Like clouds and wind without rainPretension (n): making claim to distinction or importance, especially undeservedly; having or creating a deceptive outer appearance of great worth; ostentatious.
Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely
(Proverbs 25:14 NAS)
Phil's post on EC pretentiousness, and some of the meta, got me thinking. Which is always dangerous.
These über-cool emerg*** bloggers and speakers make me feel old. Not because they're so hep and all-that and with-it, and I'm so out-of-it. No, it's because they're so not hep nor all-that nor with-it. Because they're so earnestly pretending to be all those things, and gambling on the historical ignorance of their poor enablers. Worse, they're actually snaring the gullible, thanks to their cynical, contemptuous bet.
But my problem is that I do remember history. Some from living it, some from reading it. So I can't play.
Case in point: Brian Maclaren burbling about this "global conversation," with the schoolgirl-giddy pronouncement, "Something new is coming!"
"Something new"? Honestly, how does he get away with that stuff?
Do Maclaren's devotees think that nobody in all of church history has ever twisted Scripture, fuzzed it up and ground down all the sharp edges, to be more chummy with the world? Do they live on a planet where Origen never hit the Platonic kool-aid a little too hard? On their home-world, did Rome never have disastrous flirtations with syncretism and worldly philosophies?
On EC Prime, did Schleiermacher not cast off barren orthodoxy for barren mushodoxy? Did Harry Emerson Fosdick never share a nod and a wink with the world, over against Scripture? Was not Fosdick's liberalism completely dismantled, brick by brick, through the writings of the likes of J. Gresham Machen? Is their dimension bereft not only of Machen, but of Schaeffer, Clark, van Til, Henry, and a host of others?
Are they living on a planet where the '60s and '70s never happened? On my world, they did happen, and a lot of us still remember. Here on earth, hippies "got Jesus," and then some of them decided everyone had been doing it wrong for 1900+ years, so they were going to reinvent it all ex nihilo. But what they "invented" ended up looking just like their own counter-culture culture. It looked like the world.
The difference is that many of those hippies grew up, wised up, and grew out of it.
But with its strained, blinking-eyed, just-born-yesterday pose, the EC wants to grok its way to fresh insight. Because, you know, no one else ever tried it exactly their way before, saw through its phony promise, grew up, and found genuine freedom in Christ's yoke of discipleship.
All this Emerg*** Sturm und Drang all makes me think of the ad slogan, "It's not your father's Oldsmobile." It's not!, they insist. ECers are so desperate for you to know that. Really. Really, it isn't! It's new, and bold, and risky, and daring, and dangerous, and adventurous, and... and la la la.
Only, if they were honest, they'd have to say —
"As a matter of fact, this is your father's brand-new-'n'-improved world-friendly church. In fact, it's your grandfather's brand-new-'n'-improved world-friendly church!"To stay alive, Emerg*** leaders have to count on their enablers not knowing anything about history, and not knowing anything about the Bible and all its unpopular, world-unfriendly jagged edges.
So there have to be a lot of distractions. One is the style, about which much has been said. Another, simply, is the leaders themselves. The leaders must become the focus, the issue. They're not out to teach and preach that stodgy old Bible, with all its rules and edges. Ick! No! They're out to "share their life through the Scriptures." They're cultural architects, they're futurists, they're... they're... Imagineers, or something.
And they're bringing something new. That's why you need them. You need them for the new.
But I ask again: what's new? People have never tried to kiss up to the Zeitgeist before, instead of honoring the Heiliger Geist? People have never —
- tried to sneak women into the pastorate, past clear Biblical prohibitions?
- sought to blur clear Biblical lines on popular sexual behavior?
- struck a conveniently agnostic pose on the exclusivity of salvation through conscious faith in Jesus Christ alone?
- labored hard to burr the edges off the Biblical call to holiness, self-denial, and world-renunciation?
- preferred to waffle on the Biblical doctrines of sin, atonement, propitiation?
- worked to take the edges off the Biblical depiction of the character of God?
- striven to flatter man's natural urge to autonomy, and proclivity to rebellion?
- thrown inconvenient Biblical doctrines overboard to sail lighter in the world's eyes?
- stood athwart the world's pell-mell rush to judgment and shouted "Let me on!" instead of "Repent!"?
Or is the really new thing that somehow they're thumb-tacking the label "evangelical" onto it?
Of course, anyone who really wanted to have a revolutionary impact on the world might give a thought to how Paul did it. He managed a pretty good job of staging a counter-cultural revolution. What was Paul's orientation?
Next time, DV.
(Hey, don't get mad at me; my dear wife makes fun of me when my posts are too long. I'm trying to cut back.)