Fault lines in the Emerging Church


Fault lines in the Emerging Church


Emergent and Brian McLaren have received a significant amount of heat over theological positions that are not shared by everyone in the Emerging Church.  A lot of the criticism has misrepresented positions.  Some of it was accurate in direction but not in degree.  Regardless there are some people in EC circles that agree with some of the points people like D.A. Carson have made. 

I haven’t read Carson’s book but I did listen to some of his lectures and those of other critics.  I can understand where a lot of them are coming from.  I don’t sense a malicious agenda or a desire to deliberately misunderstand or misrepresent.  I think that sometimes the critics have been sloppy or lazy.  In turn some people have become defensive, hostile and even dismissive in return.  In some circles D.A. Carson has been demonized and we have forgotten that he is part of the church. 

As the different pockets of the EC progress they will solidify in different directions.  The EC in Australia is very different than it is in the US.  They don’t sense the same need for a “A New kind of Christian” and are more geared for a “a new kind of church.”  When I was down there they used the term “Emerging Missional Church” which they distinguished from “Emergent” or “Emerging Church”.  They saw themselves as “post alt.worship.”   The emerging forms of church are developing differently in different countries.

As the movement progresses I find myself more and more in the simple/house church compartment if that is what you would call it.  I am less and less interested in what comes out of certain authors and organizations.  Much like the Roman Catholic church with it’s different monastic orders the EC is going to have accept that we aren’t all going to be on the same page.  We have to be open and honest about these things. 

As we do this I think we will see some subdivision along the lines of doctrine, mission, leadership, and other areas of church practice. 

  1. #1 by Gil on July 22, 2005 - 1:45 pm

    It’s somewhat ironic that a movement that began as (in part) a reaction against rigid dogmatism and a smug sense of theological superiority is now battling those same trends from within its ‘borders’. Perhaps the main contribution the emergent church can make is demonstrate another way that doesn’t see ‘subdivision’ as a threat.

  2. #2 by Jordon Cooper on July 22, 2005 - 2:25 pm

    I think you are right here and I think Carson is demonized at times because of ways his supporters unfairly use his work to attack the Emerging Church. The Emerging Church is also a very small fringe group where almost everyone does know everyone and when someone does speak out againt others, it hurts and has ramifications. While some call it a movement, it is a movement smaller than most small denominations.

  3. #3 by Markio on July 25, 2005 - 3:15 pm

    Probably the greatest book that I read in seminary was by DA Carson, Exegetical Fallicies. Although it has exegetical fallicies of it’s own, it was one of the most impacting books for me in terms of affecting the way that I am able to think about theology and teaching.

  4. #4 by Mike Morrell on August 3, 2005 - 11:23 pm

    I agree, and one of the things I appreciate about you is your ability to hold different streams in tension. I like it that you still have your pre-blog articles and prophetic stuff up, when you were into that, and you bring Anabaptist, house church, and emerging church stuff into your life and site now. As someone who’s been part of an intentional home church community for six years, I found Brian McLaren and Spencer Burke’s stuff a breath of fresh air, as they were allowed to ask questions I was afraid to, even in my free setting. But I can see how Australians, in a more (for lack of a better word) “liberal” culture, might now be embracing some of the stuff I found most helpful five years ago.

    We’re all in a dance, with the Holy Spirit and our ideas. What a privilege.

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