April 22, 2008

Why I Am Not Modern Despite Many Quantifiable Reasons Why I Should Be

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck have written a new book, Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be (Moody, 2008).

Here is an extended quote from their front page...After their quote, I have included the preface to my new book Why I Am Not Modern Despite Many Quantifiable Reason Why I Should!

After reading nearly five thousand pages of emerging-church literature, I have no doubt that the emerging church, while loosely defined and far from uniform, can be described and critiqued as a diverse, but recognizable, movement. You might be an emergent Christian: if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Frank, Walter Winks, and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem;...if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don’t like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; if you search for truth but aren’t sure it can be found; if you’ve ever been to a church with prayer labyrinths, candles, Play-Doh, chalk-drawings, couches, or beanbags (your youth group doesn’t count); if you loathe words like linear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy and use words like ancient-future, jazz, mosaic, matrix, missional, vintage, and dance; if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic, naïve, and rigid; if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritize urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic; if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular divide; if you want to be the church and not just go to church; if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden; if you believe who goes to hell is no one’s business and no one may be there anyway; if you believe salvation has a little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us; if you disdain monological, didactic preaching; if you use the word “story” in all your propositions about postmodernism—if all or most of this torturously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.


Here is the introduction to my new book:

After growing up in and being educated by many modern-loving church leaders, I have no doubt that the modern church, while VERY defined and far from unified, can be described and critiqued as a diverse, but recognizable, movement. You might be a modern Christian: if you listen to The Gaither Vocal Band, Michael W. Smith, and Carmen (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from 3,000 Humorous Sermon Illustrations, drink black coffee in the morning and soda in the evenings, and always use a desktop PC; if your reading list consists primarily of John Calvin, John MacArthur, J. Vernon McGee, D. James Kennedy, Josh McDowell, and Charles Coleson, (not to mention Dobson, Carson, and Grudem ) and your sparring partners include Brian McLaren, Doug Paggit, and Rob Bell;... if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Blackaby, Sheldon, Robertson, or Lucado; if you like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are solely based on abortion and gay marriage and consider a concern for poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression liberalism; if you are into suit and tie, pop Christianity, televangelist, or what-we've-always-done; if you talk about the Substitutionary-Only Atonement and the certainty of systematic theology; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways postmodernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of doctrines that lead us into certainty about God and is completely inerrant; if you search for truth and are sure you have found it; if you’ve ever been to a church with pews, doxologies, Sunday schools, organ, a hymn book, or suit and tie (growing up in it doesn’t count); if you loathe words like myth, mystery, cultural, missional, and filter l and use words likeinear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy ; if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems fair, balanced, and true; if you support women in no level of ministry other than Sunday school, prioritize suburban over urban, and like your theology systematic instead of narrative; if you believe in a strong sacred-secular divide; if you want to just go to the church and not actually be church; if you long for a community that is structured, legalistic, and disconnected to real life and like an institution or business; if you believe who goes to hell is your business and most people will be there anyway; if you believe salvation has only to do with atoning for guilt and little to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is only about believing the right things but not actually living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about heaven coming to us instead of people going to hell; if you disdain narrative, conversational preaching; if you use the word “doctrine” in all your propositions about modernism—if all or most of this torturously long sentence describes you, then you might be a modern Christian.


As a disclaimer, I haven't actually read DeYoung and Kluck's book, but I certainly am not inspired to do so by the introduction they have provided. But, I do make a habit of reading just about anything...so who knows!

I found that I fit some of their description of emergent, not all, but very little of the inferred alternative.

What do you think about their introduction? Does it describe you?

16 comments:

  1. Though I am not sure I would be defined as "emergent" or not, I fit about half of their descriptive terms.

    Of course, I fit none of the descriptive terms from your list as what defines a "modern" Christian. So I guess that puts me 3/4 toward emergent?

    PS, I think there might be a small typo at the beginning of your description where you say, "You might be an emergent Christian:" Should that read, "...modern..."?

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  2. Jeremy,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting...and for the typo spotting.

    Eric

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  3. Have you read "Pagan Christianity?" by Frank Viola and George Barna yet? Interesting read.

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  4. Eric,

    Good to have you comment. How are things up there in Michigan?

    I have not read Pagan Christianity. I have probably allowed all the bad reviews to influence me too much. I will probably take a look, but unfortunately I am already facing the book with a very biased opinion.

    Eric

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  5. Don't let the reviews thwart you from reading it. I've found that a large number of the negative reviews come from people who haven't actually read the book. If nothing else, it's a good read about how we've come to do the things we do in a traditional church setting.

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  6. Oh, and things up here in Michigan are going well. :-)

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  7. I will probably read it. I probably won't buy it, but...

    I have just studied where we get a lot of the things we do as a church, and I don't feel it is wrong or even "Pagan" to have taken what someone else was doing well and redeemed it to extend the Kingdom of God.

    I will however try to understand him for what he is saying.

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  8. Hrm. Wow. Well I guess most people would consider me "emergent"... tats, listen to Johnny Cash, love my coffee and my mac (when its working)...

    I appreciate art, and can see how it can be used to worship God, but really just would rather not have it in my church service... (I find it distracting). I think that a person can BE the church and be IN the church at the same time.

    Being a woman, I might startle many to say, I really don't want to be the one up there preaching. Unfortunately that's where I'm at occasionally but it's not my comfort zone. I don't think women should be the head pastor of a church. PERIOD.

    I like doxology. I miss pews.

    I want to see heaven on earth. I want to bring the Kingdom down, but I want to worship in the 3rd heavens some day too.

    I think personal holiness and righteousness that comes out of relationship is much more important that being "relevant" and if that means I seem a little fundamentalist sometimes, well then so be it.

    Pst. I like to hear piper and driscoll, but am reading mclaren right now too.

    Eh... so what's that make me Eric? *G*

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  9. It seems to make you screwed up like the rest of us!

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  10. Great list...rock on Gaither's...rock on!

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  11. LOL. Well at least I made the "screwed up" club... lol.

    And to that I say:

    Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
    Praise Him, all creatures here below;
    Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
    Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


    LOL. ;)

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  12. Andrew,

    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!


    Eric

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  13. Eric... great post... great list. I'm not specifically in either category either, I guess... but my heart is far more drawn to the Emergent list. It just seems more authentic and sincere. All I want is to see God shine through His one,holy, catholic & apostolic Church!

    BTW, your post on your father is even better than this one!!! Thanks for sharing your heart... it helps us all understand the complexity and paradoxical nature of what it means to be fully human... albeit, a fallen human creature redeemed by the Lord of mercy and grace, and participating in the already/not yet kingdom of God.

    Keep it up!

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  14. Jeff,

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the comments.


    Eric

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