Sunday, September 11, 2005

Terri King, of Notes From The Journey, had an interesting blog where she mentions her Apologetics class. In an earlier post she listed her assigned books for all her classes (which I hope she’ll continue to do as she works on her degree…hint, hint Terri.) I mentioned that, based on her booklist, it seemed that her prof. would not be a fan of Brian McLaren. She then commented on my blog, the following:

His (her prof's) main objection to BM is that loss of objective truth. He doesn't see him as having a philosophy that is defendable b/c (he says, I don't know, I've read only 1 part of a book he wrote) BM takes a stance that denies objective truth.

I’ve heard personally and heard others report many times, this criticism of Brian McLaren and Emergent in general; that is, that they deny objective truth. (Terri, you'll notice, wisely avoids this mistake by acknowledging she hasn't actually read enough of his work to assess it and won't make judgements based on secondhand information.) It honestly baffles me when I hear this and I wonder if these folks who make these criticism have actually read Brian or any other emergent types.

For instance, in Emergent’s Response to Recent Criticims they write:

contrary to statements and inferences made by some, that yes, we truly believe there is such a thing as truth and truth matters – if we did not believe this, we would have no good reason to write or speak; no, we are not moral or epistemological relativists any more than anyone or any community is who takes hermeneutical positions – we believe that radical relativism is absurd and dangerous, as is arrogant absolutism;

Apparently, what people really object to is that that last statement whereby relativism is declared to be the other side of the absolutist coin. Brian McLaren's assumption is that there is absolute objective truth…the truth is out there, as the TV show said. (At least, that’s what I hear…never did watch The X-Files. Maybe they never actually said it?) Yes, the truth is out there, but the problem and the question really is, who can claim to know it fully? Emergent sees the absolutism that extists in relgious groups to be particularly dangerous- whether these groups be Christian, Muslim or other. Our more conservative brothers and sisters (er, well, when the sisters are allowed to speak, I suppose) are very good at making absolute statements and get really upset when others won’t. (For example, see Al Mohler’s review of Mclaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy.) And so I wonder, is the concern really about truth or defending one's territory? Are Christians more concerned about being right than they are concerned about loving their neighbors? What did Jesus mean when he talked about giving a 10th of our spices but neglecting the greater things of the law?

I’m cutting this blog short, before I get myself into too much trouble, but I may have more to say on this topic later. I think it is fair to say that I think McLaren is on a better path than Mohler.


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