Friday, March 24, 2006


on wednesday night, as i was leafing through neil lanctot’s excellent historical survey negro league baseball: the rise and ruin of a black institution, my eyes drifted over to one of our bookshelves. resting somewhat conspicuously on the bookshelf was james sire’s the universe next door. for some reason, the sight of this book got me thinking.

i thought about how books like the universe next door, the scandal of the evangelical mind and worldviews in conflict have challenged young evangelicals, including myself, to pursue academic studies with rigor and fully apply our intellect to the Christian faith. i thought about how the desire of evangelicals to attain intellectual credibility has intentionally or unintentionally resulted in a lot of the progressive and innovative thought that we see in circles such as emergent.

i feel like we were taught to study rigorously and expand our experience of life, but then quickly return to the assumptions of our evangelical forbears. for instance, in seminary i felt like they handed us the tools of textual criticism, which exposed the rich layers of tradition and compilation in the Pentateuch, and then expected us to faithfully affirm and fight to the death for the assumption of mosaic authorship. moreover, the uncompromising evangelical commitment to mission has introduced many of us us to, and encouraged us to invest in, cultures throughout the world, yet when we returned home we were expected to leave our cultural assumptions unchallenged and our methodologies unchanged.

i hope that no one hears me hammering on our evangelical tradition here or scoffing at those who have trained and invested so fully in our lives. this is not an attack of any sort. i just find it interesting how initiatives such as the evangelical scramble for intellectual credibility give birth to such unintended consequences.


g13 said...

for the record, i fully realize that this is a line of thought that deserves far more careful inquiry and development than i have offered here. but unfortunately, i only have a little time to discuss such things. so there you go.

i hope you can forgive my sloppy thought.

Becky said...

the funny thing is that at Mars Hill, there's a lot less intellectualism and a lot more spirituality and embrace of mystery...

i feel like i think a lot more intellectually now though - maybe because intellect has become more relational?

awesome thoughts we were told, "think - but not too hard and not outside of this particular box."

Mike said...

i have always said that post-modernity is less something new and more like the bastard child of modernism - including the rebellion against said parent.

purhaps the same could be said of much of the emergent movement - it is (in my op) at the core more about not being like "them" than about being relational/relevant/ or what ever.

but that is just my view of things from over here.

jonwise said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jonwise said...

"we define our tools - which then turn and define us"
michael frost and alan hirsch in the shaping of things to come

very interesting how this plays out indeed.

g13 said...

thanks to one and all for responding.

mike, i think i have a little more sanguine view of the emergent conversation than you do. i find it beneficial for a number of reasons, including:

*the relational connections i've made with people within the conversation.

*the willingness of many within the conversation to question our assumptions without neglecting the need to act as a proclamation of the gospel and incarnation of Christ's compassion in the world.

*the institutional flexibility and missional creativity of those within the conversation.

*the strong emphasis many in the conversation place upon liturgy.

all that being said, i think that our experience of emergent is quite different. if i was in your shoes, i might see things quite differently.