Humble Emergents vs. Absolutists….

February 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

Emergent 5Lets continue on with some more quotes from the book by Tony Jones entitled The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier

“I’m humble,” an emergent might tell you, “because I don’t know what I’m wrong about today. I’ll speak with confidence, and I’ll speak with passion, but I won’t speak with certainty.”

Being humble/uncertain in any area of theology is very intimidating to some within the church. They say we must believe everything in the Bible comes from God. They say we will invariably go down the “slippery slope” if we question anything in that document. They say if we question anything then everything in it is worthless.  Emergents believe that we are all relativist in one form or another. None of us truly believe that everything in the Bible is absolutely true.

Emergents are willing to say that they are relativists, many other won’t confess that. But there is the basic problem with confessing that you are an absolutist.

  • You must therefore say that God demands that you kill all homosexuals for it seems to say that somewhere in biblical text.
  • Paul says that all women should cover their heads when in church and you should shave those who don’t.  
  • He says that no women should come to church with braided hair.
  • He says that women should be quiet in church and let their husbands explain things to them when they are home.
  • The Bible tells us that all slaves should be happy in their circumstances and not to rebel against their masters

I dare say that no Christian church today abides by all of these demands of Paul. By not following the strict letter of the law they are proclaiming that some words in the bible are not relevant to our times and therefore, even if they don’t admit it, are declaring themselves relativists.

During the 1950s and 60s in the U.S. most Christian churches  declared that segregation was the law of God. In the 1930 most churches claimed that denying the vote to women was a command from God and that Hitler’s rule was a command from God.  Each generation has their set of things in the Bible or maybe the doctrine of their particular flavor of Christianity that they declare is absolute only to have the next generation deny that claim.

To claim that we are not all relativist when it comes to the Bible is the epitome of arrogance. Emergents at least are humble when it comes to their faith. They speak with passion and confidence but not with certainty on what they know about God and his messages to us.

Let’s close this discussion out with some additional words from Mr. Jones’ book”

For if one has rock-solid certainty, it’s only natural to suppose that all other viewpoints are wrong and therefore impose one’s certainty on others. Proper confidence [as practiced by emergents], by contrast, lends itself to persuasion, not imposition.

Emergents are humble. They don’t imagine that they have it all right and therefore those who disagree with them are wrong. Emergents do not pre-suppose that they alone know the true heart of God. They are humble to say that what they believe today just might be proved wrong tomorrow. That is the kind of Christianity that I want to follow.

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