Just a Matter of Power?

Something I heard said by one of the Emerging Church representatives at the Biola conference is a theme drawn from postmodernism. While the EC is not necessarily postmodern, some thinkers and writers are significantly influenced by this philosophy.

The comment was that the EC is very comfortable with seeming contradictions and combining ideas that are usually thought of in different categories. They reject imposed categories of traditional theology and describe that as a power move. So traditional Christians are simply interested in imposing their power over other Christians who cross-boundaries and categories because these are artificially constructed. EC critics say this is the result of modernism, which should be rejected for a more expansive way of thinking.

This recommendation betrays a misunderstanding of modernism and the way epistemology works. Descartes didn't think up new rules of thinking that were imposed on the world; Descartes, and all epistemologists, tried to understand the way our minds work and how we form beliefs. The philosopher's task in this case is descriptive, not prescriptive, which I think is the mischaracterization behind this charge of power trips. The success of the epistemological theory is judged by how accurately it describes how we think and believe. It's not a matter of power.

Maybe the traditional categories of religion are wrong ? show me that they are. But what is offered in their place will also be categories, just new ones. You can't avoid thinking in categories. Let's have a discussion on which categories are the accurate ones to reflect the truth.

blog post |
Melinda Penner

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