Monday, September 11, 2006

9Marks on the Emerging Church

Lately, I've had quite a few people ask me questions about the Emerging Church: "What is it?" "What do those involved with it believe?" "How do their beliefs differ from orthodox Christian beliefs?" "Is this movement a threat to my church?"

I've read a lot online about the Emerging Church Movement (or, as proponents prefer to call it, the "Emerging Church Conversation," and the article I've found that sums it up best is by Justin Taylor over at Mark Dever's 9Marks site. Taylor does a great job of defining what the Emerging Church is, evaluating what it stands for and offering what the alternatives should be.

In "An Emerging Church Primer," Taylor encourages discernment in us all: ...

Some of you may be called to be experts on the emerging church. We need experts. But I'm not that expert. And perhaps it's good for you that I'm not. In conservative evangelical circles, we can be tempted to listen to experts so that we can hear the person's conclusions: "Just tell me what to think—don't bother me with how you got there." We want the Cliff Notes on the emerging church. We want to read the cast of characters—"this guy's a wolf, that guy's a sheep," and so on.

I'm not going to do that. One of my goals is to help you understand the "emerging church." But my deeper goal would be for us to become the sort of people who know
how to think about things like the emerging church. After all, the "emerging church" is not here to stay. It's a movement, and this is its season. It might be replaced in a year or so; it might stretch out for decades. Yet one thing's for sure: Emerging Church Version 2006 is going to look different next year. And the next.

As Christians, we want to train ourselves to have the mind of Christ, so that we can respond like well-trained tennis players to whatever ball flies in our direction—no matter the angle, the spin, or the speed.

I encourage you to click on the link and read the article in its entirety.


At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 8:23:00 AM, Anonymous W. Spence said...


This is an interesting article which I have previously read. The problem with the "emergent conversation" is that they appear to be very slippery about what they believe. They seem to think you can be a Buddhist and a Christian at the same time. They tend to accommodate all religions as a pathway to God. The following are some quotes from emergent leaders ( Some of them are very interesting.

"Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a non-sensical question." (Tony Jones At the 2005 National Youth Workers Convention)

"My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ," McManus, author of a new book called The Barbarian Way, said in a telephone interview. "Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right."—(Erwin McManus, from The Barbarian Way)

"The fact is that contemplative spirituality will play a huge part in the Church of the future, and candles are just the beginning."
(Duane Cottrell)

"Some of the values of the emerging church are an emphasis on emotions, global outlook, a rise in the use of arts, and a rise in mysticism and spirituality."— (Josh Reich
Creating Worship Gatherings for the Emerging Church)

"Church Should Be Like a Dance Club" — (Josh Reich
Creating Worship Gatherings for the Emerging Church)

In the article “Leaders Call ‘Emerging Church Movement’ a Threat to the Gospel,” (WWW.BPNEWS.NET) by David Roach – D. A. Carson, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School “argues that many thinkers in the (emergent church)movement shy away from asserting that Christianity is true and authoritative. He also argues that the Emerging Church Movement frequently fails to use Scripture as the normative standard of truth and instead appeals to tradition.”

In responding to Brian McLaren’s (emergent church leader and guru) book “A Generous Orthodoxy,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, writes "Embracing the worldview of the postmodern age, he (Brian McLaren) embraces relativism at the cost of clarity in matters of truth and intends to redefine Christianity for this new age, largely in terms of an eccentric mixture of elements he would take from virtually every theological position and variant.

When it comes to issues such as the exclusivity of the gospel, the identity of Jesus Christ as both fully human and fully divine, the authoritative character of Scripture as written revelation, and the clear teaching of Scripture concerning issues such as homosexuality, this movement simply refuses to answer the questions," Mohler writes.

When asked whether a person must trust Christ as dying to make atonement for sin in order to be a Christian, McLaren replied, "I want to help people understand everything they can about the cross. ... I wouldn't say that having that understanding (Jesus dying as a substitute for sinful humanity) is all that it means to be a Christian. I think that some people might have that understanding and not be interested in following Jesus. They want Jesus' blood to pay for their sins so they can go to heaven, but they aren't really interested in following Jesus in this life."

McLaren declined to give his opinion on the morality of homosexuality, saying that the issue has become inappropriately political.

"I have my own opinions, but I don't believe that the smartest thing for me to do is to go around and make those varying opinions a reason to separate myself from other Christians," he said. "I fellowship with Christians who have a diversity of opinion of this (homosexuality)."

At Tuesday, September 19, 2006 1:05:00 PM, Anonymous jose said...


Good post. As w.spence says: "The problem with the "emergent conversation is that they appear to be very slippery about what they believe". Absolutely! One of their top theologians said that a Statement of Faith would be disastrous! Check it out:

At Thursday, September 28, 2006 12:34:00 AM, Anonymous Nathan Tabor said...

Great article. I believe part of the movement is having Christians holding political office. For instance, North Carolina's own Sen. Fred Smith is a Christian and family man first and a politician second. We should all pray that men such as Fred Smith are reelected.

Nathan Tabor

At Tuesday, November 21, 2006 8:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya know, I grew up in the Presbyterian Church in America. In fact, my folks were part of the founders of that denomination. I heard a heck of a lot about theology and orthodoxy but saw very little of the Gospel lived out. In college, I left Christianity with my intent never to return.

It was through the witness of Brian McLauren and other leaders of the "emerging church" that I came to Jesus. This time I came not via theology but via a living relationship with the Son of God.

So...trash them all you want. The majority of folks can see what utter hypocrisy is in the lives of most "orthodox" theologians and followers. Brian McLauren is showing more people what living the life of a Christian is all about than will ever be shown by any PCA, ARP, RPCNA, etc. church in the world.

God bless Brian McLauren and God bless the emerging church!


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