I think Scot McKnight would describe himself as “emerging,” so it’s fascinating to see his trenchant remarks about Emergent in a recent article for Christianity Today. McKnight describes the theological trajectory of Emergents in this way:
“Very few emergent folks I have encountered have any chance of returning to a robust, traditional evangelical faith. As emergents learned and listened in their evangelical churches and institutions, they realized they could not accept much of what they were being taught. Though they remained within the comfortable confines of these institutions, their faith became ironic. Yes, they were Christians, but not quite what most people meant by that term.
“Evangelical thinkers such as D. A. Carson, R. Scott Smith, John MacArthur, and Kevin DeYoung and Ted Cluck (authors of Why We’re Not Emergent) warn of the dangers of emergents’ theological drift and draw lines in the sand. The emergents I know are numb to both the warnings and the lines; they have heard those warnings and they have crossed those lines. They are surprised by neither and are not likely to turn back. Instead, they are building a new theology that ’emerges’ from the story they find themselves inâ€”namely, the shift from modernity to postmodernity.”
For the most part, I agree with this assessment. One feature of McKnight’s description, however, I might quibble with a little bit. He writes:
“Exposure to science in public education, universities, and personal study has led emergents to disown the traditional conclusion that when science and the Bible conflict, science must move aside. Although they refuse to give the Bible the trump card in this game, they remain committed to it, but now with a different view of what the Bible actually is. The Bible, so many emergents will openly admit, employs various literary genres and shows an ancient perception of how the cosmos works. So they are both left-wing and right-wing, committed to the Bible and open to new ideas.”
McKnight says that Emergents are both “left-wing and right-wing, committed to the Bible and open to new ideas.” Yet isn’t it “left-wing” to refuse to give the Bible the final say? Isn’t that in fact what old liberalism did? It undermined the Bible at precisely those points were it was deemed to be out of step with modern science.
In any case, you should read the rest of this one.