Sunday, January 21, 2007

Scot McKnight's Five Streams of the Emerging Church Article (So which one are you?) Part I

Scot McKnight's Five Streams of the Emerging Church Article
(So which one are you?) Part I

In the another post I point to the article in Christianity Today written by Scot McKnight.
To me it is always interesting to read someone who is within the "movement" take real time to examine it. And here is one example that I pretty much agree with across the board...

Many critics don't even realize that there is differing "streams" or even "family trees" so to say and Scot brings out some great points as to some of the differences out there. This is most probably the closest to what I have seen, though not have had the time to put together as Scot has. So KUDOS!

Here is a very broken down summary, I really recommend the article but had some thoughts to add... these are some of Scots thoughts "in quotations." and mine in italics.

Prophetic (or at least provocative): Scot points out that some do "exaggerate" (This is not the same as lying) to make a point... often in criticism of the modernist ideals. He points out:

"Our language frequently borrows the kind of rhetoric found in Old Testament prophets like Hosea: "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" (6:6). Hosea engages here in deliberate overstatement, for God never forbids Temple worship. In a similar way, none in the emerging crowd is more rhetorically effective than Brian McLaren in Generous Orthodoxy: "Often I don't think Jesus would be caught dead as a Christian, were he physically here today. … Generally, I don't think Christians would like Jesus if he showed up today as he did 2,000 years ago. In fact, I think we'd call him a heretic and plot to kill him, too." McLaren, on the very next page, calls this statement an exaggeration. Still, the rhetoric is in place."

This is the point that I try to make at times to those who read Brian and conclude him a heretic. It is not that he believes all he writes, or rather he may but not be presenting the thought in a way that is a bit exaggerated... this can lead to a bit of confusion, yet if one grasps the ideal behind his writing it is quite provocative and is meant to help one think about what they truly believe... that is why he does not tell someone answers, but leaves things open ended so one can come to a conclusion for themselves... and/or with the Holy Spirit guiding.

Postmodern: Scot points out “Postmodernity cannot be reduced to the denial of truth. Instead, it is the collapse of inherited metanarratives (overarching explanations of life) like those of science or Marxism. Why have they collapsed? Because of the impossibility of getting outside their assumptions.”

“Living as a Christian in a postmodern context means different things to different people. Some—to borrow categories I first heard from Doug Pagitt, pastor at Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis—will minister to postmoderns, others with postmoderns, and still others as postmoderns.”

“David Wells at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary falls into the to category, seeing postmoderns as trapped in moral relativism and epistemological bankruptcy out of which they must be rescued.”
“Others minister with postmoderns. That is, they live with, work with, and converse with postmoderns, accepting their postmodernity as a fact of life in our world. Such Christians view postmodernity as a present condition into which we are called to proclaim and live out the gospel.

"The vast majority of emerging Christians and churches fit these first two categories. They don't deny truth, they don't deny that Jesus Christ is truth, and they don't deny the Bible is truth.”

Now here is the crossroad… and I appreciate Scot view… yet even saying this it is with a bit of reservation as I think all (to, with, and as) dip in and out of this stream… yet I do agree that these are the ones that “attract most of the attention”, and truthfully the ones the rest of us are working on and with also. Scot tells us:

“That is, they embrace the idea that we cannot know absolute truth, or, at least, that we cannot know truth absolutely. They speak of the end of metanarratives and the importance of social location in shaping one's view of truth. They frequently express nervousness about propositional truth.”

The issue though as this is still not entirely cut and dry… I have found reaching out to postmoderns that often they are on a "search for knowledge" or that ambiguous "something", and claim to be atheist… recently I was able to show a person that they really are not an atheist, but rather an agnostic. This was done by two simple geometry shapes… … (A rectangle with a circle in it the rectangle represents all knowable knowledge, the circle is all the knowledge a person knows... one then just asks, "Can a "god" exist outside of your knowledge?" Of course the answer is "Yes". I have done this numerous times and each time the athiest admits they are agnostic.)

As we talked more they mentioned that atheism is a choice… which I agreed… and asked what they did believe… they said they believed in science. They believed in objective truth… I pointed out that there is no true objective truth as it is all relative to our limited understanding of knowledge we have… and it must pass through the filter of our mind which makes is subjective. They responded realizing that I was point to relativism… which is really all the truth we can have without Jesus... As we talked further I pointed that most “true science” is not true, but theory… and then turned to quantum physics and multi-dimensionalism… they just asked “Why do you work here?”

I said because I did not finish college… You see this person had a world view that needed to be deconstructed and then rebuilt. I then focused on what true science is… that is seeking to understand something greater than ourselves… I talked about gravity and how it is greater than us as a force as it’s effect is that we do not fly off the earth or apples don’t fall off the tree and up into the sky… yet gravity is not universal as we also have zero gravity in space… In the seeking of something greater than ourselves we must take a leap of faith to believe in God… and then trust that He is the source of all Truth and Knowledge… in that way we have a foundation to look at the wonders of science and appreciate them.

I know many of you shudder that I “used” relativity as a way for someone to find Jesus… but in the end, this person responded more than if I dogmatically told them she was wrong and going to hell and needed Jesus. These are the “tools” that we dip from in order to speak to the postmodern mind. As I have stated many times, the postmodern does not think like a modern. So in a matter of ten minutes this person stopped being a atheist who trusts only in science and one that is agnostic who is seeking to understand things bigger than themselves… to me this was definitely Spirit lead.

Yet, to fall into the trap that there is NO absolute truth is a lie… The issue some have with me is that I say Truth does not need the qualifier of “absolute” to be truth… it is truth or it is a lie… pretty simple. It is in the discerning of which “truth” a person lives their life by… as the example I just gave.

With Scot I do agree and warn those who fail to see the lie in which postmodernism is… though the tools are useful we must as not fall into the trap of the world view it espouses any more than the Christian should with the modern world view or a “politicalized “Christian” view.

This post went way too long so I will split it into a three part series…


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