The conversation between Tony and Collin has been cordial so far, and I'm glad that Tony made a point to mention many of the doctrines that they still hold in common. I think he rightly pointed out that the key difference between emergents and the so-called "Neo-Calvinists" is not theology (since there are emergents who hold to Reformed doctrine), but epistemology. He writes:
I think that's a really good question. Is this just a personality thing? Or is this need for certainty (or comfort with ambiguity) a stage of life thing that you can grow out of or into? I remember when I was in college and leaning towards Reformed theology myself, I had a strong desire to "figure it all out", to have my theology nailed down once and for all. It was only after I encountered postmodern philosophy and the realization that as human beings we are significantly limited in our cognitive abilities, that I started becoming more comfortable with not having all the answers, and not having absolute certainty on the answers I did have.
Where we probably differ is not so much on theology, but on epistemology. That is, it seems the difference between the people you profile in Young, Restless, Reformed seem pretty darn sure that they've got the gospel right, whereas the Emergents that I hang out with are less sure of their right-ness. In fact, they're less sure that we, as finite human beings, can get anything all that right.
Here's another way I'd explain the differences. An American Christian today is beset by globalization, pluralism, and postmodernism (three terms that I use interchangeably). In other words, the world is a confusing mess. I think that conservative, evangelical, Reformed theology offers sure answers spoken in tones of certainty by authority figures. Emergent Christianity, for better and worse, offers more ambiguous answers (and even more questions!) in tones of less certainty — but, hopefully, at least with what Lesslie Newbigin called "proper confidence."I wonder, do you think that some people are just more inclined to look for sure answers, and others are more comfortable with ambiguity?
BTW, parts one and two of the blogalogue are up, but there should be a third part coming soon where Tony says he will address the Neo-Calvinists' view of women.
UPDATE: Part three is up, but Tony still hasn't brought up the women issue. This might be because Hansen keeps getting to go first, which means Tony doesn't get to ask many questions, he just has to respond to Hansen's questions for him. Doesn't quite seem like a balanced dialogue if that's the case.
UPDATE (5/7): Part four is up. Tony gets stuck in the responding role and still doesn't get around to asking about the women issue.
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