I just finished reading Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches. The book was very well done. It gave 5 areas of theology where 1 of the 5 contributors would take the lead. Then the other 4 writers were able to respond to the chapter. It was very well done.
Honestly, I think this books was really needed. Robert Webber does a great job at the end in exhorting the emerging church of the challenges they face. He also challenged evangelicals to really listen to what these young leaders are saying, because many of them are saying the same thing they are, they are just using different words to say it.
I will say this: if you want to get a handle on what’s happening in emerging churches, this is probably the book to buy. A lot of people buy Dr. Carson’s book (Which I also read). I just feel that Brian McLaren doesn’t embody the entirety of emerging churches, which the person that Dr. Carson focuses on. This book gives you 5 perspectives from 5 very different leaders that are all young, emerging leaders.
Here are my thoughts on the chapters by each author:
Chapter 1 – Mark Driscoll – The Emerging Church and Biblicist Theology
Mark shared almost 200 Bible verses in his chapter. He’s pretty much an old school Bible thumper (I say that in a very good way). He believes the Bible and is seeking to do ministry according to Scripture. I did find it a bit interesting as to how much of Mark’s Calvinistic tendencies came out. Also, the responses were much more based on Mark’s personality than Mark’s chapter. This was a little disappointing that the guys didn’t engage his chapter a little more.
Chapter 2 – John Burke – The Emerging Church and Incarnational Theology
I didn’t know anything about John until I read this chapter. I loved it. I’m planning buying his book ‘No Perfect People allowed’. This chapter showed me his love for Scripture and his love for the people in his community. I really resonated with so much of what John wrote.
Chapter 3 – Dan Kimball – the Emerging Church and Missional Theology
I’ve read everything Dan’s written to this point, so I knew where he was going. He and I share something similar in that neither of us grew up in the church, so it causes us to see the church a little differently than the “Flannel graph” crowd (which I only found out what flannel graph was about 2 weeks ago).
3 things stood out in this chapter for me:
– Dan’s passion to reach people who are disconnected from church.
– His desire to see people understand theology
– his openness and love towards people that he disagrees with
Chapter 4 – Doug Pagitt – The Emerging Church and Embodied Theology
Doug’s chapter was a little frustrating in that it took him 15 pages to get to the point. The best part was the theological questions for our day. Doug seems like a brilliant guy, which everyone who responded to the chapter attested to. But the chapter just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m probably too old school in my theology to get it…
Chapter 5 – Karen Ward – The Emerging Church and Communal Theology
Honestly, I didn’t get it. The responses were better than the chapter itself.