On the emergent-us blog, a recent entry was titled "A Different Kind of Evangelical" by Steve Bush. In it, he compares and contrasts what he calls "conservative evangelicals" with "postconservative evangelicals" (read backward fundies vs. hip emergent-types). He makes some fascinating comparisons:
1) Theological Differences. "...they are different, and their differences are in large part theological." At least he admits this much! I wish all of the emerging crowd was as forthcoming.
2) Inerrancy. "Postconservative evangelicals believe that the conservatives’ privileging of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is mistaken. Inerrancy is a data-centered approach to Scripture, whereas postconservatives practice a person-centered approach. In our view, the Bible is not a repository of facts, but rather a witness to a living person: the resurrected Jesus Christ." Ah, yes. The false dichotomy. Is the Bible data-centered or person-centered? Hmmm... How about realizing that Scripture contains data which directs us to a Person? Why separate the two and minimize (or even reject) the doctrine of biblical inerrancy?
3) Salvation. "Conservative evangelicals tend to see salvation as an individualistic affair, postconservatives emphasize the communal dimension." Once again, why emphasize one over the other? Christ redeemed His elect, and they compose His body (the church).
4) Hell. "Conservatives tend to see hell as a place of eternal, conscious torment after death; postconservatives are concerned about this-worldly hells of genocides, slums, and diseases." Interesting. I'll come back to this in a minute.
5) Evangelism. "The postconservative attitude towards non-evangelical and non-Christian thought is an attitude of critical but receptive openness. We are not zealous to debunk non-Christian views, but instead seek to find what is valuable in other perspectives." When one believes that God reveals His truth through His Word, and that Scripture is sufficient for us in our faith and in our practice, then why do we look for value in other perspectives? I realize that we want to accurately understand what people believe as well as look for bridges in communicating the gospel, but I get uncomfortable with a Christian seeking "what is valuable in other perspectives." Why not simply seek what God has actually revealed to us in the Bible?
And this gets me back to my general observation of these kinds of statements--they are not grounded in Scripture! How should we understand salvation, hell, and evangelism? By turning to God's Word! In all of Bush's comparisons, none are grounded in the Bible. Doesn't Scripture tell us about the individual and corporate aspects of salvation? What does the Bible reveal about hell? Doesn't the Word of God tell us and show us how to proclaim the gospel? This blog entry certainly doesn't point us in this direction!
As a result, this type of thinking is not directing one toward a different kind of evangelical. It leads to a betrayal of evengelicalism itself.
(Originally posted at the A-Team Blog: http://ateam.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2005/12/7/1439507.html )
posted at 2:39 PM