Emergent Church Movement & the Gospel

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Adrian Warnock had a very insightful post on January 6 of this year concerning the Emergent Church movement and its relationship to the gospel. In my mind, it has simply done what the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) movement has done for the last decade - questioning the message of the gospel. Here was the blog he posted.

"Our understandings of the gospel constantly change" Brian McLaren
In the second foreword to Dan Kimballs book about the Emergent church Brian McLaren writes

"Our understandings of the gospel constantly change as we engage
in mission in our complex dynamic world, as we discover that the gospel has a
rich kalaidoscope of meaning to offer, yielding unexplored layers of depth,
revealing uncounted facets of insight and relevance. No doubt as we look back
and see ways in which our modern understandings of the gospel were limited or
I wonder whether this quote really begins to open some clear water between Brian and Rick Warren. To Warren there are anchors of truth, to McLaren the gospel seems to shift with the sands.

Whilst I can accept the notion that we are possibly going to understand new facets to the bible as time goes on, I am not quite so sure that we should expect to ditch the old understandings as flawed.

To me Church history is about successive waves of renewal many of which brought with them a newly recovered doctrine or practice but were largely rejected by the established church.

When I was a child, my parents church was seen very much as part of the charismatic rebellion, my concern is that as I have aged and had a family of my own churches like mine have been perceived to be part of the establishment.

What I do not want to do with Emergent is miss something God is genuinely doing. But to be honest, so far I have yet to see the big idea. It bothers me that the talk seems to be about moving on from old ideas.

Its OK for a Luther to recover the gospel itself. It is sad that he opposed those who sought to recover believers baptism. It is OK for the Brethern to revover the notion of body ministry, but that did not mean a rejection of what had gone before. The pentecostals recovered the doctrine of an active God in the hear and now, but sadly many of them rejected Reformed doctrine as passe.

For me, I feel I stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. I respect what has been explored, what has been recovered, what has been fought for. I don't accept everything I read unquestioningly and I do not exclude the possibility that people in my generation (or the next!) may re-discover some new truth. I don't want to be the one that opposes that if it is of God.

But I refuse to believe that the gospel itself constantly changes. I know that Brian McLaren stops just short of saying that but I fear that is exactly what he is implying.

To my reading of them these quotes are definitely neo-liberal.

- Thanks Adrian for these insights and warnings.

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