Saturday, January 08, 2005
Battle Stations
Doug Pagitt (pastor of Solomon's Porch in the Twin Cities and co-founder of Emergent) had an interesting post on his blog about the fire that the Emerging Church will soon be facing. It seems that the gate-keepers of the evangelical world have finally deigned to notice the EC's existence and are coming out with guns blazing.

You can read Doug's thoughts here. I especially like his suggestions for our counter battle positions:

A Smile
A Wink
A Prayer
A friendly Email
Offers of hospitality
Invitation to Friendships

Of course, responding to vitriol and slander or attempts at exclusion with kindness and offers of friendship won't be easy, but what good will it do to repeat the mistakes of the past by fighting and thereby creating one more level of division in the body of Christ?

What would happen if they held a war and no one came? ;)
 
posted by Mike Clawson at 7:54 PM | Permalink |


5 Comments:


At 1/10/2005 05:32:00 PM, Blogger AutobodyCAD

I've only recently been exposed to the Emerging Church movement, and I'm still sorting it out. But, so far, the impression I'm left with is a man-centered re-creation of Christianity, more in-line with being a Compassionate Catholic Democrat(in political terms), than having a more purely Biblical worldview. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I read your link to Steve Camp's review of Mr. McLaren's book. Yeah, I would have to agree on the vitriol part, his words were a bit sharp and demeaning. But slanderous? how so?

Mr Camp made a good point here:
>>>
2. Unselfish Election – McLaren believes and vilifies that anyone who believes in a God who elects some and not others to eternal life (1 Peter 1:2) must be so self-absorbed in their standing before God that they view themselves as having what he calls “exclusive privilege” over others. Nonsense. There are elect and non-elect; there are vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath; one is prepared for eternal life, the other prepared for destruction. There is no room for boasting here; there is no room for spiritual elitism here. We are not better than the world; but we are better off because He saved us and not we ourselves (Titus 3:1-5). In both cases, whether for salvation or damnation, God will be glorified either for His mercy and grace or for His justice and wrath (cp, Romans 9:13ff).
>>>>

I believe this would be Steve's basis for the strong words of criticism of McLaren's philosophy:

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Instructions for elders:
Titus 1:9
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

As to the fire the EC is facing, persecution is often, though not always, symbolic of being on the right side (God's). The main-line denominations and the homosexual movement are to the point that they are now persecuting those who (wittingly or not) hold to the truth. I believe their foundation, though, is tradition and not God's Word, so in time they will give in to the pressure.

drop by my site sometime.

 

At 1/11/2005 03:39:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey friend,

Do I know you? Your blog says you live in Illinois but doesn't mention your name, and I can't seem to figure out if you're someone I know... anyhow, welcome to my blog and thanks for posting. :) I appreciate your thoughts.

You said:
"I've only recently been exposed to the Emerging Church movement, and I'm still sorting it out. But, so far, the impression I'm left with is a man-centered re-creation of Christianity, more in-line with being a Compassionate Catholic Democrat(in political terms), than having a more purely Biblical worldview. Correct me if I'm wrong."I don't know what you've heard or read about the Emerging Church, so I'm really in no position to correct your impressions. In fact, I really have no idea what you mean by "Compassionate Catholic Democrats" (but probably just because I don't know any of those personally ;) ). But as far as being a "man-centered recreation of Christianity", that doesn't fit my own experience with the Emerging Church at all.

Personally, I was attracted to "postmodern" ideas because they provided me with a much bigger God than anything else I had previously encountered. For me postmodern Christianity (a term that I'm here using interchangeably with "the Emerging Church", though the two are not entirely synonymous) provided me with a much, much less "man-centered" view of the world. My impression has been that it was Modernity (and the brand of Christianity that has resulted from Modernity) that has been particularly man-centered: i.e. individualistic, reductionistic, based upon human rationality, etc. In contrast, postmodern faith has provided me with a God and a faith that is big, wonderful, mysterious, incomprehensible, communal, relational, holistic, etc.

In other words, my faith before encountering postmodernism and the Emerging Church was all about me, what I could "figure out" about God and about theology through my own reason, my own brilliance. Now it's much more about simply and humbly kneeling before his incomprensibilty and my own inability to "figure out" much of anything.

As for the "vitriol and slander" thing... I suppose I mainly just meant "vitriol" for the Steve Camp article. I probabaly should have linked a Mark Driscoll article for the slander part. (I've gone back and re-edited the original post to include this.)

And I suppose I just disagree with you on Camp's "good point", but maybe that's just 'cuz I'm not a hardcore Calvinist. I don't see a questioning of Calvin's ideas about election as inherently being unsound doctrine. (And of course you don't need to be in the Emerging Church to question Calvinism... just ask anyone from the whole Wesleyan/Methodist or Arminian branches of Christianity. :) )

And speaking of the whole question of unsound doctrine (i.e. those verses you quoted)... as much as McLaren likes to be generous in his orthodoxy, I think there are many in the Emerging Church who would say that our views are a corrective to "unsound doctrine" that has already crept into the church throughout the whole Modern era. In other words, it's not entirely clear who is teaching unsound doctrine and who is standing against it. The conservative evangelical church says that the false teachers are us postmoderns, but part of the EC's critique is that at least some false teachings have come through conservative evangelicalism as well... And who's to say who is right? Especially bearing in mind that many of the key beliefs of conservative evangelicalism only go back one or two hundred years at best.

(or maybe we need to stop labeling and finger pointing altogether and stop assuming that any group of Christians we happen to disagree with must be the "wolves in sheep's clothing" that Paul warned about.)

Anyhow, I appreciate your perspective. You've obviously seen a different view of the Emerging Church than I have. Or perhaps you simply start with different assumptions than I do, and so interpret what you've seen differently. At any rate, I'm glad for the viewpoint.

Peace,

-Mike

 

At 1/11/2005 06:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

Mike,

Thanks for the response, I appreciate it. You made some good basic points that I can't disagree with.

The main thing I see in postmodernism is an almost total reliance on feelings, to the point that God's Word is secondary to our "experiences." Admittedly, some take Calvinism to the point that God's Word is heartless doctrine. Both extremes are wrong. God loves us, but also makes many truths undeniably clear in His Word.

something you said:
(or maybe we need to stop labeling and finger pointing altogether and stop assuming that any group of Christians we happen to disagree with must be the "wolves in sheep's clothing" that Paul warned about.)

Yeah, but...Paul was labeling right there. Those wolves are not Christians, and people must be warned (protect the flock). But, if they've got good fruit, they're not wolves.

We're warned time and again about false teachers, false doctrines, hypocrisy. The current revolutionaries in denominations like the UMC, PCUSA, Anglican, (many more), they are pushing for false doctrine. The old folks resting on tradition have no where to go, because traditions change, while God's Word doesn't.

BTW, I live just south of Decatur and work for a contract company for Caterpillar, doing 3D models and drawings. "Gandalf" and "sword-collecting" caught my eye when I was browsing blogs. And real spiritual content always makes it more worth reading.

Take care.

 

At 1/11/2005 06:26:00 PM, Blogger AutobodyCAD

oops, had anonymous selected...

 

At 1/12/2005 01:46:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hello again friend,

I don't have a lot of time but I did want to respond to one point. You said:

"The main thing I see in postmodernism is an almost total reliance on feelings, to the point that God's Word is secondary to our "experiences.""

Where are you seeing that? I've often heard that criticism leveled at postmodern Christians (usually by extreme critics of us like Chuck Colson) but I've never actually encountered this so-called "total reliance on feelings" in the writings or words of actual emerging Christian thinkers. In fact, that accusation is based on a pretty big historical confusion. That kind of "total reliance on feelings" is actually a very Modernistic attitude, and more specifically, the unique charactistic of Modern liberal Christianity in the early and mid-20th century. Where the mainline side of Christianity elevated religious experience as the basis of our faith, the fundamentalists (and later the evangelicals) responded by elevating rationalistic biblicism as the basis. But it should be easy to see how both are based on the very Modern assumptions of individualism and reductionism. In other words, fundamentalism and liberalism are both sides of the same modern coin.

Postmodernism then, positions itself as a third way. Rather than rejecting the liberal basis of religious experience, or the fundamentalist basis of rational biblicism, postmodern Christians suggest that perhaps we need a more holistic view, one that takes into account all potential sources of God's revelation to us. Indeed, God is not divided, if he speaks to us in the scriptures, and he speaks to us through our experiences (as scripture itself tells us he does... via the Holy Spirit) then there is no reason to think that these revelations would be contradictory. They complement each other, and we need to listen to both, not have "total reliance" on either exclusively (for then we risk missing part of what God is trying to say to us).

Anyhow, thanks for the conversation. Again, I'm not sure if you're seeing different sides of the EC's conversation that are leading you to different impressions, or if you've simply been misled by some of the negative propaganda put out by people who don't really understand what we're saying in the first place. I'm sure you've already done this, but my strong advice is to go straight to the sources (read McLaren, read Grenz, read Pagitt) and hear what they're saying for themselves (you've probably already done that... but if you haven't, it's a must.) But also, more than just reading them, I'd highly encourage you to try and read them at least one time through in a sympathetic light, really trying to see where they're coming from and why they're saying the things they are, rather than reading them only with a bent to critique (there's plenty of time for critique later on the second or third reading). I personally find that I never understand the people I disagree with unless I really make an effort to see the world from their perspective. I still don't usually end up agreeing with them in the end, but at least I've been able to appreciate a little bit fuller picture of the whole truth.

Peace,

-Mike

 

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