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Sola Scriptura, Etc.

Younger Evangelicals, Emergents, and Additional Sources of Authority

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With modernism disappearing in the rear-view mirror, a postmodern embrace of mystery is now possible. No longer is a cold, scientific explanation needed for belief in the supernatural. What exists now is an emerging world in which mystery gains firmer traction.

Quo warranto: "By what authority?" Posed to Jesus in Mark 11:28, this question became the driving impetus of the Protestant Reformation. By what authority should theology, spirituality, and ministry be judged? For nearly half a millennium, Protestants have answered this question by declaring sola scriptura. From Puritan pulpits in Britain to "Big Tent" revivals in America, "by Scripture alone" became a banner cry for those rallying behind the Protestant and eventually evangelical movement.

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1 [ Back ] Mark Driscoll, "Mark Driscoll: A Pastoral Perspective on the Emerging Church," Criswell Theological Review n.s. 3/2 (Spring 2006), 91.
2 [ Back ] "Of the Holy Scripture," The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), chapter 1, IV.
3 [ Back ] Ed Stetzer, "Understanding the Emerging Church" (6 January 2006), Though Stetzer includes reformers as a subcategory of relevants, for the purposes of this article I have allocated a separate category for it.
4 [ Back ] Dustin Guidry, Turning the Ship: Exploring the Age-Integrated Church (Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 2009), 35.
5 [ Back ] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984), 201.
6 [ Back ] See Diane Mapes, "Holy Twitter: Tweeting from the Pews" (3 June 2009),
7 [ Back ] Steve Jones, "The Internet Goes to College: How Students Are Living In the Future with Today's Technology" in the Pew Internet and American Life Project (15 September 2002), 3.
8 [ Back ] David Bebbington, quoted in Barry Hankins, American Evangelicals: A Contemporary History of Mainstream Religious Movement (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), 1.
9 [ Back ] Eugene Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress Publishing Group, 2002).
10 [ Back ] Arthur C. McGill, The Celebration of Flesh: Poetry in Christian Life: An Enjoyment of the Poet's Art, As Seen in the Words of T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens (New York: Association Press, 1964), 5.
11 [ Back ] Scott Bessenecker, quoted in Rob Moll, "The New Monasticism," Christianity Today, vol. 49, no. 9 (September 2005).
12 [ Back ] For the "12 Marks of New Monasticism," see
13 [ Back ] Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 117.
14 [ Back ] Timothy George, "Faith as Trust, Knowledge, and Confession." Sermon given at Hodges Chapel, Beeson Divinity School (1 January 2009).
15 [ Back ] Owen Chadwick notes that W. H. Mill "devoted four solid years of Hulscan lectures to refuting Strauss." Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church: An Ecclesiastical History of England, Part I (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), 532.
16 [ Back ] Phyllis Tickle quoted in "The Future of the Emerging Church: Are We Experiencing the Next Reformation of Christianity?" (19 March 2007), 2007/03/ the_future_of_t.html.
17 [ Back ] This acronym is adapted from Mike Scruggs, "The Five Points of Evanjellyfish Christianity: Restoring Our Biblical and Constitutional Foundations," points_of_evanjellyfish_chr.htm.
18 [ Back ] Leonard Sweet, quoted in "Interview: Brian McLaren," Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (15 July 2005), episode 846.
19 [ Back ] From an interview with Brian D. McLaren conducted by Christian George (22 June 2010). Available at
20 [ Back ] From an interview with Phyllis Tickle conducted by Christian George (13 June 2010).
21 [ Back ] Andy Crouch, "The Emerging Mystique," Christianity Today, vol. 48, no. 11 (1 November 2004), 2.
22 [ Back ] C. Michael Patton, "Obituary: The Emerging Church (1994-2009),"
23 [ Back ] Time Magazine, "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,",29569,1884779,00.html; accessed 1 June 2010.
24 [ Back ] John Piper, quoted in Collin Hanson, "Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism Is Making a ComebackĀ—And Shaking Up the Church," Christianity Today, vol. 50, no. 9 (September 2006).
25 [ Back ] Collin Hanson, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 12.
26 [ Back ] Hanson, 156.
27 [ Back ] David A. Zimmerman, Deliver Us from ME-ville (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008), 16.
28 [ Back ] Louis Giglio quoted in Andree Farias, "A Passion for the Christ," Christianity Today (April 2005), 2.
29 [ Back ] Christian George, Sex, Sushi, & Salvation: Thoughts on Intimacy, Community, and Eternity (Moody Publishers, 2008), 107.
30 [ Back ] See
31 [ Back ] See 0.html.
32 [ Back ] See
33 [ Back ] Timothy Keller:; accessed 3 July 2010 from:
34 [ Back ] Timothy George, "Why We Still Need Luther: Four Hundred Fifty Years After His Death, Martin Luther Can Still Inspire Us," Christianity Today, vol. 40, no. 12 (28 October 1996).
35 [ Back ] See "Spurgeonism" in Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Sword and Trowel, vol. 2 (1866), 138.
36 [ Back ] Francis A. Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian (reprint, 1970, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2007), 22.
37 [ Back ] "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity." Quoted from National Education Association of the United States, Addresses and ProceedingsĀ—National Education Association of the United States, 1873 (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 2007), 31.

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Christian T. George (M.Div., Beeson Divinity School) is currently completing a Ph.D. in theology at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. His research focuses on the theology of nineteenth-century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. Christian is the author of five books, including Sacred Travels, Sex, Sushi, & Salvation, and Godology, and his sermons, articles, and book excerpts have been featured in Preaching and Christianity Today. You can visit him online at

Issue: "Sola Scriptura" Nov./Dec. 2010 Vol. 19 No. 6 Page number(s): 8-13

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