The Emergent Church and the Gospel: Andrew Perriman and Al Mohler

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Andrew Perriman at Open Source Theology has posted on his blog today concerning his issue with Al Mohler's critique of the Emergent Church, called "A Generous Orthodoxy: Is it Orthodox?" Read Mohler's blog post for yourself.

Now flip on over to OST and read Perriman's response. What do you think? Has Andrew hit a note off key? Or has he hit a few notes on key. I especially enjoyed the following remark, which although seems to carry a sting of judging Mohler's heart (by referring to his brand of Christianity as "complacent propositionalism"), still has much good in it to consider.

"...the emerging church needs to make sure that it is not guilty of hopping, skipping and jumping 'throughout the Bible and the history of Christian thought' gathering bits and pieces of theology that happen to suit its mood. This is no reflection on McLaren's book (I haven't read it), but to the extent that the
emerging church is driven by cultural and philosophical concerns, it is always likely to subordinate the reading of scripture to an ulterior agenda - not least because it brings with it many of the bad habits of modern evangelicalism. The
answer is not to go back to a complacent propositionalism, because the assumption behind Mohler's critique is that there is no need to rethink the grounds of faith - we have our propositions, they are the culmination of centuries of faithful reflection, they have preserved the true gospel from the
ravages of liberalism, they'll do just fine."


So here's an EC fellow, who has statedly not even read McLaren's book Generous Orthodoxy, seeing the potential issue that I raised earlier. That doesn't mean we agree, necessarily. It may be too early to conclude something like that. It just means we are saying the same thing.

I happen to agree with him regarding his view of 'complacent propositionalism.' I don't want complacency. I hate it with all my being. Complacency is the enemy of the church and the theology she should hold so dearly. The sort of thing he is referring to is the sort of thing our churches today in America are filled with - people who think they know the truth because they hold to a denominational belief system, or a confession of faith, or a creed...but in all reality do not really own it for themselves. That's complacency to me.

I'm all for rethinking my theological propositions. But that may be where Andrew and I part ways. I am not willing to rethink them for the purpose of refashioning them or redefining them. I still believe that the gospel means what it has meant for the last couple of millenium, as interpreted by the larger, orthodox body of Christ in church history. I see no need to rethink the message and truths of the gospel for the sake of redefining them. I do, however, see a need to rethink them for the purpose communicating it and living it better in our changing culture.

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