This is the fourth post in a five part series. This post is a continuation of the review of the Concerned Nazarene's DVD. The first post can be found here.By Ryan Scott
Chapter 5 was an interview with Sandy Simpson, a missionary and author, again about McLaren and the emerging church, but also specifically about diaprax, which he described as an intentional manipulative means of getting someone to believe one’s own opinion and think that they came up with it themselves. This, he claimed, was what emergent leaders were secretly doing when they held dialogues or conferences. They had audio clips that purportedly showed McLaren doing this, although they did not play them. Simpson also commented that during his workshops, McLaren would have people break into groups to discuss for themselves, but he always had spies at work to make sure the groups moved in the direction the speaker wanted them to move.
This interview contained a lot of eye rolling and obvious disparagement. Simpson was obviously quite upset about these wrongs and blamed the emerging church for the failure of traditional mission work. He claimed McLaren coined the term “missional” in the 1990’s to describe the attempt by emerging leaders to change the focus of Christian life from winning souls to fixing the planet. Simpson also said that while emerging leaders did have legitimate critiques of the Church, they also had a lot of troubling things to say including solutions that would bring about the antichrist and a one world government at the end of time (there was a veiled reference to President Obama here as well).
This chapter contained few, if any positive attributes and, in my opinion, damaged the value of the DVD as a whole. Simpson certainly seemed genuine, even if he acted less professional and respectful than the other speakers. He seemed more knowledgeable and prepared than other speakers, at least on the wide variety of topics covered, however, he was ungracious and condescending and the charges of intentional manipulation seem a bit far fetched.
Many of the complaints he made about emerging leaders were so general that they could have equally applied to his own interview on this DVD. When speaking about persuasive techniques it is easy to make them sound manipulative (as in a sense, all human attempts at persuasion are, in essence, manipulative). There were also some troubling statements presented as fact. For example, the term “Missional” has been around for nearly 100 years and refers most often to the idea of prevenient grace expounded above. Also, I attended one of McLaren’s conferences and the statement about “spies” certainly did not apply there (unless he had secretly co-opted two local pastor friends of mine or their spouses). Many of the general critiques of the whole DVD listed below apply particularly to chapter 5 as well.