More SBC & Emerging Church Craziness with an Appearance by Acts 29
When Dr. Mark DeVine headed to Jefferson City a couple weeks ago, little did he know that his research on emerging church issues would be hijacked and deliberately misinterpreted in order to bolster a culturally-fearful, politically-driven "church" agenda.
DeVine attended the meeting at the request of the Missouri Baptist Convention. His purported task: Help key leaders get up to speed on the emerging church in order to halt the misinformation and knee-jerk reactions that have characterized much interaction between SBC and emerging church thought recently. Unfortunately, viewed in hindsight, the committee meeting was merely an attempt to add a scholarly endorsement to another episode of head-in-the-sand decision making (link to Pathway article).
At this time, crime scene investigators are examining oral and written evidence to ascertain who exactly will be charged with perjury and to what extent. Actually, I made that up. But if the context were different...
When I read the above Pathway article, which wildly misrepresents DeVine's position, I was confused about what had actually happened in this closed-doors committee meeting. Apparently, so were scores of other people, who have been stuffing notes into DeVine's e-mailbox. Turns out that confusion was the only rationale response--one which DeVine shares.
Here's my abbreviated transcript for those of you who don't have time to read all the background.
Setting: Committee meeting in Jefferson City.
DeVine: So while I have cautions about some streams of the very diverse phenomenon labeled "emerging church," there are other elements that I applaud. For example, some churches combine a devotion to biblical authority and historical orthodoxy with a willingness to enter culture and bring Jesus to lost people. One example of this is a church planting network, Acts 29, which has experienced dramatic success in evangelizing urban populations--the very demographic that Southern Baptist churches usually fail to reach.
Committee leader: Thank you for your very helpful research. Now, based on what you have said, we will ban all Missouri churches from working with Acts 29 in the future.
My synopsis doesn't do justice to the weirdness. In the next few weeks, we can look forward to (yet another) incisive, clarifying article from Dr. DeVine, because he is a professor with backbone who doesn't like having his words mangled. This piece will likely appear in the offending Pathway. This means that The Pathway may, for the first time, feature a balanced perspective on emerging church and its place within the Southern Baptist convention, which may cause cardiac arrest in some circles. It's also possible that we'll see a retraction or two appear in print, if the people involved repent of their political maneuvering.
Bizarre, all of this. The shock is still wearing off for me. (In a few days I may read this post and wonder why it's so shrill.) Maybe I'm naive, but manipulation, fear-mongering and word games are completely alien to anything I would call "church."
Update: Here's a post on the topic from Scott Thomas of Acts 29.