The Emerging Church: A Fundamentalist Assessment -- By: Jeffrey P. Straub

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 13:1 (Fall 2008)
Article: The Emerging Church: A Fundamentalist Assessment
Author: Jeffrey P. Straub

The Emerging Church: A Fundamentalist Assessment

Jeffrey P. Straub1

Contemporary evangelicalism is in a state of flux. Numerous proposals have been put forth to offer definition. One can be evangelical and yet not conservative, which seems to be a radical departure from early roots.2 Within the broad contours of 21st century evangelicalism is a diversity of narrow subgroups that all lay claim to some piece of the evangelical pie. The collective ranges from the narrowly conservative fundamentalist, even hyper fundamentalist wings, to those on the far left—the Emergent Church. Not to be confused with the emerging church, many in the Emergent Church suggest that “everything must change,” which includes our narrow views on certain Bible doctrines as well as our attitudes toward our world and our culture.3

Fundamentalism generally has not been captivated by the emerging church, but its influence is certainly on the rise. In the past decade—about the lifespan of the emerging church (EC), as it is called by insiders—the EC has travelled in some sectors from what might be called a centrist evangelical position to a more radical leftward position that borders on a neo-liberalism in some of its more radical spokespersons. Theologically, the EC covers the theological spectrum from conservative to theologically liberal, from Calvinist to Arminian. Today, it includes sectors in traditional evangelicalism, mainline denominationalism, and even Roman Catholicism. The movement is too large and too diverse to deal with it in a monolithic fashion. Though it contains a large evangelical, doctrinally conservative component, a fair amount of cross-pollination is taking place in the emerging


I will use the term EC as a broad category for at least four main tributaries of younger evangelicals.4 That term has been used to designate postmodern,5 evangelical thinkers, mostly in their thirty-somethings,6 who are in the driver’s seat of a fast-growing Christian subculture. This subculture boasts a greater sensitivity to the current postmodern world and a rejection of the late 20th-century pragmatism that drove some of the largest mega-churches across the evangelical spectrum.

Narrowing the Focus

The history of twentieth-century evangelicalism is filled with adjectivally defined sub groups. ...

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