Tuesday, May 17, 2005

More EC Thoughts

I know today is CTBHHM day, but I want to address this first. I realized I had so many things to say to the commenters that I'd better blog it to avoid HaloScan's 3000 character limit. Jerrad wrote,

"It is not just a right, but I believe even more that it is a responsibility that we have to each other, to encourage critical thought and cogent debate both in a spirit of gentleness and understanding."

Yes, absolutely. I don't have a problem with critical thought and cogent debate. But I will call a spade a spade. I don't have to fast and pray for a week to know that U2 is not who I should be looking to for spiritual guidance, or that a practicing homosexual is not someone I should partner with in ministry.

I am willing to listen to others' viewpoints, but I am, naturally, going to have my own. But more importantly, what does the Word say? Is the Bible derisive or respectful towards old ways, I ask those who speak boldly about eschewing tradition?

Jeremiah 6:16-17
Thus says the LORD,
"Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'
And I set watchmen over you, saying,
'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!'
But they said, 'We will not listen.'

The question is, what tradition, which ancient paths? Paul instructs Christians to hold fast to the traditions he had handed down to them.

1 Cor 11:2
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

I am not interested in MAN'S traditions, but I am intensely interested in those instituted by God.

I don't want to give the impression that all of this is totally new to me. Although the Emergent movement is fairly new, the things I clearly see it teaching and the kinds of things it identifies with are evident to me even through cursory research. I think it goes back to the dollar bill analogy I cited here before: if you spend a lot of time handling real money, when a counterfeit crosses your palm, you know it. Even before the police run their tests or you use your special marker to test it, you know it--it doesn't have the look and feel of the real thing.

There are some things, like seeking to merge Christianity with Eastern mysticism, using curse words to "be authentic," or generally living like the world (in entertainment choices and deportment) that I have already examined by the Word of God, and I reject those things. I understand that the people who identify with the EC believe varying things and cannot all be painted with the same brush. But by identifying with the movement, they bring themselves under an umbrella that includes, as Marla points out, lesbians who call themselves Christians, proponents of "contemplative" spirituality, and various kinds of heterodoxy and heresy. I do think many people interested in the Emerging movement are sincere in their search for connection, community, and authenticity. But I believe that if they are willing to be led by the Spirit of God, they will be led right out of this.

Salguod wrote,

"I'd say the same about the emerging church. If it does [not] appeal to you or make sense to you does not make it evil in general. Christianity is not about Orthodoxy or tradition, it is about the restoration of our broken relationship with God and our transformation into His likeness. It was broken due to our sin and can only be restored through Jesus and without that restoration, we will never be transformed....I do not stand in defense of the emergent. Mostly, I gather they are just people searching for Jesus and God in the way they know how. The traditional church that may make sense to you and I is like a foreign land to them, absolutely unrelatable and undesireable" (emphasis mine).

When did I say that I am a huge traditionalist when it comes to a church building or program? Actually, I am a home church advocate, though we currently attend a church that meets in a building. Ryan and I have always distanced ourselves to some extent from the idea of church as an 'institution' rather than the gathering of disciples of Jesus Christ. We are in our early thirties. I imagine that we share many commonalities with EC proponents, culturally and personally.

This is not directed at Doug, Jerrad or Keith personally, but generally it seems that if someone speaks out about the false teachings and dangerous leanings of the EC, he is considered narrow-minded, ill-educated, and paralyzed in stuffy tradition. I can assure you that none of the above apply to me, or to any of those I've seen who are seeking to warn anyone who is listening about any movement that seems to be going off course from Biblical orthodoxy (that's not a bad word). I am not basing my words on a couple of articles I read; rather, the articles confirmed to me what I'd suspected from the reading I'd already done, and what the Lord has already shown me through His Word and through discernment.

Is it okay to question the modern church and seek authenticity and meaning, even if what you find looks different from the big fancy church down the street? YES!

Is it okay to embrace things the Bible condemns in the name of the search for authenticity and unity? NO!

Well, that's my, um, ten cents. Okay. Twenty-five.

I hope what I believe is clearer. I respect and value all of you who left a comment, whether you like the EC or think it's from the pit. I am always willing to talk about things like this--but everyone probably won't like what I have to say.