OUR GREEK "SOUL"
Too many emerging church leaders nurse too many
self-deceptions. And we find one of the most alarming fallacies in
our "freedom from old ways of thinking." We claim "a radically
different mind set, value system, and worldview,"1 but
the facts prove otherwise. We profess craving the future, but we’re
still controlled by the past. We talk big about the "big picture,"
but we still buy into history’s heresies.
Here’s an example:
Too many emerging leaders blindly embrace a Greek
"Christianity" where faith is an "idea"—nothing more, nothing less.
Like early Greek theologians, they still filter the Gospel through
formula, analysis, theory and conjecture. Philosophical dialogue, in
fact, defines the movement. In their own words, truth is "a complex
philosophical, epistemological question."2
Perhaps we shouldn’t blame them. After all,
modernity has always been more Greek than Christian. (Consider, for
example, our college curricula.) Yet, we must blame them, for the
emerging church claims to be "postmodern." Indeed, the movement
exists primarily to protest modernism!
So how can its leaders avoid the fact they are
more modern than postmodern? How can they avoid the reality they are
even hypermodern? And, how can they avoid the naked truth of an
"enlightened" learning that is not only "skeptical" but
In other words, how can they go on blindly
squeezing the last drop of blood out of already dead cadavers.
Future historians will surely call this a
Emerging church leaders frequently use modern
thinking, for example, to criticize modern thinking. They often
parade effective language to communicate the ineffectiveness of
language. And, they even manipulate others against the deceit of
being manipulated by others.
Only their style is different.
Yet, this mess emerges from more than modernity.
For our ancient Greek legacy is totally incompatible with the
ancient Hebrews. Greek minds and Hebraic consciousness held vastly
different realities. Nowhere, for example, does Scripture get even
close to a philosophical discussion.
So with our Greek "knowing," we’ve lost Hebrew
"knowing"—with our knowledge "about" God, we’ve lost knowledge "of"
God—with our disclosure of God, we’ve lost God’s disclosure to us.
With our cold abstractions, we’ve lost lived moments—with our
"ahistorical" God, we’ve lost the Lord of History—and with our right
"thinking," we’ve lost right "living."
With our Greek God of "fate," we no longer have
the Hebrew God of faith—with our impersonal God, we no longer have a
personal God—with our passive faith, we no longer have a proactive
With our disembodied wisdom, we no longer have
embodied wisdom—with our refusal of feelings, we no longer have felt
meanings—and with our theological systems, we no longer have
paradox, enigma, or the significance of signs.
In short, the bending of the Gospel into a Greek
world is the story of Western Christianity. And, within this story,
our Greek "souls" have solemnly preserved our racial amnesia—our
"Isn’t it wonderful that God is just like us?"
Yet, these wrong assumptions happen at the wrong
moment. For an old structure of knowledge is fading, and its
emerging "Greek" leaders are fading with it. In a massive shift,
ancient epistemology and classical theology are being left behind.
Already, we live in an age of theological "anarchy," and an altered
future won’t make sense even to the anarchists!
All of us parade this fallacy. But the tools that
achieved results in the last era will not attain results in the next
era. In other words, we won’t be able to drag modernity into the
postmodern world. The passive words of "pure" spectators—the
logical, linear rules of academic "think tanks"—and the theological
veracity of cold and calculating brains will never pass the
inevitable baggage screens.
The future belongs to a new way of thinking, a
new way of knowing what we know. It will return us to an oral
culture—or rather, an electronic oral culture. Creativity, artistry,
and empathy—metaphor, meaning, and emotion—pattern, synthesis, and
the big picture will prove the lingua franca of the future.
Spontaneity, fluidity, and open-endedness will release its
revelations. And, its empowered "words" will actually "do
things"—will anticipate and summon things—will break into the
present and transform things.
In short, we will no longer be "thinking" in the
usual sense of the word. For the new spirituality is "unthinkable."
Instead, we will be projecting a new world.
© 2010 Thomas Hohstadt
1. Andrew Jones, quoted in Tim Conder, The
Church in Transition: The Journey of Existing Churches in the
Emerging Culture (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 2006) pp 22, 25.
2. Tony Jones, quoted in Peter Walker and Tyler
Clark, "Missing the Point?" Relevant Magazine, Issue 21,
July-August, 2006, pp 70-74.