Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Linear Thinking, Tickled Ears and Creeds of Safety

Chris Seay in Stories of Emergence juxtapositions propositional thinking and other ways of thinking, like web thinking or circular thinking. He is right in thinking that there are other ways that people thinking about truth. He points out that Ecclesiastes is circular in its line of thinking and he says that Proverbs is web thinking. I agree that there is a level of literary sophistication in those books which is not easily caught in simple one liner summaries and the techniques of flash back are used. I'm not sure I see a lack of linear thinking in the book of Proverbs. There are topics that flow in my mind from proverb to proverb. And perhaps Chris would observe the same flow from proverb to proverb. I'm not sure we disagree so much as I think one does not have to throw away propositional truth in order to affirm the value of web or circular thinking. On the other hand, one must acknowledge that linear thinking is an aid in expressing clarity of thought. Web and circular thinking are about complex relationships and gaining the interest of our audience. The first attribute of complexity is essential in communicating the gospel. People often test truth by seeing if it will hold up to the complexity of real-life. It is sort of like difference between a laboratory test and testing something by using it in the real-world. The second attribute if used as a stand alone function amounts to tickling the ears of the audience. Story telling, proverbs, pithy sayings, and other communication techniques are good. But placing the techniques ahead of truth is dangerous. A story can be used to support many different points of view. It all depends upon the details put in or left out.

One other point that Chris makes is that he affirms the Apostle's Creed. I think one of the points of the emerging church movement is to leave behind one dimensional Christianity. I affirm the goal of experiencing God in multiple dimensions : mind, will, etc... One reason for shallow, one dimensional Christianity in America though is the creed that 'truth must always be boiled down to it's minimums'. The lowest common denominator is helpful if one is simply looking for a starting point for beginning to cooperate. It is a poor way to convince people that the scriptures have answers to life's problems. I don't think Chris would be an advocate of simplistic answers. But his affirmation of the Apostle's Creed is more of an effort to minimize flack from the traditional church and maintain connection with it. The point of affirming the Apostle's Creed it seems to be intellectually safe. That type of safety is what the emerging church seeks to leave behind.

MoBlog: This blog entry was composed on a Zire 71.
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