A podcast worth listening to: Emerging Church Panel discussion from a publishing perspective at the Christian Book Expo in Dallas a week or so ago. Or watch the video here. I will avoid giving my usual comments that authors are not necessarily leaders and much of the emerging church is held hostage by the American publishing machine and that people who live in classrooms and can only access knowledge through books may not be the best positioned observers . . etc. Suspending those criticisms, and putting them aside, this is an absolutely must-listen-to podcast on many levels.
Scot McKnight, who responds to Kevin DeYoung on the panel with more gumption than normally characterizes his writings, is brilliant and insightful as usual. On the emerging church, in which he references his previous talk at at Westminster, he says:
1. We recognize that there is massive diversity.
2. It's creative. Relevant is not the point.
3. Its a safe place for people who have questions.
4. It has unfortunately been caught in the cross-hairs of a culture war.
And let me agree again with Scot on the failure of Don Carson's book to adequately and accurately portray the emerging church. Saying that Steve Chalke is the most influential leader in the emerging church in the UK is like saying Borat is the most influential leader in Kazakhstan. Despite commonly held perceptions from the uninformed [according to Wired.com, Borat actually IS the most recognized representative of Kazakhstan], its just not true. And that is not a slam on Steve Chalke who is a well-respected Christian leader in his own right.
Tony Jones is articulate and clear. We disagree on a few issues, he and I, but here he speaks clearly about what he believes and why and I encourage his critics to listen to him on this panel.
Kevin DeYoung shares his heart and his concerns. Although I agree with Scot that Kevin's opening remarks are neither accurate nor charitable, Kevin voices the concerns of many and for that reason is worth taking seriously - which I probably should have done when I first came across his book, Why They Don't Say Emergent
Alex and Brett Harris play the youth card and the outreach card but whenever I play the same cards, the emerging church seems to come out on top - not so much the traditional church. Besides, teenagers in USA are generally not starting their own expressions of church until they are in their twenties so it might be premature to suggest they will opt for or against either traditional or emerging. Most likely, they will be influenced by both but will not have the resources to start unsustainable models of church or mission.
Thought: Jesus died for our sins - story or statement? Both! One gave birth to the other. And the gospel is expressed BOTH in narrative and propositional terms. There is no competition going on. It is at once a story [and a story that actually happened] and a million statements that follow and describe it. Alex and Brett are right to say that the next generation do not want to and probably will not have to choose between the two.
To further mess with your mind, check out the totally different kinds of comments and reactions on Tony's blog with those on Pyro. And check out the confusion of the "emergent" label from a retailer's perspective here - something that has given many of us pause in recommending the use of "emerging" or "emergent" in trying to accurately communicate the heart of a new movement.
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