There was once a point in my life where I enjoyed reading some of the material being published by the “emerging church” crew. But I have to agree with those like Mark Driscoll who see this movement as going from new ways of thinking about being the church to something very dangerous to becoming something other than the church. It is the following type of reasoning, expressed by Tony Jones, that has caused me to agree with Nick Norelli when he wrote that everything Emergent/Emerging is a waste of time. Tony Jones wrote this on his blog this last Good Friday,
Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God’s wrath burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.
I think the Apostle Paul would respond to this in a way similar to what he wrote of unbelieving Jews and Greeks in 1 Corinthians 1:18-24,
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
This is not to say that Jones is one who is not a legitimate Christian, nor am I saying that because Jones favors other angles on the atonement that he outside of Christian fold. There have been plenty of differing views throughout church history on the meaning of the cross. I do think he is bordering on heresy though, because he simply refuses to acknowledge the strong testimony in Scripture regarding Christ as our substitution. He is wrong that this view of the cross does not align with the biblical narrative–dead wrong. And what we find “compelling” spiritually and intellectually is not always what is true or right. There is a reason why people are not attracted to the cross, but that reason is not sufficient enough for the church to change her message.
I was pleased to see Jeff, of the blog ‘Scripture Zealot’, composed a short list reflecting the canonical witness on this matter. I think the quick scroll through his post will show the Scriptures testify to the opposite of what Jones wrote. To read, click here.
Also, Justin Taylor, of the blog ‘Between Two Worlds, has a very lengthy discussion forming over on this blog. To read/join in, click here.