The Emerging Silence

June 14, 2006

I’ve been trying to read up about the Emerging Church. I still don’t really know what it is, but I’m getting more and more of a feeling that they are trying to break from fundamentalism without breaking from fundamentalists. That is, they don’t want to say “We don’t believe in X”; but instead say “Now, X isn’t the question. Let’s focus on loving each other and writing blogs and such”. Case in point:

Brian McLaren on whether he is a universalist:

I find it hard to choose any of these options because I don’t like how this question is framed, because it seems to assume that the primary focus or benefit of the gospel is saving individuals from hell after death. As I read the gospels, the focus of Jesus’ message was not on getting your soul into heaven after death, but rather it focused on the kingdom of God, which is about God’s will being done on earth as in heaven in history, in this life. For Jesus then, the gospel is good news not just for a few individuals beyond history, but it is good news for all creation in history, and beyond. I plan to grapple with this subject in more depth.

Well, yes, this is true. The Kingdom is here and now; but surely it is also eternal/outside/divine.

This way of deflecting contraversial questions by saying that the questioner is asking the wrong question (and here’s my answer to another question) is a good way to get out of tight spots. Politicians use it all the time.

But the end result is that you are silent on that issue; and that will be noticed. Where I am silence will be read as consent – if you don’t deny the existence of hell then you will be assumed to believe in it.

So are the Emergents merely fundamentalists with good PR, who don’t want to admit up front that they believe that God will eternally torture those he hates because it will scare the punters? Or are they liberals who don’t want to admit up front that they don’t believe in a God of torture because they will be locked out of the large US Christian media organisations and pastors will remove their books from the church library?

I’m sure that McLaren would tell me that I’m asking the wrong question.

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2 Responses to “The Emerging Silence”

  1. demas Says:

    Sorry Keith, your post got mistakenly marked as spam by WordPress. I’ve reinstated it.

    I like your post – great minds obviously do think alike… 😉


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