12 May, 2008

Q: Should I be Emergent? A: I Don't Think Its For Me.

My good friend, Jason Kuiper, gave me a book on the Lord's Day. It is one that I have been intending to read, but have not found the time due to life's demands and other readings that are required and/or exegetical in nature.

I have been meaning to read it because I like to interact with the Emergent Church movement. I have many friends, even godly friends, who are a part of the 'conversation' and I do what I can to be a part of it as well (even though I am an uncool confessional-dogmatic-Calvinistic-systematic theology loving-modernist). But let's face it- emergent I am not, even though there are some aspects of the movement that are very biblical and useful.

Today at work I took the book along in case I had some down time to read. I did; and I began reading it with much interest. I also read a lot of it this evening (some reading is like watching TV... it is just too fun to stop even though there are other things that could be accomplished.)

The book is Why We're Not Emergent (by two guys who should be). It co-written by the Pastor of Lansing, Michigan's University Reformed Church and some ESPN sports writer. So far it is quite good.

In their discussion of God's knowability, here is their critique of the Emergent Church:

We may all be, by nature, like blind men touching the elephant without knowing what we are feeling is a trunk, tail, or ear. But what if the elephant spoke and said, "Quit calling me a crocodile, or a peacock, or a paradox. I'm an elephant for crying out loud! That long thing is my trunk. That little frayed thing is my tail. That big floppy thing is my ear." And what if the elephant gave us ears to hear his voice and a mind to understand his message (cf. I Cor. 2.14-15)? Would our professed ignorance about the elephant and our unwillingness to make any confident assertions about his nature mean we were especially humble, or just deaf?

Because of the emerging church's implied doctrine of God's unknowability, the word mystery, a perfectly good word in its own right, has become downright annoying. Let me be very clear: I don't understand everything about God or the Bible. I don't fully understand how God can be three in one. I don't completely grasp how divine sovereignty works alongside human responsibility. The Christian faith is mysterious. But when we talk about Christianity, we don't start with mystery. It's some combination of pious confusion and intellectual laziness to claim that living in mystery is at the heart of Christianity
.

If you are emergent, pick it up and read it. If you are not emergent: it gives a balanced approach to why you shouldn't be- all with humor, grace, and respect for the brethren in this movement.

5 comments:

Mark said...

That's near the top of my to-read list, once I get some time myself. I've heard a lot of good about it so far.

Steven Carr said...

I'd like to borrow it when you're done if that is possible.

shawnanderson said...

I'm actually using it as a platform to write my Modern Church History Paper... Happy Reading!

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Thanks for this. I saw it at Borders today and I'll definitely pick-it up now.

Beloved Spear said...

Interesting post! Sounds like a worthy read. While I can't claim to speak for all emergents, I can say this: Understanding mystery at the center of Christian faith does not come from epistemological struggles with the meanings of theological terms. It comes from a deep and personal awareness of God's reality, and of my own utter inability to grasp that even in the fullness of his presence.