Comment of the Day 2

Peter Rollins and Stephen Shields have begun a bit of a back-and-forth under the post, Ten Years of Emergent/ing.  Here’s Pete’s response to Stephen, and here’s hoping they’ll continue the conversation (here or elsewhere):

Hey there

Would love to chat, and I am sorry that my tone in the comments sounded so strong!

I am also aware that my own thoughts here may not be representative
of how many people who adopt the term ‘emergent’ think. However I guess
one of my projects is to develop Bonhoeffer’s ‘religionless
Christianity’ and show how it is an important source for the most
radical form of emergent thinking.

For me religionless Christianity operates without any metaphysical
guarantees. There is doubt, complexity and ambiguity throughout. And so
there can be no final foundational claim to an external source ensuring
that everything will work out well in the end (one can, of course, hope
that there is).

I do argue however that there is a type of non-foundational
foundation in faith of the type that Pascal hints at in his statement,
‘the heart has reason that reason does not know’. This I think can be
termed ‘rebirth’. But that rebirth is such an immanent event that it
does not give itself over to epistemic justification or other-worldly
guarantees. For me the story of the man born blind is a representation
of this. He says he can see but refuses to make any absolute claims
concerning the person of Jesus. To put it in another context one could
say,

‘I have been reborn, transformed, renewed by God, but then again I wonder who, what or even if God is.’

I guess I was worried that the above statement might do the same as
some types of mystical apophatic theology… namely give with one hand
(unknowing) what it takes with the other (an ultimate knowledge). This
is why Derrida ultimately found negative theology too positive.

Instead of saying ‘I am not sure God is there in my day to day life
but I know that God really is there’ (i.e. everything is ultimately
going to be o.k), I am more prone to say that Christianity allows us to
claim, ‘God is here in our midst, although I am not sure God exists’
(i.e. God is what we live here and now without guarantee that God is
‘out there’). While the former justifies faith via a metanarrative the
later lives Christianity as a meganarrative (a grounded story)

Hope that is useful.

  • http://emergentpillage.blogspot.com/ emergent pillage

    –For me the story of the man born blind is a representation of this. He says he can see but refuses to make any absolute claims concerning the person of Jesus.–
    John 9
    35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
    36″Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
    37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
    38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
    Mr. Rollins, please do that completely radical thing which is actually READING THE BIBLE before spewing nonsense which it doesn’t say.
    –Instead of saying ‘I am not sure God is there in my day to day life but I know that God really is there’ (i.e. everything is ultimately going to be o.k), I am more prone to say that Christianity allows us to claim, ‘God is here in our midst, although I am not sure God exists’ (i.e. God is what we live here and now without guarantee that God is ‘out there’). While the former justifies faith via a metanarrative the later lives Christianity as a meganarrative (a grounded story–
    Mr. Rollins, please show an ounce of intellectual honest and confess that you are an athiest who is using Christianity and religions in general to promote your own ideas and agenda. At least be that honest.

  • Kafka

    LoL, I think Peter is a/theist. And how dare you Peter – in the future please dumb it down for your audience. Nothing past a pipsqueak of thought is allowed.

  • http://emergentpillage.blogspot.com/ emergent pillage

    –LoL, I think Peter is a/theist.–
    Yeah, how much though does it take to put a slash into a word to try to look cool? Or as “a/thiest” simply a pomo way of saying “fence-straddler”?

  • http://emergentpillage.blogspot.com/ emergent pillage

    Btw does beliefnet/Jones know that they/he (see, even a non-pomo like me knows a bit about using slashes) has an ad for “California Psychics” on the side? Heck, they’ll give you one free reading.
    Or is that ok?

  • Nancy

    What Bonhoeffer meant was that society as it was in Nazi Germany made it almost impossible to be a Christian, it was quite outlawed…as we are beginning to see in Ameica today…children in schools are silenced from mentioning Christs name…the public square scrubbed of any evidence of him…even though our Founders quoted from the Bible constantly and said w/o religion (Christianity) our Republic would not survive).. Here is his quote:
    “What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is, or indeed who Christ really is, for us today. The time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, is over, and so is the time of inwardness and conscience–and that means the time of religion in general. We are moving towards a completely religionless time; people as they are now simply cannot be religious any more. Even those who honestly describe themselves as “religious” do not in the least act up to it, and so they presumably mean something quite different by “religious.”


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