Saturday, March 18, 2006

Scot McKnight on the Emerging Church

I just read this article by Scot McKnight on the Emerging Church. Although I've just discovered this guy, I really like him. He is definitely a fan of the Emerging Church Movement (EM), but he is still on the outside, and therefore, I believe, not as biased either way. He starts out by describing the positives of the EM. He describes these positives as the "pros" and the "posts" of the EM.

Here are some of those positives that he describes.

  • Pro-missional
    • To be "missional" means embracing a holistic gospel, which is a gospel for the whole person (heart, soul, mind and strength), for the whole society (politics, economy, culture, environment), and for the whole world.
    • The mission of the Christian community is to discover the "mission" of God in that local community and participate in that work of God.
  • Pro-Jesus
    • The EM wants to root its theology, which is more practical than it is theoretical, in the incarnate life of Jesus. It wants a theology that is shaped by relationship with the person of Jesus rather than rationality and systematic thinking.
    • The rest of the New Testament and Bible are read through the lens of the kingdom vision of Jesus.
  • Pro-church
    • The EM is ecumenical - not in trying to find doctrinal common ground, but in trying to find a common mission. Because it is focused on mission, the EM finds it much easier to cooperate with other Christians.
  • Pro-culture
    • Concerned with the postmodern generation
    • Emerged and is shaped by a youth culture
  • Pro-sensory worship
    • Engages all the senses (we are to worship God with our heart, sould, mind and body)
    • Participatory
  • Post-evangelical and post-liberal
  • Post-doctrinal statements
    • An EM website will often include a "rule of life" or a "missional statement" and often will not have "what we believe."
    • Theological statements are easily turned into monuments and statues, and the EM wants even its theology to be conversational.
  • Post-Bible-study piety
    • Not because the EM doesn't read the Bible or believe in the Bible or preach from the Bible, but because it believes that the Bible is to be read formationally and not just informationally.

McKnight does not stop simply with the positives he sees. He next addresses potential problems.

  • Primarily made up of white, middle class postmoderns
  • Needs to find balance between "Christian gospel work" and "Creation-only social work"
  • Needs to grapple with the rest of the Bible. A Jesus-first theology is ok. A Jesus-only theology is not.
  • Theology has to be dealt with coherently. Theological statements are not wrong. Theology needs to be articulated.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Wanted to comment on the negatives...

1. Primarily made up of white, middle class postmoderns -- TOTALLY AGREE!

2. Needs to find balance between "Christian gospel work" and "Creation-only social work" -- Have no idea what this means! What is "christian gospel work?"

3. Needs to grapple with the rest of the Bible. A Jesus-first theology is ok. A Jesus-only theology is not. -- DISAGREE! Are we Christians or Biblians? Did Jesus become the Word Incarnate or not? Did He understand that to mean the writings of Paul, James, John and others?

4. Theology has to be dealt with coherently. Theological statements are not wrong. Theology needs to be articulated. -- MAYBE...we don't need the EC (or EM as you label it) to become dogmatic. The whole point is we cannot figure out this Great Mystery, the I AM, so trying to box Him in theologically seems whimsical, at best.

Just my .02 worth.

Robert said...

Thanks for the comments.

As to #2, I think he just means someone who is doing more than just "social gospel" work.

#3: I understand what he's saying. Over the past year I have been spending most of my time in the gospels. That's great, but I also need to be spending time in the rest of the Bible. I think that's all he's saying.

#4 I agree with you.


I checked out your blog, and look forward to reading it from time to time. Nice hummer!