Friday, August 17, 2012

The Emergent Church and it Denial of Dumbing-Down

Loving God with heart, soul and mind – with all of our faculties – is our calling. This is because He has bought us lock-stock-and-barrel!  Oddly, the Emergent – think “postmodern” – guru Tony Jones writes as if he is onboard with this understanding:

  • I defy him [Ben Witherington] to find one post or podcast by anyone with a link to the emerging church who has suggested a dumbing down of seminary or college curriculum, the dismissal of Greek and Hebrew from syllabi, or a diminishment of the teaching of literary, exegetical methods.

What’s so perplexing about this challenge? The Emergent Church and their gurus are opposed to statements of faith or truth. According to them, “truth” is in flux. However, this never stopped them from writing books about it. Here is my response, which I posted on Jones’ blog.


Contrary to your denials, a dumbing-down is ENDEMIC to your stance. You wrote:

• This fixation with propositions can easily lead to the attempt to use the finite tool of language on an absolute Presence that transcends and embraces finite reality. Languages are culturally constructed symbol systems that enable humans to communicate by designating one finite reality in distinction form another. The truly infinite God of Christian faith is beyond all our linguistic grasping…and so the struggle to capture God in our finite propositional structures is nothing short of linguistic idolatry. (The New Christians, 234)

Once you discredit “propositions,” what you term “linguistic grasping,” and “our finite propositional structures,” you are left with only feelings and conversations – a searching but never finding. This equates to a dumbing-down.

You also wrote on the next page:

• Giving in to the pressure to petrify the conversation in a ‘statement’ would make Emergent easier to control; its critics could dissect it and then place it in a theological museum alongside other dead conceptual specimens… (235)

When you disparage “statements” of truth as “dead conceptual specimens,” you are virtually saying that there is nothing worth learning, holding to, or standing-up-for. Hence, you value the search but disdain the possibility of finding any answers. Such a search is therefore meaningless, because any finding is non-existent.

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