Select Review of North American Emerging Churches Practices the Theology Research Paper

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Theology is based upon strict doctrine and dogma that must be adhered to in order to understand and live a faithful life. Things may not always make rationale sense when studying religious texts as this is most likely intended by these messengers of God. New movements within Christian Theology, such as the Emerging Church movement, are threatening the basis of faith and appears to at times molest the basic tenets and fundamentals of Christ and his teachings. This quasi-nihilistic approach to spirituality represents a Postmodern thought pattern that is reverberating throughout society as well as within the confines of the churches and their sacred teachings.

The Emerging Church movement consists of a diverse group of people who identify with Christianity, but who feel that reaching the postmodern world requires us to radically reshape the church's beliefs and practices to conform to postmodernism. However, this cutting-edge approach that is being welcomed by many Evangelicals today will lead them downward to serious doctrinal and moral deviations from the Word of God, and if left unchecked, will do harm not reform to the household of God. The purpose of this paper is to review the North American Emerging Churches practices and investigate their doctrine in order to contrast it to the more traditional and proven word of God.

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Eddy Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger, two popular postmodern writers, have said, "Emerging churches remove modern practices of Christianity, not the faith itself. Western Christianity has wed itself to a culture, the modern culture, which is now in decline. Many of us do not know what a postmodern or post-Christendom expression of faith looks like. Perhaps nobody does. But we need to give these leaders space to have this conversation, for this dismantling needs to occur if we are to see the gospel translated for and embodied in twenty-first century Western culture."[footnoteRef:1] [1: Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 29.]

Research Paper on Select Review of North American Emerging Churches Practices the Theology of the Emerging Church Assignment

Gibbs and Bolger define emerging in this way: Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities. This definition is both descriptive and analytical.

The Emerging Church's line of reasoning assumes that worship forms, evangelistic strategies, spirituality, and church structure are entirely culturally conditioned and should be changed, which is something the Bible inherently and emphatically denies throughout the Gospels and the Pentateuch . In addition, "by embracing relativism, the emerging church has abandoned an authoritative source of truth - the Scriptures."[footnoteRef:2] These accommodations for the Postmodern society are not good for the Church hence the need for this study. [2: Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. (Rev. ed. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2008), p. 695.]

The Importance of Doctrine In Studying Theology

Faith, a central tenant in the covenant with Christ, must demonstrate an unflinching attitude towards following in the footsteps of the Son of Man. Faith requires abiding by rules and priorities as well, which are explicitly laid out in doctrine.[footnoteRef:3] [3: Ibid.]

Doctrinal prioritization has a strong pedigree. Jesus himself placed priority on the two great commandments: love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40)[footnoteRef:4]. The apostle Paul placed priority on the gospel proclamation of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection -- the message he considered to be "of first importance" (1 Corinthians 15:3)[footnoteRef:5]. And so all theologians must prioritize. Certain doctrines have greater significance than others for the whole of Christian theology. The deity of Christ is more consequential for the Christian faith than the timing of the millennium. [4: The Holy Bible.] [5: Ibid.]

A failed understanding of both faith and doctrine have opened up holes within Christianity where institutions such as the Emerging Church have gained footholds and continue to exploit Christ's intended message. Olson (2013) agreed with this explanation when wrote " I have known many devout Christian believers in and followers of Jesus Christ who struggled with the doctrine of the Trinity. I don't fault them. At least they struggle with it." [footnoteRef:6] The premises must be understood: classic Christian doctrine must not be undermined by false claims of prophecy and pseudoscientific gibberish. [6: Olson, Roger, "How Important is the Doctrine of the Trinity?" Patheos, 29 April, 2013. ]

Put briefly, sound doctrine is important because it tells us who Jesus Christ is. Every point of Christian doctrine reflects on the identity of our Divine Lover and to lose Christ's greatest gift to his followers, a share in the life of the Trinity:

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 Jn 2:24) [footnoteRef:7] [7: The Holy Bible.]

What is the Emerging Church ?

The Emerging Church Movement is an amorphous group of loose-knit association of churches that have decided that there is value, there is even virtue in uncertainty about Scripture. The bottom line in the movement is that they believe that we aren't even suppose to understand precisely what the Bible means. It is an attack on the clarity of Scripture as they elevate themselves as if this is some noble reality. The leaderships behind the movement have finally risen to say we're honest enough to say, "We don't know what the Bible really means. We can't be certain. We are the truly spiritual ones." It has overtones of spiritual pride, a false kind of spiritual pride which some will might call humility but reeks of something more sinister. In essence they proclaim they are too humble to say that we know what the Bible means.

The bottom line in the movement is that it is a denial of the clarity of Scripture. It is a denial that any person can know what the Bible really says. It's amorphous because there's no continuous thought pattern leading to doubt and a loss of faith. Followers of this brand of faith have embraced this mystery as if it's true spirituality. And so, it becomes celebration of mystery, a celebration of ignorance, a celebration that we can't really know. It appears to be another sophisticated form of liberalism, or another form of denying the clarity of Scripture. Determining the motivations of these actions requires a deeper investigation into their specific theology and practices.

The History of the Emerging Church

Enns (2008) defined biblically theology in the following way: "The term Biblical Theology can be used in different ways. It is used to describe the biblical theology movement based on liberal ideals and was very weak." [footnoteRef:8] At the heart of the Emergent Church movement-or as some of its leaders prefer to call it, "the changing force," the conviction that changes in the culture signal that a new church is "emerging." Christian leaders must therefore adapt to this emerging church. Those who fail to do so are blind to the cultural accretions that hide the gospel behind forms of thought and modes of expression that no longer communicate with the new generation, the emerging generation.[footnoteRef:9] [8: Enns, Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Publishers, Feb 1, 2008. ] [9: Ibid.]

One reason why the movement has grown so quickly is that it is bringing to focus a lot of hazy perceptions already widely circulating in the culture. It is articulating crisply and polemically what many pastors and others were already beginning to think, even though they did not enjoy-until the leaders of this movement came along-any champions who put their amorphous malaise into perspective.

Put briefly, sound doctrine is important because it tells us who Jesus Christ is. Every point of Christian doctrine reflects on the identity of our Divine Lover and to lose Christ's greatest gift to his followers, a share in the life of the Trinity:

"Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father," (1 John 2:24). [footnoteRef:10] [10: The Holy Bible.]

The Procedure for the Study

The Emerging Church believes that it is reaching the postmodern culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, they are changing the Gospel not adhering to it. This is quite a statement that deserves some explanation as the key words is "change." Christians are often branded with some assumptions about their behavior and faith. Kimbal (2003) suggested that many believe Christians are " close-minded, judgmental people who are arrogant to think they alone have the only true religion, " [footnoteRef:11] While there is some truth in those stereotypes, scripture and doctrine are firmly placed on this side of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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