I really like this Trevin Wax reaction to The Way of the Master’s take on the “emerging church”.
I like it for Trevin’s insistence that reconciliation to each other is important to the proclamation and living out of the gospel. But I also like it for this:
Apparently, talking too much about “the Kingdom” is enough to get you labeled as Emerging now.
I’ve just about had it with the knee-jerk reactions of some of corners of evangelicalism against anything that even smacks of “Emerging.” Including talk about “the kingdom.” I guess this would make Jesus “Emerging”?
The Emerging Church deserves to be critiqued from other sections of evangelicalism. I’ll be the first to admit that.
But come on! We don’t have to choose between a theology of “the kingdom” and a biblical view of the atonement. It’s not just Emergent that talks about God’s Kingdom coming on earth as in heaven… it’s all over the New Testament. It’s in the Lord’s Prayer!
Now, I could rant myself about the fuzzy and frequently fubar theology coming out of the emerging church movement, but I tend to think the label “emerging church,” as a theological category, is so vague and schizophrenic as to be practically useless.
So this isn’t a defense of the emerging church.
It’s a plea for Christians to stop with the boogeymen. In this instance, The Way of the Master’s Todd Friel isn’t offering a substantive critique of the emerging church (whatever that is). He’s making an us vs. them argument and casting “those emerging people” as the them to avoid. It just so happens that the reasons he gives for avoiding them would actually be a reason to be interested in them (as Trevin points out). But perhaps Friel doesn’t realize that. He just knows emerging is bad.
This happens on another side all the time, and I’m personally sick of it. I’m tired of folks anywhere left of fundamentalism employing a caricature of judgmental, legalistic, hellfire-and-brimstone religious types as boogeymen too. I don’t doubt that these people are out there, but they are certainly in the minority and they certainly don’t maintain much influence today. Looking out at the state of evangelicalism today, I don’t think anyone could convincingly argue that we suffer too much at the hands of ultra-traditional fundamentalist religious hypocrites. In fact, we’ve run out of those guys so quickly that now the hip preachers who need boogeymen just start putting the fundy religious hypocrite label on fellow Christians who have the misfortune of merely being uncool (they wear suits to church or listen to CCM or have a Jesus fish on their car or something). Those are the new boogeymen. We certainly don’t want to be caught looking like those people. (Witness the Christian vs. Christ-follower videos, which people still think I overreacted about.)
Here’s a clue: We can’t be reconciled to each other in the fullness of the gospel if you’re picking and choosing which Christians you want to be reconciled to. You don’t get to decide which ones are cool enough or have the right labels. And in this practice, emerging church poseurs share as much of the blame as traditional religious squares.
Stop with the boogeymen.