In my previous post, I commented on my enjoyment of Scot McNight's presentation to Westminster Seminary on the emerging (very similar to the Emergent U.S.) church. I thought his analysis made sense. It was a clear presentation and I appreciated the chance to read the transcript in full. Though McKnight and other emergent writers/thinkers convey some powerful and unique ideas, I still see the Emergent Church as a dangerous conversation and movement (and village for that matter.)
A few quick reasons -
As a point of agreement, I also believe a correct practice of the Christian faith (orthopraxy) is very important. The Bible is loaded with admonitions toward sacrificial, agape-filled living. Jesus came to free us from our sin that we might LIVE a new life and experience freedom from the shackled lifestyle we once experienced under the curse of sin. We will be judged by our actions. We will be judged on whether we accept or reject Jesus Christ. What we do is VERY important according to Scripture.
But, like many before me have articulated, orthodoxy (a right understanding of God and His Truth) precedes orthopraxy. Actions flow from beliefs, plain and simple. The emerging church wants to slam any Christian body who stands up for a standard set of doctrines, but could these bodies be placing rules on beliefs to protect from the ungodly fruit of incorrect belief. The emerging church wants to have right ecclesiology (right understanding and church practice), but how can we do church unless we decide early on what kind of beliefs will make up our church. For heaven's sake, how can you even accept a biblical ecclesiology without a load of orthodox beliefs concerning what is Scripture, who is God, what kind of fellowship we have been united to by the work of the Holy Spirit, blood of Christ, drawing of the Father, etc. Orthodoxy, firm, rich, and deep beliefs are the backbone to any kind of church or personal orthopraxy.
How could we know what kind of actions were godly without some sort of measuring rod based on orthodox belief?
A lot of this discussion comes back to the EC's position (or nonposition) on Scripture. Some stand up for the inspiration and authority of God's Word. Many deny inerrancy. Others take a historical critical approach. Some embrace NT Wright's critical realism.
Until the EC comes down officially on what God's Word is and what it is capable of saying, their movement is on a sandy foundation. Until then, I cannot ignore what many suggest when they say the emergent conversation is just a bunch of liberals talking in the sheep clothing of evangelicalism.
The scary thing is Tony Jones has declared war on conservative evangelicals when he warned his crowd, "But I will say this: if the moderates ignore the conservatives, the conservatives will win." (according to his blog posting 10/16/2006)
These emergent folks (which by the way, why do they get such a cool name and I get called a conservative?) have been done having a conversation for a long time. They are planting churches, writing theology books, and calling others to join their movment. And then they complain when others critique their work, saying they're just asking questions. Well, I'll repeat something I've said 100 times over the last 3 years . . . the emergent crowd is asking the right questions, but they are not coming up with the right answers.
Oh, Lord help us to be humble enough to recognize your truth does not need to be innovative and emergent but rather help us to be faithful to Psalm 145:4 "One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts."
Let us be humble enough to accept the truth that has been passed down and respond as Alexander Maclaren (a more conservative McLaren) encouraged us years ago, "Christian progress does not consist in seeing new things, but in seeing the old things more clearly: the same Christ, the same Cross, only more distinctly and deeply apprehended, and more closely incorporated in my very being."