Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Stepford Christian

There was an old show called, '"The Stepford Wives" where a family moves into a neighborhood only to discover that the wives within the neighborhood are all robots. There seems to be some "Stepford games" taking place within the emergent movement. What I mean is that all views within the emergent movement don't seem to be tolerated. For example, speaking the truth on matters such as the moral climate, politics, and orthodox Christianity seemed to be shunned by some. All of this is being done so as not to offend the outsider (non-Christian). In the end it is relativism that is accepted at the expense of truth.

In his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren makes this statement, "I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, and I agree. But frankly, it's not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many 'Christian' religious contexts, either."[1] What exactly does McLaren mean by this? If he is saying that the Christian should not forsake his previous culture so as to win them to Christ, I'm all for it. Paul even said, "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.(1 Cor. 9:22)" In this context Paul adapts to the culture in order to relate to them and win them to Christ without participating in a life of sin.

One of the problems that McLaren and others within the emergent movement have with the Church today is the notion of Christian colonialism. Brian has this to say about how he perceives the church of history's past, "Part of what goes along with a colonial approach to Christianity is a very control-oriented approach to things. One way to describe colonialism is that the people of Europe or people of European descent know how things are and the rest of the world needs to conform to their way of thinking."[2] Again, is McLaren relativizing truth, by saying that we just need to be kinder, gentler Christians without stepping on peoples toes? Is orthodoxy on trial in McLaren's view?

The emergent movement has a hard time taking a stand on anything it seems. One individual who was trying to define the emergent movement said, "It is like trying to nail butter to the wall." And, this seems to be a major problem for the movement, because as the old saying goes,"If you don't stand for something, you stand for nothing." The emergent movement's lack of orthodoxical backbone is exactly why many are calling them out today. McLaren and others refuse to answer the questions on issues such as homosexuality, objective truth, inerrancy of Scriptures, and abortion, all it seems so as not to offend others. It would be nice if the movement could take a stand on the S (sin) word, but so far they have failed to make the utterance. I think they have problems with the militant Christian who is always looking for someone to beat up on, I do too! However, when given the opportunity to address the truth question, the emergent movement is often moot.

In the end, the emergent movement is epistemically limited. Unless you are liberal, young, part of an urban church, and unwilling to take a stand on certain issues, then you don't fit. In trying to be open, in many ways, the doors of the emergent movement are shut on the individual who believes otherwise. The conversation that is valued so much in the movement seems to be flowing in only one direction. There is much good that comes from the movement, but the unwillingness to take a stand on clear Biblical principles, teaches others to fall in line and assume your "Stepford Christian" role.

[1] http://http://www.evangelsociety.org/rein/wandering%20orthodoxy.html
[2] http://www.homileticsonline.com/subscriber/interviews/mclaren.asp

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