The Emerging Church has taken a lot of hits for its relationship with the Postmodern mindset, largely in regards to the “softening of truth.”
Although it’s obvious that some have abandoned the historic faith, I believe that there are plenty of people in the EC who believe and live out the propositional, orthodox truths of Christianity.
I also believe that a mistake made by many modernist Christians is confusing the obligation to believe these propositional truths, with an obligation to communicate them propositionally in every circumstance.
Let me give an example. I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, and lives today. Although everyone has doubts from time to time, I can say from my heart that this belief of mine is true. However, the certainty of my belief does not give me the right to make dogmatic statements about it to everyone I meet. If I am talking to a fellow Christian who is terminally ill, I will remind them that Jesus was raised from the dead, and provided a way for us to share that life with Him. No ifs, ands or buts. On the other hand, if a non-Christian is showing an interest in who Jesus was, and keeps talking about Him in the past tense, I will share my belief that Jesus is alive today, and that is why I refer to Him in the present tense. But I will share that as my belief, not as an indisputable fact, in order to nurture our relationship. It’s not lying, it’s called respect.
Communication happens like this all the time, on every subject.
Where we err is in rolling to the extremes, such as:
1) Wearing your creed on your sleeve, and allowing it to define you to the world. This is the primary error of modernist Christianity. When we as Christians rely totally on propositional truth, we shield ourselves from the relational aspect of it. In other words, we are telling people to believe us because we are a) educated, b) experienced , or c) entertaining, and asking them not to check our lifestyles for confirmation. Also, we are denying them permission to ask hard questions and struggle through doubts.
2) Rejecting all absolute truth. This is the primary error of postmodernist Christianity. Either because we are trying to fit in to a doubtful world, or because we are more comfortable with fluidity, many of us have strayed from all things objective.
The wise person realizes that God has given us enough absolute truth to live on; to trust Him, and to make some sense out of life, but that everything else ranges from doubtful to probable.
As long as I’m alive, you’ll hear me say this many times: We emerging church folks are always in danger of playing the pendulum, being first reactors instead of first responders. The road forks in front of us; one is a simple rebellion against whatever the conventional church does, and the other is the opportunity to follow God, with only step illuminated at a time. The choice is yours…