Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Emerging Church Part Four

Up until just a few years ago, I absorbed books by Brian McLaren, "conversed" about theology over overpriced coffee and attended Emergent "gatherings" and "cohorts." Why did I walk away from my tattooed, organic food chomping, MSNBC/CNN watching, hemp wearing, imported beer swilling, Dane Cook watching and sissy hybrid car driving emergent brothers and sisters? Simply put, because the arguments under girding the movement stunk (and still stink).

I remember listening to Rob Bell sometime in late 2006 deliver a series of sermons cribbed from the works of Walter Wink. Bell argued for the "myth of redemptive violence", which argues, among other things, that any violence simply perpetuates an ongoing cycle. Bell actually used the example of Samson's relationship with the Phillistines to demonstrate that violence always spawns more violence.
Now I was a big fan of Bell's at the time but I remember nearly spitting coffee across my windshield when I heard him use such a ridiculous example to make such a stupid point. Following the Wink/Bell argument, God just didn't get it during the first several millennia when he was ordering the deaths of the Canaanites, etc. and finally grew up by the time Jesus came along.

Also, following the Wink/Bell/emergent argument, while Hitler and the Axis powers rolled across the world and slaughtered Jews, we should've all have just held hands and sang prom songs until Adolf and Benito got all teary eyed and we shared a great big hug!

This is just an example of the poor thinking of many leaders of the emerging/emergent movement who are Machiavellian in their approach and all but stick their fingers in their ears and hum when challenged. After a while, I just didn't care to hang at the cool kids table if that meant leaving my brain at the door.

BUT, the emerging church does have its strengths. What could they possibly be? Stay tuned my friends.