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Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Lack of Answers Creates More Questions

Joe Carter wrote a very gracious article in response to Brian McLaren's article. I suggest you read both (it will take a while) for Carter's comments are very fair.

Reading those two articles reinforced some questions I've had about the Emergent Movement. I'm not condemning the movement, but I just don't understand certain issues:

1) They pick up stones to throw at other stone throwers. I know that is a terribly strong statement, and one that we are all guilty (myself included) of at times. Self righteousness is a pervasive sin to all humanity. However, by constantly waiving the "non-condemning flag" of the emergent movement, I've found many to be doing the opposite. I have been deeply troubled by the number of condescending comments I've heard from those who would consider themselves emergent (again, not all). Too often, the comments seem to be, "I'm so glad I'm so much more enlightened than those fundamentalist Christians over there."
2) They complicate simple issues. The gospel should not be complicated. It should be simple enough for a child to receive (in fact, we must come to Him as a child). However, the conversion of a soul is a terribly complex thing. So complex, in fact, that only God can orchestrate it. I respect the emergent's repulsion to the "just sign here," "just say this prayer," "just repeat after me" process to conversion...but that doesn't mean the message needs to be made more complicated.
3) They consider themselves too wise. Again, not everyone (I know I've done some severe overgeneralizing, but much of the movement is defined by these characteristics...regardless of the fact that all do not display them). Why would I make such a bold claim? Because in McLaren's post, he suggests that maybe we can break down and understand the issue of homosexuality if we just examine it again for 5 years or so. Homosexuality has obviously been an issue since the Old Testament (why else would it be mentioned) yet McLaren suggests we may be able to get to the bottom of it ourselves? Where is the respect for the reformers? Where is the respect for church fathers? Where is the respect for the apostles? Where is the respect for the prophets and Old Testament saints? Where is the respect for the Savior? Do we really think we've figured it out better than they could? Do we really think we are so much smarter? Do we really believe their answers were bourne in ignorance?
4) Why wouldn't emergents want to separate themselves from those they don't agree with? As I mentioned earlier, Ed Stetzer wrote an article defining emergents. Some just want to communicate things clearly. Some just want to remove from church that which is only cultural and cling to only that which is Biblical Christianity. Some, however, wish to redefine doctrine. Why aren't people within the movement making these distinctions?

My friend Gary suggested that it is because postmoderns don't like labels. He's right. But if part of the cry of emergents is to point out that they are not like other evangelicals, why wouldn't some be willing to point out that they are not like other emergents?

(I should mention I was introduced to both articles at Justin Taylor's blog.)


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