As president, I receive a lot of mail with all kinds of questions. A recent persistent question is:
"Where does Multnomah stand on the emerging church?"
My usual answer is brief: "Multnomah has not chosen to take a stand on the emerging church issue." This is because the emerging church, like a number of other issues batted around in evangelical circles, means a lot of radically different things to different people.
I just read an insightful article by Mark Driscoll that helped me unravel some of the dispirit threads of this issue. The article, "Navigating the Emerging Church Highway," was published in a recent issue of The Christian Research Journal (vol. 31, no. 04). Mark, the preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, provides a helpful synopsis to the four "lanes on the emerging church highway."
Briefly, those 4 lanes are:
- Emerging Evangelicals
- House Church Evangelicals
- Emerging Reformers
- Emergent Liberals.
The first three are united in embracing orthodox theology, while holding different views of the mission and purpose of the church. The Emergent Liberals, on the other hand, have rejected much of orthodox theology. Driscoll directs most of his attention on this final group, including an intense analysis of its major proponents: Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell.
Because one can get the impression from reading many of the contemporary books on this topic that there is only one emergent church movement (and it's the liberal one), many conclude there really cannot be any legitimate evangelical expression of the movement. Mark Driscoll clears away some theological smoke for me.
Perhaps it will for you, too.