Saturday, March 3, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name: Ecumenism and The Emergent

One can't help but be impressed with the gentle, compassionate, and intellectual effectiveness demonstrated by some leaders in the emergent church movement. This is an attractive mosaic, energized by service and a call for community. Scot McKnight, in particular, author, scholar, and webmaster of the most popular emergent site on the 'net. In perusing his site, it is clear that McKnight is well intentioned, well educated, and well published.

McKnight's intellectual prowess is demonstrated in his post, Emergence: How so Ecumenical? He weaves a tapestry of subtleties and distinctives, creating a new image of postmodern ecumenism. An image that McKnight entertains as reflective of the emergent church movement.

What is rooted in McKnight's intensely intellectual presentation is the tenet that ecumenism is inherently appropriate in the church today.

In McKnight's own words "what I like most about this is that it is not a power play to get everyone agreed on something but a living celebration of the entirety of Church history, the diversity of its faith, and the sheer glory of its manifoldness."

McKnight's suggests a celebration over this history and diversity. The obvious implication is the emergent church movement is doing the same.

For example, one of McKnight's many speaking engagements in 2007 includes
Inside the Missional Matrix . Also speaking is Todd Hunter, the national director of The Alpha Course USA. This certainly a strong indication of the ecumenical under girding of the emerging church movement. The host of the event, The Vineyard Community Church observes the Catholic-rooted Lenten season with Henri Nouwen’s Show Me the Way.

The "diversity of it's faith" can be traced to the divisions caused by false teachers and poorly grounded Christians. This diversity can also be found in Paul's warnings to Timothy regarding teaching of proper doctrine. The diversity of church history reveals the battle to separate the truth from the lie, the holy from the profane. It is a history that should serve as an epic warning, not an ecumenical wedding.

In their efforts to be more missional, incarnational, and transformational, the emergent church movement would be wise to be Biblical, first.


  1. I think you are exactly right in this assessment of trends in emergent thinking. I was just discussing varying church doctrine with someone yesterday and I discovered that he views Catholicism, Emergent, and many other movements as diverse manifestations of the working of the Holy Spirit. I was greatly disheartened by this belief and began to tell him that Catholicism, for instance, has a completely different grounding for its beliefs that simply are not Biblical. In his mind, it is just varying manifestations, which seems to be typical of the emergent relativism when it comes to the faith. And I believe it is a new and especially deceiving way of thinking because emergents accept many ideas and "creative" expressions of so-called Christian faith as being Christian when many are in fact false teachings. There is so much apostasy running rampant in today's churches and many of the young are eating it up because it emphasizes community and unity, yet I believe there is so much deceit attached to it. Mind you, I'm only 24 myself, yet I see a snowball effect happening as these things have slowly crept into Christian circles and is rapidly gaining a strong footing in the minds of many.

  2. The Emergent Church and all its mercurial teachings has already traveled light years from Biblical moorings. And when we see so many "church people" finding it so attractive, it reveals the dearth of Biblical discipleship in the visible church and its leaders.

    It is easy to see that the intentions of the purpose/seeker movements are well intentioned however fleshly, but the emergent movement is the worship of man's intellect and purposely creates a labyrinth of questions without any absolutes. They even question the nature of the written revelation of God's Word.

    They are being tractor beamed by the spirit of anti-christ.


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