By Jim Fletcher
“As apologetics is changing—as we move from a modern, familiar environment to a
new, less familiar one—our apologetic also needs to change. Modernity
constrained us to operate in a rationalistic framework—that is, based on reason
alone—and our apologetic accordingly focused on logic, evidence, proof, answers,
scholarship, reasons, arguments, and appeals to authority. As we move into the
emerging culture, however, our apologetic will focus more and more on beauty,
goodness, experience, questions, mystery, community, and humility.” —Brian
in Missing the Point,
One has only to read the blogs and books of the “Emergent” writers/speakers to
see just how passive-aggressive they really are.
You are familiar with the term, I assume. It means someone who is perhaps angry,
but takes out his anger in subtle, quieter ways.
Today’s emergent voices are angry with Christian fundamentalists, in particular
those who focus on apologetics and especially those who study Bible prophecy.
For the emergents, Israel
is a coincidence of history or, privately I suspect, a real irritation.
Brian McLaren has written such books as
Everything Must Change and A Generous
Orthodoxy, and he loves the so-called intellectual crowd. He isn’t so
patient with “Bible believers.”
McLaren’s book titles sound eerily like those of Marcus Borg, the radical
scholar who thinks the engine of Christianity must be rebuilt in total.
A hallmark of these thinkers is a strange mixture of self-deprecation and
arrogance. They will poke light fun at themselves, but then display real
displeasure with folks who “cling to the old ways of reading Scripture.”
From my conversations with Israelis and American Jews, I don’t think most of
them realize how serious a threat these emergent voices are to the state of Israel.
If you do some checking, you will find that McLaren and his friends refer to
themselves as “activists” and “justice seekers,” but in terms of the
conflict, this means activism and justice-seeking for the Palestinians. In a
very real sense, they believe as the late, bloody Yasser Arafat did: if the Jews
of Israel don’t want to get with the program (i.e., hand over the land), they
can go drink seawater.
If you ever have the chance to do so, take a drive from
Israel’s southern regions, around the
Dead Sea, up to the Golan Heights. As you speed along the highway,
you’ll see the landscape change dramatically from desert to a lush, Eden-like
setting. As you see this “greening,” meditate on the great prophecies of Isaiah
and the other prophets, who spoke of the final return of the Jews to this land,
which would be the catalyst for the replenishment of the land itself.
This is a shocking and huge fulfillment of prophecy, as Israeli agriculturalists
figure out new ways to irrigate the land. Near the Dead Sea, at Masada and
Qumran, one can see groves of palm trees. It is the most
startling sight, something not seen in other desert areas around the world.
In the Golan, the traveler can see new Jewish communities built over the ruins
of ancient Jewish towns and cities.
What is the emergent visionary to make of this?
The answer, I’m afraid, is not much. Simply because emergent authors like
McLaren, Tony Jones, and Shane Claiborne are allowed to get away with spewing
their alternate view of history (“there is no such thing as fulfilled Bible
prophecy as regards the modern Jews” — my paraphrase). They don’t allow
themselves in settings where their “everything [Christianity] must change”
schtick would find serious doubters.
Instead, they do what they accuse fundamentalists of doing: stay in their own
camp. It helps them that their message of tolerance, multiculturalism, and
flavored coffees has such a wide-following in this Age of Unbelief.
Perhaps you find yourself in a church with “emerging trends in megachurches like
and Saddleback Church,” as
Scot McKnight wrote in the latest issue of Christianity Today.
The lover of Israel has every right to
ask pastors in emergent congregations — or the leaders of the movement
themselves, if you can pin them down — what they do with the presence of Israel
in the world today. The state of Israel
today haunts the world. It walks the earth like Scrooge’s partner, Marley,
reminding us of things we don’t like to think about, namely, that the God of the
Bible is alive, very well, and preparing to re-enter Earth. Soon.
The very idea is hateful to the emerging guys, who instead want to work and work
and work to “prepare the world for God’s Kingdom.”
is the premier reminder right at this moment that God is in control, not man.
The emerging community is having a very real Adventure in Missing the Point.