Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MacArthur, Fundamentalism, and the Emerging Church

On the flight today I started listening to the Master's Seminary lecture series on the Emerging Church, which includes presentations from John MacArthur and four seminary faculty members. I'm only about halfway through one session, so I'm not yet able to comment on the primary message of the series.

What has been most interesting to this point is MacArthur's description of the four primary battles over Scripture in which he has been involved over the past four decades. The first was the battle for the authority of Scripture, which dealt with inspiration and inerrancy. The second was the battle for the sufficiency of Scripture in which Charismatics and the psychiatric community added to the Word of God. The third was the battle with the seeker movement over the priority of the Word. Today's battle is for the clarity of the Word, and the opponent is the Emerging Church. MacArthur argues that the EC, largely in the person of Brian McLaren, applies its "hermeneutic of humility" to deny the possibility of doctrinal certainty.

I'll have to listen to the rest to see this theme fleshed out and documented. What's most interesting to me is that although many believe MacArthur has distanced himself from the name "fundamentalist" in the past, in his introductory lecture in this series he is certainly not doing so. Although I've not yet heard him say, "I am," he leaves no doubt that the only opponents of the errantists and the emergents are the fundamentalists, and he identifies himself as one of those opponents.

Could an announcement be on the horizon? Stay tuned.


Dan Burrell said...

Ben...Please post your additional comments once you've worked your way through the series. I'm very interested in what John has to say about this. I've known for about a year that he's been researching the EC and I'm looking forward to an anticipated book he's probably writing on the topic. Thanks for mentioning this.


Ben said...

There may well be a book, but I know that they are planning to expand the presentations and publish them in all in the seminary journal this fall.

Scotty Sullivan said...

Fundamentalists are not the only ones fighting the war against the denigration of God's word. Any lover of the Truth defends sola scriptura (and it expands WAY beyond those who call themselves "fundamentalists").

Be careful labeling yourself or others. Many pastors who are going into the culture are following Jesus' admonition not to be obscurantists, nor to be syncretists, but to go into the world (kosmos) as He went into the world (John 17:14ff.) Jesus prayed that we would be protected from the evil one while we were hated by the world. As the Father sent the Son into the world, so the Son has sent us into the world (not into isolation or hiding under the auspices of a self-aggrandizing label).

We can go into the world (as salt and light) without emulating the world or being stained by it. Christ sent His disciples into the world (John 20:21) with the power of the Holy Spirit, not with a label.

Ben said...

Hey, don't shoot the messenger, Scotty! Listen to the lecture, and feel free to disagree with MacArthur then if you want to.

And please don't conclude that the message of this post or anything in this blog is that fundamentalism is the ideal manifestation of the NT Church.

Ryan Martin said...

I think maybe Scotty has some pretty narrow ideas of what fundmentalists are.

Keith said...

There are plenty of people defending the inerrant scriptures who don't want anything to do with the label fundamentalist -- regardless of what MacArthur or anyone esle might say.

Scotty Sullivan said...

I plan to listen to John Mac's message. I am sorry if I attributed John's comment as yours or anyone leaning toward fundamentalism.

I don't have a narrow view of the fundamentalists. I personally prefer the term "Christian" over fundamentalist (Acts 11:26). Only a Christian follows Christ in a radical, missional, gospel-centered way.

I don't like the term fundamentalist. I am not emerging in the sense that McClaren, et al refer to it. I am a sent disciple of Jesus into the world (with all of its filth, sin, erroneous worldviews) to represent Christ (John 17:18). I will not hide in a Christian bunker when I have a commission to proclaim His love and His salvation to the dying world around me--and that doesn't mean just on Sundays from the confines of a church.

Josh said...

Ben - I've listened to MacArthur's talk on the EC, and I'm set to begin listening to Pettegrew. I love how MacArthur reaches back to Eden and runs right through the 20th century challenges to the sufficiency and clarity of God's word in order to show that the EC is nothing new. Also thought it was cool when he mentioned that he, Dever, Piper, Grudem, Carson, Sproul, et al, have a conference call regularly.