What is the Emerging Church?

It seems that there is still a lot of stereotypes and misinformation out there in evangelical world about the Emerging Church Movement (EC).

(ADDED: I wanted to edit this a bit, because I hadn't been fair to many of the pastors in the EFCA, a group that I highly respect and love - Thanks to Pastor Matt for the loving heads-up on this).

In the denomination in which I used to pastor (Evangelical Free Church of America), most some pastors seem to have swallowed D.A. Carson's book on the subject hook-line-and-sinker. Since Carson is perhaps the most highly respected scholar at the EFCA's seminary, all some of these pastors are doing is listening to his single voice on the subject (and any other voices that may agree) and just leaving it at that. This is a shame, for Carson misses the point severely about what the EC is, reducing his punditry against it in terms of epistemology and railing against Brian McLaren (as if he represents all in the emerging conversation) and Steve Chalke (as if he is even remotely associated with the EC in the UK).

(Of course, this is not the case across the board in the EFCA. There are a few pastors that are exploring the EC's ideas and are critically engaging the movement in a very healthy way. And there at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Carson's home seminary, the rising star and a leading new voice on Theology that actually sympathizes with postmodernity is Kevin Vanhoozer).

Thank God for the persistence of Scot McKnight. He has once again done a fine job clearing the air of the stereotypes and myths that surround the EC. Last week he presented a paper at Westminster Theological Seminary entitled, "What is the Emerging Church?"

For anybody truly interested in understanding this movement, this is a must-read.

The audio of the "Emerging Church Forum" is available from WTS here.

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1 comment:

Matt said...


I'm sure that what you have written now is true.

It's easy to think that Rabbi Carson has mastered it, so we don't have to (I certainly have done that at times in exegesis!).