Archive for the ‘emergent church’ Category


Revolution or Humility?

September 19, 2008

I am quite surprised that I am to be included in this amalgam of conversation.  Yet it is a privilege I will not delay in shrewdly abusing.  In the spirit of Luke 16 of course.  I wish to take note of a few contradictions in the previous posts.

Dogma number one: There is to be no Dogma.  The first delicious contradiction is of course nearly identical to the elitist double speak which has become a tactic of non-debate for the masses.  It goes something like this: you are old fashioned, and fearfully cling to your dogma whilst we ethereally float above such definitions in an unbound theoretical conversation.  For the moment the securing of such a utopia, requires this squelching of all debate for our ideas are simply superior.  Yet in time, when all are assimilated true peace and unity will be achieved.  We as Christians certainly don’t want to be viewed as ‘dogmatic’ or ‘unloving’ or ‘intolerant’ or whatever other names they might hurl at us.  So, we put on a pensive face and attempt to sell out our ideals until common ground is reached, until we are again welcomed declawed into their ‘conversation.’ 

The call away from dogma is, of course, played out in the way we form our public worship.  It is no call away from liturgy it is simply a call to a chaotic liturgy.  We present a God of spontaneous chaos as if he were the God of scripture.  It is almost as if we expect God to each day present us with a different sun.  Or perhaps a different Son based on whatever, whim happens to be taking Him in that moment.  This of course is nothing new, ‘a return to the early church’–that generic club with which most recent ‘new’ movements fein to beat back whatever issue they happen to dislike–address the same problem.  

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace as in all the other churches

I Corinthians 14:33

Dogma number two:  Sectarianism is bad so we are starting our own, whatever:  A call to unity whilst we readily hop onto the newest ride ‘Emergent’ and attempt to leave the denominations in our dust, simply another split.  Yet this time, we will refrain from using such a term and instead blame the establishment for forcing us out.   

This is simply a lack of respect for the recent historical way in which the Holy Spirit directs the Church.  Do we think the purest ideal of what the Church is supposed to be was given only to us at this moment?  The elderly establishment, faithfully taking their pews each week, deserve our respect.  Many of these church bodies are also faithfully pursuing huge missionary efforts in this country and abroad.  Whilst we sit and ‘debate’ on how we can stop offending the post-church fools amongst us. 

Or, perhaps we think that our times are so much different that we need something drastically new to meet these times.  The arrogance of novelty seems contained within the term ’emergent’ itself.  While there is of course nothing new under the sun, the embracing of this ’emerge’ exemplifies a dangerous trend of our time, our unwillingness to fight for what we believe in.  What of holding on to beliefs to the point of death?  I can think of nothing more characteristic of the early church.  Yet today the enemy convinces us to question ourselves to the point that no fight is necessary.  We find a happy medium and float along in our lukewarmness.

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance.  I know you don’t tolerate evil people.  You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not.  You have discovered they are liars.” -Rev. 2:2


“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold.  I wish you were one or the other!  But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!”  Rev. 3:15,16

What is it that fuels us to feel so left out of the ‘establishment’ churches of our time?  With the creation of every maxim and the presentation of every truth, our evil hearts are at work insidiously corrupting and seeking self glory.  There was a time when Christ’s call to self sacrifice was a potent weapon against the arrogance of the Pharisee.  Yet today we turn our little martyrdoms into a badge of honor, just as they did their prayers and offerings.  We have each become a slighted minority of one.  Little Hitler, whine about Mein Kampf.   Bill Clinton, feel my pain.  Obama, down with the struggle?  Politicians use their relation to our selfishness to promote their false gospels, we need to be careful lest we do the same.  

“Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.  Thought he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.  He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.  And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross”.  -Philippians 2:5-8

Thought the false churches may provide many social services, food, water and shelter, these are not the answers to the ultimate problem here on earth.  The only thing that really matter is our hearts and the hearts of those we minister to.  

Jesus replied, “The truth is, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you saw the miraculous sign.  But you shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food.  Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I the Son of Man, can give you.  For God the Father has sent me for that very purpose.” -John 6:26,27

“Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ”  -Matthew 7:22,23

Aside from the fun of pointing out these contradictions there is a problem much more serious. For not only do these contradictions point out your association with the tenants of ‘revolution’ you have used the very term.  A term which, given the mass killings and chaos of Robespierre and Lenin, I will have no part of.  Now this is no mere criticism of a few sets of circumstances in which a beautiful ideal failed to be adequately realized.  Instead the failure of the revolutionary philosophy is ultimate and fatal.  The French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars it ushered in were responsible for the deaths of over one million people.  The Bolshevik Revolution and the successive USSR is responsible for an estimated twenty million deaths.  The thirst for chaos which dwelt in the heart of these men was a novelty which we have yet to get over.  Though we wouldn’t claim to want the overthrow of an entire country, our evil hearts want something of a similar nature.  We want just enough evil to be titillated, but it is still evil.  

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. -Proverbs 14:12; 16:25

We are again faced with the age old problem, who is our authority?  The word of God, or some amalgam of our evil desires and the philosophy of this world.  The word of God gives us the solutions of repentance and sanctification.  Perhaps the best agent of our sanctification is the humility of taking our place in the churches with which we find fault.  The world offers another solution, one which simply ends in death.