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Friday, August 10, 2007

values of the emerging conversation

This is more of an abstract... just some linked random thoughts...

As I have been discovering this week
(and here), much of the ethos of the emerging conversation relates to being a kinder, gentler person, and focusing on aspects of the Gospel that those in the more theologically convicted camp would call the "Social Gospel". Without depicting why those in the "conversation" have adopted this view, as it has been written about ad nauseum, I have this to say: I see little difference in the unbiblical asceticism of modernity and that of post-modernity.

We KNOW about the legalism of modern denominational and evangelical churches thank you very much. Post moderns and "emergents" have identified themselves as being accepting/tolerant/participatory of beer drinking, dressing down, tattoos, post-modern art and music, and left-wing activism. Fine, I don't hold dogma against any of those (well except the last). Many of the moral values of modernity are cultural not Biblical, but get trumpeted as absolutes. I understand the "emergent" complaint about this- but there is a fly in the ointment. I think that emergents have substituted only the content, and left the faulty presuppositions intact.

See, a lot of "emergent values" could be called post modern asceticism. Think about it. The cultural virtue of the 1950s is largely gone, and frequently mocked. Those cultural virtues have been transformed and altered over the last 50 years into the cultural values of political correctness as dictated by liberal political ideology. Tolerance, kindness, acceptance, dialog, etc, etc, these are the morals of the progressive culture, and not one's necessarily grounded in scripture, primarily being pluralistic, with an emphasis on marginalizing anything dogmatic. Emergents are so deeply attached to the progressiveness of post modern culture, they have shaped their theology around its values. It's no worse, but certainly no better, than it's predecessor.

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4 Comments:

  • What makes you think you are 'more theologically convicted' Garet?

    I'd happily sign up as being deeply theologically convicted. I'd probably also fit under the very VERY broad category you choose to castigate.

    Careful with the language mate.

    'Emergents are so deeply attached to the progressiveness of post modern culture, they have shaped their theology around its values. It's no worse, but certainly no better, than it's predecessor.'

    And moderns didn't?...

    I wouldn't be arguing for the superiority of a time borne theological framework, but I would be arguing for the humility to accept that our own understandings are limited and if we think differently we veer into arrogance.

    By Blogger upstream, at 6:45 AM  

  • Upstream:

    Your comment doesn't seem to address the content of my post very well. I don't think I stated that I am more theologically convicted then anyone else, I spoke of "those in that camp", which I may or may not belong to. If you will notice I am purposely speaking in generalities, on both sides, for the sake of addressing an ethos, which by very definition is general.

    Can you tell me who I meant by "it's predecessor"("it" being post-modern culture)? For, in the misunderstanding of my thoughts, you are proving the very essence of my point. Time borne theological framework is exactly my beef.

    By Blogger Garet Pahl, at 9:18 AM  

  • Hmm... It was reading emerging grace that caused me to believe you saw yourself as more theologically convicted. Your comments there seemed quite disaparaging of EC folks. Perhaps I read you wrong. Sorry if i did.

    I am definitely suggesting that theology is time borne/contextual and we need to accept that.

    While it shouldn't be because 'truth is truth is truth' if you observe the beliefs of the church during different periods of history they have always morphed to suit the cultural context - modernism was one example of that and post-modernism is another.

    I think we can try and discern what is not time borne, but it won't be easy as history shows us...

    By Blogger upstream, at 1:44 AM  

  • Upstream:

    We find that throughout the history of the Church there have been periods when theological convictions have been tied more closely to cultural values as opposed to Biblical virtues. This is certainly the result of theology shaping itself to a particular zeitgeist. However, in the midst of that, there have always been those who have sought to protect true truth. American Christian culture and institutionalized church betray a weakening of conviction and a clinging to religiosity. If the ECM is to be seen as a backlash to that (which it is) I think it is one that has over shot its mark and made the same error on the opposite extreme. Both modernist and post-modernist Christian culture use the Bible to substantiate values that are not particularly Christian. Modernists used the Bible to create intolerance for all manner of "sins", speaking far beyond the Scriptures in many cases and advocating for the legislation of aesthetic morality(right wing politics). On the other side, post-modernists use the Bible to create tolerance for all manner of sin, speaking far beyond the Scriptures in many cases and advocating for the legislation of aesthetic morality(left wing politics). The error in both instances is the Christian faith being turned into mere religious expression.

    I think if one commits to a deep understanding of the journey of the church through history, it is possible for any Christian to discern true Gospel truth. Read the early Church fathers, or the Reformers, or the Puritans, and one finds their observations and exposition of Scripture wholly relevant to life and Godliness regardless of cultural context.In addition, we must humble ourselves and believe God truly wants us to know his plan from the alpha to the omega of all time. We must believe that he has given it to us in his Word. We must believe that we are "transformed by the renewing of our mind", and that this comes first by knowing the Gospel as given in the Scripture; a Gospel that was initiated outside of our reality and is the relevant and transforming message for all generations. A robust theology in regards to the attributes of God, the nature of man, the incarnation of Christ, God's sovereign purposes in salvation and the mission and nature of the Church, are the strongest guard against the err of "time borne framework."

    By Blogger Garet Pahl, at 6:03 AM  

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