Friday, January 18, 2008

The Emerging Church: Strengths and Weaknesses--Part One

Some time during the early mid-90's (no one can seem to agree on the date) Leadership Network, a non-profit church think tank, began to pull young pastors together from around North America for conferences focused on reaching Generation X (my generation). Among these young pastors were twentysomethings Dan Kimball (to the left) from California, Chris Seay from Texas and Mark Driscoll from Washington state. Dan Kimball (or Chris Seay or Mark one can agree on it) stole a title from an old book and pronounced that these young pastors were advance scouts for the emerging church. The title stuck.

Later, an organization was formed solely for the purpose of connecting young pastors. The initial director was Doug Pagitt (right) who later brought on Tony Jones and an ex-hippy, ex-literature professor, ex-60's Jesus movement writer named Brian McLaren on to what was then called Terra Nova (Jone's idea) and then Emergent.

At some point in the late '90's, Mark Driscoll withdrew from the organization. Driscoll was upset with his friends Pagitt, Jones and McLaren for embracing innovative theological ideas like the open view of God as advocated by Clark Pinnock, Terence Fretheim, Greg Boyd and others.

This is about the time yours truly hit seminary in West Texas.

I initially sided with Pagitt, Jones and McLaren. Why do I now consider those three to be harmful to the church? How did Emergent ever grow beyond a few small conferences attended by seminary nerds like me? Stay tuned, kiddies.