the reason i have for hope
Wednesday August 17th 2005, 7:05 am
Filed under: faith

ok, so — i’ve been asked to enter into a debate with a professional debater, on the subject he has spent his life developing debate-points about, using an approach (debate, that is) that is centrist to this debater’s worldview, and substantially less so to mine. and i’m being asked to enter into this debate in the most inhuman and non-relational of spaces: the internet.

what must you think i’m smokin’?

a few random, non-debatey, thoughts — first about this blog, and second about the “subject d’jour” (i’m only a handful of miles from france right now, so that somehow felt very appropriate)… OOH, i’ll even lay them out in numbered order, kinda like propositions! (because, of course, i DO still use propositions).

1. my blog space, as i said in my very first post back in april, has multiple purposes. but it’s primary purpose is a semi-accountable journalling space for me. a place for me to ruminate and dream and throw out ideas and log personal stuff, and –hey — even reason.

2. i do want my blog to be read, and am thrilled that anyone chooses to do so, and hope it is occasionally stirring the pot for those who do choose to read.

3. blogs like the str blog and the a-team blog exist for debate. that’s fine and good — it’s just not the purpose of this blog. that doesn’t mean i’m dodging you, brett. it means i am so not into this format as a place for you and i to “get into it”. dude, come to san diego, sit in my hot tub with me, stay at my house, meet my family. and we’ll talk. this very year i have had two formerly tense relationships move to warm and supportive because we sat down, talked, prayed together.

4. i warmly welcome comments on my blog — so comment all you want! i often respond to comments, but i’m trying to do so less when they are pulling me into debate.

5. it both annoys and humors me when people accuse me (or any of my friends in the emerging church) of having self-defeating logic because we: (pick one) don’t believe in reason, but use it to persuade people; don’t believe in any absolutes, save the one just stated; dismiss propositions, while using them liberally. i still believe in absolute truth (i believe we bring out “stuff” to it, but that’s another subject); i still use reason and propositions all the time (as is clear from this post)

6. but if you ask me to respond to paul’s “methodology” — well, i think it’s a stretch to call it a methodology. paul was brilliant in using all kinds of “methods”, relationally when appropriate, public-speaking when appropriate, propositions when appropriate. but when i’m asked to be ready in and out of season to give a reason for the hope i have — which is one of my favoriate passages, by the way — my mind does NOT go to my list of logical arguments and rational propositions. the REASON i have for hope is a person: christ; not a proposition. the reason i have for hope is a gorgeous story of truth — god’s truth. i’d rather tell it as a true-story than as an outline of propositions.

that about sums it up for today, from guernsey, UK. day three of the strep throat extraveganza — what was supposed to be a spiritual retreat, but has been three days of whincing when i swallow. but i can tell i’m slightly better today, and have HOPE (!) that i’ll have enough of a throat on thursday, friday and saturday to actually retreat.

20 Comments so far
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besides…the real debate/issue I have with you marko, is…


Why don’t you proposition about that?? huh?? hehehehe

Comment by Grant 08.17.05 @ 9:32 am

dude - you bring the xbox and controllers, and I’ll score us a projector and a room to use.

Comment by marko 08.17.05 @ 9:52 am

I’m on it…but we’ll have to use these ‘level’ categories….

hehe hehe he

Comment by Grant 08.17.05 @ 10:17 am

Hey, I’ll bring an XBox AND a projector … lets link up!

Comment by Matthew McNutt 08.17.05 @ 3:52 pm

I’m hoping to play Marko in Pittsburgh @ NYWC.

Comment by Gman 08.17.05 @ 5:26 pm

Hey Marko,

Is point 3 a real invitation? If so, I’m down — I’d love to spark up a friendship. And I’m not too far away in Newport Beach.

Let me know when you’ll be back in the States and we’ll get together. And you bring the cigars because you can’t have a deep theological discussion without quality tobacco products!

Comment by Brett Kunkle 08.17.05 @ 5:55 pm

i was totally serious, brett. I’ll connect when i’m back in the states.

“can you feel the love tonite…”

Comment by marko 08.17.05 @ 6:34 pm

Mark, I think you are right in many ways, and I’m not saying you are wrong per se. Trying to lead people to Christ through my life, yeah, I certainly try that and hope that it does work sometimes.

But as I tell my students, putting faith in someone other than Christ will always lead to problems, because we all screw it up at some point (some, like me, more than others).

You are right, faith in Christ is not about propositions, but rather about him. But does that mean that the propositions are unimportant, or that theology doesn’t matter? Hardly… I don’t think that is what you are trying to say necessarily, nor the rest of the emergent movement, but that is what it often sounds like to those of us who aren’t emergent enough.

I mean, a Buddhist can put forth an awesome example, as is often pointed out, better than a lot of Christians. Does the fact therefore that he shows compassion and love mean that his path is the right one?

Now, the fact that your love and compassion and such is rooted in Christ, yeah, that makes a difference, all of the difference in fact. But what makes Christ obviously different is going to boil down to some propositions, which doesn’t have to be as cold and sterile as it is made to sound at times.

Hopefully you and Brett keep up the hints of positive vibe here, you do meet and can at the very least glorify God together, even if not in the same ways.

Comment by Glenn A 08.17.05 @ 6:40 pm

I’d love to be a fly on that wall, or a bubble in that hot tub…oh, maybe not, maybe just a neighbor who can overhear your conversation because you are trying to talk over the hot tub bubbles. Two people I respect conversing…

Feel better Marko.

Comment by Cathy 08.17.05 @ 8:05 pm

so what do i have to do to get into markos hot tub???

i’ll call you dangerous…

im gonna start a post against you on my blog, maybe that will get me in…

Comment by chris 08.17.05 @ 8:11 pm

Okay … I’m a little freaked at all the interest in getting in a hot tub with Marko (no offense, dude) … although it does give me an idea for the video contest at YS …

Comment by Matthew McNutt 08.17.05 @ 10:10 pm

“ok, so — i’ve been asked to enter into a debate with a professional debater”

Hmmm, I must have missed that. I saw where Brett asked for feedback and correction on what he had written so that you could have a constructive conversation about it. Not quite the formal debate that you make it sound like in your introductory paragraph.

Wait, maybe the invitation to debate is the same place where he said you were dangerous?

Seriously though, you look like you have some good things to say but when your exagerate people’s comments like that it makes it more difficult to see through to the more worthwhile things.

Kinda like when Christians are lacking in love it affects their witness in sharing the Gospel. ;-)

Comment by brian 08.17.05 @ 11:56 pm

I hope you’re feeling better soon, Marko.

Comment by Amy Hall 08.18.05 @ 1:23 am

Feel better soon Marko. Warm tea with honey makes strep throat so much more tolerable, and really decreases the pain. And, toss out your toothbrush or bleach it, or you have a more then 50% chance of coming down with it again as soon as you get rid of it!

Comment by Sarah 08.18.05 @ 5:13 am

I guess Brett was asking for a debate if you define a debate as an exchange of ideas. In which case I guess I enter in to debates many times in the course of any day.

I realize you’d rather not enter into a discussion of these ideas in non-human internet space but this space has been a wonderful place for the exchange of ideas that you support.

You gave a pretty long response to Brent’s original post while barely touching on the issues he raised. A post of similar length would seem to not only addressed the issues he raised but edified others in the community that would really like to hear your answers. That is without having to travel to your house and enter your hot tub. ;)

Comment by Bob K 08.18.05 @ 8:46 am

“blogs like the str blog and the a-team blog exist for debate.”

It is not about “debate” per se (as though to say that one randomly picks a side and jumps into battle for the sheer fun of it); it is about identifying and defending truth to the best of one’s ability. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Co 10:5).

If we are really passionate about truth, then we will certainly be vigorous in our defense of it where we see it assaulted or devalued. There are some whose gifts and calling may lie in the area of careful reasoning in moral, metaphysical, and theological matters. Let us not minimize this organ in the body of Christ, and let us be open to their council. Conversely, those like yourself may be gifted in the area of reaching out to people in order to demonstrate those principles and propositions that the apologists are so eager to defend. We should not undervalue either camp, and covet the blessing of being gifted in both areas.

“Come to San Diego, sit in my hot tub with me, stay at my house, meet my family. and we’ll talk.”

This would certainly be a great thing to do in order to facilitate a discussion without rancor, but I’m not sure what the niceties have to do with the critical issues that ought to be addressed here (and which you seem to be delicately avoiding). Do you suppose that Augustine and Pelagius, or Athenasius and Arius could have settled their differences, even over a nice cigar in a hot tub, without someone yielding their beliefs? Not implying that you are a heretic here, just using a legitimate “debate” tactic.

“I still believe in absolute truth (I believe we bring our “stuff” to it, but that’s another subject)”

Perhaps this may be the heart of the matter. We can certainly be wrong about any number of things, and we must maintain a certain measure of humility, but since we call ourselves “Christians” and take the Bible to be our playbook, there are surely some things on which we may be rather dogmatic, otherwise it is incumbent upon us to answer why we continue to call ourselves “Christian.”

We are certainly open to correction in our propositional beliefs, but how shall we be corrected? By warm smiles and affirming words? By having them ignored because they are backed by too much certainty? Or by careful reason and refutation? “Be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Ti 4:2).

“The REASON I have for hope is a person: Christ; not a proposition. The reason I have for hope is a gorgeous story of truth — god’s truth. I’d rather tell it as a true-story than as an outline of propositions.”

There is something to what you say. We are touch by stories, and that’s why the Bible is so full of stories and is not simply a book full of doctrines and moral precepts. But these stories are built upon data and events. When you tell the story of the resurrection, do you believe you are simply telling a fictitious tale? If not, then your story is implicitly theological. To flush this out we might ask you to please define “Jesus” and “resurrection,” and tell us what it all means. As soon as you open your mouth to respond you will be offering propositional truths. And if you will not answer, I’m not sure why the hearer should not go down the street to the next storyteller who may tell his story more passionately and with a warmer smile.

Comment by Scott Pruett 08.18.05 @ 1:59 pm

So what’s more true - the story, which we take to be inspired and authoritative, or the propositions, which are second-order reflections on the story? I think that’s what Mark is driving at here. You seem to be placing the emphasis on the second-order propositions instead of the primary, inspired narrative.

Comment by ScottB 08.18.05 @ 6:48 pm

Marko Writes” my mind does NOT go to my list of logical arguments and rational propositions. the REASON i have for hope is a person: christ; not a proposition. the reason i have for hope is a gorgeous story of truth — god’s truth. i’d rather tell it as a true-story than as an outline of proposition”

Hi Marko - nice website, and I hope you safely return to the states. The reason for your hope (being the person of Christ) is in itself a very logical proposition. I do not really think any one is suggesting we trust in a “proposition” separate from any entitiy to which it is attached. And I would not be surprised to find that you agree that God has set forth some rather impressive and rational propositions. Yet, I appreciate the discussion of trust in a person thought while at the first we do not much know Him. How well do I need to know the person who takes control in a catastrophic situation, and rescues many from a sinking ship. Given the choice, I would get on the next boat with Him as opposed to someone I knew, and knew to be self centered. I would not care immediately to know who is farther or family was, or his history, etc. But surely I would, by wonder at the persons actions, become very interested in knowing Him, and would likely be quick to find him more trustworthy still. I know the analogy breaks down eventually, but I think I understand your point and hope I have represented it fairly. Thanks.

Comment by Hollands Opus 08.18.05 @ 7:04 pm

I hear what you’re saying Scott B, and we may have no real disagreement here. The authority is certainly grounded in the text itself, whether that is a historical narrative, a pastoral epistle, or a theological exposition (like Romans or Hebrews); it is not the derived creeds and confessions that are “inspired.”

But when we witness to people and clarify our faith for skeptics we do not — cannot — simply regurgitate the entire contents of Scripture to them. We are ultimately forced to summarize our beliefs into certain core propositions. Even picking and choosing which “stories” to tell people expresses an implicit second-order theological assessment — the stories you choose represent what you believe to contain the most essential propositional truths. We cannot help ourselves, we think and dialog in the currency of propositions. Should I imagine that when Mark tells a story he is not intending anyone to get anything out of it, i.e., to come to some conclusion or belief? And is every conclusion equally true?

Failing to formally recognize our theological nature and the implicit propositions in our thinking and discourse will ultimately lead down a dangerous road. Where once the average churchgoer was merely ignorant of or lazy about careful theological study and reasoning, we now are faced with the “proposition” that it is misguided to even be overly concerned to do so.

It is certainly appropriate to deliver God’s word and just let it do its work as only it can, but Mark isn’t just quoting Scripture. And it is when he goes off-book that his statements (as with mine) are subject to critical reflection guided by a careful understanding of that Book.

Comment by Scott Pruett 08.19.05 @ 6:41 pm

i’m reading this dialogue and it would seem most everyone is trying (possibly unitentionally) to champion either relationship/life/story/etc. or proof/apologetic/logic as the ultimate form of witness. what i’m not reading anywhere (from marko or others) is that if you have one you can’t have the other.

could it be that people are just “wired” differently? we know that some people are left brain, and some favor the right brain. could it be that for some the best is “belong, behave, believe” is the magic ticket and for others it is “believe, behave, belong”?

what i think (subject to clarification from marko) that mark is inviting is more apologetics in story form rather than lecture form (this is based on reading several comments to related blogs on this site). not sure why so many are so threatened by this, other than that those who “defend the faith” are used to a defensive posture.

anyway, thanks for all the comments … it is definatley entertaining to read (and interesting too).



Comment by danKing 02.27.06 @ 11:52 pm

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