Emerging confusion

In a followup to an earlier post on the so-called emerging church, a/k/a postmodern (PoMo) church, I’m moved to be more definite: This is postmodern nonsense. Christians attempting to reconcile their faith to the world. When we know, for a certainty, that we are told by Paul, in Romans Chapter 12:

2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Do. Not. Be. Conformed. To. This. World. Another way of saying this might be the overused expression, “be in the world but not of it.”

Paul’s truth is that Christ is the unchanging and ultimate ground of our being. “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be…” Although many of our High Church brethren may not believe this simple yet profound statement of faith, we in the evangelical and Reformed ghetto still seem to.

The emerging church people, of course, have a different take on “unchanging.” As in, their motto could be, “everything changes.” So we Christians should change along with the world. Consider this introduction from the Emergent Village:

The world is changing politically, from Cold War era to a post-communist era, from a world of conventional and nuclear war to a world of terrorism and genocide, from a colonial world to a post-colonial one (or perhaps to a neo-colonial one).

It is changing philosophically, from modern to postmodern, from a world of absolutes and certainty to a world of questions and searching, of challenge and anxiety, of opportunity and danger.

All of this is true enough. The (secular) world changes. It is hard, however, to treat with such a presentation in a serious manner, when we also read on the very same introductory page, how the emergent church seeks to deal with these kinds of changes: “A network called emergent is seeking to network these important regional networks.” Well, yes. That is what “networks” do, I suppose. This all means what, exactly? That networks network? Well, that’s always true, I suppose.

Such as this makes it quite hard to maintain a sense of Christian charity to those who are turning my faith upside down and shaking it out to see if anything of value falls to the ground. About the best thing I can say is that they appear to be sincere in their belief that Christianity as we normally understand it has somehow failed to keep pace with the changes in the world. Which I would consider our goal, as a matter of fact. Thanks for the vote of confidence, PoMo church dudes.

Given much of what passes for modernity in the secular world, I would say it is far from a bad thing that Christianity has not moulded itself to the world. We are a nation apart, we Christians. By design, and by the Word of God. We owe our first allegiance to God, who saved us with His only Son Jesus of Nazareth, and who by the power of His Holy Spirit grabs us with an unyielding, and unchanging message: repent and believe the good news. Lose your (worldly) life to gain life eternal.

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  1. John Schroeder · · Reply

    I am reminded that Jesus did say, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” I have posted more on the topic here

  2. The Christian church has lost relevance and power, not because it has held to sound doctrine, but because it has not.

    Hey, I remember being a kid from a broken home in the 70’s, and all the Independent Baptist pastor could do was warn other kids not to marry the children of divorced parents because we were more lilely to end up divorced ourselves. No reference to being new creatures in Christ, no reference to Christ overcoming in us, just a right-wing rhetorical warning in an effort to preserve something (man-made sanctification) that does not exist in reality anyway.

    I have listened to the conservatives in Christianity and more often than not I have **not** heard men preach Christ. I have seen them run after political power or curry favor from celebrities. I’ve seen “Bible believing” men hush up the grossest scandals in order to form powerful alliances and build an earhtly legacy to themselves and their own names. There is nothing of the Lord in all that.

    I’m not even sure what people mean when they talk about “the emerging church.” I’ve seen catch phrases and cliches, but no real theological definitions.

    But I will say this, a hide-bound dedication to tradiiton is not reverance for the Scripture. After generations of rapture-seeking, morals preaching, and trusting in the Republican party, many Christians are realizing that our conservative background is no more Christian than a Led Zeppelin concert. It just looks more respectable. We have waved the Bible around, but few who profess to believe in iot even know what it says.

    Many indeed are called, and few chosen my man. The people who fear the Lord and trust in His name are His. And the people who are poor in spirit, who beg at the feet of God for His bounty, are the posessors of the Kingdom of Heaven.

    I’m suret there’s a lot that’s faddish in the “emerging church” movement, but before you identify the specks of faddish silliness in your brother’s eye, be sure you take care of that big old beam of “issues” that have sidetracked churches for a generation from preaching CHrist and Christ alone.–Jeri

  3. Jack Rich · · Reply

    Jeri, fair enough. I make no claims for myself. I don’t see that hewing to sola scriptura makes us hidebound at all.

    While we claim that the Bible is the “inerrant word of God”, most Baptists that I know are not fundamentalists. Our pastor and our deacons exemplify what the prophet Micah (6:8) tells us: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of youbut to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

    Not me; they. I’ve a long way to go; I’m privileged to have a church where I can grow in the Spirit with fine models.

    And what’s wrong with being a Republican?

    Cheers, John Luke

  4. Great Post John Luke! There have always been problems with the mainstream churches way before I was born and yet God has seen fit to let them be.

    We have different churches for different people, what suits one won’t necessarily suit another.

    Many people who have been dissatisfied in the past have left and started new movements, but they are usually manifest with a love for the word of God in its entirety, i.e. Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Salvation Army, Pentecostal and Charismatic etc.,

    IMOH I see the Emerging Church movement as a frustrated people trying to do something that’s already been done before. A bad experience should never dictate our future, as Christians only God can do this.

    Jesus said that we are in the world but not of it, I don’t have far to look in my community to see this.

    God bless you and yours,

  5. There’s nothing wrong with *being* a Republican. There is something very wrong with trusting in being a Republican or putting confidence in a political party as the means to preserve righteousness in the nation.

    Does the “Emerging Church” movement reject the principle of “Sola Scriptura”? Or does it seek to step back and apply that principle more radically, or in ways you had not anticipated?

    It’s great that you have a church where you can grow spiritually, but some churches that make the same claims that your church makes have chewed up believers and spit them out, been sidetracked into politics, and made deals with the world to grow in numbers and social influence. Your experience does not validate a denomination or invalidate it.

    “A bad experience should never dictate our future,” is true as far as it goes. But unaddressed, widespread, ingrained disobedience that remains unchallenged and unconfronted because those who hold church office have decided to co-exist with it does create a mandate for change.

    I’m not saying that the emerging church, which remains undefined at this point, is an answer. But I am saying that disobedience and mere lip service in traditional churches that claim to believe the Bible have had a role in driving people to seek radical change. Before we condemn them, let’s repair the nest from which they fled. Jeri

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