The “Emergent Church” (Part IV)
December 5, 2005 2 Comments
While I have only recently started looking into the “Emergent Church” I have already seen enough to cause real concern. However, it is my intention to learn more. I plan to read D.A. Carson’s book, “Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.” (You can read a review of it here.) In the meantime I would recommend reading Carson’s summary of the movement, “The Emerging Church,” in Modern Reformation magazine.
I will admit that I have already formed some opinions that, barring any new and contradictory evidence, will remain firm. The more I study the beliefs of the “Emergent Church” the more I am convinced it is, at best, inconsistent with biblical Christianity or, at worst, an emerging cult. Just because members of a religious group claim to be followers of Jesus does not mean they are Christians. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses both claim to be Christians but their belief systems are quite at odds with biblical Christianity.
In a similar way I see dangerous trends among the “Emergent Church.” Like cults they give Scripture a backseat to other means of enlightenment. They reject the inerrancy of Scripture and accuse Christians who disagree of “worshipping the Bible.” Apparently the Bible is a nice little “aid” to the Christian faith but it is not absolutely necessary because faith predates “the Book.” They seem unconcerned that this belief is contrary to the notion that “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,” as Paul put it in Romans 10:17.
Some Emergent Churches (not all) have embraced elements of paganism and have incorporated it into their worship. This has led to a wide variety of worship practices that are questionable. They have participated in “space” worship, “kiss” worship, “multi-sensory” worship and something they call the “Judas Ceremony.”
My personal opinion of the “Emergent Church” is that it contains some very good elements and some very bad elements. Among it’s good points are that it’s followers desire a more authentic faith. They want to be among a people who live what they believe. This is a lesson I hope the Christian church will embrace. There are too many people just content to warm a pew on Sunday morning and then forget they are Christians the rest of the week.
The emergers also teach the importance of connecting with the historical context of the church. Knowing the historical and cultural background of the Bible is critical in understanding it. It is also important for us to know when and why certain doctrines were articulated. All of this would help Christians better understand what we believe and why we believe it.
These are the two primary lessons the Church can learn from the emergers. Unfortunately in their desire for what Rob Bell has called “disorganizing the church” they have rejected the biblical, doctrinal foundations of Christianity (in ways I’ve outlined in this series). I will agree that Christianity is more than proper doctrine. However, proper doctrine is an ESSENTIAL foundation on which to build one’s faith. This is what Dr. David Alan Black referenced when he said, in his assessment of the Emergent Church on his website blog, that we need to have both orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
My hope is that Christians will be able to recognize the good things about this movement as lessons we should apply and the bad things as something we should reject outright as something other than biblical Christianity. My fear is that too many churches, when introduced to the Emergent Church, will go one of two ways. They will either see the good on the surface and embrace all of the emergent movement (including the bad) or they will recognize the bad and reject everything (even those things that would be beneficial).
May God grant us the discernment necessary to effectively defend biblical Christianity against the false teachings of the Emergent Church and yet recognize and learn the lessons we should embrace.
To learn more about the Emergent Church visit the following websites: