Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Theological Whiplash

Last Sunday I went to worship gatherings at two different churches. One was rooted in a modern, positivist philosophy (an evangelical church) and the other was influenced by a postmodern, constructivist philosophy (an emergent church). Wow.

Now, since I was paying attention, I noticed the very different tones of the meetings. Certainly many of the elements were the same. Both had music, prayer, scripture, public speaking, announcements, and basic church business. On the surface, it could be said that these church differed only by decor, one casual and the other artsy.

The difference came, however, in how truth was presented. At the evangelical church truth was prepackaged, trimmed with scripture scraps, centered on a topic, and presented with premise, evidence, and neat conclusion. All was resolved. At the emergent church three different translations (TNIV, The Message, King James) of a long chunks of scripture was read by three different people. People were asked to practice Lectio Divina during these three readings. There was no prescribed take home message. The pastor literally said, "Tonight we'll let the scripture was over us," whatever that means. No one knew what they were supposed to learn, but at the same time it was understood that that what was needed to be learned was learned.

The difference was how truth was dealt with. Both assumed that there was truth involved. However, in the evangelical church the truth was owned by the pastor and issued to the people. In the emergent church the truth was assumed to be owned by each individual.

I like both churches, and both are full of good people. I do not mean to be critical of either. It's just that I experienced these two very different approaches to truth within hours of each other. Whiplash.

5 comments:

Lonely Dissertator said...

Someone recently brought my attention to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzbSlQovq-0

What do you think?

Hanna said...

I would just have to say that the only truth that is worth listening to is the Holy Spirit, who will give us discernment and wisdom in understanding the Word if we ask the Lord Jesus Christ for that wisdom and discernment.

Steve said...

Fajita,

Thanks for telling us about the contrast of the two approaches. I keep reading about emergent and getting excited about it. But I've never had the opportunity to meet with a self-described emergent group.


Lonely,

I couldn't get the link to work. What is it about?

Lonely Dissertator said...

Steve:

It's about mercy works and the gospel, how to do both. You have to copy and paste both lines onto web-browser (as one line). Or else type this in Youtube: A Conversation: Tim Keller, John Piper, D.A. Carson.

Take a look at Part 1.

Steve said...

Fajita,

Thanks for telling us about the contrast of the two approaches. I keep reading about emergent and getting excited about it. But I've never had the opportunity to meet with a self-described emergent group.


Lonely,

I couldn't get the link to work. What is it about?