Kester Brewin Wonders if (More) Opposition Is Coming

Kester Brewin Wonders if (More) Opposition Is Coming September 6, 2011

Kester Brewin has been considering a couple conversations he had at Greenbelt, and he wonders if there’s something in the air.  Namely, will there be an internal backlash in the emerging/-ent/-ence movement to the more radical theology being promoted by Pete Rollins, et al:

One of the things I’ve been wondering is if the theological direction that a few of us have been taking is entering into a period of more acute opposition. I had a long conversation with two people – one a good friend and the other someone I’ve known for some time – and I found both were, a couple of beers down, becoming quite aggressive in their opposition to, in particular, Pete Rollins’ work and the parallel stuff I’ve been writing too.

The general thrust was this: a) it’s been done before in the ‘negative theology’ movements b) it gets people nowhere in mission or social justice c) it’s too complex for the ‘common man’ – and thus cannot be ‘true.’

via Kester Brewin » Into the ‘Year of Opposition’ – The Backlash Begins?.

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  • Zach Lind

    I see Pete’s work (not familiar with Kester) as very important but also very niche. That would be my only observation that could border on being criticism. I’m personally really thankful for the kind of stuff Pete is doing but could see how it’s not for everyone.

  • Dan Hauge

    I appreciate a lot of what Peter Rollins has to say (I’ve also never read Kester), particularly in the crucial difference between affirmed belief (the beliefs about God and the world that I claim to have) and lived belief (how my actions reveal what I actually believe). And I do think he’s working to make his message more understandable. But the clearer he gets, the harder it is for me to see the difference between his theology and good old regular atheism–he sounds much like atheists I’ve heard who say ‘once I abandoned those old myths about a personal God and a future hope, and realized that it’s just us here, I gained a new appreciation for this beautiful world and a commitment to live in a loving way.”

    Now this may not be what he’s saying, but it sounds more and more like what he is saying with each passing book. “God” is not a Someone who loves us and whom we love, “God” is an adverb, not a subject–a loving way of life, and the event when we realize that all of our beliefs about God are rubbish, so let’s live in this loving, compassionate, just way.

    I’m not sure that this ‘gets people nowhere’ in social justice movements–many atheists (or agnostics or ‘spiritual’ people) do seem to get pretty involved in those movements. And I don’t believe that “if it can’t be understood by the common person it can’t be true” (Trinity, anyone?). But I do believe, maybe it’s more accurate to say I hope–that he’s wrong on this point. I still hold out hope for an actual Other who created us and loves us, and more to the point, I don’t believe that having a relationship with a personal, active God is necessarily at odds with living an active, loving, world-affirming life. In other words, I don’t believe that believing in a personal God is always necessarily just an emotional crutch (as Peter has frequently said). Although, it certainly can be.

    These are honest, substantive disagreements. I certainly may be wrong. But I hope there is room to have substantive, honest disagreement with Peter and others with similar thoughts, without devolving into camps of “Rollins lovers” and “Rollins haters”. And I hope that honest disagreements like mine won’t be mischaracterized as ‘demonizing’ or ‘attacking’ Rollins (though if I have totally mis-represented his theology, then by all means swing away :))

  • Charles

    At the discussion on the Kester site, Tony, you said you do not identify yourself as liberal. As one who considers himself a liberal, both theologically and politically, I whole heartily agree. The emergent theology is very middle of the road from my perspective. I respect your thinking and much of what you do but those who label you a liberal Christian probably think true liberals are not even Christian.

  • Monicalyn

    a) it is definitely in that vein, which has a long history; b) its goal is not necessarily to “get” people anywhere, but instead make them think carefully about where they might go, where their hope lies, and what they settle for; c) it is not too complex (though my own (U.S.) culture is largely anti-intellectual) but it does indulge far too much in specific theoretical jargon instead of a more universal poetics that might be much more inspiring.

    Is it important that “emerging philosophy” specifically define itself and therefore its practitioners? Most of us, I believe, worship in faith communities that would never accept our philosophical worldview but who love us deeply irregardless.

  • that would be pretty scary since those who would get upset would have to actually understand what Pete means…

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