I grew up unchurched and was pretty much an agnostic up through my twenties. Even though I got baptized as a teenager into the Presbyterian USA denomination, I did it more for social reasons than anything else. There was no great care taken to make sure I was in the faith. Most of my experience with church up until I was 26 years old was about teachings of being a nice person because Jesus was a nice person, or a focus on a bunch of seemingly (to me) unconnected details.
Emergents are Tolerant, Uncertain, and Relativistic, Except When They are Not
In Part 1, I introduced a gathering of Emergent Christians in Memphis to honor Phyllis Tickle, Memphis’ resident Emergent, and the forerunner in Emergent thinking. While the first post focused on Tickle’s opening talk, and the claims she made in it, this post will focus on her controversial closing talk.
2 Timothy 4.3-4
Earlier this month a meeting of Emergent Christians happened at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee. The meeting was an event honoring Phyllis Tickle, a forerunner in Emergent thinking. Among the over 400 attendees were such emergent luminaries as Brian McLauren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones.
On December 13, an episode of the Stossel show titled “Science vs. God” aired on the Fox Business Channel. John Stossel opens the show asking questions and making statements about the origin of the universe, the origin of life, evolution vs. intelligent design, and whether or not God is involved. Three segments of interest to Christian apologists would be the opening panel discussion, Stossel’s interview with science teacher Bill Nye, and Stossel’s interview with Christian apologist Larry Taunton. In this post, I wanted to zero in on the first and longest one that started as a three-man dialogue and then morphed into a larger panel discussion. There were many discussion points, many of them undeveloped like a side discussion of the Trinity and what salvation really is, and then there were interruptions and red herrings preventing deeper discussion. Below I give five main topics I gleaned from this episode’s first segment.
As any Christian apologist knows, there are vast differences between orthodox Christian and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) beliefs. The biggest difference that marks the Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JW, or plural JWs) is their teachings on the nature of God. According to Dr. William Lane Craig from his “Defenders” (Series 1) podcasts the historic plumbline between orthodox Christianity and heresies has been the Trinity. The JWs do not hold to a trinitarian God while we Christians do. However, in my discussions with JWs, I have found it to be too difficult of a jump to go right into a discussion of the Trinity, just like it is nearly pointless to get into a circular discussion of eschatology with them. Going too far down these roads only delays talking about substantive issues and ultimately getting to the Gospel. Instead, I have found it more effective to present two items of orthodox Christianity to which JWs do not hold- the personhood of the Holy Spirit and the divinity of Jesus. These two doctrines are better starting points because they provide immediate clear differences that can be exposed in the JWs’ own Bible translation.