Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Emergent Church - Part 2 - Guest Blogger: Katie Williamson

Why change the Gospel? Like it has already been pointed out, Emergent Christians are extremely uncomfortable with certainty. The culture is screaming at them that there is nothing to be certain about (something they are certain about) and that truth has to be relative. Their response to this postmodern attitude is embrace. Emergent Christians believe that to reach the culture with the Gospel, then the Gospel must also become postmodern. Postmodernism is the story of our time, but does it have to be the story of our Gospel?

It could be said that Emergent Christians do believe in the absoluteness of God. What they don't believe in is humans understanding that absoluteness. Rob Bell puts it this way, “Only God is absolute, and God has no intention of sharing this absoluteness with anything, especially words people have come up with to talk about him” (23). Let's take a look at scripture: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work”(1 Timothy 3.16-17, NIV). This is an extremely crucial verse when discussing the meaning and significance of scripture. If people could actually understand Paul's words here then there would be no debate on whether or not there is truth to be known in the Bible. If it is understood that God “breathed out” all scripture, then it must next be understood whether or not God speaks truth. In 1 Kings 17:24 Elijah, a prophet of the Lord, predicts that there will be a drought in the land. When the drought comes a woman says to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is TRUTH”(NIV). God is automatically associated with truth. This is seen over and over again in scripture; God and truth go hand in hand.

The question now is, “what is the nature of this truth?” Is the truth of God to be questioned? Is it relative or is it absolute? The Greek word that is used for truth in the Bible is, alÄ“theia. The word implies sincerity as well as factuality or reality. The literal meaning of the word is "the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident”(Babylon). The issue of certain truth is addressed in Isaiah 45:19 when the prophet is delivering a message from God. “I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.' I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.”(NIV). The truth of God is what is right, and it has been declared. Contrary to Bell's statement, God has spoken through His Word and has shared his absoluteness with us. The truth of God is objective and is never relative. The Gospel can not be postmodern because the truth of God is real and absolute, and we have the means to understand it.

There are things to be certain about in the Bible. Certainty does not always equate to arrogance. Likewise, uncertainty does not always equate to humility. Mclaren says to “drop any affair you have with certainty, proof, argument-and replace it with dialogue, conversation, intrigue and search”(Adventures, 84). Kevin DeYoung in his book, Why We're not Emergent, responds by asking, “why do intrigue and search have to mean the end of all certainty”(39)? DeYoung poses a valid question that many Christians are not willing to ask. Just because some one says they have answers does not mean they can't search any more. There is a place for questions and there is a time for conversation. “There is the possibility of certainty...because God has spoken to us clearly and intelligibly and given us ears to hear his voice”(DeYoung, 39).

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