What a way to come out of blog retirement. My friend Steve Knight dropped me a line this evening about a conference that recently took place in Raleigh, NC. Essentially in my backyard. I remembered that I was supposed to attend this conference with a friend. I didn’t go because I forgot about it to be honest. The conference has received a little buzz due to its ‘deconstruction’ of the emerging church movement and some of its more well known leaders (e.g. Brian McLaren, et al.). The conference was hosted by a church-planting network called the Acts 29 network. The network seems to be a conservative-lite Reformed theology that seeks to be revelant to a postmodern culture that is believed to have lost its soul. I don’t really know the entire landscape of the conference. Aside from the fact that the militaristic image of a bootcamp is used to convey the ethos of the conference (which I find interesting during a time of Crusade) I thought it refreshing to hear a little theological/cultural satire. I’ll have to listen more.
What I have interest in is the presentation of Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll. Especially his interpretation of the ‘revisionist’ stream of the emerging church movement, Emergent Village in particular. What have I learned from Pastor Driscoll about this conversation of friends I am a part of?
1. When God talks we obey…we do not conversate.
Thought: Who is talking for God here? Where does presumption end and truth begin? I learned from a Reformed philosopher a long time ago, one Cornelius Vantil, that all human thought and words are presumptive in nature.
2. Brian McLaren is a heretic (he reads and likes liberal Christian thinkers)…Driscoll is biblical (he reads and likes ‘biblical’ thinkers).
Thought: Driscoll is closer to getting God right than McLaren? I’m tired of choosing between white Christian males in my arbitration of truth. Some things just don’t end. 500 years of presumptive white male theologizing is just too deeply wedded to Western Christianity.
3. Driscoll likes the issue of homosexuality. He gives extended commentary on it. Takes a few satirical swipes of his cultural context and community in the Northwest.
Thought: Not suprised. Usually that is one of the main weapons in the arsenal of those who have vowed to be enemies of a growing postmodern sensibility in the church. One I find mostly in the imagination of those that are against it.
4. Atonement linchpin. Penal Substitutionary atonement is ‘the’ key way of understanding Jesus’ death.
Thought: No mention of the valid concerns of the way Constantinian Christians have used atonement theories, whether consciously or unconciously, to continue to spread Imperialism and White supremacy. Alot of the critiques of Penal Subsitutionary atonement surround the issue of justice and the church oft-times complicity with social and political systems that oppress and marginalize groups. I think Driscoll’s comment should not be read as debate-ending comments but further reason to read the history of atonement ideas. He has aligned himself with one stream of understanding Jesus’ death to the pushing side of others. The valid concern I hear in Driscoll’s comments is the possibility that some in the emerging church movement may be buying into theologies of the atonement that are far removed from the various ways the church has talked about Jesus’ death over the centuries. I am currently reading Scot McKnight’s latest book on the atonement (A Community Called Atonement) which is far more catholic and wise in its theology and historical insight than Driscoll’s brief diatribe.
My media player stopped on me there. Hopefully I can listen to the rest of it later. It will be interesting to hear the comments of friends that went to the conference.