Yesterday Justin Taylor posted a link on his blog to "More than a Fad: Understanding the Emerging Church", an article written by Walter Henegar in the Presbyterian Church in America's web magazine. It it, Henegar attempts to sort out some of the Emerging Church's distinctives, for better or worse.
He provides a couple of good distinctions:
Henegar than explains, "Though they don’t endorse it entirely, Emergent leaders believe postmodernism offers the church a fresh opportunity to rediscover a humbler, more robust expression of Christianity."
- Modernism - a centuries-old philosophical climate that presumes certain knowledge can be gained through human reason and accurately expressed with words.
- Postmodernism - the transitional era that unmasks the false hope of modernism, creating deep skepticism about all claims of knowledge.
Near the end of the article, Henegar presents a challege to evangelical churches:
There’s an old story attributed to Dwight L. Moody, who was once criticized for his methods of evangelism. He responded, "I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it." Reformed Christians may be right about how to reach new generations, but are we doing it? Are we seeking to rescue other professing Christians from the jaws of error? Are we willing to submit our own thinking to the scrutiny, correction, and ridicule that inevitably come from publicly joining the conversation?Postmodern thought presents an interesting challenge to evangelicals who believe in the Truth of Jesus Christ. There are a couple of conferences that I'm aware of that are responding to the challenge. This weekend is the New Attitude Conference, which has a blog to allow non-attenders to follow along. And Desiring God is preparing to hold their annual conference, scheduled for September 29 - October 1. This year's theme is Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. Find out more here.
Most important, are we building friendships with postmodern non-Christians, the type who bristle at the sight of steeple and pew? Do we even know such people? Are we bringing the gospel to them in dialogue, listening for their responses so we at least know they understand? And if they place their faith in Christ, are our churches prepared to embrace them without requiring a second conversion into a church culture that may have less to do with the gospel than we’re willing to admit?