This article was sent to me by Kimbell Kornu, a wonderful friend and soon-to-be physician and theologian extraordinaire. Some of my latest conversations with Billy Park have really fueled me at trying to get at the bottom of what Emerging Church is. At the very least I have felt that ultimately Billy sees emerging church as theologically a loose cannon, dangerous and aimless. My understanding is admittedly shallow, I'm a part-time practitioner working with a very small youth group. I am, in theological terms, a newb — a word that I have learned through my very small youth group. This article, I believe, helps to flesh out some of Billy's concern with the Emerging church, but also gives me hope that I am not a heretic and that I have not encouraged any of my youth to seek the Dalai Lama or Hare Krishna or L. Ron Hubbard as a point of interest after my messages on Sunday. I find it also particularly fascinating that it is written by Asian American, Jeffrey Jue, Assistant Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary.
A few excerpts are listed below, but definitely check out the full version here.
My purpose is not to deny the importance of addressing postmodernism, nor to insist upon a blind traditionalism that seeks to return to some past “golden age” of the church. I agree with D. A. Carson’s assessment: one positive contribution of the Emergent Church is their desire to present an authentic Christianity that moves beyond a formal religious faith. This desire has lead many Emergent leaders to see the problems with nineteenth and twentieth-century evangelicalism and seek to offer something with more integrity. But is this “new Christianity” using all the resources available to address the postmodern questions?
evangelical and Emergent churches alike have turned preaching into multi-media presentations complete with dramas, video clips, and light shows, claiming this is the only way to reach effectively the sophisticated image-dependent postmoderns. Gone, like the dinosaurs, is the old Reformed model of preaching. Many have claimed that it cannot survive and communicate in a postmodern world. Yet in New York City, arguably one of the most culturally progressive urban centers, thousands gather each Sunday at Redeemer Presbyterian Church to listen to a pastor, without any visual aids, simply preach. Now these sermons are not the old reductionist evangelical Gospel, but they profoundly engage the contemporary culture with the person and work of Jesus Christ.
What’s emerging in the church? According to many Emergent leaders, something old and new. But without accurately understanding the old, the new lacks the rigor and depth which can only be achieved through years of testing and refinement. Meeting the challenges of our contemporary culture is not an easy task. We must have the humility to admit that we cannot meet this challenge alone.