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.