Saturday, February 13, 2010

Emergent Criticism

I don't generally commend really long articles here, since part of the nature of blogging is to be as short and concise as possible (without being too short, of course). But at the request of my pastor, I just finished reading this article from a site called Be forewarned: it's a tad long, but worth the read. Ideally, read it before you read my thoughts, please ...

First things first: what Carl (the author) is talking about is plainly emergenT church. He makes some effort to codify this in both the intro and end of his article, but I'm not sure he's adequately made that distinction. To help clarify, I found a chart plotting the spectrum of Emergence (originally posted by C Michael Patton; copied from David Herrick).

[Please note: I've modified this chart a bit from the original creator's version]

The article in question, then, is clearly dealing with the fading edge of Historic Orthodoxy. I'm not trying to minimize the contentions that Carl makes in his article; I'm attempting to place them in the proper theological landscape.


It's difficult to argue with Carl's basic contentions. He's condensed some of the essential differences between Emergent and Emerging (or emerging-friendly, like me). I particularly appreciated his point (near the bottom) concerning how Jesus is central to the "authority" of the Emergent movement. He's nailed it. Emergent folk have attempted to build an ecclesiology around the person of Jesus. As I've pointed out before (here and here), this simply will not do.

As Carl, I've been noticing a consistent trend away from Biblical authority, and particularly away from sola Scriptura. I had hoped to see this trend curtailed, but that does not seem to be the case thus far. The good news is that many voices are developing in the Emerging movement that refuse to go down that road. For my part, I appreciate men like Scot McKnight and Dan Kimball, though I may not agree with some of the things they say.

I'm glad that Carl makes clear that Emerging/Emergent folk have made (and continue to make) some very valid criticisms. I'm afraid Carl has understated some of those, but I'm glad he's acknowledging them. As I've said many times, one cannot understand the phenomenon known as Emerging without wrestling with at least two major issues: postmodernity and the rise of the mega-church. To explore this contention is beyond the scope of this post, though...

If reading Carl's article lit a fire under you, stoking your fervor to defend the Word of God against those that would minimize or even trivialize it, I say "Amen". If it's piqued your curiosity about the Emerging/Emergent phenomenon, I'd encourage you to use the search feature on this blog's home page to poke around a bit. I'm not a fount of knowledge on the subject, but the last several years of posts should provide a good starting point to your inquiry.


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Review: Family-Integrated Church

I just finished reading J. Mark Fox's Family-Integrated Church today (one of the few benefits of a snow day). Though it wasn't exactly what I expected, I appreciated the book nonetheless...

I confess: I was expecting a discourse on what "family-integrated" means to Mark and the church he pastors. And while he does get into some of that, his book is for the most part a sort of play-by-play of the life of his local church. Along the journey, he shares wisdom from their experiences at starting and growing a family-integrated church. He even briefly discusses how they transitioned in their thinking to a family-integrated approach.

Want to hear first-hand what to do when a heretic dressed in white and proclaiming herself to be the "bride of Christ" shows up on a Sunday morning and starts cat-calling? Seriously. Mark's been there and handled that.

Looking for advice on training males to be men, husbands, and fathers? Mark's got plenty of tidbits for you.

All told, I found the book encouraging. Here is a pastor who knows he doesn't have it all figured out. He's quite sure he's not a finished project, and neither is the church he pastors. I find that honesty refreshing. The landscape of pastor-written books is littered with those that give lip-service to the notion that they're a work in progress; here's one that really seems to believe it.

The larger question remains: what exactly does "family-integrated" church mean? Mark's quick to point out that there is and always should be great diversity in the forms taken by churches that choose to be family-integrated. I like that: different isn't always bad - often it's just different.

Fundamentally, it seems to me that as churches we must commit to leading men to be the leaders in their homes that they're called by God to be. We must do nothing that will implicitly or explicitly usurp their position, even if they're willing to surrender it. We must fight the overly-pragmatic church forms that have dominated the last 75 years or so. We must work to be a family of families.

Now there's a load expression: a family of families! If nothing else I've written has provoked you to think, let me humbly ask you to chew on that expression for while...


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