Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Emergent 'Conversation'?

I am increasingly skeptical that ‘conversation’ is a very helpful paradigm or description for what should be going on in Christian thinking and ministry. In other words, if we start with the New Testament’s perspective on humans having received words from God (kerygma and ‘teaching’) about the ways/doings of God, the dominant ideas seem to be one of heralds or ambassadors faithfully and authoritatively communicating a particular message (news, good news) that is saving when believed. And beyond this, there is a tradition of teaching that is to be successively and authentically delivered/handed on that will guide the doing (praxis) and serving (mission) of the disciples (believers/obeyers) of Christ.

In the current conversation, there seems to be this virtually never-ending quest to even figure out what the ‘message/tradition’ is (or might be). The apostles and the early church seemed to be confident that they knew what that message was, and that their task was to declare, explain, defend, adorn, extend and embody it. (In fact 'minister of the Word' means 'servant of the Message.')

I recognize that there were times when the early church (as it was ‘emerging’) had to clarify its understanding of the Message (e.g., Acts 15), but this to them was a do-able project, apparently accomplished in a few days at most, before the proclamation with explanation resumed.

Will the emergent ‘conversation’ ever turn into authoritative (yet still humble) ‘proclamation’?

Hebrews 1 tells us that "God...has spoken..." That's what's decisive for any concept of 'conversation.'

-- Doug


mikewittmer said...


The big issue for emergent seems to be authority. Shortly after Tony Jones said that the community is the new magisterium, he announces that his intuition is that there is no original sin. Coincidence?

Personally, I also have a difficult time having a conversation because in my experience the emergents tend to misrepresent my views.

DP said...


"His [Tony Jones'] intuition"? I don't mean to be harsh, but when it comes to epistemological warrant, how is that much different than when Mallory Keaton said (in the '80's sitcom, "Family Ties"), "I like to think of God as a porpoise..."

Have the emergents entirely given up on the exegetical/theological project of letting the canonical Scriptures converse with us, instructing us as to whether or not there is such a thing as original sin?

And if they have given up on this fundamental conviction (cp. Augustine's, "What Scripture says, God says") what hope is there that Biblical evangelicals and emergents are ever going to reach any meaningful consensus? How can we continue to hope that the 'conversation' will be fruitful?

I cannot figure out on what basis a person like Tony Jones decides to believe whatever it is that he believes.

-- Doug

EH said...

It scares me how many people are being confused and lead astray by the emergent conversations. I believe that they have done way more wrong than good. My prayer is that the church would turn back to a holy reverent fear of God, trusting that His written Word is authoritative and instructive. Seeing themselves as the creation and falling before a Holy God the creator in reverential awe and worship. Knowing that their only hope before God is found in and through the person of Jesus Christ.

[ Have you ever wondered if all this is really real?
1 Cor. 15:1-34 ]

I believe that it is real, based on God's written word, testimony of the Holy Spirit, and the transformation which God has performed in my life and so many countless others.

I am so grateful for the men of God who have been and will continue to be faithful to accurately handle and proclaim God'd Word.