The more I look into this postmodern theology that is currently revving its engines, the more I realize what a danger it could become. There are plenty of great elements about it, many which I should strongly consider. The problem however, lies in the subtleties woven throughout its philosophy that will draw a man away from solid truth.
I’ve identified one of the most dangerous cornerstones of postmodern theology, namely anti-propositionalism. This is the idea that there are no definable, permanently unchanging doctrines or truths in scripture. What protestant evangelicals deem “doctrines of the faith” are really just guidelines that God gave to man, to help man understand what it is that he believes as it regards the age and culture he lives in. This postmodern theology is held in high regard, and is defended and taught by those who identify with the “emergent church”. This term is still as loose a term as “postmodern” is, so I use it qualitatively. Anyone who rallies behind the post-evangelical, post-critical, postmodern branch of Christianity is emergent in my book.
If you go to the website of a truly emergent church and click on their link for “What We Believe” you’ll see something like this: “You will not find statements of what our community believes on this site. Belief is a dynamic, lived reality and doesn’t lend itself to website statements.” (Solomonsporch.com) You can however find information about their yoga center.
The reason they do not list a statement of beliefs is because they don’t have one. As they say, their “beliefs” are dynamic, which is quite convenient for imperfect humans. We were not designed to have a dynamic belief system. God laid down foundational truths for us to live by from the moment of creation. Nowhere in scripture can an example be found of God saying, “You figure out what this means for you.” An emergent church will proclaim that they live out the “dream of God” and the “way of Christ” but they cannot define what those two things are. How can a group of people have variant beliefs about the hermeneutics of Christ’s teachings, and call that a collective faith? Tolerance is taught in a manner that will evolve, undoubtedly, into an acceptance of other religions some day. Already their leaders say (not preach) that Christians should embrace Hindus and Muslims and learn from them.
Which brings me to their leaders. I’m reading “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren right now, in preparation for my short thesis about anti-propositionalism. This guy is a neurotic, narcissistic, nut-job. For an English professor he admittedly avoids the rules of proper writing – perhaps as a salute to anti-propositionalism itself. He cheers for bucking the old system, and in the process comes across as annoying and uncouth. Masking as self-depreciation, he talks about himself a lot and makes it clear that he wants to be everyone’s friend. He constantly apologizes and says things like, “I’m probably wrong about this but…” If I weren’t reading this for a project then I would certainly return it and get my one penny back that I paid for it (which he actually recommends in the introduction).
Regardless, it’s teaching me quite a bit about the mindset of the emergent church. Without saying it bluntly, McLaren says that the established belief system that God outlined a set of doctrines for us, with a certain definable interpretation, and a certain application, which transcends age and culture, and remains as reliable and ineffable as God, is comparable to believing that whites are supreme to blacks or that the priest knows everything and the layman knows nothing. Conviction is kicked to the curb, preaching is packed away in history books, the meaning of salvation is open ended, certain knowledge of who belongs to the fold of God is unattainable. How can one not see that the devil has woven together such heresies and packaged them as “the next phase of church history”?
My aim is to understand these ideas more fully, and to be ready with a defense against them. Not for the purpose of fighting, or being right, but to save those who don’t know any better and who would be swept away in the coming flood.