Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Emergent Movement

Joanna, a Christian mother who reads this blog, wrote to me a while ago asking me what I know about the Emergent Church. I had not heard of it, frankly, until I began reading blogs. After my correspondence with Joanna, I kept an eye out and read some links, but I didn't launch an all-out investigation. What I did see reminded me of other seeker-sensitive writing I'd read.

I'll level with you: my first reaction to something--some "movement" or "conversation" within Christianity--that claims to be new is strong caution and guardedness. As the writer of Ecclesiastes states, "There is nothing new under the sun," though I have seen the enemy try to recycle old things, seeking to pass them off as new over and over again.

I'd like to direct your attention to a couple of posts that I thought were excellent primers to this issue (and I see no need to reinvent the wheel by doing all the research when these fine ladies have done it for us and presented it so eloquently!). Carla wrote a little about the EC here the other day, but she has a separate blog called Emergent No where she provides updated research on the movement. Carla writes,

"As some of you know, last year I began researching all this business about the emerging church. Since I first began researching, I've read more pro-emergent literature than I ever really wanted to. I needed to, to understand it more. While my very first impression of ec (emerging church) was basically 'Christianity embracing eastern mysticism.' I didn't really think that was a fair assessment, because there is so much to the ec, that this seemed a rather limited definition. the more I researched I became fairly convinced the ec is a blend of eastern mysticism, post-modernism, liberalism, ecumenicism, and just flat out rebellion."

I don't think we should take a warning like this lightly. Carla mentions some names she's seen identified with the movement, and among them is Sue Monk Kidd. Kidd was the editor of Guideposts (a saccharine 'Christian' magazine) for years, but if she was a Christian, she apostasized and chose to follow a pagan path (a process she details in Dance of the Dissident Daughter). If you read that book, by the way, have a barf bag handy. Suffice it to say that name grabs my attention.

Marla also provides an excellent piece here. Marla informs us,

"The Emergent Church is heralding Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching The U2 Catalog. Googling "Emergent" and "U2 Sermons" yields over 2000 results. I could find scant criticism of the book's premise which is definitely theologically questionable, but what I couldn't find at all was that this collection of sermons was put together by two women pastors in the ECUSA who condone their denomination's stance on same-sex unions and that the prose-poem section dividers between the sermons were written by a lesbian theologian.

A closer look at the people involved with this book and with those promoting it turns up a case of strange bedfellows. It's not that the editors and contributors are hiding their beliefs; it's that that the evangelicals singing its praises haven't bothered to do their homework. But it goes farther than that. It goes to the heart of the emergent movement itself, its ecumenism and its refusal to wrap itself around absolute truth, which makes its stance (or lack thereof) on Biblical teachings about homosexuality ambiguous" (emphasis mine).

If you read this blog regularly, I probably don't have to tell you that my palms start sweating when I think about a book that instructs us to "preach" from the "U2 Catalog." Um, I'd like my sermons from the Bible, thanks.