“…the Emerging Church is the latest version of [theological] liberalism. The only difference is that old liberalism accommodated modernity and the new liberalism accommodates postmodernity.” – Mark Driscoll
I can appreciate what the Emerging Church is attempting to do in reaching people with the Gospel in order that people may be saved. I respect their analysis of the modern church growth movement and agree with pretty much all of their criticisms of it. However, something very dangerous has entered the church now. Though it seems so palatable and sensible, it really has deadly poison behind it, even if the main leaders of it don’t intend for it to be this way. to illustrate what this is like, here’s an analogy. If you begin a journey in a straight line, but are off by just one degree when you start, by the time you go the distance it takes to arrive at your intended destination, you are actually very far away from where you wanted to be.
And so it is again with the emerging church, just as it has happened time and time again in the history of the church. What Driscoll is saying in his quote is that the theological liberalism that widely entered the church in the 20th Century was initially an attempt by men to reach the “modern” culture with the Gospel by lopping off miracles and any supernatural quality that makes Christianity what it is. So they threw out the resurrection, substitutionary atonement, and a host of other core, orthodox doctrines. And they failed miserably in their original mission, because in order to meet the culture they adopted the cultures philosophies and ideas, and integrated them into their teaching. It was a disaster. Entire books were devoted to defending historic Christianity, one most notable work by a man named J. Gresham Machen, entitled Christianity and Liberalism. Highly recommended!
And so the Emerging Church is now doing the same thing liberalism did in the 20th Century, but philosophies and ideas of the culture have changed since then. Therefore in order to accommodate the culture, the Emerging Church is becoming a part of the culture by saying we can’t really know anything for sure, that all ideas are on the table, and they are lopping off huge chunks of doctrine essential to the orthodox Christian faith. And just as liberalism was a disaster for the church in the 20th Century, so now the Emerging Church will be a disaster. It is the new liberalism for our post-modern culture. Though there are many genuine believers in this movement at the present time, and I do not want to totally discredit the work that God has done through it, eventually, this will result in a great many people being led away from the Gospel. As John Piper has said, “Adjust your doctrine – or just minimize doctrine – to attract the world, and in the very process of attracting them, lose the radical truth that alone can set them free.” We now live in a post-modern world where truth is relative. And if we adopt this idea and try to fit it into and read it into the Scriptures (eisegesis), our culture who needs the Gospel so desperately will have no Gospel when they come. The Gospel consists in doctrine.
You cannot ultimately reach the culture with the Gospel on a large scale by becoming apart of the culture, adopting the cultures philosophies and ideologies. Instead, we are to go out into culture and lovingly confront them with Gospel, showing them how the Gospel itself can meet the very things they are searching for outside of Christ, knowing that God has the power to work through the foolishness of what is preached.
Os Guinness says this about how the church is beginning to address th culture on so many fronts: “By our uncritical pursuit of relevance we have actually courted irrelevance; by our breathless chase after relevance without faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant.”
Related, but more funny than serious:
http://purgatorio1.blogspot.com/2005/11 … ng-if.html