Issue #4: The Subject’s grasp of the Object leads to chastened truth-claims
Also, I don’t think DA Carson deals with the inevitable entailment of truth-claiming, namely, that even if we think the Scripture is Truth and Jesus Christ is Truth, we are still in need of dealing with our “articulation” of that Truth, and that is the place PM enters and that is the struggle we find in the Emergent Truth. This is a pressing issue for me: I utterly believe in Jesus Christ and the Bible. But, I don’t believe that what I say about the Bible is that Truth. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not a strong postmodernist; I do think we can know the Truth but I don’t think our systems are the Truth. They approximate that Truth; and I think some of them are so dead-solid we can get close to Truth (God is; etc).
My own epistemology is this: we are “cracked Eikons” (which is the subject of my next book, A Weekend called Grace) and the Fall impacts our mind; we are in need of God’s grace so we can be enlightened; this enlightenment ennobles us and enables us to “know God” in truth. So, for me, a fundamental feature of a Christian epistemology involves gracious enlightenment and not simply rational comprehension. I’m fully persuaded DA Carson agrees with me here, though he does not really deal with this dimension of a Christian epistemology or a Christian apprehension or comprehension of Truth. (Augustine and Anselm surely come into play here.)
I don’t think the way to respond to the PM or to the Emergent movement is to say, “You folks don’t really believe in truth; I do; and here’s why; and if you don’t you’ll be far off base.” I think the way to address the issue is more along the line of defining what the Truth is and seeing wherein we agree and disagree. In other words, DA Carson could have helped us with a little more on what truth is on top of the issue “that truth is.”
One of the most elementary features of the Emergent movement is its humility (or at least its claim to humility: I’m not sure humans ever get this right). If PM has taught us anything, it has taught us that our “systems” and our “articulations” and our “interpretations” are not final. What the Emergents rebel against is the arrogance of the Evangelical and the Truth-claiming Christian who comes off as arrogant because he or she does not recognize that we hold this treasure in clay pots: I’m not sure DA Carson helps in this dimension at all. I’m not accusing DA Carson of arrogance, but I think he has failed to see the current that drives the boat in this regard. What he has seen is that Emergents would rather criticize the modernist Christian claim than the postmodernist non-Christian claim of absolute tolerance. On this they could be more balanced.