Thursday 17 August 2006

Book giveaway: emergent theology

Would you like a free copy of Ray Anderson’s new book, An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches (which I’ve reviewed here)? Our friends at IVP have kindly provided two free copies of Ray’s book for readers of Faith & Theology.

So if you’d like copy, just leave a comment that relates in some way to the “emerging church” (I’ll give you a day or two to post your comments). The two people with the most interesting or entertaining comments will each get a free copy.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the emergent church or the mega church or the organ loving church or the church of ten people in a town of 250 in a little farming town, all face the same issue; who is the Lord Jesus Christ to them personally and to their church.

Are they in love with him? And are they joyfully consumed with him and his goodness.

Every group of Christian gets distracted by who they don't want to be like and what they think is the truest church.

If our Lord becomes the very real center of their life and their church, they wont be distracted by such things.

They will be too involved joyfully seeking to know Jesus more and more, and joyfully considering everything rubbish compared to knowing Jesus, the way Paul did in Philippians 3.

They will only want to know Jesus and him crucified like Paul did in 1 Corinthians 2.

They will rejoice in their suffering and want to become weak so that Jesus would be strong. They wont delight in innovation or creativity or being better, but they will delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulutes so that Christ's power would rest on them, like Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12.

They will crucified with Christ and they will no longer be alive, but Christ will live in them, like Paul did in Galatians 2.

And they will have taken up their cross everyday, for they will joyfully know that it is better to have lost yourself than to have gained the whole world, like Jesus taught in Luke 9.

Any church and any person that has truly fallen in love with the person of Jesus Christ will be healthy and thriving because of this is exactly what God designed each of us and each church to do.

Nothing else gives God greater glory and nothing else gives us greater joy, and for this we are here on earth.

Anonymous said...

Given Ray Anderson's emphasis as a 'practical theologian' (shouldn't all theologians be such?), I offer the following:

I recently began to pastor a Baptist church that had just had a pastor and youth pastor who were very strongly into emergent themes. One of the pastors, particularly, wanted very much to deconstruct the existing church, sell the building, inhabit mainstream culture and so be 'incarnational.' His aggressive message of deconstruction created a few very devoted followers with a strong commitment to solidarity with the poor. The majority of the members, however, could not get past the deconstruction especially since there was not a lot of 'construction' that they could cognitively and spiritually grasp.

My observations as an outsider coming into the disheartened situation:
a) These two men had a positive discipleship effect on those they immediately mentored, in terms of imparting a very strong ethos of service to the poor, and an uncommon willingness to sacrifice personal comforts in the name of this service. They also left a very firm desire in the life of the church to be missionally incarnational, to be present and active 'in the community' - even amongst those who were not overly sorry to see them go. This was and is a positive legacy.

b) I have noticed, however, that those Christians mentored by these pastors also have a somewhat elitist attitude, are quite strongly individualist and find it difficult to participate in a team ministry situation with others who do not share their own perspective quite closely. This is somewhat ironic given the general emergent emphasis on community. In this situation community was only possible in a context of relative uniformity, and an unfortuate disdain towards others of differing persuasion was and continues at times to be, quite evident.

c) I feel the main reason behind this unfortunate paradoxical result is theological anemia. Both pastors have a strong missional desire and an accompanying orientation towards issues of social justice and Christian 'cultural relevance' (a problematic concept, I agree, but one I wont go into here). But their idealism, fed by more popular expositions on the nature of the church lacked the wisdom and discipline that arises from sustained reflection on biblical and systematic ecclesiology, undertaken within a trinitarian framework. This theological anemia was compounded by a chronological snobbery which disregarded the great theological heritage of the church in favour of the contemporary.

To conclude: the emergent emphasis offers the contemporary church (or at least some expressions of it) an opportunity to recover some vital biblical strands of truth, as well as experiment with new (or old) forms of worship, spirituality, ethical praxis etc. This emphasis, though, must be nurtured within a fully orbed theological understanding of the missio Dei and the role of the church within this purpose. Praxis must arise from and be shaped by sound trinitarian theology.

Eddie said...

With no hope of topping the lengthy and thought-out posts that have and will no doubt flood in here shortly, I can only offer this.

What is the emerging church? If it is not the church loosened from culturally appropriate forms of past eras and re-energized by the Spirit for present contexts, then it isnt worth anyones time discussing (or reading about).

Jordan Barrett said...

My .02 -

The Emerging church (EC) seems to be saying, "we must reach our culture and adapt our message to them." Instead, the EC needs to be saying, "we must reach our culture with the gospel, and help them adapt to it." Reaching our culture is one thing, but over-adapting to it is another, and one which is proving problematic. Scripture may speak to every generation in different ways, but it cannot and should not be done on a culture's terms. It must be God's terms.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that Jordan is being fair to EC - I am still making up my mind about how it relates to contemporary culture, whether it concedes too much. But Jordan is definitely right in substance about it being the gospel itself that calls the shots and determines what is or is not relevant at the cultural interface (a point I made in "Ten Propositions on Preaching").

Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (1986) is still germane to the discussion. Extrapolating from Paul's encounter with King Agrippa in Acts 26, taking it as "a model of what is involved in the communication of the gospel across a cultural frontier", Newbigin makes three points.

1. "The communication of the gospel has to be in the language of the receptor culture."

2. "However, if it is truly the communication of the gospel, it will call radically into question that way of understanding embodied in the language it uses. If it is truly revelation, it will involve contradiction, and call for conversion, for a radical metanoia, a U-turn of the mind."

3. "Finally, this radical conversion can never be the achievement of any human persuasion, however eloquent. It can only be the work of God."

By the way, this post does not constitute an entry into the competition for the book - which I have just started - and which looks promising.

Matt said...

The "emerging church" is a glorious, frustrating ball of contradictions. It's cynical, hopeful, proud, humble and more. It's more concerned with praxis than doctrine, yet those involved sure do talk a lot.

I hope that the emerging church continues to issue forth a creative vision of what it means to faithfully follow Christ in our day and time.

Brian said...

There is no such thing as "the emerging church" - it does not exist if existence is defined in a traditional manner.

In one sense of the word every church (at least in North America and Europe) is an "emerging church" in that they are facing a changing world with a changing social situation. What differentiates these churches is the degree to which they are willing to critically engage the culture in which they live in.
- Brian

Brannon Hancock said...

Someone should, following Foucault, write a booked called This Is Not An Emergent Theology (or, to be pretentious, Ceci n'est pas une théologie émergente). I mean, wouldn't the only appropriate theology of the emergent ethos be one that declares itself (ironically, perhaps) as somehow otherwise?

I am still trying to figure out how the church can be both "emergent" and "called." Maybe Anderson could help me tackle that one...

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I need that book because I want to know how the emerging church differs from the submerging church.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

One of Freedom said...

As someone who has been initimately connected with the "emergent" conversation I would stress that at its best Emergent is a conversation and at its worst a movement. The best voices within the emerging conversation are always those wrestling from within a context because of their efforts to situate the gospel in their context. This is nothing new, every generation had an "emerging" movement, but when the movement splinters away from the Church then we have just repeated history. For me I have tremendous hope that what is emerging today, and much of this is because the voices in this conversation seem to value the historical Church more than what emerged in other generations. I feel we have the opportunity to not create a next generation "reaching" movement, but indeed take each of our movements into the next generation, old and new together. I don't see Jesus telling us old or new wineskins are better, but both are needed to faithfully go forward as the Church.

stc said...

I think the Emergent Church shows considerable promise, but it remains to be seen whether that promise will be realized.

I am very much in sympathy with the Emergent Church's critique of evangelicalism: i.e., that evangelicalism is committed to a (dogmatic) form of Christianity which is becoming increasingly indefensible and irrelevant in the postmodern era.

However, it is always easier to curse the darkness than to illuminate it. So far, I'm not convinced that the Emergent Church is providing solutions. Shifting the Church's focus to praxis, while holding one's theological convictions loosely, is not the way to make a lasting impact.

Thus I welcome Anderson's contribution. He's speaking to a real need of the Emergent Movement: the need for an adequate theological framework.

Katerina Ivanovna said...

I'm a Catholic.

The Catholic Church has been Eurocentric for 1500 years. The churches of Latin America and Asia are growing faster than the churches of Europe and the U.S. These Latin American and Asian churches carry with them customs, liturgical traditions, strong eschatological consciousness, and a commitment to praxis that shatters the reserved, almost quietist mentality of Euro-Catholicism. These churches are shaping the future face of Catholicism. Thus, the Eurocentric church will find itself giving way to emergent ecclesial bodies.

That said, I think that you should send me a copy (I'll cover shipping). How else will I be prepared to embrace the emergent theology of my own communion? Ben, you've been so ecumenical up to this point...please don't let me down. ;)

Chris Tilling said...

I could write some pretentious crap here about the emerging church with the aim of sounding more impressive and ostentatious than others, or I could just tell you up front: unless I get a copy, I will cry. All night. And because of that, Anja won't like you anymore, nice Australian accent or not.


thunderbeard said...

i know a few kiddies who fancy themselves as 'emerging,' though they will never define this for me. while i find a great deal of the emerging conversation helpful (though far from all of it!), it seems that, on the ground, none of these things matter. most of the kiddies who are emerging, are just emerging into a tres cool hipster that likes to cuss, drink, listen to cool music, get expensive haircuts, and eat vegetables.

the emerging conversation has made it's way to the mainstream christian culture, and it has become nothing more than an aesthetic to many of the folks not writing the books. the mall culture, if you will. i could watch people walk around in a mall, and then say, "he's emergent; she's emergent; nope that dudes a square, so he isn't emergent."

i know this to be the case because i've been accused (in both a positive and negative light) of being emergent because i listen to indie rock, wear chuck taylors, and i enjoy a good beer (which, here in america, isn't the norm for believers, as most of you may know). however, when those people start to discuss various theological issues with me, they start to scrach their heads.

to make my point, here is a nice little post from purgatorio.

Anonymous said...

The Purgatorio is hilarious! Thanks for your post, Thunderbeard - and the reference.

Alex said...

Where I see the strength of the emerging church is in the description "the emerging conversation". To me this is a realization that theology is never complete, a principal I think is key to the emerging church. While on the one hand the emergent conversation stands on the shoulders of historical Christianity, it also acknowledges that there is still work to be done and new insights to be gained.

Where a creed takes a snapshot at a point in time in history and says, "Here is what we know for certain," a conversation says, "With the benefit of time and history, maybe we can dig deeper." The former seems to pause theology, while the latter jumpstarts it.

T. Baylor said...

I guess I don't really care . . . give it to me anyway.

byron smith said...

The emerging church is a mindset that decries the commercialisation of the churches - exemplified in blogs that encourage rhetorical prostitution for giveaway goodies.

But then I'm cheap.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks, Byron: your rhetorical prostitution has been duly entered into the competition....


Drew said...

An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches from Amazon? US$11.05

A book that recasts attempts at a break with history into the historical narrative of the gospel, free from Faith & Theology?

Byron's winning by my vote, and he stole my idea on commercialisation.

Anonymous said...

What I like about the emerging church is the stress on the mystery and the paradoxes of faith as well as the sacramental. Good emergent theology stresses the creeds along with the word and sacraments. It's very Lutheran :)

Tyler F. Williams said...

Emergent Church? Didn't the church emerge some two thousand years ago? Must be some American movement -- who else would have the audacity?!

(See, you have to give me the book since I am so uninformed!)

Sivin Kit said...

I'm interested to see what are some connecting points or conversation opportunities arising from emerging churches engaged in the emergent theology Prof. Ray is proposing for a Malaysian as well as Asian context. Nothing fancy.

Dr. Dave said...

Tyler wins. Maybe the term should be "Re-emergent Church". Of course, that assumes it really emerged at all. From what? Why? Shouldn't just always have been; or do terms like beth ha kenneset and ekklesia seem to imply that it emerged from some caccoon or darkness or primordial theological ooze? Maybe "emergent" just means "not your father's old oldsmobile" or "our church" or "new wine" or something. I'd perfer a "Detergent Church" that could wash the frail-creatures-of-dust membership of their pecadillos--but then, who wants a bunch of shiny haloed clean-beans and neat-freaks as fellow churchmembers? Not me. Forget emergent members--I'll stick with the pre-emergent ones. They're more fun.....

Keep the book. I like sea novels better.....Nice thread....

Dr M

Ben Myers said...

Thanks for all these comments. It was hard to choose just two of these -- sorry to all those who missed out on the book!

I might do some other book giveaways in the future -- so if anyone has any good ideas for book-giveaway formats, let me know.

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