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emergent

July 27, 2009

The first week of my summer vacation has come and gone. It was excellent. This week, week two of vacation, I am going to be a little busier with family stuff. Therefore I will not be much in the way of original content on the blog. I should have a book review or two along the way, but do not intend to spend a lot of other time writing. Therefore I am queuing up a few things I’ve written in years past and hope you’ll enjoy reading them (or reading them again if you’ve been around that long). I was rooting around this morning and found this great quote from Kevin DeYoung (and man, that guy can turn a phrase!). I thought it was worth posting again…

Have you ever wondered if you are emergent? I know I have! Here is Kevin DeYoung, co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) on how you might know if you are emergent…

*****

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 Franke, 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, naive, 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 doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus; 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 tortuously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.

May 25, 2008

Continuing my new habit of posting prayers on Sunday, here is a prayer for Scriptural convictions. It is once more drawn from The Valley of Vision. It seemed appropriate in a week I’ve been considering how I tend not to regard Scripture as the treasure it is. This is a prayer praising God for the gift of the Bible and asking forgiveness for regarding it so little and so lightly.


O God of love,
I approach thee with encouragements derived from thy character,
for I am not left to feel after thee in the darkness of my nature,
nor to worship thee as the unknown God.
I cannot find out thy perfections,
but I know thou art good,
ready to forgive, plenteous in mercy.
Thou hast displayed thy wisdom, power, and goodness in all thy works,
and hast revealed thy will in the Scripture of truth.
Thou hast caused it to be preserved, translated, published, multiplied,
so that all men may possess it and find thee in it.
Here I see thy greatness and thy grace,
thy pity and thy rectitude,
thy mercy and thy truth,
thy being and men’s hearts;
Through it thou hast magnified thy name,
and favoured mankind with the gospel.
Have mercy on me,
for I have ungratefully received thy benefits,
little improved my privileges,
made light of spiritual things,
disregarded thy messages,
contended with examples of the good,
rebukes of conscience, admonitions of friends, leadings of providence.
I deserve that thy kingdom be taken away from me.
Lord, I confess my sin with feeling, lamentation, a broken heart,
a contrite spirit, self-abhorrence, self-condemnation, self-despair.
Give me relief by Jesus my hope,
faith in his name of Saviour,
forgiveness by his blood,
strength by his presence,
holiness by his Spirit:
And let me love thee with all my heart.

April 09, 2008

Today was a perfect storm. I spent Monday and Tuesday in Grand Rapids to meet with a client out there and got home yesterday evening. I came home to find Michaela (who is a month away from turning two…can you believe that?) just starting to show some signs of illness. Sure enough she spent the night doing her utmost to keep the rest of us awake while dealing with the inevitable consequences of some kind of stomach virus. This is, by my records, the 437th time a member of the Challies family has been sick this winter/spring. We can’t figure out why this is!

Anyways, I had great plans for writing book reviews today, and perhaps posting an article entitled “Don’t Let the Redneck Choose the Restaurant” (based on experience gained in Grand Rapids) but those plans have gone by the by. I’ve long since learned not to try to write anything profound (or humorous) while existing on far to little sleep. Michaela’s sickness combined with my trip left me unable to do any good writing. I did manage to update Discerning Reader and you may like to catch up on reviews over there. We’ve also got the scoop there on a long list of forthcoming titles by your favorite authors (check September, for example, to see what the next books will be from Mark Driscoll, John Piper and C.J. Mahaney). So check out DR and see what’s happened there since you last visited.

I’ll leave you with a couple more quotes from David Well’s forthcoming The Courage to be Protestant. In the book he focuses a lot of attention on two segments of the church: the emergents and the church growth advocates. Here are a couple of snippets where he discusses emergents. Next time I’ll share some of his thoughts on the church growth movement.

Emergents—at least those who read theology—seem to have stumbled on the postliberals, and this is what is now driving this new understanding of the function of Scripture. They have taken up this fad as if it were the most current, cutting-edge expression in contemporary thought, though in the academic world it has already disappeared.

And again,

Plain language and clear communication are not in vogue in postmodern circles. They reveal the speaker as being too much of a realist, too obviously rational, too modern, too unchic. No, we can’t have that! The required alternative speech is subtle parody, contradiction, being indeterminate, being ironic, being playful. This, however, is not as easy to do as it seems and many postmoderns, lacking the skills, settle simply for being obscure.

There are tricks to this. A plain speaker might write of someone else’s “view.” A “view”? How flat-footed and prosaic! How about that person’s “voice” or, better yet, their different “vocality”? And prefixes are a treasure trove for those in search of depths beyond the grasp of the reader, prefixes such as pre-, hyper-, post-, de-, ex-, and counter- - as in words like de-confusing and re-constructing. These all open up new possibilities as do a new constellation of suffixes to go with them. We today, you see, are living in a moment when the multivocalities of post-colonial others are entering our intra/post/spacialities and are exposing the anti-sociality concealed in the hegemony of our discourse and sensibilities.

Listen to the emergent church and this kind of empty obfuscation is what we hear all too often, though usually without this kind of veneer of intellectual sophistication. In its place (and usually on the internet), we hear the confidence of those who have a sense of being on the edge of What-is-Happening-Now but who, for that very reason, are diffident, unsure, tentative and, more often than not, simply confused.

I guess you’d have to agree that Wells cannot be accused of using obfuscating language of his own. He says it as clearly as you could hope.

March 31, 2008

Have you ever wondered if you are emergent? I know I have! Here is Kevin DeYoung, co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) on how you might know if you are emergent…


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 Franke, 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, naive, 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 doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus; 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 tortuously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.