In the movie, Tin Cup, Kevin Costner plays a golf pro who is so broke that his golf clubs are in hock. However, he has an opportunity to go against his nemesis, and decides to play with a hoe, a rake, and other garden equipment. While Costner’s financial state was of his own doing, the status of his clubs is all too familiar to those that write here.

Quote 1 Corinthians 9:22 (”all things to all men”) to an anti-emergent, and you’ll be told that “all emergents use that verse”. Never mind that (a) that response may be irrelevant to the conversation and (b) you’re not actually an emergent. That verse is off-limits (and therefore, apparently, not inspired by God).

Try to defend the usage of cultural references in teaching and preaching by noting Acts 17:22-34, and the anti-emergents will derisively sniff “contextualization” and terminate the conversation.

Then, of course, there are the claims — though not in so many words — of omniscience. An appeal is made to Matthew 7:16 and similar verses. However, a discussion of the recognition of false teachers somehow becomes a carte blanche that allows one to know every last intimate detail of every motivation of any person in the world, based on a single issue.

Case in point: I’m sure that someone discredited this entire post after 5 words, because I referenced an R-rated movie.

Finally, there’s the slam dunk. If nothing else seems to be working, the anti-emergent claims that the other person is not a Christian. Or as one Slice commenter once so graciously put it:

Houston will be a desert before I accept [him] as a brother in Christ.

I bet the person about whom she was speaking is glad that her acceptance is absolutely meaningless when it comes to his salvation. I find it truly amazing the work that God must have prepared for us, that heaven isn’t going to be full of cursing — “Oh, #%#^!! They are here ?!?!”

And so, here we sit — with a hoe, rake, and a few other garden tools — looking at the opponent’s multi-thousand-dollar set of Callaways, and thinking that the clubs in the backseat of his car look awfully familiar. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

In the early days of the Peanuts comic strip, Linus was still a toddler. In one strip, Lucy spitefully takes all the toys away — not that she’s going to play with them — she just doesn’t want him to have them. She leaves behind a lone piece of string. Linus looks at it for a minute, and in no time is having a blast with that string. Furious, Lucy rushes back and snatches it from him.

To mix the Peanuts and Tin Cup metaphors, Lucy’s coming after the hoe now.

Kevin DeYoung (a pastor in Michigan) and Ted Kluck (a sportswriter) have teamed up to write a book titled Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). The parenthetical portion of the title is a reference to the fact that, ostensibly, the emergent movement appeals to a particular demographic of which these men are a part. A bit presumptuous, but hey, lets not pick nits. There are much bigger issues between the book’s covers.

In decrying the argument that some of emergent theology is still in process, DeYoung writes:

It’s one thing for a high school student to be in process with his theology. It’s another thing for adults to write books and speak around the world about their musing and misgivings.

This is simply a (slightly) more gracious inverse version of Steve Camp’s rant regarding Tim Challies. Now instead of age bringing wisdom, and formal training being a good thing, we are told that by adulthood, we should have “arrived”.

So why is DeYoung writing this book? Is his only target demographic high-school students? Because, according to him, no one else should be in process with their theology.

For that matter, is the entire congregation of his church under 18? If not, why is he even bothering to talk to people who’ve already missed the boat?

DeYoung goes on:

I agree there must be space for Christians to ask hard questions and explore the tensions of our faith, but I seriously question that this space should be hugely public where hundreds of thousands of men and women are eagerly awaiting the next book or blog or podcast arising from your faith journey.

I’ll lay aside the ridiculous notion that says that if others react improperly to your teaching (e.g. hero worship), that’s because you did something wrong — that horse died a long time ago. The way I read this, DeYoung is saying that hard questions should not be public. Rather, they should be kept relatively private. This way, other people assume that you have no problems or struggles, and they figure they’re the only ones that are messed up. And God forbid that they find out that their leadership doesn’t have all the answers.

In short, DeYoung is advocating lying by omission.

Now, here’s where DeYoung goes after the hoe. To the claim that all emergent leaders should not be lumped together, DeYoung writes that:

when people endorse one another’s book and speak at the same conferences and write on the same blogs, there is something of a discernible movement afoot.

Let’s break this down:

  • Endorsing one another’s books: While Camp’s rant on Challies was waaaaaaaaaay over the top and contained a good bit of error, there probably was a measure of truth to his statements regarding book endorsements — namely, they don’t mean as much as one might think.
  • Speaking at the same conferences: A couple years ago, Mark Driscoll spoke at the same conference as someone with whom he disagreed immensely on several theological issues. For occupying the same space as someone else within a 48-hour period, Driscoll was decried for “partnering in ministry” with the other man. From there it was only a short hop to (mis-)applying 2 Corinthians 6:14 to the situation and claiming that Driscoll was in direct violation of being unequally yoked. Update: Matt Chandler has noted that if someone has the opportunity to share the gospel “even in shady areas, they would be fools to not take advantage of that.”
  • Writing on the same blogs: I can’t decide if this one is asinine or simply hysterical. There are many things about which I disagree with other writers on this blog — and not just because Joe is a [shudder] Yankees’ fan.

In short, DeYoung is saying, “Sorry, you can’t argue that all emergent leaders shouldn’t be lumped together. I have declared otherwise. It is so.” And whatever you do, don’t confuse him with the facts.

And there goes the hoe.

Other anti-emergents must be kicking themselves right about now. Instead of trying to defend irresponsible over-generalization, all they had to do was say “Over-generalization? What over-generalization?” And they could’ve spent their time more productively, like by digging out footnotes from 3-year-old books.

Excuse me — I’m gonna go play with this piece of string now.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 6:45 am and is filed under Emergent Church, Hypocrisy, Misuse of Scripture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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25 Comments(+Add)

1   Rick Frueh
March 28th, 2008 at 7:19 am

I’m coming to get that string, Brendt.

2   Brendt
March 28th, 2008 at 7:22 am

Would that make you Henry (Rick (Lucy)) Frueh ? ;-)

3   Rick Frueh
March 28th, 2008 at 7:27 am

Don’t forget my middle name, Milton.

Henry Milton Frueh, Jr.

By the way, did I not see Camp endorse a kind of hip-hop ministry months ago? He related that he was skeptical but went to the church and becaom a supporter?

4   Phil Miller
March 28th, 2008 at 8:04 am

Kudos on the somewhat obscure Costner reference. Whatever happened to him?

By the way, when I saw your title, I thought you were pulling an Ingrid, and writing about Hannah Montana…

I saw that book, and your review pretty confirmed my suspicions. What I don’t understand is why some seem to have such an intense need to draw lines in the sand. I mean why we do we work so hard to define who we are, what group we’re part of, and who’s not in it?

I think it goes to something deep within human nature. I’ve heard socialiologists say that all human society is based on one group of people excluding another to a big extent. We have a deep desire to define our enemies.

That’s why I think Christ challenges us to love our enemies. He says, OK, you’ve defined them, so treat them like one of your family. Just think if we really did that…

5   nc    
March 28th, 2008 at 8:17 am

RE: Houston will be a desert before I accept [him] as a brother in Christ.

Hate to break it to that gracious fellow, but Houston is a desert.

Pony up, tough guy.

6   Brendt
March 28th, 2008 at 8:38 am

nc, it was a female that made that comment. (Not that it changes your assertion. Just clarifying.)

7   Rick Frueh
March 28th, 2008 at 8:55 am

“it was a female that made that comment.”

Even the orthodox females are allowed to speak as if they were assertive post modern feminists as long as their invectives are in the same direction. The de-genderization of some of the discernment ministries belies their protestations of “sola Scriptura”. Even the women can tell who is saved and who is not. Their Sanhedrin is multi-gender.

Birnam woods has come to Dunsinane. MacBeth is defeated.

8   RayJr    
March 28th, 2008 at 9:08 am

Hate to break it to that gracious fellow, but Houston is a desert.

As someone who lived in Houston for four years, I can tell you first hand that it is a swamp, not a desert.

9   nc    
March 28th, 2008 at 9:16 am

Even better…and fitting

10   nc    
March 28th, 2008 at 9:16 am

It’s hot as a desert… =)

11   Brendt
March 28th, 2008 at 9:18 am

Kudos on the somewhat obscure Costner reference. Whatever happened to him?

He has been kinda under the radar of late. He’s only done about 6 movies this century. But I thought that Open Range was pretty good. Had elements of both the classic Western and the modern Western.

I saw that book, and your review pretty confirmed my suspicions.

Just to be clear — be sure you are using that word “review” in its loosest sense. I haven’t read the book, but the quotes that I cited are enough for me to know not to bother. Why drop $15 for something that I can get for free here on the blogosphere?

To be honest, my suspicions actually did a 180. As I’ve noted here before, I wouldn’t really consider myself to be emergent. And the early mini-reviews of this book tended to make it sound even-handed. Like maybe someone was giving (published) voice to my ideas.

But DeYoung is not “not emergent”; he’s anti-emergent. I realize that the average anti doesn’t recognize that there is a distinction there, but there is.

12   Neil    
March 28th, 2008 at 9:59 am

It’s hot as a desert… =)

Deserts have considerable lower humidity.

13   chris
March 28th, 2008 at 10:12 am

… when people endorse one another’s book and speak at the same conferences and write on the same blogs, there is something of a discernible movement afoot.

What movement is afoot when you use a movement to promote your sell your book theology.

Just asking?

14   Brendt
March 28th, 2008 at 11:00 am

Deserts have considerable lower humidity.

Heard a comic once complaining that his manager booked him for a month in Nevada in August.

Locals: Yeah, it’s hot. But have you noticed that it’s a dry heat.
Comic: No, but I noticed that squirrel exploding in front of me.

15   Rick Frueh
March 28th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Who are you callin’ a ho? Oh, you mean a “hoe”.

16   Evan Hurst    
March 28th, 2008 at 12:51 pm

i love all the suggestive thread titles.

you’d think it woulda gotten Ingrid’s britches all a-twitter by now, but apparently she’s at mosque, it being Friday and all…

17   Tim Reed, Owosso MI
March 28th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

THe fact that Rick knows the difference between a ho and a hoe kills me.

18   merry    
March 28th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

If nobody wrote books dealing with hard questions of Christianity, I seriously am not sure I’d even be a Christian. My relationship with God would certainly be shallow, at the least. I think this guy just insulted most of my favorite Christian authors (Philip Yancey, Lee Strobel . . .)!!

Also, Christians should be continuously growing in their faith and striving to come to spiritual maturity– which means occasionally changing your theology as you learn new things about God. There’s no way anyone can do that by the time they’re 18– I hope it’s a lifetime thing, or there’s really no point in even having a relationship with God.

19   nc    
March 28th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

ho vs. hoe

I just shot coca-cola out my nose.

20   iggy
March 28th, 2008 at 1:18 pm

There the joke of the kid in the inner city school when a teacher brought in some gardening tools.

She lifted one up and said this is a shovel…

Then the next tool up and said, this is a pick.

Then she held up a hoe… and stated, this is a hoe…

A boy in the back of the class raised his hand and stated…

That ain’t no ho, my sister’s a ho and that ain’t no ho!

budump bumm…

I am here all week…


21   Evan Hurst    
March 28th, 2008 at 1:55 pm

i would ask all the gardeners here just how many hoes they buy per year.

haha, so unrelated, yet related at the same time…

i sell kitchen knives, and at least once a week somebody asks me if i have a boner.

i’m always like “boning knife? DE-boner?”

but i definitely still have my 12-year-old sense of humor, so i start biting my lip trying not to laugh.

22   iggy
March 28th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Believe me this is one of those jokes that I seem to remember, yet never get to tell… for obvious reasons…

Yet, this somehow seemed to fit… in fact we could cross thread it with the Hannah Montana thread!



23   Rick Frueh
March 28th, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I want to formally announce I have become a sinless perfectionist starting…wait…wait…NOW!

Humor Day vestige.

OK, ten seconds and I have to reject my new theology for personal reasons. At least I tried! :)

24   Pastorboy
March 28th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

How do you tell which potatoes are prostitutes?

The ones labeled ‘Idaho’

25   nc    
March 28th, 2008 at 7:51 pm

There goes my coke again!