Emerging Church: RIP?

C. Michael Patton has written an obituary for the emerging church after 15 years.

It got some cries out, made some very good points, called for changed [sic], and then died. Its leaders are disappearing or have disassociated themselves from the movement. Publishers won’t even entertain books with this title. Those, like myself, who were very well acquainted with the “movement” get nauseous when the topic is even brought up. In fact, I am nauseous now.

Patton gives four reasons for the death, but I found number 4 to be particularly true.

4. Heretical Tolerance Theory: Oh, and then there was that. The Emerging church refused to stand up for anything. As the old song goes, “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.” The Emerging Church fell. It ran out of fuel. It called on everyone to leave their base and fly with them. Many of us came along for the ride. The problem is they never did land anywhere. They just flew and flew. They wanted to wait five or ten years to decide who they were. In the meantime, the fuel ran out. They did land and it was (mostly) not on friendly ground. From there they definitively cried out against Evangelical orthodoxy kicking us in the most sensitive areas: Abortion, Atonement, Justification, Assurance – and then there was the attempted burial of our belief that homosexuality was a sin. Oh, did I mention the attacks on Hell and the Exclusivity of Christ? They quickly moved from an insightful teen who might have some good things to say to crowd of disconnected enemies on the attack.

fascinating stuff from someone who thought of themselves as emerging.

Hat tip to Vitamin Z, who adds:

I think I just have a hard time taking seriously a movement that just seems to be a recycled version of early 20th century liberalism. We all know where that led us. If it has something new to offer, it will probably last the test of time and at that point let’s take it seriously and talk about it.

All I can add is that when one of your leaders rejects foundational doctrines like Original Sin and openly embraces heretics like Pelagius without any pretense, then your movement is going nowhere fast. When your followers snarkily encourage critics to “let the Bible speak for itself” while they call its language with which they disagree “extreme imagery,” then you know the movement is in a seriously incoherent state and probably not long for this world as a cohesive force of anything.


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