Diverging from the Emergent Church

Resources

Here are some good resources explaining and critiquing the Emerging Church.

By far the best resource that I’ve read or heard on this subject is by Darrin Patrick:

Really good stuff!

Justin Buzzard presents some great concerns about Rob Bell: Rob Bell, the gods aren’t angry tour: San Francisco (Some Reflections & Concerns)

DA Carson provides a helpful, albeit truncated, analysis in his book: Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications.

You can listen for free to the lectures based on Dr. Caron’s book:

Other solid and very similar lectures by Carson on this subject include:

Ed Stetzer provides a very useful overview article of the movement and some clarifications: Understanding the Emerging Church

Using Stetzer, Mark Driscoll has a very similar journal article: A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church.

§ Driscoll speaks on this subject from his own involvement and concern at Southeastern Seminary: Are You A Convergent Christian?

§ Driscoll speaks also on this subject at Mars Hill, pointing to the fact that it’s all about Jesus: Audio and Full Transcript (pdf – 379kb)

A useful but disappointing book that tries to cover the gambit of the Emerging Church is Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches: Five Perspectives by Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, and Doug Pagitt.

Tim Challies gives a great review of Mclaren’s new book here.

Darrell Bock weighs in.

Justin Taylor gives a worthwhile analysis at the New Attitude conference. A New Kind of Christianity. An even better article by Taylor is the following: An Emerging Church Primer.

For a heavier read on the philosophy of the Emergent Church try Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times

One final critique that is worth checking out that I’ve read is Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church by R. Scott Smith.

 

On a more favorable perspective, I found Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger to be very engaging and helpful.

Probably the most helpful book to get a reading on the Emergent stream (or Emerging Conversational) is A Is for Abductive by Dr. Leonard Sweet, Brian D. McLaren, and Jerry Haselmayer. Though very “modern” for some “pomos.”

Finally, Emerging Church, The by Dan Kimball was also beneficial.

§ Drew Goodmanson gives a great review: Tension in the Emerging Church

My Two Cents

As far as the Emergent Stream goes (or Emerging Conversational, or whatever) with Mclaren, Jones, and Pagitt, let me say the following.

When in grad school I had to read Race, Identity, and Representation in Education by Cameron McCarthy, etc. When reading Mclaren and company—especially his new book Everything Must Change, all the same social justice themes of racism, globalization, poverty, injustice, fair trade, environment, post-colonialism, etc. come up and not only eclipse the Gospel but alter it completely.

Basically, Mclaren is a missionary for Progressives and Social Liberals to the church. The Gospel gets high jacked and manipulated to be all about neo-Marxist ideals and dreams. The Kingdom of God becomes all about the new Gospel of social justice.

The Emergent Church is fundamentally all about pining for praise of men—yearning for the adoration of the cool progressive/liberals. Essentially they are saying, “I’m a Christian, but I want to be cool. The coolest people in the world are English majors and social activists. So lets change the Gospel for their liking because God’s Holiness, Justice and Wrath they won’t find cool.”

As Driscoll has said “the emergent church is the latest version of liberalism. The only difference is that old liberalism accommodated modernity and the new liberalism accommodates postmodernity.”

Bottom line, Mclaren and company care infinitely more about man’s justice as opposed to God’s justice. Thus, the Gospel must accommodate their faulty understanding of God. The Kingdom of God and the Gospel is now about social justice and man and not God’s justice and the vindication thereof.

Jesus was not solely about bringing in a kingdom where man’s social justice issues are fulfilled (though it will happen and is occurring). Rather, Jesus came,

§ not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38-40)

§ “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

I guess the Gospel is not that hip. But as Paul said (and I hold his writings to be Canonical and thus inspired),

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18)

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About adoption through propitiation

I like theology. And I love my wife Katie. Enjoy my blog. View all posts by adoption through propitiation

7 responses to “Diverging from the Emergent Church

  • James

    How does God’s justice differ from justice that it concerned for other people, neighbors and humanity?? Isn’t sin against another person made in the image of God a sin against God. Isn’t oppression, and abuse of power unjust in God’s eyes? How does then a call for followers of Jesus to love their neighbor become counter gospel??

    The context of the cross is God becoming one with humanity in the incarnation- at the cross God met us in the worst of humanity in the sins and injustice of the world through the incarnation of Christ that suffered and died their.

    The resurrection brings those that embrace the fact that God met us in humanity through Jesus, even to the depth of meeting us in our sin and injustice on the cross, a new life in Christ through the resurrection. This new life starts now and last for eternity.

    All of us as followers of Jesus are his body- the continued incarnational presence in the world- where we are called to live out the Kingdom of God in this world until Christ returns.

    The fact that you separate out the implications of the incarnation from the cross shows that word of the cross you are preaching is actually folly to you as you deny its power to really save those who are perishing from a life of sinning against fellow human beings and oppressing others in injustice.

    You villainize the “social gospel” and can not see that sins Jesus died for are “social”, they are relational; sin is always defined in the context of not loving God and one another correctly. So how can the cross in the context of God becoming a human being and meeting us in such suffering be anything less than meeting us in the worst of all of this human injustice in order to meet us there and lead us out of it through the resurrection.

    Isn’t this the gospel? Yet you just call all of this foolishness. God made justice for humanity, how is it that you separate it out and make a distinction between it and God’s justice? Caring about justice for humanity is caring about God’s justice especially when Jesus died on the cross at the hands of injustice against humanity- a human God in Christ Jesus crucified. No, put you would rather let people continue to perish in the world, starve, be oppressed, and killed, and let such injustice continue unchallenged by the incarnational presence of the church in the world. Yes, the word of the cross is indeed foolishness for the perishing; and if you are not leaning into the victory of the cross over the injustice in your own life and the lives you have the power to effect than you are indeed still perishing and you have made a mockery of the cross.

    Like the scribes and Pharisees who knew the scripture so well the gospel you preach is only that of a white washed tomb because though you know all the text you still don’t seem to get it. You say that “Jesus was not solely about bringing in a kingdom where man’s social justice issues are fulfilled (though it will happen and is occurring).” I agree, but how you separate out and compartmentalize this from the whole gospel I do not understand and I don’t understand even less how you would actually position yourself to stand against this things. If you feel that belief is Christ is missing from the message than add to it- there is no need to tear down good works of the Kingdom of God that come in the simple form of giving your neighbor a cup of water when he is thirsty. We can no more remove this from the gospel than the cross because they can not be separated from one another. You talk about faith in Christ but I say show me your faith by the fruit of your works. If ones faith has no fruit toward both God and neighbor than that faith is empty. You not only do not promote such fruit but you preach against it.

    My comments are not meant to support everything Brian Mclaren or the emergent church says, just that there is a message of repentance that is included in their teaching that you an others call “tickling itching ears” when in fact it is a very hard message for those who need to repent the most to accept. If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Social justice in humanity and God’s justice can not be separated because God met us in humanity to bring us justice even if it meant he had to go to the cross and suffer and die through the worst humanity had to offer.

  • adoptionthroughpropitiation

    Jeff,

    I emailed you last night with this reply and I hope you don’t mind me letting others read it. If you object just let me know and I’ll remove it.

    You seem very passionate the Gospel and I applaud and admire that greatly.

    Let me respond to some of your questions.

    You ask:
    How does God’s justice differ from justice that it concerned for other people, neighbors and humanity?? Isn’t sin against another person made in the image of God a sin against God. Isn’t oppression, and abuse of power unjust in God’s eyes? How does then a call for followers of Jesus to love their neighbor become counter gospel??

    The call for followers of Jesus to love their neighbor becomes a counter gospel when the Gospel is seen primarily on the horizontal level between man and not first and foremost between God and man. My blog’s name is the simplest phrase of the Gospel I know: adoption through propitiation. We become children of God through the wrath of God being poured out onto to Christ in our behalf.

    As it famously says in John 3:16-18:
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    The term “perish” presupposes judgment and the wrath of God, as “whoever does not believe is condemned already.” Later in the same chapter it says in verse 36, “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God.”

    This is the gospel. We deserve nothing but wrath and condemnation, as there is nothing intrinsically loving about us. In 1 John 4:10 we did not love God, and in fact we wanted nothing to do with Him period (Romans 3:9-20), as we were by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3). God could have, and should have sent us all to Hell where we would experience His Holy unmitigated wrath for an eternity (and did so with the angels: Jude 6 & 7; 2 Peter 2:4). God is just and cannot look upon injustice and evil. He must punish injustice and sin in proportion to the crime.

    God is of infinite value and desecrating and devaluing something of infinite value warrants an eternal and infinite punishment. Punishment is proportional to the value and worth of a being, object or person: Slap and mutilate a mosquito—nothing happens; Slap and mutilate a squirrel—public humiliation; Slap and mutilate a dog—go to jail; Slap and mutilate a child—death sentence; Slap and mutilate God—eternal judgment and wrath.

    The Gospel is about God and our sin in relationship to Him. Thus, the call to love others is not the Gospel. It is the consequence of the Gospel as it says in 1 John 2.

    So if one just talks about loving others without loving God first then the Gospel is misconstrued. The Gospel is the foundation for good works and loving others, and they must and will necessarily occur. But the Gospel is not loving others as it is about the Holiness, Justice, Righteous, and Glory of God being upheld in light of a sinful humanity.

    So I disagree that sins are primarily social. All sin is first and foremost the suppress of the glory of God, not giving Him. In describing those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans1:18), Paul says in 1:23, “[they] exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.” And 1:28 says, “They disapproved of having God in their knowledge.” So the picture we have is that all have sinned and that sin is essentially rejection of God and his glory as the supreme value of our lives. Sin considers God and his glory, and instead of loving God’s glory and treasuring God’s glory, sin exchanges God’s glory for something else.

    Sin is the exchanging of, and then desecration of, something of infinite valuable (namely God) to created things that are penultimate and of finite value—therefore infinitely worthless in comparison to God and His glory. Sin is intensely personal; David’s sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51:1-4: 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (10 commandments, always transgression the first one of “You shall have no other gods before me,” while doing others).

    One can say that sin is spiritual adultery.

    This is my beef with Mclaren and he explicitly denounces the Biblical understanding of the Gospel being first and foremost about the Holiness and Justice of God being vindicated on the cross.

    Now, we may disagree on the Gospel, but you have no right to accuse me of believing things that I don’t.

    For example, you state:

    No, put you would rather let people continue to perish in the world, starve, be oppressed, and killed, and let such injustice continue unchallenged by the incarnational presence of the church in the world. Yes, the word of the cross is indeed foolishness for the perishing; and if you are not leaning into the victory of the cross over the injustice in your own life and the lives you have the power to effect than you are indeed still perishing and you have made a mockery of the cross.

    I would rather let people continue to perish in the world, starve, be oppressed, and be killed then challenge injustice? Really?

    Do you even know me? Are you even talking to me personally?

    If there is one thing that I despise, it is ignorance mixed with arrogance.

    In 1 John 3 it says:
    16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

    I firmly believe this and live this out with my entire being. You have no basis to accuse me otherwise.

    I believe that the Gospel (that he laid down his life for) is the foundation for loving others (we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers). To conflate the two is very dangerous as I seeing the Emerging Church recognizing the latter to the neglect of the latter because the holiness and wrath of God is offensive.

    Now do you do this? I don’t know and won’t accuse you of it. So I ask the same courtesy from you of me.

    Moreover, your accusation “You not only do not promote such fruit but you preach against it” is off target.

    I’m not promoting or preaching against such fruit. I’m pleading that the plant bearing the fruit not be uprooted from its soil—that being the wondrous reality of the Gospel that Jesus Christ incarnated, lived the life we should have and died the death we should have because of our sin demanded the justice of God be paid.

    To quote 1 John again, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

    As I see it in Scripture the loving of others is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ: God loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. God’s justice for His name sake is the foundation for social justice. To cut off and/or ignore the first is blasphemous, and in the end self-defeating because God will not be mocked. And to not engage in social justice demonstrates one’s lack of knowledge and conviction about the Gospel.

    In all, there is probably a lot more that we share in common then disagree. I hope I’ve been clear and irenic. Feel free to email me with further comments and questions.

    In Christ,

    Matt

  • James

    Matt, thanks for your response, and I don’t mind you posting it here for the benefit of others too. First let me say I apologize for what you felt were personal attacks. I confess that I got caught up in an argument against the lens at which I perceived you looking at the gospel and the natural conclusions I thought it lead too. I concluded (perhaps very incorrectly) that you did not believe in justice on a human level much in the same way you concluded that McLaren did not believe in justice on God’s level.

    Now you say that you do believe in loving your neighbor, in fact most evangelicals (I consider myself evangelical too) say this, yet so often helping others practically is villainized as “social gospel”. Taking a stance that this kind of gospel is incomplete is perhaps one thing, but too often the work of what is considered “social gospel” is preached against rather than added too. I would be much more impressed and convinced by arguments that social gospel is incomplete if those who thought so strived to out do such demonstrations of God’s love in action more often than try and discourage it.

    Mark 9:38-41

    “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
    “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
    It is interesting here that others might give a cup of water in Jesus name because of the disciples. Clearly this was the reputation the Disciples of Christ had if others would do this in an effort to emulate them. I seriously question if this is our reputation today. Not only do I not think it is, this type of reputation is seen by many evangelicals in our country as trying to “please the world” and “tickling itching ears” because it is well received by the world. It is interesting that evangelicals do not often separate themselves from the world when it comes to supporting big business or systems that oppress the poor or oppose a general attitude that it is ok to “mind your own business” and ignore the suffering of other human beings around the world. Again- efforts to relieve such suffering is often discouraged in evangelical (as well as other Christian groups) circles. So, we do not have the same reputation the early followers of Jesus had that saw giving a cup of water in Jesus name as the norm of an outward expression of an inner faith.
    Now, you say “The call for followers of Jesus to love their neighbor becomes a counter gospel when the Gospel is seen primarily on the horizontal level between man and not first and foremost between God and man.” These two can not be parsed as such, there is no way that loving God “first” would ever translate into not loving our neighbor even if the love of God for our neighbor put us at odds with our neighbor; as Jesus warned that the message of the gospel sometimes does.
    You say that you disagree that that “sins are primarily social” saying that “all sin is first and foremost the suppress of the glory of God, not giving Him.” I agree that a sin against my neighbor is in essence also a sin against God but this does not change the fact that sin is defined in the law in social and relational terms against God and neighbor alike.
    You seem to isolate the entire gospel to one specific imagery of “worth” and “value” when scripture uses many different images to describe the mystery of God because any one singular imagery falls short on its own. You seem to be presenting that the gospel is only (or at least first by priority) a gospel of spiritual economics where a payment is made on our behalf by the one of infant worth to those with absolutely no worth at all. Yes there are times that the gospel is looked at from this perspective in scripture but scripture also provides other lenses and imagery in order to describe the fullness of the mystery of God and his gospel.
    You say “This is the gospel. We deserve nothing but wrath and condemnation, as there is nothing intrinsically loving about us.” Yet, Jesus describes us as a lost coin, lost sheep, and a pearl of great price and value. Jesus considered us “worth it” to find us and have us even if it meant he had to become a human being and die and order to have us.
    You point to propitiation as THE gospel when the gospel is also described as reconciliation (restored relationship)- then there is also justification and sanctification. Clearly THE gospel is not just propitiation; in fact I can not imagine that you really believe that it is, but you do seem to think that propitiation is of first and most importance and then you read other forms and images of the gospel through the lens of propitiation. The imagery of redemption or ransom for example does not carry the same message of humanity as unvalued as you suggest IS the gospel according to a view of propitiation. A view of ransom or redemption is payment to a third party for something that was stolen and held captive that is of great value to the owner. So to say the gospel IS propitiation is to deny other biblical imagery and perspectives of the gospel.
    Your grievance against McLaren is that he reduced the gospel to only being about “human justice”, yet your stated position is that the gospel is only (or at least first) propitiation. From our conversation it seems to me that both these positions are severally incomplete. I think your warning against social gospel as perhaps loosing perspective of the whole gospel may be fair, however I would say that this same principle would apply to an over focus on any one aspect of the gospel to the exclusion of other aspects.
    Thanks for the conversation and the time you took to give your previous feed back and consider also what I say now.

    James

  • adoptionthroughpropitiation

    Thanks James.

    You’re definitely right to call me out in reducing the Gospel to propitiation in my reply. That wasn’t my intention, but I the shoes does seem to fit snug so I’ll wear it and thus repent.

    If you read some of my other posts you’ll be able to see that this isn’t the case. Particularly, Contextualized Gospel Proclamations and Of Cosmic and Eternal Significance.

    My whole point still is that the Gospel is about our relationship with God first. Reconciliation, redemption, expiation, adoption, Christus Victor, etc. are all about dealing with our fallen relationship with God. “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17). It was an act of rebellion of one man against God that cause all this mess. And it is an act of righteousness by one man that is restoring all this mess.

    By all means preach Social Justice and call all Christians accountable. But realize that the reason the whole world is so jacked up is because we are all in rebellion against God.

    With Mclaren he changes the Gospel to only be about man. This is what I’m denouncing not the positive effect that he is having.

  • James

    Thanks Matt,

    I think we all have to periodically do some repenting as we truly take on wrestling with what it really means to follow Jesus in this world. I appreciate your humility to own what you have said in this post while at the same time helping me better understand your point of view by widening my eyes to your larger context. I am also trying to live out the humility that you have modeled. Thank you.

    I do not know Brian personally but I have been around him on occasion and I do know others that know him well. I work full time in a homeless shelter for families in Washington DC and recently Sojourners has taken an interest in trying to find more ways to put what they preach nationally in practice on a local personal level and their staff has begun to get involved with exploring ways they can serve their community they share with us in NW Washington DC. As you may know Brian is the board chair at Sojourners and I have been able through my relationship with Sojourners to take part of their monthly chapels for staff where Brian will occasionally come and share.

    I feel very confident in saying that I believe that McLaren does not believe that the gospel is ONLY about man, but his interest in humanity sincerely comes from his love for God. I think your view of McLaren’s take on the gospel probably could also benefit from widening the context of his statements to include the fact that he believes that the gospel starts with God. What McLaren and others are talking about is our response to God and his love for us. Though the conversation is often dominated by our response the context of it is one that acknowledges that it was initiated by God. I think that regardless of theological differences McLaren’s critique in regards to how we are loving (or not loving) our fellow human beings in response to the message of the Kingdom of God and the gospel has some merit.

    While I don’t think it is a fair critic to say that McLaren believes the gospel is only about man I do not believe that McLaren’s or the emergent church’s view of the gospel is above criticism. Certainly there are theological difference concerning things like differing views of scripture and differing emphasis on things like atonement theories. Even though I myself may lean into more emergent type thinking this does not mean I think it is above criticism.

    You and I may both disagree with McLaren on some of these things as well as disagree with one another. I am a Nazarene Pastor that happens to also resonate much with the emergent church conversation so I am sure there are differences enough in our contrasting Wesleyan and Reformed views; and that is without adding the lenses of modernity and postmodernity. At the same time I believe our common love for Jesus in response to his love for both of us is common ground enough to walk together as brothers.

    In the end I really do hope that more who resonate with a more reformed theology lens would hear what I feel is a fair criticism of the fruit of all of our faith (or lack there of) in this world. I think we all need to embrace the fact that despite theological differences that pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by corruption of the world. We may even disagree with how to do this, but I think this is an important conversation to have. I also think that there is so much need in the world that there is a lot of room for followers of Jesus with a reformed lens to take more leadership in expressing the love of God through service to our fellow human beings in need. In the end it is not as much our theological views that show as evidence of living in the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of the church that best reflect the continued presence of God in this world as the body of Christ.

    Thanks again for the conversation and sharing your point of view and thank you for your commitment to Christ.

    Peace,

    James

  • adoptionthroughpropitiation

    If I’ve noticed anything about movements and the human nature in general is that there is always a tendency to swing the pendulum to the equal and opposite extreme. This is no less true of my heart, the Emergent Church in general, and the groups that I run around in.

    In Mclaren’s new book he contrasts the “traditional” Gospel with the “emerging” Gospel. As I’ve said all along, he’s gone too far. I trust your assessment of him that he may not believe the Gospel only in social terms. Nevertheless, it comes dangerously close.

    Consequently, Mclaren and the Emergent Church would do much better in not putting forth an “emerging” Gospel in clear dichotomy to the “traditional” Gospel.

    Rather, if they truly believe that the Gospel revolves around the reality “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4), then they should be calling Christians to live out the implications of such, most noticeably loving one’s neighbor as one self. For “it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10).

    If one is calling the Church to be more involved in Social Justice, the wrong thing to do is to present an “emerging” Gospel. Instead, force the Church to look again at the Gospel and see the implications of such and call us all to live in accordance with this.

    As is always the case, let the indicative (what is done in Christ) be the foundation for the imperative (what we are to do as a result). To conflate the two is confusing and—pardon to Spencer Burke—heretical.

    The Church in general needs always to be reminded of the Gospel and living out the life of Christ in light of it. I think the Emergent Church is missing a vital opportunity to do this for Social justice.

    Call us Reformed types in particular to better understand the Gospel we claim to profess and live out its clear Biblically defined implications. Do NOT give us an “emerging” Gospel and then expect us to gladly reform.

    4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (Titus 3:4-8).

    And devoting oneself to good works most certainly encompasses visiting orphans and widows in their affliction.

  • James

    I don’t lean into a more emergent understanding of the gospel as a way to promote social justice. However, being concerned for social justice and human beings does flow from my understanding of the gospel. It is part of the “works” that testify about my faith.

    Frankly, I do not see the same fruit coming from many of those leaning into reformed understanding of the gospel; but I am not sure why because it would seem to have the necessary components to do this. I do think caring for ones neighbors to be treated justly fits in with the reformed system of belief but for some reason it is not often focused on in praxis.
    I was not attempting to change your mind about your reformed leanings and asking you to lean into the emergent church instead. I did point out some ways that I felt your criticism missed the mark of accuracy when it came to saying that emergent church did not care about God’s justice (this simply is not true), but I did not go further than that and try to convince you about the ways I think the emergent church is on the right track. Ultimately I lean in that direction because I believe it leans best into the Truth of Jesus Christ.

    My greatest sentiment however is not as concerned with other people’s theological paradigms and framework as long as that person is following Christ and participating with the body of Christ by being light and salt in the world. What people believe means nothing if it does not bear fruit of repentance and the fruit of the Spirit in their lives so that the light of the Kingdom of God can bee seen in the followers of Jesus.

    If my reformed brothers and sister want to argue the superiority of their faith and how their beliefs are the right ones than all I ask is that they show me the quality of their faith by the fruit of their works. If such teaching is the right teaching and the right kind of faith than it should naturally lead to talking the loudest about and doing the most to produce good works for the Kingdom of God.

    Peace,
    James

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