Monday, December 29, 2008

Why I'm Not Emergent

I'm not an Emergent Christian.

Part of my reason for being non-Emergent is social. I'm simply not cool, hip, or fly. I don't even try to be. I do not dye my hair different colors. (I'm a guy. I have never dyed my hair. The frost on top is 100% natural.) I don't hang out in coffee shops or pubs, because I don't care for the taste of coffee or alcohol. I don't know half the names of the famous people I see on the TV or movie screens. Furthermore, I get bored of engaging in a "conversation" (the Emergent word for "argument") with someone who either does not believe in the existence of truth or does not believe it can be known. What's the point? Why do people who do not even believe in the existence of truth argue? Are they trying to convince me of their "truth" that truth does not exist? It's even more annoying when they use the Bible that they don't believe is trustworthy. Talk about being "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" (as Shakespeare would say).

However, I do have a few things in common with Emergents.

1. I am not interested in being enslaved to legalism. I was forced out of a legalistic church about 15 years ago, and I have no interest in returning to such a system.

2. I am interested in social issues like poverty, racism, and human trafficking.

3. I agree with the need to be involved in a community (church).

4. I appreciate the emphasis on living like Jesus.

While I have a few things in common with Emergents, I do not fit in with their movement. This is why:

1. I believe that truth exists and can be known...not exhaustively, but adequately.

2. I believe that God has revealed his message to us in the Scriptures in a manner that can be comprehended.

3. I believe in the existence of right and wrong.

4. I believe in biblical inerrancy.

5. While I join with Emergents in confronting problems like poverty and racism, I will not ignore the sinfulness of homosexuality and unnecessary abortions. It's cool for Emergents to confront social problems from a liberal perspective, but they tent to shy away from doing the same from a conservative perspective.

6. I believe in the reality of heaven and hell. I don't believe they should be ignored or dismissed.

7. I don't believe the point of the Christian's journey is the journey itself. The point is the destination: the new heavens and new earth in the presence of God.

8. I believe that sound doctrine leads to sound faith, sound thinking, and sound living.

9. I believe in following Jesus as the only way to get to the Father.

10. I believe that the Christian's journey has a beginning point: a faith in Christ that prompts one to follow him in repentance, baptism, and a life committed to honoring him.

11. I believe that the death and resurrection of Christ is the heart of the gospel, rather than his ethical teachings (as important as they are). Since I fail in living up to his ethical teachings, I need the hope of forgiveness, grace, and new life empowered by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Being a "red letter Christian" is inadequate for imperfect people like me.

As a disclaimer, I know that some Emergents will agree with me on some of my points.

For a good review of the Emergent Movement, please check out Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. It is available in bookstores and at


Mitchell said...


I love your thoughts here about the EC. I applaud you for not simply dismissing the movement in a wholesale fashion as many have done. The have serious flaws but also much can be learned from their success at reaching "the unreachable."

Again, good work.

Terry said...

Thanks, Mitchell. It would be nice if my disagreements with Emergents were smaller and the common ground larger. Perhaps someday it will become more acceptable among Emergents for them to accept a stronger commitment to biblical doctrine without losing their positive qualities. The leaders may need to change or new leaders may need to emerge in the movement, but it could take a positive turn in the future. It could have a stronger and more lasting impact on the church at large if it accepted simple biblical truths (such as those I listed as examples of why I do not fit into the movement). I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

rogueminister said...

Brother, I came across your blog through a comment you left on Matt Dabbs' blog about you writing this all for your son. I am not yet a parent, but that is truly moving.

I like this post because as Mitchell said, you gave a very fair and thoughtful assessment of the EC. I would, to a great extent, attatch myself to the EC, even though I attend a fairly tradtional evangelical congregation. I love being in both worlds and gleaning from each and seeing how the two can work together as the Body of Christ.

I have a few minor points of disagreement, in particular the assessment that all/most emergents devalue Scripture. I think, perhaps, it is more fair to say that many just have a different interpretation. That is true in my case at least. Also, I think it is about the journey and the destination. This seems to be what the early church believed as well. This changed later in Church history as a result of poor catholic teaching.

All in all, this is a fantastic post and I look forward to stopping by to see what else you have to say. Blessings and Shalom

Terry said...

Thanks for the kind comments, RogueMinister. You made an excellent point about the Christian's journey being about both the journey and the destination. I believe you are right.

On the value placed on the Scriptures by Emergents, I'll have to agree and disagree with you. I'm sure you're right that some of the problem is simply a difference in interpretation. However, I do believe that some of the problem is that some (perhaps many) Emergents do not accept the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. As such, they do not have a solid basis for believing.

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. You may not agree with everything you read on my blog, but I'm not interested in going out of my way to offend you either. I will try to be fair, but we may still disagree in the end. If so, it will not be personal when I disagree with your position.