Reading Carefully

I am posting this here so that I don’t run into my own word limit (!) in the comment boxes. I don’t believe that Michael is reading McLaren carefully. And I know that he did not read or respond to my penultimate paragraph in the “What Actually Is the Case” post carefully.

In his comment, Mike said: “You had just said that ’emergents’ say that the ‘notion that the events described in the Bible ‘actually happened as described’ is not a notion borrowed from the Enlightenment.’ The ’emergents,’ not liberals.”

But I did not say this. I did not claim that “emergents say that thinking the events described in the Bible actually happened is not a notion borrowed from the Enlightenment.” He has too many negatives here, but what Mike wrote says I was claiming that emergents say that thinking the events in the Bible really happened is not obtained from Enlightenment thinking. This is really confusing, but Mike is saying that I claimed emergents make the same point I was trying to make.

I actually said: “But this next point cannot be emphasized enough, and is the place where many Christians (who should know better) are being taken in by the emergents and postmodernists. The notion that the events described in the Bible “actually happened as described” is not a notion borrowed from the Enlightenment.” The simple faith position (this really happened) was a view held for centuries by millions before the Enlightenment. Emergents and postmodernists, I said, are trying to convince us that this caring about the truth of a story is a post-Enlightenment phenomenon, which can be verified by reading the foreword to A Generous Orthodoxy.

Then Mike says, “And in the quote of question, the word ‘them’ is ambiguous, and you had just referenced McLaren. And then this ‘them’ is connected to ‘then the emergents.’ Qualifying after the fact that it might be the case that they ‘personally’ believe Jesus walked on water is actually further evidence to reading ‘them’ as referring to McLaren and the emergents. So, uncarefulness?”

Yes, singular sloppiness, especially given the point under discussion. This is what I wrote, commentary in bold inserted.

“But in doing this, the first thing we must do is banish from our apologetic ranks [emergents, as can be seen from the fact that they want to be apologists with us] all who confound categories like arrogance and certainty, and humility and uncertainty. Bad whiskey doesn’t cease to be bad whiskey simply because bartender McLaren has an aw shucks demeanor about him [McLaren is an emergent leader]. If [notice this conditional word if] it does not matter to them whether these things really happened (Jesus coming back from the dead, walking on water, David eating the shewbread, Abraham offering Isaac, Adam accepting the fruit from his wife), then the emergents [emergents] should simply join up with the liberals now and be done with it. If they [emergents] personally think that it all really happened [emergents who personally believe in the resurrection of Jesus, say], but they [emergents] welcome others to the emergent conversation [which they explicitly do] who like the Buddha dismiss such inquiries as unedifying questions, then they should not be surprised, and I hope they will not take it amiss, if I have nothing whatever to do with their damned project.”

Now from this paragraph, Michael concluded the following: “I don’t know how to read your second to last paragraph without taking this as another firm assertion that McLaren (who you think best represents the movement) denies truth, denies the factuality of the bible, and denies an unqualified embrace of the Creeds.’ Emphasis here is mine. But that paragraph of mine does not make a firm assertion that McLaren denies truth. It does nothing of the kind. It allows for the possibility that the emergents (and McLaren by implication) might deny it, and it also allows for the possibility that they might believe it all. The firm assertion is that they make room in their ranks for those who deny it. Which is why I will have nothing whatever to do with it.

From all this, I would again encourage Michael to read McLaren more carefully than he has been interpreting what I have been writing.

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