Friday, March 31, 2006

Driscoll Defines Emergent - In a Way Someone Can Understand!

"First, the Emerging church is a broad category that encompasses a wide variety of churches and Christians who are seeking to be effective missionaries wherever they live. This includes Europeans and Australians who are having the same conversation as their American counterparts. The Emerging church includes three distinct types of Christians. In a conversation with Dr. Ed Stetzer, a noted missiologist, he classified them as the Relevants, Reconstructionists, and Revisionists.

Relevants are theologically conservative evangelicals who are not as interested in reshaping theology as much as updating such things as worship styles, preaching styles, and church leadership structures. Their goal is to be more relevant; thus, appealing to postmodernminded people. Relevants commonly begin alternative worship services within evangelical churches to keep generally younger Christians from leaving their churches. They also plant new churches to reach emerging people. Relevant leaders look to people such as Dan Kimball, Donald Miller, and Rob Bell as like-minded leaders.

The common critique of Relevants is that they are doing little more than conducting “cool church” for hip young Christians and are not seeing significant conversion growth. Within the Relevants there is also a growing group of outreach-minded Reformed Relevants, which look to men like John Piper, Tim Keller, and D. A. Carson for theological direction.

Reconstructionists are generally theologically evangelical and dissatisfied with the current forms of church (e.g. seeker, purpose, contemporary). They bolster their critique by noting that our nation is becoming less Christian and that those who profess faith are not living lives markedly different than non-Christians; thereby, proving that current church forms have failed to create life transformation. Subsequently, they propose more informal, incarnational, and organic church forms such as house churches. Reconstructionists, who are more influenced by mainline Christian traditions, will also use terms like “new monastic communities” and “abbess.” Reconstructionist leaders look to such people as Neil Cole and Australians Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch.

The common critique of Reconstructionists is that they are collecting disgruntled Christians who are overreacting to the megachurch trend but are not seeing significant conversion growth.

Revisionists are theologically liberal and question key evangelical doctrines, critiquing their appropriateness for the emerging postmodern world. Reconstructionists look to such leaders as Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt as well as other Emerging Christians.

The common critique of Revisionists is that they are recycling the doctrinal debates of a previous generation and also not seeing significant conversion growth. What ties each of these types of Emerging Christians together is a missiological conversation about what a faithful church should believe and do to reach Western culture. However, beyond that there is little unity because there is widespread disagreement on what counts as faithful doctrine and practice."


Mark Driscoll in Criswell Theological Review available online here.

HT: Justin Taylor