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Emerging Church, Postmodernism and Truth

Posted by: David Carroll

I am still trying to figure out what the Emerging Church movement is. The few people I've asked at church about this, don’t seem to know much about it.. Most of the discussion seems to be occurring on the Internet. But I don’t think it is insignificant.

My take is that it is somewhat of a young, ecumenical, worship centered, slightly charismatic. The common denominator seems to be a suspicion of traditional church and a desire to have a more meaningful religious experience.

John Hammett, Professor at Southeastern Theological Seminary, presented a paper available here: An Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emerging Church Movement. Thanks to Justin Taylor for the link. There is also a more accessible resource written by emerging churchers here.

I am going to digress now on some related thoughts I have about this.

One of the earmarks of the young generation (X and Y generation) is the postmodern characteristic of asking “why” as opposed to just accepting a thing without challenge. I don’t think this is bad, a thing said to be truth is not true because it is said, but this can turn into an attitude that is annoying if it goes too far.

One of the ways modern people progress is by standing on achievements of prior generations. This is true scientifically and philosophically. However, you could argue that science progresses by proving prior assumptions wrong. Does this scientific method apply to religious thought? Only to a degree. The difference is that Christians have the Bible and if that book is Abo solute truth, a tenet of my faith anyway, then we always compare current thought against that standard. Science does not have anything like this. I think if the Emerging Church is careful to do this, regardless of how different from traditional church, it should be accepted with open arms.

For me then, the only question that remains is whether the movement accepts the Bible as the innerrant, inspired word of God. How do you find this out without a creedal statement?

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