emerging church revisited|

Posted on April 8, 2009 by

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So we’re back to the emerging church, for a little bit.

I read an article recently bashing the emerging/emergent church, using the terms interchangeably and mixing their leaders. It was a two page article that attempted to undertake the task of warning conservative America against the dangers of this new movement siphoning truth out of our churches.

It’s hard for me to take anyone seriously who attempts to sum up all of such a diverse movement as the emerging church in two pages. It simply cannot be done. The “emerging church” is more of a description than a moniker. Those labeled as emerging range from New Reformers (Mark Driscol, Matt Chandler, John Piper…ha… no one’s called him emerging but he’s a new reformer), to those who are changing the way they do church to reach those that learn and interact differently, and finally to the “emergent” (named because of the group “The Emergent Village”) who are questioning more of doctrine and tradition that most people are comfortable with. That is a more in depth view of the continuum of this movement than even this article gave, and I’m doing an injustice to the broad scope of churches that could be labeled “emerging”.

As some of you know I’m a stickler for critical thinking, personal engagement with facts, and deciding for yourself what you believe. And this article stepped on all of my toes. One example of this is the mention of Brian McLaren, one of the more controversial and out there leaders. The author puts forth some facts, and mentions a book of his “Everything Must Change” and follows with “So there you have it from a leader himself: the church must change to the modern-day culture. Old ways must be discarded, and new ways are in; but they are unsound.” The author got all that from a title.

It’s at this point that I’d like to say that I don’t totally disagree with this article. There are some fair warnings against where some of the mindsets put forth by recognized emerging authors can lead you. But it doesn’t take some of the advancements seriously. A lot of what the emerging authors say is that we have strayed too far from “true religion”, taking care of widows and orphans (James 1:27), and we need to return to what the bible teaches. Another strange thing is that the article groups Contemplative prayer, breath prayers, together with the labyrinth and yoga. I can see that yoga shouldn’t be part of Christianity because of its express roots in Hinduism and its use as an unbiblical meditation method. I also can see that the labyrinth is not of the most use, there are a lot of people who aren’t for the Christian use of the labyrinth. But I feel that legitimate bible based prayer methods that are a little more guided than reading through a devotional book shouldn’t be written off so easily.

To close this out I would like to say that I am disappointed, although not surprised, that as the younger generation finds who they are as Christians, some would malign and put down any sign of change.

I would ask a question to those who see any change as bad change; Did the church of America look the same from the 1920’s to the 1950’s? Did the church of America look the same from the 1950’s to the 1980’s?

Now I’m going to reach back a bit.

Where would the church of today be if the Reformers, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, hadn’t seen the need for change and made the efforts despite opposition.

Where would the church of America be if the Puritans hadn’t made a stand for the doctrinal and ecclesiological beliefs that made them distinct?

I understand that change is generally met with opposition, but when it’s your son’s and daughter’s, your grandson’s and granddaughter’s, that are trying to spread the name of Jesus maybe we should take a guiding stance and engage this movement instead of stand in firm opposition and fear.

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Posted in: Theology