A False Sense of Persecution

So Tim Challies put up a post about how his talk at Eighth Letter went. According to Challies, his message about getting the gospel right was not received as well as he had hoped:

“The reaction to my message was a little bit on the cold side. I was probably something of a stranger to the audience at this conference and brought a letter that was quite a bit different from the rest. So while I was not booed off the platform and did not have anything thrown at me, my impression was that the message was not particularly popular.”

Now why would this happen? Challies does not go out and say it, but the comments section makes it clear that his readership gets what he implies, that this message about the gospel was not well received because the crowd there were *shock* *horror* emergent!

“I’ve been asked to describe the theological perspective of the event and I haven’t been able to do better than ’emerging church.’ I know this title brings all kinds of baggage with it and that not too many people want to be associated with it anymore. Nevertheless, it’s probably the simplest theological shorthand I can use. Which is to say that I was definitely not representative of the speakers who were there (a list that included Shane Claiborne, Leonard Sweet, Peter Rollins, and many others).”

See? A hippie, a Methodist, and a Zizek disciple! The comments section is full of those that take the bate and comfort Challies in the face of this “persecution” by calling him a “good and faithful servant” who “took a stand” and was “powerful and clear” among other things. Then one of the conference organizers pointed out that  1) Challies was actually pretty well received and 2) that perhaps he failed to understand the thrust of the conference and so that might explain some of what Challies perceived as a cold reception. This would confer with what I heard at the end of Challies audio clip, which was quite a solid round of applause. Maybe it was edited in, but I imagine that he would have pointed that out if it was.


Listening to Challies’ clip it seems to me that he took a fairly off-the-shelf presentation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and repeated to a group of people who were already Christians. Not exactly what was done in the seven letters in Revelations upon which the conference was based. Maybe he assumes that an emergent crowd wouldn’t even know this much – a very arrogant assumption. But anyway, he presented it and apparently it went quite alright. But why let the facts ruin a narrative about the emergent church rejecting the gospel?