DISCLAIMER: This post may skip right over you if you don't understand some of the terminology I'll be using here... words like "Emergent" and "Evangelical." That's okay if it does, and I'm sorry to not include you in on this. I leave that on its own because it actually helps me prove the point I'm about to make.
Today I was hanging out in a bookstore and came across a rather intriguing read. By "read" I mean to say that I found myself digesting it as best as I could as salivating sales-people floated by like birds of prey, hoping I'd make the purchase. I'm usually able to read things fast, though, so I ripped through it and walked out of the store with my $14.99 + tax still in my pocket.
I share that because while I'd like to offer a thorough review of this book, I am only able to give you a recommendation from that context.
That said, I am very intrigued by the book Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. DeYoung serves as Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, while Kluck runs his own web site where he shares the latest things he's doing as an "author/speaker/screenwriter." Their collaboration on this book is an attempt to explain why ideas and people of the "Emerging Church" should be questioned, although most points made deal specifically with "Emergent Village."
Most people confuse the two.
Splitting the writing load by every other chapter, DeYoung hits the theology angles hard while Kluck's approach is more narrative in nature. They hold in common an attempt to tactfully deconstruct Emergent by exploring quotes from blogs, lines from books, and topics from conferences.
This could easily be something Emergents would raise their shields at.
Yet I wonder what would happen if instead the critique was embraced? Granted, not at face value for nothing should be treated as such. Nonetheless, what if Emergent Village participants - or any group of people who consider themselves theologians... Reformers, Calvinists, Arminians, etc - were more curious about the perception of the conversation than may normally be natural.
After all, for many people perception is often more powerful than reality. I wonder how much of our theology is merely one perception that a number of people have clung to for many years.
The truth is this book is geared to hit a unique target audience who is looking to dismiss Emergent. DeYoung pastors in midwest Michigan, an area I know from personal experience to be an evangelical bubble at times. Kluck resides in Orlando, Florida, another piece of geography known to be a hub for unique church empires. One could belittle their ideas as them merely trying to give the naysayers more "nay" to "say."
Yet what if behind it all is an attempt to explore their own concepts of God? And if Emergent is truly a diverse community, is there room to celebrate biblically-centered criticism in order to allow counterintuitive ideas to sharpen that which is dull, anchor that which is drifting, and simplify that which is wise?
I'd really like to think so.
It's like your crazy uncle at family gatherings. Everyone knows he's going to say something loony, and yet he's allowed to sit in on the meal. And yet every once in a while he says something profound... something that makes everyone stop and reconsider life. Until he belches.
Ever notice how when we use analogies like that we always know we're the sane ones. But... what if you're the crazy uncle?
If any of this has stirred up some interest, you can download the intro and first chapter for review. Also, Dan Kimball has written much more on this than I have through some personal interactions with the authors.
And again... if you didn't follow any of this...
good for you.