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

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: Page Brooks

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

Page Brooks

Assistant Professor of Theology & Islamic Studies
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Dr. Ed Stetzer has impacted a generation of church planters in North America and around the world. I am glad to be one of those church planters. Having taken several church planting classes while going through seminary, I devoured his church planting books. Now as a professor, I am privileged to offer this response to Stetzer’s presentation. In this response I really do not have much to argue against him. Rather, I would like to reiterate some ideas he has already highlighted but paying special attention to the theological and philosophical challenges of the Emergent Church. Following this, I will offer a simple model by which church planters and pastors may build on the past while continuing to evangelistically engage the culture in the future.

I believe it is important to note two aspects of the Emergent Church.1 First, I consider the Emergent Church to be, at its foundation, a reaction to the modernistic tendencies of the contemporary church. Modernism and postmodernism are primarily western intellectual movements. Other parts of the world where the church is growing exponentially, in China and Africa for example, have historically seen little effects of modernism and postmodernism because they have not been through those movements. Today, however, the effects of postmodernism are slowly saturating all cultures to one extent or another because of better communication technology.2

What would be considered the so-called “modernistic” tendencies of the contemporary church that are identified by those in the Emergent Church?3 These tendencies would include dogmatic interpretations of Scripture, hierarchical organization, and inflexible doctrine. But the complaints of the Emergent Church concerning the contemporary church go beyond theology and into methodology. At this point, one must make a distinction between the Emergent Church and those who merely wish to be more missional in methodology. Stetzer has correctly pointed out the differences between the two. The point I wish to emphasize is that Emergents critique both the theology and methodology of the contemporary church.

An example in evangelism will help clarify my point. Emergents critique the evangelism methods of the contemporary church by saying that one cannot necessarily do “evangelism” because evangelistic presentations, by ...

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