A Decision to Remain Undecided
I have long loved the story related in Matt. 21. The Pharisees come to Jesus, to try to trap Him by asking where His authority came from. Rather than responding, he asks them a “filter-question.” The question had nothing at all to do with the topic at hand: however, Jesus knew how to cut through to the real heart of the issue. His method was to ask them to state their position on a current, relevant issue: “Was John from God or from men?” This question put them between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they had their reputations and institutions to defend – on the other, they had the fear of public outcry. One notices that the question of “truth” did not factor into their discussions at all. Unwilling to cause scandal or offense, and apparently unconcerned with truth, they choose perpetual indecision: “we do not know, teacher.” In response, Jesus denied to answer their question. It is those who worship God in “spirit and in truth” whom the Father seeks (John 4:24): the double-minded man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-8).
This question applies to the emergent doctrine of “perpetual indecision.” According to some, to state that one knows anything with absolute certainty is pure arrogance. As I heard one person say, “Once you come to a conclusion, the emergent conversation is over.” Instead, the good “emerger” is to remain in a perpetual stasis of indecision on touchy issues.
A famous case of this is Brian Maclaren, who still (as far as I know) has not declared his position on homosexuality.
There are many valid reasons for a Christian to be undecided. A topic may be beyond their expertise (I am decidedly undecided about the science of creation, since I am not a scientist), or Scriptures may be silent or intentionally vague about a topic (e.g. the “end times”), or a topic may be simply irrelevant (seriously – who CARES whether the human is body/soul or body/soul/spirit?!).
I think it goes without saying that none of these caveats apply to the topics of homosexuality, hell, or abortion, to name a few.
These topics are pressingly relevant, spoken of clearly in Scriptures, and within the scope of every Christian to make an informed decision.
This is yet another water-shed moment for the emergent community. Yes, mystery, toleration and questioning can be good things. But what will one do when one finally emerges out of the mists of confusion, to be presented with the cold, hard words of Scriptures? Will they bow in humble submission to the lordship of Christ, or will they intentionally turn their backs on certainty, to stumble backwards into a perpetual wandering in the wastelands of indecision?
If they chose this latter road, they will find a difference. Indecision as a pathway to decision is a road blessed by God: indecision as a rejection of the lordship of Jesus is a sin. Until this rebellion is repented of, I believe they will feel God’s disapproval in place of his approval, God’s judgment in place of His blessing, God’s God’s silence in place of His voice, as their intentional indecision leads them further and further abroad from His revealed presence.