This week’s Emergent Gathering reading is the second part of Brian McLaren’s book, A New Kind of Christian. As I was reading this on the yellow line train heading to Mt. Vernon Place I was taken back by the following line from Neo, Dan’s science teacher Yoda:
“the challenge with modernity was to prove that we’re right and they’re wrong.”
In a time where it is easy to become frustrated with political leaders because of their inability to openly discuss the issues facing or country the same can be said within the sphere of Christian theological debate. Just as in American politics each side in the argument, not discussion, will hold on with their claws until the bitter end to save the most important (in their opinion) piece of their argument rather than embracing the areas of agreement between the two sides.
You’re either right or you’re wrong. There is no longer room for discussion, let alone compromise.
As this conversation evolved Neo pointed out that using the Bible as the foundation of our faith, rather than utilizing a model similar to a spider’s web our faith and experience can become jeopardized as we engage in theological dialogue. John Wesley said that we should utilize a quadrilateral: scripture, tradition, reason, experience. Wesley was not say that we should only rely upon one of these more than the other, but that each part of the quadrilateral should be used in tandem in order to experience God and Christ.
Dan’s outburst, or temper-tantrum, shows the danger in relying on a foundational approach to our faith. When one thing is challenged or even pulled out the entire structure collapses. In a world moving out of the modern idea of structured organizations and faith this can be a scary idea. But, it has been my experience that once the foundation collapses and you begin to utilize a quadrilateral approach to faith that your eyes are opened the faith you thought you had is experienced in a way you could have never imagined.