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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Emergent Church - Part 1/3

The Emergent Church: Undefining Christianity - by Bob DeWaay
Chapter One - The Road to Paradise Imagined (pgs 13-30)
  • Acts 17:30, 31 - The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
  • Acts 17:30, 31 speak(s) of a literal and future judgment - this notion is rejected by the EC.
  • God's words (inspired scripture) are not used as logical boundaries for humanity in the eyes of the EC
  • Bedrock of Belief System = ESCHATOLOGY
  • The EC has a "hopeful and positive view of God's engagement in the world."
  • God is the future, drawing everything to himself
  • God is still creating and we can be "co-creators" of the world with God.
  • Post-Modern Framework (Deconstruct Christianity)
  • No definitions; that creates categories
  • Categories involve Boundaries
  • Boundaries keep people out
  • Theology of "HOPE" versus Theology of "DESPAIR"
  • Francis Schaeffer (theology of despair): people are despaired because they had no hope of knowing the truth about God, about man, and about the universe.
  • Jurgen Moltmann (theology of hope): based upon the philosophies of Georg Hegel - a Marxist Idealist.
  • Hegel Philosophy: deny absolutes, consider that everything evolves, incompatible opposites - such as good and evil, combine for an improved 3rd option - "The Third Way".
  • Moltmann applied philosophies of Hegel to theology and eschatology.
  • Instead of judgment (no consideration of scripture) the entire world was evolving towards paradise - leaving evil behind ... Theology of Hope.
  • Theology of Hope is based upon the idea that history is not in the direction of divine judgment, but is headed toward the "Kingdom of God" on earth with universal participation.
  • Humanity cannot know that is true until the future
  • The Holy Bible is NOT viewed as the inerrant word of God
  • The EC DENIES that we can know what the Holy Bible really means.
  • All of this captures the Post-Modern attitude
  • Emergent / Post-Modern Philosophy
  • denies the objectivity of 1) Historic Knowledge and 2) Present Knowledge
  • but asserts the objectivity of 1) Future Knowledge

Chapter Two - Undefining God's Mission (pgs 31-50)

  • EMERGENT MISSION (tends to undefined and EC leaders are in disagreement)
  • Improve society now
  • They borrow their beliefs/practices from Catholic Liberalism
  • Christianity's mission is to make the world a tangible "paradise now"
  • The term "MISSIONAL" describes the idea that any works that make the world a better place brings humanity toward the ideal future.
  • Missional for the EC is to find a more generous 3rd Way - not liberal, not conservative
  • Anything that makes the world a better place is a worthy mission - the only mission that DOES NOT make sense is the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins so that humanity can avoid a literal, future judgment.
  • The EC is trying to help God's dreams come true
  • The EC embraces the "SOCIAL GOSPEL"
  • The individual/person on the mission determines its meaning - not the Bible
  • Saving planet earth is essential
  • The Cross: there is no clear meaning regarding the cross or the resurrection. Therefore, the "mission" is undefined and must be discovered.
  • SPECIFICALLY DENY: a mission of proclaiming and escape from God's coming wrath - the EC DOES NOT believe in a pending future judgment.
  • BIBLICAL MISSION (gotta be fair and balanced these days)
  • Preach and Teach the Gospel / spread the "Good News" of Jesus Christ
  • Why is it such good news? - because it provides us sinners with a certain escape from the wrath of God

Chapter Three - Undefining Christian Thinking (pgs 51-72)

  • 2 Timothy 3:7 - always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
  • The EC holds to the position that it is absurd to believe that an author's words can convey the thoughts that he intends the reader to understand. Therefore, the reader is free to give whatever meaning he/she desires to the authors words.
  • The emphasis for the EC is on experience(s)
  • "Words don't have meaning ... experiences do"
  • Spiritual experiences in a group setting are what lead to "Christian" thinking
  • The EC EMBRACE MYSTICISM - truth is experienced rather than understood.
  • This belief allows the EC and its followers to have liberation from the restraints of definition(s)
  • The definitions are from flawed, narrow-minded Christian theologians
  • The EC reject propositional truth and embrace religious existentialism - they do not want the conversation to "divide" humanity.
  • The EC REJECT theological methods that make any type of distinction
  • Agreement vs Disagreement
  • Win vs Loss
  • Good vs Bad
  • Orthodoxy vs Heresy

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