I offer this post as a teaser of sorts before I begin my series of posts on the apostolic church as I am currently swamped with moving and preparing for my Ignite UK Apologetics and Worldviews class (please see the resources section for the fruits of this labor).
While most of you are familiar with the terminology, I want to quickly distinguish between the Emergent and Emerging church. The Emergent church is both atheological and ahistorical concerned neither with the history of the church or the great statements of Biblical doctrine which have buttressed the faith since the churches inception. The Emerging church is both theological and historical seeking to express the classic doctrinal statements in a way that addresses the modern dilemma while examining the church’s vast history in an effort to anticipate the questions raised by modernity and postmodernity. We must be careful in our conversations not to lump these two groups into the same categories.
What is The Conservative Emergent? Upon mentioning the Emergent church most individuals immediately think of a church that is both theologically and culturally liberal; a pragmatic church that twists the Bible so that it conforms to and supports their immoral lifestyle; an idolatrous church who has created a God in their image to serve their sin. The Conservative Emergent appears, in many ways, to be the antithesis of such a church and because of that, its deception is far more subtle, thus requiring a far more meticulous discernment.
In his recent book, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, John MacArthur says,
The church has grown lazy, worldly, and self-satisfied. Church leaders are obsessed with style and methodology, losing interest in the glory of God and becoming grossly apathetic about truth and sound doctrine. For the moment at least, the battle appears to be turning in the enemy’s favor.
Macarthur’s statement aptly describes the Emergent church and the more subtle Conservative Emergent. Both have lost interest in the glory of God and become apathetic about truth. The Conservative Emergent is theologically and culturally conservative; a pragmatic church that twists the Bible so that it conforms to and supports their pharisaic lifestyle; an idolatrous church who has created a God in their image to serve their sin.
While the Emergent church and the Conservative Emergent may appear to be at the opposite ends of the same spectrum; however, they are both characterized by the same spiritual deadness and have much in common. First, the theology and the culture of the church is determined largely by the target culture whom the church aims to reach; in regions where the culture is liberal the theology and church culture are decidedly liberal and in regions where the culture is conservative the theology and church culture are decidedly conservative. Thus, the Emergent must cling to ambiguity and claim that the scriptures say less than they actually do, if they say anything at all, while the Conservative Emergent must rely heavily upon prooftexting and eisegesis to defend their man-made religion. Ultimately, the concerns of both the Emergent church and the Conservative Emergent are pragmatic rather than theological; neither their message, nor their methodology, nor their theology are exegetically determined both of these movements are pragmatic to the core and that is cause for concern.