You Might Be Emergent If...
A (relatively) painless exam to determine if you're an emerging Christian.

In the introduction of their new book whose title says it all - Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be (Moody, 2008) - authors Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck offer yet another attempt at defining "emergent Christianity." I've included the full quotation below. Check it out and tell me whether you fit the bill.

After reading nearly five thousand pages of emerging-church literature, I have no doubt that the emerging church, while loosely defined and far from uniform, can be described and critiqued as a diverse, but recognizable, movement. You might be an emergent Christian:

if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash's Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Frank, Walter Winks, and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem;...

if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don't like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; if you search for truth but aren't sure it can be found; if you've ever been to a church with prayer labyrinths, candles, Play-Doh, chalk-drawings, couches, or beanbags (your youth group doesn't count); if you loathe words like linear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy and use words like ancient-future, jazz, mosaic, matrix, missional, vintage, and dance; if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic, na?ve, and rigid; if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritize urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic; if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular divide; if you want to be the church and not just go to church; if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden; if you believe who goes to hell is no one's business and no one may be there anyway; if you believe salvation has a little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us; if you disdain monological, didactic preaching; if you use the word "story" in all your propositions about postmodernism - if all or most of this torturously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.*
April 21, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 69 comments

Todd Burus

May 06, 2008  5:11pm

Yes, I do get worked up about the effects that modernism and liberal Christianity have had on Christianity as a whole. I am currently exploring on my blog how we can reach out to traditionally Christian societies which have become lukewarm in their belief, and in doing so I am confronting a lot of the issues that have arisen as a result of modernism in the church. However, as far as keeping the movement from becoming entrenched, I feel like my forefathers have already lost the war on modernism, whereas the conflict of post-modern Christianity is still up for grabs. And it is because of this that I get so vocal about the missteps I see in the pomo-emerging ideologies.

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skeptical

May 06, 2008  3:43pm

Todd, I appreciate your comment. I too apologize for "tapping" you up. In all seriousness, I would be interested to know if "modernism" makes you angry too. Given that it's been no friend to the church either, I wonder how you would mount a critique of it as well?

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Todd Burus

May 06, 2008  12:13pm

skeptical, I'm sorry to have incorrectly read your comments. I guess that is why my wife is on me about getting so wrapped up in these debates sometimes. Postmodernism does make me angry and I just got too eager to take that out on you. Sorry. Have a nice day.

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skeptical

May 06, 2008  10:11am

another thing, I do think it's admirable that you distinguish between the larger reality of the "emerging" stuff and the particular leaders you take issue with.

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skeptical

May 06, 2008  9:54am

Mr. Burus, I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm not talking about the so-called linguistic turn, post-modernity, etc. My point is that just because someone from the "new age" boogeyman uses the word "holistic" and then I use the word "holistic" it doesn't mean that I am trafficking in the same categories, have the same agenda or am even remotely in the same boat. That was my point. Sheeesh. Enjoy your KoolAid.

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Todd Burus

May 05, 2008  3:12pm

It is amazing how much garbage comes out of the post-modern movement. "words don't belong to any one person or group." If one were trying to epitomize post-modernism that certainly did it because that doesn't mean anything. Certainly, as Mark Driscoll often says, the phrases "emerging" and "emergent" are more of a grab bag than an actual category, but again, another point made by the authors of this book, that is why it's important to look at the leaders who are being affiliated with that name. I don't have a problem with the "emerging church," what I do have a problem with is the purposeful deceit and unbiblical theology of guys like McLaren, Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Campolo. (We can agree that the name of a person is an acceptable category for talking about them, right?) And can we please cut all of the mumbo-jumbo post-modern crap? It is beyond annoying to claim the linguistic turn as an excuse for not having decent arguments in a debate.

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skeptical

May 05, 2008  10:33am

Drink the Kool Aid? Really? Gimme a break. "new age" approaches? words don't belong to any one person or group. sorry.

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Todd Burus

May 03, 2008  11:14am

But Jim, the issue is how many souls may be lost along the way. Sure, these cults of humanity may never gain a universal following, but if people are going to hell because of it (which, I'm not saying they are, but it is a fear) then it is something to be concerned about. Just because a movement doesn't attain the notoriety of the Reformation or Jim Jones doesn't mean that it is not important to the people who are going through it at that particular time.

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jim

May 03, 2008  9:12am

Having seen so many fads, trends, new waves, you names its - I don't care anymore. To me, the "emergents" are simply another group of the self righteous who spend their lives telling the rest of us where we got it all wrong. But that's ok. In another 10 or so years, another group of the self righteous will come and tell the emergents where they got it all wrong, and how this new group are those who truly do "church".

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Todd Burus

May 02, 2008  11:49am

Alison, I have only read 70 pages of it because I just sat down with it a few days ago. Still, even in those 70 pages McLaren litered his commentary with New Age spiritual jargon and multiple passages where he places, at minimum haphazardly, Abraham, Moses, Paul and Mohammed on the same level as prophets of God. Regardless of what the rest of the book will say (and yes, to be jaded, I'm not very hopeful) I don't need to read any more to be able to know that this is an invitation to lead people astray. That is my greatest concern through it all. I do think people need to come to a more genuine faith, but from the books I have read in full or in part already, I feel that the majority of what these authors are saying points people more to themselves (the reader) as the ultimate good and not to God.

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