I recent weeks, I have been catching up to speed with the Emergent Church Movement. I have not heard much about what is happening with it’s leaders (other than Rob Bell) in recent years, so I thought I would do a little updated (or a lengthy update).
Here comes a long blog…in three parts.
First, there is nothing wrong with the word or name “emergent” or “emerge”. I actually like the word. It simply means to “arise unexpectedly” or “to rise out of.” This might not be a bad word connected to Biblical Discipleship. That is not the problem. It is a good word that has transformed into something else. Yes, we are all “emerging” into something. For believers in the Biblical Jesus, we are growing into righteousness. But the word “emergent” has taken on a life of it’s own defined by a few outspoken and influential leaders. Words are connected to things and people. This word “emergent” is connected to leaders associated with what they call, “a movement.” The leaders associated with a “Liberal” stream of this “movement” are Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Leonard Sweet, Tony Jones and Rob Bell (for more detail on the different ‘streams’ see Mark Driscoll’s video in Part Three of this series).
Before getting to my updated research, let me share with you that I have read many of the books that all of these men have written (word for word) and I have heard many of them teach at workshops and conferences in the beginning days of the emergent church movement. I have visited Rob Bell’s church several years ago and listened to him live. I attended a conference where Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones taught. I have met them and discussed many things “emergent” with them, so I am not coming at these topics from a completely distant place. These are real men and…I care about them.
I pray that they fully align with the Orthodox Christian Faith of the Biblical Scriptures. I still have lots to learn about theology, and the Biblical Scriptures for the glory of God, but there are some doctrines and Truths of Scripture that are essential to the Christian faith in the long line of church history. This is my concern for all of them and the next generation reading and listening to these men of great influence. They are all reinventing the methods AND message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a reaction to modernism, rationalism, and all things modern church. Deconstructing is a value.
McLaren said in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, “….our message and methodology have changed, do change, and must change if we are faithful to the ongoing and unchanging mission of Jesus Christ” (214). Notice, he said that the mission of JC is unchanging, but the message of JC changes. How can that be? Yes, the modern church needs to continually evaluate if her methods are effective, but when we begin to mess with the message of Jesus Christ (which is the mission too!) we are in big trouble. Paul, Peter, John and the rest of the disciples are eye-witnesses to the majestic message of God given to man. They got the message and are passing it onto us through the Word of God. I am afraid the emergent church continues to change these precious areas of the faith.
But what do you think?