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:
- The History and Streams of the Emerging Church, Part 1
- Popular Terms of the Emerging Church, Part 2
- Emerging Church – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part 3
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:
- Emergent Church – Part 1 :
- Emergent Church – Part 2
- Emergent Church – Part 3 : Scriptural Assessment of the Movement
Other solid and very similar lectures by Carson on this subject include:
§ Driscoll speaks on this subject from his own involvement and concern atAre You A Convergent Christian?
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.
- Driscoll’s chapter is wonderful, though. Check some of it out for free here.
- David Fairchild weighs in on a conference based upon the book, giving a wonderful assessment: The Truncated Cross & Emerging Reductionism
Tim Challies gives a great review of Mclaren’s new book here.
Darrell Bock weighs in.
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
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)