Emergent Liberalism

I’ve been following with some amusement the whole Emergent movement. I went through my postmodern phase in undergrad (it lasted a few months — lots of Foucault — so sad), then I grew-up and moved on to Barth and de Lubac. Anyway, I found this article from The Olive Press, the newspaper of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (an SBC school in good ole North Carolina!), interesting. Mark Driscoll (famed pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and Emergent pioneer) has been attacking, as in this speech at SEBTS, the revisionism becoming prevalent in Emergent circles. He pinpoints, in particular, Brian McClaren and Doug Pagitt. When questioned on homosexual marriage, Driscoll reports McClaren to have told him, “You know what? The thing that breaks my heart is that there is no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.” And in regard to Doug Pagitt, “I asked very specifically, ‘Is homosexual activity incompatible with Christian faith?’ His answer was ‘No. Being gay and Christian is not a contradiction in any way.’” Driscoll also cites obfuscation on the Atonement and McClaren’s support of the Jesus Seminar. So, here we go again. Pretentious hipsters with pseudo-theological skill re-imagine the Christian faith to reach today’s generation — and what happens? They become just like today’s generation. I was a little more optimistic in the early phases of the Emergent movement, but I shouldn’t be surprised. By “dialogue with secular, postmodern culture,” the emergents simply filtered Christian doctrine through secular, postmodern categories of thought, a la the constricting of Christian doctrine by the Enlightenment philosophers to their norms of rational criteria. It took philosophy a few hundred years until Nietzsche (and Kierkegaard) showed the whole thing to be a crock. Hopefully it won’t take the evangelical church that long to realize the same thing with the emergents.



  1. Yeah, but if postmodernism is about eschewing absolutist claims, then supporting the Jesus Seminar makes some sense on that account — as long as you properly relativize the “conclusions” of the JS and be open to other readings. It’s so very nice.

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