01 August 2011

Why the Emergent "Movement" Keeps Stalling

by Phil Johnson



  • For all their talk about community, Emergents are too individualistic to hang together.

  • For all their talk about conversation, Emergents mainly just like to hear themselves prattle.

  • For all their talk about humility, Emergents begin with an incorrigibly arrogant worldview.


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24 comments:

Brandon Lehr said...

Exactly!

ajlin said...

Perhaps you should do a companion post about why "emergent" keeps popping up [i.e., a "50 words or less" post on the specific weaknesses in evangelicalism that allow for this "movement"].

Thomas Louw said...

The Emergent movement.

A movement emerging from “self”

Pre-occupied by “self”

Emergent movement a movement motivated by “self”

Moving in on itself and imploding on itself.

Randy Talley said...

Emergent? Or stagnant? Hmmm.

Jason said...

Point 2 and 3 may have some validity, but #1 is way off. The extent to which they are individualistic is no greater threat to community than it is in other churches (save menonites/amish/quakers/brethren). From my own church experiences and what I hear from other emergents, it is extremely hard to find a church where we can be open and honest. This means that we either travel to a church outside of our community or attend one where we are forced to lay low. Furthermore, emergent types have far more relationships with people outside of the church. Spending time with those folks cuts into hanging out with church community.

I may be wrong, but why do you strongly assert that their individualism clashes with strong claims to community?

Just Jules said...

Short n' sweet!

donsands said...

A Brian McLaren will hang with a Shane Claiborne, and perhaps a Rob Bell, and a few others, and they will sound more political than biblical.

I agree that they will not really interact with evangelicals who are biblical and who love to preach the Gospel. But there are the Dan Kimball's as well. And the Mark Driscoll's.

This should be a good discussion for sure.

And I realize in 50 words or less it's what it is.

Have a blessed day in Christ's presence and forgiveness. All for the Cross.

Solameanie said...

I keep hoping in vain that the Emergent vampire will remain in the coffin with a stake through its heart, but it keeps sitting up and hissing.

Perhaps we should redo Blue Oyster Cult's "Joan Crawford Has Risen From the Grave" and swap out Joan's name for one of the EC leaders.

Interesting that my word verification for this comment was "dicie."

Phil Johnson said...

Jason: "I may be wrong, but why do you strongly assert that their individualism clashes with strong claims to community?"

First off, by individualism, I don't mean "the fact that they are individual people."

The word is a reference to "their habit or principle of being independent, self-reliant, self-centered, and egotistical." See Tony Jones's blog if you require documentation.

Second, you yourself basically acknowledge the problem when you say, "emergent types have far more relationships with people outside of the church. Spending time with those folks cuts into hanging out with church community." See 1 John 3:14 and its cross-references if you wonder why this tendency of Emergent types poses a rather serious contradiction to the way Scripure says the church is to function in community.

Dwain and Amanda said...

Nice summary in very few words. Well said!

Sir Brass said...

NEXT! :)

stratagem said...

As a member of Former Farmers of America (FFA), I can authoritatively say that one of the nice things about seeds is that they only need to "emerge" once.

Seems like the "Emergent" movement has to keep emerging continually.

But then, seeds are alive, and this movement isn't.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I would hate to wake up one day and find myself an Emergent. It would be equivalent to Gregor Samsa waking to find he had morphed into a giant, detestable insect.

The only giant insect that I cannot get out of my mind, lately, is found in the video that Phil Johnson posted the other day of the giant centipede wrestling with a snake. It is the very first time I found myself rooting for a snake.

It is funny how these creepy crawly images linger, and linger and linger in our minds. I have not been able to sleep for nights fearing that this beastly centipede might curl up alongside me in bed. Thanks, Phil! I needed that! LOL!

The Seeking Disciple said...

AMEN!

BrettR said...

The emergent types around here in Oregon seem to be more of the kind that want to be the varsity squad christians that just "know" a little more than the unwashed masses of junior varsity christians. By their in depth study of sub-biblical meditations, they have this strong history of the faith. Yet that strong history is no more than a house of cards out of a deck of church history cards of their own making (eliminating all of the clubs, spades, diamonds,and masculine references such as jacks and kings so that is all hearts, numbers, aces, and queens).

Coram Deo said...

In this case "Stumbling" is probably preferable to "Stalling".

The blind leading the blind and all. "Pit? What piii...aaaaaaaiiiiieeeeeee!!!" *THWACK*

In Him,
CD

James Joyce said...

Reason #4
It's of man, not of God.

Man of the West said...

For all their talk about humility, Emergents begin with an incorrigibly arrogant worldview.

It's been a long time since I've had any significant interaction with Emergents, but back in the days when I did, this used to come close to pushing me completely over the edge.

They were never wrong. Never. It was always that I had misunderstood something or misrepresented something or failed to consider a nuance or failed to see how blatant contradictions actually indicated "balance." One incredible instance involved someone telling me that my having caught him in a blatant contradiction shouldn't count for much, as post-modern philosophy allowed forms of logic wherein arriving at a contradiction didn't invalidate the argument! When I pointed out that this would mean that he could, say, exist and not-exist at the same time, you could practically hear the tired and condescending sigh cross the blogosphere from his keyboard to my monitor.

As I used to say then, with those guys, it's always, "Heads, I win, tails, you lose."

stratagem said...

"‎17For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ." 2 Cor ch. 2

That's what they are! Peddlers of God's word.

CGrim said...

"...they will not really interact with evangelicals who are biblical and who love to preach the Gospel. But there are the Dan Kimballs as well. And the Mark Driscolls."

The emergents hate Driscoll these days. Tony Jones recently referred to him as "my former friend" in a post hinting that maybe Driscoll likes martial arts and goes for the manly-man image because he's suppressing homosexual desires.

Tyrone said...

Even those who do not have eyes to see somehow understand their end: Act 5:38-39 "And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."

Our King does reign and the gates of hell shall not prevail. I pray God help us to stand upon the truth of His Word.

Chris Nelson said...

Another silly focus of the emergents is their desire to be like the 1st century church and their fetish for origami, painting and pretentious art in general. The first century church would not like that at all! They wanted no images lest they break the commandment of God.

philness said...

Now that all the building blocks that lead to certainty and absolute turth have been de-constructed I'm sure their minds have to be plungeing in an aimless tail spin.

KP said...

You might add another: For all their talk about diversity, Emergents are pretty much a group of white, middle-class Christians. Soong-Chan Rah has an insightful chapter on this phenomenon in his book The Next Evangelicalism. In it he observes:

"Increasingly, while pluralism is almost universally acknowledged as a central tenet of postmodernity, there appears to be minimal appreciation or application of pluralism in the postmodern expression of evangelical Christianity. While copious volumes are being devoted to how community, experience and authenticity are shaping the emerging church, there seems to be a limited understanding of the role of diversity. As Christianity becomes less white and less Western in the twenty-first century, non-white and non-Western perspectives must increase in influence. However, reading through works on Christian approaches to postmodernity reveals that diversity is referred to, but very rarely applied."