emerging church conversation

Here is an interesting interview by Trevin Wax of Robbie Sagers about the emerging church. Trevin is a blogger and Robbie is a PhD student and special assistant to Dr. Russell Moore.

Robbie has contributed a chapter to Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: A Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement (B&H, 2009).

here is a bit of the interview, but take some time to go read the whole thing.  very interesting stuff:

Trevin Wax: What will the long-range impact of the Emerging Church be on evangelicalism?

Robbie Sagers: That’s a very good question, and I think that only time will tell what – if any – lasting impact the emerging church movement will have on evangelicalism.

Part of that uncertainty is due to the somewhat shifting nature of evangelicalism itself; after all, what is an evangelical? (A question for another day, perhaps!)

Regardless, these last months certainly do seem to have indicated the demise of the emerging church movement, at least in terms of comparing it to the furor surrounding the movement in recent years. After all, fewer books are being published by self-identified emerging church adherents, less conferences planned, Emergent Village has been disbanded, and some of the movement’s key leaders are now deeply entrenched not primarily in the churchper se but rather in national politics–or, at least in one case, running for political office themselves.

I can tell you what I hope the long-range impact of evangelicalism will be. My hope is that conservative evangelicals, after having endured from some segments of the emerging church movement a challenge to doctrinal orthodoxy and orthopraxy, will avoid the temptation to a more-doctrinal-than-thou mentality that can be destructive to the soul. False teaching should be pointed out, yes, and corrected when possible. And there certainly is a place, biblically speaking, for sharp language in pointing out wolves among sheep. But such words should be spoken not with triumphalism, but rather with sobriety, in love.

Instead, I hope that evangelicals will discern humbly, through the lens of the Scriptures, those weak spots that led to some emerging church adherents’ exploitations of certain aspects of evangelicalism in the first place.

HT to Dr. Moore who adds:

Sagers is also correct to note that the criticisms of traditional conservative evangelical theology and spirituality and missiology is often on target in its diagnosis, if not always in its solution. American evangelicalism is indeed too captive to a story-less rationalism in both its academy and in its pulpits, just in different ways. The academy often seeks to replace mystery and paradox and narrative with syllogisms, true enough. Have conservative evangelicals in recent years often ignored issues of poverty, social justice, and the stewardship of the earth? Without a doubt. And evangelical churches often seek to replace story and water and bread and wine with principles, programs, ideas, and “worst of all” products to be bought and sold.


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