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seamus414
Jun 6th 2008, 07:10 PM
What does "neo-orthodox" mean?

What does "emergent Christian" mean?

daughter
Jun 6th 2008, 08:59 PM
I don't know what neo orthodox means. But I've run into an emergent church near where I live. It's hard to pin down exactly what it means. They all have different opinions on everything, but agree that everyone's opinion is equally valid. I was going until I found the hosts blogspot and read his theology... he rejects most of the bible, doesn't believe in sin - which means the atonement wasn't necessary. I get the distinct impression that he doesn't believe Jesus was the son of a virgin, or that He literally rose from the dead, and he believes that the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all people, in all religions.

It came as a bit of a shock, considering what a bible bashing fundementalist I am.... Hey, maybe I'm neo orthodox! :rolleyes:

Athanasius
Jun 6th 2008, 09:05 PM
The Emergent Church is hard to pin point since it means a lot of things to different people. Generally speaking it subscribes to postmodernism, primarly the view that we can't know truth and that we are bound by linguistic constructs (what's true is only true because we make it [relatively] true with word games).

Essentially, it rejects the belief in absolute truth and knowledge in general. It's a new form of liberalism mixed in with some of the more dogmatic worship practices of the Catholic church of the middle ages.

It also believes that almost the entire 'library' of Christian doctrines should be flexible, like a spring in a trampoline, rather than a brick in a brick wall. This way Christian can stay 'fresh and relevant' and be more alive in the lives of people. Most believe Christianity isn't the only way to God and that all peoples of all cultures have knowledge and relationship with God through their own way.

seamus414
Jun 6th 2008, 09:20 PM
The Emergent Church is hard to pin point since it means a lot of things to different people. Generally speaking it subscribes to postmodernism, primarly the view that we can't know truth and that we are bound by linguistic constructs (what's true is only true because we make it [relatively] true with word games).

Essentially, it rejects the belief in absolute truth and knowledge in general. It's a new form of liberalism mixed in with some of the more dogmatic worship practices of the Catholic church of the middle ages.

It also believes that almost the entire 'library' of Christian doctrines should be flexible, like a spring in a trampoline, rather than a brick in a brick wall. This way Christian can stay 'fresh and relevant' and be more alive in the lives of people. Most believe Christianity isn't the only way to God and that all peoples of all cultures have knowledge and relationship with God through their own way.


Wow, ok. It sounds like garden variety liberal Christianity. What makes it "emergent" as opposed to, say, some one like Jack Spong? Spong sounds like he could be "emergent" also.

Athanasius
Jun 6th 2008, 11:03 PM
Wow, ok. It sounds like garden variety liberal Christianity. What makes it "emergent" as opposed to, say, some one like Jack Spong? Spong sounds like he could be "emergent" also.

It rejects any notion that we can find absolute truth. It rejects any notion that the Bible speaks absolutely for all people's of all times, and it rejects the idea that there is only one way to God.

John Spong, as far as I'm aware, believes we can know truth. Though otherwise I doubt there's much of a difference.

Frances
Jun 7th 2008, 07:13 PM
What does "emergent Christian" mean?

I have just finished reading "A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen" which is about the 'Emerging Church'/New Age/Contemplative Meditation/eastern religions etc. and their leaders, explaining in detail that they are all a sort of 'pick and mix' spirituality that many Christians seem to be led into without realising. I recomend the book - an eye-opener!!

SIG
Jun 7th 2008, 10:55 PM
You can find info on neo-orthodoxy at theopedia.com...

As for the emerging church movement--folks trying to re-invent the wheel. Discontent with tradition, whether good or not-so-good. Trying to birth a post-modern church that will appeal to post-modern thinkers; for this birth, one place I'd advocate abortion.

This movement likely to induce PMSD--Post-Modern Stress Disorder.

But God is God, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and the Gospel stands fast.

Teke
Jun 8th 2008, 08:07 PM
What does "neo-orthodox" mean?

What does "emergent Christian" mean?

To me, they are both terms for Protestants who want change. Both have merit as well as faults. Neither is clearly defined as they are both on a search so to speak. What they will lead to remains to be seen.

Here (http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/neoortho.htm) is a page with an evangelicals view of the history of neo-orthodoxy. If you compare that with "emergent Christian" (which could also be termed as "progressive Christian") similarities of the two become evident.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 6th 2008, 05:33 AM
Oh wow, I don't know how I came across this topic, but somehow I ended up on it. Here I am, resurrecting an old topic.

The Emergent movement is somewhat of my expertise. In studying philosophy and theology, a plurality of my reading has either been from postmodern philosophers or emergent writers. Before getting into that, however, let's look at neo-orthodoxy.

Neo-Orthodoxy was formed by Karl Barth. It was an attempt to take existential philosophy and apply it to Christianity. The problem that Barth was facing in Germany is that most of the churches had bought into what is called "German higher criticism." This taught that things in the Bible, such as its historical accounts and miracles, didn't really happen.

Barth faced a problem because, accepting Humean (from the English philosopher David Hume) metaphysics, he - along with most of Germany - accepted that miracles couldn't be verified. Part of German higher criticism is that it relied on verificationism - for something to be true, it had to have evidence (justified true belief - although Gettier in the 60's showed how this couldn't be true and verificationism eventually began to crumble...and now a more theistic approach to philosophy is taking over, thanks to Plantinga...sorry for the detour). Because miracles had no evidence, they couldn't possibly be true.

To make a long story short, Barth eventually decided that the miracles could be historically inaccurate while still being spiritually true. Whether or not they happened doesn't matter - what matters is whether or not we can gain a spiritual truth out of them. Thus, the Bible wasn't the Word of God for Barth, but instead contained the Word of God.

Enter the Emergent Church that has taken this view further (in all reality, neo-orthodoxy is simply a 20th century version of the Emergent church). The best way to sum up the Emergent church is with this article that I wrote:

1) It unabashedly claims to be postmodern and, in doing so, accepts a worldly philosophy. Postmodernism is a worldly philosophy that is not built upon Scripture. To put it in philosophical terms, one must be a metaphysical nominalist, a epistemic internalist and skeptic, and an ethical subjectivist. What all this means in laymen’s terms is - one must believe that we, not God, gives meaning to things and that truth comes from within us and our own experiences, not from God. Though many Emergents may say, “Hey, I disagree with what you just said,” that is the core foundation of postmodernism. One cannot have “incredulity toward metanarratives” (as Lyotard defines postmodernism) without first being a nominalist (we add meaning to the world) and an internalist (truth comes from us).

One big misconception about postmodernism - specifically deconstructionism - is that it merely seeks to question everything without providing an alternative. This is false. Postmodernism seeks to question the why behind cultural norms and the idea that there can be a unified theory of truth, or that there is a grand story (a truth that transcends all cultures). To believe there is a universal truth that all cultures must be subjected to would be anti-postmodern for two reasons:

a) To believe in a grand narrative means one cannot be suspicious of grand narratives.

b) To believe in a grand narrative means one must acknowledge that we can know what this grand narrative is - otherwise, how can we know something exists if we cannot know what it is?

Thus, one must deny that there is an overarching story for humankind in order to be postmodern (under the real definition).

In their acceptance of postmodernism how have the Emergents become any better than the Moderns? Both fail to head the warning of Paul in Colossians 2:8 where he warns believers not to be taken in by deceptive philosophies created within this world. Why does he warn us of this? Simple - these philosophies are based on a limited view of the world (non-Truth) and not on Christ (Truth).

2) The god of the Emergents is immanent in theory, but completely and totally transcendent in their theology. Though many Emergent or semi-Emergent works (such as Blue Like Jazz) are big on flowery language that promotes a relationship with God, their theology teaches a God that is far removed from humanity.

When we teach people that we can’t really know Truth, that the community helps us discover the truth for our community (this is, at least, what Lyotard taught), and that we must continue to deconstruct what we believe to be true (this comes from Derrida) we are teaching that God doesn’t really communicate to us.

This denial of universal truth is unfortunate, because it shows that God somehow can’t get past our cultural confines in order to teach us the ancient truth. Even though Jesus says He is the truth (John 14:6), even though Paul says our minds are to be renewed and are to transcend our cultural leanings (Romans 12:2), and that we come to knowledge through conforming our minds to be like the mind of Christ (Colossians 3:10) according to the Emergents we are to believe that we can’t really come to truth. We can discuss, we can think we have found truth, but ultimately we must realize that our culture has too big of an impact on us that we must constantly deconstruct.

This can only work if God does not relate to humans. If, however, God can and does relate to humans, then He can impart knowledge that transcends culture and time. This would mean that what was true for the 1st century person is true for the 21st century person. If God is immanent (as well as transcendent) then He can impart truth. If God cannot impart truth, then He is completely transcendent and is, therefore, a non-relatable God.



3) Postmodernism isn’t really post-modernism. The idea is that postmodernism is somehow a response to modernism, but in all reality it isn’t. Postmodernism really is just the last step in the Enlightenment and not really a new movement in philosophy.

Modernism relied on the idea that man was the beginning point of all knowledge (think Descartes: “I think therefore I am”) and that man could eventually come to a unified system of knowledge. Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and many others taught that human reasoning could eventually bring humans to truth. It wasn’t until Nietzsche that people began to see how this didn’t work, but the key component of the Enlightenment - that knowledge begins with human reasoning - never left. If one begins from human reasoning then “postmodernism” is correct, we must doubt all things (thanks to Nietzsche), realize that there is no grand narrative (thanks to Lyotard), and deconstruct everything because it really isn’t true for our time and culture unless we make it so (thanks to Derrida).

Scripture, however, has a different beginning point for knowledge. Proverbs 1:7 says that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.” This is the theme also in Proverbs 1:25 and 2:9. Proverbs 2:6 is so bold as to say, “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” While postmodernism/hyper-Enlightenment theory teaches that man is the beginning point of all knowledge, the Bible teaches that God and the fear of God is the beginning point of knowledge. In other words, Descartes was wrong; I think because God Wills it.

This impacts the Emergent movement because it forces them to deal with the fact that because God gives knowledge and truth, these two things are not contingent upon any culture or time period; they are merely contingent on God willingly imparting His truth onto people.



4) Emergents are high on attitude, but low on content. This is a minor claim, but one that I think is worth visiting. The Emergent books I have read lately differ significantly from the ones I read earlier this decade. Earlier in the decade they called for loving discourse - now, they are high on attitude but low on content. Many of the authors - especially Jack Caputo - are too quick to declare, “Damn the torpedoes” and charge full speed ahead. The problem with this attitude is that people with a hotheaded approach might end up having a Hunt for Red October moment where someone has to tell them, “You arrogant ass, you killed us!”

There is a distinct lack of love in these discourses. They hold this, “It’s your fault its this way” attitude without ever thinking they might also be a part of the problem. They attack the culture of Christianity and have no problem diving into ad hominem attacks (e.g. Tony Jones referring to Al Mohler and Paige Patterson as “bishops of the SBC,” which is a grossly inaccurate thing to say). The irony in the situation is they have become what they hate - close-minded fundamentalists that have nothing good to say about those who differ from themselves.



5) Emergents are too quick to blame things on the big old bad boogeyman of Modernism. Whereas many Christians say, “The Devil made me do it,” Emergents are more apt to say, “Modernism made you do it.” Having read some of the key works in modernism, I sometimes chuckle at the things postmoderns blame modernism for. One author asserted the idea in a “big, overpowering, patriarchal God” is a purely Enlightenment teaching, never mind the fact we can look at documents from the first and second centuries (not to mention the Bible) that teach the same thing.

Too often, Emergents will run across a concept they don’t like (such as the interpretation that homosexuality is a sin) and summarily declare it a specter of modernism. This, however, is absurd. It is the equivalent of looking at a political belief that you don’t like and declaring it to be Fascist, even if the idea contradicts or has no parallel with Fascism.

Though we should be looking to see where modernism has infiltrated Christian practices, we can’t treat it like the boogeyman that is hiding under our beds, waiting to attack us. There are many Christian beliefs that are completely unaffected by modernism. Take Calvinism - though many can disagree with it, it’s hardly fair to label it as a “modernistic belief.” Its roots are found in the Bible (as adherents would argue), in Augustine (as scholars would argue), and in Calvin (as skeptics would argue), all of which took place before the Enlightenment.

Another example is the idea that we can know truth. This has been taught in the Bible (as previously cited), by the Church fathers, by the Reformers, and by modern preachers. The idea that human rationality alone is sufficient for discovering truth certainly is a modern ideal, but the idea that we can know truth is far from the modern period (even Plato and Aristotle taught we could know truth).

Thus, Emergents must be careful to label everything they disagree with as “modern.”



6) Confuse distinctives with doctrine. Francis Schaeffer believed in baptizing babies and he relied on his Presbyterian background to justify this. I believe in believer’s baptism - baptizing a person after he or she has come to Christ - and justify this on my Baptist background. These two beliefs, though different, are distinctives, not doctrine. My difference with Schaeffer has not prevented him from becoming the single greatest influence on my thinking outside of Scripture.

Too often Emergents are guilty of assuming too much when styles change. “Oh, we’re no longer using the organ? We’re using drums and a guitar? I guess this means we can change our theology too!” This really amounts to a giant non-sequitur. Just because a church’s style changes (and the style must change because the people change) does not mean the church changes.

Assume we built a time machine and decided to go back to 1st century Antioch and participated in a service led by Paul. Assuming we could understand Koine Greek (or Aramaic), we would probably feel out of place. Their style of worship would have been extremely different from our own. However, once Paul began to speak, even if we didn’t understand all the idioms used or his style, we would understand and agree with the content (assuming we were also orthodox).

Christianity is fluid in that its form is always changing, but its essence and being remains constant (because it is anchored to God, who is never changing). A change in styles does not automatically mean we must change doctrines, unless we have made the fatal mistake of making our style into our doctrine (something I lamented above).

SIG
Jul 6th 2008, 06:16 PM
Beautifully lucid. The only thing I might change would be "Postmodernism really is just the last step in the Enlightenment ..." to " the latest step..."

apothanein kerdos
Jul 6th 2008, 06:53 PM
Beautifully lucid. The only thing I might change would be "Postmodernism really is just the last step in the Enlightenment ..." to " the latest step..."

I would agree with what you said more than what I originally said. It seems that it is the latest step in Enlightenment philosophy, not necessarily the last.

At the same time, there is a good possibility that it is the last step because it has followed Enlightenment thinking to its dreadful conclusion: Humans can't know truth (or can't have knowledge). If this is fully realized, what further reason is there to philosophize? This, unfortunately is becoming a trend in American universities, with philosophy being looked on as something no better than astrology.

SIG
Jul 7th 2008, 02:28 AM
Oh--knowing the academics, I'm confident they will always come up with a next step. It's their bread and butter....