J.C. Ryle wrote this in Principles for Churchmen of Christians:
(pg. 72 of J.I. Packer's "Faithfulness and Holiness")
"[Dislike of dogma] is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and especially among young people....It produces what I must venture to call...a "jelly-fish" Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. A jelly-fish...is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, "No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine." We have hundreds of "jelly-fish" clergymen, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have no definite opinions; they belong to no school or party; they are so afraid of "extreme views" that they have no views at all. We have thousands of "jelly-fish" sermons preached every year, sermons without an edge, or a point, or a corner, smooth as billiard balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint. We have Legions of "jelly-fish" young men annually turned out from our Universities, armed with a few scraps of second-hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion, and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what is Christian truth. They live apparently in a state of suspense, like Mahomet's fabled coffin, hanging between heaven and earth...And last, and worst of all, we have myriads of "jelly-fish" worshippers - respectable Church-going people, who have no definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors. They think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, everything is true and nothing is false, all sermons are good and none are bad, every clergyman is sound and no clergyman unsound. They are "tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine"; often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to "render a reason of the hope that is in them."...Never was it so important for laymen to hold systematic views of truth, and for ordained ministers to "enunciate dogma" very clearly and distinctly in their teaching." (Emphasis added)
Now that's a quote!
That humbles my heart very much...I hope it humbles you too. Let us not be jelly-fish to just be taken on by this Emergent/Emerging Movement because we don't know any better. Let us not be ignorant of our rich orthodox Christian heritage!
Check out what John Piper has to say on the "jelly-fish" theme!
(From his sermon on 12/22/1985 titled "But God" on Ephesians 2:1-9)
"Don't you really want to be FREE from the spirit of the age. Why would anybody want to be jelly fish carried around by currents in the sea of secularism? You can be a dolphin, and swim against the currents and against the tide. Jelly fish aren't free. Dolphins are free." (Emphasis added)
(From Piper's sermon on 12/29/1985 titled "God Glorified in Good Resolves" on 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12)
"So when I use the term "resolve" this morning I want you to understand it in a sense broad enough to include all the acts of the mind that go out after goodness. For some that may be a resolute, considered, thought-through goal. For others it may be a more intuitive, less reflective pursuit. But in either case, what I mean to exclude is a jelly-fish approach to life that just floats with the currents of the times and the spirit of the age. All Christians should be dolphins in the sea of secularism whether your goals are felt intuitively as deep desires or whether they are weighed and considered and resolved." (Emphasis added)
(From Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life" on pg. 125-126)
Consumed with Clothes
"Or think about clothes. What a tragedy to see so many young people obsessed with what they wear and how they look. Even Christian youth seem powerless to ask greater questions than "What's wrong with it?" Like: Will these clothes help me magnify Christ? Will they point people to him as the manifest Treasure of my life? Will they highlight my personhood, created in the image of God to serve, or will they highlight my sexuality? Or my laziness? Trust me, I'm not hung up on clothes. There are some pretty radical, Christ-exalting reasons to dress down. My plea is that you be more like dolphin and less like a jelly-fish in the sea of fashion - and of contra-fashion (which is just as tyrannizing). (Emphasis added)
Christians, let us be less like "jelly-fish" and more like "dolphins". I'm afraid the Emergent Church is a movement taking advantage of us jelly-fish. Let us guard ourselves in Christ and the doctrine we have received as His church that is rooted in the inerrant Bible!