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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Phil Johnson and the iMonk Defining and Evaluating Evangelicalism

During the Shepherds' Conference, Phil Johnson (Pyromaniacs) spoke in a session about the current state of evangelicalism which Tim Challies summarized. Michael Spencer (iMonk) responded to Challies summary with a post called "Phil Johnson: Is the Reformation Over?" Shortly thereafter, Spencer posted a second review on Johnson's session on the emerging church movement (transcript here) in his post "An Emerging Critique Worth Reading." Consequently, Johnson has responded to Spencer's estimation of what he said in the post "Sendin Some Love to the iMonk." This is an interesting exchange, especially since the two have not been exactly bed buddies in theological discourse. The fundamental distinction between Johnson and Spencer is over the idea of evangelicalism during the 20th century. Spencer appears to hold to the idea that evangelicalism was a movement predominatly existing in the 2oth century while Johnson refers to evangelicalism as an idea which transcends centuries throughout church history, beginning with the Protestant Reformation. Johnson writes about the importance of this distinction as to assessing and responding to the contemporary woes of evangelicalism. He writes:

It's not a minor point, because it determines where you'll look for an answer to what ails the contemporary church. If you take the iMonk's perspective and write the very idea of "evangelicalism" off as a 20th-century anomaly—a nonpareil campaign of Christian anti-intellectuals unlike anything ever in Church history—then the postmodern innovations being peddled by Emergent types will probably look very appealing. But if you appreciate the legacy of historic evangelical principles ("fundamentalism," as Dr. Packer tags it), you might see the importance of distinguishing the idea of historic evangelicalism from the 20th-century movement that co-opted and corrupted the name. And you might be inclined to think (as I do) that a better answer to the corruption of the evangelical movement would be a return to true historic and biblical evangelical principles.
I encourage you to read both of their posts as they are addressing an issue which has received considerable attention over recent years.


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