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Walking The Tightrope

One of the pastors I’ve come to befriend, took the time as we ate together to warn me of some of the theological and cultural explorations I’ve been doing. 

“These Emergent folk are so hesitant to say where they stand theologically, what their positions are, but their reluctance to do so is a position in and of itself. It’s a man-centered theology, it’s not biblical,” he paused. “And that’s the key concern I have.”

“So what is biblical theology? What does that look like?” I asked.

He gave this some thought. “Biblical theology is proclaiming who God is through his Word. It is not dependent on culture or person or time and place…it’s the truth of the bible that needs to be revealed to us. We need to stay true to a God-centered theology. Everything else detracts from that and is man-centered.”

He took a short breath, “There are some crazy theologies out there and they are not all biblical. Have you heard of process theology?”

“I’ve heard of it, but I don’t know anything about it.”

“Process theology is a dangerous theology because it states that man takes part in the creation of God as much as God takes part in the creation of man. It’s man-centered. It’s like God doesn’t know who he without us! It makes us seem bigger than we are. It’s ridiculous…and that’s what I’m talking about. That’s the danger with this whole postmodern, Emergent thing. It’s not about God, it’s about us trying to make God in our own image, not the other way around.”

I had no idea what to say…I didn’t even know what process theology was at the time.

But I still don’t know what “biblical” theology looks like, at least in terms of how my friend was trying to explain it. I mean, I get it, a God-centered theology is needed, but what do we do with the fact God became one of us? That Jesus bathed himself and defecated and became hungry? Just as that tension exists to not make it “man-centered”, somehow, I don’t know how to say that our theology stops in “God-centeredness”. And the deeper I read the Word, the more I see that tension come out between the “Letter” of the Law and the “Spirit” of the Law.

Now that I’ve read more about process theology, I wonder how does emerging theology reconcile some of that tension, or does it leave the wires hanging out, so to speak? Is the postmodern generation simply saying that they’re tired of presuming to have systematically figured God out? or are they assuming a posture of progressivism, that we will make it better? that we are co-creators with and of God?

Walking the tightrope…trying to love my pastors and the stranger at the same time. Love God and my neighbor? Study the Word and trust this wild goose? But You, oh God, are so worth this. You and your mystery are better than life and I would rather be lost with You than found in my own certitude. I cover my mouth like Job, lest I presume again.


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

One response to “Walking The Tightrope

  1. jadanzzy

    I’ve become wary of pastors who immediately peg emergents as theologically man-centered Christians. As i become more “invested” into the conversation I’ve grown to experience and see more of the beauty and mystery of God’s nature in my life.

    Just as much as evangelicals would say that emergents are too man-centered, many emergents would say that evangelicals are WAY too “God-centered” to the point, as you say in this post as well, of forgetting that Jesus walked the earth and lived as a man.

    I understand the pastor’s heart for us to know our place and for us to know God’s. But thinking that way so much would, in my opinion, lead to, as you fear, systematizing God in the way of Scripture, rather than bringing Scripture alive through the story that God creates as man participates in being part of the story.

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