Work in Progress (I need your help)

On vanguardchurch.com, my resource page, I am working out a new presentation of the Gospel. I want it to focus on the image of God in humanity, and how Christ, as the perfect image of God, redeems us to our original design and purpose.

It’s meant to be a kind of “emerging 4 spiritual laws,” only this is presented in 8 stages of the redemption story.

The people who have inspired me toward this project are: NT Wright (in his Creation and New Creation in the New Testament Lectures), Michael Wittmer (in his book, Heaven is a Place on Earth), Scot McKnight (in his blog entries and new book, Jesus Creed), Brian McLaren (in his book, The Story We Find Ourselves In, where he tells another stage-by-stage story of redemption), Dallas Willard (in his book, Reformation of the Heart) and, mostly, my own biblical study of what I feel is the key storyline of the Bible.

But I need your help: TEAR THIS APART! I’m looking for constructive criticism as this is written…kind of an emerging community project.

Won’t you help?

Check it out at Created For Glory on www.vanguardchurch.com


#2 changed to "Our glory has darkened" to reflect Romans 3:10
#3 Verses added
#4 Questions added
#5 Changed to "The Recreation of Our Glory is initiated in what Jesus accomplished"


TV-Turnoff Week? Yea, that's it!

My buddy Matt let me know today that this week is "TV-Turnoff Week."

I wish I had known that before. It would have made my decision so much more noble. I got my cable bill Saturday and WOAH! The deal I had with the Cable Company was over--my bill jumped up to $120 / month! YIKES!

I know for some (who love HBO's Sopranos and such--the Chris Seay types out there), paying that much for cable is not a big deal, but for a guy like me, who watches a few hours at most plus sports a week, that's crazy.

But I will miss:
1. My DVR (Digital Video Recorder). I can pause, rewind, skip commercials, tape baseball and basketball games and whipping through the commercials. I know baseball is "America's Favorite Past-Time," but I often don't have time to pass! If I don't have time to watch a full Indians game, I can fly through innings until I notice something really happening, I love that...Well, I used to...

2. My daily fix of John Stewart on Comedy Central's The Daily Show. It's scary that a half-hour fake news show provides more in-depth information on the day's politics than all the cables news shows combined. I often hear Sean Hannity spout off about how the "liberal media" never covers the news, and yet I've never seen FOX NEWS CHANNEL (or any other the news outlet, save C-Span) daily show the actual footage of congressional hearings and political speaches, pointing out the obvious lies and incredible silliness of Washington politics like The Daily Show does. Plus Stewart is the wittiest, brightest guy on TV. I really enjoy watching him...Well, I used to...

But I wasn't stupid, at least I waited until ESPN's two day NFL Draft Coverage was over.

So, anyway, I wish I could say I am switching off the TV for TV-Turnoff Week, but I still have local channels and I still have my cable access to the internet.



With the drafting of Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards this year, and Miami Tight End Kellen Winslow Jr last year (who did not play most of the season due to injury),

The BROWNS have drafted arguably the best two receivers in college football...
...and we'll see them play as "rookies" together in 2005!

(I think Trent Dilfer is smiling this evening.)


Check out Scot McKnights summary statements

He has finished up his analysis of DA Carson's book Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.

His analysis is very balanced and gets to the meat of the issues:
1. Epistemology (how modern and postmodern theories of the nature and grounds of knowledge differ, and the role of "truth" in this), and then moving toward a more biblical epistemology,
2. Ecclesiology (how we are going to DO church),
3. Emergent's Missional focus (as a key to understanding the emerging church)
4. The Divergence in the Emerging Church (Carson interacts mostly with Brian McLaren, as if his voice represents the entire conversation),
5. How Carson's background and presuppositions hinder the work of his book.

Check it out at Jesus Creed

Scot McKnight Detailed Analysis of DA Carson's New Book

UPDATE: The links below have been re-linked to the new Jesus Creed blog (thanks to Christian Cryder for re-linking these at his blog).

It's been a busy week for Scot McKnight at his blog, Jesus Creed. He has aleady finished his analysis of DA Carson's new book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.

Here's Scot's chapter-by-chapter analysis, in which he gives detailed summaries of Carson's case. For each chapter, Scot ends by offering questions that reveal where to go next based on both what Carson has to offer as good criticism and on what Carson seems to have missed about the Emerging Church:
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement
"...I’m not sure DA Carson, or even some of the Emergent folk, are all pointing at the same 'thing' when they speak of 'emerging'..."
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement Part 2
"...Has DA Carson given the Emergent leaders the nuance they deserve on how they read the times?..."
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement Part 3
"...Is DA Carson too attached to Brian McLaren’s voice in the Emergent crowd and missing other voices?..."
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement Part 4
"...What sort of postmodernism is at work among the various leaders of the Emergent movement? Are they all the same? Do they differ? And, if so, what differences does it make?..."
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement Part 5
"...It appears to me that DA Carson has responded to only one (of maybe four or five) aspects of the Emergent Church, and the one he tackles is the philosophical/theological side. Why not address the whole Emergent Church in all its varieties?...Are the Emergent folks 'strong' or 'soft' postmodernists?..."
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement Part 6
"...Is DA Carson fair to McLaren’s “Generous Orthodoxy”?...If the Emergent movement finds McLaren’s theology its heart and soul, we are entitled to ask this one simple question: is this theology orthodoxy? is it biblical? is it evangelical?.."
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement Part 7
"...in chapter 7 he trots out the Bible’s statements about “truth.” The reason he does this is because DA Carson has reduced the debate about the Emergent movement to an issue of epistemology, he thinks it is wobbling on the issue of truth, and so he sets out what the Bible means by truth..."
DA Carson and the Emergent Movement Part 8
"...The final chapter of DA Carson’s book is a biblical meditation on Truth and Experience...But DA Carson knows there is plenty of appeal to experience in the Bible – though for some odd reason he fails here to bring in Jonathan Edwards nearly unsurpassable brilliant book, Religious Affections..."

After the chapter-by-chapter analysis, Scot offered his response (broken down into many posts):
Preface "...If we are to live as those who love God and love others, then we must at all costs seek to listen to the Other. And when we do we find that our lives are opened to the Truth more than if we shut ourselves off. So, we need to listen to DA Carson, just as he needs to listen to the Emergent folks..."
Appreciation: to "...Andrew Jones, the Tall Skinny Kiwi who opened the envelope for me..."
Emergence Divergence "...There are other Emergents to deal with: Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, Andrew Jones and Dan Kimball. They deserved to be dealt with more adequately if one is to be “conversant” with the emerging church. I think DA Carson’s book is really 'becoming conversant with the emergent epistemology of Brian McLaren...'"
Issue #1: Emergence is more than epistemology "...This book falls short of DA Carson’s better books, mostly because it is not researched thoroughly enough...The debate cannot be reduced to epistemology..."
Issue #1A: Emergence is passionate in various directions: Why? "...why are they so upset to fashion an entirely new way of “doing church” (which expression I don’t really like). Why?..."
Issue #2: The missional and holism issues "...Fundamentally, the Emergent movement is a “missional” movement and it is holistic in its mission, and until it is addressed from that point, it won’t be addressed centrally..."
Issue #3: What is Truth and how do we put it together? "...DA Carson’s book fails to deal with what “truth” means. It regularly tells us that we can know truth, that we find it everywhere in the Bible, but he doesn’t really define it and expound it at length..."
Issue #4: The Subject’s grasp of the Object leads to chastened truth-claims "...I don’t think DA Carson deals with the inevitable entailment of truth-claiming, namely, that even if we think the Scripture is Truth and Jesus Christ is Truth, we are still in need of dealing with our 'articulation' of that Truth, and that is the place PM enters and that is the struggle we find in the Emergent Truth..."
Issue #5: Over-reactions in the Emergent movement "...especially about (a) modernism and postmodernism and (b) what modernist Christianity really believes..."
Issue #6: Self-analysis or even self-deconstruction "...Is the Emergent movement largely white? largely post-Evangelical?..."
Issue #7: A strength with a weakness: permeable walls abounding "I find the 'permeable walls' (they are not strong, solid, or thick) of the Emergent movement a breath of fresh air....are there too many permeable walls? Do we need some firmer walls and some permeable walls?"
Issue #8: Particular Realities Where Scot applauds Emerging churches in different cultural and geographical contexts doing ministry differently, with one caveat.
Issue #9: Great Traditions "I like the Emergent focus on the Great Traditions, but robbing and stealing from them without taking into consideration contexts is no more than ornament."
Issue #10: Cultural Usurpation "...What role culture? Are we in danger of being usurped by postmodern culture?..."
Issue #11: What are we really preaching? "...What we preach is Jesus Christ, crucified, raised and the one who sent the Spirit. We don’t preach the spirit of the age; we preach to the spirit of the age from within and from without..."
Issue #12: Brian, what do you mean by this? Where Scot asks Brian McLaren some questions.

Thanks, Scot, for the time and effort to do this.
It is a great contribution to the Emergent Church.


An Answered Prayer--and, man, that was FAST!

Well, it was just Wednesday (Very Cool! Scot McKnight is Blogging!) that I re-hooked up with one of my seminary profs from Trinity, Scot McKnight.

Then on Friday Andrew Jones wrote his excellent blog on DA Carson's critique of the Emerging Church.

And on Friday, I commented on Andrew's blog and reiterated here (Conversant with Carson on Emergent) that “somebody has to argue Carson’s points (and NOT half-heartedly)…It is the language that Carson understands—a point-by-point refutation of his arguments. Who will do this?”

Then, on Saturday, Scot posts on Andrew’s blog that Scot was indeed preparing to do JUST THAT! Later on Saturday, Scot posted on my blog “I've got a first installment about Carson and the Emergent stuff on my website.”

Now it’s Monday, and Scot has already written Five installments, one for each of the first five chapters of Carson's book (Scot has an advance copy). This is not just a "refutation" (an unfortunate word choice by me), but a sincere dialogue and critique, affirming what Scot sees as positive contributions from Carson and also asking critical questions of Carson where he needs to be challenged.

Thank you, Lord, for using Scot McKnight to answer my prayer (And, man, that was FAST!)

Of course, I suspect that God was moving WAY AHEAD of my blog...He has a way of doing that... ;)

More on the Imago Dei and "The Purpose Driven Life"

The discussion continues on the meaning of the “Imago Dei” and how it relates to “The Purpose-Driven Life” on this thread.

Included in the conversation are Brother Maynard, DLW (from The Anti-Manicheist), Bud Brown (from BudMan.com), Scot McKnight of North Park University, and Michael Wittmer of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

It is a very good read!


Conversant with Carson on Emergent

Andrew Jones at TallSkinnyKiwi has offered an initial "Open Blog Post for Don Carson."

Having studied under D. A. Carson at Trinity, I've felt the need to wade into this debate as well. (I remember one professor [who shall remain unnamed] calling him "E.F. Hutton" because the old commercials for the E.F. Hutton company had this tagline: "When E.F. Hutton speaks, everyone listens.") I respect Carson's research capabilities; I own almost every book he's ever published.
But as I listened to his Cedarville lectures about Emergent, I kept thinking, "This is not like him...he is usually more thorough in his research…he is fighting against straw men, something that he is usually so good at avoiding…what’s up with this?”

I think that he really DOES need to become “conversant with emergent” in order for his preconceptions to be changed. Having interacted with him personally, I know what his mode of operation is—he interacts with what has been published in books or academic journals and does it through being published in books and academic journals. His title is “Research Professor.” That’s what he does. And, maybe the fact that what he needs to research is in blogdom, he is missing a major chunk of the research he needs to conduct. (Though I suspect that he is computer-savvy enough to read blogs—he was one of the initial researchers to use computers in Greek syntax research. The guy is extremely bright.)

I think that the problem lies in the fact that he assumes that the goal of emergent is to overthrow Reformation Calvinist Christianity, and so he has taken a defensive posture. When we are defensive, our ability to hear what others are actually saying gets muddied. I noticed a few times in the Cedarville lectures that you could hear his frustration—this seems to me to be PERSONAL for Carson, not just academic (though it is mostly academic). Maybe Emergents need to be a little more gracious toward Calvinists and then he would be more willing to step closer to hear what we are saying.

Andrew Jones says to Carson, "I don’t want to argue your points or your criticism. I have done so briefly, half-heartedly, as have many others."

But somebody has to argue Carson’s points (and NOT half-heartedly)…
It is the language that Carson understands—a point-by-point refutation of his arguments.

Who will do this?


The Postmodern Christian Story-telling Album of the Year

Neal Morse "ONE"

We’ve been talking a lot in the emerging church about telling stories instead of propositional statements as our form of gospel-telling (following what seems to us as the model given in Scripture). We’ve been also talking a lot about using the arts to do so.

Well, if you like rock music, and you like epic story-telling, then have I an album to recommend to you.

Neal Morse has been recognized critically as one of the greatest progressive rock artists of the past decade. He headed up the band Spock’s Beard (which has released two albums subsequent to Morse's departure). Spock's Beard was the key band in the 90's that revived the prog rock genre (a genre that had lain dormant since the ‘70s). Morse then converted to Christianity and is now using his talents at song-writing and expert musicianship for the purpose of telling Christian stories (of course, for fans of Spock’s Beard, we saw this happening before the launch of his solo career—the double-CD concept album “Snow” was an allegory of messianic proportions, as were a few of the epic songs on earlier Spock’s Beard albums).

Morse’s latest release, ONE, tells the sweeping tale of the union, separation, and reunion of humanity with God. This album features not only the tremendous artistic diversity of Neal Morse (he sings, plays keyboards and guitars), but also the superior rock drumming of Mike Portnoy (leader of the prog-metal band Dream Theater and arguably the greatest rock drummer of our day--Mike's in the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame and has won 21 Modern Drummer Magazine Reader's Poll Awards including: Best Progressive Rock Drummer [10 years in a row], and Best Clinician [twice]). ONE also features the guitar skills of Phil Keaggy (perhaps one of the most admired guitarists in music today) offering an extended acoustic guitar solo (and also singing in a duet with Morse on one song).

Listening to this album is like attending a rock opera. Drama is found in the story telling; drama is found in the musical themes repeated so that you feel the weight of the story. It’s hard to define Morse’ musical style, because the variety of sounds that Morse offers to the listener defies narrowly defining him and would not do him justice. Think of the best of prog legends Pink Floyd, old-time Genesis, Kansas, Yes, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer…add the best of Rich Mullins or Michael W. Smith from the Christian sector…add the kind of rock-opera feel that Transiberian Orchestra has accomplished with their Christmas albums…and then add the pop-music sensibilities and sophistication of The Beatles at their creative height and you are just scratching the surface of what you’ll be hearing.


Today is Joel and Kaira’s FIFTH birthday.

Sheeeesh. That was a fast five years!

Kaira is a treasure—a sweet as can be, who loves both the feminine things like Barbie and dressing up and doing her nails and the ruff-and-tumble stuff of playing with her brothers and goofing off with the boys at preschool.

Joel is, well, Joel. Every moment he is doing something that just cracks you up. We like to say, “There’s Joel; he’s in his own little world.” He is always playing with action figures, making explosive noises (he even has made a little Tweety-Bird doll into an action figure that “stops the bad guys.”)

Older brother Trey loves them both a lot.

They are both very affectionate and a lot of fun.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing they are in my life. Please guide me to be a good parent for them.

Jesus said “I am the truth.” And the postmodern said, “What is truth?”

I don't think that it is the desire of postmoderns to ditch objectivity. Rather, I think that postmodern philosophy has showed us a valuable lesson about our perception of reality, and I’ll repeat it here (from my loooong post on Darwinism below):

The idea that we can separate the subject (me) from the object I wish to study is a fallacy; there really is no such thing as pure objectivity. Our "objective" interpretations are always clouded by our preconceived ideas.

Postmodern Christians are not applauding subjectivity, they are simply recognizing it as fact. When our "objective" interpretations are clouded by our preconceived ideas, we naturally search for ideas that are cohesive with these preconceptions, instead of new ideas that may challenge those preconceptions.

Postmodern Christians think it is helpful to recognize this, instead of pretending that we are always capable of being "objective."

So, Jesus is the "Truth." A postmodern Christian like myself accepts that Jesus said this, and meant it. I accept that the object of truth is Jesus. But then the tricky part comes into play--how do I perceive this truth? My subjectivity in understanding the object of truth is getting in the way. I must recognize this if I am to get closer to the real meaning of the object.

My subjectivity in understanding what Jesus meant is manifested in a number of ways:
(1) My preconceptions of what the word "TRUTH" means (Does he mean a propositional fact that can be stated about reality, like what I would be able to answer on a test? Does he mean truth as in Jesus tells no lies? Does he mean that he actually existed? Does he mean truth as in true relationship? Does he mean sincerity in action? [Many of these questions I derived from Webster's many definitions of "Truth"]).

(2) My culture's understanding of what "truth" means (including all the sub-cultures in which I dwell, for instance...I am a white, middle-class male who grew up in suburban Ohio, I've been surrounded most of my adult life by conservative Christians who understand the Christian life as mainly knowing the right doctrine, thus defining "truth" in those categories. Therefore my preconceptions of the word "TRUTH" would be different than someone in a different part of the world living in different circumstances, experiences, and hanging around people who think of "truth" mainly as "sincerity in action," let's say...)

(3) The cultural/time barriers between myself in 21st Century USAmerica and Jesus in 1st Century Palestine. Jesus' intention in what HE meant by "truth," and the manner I've been taught to arrive at that intention, are not always a neat and tidy exercise.

So, what is truth? Is Jesus absolute truth? YES. He is the way, the truth and the life.

Can I perceive this truth? Yes. He has given me the ability, through His Spirit, to increasingly perceive His truth. As I increase in holiness, the better I perceive Jesus.

Can I perceive this truth absolutely? No. For now we see through a glass, darkly. My subjectivity is part of the cloudiness—now I know only in part. But one day, I will be face-to-face with truth, and I will fully know Jesus just as I also have been fully known by him.

Very Cool--Scot McKnight is blogging

One of my favorite seminary profs is now in the blogosphere--Scot McKnight.

He was one of my favorites because he always was willing to speak his mind bluntly and swim against the tide of modern evangelicalism--he actually thought E.P. Sanders was right! (For those of you who are into N.T. Wright's re-reading the Gospels and Paul in light of 1st century Judaism, he's written A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context and even wrote a commentary on Galatians from the "new perspective").

His latest book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, is on my "gotta read" list.

I like these thoughts from his blog about how we wrongly define social justice in the USA:

"Justice is what enables me and others to have freedom, and that means enables me to have rights, and when I get freedom and rights, I will be happy because I will be able to do whatever I want as long as I do not hurt another. In other words, justice is defined as freedom to do what I want (with very few restrictions)."

"Justice, as defined by the Bible, is determined not by what I want, or by my own freedom and rights, but by the will of God. What is "just" is what conforms to the will of God. Anything less is morally deficient and anything else is not Christian. Now, let us suggest, as I do in my new book, The Jesus Creed, that the ultimate and final will of God is that humans love God and that humans love others."

A helpful “on-ramp” article about the emerging church.

What is emergent?

Why are you engaged in this?

Seeing as one of the emergent values is missional, to whom is your mission?

In a brief interview format, these three questions are posed to five key voices in the emergent church conversation (Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Karen Ward, Dan Kimball, and Andrew Jones) by Worship Leader magazine.


Thoughts on Intelligent Design and Darwinism

A few of blogs I read, A Ticking Time Blog, Cheaper Than Therapy, and Poet in Motion have all (in one form or the other) commented on Darwinist Evolution and/or Intelligent Design.

So, I thought I’d offer a line of thought that has been running in my mind for the last year (I want to explore this some more, maybe my blogging buddies can help me think this through…this is a topic that I am finding to be constantly in flux as new information flows into my consciousness…)

I went to a seminar about a year ago at a mega-church in my area at which Philip Johnson spoke (the famous Berkley professor of law who wrote Darwin on Trial and many subsequent books on the subject and has been a key figure in spurring on the “Intelligent Design” movement). As I listened to him speak and then ate lunch with Christians discussing the topic of Darwinism, I was struck with how anxious they were about disproving Darwinist evolution. I understand the treat they feel it is to Christian faith (especially the developing faith of our children in the public schools)—the scientific community seems to be not only satisfied with scientific inquiry but also the scientific disproving of any divinity in creation. Some atheistic evolutionists seem to have a mandate to rid the world of Neanderthal-like notions of a God (pun intended). The Scopes Monkey Trial seems to be played out over and over again as school boards wrestle with this issue. (Here in Ohio, the state school board has recently mandated that "Critical Analysis of Evolution," an Intelligent Design lesson plan, be inserted into the Set A science curriculum.) And since it is Christians who are backing the Intelligent Design movement (not only with seminars like the one I attended, but also financially—the Discovery Institute, the main ID group in the USA is financed by wealthy Christians Howard and Roberta Ahmanson), the scientific community is skeptical about it being just a back door to “Creationism” in spite of all the disclaimers by ID scientists that it is not intended to be that.

So, I understand the threat that evangelicals feel. But I also understand that the issue is more complex than simply “evolution versus creation”—which the debate always inevitably collapses to in these Christian discussions (like I had at the Johnson seminar’s lunch table).

A few things I am trying to process:
1. There are Christians who believe that evolution is the process through which God created the universe. While many evangelicals are convinced that we cannot have both evolution and creationism existing side-by-side (since they seem to contradict each other), there are others that offer many other models that can be enlightening to the discussion. I am in the midst of reading and chewing on two such models:

One is from Brian McLaren (borrowing from N. T. Wright), who says that the Bible does not teach that Eden was “perfect” but that it was “good.” The “goodness” of creation is one which can proceed to develop. Reformed theologians like Michael Wittmer and Paul Marshall tell us that it is wrong to read the Bible through the lens of Greek philosophy (as the Gnostics did), which makes us see Eden as a static place that could not change and develop. They say that the Bible seems to indicate that Eden was actually a place of potentials—as indicated when Adam was commanded by the Lord to “work” the creation and “take care” of it—in other words, to “make it better.” McLaren takes that one further, that the creation itself would develop out of its potentiality that God gave it. The potentials that we read at the end of the Genesis creation account perhaps indicates how to read the verses before that—that God, in the creation days, was showing us the process of creation that could be read as the account of evolutionary progression.

Another model is from Theistic Evolutionists, like Kenneth Miller (I’m currently reading his book, Finding Darwin’s God. Miller explains the difference between evolution as validated scientific fact and as an evolving theory, and is even critical of his colleagues in science who espouse a materialistic, agnostic or atheistic vision of reality). Theistic Evolutionists (though not Miller, as I’m reading him) often claim that science and theology can co-exist, because they exist in two separate spheres of inquiry. Science deals with that which can be observed and explained objectively; theology deals with that that which cannot be observed and explained objectively. Science tells us “what;” Theology tells us “why.” When one of these crosses over in the realm of the other, that’s when we have our troubles. (I don't care for this this view of the separation of spheres because I think we are called to holistic thinking of reality, not compartmentalized thinking…)

2. There are Christians who believe that evolution is a deeply flawed theory and that we need to take a stand against it. This is a more nuanced view—it’s not just about the Darwin vs. Creation debate. It’s about truth.
They are troubled by a scientific community that is insistent that their theory is more than just a theory, but is actually true. So true, in fact, that the theory has seeped into just about every area of scientific inquiry—it seems that someone cannot do science today without including in their analysis something to do with evolution. (Darwinism is so “true,” in fact, that we have allowed it into other arenas—Economic Darwinism tells us that the poor should suffer in a capitalistic system; Eugenics tells us that weaker humans should be allowed to pass away, etc.) There seems to be a resolve in the scientific community to make evolutionary theory the basis of all sciences, and to defend it from all challenges. This rubs truth-seekers the wrong way (these “truth-seekers” are often Christians, but not always—there has been a large uprising within the scientific community against this). Truth-seekers question an establishment that does not allow scientific review and legitimate criticism of the theory of evolution. It seems that the establishment is more interested in explaining and defending the theory rather than criticizing it.

3. Postmodernism may be the route out of this conflict. As I sat there at lunch listening to Christians trying to come up scientific strategies to counter evolution, I thought, “There’s coming a time when Darwinism will simply die out under the weight of postmodernism.”

a. Darwinism is a product of the modern era, when Descartian and Newtonian ideas ruled the roost. Darwinism presumes that we can study things objectively, and that the universe is governed by laws of regularity that our human minds can understand. Postmodernity calls these presumptions into question.

b. Newtonian Physics is giving way to Quantum Physics (String Theory), in which we can (and must) make inferences beyond what we can actually observe “objectively.” I have just started reading The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene on superstrings and hidden dimensions. Doug Pagitt (a key leader in Emergent) has been looking into Quantum Physics as well, saying that he suspects that “as the Protestant Reformed expression of Christianity was to Newtonian science…so is the Emergent church expression of Christianity [is] to Quantum science.” This could be very interesting to watch develop.

c. Postmodern philosophers like Michel Foucault teach us that every influential interpretation is put forward by those in power, and power often corrupts the interpretation for the benefit of those in power. The scientific community (a group that whole-heartedly embraces evolution) has the power, and since power is a corrupting force (yes, even in science!), then we must call into question their interpretation of reality.

d. Richard Rorty has taught us that we cannot dispassionately interpret reality scientifically. The idea that we can separate the subject (me) from the object studied is a fallacy; there really is no such thing as objectivity. Our interpretations are always clouded by our preconceived ideas, and then we simply search for ideas that are cohesive with these preconceptions. So, the modern definition of science may need to give way to a different definition that includes the reality of this subject/object relationship. Until evolutionists accept that they are always allowing their preconceptions about the validity of Darwinist theory cloud their conclusions (rather than insisting that they are merely being “objective”), we can legitimately call into question their conclusions.

e. Christians in the modern world have used modern methods of apologetics to refute modern ideas opposing a Christian worldview. That was great; it worked pretty well for most of the 20th Century. And this is the key thing that strikes me about the debate about Intelligent Design: It is a modern method of apologetics. As we experience the postmodern turn, however, our apologetics will need to be move beyond being based solely on using modern scientific methodology. Rational arguments will still be needed (postmodern does not mean “anti-modern,” it just means “after-modern”), but the rational, scientific arguments will need to include the above-mentioned postmodern sensibilities as well. And as postmodernity influences science and (as I predict) allows scientists to include in their inquiries ideas that are beyond merely the observation of the four dimensions and only employing materialistic and naturialistic causes (as the modern definition of “science” says) then our apologetics will depend more on what is not scientifically proven in that modern sense and move beyond that to the matters of faith in the unseen. I think, in fact Intelligent Design is the stepping stone towards that future.

3. So, IMHO, the debates between Darwinism and ID are a product of the modern era. This is not to say that they are not legitimate to have, and do not have value. Truth-seeking is always a good thing.
However, I look forward to a new definition of “science” that includes the ability to make inferences beyond that which can be “observed.”
I look forward to a science that realizes that “objectivity” is a fallacy.
I look forward to when Christians no longer use modernistic methods (like Newtonian Science and Descartian philosophy) to seek to prove the existence of God.
And I look forward to when we can begin to view all of life holistically and can see that Jesus is Lord of all—of science and philosophy and not just my own individual personal faith.

One thing I don’t like about the blogosphere

It seems that more blogs than not are written in such a way that gives rise to contention—the blogger comes from a distinct theological or political or ideological perspective, and the posts are his or her opportunity to rail away at the people who disagree with that perspective.

This seems contrary to Christian community. Last night I led our Oasis group through 1 Peter, chapter 3 where Peter urges all of us to “be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (vv. 8-9). Instead of this attitude, many bloggers (and pundits of all stripes: on the radio, in newspaper and magazine articles, in books, and on the cable news networks) come across as belittling (and even, at times, abrasive) toward those with whom they disagree. And I see Christians enjoying these pundits and even emulating their tactics.

But Peter’s model seems to be better: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience” (vv. 15-16).

Blogging may actually be a genre conducive to not giving well-reasoned answers, since a blog is so short (almost a written “sound-bite”) and thus can lean toward quick and cheap jabs rather than well-reasoned, gentle and respectful statements.

But I hope that Christian bloggers (especially me, since I am sooooo guilty of this!) will learn to blog in a way that reflects the light of the “Kingdom of God,” rather than the darkness of the “Kingdom of Punditry.”


Fear and Loathing

The Country's Woes, End Times, Postmodernity, Secular Humanists, Liberals, and the Emerging Church

I know. It is easy to get frustrated and even fearful. You hear frightening news on the Christian radio talk shows and read it in the columns of your most trusted Christian leaders. “The country is no longer Christian! We are sliding toward Babylon!”

I know. It seems that the world keeps getting worse and worse. You fear that it seems that all the signs point to the end times, when terrible things must happen before the Return of Christ.

I know. You’ve been told that postmodernity is seeking to destroy our belief in Absolute Truth, and with no Absolute Truth we have no standard. You fear that the Bible will be tossed out the window and so will our faith.

I know. You hear Christian ministries pleading for you to send them money so that they can stem the tide of the secular humanists who seek to steal your country and rob your kids from you.

I know. You loath those liberals, who (since they are not Christians), cannot possibly govern righteously. You loath those Democrats, who (since they are pro-abortion), must be on the side of evil.

I know. You fear and loath those “Christians” who are questioning the basics of the faith as you’ve always known them. You read articles and books and hear people warning you about some “Emerging Church” that is trying to destroy the Gospel.

“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” –Edmund Burke, On the Sublime and Beautiful (1757)

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies...Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" –Jesus (Luke 6:27, 41)

"Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure; men love in haste, but they detest in liesure." –Lord Byron, Don Juan (1819-24)

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor fear the dangers of the day,
nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
–The Bible (Psalm 91:5-6)

“God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self- discipline.”
–The Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 1:7)

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
–Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Address (1933)

“Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”
–Jesus (Matthew 8:26)