Emerging Church & SBC Seminary ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Emerging Church & SBC Seminary

At the request of Micah Fries, I wrote an article for SBCOutpost.com on the topic of "emerging church and Southern Baptist Seminaries." I explain briefly how I got interested in emerging church issues, state a few conclusions, and point out potential for the SBC (or any institution or persons, really) to mine the eclectic ec milieu for the good stuff.

I've been gone all day and just checked in--the article has 45 comments, so apparently people are talking about it a little. I am battling to do the smart thing and go to bed before midnight, so I'm not going to read the comments right now. If I did, I would immediately start typing responses, which would keep me up--and if I resolved read the comments but not interact, I would lie awake typing responses in my head.

Therefore, I must resist. This is not easy, what I am doing. But it is smart.

Upshot is, I don't know whether I was torn apart or commended for my youthful enthusiasm. (Either is fine.) You, however, can head over to the article and see what's going on. If you find out, don't tell me. I'll check it out tomorrow.

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brokenschema said...

Arie...pretty sure I just fried my brain reading not just your article...but also all of the comments and responses...ouch.

Timothy Goering said...

Hey Ariel!
Just read your article over at SBCOutpost.com and found it quite interesting.
I really feel like I'm missing out on this whole emergent church business. I have not read ANYTHING on it, and the movement has not (and I believe never will) hit Europe. So I am really in the dark when it comes to talking about it.
What book would you advise me to read first?
Hope all is well with you and your family!

Ched said...

Good work on your post. 46 comments have not added to your insight in the original post!

Lauren said...

I've only recently heard (and read) about the emerging church.

So I've got to ask, what are your opinions on truth and faith? Those two issues seem to be the starting place for much of the criticism against the emerging church.

Ariel said...

"pretty sure I just fried my brain..."

Agreed, some of this gets pretty obscure. I'm just glad my theological training enabled me to comprehend everything that was said. Ok, so in reality, I'm not sure what all of the commentators were talking about. But I'd be happy to clarify anything I said.

Thanks, Ched!

Timothy, to my understanding, EC is pretty big in certain parts of Europe, especially England and Australia. Google Andrew Jones (Tall Skinny Kiwi) to get a flavor of that. I'm sure Wikipedia has stuff on him too--not to mention a large "emerging church" entry that gets frequently updated by the debating parties. ;)

As to a book. I'm currently reading Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Church. It features five contributors who interact, so you get a sense of the diversity (both good and bad) within ec. I'd recommend it.

Lauren, do you mean "truth" and "faith" as debated within ec circles? Or my own stance on them?

For myself, I'm committed to a scriptural, orthodox position on both counts. Truth--and therefore doctrine--is absolute and timeless (as opposed to culture, which constantly changes).

Biblically, faith is the gift of God by grace alone, not something we earn or are born into.

I'm happy to explain further, just point me in the right direction.

Ariel said...

Timothy, another book option: Emerging Churches. It's more academic in nature and more of a survey as opposed to featuring practitioners speaking for themselves. Also, I question a couple of their conclusions. But a brilliant guy like you might love it.

Lauren said...

I suppose I was mostly interested in your stance on truth and faith. It seems, in my very limited experience, that truth and faith seem to be very flexible ideas in the emerging church.

I noticed it specifically in the areas of hell, atonement ie the work of the cross and the inerrancy of the Bible.

Again, I know very little about the emerging church. I do not at all mean to attack it - I am just asking questions so as to understand it better.

Ariel said...

Lauren, I'm glad to flesh out my beliefs a little. In the near future I'm going to add some kind of statement to the blog.

The short answer is that I'm a Bible guy. While we don't know everything there is to know about God, the Bible speaks clearly to the things that are essential to our salvation and lives down here--things like sin, hell, depravity, grace, atonement, justification.

The Bible also has clear positions on some secondary-but-still-vital issues like homosexuality, church leadership, a Christian's relation to culture, etc. These things are founded on a commitment to the innerancy and adequacy of the Bible.

What I see in some sectors of emerging church thought is a willingness to let the culture bleed into the Bible and color what we supposedly find. This is a sad example of the tail wagging the proverbial dog. What we need to strive for is timeless truth communicated in timely ways to a changing culture.

Here's a statement of beliefs I wrote for an evangelical network that is a little more detailed (scroll about .5 down the page). I hope this is helpful.

Lauren said...

Very helpful. Thanks!

Timothy Goering said...

Thanks for the book hints, Ariel. I might be able to pick up one and squeeze it into my reading list.

As to EC in Europe: I guess I shouldn't have been that quick to identify Germany with all of Europe (a mistake we Germans have made once too often in our past). So let me rephrase: EC has not been a big deal in Germany. I can see it gaining more momentum in England, mainly, because it seems to me that EC's mother tongue in English. I still can't see it migrating over here, though - we're so skeptic of anything religious that has not received its 'blessing' from the state.

So, thanks once again for the books. C-ya

mickey friedrich said...

Great write up about the movement! It's a discussion that we need to be having. I would like to make 3 points...

-Regardless of their opinions of the emerging movement, SBC'ers have to admit that many of these churches are doing MUCH more effective job of reaching out to the lost. This is especially significant in light of the fact that many of the emerging churches (e.g. Driscoll and Mars Hill) are very theologically sound.

-It is crucial, in order to have a fair discussion, that the emerging movement not be defined by any one church or organization. There are many, many differences between McClaren and Driscoll, for example, and one label cannot describe them all.

-I think that it is sad that this discussion will be lost within the larger debates going on in the SBC, and many will simply lump "Emerging Baptists" in with all of the "Liberals" that some are so intent of fighting.

It's hard to believe that many America Evangelicals will enjoy heaven, considering the number of their "enemies" that will be there. And I am in no way talking about universalism.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife