Book Review: Why We’re Not Emergent
Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)
By Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
I can agree with the title of this book. I should be emergent. I’m post modern. I’m Generation X with a dash of Y. I think in images. I’d much rather watch a movie than listen to someone talk for 30 minutes. I generally distrust large organisations. I don’t dress or act like your typical conservative preacher. I grew up in a conservative denomination that valued tradition over relationship and I rebelled against it. I’m always looking for new ways to experience Church. But the thing is, I’m not emergent. I don’t buy into the emergent philosophy/theology and believe that some of the teaching coming from this front is down right dangerous and unbiblical. So I was very keen to hear what these guys had to say about the emergent Church.
For many Christians I know here in Sydney, the emergent Church is not only a mystery, it is mostly unheard of. Even amongst a group of young theological students, chances are that no one will know what you’re talking about if you bring up the emergent Church. They might start nodding their head if you bring up someone like Rob Bell, but generally speaking it’s not that well known in the circles I travel in. I’m not sure if that’s because the emergent Church doesn’t really seem to be big in Sydney or just that it hasn’t impacted the people I hang out with and minister to.
From what I understand, the emergent Church is something that is almost impossible to pin down. What one person would claim is emergent another would deny. Underneath this banner is a great multitude of people with different theological beliefs and practices. What most of them would agree to is that they are reacting against a form of faith that has become distant and superficial. That the traditional methods of worship, especially the mega Church movement, no longer represent Christian faith. What we need now is a post modern approach to the Church to attract all those post modern people out there.
DeYoung and Kluck bring up issues in their book that I’m glad they put into writing. I’ve been feeling some of the same things as them, but hadn’t read enough to comment or been able to put into words. The emergent movement, to different extents, is blurring the line between what is true and what is not. And the more you blur that line, the more it becomes easy to say that anything and everything is true. The uniqueness of the Bible, of Christ, of salvation, all these things come into question. The journey becomes more important than the destination.
I believe in truth. I believe that there are things that you can know for certain. I believe that there is a God. I believe that the Bible is his word and is without error. I believe that there is a heaven and a hell. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he died on the cross and rose physically from the dead to bring us salvation. I don’t hang on to these things because they are a crutch but because I believe they are demonstrably true. Once you start to deny these things, or even deny it is possible to be certain about these things, I believe you are straying away from God. Straying from God, not moving towards him.
There has to be a middle ground. Where we can be culturally relevant while remaining true to the gospel. Doubt is a good thing. Doubt can help solidify our faith and help us grown in knowledge and love of God. But if doubt does not lead to certainty then all you’re left with is nothing. The emergent Church ultimately leads to nothing. It is a new form of liberalism. We need to be able to take what is good from the emergent Church and marry it to solid teaching. It is possible to be relevant and doctrinal. It is possible to reach the unsaved and give them certainty.
Why We’re Not Emergent helped me to understand better what the emergent Church movement was about. It helped highlight some areas in my thinking that were leading in to unhelpful waters. And it helped me to be proud of the fact that I am a conservative, evangelical Christian. I remember when I first became a Christian. I remember thinking that my entire faith depended on the Bible. It was either 100% true or it was 100% make believe. In my mind then and in my mind now there was no compromise on that fact. If I had been taught that Christianity was all about doubting and finding my own road to God? I would not be a Christian today. As I’ve grown as a Christian, as I’ve studied both the Bible and theology, I am even more convinced in the truth of the Bible. And that’s a certainty that needs to be preached non stop, not only to those in our Churches, but to those who are questioning their faith and want to know God.