Emerging Church

Defining the "emerging church" (ec) is difficult, and I will not attempt that here. But a few people from Grace have asked for some clarity. The ec is essentially a discussion about how to be the church and carry on the work of the church in the postmodern context. Those involved/sympathetic to the discussion generally agree that many of the forms the Gospel took in the modern era will be less useful in the postmodern era. This is not a problem with the Gospel, or truth, but with the way these things have been packaged. The ec tends to be made up of younger Christians or younger churches that have found many problems in our evangelical churches, and are seeking solutions to those problems. It can be fairly said to be a reaction (sometimes over-reaction) to weaknesses in evangelical and fundamentalist forms of Christianity. I think we all can agree weaknesses abound.

Since many are writing, blogging and commenting on this and in the process making some errors in their assessment of the ec, let me state a few things plainly.

1. The ec is not a dismissal of everything modern, nor is it the belief that postmodernity is the answer to the church's problems. In fact, the ec sees that modernity has blessed us in many ways, and postmodernity has created new problems to be solved. But here's the issue - many of these problems are not addressed by the modern form of Christianity.

2. The ec is not about worship style, goatees or candles in worship. It is a theological discussion. It is not "liberal," "conservative," "Calvinistic," or "Arminian," but you can find people from each of those perspectives in the discussion.

3. It is not a revolt against truth (not even propositional truth), but it does see truth as something bigger than mere propositions and values the narrative expression of the Christian faith (most of our Bible was given to us in narrative form).

Personally, I don't care for the label. It means little to me. But the conversation means a lot. The issues are important. Am I a part of the conversation? Absolutely. For the record, I do not think the ec is revival, nor do I think it is a threat to the Gospel. But like the Reformation, and the revivals that swept across nations in previous centuries and changed the church, the ec finds itself largely misunderstood, unfairly criticized and hostilely opposed by some Christians.  Yes, there are pastors and authors in the ec whose theology is dangerous in places, but even they have a lot to offer in our discussion. There are also many pastors and authors with great theology also contributing to the ec. You can find some of them at our book table.

How should we think about it? I think we can join the conversation, do some listening, some talking, and a lot of rethinking where necessary. Confessionally my theology is the same, though as I continue to grow there is more to it. Pastor Steve has a thoughtful post on this topic and has included some helpful links. Check it out at Emergent and the Conversation.