How To Talk About "Those People" ~ BitterSweetLife

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How To Talk About "Those People"

Justin Taylor notes the very imaginative way that professor Roger Olson stacks the deck when comparing two kinds of theologians:

The postconservatives and their proposals are “liberated,” “bold,” “vibrant,” “interesting,” “new,” “relevant,” “committed,” “faithful,” “fresh,” and “fascinating.” The traditionalists are “old guard,” “obsessive,” “reactionary,” “highly rationalistic,” “rigid” “naysayers” with a “scholastic spirit” who love nothing more than “gatekeeping,” “control[ling] the switches,” and “patrol[ling] the boundaries.”

I don't like ad hominem arguments, even when they are applied to a set of people as opposed to an individual. If I could make a loose comparison, I'd say that Emergent Village-type thinkers are very inclusive and tolerant of varying perspectives, with the exception of theologically conservative evangelicals, who they tend to caricature.

Just something to keep in mind while you're trolling the net reading about theology. ;)

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Lauren said...

Hehe. Well said.

rob said...

ouch...that's rough. Probably true for some of the "Emergent Village type", but I think it easily goes both ways! ;)

Ariel said...

I think it easily goes both ways!

The main difference being that snide evangelicals don't claim to be facilitating an inclusive conversation. You don't have to look far to find reactionary labeling in the traditional, conservative camp--but these people aren't the ones claiming to be tolerant, humble and fair-minded.

Know what I'm saying?

Ariel said...

I should point out that I'm not saying the "traditional" side never caricatures people. (After all, I'm in the middle of SBC land!) But I think different groups have their own pet sins. One of Emergent's blind spots is what I hinted at above. Impassioned pleading for open, inclusive, generous dialogue--unless you happen to be a conservative evangelical.

At that point, the conversation gets kind of elite.

rob said...

You're probably right about "some" in the emergent village. But its the slightly broad brush comment you made in your orginal post that I was commenting on. But yes there are many within the emergent village that are very critical of conservative evangelicals. I believe in the introduction to Generous Orthodoxy Mclaren even states as much (if not GO it was one of his books).

If I had to venture a guess it would be because many come from a conservative, evangelical background. It's always easier to critique where you came from.

Ariel said...

Fair enough, my original brush may have been a little wide. If some Emergent thinkers are still evangelical-friendly, I hope they start pulling their weight.

It's easy to throw out the baby w/ the bath water, especially if you've tasted the bath water...but still an unfortunate mistake.


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