Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thoughts on being Missional but not "Emergent"...

After a rousing meeting with some of my pastor friends that come together in the missional network called "Ecclesia Spokane" (whom I love very dearly); I find it necessary to expand my comments and my concerns that arose in the conversation relating to the need to throw out "Doctrine" in order to truly see the church become healthy and whole. I know I stepped on some toes and added some more folks to my "do not call list" but I simply couldn't let my presence validate the assumptions and conclusions being espoused by some.

The liberalization take over of the missional movement is a problematic aspect of the "emerging church" movement to me. Some have attempted to designate this "version" as "Emergent" instead of "Emerging"; to try to quarantine the progressive, liberal and predominately mainline characteristics or agendas that are part of the movement. I understand that vocabulary tool and can lean into that for clarity sake but I think the issue is simply that people bring to the table who they are theologically, philosophically and culturally and that shows in the emphasis and values that arise. So whatever term one uses to try to articulate the actual positions one is espousing is important...we must recognizes that we all are colored by our own faith tribe or tradition.

As someone who is very "missionally" motivated...I am often rubbing shoulders with mainline church folks, anti-institutional voices and/or the organics, ie. the simple church people etc...etc. All kinds of labels and terms and lingo that have values and logic underneath, within and behind those terms. Sorting out all the "conversations" can be exhausting. One often finds themselves in conversations where you discover that people are pouring new meaning into old concepts. So someone can say a familiar term and yet, be meaning something very different. It's a challenging environment...much like talking to Mormons, who will use the same language but ultimately are coming to completely different conclusions about those ideas or terms.

"In essence "emergentism" is muddle-headed theological liberalism dressed up in newer, postmodern garb. It is an old heresy that wraps itself in postmodern lingo to appear "profound." But it is neither new nor profound. "There is nothing new under the sun." It is a fad that I suspect will soon pass away into utter irrelevancy. (And may it rest in peace.) The antidote to emergentism is a robust Christianity that is biblical, confessional, and creedal - a Christianity founded on the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ." -GEOFF WILLOUR

I think a lot of the temptations, errors and dangerous directions taking place in these "conversations" be they in books, videos or meet ups...stem from lack of experience, age and education. The movement is awash with young blood that has high value on "newness" and is often the cultural prisoners or worshippers of the newest and hippest be it toys or theology, methods or message. Recycling in this era is close to sacred and one of the areas you see it most clearly if you are aware, is in the "movement mania". Old lies are recycled into new products to purchase, consume or promote. This is in my estimation extremely serious when it comes to peoples understanding of God and His gospel and the church He commissioned to preach, teach and live out the good news of the Kingdom of God.

"The emerging church has become another form of social gospel. And the problem with every social gospel is that it becomes all social and no gospel. All social justice and no social gospel. It is embarrassing that evangelicals have discovered and embraced liberation theology after it destroyed the main line, old line, side line, off line, flat line church." -Leonard Sweet

In our conversations yesterday, I experienced and confronted this seemingly benign meandering away from "roots" in an attempts to go after "fruits"....when the discussion turns to "uprooting" ourselves from the historic truths and doctrines of the Christian church. When pastors are re-imagining, redefining, removing and rebuffing the churches doctrinal foundations...you can raise the "terror threat" colors...because the "infidels" are in the house. I know that is harsh language but it's true.

If pastors or leaders or "main talkers" or the "team" or whatever current hip term is being used to camouflage the voices that shape and guide...are throwing out the charts, compass and visions of Apostolic Christianity...a ship wreck is coming soon.

Tim Keller on the importance of Doctrine and Theology:

Tim Keller on "The Missional Church
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