Here is a review of David Fitch's new book The Great Giveaway:
Give It Away, Give It Away Now - Christianity Today Magazine.
The reviewer takes a similar position to the one I have been thinking about in regards to the Emerging Church Movement. I agree with much that they say. I believe the church's focus has drifted, and we need to return to a mission-focused mindset. I even agree that some of the drift is caused by the Modern mindset and the baggage it carries. I agree that we need to be more loving toward homosexuals, the oppressed, the poor, those of different religions, and to Democrats (that's a joke). I agree that everything should be questioned and requestioned, and different theological voices should be at that dialogue other than just caucasian, Western voices.
What I have an issue with is the emphasis on Postmodernity as the way forward. I believe we need a return to Scripture, to re-learn what tradition and history have taught us, and we need to re-evaluate our theology, our ecclesiology, and our mission. Then we need to approach how these things are displayed or applied in a Postmodern culture. We need to be careful that as we apply them, that the Postmodern culture does not warp the message in the same way as the Modern culture has done.
This may not sound very different from what is going on now. But the emphasis is on a different starting point, different assumptions, different hermeneutic (interpretation guide). If you start by looking at culture, you will always be led astray. If, instead, you ask the question, "What is authentic Christianity? What does it mean to be doing the mission of God?" you can then move to a more appropriate application to the culture.
Here is an example. Many in the Postmodern/Emerging movement are focusing more intently on social justice. Is the emphasis on social justice right because people in the Postmodern/Emerging movement are focusing on it? Or, is it right because God, Scripture, Tradition, and History all tell us that loving our neighbor requires us to participate in bringing justice to our world? The way I phrased the questions should a tipoff to what I believe.
I believe that we should search for authentic Christianity (which is part of the journey and includes cultural influences), before we apply the trappings of culture. Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience are all part of the process of discovering true Christianity. I believe we are in the midst of a spiritual climate change. People are searching for depth and purpose in their spiritual life. They are looking for a movement of holiness-they want people to actually live out the message of Jesus in everyday life.
What is the essence of that message? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. When we take up that command, and actively live it out in our communities, the world will be changed! The problem is that many in the Christian faith are more concerned with being right than they are about really making a difference.