Question 188

Q: What are your thoughts about contemplative or emergent churches? I’m very interested in your answer. 

Asked by: Catherine


A: The emergent church, what a topic, Catherine. Let me start by saying that among emergent churches there is great diversity.

There are some that are quite evangelical, there are others that are way out there, so to speak. So it’s always a little dangerous for us to generalize, but sometimes we have to generalize to make some comments that are applicable to a number of different churches.

One of the problems with emergent churches is that they downplay doctrine. In fact, one of the founders, the one who originated the whole idea of the emergent church, said that, “someday theology will be like the architecture of a medieval church, interesting to a few, but irrelevant.” That’s a dangerous statement, so far as I’m concerned. Theology oftentimes takes second place.

Secondly, there’s a great deal of emphasis on this life. They say that the whole emphasis on heaven and eternity is misplaced and that we need to know how to live here. And then of course, in addition to that you have a lot of emphasis on relationships. And that might be good, but unfortunately those relationships often take precedence over worship, over devotion, over diligent Bible study, and over theology.

Bottom line, I’m concerned about the emergent church. Many churches that have gone that way, it may be too new to predict exactly where they will end up, but I would say that they are on a dangerous trajectory. Yes, there’s much that we can learn from them, but at the end of the day, theology, corporate worship, and the belief in absolute truth must be dearly held by the church. And so we must be very careful when we abandon these for a contemporary kind of worship and church service.

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