Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm a Walking Antique

I'm almost done with "Why We're Not Emergent (by two guys who should be)" by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. Since I read two books by Brian McLaren, "A New Kind of Christian" and "Finding Faith", it was time I give the other side of the emergent issue a try.

As for the term emergent: I really can't tell you what it means. The fact I can't is probably a definition in itself. Emergent is actually a sort of post modern re-invention of Christianity. I probably was emergent for a few seconds about five years ago. I'm at the latter end of the Baby Boom generation, a coffee loving barista who spends a lot of time with young twenty something year olds. And it can be difficult, I feel I'm relating to people who are from a different world than mine. It would be so easy, at times, to give up anything that looks like a hard edge or a firm boundary to my faith. And I think that what makes the nebulous fuzzy grey so attractive. It gets hard to be out there trying to relate to a younger generation what I believe without it sounding alien to them.

After awhile, I worked in the fuzzy grey so long that it enveloped me, like a fog. And then I wasn't any good to anyone. To the young post graduate who started to ask hard questions. To an international student who never heard about the hard parts of Christianity before. I began to feel like an amorphous blob theologically. I realized that something was influencing my way of thinking--it was more than the McLaren books, it was any focus that took me away from the Bible as my primary source of truth.

And this is what I did: I cut out all print material--magazines, books, newspapers, etc--for three months and read my Bible exclusively. I also cut back on tv watching. It was refreshing. I got through Deuteronomy to Ezekial. I noticed things that I didn't notice before. I believed what I read. I felt I got my Scriptural "mojo" back. In other words, my soul was fed.

But in emergent terms, I was falling behind the times with my antique view of the Bible. That it is the truth and that I can trust what I believe it says.

What DeYoung and Kluck helped me understand is that this is nothing new. That just a generation or so ago, there was a liberal movement among the mainline churches that argued against the inerrancy of the Bible. And those mainline churches dropped in attendence while the evangelical churches with a more traditional and conservative veiw of the Bible grew. In fact in other parts of the world, evangelical Christianity is growing at a rate that outstrips the rate that it is growing in the U.S.

One of the reasons I stopped going to a certain church while in college is because the priest held a liberal veiw of the Bible. I was reading Scripture on my own regularly and sat shocked as he held forth in his homily that a most beloved and hopeful passage that I knew well was only poetry. I guess I was the only one paying attention, because no one else in the congregation seemed to care what he said. Meanwhile, I was making a decision not to come back ever.

I don't always like what the Bible says. But there is a lot in truth that is not likable. It doesn't change one way or another just because I have a particular feeling about it. And that is why I can't ever be emergent. I guess I'm too steadfast. I actually believe something. And it's nice that there are a couple of guys way younger than me who say that it's okay.

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