Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Tonight, within the last 2 hours, I discovered a new concept that I didn't know about before. I love that. The concept is "emergent churches". My interest in it turns out to have come almost accidentally. I read a book... well, I listened to an unabridged audio version of it. I really enjoyed this book. It's Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis. As much as I enjoyed it, I also feel somewhat cautious about some of the things that it suggests. So I asked one of the pastors at my church about it. He hadn't read it, but he mentioned the words "emergent churches". So I went googling.

It turns out that Rob Bell is part of a movement of churches that are trying to change the church. That movement calls itself "emergent". And, WOW, a LOT of people really dislike emergent churches. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, I went out looking for criticisms of velvet elvis, and I found 'em. For instance, take this blog entry and it's comments.

Even though the comments end amicably, the middle part is too contentious for me. What I think that the commenters have missed is the value of failure. I don't know where I stand with respect to whether Rob Bell is right or wrong. But there is value in the discussion, even if he's wrong. There's value in taking a chance and presenting a viewpoint, even if that viewpoint eventually turns out to be provably false. The value is that we've learned something about finding false viewpoints. I wish very much that the commenters on that site could sit back and have the discussion and appreciate the other point of view, without having to agree with it. And, more importantly, without having to belittle their opposition. I'm especially frustrated by the posts that seem to suggest that these questions not even be asked. E.g.:
Goodness. Not only am I in shock by some of these posts, but that those who carry the banner for Christ would ‘excuse’ or grant grace, to anyone who wants to water down truth.
I wish it were completely obvious which things (including Biblical interpretations) were truth. But, more often than not, clear cut truth is evasive. Clear cut truth almost never requires discussion. No one argues that 2+2=4. There are no blog entries with multiple comments going back and forth on that one. Doesn't the existence of the discussion suggest that the truth being discussed is not obvious?

Does that put me on the side of Rob Bell? Even if I'm skeptical of some of the things he suggests? Does that make me a post-modern Christian? I really hope not, because I simply don't agree with post-modernism. I don't agree that *anything* goes. I don't agree that perspective can change right and wrong. I think there IS objective truth. I just don't trust my human ability to accurately discern it on my own.

I agree with the economists who describe markets as a discovery process. I want to welcome all ideas to the discussion. Even the ones that I think will ultimately be rejected. There's value in experimentation. There's a lot of value in failed experiments.

So disagree with Rob Bell if you like, but it might be wise to consider humility. Be willing be wrong. I'm not God, and as such, I'm always prone to misunderstanding Him and His truth. I don't think I'm the only one who has that problem.

Am I wrong?