Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


I was recently referred to this blog/ad for a sold out conference coming up that John Piper is leading called the Supremacy of Christ: above all earthly powers in a postmodern world. On the blog/ad, he has the following quote:

“Our aim is to call the church to a radical and very old vision of the Man, Jesus Christ- —fully God, fully sovereign, fully redeeming by his substitutionary, wrath-absorbing death, fully alive and reigning, fully revealed for our salvation in the inerrant Holy Bible, and fully committed to being preached with human words and beautifully described with doctrinal propositions based on biblical paragraphs. We love Dorothy Sayers old saying, The Dogma is the Drama. We think the post-propositional, post-dogmatic, post-authoritative conversation is post-relevant and post-saving.”

If you understood what he said and are even the slightest bit read on the “emergent conversation” then you know that these are clearly fighting words and on purpose. He is claiming that a group of people who believe that some things we’re “certain” of should be held more lightly and maybe a little less “certain” makes their theology, in the words of John Piper, both irrelevant and pagan.

Honestly, I read this and got annoyed. But I’ve listened to a few “emergent conversation” podcasts and a read quite a few blog posts to make me just as annoyed. I think the “American Church” in specific is returning to a new level of division not seen since the age old days of denominational battles where we planted 5 brands of church in 3 city blocks. Today our division is going back to the battles of Luther’s day and prior to the age old fighting over “dogma and creeds.” There are two groups in the fight. GROUP 1 is the sold out conference of Piper’s world. GROUP 2 has an issue with sold out conferences and prefers small “conversational” gatherings aournd the country with beverages and free-flowing musings.

GROUP 1 are going to look at the creeds and theological view points that were written by the church and its representatives in the 1500 years that followed its birth, decide which ones they are certain were right, and then say that anything outside of those is wrong and heretical.

GROUP 2 are going to read the same set of beliefs, do the same analysis, and decide some of what GROUP 1 concluded is certainly or might be wrong. So, in an effort to not state with certainty, anything they are uncertain of, everything moves to vague non-propositional statements that are stated as hypothesis only with lots of subjective language.

This, on both sides, seems to be to be throwing the baby out with the bath water. For GROUP 1 to claim that we know everything about GOD or have read the Scriptures with such clarity that our view (and only our view) on the mode or model of Jesus sacrifice, the events surrounding the return of Jesus, and the eternal destination of a soul is correct is either the only possible conclusion and the sole representative of truth or presumptuous and pious at best and grossly arrogant at worst.

However, for GROUP 2 to see how with great certainty GROUP 1 tends to overstate propositional truths and to remove the mystery from the Christian faith is one thing. But to respond by doing the absolute opposite and state every truth as subjective and to be certain of virtually nothing is to presume all of those in history before us to be ignorant and arrogant while assuming that you can avoid those labels by being wishy washy and abstract.

I wish somehow we could spend less time being afraid of being wrong or defending our little piece of “certainty” that we could actually have a “conversation” that didn’t have to be on thin ice. If people would put down the sword and take the other guys neck off the table, maybe we could decide there’s some stuff we know for certain and some stuff we’re pretty certain we won’t ever know or that we’re making our best educated guess on… and exercise this thing called unity, trust, and faith in the God of all creation.

Maybe that would truly change the conversation on both groups.

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