Home > Biblical Studies, Brian's Blogs, Emerging Church Movement > Jude on Postmodern Innovators

Jude on Postmodern Innovators

Last week I spent some time studying Jude for a student lesson.  It struck me that Jude has a lot to say to today’s postmodern innovators (Mike Wittmer’s term for the the liberal wing of the emerging church movement, but not the emerging movement as a whole).  Take a look:

Jude is short enough to read in a few minutes, so I’m not going to spend time summarizing the letter.  Rather, I’d just like to point out a few theological themes and their relationship to the postmodern innovators (PI).  Thanks to Ruth Anne Reese’s good commentary on Jude for these thematic statements:

Denying God and the Bid for False Freedom.  Jude is primarily concerned with “The Others” who have come into the Christian community and “deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”  One of the major concerns with the PIs is that they deny the importance of belief, primarily the belief that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Now, it would be a mistake to claim that the PIs turn this denial into “a license for immorality,” but the denial of the belief is often present in their theology.  Jude is clear: denying Jesus Christ is a direct denial of God.

Judgment.  Jude 5-16, the bulk of the letter, focuses on God’s judgment.  Jude provides many Old Testament examples to make one point: immoral people who deny Jesus Christ will face judgment.  PIs are becoming famous for denying the reality of hell or even the reality of God’s judgment.  They especially deny judgment based solely on what a person believes.  But Jude is clear: God is a God who judges immorality and disbelief.

Us and Them.  Jude provides a contrast between “The Beloved/Dear Friends” and “The Others.”  “The Beloved” are kept close to God by His mercy and grace, “The Others” have been cast away from God because of their sin and unbelief.  PIs often don’t like such exclusionary language.  They don’t like the idea of “us and them,” or when it comes to salvation, those who are “in or out.”  Rather, many PIs speak in universalist language where everyone is on the path to salvation, just in different spots.  Or, if they are not universalist in the strict sense then some PIs are extremely inclusive when they say that everyone is “in” unless they opt “out.”  Again, Jude is clear: there are two types of people in the world; those related to God through Jesus Christ and those who are not related to God because of their denial of Jesus Christ.

The Call to Faithful Living.  Jude is not simply concerned about what a person believes.  Jude is also concerned about how believers live.  The letter concludes with a strong challenge to faithful living which primarily includes showing mercy to others (vv. 22-23).  Although many PIs complain that conservative Christians only focus on belief, Jude and the rest of the NT is clear: belief cannot be disassociated from life.  Rather, our belief in a merciful God (vv. 20-21) leads to a life of mercy (vv. 22-23).  Anything else would fail to be biblical belief.

It is amazing how much this little letter offers in the debate with the contemporary PIs.  Perhaps this is a good outline for Mike Wittmer’s next book, “Hey Jude.”

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  1. mike
    April 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Good words, Brian. I wish I had noticed this before! I remember skimming MacArthur’s recent book which is ostensibly on the emergent movement, and if I remember right, it spends a lot of time in Jude and very little on the specifics of the emergent movement. But given what you have said, maybe that was his point.

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