Winning the wrong contest

On Tuesday, Jimmy Barnhill (I thought) called me out to challenge Tony Jones. Impetuously, in a fit of competitiveness, I accepted the challenge. Jimmy and Carla and Tony are friends from our days at Fuller in the early nineties, and they’ve breathed some new life in me over the last few months via blogs and e-mails. Turns out, now that I go back and really read Jimmy’s post, he wasn’t asking ME to take on Tony, but rather someone from within mainline churches to take him on like I (sort of) did back in January.

But why be trivial about details? I can win this contest decisively.

My esteemed opponent, newly named coordinator of Emergent, takes the position that to be Emergent requires people “who are courageous enough to stand up at a presbytery meeting and walk out…and not look back.” I have huge respect for Tony, and began to despair of having enough theological tools in my toolbox to take him on.

But then I remembered something, a little piece of evidence that makes this contest over and done with before Tony’s even had a chance to breathe. Your Honors, I present exhibit 1-A for your consideration, video testimony from my esteemed opponent’s own mouth:

So, to recap:

  1. Mr. Jones has admitted that I, and I alone, constitute the church.
  2. Last time I checked, I am an integral member of a traditional church.
  3. Therefore, one does NOT have to leave the traditional church to be faithful. In fact, all of Emergent is, by my opponent’s own admission, without my church-constituting presence.

QED. Game, Set, and Match. A first round knockout. Goliath is dead, and little David has only needed one smooth stone in his blog arsenal. Your Honors, I ask you to rule in my favor. Thank you.

3 thoughts on “Winning the wrong contest

  1. So sorry for the misunderstanding: the question is this.a. can denominational churches (with all of their structures, practices, etc.) be influenced enough by postmodern thought so as to effectively move forward into the future in such a way that actually reflects the time in which we live? (this presumes one agrees that we are living in times that are-a-changin.b. What does Gregg think needs revision in his own church or tradition given the time in which we live?c. Would such changes suggested be so resisted by Gregg’s denominational leaders that one would have to either make the choice of “not changing much” or “walking out the door and not looking back?”d. If Gregg is not here in MN, then are we lost? Outside of Gregg’s church, is there no salvation?


  2. Gregg:I was drunk when I said that. I have no recollection. I must have blacked out.I’m sorry that Jimmy’s acting so humorless ;-), but I can’t take the bait right now. I’m currently cramming for exams.Fell free to call me out after October 1.T


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