Any author attempting to profile the phenomenon of the "emerging church" faces a daunting task.

Churches identifying themselves as emerging are new and diverse. Some have distanced themselves from both the mindset of traditional denominations and contemporary "seeker" models of church, while others identify with ancient traditions. Among the latter, some emerging congregations grow within an existing church, while others are new church plants that retain their denominational affiliation. There are also some significant differences between the United States and U.K., to which we might add Australia and New Zealand. This is all to say that D. A. Carson, professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has had to simplify a complex picture.

Carson characterizes the movement as one of protest against "the conservative, traditional, evangelical churches, sometimes with a fundamentalist streak." For many emergent leaders, the issue is not to protest the old so much as a restlessness to find new ways of "doing church." They seek to relate to a secular—and increasingly post-secular—culture, in which the church is marginalized as traditional Christendom cracks and crumbles.

Carson focuses on Brian McLaren, as well as a small number of other authors such as Dan Kimball, Spencer Burke, and Mike Yaconelli (in the U.S.), and David Tomlinson and Steve Chalke (in the U.K.). This tends to skew the discussion because it highlights those who have come out of house-church fundamentalism or seeker-driven megachurches. Research by Ryan Bolger among more than 50 emergent leaders indicates that N. T. Wright, the eminent New Testament scholar, and Dallas Willard of the University of Southern California are equally influential. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Hunting the Big Gazelle Subscriber Access Only
Why Rick Warren may succeed where others failed.
RecommendedMany Practicing Christians Agree with Marxism (and Other Competing Worldviews)
Many Practicing Christians Agree with Marxism (and Other Competing Worldviews)
Barna also examines the influence of postmodernism, secularism, and ‘new spirituality’ in the pews.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickThe Church’s Three-Part Harmony
The Church’s Three-Part Harmony
Why evangelical, sacramental, and Pentecostal Christians belong together in one body.
Christianity Today
Emerging Solutions--and Problems
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.