Following up on my last post based on my reading of Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), Kevin DeYoung wonders are the pilgrims making any progress? Emergents talk much about being on a journey. How is this different than the old notion of a spiritual pilgrimage? DeYoung writes:
The old notion of spiritual pilgrimage used the idea of journey to symbolize our longing for heaven and our place as strangers in the kingdom of this world. As sojourners and exiles, Christians were called to abstain from lusts of the flesh, “which war against (our) soul,” and to “live such good lives among the pagans that…” they “see (our) good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us,” (1 Peter 2:11-12, NIV). We are supposed to be living in faith, looking forward to a better country, that is, a heavenly one (Heb. 11:16). The journey of the Christian life was the way of the pilgrim fighting against fears and doubts, trying not to be squeezed into this world’s mold, trusting that God has something better for us, even if we had not yet received what was promised (see Heb. 11:39-40).
In much of emergent thought, however, the destination is a secondary matter, as is any concern about being on the right path. “Evangelism,” therefore, “should be seen as an opportunity to ‘fund’ people’s spiritual journeys, drawing on the highly relevant resources of ‘little pieces’ of truth contained in the Christian narrative,” (Dave Tomlinson – The Post-Evangelical). Similarly, Peter Rollins argues that instead of thinking in terms of destination (we become Christians, joined a church, are saved), we should think in terms of journey (we are becoming Christians, becoming church, becoming saved). Hence, we “need to be evangelized as much, if not more than those around us,” (from How (Not) To Speak of God by Peter Rollins).
I’m ok with the terminology of journey as it applies to our ongoing development towards Christ-likeness. The Apostle Paul likens our life in Christ in terms of journey as well:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you, (Philippians 3:12-15, ESV).
The clear difference here is that Paul had a destination in mind! That seems fuzzy at best with emergent thought. I’m also concerned with their view of evangelism. It seems to me that with the position that Tomlinson (what exactly does it mean to “fund” a spiritual journey anyway?) and with Rollins (we have to evangelize Christians? Encourage, yes. Disciple, yes. Exhort and rebuke on occasion, but evangelize?) that there is a decidedly de-emphasis on the Great Commission to make disciples, (Matthew 28:19-20). What do you think?