13 September 2006

Wednesday, from vacation

by Frank Turk

Well, my vacation is going nicely. My kids are behaving like etiquette geniuses and having fun at the same time, my wife is happy, and I am well-rested in spite of having forgotten my pillow at home.

However, I am not over the TNIV thing I posted last week. Three things have kept it stirred up in my mind, and I’ll list them in order of relevance to this particular post:

[3] least relevant, I attended a round-table discussion on the Emergent Church this week which included Chris Seay and Doug Pagitt, and while I found Chris more appealing than Doug in terms of “authenticity” (whatever that means), I think his view that evangelical circles have (in his words) “reduced the book of Romans to 4 propositions” is a bit shallow and a LOT more ungenerous than anything anybody in the watch-blog circles have ever said about Emergent theology. (take your grief to the meta) This relates to TNIV only in the fact that Seay and Pagitt both agree that the Bible needs a 21st-century “retelling”.

[2] The very same day, I witnessed Rob Bell in a taped message give Zondervan a big “high five” over TNIV because it’s now the Bible his church hands out in hard-cover before every service. Particularly, he is ecstatic over the translation of Eph 2:14-16 (which we will get to in a moment). And he said specifically to encourage the TNIV folks: “the critics never changed the world.” (note to self: don’t think about the Reformation when you think about Rob Bell saying this)

[1] Most relevant to this blog post, in the meta from last week’s post (which Brad from Broken Messenger called “incredibly balanced, reasonable and insightful”), one of the pro-TNIV guys said, “There isn't a language that is more worthy of translation than another. All that I'm hearing is that English of 40 years ago is better than today's; God likes it better, so change is bad.” (he can thank me for cleaning up his typos at his convenience) Because this view really underscores the problem in this debate, I want to use it as a spring board from the rest of what I have to say today.

There’s one common thread in all of these events which troubles me: the idea that somehow language is so dynamic and so transitive that it is somehow inconsequential even if it is monumentally necessary in the Christian life. To underscore this point, let’s look at the passage in Ephesians 2 which Rob Bell has brought to our attention, but first let’s look at it in KJV just as a starting point in English:

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

11Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Let’s face it: the KJV English is a kind English which is simply not used anymore -- but it is still readable by literate people (of which I hope all of you are). But KJV renders the Greek to say three things here (at least): first, man’s works do not save man, but Christ’s works do; second, God has created works for us to do because God has created us to do good works; third, the method by which God created us for good works is by making new men of us in Christ – and here when I say “men” I certainly mean “a new mankind” in the sense of “a new kingdom of God; men who are under God’s authority in obedience”.

The NIV renders this passage in this way:
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
What we can seem more clearly (because the NIV is written in contemporary English) in this rendering is that Paul is here speaking of the division the Law created among Jews and Gentiles as demonstrated by the division in the Temple between them. (if you want to read about the way that enmity was manifested in Ephesus, read Acts 19) Paul is saying plainly that there is a wall between the Jews and the Gentiles which Christ removes – that what separates the Jew from the Gentile in the Law is abolished by the work of the cross.

You know: Dunn and Sanders notwithstanding, okay? I am not reducing the whole Gospel down to the removal of enmity between Jew and Gentile, but let’s agree that this particular passage says that this is part of the big picture. The way in which it says that, however, is the basis for my complaint today.

John Gill says this about v. 16:
by which "body" is meant, the human body of Christ, which the Father prepared for him, and he assumed, and that in order to make reconciliation for his people; and is said to be "one" body, because it was in one and the same body, which he reconciled both Jews and Gentiles unto God, and in or by one sacrifice of that body; reconciliation being so effectually made by it that there is no need of a reiteration: or the sense is, he reconciled them into "one body"; into one mystical body, the church, of which he is head; and this he did "by the cross", that is, by his blood shed on the cross, or by his suffering the death of the cross
Think on that, now: Gill’s view is that Christ’s body is the “one body” which makes reconciliation by its sacrifice, and that there is now “one body” in the spiritual sense of the church. Amen, right?

Both senses are present in the passage: that Christ’s body was the sacrifice which was offered which reconciles the differences, and Christ’s body in the church is now united as one man is united in himself and does not quarrel with himself. The cultural distinctions are overcome and satisfied; the sin/law distinctions are overcome and satisfied; those distinctions are because two “men” are made into one “man” in Christ Jesus.

Nobody’s arguing yet, right? Let’s then represent TNIV in this passage:
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Let’s be clear about something: the main point – that Christ’s death satisfies the legal demands which separate the Jews and Gentiles is, unquestionably, left in tact. No question: the blood of Christ is clearly the means by which those who are outside Israel are brought near. Kudos to the TNIV for not destroying the Gospel.

The question is this: does it convey all the meaning both the NIV and KJV convey in this passage which Gill was able to perceive a couple of centuries before my small brain tried to grapple with this passage? The answer, as we read this passage, is “no”.

See: I would agree that it’s one kind of translation – even a valid kind of translation – to render v.15b as “to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace”. Why? Because that’s the general sense of the work of Christ in this passage: the overcoming of national/racial/cultural barriers which then makes the Jew and the Gentile into one new kind of people which is not like the old people. (and brother: that deserves a blog post or two in and of itself)

But the way by which Christ does this is not just by somehow erecting the cross: He does this by being the King and establishing the nation by means of his own one body. In one sense, Christ’s defeat of sin is the abolition of cultural barriers; in another sense, as this passage conveys, Christ is establishing His own nation or kingdom in one body, which is his own body.

That sense is completely lost in TNIV. The idea that Christ is creating merely a “new humanity” -- as if the problem was evolutionary -- is simply sub par. Mere humanity is not the issue: the headship of God and of Christ, and man’s obligation to God to be under His authority, is the issue. And TNIV simply doesn’t say anything to that end here. In fact, by reducing “one man” to “a new humanity”, TNIV eliminates the matter of federal headship from the text altogether.

So in that, it’s hard to imagine that my complaint is that KJV English is a better mode of the language than 21st-century English. My complaint is not that somehow the idiom of the language is sufficient or insufficient. My complaint is that the reading of the NT that comes from TNIV obliterates theological layers of meaning – when it is unnecessary. You know: if TNIV wanted to use gender-inclusive language in this passage, it could have said this in 15b: “to create in himself one new human family out of the two, thus making peace”. It could have said, “to create in himself one new nation out of the two, thus making peace”. Either of those would have been completely adequate to convey the force of the original metaphor.

You have to ask yourself: why choose such a soft and inadequate rendering when far better contemporary renderings were plainly available? That’s not about the limits of the modern reader: that’s about the limits of the translators.

I’m going back to vacation. You people try to keep yourselves out of trouble while I’m out of pocket. I’ll turn this van around right now, a swear ...

COMPLETELY UNRELATED NOTE: I accidentally had dinner last night with a young fellow named Jason, and Jason is in a ministry which keeps him on the road about a third of the year. He has a wife and two young kids -- 3 months and 3 years -- and without being any more invasive than I have been already, Jason and his family could use your prayers. As in, "Father, thank you for blessing Jason with a wife and children, and with a ministry which is in your service. Help him to be faithful in his church ministry to your body, and to his fatherly ministry in his home. Teach him, Lord, to be faitful in all things, both great and small, and to trust you when he doubts himself. Teach us all obedience in love as Jesus has demonstrated it to us."

Amen?







31 comments:

Martin Downes said...

You did this from vacation? That's impressive

Taliesin said...

Longest. Post. Ever.

(Okay, probably not.) Excellent post Frank. It seems to me translators have an obligation to be as close to the original as possible so that nuances that require us to search the Scripture as one searches for gold and silver come out.

C. T. Lillies said...

I just wanted to pop by and say a humongous THANK YOU for someone dragging this out into the open. It's not like I was planning on running out and buying the faux fur TNIV or anything but I appreciate the discussion greatly.

Much Thanks
Josh

Lisa Nunley said...

I read my pastors blog post this morning and it reminded me of your lunch date, Jason. Here is an excerpt:

It is a delightful thought to a young man entering upon the ministry of reconciliation that, unworthy as he is, the prayers of thousands of God's people are continually going up, on his behalf... how delightful this spiritual stimulus to a mind almost ready to sink under its own conscious infirmities! And how unspeakably precious the thought to all who labor in this great work, whether in youthful, or riper years, that they are thus habitually remembered in the prayers of the churches! ...We entreat the churches to regard with a more deliberate and devout mind the great work itself to which their ministers are devoted. To explain the doctrines and enforce the duties of genuine Christianity; to defend the truth against all the subtlety and the versatility of error; to sustain within their own minds that sense of God's presence, and of those moral sanctions which are revealed in His Word. And to experience that deep and tender impression of the things that are unseen and eternal, that are necessary to give earnestness to their preaching, as well as that consistent life and bearing that are necessary to give power to their preaching; ... Would they have him come to them in the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace, with a pounding heart, a burning eye, and a glowing tongue, and with sermons bathed in tears and filled with prayer? If so, their prayers must urge him to pray, and their tears inspire his thrilling heart with the strong yearnings of Christian affection. It is in their own closets that the people of God most effectively challenge their beloved ministers to take heed to the ministry they have received from the Lord Jesus (see Acts 20:24).

And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and, from the very post of observation they occupy, they are an easier target for the fiery darts of the foe. They are not trite victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ's ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a number of common men; and for this very reason their temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he cunningly aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work burdensome. .... It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone, that he finds security and comfort, and ennobling, humbling, and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when they also seek them in his behalf, that he becomes a better and happier man, and a more useful minister of the everlasting Gospel!
--Gardiner Spring

Longest. Comment. Ever.

DJP said...

Taliesin -- LOL. (Thanks for saying it for me.)

And Lisa -- I think that distinction goes to Scary Picture Guy.

Mathew Sims said...

Frank,
Could way to sum up the whole argument into a few brief points. That's what's so irritating...a lot bloggers who are Pro-TNIV and Anti-ESV will argue that the ESV limits our understanding of the text by not being "gender neutral," but really the TNIV does that very thing. When you neuter language, you strip away layers of possible meaning--making it harder to mine those out.

I have argued elsewhere...Let the intelligent reader and Christian discern what the meaning is. For those who prefer the TNIV, I say, "Go for it," but to make it sound like it's the second coming of "sliced bread," and that the ESV is a pile of rubbish just seems silly.

Now I am not aruging the ESV is the next "sliced bread" either but I do prefer it because it interprets passages less frequently than the TNIV or other translation.

God bless you Frank. Enjoy the holiday!

MBS
Soli Deo Gloria

Christopher said...

Great post. If readability were the only concern when translating the original manuscripts, then the TNIV, as well as paraphrased translations, would be in the clear here. The problem is that the scripture is the very word of God, and as such, we have a duty to preserve its intent completely, nuances included. Sometimes this message is conveyed by very careful wording in the passage, which simply does not easily lend itself to simplification. Updating the language and making it available to more people is an admirable goal, but it should never result in the loss of information contained in the autographs.

4given said...

I'll try harder next time, DJP.
:-) (not really)

Trinian said...

Hey, show a little tact! If you keep linking to specific prayers like that, you're going to bring God's servers down with all the traffic.

;)

Craver VII said...

“the critics never changed the world.” (note to self: don’t think about the Reformation when you think about Rob Bell saying this)

Yeah, and don’t forget about the American Revolution. You see, that’s precisely why you should NEVER, ever, without exception, make absolutes.

I love the English language, but this language is so bendy and flexible and irregular, it is no wonder that we have so many English translations of the Bible.

As for me, I love collecting English translations of the Bible. I think I have 22 versions so far, and most of them have a comfortable spot on my bookshelves, because there are only a few that I really like for serious study.

Most recently, I picked up a JW’s New World Translation, so I could mark it up, underlining and inserting apologetic comments and cross-references in the margins. I have had an amusing dialogue with my JW visitors about the veracity of their book.

The TNIV certainly stands apart from the NWT, but it’s not one that I would use for studying, and I only have that copy because I like collecting, and I got it for free.

Phil Walker said...

Could I stir the pot and suggest that the phrase "in himself" keeps just a small amount of the federal headship in the passage? Agreed, the TNIV seems to have lost most of it by losing language about the "body" but that tell-tale "in himself" still remains as a pointer to the observant. Of course, in my case, it was because you'd already pointed it out. : )

TheBlueRaja said...

Nice.

TheBlueRaja said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adam Omelianchuk said...

Frank,

1) Thank you for cleaning up my typos!

2) Great post. Very informative.

3) Amen!

farmboy said...

Writing an informative, thoughtful post like this, I can't think of a more relaxing, refreshing thing to do on vacation. But, then, being a college professor probably skews my perspective of what's relaxing and refreshing.

H.C. Ross said...

Does your wife know you're posting during your vacation?

I think given the nature of tranlation, there are going to be times when the KJV gets it 'more right' in terms of our favorite interpretation of the original texts (for you, for this text, it was Gill's interpretation), and other times it will be the NASB, other times the NIV, perhaps other times the TNIV.

Hence I'm not sure one can build a case for one translation being decidedly better or worse than others on account of one or two passages.

For instance, a few weekends ago I got a chance to preach on 1 Peter 2:4-5. Some versions render v. 4 "Coming to him, a living stone ..."; others, "As you come to him, a living stone ..."; and others interpret the Greek as an imperative: "Come to him, a living stone ..."

After looking at the grammar and the context of the section and the book, etc., I finally decided on what I felt was the best rendering (it wasn't the imperative, BTW). But I say all this to make the point: Different translations will be more agreeable to us in different passages. For that reason I think we should use qualification and caution before/when we pronounce judgment on a certain translation.

farmboy said...

h. c. ross offers the following: "I think given the nature of tranlation, there are going to be times when the KJV gets it 'more right' in terms of our favorite interpretation of the original texts (for you, for this text, it was Gill's interpretation), and other times it will be the NASB, other times the NIV, perhaps other times the TNIV.

Hopefully our evaluation of alternative translations is not reduced to the criteria of which translation "gets it 'more right' in terms of our favorite interpretation." If this is all we have to go on, aren't we left with the subjective benchmark of personal preference? My hunch is that Mr. Ross did not have this end in mind when he posted his remarks. Yet, this end seems to follow from his remarks.

Given that we have the objective benchmark of original language texts and all that goes into our understanding of what the authors intended when they wrote those texts, shouldn't we continue to ask which translation "gets it 'more right' in terms of" corresponding to what the authors intended? My hunch is that this is what Mr. Turk intended with his post. Granted, Mr. Turk referenced John Gill's commentary instead of the Greek text, and his point would have probably been more persuasive had he cited the Greek text.

As for asking which translation "gets it 'more right' in terms of our favorite interpretation," isn't that one of the critiques of Rick Warren's writings, that he has a point he wants to make and then goes "translation shopping" until he finds a translation that supports his point?

I suppose this highlights the wisdom of pastors being proficient with the original languages and the wisdom of seminaries requiring substantial work with the original languages as part of their curriculums, oh that more seminaries still had such a requirement.

At the end of the day, if translation is a more subjective, as opposed to more objective, exercise, doesn't that diminish the importance and value of having an inspired, inerrant text as the starting point of the translation exercise? Why would God superintend the process of writing Scripture and preserving Scripture over time if He did not intend to provide us with the means to objectively access the contents of Scripture?

bob hyatt said...

Translations aside (I preach from the NLT (and will probably get pelted now for admitting such)),
c'mon...

"a bit shallow and a LOT more ungenerous than anything anybody in the watch-blog circles have ever said about Emergent theology."

Really?

Really?

You are kidding, right?

Tell me I'm irony challanged and you were kidding...

centuri0n said...

Bob:

not kidding. here's why:

let's imagine for one second that while I superfiically affirm the historic creeds of the faith (up to but not including Trent and/or the WCF), I also affirm that language is only effective in advancing meta-narratives and not so great at advancing propositional truth. That is: propositional truth is a Modernistic demand which cannot be applied to Scripture because it is inherently a pre-modern document.

From that, I make the assertion: "Modern evangelicals reduce the book of Romans to 4 propositions and by doing that miss almost the whole point of book."

That statement is, in the first place, such a broad brush that it covers too many people; the posts you link to cover a far narrower band of people. The statement is also almost completely unsubstantiated -- so much so that a woman in the audience who is what I would call a "simple baptist" was able to disarm it and send Seay on the defensive with about two sentences; the links you have given are far more substantial and provide far more evidence and focus than Seay's statement. Last, it turns out that the statement is itself propositional truth. think about this: if evangelicals have reduced Romans to 4 propositions, Seay has reduced all of evangelidom to one proposition. If evangelicals are somehow wrong for reducing Romans to 4 propositions, isn't reducing the evangelical understanding of Scripture to one proposition at least as callow? Or does Seay get a pass because he's not a propositional guy?

Not kidding. Given the alleged intellectual context of the statement, he might as well as have called all evangelicals what Dan Ackroyd used to call Jane Curtain on SNL. I might have respected him more for doing it, too -- he expected people just to nod their heads to his insult, and it went over like a fart in an elevator.

H.C. Ross said...

Farmboy,

I appreciate that you gave me the benefit of the doubt and didn't assume I was saying Bible translation is completely subjective, in a postmodern way.

But surely we can agree it is not completely objective either! It's somewhere inbetween. Hence the ambiguity of Bible passages that allow for different interpretations, even from people in the same subset of the same denomination. To say there is a subjective element of Bible translation is not a bad thing -- it speaks of the personal aspect of it -- that Scripture was authored by a Person through people in particular historical contexts, but has power to speak applicable truth to other people in contemporary contexts, down through the ages. It is a living Word (1 Peter 1:23).

You said:

"Given that we have the objective benchmark of original language texts and all that goes into our understanding of what the authors intended when they wrote those texts, shouldn't we continue to ask which translation "gets it 'more right' in terms of" corresponding to what the authors intended?"

Two points in response:

1. I think it's a stretch to call 'the original language texts and all that goes into our understanding of what the authors intended ...' an objective benchmark, as if these were on the level of data collected from the hard sciences. The texts themselves, aside from having some slight manuscript variation, are human products (albeit God-breathed), ie, full of delicious color and ambiguity. They're not spreadsheets or graphs. And all that we know about the authors' intention is quite a bit in the final count, but even this is limited, and some know more than others, and even those that know most wouldn't say they're absolutely certain about what they know.

2. When I said 'gets it more right', I meant EXACTLY what you're saying: which commentator/translator/theologian comes closest in their interpretation to what Paul or Peter or Jesus REALLY MEANT in any given passage? But because I believe we can speak of the entire endeavor to discover this as 'objective' only in a loose sense, I think we need to be cautious in building a case for or against any particular translation on the testimony of only two or three passages. We can look to authorities like Gill, or Henry, or Spurgeon, but ultimately they're doing just what we're doing: using the resources and the noggin they've been given to get as close as they can to what the original authors meant.

I believe there IS an original intent THERE, I just think we need to speak modestly about our ability to identify it bullseye.

H.C. Ross said...

To add to my above post:

Of course the One who ultimately, we trust, ensures we get close to the original authors' intent (as we use the due diligence and resources and means given us to study and interpret) is the same Holy Spirit who inspired the authors themselves ...

But even given this, we still must be modest, because my godly dispensational professor may not agree with the godly Reformed preacher on the radio who interprets the same passage, and both of them might find exception with the interpretation that a particular Lutheran Reformer from 16th-century Germany whose initials are M.L. held on the same passage. (This kind of thing happens).

All three, one could claim, show signs of being full of God's Spirit; all three show the fruits of faith in their words and works; and yet all three might differ in a particular interpretation. Because of such phenomena I will study and pray, and based on my own prayer and study I will preach with conviction what I believe is the correct interpretation (which is closest to what the original authors meant), but not do so in a way that implies that all those who disagree with me must be heretics. This is not postmodern, slippery-slope spinelessness. This is pursuing the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

(And no, I'm not talking about disagreement over BIG issues like the deity of Christ or theories of the atonement ...)

Taliesin said...

my godly dispensational professor may not agree with the godly Reformed preacher on the radio who interprets the same passage, and both of them might find exception with the interpretation that a particular Lutheran Reformer

This is why I think translators need to be translators and not interpreters. Granted that some words/phrases are hard to translate and choices must be made, but to the fullest extent possible the translators should present a text to readers that is free of the translators interpretation.

DJP said...

farmboy -- I suppose this highlights the wisdom of pastors being proficient with the original languages and the wisdom of seminaries requiring substantial work with the original languages as part of their curriculums, oh that more seminaries still had such a requirement.

Amen, several times.

bob hyatt said...

" the posts you link to cover a far narrower band of people."

Of course they do! Your assertion was that what Chris Seay said about a broad group of people (evangelicals) was less generous than what "anything anybody in the watch-blog circles have ever said about Emergent theology" (a much narrower band of people).

Again- C'mon- he (I can easily imagine) was being hyperbolic, maybe overly so, and I think talking about taking the beautiful book of Romans and reducing it to the "Romans Road". An incautious statement, true in many ways, but also, as you pointed out, overly broad.
He's NOT arguing against propositional truth, so the fact that he used a proposition is a non-issue.

But anywhere near as ungenerous as calling the emerging church part of "the Devil's Ecumenical Church of Deceit" (a direct quote from Slice)?

C'mon.

bill melone said...

Is that a woman in the vigorator image?

centuri0n said...

Bob:

He was, at that moment, arguing against propositional truth. He lead up to that statment by giving a bibliography (short; one or two titles) of academic works which outline postmodern views of history as metanarrative, and by making sure he made it clear that propositions are not the substance of the Gospel. In that context he took his shot of "the Roman road".

Now, let's be clear about something: he wasn't sitting there ranting like some kind of homeless person with an invisible friend. He was, in a very measured way, explaining his desiderata as a "pastor" and as a "christian" in the "emergent" movement. And here'e the real irony: Bill Bright's 4 Spiritual Laws (which is a version of the Roman Road) is exactly an attempt to retell the Gospel in contemporary terms! In fact, the all versions of the Romans Road which I have read are also attempts to take the extraordinarily-difficult book of Romans and make it some kind of narrative which the common person can follow.

The longer one thinks about what Seay said, the less sense it makes -- and you don't have to find the linguistic differance (that's not a typo; if you think it is, you need to brush up on your Derrida and deMann) to see that. And it is its carelessness and in its utter lack of insight this it gets branded by me as "shallow and ungenerous".

And as for Slice calling Emergent "the Devil's Ecumenical Church of Deceit", let me ask you: in what way is that ungenerous? Because it equates the Emergent movement -- the one which thinks the Romans Road is not an attempt at metanarrative or relevence to the culture -- to the devil's work?

I wonder -- what, exactly, is emergent saying about the traditional, historic evangelical faith when it says that it cannot (and for the most part, does not bother to) reach the post-modern, truth-denying world, and then to show how relevent it is ponies up execises in mystical waywardness rather than the Gospel (you know: Christ died for our sin in accordance with Scripture)? It seems to me that this is its way of villifying traditional evangelical belief.

Would you say villifyuing traditional evangelical belief is "ungenerous"?

centuri0n said...

sorry, btw, about the typos.

ScottyB said...

We do reduce Romans to the Romans Road often.

Chris is generally gracious(though sometimes shallow) and Ingrid is generally harsh(and fairly deep). I would like to hear the audio of what was said to verify Frank's generosity barometer. Since this is a blog not known for being generous to arminian post evangelicals I think I have to prelimarily agree with Bob even though Frank has been pretty generous lately.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Speaking the truth in love, giving an answer to anyone with gentleness and respect, correcting your opposition with kindness to all(that includes so called brothers, Hymenaus, and Alexander the Coppersmith)-hoping that they will be snatched from the Devil's grasp, the Word made flesh full of grace and truth. It's my experience that every church, denomination and christian majors in somethings and minors in other things none of us equally apply scripture as forcefully to produce and all around ministry-I think thats why we love purgeon so much because we wish we could be like him. He separated from the downgrade but wasnt a jerk about it. I think thats why we also love Piper he demolished the arguments of Boyd and when he was unkind to Boyd he publicly apologized for it.

I pray for the EC and Fundamental Evanglicals and myself that we can have all around ministries.

farmboy said...

scottyb offers the following concerning critiques of the emergent movement (Mr. Turk's phrase): "Speaking the truth in love, giving an answer to anyone with gentleness and respect, correcting your opposition with kindness..."

Doesn't the above critique of those who critique the emergent movement point to the fundamental, fatal problem with the emergent movement: its denial of absolute, objective truth, specifically, the absolute, objective truth revealed in Scripture.

How is it loving to deny the truth, to fail to speak the truth?

How can you given a valid answer to someone unless that answer is based on and corresponds with the truth?

How can you correct someone unless your correction is based on and corresponds with the truth?

Denial of the absolute, objective truth revealed in Scripture is a fundamental, fatal flaw with the emergent movement. Yes, there may be more artful ways to highlight this flaw. But, to focus on the manner in which this flaw is communicated while ignoring the fundamental, fatal nature of the flaw seems, at best, misguided.

Out here in west Texas, or God's country, if you prefer, if I hear that a tornado is coming, I'm heading for shelter. I'm not going to engage in a discussion of the manner in which this warning was communicated.

Now, for those who are part of the emergent movement and argue that not everyone in the emergent movement denys the existence of the absolute, objective truth revealed in Scripture. Before you argue that it's not fair to criticize an entire movement based on the positions of a few members of the movement, first turn your attention to cleaning up your own house. If those inside the emergent movement were to do a good job of riding herd on other insders who deny truth, then us outsiders wouldn't have to.

ScottyB said...

I like the phrase humble orthodoxy.
chk out this sermon by Joshua Harris-he described speaking the truth with humility at the recent Resurgence(Mark Driscoll)conference.
download it here

bob hyatt said...

Whoa! We've added another adjective to truth. Used to be you just had to believe in truth! Then it was "absolute truth!" And now it's "absolute, objective truth"?

:)

Seriously- I believe in truth.
So does Chris Seay.
I'd love to hear the audio, because I'm fairly sure if he was discussing porpositional truth he certainly wasn't denying it so much as saying that perhaps coming at things a bit differently is often helpful, especially these days. And saying that the heart of the Gospel is a narrative and not a set of propositions is NOT the same thing as "denying absolute, objective truth."

But not having been there, and not having heard what he was saying, I find myself at a bit of a disadvantage...

Still your statement is complete hooey. Your argument is that calling it "the Devil's Ecumenical Church of Deceit" is a true statement, so it can't possibly qualify as "ungenerous"???

Blah. Stop trying so hard and admit it- your statement that Chris's words were "a LOT more ungenerous than anything anybody in the watch-blog circles have ever said about Emergent theology" is so absolutely, objectively NOT true it doesn't even bear any more discussion.

By the way- if Chris doesn't believe in the absolute, objective truth of the Scriptures, I wonder why his church has male eldership. Seems odd for such a compromiser to hold that particular line.

Huh.

"what, exactly, is emergent saying about the traditional, historic evangelical faith when it says that it cannot (and for the most part, does not bother to) reach the post-modern, truth-denying world, and then to show how relevent it is ponies up execises in mystical waywardness rather than the Gospel (you know: Christ died for our sin in accordance with Scripture)? It seems to me that this is its way of villifying traditional evangelical belief."

That's a stereotype I'm not even going to touch. It's just as poor as Chris' statement, and actually even a bit less accurate.
There's a huge difference between what the McLaren Critics THINK happens in emerging churches like ours and what actually does...

And you'd hear the Gospel quite a bit at our little pub church!