I’m sorry that I’ve been absent from my own blog for the past three days. I had a most enjoyable time speaking in chapels and classes at my alma mater, Cedarville University. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to return to their college 20 years after graduation, to reconnect with former profs and meet the new ones who are rising to take their place. I felt like I was returning to my second home.
Indeed, as I was pulling onto the road that would take me to Cedarville, I began to involuntarily hum Sandi Patti’s “Love in Any Language.” I hadn’t thought about that song in 20 years, and now that I realize it would make an excellent Emergent anthem, I will try never to do it again.
I caught up with the posts this morning and realize that we’ve probably taken this present discussion as far as it’s going to go. At risk of extending the conversation more than any of us desire, I want to write one final post each to Daryl and Kevin (thanks for your patience!).
I called you “a self-proclaimed emergent” [post 19] because the GR Press said that you were emergent in your bio. I assumed that they got that from you (hence the term, “self-proclaimed”). Did I assume too much?
I agree with the tenor of your third post, for its call for both belief and practice is all I’m saying. But it’s difficult for me to square what you said there with what you wrote in the Press. There you said that I was guilty of viewing Christianity as nothing more than a set of beliefs (which couldn’t be more wrong) and that, to quote your view in your words, “I don’t assume you have to have the same set of beliefs as me to trust that you believe in Jesus.”
If by “set of beliefs” you mean issues about baptism or Christ’s return, then we agree (and I wonder why you wrote an editorial about me that “really wasn’t about me” in the first place). But if you mean that there are no beliefs required to believe in Jesus, then I think your view is obviously self-refuting.
Sometimes I think we agree and then at other times I’m not sure. For instance, in post 4 you say that “followers of Christ, must, of course, put their trust in him.” That is all I was ever asking, and makes me wonder why you didn’t say that at the symposium.
But then in post 16 you say that “people can be Christians…even if they never…rise to the level of reflective theorizing,” and it’s clear from post 4 that you place the physical resurrection of Jesus in this “theoretical” category. I don’t understand how 21st century people can become “followers of Christ” who “put their trust in” Jesus if they don’t know and believe in his resurrection. Isn’t the resurrection an essential piece of the Jesus story?
I agree with your “Balaam’s Ass theology” that we profit from Pete’s reminders to live out our faith in the resurrection. I publicly said the same at Cedarville. But because we love Pete, we must also tell him that he can’t evade the question of Jesus’ resurrection by declaring that it’s an uninteresting, “theoretical” question. Without diminishing all that we have learned from Pete, we must kindly tell him that his unwillingness to say that he believes in Jesus’ physical resurrection is not an acceptable Christian position. He doesn’t get a free pass merely because he says other helpful things that challenge us. True friends hold each other accountable, just as we have been doing in these series of posts.