Last week, my fiance and I blew into Chicago for some fun at Shedd Aquarium. They have an amazingly beautiful facility and some nice fish too, which is a plus when you’re talking aquariums. The purpose of the trip, however, was a priviledged interview on emerging/emergent soteriology with Dr. Scot McKnight of the Northpark University.
Dr. McKnight is the author of the Jesus Creed Blog, widely read by all those connected to and involved in emerging intercourse — as well as by those of us fundamentalists, who lurk in the darkness behind all the comments. Scot has also written a new book entitled A Community Called Atonement.
As Emiley and I entered his office, I had no doubts we were in the right place. In emerging style, his office sported a well-used coffee maker in the corner, rosary beads on the wall, as well as an almost life-sized poster of the Beatles. We met in the middle — three nice chairs surrounding a small coffee table on which I placed the audio recorder and my notes. Scot is quite a nice man and more than willing to engage in passionate conversation (as evidenced by his gracious willingness to allow an interview) — whether it be golf, coffee, Chicago culture and attractions, quality food, wholisitic redemption, Rob Bell’s Sex God, Jesus action figures, the rampant drinking problem at the university, or how he pasted MBBC (my school) in athletics when he was at Cornerstone in Grand Rapids — Scot likes to communicate.
I want to be careful on this point, so I’m not misunderstood by my own movement. I understand that fundamentalism has its problems. That’s not a shocker — within the broadest definition of the movement, we have people who elevate miniature issues to the place of cardinal doctrines — people who believe that for a woman to wear pants is a sin — people who crucify others from their pulpits because they don’t use a particular version of the Bible — people who hold a Keswick view of sanctification — people who stand on street corners and yell at unbelievers — people who have completely swallowed the hyper-calvinist and ultra-dispensationalist kool-aid and consequently do not engage in evangelizing the world because after all, if God wants to save the lost, He will do so apart from our witness; the great commission was given to the disciples, not us, etc.. I understand the problems raised represent a minority in fundamentalism; I am not trying to characterize it an ugly way (I am an unashamed fundamentalist) — rather, I am being blunt because I am about to get more so.
I will cover the interview (hopefully with sound clips) and the book in future posts. I am still debriefing myself. However, these are my initial thoughts about that particular sphere of evangelicalism…
It’s scary. Scot isn’t even sure that some of his friends in the conversation have the gospel right (I’m pretty sure they don’t). Scot was careful about characterizing everyone in the conversation with one broad brush (and rightly so, as they all believe differently). However, that’s my problem: he isn’t sure that they all agree on the gospel!
Read his blog. He’s not sure if McLaren and others are even getting the problem right. The problem is sin — Scot defines it in a four-fold fashion — at least one of his facets is against God. His friends, however, are missing it completely; the problem to them is merely social chaos and injustice (McLaren)! If we don’t get sin right, then we don’t get the gospel right.
If we don’t have the gospel right, then what do we have? Paul calls it a matter of primary importance — that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that he was burried and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (I Cor. 15). It is the basis of all Christian unity; there is no unity apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil 1). It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1). Furthermore, attempts to save the world from social injustices and social chaos, apart from regeneration, is absurd.
If we get the gospel wrong, then we get eternal life wrong. If we get eternal life wrong, then we don’t get abundant life now and we certianly don’t get heaven in the future.
So my thoughts on the emerging movement are these:
1). I’m not sure any of them are right on the gospel.
2). Even if some of them are (and I will grant that for this discussion), then why are they in fellowship with others who may not believe the gospel?
Try to see it clearly_