I am very pleased to see a worthy article from Mark Driscoll (of Mars Hill Church, Seattle) on what is the Emerging church (This is reposted on his blog from The Criswell Theological Review). I have done a good amount reading and talking with people about this subject and even posted a couple things myself on this blog. What I find missing is the clarity of definition to what this is all about. There indeed is a difference between the broader Emerging church conversations and what is officially known as Emergent (Emergent Village). It is important to note this, since I am very much in the conversation of the Emerging church but would not feel comfortable in what is known as Emergent. Here is some of what Driscoll says (I have added links to the individual sites):
Pagitt, McLaren, and others such as Chris Seay, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, and Andrew Jones stayed together and continued speaking and writing together as friends. I left the team because my new church needed more attention and I also had growing theological differences with some members of the team, though most remained friends. …That team eventually morphed into what is now known as Emergent. This name has caused much confusion because there is a difference between what is Emerging and what is Emergent.(emphasis added)
First, the Emerging church is a broad category that encompasses a wide variety of churches and Christians who are seeking to be effective missionaries wherever they live. This includes Europeans and Australians who are having the same conversation as their American counterparts. The Emerging church includes three distinct types of Christians. In a conversation with Dr. Ed Stetzer, a noted missiologist, he classified them as the Relevants, Reconstructionists, and Revisionists.
I am grateful for these three categories. They define well the scope of the Emerging church conversation. Relevants don’t want their mostly conservative theology changed, just the style of worship and ministry so they can reach the postmodern. Reconstructionists see little life transformation in the mega-church or broader church "forms" and advocate everything from house churches to a heavy emphasis on spiritual formation and "incarnational" Christianity. It is the Revisionists who with Brian McClaren and others question evangelical doctrines and who sound like liberals in their theological debates.
You must read the entire article. It sparks more questions, as anything written about the Emerging church would. Here is an observation I have made. Some are in this conversation because they have theological issues. Others are in it because they have evangelistic concerns. Still, others are very concerned about the forms of our local church life. And, to make this all worse, some have all three on their minds in the Emerging church conversation. Mine really is with the last two, by the way. For now, I think the issue with theology is really learning how to teach it to people who now think differently–not to change it.
What "R" are you: