This is Part 2 of a blog post asking the question: IS THE GRACE BRETHREN STATEMENT OF FAITH COMPATIBLE WITH EMERGENT THEOLOGY?
What We Believe Concerning “The Faith”:
The Statement of Faith is the “current expression of a never ending effort to clarify an understanding of the primary doctrines we accept.” It’s obvious what is meant: we are always seeking to be clear on what we believe through Godly pursuit of biblical study and this has nothing to do with the prevalent emergent belief that God’s revelation is so mysterious that we cannot actually know whether we can hold an orthodox view or not. Brian McLaren questions the entire belief of whether we can actually arrive at and hold truly orthodox beliefs and practice. (1)
Rob Bell believes that we cannot really ever know what the Bible is actually saying and we cannot interpret it correctly: to take the Bible for “what it says” is “warped and toxic” (2) Bell also says that doctrine must flex and morph with each emerging generation (3) like springs on a trampoline.
Doug Pagitt believes that doctrine is not fixed and therefore not ever really settled as to its trustworthiness and that the gospel can actually be embedded in other religious contexts (4). He says things like “what we believe is not timeless” and that our theology will be “ever-changing”, believing that the church is to function as “cauldrons of theological imagination.”(5).
So the question is begged: Is our faith once for all delivered to us as the Bible says (Jude 3), or must we rethink and rework everything in accordance with every shifting generation? Pagitt admits: “ I realize that for many people, this kind of understanding and faith can seem weak, soft, unprincipled, or otherwise dangerous.”(6) I couldn’t have assessed it better myself! He also states and many believe this: “The Emergent imagination is at its most basic level a call to friendship–friendship with God, with one another, and with the world.” (7)
These emergent beliefs are not compatible with our Statement of Faith.
(1) McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy is, in its entirety, a questioning of the veracity of the claim that we can really have a true orthodox Christian faith.
(2) Velvet Elvis, p. 053-054
(3) Ibid. p. 022-028
(4) See Pagitt’s essay “The Emerging Church and Embodied theology” in Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches (gen. Ed. Robert Webber) and read this: http://www.apprising.org/archives/2008/01/doug_pagitt_sha.html
(5) Ibid on the essay
(6) Ibid p. 133
(7) Doug Pagitt from An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 18, 19