Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JODT 11:32 (March 2007) p. 97
An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches by Ray S. Anderson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006. 236 pp., paper, $17.00.
Anderson has attempted to provide a theological framework for emerging churches. Whereas an emergent theology is messianic, revelational, kingdom coming, and eschatological, he distinguished an emergent church as missional, reformational, stressing kingdom living, and incarnational (pp. 16-17). Anderson wrote, “An emergent theology without being embedded in emerging churches becomes isolated, speaking only to itself (solipsistic!), and living the monastic life of those whose windows to the world are not only stained glass but unable to be opened from the inside” (p. 17).
The thesis of his work is “the Christian community that emerged out of Antioch constitutes the original form and theology of the emerging church as contrasted with the believing community at Jerusalem” (p. 20). Convinced the thesis is true, Anderson defined an emergent church as “the first-century emerging church at Antioch, including the various churches that came into existence through Paul’s ministry based in Antioch” (p. 10). The emerging church was then referenced as “a rich variety emerging in both Protestant and Roman Catholic communities.”
According to Anderson, the differences between the Christian community in Antioch and Jerusalem were about theology, not geography. “What clearly set apart the emerging church at Antioch from the church at Jerusalem was a theology of revelation as contrasted with a theology of religion. The theology of the Jerusalem church was committed to historical precedent, crippled by religious scruple and controlled by a fortress mentality.” The contrast was the emerging church at Antioch, which “was oriented to a theology of revelation as led by Paul” (p. 25). Anderson’s premise is difficult to distinguish from his conclusions concerning an alleged schism and essential differences in belief and practice between the churches in Antioch and Jerusalem. His work is divided into nine chapters with each attempting to identify essential differences between the churches in Antioch and Jerusalem.
Based on the title of the book, Anderson’s work is confusing. For instance, his definition of “emergent” is quite different from widely used and recognized definitions among emerging churches. Emerging churches have a strong relationship to the Emergent Village (www.emergentvillage.com). Since the definition and relationship is already established, his work will likely cause greater confusion concerning the emerging church movement. Due to its redefinition, this book is not recommended for understanding the emergent church. Furthermore, the thesis concerning the alleged dif...
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