Since I do not have the time to write a proper post this week, why don't we look at someone else's blog for a change?
Edmund Lau is a fellow brother-in-Christ I met on Blogosphere, and I noticed that, besides being well-read in literary and contemporary issues, he has a willingness to discuss cultural and theological matters in a very personable, well-measured, and candid manner. Furthermore, we are both ex-Bible Presbyterians to begin with. That gave us a little common ground for future catfights in the theological arena. (I would like to take back the last sentence here ... emoticon: smiles aplenty)
There are at least two interesting posts from his blog which I would like to mention here. To begin with, he has been examining the Emergent Church movement, and has written a 'balanced' and 'moderate' post concerning this novel phenomenon in 'Church'-ianity. Edmund laments:
"We live in times where words like "balanced" and "moderate" are very, very popular ... Now, there is much to be said about avoiding extremisms and intolerance. We've all seen the ugly face of single-issue Christians taking their beliefs and forcing it down everyone's throats - or calling their opponents all sorts of names. ... But the "ideals" of "moderation" and "balance" have been taken to such extremes that by itself, it's become another form of extremism! So much that you almost believe these people's Bibles contain a verse such as "Be ye balanced/moderate, as your Heavenly Father is balanced/moderate!" ...
"The Christian ideal (in fact, put in its proper context within the Sermon on the Mount, the KINGDOM IDEAL), is HOLINESS. While moderation and balance speaks of earthly civility, holiness speaks of heavenly sanctity. ...
"The irony of it is that, non-denominationalism is really just ANOTHER denomination. Any student of history will tell you that! The Brethren movement considered itself non-denominational. What then is an Open Brethren or a Closed Brethren? Aren't they simply groups with their own denominational-distinctives; hence, simply more denominations? Same thing I witnessed (pun intended) in Witness Lee's "Local Church Movement" in recent months. That's another self-proclaimed non-denominational group that is SO denominational in fact (with their own distinctive prayer-reading, repetitions of "Lord Jesus", their own Bible translation, hymn book, etc.). Similarly, the followers of McLaren are variously labelled the "Emerging Church Movement", "Emergent Church", etc. In short, another denomination - with its own denominational distinctives such as "we have no denominational distinctives" and its own exclusive beliefs such as "we are non-exclusivists"!"
But there is at least one attitude which is commendable in the Emergent/Emerging Church Movement - their willingness and courage to reexamine ecclesiastical traditionalism and dead theological orthodoxy, which is really what Reformed churches should be doing now: To be Reformed and yet reforming. As my friend Daniel Chew would say, "Reformata Et Semper Reformanda."
And here is another interesting post from Edmund's blog.
He wrote a brief discourse concerning his experiences with the Bible Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist churches over at Malaysia. And I must agree with him when he exclaimed, "Reformed Christianity touches every area of ecclesiology, eschatology, pneumatology, etc. down to hermeneutical principles and sermonizing." That is why I have refused to define Reformed Theology with just the five points of Calvinism and the five Solas.
I believe the correct approach when we seek to appraise one's theology is to work or debate from first principles. Just as in philosophy, we criticize one's world view by attacking their metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, metaethics, metametaphysics etc which are really the presuppositional grid underlying his world view. In theological systems, we have to start the debate in areas such as hermeneutics and theological grids, instead of jumping into the applicational aspects of the theological-hermeneutical grid itself e.g. doctrine of the Parousia, exposition of Revelation, and the Millennial sacrifices.
And concerning the topic of "Bible Presbyterianism, Reformed Theology and Dispensationalism" which Edmund had mentioned in this post of his (i.e. "more work for you, Vincent!"), I had written a manuscript which is close to four hundreds pages (completed in early 2007). But ... I have yet to publish it. The publication of the manuscript will have to wait till later this year (2008), as I am concentrating on my studies at the moment. And writing those publication proposals to a myriad of publication companies is no small deal, at least in terms of time expenditure (and having them accept the manuscript is another matter all together).
However, there are other reasons why I have delayed publication. One of them is this: I have always regarded my Bible Presbyterian brethren as fellow workers in the Gospel of Christ. It is never my intent to cause any ill-will between us; nevertheless, I believe in the intellectual freedom of writing critiques, and expressing ourselves in polemics in a cordial manner. As such, I have avoided publishing the manuscript amidst the peak of their doctrinal controversy concerning the verbal plenary preservation of Scripture.
I pray that they would understand that in terms of the work of the Gospel, I am standing with them; but with regard to their theological grid, we can at least agree to disagree. Agreed?
Unfortunately, Edmund’s blog has now taken a different path. His blog (and friends) now defends the erroneous notion that homosexuality (and other kinds of sexual "preferences") is not a sin, scorns Reformed protestantism as belonging to a kind of ghettoed mentality, and has apparently bowed before the altar of Neo-Orthodox scholarship. So this is where we part ways, ideologically speaking.
One of my friends who used to comment on his blog has now refrained to do so ... “it is a lost cause,” so he says. But we will pray for him.