Monday, April 24, 2006

Criswell Theological Review -- Providing for an Honest Dialogue

As editor of the Criswell Theoligical Review, I receive many letters about our journal. Our Spring '06 issue on "The Emergent Church" stirred quite a conversation among bloggers. Recently, I received an email asking where CTR (and its sponsor Criswell College) stands on emergent. Here was my reply:

Thanks for your inquiry. Neither CTR nor the Criswell College takes an "official" stand on emergent. I imagine our faculty is split on the issue. CTR is an academic journal which seeks to explore various theological issues and trends from a scholarly perspective. We have covered such topics as Open Theism, New Perspective on Paul, Kingdom of God, etc. Our Fall '06 CTR will deal with tongues (the recent tongues controversy within the SBC and the 100th anniversary of the Azusa Street revival make this a relevant issue).

As editor of CTR, I believe I have a responsibility to present all sides of an issue, allowing the honest reader to evaluate the articles on the validity of their claims. In this manner, truth has a way of surfacing. For example, the CTR reader who approaches the emergent articles with an open mind should be able to compare and evaluate the arguments of each writer. This is why we place both pro and con articles in our journal (Hammett, Smith and Driscoll write critically of the movement. McLaren, Mills and Webber write in favor of it).

I personally believe that those on both sides of most issues often talk past each other. Each starts with certain presuppositions (which may or may not be valid) and works out from there. As a result, they have already settled certain issues in their minds, and do not want to be challenged by or give ground to the other side. Additionally, they make judgments without actually reading the other side's writings; thus, making honest inquiry impossible. I know this is true with many emergent critics, especially among the clergy. They would rather follow their leaders than read the primary sources for themselves. In this way they don't have to think. It is equally true with the pro-emergents. While the leadership may grasp the issues, the rest simply follow.

CTR hopes to challenge the status quo. If read in its entirety, the pro/con articles in CTR may be the first time a person hears both sides of an issue. In this way, we hope to make a contribution to the dialogue.

Alan Streett, Editor
Criswell Theological Review


Paul said...

That's a very refreshing approach. I've read the articles that are available online and they have been excellent.

Already/Not Yet said...

Thanks Paul. You would be surprised to learn that a number of people don't like this approach. They want us to take a position on each topic we explore, rather than promote academic dialogue. To do so, however, would be to abandon our mission.

Integrity and objectivity are essential if scholars are going to feel comfortable in submitting article to CTR.

debbiewimmers said...

I still don't quite understand the meaning of the emergent church, therefore, I can't really say if this is good or bad.
There is criticism on Megachurches and rock-style worship services to accomodate the younger generation.
It seems the emphesis is gaining mumbers in memebership not souls in the Book of Life. If this kind of evangelism works than I'm all for it but, if it is leading people into hell instead of heaven than I'm totally against it.