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Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches: Five Perspectives Paperback – February 5, 2007

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About the Author

Robert Webber (1933 - 2007) was the William R. and Geraldyn B. Myers professor of ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and professor of theology emeritus at Wheaton College. A theologian known for his work on worship and the early church, Webber was founder and president of the Institute for Worship Studies, Orange Park, Florida.

Doug Pagitt (BA Bethel College, MA Bethel Seminary) is pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis. He is part of the leadership of Emergent: a generative friendship among missional Christian leaders. Doug is married to Shelley and they are parents of four children, and is author of Preaching Re-Imagined, Church Re-Imagined, and BodyPrayer.

Dan Kimball is the author of several books on leadership, church, and culture. He is on staff at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California, and is a professor at George Fox University. He enjoys comic art, Ford Mustangs, and punk and rockabilly music. His passion is to see the church and Christians follow and represent Jesus in the world with love, intelligence, and creativity. His website and blog are at

John Burke and his wife, Kathy, founded Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, in 1998. Since then, Gateway has grown to over 3,000 people, 70 percent of whom are in their twenties and thirties, and consists mostly of unchurched people who began actively following Christ at Gateway. Burke is also the author of No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church.

Mark Driscoll is one of the 50 most influential pastors in America, and the founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle (, the Paradox Theater, and the Acts 29 Network which has planted scores of churches. Mark is the author of The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out. He speaks extensively around the country, has lectured at a number of seminaries, and has had wide media exposure ranging from NPR’s All Things Considered to the 700 Club, and from Leadership Journal to Mother Jones magazine. He’s a staff religion writer for the Seattle Times. Along with his wife and children, Mark lives in Seattle.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (February 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310271355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310271352
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Jay Winters on April 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After a while, studying the Emerging Church leaves you wondering if any of the major figureheads of the movement really agree on anything. Robert Webber has created a "boy band" (with one girl) of the Emerging Church with this book - putting together the right blend of different leaders from the movement to show five representative streams and make it an entertaining read all at the same time.

Although the idea may have originated to show the commonality between Emerging leaders, what is better highlighted is the diversity of belief between these folks. Through reading this book you learn what makes a Dan Kimball who he is and how that is different from the approach that a Karen Ward will take.

The book shows the commonalities found in the Emerging Church in a more inductive way. The Emerging Church's focus on those who do not know the faith yet is very apparent, and the missional philosophy of church is a major factor. Additionally, a general feeling that the things that these pastors were taught in seminaries didn't give them all that they needed. Dan Kimball who went to a Baptist seminary goes on and on about the Nicene Creed which was probably not taught all that much. Karen Ward, educated in the ELCA (she actually grew up as an LCMS Lutheran) expresses a dissatisfaction with how she was taught theology as a "big theology" instead of a more localized effort. Lastly, an overwhelming warm fuzzy feeling prevades the book. I don't think this is a mistake, these Emerging Church leaders don't see each other as enemies even when they disagree which says things both good and bad about the movement.

This book is also a rare look into what many theologians want to know about the Emerging Church, the specific theological beliefs of the Emerging Church.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Bass on May 2, 2007
Format: Paperback what emerging churches are about, at least according to this book (with the exception of Mark Driscoll's contributions). I say "contributions" because each of the five contributors not only writes a chapter of his/her own, but responds to each of the chapters by the other contributors. So by the time you've finished the parts written by the contributors, you have a pretty good idea of what the contributors are thinking about things.

In addition, this book contains some context for the conversations of the contributors, provided at the beginning and end by evangelical theologian Robert Webber. He contends American evangelical Christianity is at the beginning of the fourth of four roughly twenty-year cycles, seeking how to interact with a post-Christian, neo-pagan culture, finding that the questions to which they have answers aren't being asked anymore.

The placement of the names on the cover is a pretty accurate reflection of where the contributors are theologically. The only change I would make is swapping Karen Ward and Doug Pagitt.

Each of the five contributors have different diagnoses of the problems with American evangelical Christianity in the early 21st century:

Mark Driscoll says the problem is watering down the truth of Scripture, giving Jesus a makeover to make him more attractive to our culture. His prescription is to unapologetically present the message of Jesus as told by an authoritative Scripture. As I read his words, I remembered Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee saying "The chief sin of the church is ignorance of the word of God."

John Burke says the problem is that American Christians are both hypocritical, unchanged in their character and behavior, and judgemental, believing they have a monopoly on truth.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kurt J. Hannah on March 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
The candor and grace of the writers is wonderfully refreshing. The reason this book is helpful is that it presents a critique of the movement from within. While only Driscoll, Burke and Kimball seemed to stick to the topic at hand, Driscoll and Burke were the most theological and consistent. While I would be considered one of those sitting in the coffeeshop eavesdropping on the "conversation," my exposure to the last two writers left me troubled. I think Driscoll's critique to be very helpful and honest, dealing with issues without attacking personalities. That said, I'm not sure where Chrisitan distinctives fit into Doug Pagitt's or Karen Ward's congregations. They talk about God, the Kingdom, and Jesus, but in varied and often redefined ways, according to their own opinions with liitle authority outside themselves. Good exposure to be able to see what's really going on amidst all the buzz.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Trevin Wax on October 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches lays out the theological foundations for five different "emerging churches." The book features five Emerging pastors explaining some of the core beliefs of their congregations. Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, and Karen Ward each contribute a chapter and responses to the other chapters.

Mark Driscoll goes first. His chapter is a no-holds-barred "This is what the Bible says and that's what we believe" statement of faith. He focuses on three areas: Scripture, the Trinity, and the penal-substitutionary view of the atonement. He ends with a call for the emerging church to maintain belief in the traditional understanding of hell. Mark challenges the idea that theology must be changeable in order to reach a postmodern generation.

John Burke goes next. His chapter is a call to Christians to be involved in "messy ministry." We are called to welcome people into our fellowship and lead them out of their brokenness. He, like Driscoll, believes Scripture is the foundation of all we do.

Dan Kimball also affirms Scripture as the ultimate authority for Christians, though he places more emphasis on the Nicene Creed than the others do. Where Kimball differs from Driscoll and Burke is in his call to humility and the embrace of "the mysterious." He believes that the afterlife is mysterious, the ways God work are mysterious, and that we should not try to be people who have all the answers.

Doug Pagitt's chapter focuses on "embodied theology" and epitomizes the current movement towards an "everchanging" theology that is never permanent. Within a few pages of space, he criticizes the Reformation, Augustine and the idea of Scripture as ultimate authority.
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