A self-described emergent Christian wrote a guest editorial in today’s Grand Rapids Press about me and a certain retired pastor. I won’t respond to it because a) I said I wouldn’t; b) there is nothing to comment on, as there is no issue or controversy between us; and c) I don’t trust people not to misconstrue my words. For the record, I have never said, nor do I believe, that it is wrong to vote for Obama or have a beer. Indeed, I am cheering and praying for Obama to succeed, because if he doesn’t, we’re all going to need a cold one.
But the editorial does make a point that drives to the heart of the debate between emergent and traditional Christians. The author puts his finger precisely on the reason I wrote Don’t Stop Believing. I feel like Luther, who told Erasmus in The Bondage of the Will, “You and you alone have seen the question on which everything hinges, and have aimed at the vital spot….”
I don’t want to prejudice your comments with my analysis, so I’ll simply cite what the author wrote and await your response. He said:
Right now, Christianity is seen as a set of beliefs. Believe the right stuff, and you are Christian. Step in this box with its bounded sides, and you are “in.” Step out of line, and you may be outside of the realm of what we consider ‘orthodox’ or right belief. We live and work out of a bounded set constraint.
But there is another way.
A centered set paradigm places Jesus at the center and asks that we move toward him.
Your path may be different than my journey; your conclusions of what may be the best way to go may differ from mine, but that is really not a problem because I know you are headed toward God. I don’t assume you have to have the same set of beliefs as me to trust that you believe in Jesus.