In my discussions with Steve Camp about Brian McLaren, I found that what Steve objected most to was McLaren’s re-tooling Calvinism’s TULIP doctrine (you see, his review at audienceOne was specifically about those pages in McLaren’s new book A Generous Orthodoxy in which McLaren came up with a new TULIP).
Having studied under D. A. Carson at Trinity (and listening to his lectures from Cedarville) and having had this discussion with Steve Camp, I believe that what they find troubling about Emergent is the openness to reconsider Calvinism. They are convinced that Calvinism is the purest form of Christianity, and they reject the notion that it is a theological framework that arose from a specific cultural context—a context of modernity, the enlightenment, and the rise of the city-state. To the Reformed Evangelical Christian, the Reformation is the single most important event in the history of the Church, the event that correctly defined the Gospel.
We need to do a better job of explaining how the Gospel of Atonement has been re-articulated throughout history in thoroughly biblical ways (including the Reformers). We need to explain that we are very indebted to what those great men did in the 1600s, just like we are indebted to others throughout Christian history—the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been able to speak to all people in all times.
We also need to convince these brothers in Christ that we are entering into a dramatically new and different age—what we are calling “postmodernity” for a lack of a better name. We need to work on articulating a biblical gospel that fits this era of time. To do so, we must exegete the Bible AND the Culture, seeking to figure out which of the many ways the Bible explains the grace of God in Christ best speaks to what people in our age will understand and respond to.
With lots of respect for Carson and Camp, I feel that if this means coming up with a new TULIP, so be it.
Read my conversation with Steve Camp here.