Matthew, a commenter, shared his concern for the emergent church in the comments of my previous post. He also expressed some concern for my personal beliefs and I thought I’d post some of his key points and respond as best I can.
“While I highly laud and personally embrace some of the emphases of the emergent church (the desire to interact culturally and the concern for social justice), the more I have been privy to the “conversation,” the more I am appaled by what I hear and feel. First of all, the general attitude and ethos, to stick with that term, seems to be overwhelmingly reactionary and cynical.”
I would like to point out that it’s interesting you cite the “reactionary and cynical” nature of those who resonate with the emergent ethos. I may be wrong but it seems you tend to use the weapon of cynicism with some regularity in your own comments. I will readily admit I’m not innocent of expressing cynicism and I appreciate your concern. I do hope it leads to me to mute my cynicism and sarcasm in future posts. But I hope you can see that your first concern about the emergent conversation is also prevalent on the conservative (for lack of a better term) side as well. I agree, cynicism is not constructive or helpful, but I hope you can agree that this problem is a two-way street and not just a problem on the emergent side
“The issue is more ex-evangelicals who are disenfranchised because of their personal experience and who will do whatever it takes to push the evangelical buttons, than people who know what they stand for. The intense vitriol towards other Christians who are conservative, right-wing, and modern is striking and saddening. The book of 1 John has reminded me lately, Zach, that hatred for the brotherhood is a sign that one does not have eternal life (or, to use synoptic gospel terms, has not entered the kingdom of God).”
Are you implying that I’ve expressed hatred for conservative Christians? Also, are you implying that you question my “salvation” because I’ve voiced frustration with the religious-right? This is a severely generalized statement. Some specific examples would be helpful.
“Further, I am troubled by the “Sola-Cultura” approach to Scripture. Though the emergent leaders claim to be aware of understanding the baggage one brings to the text (if I’m not mistaken, a-la NT Wright’s “critical realism” cf. Wright, The NT and the People of God, pp 31-46, among others (maybe Derrida and other deconstructionists)), they themselves actually approach the text with culture as the supreme authority.”
I’d love for you to provide some specific examples of those who are considered to be major influences in the emergent church who adhere to a “Sola-Cultura” approach to scripture. I’ve never heard that. Culture does have an influence, but I’ve never heard anyone emergent or not suggest that our cultural influence have inherent supremacy over the Biblical text.
“A case in point is your willingness to accept, without in-depth study, a stance that says homosexuality is acceptable, or at least a stance that says “I don’t know.” I know, at that point, you will say “I have studied.” I’m sorry, Zach, but as an even somewhat new student of the New Testament (I hate to pull this card), your reasoning and approach to the text is not sound. It becomes clear that the priority in your exegesis is maintaining a preconceived notion of what the Bible can or cannot be saying. This notion is based on 1.) acceptable cultural norms, and 2.) the so-called “hermeneutic of love,” which sounds unobjectionable but actually overemphasizes one of God’s attributes (love) as if he had no others (wrath, justice, etc).”
First, how do you have any idea how in-depth my study has been? Are you suggesting that if only I study the scripture more, I’ll agree with you? What arrogance and condescension you show here. Your asking me to be less cynical here but you’re not helping me with comments like this. If this will be your posture when trying to save the body of Christ from the emergent church, I’m not sure you’re going to have very much success.
“Please prayerfully and genuinely consult the Scriptures and allow them to speak their message clearly. Thanks again for allowing me to give input, but this will be my last interaction. I sincerely hope that you will turn from hard-heartedness and cynicism and especially from your approach to Scripture that superimposes what is culturally acceptable upon it.”
Your suggestion here assumes that I don’t already “prayerfully and genuinely consult the Scriptures”. Again, your tone here is so off-putting and condescending. Is it at all possible, Matthew, that people who believe differently than you about the Bible also prayerfully and honestly seek God’s direction? Reading this comment of yours, I’m not sure you share that assumption. I’d love to hear you elaborate on this.