Recently, there was an incident at my church in which signs in each bathroom stall mysteriously appeared which said, “please flush when you are finished, we don’t want to see your deposits”. I immediately tore down each and every one of them before Sunday rolled around. While the intentions of the sign maker were good, the execution was not. Every time a church puts up a sign it is communicating, not just the intended message, but also something about the church. In this case what was being communicated is 1. This church has problems with basic hygiene, and 2. This church expects to be able to tell you what you do in your more private moments. (As an aside, these posters appeared just after VBS, so I suspect the non-flushers were under 4 feet tall).

These posters, produced by Phil Johnson, over at Team Pyro have been described as funny, and clever. The problem is, they’ve also communicated something about the author. They’ve communicated that the author is nasty, and is willing to misrepresent the views of those they don’t agree with (or is just ignorant of their views, or, less charitably, is too stupid to understand those views).

And ultimately that’s the problem. Phil Johnson’s posters communicate to us that he’s clever, and funny. The problem is God doesn’t call for us to be clever and funny. But He does call for us to be free from slander, and to be gentle, and merciful, something completely and totally lacking in these posters.

Editor’s note: In the name of honesty this is a toned down version of the original which appeared for a few minutes. It was edited after deciding the original was communicating more harshly than I intended. Apologies to any offended parties.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 11:15 am and is filed under Emergent Church, Linked Articles. 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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37 Comments(+Add)

1   Chris P.    
July 27th, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Hmmm……..
Are emergent/emerging views misrepresented? Is Phil nasty? How would you even know?
These are your misrepresentations.
Stereotypes and cliches are many times quite funny. The reason they are funny is that they do contain the basis of true representation in them; else they would not be stereotypes, or cliches, or even funny.
Just a quick trip thru ComedyCentral on your cable tv, and you see dozens of ethnic comedians joking about their ethnic orientation using stereotypes and cliches.
You see men making jokes about men, women joking about women.
What I see is the religious hypocrisy, of those who critique religious hypocrisy.
There isn nothing worse than liberalism, whether it is political, religious or social liberalism. Liberals are smugly superior as they view their intellect, and morality as superior to everyone else’s.
The posters are funny. I would imagine that many in the ecm get a good chukle out of it.
BTW did I mention that liberals have no sense of humor?
Why aren’t we worrying about more important things?

2   clearly    http://seeingclearly.wordpress.com
July 27th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

In regards to the editor’s note, I was once told the pieces weren’t pulled on this site — that was viewed as dishonesty.

3   Tim Reed    
July 27th, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Chris P,
I find it incredibly funny that you and you allies have set yourselves up as the defenders of scriptures, meanwhile your entire response was bereft of it when I specifically noted that we are not called to be funny and clever, we are called to be free from slander, gentle, and merciful. Your entire justification for why Johnson’s funny, yet harsh and slanderous posters are ok is that they are… funny.

Can you show me in scripture where humor is a higher precedence for Christians than avoiding slander, and being merciful and gracious?

4   Tim Reed    
July 27th, 2007 at 12:11 pm

The piece clearly wasn’t pulled. And the alterations were noted, as well as the reasons for them, and apologies were made.

Are any of these elements present when Ingrid does the same?

5   Julie    http://www.loneprairie.net/lp_blog/blog.htm
July 27th, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Well, let’s see.

The pictures are gone. But, like Chris P. has stated, I found them funny because there was an element of truth to them.

Stereotypes and cliches are many times quite funny. The reason they are funny is that they do contain the basis of true representation in them; else they would not be stereotypes, or cliches, or even funny.

(I don’t understand the liberal comments that followed this quote, but that’s beside the point.)

So let me get this straight: Chris P. suggests that such humor hints at truth, Clearly cries foul and says it is dishonest to no longer display the humorous pictures, and I really believed the organ was around when Jesus walked on the earth.

Where to go from here?

Perhaps down a post, to a re-read of why, even if such humor has an element of truth in it, that we should be wary of using it.

Being cruel, even if it falls in the category of “humorous” and “true” is a lousy thing to do and in no way is an example of controlling the tongue. Humor cuts worse than insults, because you have a crowd of like-minds laughing in the background making the whole thing worse.

Even if that’s what Spurgeon would do. While playing an organ. And singing hymns.

6   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 1:11 pm

Chris P,

If someone stated that you believed the moon was made of Velveeta cheese… and insisted you believed that even though you stated over and over you did not… what would you think of that person…

Even if the person state as above here… and you stated that he was wrong and it was Mozzarella, they still would be wrong in how they represented you.

If a person states a falsehood and though corrected, they still insist you are wrong, and then go on to say you are lying…What would you think of hat person?

Just wondering your position here. I mean do you like it when someone states you believe such and such and you do not?

iggy

7   Julie    http://www.loneprairie.net/lp_blog/blog.htm
July 27th, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Soooo…the question is whether the moon is Velveeta or Mozzarella, not that it is or isn’t cheese?

Wow.

8   Julie    http://www.loneprairie.net/lp_blog/blog.htm
July 27th, 2007 at 1:25 pm

(I’m sorry. I should be banned. I don’t know why I just wrote that.)

9   Simon    http://www.biblegateway.com
July 27th, 2007 at 1:27 pm

I thought these posters we’re spot on. They were rather clever. Their satire pointed out the very obvious flaws in Emerging/ent thinking.

As for the the charge against Mr. Phil Johnson, I think the Mr. Reed has overstated his case by saying that Mr. Johnson is a nasty person. If that were so then we must conclude that the prophet Elijah was a nasty fellow too. He brutally made fun of the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. He even went so far as to imply that Baal wasn’t answering them because he was busy on the toilet.

Ahhh what a mean and nasty fellow that Elijah was. Mr. Johnson reminds me of Elijah and those silly emergents are very much like the prophets of Baal.

10   Tim Reed    
July 27th, 2007 at 1:38 pm

(I’m sorry. I should be banned. I don’t know why I just wrote that.)

Because you’re a cheese whiz?

11   Matt B    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 2:09 pm

The prophets of Baal were not God lovers. Most in the emerging camp are.

12   Tim Reed    
July 27th, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Simon,

Ahhh what a mean and nasty fellow that Elijah was. Mr. Johnson reminds me of Elijah and those silly emergents are very much like the prophets of Baal.

Clear this up for me. Were the prophets of Baal following Christ, or are emergent/emerging churches worshiping Baal? Because those are the only way your comment made sense at all.

13   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 2:22 pm

Julie,

Don’t argue with science… God created it ya know!

Ya heretic you!

LOL!

J/K

iggy

14   Simon    http://www.biblegateway.com
July 27th, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Mr. Iggy,

Those who deny the substitutionary atonement are not serving Christ.

Those who think that it is arrogant to think we can know sound doctrine and that we should embrace mystery instead are not serving Christ either.

The emergent heresy is nothing more than re-packaged liberalism that seeks to maintain a Christian veneer while denying what scripture says and teaches.

No one can serve Christ while denying what scripture says.

15   Matt B    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Simon-

I’m not sure anyone here denies substitutionary atonement or says that sound doctrine isn’t important.

We just call into question mean Christians.

16   phil    
July 27th, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Simon,
I don’t want to turn this thread into a debate about the different theories of atonement, but pretty much no one before Anselm (1033-1109 AD) spoke of Jesus’ death in the terms of Substitutionary Atonement. So it is pretty presumptuous to damn the first millenia of Christians because they viewed the Atonement in a different way. There’s nothing wrong with that view per se, but it is not the one and only correct view.

17   Tim Reed    
July 27th, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Those who deny the substitutionary atonement are not serving Christ.

Those who think that it is arrogant to think we can know sound doctrine and that we should embrace mystery instead are not serving Christ either.

The emergent heresy is nothing more than re-packaged liberalism that seeks to maintain a Christian veneer while denying what scripture says and teaches.

No one can serve Christ while denying what scripture says.

If this were an NBA game featuring the Pistons playing at home the crowd would be chanting an 8 letter, two syllable word.

18   robbymac    http://www.robbymac.org
July 27th, 2007 at 3:05 pm

I see the problem with Simon and Chris P’s comments:

They’ve confused us with liberals.

Or they read something somebody “emergent” said/wrote, and they think we believe the same thing.

Is Phil Johnson funny? Yeah, it’s funny to point out some of the extreme fringes of emergent — is it funny to link to specific blogs with those pictures (which Phil has done)? Heck no, it’s nasty and judgmental and unChristlike.

Is Phil nasty? Only his wife may know for sure what he’s like in real life. As long as he keeps publishing blog posts that misrepresent and mock other Christians, his online personna is very definitely nasty, judgmental, and unChristlike.

19   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 3:15 pm

clearly,

We don’t take down posts.

Tim, however, included a couple of images with his initial post which were in direct contradiction to what I said we would NOT be posting, so they were removed about 30 seconds after they were posted, and the “update” was added to be up-front about what happend – and why – even though they were probably not ever seen.

Aside from that, the post was kept and not removed as if it never happened.

20   Julie    http://www.loneprairie.net/lp_blog/blog.htm
July 27th, 2007 at 4:57 pm

It sometimes seems as if “prophets of Baal” and “Molech” are the new “Hitler” for Christians who want to discredit other Christians.

21   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Those who deny the substitutionary atonement are not serving Christ.

Those who think that it is arrogant to think we can know sound doctrine and that we should embrace mystery instead are not serving Christ either.

Simon,

“The emergent heresy is nothing more than re-packaged liberalism that seeks to maintain a Christian veneer while denying what scripture says and teaches.

No one can serve Christ while denying what scripture says.”

And who is doing this? I see that if you read Marks Gospel you will see the emphasis on the Suffering Servant… which withing our Christian heritage was referred to as Christus Victor… It was not until much later the idea of substitutionary atonement was developed and much much later that it was developed to the point that you are saying now. I might add that you have just thrown out the Gospel of Mark as I stated his emphasis was on that of Christus Victor and not substitutionary atonement.

In my studies i see room for both in scirpture…

Now, again, I bet you can name one or maybe two who “deny the substitutionary atonement” yet as far as the bulk of us I think it arrogant for you assert your wrong assumption on me as if you know what I and many other actually beleive.

Also as far as “prepackaged liberalism” once again you are not getting the reality… there are many conservatives as well as liberals within emergent… the thing is we have moved beyond labels as you seem to like casting about and are moving on beyond that in our discussion… I recommend you look up “cultural creative” and how many are looking at thing from that perspective…

Meaning, we do not look at things polarized but look at both sides and see the similarities and work at unity and solutions instead of building more hate and fear.

So, Simon, you are very off in your assertion and knowledge of what is going on… and I mean that in the nicest way.

Though i sorta like the sound of “Mr. iggy”

LOL!

Be Blessed,
iggy

22   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 5:12 pm

On topic here I think many miss that we “emergents” have a sense of humor about ourselves… we see that though we may filter through a postmodern filter, we also buy into modernism in its form of capitalism and such… we see that some seem to have similar facial hair… we see a lot of things… the funny things is that we are so busy warding off people who claim so many falsehoods and then accuse us of nut having any disciplinary actions… forget that we most likely do not go to their churches and find areas that need discipline and demand them to take action… and it seems when we do with the case of some they seem to think that person is above reproach and could not possible be wrong or have lied… so it has to be us emergents…LOL!

Bottom line we have a sense of humor about our inconsistencies and that is where Grace and Mercy and Love for each other comes into play… which seems lacking in those who attack us. (from what I have received from those people).

Be Blessed,
Mr. iggy

23   Simon    http://www.biblegateway.com
July 27th, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Mr. Iggy,

I don’t want to turn this thread into a debate about the different theories of atonement, but pretty much no one before Anselm (1033-1109 AD) spoke of Jesus’ death in the terms of Substitutionary Atonement.

I know some first Century Christians who believed in the Substitutionary Atonement. I’m surprised that you hadn’t noticed these.

1. The Apostle Peter – Mid-First Century

1 Petet 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous FOR the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,

2. The Apostle John – Mid-First Century

1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:12   I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, onot that we have loved God nbut that he loved us and sent his Son to be pthe propitiation for our sins.

The Apostle Paul

1 Cor 15:3   For lI delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died mfor our sins nin accordance with the Scriptures,

Gal 1:3   gGrace to you and peace hfrom God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 iwho gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present jevil age, according to the will of kour God and Father,

The Author of the Book of Hebrews

Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many

Heb 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

I also know some of the Church Fathers who believed in the Substitionary Atonement.

St. Clement

1st Epistle to the Corinthians – Chapter 15

But He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we were healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; [every] man has wandered in his own way; and the Lord has delivered Him up for our sins

St. Polycarp – Epistle to the Philippians Chapter 1
and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days long gone by, endureth even until now, and bringeth forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] “whom God raised froth the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave.”

Justin Martyr

First Apology – Chapter L

and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days4 long gone by, endureth even until now, and bringeth forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] “whom God raised froth the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave.”

Irenaeus – Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter XVI

But again, showing that Christ did suffer, and was Himself the Son of God, who died for us, and redeemed us with His blood at the time appointed beforehand, he says: “For how is it, that Christ, when we were yet without strength, in due time died for the ungodly? But God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Origen – Letter to Africanus Section 4

Are we to suppose that that Providence which in the sacred Scriptures has ministered to the edification of all the Churches of Christ, had no thought for those bought with a price, for whom Christ died; whom, although His Son, God who is love spared not, but gave Him up for us all, that with Him He might freely give us all things?

24   robbymac    http://www.robbymac.org
July 27th, 2007 at 5:54 pm

Here’s a link to some GREAT photoshop art re: emerging “buzzwords” from my good friend Emerging Grace.

They are two things that Phil’s artwork is NOT: (1) Accurate, and (2) Encouraging.

25   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Simon,

First off,
I don’t want to turn this thread into a debate about the different theories of atonement, but pretty much no one before Anselm (1033-1109 AD) spoke of Jesus’ death in the terms of Substitutionary Atonement.”

I never stated that… so you miss quote me and quote another that I still think is true…

In those quotes though is the idea of “suffering for our sins”… which I hope you do not deny Jesus having done and with that suffering we also gained victory over sin.

Yet, I think you missed the subtlety of what I did say… I never stated it was never taught… though notice not one quote you gave had in it the words ” Substitionary Atonement”? As even in the very verses you quoted the same thing… though i do not and have not denied the idea is there…

So your point is not made… in fact you proved mine more! : )

Again, if you could give the names of the individuals and the direct quotes I would be glad to look into and even ask that person about it…

Until then,

Be Blessed,
iggy

26   phil    
July 27th, 2007 at 6:15 pm

Simon,
You seem to have gotten me mixed with Iggy.

I didn’t say there was no concept wasn’t there to some degree, it just wasn’t in the same context it is thought of today. Anyway, who do you think is denying Substitutionary Atonement anyway? The one person I can think of offhand who you might bring up is Steve Chalke. I don’t think he represents the whole of the Emerging Church. Also I don’t know if he is outrightly denying it, as he is a fighting a bad presentation of it.

Anyway, this is getting off the point of the original post. It does, though, show how stereotypes get perpetuated. Personally, I think if there a way to describe a Biblical concept in terms that make it easier for people to understand, than that’s what we should do. There’s not just one way to describe the work of Christ’s death and resurrection.

27   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
July 27th, 2007 at 7:24 pm

SImon and Phil,

Steve Chalke is not really considered part of the emerging church… he is read by some yet, I see that most do not agree.

It is that we are willing to listen to all sides and when in the context of how many teach Substitutionary Atonement Steve is a bit right… so there has to be a deeper thought behind the idea than God had to pay a ransom… I mean think about that… God having to pay a ransom… as if He was not Sovereign?

God is sovereign and the righteousness of the Law and the covenant of death that man had need to be broken… in that Jesus had to suffer and die. To turn Jesus into just a ransom thought technically not wrong, loses all the glory that was at the Cross. It reduces the the death of Jesus to fill a technicality that God seemed to over look.

Yet, if one considers that God was willing to come and suffer with and for us as a man… and by His life and death fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law, cancelling the covenant of death… in that one can see that at the Cross much more happened.

Again this is not to negate it rather i see that it acknowledges it and more fully fleshes out the concept to a broader understanding which seems more in line with the fuller context of scripture.

Be Blessed,
iggy

28   Joel Griffith    http://seventhsola.blogspot.com
July 27th, 2007 at 8:59 pm

Was the Apostle Paul being sinful when he expressed the wish that those who were troubling the Galatian church would mutilate themselves? I think not, given the stakes.

Those posters are nowhere near that level.

29   Tim Reed    
July 27th, 2007 at 11:15 pm

Joel,

Again, just as with the Elijah/prophets of Baal response, is the emergent church in error to the point where they are preaching something other than Christ? Paul made that comment towards men who were adding works to Christ. How are emergents/emergings Judaizers?

They are your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Jesus bled for them every bit as much as he did for you. They are, as a whole, not Judaizers and bringing up Galatians 5:12 tells us more about what you think about emergents/emerging churches than it does about them.

30   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
July 28th, 2007 at 12:37 am

Joel,

The biggest difference is that Paul was not lying about those people… those people were lying about Paul…

Which is the case here as SoL,AM,and CRN all seem to care less of the truth and are spreading rumors about others…

So if anyone has a biblical right to name call are those who are being slandered against…

What this means is you have taken Paul out of context to prove a point that proves our point.. Thanks!

iggy

31   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
July 28th, 2007 at 8:01 am

Humor, at its root, is most funny when there is truth at its core. Unfortunately, most of the posters in question are not based on truths of common emerging church belief, but lies – caricatures and misrepresentations of they belief.

So, rather than expose part of truth in humor, they mis-characterize it and reinforce a lie.

32   curt    http://www.cotcnet.org
July 28th, 2007 at 12:39 pm

I’m new to this site and to the sites with the posters. But I must say that I find the reaction here a bit ironic. Have none of you laughed at caricatures of the traditional church? There are plenty around.

I’m not a part of the emerging church. I’ve been sympathetic to some ec observations and disturbed by many others. I have frequently seen descriptions of, or references to, common, evangelical church practices that have been sarcastic, demeaning, not completely accurate, and not very encouraging—at least to non-emerging believers. However, rather than simply dismiss these perceptions as erroneous, I’ve encouraged my fellow leaders to use these observations as a chance to examine ourselves, to learn and grow.

I think it’s safe to say that many emerging church books and articles have not been carefully worded. I seldom see a concern for reassuring the rest of the Christian community that you’re not throwing out everything that they hold dear. (Obviously not referring to you fine people. I haven’t read your stuff :) It appears that much that’s been written is intended to cause a reaction or response. Should you be surprised when you get one?

The person that put these posters online labeled them as caricatures. They were not intended to be portraits. Is there any resemblance at all? I believe that many of the emerging Christians that I’ve talked with would see these as legitimate caricatures—grossly distorted, maybe—but recognizable. Instead of just dismissing this as another anti-ec slam, why don’t you use it as an opportunity for reflection. Why do so many share these perceptions of your movement? It can’t be explained as due only to some conspiracy. Many emerging Christian writings articulate thoughts very similar, but not so simplistic, as these posters.

At any rate, the perceptions of those outside our own group or movement are invaluable. We all have blind spots. Maybe this can help you see some of yours, as you have helped the more traditional churches see some of theirs.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Proverbs 27.6

Grace and peace,
Curt

33   curt    http://www.cotcnet.org
July 28th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Sorry for the misplaced smiley-face. It was supposed to come after “I haven’t read your stuff.” Oh well, it’s all a work-in-progress, right?

34   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
July 28th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Curt,

My reaction , one post below this one, was a little bit different, though still negative. I hear you, and I understand the need to always be vigilant in not allowing theological drift to occur. However, I think that these posters tend to reinforce a number of preconceived, yet false, notions about many/most ec churches, and that they moved beyond instructive humor into the realm of mockery…

35   phil    
July 28th, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Curt,
I would say posters like these maybe would be funny if they were produced from someone within the movement, but because they were produced by someone who has been a constant critic, they will just go to promote the view of Fundamentalists as hateful and narrow-minded. That may be harsh, but that was my first reaction.

Yes, everyone has blind spots, but those need to be pointed out in love, not by making fun of them.

36   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
July 28th, 2007 at 1:00 pm

They were self serving. I found the one with the girl with obvious hopelessness in her eyes extremely distateful and callous. Have we lost all pathos for people? Can we not even pretend to see that some girls like that have arrived in that state after a viscious nightmare of a childhood? Are we so self absorbed with our “orthodoxy” that lost people are now our humorous fodder that do nothing but amuse us.

The whole thing is disgusting.

37   robbymac    http://www.robbymac.org
July 28th, 2007 at 3:43 pm

fwiw, the Purgatorio spoof You Might Be Emergent If… was greeted by emergent-ish people as funny and satirical, so I think most people who are in some way aware of the emerging/emergent/missional conversation had a good laugh at our own expense — even though Purgatorio is FAR from an emergent-friendly site.

But the creator of the Purgatorio spoof didn’t link to websites that were supposed to be “examples” of the “errors” of the emergent conversation. When Phil did just this, he crossed the line from satire and into judgmentalism.

Then what COULD have been a good chuckle crossed the threshold of “nasty”.

I still like the approach that Emerging Grace took as a helpful and encouraging rebuttal to the caricatures. :)