A new book has just been released called Remembering our Future: Explorations in Deep Church, edited by Andrew Walker and Luke Bretherton. I am grateful for my chat with Luke Bretherton and Jonny Baker last year in a London pub and am really happy that this book is now available. Its really an EXCELLENT, challenging, thoughtful book.
My blurb on the back says,
"These essays are the best attempt I have come across to address the emerging church's need for a deep ecclesiology. I not only recommend a rigorous contemplation of this book, but also commend its vision of 'Deep Church' as a worthy goal for all streams of church life"
Andrew Jones, back cover, Remembering Our Future
Deep Church is a term coined by C.S. Lewis that never really got off the ground, being passed over by the preferred phrase "Mere Christianity". But Deep Church is back with a vengeance. Get used to the term because you are going to hear much more of it. And this book is a great introduction.
"Perhaps the trouble is, as supernaturalists, whether 'Low' or 'High' Church, thus taken together, they lack a name. May I suggest 'Deep Church'; or, that fails in humility, Baxter's 'mere Christians'?"
C.S. Lewis, letter to Church Times, February 8, 1952
Andrew Walker writes a mind-blowing earth-shattering chapter of historic proportions called "Recovering Deep Church". Lewis would be smiling. The other writers add their chapters, all of which are good and pick up on Walkers premise. But most relevant to our conversation on this blog is Luke's chapter called "Beyond the Emerging Church". Luke situates the emerging church as an offshoot of the Pentecostal/Charasmatic movement and therefore complicit in its weaknesses as well as its strengths. Weaknesses here referring to a anti-credalism and a-historicism. His chapter is both a critique and an exhortation to emerging churches. He even chews me out for jumping in too quickly with terms like "Church 2.0".
But thats the missionary in me.
Deep Church, is a challenge to swing back (as Len Sweet once put it) and embrace the 2000 year old heritage of the church. It is a challenge to continuity in an age of disruption. Continuity and change are always necessary, but without an adequate grasp on how we know what we know, we are ill equipped to move forward and ill-advised to innovate. We need to be immersed in the Scripture AND the Christian Tradition.
Its that second one that trips up evangelicals. Tradition. In many ways the book builds on Baptist theologian D.H. Williams impressive book called Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants and brings its conclusions to bear on todays church scene. Its a call to embrace the holy catholic apostolic church through the centuries. Not an easy task for suspicious protestants. I have read Williams book twice this year.
I see Remembering our Future as a very British book but I am hoping my American friends will pick it up. In the UK, the emerging church was spawned from the charasmatic tradition and enjoys an inherent connection with the Anglican church. In the USA, where the term "deep ecclesiology" carries a similar meaning, the emerging church in the most part has come from conservative evangelicalism, both charasmatic and non-charasmatic. But like its British cousins, it inherits an anti-credalism and a-historicism. Perhaps even MORE so. It has also borrowed a double-dose of pragmaticism from the church growth movement and the seeker-senstive churches. This gives it a predisposition towards the 'mutability' of the gospel rather than its continuity. Remembering Our Future will help point them in the right direction. And Williams book also. In fact, Americans might want to start with Wiliams.
In a new blog called Deep Church, Jason Clark, who fast becoming a deep church evangelist, writes a number of thought provoking blog posts.
Deep Church lecture series is happening at Westminster Theological Centre in London. I am planning to be there on June 19. See you there.