Friday

An Emergent Manifesto of Hope

Choose your team. Are you evangelical or emergent? You are either one or the other. Many people feel that this is the only choice that lies before them. Are you with MacArthur or McLaren?
The choice is not black and white, though. From the time that I was able to talk, the word my dad wanted me to learn was moderation. I feel because of his influence, I try to see both sides of an issue. That does not mean that I do not hold fast to truth, nor that I agree with both sides, but that I look for the positive and negative in both sides.
There are positives and there are negatives to both the evangelical perspective and the emergent perspective. There are things that I love about both. There are things I strongly dislike about both. I find myself leaning much more to the evangelical side, but again, there are aspects of the emergent side I truly respect and think evangelicals would do well to adopt.
The emergent crowd is very outspoken in regards to living the Kingdom here and now. We are called to renew, restore and revive creation here and now. But I feel that they only take us half way. We are very much called to do that Kingdom work, but the Kingdom is already, but also not-yet. Even with the filling of the Spirit, with the gospel, we cannot restore creation to its perfect state. That only comes when Jesus comes back. I do not see many emergent conversations about that aspect of theology.
In the recent book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, 27 friends of emergent write 27 totally different articles, but each one speaks of hope in their respective area. From parenting to evangelism to community living to Karl Barth, each author speaks of an overarching hope.
Tony Jones, the National Coordinator of Emergent Village, writes that many evangelicals have a theology of despair, that we believe that the world is getting worse, not better. He, on the other hand, says the writers of this book "take the contrary view. God's promised future is good, and it awaits us, beckoning us forward. We're caught in the tractor beam of redemption and re-creation, and there's no sense fighting it, so we might as well cooperate."
I agree, God's future is good, however, that full redemption will not come until Jesus does. We are called to redeem culture, creation and such, but only Jesus can do that fully (Already - Not-yet).
I also do not agree with the doom and gloom position that this world and culture are going to hell in a hand basket & cannot be salvaged at all, nor is it worth the attempt. That is going to the other end of the pendulum swing and only waiting for the Kingdom not-yet. There needs to be a balance.
All of this to say that this book has good aspects and bad. There are things which I was appalled with and found helpful - even in the writings of the same person. One instance of this was Carla Barnhill's writing on parenting. I agreed that the church needs to be a place children feel welcome and interested in going. However, the means she illustrated in going about that left quite a lot to be desired. (Please do not brag about your nine year old having not memorized a single Bible verse).
These writings make the reader think and wrestle with their own conclusions. A good read on a variety of topics and will challenge much of the readers thought.

2 comments:

Alisha said...

Could you please tell me a bit more about Emergent Christianity? What are its roots, goals, points?

I'm going to get this book and try to figure out for myself. I guess right now, I'm just frustrated because every website I can find about "emergent" just says, "We're new! We're different! We love God! WOO!" without any.... information.

My hunch about the emergent movement is that I like it. I've been listening to the podcasts from Mars Hill, which I found through an emergent website, and I LOVE Rob Bell. Is Mars Hill emergent, or do you suppose that whoever runs that website just likes him too?

cubfann said...

Alisha-

I can tell you what I know. A few young leaders came together about a decade ago to form Leadership Network. Out of that group came what is now known as Emergent Village. They seek to bring justice and hope to the world through the message of Jesus.
However, more often than not, it seems that justice, community, and tolerance take priority over Scripture.
I believe that the evangelical church has historically (this is changing) been very inward focused, not seeing the needs of those outside the church, or feeling the need to save them before helping them. I also feel that emergent Christianity is a reaction to that, but goes too far in the opposite direction - seeking to bring justice and help to people outside the church, and hoping that actions alone will speak the gospel to people.
There needs to be a balance. God's truth must be spoken, proclaimed and embraced, and we must reach out and heal a hurting people - physical hurts, emotional hurts.

As far as Mars Hill Bible Church and Rob Bell are concerned, I have the highest respect and admiration for Mr. Bell. I absolutely love reading his books, and I, too, listen to his preaching on the Mars Hill Bible podcast. However, I tend to keep my guard up and make sure that what he says is in line with Scripture (I guess we need to do this with anyone we read or listen to, but I tend to do it more carefully with Mr. Bell.)
I think that if Mr. Bell is in the emergent camp, he is in the fringes of it. I get the sense that he has a very high view of Scripture.
Thanks for your comments, I hope this helps a bit!