Wednesday, February 15, 2006

John Piper on the Emergent Church

This is a sermon on the life of William Tyndale, the 16th century reformer who translated the bible into the English language for the people . . . any thoughts?:

By the way, I have the opporunity of listening to Tony Jones (head of the Emergent Church in the US) on March 6th. I've read at least one of his books, and he has made me think more than once. So I am excited to listen to him in March.


"Where Luther and Tyndale were blood-earnest about our dreadful human condition and the glory of salvation in Christ, Erasmus and Thomas More joked and bantered. When Luther published his 95 theses in 1517, Erasmus sent a copy of them to More—along with a “jocular letter including the anti-papal games, and witty satirical diatribes against abuses within the church, which both of them loved to make.”36

I linger here with this difference between Tyndale and Erasmus because I am trying to penetrate to how Tyndale accomplished what he did through translating the New Testament. Explosive reformation is what he accomplished in England. This was not the effect of Erasmus’ highbrow, elitist, layered nuancing of Christ and church tradition. Erasmus and Thomas More may have satirized the monasteries and clerical abuses, but they were always playing games compared to Tyndale.

And in this they were very much like notable Christian writers in our own day. Listen to this remarkable assessment from Daniell, and see if you do not hear a description of certain emergent church writers and New Perspective champions:

Not only is there no fully realized Christ or Devil in Erasmus’s book . . . : there is a touch of irony about it all, with a feeling of the writer cultivating a faintly superior ambiguity: as if to be dogmatic, for example about the full theology of the work of Christ, was to be rather distasteful, below the best, elite, humanist heights. . . . By contrast Tyndale . . . is ferociously single-minded [“always singing one note”]; the matter in hand, the immediate access of the soul to God without intermediary, is far too important for hints of faintly ironic superiority. . . . Tyndale is as four-square as a carpenter’s tool. But in Erasmus’s account of the origins of his book there is a touch of the sort of layering of ironies found in the games with personae.37

It is ironic and sad that today supposedly avant-garde Christian writers can strike this cool, evasive, imprecise, artistic, superficially reformist pose of Erasmus and call it “post-modern” and capture a generation of unwitting, historically na├»ve, emergent people who don’t know they are being duped by the same old verbal tactics used by the elitist humanist writers in past generations. We saw them last year in Athanasius’ day (the slippery Arians at Nicaea), and we see them now in Tyndale’s day. It’s not post-modern. It’s pre-modern—because it is perpetual.

What drove Tyndale to sing “one note” all his life was the rock-solid conviction that all humans were in bondage to sin, blind, dead, damned, and helpless, and that God had acted in Christ to provide salvation by grace through faith. This is what lay hidden in the Latin Scriptures and the church system of penance and merit. The Bible must be translated for the sake of the liberating, life-giving gospel."

1 comment:

Dan said...

Thanks for this link, Matt. Piper's passion never fails to stir my soul to worship Christ.