Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Emergent Model: Baby, Bathwater, or a little of Both?

I read a very interesting article today which portrayed the various streams of thought within the emerging church.
The article is written by Mark Driscoll, and is entitled "A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church".
Check it out, and let me know what you think. He uses a model developed by Dr. Ed Stetzer, and it includes three distinct type of emergent Christians:

1. RELEVANTS: theologically conservative evangelicals who are not as interested in reshaping theology as much as updating such things as worship styles, preaching styles, and church leadership structures.

2. RECONSTRUCTIONISTS: generally theologically evangelical and dissatisfied with the current forms of church (e.g. seeker, purpose, contemporary)

3. REVISIONISTS: theologically liberal and question key evangelical doctrines, critiquing their appropriateness for the emerging postmodern world.

Which of these do you see yourself aligning most closely with?
Or, do you reject any and all elements of the emerging church?

It seems to me that most "evangelicals" find some merit in the emergent model, though they disagree considerably on how far to identify with it.
"Fundamentalists" on the other hand by and large have denounced the emergent movement all-together and condemn anything affiliated with emergent theology/practice or postmodernism.

Like it or not, the emergent movement is picking up steam, and we as believers (evengelicals and fundamentalists alike) must become versed in it, and decide what we believe about it.

So, share away.


  1. I would have to say that I am in line mostly with #2, but slightly on the #1 side too, but also minutely #3. I guess I really am emerging since I am a little of each.

  2. Another form of classification lurks in the balance and I am forced to consider my ways and thoughts, beliefs and practices while attempting to stand clear of my feelings that are rapped around my sins of moments ago... But then again it may just force me to become a more useful tool for a more Holy good. So, as I age down this lonely path of life long commitment to self, I would have to find a class between the Relevents and one that was left unmentioned...which would be the appendage to the page of the history of the church, thus starting with the Traditionalists.
    Discussion down the path of dissatisfaction with where the church is today, in relationship to corporate worship, would lead towards thought processes similar to those that would be in favor of voting in a Union at a place of employment. Though Unions may have been of benefit in days past to help to create fair labor, it has become more of a bullying device that can hinder growth, hence the stifling of American economy. There is so much competition and availability of different working places that if one dislikes what he/she is gaining from a particular place of employment...change jobs!
    And so with the formality of church practices. I believe that God in His profound wisdom left out the minute details of the organization and formal processes of the corporate gathering of believers so that we could worship Him in purity and truth. And He backed it up with a variety of worship styles and policy so that all could worship God in their own fashion. David danced... Paul and Silas sang... Daniel prayed... and Christ said "Forgive them, Father for they know not what they do." Hmmm... that was a little twisted.
    I like the tradition of old, white, baptist hymnology. But I also am in awe of the believer that can stand up and shout out praises to God with raised hands. Running down the aisle and dancing makes me uneasy but that is probably because I've let my lilly white pride get in the way of truly worshipping God. Hopefully, He doesn't see it as a denying Him to the onlooker...
    Okay, that was rather wordy...

  3. First of all, Mark, thankyou for that link to the Mark Driscoll article. It's a great synopsis of the post-modern/emergent conversation and I would encourage everyone to read it. Personally, I guess I identify most with the first group, the relevants. I don't believe we should every change simply to make church fun or entertain for people, worship is not about us it's about God. However, I think there is alot of great music being written and a lot of great ideas which can be implimented in balanced way to help us to be more culturally relevant. However, I admitt there is a very fine line between worshiping God in our own unique cultural voice and losing sight of God in the midst of cultural conformity.
    I also appreciate the perspective of being a traditionalist. I too love many of the old hymns and traditional ways of worship. That's why I say we need to be balanced. I would love to see our churches go even farther back into our common Christian tradion to appreciate some of the ancient liturgies and creeds and holidays like Lent and Advent that may of us nolonger observe.
    Ultimately, I think post-modernism is good for the church when it opens our minds. When we respect our traditions and heritage but realize we don't have all the answers or the only answers. Conversation and dialogue is good, God never wants us to have an "us against them" mentality with fellow believers. We may find, even with some theological issues, that we are looking at things in two different ways and there is truth in both.
    Post-modernism becomes dangerous when truth becomes to relative, as it has for some in the emergent movement. The Bible is truth and there are core "fundamentals of the faith" that are clear in scripture and must not change. So when it comes to the emergent conversation we need caution, balance and most of all the Holy Spirit, but conversation is good and let's not reject it because it might be dangerous.

  4. Yeah...that too. Being raised traditional, I struggled with contemporary or even rock and rap christian music. After studying music in the Bible for nearly 2 years, I finally went to my life long Pastor to determine where his perspective came from for traditional hymns. I was encouraged to find that it wasn't scripture but merely his taste. He further went on to back up my research to say that there is no style mentioned in the Bible that keeps us locked into a certain rhyme or rhthm. I'm also glad he's my dad...