Thus far my favorite of the three and a third which I have read is Why We’re Not Emergent; a book co-authored by Kevin DeYoung andTed Kluck. DeYoung and Kluck are two guys who fit the Emergent demographic of early 30’s, college educated at Christian universities, with a conservative Christian background and upbringing. But they are not emergent.
Don’t feel bad if you’re not sure what “emergent” is, because most of the guys who call themselves emergent are not sure what it is either. Of course, they aren’t sure how to define their movement because they generally loathe definitions. Period. This is a movement that values doubt, ambiguity, and fuzziness over certainty and clear, propositional truth. Emergents engage the Bible, church life, and Christianity from a post-modern perspective; a relativistic approach. This is why ambiguity is cherished over clarity. This is also why the movement is largely dangerous.
Emergents don’t like creeds, confessions of faith, or propositional truth statements. To them theology is fluid, and to systematize it is impossible, unhelpful, or both. Emergents generally have an unwillingness to take stands even on basic yet fundamental doctrines. DeYoung makes a perceptive and true statement in regards to this when he writes:
It’s one thing for a high school student to be in process with his theology. It’s another thing for adults to write books and speak around the world about their musing and misgivings. I agree there must be space for Christians to ask hard questions and explore the tensions of our faith, but I seriously question that this space should be hugely public where hundreds of thousands of men and women are eagerly awaiting the next book or blog or podcast arising from your faith journey. No matter what new label you put on it, once you start selling thousands of books, speaking all over the country and world, and being looked to for spiritual and ecclesiastical direction, you’re no longer just a conversation partner. You are a leader and a teacher. And this is serious business
I believe the most serious problem with the majority of emergents is their fuzziness on the Gospel. In today’s Christian Post DeYoung commented on this very subject:
More and more emergent books are not placing the substitutionary atonement for everyone’s sins at the center of the Gospel message. So the Gospel becomes this message about a broken world and Jesus as the great example, he died on the cross as an example of suffering for what he believed in and showing how to overcome evil in our own life and evil in the world. Here’s an invitation to follow Jesus and bring about this new world and this shalom. That sounds like a great message but it’s missing the offense of the cross, it’s missing the fact that we can’t obey God’s commands, we need a savior, substitute for our sins. So I see an emergent Gospel that is more law than Gospel. It’s more imperative about what we need to do and not, first of all, indicative statements of what God has done for us.
The book is well-written and engaging, and it’s worth your time, even if you could care less about the “emergent conversation.”
If you are interested in learning more about the “emerging church” I encourage you to follow this link. If you’d like to view some funny satirical images of the emergent conversation then follow this link. I also have three newer videos posted on my VodPod that briefly broach this topic. In one video Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler, and RC Sproul give their views on postmodernism and the emerging church. In the other two viedos Mark Dever is interviewed my Ed Stetzer.