Monday, August 6, 2012
Silly Church: Emerging is for Kids!
I'm pretty sure we may have seen the commercial and heard the Trix cereal slogan, "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!" Well, the church of Jesus, at many times, tends to be just as silly. The new facet of church separation is a movement known as the emerging church. Just what we need, another movement of church transitioning that divides more than unites us, this is the direction the emerging church seems to be heading in. At first Christians wanted to be Catholics, than Puritans and eventually Protestants. Next, they tired of those titles and decided to pursue becoming Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Pentecostals (Charismatics) and Seven-Day-Adventists. Later on, they decided to become non-denominational, Calvary Chapel, Word of Faith, Full Gospel, purpose-driven, seeker-friendly, etc. Now the big fuss is over becoming a part of the group known as the Emerging Church.
The Emerging Church is a newly reformed movement of the way we do church. It is supposedly church as it should be, from a Westernized standpoint. Famed author and professor Paul Enns sees the modernism form of Christianity as lacking relevancy to cultural changes within society. The emerging church views evangelism in a distinctly different way from modernism.1 He also alludes to the fact that the emerging church opposes relativism and promotes biblical scholarship. But everyone doesn’t quite agree with this assumption. The Jesus of the emerging church, according to McLaren, is an amalgam of diverse theologies.2 A significant facet of the emerging church is intellectualism and seminary training, something the modern, evangelical church has strayed away from. To say I agree or disagree with Enns’ position on the emerging church is irrelevant to the overall aspects of the movement. He supports the neo-orthodoxy movement which is a foundational aspect of the emerging church. Although, sometimes, it seems as if Enns is giving us a mixed message. He praises the movement for them taking the Bible more seriously, but, then questions them for still retaining liberal foundations as well. All in all, Enns sees more of a need for biblical history and scholarship being proclaimed from pulpits, however, many others might not always see it that way.
They may be more prone to preaching the Gospel apart from the enticing words of man’s wisdom. Paul denoted this too:
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
However, this is not justification for dumbing down the Scriptures. But it is understandable that the information presented to believers must be clear and concise, not so deep that no one grasps what’s being implied but theologians. The goal is to teach with clarity so the people can then go and carry out what’s been taught. James 1:22-25 admonishes this realization:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
Denominational sects that are more conservative in nature may still have problems with the emerging church. However, Darrin Patrick, Vice President of Acts 29 has pointed out "bad things" in the emerging church such as "the fascination with deconstructing almost everything while building almost nothing," and "ugly things" such as "conversing about God's Word to the neglect of obeying it, deviating from historical orthodoxy and the lack of clarity regarding issues of theology and sexuality."3
It’s like we’re having another rehashing out of Biblical theology versus systematic theology. But, we’re not. This is a clear-cut issue on old versus new. Yes, over time things change. We grow in every way imaginable: from stature to knowledge to relationships. But this is not quite how God works.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Therefore, even though the methods or models within ministry may change, the focus and foundations of ministry should remain consistently the same––“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
When the attention goes away from Christ, the cross and salvation, it starts to veer off into areas that should not necessarily be foundational. And relevancy is not one of those foundations and neither is traditional, modernism or denominational doctrine.
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
1 Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology: Revised and Expanded, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2008), 694.
2 (Enns, 2008, 696)