Responding to criticism of the Emerging Church


Responding to criticism of the Emerging Church


Darryl Dash asks whether it is worthwhile to respond to criticism of the EC. In most instances I’d say yes. Not everyone is going to understand and they are going say things that untrue or at least exaggerated. I think it is important to remember a few things.

Don’t take blanket statements too personally
Carla over at EmergentNo said that affirming women as pastors is heresy. It would be very easy to take that more personally than it was intended.

The EC is the flavour of the month
In the minds of many conservative evangelicals the world is rapidly descending in to darkness, chaos and disorder. When a church movement comes up that looks relativistic it is seen as another sign of the coming tribulation. There are some who criticize the EC that would criticize a lot of respectable denominations. As a Mennonite/Anabaptist I know that our tradition would definitely be labeled a threat to the gospel by the some of the same critics. Mennonites aren’t the flavour of the month so they are generally ignored.

The EC is hard to nail down
This is probably one of the greatest frustrations for the critics and I don’t think they truly understand what holds this thing together. It seems hard to grasp that there is a worldwide church movement/conversation with no affirmed central leadership or common ideology. It is my hope that God is leading this thing and that we are all moving towards him from where we started. Because we all start from different places all along the theological spectrum it looks like the movement is a strange mixture of conservatives and liberals. I think God may be making a redemptive movement all across the Christian church and we find more unity in our general direction than our current positions.

After spending two weeks in Australia it became very clear to me that the EC has different flavours in different countries. The Aussies are hardcore in to mission, and less about alt. Worship.

I think a major factor in the EC is the Internet. It has facilitated a grass roots conversation and interchange between people from all sorts of backgrounds.

There is a lot of diversity and this is going to confuse people.

Not all critics are well educated
By walking through issues with other people we have an opportunity to show people that different Christians have different perspectives. We also can open some people up to some good interpretive practices.

We aren’t done yet
It is easy to disregard criticism that seems unfair. However going through the act of carefully responding to questions forces us to think through what we believe. Accountability can be a very good thing. As Christians we ought to make an attempt to explain how what we do, and what we believe is consistent with following Jesus Christ.

  1. #1 by Toni on March 29, 2005 - 6:07 am

    I wonder if there’s been a bit of a hijacking going on?

    By many standards I’m an ‘emergent’ and have been for 2 1/2 decades, yet theologically I’m quite conservative. Through many of the sites I’ve read and more from comments on those sites, the EC *appears* to be driven by those with very liberal theologies and a desire to practice their meetings in a theatrically religious fashion. At least, that’s my perception.

    On that basis, I’d say the EC looks distinctly sick.

    The title EC isn’t really appropriate any longer, since it’s being used as an umbrella to cover a disparate variety of ‘faiths’, some of which are barely recogniseable as Christian. I see where Carla’s coming from, although labelling *some* of those things heresys may be going a little far – though I confess to being guilty of using that label incorrectly too at times.

    As for me, I worry that we’re needing highly trained people to interpret theology so that the proles can understand it. It seems curious how Jesus just gave a bunch of fishermen 3 years training before sending them out. I wonder what people’s reaction would be to training a bunch od dockers or farmhands with a view to them carrying the Gospel out into a virgin world?

  2. #2 by Luke on April 3, 2005 - 11:40 pm

    I have no idea what the “emerging church” is all about…I’m a Catholic who doesn’t even fully understand what those words mean. But I read the stuff on EmergentNo, and I would contribute this – don’t bother. Whoever that woman is, she’s nothing but an agent provocateur, who slanders and belittles people, without offering any form of dialogue with them later.

    If ye shall know a tree by it’s fruit, then she’s off the mark.

    There is no point engaging with such people. Pray for them, put your own views (which I find very very intersting) across on your own websites, engage with those who are genuine.

    TO bother with the likes of EmergentNo, with it’s poor scholarship, inept arguments and ad hominem rhetoric is like me writing into a to Jack Chick fan blog or something. Just a waste of good people’s time.

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