Saturday, February 24, 2007

Truth, the Emergent Church, and 1800-word Religion Papers

This morning I woke up at a nice, reasonable 9am or so and began working on my 1500-1800 word final paper for my religion class. I'm writing about the command in Deuteronomy and Matthew to "Love the LORD your God" and some of the ways in which it should be manifest in our lives, particularly referencing what we've discussed and studied for class. It was a fairly normal Saturday morning--Laura was sitting in the red chair typing on her computer, Val was eating her oatmeal and writing an email, I was drinking coffee (out of a particularly nice blue mug from IKEA) and just getting to the post-brainstorming draft-writing process when Val and I returned to a topic of conversation we've been having for weeks: the emergent church.

It's been quite the hot issue in our house and in our group of friends lately. Do you all know much about what has been labeled the "emergent" or "emerging" church? It's one of those tricky things that really eludes a concise definition, but from my understanding, it is most generally a movement towards a more experiential rather than theological view of Christianity, among other things. Churches are beginning to emphasize a practical, everyday spirituality in which we really strive to do the things that Jesus commanded us to do. On the other hand, "emerging" churches also sometimes end up rejecting foundational theological study and the absolute truth of the Bible. I don't really know a whole lot about it--its lack of definition makes it really hard to understand clearly. It seems like "emergence" is on a continuum, meaning that not all churches that are emergent are necessarily labeled as such. But it has been really fascinating to talk about with my friends and try to form an opinion about.

Anyway, we were specifically discussing this article about Rob Bell.

The article pretty well slams him for his book Velvet Elvis, which I have not read. Val's been doing a lot of research into it, trying to look at it from all angles. She knows a lot more than I do, but I've been participating in the conversation some. It seems to me that there are "emergent" ideas everywhere I look--in chapel, classes (including this religion class), my church--that I never seriously questioned until I heard the label. So I think that there must be some true, good, biblical things in it, but also some really dangerous ideas.

Just curious as to what you guys think. :)


Transplant said...

check out these comments by Chuck Colson, a man I respect as much as any Christian leader I can think of.

The article ends with
The emerging church can offer a healthy corrective if it encourages us to more winsomely draw postmodern seekers to Christ wherever we find them—including coffee houses and pubs. And yes, worship styles need to be more inviting, and the strength of relationship and community experienced. But these must not deter us from making a solid apologetic defense of the knowability of truth.

Transplant said...

Christianity Today also had an interesting article recentlly.

michelle said...

i like that you sit around and stew over these ideas with your friends :) . and i started to read velvet elvis, but i got annoyed and couldn't finish it for the same reason... some interesting ideas, but taken to a dangerous extreme i would think.. i'm interested to hear more about what you guys come up with :)

the disciple(r) said...

I think that Rob Bell's book is in reaction to the claim that everything is hard knowledge and truth is unforgiving. Perhaps he does go too far with saying that everything is relative. However, I took Velvet Elvis to be in line with absolute truth and a good middle ground to a staunchy attitude. I think that everyone has has experienced a situation in life that has made doctrine more apparent to us. That's not saying that the doctrine changed. For instance, I think that only parents know what kind of love that God loves us as his child. People who never have kids might not truly understand that. There must be room in theology in order to understand it. Ultimately, I think that Rob Bell is not arguing that there is no absolute truth but that our little minds cannot wrap around it because of it's infinite size. Therefore, from our experiene, our understanding of truth changes. Truth itself doesn't change.