Mike Wittmer, author of Don’t Stop Believing and Heaven Is a Place on Earth, pointed out a glaring error in Peter Rollins’ – and most of the Emergent conversation’s – logic in a recently published article.
Perhaps this is why, in “How (Not) to Speak of God,” Rollins declares: “When it comes to God, we have nothing to say to others and we must not be ashamed of saying it.”
He replaces “right belief” with “believing in the right way,” which means “believing in a loving, sacrificial and Christlike manner.” He suggests that, while our Christian beliefs never describe “the Real or reality,” somehow, they transform us into lovers who follow the way of Jesus by embracing others. But how would this work? Rollins violates his own principle of interpretation, for, despite Scripture’s “clashing and smashing metaphors,” he claims to know that God is telling us to care for one another.
Rollins knows God wants us to love one another, but he does not know who this God is or what he is like. How can he know the former if he does not know the latter?
Wittmer points out a growing problem in the Emergent Church. Liberalism did have one advantage over the EC, primarily that it was all about moral codes rather than helping the poor. They believed that the Bible served as a good moral guide (at times), but wasn’t really inspired. To liberals, the Bible is no better than any other philosophical or religious work.
The EC makes the mistake of teaching a social Gospel, but turning around and saying we can’t really know what Scripture teaches. Of course, they’re still against promiscuity, abusing the poor, oppression, racism, and a list of many other things. They often point to Scripture as justification for their distaste of such things. Yet, when a conservative claim is made, they scoff and say, “How dare you be so arrogant as to assume you can interpret Scripture.”
If there is no unified meaning of Scripture, then I can justifiably use it for whatever reason I want. If Rollins says, “God wants us to help the oppressed” and uses Scripture to validate this point, then he has negated his viewpoint that there is no unified way to interpret Scripture. It’s quite the subtle hypocrisy.