Archive for the ‘Bridgers’ Category

In 1965, various “conservative evangelical” Yearly Meetings of Friends (Gurneyite Quakers) united to form the Evangelical Friends Alliance (EFA). Eventually the  EFA became the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI).

Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) of the EFCI is home to George Fox University (GFU) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (GFES). My question is, when and how did NYWM, GFU and GFES become so liberal? In other words, when and how did they go from “conservative evangelical” to “progressive evangelical”? The change is shocking. [I am using the terms “liberal” and “progressive evangelical” interchangeably.]

Malone University (MU), another school in the EFCI, in 2009 had Brian McLaren as a guest speaker, and this was a “big deal”, a shocker to many in the community. Why is it that GFU and GFES are so much more “progressive evangelical” than MU?

We do know that the Spiritual Formation movement took off among evangelicals in 1978, with the publication of Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline (Foster has had many ties with the EFCI over the years).  It should come as no surprise that Foster pastored in the liberal NWYM, as well as taught at the liberal George Fox College/University.

The Emerging/Emergent Church movements started becoming popular around 1995. I would guess that GFU and GFES heartily endorsed and promulgated these movements as soon as they began.

Note – all Regions of the EFC-NA (which falls under the umbrella of the EFCI) are becoming progressive evangelical to some degree. Currently I would say NWYM is the most progressive. And I would say EFC-ER (which hosts Malone University) is the least progressive.

Back to the point. Following is a recent GFES web page listing various seminars. Notice the lengthy list of Emerging/Emergent speakers for past seminars:

Ministry in Contemporary Culture Series

A New Creation! - The Fusion of Ministry and Creative Arts

A one-day seminar with Dan Kimball and Maggi Dawn

Wednesday, February 9, 2011  |  9 a.m. to noon
George Fox Evangelical Seminary

Maggi Dawn and Dan Kimball

Join us as we explore the multifaceted ways in which art forms function as “theological media,” conveying spiritual realities in ways that words cannot. You will learn some of the principal ways that faithful Christ followers used these media throughout the ages … and discover fresh ways to use these media today!


9 a.m.    Maggi’s session: The Intersection of Theology & the Arts in Historical Perspective
10:05 a.m.    Break
10:15 a.m.    Dan’s session: The Intersection of Theology& the Arts in Contemporary Ministry
11:20 a.m.    Break
11:30 a.m.    Pastor’s panel response


Dan Kimball is the author of several books on church leadership and culture. He is on staff at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., and on faculty at George Fox University. He enjoys comic art, Ford Mustangs and punk and rockabilly music. His passion is to see the church and Christians follow and represent Jesus with love, intelligence and creativity. His website and blog is at dankimball.com

Maggi Dawn is an author and theologian. She began her professional life as a singer-songwriter, but later after reading for a degree and a PhD in theology turned her creative talents to writing books. Maggi is currently based at the University of Cambridge (UK), where she is chaplain and Fellow in Theology at Robinson College, and is available for writing and consulting projects.

Her book, The Writing on the Wall (Hodder and Stoughton, 2010), explores some of the most influential stories and ideas from the Bible, and shows how they have been woven into Western culture. If you love art, music and literature, and want to understand the hidden layers of meaning that derive from the Bible, this book is essential reading.

Past Seminars

Margaret Feinberg, Understanding Megatrends: The Church’s Missional Witness in a Millenial Age
Dallas Willard,
Knowing Christ: The Hope of Moral Knowledge
Leonard Sweet, The Influence of Islam on the 21st Century Church
Dan Kimball, They like Jesus, but not the church; author of The Emerging Church, Emerging Worship and They Like Jesus, But Not the Church. He is pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., a newly planted missional church.
Joseph Myers, Organic community: the chemistry of belonging
Leighton Ford, From Crusade to Coffee House
Marva Dawn, Unfettered Hope, A call to Faithful Living in an Affluent Society
Tom and Christine Sine, Searching for Sanity in America’s Culture Wars
Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, The Christian Community in Israel and Their Role in Reconciliation
Brian McLaren, Beyond Pluralism: Living Faithfully in a Polarized World of Fundamentalism and Relativism
Tony Campolo, Being Compassionate and Prophetic in Ministry
Stephen Delamarter, Technology in Ministry
Leonard Sweet, Leadership and Evangelism in the Emerging Culture
Paul Lessard, Authentic Worship
Len Sweet, Dan Kimball, MaryKate Morse, Alan Hirsch, & Frank Viola, Recalibrating Concepts of Church
Richard Twiss, Robert Francis, Terry LeBlanc, and Randy Woodley, An American Theology of the Land
Joseph Myers, Technomadic: Mapping Our Way in an Unbounded World
Scot McKnight, In the Beginning was the Gospel

See also this more recent link:


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To start off, I would point out that the rather ambiguous, overarching term “Emerging Christianity” is used throughout this blog by the hosts of this conference. Judging from the theological stance of guest speakers, this conference should more accurately be called an “Emergence Christianity” conference.

As Apprising Ministry’s Ken Silva has so astutely observed, the Emergent Church movement is “morphing” into Emergence Christianity. See:


In some cases, Emergent Church speakers are separating themselves from the inherently New Age-ish Emergence speakers. But this is the exception rather than the rule.  In most cases, Emergent speakers have no qualms about associating very closely with Emergence speakers.

Examples of Emergence-leaning Emergents are Brian McLaren and Tony Jones. It could be said that McLaren and Jones are actually taking up residence in the Emergence camp. In fact, Phyllis Tickle has called Brian McLaren the Martin Luther of Emergence Christianity. Scary, in view of the fact that McLaren is making the speaking rounds of many traditionally born again evangelical colleges and seminaries.

Another issue that concerns me: there seems to be no line of demarcation between the Emerging, Emergent, and Emergence movements.  Consider this scenario of a born again Christian student (in the Emerging/Emergent/Emergence targeted age group of  approximately 13-25 years old). He gets involved in the Emerging Church movement through a Spiritual Formation (i.e. contemplative spirituality) seminar conducted for his church’s youth group. Then he attends a Christian liberal arts college, where a professor and/or Spiritual Director persuades him to read Emerging Church author Dan Kimball. Dan Kimball associates with Emergent/Emergence Brian McLaren, so the student out of curiosity reads McLaren. He falls for McLaren’s writings. After moving on from college to seminary, he learns that McLaren is associating with Phylllis Tickle. Finally, he becomes enamored with Tickle’s writings. Being hooked on Emergent/Emergence author McLaren and Emergence author Tickle, this student has become like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling kettle. This once biblically sound, born again Christian student is now an admiring student of New Age-ish Emergence teachings.

I have copied and pasted the following blog in its entirety.  The blog itself is in italics. I am emphasizing certain points of concern by bolding and [bracketing] various sections. The original blog can be found in its entirety at:


Richard Rohr, Phyllis Tickle, Brian McLaren on bill for `Emerging Christianity’ conference

4:38 PM Fri, Oct 22, 2010 | PermalinkYahoo! Buzz
Sam Hodges/Reporter    Bio E-mail News tips
Some prominent Christian [so-called] writers and thinkers – Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, and Phyllis Tickle – will be part of an “Emerging Christianity” conference in Fort Worth in early December. Details in the press release below:

Emerging Christianity Leaders Hold Two-Day Conference

FORT WORTH – October 22, 2010

Brite Divinity School [1] and Tarrant Area Community of Churches [2] join Life in the Trinity Ministry [3] as sponsors of “Emerging Christianity,” a two-day conference at TCU’s Brown-Lupton University Union. Renowned leaders in the Emerging Christianity movement will address pastors and lay leaders at the Dec. 3-4 conference. A pre-conference workshop also will teach church leaders new approaches to attract youth to new faith communities.

“The Emerging Christianity movement is attracting people from all over the world, mainly those who are disillusioned with the institutional and organized church,” said Joe Stabile, founder of Life in the Trinity Ministry and pastor of Cochran Chapel in Dallas. “Rather than letting these people of faithand [sic] sincere seekers disappear from traditional churches, Emerging Church leaders are trying to show them new ways of following Christ.”

Keynote speakers at the conference will include some of the founders and most notable leaders in the Emerging Christianity movement:

• Richard Rohr [4], a Franciscan priest and internationally known speaker, is best known for his numerous recorded teachings and spiritual books. He is founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation [5] in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

What does Richard Rohr stand for, when it comes to biblically sound Christianity? His teachings are quite the antithesis of biblical Truth. Check out Ken Silva’s detailed critique of Rohr:


And see this lengthy list of critiques of Rohr:


• Phyllis Tickle [6], considered an authority on religion in America, is founding editor of the religion department of Publishers Weekly. She is the author of more than two dozen books in religion and spirituality, most recently “The Great Emergence, How Christianity is Changing and Why.” Sheis [sic] frequently quoted in print publications, including USA Today, Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times, as well as in electronic media.

Sounds like a very knowledgable person, right? But is she a biblically sound Christian? Not hardly. Here is an excellent, detailed blog by Ken Silva, critiquing Tickle:


And a list of many more critiques of Tickle:


• Brian McLaren [7], author, speaker, pastor and networker amonginnovative [sic] Christian leaders, thinkers and activists, is a frequent guest on television, radio, and news media programs. His work has been covered in Time (where he was listed as one of American’s 25 most influential evangelicals)[is this what evangelicals have come to? – McLaren is far from being biblically sound], Christianity Today, Christian Century, the Washington Post, and many other print media. His 2004 release, “A Generous Orthodoxy,” has been called a “manifesto” of the emerging church conversation.

Interesting. As mentioned above, Phyllis Tickle calls Brian McLaren the Martin Luther of Emergence Christianity.   Here are several discernment ministry critiques of McLaren, detailing what he really stands for:



And here are links to many, many critiques of McLaren:


• Suzanne Stabile, an internationally renowned teacher and director of retreats, offers a unique and creative approach to the practice of spiritual formation. A master teacher of the Enneagram, Suzanne and her husband, Joseph, are the founders of Life in the Trinity Ministry and the Micah Center in Dallas, Texas [8].

• Tony Jones [9], author of many books on Christian ministry and spirituality, is a popular speaker and consultant in the areas of emerging church, postmodernism and Christian spirituality. Jones is theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch [10] in Minneapolis.

Jones is yet another Emergent/Emergence speaker who is far from biblically sound. See the following critique of Jones:


And a long list of critiques:



Pre-conference Events
Thursday, Dec. 2 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Social Media Bootcamp The Micah Center, 9027 Midway Rd., Dallas

Friday, Dec. 3 1 – 5 p.m.
Will there be Youth Ministry in the Emerging Church? Brite Divinity School, Weatherly Hall, 2855 S. University Dr., Fort Worth

Conference Events with Keynote Speakers
Friday, Dec. 3 7 – 10 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 4 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Brown-Lupton University Union
2901 Stadium Dr., Fort Worth


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One final note – Richard Rohr, Phyllis Tickle, Brian McLaren and Tony Jones are just a few of the Emergence Christianity speakers. In addition to these, many more are making the rounds in colleges and seminaries across America (again, many of which are traditionally born again evangelical schools). For more names (Doug Pagitt and Leonard Sweet to name a few), see my blog-under-construction at:


More links for research:

(1) Brite Divinity School –

(2) Tarrant Area Community of Churches –

(3) Life in the Trinity Ministry –

(4) Richard Rohr –

(5) Center for Action and Contemplation –

(6) Phyllis Tickle –

(7) Brian McLaren –

(8) Suzanne Stable, the Enneagram, and the Micah Center –

[9] Tony Jones –

[10] Solomon’s Porch –

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I’m glad to see that the Chris Rosenbaugh/Dan Kimball interview is leading to a number of insightful blogs. Here are the most helpful ones I’ve found so far.

1) Apprising Ministry’s great blog explaining the Chris Rosenbaugh/ Dan Kimball interview and making a number of other points regarding Dan Kimball:


2) A Crosstalk blog entitled “Beware the Bridgers Part 1: Orthodoxy is More Than a Doctrinal Statement.” This episode of the show can be listened to at:


3) BetterThanSacrifice.org has a biblically sound blog that defines and discusses what exactly “orthodoxy” is (as opposed to how the Emerging/Emergent Church defines orthodoxy).  The blog is here:


4) Sola Sisters provides the transcript of a great Facebook conversation directly with Dan Kimball. This is EXCELLENT!! In this conversation, Kimball attempts to explain his endorsement of various contemplative practices:


5) Purpose Drivel refers to a “response to criticisms”, drawn up by a group of Emergent leaders (including Dan Kimball) to explain and defend their views. Check out Purpose Drivel’s link to the entire document. (I feel you should read the Emergents’ responses with a grain of salt – I do not believe they are being honest in their comments.) The blog is at:


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