December 31, 2004

It's Friday

And Friday is the day I've chosen to highlight other blogs who have posted something noteworthy in the past week. I've been on a sort of hiatus from meta-blogging for about the last month. Frankly, the extended reading and writing required to give a fair shake to the various Carnivals and so forth can get wearying, so I took a break from it for the most of December. Not that I had any obligation, but having done so regularly sets an expected trend, I'm sure. Anyway, in the new year I hope to get back into the swing of things in that respect. Here's a start, sort of.

Over at Challies.com, Tim takes Brian D. McLaren to task for his Orwellian redefinition of Calvinism. McLaren defines himself as a "Fundamentalist/Calvinist," but his self-identification is belied by his abandonment of traditional Reformed theology and a remaking of the Five Points (i.e. the so-called TULIP) into something apparently more palatable to the new kind of Christian. Tim's conclusion:

Brian McLaren has rewritten the doctrines of grace, the doctrines that summarize what the Scripture teaches about redemption; about how sinful men can be reconciled to a holy God. He has taken these doctrines, which in part and in totality focus exclusively on the works of God in, to and through us, and has rewritten them in terms of what we can offer God and each other. He has given them a man-focus rather than a God-focus. Further, and this is consistent with a theology of redemption and justification drawn more from N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul than from the Bible, he removes the emphasis from reconciliation, substitution and judgment to mere human acts.

[Read Brian McLaren's TULIP]

I haven't gotten on either the "Emergent Church" bandwagon, nor the "bash the Emergent Church" bandwagon - both seem fashionable these days - but I agree with Tim's assessment of McLaren. As my sidebar currently indicates, I've read both his "didactic novels," A New Kind of Christian and The Story We Find Ourselves In, recently. Both books are (pardon my French) pseudo-theological masturbation - self-satisfying, I'm sure, but plotless, ponderous, and ultimately pointless. McLaren likes to question things, but since he doesn't argue for any alternatives, he leaves readers like me cold.

Since I graduated from Waterloo, an Emergent church called The Embassy has started to meet regularly on UW campus. I noticed three things about their Web site that started the red flags waving almost immediately:

  • The focus of the front page is about how "different" they are from other churches. (Are they in competition?)
  • While formally associated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, I could find neither a statement of affiliation nor of faith anywhere on the site. (Is The Embassy embarrassed by the PAOC or its doctrinal standards?)
  • The threads on the forums tend toward the same meandering, suborthodox wanking as McLaren's books. (If churchgoers do nothing but speculate about faddish pseudo-theology, is the church faithful in fulfilling its divine mandate to equip the saints?)

In short, the Emergent emperor has no clothes. I'll have little to say about it henceforth, since I don't see the point in broadsiding every fad that comes along, but I'm glad others have taken up the cudgels.

Postscript: On a related note, for some reason I had flagged Tim's post "Campolo on the Emerging Church." I don't recall why - I think it was primarily because another Emergent leader, Dan Kimball, got personally involved in the comments - but the fact I had it flagged means I had intended to highlight it.

Post-postscript: Yesterday Tim also posted a detailed review of McLaren's newest book, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN. Frankly, the full title of the book (yes, that is real) tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this crap.

In other news

I've made an addition to my blogroll. Whenever I do a blog run on my larger list of favourites, I always anticipate reading Rebecca Writes, particularly when she's working through some meaty theological issue. Plus, she's Canadian, eh?

Post-post-postscript: From the I-blogrolled-her-before-she-was-cool department: La Shawn Barber has officially entered a higher plane of existence in which frothing lefties actually spend their free time creating hate sites about her. Congratulations!