Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Is the Deal with This?

So I read this article on the Baptist Press News (Southern Baptist news agency). It's a rant about some newer churches (some SBC) in the Acts29 church starting network that don't preach total abstinence from alcohol.

But here's the curious part. I found the following paragraph near the beginning of the article, and I feel compelled to comment on it.

"The emerging church movement is diverse and difficult to generalize. However, the mix of influences includes: postmodernism (a focus on sense-making through the various mediums of culture); Calvinism ala John Piper; and for some, Christian liberty, as granted by their scriptural interpretation, to drink alcohol and engage in other cultural activities that many Southern Baptists eschew based on opposing scriptural interpretation."

So the author is trying to give a loose definition for a Southern Baptist audience about what an emergent church is (that's a really big task to undertake, as the author notes). The 3 major influences he claims that make up emergent churches are: 1.) postmodernism 2.) Calvinism 3.) Christian liberty.


1.) a church cannot adhere to postmodernism b/c Christianity is directly opposed to postmodernism. Christianity and Christ claim absolute truth while postmodernism denies all absolute truth claims. Postmodernism and Christianity do not mix. If a group of people hold a postmodern ideology then they cannot call themselves a church.

But to clarify and comment on what the article seems to say in it's parenthetical statement about postmodernism...Engaging the culture does not equal being postmodern.

2.) Why is the author equaling Calvinism with emergent, like Calvinism is a bad thing? Did he know that many of the SBC founding fathers held to a Calvinistic theology and that we currently have traditional SBC churches that are Calvinist?

Calvinism is a solid theological position grounded in the absolute truth of the Scriptures. I am not a Calvinist, but I recognize it's conservative nature and I appreciate the lives of many of the great men in church history who held this theological view.

Here's the big deal...First the author says emergent churches are postmodern (denying absolute truth) and then says they are Calvinistic (claiming absolute truth of Scripture). Somebody help me figure this out.

3.) So the author would deny that we have Christian liberty to drink alcohol? I don't drink alcohol, but this drives me crazy. Why in the world is this always a recurring battle in Southern Baptist circles? I want people to stop fighting over this issue. We're not getting anywhere and nobody is ever winning the battle. We just fight and fight and fight, slaughtering our own while the world is going to hell.

Okay...so there's my rant. What do you think?


Geoff Baggett said...


Awesome post. Christianity and postmodernism are, indeed, opposing worldviews. One cannot embrace both the absolute truth of the Scriptures and the outright rejection of absolute truth of postmodern thought.

I'm with you on the alcohol thing. The Bible does seem to teach moderation. I would rather that those who insist upon drinking do so quietly (not arrogantly ... per 1 Corinthians) and everyone else in the tee-totaler camp leave them alone. I think the alcohol issue comes up with such regularity because it has always been the ONE thing that Southern Baptists can agree on. Boy, did somebody miscalculate that this past year! :)


Mark said...


Good thought. I sometimes figure that a lot of the SBC struggles arise from a desire to have the convention look like what it did in the 1950's during the high tide of American evangelicalism when there was great theological and denominational unity and identity.

It's always hard for any large entity to change.

chipearle said...

I wrote this big long post and then the computer froze and I lost it. So now I'm mad and I'll write my response later. Peace my friend.

keith said...

Remember, Chip. Jesus saves. You should learn from Jesus.

I think that they are saying that they are influenced by postmodernism, not in its loose definition of truth, but in its tendency to question authority. They are hoping that those who ask questions are doing so in order to land at the truth. The Acts29 church here in Raleigh has this slogan, "a community of God seekers, God followers, and God doubters." Of course some... most of us like to ask questions just to be contrary.

And why argue about alcohol when you have churches putting out stuff like this? ;)

happymcfamily said...

hmmmmmmmm... that's all I have to say about that. (In regard to the article, not in regard to your statement.) No offense, but I loathe church-oriented newspapers... wonder why....

Anonymous said...

not a Calvinist? please explain yourself? Do you not believe in predestination and election?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't to truly be Southern Baptist mean that you adhere to what the founders actually beleived?