As many of you know, I have been back and forth lately with Dan Trabue over a number of issues related to the biblical expression of Christianity. Dan is one of those emergent guys, and he seems to think he can replace nearly every basic doctrine of historic Christian orthodoxy while retaining his identity as Christian. This is due in no small part to his uncritical acceptance of postmodern philosophy coupled with the Church’s true failure to rightly emphasize Christian dogma in the late 20th century and to excommunicate those who refuse to receive said dogma with all humility. The purpose of this post is to show the reader how Dan claims one thing and thing tries to say that he is not claiming the very thing he is claiming. It is the same slight-of-hand nonsense we observed in men like Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and Brian McLaren.
Dan’s first claim is that ANE writers did not write with the same aim of modern historians. What Dan means is that ANE writers were more concerned with doing more in those stories than merely transmitting historical facts as they occurred. First of all, like any good slight of hand movement, there is some truth in the statement. However, the statement is much more controversial Dan admits. Second, the statement is far too general. Third, the statement assumes that the Ancient Hebrew Scriptures follow the ANE model in recording historical narrative, which also assumes that the motivation and forces behind the Hebrew Scriptures were the same as every other ANE text. That these assumptions are patently false seems obvious to anyone but those with the most extreme prejudice. Dan’s view destroys the universal fall humanity and, along with it, the doctrine of original sin. If there was no literal Adam to fall, there could be no literal, universal fall. If Adam was not the federal head of man, there was no federal head of man. If that is true, men can obtain righteousness and be saved apart from Christ by simply not sinning. Yet, Dan spins, claiming to believe that we are all sinners even though he has removed the very foundation for his own claims.
I pointed out that Luke, in his genealogy of Christ, includes Adam and Seth among the many other generations from Christ back to Adam. My reason for doing so was so that Dan might realize that Luke, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, accepted the view that Adam and Seth were historical people living at a point in time. Dan rejected Luke’s account although he provided no alternative explanation and then claimed that we do not know what God’s opinion of what Luke wrote might be. Now, if Dan believes Luke was wrong, he must also believe that God believes that Luke was wrong. Yet, he says we just don’t know God’s opinion of Luke’s account. I suppose Dan could argue that Luke mixes myth and legend into geological records while providing a certification of the historicity of Christ and his Messianic office. But such a move would seem to be, not just logically incoherent and absurd, it would be philosophically outrageous. Yet, Dan denies holding the view that Luke’s writings are unreliable. He wants to attest that Luke is reliable while claiming on this point that Luke was wrong, or in other words, unreliable. This is the two-faced spin that emergent thinkers love to play games with. They hold a view while claiming NOT to hold a view. How long did we know that Rob Bell rejected the Scriptures and endorsed homosexual sex before he finally came out and admitted it?
Dan has repeatedly said the Bible is not the Word of God and that the Scriptures are not binding, nor authoritative on our lives. Having grown tired of generalities, I took Dan to Paul as he was pronouncing a curse on anyone who dared disagree with him on the gospel. Paul wrote with all authority on the matter. There can be no doubt that Paul, in the very least, was under the impression he had a right to claim that his version of the gospel was the standard and that no one had any right to proclaim even a slightly different one. Dan rejects Paul’s authority ipso facto, claiming that this was just Paul’s opinion. At the same time, Dan has attempted to employ a certain authority over me by informing me that I cannot slander him because slander is forbidden. I have to ask, by whom? Whose authority forbids me to slander? Oh, the same text that forbids slander is the text that Dan wants to argue in another place has no authority and is not binding. And then Dan wants people to believe that he really doesn’t believe the things I am accusing him of. Once again, we see the sinister spin of the sinister sinner at work. It really is outrageous and would be comical if it were not so wicked and rebellious.
In addition to Dan’s denial of a literal Adam which must mean a denial of a literal fall and the necessity for a literal redemption in Christ, Dan has denied the reliability of Luke along with the authority of Paul specifically and all of Scripture in general. At the same time, Dan wants us to believe that he is a Christian. Now, as one might guess, Dan also embraces homosexuality. Dan claims that marriage and sex are open to all that want it and that God is perfectly fine with such arrangements. I am sure Dan has read the supposed apologetic for gay Christianity and is familiar with those weak and ridiculous arguments. The point here is the gay sex is described by Scripture not only as a sin, but as a perversion of the natural design of the human body. And the larger point is that commandment breaking can never be a part of the Christian community regardless of how many OSAS hard-core dispensational guys preach that it can be. The view that Christ can be your Savior even though He is not your Lord crawled up out of the sewers of hell even if it did so through well-intentioned men. Dan’s endorsement of same-sex relationships precludes him from the community of faith even if he says that it does not.
In the end, due to Dan’s beliefs and their implications for Christian doctrine and their impact on the Christian community, we have to challenge his claim that he possesses genuine faith. Many people came along in the first century church making the same claims. But upon closer inspection, they were found out to be false teachers, false prophets, and false converts. The same is not any less true today. The difference is that today’s church hardly ever inspects a person’s claim to know Christ. They simply take it at face value and conduct no due diligence whatsoever. We have to be more prudent about how we conduct ourselves in the Christian community. We don’t start out doubting a person’s faith. That is not what I am saying. I am saying that new arrivals must be known. We spend time with them. We have conversations with them. We observe their life. What do they believe and how do they conduct themselves? When we begin to hear things that trouble us, we must push into those issues and understand more about their claims and beliefs. When we bump into guys like Dan, we engage in conversation and eventually end up where we have ended up. We ask the person to repent of their unbelieving views, submit to Scripture with all humility, and call on their elders to teach them a more pure form of the Christian system. When they are persistent in their refusal to accept and believe Christian dogma, we are equally persistent in refusing their testimony and view them as a wolf instead of a sheep. Those facts are published for the rest of the community so that everyone is aware and protected from those who would bring damnable heresies into the body of Christ. When men like Dan collect other cavils of like-mind and run down the street to start their own group, we treat them with contempt and shame, refusing to extend the slightest degree of respect and honor to them because they reflect a shameful and despicable version of Christianity that does far more harm than it does good to the Christian way.