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0159 — The Emerging Emergent Church

So just what is the “Emergent Church” anyway? Or is it the “Emerging Church?”  I’ve heard it both ways.  And I’ve been really interested to find out just what it (whichever) is, so that when I was given the book WHY WE’RE NOT EMERGENT, by Deyoung & Kluck, I immediately dropped everything I was doing and read it cover to cover before I retired for the evening.  (Well no, that’s not exactly true.  Being interested is true, but not the cover-to-cover part.  I have distractions.  But that is for another conversation.)

But I did start into it.  I will be honest and say I haven’t finished it yet, but I certainly intend to.

The subtitle of the book is “…by two guys who should be.”  I think what they mean by that is that the two authors fit most of the profiles of who the Emerging/ent Church is tailored for, but they have not bought into the “conversation” defining the EC.  (There, that way I can be vague about whether it is Emerging or Emergent.)

It’s quite readable.  Educated, but not scholastic, if that means something to you.  The authors are clearly invested in the topic.  They believe (as do I) that it makes a difference whether one buys into the EC philosophy.  If you have any interest at all in this topic, pick up the book… and read it!

Here’s a quote from the book where one of the authors is trying to define the “Jell-O” that (he believes) makes up the framework (or “conversation” is a word that gets used a lot here) of the EC.  It is not pithy, but it is informative.  He states,

After reading nearly five thousand pages of emerging-church literature, I have no doubt that the emerging church, while loosely defined and far from uniform, can be described and critiqued as a diverse, but recognizable, movement. You might be an emergent Christian: if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Franke, Walter Winks and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem; if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don’t like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; if you search for truth but aren’t sure it can be found; if you’ve ever been to a church with prayer labyrinths, candles, Play-Doh, chalk-drawings, couches, or beanbags (your youth group doesn’t count); if you loathe words like linear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy and use words like ancient-future, jazz, mosaic, matrix, missional, vintage, and dance; if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic, naive, and rigid; if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritize urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic; if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular divide; if you want to be the church and not just go to church; if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden; if you believe doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus; if you believe who goes to hell is no one’s business and no one may be there anyway; if you believe salvation has a little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us; if you disdain monological, didactic preaching; if you use the word “story” in all your propositions about postmodernism—if all or most of this tortuously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.

Are you Emerging?

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