Friday, October 28, 2011

Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck


Going into this book, I knew next to nothing about the emerging/emergent church, and this was a great resource for getting up to speed on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the movement.  The movement is notoriously difficult to pin down, as they eschew creeds and there is no ready definition of "emergent," so the authors pieced together what they could from the written works of some of the more popular authors/pastors who have self-identified as emergent.  The authors freely admit that the sources they consulted may not speak for the movement as a whole and that they may be misunderstanding the beliefs and attitudes of emergent Christians. 

The criticisms themselves were well thought out and scripturally supported.  The writers had no perceptible animus for the emergent church or the people involved with it; their declared intent is to hold the movement up to the light of scripture and point out areas of strength and truth as well as weakness or falsity.  I particularly appreciated the humble and gentle tone of the book--this is not a bombastic dressing down, but a measured and respectful questioning.  The writers are clearly dedicated to truth, and do not compromise the bible in order to be conciliatory, but neither do they attack or vilify the leaders with whom they disagree so strongly. 

As the authors themselves state, there may well be emergent Christians and leaders who adhere to orthodox theology (for example, Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill in Seattle has identified with aspects of the emerging church and yet adamantly espouses Reformed beliefs).  However, many of the best known leaders associated with the movement seem, from the excerpts presented here, to be preaching a gospel of works  (that is, orthopraxis) at the expense of faith (orthodoxy), to such a degree that some are flat out ignoring or denying vital doctrines like sin, atonement, wrath, and judgment.  If this is in fact the case, they are preaching a false gospel.

As for the writing itself, there are a few editing errors, but other than that, it's fairly well written--in a laid back, slow-paced and conversational style.

I realize, however, that further research is required, and to that end I will be reading some of the better-known "emergent" books for myself to see what they have to say and to determine whether DeYoung and Kluck's criticisms are well founded.  In the meantime, I am grateful for this clear and humble explanation of the issues and dangers surrounding the emergent church.

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