Of Straw Men

I’ve had an interesting email conversation with my new friend, Jeff (aka, Senor Jefe). He responded to my post, on the Emergent Village blog, about STR’s Brett Kunkle, and the paper that Brett delivered to the Evangelical Theological Society a couple weeks back.

Jeff argues that Brett creates straw men, only to knock them down. I’ve often had this concern about the critics of Emergent, and it’s nice to hear that someone else sees that tendency, too. Several times a week, I get an emails that go something like this: “I think that you emergents are in danger of ________. Can you tell me if you are or aren’t?” I respond by asking for spcific examples of said heresy, and I get back a quote from a McLaren book that doesn’t explictly name the heresy, but maybe dances near it. It seems to me that Brett does this in his paper: these guys aren’t heretics, but the things they say make me think that maybe, someday, they will be.

This raises all sorts of questions, like,

  • Who determines orthodoxy and heresy in a post-conciliar age?
  • Did everyone in the room know Brett to be orthodox?
  • Will someone let me know when I am unorthodox?

Scot McKnight had a good post on this type of thing last week.

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  • landonsandy

    If there is heretic or apostate line I wish I could just cross it and get it over with. I mean it’s like the “emergents” are all staying out too late on dates together making out and our parents keep trying to decide if we are still virgins or not.

  • chase

    When I was a teen my parents weren’t worried. I lost my innocence way before my virginity. Oh for parents that cared.

  • señor jefe

    Who determines orthodoxy and heresy in a post-conciliar age?I thought Hank Hanegraaff did…;)

  • Anonymous

    Tony, I’m a bit surprised that you claim I’ve misrepresented your views. The overwhelming feedback I’ve received on the paper from those inside and outside of the ECM is that I’ve been fair, very fair. Nonetheless, maybe I have read you all wrong. I’m certainly open to correction. I do think your example here (about your current views opening the door to unorthodoxy) shows you disagree with my conclusion, not that I’ve caricatured your current views. Maybe you can point to some specific examples of critics who you feel have described your views accurately and then critiqued them fairly. I know it would be very instructive for me. Thanks for your time, Tony.

  • Anonymous

    landonsandy,Why buy into the misrepresentations of the ECM and cross the “heretic or apostate line” just to stick a goad in someone?To run with the parental metaphor, if the parents shoot straight with their kids and have a meaningful, honest relationship, they’d be able to communicate in such a manner that they wouldn’t have to make sweeping assumptions or try to slide some loaded questions into conversations.

  • Anonymous

    Nate, Do you think I make “sweeping assumptions” in my paper? I worked extremely hard to be nuanced and even-handed.

  • señor jefe

    I know you weren’t speaking to me Brett, but I don’t think you made sweeping assumptions. IN fact, I think you split little teeny weeny hairrs to make your point.The funny thing is, while I disagree with your arguments, I think a couple of your conclusions are correct. It just seems you held those conclusions before you ever started investigating…As I said in an earlier statement, that’s the tail wagging the dog.

  • Anonymous

    Brett,I haven’t read your paper yet, so I wasn’t intending my comment as a response to your thoughts. I was just responding in general to landonsandy’s thoughts about crossing the heretic line just to “get it over with.” My apologies for it coming across like it did…I should have considered that.Nate

  • St. Brianstine

    The paper is briliantly done.