Why I am not Part of the Emerging Church – part 2October 17, 2006
Now for the meat of my divergence from the Emerging Church.
The most pragmatic thing about my relationship with God is that …well, it’s a relationship. When I listen to the seemingly endless speculations of the Emerging Church writers and leaders, that is what seems to be missing. They talk a lot about theology, church structures, community, missional ideals, projects, politics, political community projects, etc. etc. But as I look through what they are saying, there doesn’t seem to be much mention (or concern about) the deeper things of intimacy with God.
Curiously, that is the same problem I have with most “fundamentalist” christians who fight over every doctrinal difference imaginable. They often have their theology fully determined, but feel very uncomfortable talking about their experience of God.
Many of the doctrines that form the center of the Emerging Church concern how we live in the current world. As Brian McLaren says it in his book “The Secret Message of Jesus” the Gospel is all about “The Kingdom of Heaven is right here”. To him, and to many Emergents, God shows Himself to the world through our actions of love and concern. But what is missing at times is the deep, deep love of Jesus that comes when there is no other community around and when no one else is following Him. Emergents that I have spoken at length with seem to consider the realm of the spirit to be too neo-Platonic to be of any use in a postmodern world.
It is hard for me to consider what it looks like for Jesus to flow out of me until I have begun to comprehend the wonders of Jesus flowing into me. Before Jesus said “Out of your innermost being will flow streams of Living Water”, he said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” The drinking we do in the Spirit is in the spirit realm and cannot be substituted for community, social concern or even great worship.
The Emergent church is into defining our relationship with God by what we do. The Book of James is center to their belief system and practice.
To me, the Gospel starts with “Jesus loves me, this I know”.