Sunday, April 22, 2007

Emergent, no; Global South, yes.

Archbishop Peter Akinola

This semester I have been blessed to have a roommate who is in many ways sympathetic with the "emerging church" movement. You can read his blog as it is linked from my page in my "friend's blogs" section under Dan Bellinger.

Dan has helped me to moderate my views a bit of the emerging movement. My opinion is not as negative as it once was as I see that many of the critiques that the emerging movement offers are well-founded and helpful. Among these helpful critiques I would include the admonition to be open to what other strains of Christianity might have to teach us, a more chastened view of how far we can get with rationality or with apologetics and a questioning of many of the ways protestantism has done things in the modern era such as evangelism or worship.

But I still think that there are some serious problems with the emerging church. I think this is quite clearly seen in the lack of clarity by such emerging leaders as Brian McLaren on certain controversial subjects. I think that McLaren's strain of the emerging church, one of the more popular strains, is simply modern liberal christianity disguised as something else. I would go so far as to say that certain strains of the emerging movement are just a Trojan Horse of modern liberalism positioned smack in the middle of evangelicalism. Another problem in the emerging church is the strong, over-arching commitment to "dialogue." The problem is that this "dialogue" often seems to include questioning doctrines and moral stances which have been accepted by the huge majority of the Church for the huge majority of its existence. I'm thinking specifically of such doctrines as the Virgin Birth and such moral stances as traditional sexual morality.

I was on the Emergent website today and saw that they want to be at the forefront of what they think God is doing in the world today. That sounds great but from some of the things I've read from emerging leaders I have a hard time believing that that is the "new thing" God is doing. I was momentarily disappointed but then I realized that there is another candidate for the "new thing" God is doing. That "other candidate" is Global South Christianity - biblically conservative, charismatic, self-sacrificial and highly evangelistic. I thought - maybe this is what God is really doing in the world. That's not to say that God's will is not being done in certain circles of the emerging church but I will gladly take Global South Christianity over much of what I see in the "emerging" church.

Disclaimer: I would love to be proved wrong about many of my negative feelings toward the emerging church and I am very thankful for the faith and the contributions of many who would define themselves as emerging church people here at the seminary.

1 comment:

Ben said...


I use to be a huge fan of the emerging church in college. But as I began to study it more and become part of it I realized that it was greatly lacking in the depth and power of vibrant faith.

The real kicker happened when I had a discussion with a popular emergent leader who openly rejected the docrtine of the Trinity. He said he accepted it but didn't think it was an essential part of Christianity and wasn't that important.

It does, as you said, look and feel just like modern christian liberalism trying to use various experiential avenues to make themselve feel more connected to the historical faith.