Thursday, April 16, 2009

Emerging or Emergent?

My friend Dane Daniels directed me to this description on the website of The Grove Church in Fayetteville. What do you think of this description?

Emergent?
Some people ask us whether the Grove identifies itself as "Emergent". The answer is No. Here's why.

Emergent is a certain group of folks who want to lead the church to engage our increasingly post-Christian culture with the Gospel, but they want to do this, in part, through changing the message of the Gospel--that is, through down-playing (or in some cases denying altogether) central doctrines such as the substitutionary atonement, the exclusivity of Christ, and hell.

Emergent should be viewed as the liberal wing of the so-called "emerging church".

That designation--the "emerging church"--refers to a broad range of churches, most of them evangelical, which are seeking to be "on mission" to America by actively engaging the culture rather than retreating from it.

We certainly identify with the calling to join God in his mission to post-Christian America. However, we find the label "emerging church" unhelpful, since so many people confuse that label with the distinctly more liberal group calling themselves Emergent.

So, we don't call ourselves an emerging church. We don't see why it's necessary to do so. Instead, we're content to call ourselves an evangelical Protestant church . . .

The Emergent folks (along with many others) stress many important things, like living simply and serving the poor, doing justice, practicing authentic community, being honest about our doubts, learning from Christian traditions different from our own, pursuing character transformation in this life and not just rescue from hell in the next life, doing evangelism with respect and sincerity, and so on. These are indeed valid concerns--biblical concerns.

However, one can embrace all these without becoming Emergent. These concerns are not the exclusive province of Emergent--or of the Emerging church, for that matter.

Most importantly, we need not and we must not abandon the Gospel in order to adopt these concerns. All these concerns actually flow from the glorious Gospel of Christ crucified for sinners and raised from the dead. Hopefully, our church, along with many others, will show that this is the case, as we live lives deeply transformed by the Gospel.

Kent Hodskins

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