Postmodernism’s Impact on the Content of EC Preaching
Andrew Perriman, an Emerging church theologian, in his website Open Source Theology posted this blog entitled “Jesus, God and narrative theology.” In this post, Perriman, explains away the deity of Christ with narrative theology. In narrative theology, it is not the context of the Scriptural passage that determines its meaning, as much as the context of the community. Clearly the Biblical context of John 20:28 “My Lord and my God” exclaimed by Thomas to Jesus, is the deity of Christ. However, in the narrative context of Perriman’s community the deity of Christ is deconstructed. Perriman rejects universal truths or static beliefs for dynamic insights that the Spirit of God can communicate to the current community of believers.
The late Stanley Grenz, a theologian and philosopher in the Emerging church, would agree and actually laid a new theological basis for this emergent thinking. Grenz revealed his low view of Scripture found in his Revisioning Evangelical Theology by stating that he believes traditional evangelicalism has made mistakes that need to be revisioned. One of the mistakes, in Grenz’s view, is traditional evangelicalism’s emphasis on the Bible as a divine book rather than a human book. Translated means, importance has been placed on inspiration over illumination. According to Grenz, “We can more readily see the Bible—the instrumentality of the Spirit—as the book of the community.” With this communal subjectivism, truth is found in each community, and inspiration is mixed with believers’ illumination: “The confession of the inspiration of the Bible is closely intertwined with the experience of illumination.” Norman Geisler observes that this view sounds like neo-orthodoxy’s view of inspiration which states that the Bible becomes the Word of God when you have experienced this event. The difference between Neo-othodoxy’s view of Scripture and that of the Emerging Church is found in their emphases: Neo-orthodoxy emphasizes the individual experiencing God’s Word and the Emerging church stresses the community experiencing the Word.
As a result of this new neo-orthodox view, many doctrines are rejected. Here are the doctrines Driscoll says the left wing of the EC, what he calls Emergent Liberals, are questioning and in most cases abandoning. As will be obviously observed, the EC has an aversion for doctrine. I have added to Driscoll’s list some documentation of this aversion.
2. Jesus Christ
6. The Cross
The secular and evangelical postmodern focus on community has not only directly impaired the content of preaching by lowering people’s view of Scripture and questioning core doctrines, but the style of preaching. In my next post, I will discuss postmodernism’s impact on the style of EC preaching.
 “So, for example, Thomas’ words ‘My Lord and my God’ (John 20:28) are read not as an expression of a universal truth but as a particular confession of personal faith within a particular narrative context. This was how Thomas responded – or how John understood Thomas to have responded – to Jesus’ invitation to believe. So I think I’m arguing for two rather different things – first, to exercise a measure of theological restraint in reading the texts, allowing them to set contextual limits to the language that we use about Jesus; but secondly, to recognize that within the covenant community, within the body of Christ, the Spirit of God prompts (continues to prompt) a wide range of personal and corporate insights into the nature of the overlap of identity and purpose between Jesus and God.” Andrew Perriman. “Jesus, God, and narrative theology.” Open Source Theology (September 20, 2005). http://www.opensourcetheology.net/node/728. Accessed December 18, 2008.
 Stanley J. Grenz. Revisioning Evangelical Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1993), 115.
 Ibid., 118.
 Norman L. Geisler and Thomas A. Howe. A Postmodern View of Scripture. A Christian Apologetics Journal 7/1 (Spring, 2008), 70.
 “The Bible is God’s Word so far as God lets it be His Word, so far as God speaks through it .…The statement, ‘The Bible is God’s Word,’ is a confession of faith, a statement made by the faith that hears God Himself speak in the human word of the Bible….this act of God upon man has become an event, therefore not to the fact that man has reached out to the Bible, but to the fact that the Bible has reached out to man. The Bible therefore becomes God’s Word in this event….the Bible must from time to time become His Word to us” Karl Barth. Church Dogmatics. Vol. I (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936), 123-124. Karl Barth is important to the EC. One chapter in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope is given over to promoting Barth: “Digging Up the Past: Karl Barth (The Reformed Giant) as Friend to the Emerging Church.” (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007).
 “And did the conservative Protestant emphasis on the death of Jesus necessarily marginalize Jesus’ life—his wise teachings and his kind deeds, which had captured my childhood imagination? Over time I began to feel as though, from my perspective, the gospel became simply an individualistic theory, and abstraction with personal but not global import. It became about the solution to a cosmic legal/business/political problem, real and serious, but a bit dry, a bit removed from real life. In my heart grew a deep, subtle, unspoken sense that something was missing, which gradually opened my heart to search for other ways of seeing Jesus” McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 48-49.
 “I should add that this dissatisfaction with the conservative Protestant Jesus intensified just last Christmas when one of my children was home for the holidays from college. I asked him how he was doing spiritually. ‘I’m struggling, Dad,’ he said. ‘Tell me about that,’ I said. He replied, ‘Well, Dad, if Christianity is true, then nearly everyone I love is going to be tortured in the fires of hell forever. And if it’s not true, then life has no meaning.’ He was silent for a moment and then added, ‘I just wish there were a better option.’ My heart was broken, I asked, ‘Is that the understanding of Christianity you got from me?’ He replied, ‘No, but that’s the way most Christians think. They just kind of bottom-line everything to heaven or hell, and that makes life feel kind of cheap.’ My son’s insight doesn’t apply to the best expressions of conservative Protestants, but it does, I fear, apply too often to the most popular ones. He put into blunt and powerful terms exactly what I felt vaguely and inarticulately when I was his age” Brian McLaren. A Generous Orthodoxy, 49.
 Driscoll, “A Pastoral Perspective on the Emerging Church.” Criswell Theological Review. 3/2 (Spring 2006) 91.