First of all, I don't necessarily endorse the chart. I want to make that clear.
Anyways, one of the four people who were listed as outside of the realm of orthodoxy was Mr. Tony Jones.
Well, Tony is apparently an avid blog reader and this post did not elude his Technorati grasp. He seemed a little perturbed about the assertion that he was outside of the realm of orthodoxy. Here is the gauntlet that he laid down in the comments section of the post (comment #93, to be precise):
"Sadly, this is happening more and more to me, and I continue to offer the same challenge: Will someone please show me where, in print, I have said something that is outside of classic, historic orthodoxy. I may not be evangelical, as it’s been defined over the past 150 years, but I’ve never claimed to be an evangelical. But surely Christian orthodoxy is much broader than modern evangelicalism. Was Augustine orthodox? Luther? Aquinas? Hildegard?"
Now, at the present time (10:19 Pacific Standard) 51 posts have followed on the heels of Mr. Jones'. However, I don't think that any of them set out to specifically show where Mr. Jones' has stepped outside of the realm of "classic, historic orthodoxy." There could be a couple of reasons: 1) people are not familiar with either a) classic, historic orthodoxy, or b) they are not familiar with Mr. Jones. Or 2) They are too afraid to venture a critique of a doctoral fellow at the venerable Princeton Seminary. Regardless of why no one has responded, I'm going to make a very brief attempt to show why Tony Jones can and should, at this point, be regarded as someone who has consistently located himself outside of "classic, historic orthodoxy."
First of all, he asserts that "orthodoxy doesn't exist." This was said in his presentation at last year's Wheaton Theology Conference. You can find him blog posting about it HERE. He says,
My "paper" went for a bit over an hour, then there were about 40 minutes worth of questions before Vince Bacote and I finally had to cut it off. I'll likely publish a version of that paper somewhere, sometime, so I'm not ready to give it all away here. But, the gist of it was that I said that orthodoxy doesn't "exist." Instead, orthodoxy is an event, in the Derridean/Caputoean sense. That is, orthodoxy happens when human beings get together and practice it (talk about God, worship God, pray to God, write books about God, etc.). There's no orthodoxy somewhere out there that one can point to and say, "See that? That's orthodoxy. That's what we're trying to get to."
Now, here is my problem with what Tony says here "in print": he is saying, very clearly, that "orthodoxy" is something that is defined by a human community. That is, when the community (and Tony, if you will read, means a "local community") gets together and does church and does theology, they come up with "orthodoxy." What this means, however, as Tony says, is that "orthodoxy doesn't exist." There is no such thing as universal, correct propositions about God or Jesus Christ. Rather, the community decides what is true about Jesus Christ.
If we engage in a very simple, 13th-grade logical analysis of what Tony is saying, we will see that he has now lost any ground for saying that anyone is outside of the realm of "orthodoxy." Mormons have banded together, and in their "local community" have decided what is and is not "orthodox." Martin Luther, rather than fighting heresy was simply fighting against what the whole of Catholic Christendom had deemed "orthodox." If Tony was around, it can be assumed that he would have told old Martin that it was silly to fight against heresy. "I mean, come on Marty, there isn't any orthodoxy out there to measure the papacy by anyways!"
This is my first problem with Tony Jones. The moment you say that "orthodoxy doesn't exist" you've dropped out of the realm of even being considered as "orthodox." You can't be an orthodox Catholic, an orthodox Protestant, or an orthodox Orthodox. You can't even be an orthodox Mormon. You've essentially made yourself irrelevant to everyone.
Even if he adopted a Barthian view that our theological endeavors could only be partial, modest, imperfect and incomplete, I would have a better view of him. But Jones, if we engage in reductio ad absurdum, is saying that orthodoxy isn't even out there, so all of our theological endeavors are simply arbitrary. Further, they can be deemed orthodox or heretical to the extent that they accord with the popular opinion of the local community.
We need to understand here that this epistemological stance of Mr. Jones effectively nips any constructive theology in the bud. From here on out all he can do is "talk about God, worship God, pray to God, write books about God, etc." Those all sound nice, but Jones has already told us that the way he talks, worships, prays, and writes has nothing to do with a God who is "out there," but instead is just the way his community has arbitrarily chosen to approach God. And, if Jones is right, a community of atheists would be orthodox in their denial of God's existence.
I'll stop rambling about this now, and if Tony would like to show me how this opinion that "orthodoxy doesn't exist" fits into the realm of classic, historic orthodoxy, I'm all ears.
Second, it is unorthodox and, dare I say, heretical to adopt a stance of antagonism towards Christ's church. Where has Tony articulated such an antagonistic stance? He finally comes clean, at least a little bit, right HERE. He says, in commenting on Jack Caputo's new book:
Here's what I don't like. I don't like that Jack lands the plane. I like it when deconstruction flies around at 30,000 feet and drops cluster bombs of intellectual TNT on church ladies and M.Div. students. That's fun. I should know, since I do a fair amount of it myself. Shockingly, church groups often pay me to come into their places and deconstruct them. I go Jesus on them, you might say. Or, to avoid a messiah complex, I go Isaiah on them.
Jack does a lot of that in the first four chapters, and he even does it in chapter five when he suggests using Jesus against the Bible. What kind of crazy hermeneutic is that?!? I love it!
Ah-ha, so he really does delight in a) never answering the questions put to him, and b) shaking the faith of “church ladies” and “M.Div Students.” Hmmm, you know what, I’m going to sound like a total fundamentalist here when I say this, but if you know people are believers in the Lord Jesus and you like shaking their faith and belief just for “fun,” you have an affinity with Satan who loves to question the clear commands of God (ie, “do not eat of it, for in the day you do you will surely die.”). On the other hand, we see Paul instructing the young pastor Timothy to teach “good doctrine” (and Tony, save the comment that Paul’s conception of “doctrine” is purely pragmatic. Have you read the book of Romans? And Tony, save the comment that Romans has a socio-rhetorical purpose in its original community, that’s BS, and Tony…). The tenor of Paul’s advice to Timothy is that people are supposed to be “built up,” not “deconstructed.”
Now, I’m all for some “deconstruction” if we mean allowing the Bible to correct our false practices and beliefs in order to reconstruct true practices and beliefs in their place. But read Tony’s post on Caputo, he doesn’t like it when Caputo, in a rare moment of inconsistency, actually makes some positive assertions. Tony doesn’t mess with the old “church ladies” and “M.Div students” for the purpose of “teaching,…reproof,…correction,…or training in righteousness.” No, rather, he wants to have “fun” by shaking people up and up and up. He has no goal, no answers. His epistemology won’t allow him any!
Now, I’d ask Tony to let me know if this spirit of deconstruction for deconstruction’s sake, a deconstruction that precludes any answers, falls within the realm of “historic, classical orthodoxy.” Oh wait, there is no such thing as “historic, classic orthodoxy.”
Come on folks, this is incoherent drivel! Are we going to continue to listen to this nonsense?
And Tony, I don't know why you get all "butt-hurt" about this stuff: as the whole emergent thing continues to pick-up steam, it seems that there is more and more money in heresy. I mean, I'm going to go pick up a copy of your new book tomorrow!