A Response To Ed Stetzer’s “The Emergent/Emerging Church: A Missiological Perspective” -- By: Jack Allen Jr.

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 05:2 (Fall 2008)
Article: A Response To Ed Stetzer’s “The Emergent/Emerging Church: A Missiological Perspective”
Author: Jack Allen Jr.

A Response To Ed Stetzer’s “The Emergent/Emerging Church: A Missiological Perspective”

Jack Allen Jr.

Director, C. B. Day Center for Church Planting
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

In Baptist life, the emergent/emerging church baby seems to be the result of an unplanned pregnancy. Things were ginning along nicely—or so it seemed—until these young people starting experimenting with forms, traditions, and texts long since abandoned. They traded confrontational evangelism for a soft-sided relational approach. They lit candles, they dimmed the lights, they draped the windows, they wore flannel shirts, jeans, and flip-flops in the pulpit, and then they removed the pulpit!1

They played guitars, which were tolerated, but then they unplugged their guitars and played—my soul, is that beatnik music? What are these kids up to? They read liturgies. They pray written prayers. They preach on political issues, and sometimes they do not preach at all. They rename our “Lord’s Supper” ordinance “Communion,” and center an entire worship service on it. Instead of passing the elements to the congregation, they make the congregation come up front in front of everyone. Then they renamed the Sunday worship service a worship “gathering” and started holding communion every week like those liberal Methodists (wait are the Methodists still considered Evangelical?). They sit in circles and think silence is a virtue, and dead air an invitation to the Spirit. To be honest, this all seems a bit Catholic.

They talk incessantly about community and use the word “like” often enough to make one think that all of life is analogous. They find tattoos acceptable—on their women! They tolerate alcohol as a beverage, divorce as a forgivable mistake, and they argue their opinions from an opposing view of biblical texts long since agreed upon by the majority. They tell us not to celebrate the conservative resurgence and demand that we embrace social justice issues like healthcare and environmental stewardship. Hmm, they’re starting to make a point, but my goodness, they seem angry.

Many of the emergent church’s advocates and practitioners express their anger toward the prevailing Evangelical culture. What? We bought them cars and gave them cable television? Ungrateful lot! That, or they are a gang of loose-knit prophets and we better listen.

On one hand, emergent anger is right to expose evangelical traditionalism that, by its gluttony on its own preferences, prevents the current generation from hearing the Gospel. On the other hand, emerging practices sometimes reflect a kind ...

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