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What is the emerging / emergent church movement?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The emerging, or emergent, church movement takes its name from the idea that as culture changes, a new church should emerge in response. In this case, it is a response by various church leaders to ...

July 01 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
"The Emergent Church" refers to groups affiliated with the organizations Emergent (U.S.) or Emergent Village (U.K). "The emerging church" is a broader term, referring to an informal ideology of conforming the church to culture to better reach people. The "Emergent church" does hold emerging ideals, but it is a subset of the emerging church. It holds some practices that many who would consider themselves part of the emerging church reject. 

Common elements of the "Emergent Church" are a focus on social justice, liberation theology, and adapting to postmodern culture. Social transformation and impact on earth is prioritized over our heavenly citizenship (Phil 3:7-21, I Cor 4:8-13) or standing firm against persecution (Matt 5:10-12, II Tim 3:1-17, Phil 1:27-30). Perhaps most disturbing is the teaching of collective vs. Individual salvation (as opposed to John 3:16, I John 3:19-27, Rom 6:23, Eph 2:8-9, etc). Many leaders in the Emergent church also teach religious pluralism, new age theology, or universalism (As opposed to John 14:6, Ex 20:3, II Cor 13:1-9. etc). 


The emerging church movement is far more broad, with differences among varying groups and individuals who are apart of it. However, several common ideologies unite them:

-The idea that scripture is not clear and that we can't understand precisely what something means (as opposed to II Tim 3:16, John 16:13): 
This is seen in groups like Red Letter Christians [], or the Alpha course [], which each in turn prioritize certain parts of the Bible while minimizing the importance of the rest for preaching or teaching.

- Holding to a postmodern worldview:
Morality becomes subjective (culture defines ethics, truth is relative, truth cannot be known, words can be interpreted differently, mystery is paramount over reason, etc). This plays out as emphasizing relationship over 'religion', and using abstract methods of preaching that focus on experience over clear truth (media, storytelling, interaction, etc) 
Postmodernism is opposed to the clarity of scripture, & how many actions should be based on reason (John 17:17, Col 1:6, John 4:24, Isaiah 1:18, Heb 10:19-25, James 1:2)

-Adapting to culture:
Contrary to the biblical example of being set apart from the world (Rom 12:2, Rom 1:1, Matt 5:13-16), the emerging church advocates that the world needs to adapt to the culture first before it can change it. However, the church is the body of Christ - unbelievers cannot enter it and we cannot exit. We are a city on a hill that lights the way, but we cannot open the gates for people who have not entered in through Christ. We are in the world, but not of it, etc.

The emerging church holds the catch phrase "emerging conversation" to discuss how the church should conform to the culture in order to better work in society. The Bible holds the opposite view "Our conversation is in Heaven" (Phil 3:17-21, Col 3:1).

- Using terms understood by the culture to explain scripture:

This is one element of the emerging church that has scriptural basis. Paul used the culture to help with his defense in front of the Areopagus (Acts 17:16-34) Scripture often uses jewish examples (such as Jesus as High Priest) or greek examples (such as inheritance and testament laws) depending on audience. Jesus used symbols of the time (shepherding, farming, baking bread) in his parables.

However, in every case the cultural examples were used to make a teaching clearer/more understood, not because they were trying to be like the culture (1 Cor 9:22). Scripture shows we do not even have to conform personal practices for fellow brethren (Rom 14:1-23), how much less for the world! (Rom 12:2)

-Rebellion against 'plastic' Christianity, traditional churches, etc:

While it is good to avoid hypocrisy, this should not lead to disunity and judgmental attitudes (I Cor 12:13).

August 01 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
These two twin concepts define the unbiblical teachings that are increasingly gaining popularity among some liberal church movements and [to a lesser but growing extent] among those considered to fall within "mainstream" or "conservative" Christianity. They are part of the New Age doctrines which challenge "status quo" or "traditional thinking" and so called orthodox view of the church and scripture.

The danger in embracing these concepts is that we allow relativism to determine our worldview rather than permitting scripture to be our cannon of faith. 2 Timothy 3:1-6 declares:" the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, {false...: or, one who foments strife} Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts."

Paul also warns in 2 Timothy 4:3-5 saying "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."

There are more subtle way in which these concepts have crept into the churches. Just recently I watched on TV as a pastor of a Nairobi mega church argued that the church should embrace gay people in the church and appreciate their "unique" challenges rather than condemn them. He added that gay people are least understood by the church. 

In other words his argument is for accommodation of diverse people and their so called "special natures" even when these natures or lifestyles are openly rebuked by scripture and clearly labeled as abominations. Of course the church seeks to bring healing to those in spiritual bondage but these people cannot join the church on their terms but on the standards of scripture. 

There are even many other subtle methods including accommodation of "modern" worship styles that are directly borrowed from the underworld, indecent dress codes that depict gangland culture including body tattoos of all kinds and other strange lifestyle features which eventually corrupt the sanctity of the church. Of course we do not determine dress codes for believers but there is no denying that these trends are not accidental. They are controlled from the underworld where they originate from.

Just how far these modern cultural insignias should be permitted to inform the church culture may be debatable but so long as we lose sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the loud voice of scripture we shall simply roll on and dissolve into the abyss. 

The answer to this problem is found in 2 Timothy 3:6. We should simply keep away from concepts that pollute our faith and attempt to place the authority of Scripture into doubt and draw a clear line on our terms of engagement with these cultures and concepts. There has to be a limit beyond which the church will stand for what the Bible teaches even at the risk of isolation or being seen as "radical", old fashioned or ultra orthodox.

August 01 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Tom Huntford
The "emergent church" is old-fashioned liberalism in hip dress. In fact, it's just old-fashioned "strifes over words" in slick, modern dress. 

They play intellectual games with the Scriptures. "Does the virgin birth matter?....Oh, just kidding, I'm really a Christian, just, y'know, askin'..." is their approach. They want to be called "Christians", yet no obey what the Scriptures teach. The tactic they use is to say, "Oh, its all so mysterious...maybe it could mean this, or maybe it could mean that..."

The best thing to do is to read the Bible, believe it, get to know it so well that you can spot a counterfeit. I mean, the Bible says, " These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." (1Jo 5:13 KJV) 

If you meet people who don't say they know that they have eternal life because of the Scriptures, they are false teachers. The Bible says, "Ye must be born again." (Joh 3:7 KJV). If they aren't teaching that you MUST be born again, they are false. The Bible says, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Mat 28:20 KJV)--if they aren't teaching you to obey what Jesus commanded, they are wrong. 

The Bible says, "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." (2Th 3:14 KJV)--if they aren't teaching you that disobedience to the epistles of the apostles is so serious that a person should be disfellowshipped for it, they aren't teaching you what God said! 

The Bible says, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals," (1Co 6:9 NAU) If they are not teaching that, they are not to be followed.

Just stick to the Scriptures. There are new heresies "emerging" all the time. The "emergent church" is one of them.

October 24 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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