Today, I was reading a book called Blue Like Jazz by a guy named Don Miller. About 100 pages into the book I came across this quote: “I don’t believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway?” After hearing the author admit that he didn’t know anything I tossed his book in the trash and lit a cigar. Then I sat down to write this column.
I wish I could say that Don Miller is just another author getting wealthy peddling a watered-down version of Christianity that appeals to people who want a little religion but have no desire to change their behavior. But Don Miller isn’t an isolated case. He’s part of the so-called Emergent Church movement that is making significant inroads among young Americans.
Rob Bell, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a good example of what passes for a leader in the Emergent Church movement. He assumes the position of a pastor, one I’ve always assumed is supposed to lead people to God, without any real idea of where he’s going. He says the following in one of his best-selling “Christian” books:
“Our words aren’t absolutes. Only God is absolute, and God has no intention of sharing this absoluteness with anything, especially words people have come up with to talk about him.”
Heartening, isn’t it? According to Miller, we can’t know anything. According to Bell, we can’t know anything about God because he won’t tell us with things like words. Go ahead and toss your Bible in the trash along with Blue like Jazz. It’s just a bunch of words from a bunch of people.
Brian McLaren, one of the best-selling authors and leaders of the Emergent Church movement, doesn’t seem to have many answers either. He once stated “I am no doubt wrong on many things. I am very likely wrong in my personal opinions on homosexuality.”
That’s weird. The Emergent Church guys pride themselves on being open-minded. But one of their leaders clings to one of his views even after he decides it is “very likely wrong.” That used to be called stubborn, or narrow-minded. Now it’s hip.
Such biting criticism will certainly not go over well with the thin-skinned "Emergent" gurus. But more scandalous (in the eyes of the "Emergents") than the critique itself is Adams' frequent reference to the "Emergent Church movement." As anyone familiar with the Emergent/Emerging/emerging/emergent Church/church knows, the "growing, generative friendship" that is Emergent is not a movement, but a "conversation." Post-moderns would never attach themselves to so modern a term as "movement." That would imply adherence to a universal set of principles or propositions, the very kind of rigidity that Emergents reject out of hand.
For Adams to call the "Emergent Church" a "movement" is to insult the participants in the "conversation."
Good for you, Mike! Keep up the good work!
H/T to Stand Firm