Friday, November 25, 2005

National Youth Workers Convention, Part 2

OK, time to set the record straight on a few things:

1) I took no offense to Lisa's question. I did not suspect that she was trying to trap me. It seemed to me an honest question. But, it's just as honest to me to wonder why people are accusing me of saying things that they freely admit I didn't really say. I personally found Lisa's question honest and compelling -- even courageous.

2) The follow-up question was less gentle, and that's when I started getting testy. And the same man asked it even more directly the next morning. In a private email, he has admitted that he felt that I "needed to be cornered" because I was being too evasive in my answers. He's also admitted that this is pretty obnoxious, coming to someone's session in order to corner him. He and I have gone on to have a helpful and warm email exchange, and I appreciate his courage, too, in working this through with me.

3) I can see how my "google it" comment about semi-pelagianism could be taken as arrogant. Honestly, I only said that because 1) I thought it was a tangent, and 2) I haven't read about semi-pelagianism in 10 years, so I thought I might look stupid if I tried to explain it.

4) I don't think semi-pelagianism is a heresy. In fact, I think that almost all of us are semi-pelagians -- few Christians (though I do know some personally) can really hold to Augustinian Calvinism. My point was, be careful who you start calling a heretic, cos you're surely one, too.

5) I don't think that dispensational eschatology is "borderline heretical."

6) I think that dispensational eschatology is heretical.

6a.) Bob gets it (see comment). This is hyperbolic pandering by me.

7) I make sure and introduce myself as a father and husband and police chaplain before introducing myself as the national coordinator of Emergent. Funny, no one ever asks what the Edina Police Chaplains think about absolute truth. Or what the Joneses think about the exclusive truth claims of Christianity.

8) I often avoid conversations about absolute truth for a few reasons:
  1. it takes hours of conversation to even get to the same playing field on that issue. It can't be summed up in a few minutes; it's just too complex.
  2. I have read thousands of pages on this subject, and, to be quite honest, I find few who are willing to do the same. If you're willing to put in the time, I'll gladly talk to you about it. If you're looking for a soundbite, forget it.
  3. I've found that many of the people who query me about absolute truth aren't even willing/able to articulate their own position on it.
  4. I've talked about this a lot over the last five years, and now I want to talk about some new things.
9) I don't even know what it would mean for Emergent to have an "official position" on absolute truth. Really, I don't know what that even means.

10) I believe that friendship precedes orthodoxy. That is, one CANNOT be an orthodox Christian unless one is willing to live a reconciled life with others. Orhtodoxy cannot be known by a non-reconciled human being.

Monday, November 21, 2005

National Youth Workers Convention

I had an interesting, and somewhat disheartening, experience at the Saturday night "Late Night Theology Discussion." I was asked, in effect, to defend things that I didn't say. That is, a well-meaning woman said, in effect, "In the seminar this morning, you didn't say that you're a realtivist and a universalist, but that's what I heard."

When I declared that I would not defend my own non-declarations, a guy chimed in with, "Yeah, that's what I heard you saying, too, even though you didn't really say it."

Then I got a little more ornery, and I asked why in the world people would impute statements to me that they admit I have not said.

At that point, a couple people shouted from the back, "Way to go, Tony. We love what you're doing. Keep it up!" I said, "Listen, I'm not trying to be a martyr here, I just want to know why is pinning me down so important? Why do you have such a passion to categorize me?"

About then, another guy spoke up: "OK, then why don't you just put the argument to rest and make a definitive statement about what Emergent believes about absolute truth."

I replied, "Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a non-sensical question."


The rest of the convention was good, but I have the distinct impression that lots of people are mad at me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

ETREK on Youth Ministry

I'm going to be involved in an ETrek course (a collaboration between and Biblical Seminary). It's on youth ministry, and is taught by Mark Riddle. More info here.