Tony Jones is the national coordinator of Emergent Village and author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. Collin Hansen is editor-at-large of Christianity Today and author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists. Both books take a sympathetic journalistic approach to a young but growing movement in American Christianity, examining why it's growing and how it's changing the larger church.
There may be some truth to the dichotomy you asked me about, but I suspect the situation is more ambiguous. The young Reformed evangelicals I interviewed would gladly stand with Emergents on your dispatch 14: "Emergents embrace paradox, especially those that are core components of the Christian story." The Bible affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. But who knows how these twin truths always correspond? I love what J. I. Packer writes in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God: "The desire to oversimplify the Bible by cutting out the mysteries is natural to our perverse minds, and it is not surprising that even good men should fall victim to it."
In the spirit of your chapter called "The Theology, Stupid," I would like to discuss a central concern of the evangelicals I profiled. You wrote a section on Atonement that followed your story about meeting a pastor who "sits atop a pyramid of Reformed Christians." You contrast his view of substitutionary Atonement with Emergent Christians' views, which more commonly attribute the sins of the world "not to the distance between human beings and God but to the broken relationships that clutter our lives and our world." Can you help me understand how Emergent Christians tend to view the atoning ...