Recently, people have been stopping me on the street and saying to me, “Michael, you’re a well-respected voice of reason in these uncertain times; tell me, what do you think of the Emerging Church Movement? And also, nice shoes!”
Well, my good friends, I feel the time has come for me to give a public answer on the question of the Emerging Church Movement, or ECM as the kids are calling it these days. After an exhaustive few days of studying their blog and reading their book, I feel both compelled and qualified to speak. I am not now, nor will I ever be a part of the ECM, for the following five reasons:
1) I can’t afford the clothing. Instead of normal clothes, like khakis and a polo, the ECM has adopted as its uniform a kind of gothic/grunge/indie look. In the rush to sell out to the idol of relevance, even their leaders are dressing like they just crashed their Vespas into an Urban Outfitters. Do we really need another part of the body of Christ so bent on cultural appropriateness that they make people buy a whole new set of clothing just to fit in? Until and unless the ECM starts wearing normal people clothes, I will never be emergent.
2) ECM people don’t believe that the Bible has any value. The following quote comes from Brian McLaren’s book, The Last Word of the Temptation of Christ, and it serves as a kind of manifesto for the movement. In it, he states:
“I … book … bad for … reading … to … bible.” (pg 45-86, selected)
Could their position be any clearer? They hate the Bible! Without the firm foundation of biblical truth, is it any wonder that these people are casting about for other spiritual guides to fill the void? Until and unless the ECM returns to the Bible as the foundation of the Christian faith, I will never be emergent.
3) The ECM prays sky-clad to the moon-goddess. The ECM has embraced something called “Celtic Spirituality”, which is basically the same thing as Wicca. The primary mode of worship in Wicca is stripping naked and praying to the Moon Goddess and her Horned Consort. Horned? Like the Devil? Yes! Instead of studying the scriptures, these young people are composing grimiores, watching Lord of the Dance, and reveling in the pagan mysticisms of the Wicca-Celtic black arts! Nowhere in scripture does it say that we should allow Celtic culture to influence Christian culture; in fact, the Bible doesn’t even mention the Celts! Until and unless the ECM leaders renounce public nudity, Wicca, and Celtic Druidism, I will never be emergent.
4) The ECM has embraced postmodernism. Instead of being at home in the mechanistic formalism of the International Style, the ECM has whole-heartedly embraced a return to wit, ornament, and irony. Whether it’s the eclectic referencing of Sterling’s Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the elusive angularity of Thom Mayne’s University of Cincinnati Student Rec Center, or the sweeping monochrome expanses of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao, this kind of flagrant collapse of foundationalism has no place in our church. How can we offer any hope to people if we ourselves have forsaken the certain foundations of the past to embrace the uncertainty of the present? Until and unless the ECM steps back from the precipice of postmodernism, and returns to the firm footing of foundationalism, I will never be emergent.
5) ECM people eat their young. I don’t want to gossip, so I won’t name any names here, but I have a friend who is part of an emerging church in Seattle, who heard this story about this other emerging church where, instead of taking communion in the normal way, they eat their own young! Is this really the sort of thing we want to be encouraging in our church? I mean, it’s one thing for the Irish to do it, like say if they had a big famine or what not, but for the church to embrace it as a sacrament is outrageous! What ever happened to wine and bread? Until and unless the ECM publicly renounces child cannibalism, except in cases of extreme Irish famine, I will never be emergent.
I have attempted to contact the leaders of the ECM to discuss my concerns, but both emails were returned unopened. Since they refuse to dialog on these issues, my only recourse is to air these concerns publicly, in the blog-o-net. I hope that this post can be the start of a broad conversation. I’d like to hear from you, so feel free to post in the comment section below. Regardless of whether you agree with me, or if you disagree with the ECM, whether you are Fundamentalist or a Conservative Evangelical, all opinions are welcome.