Understanding the emerging church

I think we can all agree that this sort of emerging church is pretty cool. Except for the whole drought angle…
underwater church

“This combination photograph shows the ruins of a church in the Andean town of Potosi in 2008 (L) and its current state on February 21, 2010. The 25-meter-tall church and ruins of a Potosi town flooded in the early 1980s have emerged from the Uribante-Caparo water reservoir after a drought reduced water levels.”

The problem with the liberals

You might be thinking, on the basis of the title, that I’m going to talk about politics. If you want to know what I think is currently wrong with the Liberal Party read here.

Today’s rant is about “liberal” Christians.

I don’t think there has been anything more harmful to evangelism than the watering down of the gospel. There are plenty of things atheists could say about what the Bible actually says that would be grounds for choosing to reject God. But nothing annoys me more in the dialogue than those weak kneed Christians who try to apologise for God’s behaviour. Especially when it comes to that archaic ban on gayness (which is a genetic trait so can’t be wrong) or those cultural ideas of marriage and family. Read any forum where gay rights are being discussed (and I’m not actually opposed to gay marriage necessarily) and you’ll see the type of people I’m talking about.

It is important to place the Bible in historical context and to understand what the text meant to the original readers. But these liberals need to go back to reading their Bibles. They’re kind of missing the point. Right from the nation of Israel to instructions for Christians the idea is that at some point God has to be counter cultural – or there’s no point? How are the people of God to be different if everything that’s natural is fair game? It just doesn’t make sense.

Liberal Christianity is less logical than atheism. Atheism functions on a type of rational and logical framework. Liberalism takes a bizarre mix of the supernatural element of Christianity and the emotional anything goes morality of Atheism and tries to blend them. It stinks.

We should expect sin to be natural. In fact, I’d go as far as to say we should have an inherent distrust for anything that seems natural to us, as humans, because human nature is sinful.

I can see where they come from, sometimes, we are called to love people. Loving the sinner but hating the sin can be pretty confusing. But to suggest that certain behaviour is ok for Christians just because it’s instinctive isn’t just a slippery slope. It’s a fireman’s pole. Straight down.

The fundamental assumption of Liberal belief – from what I can gather – is that somehow we, in the 21st century, are better qualified to understand the mind of God than those primitive disciples and their apostolic proclamations – and heaven help anyone who tries to base a worldview on the Old Testament.

Science, culture and psychology have helped us understand our sinfulness better – they do nothing to turn that which God calls sinful into something pure.

That is all.

Video hits

Chris just beat me to the punch on this. Video preaching. Some are for it. Some against. I’m mostly against. I think you’d have to be pretty arrogant to think that your sermons should be broadcast to the thousands in your auditorium – and then to thousands more in multiple auditoriums elsewhere around the city, state, nation or globe.

But wait you say… Mark Driscoll does it – in a “multi-campus” format for his church – Mars Hill – in his city – Seattle… Driscoll also wants 900 men to plant churches in the US – how’s he going to find 900 men world wide if he can’t find 8 suitable men in his own city?

I understand the practicality of embracing the model. There are no doubt thousands of people who’d like to listen to Mark Driscoll in church every Sunday. I’m happy enough for Mars Hill to pursue that model provided it’s in the same city and being driven by humble pragmatism – and not the inability to find the people to do the preaching elsewhere…

There were some interesting points raised by the original article – by an emerging church type (which means he has a bone to pick with Driscoll – even if he doesn’t name him specifically… oh wait, he does)…

“This is the rule: Technology, taken too far, creates the opposite of what it was intended to create.

Still doubt it? Ask yourself- Email was meant to keep you in touch and ease communication, right? But when you are trying to process 100 emails a day, you don’t feel in touch, you feel crushed. You’re not communicating- you are wading through spam, forwards, fyi’s… Your emails get shorter and shorter, more and more terse, and mis-communication happens more often than not. “

“If we’re not more thoughtful about this, soon, every city and town will have the Driscoll franchise… maybe even two or three. And the Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr franchise as well. Is Joel Osteen too far behind? Hybels, Warren, Groeschel… the market is going to get crowded.”

See, here’s my concern. Nicely articulated. We want not just one preacher for a generation – but a generation of preachers. Bible teaching is enhanced by a diverse platform of voices all spurring one another on. There’s one preacher in that list of luminaries who I’d listen to. Only one. And yet, a world full of churches with just these seven men is technologically (and therefore technically) possible.

This really is the biggest question mark raised over the Mars Hill model for me – and by extension the Acts 29 church planting philosophy. Sure, Driscoll’s a gifted guy. A once in a generation preacher. But that doesn’t mean we should all be listening to him in our churches week in week out.