movement, in an effort to relate to the postmodern culture, has created a god of there own choosing. They have picked out the character traits that they approve of to create a caricature of God.

The ironic part of the Emergent Church movement is that the anti-objectivism of the movement is a self-refutation of its own philosophy. Their anti-objectivism makes an objective truth claim. Therefore, it hangs on its own epistemological gallows and ends in self-destruction.[139] One can agree with Carson, ‘Damn all false antitheses to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ.’[140]

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[1] Erickson, Postmodernizing, Loc. 21.

[2] Noll, American, 59.

[3] Bebbington, Evangelicalism, 2-3.

[4] Brian McLaren has written many books among them are; A New Kind of Christian, A New Kind of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy, The Story We Find Ourselves In, The Last Word and the Word After That, The Great Spiritual Migration. Tony Jones has written many: Postmodern Youth Ministry, The New Christian Dispatch for the Emergent Frontier, The Sacred Way, Did God Kill Jesus?, A Better Atonement. Rob Bell has also written many: Love Wins, Velvet Elvis, The Heretic, What is the Bible?, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, How to be Here, The Zimzum of Love.

[5] Barger, Stand, 11:44-13:12 minutes.

[6] John Franke is an American author, theologian in residence at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis; professor of religious studies and missiology at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven, Belgium. Stanley Grenz an American author, Baptist minister and theologian and has taught at numerous colleges and seminaries. Brad Kallenburg is American Author theologian and professor at University of Dayton. Spencer Burke is an American Author, founder of Hatchery LA.

[7] D.A. Carson has author about sixty books, is a theologian and professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Scott Smith is an American Author, Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University in California. Kevin DeYoung is an American Author, senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and is on the council of the Gospel Coalition. Ted Kluck is an American author and co-founder of Gut Check Press. Millard Erickson is American Author and theology professor. Michael D. LeMay is the General Manager of Q90 FM Radio host of Stand Up For the Truth Radio. John MacArthur is an American author, Bible teacher, Pastor, and president of The Master’s College and Seminary.

[8] Jean-Francois Lyotard the French philosopher put Postmodernity on the intellectual map in the publication, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Grenz, Primer, 39.

[9] Grenz, Primer, 2.

[10] Grenz, Primer, 83.

[11] Grenz, Primer, 14.

[12] Smith, Truth, Loc. 195-218.

[13] Smith, Truth, Loc. 228.

[14] Smith, Truth, Loc. 231-241.

[15] To be on the ‘inside’ of language is an expression that when broadly interpreted means we cannot experience reality directly. Smith, Truth, Loc. 602.

[16] Smith, Truth, Loc. 420-431.

[17] Jones, Postmodern, 26-27.

[18] Smith, Truth, Loc. 157-160.

[19] Barna, Competing, n.p. Barna Group notes that competing worldviews are influencing today’s Christians. Among practicing Christians; 61% agree with ideas rooted in New Spirituality, 54% resonate with postmodernist views, 36% accept ideas associated with Marxism, and 29% believe ideas based on secularism.

[20] Smith, Truth, Loc. 130-137.

[21] Smith, Truth, Loc. 167.

[22] Smith, Truth, Loc. 566-577.

[23] Smith, Truth, Loc. 663. Grenz, Beyond, 38.

[24] Smith, Truth, Loc. 663. Grenz, Beyond, 53.

[25] Smith, Truth, Loc. 664-674.

[26] Smith, Truth, Loc. 674.

[27] MacArthur, Truth, Loc. 87-90.

[28] Carson, Becoming, Loc. 85.

[29] Carson, Becoming, Loc. 91.

[30] Carson, Becoming, Loc. 94.

[31] DeYoung, Why, 22.

[32] Positive can be defined in accordance with Merriam Webster’s definition: having a good effect: Favorable.

[33] McClean, 5, n.p.

[34] For the sake of convenience we speak of the writer declared without assumption of authorship due to Pauline authorship debates. Richards, Paul, 232.

[35] Sweet, Church, 17.

[36] Smith, Truth, Loc. 283.

[37] Rauschenbusch, Christianity, 4-5.

[38] Kimball, Emerging, 216.

[39] Kimball, Emerging, 13-15.

[40] DeYoung, Why, 17.

[41] DeYoung, Why, 23, Bell, Velvet, 83.

[42] DeYoung, Why, 24.

[43] DeYoung, Why, 32. Burke, Making, 45.

[44] McLaren, Adventures, 41-43.

[45] Klein, Introduction, 301.

[46] Chafer, Major, 31.

[47] Smith, Truth, Loc. 218-222.

[48] McLaren, New, Loc. 3842.

[49] McLaren, New, Loc. 134-137, 252.

[50] McLaren, New, Loc. 259-262.

[51] McLaren, New, Loc. 726.

[52] McLaren, Last, xviii.

[53] Smith, Who’s, 126.

[54] Smith, Truth, Loc. 176.

[55] Smith Truth, Loc. 183.

[56] Leffel, Postmodern, n.p.

[57] Leffel, Postmodern, n.p.

[58] Leffel, Postmodern, n.p.

[59] Smith, Truth, Loc. 942-951.

[60] Jones, Postmodern, 201.

[61] Jones, New, 153.

[62] Campbell, 1, 10.

[63] Smith, Truth, Loc. 2504-2519.

[64] Klein, Introduction, 83.

[65] Michaels, Gospel, 1020.

[66] Smith, Truth, Loc. 254.

[67] Erickson, Postmodernizing, Loc. 98.

[68] Smith, Truth, Loc. 251-257.

[69] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 2, 3.

[70] Smith, Truth, Loc. 446-470.

[71] McLaren, More, 131. McLaren, New, Loc. 280.

[72] Carson, Telling, 7270-7311, 7498.

[73] Smith, Truth, Loc. 581.

[74] Michaels, Gospel, 25.

[75] Erickson, Introducing, 52.

[76] Smith, Truth, Loc. 2519-2529.

[77] Bell, Velvet, 19.

[78] One should acknowledge that Jesus being the word and the written word of God are two different aspects of Divine revelation and how one marries these is a complex issue.

[79] DeYoung, Why, 36-37.

[80] Chafer, Major, 26.

[81] Erickson, Introducing, 52.

[82] Wright, Scripture, 36.

[83] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 80-83,115.

[84] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 36-37.

[85] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 233.

[86] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 110.

[87] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 4, 58-60.

[88] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 3, 491.

[89] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 3, 12.

[90] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 111.

[91] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 1, 37.

[92] Crouch, Christianity, n.p., MacArthur, Truth, Loc. 61.

[93] McLaren, New, 72.

[94] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 88-94, DeYoung, Christianity, n.p.

[95] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 94.

[96] Walton, Job, 26.

[97] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 94.

[98] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 3, 174-175.

[99] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 3, 334, When Paul uses mystery it refers to something concealed that God has now revealed in Christ. There is now no mystery concerning the Gospel.

[100] Crouch, Christianity, n.p.

[101] Sweet, Church, 214-217.

[102] Carson, Telling, 7445.

[103] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 2, 393.

[104] Carson, Telling, 7445-7451.

[105] Erickson, Introducing, 341.

[106] National, Statement, n.p.

[107] Smith, Truth, Loc. 2562-2577.

[108] Smith, Truth, Loc. 2520, 2582-2587.

[109] Spitzer, Historical, 102-105 For further reading see, Wrights Jesus and the Victory of God and The Resurrection of the Son of God.

[110] McLaren, Story, 143.

[111] McLaren, Story, 143-144.

[112] Barrett, Commentary, 90-91.

[113] Larsen, Cambridge, 79-81.

[114] Erickson, Introducing, 251-253.

[115] Erickson, Introducing, 253, McLaren, Story, 143.

[116] McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 21., LeMay, Suicide, Loc. 1936.

[117] Bell, Love, viii.

[118] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 1, 437.

[119] Bell, Love, 151-152.

[120] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 2, 102.

[121] Arnold, Zondervan Vol. 3, 452.

[122] MacArthur, John, n.p.

[123] Erickson, Introducing, 322-325.

[124] McLaren, Christianity, n.p.

[125] Bell, Velvet,147.

[126] Shelby, Changing, 22.

[127] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 219-224.

[128] Alfor, Commentary, n.p.

[129] Arnold, Zondervan (2), 137.

[130] Arnold, Zondervan (2), 137.

[131] McLaren, New Kind of Christianity, 223.

[132] Chan, Erasing, 83-84.

[133] Smith, Truth,, Loc. 276-280.

[134] LeMay, Suicide, Loc. 1933.

[135] Houdmann, Why, n.p.

[136] LeMay, Suicide, Loc. 716.

[137] LeMay, Suicide, Loc. 1916.

[138] LeMay, Suicide, Loc. 716.

[139] Geisler, History, Loc. 7494.

[140] Carson, Becoming, 4402-4406