Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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Readers will understand that we are not able to supply these books.
Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005)
Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church, R. Scott Smith, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), reviewed by John Divito
* John Divito is a Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.
“Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12). In Christianity today, nowhere are Solomon’s words truer than in the Emerging Church Movement (ECM). Both ECM devotees and critics alike are writing books, articles, and blog posts about this controversial “conversation.” Nevertheless, two books have recently been published that deserve attention.
The first is Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger. What is the book’s purpose? According to the authors, “Our primary concern throughout this book is to listen to the concerns of emerging church leaders and to appreciate their insights, recognizing that they do not claim to have the answers but are prepared to embark on a journey of faith, trusting God to give them insight and strength in the course of their pilgrimage” (11). To accomplish this task, they embarked upon a five-year period of research to understand the ECM from its own leaders. They conducted more than one hundred interviews to produce this work. The result is a description and categorization of the movement. While Gibbs and Bolger admit that the ECM is an umbrella term, they still identify what they consider as nine common practices for these churches. These include three core practices that all ECM churches share, as well as six practices which may or may not appear in specific churches but derive from the three core practices. The authors summarize by saying, “Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6)
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participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities” (45).
These practices form the overall organization of this book. The first chapter is a brief look at culture, maintaining that to accomplish the mission of the church, congregations need to properly understand the culture in which they live and their relationship to it. Since we are now living in a ...
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