The Emerging Church: Generous Orthodoxy Or General Obfuscation? -- By: Richard L. Mayhue

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 17:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: The Emerging Church: Generous Orthodoxy Or General Obfuscation?
Author: Richard L. Mayhue

The Emerging Church: Generous Orthodoxy Or General Obfuscation?

Richard L. Mayhue

Senior Vice President and Dean
Professor of Pastoral Ministries and Theology

Brian McLaren, though not speaking officially for all who identify with the “emergent movement,” nonetheless has become the most visible and widely-read proponent. Therefore, a review of his signature volume, A Generous Orthodoxy, serves to identify representative features of this recent religious phenomenon. The central question to be addressed must be, “Is it of God or is it of man?” Five significant characteristics of McLaren’s “conversation” lead this reviewer to conclude the latter, not the former. These qualities include: (1) An Eclectic Church; (2) An Ecumenical Church; (3) An Earthbound Church; (4) A Scripture-Doubting Church; and (5) A Resisting-Biblical-Authority Church. Therefore, the Emerging Church Movement should be rejected as another failed attempt (no matter how sincere or learned) to improve on “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

* * * * *

An Introductory Word

Three of Rudyard Kipling’s six honest serving-men will facilitate introducing the subject at hand. WHO is Brian McLaren? WHY review A Generous Orthodoxy? And WHAT is the “emerging church”?

Brian D. McLaren

Brian D. McLaren is “a pastor, author, speaker, and networker among

innovative Christian leaders, thinkers, and activists.”1 This fifty-year-old author holds two degrees from the University of Maryland in English (B.A. [1978]; M.A. [1981]) and has academic interests in medieval drama, romantic poets, modern philosophical literature, and the novels of Dr. Walker Percy. While teaching college-level English (1978–1986), he helped form a nondenominational church in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area (1982) and served as the senior pastor for twenty-one years (1986–2006).

McLaren, an avid reader, has blossomed into a prolific contributor to/author of at least eleven volumes since 1998. His publishers have been Jossey-Bass, W Publishing Group, and Zondervan. Books of significance include Reinventing Your Church, Zondervan, 1998 (revised and republished as The Church on the Other Side in 2000), A Generous Orthodoxy, Zondervan, 2004, and The Secret Message of Jesus, W Publishing Group, 2006.

A short, but insightful, autobiographical window into his lifelong spiritual journey aids the reader in understanding that McLaren’s pilgrimage began at birth, ...

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