Friday, February 26, 2010

Deep Church Review (Jim Belcher)

As a theological and cultural trend (in a fairly small circle, anyway), emerging church peaked a couple years ago. At least it did for me. I attended a conference on emerging church. I took a class on emerging church. I wrote papers and articles on emerging church. I read books on emerging church. Lots of them. I consider myself part of a particular stream of emerging church. And then I got thoroughly tired of emerging church.

All that to say, when I noticed Jim Belcher’s Deep Church, in 2009 I dismissed it offhand as yet another tome sifting the relative merits of different authors and theologies, and decided in three seconds that No, I didn’t need a review copy.

Some time went by.

Then last month I picked up a copy of the book and noticed Tim Keller’s blurb on the cover: “Very important.” I flipped it over and read endorsements by Mark Driscoll and Rob Bell. And I decided I needed a review copy after all (Thank you, IVP).

Deep Church may be the most helpful ec-related book written to date. At the very least, it’s up there with Alan Hirsch’s masterful The Forgotten Ways.

Jim Belcher is a clear thinker and able writer who, like many twenty and thirty-something Christ-followers, deeply feels the “protest” elements that drive much of the emerging conversation. He acknowledges the various ways that the evangelical church in America has veered into institutionalism and stale understandings of gospel and mission.

However, not content to merely react, Belcher is committed to finding a way forward that corrects the imbalances and arrogance of traditional Protestant religion while avoiding the pitfalls of some emerging theology. He aims for a “third way” or “deep church” (C.S. Lewis’ phrase) that is informed by historical church tradition and sensitive to our cultural climate.

Belcher is also a church planter and pastor, and therefore has that rare quality of “welding theology to practice with a blow torch”–an achievement this blog always rushes to admire.

Deep Church is a gift to those looking to be the biblical church in emerging culture while continuing to learn from the past. Grab this book. It should be on the shelf with volumes like Total Church and The Forgotten Ways.

Highly recommended.

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