Monday, May 02, 2005
I've engaged in a conversation regarding emergent recently, and several people asked that I give specifics of what I didn't appreciate about a particula radio show... so, here it is. Feel free to leave thoughtful comments as well. A few of my specific critiques of the interviews with Horton & Rosenthal from the White Horse Inn: part 1: “To Grow the church apart from God’s Word.” This isn’t a fair assesment of ec. This kind of phrase is a generalization that is inaccurate, and it also cuts off healthy dialogue. This statement leads listeners to unequivically believe that ec is not faithful to scripture even before the radio conversation began. “They just don’t have leadership.” If you want leadership, you can turn to many people. The leadership of emergent village would be one form of leadership. Places such as Mars Hill graduate school would be one of many places to get good scholarly leadership. Zondervans is publishing some of the books (among other publishers). Conferences such as the recent Worship, Arts, Liturgy, and Preaching thing by emergent village could also be understood as leadership. So who is qualified to lead? I have a masters degree and 21 years of Christian education along with several years of public university as well as a life that has been a meager attempt to be faithful to the kingdom of God. What else do “I” need to be qualified as a leader? (Besides being affirmed by God’s people as somebody who is called and gifted as a leader and pastor person.) “They are having debates about such things as the Trinity…” There may be a few bloggers having this debate, but that’s about it. For whatever reason, those pushing back want to deny that we (ec) are orthodox in nature. We may be questioning some things, but we haven’t unequivcally begun to deny orthodox Christianity. We may be seriously questioning American Christianity though… i.e. the flag is not the gospel. Critique of McLaren regarding his favored traditions: “He is very kind to liberals.” Let’s be honest. They are kinder. On a related note, if you read and listened to enough McLaren you would realize that he embraces more Calvinism than most who are critiquing him. I am a Calvinist and I can easily critique Calvinism. I’ve lived it for 39 years of my life; I recognize its shortcomings since I’ve lived within this particular bubble. “Are we really talking about Christianity at all?” in suggesting that McLaren isn’t about following Jesus and living within the kingdom… This kind of rhetoric has no food value. It has no theolgoical value, and it certainly is far distant from the life that Brian leads. “What do you do where everything is in process…” And so is the coming of the reality of the kingdom. Even the most conservatives believe that the world will come to an end. So, yes, this world and God’s work within it are in process. So, then why shouldn’t’ our approach to theolgoy be the same? Yes, I am a Calvinistm, and many Calvinists believe in progressive revelation. To deny that we all, in some form, believe in progressive revelation is dishonest. It lacks a willingness to engage the difficult mysteries that we don’t fully understand. “When you walk into an ec churh, what are you likely to see?” I am not aware of anyone who is labeling their church as an ‘ec’ church. We’re friends, and we’re having conversations. People who are followers of Jesus should be friends. We are brothers and sisters. So, it seems that talking with one another would be healthy. But, leaders aren’t labeling their churches as ec churches. “In a lot of these emergent churches, basically, it’s make it up as you go.” Um. No. I’ll say this since I’ve lived my life within a highly educated Calvinist denomination. The thoughtfulness of ec people, is at least as scholarly and has at least as much theolgoical depth as the wider body of Christ within North America. In fact, I’ll suggest much more. There is a reference to ‘the internet as being the key reason that young people are being drawn to this conversation.’ Perhaps it could be that something like the Spirit of God is also in our midst. Could it be that the evangelcial church has aligned itself so closely to the Republican party that the gospel message has lost some of its salt? Perhaps not, but why is the evangelical and mainline church in North America largely faltering? Church nunbers are not increasing. We need to go to places such as India, Africa, and China to see the church growing. But, somehow we want to deny that we’re in some kind of trouble in terms of our gospel message. The statement at the beginning of this paragraph is almost as ridiculous as Al Gore claiming to have invented the internet. There is a criticism of Rob Bell and Mars Hill Bible church toward the end of the program. Rob is quoted as saying that he no longer understands the Bible like he once did. Um… Rob is a better biblical scholar than either of these guys on the show. Some of the best biblcal preacing in America is happening at Mars Hill. Unless you’ve listened to a dozen of Rob’s messages, you have no right to criticize or catagorize Rob’s preaching. Sound bites and newspaper articles don’t count. And that certainly doesn’t’ qualify as justice. Ultimatley, my criticism of a show such as this is that… this dialogue seeks to know the truth, and to protect the church against false teachings. I can commend Yet, they haven’t fully done their homework on ec. And that my friends, seems to be injustice.
Posted by Randy Buist at 2:50 PM