A Journey of UnEmergence: A Critique of A New Kind of Christian

So this blog began as a defense of my characterization of a Tampa Church. It will not be that. To the proponents of that church, please, bear with me as I present the whole of my thoughts on the Emergent movement.

As mentioned before A New Kind of Christian has been an influential book on the Emergent culture as well as my own life. In fact, I was the lone defender of the book in a graduate school class filled with opponents of McLaren.

On the positive side ANKOC presents its case in a narrative form. This is incredibly appealing. It is engaging and easy to read. The other strength of the book is that it is more than skin deep. Its critique is not simply “Jesus is OK with Beer, so in your face Fundies!” It goes down to the root of why we think what we think. It rightfully roots out our dependence as Christians on enlightenment presuppositions. This is superb and a needed critique. As Neo (a character) dismantles Dan’s (another character)world, I felt my own beliefs coming apart in a good way. I followed Dan on his journey as it mirrored my own. Many of the constructions that we have called church in the past 100 years don’t reflect the biblical model very well. I am so with McLaren here.

The difficulty lies in what comes next for Dan (who receives no real resolution even in the series finale)and for us. Are we to chuck the entire denominational (or non-denominational) model? Where do we start new? If our presuppositions are flawed (and both Neo and I believe they are) who gets to call the shots? Is it everyman for themselves? If not, is it every church for itself? Who becomes the authority for doctrine and practice? Is anything out of bounds?

At the end of the day, my question for McLaren is this:

What constitutes Christianity?

And if I disagree with your answer, how do we know who is right?

It seems to me that ANKOC takes deconstruction to a point of no return.

But I could be wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it.


About futonreformer

I am a pastor in the PCA serving in Myrtle Beach, SC. I am a sixth generation Tampa native and I love the Rays and Bucs!

One response to “A Journey of UnEmergence: A Critique of A New Kind of Christian”

  1. d. paul collette says :

    Justin,Enjoying your blog so far. To an extent, the reformation itself caused this problem. While the reformation was important and needed, from a merely pragmatic standpoint, tradition was what was holding epistemology from unraveling into rugged individualism and/or skepticism. If the church isn’t the final word of truth, then who is? After a semester and change of Frame, I’m tempted to throw out a triad… tradition, experience, and scripture (with the first two interpreting the third). Of course that’s all good in theory, but what does that look like? To play with an overdone phrase, perhaps we ought to be throwing out the bathwater… but perhaps one bucketful at a time so that we can look at it. Some water may need to go in the toilet. Probably lots of it. Other water might have nice bath toys in it (Alistair loves rubber ducks) and should be saved. Some water might have the actual baby in it. Let’s make sure to save that one.Some of it might be all in all good water but needs to be run through a filter and cleaned of micro impurities. Likewise, perhaps it’s an ongoing process of analyzing belief by belief, doctrine by doctrine, behavior by behavior. Sometimes when we look at bigger pictures, it can seem overwhelming. For instance, “I care about the environment.” Oh. Okay. Well, what are you doing to do to save “the environment”? Instead, perhaps we ought to start with being good stewards of the electricity we use in our homes and how much stuff we throw away. Once that’s looking good, perhaps we can start looking for ways to recycle, etc, etc. But, it has to start somewhere and be “baby steps.”Anyways, I’m not sure that I actually said anything that you didn’t already say. 🙂 Hope you’re doing well and know that you’re missed.

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