Monday, July 27, 2009

Kevin DeYoung on the Emergent Church

Kevin DeYoung, co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) and Why We Love The Churchh, has some words below, presenting how one may find if they're emergent. I found the quote on, and am unsure where he pulled the quote.

I feel that the quoted paints emergents with too broad a brush, and essentially presents a "were better than you" feel good atmosphere for those who aren't emergent (even if they should be.) I hope that the quote is old, and DeYoung has left such generalizations, and hopefully is not finding his identity in being the nonemergent-guy.

After reading nearly five thousand pages of emerging-church literature, I have no doubt that the emerging church, while loosely defined and far from uniform, can be described and critiqued as a diverse, but recognizable, movement. You might be an emergent Christian: if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Franke, Walter Winks and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem; if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don’t like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; if you search for truth but aren’t sure it can be found; if you’ve ever been to a church with prayer labyrinths, candles, Play-Doh, chalk-drawings, couches, or beanbags (your youth group doesn’t count); if you loathe words like linear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy and use words like ancient-future, jazz, mosaic, matrix, missional, vintage, and dance; if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic, naive, and rigid; if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritize urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic; if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular divide; if you want to be the church and not just go to church; if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden; if you believe doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus; if you believe who goes to hell is no one’s business and no one may be there anyway; if you believe salvation has a little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us; if you disdain monological, didactic preaching; if you use the word “story” in all your propositions about postmodernism—if all or most of this tortuously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.


Sam Byers said...

If you haven't read any of DeYoung's stuff for yourself yet, I'd highly recommend him to you. I recently finished his book "Just Do Something" and found it incredibly refreshing.
His statement here, which is probably from his book "Why we're not emergent" is a broad-brush statement, but I think that's his goal -to give you an exaggerated caricature of the emergent movement. So I don't think we should be miffed if some of it hits close to home (I enjoy a Guiness in the evening, but would much rather have a mocha to a latte in the morning). If you wade through all the jesting, he is pinpointing the heart of what the emergent movement has become (which is why many guys have jumped ship) and that is a hipster movement with weak (or no) theology encompassing guys like Rob Bell and Shane Claiborne.
A book I'd highly recommend to you is Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. Steve is the European director for Acts 29 now and Mars Hill Seattle uses this book as mandatory reading for all their community group leaders. Steve & Tim do a great job addressing authenticity, community, social action, evangelism and church (just in case the title didn't give it away) and touching on all the aspects that are so attractive to our generation all the while under-girding them with good Gospel-centered theology. I'd even go as far as saying it's a must read for anyone in ministry.

Tim Faulted said...

Sam, thanks for the input. I do think DeYoung is trying to make a broad-brush statement, but I feel it adds nothing to the discussion. I really think his caricature of the Emergent movement is no different than say the SBC's caricature of Acts 29. It just serves to create a dichotomy between the Young, Restless, and Reformed camps and the Emergent camps,; a division which is only made by the YRR camp.

I don't agree with everything Bell or Claiborne have to say, but I don't agree with everything Driscoll says either. I don't plan on bashing guys like Claiborne, as they are one of the few groups reaching out to those in the underground music scenes; that is the truly underground scenes, not the hipsters that are attracted mostly to churches like Mars Hill. I don't how much you've read or know about Shane (and we've discussed Bell before) but I've met Shane, and he truly cares about everyone he meets, and shares the gospel with them.

Sam Byers said...

I don't know much about Shane other than having read one of his books. Lot's of good stories, lots of poor handling of Scripture, and I question how effective his approach to poverty alleviation is. Lupton's book called Compassion, Justice and the Christian life is a good read on this and I'm currently reading When Helping Hurts (can't remember the authors), been the most insightful and comprehensive thing I've read on this subject so far.

I would argue the dichotomy you mentioned is a real difference. I don't disagree with Driscoll's approach or the way he says everything, but I've never thought anything he's said to be a gross misinterpretation of Scripture either. That's a big difference. Bell's take on the atonement and Egalitarianism put him in a different camp that is really different, not just kind of different.