Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Are You A Convergent Christian?

Last week, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina hosted a conference addressing the Mark Driscoll wing of the emerging church. The plenary speakers included Mark Driscoll himself, seminary president Danny Akin, and others.

I was particularly interested to hear Driscoll’s message. Driscoll is widely known as an emerging church pastor. But because many Southern Baptist leaders tend to treat the emerging church as a monolithic movement, Driscoll has been regarded by many as theologically liberal (like Brian McLaren and Tony Jones). But this characterization is certainly unfair.

Driscoll is a solid inerrantist, complementarian, Calvinist evangelical. In his message, Driscoll is careful to differentiate himself from the Emergent Village wing of the emerging church, which is in fact theologically liberal. This message is the first I’ve heard Driscoll to speak at length about his former association with Brian McLaren and about why he is no longer in league with him. If you don’t hear any of the other messages, be sure to listen to Driscoll’s. It’s certain to be clarifying to many.

After you listen to Driscoll, be sure not to miss Danny Akin and Ed Stetzer’s messages. Here’s the list:

Convergent Conference

Session 1 – J. D. Greear

Session 2 – Ed Stetzer

Session 3 – Mark Driscoll

Session 4 – Danny Akin

Session 5 – Alvin Reid

Q&A – Panel Discussion


  • Brad G

    What I appreciated the most about Driscoll’s message was his willingness to admit the immaturity and pride that led him to do many of the things he became so notorious for early in his ministry.
    Would that every pastor, teacher, leader were so willing to admit publicly mistakes and weaknesses, myself included.

  • Bryan L

    You said,
    “the Emergent Village wing of the emerging church, which is in fact theologically liberal.”

    What are some of the liberal things they believe? I hear people say they are liberal but they never elaborate on what they believe that makes them liberal. Do they deny the trinity or the divinity of Jesus? What exactly is it?

    Bryan L

  • Denny Burk


    It’s not always what they deny; it’s what they leave up in the air (e.g. Tony Jones on the Trinity). Steve Chalke castigates penal subtitionary atonement as divine child abuse. Brian Maclaren wants Christians to stop calling homosexual acts a sin. And on and on.


  • Wonders for Oyarsa

    Would the Eastern Orthodox Church be theologically liberal, then (on the PS issue)?


    I think, by and large, the single most damning criticism I have for the emergent church movement (at least the McLaren variety) is their use of the “Church” as a rhetorical foil. I have absolutely no patience for people saying “yeah, the Church has distorted the true gospel of Jesus, but we the community of Jesus-followers got it right.”

    This isn’t to say you can’t have valid and important criticisms, but the “Church” is also the company of martyrs in the arena; the fathers who first wrestled with the key questions of the faith; the faithful who even today witness to the truth of Christ by their own blood. When you slander your brothers in Christ in order to win the favor of potential converts, something is deeply wrong.

  • Daniel

    Dr. Burk, FYI, it’s Brian McLaren, not ‘Maclaren’.
    The least you owe to those with whom you disagree is a proper spelling of their name.

  • Paul

    I like the fact that he’s brash and he seems to call it EXACTLY how he sees it.

    I also like the fact that he has a passion for God.

    What I don’t like is the fact that he also seems so focused on being an alternative to what is the way of life in Seattle that he throws out the baby with the bathwater. He’s upset that there are Christians that are “green.” He mocks them, forgetting that GOD MADE OUR PLANET, MAN!!!!!! Of course we’re a nation of abortionists. We want to destroy everything else that God has made, why not the little babies, too?

    (this message brought to you by, ahem, an SUV driver…we all have our crosses to bear)

  • danny

    thank you for linking to the audio.

    i knew it was out there, but wasn’t sure where. (especially since i was thinking this was done at sbts, not sebts!)

  • Matthew

    Denny, thanks for the link.

    I liked the comments towards the end:
    – the world has changed
    – his disagreement with emergent is not in the deconstruction but in the reconstruction
    – the importance of respect for older theologians
    – His comments about emergent loving Jesus the man but not Jesus the God-man are worth remembering.
    – the incarnation by definition created a “worldy” Jesus that the religious leaders decided to murder
    – go out into your city. go to facebook. notice trends like halo3, ultimate fighting, world of warcraft.

    Overall, I have a hard time listening to Driscoll. He gives me the impression of someone who mocks those who disagree and steamrolls questions that don’t easily agree with him. Such people can create successful movements but they can also leave a lot of needless victims behind.

    He should be more fair to those he disagrees with. Just one example: his comments to a trajectory hermeneutic would leave you with the impression that Webb argues for homosexuality in “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals” – but that is false. In fact, Webb argues against it. But Driscoll is so interested in mocking the view that he almost slanders the book. One more: it is hypocritical to complain about bad language in culture then turn around and laugh at Driscoll’s deep SHIfT comment.

    Even so, his comments about Paul at Mars Hill, subversion, sectarianism, changing method but not doctrine (the two fists example), etc. were worth the time of the whole message.

  • Blank Slate

    Hey Jeremy, I read your take on driscol as well as the responses you got at your blog… I will give you some grace cuz your young but man talk about character assassination, both on Driscol and Piper.

    You know neither and probably have read neither.

    Listen again to the Driscol message, he knows well two of the men he critiques and the third he know second hand, he has also contributed chapters in books with these men…

    Give it a rest and don’t go blogging because your a youth pastor and think you have something intelligent to say… “Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent; when they keep their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” Prov. 17: 28. NLT

  • Ant

    That i think is the mistake of many who look at the EM; ignorance governs assessment. As someone who has been following the movement from abroad and deeply worried about some of the trends that have come out of it, i have been worried by the response of many who seem to write it off without having a bigger picture. And so guys like Mark get lumped together with guys whom he has tried to distance himself from. Thanks for the post, lets hope this encourages more conversation about the pros and cons of the EM!

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