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5.14.2005    |    Emerging confusion, redux
At first blush, this discussion by Scot McKnight on the need for the "emergent church" seems to make a lot of sense. Consider this paragraph:
First, Emergent is a reaction to what the Church has to offer and what the Church is today, and what it has to offer is not enough, not good enough, not biblical enough, not spiritual enough, not radical enough, not relevant enough, not in touch with a new generation of young adults who simply will not let the "same old, same old" be what they will tolerate for the Church (which is theirs too).
McKnight continues, and this is especially relevant for those of us who think that our current churches are, for want of a better term, "white bread." We see, he relates,
too much Bible study without changed lives and churches, too much money spent on church buildings and not enough in missional work, too much apologetical articulation and not enough apologetical embodiment, too much old music and not enough edgy music, too much superficiality and not enough honest-to-goodness radical confession and admission of where we really are, too much "get me to heaven" gospel and not enough "Shalom is for the world too" gospel, and too much hierarchy and not enough spreading the gifts to the people.
Well, there you have it. Not enough "edgy music." As for "Shalom is for the world too," who's arguing? However, it sounds very much like another way of presenting that tired old faith versus works argument.

The accusation that Christians preach but don't live the Gospel is as old as the hills. And as valid in the first century as it is today. As for doctrine and creeds, they serve the need for an anchor for believers. Let me state it differently: if your church recites a creed, you either agree with it, or not. If it is the traditional Apostle's or Nicene creed, and you don't agree with it, well, that perhaps means you need to deepen your faith. If your church's creed differs markedly from the traditional creed(s), perhaps it's time to find a new church -- or work to rectify the situation in your current church.

What's the summation of all this? "Emergent church" sounds very much like, to quote McKnight and turn his words around, the "same old same old" tired complaints against any church at any time over the past 2,000 years. Not that the complaints are without merit for many churches. Just that to go to a postmodern, vaguely hippy dippy church of the electric guitar and ganja weed, is not a permanent answer. It is just a trendy application of the secular world's weakness for fads.

By all means, let us address the problems, very real ones (and some, like a perceived need for better music, not so pressing). But let's not forget who took us to the dance in the rush to impress the new girls and boys.

And let's never lose that sense of strangeness; that being Christian in the world is to be a stranger in a strange land. The moment you feel totally comfortable in today's secular world is the moment you should start to panic. But not to the extent of throwing it all over and starting afresh. Just, as McKnight suggests, go back to our roots.

It's all there in the Gospels. And in Paul. And in the prophets.

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Blogger John said...

Brilliant post JL! this is the one of the best analaysis of the EC that I have read, simple yet profound! Keep up the good work.


11:29 PM, May 14, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.