“The grandeur of this vision is what makes me want to avoid getting stuck in intramural debates about epistemology and the word postmodern.” p. 151Quotes in this post are from :
Pagitt, Doug and Jones, Tony, ed. An Emergent Manifesto of Hope. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007.
Second, as in any movement there are people within who are on a tangent that is not dangerous or heretical. Do not confuse innovation and creativity with heresy. Many people who consider themselves to be part of the Emergent Church are simply using candles and changing the furniture, not pursuing heresy. By that measure, John Wesley would have been emergent because he preached out in the fields. Always use loving discernment with people who claim to be part of the Emergent Church. They may just be excited, sincere and naive.
In another sense I am an expert compared to most people for two reasons. First, I am aware that the Emergent Church exists, and Second, I have done some reading on it both from their authors and people evaluating them.
I have read three books by leaders in the Emergent Church. Two of them were borrowed and I had not yet begun taking written notes: The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke and a book by Brian McLaren. I can’t remember the title of the second. I have also read An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones.
I have read two other books that touch on the topic. The first, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, by D.A. Carson was a sympathetic, well balanced evaluation from an orthodox perspective. The second, A Primer on Postmodernism, by Stanley J. Grenz is not about the Emergent Church per se, but lays a foundation for their world view.
The first two by Chalke and McLaren I cannot quote directly but the impression I got was blatant heresy. They are outside the fold of Orthodox Christianity. Anyone who has read the Bible can see that they are really twisting what it teaches.
The Manifesto of Hope had a similar feel. What was so disturbing was that it was from many different authors and was published by Baker Books which used to be a trusted publisher to me. There were 25 essays and I only found one that seemed to admit that there was any value to the teachings and beliefs the church has held for 2000 years.
“...our relationships with others gives us the most insight into who God is and where God is leading us.” p. 38.What happened to the teachings of the Bible about who God is and where He is leading us? I really get tired of hearing the word “relationship” used so often by Christians. It is not a Biblical term, it is out of psychology. That does not mean it is worthless, but it is hardly on the level of the sacred.
Or how about this statement:
“This, coupled with a careful reading of Scripture leads us to see that the individual soul alone is too small a target for God’s love and justice.” p. 82The place they are going is a kind of green gospel that is concerned about our carbon footprint and the redistribution of income more than saving people from their sins. This is more the worship of Gaia than the worship of Jesus. Later you find these words:
“God’s single mission - restoring Creation.” p. 133And here is what communion is all about:
“The Eucharist creates a context of abundance, and economic abundance, and economic help is given to those who need it.” p. 139,All those millions of people who thought they were celebrating His death until He comes find out it is just a chance to redistribute wealth.
How do you feel about this analysis of why Jesus became man:
“As important as both right beliefs and right practices might be, neither was Jesus Christ’s primary mission,...In the incarnation, God became human as a continuation of God’s hope for creation.” p. 204Shades of Gaia worship!
If you know your Bible well enough to know truth from fantasy, read some of their stuff but keep your baloney detector turned on. If you don’t know your Bible then stay away because you are an accident waiting to happen. If you are already a pagan Gaia worshiper then you will feel right at home.