The Emerging Church - Q & A
on the Apostle John’s Epistles
Q: How do we counsel the young people who are really into technology – what should we tell them?
personal conviction is that there is nothing that is neutral.
Every premise, every assumption has consequences.
So you ask me, is science neutral?
Technology – is it neutral?
I would say that nothing is neutral.
Q: How do we talk to practical atheists?
scientists would not agree with you.
When they make observations, they won’t pray to God.
They work as if God is not there – practical atheism.
The existentialists say they don’t want God to be their
judge. No judge,
no accountability. [Some
young Christians say] there is a judge, but He’s not there
in everyday life – when they face problems.
What’s your comment?
If I asked
these people, “What’s the meaning of life?
Why are you here? What is the ultimate objective of
your scientific investigation?
What is the basis by which you conclude your life is a
success or a failure?”
If they were honest they’d say, “I have no answer
for any of these questions.”
It would be
at the very margin of their thoughts.
They don’t have these kinds of questions.
People today are creating a virtual world.
They can move the globe.
They plot GDP statistics, health statistics, etc.
This is their reality.
point: reality is defined by experience, and it’s defined by
It still leaves the question: who
decides what is good and what is bad?
In the final analysis, you ignore the purpose, but
purpose has got to be at the heart of your work.
So why are you doing it?
To eliminate poverty?
Make the Internet available to every one?
Create a utopia? If
so, who gets to define what utopia looks like?
Q: How is data related to Gnosticism?
Do you think
that these people today think they have a superior view on the
world? They may
think they have the right way of understanding the world,
because of their way of gathering data, but it wasn’t
data-driven in John’s day, was it?
Gnosticism, data is always the result of investigative
know that in science, investigation and experimentation result
in betterment, but when you do this in the moral realm, you
produce moral ruin. These
people will never accept this idea.
Q: How do we minister to people in this day of the Emerging Church?
So are you
saying that this emergent church phenomenon is so widespread,
that our ministry is not to seek out these people but rather
seek out other people?
Seek out overcomers from this philosophy.
I have no idea to what extent this view is present in
churches in Asia, Hong Kong, Beijing, etc.
I’m simply saying that the battle has already been
lost here in the US. I’d never encourage any of you here to engage in the battle
[i.e., try to change the institutions.]
So if our
spiritual life is always in the process of growing, I can’t
expect people have a purely biblical view?
I can’t even have one myself, even though I’ve
spent all of my adult life trying to do so.
You can’t smell good when you live in a cesspool.
Q: Who are the people most likely to embrace the Emerging Church?
There are two groups of people most susceptible:
Q: So how do they define truth or right and wrong?
say that truth is not defined by dogmatism.
It’s defined by experience.
For example, if we visited a slum in Calcutta, we’d
agree it’s wrong and we should do something about it.
That becomes our basis for relating with each other –
a definition of right and wrong by which God leads the
Another example is the golden rule [Mt. 7:12]. Everybody agrees with the golden rule. The violating of the golden rule is how we define hypocrisy. Most of the commandments in the Bible are not affirmed by reason or conscience. Jesus said God is against divorce. The religious leaders said, “Wait a minute! Moses gave us bills of divorcement – from God!” Jesus said it wasn’t that way from the beginning. So divorce is not affirmed by reason. Suppose a guy leaves his wife and 6 kids. Most people would say this is bad. However, if a younger couple is constantly arguing, many people would say it’s OK to divorce. It seems reasonable. I suggest that most of the commandments are like that. Therefore the emergent church says if we are going to satisfy our conscience, why bother using the Bible? They think it’s archaic (古式的).
reason do not tell you that you can’t take a brother to
litigation, nor do they tell you that your wife should not
speak in church.
Q: So what Bible commands do they accept?
some of the 10 commandments, but not most.
For example, “Honor your parents.”
They’d say you only have to honor your parents if
they are honorable. Covetousness
appears reasonable, and as Paul said in Romans 7:7, it is not
identified by the conscience.
So certain kinds of stealing may be wrong, but not all. For example, they say, “If my family is starving, why call
it wrong if I steal your bread?”
Q: How do we relate to these kinds of disobedient people?
2 Tim 3:5
says to turn away from these people.
Do we treat people in the emerging church this way?
it’s not a unified thing, that’s something we have to
decide on our own. But
we are best served by at least understanding it.
Q: How are attendance numbers related?
in which people go away feeling good about themselves usually
grow in numbers, but the churches that preach the truth are
the churches that at shrinking.
Institutional Christianity is no different from any
other institution in life in that numbers are very important.
Q: Did the Emerging Church spread due to cultural adaptation or rather deception?
Is it the
emerging church concept an active thing in which the Church
said, ‘we want to adapt to the culture’, or was it a
passive thing in which they were in the cesspool and they were
very much the former.
Q: How is entertainment related?
society seems to revolve more and more around entertainment.
I wonder if that’s crept in and caused us to focus on
ourselves and not on others.
Is that mixed in?
Very much so
– I think it’s a key component.
When I was a kid, if I wasn’t learning, it was my
fault. Today, if
my grandkids are not learning, it’s the teacher’s fault.
When I was a kid, there was a very sharp distinction between
learning and entertainment. Today, that distinction is blurred. Entertainment has as its focus experience.
Q: How is reason related?
One of the
most insidious [harmful but enticing (陰險的)]
parts of the Emerging Church is that it is reasonable.
It’s awfully appealing.
It’s hard to argue against reason.
Yes, and I
would say amen and amen to that, but at the same time, you
have increasingly an illiterate body of Christ – Biblically
illiterate, that is.
So what is the value of reason?
first job spiritually is interpreting the Bible.
You can’t interpret the Bible without reason.
I’m not depreciating [devaluing] reason.
reasoning is not based on experiential knowledge.
eliminate that. It’s
not antithetical [opposite] to experience, it’s just got to
fit a certain priority. That
is, the clear teaching of scripture trumps [i.e., is always
higher priority than] my experience.
It’s the Supreme Court.
experience does have its own role in our lives, such as giving
us a feeling of assurance.
Infiltration of the Emerging Church in
we were to map the infiltration of the emerging church
worldview, is it not only a collecting [or merging] of views,
but also an infiltrating of denominations with their ideas?
Like Anglicans accepting homosexuality?
A pastor in my denomination, Robert Schuller, in Orange
County [by Los Angeles] – he was one of the leaders in the
mega-church movement – it’s called the Crystal Cathedral
[home of The Hour of
– they recently had a conference called Rethink.
The purpose of it was to re-orient ourselves to this
kind of thinking.
Q: Do they say, “I’m a part of this church”?
It would not
be church in the sense of an organization that you join.
It’s a worldview you embrace.
I pout the words emergent church in Google, and one of
the sites that came up was the Emergent
Village, which is their organ of communication.
So if you want to know what they are thinking you can
go there. At the
bottom I found the sponsors include Intervarsity, Zondervan,
World Vision just to name a few.
Q: Is it “emerging” not “emergent”?
I’m not an
authority on this. It’s just that it’s so obvious from 1 John and 2 John
that this is the same fundamental problem.
There are important differences, but the same basic
Q: Wouldn’t you say that their purpose and goal is actually noble?
They’re trying to reach the post-modern audience by making things more relevant. You could even say there’s an evangelistic endeavor trying to do so, right?
That’s what makes it insidious [harmful but enticing
There’s a lot of truth in it.
If you wanted to counterfeit money, you wouldn’t make
a $39 orange bill.
A lot of
these people are very loving, very fellowship-oriented.
Agreed … I wanted to give a backdrop to 1 John.
Gnosticism has been alive in well throughout church
history, and it is certainly alive and well today.
This web page was last updated on 03 September 2008 .