Dangers of Emerging Church Theology EDITED
TRAMPOLINE THEOLOGY - There are no absolutes
An Emerging Church pastor argues that the doctrines of Christianity should be thought of as the “springs” that hold up the trampoline on which we jump and live in Christ. The springs are not the main point; they merely facilitate the greater goal of “us finding our lives in God” (25).
- What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?
But what if, as you study the origin of the word “virgin” you discover that the word “virgin” in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word “virgin” could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?
What if that spring were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart? (026,027)
Bell is not denying the doctrine of the Virgin Birth. What he is doing is minimizing the doctrine of the Virgin Birth as an ESSENTIAL dogmatic propositional truth on which Christianity is based. Now, that is because the Emerging church movement trend appears to be there are NO absolutes
Beliefnet adds this assessment
"I think a lot of people are deeply fascinated with Jesus and just can't do the Christian packages they've seen. Christianity is a little suspect, but Jesus, right on. So I'm trying to free Jesus from the religion that's built up around him."
Too many churches put Jesus and the Bible into a walled-in worldview where no questions are allowed, Bell says. In this "brickianity," as he calls it, church doctrines are like bricks. Removing one can bring the whole wall tumbling down. "What terrifies me are communities that don't have questions," Bell says. "If there's any place where you would express your deepest doubts, it would be church."
Doctrines should be more like springs, helping people jump joyfully toward God, he writes.
What does the Emerging Church and trampoline theology do with the resurrection. Here is Paul's take on this essential BRICK (foundational) Doctrine.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised;
14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.
16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;
17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (1 Co 15:12–18). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
When we read Paul's statement regarding the foundational or brick doctrine of the resurrection, how can we reach any conclusion but the dogmatic proposition that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The statement of Jesus resurrection stands, as is, and must be beyond questioning. It is such an essential doctrine that to fail to believe this doctrine brings into question one's salvation. Today we dont want to hear that ANY belief/error in belief can impact a soul's stand with God. We can debate election, healing, tongues, etc. What we believe about those wont add to or detract from our relationship with Christ.
Christ's existence and death are irrefutable facts in world history. They arent debatable to anyone. But what about His resurrection? Is Jesus in the grave or not, and does it matter? You see there are foundational truths that were delivered to the Church, and for which the Church is called to contend (Jude). The whole idea of contending for the faith implies the existence of absolute truths that are beyond questioning and non-negotiable to the Christian. These core truths define God, the Church and salvation to a fallen humanity. Some say God is too big to be defined in any way. That would be true had He not done precisely what Jesus promised and that is reveal Himself to Jesus' Apostles who wrote the New Testament. Since God is declared through Christ, and Christ's actions and words are recorded in scripture, then the validity of our relationship is discernible by its consistency with scripture. We must be consistent with scripture. We werent there to hear the essential truths of Jesus' teachings, but we have 4 books (the Gospels) that tell us what those teaching are. And we have the rest of the New testament that tells us how to apply those teachings, and what Jesus first advent definitively must mean to the Christian in a non-negotiable way. The essential and exclusively Christian doctrine that separates the saved and the perishing is that Jesus rose from the dead. If Christ was not resurrected in the faith you and I hold and confess, then we are still in our sins.
In conclusion, this is not a matter of one being right and everyone else wrong unless the One we are referencing is God. The key doctrines of scripture MUST be accepted to be right with God and only then live right before Him. These doctrines include the Virgin Birth, death of Christ for all people, Jesus resurrection from the dead, and others.
What do you think of the Emerging church movement today? Do we put too much emphasis on hell when the Bible cant mean there is a literal hell?
What valid points do you see this movement bringing to the table? For one, if so much of orthodox Christianity did not disregard the Gospel's social ramifications then Christianity would be more believable. That is true. One person correctly said that ancillary movements to orthodox Christianity abound when orthodox Christians become lethargic. Then the orthodox Christian protects her/his orthodoxy even though his/her practice doesnt line up with those orthodox beliefs. The result is a religion that is hypocritical and people run from. We must reach out and help the poor. Yet, faith in Christ means much more than helping the poor. We dont want to ignore either the horizontal or the vertical dimensions of the relationship Christ's blood brought us into.