Tuesday, February 5, 2008
A Journey of UnEmergence: A Critique of A New Kind of Christian
So this blog began as a defense of my characterization of a Tampa Church. It will not be that. To the proponents of that church, please, bear with me as I present the whole of my thoughts on the Emergent movement.
As mentioned before A New Kind of Christian has been an influential book on the Emergent culture as well as my own life. In fact, I was the lone defender of the book in a graduate school class filled with opponents of McLaren.
On the positive side ANKOC presents its case in a narrative form. This is incredibly appealing. It is engaging and easy to read. The other strength of the book is that it is more than skin deep. Its critique is not simply "Jesus is OK with Beer, so in your face Fundies!" It goes down to the root of why we think what we think. It rightfully roots out our dependence as Christians on enlightenment presuppositions. This is superb and a needed critique. As Neo (a character) dismantles Dan's (another character)world, I felt my own beliefs coming apart in a good way. I followed Dan on his journey as it mirrored my own. Many of the constructions that we have called church in the past 100 years don't reflect the biblical model very well. I am so with McLaren here.
The difficulty lies in what comes next for Dan (who receives no real resolution even in the series finale)and for us. Are we to chuck the entire denominational (or non-denominational) model? Where do we start new? If our presuppositions are flawed (and both Neo and I believe they are) who gets to call the shots? Is it everyman for themselves? If not, is it every church for itself? Who becomes the authority for doctrine and practice? Is anything out of bounds?
At the end of the day, my question for McLaren is this:
What constitutes Christianity?
And if I disagree with your answer, how do we know who is right?
It seems to me that ANKOC takes deconstruction to a point of no return.
But I could be wrong, I'll be the first to admit it.