Thursday, December 4, 2008

Emerging Church Bashing

Roger Oakland of Understanding the Times International is presently touring NZ in order to expose the evils of the emerging church. Steve Taylor, a prominent Kiwi proponent of the emerging church, responds in an exemplary manner here.

It saddens me when people pour their time and energy into fighting imaginary foes within the church instead of concentrating their energies on God's mission. The emerging church is not really a thing that can be attacked but a broad label that describes a number of different attempts to do church in a way that connects more effectively with our society for the sake of the gospel. I disagree with a lot of 'emerging' stuff, but find some of it very helpful, and I am wholly sympathetic to their project. I have yet to find one who isn't willing to listen to other points of view. I have no sympathy for petulant hate mongers who generate division in the church and attack those who are trying to constructively engage with a lost and broken world (see Titus 3:9-11).

3 comments:

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  2. You already know that I consider the whole church to be emergent - regardless of whether they call themselves emerging, or not. I think that the holy spirit makes it so, by definition.

    When I've gathered my thoughts on this, I'll try and communicate them to you.

    Thanks for openly sharing your disappointment with the opponents for their attitudes.

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  3. I can't stand Roger Oakland style 'engagement' with emerging church. The waste of precious time saddens me too. However, there may indeed be elements within emerging church that are well worth taking the time to compassionately, respectfully, fairly, but penetratingly critique and sometimes even refute. We need to be careful not to let 'haters' provoke us into swinging in the opposite uncritical, undiscerning direction. To theologically and theopraxically critique the streams of emerging church is not a distraction from God's mission, but an essential aspect of fulfilling it in that we need to be self-critical as the church in regard to our enculturated gospel engagement with the lost. If we wittingly or unwittingly compromise the essence of the gospel in our effort to effectively communicate, we end up being counterproductive to Christ's mission.

    I too 'have no sympathy for petulant hate mongers who generate division in the church'. But we still need to be open to the possibility that some of the emerging church's engagement with our lost and hurting world is not always indeed constructive. It's not pleasant to contemplate, but some of it may be ultimately destructive. Let's keep the conversation truly open to even this unpalatable but perhaps realistic eventuality.

    Thanks for your winsome warning against overreaction and sheer wackiness. The recent book 'Why We're Not Emergent By Two Guys Who Should Be' is an evenhanded and exemplary critique that's worth reading. It's not by any means the last word, but it's the right way to quite clearly disagree I think.

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