A Discussion on “orthodoxy” (little o)

March 15th, 2008

I spent some time commenting in another Parchment & Pen entry, “An Emerging Understanding of Orthodoxy“. Michael Patton showed some interesting diagrams to illustrate both progressive revelation, and progressive understanding. The latter has to do with development of doctrine–as time has progressed, the way that Christians articulate doctrine has also changed. How do we take that? Does it mean that truth is changing? Does it mean that the earlier Christians got it wrong and we have to correct them? Eastern Orthodox deny that doctrine can develop; does it mean that we’re wrong, because we disagree with Tradition? How do we balance the need for reform and discovery with respect for those who have gone before? How do we ensure that we provide a place for Christians to ask questions in a healthy, cautious manner?

The post is good, and there’s some good discussion in the combox. Patton discusses the issue in terms of doctrine going through a process of “maturing”. In the early church we may find immature doctrine, still going through the process of significant refinement in the way it was articulated. And as time progresses, and our doctrine has “matured”, it has also stabilized–it’s not going to change significantly, even as we continue to learn and refine and mature.

I’ll try to summarize some of my contributions in a numbered list. First, a little more introduction:

Semper reformanda (“always reforming”) was a slogan of the Reformation, along with sola scriptura (“Scripture alone” as the highest, infallible authority). The spirit of the Reformation involves, to some extent, revisiting traditional Christian understandings–because we become persuaded that the Bible requires use to refine it, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. And yet, we also believe that the Holy Spirit has been working for the last 2,000 years to illuminate Scripture in the hearts and minds of those believers who have gone before. If we’re serious about that, we cannot just ignore the history of the church. If we come up with something “new”, why wasn’t it there before? If it’s truly new, doesn’t that mean it’s probably wrong? And perhaps it’s not truly new–perhaps it’s just a refined statement of something that was already there.

That raises the question–to what extent can we question orthodoxy? The deity of Christ? The atonement?

A few points:

1.) Semper reformanda and sola scriptura require something like this: Our doctrine–even doctrine that we strongly believe to be “mature”–remains in principle reformable by Scripture. We must always allow our theology to be corrected by Scripture.

That includes genuinely hearing and considering arguments when someone tries to show us why Scripture doesn’t teach what we thought it does. We seek to exercise knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. And when necessary–when the word of God corrects us–we accept, and change.

2.) If by “question” we mean, “struggle with doubt about it”, then no, we shouldn’t question well-established doctrines. That’s being “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine”.

If we mean, “We should be willing to re-examine our doctrine in a Berean fashion,” then in that sense, of course we should be willing to question well-established doctrines.

But, we should use our time wisely. If we’ve never deeply examined our theology, we should start to do so. From there, I don’t spend my time re-examining things, unless someone gives me a credible reason to do so. (I guess that involves listening and considering enough to decide if there’s credible reason to continue. And doing that with a mind open enough to truly consider it.)

3.) If we’re constantly changing our minds in significant ways, I think that’s a good indicator that we’re not exercising knowledge, wisdom, and discernment.

That is, when we first start to examine for ourselves what the Bible teaches on theology, we may determine that the denomination we started in has some things wrong. The most significant change would happen in that kind of process. And then, we should be constantly refining our understanding of theology. That’s growth. That’s learning. But learning involves growing in maturity. If you’re actually learning, then you’re moving toward greater stability–even in the midst of refinement.

Michael expressed that in his post:

The capital letters are not meant to convey that we understand truth to the degree that God understands truth, but that we have come to, what we believe, is a maturation of the faith. Can it mature more, possibly, but this maturation will seldom be antithetical to that which has gone before.

4.) In the previous point, I was thinking in terms of one individual changing his theological positions. That’s about questioning ourselves.

The other side is questioning those who have gone before. That requires balancing the respect of the past with the necessity of discovery and reform.

Proposition: “We should be quicker to question ourselves than to question historically-established understandings.”

Second proposition: “Questioning established understandings should only be done with fear and trembling.”

Third proposition: “Honest inquiry & examination should always be welcomed.”

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18 Responses to “A Discussion on “orthodoxy” (little o)”

  1. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.“You shall have no other gods before me.

    The capital letters are not meant to convey that we understand truth to the degree that God understands truth, but that we have come to, what we believe, is a maturation of the faith. Can it mature more, possibly, but this maturation will seldom be antithetical to that which has gone before.

    I contended at P&P that there are no non-fundamentals. It is an error to divide the Word of Truth into such categories. That does not mean that we know all that can be known. But, it also does not mean that all that can be known, cannot be known. It also tells us that we should not claim to know that which we do not. In fact the word of God tells us, as you quoted out of Ephesians that:

    Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

    “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

    The capital letters are not meant to convey that we understand truth to the degree that God understands truth

    The quotes from scripture tell us something, something definite and true. They do not tell us nothing. There are many such statements in Scripture. It is not then that we do not understand truth as God understands it cf. 1 Corinthians 2. Quite the contrary, we know these truths absolutely, and in the same way that God knows them, if we know them, for we have been given the mind of Christ that we should understand the deep things of God. There is much more to truth than that which we have learned, agreed, but not more to that truth we have learned than that which has been revealed.

    John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.

    I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

    And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

    …until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

    but that we have come to, what we believe, is a maturation of the faith

    This is a strange definition of faith compared to:

    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

    To paraphrase:

    Right now, the hoping we do not see, is proven by the essence of it, which is the very thing.

    Or, faith is the thing.

    It is not maturing that admits that faith does not know. It is maturity when what is known is the very possession of the thing known. So, for one to be saved he must believe that God exists. Again:

    And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    In these these cases it is the current state which faith finds itself. Not something which is still to be found out. One must know that God is, and, one must know that they have eternal life, for either one to be true for the individual. It is not a bare belief we have which is the faith but it is as Paul discribes:

    For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

    Paul makes knowing “oida” equal with “pistis”. Faith is true knowledge; it is one with our being. You cannot be born again without knowing it and you cannot know it except that it is what you are. Faith is never found in what is not known. We find this familiar territory, because this is what Jesus said to Nicodemus: “If you do not know the kingdom of God, you are not born again.” (My paraphrase) To say, “I am born again.” Is as much as saying, “I am who I am.” Just as the writer of Hebrews says that we are looking to Christ, not in some ethereal “hope he is there” sense, but in the sense that:

    Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

    Can it mature more, possibly, but this maturation will seldom be antithetical to that which has gone before.

    This then is false. There is no sense in which being more mature would ever be antithetical to that which has gone before. It would be more mature to admit that one was wrong, but the thing itself, that is faith, cannot mature. It does not change. If it does, it was never faith.

    Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

    Does our knowledge of the faith grow, yes. But, it can never be that which it is not. For knowledge which is essential to faith is the very thing which is faith. Now that is not all there is to faith (see John Murray’s three essentials of faith). But, it is not, nor never can be unsure.

    To Thomas, our Lord said, put forth your hand, and be not doubting but believe. Faith is the hand thrust in the side, the finger in the holes. It is not, unless I see. It is, now I have seen.

    Orthodoxy, small “o” then is what the name implies: right teaching. The term doxa is the word we use for praise, but it is peculiarly used, for it means the teaching. We use it in doxology. Which rendered means the understanding of the teaching. Indeed to give right praise to the Lord must be in accordance with right teaching for the Father seeks those who will worship in Spirit, and in Truth. It is not that it is becoming right teaching, or has yet to beget that thing which is indicated by it, just as God is not the product of our imagination. Rather, orthodoxy, is the essence of its own existence. From this we can gather from our Lord’s prayer in the garden, that the unity of the faith is not a mere mirage but is founded upon the true vital union of us in him, he in the Father, the Father in him, and they in us. That relationship does not exist in the unknown, but is as Jesus said that we are where he is at, beholding the face of his Father, in truth.

    It is true that one day we will see him face to face and will know as we are known. However, even now, what we know we know absolutely and it is there that we meet him face to face. It is not in the darkness where he can be found, but it is in the true knowledge of God, Isaiah 48, in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord were we have the assurance that he is the Rock which can never be moved. That is faith, that is maturity. To know him who is true:

    And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

    In all the aforesaid ramblings this is what is not meant: That we do not have divisions. That once a person, or group of persons establish an Orthodoxy, big “O” that it is not challengeable (the very fact that there are divisions beg us to establish what is true). Doctrine defined by man is superior to what is originally expressed in Scripture. That Scripture is not clear. That man is clear on all points of understanding.

    What is true about the above ramblings: That orthodoxy is not subject to approval nor change if when what we mean by orthodoxy is that which is rightly understood as Scriptures interpretation of itself. To say that orthodoxy is subject to change is to say that it is not orthodoxy. Clear, unambiguous (ortho) teachings (doxas) are readily available in Scripture, and where they are in shadow, it is our shadow that obscures the meaning, not the fault of Scripture (Isaiah 48). Scripture is given, all is given, and profitable. It therefore was given with understanding expressly within it. It therefore follows that orthodoxy is not that which can be defined by man. Then, where Scripture is silent we must remain silent, where it is unclear, we must remain humble understanding that it is not the Scripture but the darkness of our own minds that obcures it. We must agree then, that no man has anything that he has not received. And that which he has if he has truly received it is not of himself, and is therefore not subject to change. Which means, that when we admit to wrong, it is that we spoke in ignorance in the first place, not of faith, but from our flesh. Here then is the true test of orthodoxy, that it is the Word of God, living in us, who is not wrong, nor can he ever be. He does not misunderstand what is written, for it was by his hand that it was so. All else is vanity.

    A really nice discussion of Heresy by Dr. Derek Thomas can be found at Iron Sharpens Iron.

    God gave man revelation in a progressive fasion

    There are many who believe in progressive revelation. I do not think it can be supported from Scripture. I would rather define it as depth, or clarity, but not progression. The creation narative from word one is a description of the new birth. I can explain further, but I would rather you join that dicussion at my blog. I have yet to read all of Patton’s piece, forgive me that.

    Your still learning brudder in Christ


  2. Tim says:


    Quick question. Did you disagree with anything in particular that I said? Or were you writing your comment to complement my post–I mean, to discuss an aspect I didn’t mention?

  3. No, nothing in particular. I know that it was a rambling response. There is within the discussion a different sense in which we us the term orthodoxy. As I looked back at your points I found no disagreements with what I was saying about the revealed orthodoxy of Scripture. But, it is a different topic. When I discovered that I was in a different realm, I thought, what the hey. I don’t even know how to classify it. We know Othodoxy, and we discuss orthodoxies, but there is an orthodoxy in Scripture that is not debatable. What to call it to differentiate it? Bibliodoxy?

    So let me qualify my statement. There is nothing within the context of what you were saying with which I disagree. There were somethings that I broke down of Patton’s that I was writing my thoughts about. One of those things is his discussion on progressive revelation, and progresssive understanding which I believe to be anachonistic thinking that misunderstands the developement of confessions as the outworking of combating heresy. And, the fact that the revelation of Scripture is completed in the opening chapters of Genesis.

    I hope you don’t mind me posting such a long response. I thought twice about it because it did open another area of consideration that was not the focus of your post. For that, forgive me. I think that it does compliment your post.

    And also, I do compliment your post, in the sense, “very well done, points well made!”

  4. Tim says:


    Hmm, I’m not sure I have time to join another discussion. At least, I can offer a couple thoughts:

    1.) I quite agree that orthodoxy, defined as right teaching, does not change. If we discover that something we thought was orthodoxy needs to change, it’s because we were mistaken. That’s equivalent to saying that the truth does not change. Our understanding and articulation of it may change and become more refined, but the truth itself does not.

    2.) In those terms, I would be shocked to discover if I have ever been fully orthodox. I expect that my presentation of the gospel is orthodox, but I would be very surprised to find out that all of my theology is orthodox. I do hope to learn and grow, and to be increasingly able to defend my understanding from Scripture. And I am thankful that my understanding is sufficient to say that I have saving faith, even though my theology has flaws–whether or not we accept terms like “non-fundamentals” or “non-essentials”.

    3.) If we use a different sense of the term orthodoxy–something like, “the accepted, established teaching of the church”–then in that sense, orthodoxy can change. In that sense, we’re talking about the ways that Christians articulate the teaching of Scripture, and that is subject to change.

    4.) I believe that Michael Patton was using “orthodoxy” in the second sense. When you read his article, and listen to his recent Theology Unplugged broadcasts, make sure to keep that in mind. He was not saying that truth changes; he was saying that our articulation does. And I believe that when he said we do not understand truth to the degree that God understands truth, he meant something like, “There is always room for us to refine or improve our understanding/articulation.” If he did mean that, then I agree with him. If he meant that we can not know things truly, then I do not agree with him.

  5. Tim says:

    FYI, I posted that before I saw your reply.

    No, I don’t mind–I just wanted to make sure I understood where you were coming from. If you were critiquing anything I had said, I wanted to be able to hone in on that.

    Perhaps you could start it out with something like, “I’m concerned about some of the ideas that Patton expressed. Here’s what I’m thinking…” So that I know how to take what follows.

    Anyway, I agree with a lot of what you expressed about the need to take seriously our ability to know truly what God has revealed. But…

    One of those things is his discussion on progressive revelation, and progresssive understanding which I believe to be anachonistic thinking that misunderstands the developement of confessions as the outworking of combating heresy. And, the fact that the revelation of Scripture is completed in the opening chapters of Genesis.

    I gotta tell you, my first reaction to your last sentence there is, “Say what now?” As far as I can see, “progressive” a good way to express what happened as the books of Scripture were sequentially inspired, and God told us more things.

    If you’re saying that the skeleton of God’s plan was revealed in the first chapters–or perhaps call it an “overview”–then I understand. The rest of what follows can be seen as setting the stage, fleshing out, fulfilling, clarifying, etc. If you mean that fundamentally new truth didn’t appear, you may be right–I’ll think about it. But in that case, most people who use the term “progressive revelation” might mean the same thing. In such a way that Patton’s “t-r-u-t-h” illustration is still meaningful.

    Edited to add: I had another thought about what I said there at the end. Perhaps the successive “t, then r, then u, then t, then h” picture can’t quite fit with the “overview in the first chapters” idea. But the illustration might be salvageable with a little modification–perhaps we could say that “truth” started out as written in dashed lines. “truth” was all there, but as the OT and NT were inspired, the dashed lines got filled in. And then, as we have improved our articulation & understanding, our understanding has gone from “truth” toward “TRUTH”.

  6. Thanks Tim for your responses. I am not trying to be agressive or combative.

    I view it, and I guess it is from a “saved perspective” as the Gospel explained in the early chapters.

    With the fall, indeed with the temptation we see the entrance of error. From that point is an apologetic. Eve’s response one might say is the first creed. From the point of the fall forward is an ever increasing darkness which is countered at the same time with an ever increasing light culminating in the breaking in of the Light in the incarnation. Jesus warned that he was leaving and with him the light. We have seen from that time the increase in error, or darkness of thought concerning the revelation given through Him by the mouths of his servants. It is not that they did not have the light with them in the beginning, just as it is not that there was not light which broke forth out of darkness in the creation. And, we have the testimony of Scripture that the fulness of revelation was in the Son, so that we lack nothing. The mystery is, why then the dimly with which we see now?

    That is why I said, it is not that the revelation is becoming clearer, but it is that the revelation is being preserved by deeper and wider explanation because of the deepening and widening of error. Which will, I believe culminate in the apostasy spoken of, but that is another discussion.

    I don’t know if that makes sense. Anyway thanks for your input. I too am growing and would be the most miserable of men if I thought that I had it all together but was still on this side of heaven.

    I absolutely agree that we have improved our articulation, and further refinements will come per Ephesians (if you consider it prophetic). And, I wait for that time that the Day Star shines its brightest.

    Thanks again for helping me think through this and your long suffering me in my ramblings.

  7. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Jugulum and Strong Tower,

    Here is what I posted on Part 1 of the Emerging Understanding of Orthodoxy, Part 1:

    CMP: “If you are not comfortable with irenics, then I understand.”

    I’m comfortable with irenics. However, I may define it differently than you do. Furthermore, it’s a subjective assessment. (As I have mentioned more than once). And I give credence to substance more than you do.

    CMP: “But, you really sound like you would be happier in the Catholic Church where questions, real questions, cannot be asked.”

    (1) Your assertion that real questions cannot be asked in the Catholic Church is an insult to Catholics and to the Catholic Church. That is such a false assertion.

    In fact, Pope B16 is considering whether Luther should be considered a heretic. That is a real question and it’s being asked and considered by the Vatican.

    (2) Strawman. I have noted earlier on this thread that you are prone to constructing strawmen, and then burning down your caricatured strawmen as part of your rhetoric.

    Nobody said or asserted that questions can’t be asked. I know I haven’t. Yet your strawman that you’ve built for your rhetorical argument says that questions can’t be asked.

    Here’s something for you to consider:

    Your emoting is short-circuiting the depth of your reasoning. Similar to an adolescent who keeps saying that he’s not permitted to ask questions. Of course, he can ask questions.

    The real key is to extend the horizon of your thinking a bit further. I hope this is not revelatory for you, but the key understanding is to realize that more often than not, there are GREAT answers to honest real questions.

    What’s apparently hidden from you is that despite these great answers (from historical orthodoxy), these liberal POMO emergers often keep falsely asserting that they’re oppressed from asking honest real questions. As a lawyer would say, “Asked and answered.”

    The next thing that you hide from yourself is the realization that many liberal POMO emergers DON’T LIKE the great answers they receive, and they will continue to agitate and divide over the rubric and disguise that they are asking honest questions. And they continue agitating and dividing until they justify what THEY WANT. (which is frequently antinomianism).

    In short, they either say that they’re being oppressed from asking real, honest questions or that the answers are insufficient and unsatisfactory.

    IT IS NOT about saying that people cannot ask questions. If you want to cling to your false strawman, then go ahead.

    CMP: “You don’t sound to me like an evangelical at all.”

    This is an inappropriate judgmental statement.

    For someone who proclaims the supreme value of being irenic, and that solid biblical reasoning must be pursued when reclaiming the mind, I know that you are capable of far more than what you wrote and showed in #49. Aren’t you disappointed in yourself?

    Hope this does not come across wrong, but I think it is important for you to see.


    I know both you guys read and post on TeamPyro just like I do. I have no pleasure in butting heads with CMP (or anyone else for that matter), but I think this issue is important.


  8. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    The comment’s deleted, possibly by the blog moderator. I find it ironic that while I’m being falsely accused of being afraid of real questions, the Parchment and Pen blog is afraid of my real questions to CMP.

    This is hypocritical behavior.

  9. Truth Unites... and Divides says:


    I hope that my suspicions prove incorrect, but my preliminary, and humbly tentative conclusions are that CMP is somewhat antagonistic towards his own faith. My suspicions are borne from the following:

    (1) His vigorous defense of post-modern emergers. Plus his clear denunciation of John MacArthur’s “The Truth War.”

    (2) His ready defense of Ruth Tucker’s thesis that Jesus is a failed leader.

    (3) His post about Tears of Joy from a lesbian upon leaving the church. He wonders about how the church failed her.

    (4) His post about feeling like a misfit. Again, the implicit message is that the Church fails whenever one feels like a misfit.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I detect an element of self-disgust within CMP about historic, classical evangelicalism. Now I’m not saying that historic, classical evangelicalism is sacred and above criticism; it most certainly should be critiqued! But the way CMP goes about it leaves me a bit concerned. For example, his misfit post and his self-outing with his declarations:

    “I don’t pray for people like I should.
    My marriage is not too great.
    I don’t get the Lord’s supper.
    Outside of my leadership position, I find it hard to socialize with other believers…sometimes I feel more at home with unbelievers.
    I love to dream through movies.
    I like nicotine of all sorts.
    I don’t care much for eschatology issues much anymore.
    I could care less about creation/evolution stuff.
    I hate to pray before meals in public. In fact, I don’t like the prayer before meals thing at all.
    I sometimes find unbelievers humor refreshingly honest…and funny.
    I can’t stand Christian pop music.

    I really don’t like to go to church on Easter, what’s wrong with me?”

    To his defense, confession is good for the soul.

    Then he strongly seems to indicate that attending church is optional, despite previous blog posts showing that he holds to a historic ecclesiology.

    Anyways, I hope my concerns are unfounded. Yet someone did say to me: “I hope that in what CMP is saying he doesn’t inadvertently cause the falling away of the weak…”

  10. Tim says:

    Thomas and TUaD:

    I’m not going to have a chance tonight to comment, but I want to say now that I do intend to reply to some of what each of you has said.

  11. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Hi Tim,

    I look forward to your response. BTW, that “Misfit” thread seems to have morphed, at times, into a church bashing thread.

    The church should be critiqued. But in a balanced way, noting both the positives and the negatives. For me, the positives far outweigh the negatives. And for my way of thinking, this is how it should be and how it actually is…. after all, Jesus died for His Bride, the Church.

    But what puzzles me is that postmodern emergers, mainline liberals love to complain, whine, and criticize the church and other Christians who aren’t like them; yet when the shoe is on the other foot and other Christians criticize them, they get all mad and huffy about it! To me, if you’re going to dish it out, then you need to man up and take it too.

    That’s why I don’t understand CMP. He keeps saying that folks need to keep asking honest questions, and that’s the wonderful thing about postmodern emergers. So when I just ask honest questions of postmodern emergers and of CMP himself, and then he gets torqued out and complains. That to me is double standard hypocrisy.

  12. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    CMP’s latest post is sufficiently explanatory as to why he comes across as a all-too-ready-compromiser, an appeaser, and an enabler. He’s wired that way. Of course, he could proclaim that he’s bridge-builder and a uniter, but …….

    CMP: “I make my living at trying to see the other side of theological issues. People who know me know this.”

    I didn’t know this until recently.

    CMP: “I do a pretty good job of training my bias to be my slave. It is one thing that I am really good at.”

    I firmly disagree.

    CMP: “Different issue: Do you think this type of posts will get the anti-Emergents off my back? . . . nah . . . I will get under their skin again later.”

    Jugulum: “What examples have you come across with regards to this tendency?

    Well, there’s this thing called “the emerging church”…”

    P.S. I liked the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon with the cubist art!

  13. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Here’s a response to Luke on the “Future of Justification, Part 1” thread. Do you agree or disagree or partially agree?

    Truth Unites… and Divides on 27 Mar 2008 at 11:57 am #

    “In the process, mission and proclaiming the kingdom of God has become lost or put in the background and “orthodoxy” and long creeds, catechisms, and doctrinal statements have taken its place.”

    Let me suggest another perspective to consider. Throughout history, the Adversary introduces and mutates various infectious strains of false teaching, heresy, and apostasy within the Church. Because of that (which the NT writers warned about), the Church responded with “long creeds, catechism, and doctrinal statements” to repel false teaching.

    Incidentally, this understanding of the history of heresy is what’s missing in CMP’s series on the Emerging understanding of Orthodoxy. It’s not simply a matter of understanding that’s “maturing”. That’s akin to a new or young Christian’s growth in understanding. It’s not a particularly deep perspective with which to understand the development of orthodoxy.

    I would humbly submit that development of doctrinal orthodoxy is largely a response to the very subtle, nearly indetectible heresies, that assault the Church. The latest of which is the assault on the knowability of objective truth, exemplified by the Emerging church movement and it’s near wholesale acceptance and propagation of postmodern epistemology.


  14. Tim says:

    I agree. And it may be missing from his discussion in that series–I haven’t gone back to check–but I know I’ve heard CMP say the same kind of thing. I think in the Theology Unplugged discussion of the history of the doctrine of the Trinity. Probably elsewhere, too. “Heresy is the seed of orthodoxy.” (Though I prefer to say, “Heresy is the seed of the articulation of orthodoxy.”)

  15. Truth Unites... and Divides says:


    Have you seen this exchange on TeamPyro?

    (I. Posted by TUaD) RememberPolyCarp: “it is nonetheless so disconcerting to hear believers–among them being some pastors I’ve spoken to–grasping at straws to find the “good bits” of the emerging chaos and wanting to be so slow to call it what it is…as if there is anything to salvage or redeem from this movement. Let’s put it on the table and declare a few simple facts shall we:

    1) emergents are not Christians; 2) the emerging movement is not Christian; 3) the emerging movement is opposed to Christ and His Church; and 4) there is absolutely nothing this absurd movement of rebellion can provide to the true church in any way, save to provide an example of apostacy that should chill us to the bone, lest we accomodate it, sympathize with it, or adopt its ways!”

    Heh, heh, heh. Some of us Pyro regulars (me, Strong Tower, Jugulum, JohnT3, et al) happen to also visit another blog which, in fact, does accommodate and sympathize and de facto enables the emerging church movement.

    (II. Posted by CMP) Truth, I would think that this blog breeds emergers.

    (III. Posted by TUaD) C. Michael Patton: “Truth, I would think that this blog breeds emergers.”

    This blog? The TeamPyro blog? Or your blog, Parchment and Pen?

    Whichever blog you’re referring to, what would be your reasoning for your hypothesis “that this blog breeds emergers”?

    (IV. Posted by Phil Johnson) TUAD: “what would be your reasoning for your hypothesis “that this blog breeds emergers”?”

    It’s the same rationale which suggests that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy breeds atheists. Its no real surprise to see Mr. Patton use such a line of argument; it’s practically his specialty. What’s surprising is to see him post it as a short drive-by, with none of his trademark charts and pictures.

    (V. Posted by TUaD) Phil Johnson: “It’s the same rationale which suggests that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy breeds atheists. Its no real surprise to see Mr. Patton use such a line of argument; it’s practically his specialty. What’s surprising is to see him post it as a short drive-by,…”

    Yabba-Dabba-Do! The lead pyroMANiac weighs in! Thank you PJ!

    Mr. Patton, two qualities that you like to tout on your blog, being irenic and being intelligent (after all, you call your ministry “Reclaiming the Mind”) did not seem evident in your comment as Phil Johnson observes. Would you care to clarify?

    (1) If it’s a drive-by comment, then surely that is not irenic behavior, wouldn’t you agree?

    (2) Are you indeed setting up a False Antithesis (as PJ notes) with your hypothesis that “that this blog breeds emergers”?

    If so, that’s not reclaiming the mind, it’s really reclaiming the heart through emotional manipulation by you setting up a false dilemma.

    Mr. Patton, I know that you are capable of being more irenic and being more clear-thinking. Thanks for striving after that.

    From: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/03/paul-on-mars-hill-part-1.html

  16. Tim says:


    No, thanks for pointing it out to me. I hadn’t read that the comments on entry.

  17. C. Michael Patton says:


    It seems that you should write your own blog on all of my errors so that you can expose them to the world 🙂

    Thanks for keeping up with me and making sure others are as well.

  18. Truth Unites... and Divides says:


    Please realize that I am oftentimes pleased that you don’t make errors, and, in fact, make excellent contributions to the Body of Christ. And I have stated so on your blog.

    I am balanced in my evaluation. I would appreciate you acknowledging that.

    Pax et Veritas.