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On a side note: I received a copy of Jim Belcher’s new book today from IVP, “Deep Church”—a third way beyond emerging and traditional.  I’m looking forward to reading it (he looks to be someone who understands the rift and yet offers solutions and hope).
 
emergent-jesusSacred cows surely need tipping from time to time.  And as Michael Spencer (aka the Internet monk) says, some even need barbecuing.  But as I continue this short series on the emergent movement, the question I want to pose is this: Does that mean our entire theological frame work needs re-engineering?
 
There have been movements within Christendom since the days of the early church, some useful and some detrimental.  Agree with the cause or not, Luther and the reformers made a lasting impact.  It’s safe to say that the Protestant Reformation and much of what ensued (i.e., the Radical Reformation, Anabaptists, etc.) was about calling the church to return to its origins.  Instead of deconstructing the church so much, they saw their mission as one of reclamation.  
 
Charles Finney is the father of modern day American evangelical pragmatism (in which techniques and results are valued over truth and in turn we make up our own truth), hyper-revivalism and sensationalism (where emotions run the table and trump solid doctrine), and what has been termed as “decision theology” (which leaves God’s sovereignty at the door and places salvation in the hands of man, see Jonah 2:9). The teachings and lack thereof espoused by Finney have sadly done more damage than can be measured.  
 
And then there was the “Jesus Movement” with its “Jesus people” which became groovy in the late 60’s and 70’s (which has more or less morphed into the mega church movement according to Michael Horton). Read the rest of this entry »
Part 3 in a series.
 
Note: Since the writing of my last post Scot McKnight has directed me to his extremely informative article in Christianity Today titled “Five Streams of the Emerging Church”.  You might read it for more on the movement from one of its apologists.  He, unlike several of his contemporaries, candidly points out some of the flaws within the movement (although I think that McKnight treats the concerns he raises with kid gloves). 
 
emergent Jesus
I don’t like hunches based on hearsay evidence. 
 
Even the so called “experts” are guilty of minimizing, ostracizing and even ignoring what they don’t have a handle on.  It’s easy.  Take doctors for instance; what they don’t want to acknowledge, what frightens them, and what they don’t care to look for often gets discredited and goes untreated.  We all do this very sort of thing when it comes to that which we don’t understand.  Rather than look under some rocks ourselves we tend to prefer the heavy lifting be done by others for us.  
 
The are more aspects about the ECM that I don’t understand than ones I do.  But there are things I am beginning to uncover.  That being said, I’m no genius so I’ll be leaving it to the experts to issue the final analysis.  I am going to report what I see and what I see is a movement that is young, energetic, and pregnant with contradictions and potential fatal flaws which are already ripe for the picken’ (yeah, I know, the evangelical tradition has its problems too).  I ask myself, “Are those who are critical of the ECM delusional, or are those who lead the movement guilty of theological treason?”  There are some pretty serious criticisms being tossed around by the likes of David F. Wells—to some I would consider to be nothing more than pessimistic alarmists who demonize every movement besides the one they swear allegiance to.  Rather than pile on I have decided to do my own research and draw my own conclusions.
     
As long as I live I’ll never forget the diagnosis, “You’re fine, it’s most likely in your head.”  Now, I will readily admit that I am a head case and my friends will all verify that statement.  But this was different.  I had been sick for an entire month and felt as if I had suddenly come down with a wicked strain of some super flu from the Congo and was dying at the age of 34 .  My body was beginning to break down quicker than a Nolan Ryan fast ball used to take in getting to a catchers mitt. Read the rest of this entry »

Part 2 in a series.

emergent JesusWhen surveying the Emergent movement it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that what started off as a creek has become more like the Amazon River.  And as it happens with every movement that experiences substantial growth, the emergent river includes several tributaries.  An expert on the movement, Scot McKnight, identifies five streams of influence and eight characteristics within the ECM.  One blogger writes, “Of course those within the movement would cringe at being called a movement preferring the term ‘conversation’.  However, many would agree that the emergent church now has too many followers, published books and meetings to be called simply a ‘conversation’.”  The movement is vast no doubt.  And it is varied. 

The witty G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types—the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.”  Chesterton was speaking of the British political system of course when he uttered those words, but I find them applicable when it comes to differences between various groups and factions, political or not—as to why movements pop up in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Wrote the following a couple years ago but never posted it.  Got it off the shelf a few days back and made some additions and subtractions, thought it might be worth passing along. 
  
emergent JesusC.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
                      
I don’t know nearly enough about the Emergent church movement to be against it.  And even if I did, anyone can be against something they don’t like.  After all, the growing movement includes some of my brothers and sisters in Christ, so I should pray for them if anything. 
       
Like many folks, I like blazing my own trail.  I want to make my our own mark.  My preference is to think my own thoughts if the alternative is being force fed someone else’s.  My observation has been that we humans have this built in drive to uncover hidden and different paths then those who have proceeded us.  So, with those things in mind, it should come as no surprise that when I first learned of the ECM that it appealed to me on several levels. 
 
For starters, I have felt just a little out of place for whatever reason within the streams of Presbyterianism I’ve been swimming in for the better part of the last 15 years (Presbyterian Church in America—aka PCA, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church—aka EPC).  That “I’m not at home” sort of sense of discontentment has been my gnawing reminder that I must belong elsewhere and continues to feed my hope for more meaningful community. Read the rest of this entry »
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