Three of the most important leaders in the evangelical world today weigh in on the emerging church: the apologist Ravi Zacharias; the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Al Mohler; and the theologian RC Sproul.
I have a few minor points of contention with these guys: first, Mohler calls McLaren relativistic, which is too simplistic and simply not true; and second, Sproul claims the emerging church has an allergy to creeds and confessions, which is also untrue. Many emerging churches subscribe to the creeds of the early church (e.g., Apostles, Nicene)—more than can be said for many evangelical churches. My major complaint, however, is their willingness to place truth above everything else. Truth is phenomenally important—I find myself cheering Mohler along at the end—but I remember Paul saying something like, if I have not love, then I am nothing. If we have a complete grasp on truth, but are not kind, gentle, loving, peaceful, compassionate human beings, there is no value in it.
Pete Rollins has an excellent couple of posts over at his (new) blog on the nature of forgiveness, as forgiving the unforgivable. Find them here and here.
Starting a little work on Jacques Derrida, I’ve just read his moving funeral oration for fellow philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas, titled “Adieu.” Derrida’s reflections are too profound to do them justice, but I’ll provide a little snippet here:
One day, on the rue Michel Ange, during one of those conversations whose memory I hold so dear, one of those conversations illuminated by the radiance of his thought, the goodness of his smile, the gracious humor of his ellipses, he said to me: “You know, one often speaks of ethics to describe what I do, but what really interests me in the end is not ethics, not ethics alone, but the holy, the holiness of the holy.” And I then thought of a singular separation, the unique separation of the curtain or veil that is given, ordered and ordained, by God, the veil entrusted by Moses to an inventor or an artist rather than to an embroiderer, the veil that would separate the holy of holies in the sanctuary. And I also thought of how other Talmudic Lessons sharpen the necessary distinction between sacredness and holiness, that is, the holiness of the other, the holiness of the person, who is, as Emmanuel Lévinas said elsewhere, “more holy than a land, even a holy land, since, faced with an affront made to a person, this holy land appears in its nakedness to be but stone and wood.”
Tony Jones, author of the just-released The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, has generously put up the first chapter of the book on his blog. Tony has been at the forefront of the emerging church movement since its inception. In this first chapter, “Leaving the Old Country,” he helpfully (and creatively!) maps out the territory the emerging church is emerging from. Check it out here.
An article from the Boston Globe, “The Unexpected Monks,” details the rise of the new monastic (or neo-monastic) movement in contemporary evangelicalism. Apparently, around 100 neo-monastic communities have sprung up in North America over the last five years:
New Monasticism is part of a broader movement stirring at the margins of American evangelicalism: Evangelicals disillusioned with a church they view as captive to consumerism, sectarian theological debates, and social conservatism. Calling themselves the “emerging church” or “post-evangelicals,” these Christians represent only a small proportion of the approximate 60 million evangelical Americans. Yet their criticisms may resonate with more mainstream believers.
This is an excellent article, quoting everyone from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove to Scott Bessenecker to Shane Claiborne. To learn about this exciting, emerging movement, this is a great place to start. See it here.
Today begins the season of Lent in the Christian calendar, a forty-day period of fasting and repentance imitating Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the desert. It is a season of preparation for the holiest season in the calendar, the Passion week and Easter. If I were a good Catholic, I would have only one full meal today, eat no meat on Fridays and other fast days and increase my times of prayer and giving to charity. However, since I’m Pentecostal, I’m just giving up beer and coffee.
In speaking of the ethico-political as the core—not only of academia, but of life in general—I am making both a formal and historical claim. The formal claim, which I will deal with in this third part, is that the ethico-political complex ought to stand as judge to any system of thought; the historical claim, to be dealt with in the fourth and final part, is that it always has. The complex of questions that makes up the ethico-political question stands at the center, whether welcomed or berated into the background, of all human life and culture. How I am to live and how we are to govern our lives together—the ethical and political, respectively—form the criterion of judgment which stands behind all judicial systems, and indeed, all governments, societies, cultures, individual lives and communities.
What exactly, however, is the ethico-political? Is it simply a series of penetrating, but answerless, questions? How then can it function as judge over people and systems? If it remains indeterminate, it will forever be ineffective. It will fail to prevent another Auschwitz. The German “final solution” to the question of their relation to the Jewish people was an answer to the ethico-political; however, it was a demoniacally twisted and distorted answer, born from the caverns and crevices of hell itself. What is the true answer to the question of our relation to others? I propose, fairly simply, the answer is Christ. The ethico-political is Christic, Christ-shaped and Christ-like. The crucified God stands in judgment over Auschwitz, over any government, society or culture that would return to that dark hall, reinvoking its demons. Christianity, properly conceived, is the true critical theory. The road away from Auschwitz leads to Golgotha.
I: The Important Question
II: Core and Periphery
III: The Judgment Seat
IV: The West
V: Postlude on Levinas