What the Missional Church Should Learn From the Confessional Church: Theological Creativity Within Orthodoxy

Some sectors of the missional movement can move the boundaries of orthodoxy more than others.  In particular, those who might align with Emergent Village and some of its thinkers (especially Brian Mclaren) think that theological creativity equals pure novelty. In other words, the way to move the church forward is to question, bend, and perhaps break orthodoxy apart.

However, I’ve remained a ‘conservative’ orthodox Christian because I’ve appreciated the theological creativity of orthodox theologians, especially within the Reformed tradition.

Some of my favorite theologians which exhibit such creativity are John Frame (perspectivalism), Vern Poythress (perspectivalism, God-centered hermeneutics), Kevin Vanhoozer (theodrama, Scripture as Script), Tom Oden (Paleo-Orthodoxy), Richard Gaffin (centrality of the resurrection in NT soteriology), William B. Evans (comarison and contrast of Reformed soteriological models), N.T. Wright (combing history and faith of Jesus), Tim Keller (the connections between gospel, city, and movement), and I could go on.  I also appreciate Tremper Longman, Meredith Kline, Herman Bavinck, Scot McKnight, Stanley Hauerwas, Richard Hays, and many others.

None of these theologians are extreme right-wingers, but they have creatively explored the theological spectrum without seeing the need to overthrow thousands of years of exegesis over important theological and ethical issues.

It might seem fun to be on the cutting-edge of theology and overthrowing some long-held traditions (and such might be needed from time to time), but I’d rather not camp out on such a cliff.  I’d rather follow the maps and lanterns of thinkers who trust the trails set before them, yet don’t mind an excursion here and there.


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