My professor, Dr. Time White (www.drtimwhite.com), showed us this video today in my Bible Doctrine 2 module and it cleared up a lot of questions and confusion I had with the whole emerging vs. emergent church movement. When the majority of us hear those two words we think they are the same thing and a lot of people use them interchangeably. We need to be extremely careful how we use these words because there two parties are going down two very different paths. I hope you will see by the end of this post the difference between being in the emerging church movement or the emergent church movement.
In this video, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church (www.marshillchurch.org), presents the four “lanes” that are in the emergent church movement. Now, I know there are many Christians and people in ministry who don’t want to be even close to the emergent circle, but I have figured out that if you are trying new methods and new ways of ministry in your church you are in one form or the other emerging. At the end of this post I hope you will see what “lane” you fit best in, if you are ok with being in the emerging movement at all, and will better understand the views of other believers around you. Yes, even emergent and emerging people can be saved for all the legalistic people out there.
First, Driscoll talks about the emerging evangelicals. These are people who believe all the major doctrines of the Bible and our basically evangelical. While holding to their evangelical claims, they are trying new methods and want to be relevant as a Church to the culture. Dricolls brings up a good point in saying they tend to be ok with women pastors, which I do not agree with because of 1 Timothy 3:2 when it says “husband of one wife” which clearly shows that a pastor must be a man. This group is “not trying to change Christianity” says Driscoll, but are just “trying to make church more relevant.
Secondly, Driscolls talks about the House Church Evangelicals. This group wants to get rid of buildings, pastors, etc. to stop having “big church” and have “small church.” They meet in coffee shops, houses, etc. and keep it smaller in number. They believe it works well, but like Driscoll says, it does work well in countries where it church is outlawed and they have to meet in houses. I agree with Driscoll that this approach does not work best in this culture. They will tend to say this is a “Biblical approach,” but as Driscoll says in Acts 2, where this group will hold to, they meet did meet from “house to house,” but then they meet at the Temple Court in a large group for worship. This house church movement is not only effective, but not that Biblical. Now this approach for small groups is perfect! Like Driscoll says, Mars Hill Church is set up where they meet in houses for small groups throughout the week and then on Sundays meet as a large group for worship. Many other churches are doing this and I believe this is a very effective, Biblical way to do church and build a good community of believers. Too many churches are stuck on doing Sunday Morning, Sunday Night, Wednesday Night, and a hour long Sunday School hour. I believe this is a ineffective way to do church in this culture. I think meeting together for cooperative worship on Sundays or whenever you do it is necessary and commanded. I believe small groups sometime during the week is a must, It gives people a change to study deeper into the word in smaller groups and build better relationships.
Thirdly, Driscoll talks about the emerging reformers. This is the group Driscoll belongs to and he describes it very well. This group holds to most of the evangelical doctrines, but are more reformed in there theology. They tend to be reformed as in Calvinism and are more charismatic in their worship believing the sign gifts are still in operation today. That is the only thing about this group I really disagree with. I can semi-agree with reformed theology, but not all the way, but cannot agree with sign gifts still being used today. I believe the sign gifts are not needed today because the full revelation, God’s Word, is complete and we have it and the whole reason for sign gifts was for Jews because they required a sign. The issue of tongues is another whole issue I will discuss in another post sometime, but I just wanted to let you know that was the only area really I disagree with when it comes to emerging reformers. This groups loves the reformed theology and theologians. They love John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, etc. I agree with this lane practically and love what they are doing, but when it comes to their core theology I disagree just a little bit.
Lastly. Driscoll talks about the emergent liberals. As Driscoll said, this group is questioning all the main doctrines of the Bible. Like Driscoll says, “they are asking doctrines that should not be questions and definitely as pastors.” I agree and respect Driscoll for taking a stand on this. The core doctrines of the Bible, not preference, but core doctrines we must not question and hold to no matter what! The emergent village is a group that is in this “lane” and this is a dangerous round too many people are going down. Like Driscoll says, “if the Bible lied about Jesus, we lost everything!” We cannot dismiss or question the main doctrines that are clearly given to us in the Bible. If we loose and let go of these doctrines, we loose our faith. Guys such as Brian Mclaren (www.brianmclaren.net) and Rob Bell (www.robbell.com) in this group and are, in my opinion, teaching false Gospel and false theology.
In conslusion you might be wondering where do I stand and what “lane” I am in. When I look at these four “lanes” I cannot really fit myself in any of them 100%. Let me explain. I will not and cannot agree with the emergent liberals. I believe the doctrines of the Bible should not be questioned and should be stood upon with all faith. I do not agree and cannot work in the house church evangelical circle. I believe there motives and heart is in the right place, but I don’t think we need to change church, but more the less change the methods of how we do church. So that leaves emerging evangelical and emerging reformers. I would say I am a mix between these two and hold to each of them while letting go of a few things from each. For example, I love what they both are doing. They are both holding onto the doctrines of the Bible and not letting those go, but are trying new methods and making church more relevant. This is the prime example of changing the method, but keeping the message of the Gospel the same! I gree with both groups as they do this and do this myself. Methods need to change for the age, gender, culture, etc. but always keeping the same message of the Gospel! With each of these two groups I let go of a little like for emerging evangelicals I do not believe in woman pastors. For the emergent reformers, I disagree about there stance on sign gifts and believe they are not operative today. Also, I do not agree fully with reformed theology. But I believe each group as good stuff and some stuff I just don’t hold to. So not sure what you would consider me, but if I had to come up with some title it would be a emerging dispensationlists. I agree with some reform theology, but hold more to dispensationalism so will fall more on that side. But I love the emerging movement about holding to doctrine, but changing our methods and trying to become more relevant.
So where are you? Do you even want to be lumped in with the emerging movements? I would say don’t be scared to be considered to be a emerging person. The idea is good and effective. We need to consider our methods and see how we can reach more and be more effective while holding to the Gospel. I hope this post helped you understand a little more about the emerging vs. emergent movements and maybe helped you understand where you fit into all this. Ministry is important and the Gospel needs to be spread. Let’s stop arguing and debating so we can work together to spread the Gospel and build up each other in the faith!
For more info on the emerging and emergent church, check out Mark Driscoll’s chapter on it in his book Religion Saves: Plus Nine Other Misconceptions. Great book I am reading right now.