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Friday, January 20, 2006

Definitions Emerging?

Ray Comfort and Todd Friel were talking about the Emergent Church. Their conversation centered around an article by Ed Stetzer. In the article, Ed classifies the Emergent Church into three categories: (tallskinnykiwi found it helpful too.)

Ed's thoughts in bold. Mine are just standard font.

"Relevants. Yes, I made up the word. Sorry about the grammar. However, it expresses an important idea. There are a good number of young (and not so young) leaders who some classify as “emerging” that really are just trying to make their worship, music and outreach more contextual to emerging culture. Ironically, while some may consider them liberal, they are often deeply committed to biblical preaching, male pastoral leadership and other values common in conservative evangelical churches."

This is probably the group that introduced me to the whole conversation. I see nothing wrong with presenting truth in a culturally relevant way.

"Reconstructionists. The reconstructionists think that the current form of church is frequently irrelevant and the structure is unhelpful. Yet, they typically hold to a more orthodox view of the Gospel and Scripture. Therefore, we see an increase in models of church that reject certain organizational models, embracing what are often called “incarnational” or “house” models. They are responding to the fact that after decades of trying fresh ideas in innovative churches, North America is less churched, and those that are churched are less committed."

I would agree that the view of Scripture and the Gospel are largely preserved intellectually with this group. However, the church isn't just an intellectual conceptualization, but largely functions in practice. I"m all for eliminating those practices that are merely creations of 20th century America. However, some functions are Biblically ordained (elders, preaching, church discipline, to name a few) and I'm not sure what happens to a church that abandones those.

"Revisionists. Much of the concern has been addressed at those I call revisionists. Right now, many of those who are revisionists are being read by younger leaders and perceived as evangelicals. They are not -- at least according to our evangelical understanding of Scripture. We significantly differ from them regarding what the Bible is, what it teaches and how we should live it in our churches. I don’t hate them, question their motives and I won’t try to mischaracterize their beliefs. But, I won’t agree with them."

This is the group that seems to get the most press. I know that labels defy all that the emergent church is trying to accomplish, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why leaders within the movement don't articulate some differences.

I can see great benefit in working on church plants with "relevants." I can see how "reconstructionists" can help us rethink the issues regarding new churches. I would not want to reproduce "revisionists" however. I firmly believe in substitutionary atonement, the reality of hell, and the authority of the Word of God. Their conversation may help us intellectually work through why we believe what we do, but I don't know that we can partner in the work of the Gospel.


  • At 11:29 AM, Anonymous brian said…

    Good post danny, I found it helpful, too. Although, I think some of it is still not cut and dry. Some relevants might be revisionists or reconstructionists in some areas of theology but not all, there's probably a good blending in all three for most that would consider themselves "emergent". That's probably why there isn't a great deal of solid categorization beyond values and methodologies because every emergent leader is free to categorize themselves. And, I agree with the fact that some revisionists stray from solid biblical truth. As do some traditional evangelicals at times. Sorry for the long comment. Hope to talk to you soon, want to hear how your mom is doing.

  • At 6:45 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I really liked your post. I think Brian's comment reminded me that part of the definition of postmodernism is that it avoids categories and definitions like this. These are definitely "attibutes" and they make a lot of sense.

  • At 9:11 PM, Blogger marissa finch said…

    tonight was tough...im having a hard time accepting it all...so please pray that God can show me the good in all this. I'm praying for Him to change my heart and attitude towards the situation

    but, i AM glad that you have found and are able to pursue your passion and really focus on the gifts God has given you.

  • At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Marissa, I am praying for you and all the youth. I know it is hard, but your attitude to ask God to help you and to understand that Danny is following what God wants him to do is very mature of you. I will continue to pray for you. In Jesus' love, linda g

  • At 12:01 AM, Blogger Jeff Fuller said…

    Glad to hear that you are listening to WOTM radio! Also thanks for blogging about it.


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