Wednesday, February 21, 2007

what is emergent--a peeve

So Mark Driscoll announced on his blog this week the publcation of a new book by zondervan "Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches" edited by Dr. Robert Webber. It is a "counterpoint book", in which 5 so called emerging church pastors write on the issues of the trinity, the atonement, and the scripture, and then respond to each others' writing. The writers are Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward, Dan Kimball, John Burke, and Mark Driscoll.

So here's my peeve: what [the hell] is emergent about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill? I mean I know a little about Karen Ward and Doug Pagitt, and they are both definitely emerging. I mean their churches are .. emerging *out of* the boring, painful, etc. mainstream church. It doesn't look to me like Mars Hill is emerging from anything. They are totally typical. In fact they are ... quintessentially typical of the 'church' which I find so painful and can no longer bear. Not that I have anything against them personally. I'm sure they are somewhere in the range upon which typical churches fall--not really *that* far off in toward one extreme or the other. So how come they keep getting called emerging? I mean really, is that like a marketing campaign they did early on, and it stuck, or what? I really don't get it. Is it because they have such a youngish demographic? Is it because they are numerically successful in Seattle? Do people who call them emergent or emerging just mean something very very different from what I mean when I use those terms? If so, what is the meaning that these others are assigning to the term? don't get it don't get it don't get it. It's concerning because I ... sort of think of myself as emergent, or emergent, or at least ... I think of myself as feeling good around and understanding/connecting with emerging/emergent people. But *not* with Mars Hillish places. I feel totally and completely out of place and creeped out at Mars Hill services. So if we are going to wrest the word like that, or push the meaning to be so enormously broad, then perhaps I have to stop using it, or else explain every time, or something.

On the other hand, I think the book should be fascinating because of the authors in it that I do like.


Justin said...

THe word, emergent, is utterly meaningless anyway. I can think of a few thing that 'emerge', and when they do, I ask the question: "Can we push them back in?"

Benjamin Ady said...

Megan and I laughed--thankyou. Yesterday Megan and the galiculitas (that is, the girlicans) went to the Pacific Science Center's Grossology exhibit--"The (impolite) science of the human body". One part of the exhibit had a place where the girls could climb up and into a big mouth and slide down the esophagus and thus through the whole system and out the back end as pooh.

Benjamin Ady said...

oops--I mean "poo", not "pooh". there it is

Helen said...

Historically, as I understand it, Mark Driscoll and Brian McLaren were on the same Emergent team.

Then Mark got more theologically conservative and so they went their separate ways.

I think Mark is considered emergent because even though he's theologically conservative, in various other ways he does innovative things in order to connect with young adults who might not be interested in more traditional forms of church.

I probably shouldn't really be answering this since I know so little about it ;-)

Benjamin Ady said...


I guess he wouldn't call himself emergent. It's a name that *used to be* an endonym for him, but now it's just an exonym. Found this quote from his first blog post on resurgence:

"In the mid-1990s I was part of what is now known as the Emerging Church and spent some time traveling the country to speak on the emerging church in the emerging culture on a team put together by Leadership Network called the Young Leader Network. But, I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me. Examples include referring to God as a chick, questioning God̢۪s sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell which is one hell of a mistake.

Since that time I have frankly not known what my place is in the greater church. I am part of no denomination and in a city where the evangelical heterosexual male pastors could have a meeting in a phone booth. Theologically I am an old school Bible-thumper, and culturally I am a progressive because my heart burns for the church to be an effective missionary to the culture for the gospel. "

Benjamin Ady said...

oh--also found this, by Mark, from spring '06--interesting a pastoral perspective on the emergent church

Helen said...

Benjamin, I think you're right that he wouldn't call himself Emergent, which refers specifically to Brian McLaren's group. He might still call himself Emerging, since this is how he defines that in the document you linked to:

"First, the Emerging church is a broad category that encompasses a
wide variety of churches and Christians who are seeking to be effective missionaries wherever they live."

I expect he considers himself as someone seeking to do that, since he works hard to connect with young men - so it seems, anyway.

LP said...

first of all, why do you even read his blog? i wouldn't do such a thing, because i know the result will be me=super annoyed, and mark=still blissfully arogant.

also, i think mars hill gets called that because people think that church-goers with tattoes and piercings are postmodern. surprisingly, there's more to it than that.

as my friend frank once put it, at mars hill its' like "here, have a little modern evegelical theology with your pretense of postmodern, postevenangelical church." or something like that.

basically, it's totally retarded.

Benjamin Ady said...

"totally retarded" just about sums it up.

The reason I read Mark's Blog is twofold: 1. I like to be annoyed in this way, as it helps me maintain that lovely feeling of superiority. and 2.It provided blog fodder

(there might be a third. there might be a tiny glimmer of "I want to actually attempt to connect with and and communicate with that largish (and very strange, to me) group of people who think in such a way that they agree with Mark, and like his (unbearably long) sermons, and so forth")