05 August, 2005

The Emergent Church: First Part of Three

We cannot define our purpose by who we are not, but who we are. The purpose here is not to be a constant critic, but to bring to light current (and historic) issues facing the Christian church.

In Thy light shall we see light. Psalm 139

Below you will find a link to an article that was in Christianity Today in November of last year.

The article is an interview with Rob Bell and seeks to bring definition to the "conversation" (The word of choice amongst those who are "emerging"... it means movement basically.) The purpose of posting it is as follows:
It was brought to my attention that the Grand Rapids Press article was written by Mr. Charles Honey, who is a member of Fountain Street Church (the local Unitarian/Universalist church). In the event that the article was biased based on Honey's principles here is another article to give another perspective. (Remember: this is Christianity Today, not Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth!)

What I look for when reading articles such as this, first and foremost, is the person's view on the Word of God.

Westminster Larger Catechism Questions 155-157:

Q155: How is the word made effectual to salvation?
The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners; of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ; of conforming them to his image, and subduing them to his will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace, and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.

Q156: Is the word of God to be read by all?
Although all are not to be permitted to read the word publicly to the congregation, yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves, and with their families: to which end, the holy scriptures are to be translated out of the original into vulgar languages.

Q157: How is the word of God to be read?
The holy scriptures are to be read with an high and reverent esteem of them; with a firm persuasion that they are the very word of God, and that he only can enable us to understand them; with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them; with diligence, and attention to the matter and scope of them; with meditation, application, self-denial, and prayer.

The Emergent Mystique link:


Soon I will be including a critique of the emergent church movement as well as one concerning Velvet Elvis. These critiques will be for the sake of iron sharpening iron. We need to encourage, rebuke, admonish, and build-up one another in the faith. It is necessary for us to know what this movement teaches for a couple of reasons:

1. To learn to break away unbiblical biases that WE hold dear.
2. To discover their view of scripture; know their theology.
3. To be able to defend that which is orthodox. (in the event that they are not).

Soli Deo Gloria!


Jeff said...

Weblog of interest - low comment posting, though: http://emergentwestmichigan.blogspot.com/

After reading a bit more from lay people on the emergent church, the methodology has become less clear to me. It seems to be a constant exercise in equivocation; presenting "apparent" paradoxes in order to appear more profound, and be held accountable to less truth. For example, read this quote from Rob Bell: "The letter went on about the desperate need for defense of the true faith. What disturbed me was the defensive posture of the letter, which reflects one of the things that happens in a brickworld: you spend a lot of time talking about how right you are." Isn't that the purpose of Bell's book? To present a "right" view of Christianity? Even relativists like to talk about how "right" they are. I know, I know...I'm letting my "western" logic get in the way of spirituality. I shouldn't try to reason through these apparent paradoxes, but I should except them as "just the way things are." An application of Cornelius Vantil and Proverbs 26:4,5 should be good exercises when applied to any "tenents" of this movement.

Jeff said...

Here's an example of equivocation and the bandying of philosophical terms in these "emerging" ideas:
nate Post: " I can live in the tension of extreme polemic ideas. This is why I would not argue the divinity of Jesus. Basically because I believe it just misses the point. I can live in the tension of this issue not being resolved. God could have chosen to use you or me but he didn't, he chose Jesus. This is my one presupposition: I believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and through him God has made kingdom living available to all, here and now. Many other thoughts have been and will be disputed from either side. I don't want to fight for one or the other. I would say what many Anglicans would say, "If it's true then I believe it." [he appears to be revelling in the fact that he's begging the question and he knows it.]

nate Comment: "Thanks for your comment. I am so glad when I have to clarify myself because it teaches me to be a better communicator and forces me to ask myself what I believe. My comment may sound more extreme than it really is. I believe, in some divine way, Jesus is the Messiah...."
[from: http://natedawson.blogspot.com/]

Nate Dawson said...

I should reply, since the last comment is from my blog. Yes, I do agree. We all seem to come across as if WE have it figured out and our brothers and sisters from different traditions don't get it. For this, I apologize for the past and future mistakes on my own part. I don't consider myself a theologin but I do enjoy the depths that it takes me into.

I would love you to responsed to this: If what is true in Bell's book is true to him and it leads him (and many others) closer to God and my Reformed brothers and sister have a different take on the same things (and those also lead them closer to God) Does this make truth relative to the context? And if we are both being led into closer communion with God, are we both missing the point when we argue that one is correct and the other is incorrect?

Nate Dawson said...

Yes, I do enjoy finding a paradox within scripture but maybe it is only a paradox in my finite human mind. Maybe to God, it makes perfect sense. Maybe within a specific system, it makes perfect sense, but if the system is gone, does it still reveal ultimate concern? I know, we all have some sort of system, and maybe mine tries to avoid preconcieved ideas but yes, unfortunatly I end up making my own system no matter how hard I try to avoid one.

Jeffery said...

I respond to Nate's question. If what is taught is not the truth of the Bible then the "God" they are growing closer to isn't the God of the Bible

Nate Dawson said...

Jeff, I don't understand your statement. Could you expound on it?

Anonymous said...

Please be aware that there are two errors of fact in your original posting: first, Charles Honey is not a member of Fountain Street Church (although he was raised there, he is now a member of First Methodist); second, Fountain Street Church is not affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association. Not that this changes your point, but thought you might want to know.
--Nurya Love Parish, Associate Minister @ FSC