Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Jesus of yesterday and today and forever

The excerpts below are from another review of Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, this one by another who, in many ways fits the pattern, but nevertheless doesn't belong to the "emerging church." Kristen Scharold at First Things from "The Emerging Church and Its Critics":
.... I, like DeYoung and Kluck, should be an emergent Christian. In my more presumptuous moods, I call myself a writer, and I’m a fan of Dave Eggers. I grew up in an evangelical church. I live in a part of Brooklyn whose edges are rougher than the hipster paradise of Williamsburg. I love to listen to bands, which if named, will instantly lose their indie appeal. I drink lattes. I hate easy answers. I enjoy deep conversations. So shouldn’t I be craving a new kind of Christianity that will undo my traditional evangelical upbringing while satisfying my newfound love for diversity, social justice, and, of course, soul searching?

Not at all. Despite my hipster leanings and stale Christian pedigree, I am not emergent, if emergence is defined by its theology instead of just its ethos. And after reading this book, I am even more grateful that I never jumped onto the emergent bandwagon. I am not the only young Christian who appreciates many aspects of postmodern culture but who also yearns for the absolute conviction that DeYoung and Kluck present.

“Some of us long for teaching that has authority, ethics rooted in dogma, and something unique in this world of banal diversity,” DeYoung writes. “We long for Jesus—not a shapeless, formless good-hearted ethical teacher Jesus, but the Jesus of the New Testament, the Jesus of the church, the Jesus of faith, the Jesus of two millennia of Christian witness with all of its unchanging and edgy doctrinal propositions.”

This Jesus is the Jesus of traditional doctrine, the Jesus of yesterday and today and forever. He is not a Jesus who will go out of style along with skinny jeans, tight cowboy shirts, and aviator sunglasses.

Throughout the book, the authors make the case that the emergent church is simply a fad. In fact, the emergent church seems to be going down the same accommodationist path as the mainline, bourgeois, modern churches that they are reacting against. And, like the baby boomer’s megachurches, the emergent church is sweating to make the gospel entertaining and comfortable to their generation. “The mainline church bent over backward to accommodate modernism, and its members have budget crunches and shrinking churches to show for it. Will the emerging church go down the same nondoctrinal path as the mainline church relative to postmodernism?” DeYoung asks. In an attempt to “reimagine” the gospel, emergent teachers have merely repackaged the modern, seeker-sensitive approach. ....

In the end, the authors of Why We’re Not Emergent are not making a case for a new kind of Christianity. They are not trying lure emergent Christians into their fold with a hipper take on things. They are simply trying to replace the errors of the emergent church—which is, nonetheless, making important contributions to evangelicalism—with scripturally sound theology.

And it should not be so counterintuitive that young evangelicals such as myself prefer theology rooted in tradition to a spirituality waffling in relativism. We want a story with a climax so profound that it leaves us worshiping God, not reducing him to fit into our cultural paradigm. And if that story comes with a Guinness and some Coldplay, great. If not, no big deal. [the review]
Thanks to Mark Olson for the reference.

FIRST THINGS: On the Square » Blog Archive » The Emerging Church and Its Critics

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