Post-modern, relevant, evangelical but not emerging

I have been an observer of the emerging movement for a little while now. Emergent and emerging leaders have tried very hard to differentiate themselves from traditional evangelicals. They claim they are post-modern but so are today’s post-modern evangelicals. To claim that evangelicals are not post-modern and out of touch is incorrect. I think of myself as post-modern but it doesn’t mean that I have to think of myself as emerging. I also understand the challenges and limitations of evangelicalism but I’m not a fundamentalist, nor emerging. I like to learn about new understandings of theology, but my theology is still neo-conservative, not liberal, nor emerging. I try to be as relevant as I can be with the younger generations of young people, but I’m not an old stodgy type of evangelical and perhaps not really hip or cool either, but I’m not emerging. Evangelicals like me still see themselves as perhaps neo-evangelicals (if there’s such a word) but we’re not emerging. I do not believe emerging has a monopoly on the post-modern, and emerging is not the only movement that identifies itself with post-modernism.

With this spiritual and theological outlook, a person might try to classify evangelicals like me as emerging on the inside, but I do not. I can identify with much of emerging’s disappointments with evangelicalism but I can still identify myself with evangelicalism. My definition of being “evangelical” is wide and cannot be limited to strict fundamentalism. To say that evangelicalism and fundamentalism are synonymous is absolutely incorrect. Emerging became dissatisfied with evangelicalism because they saw the old stodgy fundamentalism and chose to reject it. Well here’s news for you: so did I, but I’m still evangelical. I think many evangelicals like myself have very similar outlook on church and theology but we do not have to identify ourselves as emerging.

4 thoughts on “Post-modern, relevant, evangelical but not emerging

  1. Kevin

    When I referred to “orthodox” theology, I was referring to conservative or orthodoxy of traditional theology, not necessarily to inerrancy of scripture. Also, by “evangelical”, I don’t necessarily mean evangelical churches, although they also embody these evangelical principles. By “evangelical”, I mean where one begins to understand how one is justified by grace through faith… is spiritually regenerated or made new in one’s heart and life…and sees the seriousness of one’s own sins but trusts in salvation of one’s soul through Christ alone. In this sense, Luther and Calvin were also evangelicals because the evangelical faith arose from the Reformation. When we begin moving toward a strengthening of the knowledge of the scriptures, our faith can also deepen as well, as long as the Holy Spirit is involved. It sounds like your desire to find out what the scriptures says is moving that way. That’s great. Thanks for sharing your life.

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  2. Nathan

    “Evangelicals are the protectorates of orthodox theology and must remain so. This is not to be confused with being protectorates of fundamentalism.”

    That is curious phrasing. So are you referring to orthodox theology in the inerrancy of scripture? I don’t generally view evangelicals as orthodox, though perhaps I’m thinking more of the liturgical sense. You bring up the defense of fundamentalism, and I think the movement of emerging churches away from fundamentalism is probably it’s only draw for me.

    I’m constantly finding myself drawn away from the stereotypical churchiantity that I was raised with and to find something more true to what the Bible actually says; not what I was raised to believe it says. If that makes sense. Maybe I’m just starting to see it for myself, with my own eyes. I definitely feel that my years in church as a youth could have been put to better use in instructing me in the truths of scripture, in a fashion similar to what you alluded to in your comments about the Nooma videos.

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  3. Kevin

    Nathan, I read the Wikipedia article. It said:
    “Some of the predominantly young participants in this movement prefer narrative presentations drawn from the biblical narrative over propositional, biblicist exposition.”

    That’s funny…so do the post-modern evangelicals who do not call themselves emerging. I think emerging leaders are trying too hard to try to differentiate themselves from fundamentalism that they are excluding evangelicals from fellowship. Sometimes, what they say about evangelicals drive us away from emerging, such as it did with me. However, what concerns me about emerging, or a sector of emerging, is the antinomianism (anti-law), universalism and relativism. They may not admit to it because of fear they might get tagged as liberal. They pride themselves on being the only Christians in the world to not push the gospel down the throats of the unchurched or non-believers. Well, as far as I’ve known evangelicals, I don’t remember evangelicals ever advocating such forceful tactics.

    On a positive note though, what I do like about emerging’s approach is that they try to find newer ways to speak with the post-modern generation. However, to deconstruct and reconstruct theology is where I have to disagree. The danger is when we allow evangelical theology to be morphed into a liberal unorthodox theology. If this happens, innovative methodology is all for nothing. This is catering to the whims and wishes of unorthodoxy. I would definitely agree with a deconstruction and reconstruction of the old methodology of evangelism. But the truth is that evangelicals have been doing this for the last five decades. In fact, evangelicals are “masters” at doing this. It is nothing new but emerging thinks they have created a new gadget when this gadget was, and has been, created by evangelicals for the last decades. Evangelicals have been evolving longer than I have been alive. However, what we should not allow ourselves to veer away from is orthodox theology. Evangelicals are the protectorates of orthodox theology and must remain so. This is not to be confused with being protectorates of fundamentalism. I am not a fundamentalist and to label all evangelicals as fundamentalist is where emerging leaders are making a grave mistake. Using such rhetoric is divisive and creating a bigger rift between emerging and evangelicals.

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  4. Nathan

    I think you put your position very well. I was raised in the Assemblies of God with a father who is an AoG minister/missionary. However I currently attend a Freewill Baptist church.

    I’ve found that I do not fit any label very well. I’m not liberal, nor conservative. I don’t fit nicely into the theology of any denomination. I don’t attend a church whose theology I agree with 100%. I find that my relationships trump any sort of theological positions I might hold to.

    I have only recently been exposed to the Emerging church movement. I borrowed a book last week about it which I hope to read soon, and other than what my pastor has told me about it, I only know what I’ve read on the wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_Church

    Can you tell me how much the information in that link coincides with what you understand about this movement? I’m still in the process of educating myself. However my initial reaction is that I agree with some of their initial motivations, but disagree with some of the results. I also find it difficult to understand the movement as it is not a denomination and no one entity seems to represent the whole.

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