A Guide to Postmodern Christianity

I spent some time (a lot of time) yesterday listening to Mark Driscoll (pastor of Mars Hills Church in Seattle) on everything Emergent/emerging church/postmodern Christianity. Highly enlightening. Probably the best thing I have read or listened to on as far as information from a conservative theological standpoint. If you have 90 minutes and care about this stuff you have to listen to this podcast. This happened back in the fall of last year but I wanted to wait until I felt theologically schooled to understand what he was saying.

Driscoll uses a lot of difficult theological language that might be confusing for some of you, so I will try and make it easier to understand in my notes. If you want to talk in depth with me about some of the deeper issues he gets into I am total game to get together/email/chat. I am passionate about this stuff. What I will put here is summarizing what Driscoll has said, not what I think. However, nothing I put in this summary will be something I disagree with. This is a great follow up to my posts last week on postmoderns in church.

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I do not think Driscoll is God or that he is the only one with good thoughts on this subject.

He comes up with 2 streams within postmodern Christianity: relevant and revisionist.


  • He does not go into much depth with this.
  • He call this evangelical and lumps into this group Dan Kimball and Erwin McManus to name a couple. I think it would be fair to put Driscoll in here as well. I think he doesn’t go into depth on this because he agrees with it.
  • It is not changing theology, doctrine, or an evangelical view of the Bible, it is changing ministry methods. “The truth is timeless, the message is timely.”


  • Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell (the other Mars Hill guy).
  • This group is highly influenced by secular philosophy.
  • He goes into a lot of depth on McLaren and his influences and basically rips them to shreads because these influecnes are men on the Jesus Seminar, which basically believes that the actual person Jesus is not the Jesus spoken about in the Bible.
  • Driscoll goes after Pagitt’s stance on homosexuality. Pagitt does not see homosexuality as a sin and believes salvation is possible for the homosexual. How Doug comes to these opinions is a really distorted view of creation that I won’t get into this because it is very complex.
  • Much of this group is made up of Emergent folks (the organization). This was a group that in a roundabout way Mark helped establish and now does not agree with. Much of Emergent is described as a conversation which Driscoll is fine with until the conversation is leading to heresy. To Driscoll, original sin in Genesis 3 is described as beginning as a conversation. This is what we need to be careful with.
  • I’ll go in depth on Rob Bell. He is widely loved and accepted by evangelicals and I think Mark brings up some great points about him. Rob Bell uses rabbinical authority in producing his messages and in his theology. He believes they are a key to Bible interpretation and hermeneutics. John 5:38-39 seems to remind us that rabbinical focus was not as it should have been. Rabbis were men who studied text but were rarely followers and believers in Jesus. Bell also believes in what I will theological evolution. This came about when Bell instituted women elders in his church. He came to a point where he thought that culture had evolved enough to allow this to be acceptable to God. The problem here is valuing our culture over the words of Scripture. The line is hard to draw if we are constantly viewing God in light of our society. He also attacks Bell for some of his influences which include some Buddhists.
  • He believes this group is drawing from panentheism or new age thinking. Defined as: the belief of “Process Theology” that there is one God who is greater than the universe but so immanent that he exists in and through it. God therefore is interdependent with the universe.

Tomorrow I’ll share some of my thoughts. Feel free to be forthright in your comments on this no matter where you fall on these issues. That is what blogging is for.