Thursday, July 26, 2007

Emerging truth

The emerging church is a 'new' church that is appearing on the scene.

I have been looking into the movement recently and there are many disturbing issues in what they do. They do not have 'ministers' as we know. There is no sermon, no truth dispensation, just discussion. People are not corrected in their beliefs and there is no summation at the end of the discussion.

They define what truth is, in their own terms. They will then ask you whether truth is objective, which seems a strange question. You go back the the dictionary:

Truth:

The character of being, or disposition to be, true to a person, principle, cause, etc.



Objective:

That is or belongs to what is presented to consciousness, as opposed to the consciousness itself; that is the object of perception or thought, as distinct from the subject; (hence) (more widely) external to or independent of the mind.



The problem is with the disruption of your definition of truth is exactly what is wanted. You must start considering what is truth, really? From Genesis 1:1 the bible makes no claim to ask you what truth is, other than when Jesus appears on the scene: John 14:6 'Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' Here is the definition of 'who' truth is. Usually the argument goes along the lines of: "Since the truth is Jesus and you say that truth is objective, that you objectify Jesus. He is a living person, the truth is something that lives."

The problem with believing Jesus is "the Truth" is it does objectify Him. This is now the non-emergents problem. "Am I believing the wrong thing here?" The subjective truth argument becomes ticklish to the ears as can be:

Subjective

1. Pertaining or relating to one who is subject; belonging to or characteristic of a political subject; hence, submissive, obedient.
2. Pertaining to the subject as to that in which attributes inhere; inherent; hence, pertaining to the essence or reality of a thing; real, essential.



The argument is that Jesus is a subject and since Jesus is the truth, that truth must be subjective. We certainly do not want to be objectifying God, do we? That is idolatry and second commandment bad. I have to ask then, why is this such a problem? Just accept that truth is subjective, it is not longer an object, it is Christ himself. This is a struggle of my soul. There is war going on here. This is where you find out who owns you.

While I agree with the sentiment that Jesus is the truth, there is something not so right. There what I would like to term 'half-versism'© going on here.

The definition of half-versism ©:

Of maintaining a view, rather than reconsidering a position, based on a portion of scripture. Usually performed on parts of verses, or by taking several verses of the bible out of context.

Example:
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" [Emphasis added]. People may only preach "I can do all things" or that for Christians, all things are possible. The truth is Christians fail to fly like birds by flapping their arms just as much as secular humanists do. The truth of the context is that people may find contentment in all situations through the strength of Christ, from whom their strength will be gained.



How am I to interpret the rest of the statement in John 14:6:

"I am ... the way"
"I am ... the life"


Is Jesus some sort of pathway? A means to an end? If He is a means to an end that is not love, that is fire insurance. Or is He saying that only by following Him can we find the right way? That is what the verse is saying. Jesus is the source of all truth, but that truth is an object (making it objective). It is an element of His being, but not the only element to his being.

When He says he is the life, he is saying that life can only be had through Him. Consider John 6:51

"...I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." [Emphasis added]


Must we literally eat of His flesh to be saved? Well then the world is doomed, since He is not with us.

Consider John 8:12:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." [Emphasis added]


Is Jesus purely light? Is He this torch that we use? No, so therefore he must be telling us something about His divine nature, which is an object of His.

These things must be measured in scripture and a stand must be taken. I believe that any man is free to believe whatever he wants to believe. I also do not claim to know all truth. I do know this: I am not an emergent. I do not wish to engage in their 'services'. To them I will remain lost.

I believe that truth is 'subjective' (submissive) to God only, what comes out of God is objective. What objective is, is true. You cannot trace from truth to God, you must go from God to truth. This cannot and will not change. Jesus is a subject, being a knowable, affectionate and trustworthy God. He is consistent and kind. He knows what is best and one day will return, with judgment for some. He is also infinite and therefor to know Him completely is impossible for us.

This may seem like a 'storm in a teacup' as a good friend put it, but remain warned. The Bible is under attack and the enemy does not come from without, they come from within.


Comment: I do not claim to know everything about the emergent church. If I am in error over something, please inform me. However, a lot of this blog comes from a recent argument with an emergent. If you are misrepresented, I apologize, but surely you will be able to empathize with me, as Christianity has been poorly represented in the past as well.

12 comments:

iggy said...

Quintin,

First off I am not posting on your certain friends blog as they seem to be bent on twisting what I say and more into name calling. I read there that you seem to think I was the one doing this yet if you read carefully you will see that I was called many things and really tried to stay on point regardless to being called things like "a pathetic little man". I do not ever believe that I said anything like that to you as you stated I did, but if I did it was most likely debris from the fall out with your friends... I never intentionally aimed at you... either way if I inadvertently stated something at you that offended you I apologize. I only hope to help you understand where and how some are spreading error and rumor about the emerging church.


So now to your post.

"They do not have 'ministers' as we know. There is no sermon, no truth dispensation, just discussion. People are not corrected in their beliefs and there is no summation at the end of the discussion."

Dan Kimball is a pastor as well as Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll and many, many others... who teach through sermons and there is correction within the emerging church... so right off you are spreading misinformation.

We define truth that is from he bible and as I stated, not from mans philosophies nor out of Platonist Dualism which is the core of absolute truth... Plato's Realism which is that abstract though is more real that material things... in other words Gnosticism..


We believe in truth and I have debated with you and others on this topic so again more misinformation...



You definition lacks much of what biblical truth is...

It is the Person of Jesus Christ as i have stated and I would say most of the emerging church would agree except say the extreme fringe.


"The problem with believing Jesus is "the Truth" is it does objectify Him. This is now the non-emergents problem."

Again this is way off... the idea that Jesus is objective truth in that denies that Jesus is a Person...

Now as we get this far I see you agree with all this to a point but then you seem to not understand that Truth being the Person of Jesus is relational... for we are saved by our relationship with Jesus...

In that Jesus being Truth works within us and transforming and renewing our inner man... or our mind.

As in the definition we are subject to Jesus and in that He conforms us to His image.

This is truth working on the subjective level...

Now I am not opposed to using terms to explain, but to hold Jesus to dictionary terms to me shows that one does not trust in the biblical truth.

Interesting to me is your "half versism" which may be more prevalent in the seek driven model, but I have yet to actually see this in the emerging church. In fact i see that most take extra time to make sure we do not do this.

Now most of the rest of this we are in agreement which was and is what was so confusing to me as whatever i stated over at your friends blog I was wrong... even when they agreed.

I did not go there to argue, but to help them see the error and correct the falsehood they were spreading. I also do not care to argue here... I hope at least here this will be more civil and reflective of Jesus' character.

Be Blessed,
iggy

Qjay said...

Iggy,

Thank you for your post. I will respond in all honesty, but I do not wish to have a repeat debate. My arguments in the blog stand and I thank you for pointing out misconceptions.

1. My friends
Only recently have I truly come into reformed theology, I would say mid-February this year. Since I was 9 years old I have been a liberal at best. I have recently started using blogging as a means to spreading the message, as best as I know how.

I also live in South Africa, which means I am far away from you guys. I do not know any of them personally, but do share some of their ideas.

I have to admit that the name-calling is wrong and I do not agree with it, but I do not have control over what others say. I do not condone name-calling and if I can ask, please forgive them. As for what you had to say, no offense was taken on my part. I pray that nothing I said was taken as an insult, but rather as a particular viewpoint.

2. Preachers
While I cannot deny particular preachers' involvement in sermon giving, one must look at the trend. In Preaching Re-Imagined by Doug Pagitt it does seem that this is the way it is going. I am not saying he is the 'emerging church leader' . This seems like a product of the system and rather than a direct opposition requiring immediate change a slope that leads toward the abolishment of preaching. In addition I have to admit that I know of emergents who disagree.

As an extension I would like to note an error of mine: Bob Bob says here:

"For reference, this is equivilant to basing a statement about Reformed eschatology on the beliefs of John MacArthur or Reformed thoughts on government on the beliefs of R.J. Rushdoony. It simply doesn't work that way... unless you are talking about the emerging church it seems, and then it's fine to write entire book length critiques of a movement based largely on [critiquing] the theology of one voice within that movement."

In this regard, I feel that he is correct (even though I do agree with JM on eschatology, I understand the concept of his argument). I apologize for this, I will make sure that I keep this in mind. On the same note, these are the most (for lack of a better word) 'emergent' emergents. One must criticize the leaders' arguments.

3. The Emerging Church
I finally realize that there are many styles to the emergent church and I should be familiar with the one you represent.I can empathize based on that if you were to call me a liberal Baptist or a product of Roman Catholicism, I would feel very agitated. So I can see your position.

I think, when all is said and done, I would like to see a statement of faith of what you would consider the different 'flavours' of emergents and it will be those things that will be the focus of my critique.

4. In response
Now I am starting to get an idea of our differing positions:


It [Truth] is the Person of Jesus Christ

I will now carefully but whole-heartedly disagree. It may seem like semantics to some, but I believe that God produces truth. Truth is the very by-product of God, that is His nature. That is like saying the way is the person of Christ. While maintain that by no other name men may be saved (Acts 4:12), Jesus is not a physical pathway or a means to an end. Applying the same hermeneutic , truth is not the only thing about Jesus. Just like God, truth does not change. I worship Jesus, I do not worship the truth. I worship in truth (John 4:23, 24), found in Jesus.

The danger of worshiping that which is true (because Jesus is truth) is the allowance of lies to permeate. For example, can you imagine worshiping God for something that simply was not true? What if we praised Him in a song that does not reflect His true nature, simply because one is misguided? Would that not incur His wrath? (Nehemiah 9:18) You see, by saying Jesus is truth is fine, until it is taken to the point of saying truth is Jesus. The direction of the relation is important.

When Jesus says "I am the ... truth", he is saying that there is nothing that can be more true than Him. Truth reports to Jesus.

There is another point that we disagree on:

for we are saved by our relationship with Jesus...

While I do not use my theology to fight other theology (a blog possibly coming up), I do use it before I allow information to affect me. I do not believe I am saved by my relationship with Christ. That would mean I am saved by my works or by something I have brought. This argument equates with Calvinists and Arminians arguing over 'works based' salvation. "Sola gratia" (Romans 3:24; 5:15; 11:16; 1 Corinthians 1:4...)
In regards to this, I do believe that from my depravity and realization of grace that I am drawn to Christ by his grace into a relationship with Him (John 14:15,21; 15:10).


"...hold Jesus to dictionary terms to me shows that one does not trust in the biblical truth."
I feel that the words we use are very important, for from their proper definition we may finally start saying what we mean and meaning what we say. Because the definition of the word changes, does not imply that truth changes. If I were to say "I am such a geek" and you accused me of using multi-variable calculus to calculate the volume of a cake at a party, we must then return to the dictionary to define our points of view. We must use the word in their current meaning.

With this is mind, we presuppose different things: You say Jesus is literally the truth (anything not being truth is not Jesus), while I say truth is the product of Jesus.

When I look at what Tony Rose was trying to do, perhaps lacking in compassion, was critique the argument that Russel Moore and Tony Jones had on the radio. The debate certainly went far away off topic.

I think the main lesson for me from that whole ordeal is "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

iggy said...

Quintin,

I think the point is I may not be making clear... is this.

I see Truth as the Person of Jesus Christ. This is very clear from scripture.

From Him all truth flows.

If you think about it this way,

Truth is the Person of Jesus.
Truth is what flows from Him to us in revelation and from believer to believer as they interact with each other. This is also how the Bible is true as it gets its authority from the Author.

There is a general truth that has to do with our perspective. It is called relative truth. Out of this "truth" many try to rationalize and understand God but cannot as this is not truly truth.


Again, I am not against using "qualifiers" to grasp differences in types of truth, but the biblical definition of it is pretty clear that it is the Person of Jesus Christ. For through Him all things were made.

Truth is not some inanimate object the sits at some fixed point out in space, nor is it some abstract truth that is more real than material things. That is Plato Realism and what many seem to think truth is. Without relating Truth to the Person of Jesus Who is said to be full of grace and truth, there is no truth.

As far as doing away with preaching. I think that you must realize that many of the groups are small and that preaching is more done in the form of directed conversation. So to say that one must stand in a pulpit and expound their own knowledge about scirpture and be the only one speaking as the only way would also negate how "church" was done in the Bible. Someone had a scirpture, someone had a word, someone had a song, someone taught... there was an order that came out of the meeting but it does not have to be in the structure we have made it today. If so we have a few million Chinese brother under persecution who are in sin... but I do not see that as true.

In some ways I do not have an issue with dictionary descriptions yet one must always turn to the Bible to define itself as opposed to man made definitions.

An example is that of grace, if I was to say Jesus was full of grace one might take it to me he was like a ballerina and could dance well... though He might have been able to, that is not what is meant in scripture. So often common understandings of truth such as in the postmodern mindset must be taken into consideration so that communication can happen.

I agree the "debate" (which I think more of an iggy bashing) went off track as all I was trying to do was explain Tony's position a bit clearer and seemed to be getting derailed by some. I really tried to keep the course and focus, but it seems that correction of what I and my "friends" believe does not matter. That concerns me as i wonder how others feel as they encounter these people? If one is not willing to listen that is how simple disagreements turn into wars. I think you understand that better in South Africa that most would in the USA.

And that is what has happened. Instead of listening and attempting to understand "emergents/emerging" some assume they just know and then have written a book declaring "war". It is sad. We are not the enemy... we are brothers.

Again, I think you in South Africa can grasp that better than we can here.

I do appreciate you tone. I hope that you can see i am not as they have painted me and that I am not out to accuse or attack people. I am a bit sick over the events at that other blog and will most likely never post again. I have had my say and they will not listen and rise above name calling. I have learned in my life that we become like we associate with... I hope you do not become as they are as you associate with them.

BLessings,
iggy

Jim W said...

Quintin, I appreciate your thoughts on these matters. I am not going to bother trying to post anything on iggy's blog. It isn't worth the effort.
Hopefully, you understand by now how iggy twists things. I notice on his blog he claims that I seem to require works for salvation. As you read through his ramblings, and my writings on TR's blog, have you ever seen anywhere that I added works as a condition of salvation?
I'll try again, possibly in this so-far, neutral field, I can make my point.
iggy claims that John MacArthur (and myself) teach that "good fruit" is a condition of salvation. I have never said that. Once again, good works are a proof of salvation, but aren't required. The thief on the cross never had a chance to do any good works, how could I possibly add that to the work of Christ? I have only stated that by our fruit (works) are we known. that is all I have ever said, but iggy has twisted it around into me saying it's a requirement.
Just for the record, I did call iggy "a pathetic little man". I agree, it isn't Christ-like to treat an enemy that way. Sorry, I'm working on my Christ-likeness daily. It tends to truly irritate when a person such as iggy so blindly and blatantly twists what has been said into attacks on him. So, yes, I think he is a sad, pathetic man. He has to get his fun spreading lies and half-truths about people.
Keep up the search for truth. God will reveal Himself to you as long as you genuinely seek Him. It won't be found by digging through Plato and trying to associate his writings with Calvin, etc.

Qjay said...

Thanks for your honesty Jim. I did find it amusing when people thought you were James White.

I agree with you on the whole historical search thing. What I find quite interesting is that Augustine was a Gnostic Dualist for a time, but history records he went back to Christianity. To say that it influenced him is correct.

But one may not argue that he taught it. This requires the simplest illustration: If I tell a lie, I have been exposed to sin. Does this mean I am a false teacher? Does it mean I cannot repent? I think God allows us to sin so that we may realize our depravity. If you were in the desert and did not have water for days, what would you give to get a glass of water? This image displays it so well.

Also, because I am a lier, I realize my need for salvation. Not only this, I now can relate to other men in the same situation.

Now the problem is that you aren't allowed to point fingers at emergers, even though they do the same to us. I would like to point at a book though. Please read the title. You do not have to get the authors name.

Since there is no unifying statement, I refuse to consider this discussion on a 'general' level. I may have a look at some posters, but to point out fallacies in the posters themselves.

I know I want no part in the emergent/emerging church. If the old church is dead then I die with it. They have some great ideas:
-Communities
-Action on a personal level
-Discussion
But when these replace exegesis and preaching, I'll have no part. The swing goes too far. Please note I do not claim all emergers do this. But you can hide behind the fact that there is no unifying emergent statement and so each emerger has to be dealt with individually. As my good friend puts it, this is like fighting smoke. If John MacArthur (and with him Calvin, Augustine and Edwards) is going to hell, I would rather be in his hell than their heaven. He at least put some real effort into it.

I refuse to judge them, that is God's job. I have tried to understand and have been left wanting. The waters are too miry. I will not have a part in such arguments anymore.

Jim W said...

Quintin, thank you as well. It's been great to read your insights here as well as at Tony's blog.
I fully agree with you about the arguing. I always promise myself that I won't get into with somebody, but then I read something so utterly wrong that I just have to respond. I then get further irritated when someone completely puts words into my mouth and twists them around into something I never even thought of, much less wrote.
This is a trend I see in emergents. They write something completely off-the-wall and then get angry when more conventional thinkers cannot understand their point or (horrors) show them how their point is utterly unbiblical. Of course, when that happens, the first thing to do is shoot the messenger.
I've never read Augustine, just never had any interest. I'm working through several of Spurgeon's books. I greatly appreciate his writings. It's amazing how so much of what he wrote is applicable to today. It could have been written as I'm writing this.
I always thought the church was more orthodox in past centuries, I guess not.
Take care. Hope you have a wonderful God-filled day (and life).

Qjay said...

Sorry I only realized now my links did not come through. Strange because I know I put them there.

This is the book

I would recommend some of Augustine's work, Jim, I haven't read much myself. But I hear that he is so good, that if the Roman Catholics had actually followed his work, they probably would have been the true church.

Qjay said...

Some more thoughts:

"There is a general truth that has to do with our perspective. It is called relative truth."

On this I disagree. You cannot convince me that anything 'relatively' true exists

How is this verse to be interpreted:
"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" 1 John 1:5 [Emphasis added].

Roger Saner said...

I dunno - ever heard of the "theory of relativity"? Ever investigated the transition from old physics to new physics? Time and speed are both defined relatively. We know from Newton and Einstein that there is no such thing as absolute/objective time, and no such thing as objective speed...speed is *always* relative to something else.

Qjay said...

Ah yes, the theory of relativity.

Well, In an article called "Astronomers find proof of Einstein's theory" I have to admit they are surprisingly truthful when it gets down to it: "There is no proof that some other force is not acting on the satellites...but it is unlikely". It something I like to call the blue swan effect. Just because you do not see it, does not mean it does not exist.

In Google, I typed "proof for the theory of relativity" - I was looking to see it it was proven, and the top results(other than the article above) were:
"Proof Relativity is Illogical" by John T. Nordberg
"Proof of the Falsity of the Special Theory of Relativity" by Erik J. Lange
"EINSTEIN'S THEORY OF RELATIVITY
SCIENTIFIC THEORY OR ILLUSION?" by Milan R. Pavlovic


As for speed, I think you may want to take a look at "More Nasty Little Truths About Physics" by Louis Savain. Just a note on this link: he is biased by Christianity and I would probably not get on very well with him when it comes to issues on the age of the earth and a literal bible. What he is talking about here is Exclusive Relativity, meaning that although some things may be relative, they must be founded objectively.

"The nasty little truth turns out to be the exact opposite of what we have been taught to believe. The only type of motion or position in the universe is absolute"

Thanks for the comment!

Qjay said...

I like maths. Propositional logic is my favorite kind of maths. It's why I like objective truth. Here are some statements followed by a conclusion:

The truth is Jesus (not the order as given by the bible, but useful here)
Jesus is God (Affirmed by the bible)
God is eternal (again, bible)

So we have Truth = Jesus = God = Eternal.

Therefore, truth is eternal. It cannot be relative, there is no relative element. If it is eternal it means it does not change.

Maths = Cool.

Quintin said...

Please check [here] for some corrections.